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Words of Wisdom is a topical blog that provides discussion on topics including: Dating & Marriage, Finances & Careers, and Biblical manhood
Blog Added: October 24, 2016 04:00:13 AM
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WHAT WOULD YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE IF YOU WOKE UP TOMORROW AND WERE DEBT FREE?

Author: Marcella Mortel ​Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and did not owe money to anyone. You have defeated the archenemy known as Sallie Mae (yes I know, she has a new name now, but it's more fun to call her by a human name). The car in your driveway is 100% yours. You own every piece of furniture and every electronic in your household. You might not even have a mortgage! There are no bill collectors calling you. You have money in savings in case an emergency were to...

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Author: Marcella Mortel

​Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and did not owe money to anyone. You have defeated the archenemy known as Sallie Mae (yes I know, she has a new name now, but it's more fun to call her by a human name). The car in your driveway is 100% yours. You own every piece of furniture and every electronic in your household. You might not even have a mortgage! There are no bill collectors calling you. You have money in savings in case an emergency were to happen. You feel safe knowing that if something were to happen to you, your family would be left with an inheritance rather than left to pick up the pieces of some unwise decisions you made during your lifetime. What if you had so much extra money to spare each month, it was difficult to think of ways to best use it? Imagine a life where all you had to pay were utilities and basic needs and the rest could be used for saving, investing, generosity, and good ole fun paid for in CASH!

If you're looking for reasons why getting out of debt is worth the discipline, here are some reasons why you should strive to live like only 25% of America:

1. PEACE

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

The feeling of drowning in debt and not knowing how or when we would be able to pay it off is one I will never forget. As many of you know, my husband and I entered marriage with $125,000 of debt when we were just beginning our lives together and prospective careers. I'm sure many of you can relate. You might even be making a decent salary, however you are not able to fully enjoy the hard earned money you worked for because $500 is going to Sallie Mae each month as part of an agreed upon "minimum payment" - and that's just one of many debts you may owe. You might be on the 10 year loan forgiveness plan, but rumors of this plan being terminated leave you feeling hopeless.

A poll conducted in 2016 found that 21 percent of people believed they would DIE before they were able to pay off their debt! And I can't tell you how many times I have heard young people genuinely say they will be in their 70s before they will ever be able to finish paying off their STUDENT loans. That is not okay! Debt has become too common. Research has found that although 66% of people admit to worrying about money, only 14% take any actions towards making a financial plan or identifying financial priorities. Once again, I encourage you to be DIFFERENT! 

There is such a peace that comes when you are debt free. For some people, it's hard to imagine such a life, but I want to challenge you to do something: Calculate how much you put towards debt payments each month and each year (including credit cards, student loans, car payments, mortgage, etc. - don't leave anything out) and just take 5 minutes to imagine what you could do with that amount of money if you were debt free. This is not an unrealistic thought. I'm not asking you to imagine you hit the lottery, just simply asking you to imagine that everything you chose to buy at some point was actually 100% paid off. Just imagine the peace you would experience. It practically blows my mind every time I think of what life would look like without a rent/mortgage payment. It's a peace me and my husband look forward to and the reason we plan to put a large down payment on a house that is well below our means and one we can pay off quickly. Our future home will not be anything fancy or luxurious, but it will give us the life we dream of - one filled with peace. :) And when you're more at peace, you will experience more joy. When you have peace and joy, it will strengthen your relationships, your marriage, set an example for your children,  and even change your relationship with God. Being out of debt will quite literally change you.

2. ENJOYMENT

So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless–like chasing the wind. Ecclesiastes 6:9 

Now here is the reason that excites most people about getting out of debt, however, it's also the reason so many people are IN debt - the desire to want to ENJOY LIFE and HAVE FUN. Although we encourage cutting back while you are eliminating debt and being wise with your spending to ensure you do not get back in to debt once you are out, we also want you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Know that one day, you WILL be able to be more flexible, treat yourself, and do the things you enjoy. Vacations are much more fun when they are paid in "cash" and you don't have to worry about still making payments on that delicious meal you had a year prior with interest added on. You can actually make planning for vacations and other splurge items part of your budget. You no longer have to feel guilty when spending a little extra on your lifestyle choices when you know that overall, you are living below your means and saving/budgeting wisely. Think of a way you can reward yourself when you reach your financial goals and make sure it is something that will motivate you. 

