Houston – You Have A Problem!


houstonLet me say it again – You have a problem!

Everyone who has ever lived, currently living and will ever live has the same problem.

There is no solution to this problem.

But there is a way to make it seem a little less scary and a little less painful for the people around you, the people you love and the people who depend on you to solve the problem.

What is this unsolvable, 100% unavoidable problem?

 

 

You’re going to die!

Probably not today and probably not tomorrow, hopefully maybe not for a very long time, but the probability that you will die is 100%. There is no cure coming for the end of your life. There are no research labs, no doctors and no scientists working on a cure for death. Sure they are trying to figure out ways to combat certain diseases and we are all living longer but that just creates another problem, the problem of outliving your money.

But one problem at a time.

Everybody dies. That’s a fact.

I cannot solve this problem. No one can. But we can make it a little less painful for you and the people you love.

How?

Insurance!

Life Insurance to be exact. But let’s be clear, you actually don’t need life insurance. You don’t need it because it’s not about you. Simply put Life Insurance is money for your loved ones when they need it the most.

Money when they are hurting, your income suddenly stops, your debts come due and you are no longer there to do all the things you do to keep your family safe and secure.

coupleattableLet’s be honest, money can’t replace everything you bring to this world. It can’t hold your partner’s hand and tell them everything is going to be all right. It can’t drive your kids to hockey practice, give them dating and career advice or make a toast at their wedding. But it can make sure your family gets as close to a normal life as possible if the unthinkable happens.

Money can ensure a measure of stability, help your kids get an education, find happiness and have families of their own.  And that’s the ultimate goal right?

So I’ll say it one last time – You have a problem!

There is no real solution to your problem. But you can at least make it a little less painful for the people you love.

My name is Lauren C. Sheil. I’m a Financial Security Advisor. And my mission is to help you solve your money problems. I want to help you live life to the fullest, even though all good things must come to an end, and to teach you live debt free, build wealth and leave a legacy.

Call or text me today for a FREE, no obligation consultation: 613-295-4141

Let’s solve some problems.

Be Strong and Courageous


For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. [2 Timothy 1:7]

I hate fear.

fear

I should qualify that.

Caution is not the same as fear. People who refuse to do things like jump out of a perfectly good airplane, or drive in a snow storm are not fearful in the way I mean here. They may be overly cautious and that caution may manifest itself in a way that looks like fear. That caution may even cost them opportunities to do great things but that’s not what I mean here.

I’m not talking about the fear of physical harm. I’m talking about debilitating, paralyzing fear of the unknown, unknowable primarily mental consequences of a particular action or inaction. I’m talking about fear associated with emotional pain more so than physical pain. It’s this kind of fear that keeps us second guessing ourselves and prevents us from reaching our God given potential.

I recently discovered an amazing little book written by two teenagers from Portland, Oregon called “Do Hard Things, A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations.”  The authors are 19 year old twin brothers Alex and Brett Harris. They started the Rebelution blog (www.therebelution.com) when they were 17, after they had already spent a summer interning for a Supreme Court justice in Alabama and managing his campaign for re-election.   These are not your ordinary teenagers but they are a shining example of what teenagers could be if they tried.

The Harris twins talk a lot in their book and on-line about overcoming fear.

We’ve noticed that the fence that keeps us from breaking out of our comfort zones is nearly always built of fear – fear of weakness, discomfort, failure, humiliation. We’ve noticed something else too: you can’t live by fear and live by faith at the same time. . – Alex & Brett Harris; Do Hard Things, A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations

Fear is the “fence that keeps us from breaking out of our comfort zones.” That doesn’t sound like something God, or anyone else who loves us would want. Instead it sounds like something the Enemy invented.

A couple of years ago I read a different book that talked a lot about fear too. Napolean Hill, famous for his success principles and the book “Think and Grow Rich” wrote a manuscript in the 1930s that remained un-published until recently called “Outwitting the Devil”. In it he “interviews” Satan and gains incredible insight into how he controls the world.

You know that I exist only in the minds of people who have fears. You know that I control only the drifters who neglect to use their own minds. You know that my hell is here on earth and not in the world that comes after death. And you know also that drifters supply all the fire I use in my hell. – [The Devil] Napolean Hill; Outwitting The Devil, The Secret to Freedom and Success

The Devil only exists in the “minds of people who have fears.” Emotional fears are the enemy of success. The antidote is faith.

