Teaching Good Money Management

Resources to help teach children and youth good money management to last a lifetime!

We recently came across a list of online resources for young investors while reading an article about teaching kids good money habits. This website contains many links that offer helpful advice/resources for teaching kids good money management.

We’re in the process of adopting a child and we plan to teach good money management early on. The article we read reported that one university has shown that children as young as 5 can learn good money habits. One of the links at the site above said as one begins to teach math, one can also begin to teach about the use of money.

Teaching kids good money management is important. We read a couple years ago that credit card debt is the number one reason students drop out of college and the average credit card debt among college students is about $2800.

Of course, our purpose isn’t simply to teach our child to manage money well so that he or she can save a lot of money, but as Christ-followers, to teach our child to be a good steward of God’s gifts and resources.

If you have advice and/or resources to share, please click on “comments” to post them.

Dudley’s Chapel

IMGP0794We spent a few days of vacation at the Chesapeake Bay last week. The Chesapeake Bay was our third choice of places to go. We had planned to go elsewhere but changed our minds due to the mid-April snowstorm. Our second choice (the Delaware coast) was also a no-go due to coastal flooding warnings. We finally settled on the Chesapeake Bay!

We stayed around the Kent Narrows area, in Grasonville, MD. We mostly went there to rest and be renewed. While there we biked the Cross Island Trail (about 10 miles round trip). The shop owner of the shop where we rented bikes, referring to the cool temps and heavy wind, said, “you’re very brave.” But we survived!

Two of the better places we ate were The Narrows and Annie’s. Between the two of us we ate crab cake, Cajun Pecan crusted catfish, and Grilled Swordfish.

Looking through some visitor’s information on our last full day there, we saw a listing for Dudley’s Chapel, one of the oldest Methodist buildings in the US, dating back to 1783. Several early Methodist preachers, including America’s first Methodist Bishops, Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke, preached there.

It was a cool experience to walk around the facility (unfortunately, it wasn’t open) where great Methodist leaders who shaped a movement once preached.

Joleen named MVP by Nothing But Nets

One of the causes we support (see list of causes we support in the sidebar) is Nothing But Nets, an effort in which the United Methodist Church is one of 5 founding partners. I’ve written a couple posts before: here and here.

As a follow-up to the event that Joleen spearheaded, Joleen was named an MVP.

Thanks again to all who helped, participated, and gave money. More money was donated since our last post. The total now stands at $1096.

Leading Nations for Adoptions

We thought you might be interested to know which nations provide the most international adoptions in the US. Swivel.com recently posted a graph showing the top 5 nations.

China tops the list, followed by Guatemala, Russia, South Korea, and Ethiopia. Interestingly, China and South Korea have seen declines in recent years but are still popular choices.

We are pursuing adoption from South Korea, and are currently waiting to receive a formal application that will get us on the “waiting list.” One of the reasons we chose South Korea is because they are one of three nations where infants (children under one year old) can be adopted (along with Guatemala and Vietnam), we’ve been told. We also chose South Korea because of their long track record and the credibility they’ve developed over the years.

If all goes according to plan, we hope to bring our child home in early 2008!

Earth Day 2007

Today is Earth Day 2007 so I’m thinking about the environment, the earth, and our responsibility to be good stewards of it.

Conversation is heating up (pun intended) on the topic of global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been releasing reports on global climate change that have been stirring things up. Also, The Weather Channel has a site (as well as a TV program) dedicated to climate change, led by Dr. Heidi Cullen. They also have a blog.

I’m not overly interested in the debate, but I am becoming more and more interested in caring for the environment. for me it’s not as a political issue as much as it is a a stewardship issue.

So, regardless of where you are in the global warming / climate change debate, here are some resources that may help us be better stewards of God’s creation …

The United Methodist Women have posted some good advice on some things we can do to help care for the earth: Earth Day and the Environment.

In our home, we try to do our best, but there’s still room for improvement. We try to recycle as much as we can. We usually collect and drop off our recyclables at the drop off site in Pine Grove Mills on our way to State College.

