Tuesday, January 11, 2011


So one of my New Year’s Resolutions (and the most important) is to get closer to my God. I felt the most important way to do that was to start going to church regularly. This entails two parts:

  • 1) Attend Worship EVERY Sunday morning or evening – no matter where I am. If I’m in Alex City, I will go to church in Alex City. If I’m out of town on vacation, I will attend services there.
  • 2) Join a Small Group at church

I used to be one of those that said “I don’t need to go to church to believe in God.” Well, neither did the devil. When I attended Secret Church in November, David Platt spoke about the Church and its purpose. If you haven’t already, please listen to the recording of Secret Church: The Body of Christ http://www.brookhills.org/media/schurch/secret-church-the-body-of-christ/. During this time at Secret Church, it became very apparent to me that I NEED the church. The definition of the church is simply this: a gathering of believers.

So, this Sunday, I got myself and both of these WILD kids ready for church and we headed out and got there around 9:00 (a tad bit late but nonetheless….) Derrick had to work so it was a slow go but we made it. I dropped Marlie off at her classroom and Alex & I headed to Worship. BTW, Marlie did NOT cry! And they said she even took a nap! One thing I like about CBH is that they believe that children in 1st grade and up should be involved in Worship with their parents. I had the best time with Alex. It’s rare that we get to spend time – just the two of us. And what better way to spend it than praising God. He was a real trooper and I had to explain to him a lot of what David was saying but he was all ears. I so pray that I can raise my children up to be Godly children.

After Worship service was over, I took Alex to his classroom and headed to try to find the first small group that I was going to visit in my quest to find the right one. We studied the Book of Ruth. What is it with the Book of Ruth? What is God trying to tell me through this book? Something keeps drawing me to this book. It’s no coincidence that the VERY first I’d heard of CBH was through Christie MAKING me listen to “The Story of Love” one morning while we were on the way to visit another church in the area. The Sunday before last I felt the urge to purchase David’s series about the Book of Ruth. This is an AMAZING story! AMAZING! Makes me wonder what he’s trying to tell me through Ruth and Naomi….

My plans are to reflect on each service as I learn about the Bible. I really have little knowledge of the Bible. I know that sounds bad. As children, we went to church for a few years – when I was in Kindergarten and maybe a couple of years after that but I do not remember what I learned. All I remember was the negative things that I heard (long, long, long story – another place, another time). Throughout the years (especially in HS when I had free will to go to church) I was always embarrassed to go to church because I really knew NOTHING. I didn’t know the story about Jonah and the Whale. Sure I’d heard of them but what was the story? I knew that Jesus was born in a manger and his Mother was Mary and his Father was Joseph…or was he? And who was David? What if they asked me these questions? What in the world would I say? Derrick always invited me to church and it literally made me sick at the thought of it. I was so nervous! What a shame!

Ok so I’ve lost my train of thought…. Oh, my goal is to reflect on what I learn during each service.

Stay tuned…..

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why I Believe In People & Why You Should Too!

We have our annual Kick Off Meeting this year in Charlotte, NC. Our EVP is holding a contest in which the Branch Managers were to submit a thread to our company's blog. Our Area Directors will narrow the entries down to the Top 5 and those will be put before the entire Division for voting next week. The grand prize is a brand new iPad. Now, I don't have a need for an iPad but it would be really awesome to win it. I am sure that Christie could have a use for it in her school in Uganda. Right? Of course!

Long, Long, Long story short....I didn't get it submitted on time because I thought the deadline was 12 midnight but it was 5pm (yesterday). If my entry is not counted, I will be OK with that. My whole purpose was to bring awareness to the poverty situation around the world. Mission accomplished.

Here's the post:

Over the past few months, I have had the honor of helping my sister (Christie Cotney: www.compassinmyheart.blogspot.com) with her fundraising efforts here in the States while she is living in Uganda, East Africa. I have been so amazed at the people that our Creator has put in her path over the past year.

A little background about the village that she is living in:

Bugabo Village:

  • A remote village which practices witchcraft and is located in the country of Uganda, East Africa.
  • Population: approximately 2000.
  • Most families in this village live off of ONLY $2/day.

Here are some examples of what I have seen and why I believe in people. These people that I refer to are just like you and me; they live in our communities; our children go to school with their children; our children play sports with their children; our families work with their families; they face the same struggles we face on a daily basis. Some of these people may even be present, former or future customer of ours. These are AMAZING people who do things that are greater than themselves. I have seen these people donate over $30K in the last 6 months to a person that they have never even met. They take care of the widows, the orphans, the outcast, the lost, the hurting and the dying.

