Success In the Second Mile

Have you ever wanted to succeed at a high level?  To set yourself apart from others and achieve things most people don’t?  Would you like to be the one at your office that everyone else thinks of as the go-to person?  The path to becoming a high achiever is quite simple.  Easy never, but very simple.

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The Way to Live

In Matthew 5, Jesus is teaching the crowd how to live.  He cites a law of Israel, that when someone wrongs you and you lose sight in one eye, retribution was the law—the one who harmed you would lose that eye too.  Some for a tooth, or any other similar situation.  The point was, what harm comes to you from another individual, you may justly give the same harm back to them in retribution.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

Fair is Fair

Jesus does not deny that you are justly able to take an eye for an eye.  That is the law and that is fair.  But Jesus teaches that you should forgo this right.  Instead, Jesus instructs us to respond to evil with love.  When we are wronged, instead of seeking to hurt our enemy, we are to seek after his good.

One Mile and Drop It

Now for the famous line in verse 41, go the extra mile.  If someone you didn’t like forced you to carry his stuff for him for one mile, what would you want to do at mile 1.1?  Drop it on the ground, right?  Well Jesus teaches us something profound: carry it another mile of your own accord.

Think now of the people in your life who you’re around in a typical week:  your family, your friends, your boss and coworkers.  Hopefully you don’t think of all these people as your enemies, hopefully you like them better than an enemy.  But how often do you go the extra mile for them?

What Did We Do Last Week?

When your wife asks you to help her with something, do you growl and complain, get it done quick and plop down on the couch?  Or do you go the extra mile?  When your boss gives you an assignment that you think is stupid, do you slowly trudge through it with a bad attitude?  Or do you go the extra mile? When your kids ask you to play with them, do you hurry up and get it over with so you can get to what you want to do?  Or do you dive in with enthusiasm and go the extra mile?

Set Yourself Apart

This behavior of willingly exceeding the expectations of those around you, regardless of whether you like them or find them awful people, will set you so far apart from the norm that you can’t believe it.  So few people live this way, and it is a guaranteed way to set yourself apart from and ahead of others.  People who live lives of mediocrity most likely won’t like to see you doing this because of the way it makes them look in comparison.  Don’t let them drag you down; the people who you want to surround yourself with are already extra-mile people, and it won’t take them long to notice you.  The rewards are great, the path is simple; do the hard work and we’ll see you at the top!

Waiting for an Invitation

A Christian is one who follows Jesus as his Lord.  Instead of serving our own desires and conforming to what our surroundings tell us to be and do, we have found the freedom and life found in Jesus alone! How wonderful it is to follow our Master, for he is loving and His burden is light.  I never realized what a load I had been carrying until I came to Jesus and found strength and rest.  But what about the many people around us who have not yet learned of Christ and the hope and strength He offers?  Sure, we know God has told us to share the truth with them, but what if they think we’re weird?  Surely if they want to know what faith in Jesus is, they’ll just ask?  No.

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A Needed Invitation

Though you may not believe it at first, there are many people all around you who want to know spiritual truth.  They would gladly converse with you on the subject and even come to your church with you to see what it’s all about.  But guess what, they’re not going to tell you that!  And you can’t identify them by just looking.

What Do the Numbers Say?

According to a Scott McConnell of LifeWay Research “…many would respond to an invitation from a friend or acquaintance (41 percent), their children (25 percent) or an adult family member (25 percent).”  (Read these stats in detail here.)  The difficult part for many Christians about asking a friend or acquaintance to church is this:  what if they say no???  Allow me to let you in on a little secret.  Most will say no.  Gasp!  😀

Collecting No’s

The stats are going to vary greatly for any specific person and set of circumstances, so for simplicity let’s just assume that 20% of friends you invite via personal invitation will actually attend church with you.  Of those who attend, some will never return, some will return a few times, and some will be radically changed and become followers of Christ.  How many people will say no to your invitation in order for you to find one person who will hear the Holy Spirit’s voice and turn from sin to faith in Jesus?  Ten?  Sixty?  Two thousand?

