To Save, To Give, To Spend, To Stir Up?

Do you ever wonder if you are teaching your kids all they need to know about money?  It’s a big job for us parents!  Especially when we are learning so much ourselves!  We try to talk openly about money and how to save, tithe, spend, etc.

Tithe, that 10% that comes right off the top of what they receive is a simple and great starting point. There’s even a math lesson for all of us every time we tithe or help our kids tithe…a simple formula anyone can follow.  Giving is different; it goes beyond the tithe and there is no formula.  Sacrificial giving is even something else….giving when it doesn’t really seem reasonable. King David said, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).

Today I had to run some errands, you know, the dry cleaners, gas station, and car wash…fun stuff.  Mack asked if he could bring his money and spend it at The Dollar Store.  He had one item in particular on his mind.  I asked him to count his money first, and we would see if he had enough.  He had $6.87.  Not bad.  I told him he could just bring it all in case he found other things he wanted….I have done this shopping trip with him before and there’s always something he sees that “if I had brought all my money, I could have gotten this, too!!!” (picture a cute little pitiful, begging face).

Then, I had a light bulb moment and remembered what I read in Randy Alcorn’s book about giving and children, so I just mentioned, “Hey, you got more envelopes from church the other day.  You’ve already tithed on this money, but you can give an offering if you’d like.”

He started thinking about it and started putting some money aside.  “One dollar….two dollars….”

At this point I was tempted to say, “Yes.  Two dollars is plenty.  You can keep the rest,” but I stopped myself.

He asked me, “…Is three dollars good? That’s almost half.”

I gave the decision right back to him and God and told him he should pray about it, and I told him to remember that anything you give to God you will have forever, but anything you spend at The Dollar Store will be gone and is only temporary.

You may not think this is blog-worthy, but I have to say that there are many times I am more concerned about them learning how to save than I am with them learning how to give.  I remind them that there is this or that they have had their eyes on, and if they don’t have any money, then they can’t get it.  All of that is true, but it is also just as much true that anything they give to God and His Kingdom work they will have forever and ever and ever……

Philippians 4:17 “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”

Luke 6:38 “give and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

I also love this verse….

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”  2 Corinthians 8:9

So, Mack is enjoying his Dollar Store Spy Kit and Super Hero pens for now.  But he also has stored up some treasure in heaven for eternity.

As parents and in regard to teaching our kids about money, let’s teach them how to save, to give, to spend, but even more importantly, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

They Made It!

  
Hilariously, my girls had already landed in Knoxville by the time Josh, Mack, and I made it to our destination…..

  
Oh, MaryMac’s, you were good to us. Even Mack was happy, despite the fact that he said he wanted Chick-fil-a. Josh wasn’t ashamed at all to override Mack’s choice even though, as Mack said, “Molly told me I would be able to pick where we ate. “

Big Adventure

The girls are going to Knoxville to stay with a long-time friend for a few days….and they’re flying alone!  I am so excited for them!!!  What a great experience, and I’m sure they will gain some independence along the way. That is part of the goal in this parenting gig—to present the world with capable adults that can do things on their own.

We were excited for the journey to begin.  Little did we know that there would be ONE lane of traffic open on 285 and that we would take an alternate route and jump back on I-20, only to get right back into a red zone of ONE lane of traffic. But, like I told the girls, we are giving them the full, high-stress experience of travel…especially in the ATL. 

Molly kept saying, “Good thing we left early!” I was beginning to wonder if we had left early enough, but thankfully, Josh does his best work under stress. And these girls don’t have a better guide to their gate than him!!

   
 
Mack and I chose to say our goodbyes at check-in and then sit and people watch.  His thoughts as he looked around were, “Um, I just don’t really like these kinds of places.” He also added a little later into our waiting that he “imagined all this would have gone much quicker.” 

  
And here’s one more picture of the girls waiting at the gate to board…Mack says they look nervous. Those are definitely fake smiles. 

  
Happy Travels, Girls!!!

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Excel Still More

Been letting these verses roll around my head the last two days….I Thessalonians 4:9-12,

“Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,

and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and have need of nothing.”

  • Love others, even those outside of your family and immediate community that are easy to love.
  • Lead a quiet life. (In the margin I wrote what probably my preacher said, “be ambitious about being hidden”….what in the world does that look like today in this “likes” and “followers” culture?….hidden….)
  • Attend to your own business.
  • Work with your hands; don’t be lazy and depend on others.

