A Letter to My Daughter

 

I wrote this letter when my daughter was 10 years old. Now that she is just a few days away from turning 18 I thought it was time to repost. I’m so proud of the young lady she has become. She shines with the love of Christ and she has my heart!

Dearmother and daugtherest Daughter,

 

 One of the highest callings in life is that of a mother.  It comes with great joy and incredible responsibilities.  When God gave you to me, He gave me a most precious gift.  You are a joy and delight.  When you smile your sweet countenance spreads light throughout the room.  You can laugh and turn sorrow into joy.  You are a treasure and your calm disposition brings peace to our home.  I realize that I only have a few years in which to teach and train you to become a virtuous young lady of highest character but that is my desire. 

 

 Daughter, there are many things I want you to know.  First of all, know that I love your father.  Next to Christ he is my dearest friend.  Every night as I pray for you, my prayer is that someday God will bring a godly young man into your life that mightily loves the Lord and deeply cherishes his wife, just like your father.   I pray you discover early on in your marriage your God given role as wife and that you will embrace it with joy. 

 

I want you to know that children are a blessing from God.  Today children seem to be nothing more than a burden to many in which to cast off on someone else.  You and your brothers are a joy and I thank God daily for each of you.  I praise Him for the opportunity that He has given your father and me to raise you.  I want you to know that we will do our best to raise you not by the world’s standards but by God’s standards alone.  The world says you must be beautiful on the outside and that your value is based on how you look and dress.  God says that your value is based on who you are.  True beauty comes from within and God’s standard is one of purity. 

 

 Never forget that the most important thing in this life are relationships. Your relationship with God is first and foremost.  Only in Christ will you find complete fulfillment.  Your life will be void if you look to any other.  Second is your relationship with others.  Never miss opportunities to love your family, to build and cultivate friendships, and to reach out with kindness to strangers.  For it is in loving and serving others that Christ will be glorified. 

 

 Finally, I want you to know that no matter what stage of life you are in and no matter what you find yourself doing, make sure that it is for God’s glory.  If you’re being educated, learn with the desire to use your gifts to please God.  If you’re working, whatsoever your hands find to do, do all for the glory of God.  If you’re serving others, do it to point others to Christ.  Remember, you have purpose; no matter your age or station in life God has a plan for you.  Seek Him with your whole heart and your life will be complete.  You will have joy unspeakable.   Know that I will make mistakes and sometimes fail you, but I pray with all my heart that my words and actions as your mother are that in which you can look to as a godly example.

 

 I love you sweet daughter.

 

Going on Vacation?

vacationtips Our children are quite tired of hearing the “Dave Ramsey NO” But that is what you say when you get serious about paying off debt. All joking aside, we really don’t blame our frugality on Dave Ramsey (too much). My children love him as much as my husband and I. They sit through his financial peace courses and spend hours listening with us to his radio show. We cannot even play a game of Monopoly without his name or the term “emergency fund” being brought up. Our prayer is that our children are “getting it” and learn from our mistakes when it comes to finances.

Of course I am still learning and have a long way to go. But what I have learned is that one of the most important aspects of paying off debt is making a budget and sticking to it. A few weeks ago we took a vacation to Gatlinburg, TN. Let me share 10 things we did to help stay on budget.

Set the Budget – I know, it is obvious that to be able to stay on budget you must first set a budget. But just because something is simple doesn’t mean that it is easy. After making the decision to go on vacation the first thing to do is set a budget. Vacations need to be cash flowed. If you have a credit card (which I hope you do not) do not even think about taking it. The envelope system works great for vacations.

Go Off Season – As a homeschooling family we do have the unique opportunity to take our vacations during off season. This has saved us a ton of money. On this trip we stayed in a beautiful two bedroom cabin for $29.00 a night with a small cleaning free. It doesn’t get much cheaper. We have also saved money by going to the beach off season. Our favorite time of year for a costal trip is in October. It is still warm enough for the children to swim and most prices are slashed in half. Plus you miss all the crowds and that is a huge plus for us. One year we went to Sea World the week before school was out. We had the place to ourselves. It was wonderful. I am not sure what my children would do if they had to stay in long lines for rides. Of course, there are some disadvantages to going off season like limited shows in places like Branson and Gatlinburg. However, we are very select in seeing shows anyway, so this does not affect our vacations.

Get a Cabin or Condo – One or two nights in a hotel is fine, but any longer than that with a family is not my idea of fun. There are many benefits to staying in a cabin or condo. The first is that you have much more room. Our $29 a night cabin slept 6. Imagine trying to fit a family into a small hotel room for the same price. In addition, we always pick cabins and condos that have full kitchens and laundry rooms. Just watch for hidden charges like cleaning fees and non-refundable deposits. Those can add up if not careful.