Does it matter?  Is it worth it to bring one lost soul to the feet of your loving Savior, so that he may taste the love and salvation of Jesus as you have?  Can you imagine yourself standing before your Lord at the end of your life saying, “Jesus, I would have told people about you, but I just didn’t want to hear anyone tell me no.  It felt awkward.”

Ambassadors

We Christians need to trust God that He has people out there He is going to save.  He has put us where we are in our lives in order that we would take His Word to these people, to be the means by which they hear the gospel.  Christ died for sinners, and anyone who will place their faith in Him will be washed clean and declared righteous.

Go Get More of Both

Instead of viewing negatively an answer of, “no,” to our invitation to come and see Jesus, we should view it as a victory—that’s one more person in the denominator.  For every 100 friends you ask, some percent of them are just waiting to be asked, to come and hear, and to find rest and peace for their souls.  It is God’s plan that they will be saved.  And it is God’s plan that a Christian would share the good news with them.  Will you be that Christian?  Or will God use someone obedient?  Embrace the no’s, they are part of the process.  The more invitations, the more no’s, and naturally, the more yeses.  Let’s be the church we are called to be: let us come together for equipping and encouragement to take the gospel out to the very ends of the earth.  Lord Jesus, lead us on, show us how, and may your will be done.

Being an Iron Sharpener

Are you a blessing to those around you?  Should you be?  If so, what does it take to effectively speak into their lives, encouraging them and helping them to live a thriving life?

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Those Who Have Helped You

God has designed us for community—we grow through our interactions with others, as iron sharpens iron.  Who are some of the people who have been most positively influential in your life?  Are you glad they took time to sharpen you and help you grow?

You Are a Valuable Resource

Perhaps we know that we should be building up others and helping them to grow in wisdom and truth, but we find it challenging to speak into their life effectively.  Or sometimes, we may think, “who am I to think I can help them?”  It is only when we recognize that we don’t have all the answers that we can be used by God to work His purposes in the lives of those around us.

Two Keys Make Up the Bridge

Think of a bridge over a wide river.  One bank represents the thriving life we are all called to live.  The other bank represents a person God has placed in our life.  We desire that our friend has the thriving life that he wants, the life that’s effective for the Lord’s Kingdom and our community.  In order to bridge the space between, we will need two keys.

Knowing the What

The first key is knowledge and wisdom of what a thriving life looks like.  Those wise men who have mentored us are a good resource for this knowledge, and of course the principle source of all wisdom is the Holy Scriptures.  As we read and study God’s Word, we learn what He is like and over time we see a clearer and clearer picture of what a Christ-life really looks like.

Knowing the Who

The other key is personal.  We must know the person we’re speaking to.  It’s fine to share general knowledge—in fact, what you’re reading now is this very thing: generalized knowledge shared publically.  But to really build up others around us and be effective in being the iron sharpening iron, we must have relationships.  And not just realationships on the surface, but real and deep relationships.  How easy it is to let our interactions with others remain shallow and casual, but this is not the thriving life we’re called to.  Instead, we must choose to take an interest in people, really value them for who they are, and listen to them.

Start Now

Tomorrow, ask God whom he would have you reach out to.  Go to that person and ask them about their favorite topic:  themselves!  Start with something like, “so how long have you worked here?”  “Oh, really?  Well how did you come to work here?”  Listen to what they share, and ask them follow-up questions.  You will be surprised how quickly they will go into detail about who they are and what drives them.  Don’t fake interest, really be interested and keep asking them to explain more.  In so doing, you will have discovered the second key—cultivating authentic relationships.

Be a Blessing

With these two keys, we can all become more effective iron-sharpeners, ready to be used by our Heavenly Father to affect His purposes. We will be more of a blessing to those around us, and as we all grow in this path, we help each other to live more of a thriving life!

Doing It All Yourself?