Joshua had every reason to be afraid. He was taking over leadership from the man who had led the people out of Egypt. He had big shoes to fill. And he was leading them into a land occupied by established societies that were hostile to his mission. But when Joshua expressed fear and doubt God said to him:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. [Joshua 1:9]

That was enough for Joshua. He got up and rallied the people to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. As long as the people had faith and did not give in to fear God was with them. When they doubted things went badly.

God is saying the same thing to all of us today. Be strong and courageous. And watch what he will do.

What are you afraid of?

How is God telling you to be strong and courageous?

 

Banishing the Spirit of Eeyore


I used to think Eeyore was funny. Now I just think he’s sad and should be on Prozac.

eeyoretigger

Ever since I started out in business my favorite character in the Winnie-the-pooh stories has been Tigger. Why? Because Tiggers are confident, “that’s what Tiggers to best!”

I self-identify very strongly as an entrepreneur. That means among other things that I’m a self-starter, self-motivated and generally optimistic person. I don’t expect a hand-out, or a hand-up.  I eat what I kill and kill what I eat. I work hard and I play hard and to be honest some days I have trouble telling the difference.

If there is one thing I cannot stand to be around it is negativity. When I am about to embark on a task, whether it is meeting with a dream client, developing a seminar or writing a book, I first must banish all negativity from my life. In short I channel Tigger and dive in.  In the process I end up banishing Eeyore.

When I was first starting out in business I volunteered as a sound designer on a community theater production of the play “Lend Me a Tenor”. That experience was a bit of mixed bag. The director was crazy, I mean certifiably insane but I had the opportunity to work with some great people and I learned a lot. One line from the play has stuck with me to this day. At one point fictional opera star Tito Mirelli turns to his young fan Max and says,

“When you sing, you got to have the confidence. You got to say ‘I’m Max, I’m a da best, I Sing Good!’”

Some people say that entrepreneurs tend to be arrogant and over confident, even a bit delusional. That may be. Tigger does tend to get himself into trouble when he’s not careful but he sure has a lot of fun and most importantly he learns from his mistakes. Eeyore never learns anything. He never takes any chances and he never grows. Eeyore is nothing but doom and gloom from start to finish.

Of course there are other characters in these stories too. Winnie, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga & Roo, Owl and of course Christopher Robin and each has their own psychological profile.  The point here is not to go into a long and drawn out examination of arch types or the “Tao of Pooh”, as one pop psychology book of the 1980s attempted. The point is that the spirit of Eeyore has no place in business. You need to find the Eeyore’s in your life and either get them some help or get them out. Otherwise they will kill your entrepreneurial spirit and bring the whole organization down.

What Winnie-the-Pooh character do you most identify with?

Can you identify the Eeyore’s in your life?

How do you keep them from bringing you down?

God is Funny Sometimes


For the past few days I’ve been fighting a losing battle with depression.

depression-week-image-300x300

It’s a risk we all take when we step out boldly with a vision that we think is from Him and try to live it out in the world. I get really excited about my vision for this site and the organization I’m building around the principles I see in scripture; principles for managing money, growing a business and giving back. I think God has given me a vision and a mission to carry these things out for Him and for the Kingdom on earth. I usually receive my visions early in the morning or on the weekends but Monday inevitably dawns and I am faced with the reality of bills, regular work and a secular society that just doesn’t get it.

This past week I was told by one of my prospects that the deal we had been working on for over a year wasn’t going to happen, at least not right now. That set me off into a deep depression.   Quite frankly the money I would have made from that deal could have sustained me for several months and I need that right now.

But it went deeper I started to doubt my ability. I am sure the deal we had worked out would have been great for everyone involved. I was offering to save my prospect thousands of dollars over the course of at least the next two years and to me it was a no brainer. But at the end of the day they didn’t see it that way. They felt the relationship they had with their current supplier was worth more than the money the unknown and unproven concept I was proposing would save.

