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Kids and Money

As with everything, our kids learn about money more by watching us than by what we tell them.

This means, that whatever we want our kids to know about money management, we better be doing ourselves.

That being said, here are a few things that we have tried to do with our children when it comes to money.

  1. For every cent that our kids earn or are given as gifts, 10% goes to the church as their tithe. Learning early on to give back to God a portion of what He has given to them is key in learning to be good stewards of our finances. (For more on the idea of tithing, click here.)
  2. In addition, we encourage our kids to also save a portion of their money – anywhere from 10%-50%. They have savings accounts and we deposit the money into those accounts.
  3. We don’t buy our children everything they ask for. They need to understand that there is not an unlimited supply of money and that we must live within our means, and not spend money just for the sake of spending money.
  4. We don’t have credit cards and our children know it. They know that when we use a card, it is a debit card and is tied to our checking account. We can only spend money that we already have. We also talk to them about why we don’t use credit.
  5. When they have money to spend, we try to guide their purchases to the best of our ability. Spending $20 on candy (which our daughter would totally do if left to her own devices) is not a responsible use of money. (Not to mention it is not healthy!)
  6. We have tried allowance, and the model we used made the amount per month equal to their age. For example, Anne, age 13, would get $13 per month. We haven’t been consistent with this in the last year because of employment and income changes, and we talked through this with the kids so that they understood it was more important for us to be able to feed, house, and clothe them, than for them to have extra spending money.

These are our guidelines. We don’t do everything perfectly when it comes to money, but we are always working on being better and more responsible. In the process, we are also trying to teach our children to be responsible with money so they can maybe avoid some of the more avoidable financial woes as they become adults.


Financial Recources:



We have created a culture in which women, starting as young girls, are increasingly being told to conform to a standard that society has set.

Be thinner.

Be prettier.

Dress this way.

Eat this way.

Act this way.

Deny who you want to be so you look and act like everyone else.

This is perpetuated through our music, our media, and even the archaic ways of thinking that were prevalent in patriarchal societies of old and still penetrate our thinking today.

When something comes along that encourages girls to break away from these unreasonable (and frankly, wrong) expectations, I love it.

The first time I heard this song, I fell in love with the lyrics. So many country (rock, R&B, hip-hop – ok – music in general) songs objectify women and don’t give them a voice. They are a pretty face to be paraded around on the hunky guy’s arm. A pretty trinket to show off to the other guys driving around in their trucks. A conquest to be won and led off to the bedroom.

So, when I hear women giving voice to these concerns in a way that may just grab a young girl’s attention and help her to see that she is not required to conform to the standards that society is putting forth for her, I jump up and yell a hearty, “AMEN!”

Take a listen, share it with some girls around you, and let’s start setting a new standard of growing into the women that God created us to be, nothing more, nothing less!

Girl In A Country Song
Maddie & Tae

Well I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet
And it’s gettin’ kinda cold in these painted on cut off jeans
I hate the way this bikini top chafes
Do I really have to wear it all day? (Yeah baby)

I hear you over there on your tailgate whistlin’ [*whistle*]
Sayin’, “Hey girl”
But you know I ain’t listenin’
Cause I got a name
And to you it ain’t “pretty little thing”, “honey” or “baby”
Yeah it’s drivin’ me red-red-red-red-red-red-red neck crazy

Bein’ the girl in a country song
How in the world did it go so wrong?
Like all we’re good for
Is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend
Nothing more
We used to get a little respect
Now we’re lucky if we even get
To climb up in your truck, keep my mouth shut and ride along
And be the girl in a country song

Well shakin’ my moneymaker ain’t ever made me a dime
And there ain’t no sugar for you in this shaker of mine
Tell me one more time, “you gotta get you some of that”
Sure I’ll slide on over, but you’re gonna get slapped (Hah!)
These days it ain’t easy being that

Girl in a country song
How in the world did it go so wrong?
Like all we’re good for
Is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend
Nothing more
We used to get a little respect
Now we’re lucky if we even get
To climb up in your truck, keep my mouth shut and ride along
And be the girl in a country song (Yeah, yeah baby)

Aww no, Conway and George Strait
Never did it this way
Back in the old days
Aww y’all, we ain’t a cliché
That ain’t no way
To treat a lady

Like a girl in a country song
How in the world did it go so wrong?
Like all we’re good for
Is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend
Nothing more
We used to get a little respect
Now we’re lucky if we even get
To climb up in your truck, keep my mouth shut and ride along
Down some old dirt road we don’t even wanna be on
And be the girl in a country song

(“Yeah baby, I ain’t your tan legged Juliet. Can I put on some real clothes now?”)