Our favorite resource for finding great deals is www.vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner). We have had good results by dealing directly with the owner. One Christian owner waved the non-refundable deposit for us when she discovered my husband was a pastor.

BYO Food – We love to eat out while on vacation, but 3 meals a day can get very expensive. I have discovered that I can buy a week’s worth of groceries and snacks for our family of 5 for about the same cost of eating out at a sit down restaurant 3 times. In our vacation budget we plan on eating out as we travel to and from our destination and buying groceries during the week.  Occasionally we will eat out during the week depending on where we are and what we are doing.

Play Games Together – Vacation is all about relationships and memories and neither cost money. Some of our favorite memories have been playing a game in our cabin or condo together. Last summer we played a new card game called Golf. This trip our game of choice was Farkle.

Look for Free – Not everything cost money. We spent one morning hiking on the beautiful trails. It didn’t cost us a dime and we have some wonderful memories and breath-taking photos. We spent the afternoon window shopping in downtown Gatlinburg. We spent less than $10 at a coffee shop. A simple internet search will suffice when looking for free activities.

Use CouponsJust about every vacation spot will have brochures with coupons in them. Look for them if you plan on certain activities. We chose to do one activity during our week vacation and found a $2 off per person coupon to use. Ten dollars is $10, right! It paid for our coffee. 🙂

Do the Reviews Again, a little research and planning can save tons of money. I spent some time on Trip Advisor looking at reviews. It helps avoid falling into the tourist trap and paying for something not worth the money. We also asked the locals for advice on cost saving activities.

Skip the Extras After doing the reviews, asking around, and finding a coupon, we decided to take the children to WonderWorks in Gatlinburg. We had a great day and were not disappointed. But remember, after you pay to get in, there are always extra cost. We did not buy food there. We did not pay for laser tag. We did not buy the cheap tourist photo. We ate at the cabin. We saved laser tag for another time. And we took our own pictures. To save money, skip the extras. You won’t miss them.

Take a TourOkay, I admit. We did not take a tour. However, we did get offered one. Had we decided to take a 2 hour tour we could have gotten 5 tickets to the Aquarium and a dinner and show for $100. That’s a pretty good price savings of over $300.  We passed this time. But, if you are willing to go through the tour and have the will power to say NO to pushy salesmen, then why not? If you are going to spend the money on the activities anyway, it couldn’t hurt.

The last time we were in Branson we were offered a $100 visa card to take a two hour resort tour.  Again, we passed. (It was, after all, our 20 year anniversary and 2 hours of our precious time was too much to ask.) But, when you do the math on it that is $25 an hour per person. Not bad money to make on vacation.  Just a thought.

So, there you have it – 10 money saving vacation tips. When it comes to spending our hard earned money we need wisdom. So to go with the 10 tips, here are 10 verses of wisdom to apply with them…..

  • The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. (Pro 10:22)
  •  He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. (Pro 11:28)
  •  The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. (Pro 12:24)
  •  There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches. (Pro 13:7)
  •  Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. (Pro 13:11)
  •  Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. (Pro 15:16)
  •  The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want. (Pro 21:5)
  •  He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. (Pro 21:17)
  •  The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. (Pro 21:25)
  •  The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Pro 22:7)

 

Thanks-Living

thanksliving

To write it down for the world to see,
To speak of Your wondrous love.
How can I thank you for blessing me?
For sending a Savior from above?
Thank you God for having a plan,
A sacrifice, a cross, a grave.
Thank you Lord for redeeming man.
Without Christ who can be saved?
But because He rose victorious,
Abundant life I now will live.
Grace and love abounds glorious,
Which daily Lord you freely give.
To give thanks only one day a year,
Seems contrary to say the least.
For You my God are very near,
Not just during Thanksgiving feast.
Instead I’ll live a life of thanks-living,
All year acknowledging how you bless.
And just one day set aside,
For complaints and unthankfulness.

Well Digging

Seven years ago our family began a remarkable journey.   Being called into the ministry, my husband felt led to finish his college education.  He was 30 years old.  At the time we had been married 10 years and our children were small.  During this journey we have moved 6 times in three different states, sold two homes, sold our embroidery business, and homeschooled our three children.  Dana has been a wonderful husband, devoted father, spiritual leader, sole-provider, protector of his family, pastor and friend to many.  Today, after 7 years, the children and I sat proudly as we watched him received his Masters in Ministry degree from Tennessee Temple Seminary in Chattanooga, TN.  I thank the Lord for giving him the grace and strength to finish the task that was set before him.  Our family recognizes that it is our Heavenly Father who deserves all the glory. 

