Learning About ¥ and $

I remember my first job growing up — it was mowing lawns for our neighbors. Now if you grew up in the Midwest, you know well what mowing lawns is, but if you’re like my kids (and grew up where people don’t have lawns), it’s a foreign concept.

So when we visited the States, the kids pointed out the window of the car and yelled “What’s that guy doing?” I looked and saw a guy pushing a machine over the green grass and realized that they didn’t know about mowing lawns! So I said “Mowing lawns — that was daddy’s first job!”

When I made my first $10, my dad (an accountant) sat down with me and showed me and easy way to manage money. Give your first 10% to God (a tithe), put away another percentage for saving, and use the rest! It set me on a straight path right from the beginning.

That dollars and cents talk, or the yen talk if it’s here in Japan, is what a lot of young people are missing in their lives today, and without it you really don’t have a good idea of how powerful managing your money in a proactive way can be.

In fact recently we gave the kids ¥500 (about $4) each to spend in a Japanese discount store however they wanted. It was so interesting to see how they spent it, and in some cases very heart-warming (Joshua’s last purchase sure made me proud).

While this video doesn’t teach any kind of principles on money directly, the proper principles lived out can turn your life around from being reactive towards your spending (what gets your attention gets your money) to being proactive (planning on saving, being generous, future schooling, housing and needs, etc).

Ruth and I recently took a step towards being even more proactive with our finances, breaking down how much we spend in a month. The idea is not only to maximize our salary, but make sure it’s going to the important areas and not being sucked away by reactive spending. Do you do anything like this? If you’re like us, we need these adjustments along the way to keep us on track and make sure we keep going in the right direction.


Discovering An Ancient Way

One of the things Japan is known for is its history that goes back hundreds, even thousands of years. So imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a trail that retraces an old trading road here in the middle of the Kanto (Greater Tokyo) area! The trail, called the Tama Yokoyama no Michi snakes 10 kilometers through the Tama Hills.

What was truly amazing to me was that this path was hidden in plain sight — meaning it is well marked, has great parks and vantage points along the way, and is in no way being obscured. But I would have never known about it unless I had gone off the beaten path, wound up in a park where I discovered the huge sign. It’s just like life, really. Some of the best things in life happen because we detour from the normal path.


“Undo” Pressure

Life is full of first-time experiences, like new schools, first jobs and big moves. But when you move to a foreign country, these experiences happen at a much bigger rate. Tackling these new experiences can seem overwhelming, and often are, but they don’t have to be.

Doing things well and doing things right are highly valued in Japan, and that’s one of the the things that I love about Japan. (For example, I think McDonald’s here in Japan is second to none because of the cultural value of quality.) But it also puts a pressure on you that you feel like you have to do something perfect the first time you do it. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

What’s important in any aspect in life is to not give up. I’ve heard it said that “success is standing on top of a pile of failures instead of being buried underneath.” I’ve also heard it said that failure is not a person, it’s an event. Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. What makes people a success is not that they did it right the first time. What makes them a success is that they didn’t give up in all the failures of life, but kept going until something clicked and went right.

This week’s video is a video of first experiences. Some of them go well, and others not as planned. But when we have strong relationships with family and others, it helps brace us through the ups and downs of life and its’ first experiences— to keep going until we find ourselves on top instead of underneath. Yes, strong relationships with God and others help you take undue pressure and undo it! That’s what I call undo pressure. It doesn’t mean you won’t fail. It just means you have the support you need to overcome your failure, no matter how long it takes.

Do you have that power in your life? It’s one of the big reasons I encourage everyone and anyone, no matter their religion, to come to church! A good church will help you get connected with God and others in such a way that life’s ups and down will be stabilized and you will be supported as you walk through life towards the great things God has for you.

So what are you waiting for? An invitation? Here it is! Now come and get connected!


Your Future is Bright

The world is sinking in bad news. Recession, war, restrictions, COVID, inflation, busted politics and the list goes on and on. If all you listen to is the news, your life follows a similar negative path. But when we know what God says about who you are and what things are happening, the future looks bright.

God has a purpose and plan for our lives, each and every person, and this purpose is a good one full of life, but it is not something that just automatically happens. It requires our cooperation to happen. But the good news is that when we cooperate with God and what He wants to accomplish, He makes the impossible happen. He can make a bright future for anyone, in any situation from any part of the world. Here’s how.

An uplifting message of hope

Recharge Your Life

The last couple of years have been hard on everyone. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is struggling with something. Something at home, at work, at school, with relationships, with health, with finances, with general well-being and happiness. Realizing that everyone is struggling helps us give a little extra grace to others, because we all need it! And one of the big conclusions I’ve come to recently is the necessity of finding an activity that recharges your life.

These activities are as diverse as humanity itself, as this video shows, but there’s something out there for everyone that, when you do it, you come alive and feel it. Now more than ever it’s important to find the people and the activities that recharge your life batteries. Then make a plan to get out and do it on a regular basis.

We can’t treat these activities like a hobby— they are way more crucial to life. We need to regularly invest time into life-giving activities. If you do, there will be incredible benefits to your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. So what are you waiting for? What sparks that interest in you?