3. SAVINGS

The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets. Proverbs 21:20

Approximately 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. If an emergency were to happen, such as your own or a loved one's unexpected illness, a car problem, house issue, job loss, or demotion, most people do not have the money in savings to survive even one month with a reduction in their income - some may not even have the savings to survive one week, only spiraling them further into debt. There is such a freedom and peace in knowing that if you lose a job for a few months or have an unexpected medical issue arise, you can tackle it. When your savings account is in the 5 (or even 6+) digit range and you know you are living below your means such that not even most emergency situations would destroy your finances, it's a feeling that will be worth every single thing you have to sacrifice and say no to now. You know that even some of the most stressful life events, though they may still be emotionally tolling, at least won't be as financially stressful, leaving you with the time and energy to devote to what's most important during these times - your family/loved ones. Most people can hardly even imagine the feeling of security and peace that comes with having 3-6 (or more!) months of expenses in savings...because they think it's impossible for their family. Let me tell you - it may take time, but it IS possible.   

4. GENEROSITY

Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:4

And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

Being out of debt will allow you the freedom and flexibility to be more generous towards others in need. It's not a good feeling to know that someone you care about is in need, but you are not in a place where you can help them because you are drowning in debt yourself with little to no wiggle room. On the other hand, it's a great feeling to be in a place financially where you are able to give to people randomly, planned, or even anonymously. Sure, money is not the only means you can demonstrate generosity towards others as we all know we can be generous with our time and resources as well. However, it's hard to even begin to focus on and attend to other people and their needs when you're so wrapped up in the stress of your own situation that you can hardly focus on anything else. Your life will truly change when you are able to pour into the lives of others. We exemplify Christ most when we serve and love people. 

Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others—never finish paying that! For if you love them, you will be obeying all of God’s laws, fulfilling all his requirements. Romans 13:8

​#LOVELIKECHRIST

RESOURCES:


www.cnbc.com/amp/2015/08/03/most-americans-rich-or-not-stressed-about-money-surveys.html

https://www.gobankingrates.com/press-releases/gobankingrates-study-finds-66americans-greatest-fears-money/​

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/10/09/savings-study/91083712/​



THE TIME I WAS ASHAMED OF HAVING A BROTHER WHO IS SPECIAL NEEDS

Author: Marc Mortel ​​​When me and my brothers were growing up, my dad would periodically give us $5 each to spend as we chose. Noah's money was typically spent that same week on things like Chinese food (things haven't changed much). I would splurge every now and then, but most times would save until I had enough to purchase a new gadget or toy I wanted. Growing up, however, Junior was the most frugal of all of us.Junior was the type that would want to go to the...

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Author: Marc Mortel

When me and my brothers were growing up, my dad would periodically give us $5 each to spend as we chose. Noah's money was typically spent that same week on things like Chinese food (things haven't changed much). I would splurge every now and then, but most times would save until I had enough to purchase a new gadget or toy I wanted. Growing up, however, Junior was the most frugal of all of us.

Junior was the type that would want to go to the movies or out to eat with us, but would never want to pay for any of it. Eventually, Noah or myself would typically feel bad and cover his cost so that he could join us. We always found out later, however, that Junior was always hoarding a hidden stash of cash somewhere in his room. He seemed to always have more money than both of us.

One day, when I was 10 years old, Junior and I were playing and I found myself deep in thought about him. I knew he was different, but he was always kind to me and I felt very grateful to have him as my brother. I wanted to express my emotions towards him in some way so I gave him the $5 my dad had given me because I knew it would mean something to him. 

Well, for many of you who grew up with brothers or have two young boys, you know that one second they will be getting along and the next, they will be bickering. It was probably minutes after that Junior and I started arguing (I don't remember why, but it was probably my fault to be honest). Well, to get back at him, I told him I wanted my $5 back. Now, the reason I remember this story so vividly is because of how Junior reacted. I knew how I would've reacted if someone just gave me something then wanted it back. I would have either told them, "No, it's mine now!" or had some snappy remark as I gave it back like, "Here, I don't want your stupid money anyways." Quite frankly, had I done this to any of my other brothers, that's probably the response I would have gotten, but Junior's reaction shocked me.