  • · I have seen countless amounts of people that my sister has never even met donate money to help the families living in this village.
  • · I have seen people come together and donate to the “Buy A Brick, Build up Bugabo” project which completely funded the building of a new school so that more children could get an education.
  • · I have seen an old high school friend who we have not seen nor spoken to in well over 15 years donate time and time again for the various projects going on to build up this Village.
  • · I have seen pictures of a man dying from cancer and AIDS and people coming together to donate money to purchase him a bed and mattress – the first he’s ever had – so that he could die comfortably.
  • · I have seen pictures of this dying man with the biggest smile on his face.
  • · I have seen people collect and donate hundreds of dollars worth of formula to be sent to this village to save the lives of babies who are severely malnourished.
  • · I have seen people pull together and donate money so that this Village could have their first annual Christmas party and come to know the love of our Creator.
  • · I have seen my sister set a VERY lofty goal of $22K to find 220 sponsors so that these 220 children could take their first steps in ending their poverty – earning an education.
  • · I have seen this goal be MET by people (most of whom we have never met) within just a couple of months!
  • · I have seen families (who were themselves raising funds to adopt and save a child from the dumps of Ethiopia) donate money that they did not have to another cause.
  • · I have seen a very sweet family donate time and time again. They too are in the process of adoption and have funds sitting in their adoption fund. Since they do not yet have a referral for their adoptive child, they see the need to use those funds to help others in need while they wait to bring their child home.
  • · I have seen people come together and donate $1K to build a new, suitable home for a mother suffering from Epilepsy (that has gone untreated for many years due to lack of medical treatment) and her 2 year old child that only weighed 15 pounds.
  • · I have seen a family that we have never met step up and sponsor this same mother and her daughter to keep them alive by providing the funds to handle their food, shelter and water needs.
  • · I have seen these same people donate this money to an individual who has not yet set up her non-profit organization. These people were not looking for a tax write-off, as they could not get one here.
  • · I have seen the smiling faces of the 220 children who were being profiled for the upcoming school year. Those smiles show the hope that they have received from these people who have chosen to sponsor them and literally change their lives.
  • · I have seen the contaminated water that these villagers have to drink. I have seen the funds raised to supply the 12 water collection tanks that now supply their need.
  • · I have seen families rethink Christmas and give the gift of education, food and medical care so that a child in the village could thrive and do well.
  • · I have seen people pull together and donate money to buy medicine to de-worm all of the children in this Village. Have you ever wondered why children that are deemed severely malnourished have big tummies? They literally have worms.
  • · I have seen people donate money to purchase each person in the village a pair of shoes to protect their feet from lethal jiggers (small insects that cause body parts to rot).
  • · I have seen these people donate money in hopes that one day seeing children dig through trashcans will be the exception, not the norm.
  • · I have seen the precious Village people stay true to their culture and not take things for granted. When the children were presented with brand new soccer balls, they continued to play with the old ones too.
  • · Just today I witnessed the sponsorship of two deaf children. One of which, at the age of 12 has never learned to speak. These children will now be able to attend a boarding school and get the specialized care that they need to thrive.
  • · I have seen these INCREDIBLE people cash in their 401Ks, downsize their homes, sell their Mercedes, wear less expensive clothes, etc. all for the sake of changing the lives of the less fortunate.

I encourage you all to help others anytime that you can :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Love Feeds ~ Reusable Tote Bags now available!

It's that time again - time for New Year's Resolutions. No matter what your resolutions are this year, helping others in desperate need should be #1 on that list. This is one resolution that you do NOT want to fail at. No matter how many resolutions you end up not keeping, I want to encourage you to keep this one!

Here is a simple way that you can help in the cause to fight world hunger:
1) Print out the attached order form
2) Hit up everybody you know - ask them to order a bag or twenty!
3) Mail your order forms and payments to Audrea:
Love Feeds *
P.O. Box 110651
Nashville,TN 37222

* Checks should be made payable to Audrea Smith

Please visit www.lovefeeds.org for more information about this organization! They have other projects as well!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Beginning of A New Journey

Last spring, my sister Christie Cotney and I began visiting The Church at Brook Hills in our search for a church home that would make us feel welcome. I remember her telling me that we were going to a church over “on 280” and my heart dropped, as I didn’t want to go to one of “those” types of churches. You know the ones – thousands of members, snooty church-goers, a preacher/pastor that breathes fire, state of the art programs, etc. But, being the loving sister that I am (right Christie?), I gave in and visited this church with her. We pull up to the church and here we are at this HUGE building and I thought “Oh, Great! This looks like fun!”

When we walked in, I was surprised that I didn’t feel any type of negativity in the building. Yes, there were lots and lots of people but I did not feel uncomfortable. As I looked around the place, I noticed there was a wide variety of different races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures and mixed families. I am sure the look on my face was priceless: “You mean, THIS church welcomes mixed families?” I mean, isn’t that the view of the average American? Although I wasn’t raised that way, I believe most Americans have this view built into the back of their minds. And that is SAD.

