5 Tips for Dealing with Inflation

Inflation continues to rise, with no end in sight. At 9.1% over the past 12 months, we are facing the highest rate of inflation since 1981. Here are some tips I have culled from various experts.

1. Review all subscriptions and recurring monthly payments. Are you paying for movie channels that you rarely watch? Is the fee you are paying for Amazon Prime saving you money or costing you money? Do you need all the cell phone data that you are paying for?

2. Set up autopay. Some insurance companies, utility companies, and cell phone service providers offer customers discounts for signing up for autopay. Check with your providers to see if this can save you money.

3. Get discounts for paying annually. Many insurance companies charge a service fee to those who pay bills monthly or quarterly. You may be able to make annual or semi-annual payments and eliminate the service fees. Likewise, if you have a lawn care service, you may be able to get a discount by paying for the summer season upfront.

4. Lower grocery bills by shopping sales, using coupons, and planning meals. Likewise, lower fuel consumption by planning trips, car pooling, riding a bike, walking, or using public transportation.

5. Reduce discretionary spending. Increase the time between hair cuts and manicures. Reduce or eliminate gym memberships. Hang on to your current electronics rather than trading up to ones with new features.

Keep in mind that small reductions in spending can add up to a significant amount of money over several months. These savings may be enough for you to take a much-needed vacation this summer or splurge on a fancy dinner out for your anniversary. Cutting back is much easier if you are saving with a specific reward in mind.

Woman reviewed receipts with laptop and notebook
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To learn more about how to honor God with your money and build treasure in Heaven, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

How Great is Our Creator

Carl Gustav Boberg penned the lyrics to “O Store Gud” (O Great God) in 1885.  This song was later translated into English as the beloved hymn, “How Great Thou Art.”  The opening stanza proclaims the wonders of God’s creation.

“Oh Lord, my God
When I, in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.”

Photo of a galazy
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In 1885, astronomy was a well-developed field of study.  The Congressional Record of 1886 reported that scientists had counted nearly 300,000 stars, 476 new nebulae had been discovered, Andromeda had been identified as a massive spiral nebula, and the Milky Way was thought to be the only galaxy.  About 40 years later, Edwin Hubble discovered that Andromeda is actually a galaxy and that the Milky Way is one of many galaxies. One hundred years after Boberg composed his tribute to God’s amazing creation, Carl Sagan postulated the existence of billions and billions of galaxies.  His estimate was too low by a factor of more than 117 times according to the newest estimations that between 6 and 20 trillion galaxies exist.

I read this new estimate yesterday online.   I was astonished by the arrogance of the author to attribute this amazing and ever-expanding Universe to the Big Bang.  He even stated that the Big Bang occurred 13.8 million years ago.  He did acknowledge that the Universe is infinite and that it is impossible to accurately estimate how large it is, but he failed to mention our Creator at all.

In 1885, Carl Boberg’s comprehension of the size of the Universe was a fraction of what astronomers have observed it to be today. Yet, Boberg was awed by the amazing God who created the Universe.  He worshiped the God of creation and wrote powerful lyrics that should remind each of us that God created the world and all that is in it.

As you look at the stars or at nature, ponder the wonder of our Creator who created an infinite number of galaxies and an infinite variety of plant and animal life.  In the first chapter of the book of Romans, the apostle Paul warned that no person has an excuse for failing to recognize the existence of God.  He wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

Picture of the heavens
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Paul goes on to say that those who fail to honor and glorify God think that they are wise, but they have actually become fools. “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1: 21 – 23)

Paul’s words echo those of the psalmist David, who wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”  Psalm 14:1     

Open your eyes to the beautiful and wonder of creation, and open your hearts to our wonderful Creator who loves you so much that He desires to have a personal relationship with you.

Eating Well on a Tight Budget

Inflation has soared to an annual rate of 8.6%–a rate that has not been experienced in America since 1981.  Steve and I were newlyweds in 1981.  We were in graduate school, and money was tight.  We had to live on a strict budget and had only $20 a week to spend on food.  Even though $20 bought a lot more in 1981 than it does today, we had to shop carefully to make ends meet and dining out was not an option.

Mom and daughter checking grocery list while shopping; daughter is in the grocery cart
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$20 in 1981 had an equivalent purchasing power of $64.31 today.  We were shopping for just the two of us and, with careful planning, we were able to eat pretty well.  There is much concern today over rising food prices and food shortages. So, I decided to share some habits that helped us through our graduate school years.