He didn't respond negatively. As a matter of fact, he didn't respond at all. He simply went and got the money and handed it back to me as if it belonged to me. Although we were still upset at each other in that moment, I was surprised by his kindness even in the midst of our disagreement. Maybe it was his lack of comprehension that caused him to give the money back to me so willingly. Maybe, it was just his characterMaybe, it was both, and though I never gave the money back to him, I never forgot that moment.

Doing things he may never do
You would expect that accomplishments of major milestones would be cause for celebration, which it has been in our family, yet it has also been cause for concern. Our brother Junior, who is older than Noah and myself, has often measured his own life by comparing it to ours. Understanding that he is older than us, I have recognized that he tends to feel that his life is "behind" when he sees ours progress.

When we graduated from high school, he no longer wanted to undergo the high school special needs program anymore. When we went off to college, he too wanted to leave the house and go to college. When we started dating, he too felt that he should be dating. 

I sympathize with him because I realize there are things that we will be able to accomplish that he may never get to. In the past, he has expressed a desire to go to college, but how do you explain to him that he "can't" because of his intellectual disability? He has expressed a desire to move out of the house and live on the own, but the rest of us understand that he would not be capable of taking care of himself physically and supporting himself financially. Instead, we typically try to find ways to distract him from those topics when they come up, while feeling pity deep down towards those milestones that he may never achieve.


3 important lessons God has taught me from growing up with a special needs brother:

John 9:2-3 - "His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 
'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."


  1. Patience - Talking on the phone can sometimes feel monotonous with Junior

              "Hi Marc."
              "Hi Junior. How are you doing?"
              "Good, I had Krispy Kreme cake today. It was good."
              "Oh ok. That's good."
              "Yeah, have you tried it before?"
              "No, I haven't. So, what else is new, Junior?"
              "Not too much. I went to the Greenspoint mall today. Then I went to the Kendall Library."
              "That's good. I'm glad you got to go."
              "Yup. Nice talking to you Marc."
               "Good talking to you too, Junior."

     2.  Humility - Overcoming a fear of embarrassment

           
When I had just graduated from high school, I'd get together with friends over the college breaks every so often and we'd play                             basketball at the old high school gym. Junior would always come and watch us play, partly I think to have something to do and get out of            the house. On one occasion, he asked to play.
           "Are you sure?" I asked.
           "Yes, I want to play."

           Up until then, the games had been pretty competitive. Everyone there knew Junior well enough by now to know that he has an                            intellectual disability. Therefore, whenever he would get the ball, the game would stop out of respect. Whoever was "guarding" him                    would back off, allowing him to take an uncontested shot, which he would significantly miss. If it was just Junior and I playing, I would                  not have had a second thought, but I wondered what everyone else was thinking. I knew outwardly, they were cordial and courteous,                  but inside I started to feel ashamed of what was taking place because I wondered whether everyone was annoyed or frustrated at the                dismal pace of the game.

          On the one end, I wanted to make Junior feel included, but on the other end I didn't want to disappoint everyone else around me. After a           few games went by, I had to find a way to politely tell Junior that "we were going to play now." Though it is still difficult for me to think                 about that day, I have learned that internally, I should have been more grateful for Junior's desire and ability to play with us. I was so                   concerned about what others were thinking that I missed out on a day that could have been a very happy memory. Instead, it is a                       memory that I hold with great remorse.

   3.  Selflessness

         Growing up with Jr. has forced me to think of myself less than I otherwise would have. It's funny how we are often so excited to be able              to drive and have our first car, but only when it means going places that we want to go. There were times I remember being home during          the college breaks and wanting to just relax at home. It seemed like it was those times that Junior always wanted to go somewhere. He              would very kindly ask me if I could take him, and many of those times I would, because I knew he had no means of getting there.                        Whether it was a spending a few hours at an arcade, or taking him out for pizza even if I knew I wasn't going to eat (which he was typically          kind enough to offer to pay for me as well), God was showing me how to be more selfless in accommodating Junior over myself in those            times.

In retrospect, I can see how Junior's life has made me a better person. Though I was oblivious to the significance growing up, and sometimes even ashamed of the difficulties that arose, I have learned to embrace who he is and all that God has shown me through Junior's life. I see how through his life, God's work has been displayed.