As we tried to find out way to the sanctuary (which I was sure had pristine, white columns, expensive stained glass windows, velvet-covered pews and let’s not forget the choir members sporting their shiny robes with gold “CBH” initials) I remember looking around the place. What I saw made my heart sink as I felt a little bad for thinking negatively. I saw hand-made cardboards that had statistics about world religion and poverty and real life pictures of some of the world’s poorest countries and its people. As I looked at these pictures, I thought “Wow! Just wow!”

As we walked into the worship room, I was both not surprised and surprised. I was not surprised by the massiveness of the room. I mean, after all, what would you expect out of a “megachurch”? But I WAS surprised to see none of those things I mentioned before. My eyes fixed upon the stage in front of me. This is what I saw:

And….the thing I struggled with the most was CBH’s pastor, David Platt. I mean, he was 32 years old and dubbed the “youngest megachurch pastor in history”. Mega.Church. Yep, just what I needed. But, Boy, oh boy! After the first sermon I heard David Platt preach, I was SOLD! Christie was pretty smitten too :)

You will see me refer to David many many many many times on this blog. He is such an inspiration for me and so many other people. He speaks with such passion and conviction and answers all of those hard questions that we are all scared to ask.

The real side of the Joneses...

I have worked in the Finance business since 1999. Not just finance but Consumer Finance. I make loans to individuals just like you and me. And let me tell you, I have seen it all! I have seen the poor old lady living on a fixed income who is responsible with her debt; I have seen the Executive borrow money and never pay one payment; I have seen the single mother who is struggling to make ends meet; I have seen the college student who is trying his best to meet his obligations....

On a daily basis, I review peoples' credit bureaus and am completely AMAZED at what I see. For example, take the Executive who makes $150K per year. I often wonder when I am reviewing their eligibility for a loan "Hmmmm. Why does THIS person need to borrow $2,000?" Any idea of how much credit card debt he has? Yeah, about the same amount as he makes per year. Want to take another guess at what his total credit lines on those credit cards are? Yep, the same $150K. He is what we call "maxed out". I sit in awe of what in the world he could have done with $150K. When I take a look at his assets, he lives in a $400K house (which is 60 days pastdue), drives not only one but TWO luxury cars (both of which are 30 days pastdue) and a $50K motorhome (90 days pastdue), just to name a few.

My point here is that on the outside, this person "has it all" but in reality, he owns nothing. How many people do you think are envious of what he "has"? How many people do you think try to be just like him? How many people are putting themselves in this same situation as this man - all for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses? How is your life better when keeping up with the Joneses?

I will leave you with these pictures....

So, the next time you think you'd like to have this or that because Bobby or John or Sally or Sue has it, remember these pictures. Be responsible with your money and use it to help others advance.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What's In A Name?

Yes, I know that I already have a blog and if any of you have noticed, I haven’t blogged since May 2010. What a slacker!

I have so many New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 and I am sooo glad that 2011 is here. This is going to be MY year :) One of those resolutions is to begin blogging again. I love blogging but have not been committed to it. I want to document each detail as I make my way through this year and some radical changes that I plan to make. So, in keeping with my resolution, here goes….

Now, you may be thinking “Where in the world did she come up with the title “Who Cares About the Joneses?” Well, that brings me to another New Year’s Resolution of mine. Let’s all be honest. We’ve all tried to keep up with the Joneses. And if we’re really honest, we’ve ALWAYS tried to keep up with the Joneses. And if we’re really, really honest, we are at this very moment trying to keep up with the Joneses. This year, I challenge myself and the rest of you to forget about the Joneses. Who cares what the Joneses have? Count your blessings and be glad with what the Lord has provided you with. I can assure you that you're far more blessed than alot of other people in this world! And if there are any Joneses reading this, I challenge you to use those blessings to help other people.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

I'm sure you've all heard the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses", right? What does that really mean? I have often wondered this too and so I decided to do some research and here’s what I found:

• "Keeping up with the Joneses" is a popular catchphrase in many parts of the English-speaking world. It refers to the desire to be seen as being as good as one's neighbors or contemporaries using the comparative benchmarks of social caste or the accumulation of material goods.
• The origin of this phrase is rooted in the popular comic strip of the same name created by cartoonist Arthur R. "Pop" Momand. The strip debuted in 1916 in the New York World, but strips appear in collections dated as early as April 1, 1913. The strip ran in American newspapers for 28 years, and was eventually adapted into books, films, and musical comedies. The "Joneses" of the title were neighbors of the strip's main characters, and were spoken of but never actually seen in person.

Here are some photos I found that are funny but oh so true!

My Playlist :)

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