  1. We created a list of affordable meals that we enjoy.  I have shared that list below.
  2. We checked the grocery ads to see what was on sale before planning our meals for the week.
  3. We made a grocery list and stuck to it.
  4. We clipped coupons and used them, if the product was the best deal.
  5. We shopped at the same store every week and bought many of their store brands.
  6. We purchased 1/2 gallon of milk and one bottle of juice each week.  We brewed tea and made lemonade from a powdered mix.  And, we drank a lot of water out of the tap.
  7. We purchased one snack item each week.  Usually, it was a box of crackers.  Occasionally, we bought a bag of cookies or chips.
  8. We grew fresh vegetables in a community garden for university students.
  9. If we could not be home for lunch, we packed a lunch.
  10. We were diligent about eating leftovers and not letting food spoil.

I should also mention that we tithed regularly throughout these lean years, and we trusted God to meet our needs. 

The economic health of our country has significant impact on our financial wellness and bank balances.  Our economy will go through periods of inflation and periods of recession.  Interest rates fluctuate, and the stock market can increase and decrease dramatically.  All of this is out of our control. 

Yet, the Bible tells us not to fret or worry about what tomorrow brings.  God is in control, and God loves us. We have a responsibility to manage our finances as best we can and to seek God’s guidance on financial decisions.  We must follow the Biblical principals of money management set forth in the Bible, and we must trust God that our lives are in His hands.

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Luke 12: 22 – 31

If you are looking for affordable main dishes, this is our list from our graduate school days:

  1. Hamburgers in mushroom gravy.  We used golden mushroom soup.
  2. Tuna casserole made with canned tuna, peas, cream of celery soup, and egg noodles.
  3. Pot roast simmered in the crock pot.
  4. Spaghetti with homemade sauce, sometimes without meat.
  5. Baked chicken and stuffing.
  6. Hot dogs.
  7. Salmon patties, made with canned salmon.
  8. Whole chicken cooked in crock pot with vegetables.
  9. Grilled hamburgers.
  10. Tacos.
  11. One pot chicken and rice medley, with onion, carrots, celery, and bell peppers
  12. Grilled chicken leg quarters.
Plate of spaghetti with loaf of bread in the background
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What are some of your favorite affordable main dishes?

To learn more about how to honor God with your money and build treasure in Heaven, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

Serving for God’s Glory

We live in a challenging time.  Concern about coronavirus and new health issues, such as monkeypox, is high.  Inflation is skyrocketing, social issues are dividing our country, violence and drug use at rampant, and people are concerned about their futures. Yet, in the midst of all the strife and chaos, it is possible to have peace in your hearts and live a life full of purpose.

Woman gripping her hands to her head, as she tries to deal with the stress of life.
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My sense of peace and purpose come from my relationship with Jesus Christ. As I seek Him and turn to Him in my times of trouble, the Holy Spirit fills me with “the peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)  I, in turn, have a responsibility to share the love of Jesus Christ with those around me.

Woman at peace on a beach at sunrise.  She is lifting her hands, as if in praise for the new day.
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Jesus calls His followers to be faithful stewards of that which he has entrusted to us.  Faithful stewardship demands that I view all that I have as belonging to God.  The resources that I have been given to me by God and are to be used according to His wishes. 

Knowing how God wants to me to use those resources requires that I read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. As I do, God will reveal to me His plans and purpose for my life.  We know from God’s Word that He intends for us to share our resources with those who are less fortunate than us.  So, we give to charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse.

Today, we need to do more than make donations and let someone else take care of the poor and needy. We each must earnestly seek God and His direction.

In the book of 1 Peter 4:7-11, we read about how we can be faithful stewards.  This passage is from The Message:

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!”

People preparing boxes of food and medicine to share with those in need.
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Give cheerfully and generously.  Speak God’s words.  Help in the way God directs you.

Be a faithful steward who calls attention to the Lord.  Point people to Jesus.

Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can the world find the peace we so loudly claim to desire.

And do all for the glory of God.

Celebrating Motherhood and the Creation of New Life

Tomorrow, we celebrate motherhood.  All across our nation, people will take time out of their busy schedules to recognized the sacrifice their mothers made in giving them life and in raising them.  A common denominator across people is that everyone has, or had, a mother.  Someone gave life to each of us.

Expectant mother nearing full-term
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When my husband and I decided that we ready to have children, we waiting anxiously each month for the first signs that we had conceived a baby.  It took a few months, and we were disappointed in each of those months when it became evident that I was not pregnant.  Our hearts soared with joy when a pregnancy test confirmed that a baby was on the way.

Like many expectant parents, we began immediately to consider possible names for our newly-conceived child. We went shopping for baby furniture and paraphernalia, decorated the nursery, and childproofed our home.  But the first thing we did was call our parents to announce that a new family member was on the way.  “We are having a baby,” we exclaimed with great joy.

As great as our joy was, however, it dimmed in comparison to God’s joy at the creation of a new life.  God knew about our child that moment he was conceived, and God already had a plan for his life.  Psalm 139: 13 – 16 tells us,

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”

God knew our child upon the moment of conception.  God knew him, and God had a plan for his life.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  My child, and every child, was born with a God-designed destiny in mind.  My job and my husband’s job, as our child’s parents, was to raise him up to fulfill God’s plan for his life.