#LOVELIKECHRIST



I RECEIVED A MYSTERIOUS MESSAGE FROM A STRANGER ON FACEBOOK, WHO TURNED OUT TO BE A BROTHER I NEVER KNEW I HAD

Author: Marc Mortel This picture was taken in Atlanta, the first day I met my brother Oscar. I was 22 years old. A few years prior, I logged onto Facebook in my college dormitory, surprised to see a notification for a new message.  Interested, I opened the message as I tried to determine who the sender was. There was no photo and the details of his account remained hidden. All I saw was his name - Oscar Alvarez-Sanchez.I read the message with curiosity, but also with concern."Was...

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Author: Marc Mortel
This picture was taken in Atlanta, the first day I met my brother Oscar. I was 22 years old. A few years prior, I logged onto Facebook in my college dormitory, surprised to see a notification for a new message.  Interested, I opened the message as I tried to determine who the sender was. There was no photo and the details of his account remained hidden. All I saw was his name - Oscar Alvarez-Sanchez.

I read the message with curiosity, but also with concern.

"Was your father in Valencia, Spain  in 1982?"  I hesitated to respond because the sender's ambiguity sparked some apprehension. Why was he asking? What was his intent? Was he a friend of my father? A lingering thought began to surface. Could an honest response with this stranger eventually compromise my safety or lead to identity theft?

I chose not to respond.

Several weeks went by and I had nearly forgotten about the message until I noticed another notification on Facebook alerting me of a new message.  It was from the mysterious stranger yet again. This time, however, it sounded more urgent.

"This is really important. I can't go into the details of why I'm asking right now, but I really need to know...was your father in Valencia, Spain in 1982? Is he Haitian? I know it may sound strange but I really need to know this. Please."

In this message, he had included even more details about my father, which was all the more eerie. I contemplated that message for what seemed like a lifetime, even though my response took seconds to type. In fact, I almost didn't respond to that message at all and today, I wonder how different my life would have been if I hadn't.

I replied with just one word, "Yes."

The next message I received not only told me that he was born and raised in Valencia, Spain, but concluded with the revelation that he was my brother.

A Mindset of Maturity & Forgiveness
Every time I look back on how that story unfolded and how everything had to fall into place so perfectly for the truth of the situation to be revealed, it reminds me of God's sovereignty in life. I mean, there are so many "What ifs?" that could have completely changed the way this whole story unraveled.

"What if Oscar had found my dad first and reached out to him? Would we have found out about him?"

"What if I hadn't responded to the message?"

"What if I hadn't had a Facebook?"

"What if he had given up and hadn't decided to try to search for his family one more time?"

"What if we chose not to meet him in person?"

It always reminds me of how perfect God's plan is. Honestly, I have analyzed everything to the most minute, finite details which I could probably write a short novel about. There is so much that had to happen in the exact time and place that it did for everything to fall in line so perfectly.

One thing that sticks out to me is the mindset of maturity and forgiveness that resonates throughout each event that took place. Oscar had to be mature and forgiving to want to reach out and find out the truth. He could have harbored so much hate about being neglected before birth that he could have chosen to ignore "this" side of him. Instead, however, he was mature enough to see beyond that.

It took maturity from me and my brothers to not define Oscar by his conception, but instead with empathy and as a human being who deserved a chance at getting to know who he was.

Still, what impressed me most was my mom's reaction...

The unspoken lesson I will never forget.
After meeting Oscar for the first time that day in Atlanta, we made our way towards my oldest brother's house where more family was waiting to meet Oscar. We all sensed a bit of anxiety in Oscar's questions and concern related to meeting my mom could cause problems in our family. Though we reassured him of my mom's loving character, I'll admit, I wondered how she would react when she met him.

I knew she would be cordial, but I wondered whether she would be reserved and quiet. As he walked inside the house and was introduced, she walked up to him and without a word, they embraced, yet it spoke volumes to me. I'll never forget that moment. It is forever ingrained in my mind. In that embrace, I saw compassion from my mom for someone who had been searching over 26 years for his family. In that embrace, I saw selflessness from my mom, who set aside any of her own feelings or pain for Oscar. Finally, in that embrace, I saw healing, as I witnessed the tears that streamed not only from her eyes, but most importantly from Oscar's. 

It's sad to think that one selfish or immature choice on any of our parts could have prevented us from discovering the truth, but furthermore, could have been the reason we missed out on getting to know Oscar - a blessing we now realize we would have never foreseen.