Aww, no



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My last couple of posts have been pretty serious, so here is something a little more “light!”

My son and I have a confession to make.

We really like Taylor Swift’s new song.

First of all, it is SUPER CATCHY and I found myself singing it all day after just hearing it one time.

Second of all, the video is super cute.

And thirdly, I love the message. Players gonna play, haters gonna hate, fakers gonna fake, I’m gonna shake it off. We don’t have to try to be someone we aren’t just to please other people. We don’t have to conform to the standards of the world. We don’t have to be just like everyone else. And we don’t have to feel bad about being ourselves, either.

So turn up the volume and do a little dance that reflects exactly who you are! (Seriously, you will find it hard not to dance.)


So it’s a Tuesday Music post instead of Monday Music, but that’s ok!

I just watched one of the most amazing videos that goes with one of the most amazing set of song lyrics that I have heard in a while. And the reason it is so good? Because it hits the nail right on the head.

You might have seen it because it has been blowing up my Facebook feed for about a week now.

Take a look:

Every young woman (and man) needs to get this message. Living life to get other people to like you is not only never-ending, but it will never bring you fulfillment.

You are loved by the God of the universe. He created you just the way you are. Let people love you for you, not for some persona for which you want to be loved.

Embrace your curls or bone strait locks.

Embrace the freckles on your body (Natasha Bedingfield sings a song about those that my freckle-covered-self loves).

Learn to leave the house sometimes without the makeup.

Have an opinion that differs from those around you (just don’t be a jerk).

Learn that it is ok to stand out from the crowd instead of disappearing into it.

Love who you have been created to be!


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It’s been 10 years.

10 years since we saw your precious face.

10 years since I held you, sang to you, talked to you.

10 years since we found out that we would only get you for a few short days.

10 years since a Vivian-shaped hole was left in our arms and hearts.

10 years since I sang this song as we remembered your short life on Earth. (And 10 years since I fell down the platform stairs after singing this song and made your mommy laugh.)

Since then I have held your brother, David, and cried as I realized how much he looked like you.

Since then I have watched your cousin, Ty, reach every milestone that you should have. He told me last week how you would have been his best friend cousin.

Since then I have rejoiced with your mom and dad as Drew and Gracie Daisy joined our family.

In heaven, are you growing up?

In heaven, are you watching us as we miss you?

Every year there are mornings when I wake up and the memory of you is so strong, the tears flow freely, my heart breaks all over again.

I look at your pictures – so many we took so we could remember you well.

2014-04-24 06.50.54 2014-04-24 06.47.49 2014-04-24 06.47.09 2014-04-24 06.47.00 2014-04-24 06.46.45 2014-04-24 06.46.37 222202_1080014561691_1382_n 227657_1080007361511_570_n


My arms still ache for your hugs.

My heart still breaks that I don’t get to see you grow up.

Yes, I know you are in heaven with Jesus, and your body is healed, but I can still be a little selfish and wish you could have been healed here so we could have had you longer, so we could have seen you grow up.

Yet, I know that isn’t how it played out, so I guess I will just have to treasure the days we had, the memories I have, and I will look at your pictures and remember your short and sweet life that changed us all.

I love and miss you my sweet Viv! You will forever be an irreplaceable part of our lives.

Vivian Sue Hammer
April 26, 2004 – May 2, 2004
Read Vivian’s Story Here


I opened this window to start writing a blog post. I honestly had no idea what I was going to write about.

All I could think of was the fact that I am tired.

One sick kid early last week. Another sick kid toward the end of the week and on into this week. Not much sleep due to sick kid #2 and high fevers/nightmares. Yard work that wore me out (even though I loved every minute of it). Managing getting the house cleaned. Shopping for groceries, Easter outfits, house needs. Working at home so I could be with sick kid #2 for the last two days. Planning sermon, Sunday school class/lesson, service. Not sleeping great despite it being my favorite sleeping conditions – cool evenings with windows open.

I am tired.