What did I do wrong? Was there anything I could have said or done differently that would have been more persuasive? I don’t think so. The bottom line is, relationships matter and the relationship my prospect had with their current supplier trumped everything else, even the thousands of dollars they could have saved. Did I fail in some way? No, what this told me was that I need to spend more time getting to know them and building the relationship before they are going to trust me enough to give me a chance. Sometimes selling can be a long game and you have to be prepared for some opportunities to take a long time to nurture. That’s just business.

But back to how God is funny about all this.

This all happened on Wednesday and I allowed it to effect my thinking for exactly 24 hours. On my way home from the office on Thursday I started to pray. I prayed for peace with the new reality, I prayed for new doors to open and mostly I prayed for a sign that my vision was still intact and that God still had a plan for this site and this organization. I hadn’t been home for more than 15 minutes when my phone rang. It was a new contact in another city doing similar work who wanted to meet with me, provide encouragement and share ideas.

Wow!

God you are funny sometimes. I can’t wait to see what have you ‘vegot in store for me today!

Saturday of the Soul


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. [Jeremiah 29:11]

So I might be a little late to the party on this one but I had a thought while on my morning run today.

Easter weekend is perhaps the busiest weekend of the year in the world of Christian blogging. Everyone who writes even a little bit on-line will post something on Easter weekend. Most are about the hope and joy found on Easter Sunday, some will be about the pain and suffering, (that points to hope and joy) found on Good Friday. But this year at least I couldn’t find a single post that talked about the day in between.

Easter Saturday is a dark and depressing time. For the first Christians it would have been the worst day of their lives. Jesus was dead, all they had hoped for was lost and to top it off, they had abandoned him in his greatest time of need. I don’t know about you but if I had been one of the disciples I wouldn’t have been very anxious for Jesus to come back, I would have been too ashamed to face him knowing what I had done.

Thankfully we know how the story ends but they didn’t.

We all have Saturdays. Days when our hope is gone, our pain is too fresh and our failure too recent, days when we can’t see God working right in front of us to make things right.

But we at least we have an advantage over the first disciples. We know how the story ends and we can look back through the rest of history and see all the times God made promises to his people that he kept beyond what anyone could have imagined.

Hope springs eternal, so they say. But hope is not naive. It stands on the history of promises and fulfilled prophesy we see all around us.

hope

So the next time you experience a Saturday of the Soul, remember God’s promises and hang on to hope. Who knows, tomorrow might be a Sunday like that one 2000 years ago, where God shows up in power and makes everything right.

Now…


In order to live, we must feel. Only if we experience pain can we experience joy, along with the smaller pleasures and sorrows that lie in between. And most of life, even most of life in the present is concerned not with “big” events or emotions, but with ordinary ones. – Stephen Rechtschaffen. (Time Shifting; Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life)

Time Shifting

My wife has a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought about by some childhood trauma that was left untreated for nearly a decade. We’ve been together for nearly 20 years now and I’ve seen her through most of the healing process. She was mis-diagnosed a few years before we met as bi-polar but at that point she was just trying to survive, the real healing didn’t start until after we were married. I am happy to report that after a lot of trial and error (and hard work and heart ache) we finally got the diagnosis and treatment plan right. With the proper balance of medications and therapy she’s doing much better now.

This past week I stumbled across this book from Dr. Stephen Rechtschaffen. I say I stumbled across it because when it first came across my radar it was presented to me as a book on time management. So starting the New Year and getting organized for some new projects I figured what better time to read about time management. The fact is this isn’t a book about time management at all I’d better describe it as a book about the spirituality of time.

You cannot “manage” time, it just is. Everyone get’s the same number of minutes each day, you can choose how you use those minutes but to say you are somehow in control of time itself, which is what management means, is simply impossible. What Rechtschaffen is really saying in this book is that we need to shift our understanding of time and begin it experience it in a deeper, more permanent and spiritual sense. One of the ways we do that is by allowing our emotions to run their natural course.

Sufferers of PTSD, and other anxiety related illnesses are unable to live in present time. They are either stuck in the past, reliving a traumatic event over and over again, or they are focused on a perceived stress at some point in the future. When my wife began to unpack her emotions we quickly discovered this to be the case, early on I would often reminder her to stop living in the future and concentrate on what was going on now. While can you prepare for things that haven’t happened yet you can only do so much and dwelling on it only serves to diminish your enjoyment of life now. Constantly thinking about something that hasn’t happened yet robs you of the present moment and in a very real way shortens your life.