Don't hide from your past, embrace it.
There are many people out there who are ashamed of their family history. We have the tendency to keep all of the skeletons in the closet in order to deceive the people around us into thinking that our life is "normal." I hate to break it to you, but nobody's life is "normal." In fact, it's the mess in our lives that is normal, and the "order" that is not.

Since that day we first met Oscar in Atlanta, he has visited us in Houston and was even one of the groomsmen at my wedding. This past summer, we traveled to Spain to visit him and met my nephew for the first time, as well as many of his friends and family. In Spain, both my mom and his shared a family meal, which was filled with laughter and companionship. After our trip, my oldest brother created the video below as a tribute to Oscar and a "thank you" for welcoming us all in Spain and for his hospitality towards us.

It is when we embrace the imperfections of our families with unconditional Christlike love that so much good, closeness, redemption, and restoration resonates among us.

Genesis 43:30-34; 50:19-20  - deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep [...]. After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, "Serve the food." [...] So they feasted and drank freely with him. [...]

​But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.


When we take the mess in our lives and combine it with a Godly mindset, He shapes it into a story that is not only inspirational, but also picturesque.

#LOVELIKECHRIST



MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH RACISM AND HOW I EVENTUALLY BECAME BEST FRIENDS WITH A WHITE GUY

Author: Marc Mortel This is me...my junior year of high school. I'm the guy on the left that is introducing the guy on the right to the trendiest brand in the black community at the time..."Sean John."We were at the mall one Saturday. We were bored with a lot of time to kill and got into a conversation about Sean John."JP, i'm telling you, I can teach you how to dress," I proclaimed. That bold statement led to this photo. I grabbed a whole bunch of ECKO, Sean John, and Rocawear...

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Author: Marc Mortel
This is me...my junior year of high school. I'm the guy on the left that is introducing the guy on the right to the trendiest brand in the black community at the time..."Sean John."

We were at the mall one Saturday. We were bored with a lot of time to kill and got into a conversation about Sean John.

"JP, i'm telling you, I can teach you how to dress," I proclaimed. 

That bold statement led to this photo. I grabbed a whole bunch of ECKO, Sean John, and Rocawear clothing off of the racks at Foley's (now Macy's) and showed him which outfits to wear...just for fun. 

Though we were approached time and time again by employees asking, "Can I help you?" (they probably assumed we were stealing) as we both hauled a huge pile of outfits into each of our dressing rooms, we snapped a few funny pictures, returned all the clothes to the racks, then left the store laughing hysterically.

Good vs Bad

In every race there are people with good intentions and people with bad intentions. In the 28 years of my life, I have encountered both. I have come across "good" white people, I have come across "bad" white people. I have come across "good" Asian people. I have come across "bad" Asian people. I have come across "good" black people. I have come across "bad" black people.

Nonetheless, there remain a number of people that associate good and bad with skin color, or with appearance in general, which is something even I strive to overcome. You know...the rocker persona with the tatted arm sleeves and piercings that the conservative Christian eventually finds is extremely relatable...or in my story the black man who relates to a white man.

Here's the problem. Judging someone based off of appearance can be both beneficial and harmful, but the threshold of when it is beneficial and when it is harmful is difficult to distinguish. Sometimes the conservative Christian can be as judgmental as initially assumed, or sometimes the black man who dresses like a thug can have bad intentions.

One night my mom had just gotten home from babysitting for a family. It was pretty late and she was walking from her car in the driveway to the house. She noticed a black man was walking on the sidewalk, and though initially she feared the man's presence, she didn't want to judge him and remained calm as she made her way into the house.

That moment of hesitation may have been just the time that man needed to capitalize on the opportunity because she was held at gunpoint and robbed by that man...right outside our front door. Therefore, how can we as a society, overcome initial judgments when there are times when it could potentially save our lives?

Sheltering

Expanding our mindsets and being immersed in other cultures is the key way to eradicate racism in our society. From high school cafeterias to college organizations, it's so common to see subtle racial barriers that become established. It is not until we immerse ourselves in other cultures, however, that we can truly begin to understand each other in the midst of our differences.

