Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

Finances…how to tame the beast!

There have been many great wars; the war of 1812, civil war, world wars 1 and 2. But families have been waging another war in recent years. That war is with their finances. You see, when your family operates without a financial strategy, when you don’t communicate to each other about money management or when you don’t trust that God will provide Sunday through Saturday, you inevitably set the stage for a financial defeat.

Consider this:

  • Only 1 in 5 people use a monthly budget.
  • Families carry 2.1 trillion in debt, up from 351.9 billion in the late 1970s.
  • About 50 percent the families surveyed spend $2,500 to $5,000 a month on debt payments.
  • Savings are at an all-time low, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Analysis. We tuck away only 1.2 percent of our income. (Focus on the Family)

Now let’s assume for a moment that your family has a realistic budget and a sound financial strategy. You’ve cut out the morning Starbucks run and weekly Amazon or Ebay purchases, and you are among the 22 percent of Americans who claims they waste no money. Still, after paying off expenses, your family is left with only pennies to spare. Despite your best efforts, saving for emergencies is out of the question.

If this sounds like your household, a change in tactics might be in order. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate spending habits for necessities like housing, food, transportation and insurance. Even small savings can add up over a year.

Another option is to examine your attitude.  Are your budget battles all-consuming, or are you embracing Christ’s instructions in Matthew 6:25: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”

Maybe you’ve never developed a solid financial strategy. If so, sticking to a monthly budget is a good start, but it’s only the beginning. Wherever you place yourself on the money management scale, the following advice from Crown Financial Ministries may relieve some of the stress and help prepare you for financial battle.

I have a HUGE amount of student debt. In fact, I almost laugh at the statistic that says most college students leave college with about $25,000 in debt. I hold more than three times that much in college debt, and this does not include my husband’s college loan debt! Though it’s going to take us a very long time to pay it off, thankfully, though, it’s the only debt we hold.

We’ve decided to follow the Dave Ramsey plan for finances and I would suggest the same for your family. Even if you aren’t struggling financially, a plan like this could help your family substantially. Please go to Dave Ramsey’s Website to read about a plan to follow, books that can help you, and the way to set up a proper budget.

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I’m Thankful

This Thursday is one of the best family days of the year- Thanksgiving! Unfortunately, so many families forget that it’s a day about being Thankful and being with family. More and more stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day and more and more people are choosing to forego dinner in order to get in line at stores and get the latest and greatest thing. Now, I love a good deal as much as the next person, but as they say on ESPN…C’MON MAN!

Let’s continue our family traditions, or start some new ones this year. Cherish your family. And, be Thankful for everything that you have been blessed with! Here’s some ideas:

1- The Turkey Trot: Whether your ‘trotting’ pace is a stroll or a sprint, the ubiquitous Turkey Trot is a fun way to offset that extra slice of pumpkin pie. And on such a day of gratitude and appreciation, you can’t argue with a community-centered event that often raises funds for charitable causes. (my aunt and uncle always have their kids trot with them…ages 6 and 8 – never too young!)

2- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Watch the parade! This is a great time for the family to gather in your PJs and experience the joy and excitement of Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas Season!

3- Let the kids cook: Bring the kids in the kitchen with you so they can “help” (or you can show/teach them) how to prepare a part of Thanksgiving Dinner. Kids can do something easy, like pouring the cream of mushroom soup in the casserole dish for the green bean casserole, beat the mashed potatoes (with your help of course), or set the table!

4- Play your own game of football: This was always a tradition in my husband’s family and with friends. Go outside and run around! Play catch, tackle each other, and see who’s going to win…boys or girls!

5- Make a wish: This is a tradition in my family. Known as a “lucky break” the tradition of tugging on either end of a fowl’s bone to win the larger piece and its accompanying “wish” dates back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and the English colonists carried the tradition on to America. You’ve gotta break the wishbone, and of course…make a wish!