You and I are capable of amazing things—when we let ourselves dream, search out and discover wise means of reaching our dreams, and focus and commit to building ourselves brick by brick, day by day.  God has created us with limitless potential, and you’re used to reading words here that will challenge and encourage you to take action today toward growth and pursuit of your goals.  As you go forth on your journey, however, you cannot expect success going it alone.  It is only when we find our particular purpose for which we have been created and plug into God’s agenda that we can truly thrive.

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Psalm 63

7For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.

8My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.

9But those who seek my life to destroy it,
Will go into the depths of the earth.

10They will be delivered over to the power of the sword;
They will be a prey for foxes.

11But the king will rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him will glory,
For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

Conveying the Truth

We are given a great many pictures in the Bible which convey the way God relates to us.  In v7 and v8 of this Psalm, we see two examples:  The shadow of God’s wings and God’s right hand.  Although God has neither wings nor hands, these metaphors give us a very clear and powerful idea of what God is like and how we are meant to live.  We are our strongest not when we work hardest and rely most on ourselves, but rather when we recognize our frailty and seek refuge in God.

The Shadow of His Wings

The picture of living in the shadow of God’s wings gives the thought of a powerful and majestic bird of prey.  I think of an eagle soaring high above the ground, completely out of reach of those who may wish to harm him.  At any moment, the eagle can sweep down with his powerful talons and reign down with a fierce attack on whomever he wills.  As one loved by God, I know than when I rest in the shadow of His wings, I need fear no man.  The shadow means that although I can’t touch Him, I know he is there without a doubt.  He is above me, ready and able to protect and defend me from any who would oppose His will and my obedience.

God’s Right Hand

Being upheld by God’s right hand conveys many similar ideas.  When I think of how easily I can be overcome by others or by life’s circumstances, I am encouraged by remembering that God’s strength is something I can lay hold of.  When in my humanness I would certainly fail, I know in that moment that I can rely on Christ to give me His strength.  It may be a fight against temptation, or the tenacity to hold my resolve in a tese situation, or even to withstand persecution.  In these times, I have confidence, knowing that when my strength fails, God will provide all the strength I need.

His Glory

So much more could be said, how many volumes could be filled with this glorious truth!  God’s power and strength are infinite, and He is anxious to grant them to any who will follow after Him, seek His will, and have the faith to live it out each day.  As we work with the tools we have to grow in our own wisdom, strength, and capability, let us never forget that One who is infinitely stronger than we could ever be or imagine stands with us.  As he shows Himself powerful and faithful, we will discover new heights achievable only through His divine work, for His glory and our good!

Could Four Minutes Really Matter?

Have you ever had a day get off to a rough start, and you felt behind all day?  Maybe your coworker rushed into your office before you’d had a chance to check your email, upset and needing your immediate assistance.  Your plans for the day get all thrown off, and you may feel like control of your time and activity perpetually eludes you.  Anything here sounding familiar?  How did you respond?  Are there things you and I can do in these circumstances to not only get through the day, but actually thrive?  How can we take such a day and still use the time to make progress towards the growth we want and the goals we’re pursuing?

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What Truly Must Be Done?

If you’re anything like most of us, you have some daily habits and routines that feel like they’re essential. For example, I usually check my email messages in the mid-morning then head up to the coffee machine for a tasty brew.  Although these are my typical habits, they aren’t absolutely necessary, and on days where large unexpected demands fall on me, they can be jettisoned.  The key when stuff is flying at you is to stay clearheaded and in control.  Even if people around you are getting frantic, take five minutes to get away.  Use this time to identify the three most important priorities that must happen before the end of the day, and write them down in order.

Forgo the Unnecessary First

Once you’ve put out the preverbal fire, get going on your first priority right away.  Taking back control of our day is going to involve forgoing some of our usual routine, but often this is what it takes.  Unfortunately, some days there is simply more to be done than can possibly fit.  Rather than running frantically from one task to the next, and spending our whole day out of control, we can be intentional and spend our time first on the most important things, and since something will fall through the cracks, let’s choose the lowest priority task to be the one.