“The life of quiet strength and repose; the life that is arranged and orderly; the life that is honourably independent. Surely it is good to be ambitious for such a life.” G. Campbell Morgan

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Planning for the First Day of School

It’s safe to say that none of us are ready to start back to school.  Being a home schooling family, the whole “start date” seems to elude me.  I can’t ever nail down that first day and stick to it.  I mean, we could start August 3rd, like our county government schools, but it has become a tradition to go to the pool on their first day of school…just a little perk of being in charge of our schedule.  Then, there is the Tuesday after they start, but that is usually our co-op Open House.  We go meet the teacher of their one class this year and then pick up some new uniform shirts, and then we may go get a Sonic drink because it’s probably going to be HOT that early in August…not to mention we will all be excited after seeing so many friends and meeting the teacher.  And there is liable to be a few more supplies we became aware of and will need to go to Target.  In Target we will get distracted by many lovely things, and by the time we get home I will need to start dinner.

So Wednesday may be our day.  We will likely ease into the schedule by re-aquainting ourselves with the school room and where things go and where things don’t go and who will sit where at our table.  We will probably see our chipmunk friend that distracts us morning after morning as we watch him from the window.  We will do Bible, History and Math and call it a day. Whew.  I’m tired already trying to do three subjects right out of the shoot. Plus, Ruby starts piano this afternoon.  It is best we don’t push ourselves too hard.

So Thursday we will be refreshed and ready to go—We will start with Bible, then go to History and Math and add Science.  They are all going to be working together on Science, and I am trying to encourage them to work independently from me in Science, for the most part.  I would like Ruby and Molly to take turns leading, but I am sure I know how this will turn out.  Ruby has a hard time taking direction from her younger sister.

Fridays are our light days.  After Bible, the kids will do Math and Science and any Language Arts they need to do for their co-op and be done!

So, it’s not that I don’t have a plan.  I do.  And I have all of my curriculum in the school room waiting for us.  It’s just the start date that kind of scares me.  I would like to wait until we are all eager to start….maybe the kids could start begging to do their math and then I would be excited to start school, but for now, we are all just enjoying these lazy days of summer.

The days have been filled with quiet,slow morning, breakfast whenever they want it, devotions some time before lunch and trips to the pool on a whim.  Or we stay in the house doing some reading and cleaning…we have played games, written letters to friends and cousins, watched many episodes of Little House on the Prairie, sewing projects, iPad games, coloring, and more.  It’s just been so nice, and i am not ready for it to end.  Problem is, I am not sure I will ever be ready for these kind of days to end!  And I have no idea when we will start making the kids go to sleep before 10:00pm….it will surely help them to wake up at a decent hour so we can start our school day before noon.

We have one more little three day trip planned before we start school….whatever that means! Maybe after our fun trip we will be ready to come back and crack open those books!  Highly unlikely, but a girl can hope.

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Forever Home

I’ve mentioned on the blog many times before about our “dream house” we built in 2009.  I told about how I grew up moving quite often since my dad was a home-builder.  If someone wanted the house we were in, we sold it and moved.  If there was another house of his ready and waiting for someone to live in, we moved in it.  If not, we moved into a rental property.  We stayed in the same county, just many different locations.  It was not ideal, but I get why we did it.  Somewhere along the way I decided that the thing to do was to one day have a home you loved and live in it forever and ever and ever, amen.  My grown kids would come visit their precious parents and their hearts would be flooded with memories from their growing up years.  If I had my way, I would live in this house all my live-long days, period.  I never actually articulated this dream during my younger years, but you can bet it was all there in my heart and mind.

Through our personal journey with our “dream house” and then letting go of the house and moving right back into what we thought was just our first house, the Lord did and continues to do a work in our hearts.  Eternal perspective becomes clearer and clearer.  We have learned so much……

and yet we have so much to learn.  So much.

I started reading “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn  a couple of weeks ago.  Goodness gracious.  Good, good stuff.  I highly recommend it to anyone.  Josh and I do believe, based on God’s Word, that there are rewards in heaven.  However, this book is opening my eyes even more to this truth and how it should affect my short time here on earth.  Alcorn uses so much scripture all throughout his book.

He shares an example of a couple who was saving to build a dream home of their own.  They told him, “We’ve always had this dream for a beautiful home in the country, and we can’t seem to shake it.  Is that wrong?”

Randy Alcorn says he told them that he believed their dream of a perfect home was from God.  Then, he said, “It’s just that your dream can’t be fulfilled here in this world.”

He goes on to write, “Our dream house is coming; we don’t have to build it ourselves.  In fact, we can’t.  Any dream house on earth will eventually be ravaged by time, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, carpenter ants, or freeway bypasses.  Who would want to divert kingdom funds to build a dream house on earth if they understood that either it will leave them or they will leave it? Instead, why not use our resources to send building materials ahead to the Carpenter, our Bridegroom, who this very moment is building our dream house in heaven?”