In recent years, technology has advanced to where scientists can detect the creation of new life the instant a sperm penetrates an egg.  At the exact moment, a zygote is formed.  The zygote is a new organism with a combination of the DNA of the two gametes (sperm and egg) that created it. That DNA contains all the genetic material form the new child. A new life is created in the moment of conception.

Another technological advance has allowed scientists to detect the emission of zinc sparks when new life is created. In his book Whisper, author Mark Batterson describes this event, “At the exact moment a sperm penetrates an egg, the egg releases billions of zinc atoms that emit light.  Sparks fly, literally!” (Mark Batterson, Whisper, Page 20, Multnomah Press)

Fireworks exploding in air
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I like to think of these zinc sparks as fireworks that God is shooting off to celebrate the creation of a new life.  The joy that Steve and I felt at the realization that we were going to be parents was akin to the explosion of fireworks.  I hope that your parents felt that same ecstasy upon learning of your impending arrival as part of their family.  Every life should be celebrated as a gift from God.

If you are a mother, I pray that your children recognize the love, time, and energy you have poured into their lives and that they celebrate you tomorrow.  I also pray that you recognize the wonderful joy and privilege of conceiving, birthing, and raising a child. Every child is a blessing, and every child has a divine purpose for his or her life.  As a mother, I pray regularly that my children and grandchildren will allow the Lord to reveal to them to His plan and that they will follow it. There is no greater joy in life than to be on the path that God has chosen for us.

Happy Mother's Day card, purple flowers, macrons, and gift
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Money Won’t Buy You More Time

As I read Psalm 49 this week, it brought to mind the lyrics of Dust in the Wind, “Now don’t hang on. Nothing last forever but the earth and sky, It slips away and all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Psalm 49: 6 – 9 expresses a similar sentiment this way, “Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,  None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him— For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit.”

There is great truth in both the Psalm and the lyrics by Kansas. Money cannot buy us a longer life or a future in Heaven. Only faith in the blood of Jesus Christ can provide assurance of eternal life.

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Another stanza of Dust in the Wind goes like this, ” Same old song. Just a drop of water in an endless sea. All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.”

If you live seeking riches, power, and pleasure, then your works will be futile and meaningless, as expressed above by Kansas or in Psalm 49:10, “Life the fool and the senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” The psalm continues, “For when he dies, he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him.” (Psalm 49:16)

If you want your life to have meaning after you are gone, you need to live a life of selflessness and trust in God. Put your faith in Jesus Christ, serve your fellow man, give money to those who are less fortunate, and spend your money as God leads you. Then you will build eternal treasure in Heaven. No, you cannot take your wealth with you, but as Randy Alcorn says, you can send it on ahead of you.

Are you living a life that pleases God and will secure you a place in Heaven? If you are not, you should make it a priority to give your heart to Jesus. Not only will you have the promise of eternal life, you will have a more fulfilling life on earth. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

To learn more about how to honor God with your money and build treasure in Heaven, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

Time Management, Creativity, and REM Sleep

I have a good friend, Johnnie, who has expertise in many subjects, including time management. Time management is essential for Johnnie, as she balances family time, church service, and volunteering with SCORE with the four businesses she currently owns and manages. She also manages to include exercise, prayer, and devotional time into each day.

Earlier this week, I asked Johnnie how she plans her days and if she devoted some time each day to each business or if she focused on different businesses on different days of the week. This lead to Johnnie sharing some her time management tools. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned the importance of being quiet and still for a few minutes upon waking to continue in the creative sphere of REM sleep. I had never before considered that sleep had an impact on creativity, although I read studies that demonstrated that long period of quiet are a boost to creativity.

Coffee, note pad, and flowers
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Despite this being a new concept to me, I immediately recognized the truth of Johnnie’s statement from my own experiences and those of my husband, Steve.

Steve is a civil engineer. He deals with complex issues in designing sites for buildings and subdivisions and coming up with a good solution is often challenging. He is prone to wake up in the early hours of the morning with a solution having come to his mind. It is not uncommon for him to rise at 4 or 5 am to work on a plan. I believe that these solutions arise from the creative state the brain enters during REM sleep.

Personally, I have found that I if I can stay in bed and be still for a few minutes after waking that I will have a creative spurt. Suddenly, I am inspired with ideas for the next scene for a novel I am working on or a blog post to write.

If you want to increase your creativity, I encourage you to spend some time in the morning being quiet. Let your creative mind continue to work after sleeping, and listen for the still, small voice of the Lord speaking into your life.