Dr. Ken Ham, from Answers in Genesis, was the commencement speaker this morning.  He blessed our hearts as he spoke on digging wells.  “For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth…. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.  (Gen 26:15, 18)

Dr. Ham made a striking comparison to today.  Our founding fathers built this country upon the Word of God.  They dug deep wells that sprung forth life-giving waters.  This water is Jesus Christ himself.  Over several generations, the “Philistines” have stopped these wells using public education, secular colleges, the media, Hollywood, and false preachers and teachers.  They have filled the wells with lies and have stopped the flow of water.  Dr. Ham charged the audience to go out into the world and, like Isaac, re-dig the wells that have been stopped.  In addition, we need to be about digging new wells that bring forth life-giving water.  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)

 So dearest husband, I want to thank you for working so hard all these years.  And while your degree is quite an accomplishment, it is nothing compared to the work you have done “digging wells” all these years.  Your family has seen it.  Many times we have been there right along with you, handing you a shovel, wiping the sweat from your brow, or fixing you a refreshing drink of water while you work.  And we look forward to many more years of well digging with you.

With all our love, Kimberly, Aaron, Abigail, and Andrew

Excuse me…..Is that your husband?

 If I was given the choice between going to the Lowes and the mall, Lowes would win hands down nearly every time. Our family likes to go just because. The boys head for the lumber and hardware departments. My daughter and I head for decorations and home improvements. One particular day after looking at lighting we started hunting my husband and boys. We saw them, as we rounded a corner, at the end of an isle. It was then that I was approached by a woman saying, “Excuse me, Is that your husband?” I looked over to where this woman was pointing. There was my husband talking to my oldest son. He was listening intently as his father was teaching him the difference between certain types of nails. My youngest son, at his daddy’s feet, was looking up at his father and brother wishing for the day he could be big and strong like them. I said to this lady, “Yes, that is my husband,” wondering why the inquisition. She was an employee at Lowes and proceeded to tell me the story of her pushing a heavy washer down the isle. My husband, seeing her stuggle, asked her if he could help. Astonished she replied, “No sir, I work here. It’s my job.” “Well,” he said, “if my wife was having to move that washer I would hope someone would offer to help her.” This lady with a voice of gratitude said to me, “I just want you to know how much that meant to me. You have a fine husband.”

I’ve thought about that day often. Not because it was a rare occasion for my husband to show honor because he often does. But that day I realized, for perhaps the first time, how few women see it. When women do see men being chivalrous they almost do not know how to take it. When my boys were little their dad taught them to honor women and the elderly by holding open doors. Not too long ago my oldest son opened the door for me at a store and two young men stepped in front of me and went through the door. My son just shook his head at their rudeness. The shame in it all is that those young men probably did not have a man in their life to teach them manners. And they, as well, will proabably not teach their children either.

Those who know me know that I am not physically weak. I could, and have many times, moved a heavy appliance. But, the point my husband was trying to make is that a wife (and women in general) should be showed honor as the weaker (more precious) vessel. (I Peter 3:7) My husband does this in many ways. One way he does this is by never having me pump gas. I’ve pumped gas a thousand times in the past but for the past 4 or 5 years he always does it. If I am going on a field trip with my children the next day and the gas tank is low he will drive to town and get gas that evening. I’ve never asked him to do it; it’s just a way he shows honor. There are lots of ways a husband can honor his wife. I believe one of the greatest ways and probably the most effective way is by not expecting her to take on man’s curse given to Adam; the woman has her own.

It’s really sad when Christian men have their prayers hindered because they simply do not show honor to their wife? Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1Pe 3:7) I pray we can teach our sons and change one family at a time.

Gift Giving

Tis the season for malls, shopping, wrapping paper, gifts, bows, and ribbons.  Maybe you prefer online shopping in your bathrobe with the internet, eBay and UPS.  Or perhaps you prefer handmade gifts, baked goodies and homemade cards.  But no matter how you look at it this is the season for gift giving.  Why?  Most people probably give out of tradition.  You are supposed to buy gifts at Christmas.  It is what has always been done.  However, our family likes to look at gift giving a little differently.  While it is a tradition at our home it is one with a purpose.  We give gifts as a reminder of the greatest gift ever given to mankind.  I must admit that I love giving gifts to my children.  But toys and trinkets get broken, clothes get worn out and outgrown, electronics lose batteries and stop working, and the latest fad becomes next year’s obsolete.  So I ask myself what can I give my children that will last?  What type of gifts can I give that have true value?

