Thunderous Cries And Floodgates Of Love

I spent most of Tuesday night awake, first with the thunderous cries of my sick and fevered baby boy, then with real thunder.

The first did more for my sanctification than the latter. I must confess I’ve never been fast out of bed when one of the kids is sick. Somehow Shona always beat me to it. She did last night too, but by the third screaming episode, guilt beat sloth, I rolled out of bed, and stumbled along the corridor.

Getting up in the middle of the night is not so easy in your mid-forties compared to your mid-twenties – and it’s been a long time since we’ve had a baby in the house – but when I entered Scot’s room and saw the wee guy standing in the cot yelling his head off, my heart melted, my resentment evaporated, and my sympathy flowed.

With previous kids, I usually could only think of how quickly I might get them quiet and get back to bed again as fast as possible. Purely functional efficiency. A man thing.

But this time I sat patiently with him, just stroking his cute fuzzy little head;  he slowly calmed down and fifteen minutes later fell asleep in my arms. But instead of the usual quick drop back into his cot (deed done) and getting myself back under the covers as quick as I could, I stayed probably another 15 minutes, maybe more.

And I enjoyed it.

Just holding, stroking, hugging, comforting, loving. Most of which he was utterly oblivious to.

I wanted to stay all night, but I was afraid I’d fall asleep and drop him!

As I pondered this strangely pleasant experience, I couldn’t help think about HOW MUCH MORE my heavenly Father enjoys comforting me, calming me down, holding me, “stroking” me, loving me – both when I’m screaming and when I’m fast asleep in His arms, both when I’m sick and when I’m well, both when I’m aware of it and when I’m oblivious to it.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him (Ps. 103:13).

Indeed God’s pleasure in His children infinitely exceeds the greatest pleasure I’ve ever had in mine.

Lie back in His arms today and enjoy His enjoyment of you; get pleasure from His pleasure in you.

Your cries open the floodgates of His love.

And you don’t have to wait until you are sick and screaming.

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10 Money Lessons To Teach Your Kids

Yesterday I gave a brief review of Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and his daughter, Rachel Cruze. Today I want to summarize ten of the lessons I learned from the book.

1. We are all teaching our children how to handle money. The only questions are: (i) are we doing it intentionally or accidentally? and (ii) are we teaching them good lessons or bad lessons?

2. However bad your financial past, you can start to make it better today, change your family tree, and leave the best possible legacy for your children – a good example of financial stewardship.

3. Teaching your children financial stewardship begins with teaching them how to work because work builds discipline and self-denial. Giving our children money without expecting them to work breeds an entitlement mentality. Studies show that students who work ten to nineteen hours a week actually have higher GPAs on average than students who don’t hold jobs while in school.

4. We should teach our children how to divide all income into three main categories: save, spend, give.

5. At times we should let our kids suffer the consequences of their financial decisions – if our kids don’t learn how to make small inexpensive mistakes when they are kids, they will make huge and expensive mistakes as adults.

6. Teach our kids the value of the least used word in parenting today “NO!”

7. The Five Foundations for teenage financial responsibility:

  • Save a $500 emergency fund.
  • Get out of debt.
  • Pay cash for a car.
  • Pay cash for college.
  • Build wealth and give.

8. You will never get out of debt or build wealth if you have a car payment… Paying cash for a car and buying a used one is the shortest path to building wealth.

9. If you want to raise money-smart kids, you have to raise kids who are content… A heart filled with gratitude leaves no room for discontentment.

And the BIGGEST lesson of all in the book:

10. We must teach our children that they don’t own money—they are simply managers, or stewards of it. Owners have rights; managers have responsibilities. Owners think of themselves; managers can’t. It isn’t their money, so they must think of others. Owners worry over their money; managers don’t need to worry because the money isn’t theirs to begin with. Owners hold with a tight fist; managers hold with an open hand.

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Smart Money Smart Kids

Dave Ramsey changed my life. Unfortunately, more than half of my life had passed before I “met” him on Wood Radio 1300 a few years ago. But, better late than never – hopefully I’ve still got a some years to put some of the lessons I’ve learned from him into practice.

And, even more importantly, I’ve got the chance to make sure my kids don’t make the same money mistakes I did. That’s why I’m so thankful for Smart Money Smart Kids, the latest book by Dave Ramsey, co-authored with his daughter Rachel Cruze. It’s a book for teaching parents how to train their children to be smart with money from their earliest years, but which can also teach people like me in my mid-years.

Boom Years
I used to work in the headquarters of a large financial services company before I was converted and called to the ministry. It was during the Thatcher/Reagan boom years in the mid-to-late eighties when money, mortgages, loans, investments and pensions were plentiful.

No one thought these years would ever end. We thought incomes, house values, pensions, and investments would just keep rising and rising, inducing multitudes to keep on living just beyond their means. “Next year’s raise will cover it….I’ll start my pension when I get that bonus….I’ll remortgage my house to pay for any emergency…My home is my investment…and so on.”

Most people weren’t tens of thousands of pounds or dollars in debt, but just a few thousand on a credit card here, a few thousand on a car loan there, etc. Saving for vacations, special purchases, and things like that were usually done after the event, via credit cards. Saving for pensions, kids education, etc. just seemed way too far away.  And budgeting was just so boring.

5-10% Irresponsible
As I say, most of us weren’t totally irresponsible, just maybe 5-10% irresponsible – spending just a bit beyond what we earned. Not a big problem – until it happens 5-10 years in a row, or when the stock-market crashes, or the housing bubble bursts, or kid’s college looms, or retirement approaches….or when they all come together in a perfect storm!

Even when we survived the downturns and recessions by tightening our belts for a few years, the previous bad habits were only hibernating and soon re-appeared when the “good times” returned.

Sound like your story? I think it’s the story of the vast majority of people, including Christians. And that’s why Dave Ramsey’s hard-hitting common-sense analysis and practical baby-step-by-baby-step solutions have struck such a chord with so many. I had never heard of him until just a few years ago when I stumbled upon his show on our local Grand Rapids radio station one evening.

Dangerous Vacuum
Ramsey’s approach is really very simple and obvious, and yet for all the thousands of hours we spend in school and church, the vast majority of us are not taught the basics of how to handle money responsibly and biblically. In this dangerous vacuum, we suck up the irresponsible and unbiblical messages and habits of our culture.

I’ve still got a lot to learn (and unlearn) in this area, and in some areas it’s almost too late for me to repair the damage – I already have two sons of college age. However, I do want my kids to learn better than I did. We are now regular listeners to Ramsey’s radio program (if only to make us feel a lot better about our financial stewardship compared to most people!), we read his books, and we talk a lot about the principles and practices he teaches. But, until now, we’ve lacked a systematic way of teaching this to our younger kids (I’ve got three aged 12 and under). That’s where Smart Money, Smart Kids comes in and excels.

It’s written in a conversational style with Dave and Rachel alternating throughout. Dave speaks of how he taught Rachel and his other kids, then Rachel talks about how she and her siblings learned through the hard times and the good times. The to-and-fro style works surprisingly well, giving a dynamism and energy to the book. The teaching covers all the main areas: working, spending, saving, giving, budgeting, debt, college, etc., and is also tailored to two different age-groups throughout (6 to 13, and 14 to college age).

Tomorrow I’ll list the major lessons I took away from the book. In the meantime, you can buy it here – highly recommended. If you want to teach yourself first before you teach your kids, I’d recommend Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.