Luke 12:15 says, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

There is a temptation to fill our lives with stuff we want and somehow think it will bring us life, make our life better or give us satisfaction in life.  That is such a lie.  Back during our house building time there was a preacher at church that was speaking about greed and how it was the root of the countries economic implosion during those days.  He had much to say about greed.  I left highly offended.  I could not believe he would say such things; I did not like what he was implying….since I was one that wanted more and was in the process of getting more.  Who did he think he was to say such offensive things that I did not agree with???

Ends up he was exactly right.  I was exactly wrong.  Greed is an offense against God, and I shouldn’t have been so concerned about being offended by this preacher, rather I should have been concerned about offending God.  Greed is idolatry, putting money or things in place of God.

Our riches and anything they can buy or allow us to experience will not last forever.  We are foolish and short-sighted to think otherwise.

Psalm 49:10-12 says, “For he sees that even wise men die; The stupid and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others.  Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; They have called their lands after their own names.  But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.”

Well then.  Like Alcorn says, “Materialism isn’t just wrong, it’s stupid'” and then goes on later to add, “in fact, materialism is insane.”

Ouch.

Also he says, “Through generous giving we can escape the gravity of things on earth by establishing a new orbit around treasures we store up in heaven.”

And one more quote from this book that I highly recommend, “Seeking fulfillment in money, land, houses, cars, clothes, boats, campers, hot tubs, world travel, and cruises has left us bound and gagged by materialism–and like drug addicts, we pathetically think that our only hope lies in getting more of the same.  Meanwhile, the voice of God–unheard amid the clamor of our possessions–is telling us that even if materialism did bring happiness in this life, which it clearly does not, it would leave us woefully unprepared for the next life.”

PSALM 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom.”

Admittedly, I have much to learn on this subject and this way of living and giving that God invites me in to. Thankfully, He hasn’t given up on me and is teaching me, and I can see growth in my life.  If I’m still here on earth, then I still have opportunities to obey! I’m praying God keeps my eyes open to Him, my ears attentive to His Words, and my heart humble before Him all of my days.

Scary Baby

When Molly was a baby she slept on her tummy, all squished into a little ball.  She learned to suck her fingers….and she still does this from time to time at bedtime.  As she grew into a toddler, got extremely addicted to a certain pillow.  She would take the pillow case off of the pillow and slobber and suck her fingers at night.  Over time, this pillow began to look rough.  I would cover it with a pillow case.  She would uncover it.  It started turning a dark brown color.  I know, gross.  Ruby wouldn’t allow the pillow to touch her or anything that was hers.

One unfortunate night Molly got sick and threw up on her beloved pillow.  I was going to try and clean it up, but I just decided that maybe this was the time to say goodbye to her longtime friend (I do this with tupperware that has food in it that has overstayed its welcome in the fridge as well….not gonna clean that junk out…rather just buy some more tupperware). Of course, Molly wasn’t having it.  At all.  She was going to be devastated without her pillow.  So, plan B ensued.  I found another pillow just like the one she had; it was inside one of the “pretty pillow cases” that no one ever uses.  She was happy that I found another pillow, but she wasn’t thrilled that her loved-on pillow was now gone.  This new pillow would have to do.

She loved on and slobbered on this pillow night after night until it was as gross as the first one.  Mack and Molly had even written with marker on this pillow. Then, one day, the unthinkable happened.  Molly came to me and said she couldn’t find her sewing needle.

“Where did you put it?” I asked.

“I stuck it in my pillow and then went to the bathroom and when I came back, it wasn’t there, ” Molly said, in a panic.

I told her she would not be able to use the pillow anymore because if there was a needle inside the pillow, it could poke her at anytime in the night and maybe hurt her eye or something.

Once again, Molly wasn’t having it.  I was talking, but she was not listening.

Sooooo, once again I came up with Plan B.  I mean, that’s what moms do, right?  I told her we could cut open the pillow and get the needle out and then sew it back up.  We cut the pillow and didn’t find the needle.  Ruby entered the room and told us that, “Oh yeah, I saw that there was a needle sticking out of the pillow, so I took it out and put it in this drawer.”

Really?  Thanks for letting us know.

The pillow was already cut open and the stuffing all moved around as we carefully searched for the needle.  Then, I had another idea…Since the pillow was kind of in shambles, “why don’t we just cut out a smaller pillow for you to sew up?”

Molly thought it was a great idea.  The large pillow then looked like this:

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As you can see, it is starting to open up on one end.  Enter another idea from good old Mom. “Hey, Molly!  Why don’t we turn that pillow into a doll?!”

She loved the idea and it gets the nasty pillow a little smaller.

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We started cutting and pinning, Molly went to sewing and this is the final product.

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I know.  Scary, right?  But it is smaller.  Mack saw it and went into a long story about how he is going to have nightmares about that scary baby attacking him and then Molly will wake him up and ask him what he is so upset about and when he sees her standing there with that baby in her hand, then he will really be scared and will scream……and on and on he went.

