Be Thankful – you are blessed

This weekend in America we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a day to stop, think, and thank God for all that we have. It is easy to forget to be thankful. I am not sure you realize it, but you are blessed… especially compared to other children in the world. A majority of the people in this world live in poverty. They live off less than $2/day. Think about that amount. It is practically nothing. You cannot even buy a decent cup of coffee at Starbucks for $2.

You have many blessings, and should be thankful. You have a roof over your head, you do not wonder if you will eat today, you have parents who love you, and take care of you. I am not saying that you have an easy life. All of us have struggles. Rather I am saying that your basics needs are supplied, unlike many others who have to struggle every day just to get by in this world. Be sure to thank God for all these blessings, and make the most of what you have been given. I thank God everyday that you are my kids and bless my life.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7

Be a bad ass – you are better than you know

A strange thing happened last year. Several women completed US Army Ranger School successfully. They earned the coveted Army Ranger tab. The pundits said this would never happen…never. The reasons provided were many, but are best summed up in a single sentence…women are not strong enough to become a ranger. Well, the doubters were wrong.

I went to Ranger School many years ago, and I can tell you it is tough. In fact, it is the hardest thing I have ever completed in my lifetime. You experience both food and sleep deprivation. The days are long and hard, and you are asked to push yourself further than you can imagine. So, how in the world did women complete the course. It was simple. They stayed strong, both mentally and physically, and did not ask for special treatment. They lived out the third stanza of the Ranger creed. You can learn an important lesson from them. You are better than you realize and can go further than you think. The questions is whether or not you are willing to push yourself. I encourage you to be a bad ass. The reward is worth the effort. Now get out there, and get after it.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.
– Third Stanza of Ranger Creed

Honor our veterans – they deserve it

Friday was Veteran’s Day. It is an important American holiday. On this day, we honor those who have served in the US military. They definitely deserve it – all of them. I can think of three important reasons why. First, serving in the United States military can be demanding. You sign up for a lot when you raise your right hand and take the oath. Basically you are saying that you will do whatever is needed to defend our great nation from our enemies. I cannot think of any other profession that requires so much of its members. Second, serving in the US military requires sacrifice. Military duty usually includes deployments away from family and friends. At times, we ask our military members to go into harm’s way and fight for our freedom. We have asked our military to sacrifice a lot the past two decades, so it is even more important than ever to thank our Veteran’s for their willingness to serve.

The last, and perhaps most important reason to honor veterans is that you come from a military family – full of veterans to include both your grandfathers. In fact, the majority of male family members have served. Just so it is clear, I am not saying that you need to join the military – that is up to you. No pressure from me to put on the uniform. Rather, I want to make sure that you honor those who have served. Each Veteran’s Day, I have breakfast with Opa. As you know he graduated from West Point, survived three tours in Vietnam, and served over 20 years as an Infantry Officer in the US Army. He tells me stories from his career that I will share with you one day. He is concerned about our Veterans, and so am I. We both feel we need to do more to take care of them. So, do you part. Honor our Veterans – they deserve it.

And I will always do my duty,
No matter what the price,
I’ve counted up the cost,
I know the sacrifice.
Oh, and I don’t want to die for you,
But if dyin’s asked of me,
I’ll bear that cross with honor,
‘Cause freedom don’t come free.

– American Solder by Toby Keith

Use credit cards wisely – don’t abuse them

It is too easy to borrow money from others these days, especially using credit cards. Just so it is clear – I am not saying that you should not use credit cards at all. Some experts are adamantly opposed to credit cards. I do not agree with them. Three good reasons exist for why you should consider using credit cards: they are convenient, they help build your credit score, they enable you to shop online. Both of you know that I have multiple credit cards that I use them all the time. I have one credit card for daily purchases. The other one is for online transactions. It is rare that I carry around a lot of cash. Quite honestly, there is not much of a need for cash in the modern business world. Instead, I purchase items with my credit cards, and then pay them off monthly.

But, credit cards can be dangerous if you abuse them. Banks want you to get into debt abusing your credit cards so that they can charge you high interest rates to profit from your debt. If you pay off your credit card bill each month, then you will not owe them any interest. It sounds easy, but it is more difficult than you think. I recommend avoiding this trap as much as possible. I know from personal experience that living in credit card debt is not good. When we first moved to Northern Virginia, we used our credit cards to buy a lot of items we needed. Moving into a new house is always expensive. I was not diligent about paying off the credit cards. The reality was that I did not have the money to pay off the cards. The debt started to pile up. After a few years, the credit card debt exceeded $20K. I did not have a good plan to pay off the debt, so I took what seemed like a radical, but necessary step at the time. I refinanced the house to pay off the credit cards.

It is very easy to overspend with credit cards which have limits that are usually higher than what you will earn in a month. Stores want you to buy stuff, so don’t rely on them to ask you if you really need to buy that extra item. You need to ask yourself that question…before you swipe the card. Do I really need this item?

Proverbs 22:7: The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.