Resist the Couch

Finally, on days like these, when you finally finish your work, get home and eat, clean up and do whatever chores need doing, we face the last challenge of the day:  the temptation to neglect our personal growth and pursuit of our goals.  On a day that was particularly hectic, I probably didn’t get a workout in, and I’d really like to lounge on the couch and watch a show for twenty minutes before bed.  I probably don’t feel like reading, connecting with my spouse, or spending time in the Word and in prayer with my Heavenly Father.  Now is where I have a choice:  do I throw in the towel for the day, or do I commit to doing these vital activities that will cause me to grow and move closer to my goals?

Don’t Forgo the Important

Never underestimate the difference a small amount of focused activity can make in your life when practiced daily.  I can absolutely and personally attest to the huge difference that even a four-minute workout can make to one’s fitness and health.  Many times in my life, I’d succumbed to the easy solution after a hard day at work, and plopped down on the couch.  When a one- or two-day break from my exercise regimen turned into a four- or five-day break, I found I paid a heavy price on the day I finally did make it back into the gym.  But I have since learned that even a very quick workout—perhaps nothing more than a few minutes of pushups (pushing myself as fast and hard as possible) can get my blood moving, my muscles and lungs working, and can sustain me until the next day when I can get a full workout in.  It seems like such a small thing that it couldn’t possibly matter, but it truly does.  And the same goes for my other habits in contributing to my growth.  Maybe I only read 8 pages of a good book when I’ve had a super busy night.  But I can focus on learning to the best of my ability during the short period of time, and the benefits are undeniable.

As the following article suggests, remember to be grateful: https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/beauty-aging/9-self-care-tips-will-help-become-confident/ Sometimes when we get busy, we are apt to forget to be grateful for the many incredible blessings we enjoy. Take the time to thank God for the many wonderful things He has given you–and you might step back into your day with an entirely different perspective.

Building Blocks

Chose to avoid statements like, “I just don’t have time to work out,” or, “I’d love to read good books, if only I had the time.”  Let’s all make a  commitment to each other never to waste our time speaking such nonsense—just use the time you’re saving by not spewing such ignorance to be that four-minute workout, 8-pages of reading, or time of prayer.  These are the building blocks we use to build our thriving life, and I thank you for coming with me on this journey of growth together!

How We Program Ourselves

On your way into work tomorrow, what thoughts will run through your mind?  If you’re like most of us, your natural inclination will be something like, “here comes another day at the grind!  I hope I don’t see Jim today, he’s such a loudmouth!  I can’t wait till the weekend’s here!”  But do these thoughts help you? Or are they helping to create the very kind of day you dread?

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Want Control?  Take It!

Setting our expectations and our outlook for the day—or even for the next moment—is totally within our control.  Would your morning be better if you chose to speak something better to yourself while walking from your car to the office?

Let Wise Men Teach You

Zig Ziglar once said, “Positive thinking won’t let you do anything, but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”  This is great advice from a great man!  When’s the last time you took control of your circumstances and made a decision to have a great morning?  Why let circumstances dictate our life to us? Do you really believe that telling yourself that your coworkers are rude and your work is boring does you any good? How about when you say things like, “it doesn’t matter how hard I work or what good things I do, no one notices anyway.”  Do these statements help you, or hurt you?

Attitude and Response

Simple as it sounds or silly as it sounds, you make the choice every day whether your day will be great or a dud.  Things outside your control will still happen.  Some may be pleasant, others not—but your attitude going in and your response coming out are both things you choose.  If you’re really interested in living a thriving life, right now’s a good time to start!  What kind of day will you make today?

The Root of Anger

Anger, disappointment, resentment, hurt:  these are emotions we’d prefer to avoid.  If we could choose, we’d rather live happy, content, and fulfilled, wouldn’t we?  What if there was a way to significantly reduce the amount of time we spend angry or hurt?  If we understand the root cause of these negative emotions and the negative situations they lead us into, we can find victory and spend more of our time cultivating excellent relationships and enjoying the time we have.

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Our Many Gifts

We enjoy so many incredible blessings in our everyday life.  Just think about the comfortable bed you slept in last night, the delicious dinner you ate, and the people around you that truly and deeply love you.  We could spend all day listing all the great things in our lives—things given to us by the Maker of all things.