In a world of busyness one of the most wonderful gifts we can give our children is TIME.  December is probably the busiest month of the year for us.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we go nonstop.  There are people to visit, parties and programs to attend, Christmas cantata’s to practice for, gifts to make, shopping to do, etc.   But life is short.  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (Jas 4:14)   This truth is especially evident when it comes to children.  They do not stay young forever.  They grow up fast.  As parents we only have a short time to invest in our children.  We need to slow down and give our children something that will matter – time.  Time with us, time to play games, time to talk, time to come apart from the world, time to meditate upon God, time to read together,  and time to be a family.  I have heard it said that the quantity of time does not matter as long as you give your children quality time.   This is not true!  Research has said that parents spend on average 3.5 minutes a day in meaningful conversation with their children.  How sad!  However, the average child watches 1,500 hours a year of TV.  I guess if you want Hollywood to raise your children then this statistic would not bother you.  But dear Christian parent is should bother you.  Turn off the TV and spend TIME with your children.  Read to them at night, pray with them, and sing songs.  When they grow up and look back at their life these are the things they will remember.

 Another gift we can give our children is a home filled with PEACE.  The world is hectic and noisy but our homes should be a gentle haven of rest for our children.  Our children should not have homes filled with screaming and shouting but with soft answers and love.  The fruits of the Spirit should be manifested in our homes – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  A home filled with peace not only blesses our children but consider what a true witness it is to the world around us.  Voddie Bauchman in Family Driven Faith states, “Our homes must be rife with the aroma of love.  Those who visit us should notice immediately that they have left the world of self-serving egocentric narcissism and have entered a safe harbor where people value and esteem others above themselves.  Outsiders should enter our homes and never want to leave.  Our neighbors should find excuses to visit us just to get another whiff of the fragrant aroma of love.  The brokenhearted should long to be near us.  The down trodden and abused should seek us out.  Families on the brink of disaster should point to us and say, ‘Why can’t our home be like that?’”  This describes a home filled with PEACE.   What a superb gift to give our children.

 Another gift that is so overlooked in our modern culture is the gift of LOVING and RESPECTING the children’s father.  While loving your children is a given, a high value placed on loving their father is often ignored.  Notice the order of things that the older women are to be teaching the younger women mentioned in Titus 2:4-5, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”   The focus of the family should be on the marriage.  Children are in the home for a short time and the relationship they have with their parents change but this is not so in the husband and wife relationship.  When parents are united the children are blessed.  When I demonstrate to my children proper LOVE and RESPECT for my husband God is glorified and the children’s faith is strengthened. 

 While giving gifts let’s not forget the gift of HARDWORK.  Society will tell a child that you should do as little as possible to get as much as possible.  It is this fallacy of thinking that has led to lazy people and an abuse of our welfare system.   But, give your children the gift of learning how to work hard and they will always be able to thrive.  In addition, it is pleasing to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (Col 3:23)       

One of the greatest gifts we can give is the gift of INNER BEAUTY, especially when it comes to our daughters.  Godly women are not born, but raised.  There are many mothers concerned over whether their daughters have fashionable clothes and the latest styles.  And many mothers would be alarmed if their daughters were wearing dirty clothes.  But how many mothers care if their daughter has a filthy heart?  To teach and train our daughters about inner beauty that is acceptable to God is a divine gift we can give.  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

 There are many gifts we can give our children.  But one that is of utmost importance is to give your children BIBLICAL STANDARDS to live by.  As Christian parents we should not want for our children what every other parent wants.  We shouldn’t hold them to the world’s standards but to God’s standards.  Do you want your children to make the team?   What about them making it into the Lambs book of life?  Do you want them to get a good education?  What about them being educated in the Word of God?  Do you want them to be true and loyal to their friends?  What about your children being faithful to the Lord and His Church?  Do you want your children to be popular?  What about them being peculiar?  God’s ways are always higher.   “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed” (Rom 12:2a).  Christian parent, there are many worthwhile pursuits in this world but few rise to the level of training our children to follow the Lord, to love Him with all we are, to treasure His Word, and to keep His commandments.  When we do this we have given our children gifts that never tear up, get worn, or get taken away.

 So, this holiday season I’ll be looking for presents for my children and wrapping packages like many others.  But the most precious gifts I’ll strive to give them will not be the ones that come in a box.  Instead, the gifts I will strive to give will be of eternal value.