In high school, I was the only black guy in my graduating class. I went to a private high school, and was surrounded by white people daily. In fact, out of the 98 people that graduated in our class there were only 3 black people, myself and two girls. There were times in Government class that I felt I couldn't truly express my opinion in discussions, because I knew the majority of people would be very close-minded. It's not easy to be bashed for democratic views in an ultra conservative audience especially knowing that the majority of people would not even hear my point of view. So, the majority of the time I stayed quiet instead of enduring an argument that I felt would lead nowhere.

As difficult as some of those times were, there is something that I gained from being a "minority" in that audience that I would never take away - the ability to relate to another culture in a way I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. I connected with people like JP and learned how to adapt to the differences in another culture, which has definitely helped in corporate America I might add.

I have known of black parents who are afraid to place their children in white settings. Maybe those parents have had racist experiences in their lives and thus try to protect their kids by ensuring they are surrounded in black communities. In the same way, I have seen similar mindsets in white communities. People sometimes only become immersed in their own culture because they are dominated by fears of what influences from other cultures could mean. You see Asians who become gridlocked with Asians, Indians with Indians, Hispanics with Hispanics and so on, however, it is only when we immerse ourselves in each others cultures that our mindset truly expands.

My First Racist Experience

As a child, we were one of the only black families in a predominantly white neighborhood in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. We had a neighbor that my brothers and I would refer to as "the bad man." What we didn't realize as innocent kids, we understand now. He was racist. We lived in a cul-de-sac and if we so much as rode our bicycles on his sidewalk (which I now know is actually public property), he would come running out of his house yelling, "Get off my land! Get off my land or I'm going to call the po-lice!" in his country southern twang. We could see veins bulging on his neck and on his forehead as his face turned red with anger every time he saw us.

We went on vacation one week, and when we got back, our house had been vandalized, and "N*****" had been spray painted in red on the outside walls of our house. I was four years old. Though I have never forgotten "the bad white man," I have also met very "good" white people in my lifetime.

My senior year of high school, JP gathered a group of students together and raised money for me to purchase a brand new laptop as a graduation gift....oh and by the way, many of the people that contributed were white, which is also something I will never forget.

My challenge to everyone who reads this article is this:
Immerse yourselves in other cultures. Immerse your kids in other cultures. If you're black, try going to an Asian Bible study for an extended period of time and get to know something that is outside of your norm. If you're Indian, maybe find a Hispanic group of people you can immerse yourself in and get to know. I'm referring to positive settings that you can experience for at least a 3-4 month time frame to expand your mindset on other cultures. Yes, it will be scary and uncomfortable, but it will create memories that you will never forget and growth that you will never regret.

Jesus broke culture barriers, even though it may not have been "comfortable".

John 4:7-9 "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink.' For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to HIm, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."

Oh, and there's nothing more annoying than assuming that every Asian is into Anime and martial arts, every black person knows every 2Pac song, and that every Indian person is a Bollywood expert.

So don't try so hard to relate in these ways. Just be yourself, be authentic and you will be respected. 

#LOVELIKECHRIST

1 Samuel 16:7 - "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."



MONEY AND MARRIAGE: 25 THOUGHT PROVOKING QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR SPOUSE (OR FUTURE SPOUSE)

Author: Marcella Mortel WARNING: This information may result in tension, stress, and even a potential disagreement between you and your partner. However, long-term benefits include financial peace, security, and freedom. Proceed at your own risk.:)Finances are typically not a fun or exciting topic to discuss with your partner. These conversations can be stress inducing...or worse yet, fight inducing. However, just like exercise or studying for an important test, the temporary stress...

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Author: Marcella Mortel
WARNING: This information may result in tension, stress, and even a potential disagreement between you and your partner. However, long-term benefits include financial peace, security, and freedom. Proceed at your own risk.

:)

Finances are typically not a fun or exciting topic to discuss with your partner. These conversations can be stress inducing...or worse yet, fight inducing. However, just like exercise or studying for an important test, the temporary stress and tension that accompanies the actions you take now are well worth the long-term benefits you will reap later.

You don't want to enter marriage with any surprises when life throws unexpected obstacles in your path...and in case you haven't noticed, life will throw you some curveballs. No one wants to think about what they would do if a loved one becomes ill or passes away, or how they would handle a sudden job loss or demotion. However, these are important topics to go over with your partner so you will be more prepared when life happens...because it will. Life, at times, can be stressful enough on its own. Don't add unnecessary stress by avoiding talking to your partner about where each of you stands in these areas. The topic of money WILL come up in your marriage at some point. Don't let it come up for the first time when you're surprised to find out your partner is more of a spender than a saver, lends money to family/friends regularly, has dreams of being a stay-at-home mom, or has thousands of dollars (or even six figures worth) in debt. 