It’s not just PTSD sufferers who experience this. I believe that to a certain degree our entire society is too focused on past or future events and not enough focused on the present and I think a lot of it stems from our unwillingness to truly experience our emotions, especially the negative ones. “Get over it” is the mantra of our day. We fear pain so much that we rush past any negative thought or feeling and spend much of our time stressing about how to avoid future pain without ever taking the time to understand it. It is only through experience that we can begin to understand and only through understanding that we can grow and learn the most effective ways to avoid or mitigate pain in the future. And the funny thing is; the actual experience is never as bad as the anticipation.

Jesus has some interesting things to say about worry and living in the present moment too.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:25:34]

You see, the point is, in order to fully experience life we must stop dwelling on the past or worrying about tomorrow. I love the way Jesus focuses on the present and brings everything into perspective. “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Of course not! “do not worry about tomorrow… Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Just live now.

What’s Your Attitude Toward Righteousness?


 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled. [Matthew 5:6]

For the past three weeks we’ve been focused on setting things aside and turning away from our possessions, things that bring us pleasure and our desire for power.  At this point in Jesus’ parody of Psalm 1 He subtly begins to turn our attention from the negative things we need to release to the positive things we should desire and work toward. 

Jesus knows what it’s like to be tempted with possessions, pleasure and power.  Before he started his public ministry he spent forty days alone in the desert and was tempted by the devil with all of these things.  In Matthew chapter 4 and again in Luke chapter 4, we see the story.  Jesus is tempted with food, comfort (pleasure) and power but he rejects them all, choosing instead to trust God to provide for his needs.

The way of possessing things, the way of pleasure seeking and the way of power and control leads to anxiety.  This is not God’s way and it is not the kind of life that God desires for his people.  When we look back at the first 3 beatitudes we are reminded that the release of these things leads to peace and satisfaction with the way things are, not the way we desire them to be.  Only in striving for righteousness, truly understanding and accepting God’s will can we be filled. 

And what is God’s will?  That’s a pretty loaded question but there are a few places in scripture where the over arching will of God can be distilled to just a few simple phrases and commands.  When you look at the whole story of Israel and the message of Jesus one theme literally jumps off the page.  God is Love, (1 John 4:18), but more practically, God desires his people to love Him and to love one another.

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40]

And how do we do that?  Loving God seems simple enough but loving or neighbor that gets dicey.  The Prophet Micah gives us the best example of how to go about demonstrating that kind of love.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God. [Micah 6:8]

 Later in this same sermon Jesus brings this point home when he talks about worry. 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. [Matthew 6:33]

The world is messed up.  God’s will isn’t always done here on earth.  One need only to turn on the news to see that.  As we will see in the next few weeks as we hunger and thirst for righteousness Jesus will continue to turn our focus to the things that God desires both for us and for the world through us.   For know it’s enough to know that we will be filled. 

 Blessed are those who long for God’s will to be done, for they will see it happen. 

 So what’s your attitude toward righteousness?

Worry = Sin!


Worrying is the way the responsible citizen of an advanced society demonstrates his virtue:  we feel good about feeling bad. – Mark Steyn; America Alone, The End of The World as We Know It

I have to admit that today’s quote of the day bugs me.  (If you’re reading this on any day other than when I originally posted it, I’ve repeated the quote above.)  I put this up because it made me think, not because I agree with it. 

How exactly does worry demonstrate virtue? 

On the contrary worry leads to fear and fear, paralyzes action.  What’s worse; worry and fear lead to irrational action which can only make things worse. 

Mr. Steyn, who posits in his book that it is America’s “Christian Values” that makes it unique, needs to read his bible more!

If the definition of sin (and I know that for many people the notion of sin may seem to be a bit of a harsh criticism) is to “miss the mark”.  Then worry, is plainly sin!

Jesus told us very clearly that worry, far from being a virtue, has no place in the life of a Christ-follower.   

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:26-34]

Worry is a lack of faith, which is sin! 

 Trust in the promises that Jesus made and the true power of his kingdom and worry will melt away.  Nobody feels good about feeling bad.  Stop fooling yourself and put your trust in the one who knows your needs more deeply and more completely then you know them yourself and He will take care of you, that’s a promise!