6- Pre-meal prayer and Thankful wishes: Say a family prayer. After doing this, everyone around the table shares one thing that they are thankful for. It really makes you remember how much you really have and how blessed you are!

7- Football: If your family likes sports (as mine does) take some time to snuggle up after eating Turkey and watch one of the big games of the day. If you’re like my family, most of you will end up falling asleep!

8- Serve: There are people in our church this year that are spending their Thanksgiving with those who are less fortunate – by preparing a meal for them and sharing it with them. Take your kids and show them what serving is all about!

9- Show your gratitude to an unsung hero: Get together with your family and decide on a person or a group in your
community who could use an extra pat on the back; firefighters, soldiers, police officers, volunteers. Put
together a special plate of goodies and deliver it (or pack it up for shipping) as a family.

10- The day after Thanksgiving: You may be a family that does black Friday shopping…but after that – put up the Christmas tree. You don’t have to decorate it, or the rest of the house either (unless you want to) but putting up the tree (or the manger) the day after thanksgiving will help your family to remember what the Christmas season really is all about.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Spend time with family and friends, and remember all you have to be thankful for this year!

 

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There’s no monster under your bed

I used to be such a fearful child! I remember calling to my parents in the middle of the night, one of them usually ending up sleeping in my bed because I was too fearful to sleep alone. I was scared of everything; the dark, the possibility of a fire or storm, strangers, the possibility of people breaking into our home, my parents’ finances…you name it. I was scared of it. As I got older, I became less scared of those things and was more scared about divorce, death of a loved one, and failing in school.

After many years of studies and testing, Psychologists have discovered that distinguishing between fear and anxiety is often difficult in children. What is the difference? Fear is a response to a situation or a reaction to a set of circumstances (a neighbor’s dog), while anxiety is being worried about something that hasn’t happened yet or anticipating a possible outcome of a situation (a shot at the doctor’s office). Once parents realize this difference, they can better help their child cope.

Here are some tips from focus on the family:

  • The first and most important thing is to believe your child’s fear. Talking about and affirming the existence of their fear will help your child. But be careful not to over-talk the fear or express your own fears. If your child doesn’t want to discuss it, encourage them to write a fictional story about another person with the same fears or draw a picture of what could happen.
  • Fears can often be removed or reasoned through to a logical conclusion after evaluating reality. Make a plan of action if a mean dog comes too close. Practice on dolls the day before a visit to the dentist. Memorize certain Bible verses that fit your child’s fear (check out Psalm 27:1, Psalm 31:24 and John 14:27). The more independent your child feels, the smaller the fear can become. Some verses to work with:
  1. “The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1
  2. “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” – Psalm 31:24
  3. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
  • Try to recognize your child’s signs of anxiety in order to quickly help. Some children may become introverted. Others will misbehave, and still others will have sleeping problems, headaches or stomach-aches.
  • Know the fine line between being a protective parent and being overprotective. Your child should feel safe but shouldn’t be so insecure as to never want to be alone. Shielding unpleasant situations is part of a parent’s responsibility, but children also must have the freedom to learn from their experiences and their mistakes.

In my childhood, I had to go to counseling and listen to relaxation tapes in order to calm my nerves and anxieties. It also helped that my parents were open to talking about my stress triggers instead of just brushing me off or telling me that my fears aren’t legitimate or valid.

If your child’s anxiety repeatedly interrupts their daily life, consider consulting a counselor, pediatrician or pastor for advice on minimizing these heart-pounding fears.

What do you do when your kids are scared? And, what were your fears as a child?

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It’s time to give back

We live in a very privileged society. In the United States, kids are blessed with the gift of education, safe building guidelines, clean water, and so much more. Now I know this isn’t the case for all families or kids, but the kids who are lacking in basic needs are the exception. There are many kids all over the world who are unable to find clean water, don’t have parents due to illness or war ravaged societies, and who die from every day illnesses or other cause that are easily preventable and treatable. The exception in countries like Zambia or Burma, the exception is a healthy child who gets and education and who has two parents living.