Here are some shocking stats about money and marriage:

Only 43% of the general population in America has talked about money with their significant other prior to getting married. I encourage you to be weird and talk about money! 

One-third of couples go into debt for their wedding and 47% of those people say they immediately regretted taking out loans for their big day once their wedding was over.

One-third of couples also admit to lying or withholding financial information from their spouses.

63% of couples who admit to being unhappily married stated that finances were the primary source of their stress. 

Don't enter marriage or remain in your marriage with blinders on. Let's change these statistics and tackle this topic HEAD ON! 

Before entering these conversations, remember to not criticize your partner for having different views than you because this may cause him or her to shut down and feel uncomfortable being open and honest with you. When your partner bottle things up, their tension will always come out in some form--typically in an unhealthy manner.

Sit down, pray, have an open mind, and get ready for some thought-provoking discussion. And who knows, you might actually learn something new about your spouse (or future spouse)! :) And don't worry, topics this serious don't have to be something you discuss every dayThis is certainly not an all-inclusive list, however it can help you start the conversation and begin the journey towards a healthy, happy marriage and financial peace. 

  1. What are each of our strengths when it comes to managing money?
  2. What are each of our weaknesses when it comes to managing money?
  3. Do we feel comfortable discussing money with each other? If not, how can each of us make it easier to bring up the topic?
  4. How much debt do we each have (if not yet married) or do we cumulatively have (if married)?
  5. What are our views on having joint accounts?
  6. What are our current stressors and fears related to finances?
  7. What are some mistakes we have each made when it comes to finances and how can we learn from them?
  8. What are some ways we have successfully managed and allocated our finances?
  9. What are our financial goals as a family for this year? The next 5 years? The next 10 years? And so on?
  10. Are we prepared to handle an unforeseen financial emergency (i.e. medical bills, family member’s illness, job loss)? If so, what is our plan? If not, what WILL be our plan?
  11. How will we prepare financially for major life changes, such as home ownership, having children, and retirement?
  12. What are some changes we can make in our spending habits to be better prepared for an emergency and better secure our family’s future?
  13. Do we plan on being a dual-income or single-income household? How do we each feel about this plan? If we agree to be a single-income household and finances become a major source of stress, how will we adjust (i.e. lifestyle change, job change, or transition to a dual-income household)?
  14. Do we display mutual respect for each other despite who may be the breadwinner in our marriage?
  15. Do we sometimes feel the need to hide certain expenses from each other to avoid an argument?
  16. How did each of our families handle finances when we were growing up?
  17. What kind of example are we setting (or what kind do we want to set in the future if we plan on having kids) for our children by a) how we spend our money and b) how we give?
  18. How can we teach our children to manage their money wisely and be good stewards of their finances?
  19. How much are we willing to financially assist our children when they are adults (including college)? 
  20. (If applicable) How will we handle the possibility of our parents (or other close family members) needing assistance as they age?
  21. How will we handle family or friends asking us for money?
  22. Mr. John Doe works 50-60+ hours a week on average to provide for his family. Currently, his wife stays at home, maintaining the household and taking care of their children. Although Mr. Doe is overwhelmed and overburdened, he knows this is what is required to be a provider for his household. How do you think his work stress might impact his marriage, his family, and his relationship with God in 5 years? In 10 years?
  23. There are many men who, like Mr. Doe, carry a heavy weight to provide financially for their family. Some men look back on their lives after spending years in their career and feel as if they have lived without a purpose. In some cases, men escape the stress through unhealthy means, leading to increasing arguments, resentment, and the collapse of their marriage. How can we protect our family and prevent this from happening in our own lives?
  24. The following is a quote from Rick Warren: “If you show me how you spend your time and how you spend your money, I'll show you what's important in your life. Show me your schedule and your checkbook and, no matter what you say is important, I'll tell you what's really important to you.” How does this statement resonate with us?
  25. In spending our money, do we act as if we are the owners of our finances or do we act as if God is the owner?

#LOVELIKECHRIST

​ Source for Statistics: http://www.businessinsider.com/love-and-money-what-statistics-say-2012-2



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