We desire good things—and there’s nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it is good to enjoy and appreciate all the wonderful blessings we have every day.  But there is a good way and a bad way to hold these blessings.  One will give us great fulfillment and thankful hearts, while the other will produce the harmful emotions listed above.

With Open Hands?

The difference is this:  do you hold your gifts with open hands or closed fists?  You see, when our desires are met, we have a choice.  We either recognize that the blessing that we received is a gift of God, or we start to close our hands around it and begin thinking we own it.  As we neglect to thank God for a particular blessing, we slowly close our grip around it, wishing to keep it within our possession.

The Enemy works gradually, taking some new blessing and day by day inducing us to feel more and more that we earned it, we deserve it, and we need it.  Once we view that blessing as something we need, we will react in anger when it is threatened.

Thankful to Expectation to Need

Consider the simple act of a man writing a love poem to his wife every week.  When he first begins this act of love and appreciation, his wife may be delighted!  She feels loved and cherished, and expresses her thanks to him.  But over time, as the notes continue to come week after week, this blessing may turn into an expectation in her mind.  She begins to think she deserves these notes, and her husband owes them to her.  If he misses one week, she will feel emotions of disappointment, resentment, or even anger.

But this is all rooted in a choice—if the woman in the story above simply appreciated the love notes as a blessing, she will each week feel the emotions of thankfulness, happiness, and love when her husband gives the poem.  If one week the husband should fail to present a poem, she will miss it, but that’s all.  She only feels anger, hurt, and resentment when the gift is expected and assumed.  Put another way, she will feel anger and disappointment when her need for her weekly poem isn’t met.

What’s Yours?

Perhaps this seems silly to you, that a woman should come to need an expect a poem from her husband every week.  But what about you and me?  Are there not blessings in our life that we one didn’t have, now have, and now expect we shall always have?  God has bestowed amazing gifts upon you and me—do we hold them with an open hand?

The Example of Open Hands

Job is was one of the richest men in the world in his day—not only in material wealth, but also with many children, as well as the love and respect of his neighbors.  In one day, it was all taken from him, and yet his response was this:  “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).

Are there things you expect from those around you?  Do you need and demand that your coworkers speak well of you, such that when they disparage you you become angry?   Do you expect your mentors to have perfect understanding in everything they teach and council you?  Do you expect you spouse to always be there to meet your needs and do the things you want them to do?

What Perspective Will You Choose?

Let’s make the decision today to stop letting anger have root in our hearts.  If we will recognize that the blessings we enjoy each day are gifts—gifts that are not promised to be there tomorrow—we will increase our reliance upon the Lord, our appreciation of His grace, and the moments of life that bear the hallmark of peaceful contentedness.

Take a Step Back From the Edge

What would you do if your transmission went out tomorrow?  If your identity were stolen and your credit frozen, would you be taking the bus to work?  If your uncle offered to sell you his mint condition Ford Mustang for only $5,000, would you be able to come up with the cash?

We’re apt to take many of the great things in our life for granted, up to and including out income.  In our culture, it’s acceptable and a common practice to live right the edge of our income, spending 90, 100, or even 110 percent of our annual income each year.

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A Valuable Heritage

But for centuries (maybe longer), wise people have practiced the discipline of saving money for a rainy day.  Because we don’t know the future, it is necessary to save an emergency fund to have the options and choices we want.

In today’s article we’ll outline what the emergency fund is, why it’s important, and what it’s to be used for.  If you’ll make the decision to adopt this important discipline, you’ll reap the great rewards that wise men and women have been enjoying throughout history.

What’s It For?

The purpose of the emergency fund is to cover expenses that may come that you can’t predict.  Anything you can predict should be included in your monthly budget.  When I first began budgeting, I was tapping my emergency fund every other month, but as we get better at predicting what’s coming, there are fewer times when we need to use the emergency fund at all.  The goal is to have a full emergency fund that is never ever used, but just sits there “just in case!”