Helping kids in impoverished countries touches dear to my heart as I’ve traveled to both Africa and Honduras helping families in need. So I got to thinking, how can we inspire our congregations to give to those who have so little when we have so much. After talking to some families in my church, I quickly learned that people are just unaware of the needs of others or how they can truly help people and make a difference in someone’s life!

You might be thinking, I tithe to my church, isn’t that enough? If you feel that it is, that’s your prerogative  But, I feel that God has called us to more than that. Matthew 25:35 – 40 says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” We need to help the least of these!

First, here’s a great video that I saw 4-5 years ago that might hit home with you. I think once we’re aware of different situations in the world, we are obligated as Christians to do something about it, and to show our kids how to make a difference. See what you think about this: 

So, I have a challenge for you this holiday season. Spend less money on yourself and your family. Give more to people in need. Here’s some awesome ways to give back that I’ve been a part of (and there’s many more organizations).

Samaritan’s Purse: Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that works worldwide to meet the spiritual and physical needs of people suffering from war, poverty, disaster, disease, famine, and persecution. At Christmas, they do Operation Christmas Child. We’re doing this with our kids at church this year. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to give. Go to the website for more information.

World Hope International: Faith based relief and development organization alleviating suffering and injustice through education, enterprise and community health. I’ve done Missions work through WHI. Every year, they have a “gifts catalog” where you can select gifts for people overseas in someone else’s name. View the catalog at  and see all the ways you can impact someone!

Compassion International: Compassion International is a Christian child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world. My husband and I sponsor a child through CI, which you can commit to ($48 per month for kids who need HIV vaccines, $35 for kids who are not at risk) or you can make a one time donation to CI through their Christmas Gift Catalog. You can see all of the ways you can help others by going to the Compassion Gift Page for more information.

Advent Conspiracy: Advent Conspiracy is an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption. You can give water or rescue to people all over the world. Go to their Website for more information.

American Red Cross: You may want to give to disaster relief and because of Hurricane Sandy, the Red Cross has taken up the responsibility of getting donations to help people who have been effected by the hurricane. You can also choose to give a recurring gift so there’s money available for future disasters. Go to the Red Cross Giving Page for information.

Aside from these monetary ways to give back during the holidays, you and your family can serve together locally (or if you feel God’s calling, overseas) as well.

Some ideas for serving:

  • serving at a soup kitchen
  • serving at your local church
  • handing out food to the homeless in your city
  • rake leaves or shovel for a shut-in or the elderly
  • visit a nursing home
  • visit an orphanage
  • if there’s a refugee area near you, go and spend time with the people

There are so many ways that we can give our time, money, and talents to those in need! Let’s think of others this Christmas Season. If you need help contacting different organizations or are still unsure of how to plug-in, contact your local church and they would love to help you! (I can help those in Western New York and Central Indiana, because that’s where I’ve lived and have been heavily involved!)

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November Materials

Here are our Family Ministry resources for the month of November:

All Parents:

Orange Blog

252 Basics (1st grade-6th grade)

Parent Cue

Extra Memory Verses

God Time Week 1

God Time Week 2

God Time Week 3

God Time Week 4

First Look (age 3- Kindergarten)

Parent Cue

Parent Cue Cards

Don’t forget our Fall Schedule!

Our TrinityKids services:

9:00 Sunday morning eXplore!

  • Group 3s-kindergarten
  • 1st-4th grade groups based off of The Dig Curriculum
  • 5th-6th grade Grapple Group

10:30 Sunday morning eXclaim!

  • Small groups 3s-Kindergarten
  • Large group for 1st-4th grade
  • 5th-6th grade X-Crew

6:30-7:30 Wednesday night  eXplosion!

  • Game Based Lessons 3s-Kindergarten
  • Game Based Lessons 1st-4th Grade
  • eXtreme56! for 5th-6th Grade (Game Based Lessons with a Youth Group Atmosphere)

The Nursery is always up and running when we have programming!

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