But he has a point.  It is a scary baby doll, no doubt.

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Obviously, she would disagree with us.  Oh, that Molly girl.

Thankful for Sundays

Sundays are a day set apart from the rest of the days of the week for our family!  We love our church family, and I am especially grateful for the people who pour into our kids.

First of all, Ruby got to take a walk from the Elementary building to The Warehouse, where the middle school and high school kids meet.  She was very excited to go out and see where she will be gathering each Sunday and Wednesday with the MIDDLE SCHOOL kids.  Josh was happy for her, but is still in a bit of denial that his baby girl is growing up.

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Molly has had amazing teachers this year; Ruby had them last year.  They are young and cute and fun and love God and the girls in their class.  I am usually one of the last parents to come get Molly because I usually get stopped several times as I am making my way over to Molly’s class and sometimes I am handling logistical stuff in our own class.  They are always very understanding and patient with me.  Molly loves Ms. Hannah and Ms. Brittney.  I had to snap a picture of Molly with Brittney because they were wearing similar outfits.  So cute.

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And Mack got a huge compliment from a friend of mine this morning.  Evidently he was a real gentleman and pulled out a chair from a stack of chairs for a little girl who needed a chair at his table.  Be still my heart.  I was so proud of him for doing that with me no where around to prompt him!  His teacher has also been fabulous this year.  She made this awesome sheet of pictures from their year together.

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We are blessed to be a part of First Baptist Woodstock.  Thankful for those who serve week after week to share the love of Jesus with our kids.  Thankful for the group of adults we get to be a part of as we live life together.  Thankful for biblical preaching week after week. We are blessed indeed.

Fun Few Days

Mack finished up his football camp.  It was so fun to watch him play and to hear about what he learned and who he met.  He seems to have a good time out there.

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Molly finished her first doll.  Forgive the funky eyes…that would be my fault.  We had never sewed eyes on a  doll or used embroidery floss.  It is quite unfortunate for the doll that I got better on the second eye, but you have to start somewhere!

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I am proud of Molly!  She definitely knows the ins and outs of sewing WAY better than I do, but she still needs my help on cutting and reminding her to slow down.  I sure hope she sticks with this skill for her whole life.  It’s a great one to have!

We spent the day at the lake and enjoyed every minute of it.  We just totally chilled out—kids had their life jackets, toys and food, Josh and I had a huge float with an anchor attached so that we could just enjoy floating on the water while we watched the kids.

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Enjoying our July….just wish it would slow down a little bit.

Boys and Girls…so very different

I know you don’t need me to tell you that boys are so different than girls.  Growing up with two sisters and then marrying Josh made me even more aware of the striking differences that boys and girls have.  I don’t know that I will ever get over noticing how very different my girls and Mack are; it really does make me laugh. This week Mack has been attending a Football Camp each evening from 5:30-9:00pm.  He comes home HUNGRY.  We told him not to eat much before he went to camp because he was liable to get sick out in that heat with a full belly.  Thinking he was fulfilling our wish, he ate “only two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches” before the first night of practice!  I have enjoyed talking to him as he tells me all about his practice and eats some late night dinner.

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After he ate, the girls asked Josh to come in the living room because he needed to see their new dance.

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I had to sneak this picture or Ruby might be mad at me, but I had to record this.  For some reason it just struck me funny that we went from football talk to dancing in the living room in 2.3 seconds.  And Josh was very attentive and always ends their dance sessions by telling them that if they ever need help with dance moves that they should ask him for help.  Thankfully, they know he is joking.

I found this today:

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Mack has a folder he labeled “Football Plays.”  He has been adding pictures of plays he is learning.  He tried to explain them to me; I listened attentively, but still don’t quite understand. And in between football talk I was helping Molly with a sewing project. Mack was a good sport as we wandered the sewing store…I think hanging out with us girls so much will make him a good husband one day.

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It is a cute little doll pattern that I hope will turn out well.  If it does, I will share some pictures!  Molly is at her best when she has a project…something to keep her hands busy. And right now I am waiting for Mack and Josh to come home from Day Three of Football Camp.  Josh texted me a couple of times, as he was watching the end of Mack’s camp, and told me that Mack is a talker.  He does all he is supposed to do and talks to those around him the entire time.  I love that about Mack.  Usually.  He talks to me all the time about all manner of things.  I hope that continues his whole life. Josh talks to me, too, but he is very selective when it comes to texting.  I could show you a bazillion text exchanges where I say much and he says one word, maybe two. Here’s one of many examples:

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Soooo, all these words I typed just to say boys and girls are different.  I could take this topic into a political discussion, but I don’t think that would be very helpful.  There is definitely no gender-neutrality around here!  Different as night and day….and I love it.