And I kid you not, the minute I thought those words, this song started playing on iTunes.

Find Rest, by Francesca Battistelli.

I just closed my eyes and listened, let the words wash over me.

If you are tired, I encourage you to do the same thing today, because we are offered rest in God and we can find it there.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30, The Message


I had an interesting conversation with my children this weekend. I made mashed potatoes for dinner one night, and Anne caught me supplementing them with some cauliflower. Because she saw it, she was determined that they were horrible mashed potatoes and spent the first part of our dinner complaining, and sharing her knowledge with her brother which brought on a bout of complaining from him as well.

My initial reaction was one of sheer frustration with children who were complaining about what they were eating instead of being grateful that there was food, and food they enjoy, on the table in front of them to eat.

Then I decided to try to make it a teaching moment (despite my frustration). I explained to them that when you come at everything in life with the attitude of complaint, then you are basically saying that the things you don’t like take precedence in your life over the good. I suggested that they instead choose to find reasons to be thankful for what they do have.

About two years ago I began journaling my prayers more regularly, and a little over a year ago, I made a conscious effort to change the way I was journaling. I began adding, “Thank You, Lord…” to almost every single day’s journal. It forced me to look at the day differently. It forced me to pray prayers of thanksgiving rather than prayers of complaint or petition for what I didn’t have.

Now, a day rarely goes by without me being grateful for multiple things throughout the day.

After talking to the kids, I was reading my devotions for the night and read this:


It reminds me of the VeggieTales song my kids and I used to sing all the time:

I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!

For our home on the ground,
For His love that’s all around,
That’s why I say thanks every day!

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I’m glad for what I have,
That’s an easy way to start!

For the love that He shares,
‘Cause He listens to my prayers,
That’s why I say thanks every day!

Perhaps it would be a good song for all of us to learn.


On the way to church yesterday, I heard this song on the radio. I have heard it many times, but it hit me again just what an amazing gift that I have been given – the grace and love of the God of the universe.

You have also been given this gift, all you have to do is accept it.


Before the Throne
Shane and Shane

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the One,
Risen Son of God!

Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God


There have been many things vying for my attention recently, and thus driving my stress level up a bit.

New job. Kids’ schedules. New ventures. 7.

So as I rushed through my morning after working out and found myself all wound up already for the day, I realized I needed to re-center myself and get my focus back in the right place.

I chose some music to help me do that as I spent time with the Lord.

Here is one of the songs that I used to re-center this morning.

If you are having a “Monday” and finding it hard to be centered properly, I encourage you to find a way to re-center your focus on what really matters. It will make a huge impact on your day and the people around you.


Be Still

Update 9/7/16:

I am in the midst of a very busy week – starting fall seminary classes, prepping for Sunday School/preaching on Sunday, gearing up for fall church events and finalizing last-minute details for the Vine to Wine 1/2 Marathon and 5K on Saturday that I have been planning for the last 9 months and is bringing in over 500 registrants. Yesterday was a super-stressful day so this morning I spent my prayer time listening to this song and placing myself in God’s hands alone, because He alone is where I find my rest, my hope, my confidence, and in him I rest knowing that He will provide what is needed to accomplish the tasks at hand. Thank you, Lord.


As a part of the 2nd Sunday of Advent, with the theme of Peace, we spent the first 10 minutes of the service in silence on Sunday morning.

How often in our crazy-busy lives do we just sit in silence, much less sit in silence with the purpose of receiving the peace of the Lord?

I would venture a guess that the answer to that question for most of us is rarely, if at all.

As we came out of the silence, the first song we sang was Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest).

Have you ever really absorbed the words to that song?

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

In You I rest, In You I find my hope
In You I trust, You never let me go
I place my life within Your hands alone
Be still my soul.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

In You I rest, In You I find my hope
In You I trust, You never let me go
I place my life within Your hands alone
Be still my soul.

There is a very strong theme throughout the song of being still and trusting God in the midst of things that shake us up and bring anxiety rather than peace. Jesus tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” We have been given the peace of God, but the question is, have we received it? Do we accept it? Or do we look at our circumstances and allow them to steal the peace that we have been given?

We must choose to be still and accept His peace. We must choose to be still and receive His peace.

In the midst of the busy-ness of the holiday, in the midst of circumstances beyond our control, in the midst of grief and loss, be still.




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