This Hurried and Harried Life


As the Christmas Holiday Season draws to a close and the New Year is upon us, I am drawn to reflect on a statement my wife made recently about how stressful life seems to have become in the past several years.  I can’t recall exactly what she said but it was made as we drove home from a very relaxing and rejuvenating time visiting family and friends over.  She wasn’t referring to anything specific either; it was just a general comment on the state of most of those close to us. 

I will turn 40 in 2012 and most of our friends and close relatives are between the ages of 35 and 45.  These are the years of peak activity for many.  It’s when we start families, purchase our first home and jockey for position on the ladder of success.  Apart from the death of a loved one; the birth of a child, moving and changing jobs are considered by psychologists the most stressful events one can endure.   Add to that economic concern and the ever present specter of saving for retirement or the education of the aforementioned children and it’s no wonder that stress related illnesses like heart disease and general anxieties have reached epidemic proportions. 

I blame the advertisers. 

We are bombarded with messages everyday that are designed to make us feel bad about ourselves and then show the wonderful new product that will fix our lives and make us feel better.  The fact is that in order to achieve that miracle thing we must spend more money.  But in order to spend it, we have to make it and in order to make it we have to work harder and spend less time doing the things that truly bring rest and rejuvenation. 

Of course we can always buy things on credit but that brings with it a whole host of other problems that I don’t have time to go into right now…

The point is that we are running around chasing after things that don’t last and digging ourselves into a hole financially, physically and emotionally that we may never be able to recover from.  Our culture tells us to do more and go faster.  But this cultural tendency is literally killing us.  According to Statistics Canada, the most common time for a heart attack is Monday morning and the fastest growing demographic for heart disease are women under 50. 

How counter cultural then is it to remember the words of Jesus on stress and our human tendency to chase after more? 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? [Matthew 6:26-27]

I leave you on this New Years Eve with that thought and this prayer; 

May 2012 bring you a stress free peace that comes from the wisdom and strength of saying NO when our culture pressures you to over commit your time, energy and financial resources to things that will pass away before or shortly after the dawn of 2013.

A Baby or a Bottle-Cap?


Have you ever met a worrier?  Maybe you are one, I know I can be sometimes.

You know; the people who somehow long ago got the idea that they need to think about and be responsible for everyone?

They worry about what to wear to work, how their parents are going to get to the doctor’s office, what their nieces are learning in pre-school and when the neighbours are going to decorate for Halloween.  They worry about the economy, the state of democracy in Libya and whether or not we’re going to have a snowstorm the day before Christmas when they are supposed to be driving to visit family for the holidays.  They worry about their jobs and how other people’s jobs are affected by how well they do theirs (and vice-versa) and they worry about whether or not there will be enough gas in the car to get to soccer practise next week.

You get the picture.

Worriers, worry about all of these things at the same time.  The literally hundreds of things in their head at any given moment are enough to send them into a state of shear panic with no warning or a deep depression that can last for days.

You see for a worrier, everything is the equivalent of a helpless baby left in the middle of the road and in need of immediate attention.

Most worriers can see that not everything is their responsibility but the parents are nowhere to be found.  If they don’t pick that baby up no one will and there’s a truck coming!

The trick here is for a worrier to recognize that some issues, while they may appear to be babies in the middle of the road are really no more significant than bottle-caps.  At worse they are someone else’s baby and not your responsibility but most of the time they are completely insignificant to everyone but you and should be treated like a bottle-cap left in the middle of the road.  You can pick it up if you want to, you may even receive some praise and recognition for doing so, but it’s really not going to make any difference, so don’t risk running out in to traffic.

Jesus had some interesting things to say about worry.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or
drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and
the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or
reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you
not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single
hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field
grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I
tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like
one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here
today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe
you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What
shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these
things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. [Matthew 6:25-32]

You see; when you worry you take too much responsibility on to yourself.  At best you’re doing other people’s jobs and enabling their laziness.  At worst, you’re doing God’s job.

On this point worriers can learn a valuable lesson from what is commonly known as the serenity prayer heard at every meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs;

God, grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Lord, grant me the wisdom to know the difference between a baby, and a bottle-cap.