Some of Johnnie’s other time management tips included (1) start the day with worship–she exercises to praise music, (2) schedule a time of prayer at the beginning of each day, (3) set aside one or two days a week to be less busy and more focused on projects that require concentration and/or creativity, (4) turn off your phone and ignore email for blocks of time each day, and (5) schedule most meetings on one or two days a week.

Woman with journal and a cup of coffee
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Johnnie is the author of Legacy Moments–Transformation that goes Beyond Change. You can learn more about Johnnie and her coaching services at JohnnieLloyd.com

To learn more about how to be a faithful steward of your financial resources, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

The Peace that Passes Understanding

My mother used to love to tell the story of how I came home from Sunday school when I was five talking about “the peas is pass is.”  She was quite puzzled and was unable to decipher what I was trying to say.  The next Sunday she asked the teacher, who explained that I was trying to say, “the peace that passes.” We had sung the song “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy” in class.

One of the lines of the song goes link this: “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding, Down in my heart, Down in my heart to stay.”

As a five-year old, I had no clue what “the peace that passes understanding” was. It is a fun catchy song that has stuck with me through the years. Over a lifetime, I have experienced many instances of this amazing peace.

The song comes from Philippians 4: 6, 7, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (King James Version)

White dove. The dove represents the Holy Spirit, who brings peace into uor hearts.
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The New King James Version begins “Be anxious for nothing.”  This exhortation was needed in the days of the early church as followers of Christ faced intense persecution.  They had much to fear, yet Paul admonished them to not live in fear, but to come to the throne of God with their needs and to trust God to meet those needs.

This directive is still pertinent today. We face threats and stress from many sides.  Some threats are applicable to every person who lives: financial stress, health challenges, political unrest, and economic pressures. Other threats are directed specifically at the Church. As Christians, we are under intense pressure to compromise our beliefs and our values in the name of being politically correct. Christianity has not been outlawed as it was in Paul’s day, but Christians are under attack daily.

And God is still the answer. When we bring our trials, challenges, and tribulations to the throne of God, the Holy Spirit fills us with God’s peace.  A peace that does not make any sense—that surpasses our understanding.  In those moments, we know that our lives are in God’s hands. He is walking beside us through each and every trial.

Whatever you are walking through today, do not be filled with anxiety.  Rather, bring your needs to God, with thanksgiving.  God will hear you, and He will walk this path with you.  Then you will experience the peace that the world cannot offer.

Bring your problems, your worries, and your cares to God.  “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”  I Peter 5: 6, 7

Being God’s Arms Extended

In our church, we often use the phrase “God’s arms extended.” We use this when speaking about reaching out into our community and sharing God’s love through service, ministry, and prayer.

To my knowledge, the phrase “God’s arms extended” does not appear in the Bible. However, Jesus expressed the importance of doing this in Matthew 25: 31- 46. He was teaching His disciples about things that will happen when He returns to rule over the earth.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25: 31 – 34

Jesus explains that those who offered food and drink to the hungry and thirsty, extended hospitality to the stranger, clothed those in need, cared for the sick, and visited the imprisoned are the sheep. Those who failed to extend assistance and compassion are the goats. Those who cared for others will receive eternal life, and those who did not will receive eternal damnation.

We had a missionary, Mark, speak in our church on Sunday. He shared that early in his ministry in Africa, he had not learned enough of the language to preach and teach. For a time, Mark was limited to embracing children and engaging them in sports. He began to get discouraged that he could not do more. As he prayed, Mark said something along the lines of, “All I can do is hug the children.” In his spirit, Mark clearly heard the Lord say, “Thank you.”

Mark realized that when we, as God’s people, show love to others, we allow God to show love through us. As Mark hugged the children, he was allowing God to wrap His arms around these precious little ones. Mark was literally being God’s arms extended.

What a beautiful picture! God wants to provide for the hungry, thirsty, needy, sick, and imprisoned. And, He does provide through us.

The next time you see someone in need, afraid, or discouraged, I pray that this illustration will come to mind and that you will take the opportunity to be God’s arms extended.

Please feel free to share an instance in which you knew that God was using you to be His hands extended.

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Praise–My One Word for 2022

My Word Word for 2022 is praise. I want to focus on praising God every day, for God is worthy of my praise every day.

Praise is defined as “to honor, worship, and express admiration to God.” It also means “an expression of respect and worship to God.

God deserves our praise, and He desires our praise for many reasons. Here are a few.

  1. He is the Creator. “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25
  2. He is faithful. “Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1
  3. He does mighty works. “Remember to extol his work, which people have praised in song.” Job 36:24
  4. He blesses us. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 3:1
  5. He provided for our salvation. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
  6. He has compassion on us. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
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As you focus on the many ways that God has blessed you and continuous to bless you, I hope that you will find that praise comes naturally and easily. May your goal be, as Paul’s was to “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13: 15 -16