Can you estimate how much you spent on car repairs last year?  Take that estimate divided by 12 and this is how much you should allocate each month toward car repairs.  So maybe you’ll allocate $100 to car repairs in your February budget, even if you don’t take the car in.  But if your check engine light goes on in February, you have $200 sitting there, all ready to pay the bill.

If It Can Be Predicted, Figure It Out

Similarly, let’s say you know you want to upgrade your car by $4000, six months from now.  Just divide it out and you’ll find that you need to save $667 per month.  Again, it’s predictable so include it in your budget, not the emergency fund.

Overcome the Little Kid Inside

The tough part is saying no to all the things we’d like to do until the emergency fund is complete, totaling three to six months of your household expenses.  But it’s worth it to have the security; when you really need it and you have the money sitting there, it takes a lot of stress out of the equation.

How We Spend It

“Why would you want to read when you got the television set sitting right in front of you? There’s nothing you can get from a book that you can’t get from a television faster.”  If you’re wondering where that sage advice comes from, hearken back to a little movie called Matilda.  That’s right, this little dandy comes from Matilda’s scumbag father, played by Danny DeVito.  We all get a good laugh hearing such a ridiculous claim—but hold on a minute, how many of us are spending our time each day living this philosophy out?

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How About Us?

Did you watch TV this week?  How much time did you spend watching in the last 7 days?  Ten hours?  Fifteen?  More???  Watching TV’s not wrong, but it’s not particularly beneficial either.  It’s nice, when you’re tired, to plop down on the couch and unwind a bit.  But two hours later, are you really rested?  Wouldn’t you actually be more energized an alert the following day if you had simply gone to sleep instead?

Important but Not Urgent

TV isn’t bad, but it can keep us from using our time for things that are important.  Spending time with our families, improving our minds, studying and spending time with God—these are all vitally important activities that aren’t urgent.  The problem comes when we put them off because they’re not urgent.  We accidently fall into the result of having gone all day without really talking to our spouse, without spending time reading the Word, but how much TV time did we fit in?  Oh yeah, two and a half hours.

If Only I Had the Time

Have you ever heard a friend say, “I wish I had more time to—“  What’s crazy about this statement is that anyone who has ever done that thing my friend’s wishing to do has exactly the same about of time all the rest of us have:  168 hours per week!  You’re never going to have more time than that!  So if you want time to do something, then allocate your time and do it!  The reality isn’t that you are short on time and can’t do the thing you want; the reality is that you simply don’t want the thing you claim to want as badly as you want to watch TV (or fill in whatever other random activity or habit).

Stop Starving Your Mind

We know that reading good books is like feeding our brain.  If you’ll make the decision to read a book for your personal growth every day, you will absolutely reap a beneficial harvest.  It takes dedication; it takes commitment to build the habit.  But you can do it, and you will begin to notice the fruit of this great habit almost immediately.  Try this—just reduce your TV time by 15 minutes this week.  That’s likely less than a 10% decrease.  So you’re still getting 90% of your TV time in.  That’s not so hard, right?  Just be ready and agreeable to letting a good book shape your attitude and feed your mind, and enjoy the thriving life that will begin to unfold before you!

Spend It All

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Good Advice

Here’s a statement you might not expect from a financial expert:   you should spend all your money!  In fact, you should spend the entire month’s income, even before the month begins.  You should spend it on purpose, by creating your cashflow plan before the first of the month.

Now, some of your money should be spent into your savings account.  Some should be spent paying down debts.  Some should be spent by investing into your retirement.  But it should all be spent.  Your income needs to exactly zero with all expenses, including savings and investments.  Why?  Because it isn’t until you lay out all income for January with all expenses in January that you  can make educated decisions about how much to allocate to the various competing uses your money can have.

You’re in Control

The beauty of using a cashflow planning tool like ThriveWealthy is that it puts you more in control of how your money is spent!  Since you are now making educated decisisons and prioritizing the things you value as most important, you are actually able to achieve more, and enjoy some of the better things in life.  Why not give this great free tool a try today?

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