Here are links to information on recycling in Huntingdon and Centre counties …

Huntingdon County Recycling Information

Centre County Recycling Locations

The importance of caring for the environment / creation was reinforced for me last week on our vacation at the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay watershed covers a 6-state area (including where we live, barely). As I understand it, basically everything that goes into the ground (chemicals, wastes, etc.) within this watershed area eventually makes its way to the Chesapeake Bay. And clearly, damage is being done to the Chesapeake Bay.

So, what do you think? Do we have a responsibility to care for God’s creation? What can changes can you make to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

Katrina Recovery

It has been about a year and a half since Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast causing incredible devastation. And while much of the media interest and coverage has greatly diminished, the recovery efforts continue.

There is a team of about 35 people from our district that is working in Mississippi this week. The team’s daily reports are posted at the district’s website. This trip is the third trip from our district in the past year.

United Methodists are known for their long-term commitment to helping people recover, long after it’s popular to do so. Perhaps it was this reason that FEMA asked UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) to lead its long-term efforts for the recovery, which are expected to take about 12 years (last I heard). See the website dedicated to this effort: Katrina Aid Today.

A recent newsletter from the Mississippi Annual Conference of the UMC, reports the following …

2300 teams, representing 33,000 volunteers, have been scheduled through the Mississippi Conference Disaster Response Center to the Mississippi Gulf Coast since Sept. 1, 2005.

34 local churches and 3 UM Disaster Response camp sites have hosted the volunteers in Mississippi.

1,000,000 labor hours have been accumulated by volunteers each working an average of 30 hours.

$18,000,000 in homeowners’ savings was provided by volunteers. (This figure comes from the labor hours above using accepted statistics from the non-profit sector.)

Volunteers have come from across the United States and some foreign countries, hundreds, possibly thousands of them making long-term commitments.

May God continue to bless the ongoing recovery efforts. Thanks to all who have given of their time and/or money to help!

Fingerprinted by INS

A few weeks ago, we received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security stating that we must present ourselves for fingerprinting.

Well, that was interesting!

So on our way home from vacation yesterday, we stopped in at the nearest INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) Application Support Center in York, PA to be fingerprinted.

Actually, this is a standard part of the process for international adoption. Our fingerprints must be cleared by the FBI before we can continue pursuing international adoption.

We were both expecting to have black ink on our fingers, but instead, they sprayed water on our fingers and placed our fingers on a machine that took digital images of our fingerprints. It was certainly an interesting experience!

Virginia Tech

We were on vacation in Maryland when the news broke from Virginia Tech. What a sad and tragic story. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the families of the victims and to all the students of VT.

All tragedies have a lasting impact on the way we live. No doubt, there will be many changes, in terms of campus security, as a result of this tragedy as well. I like the text messaging systems, such as e2campus.com, that have been in the news this week (BTW, our local campus, Penn State, is listed as one of the schools already using this text messaging system). I also think surveillance cameras will become much more standard equipment on college campuses. And I’m sure there will be many other recommendations as well after the review committees have completed their work.

In the midst of this tragedy there have been many heart-warming stories, stories about the students and professors who lost their lives this week at VT. May God restore hope and bring healing to the families and friends of the victims of this tragedy!

“Copying Beethoven”

We enjoy watching movies that are based on true stories. The latest movie we watched is Copying Beethoven, with Ed Harris as Beethoven and Diane Kruger as Anna Holtz (a fictional character). While based on a true story, specifically the life of Ludwig van Beethoven, the movie has largely been fictionalized. We still enjoyed the movie very much.

In the movie, Anna Holtz, a young female composer (a rarity in the 1800s) arrived to “copy,” or make legible copies, of Beethoven’s music for his musicians. After a rough start to his relationship with Anna, Beethoven, called “the beast” in the movie, tells Anna, “I’m a very difficult person, Anna Holtz, but I take comfort in the fact that God made me that way.” That was one of our favorite lines in the movie.

Later, in a conversation with Anna, Beethoven describes music this way:

The vibrations on the air are the breath of God speaking to man’s soul. Music is the language of God. We musicians are as close to God as man can be. We hear his voice, we read his lips, we give birth to the children of God, who sing his praise. That’s what musicians are, Anna Holtz. And if we’re not that, we’re nothing.

There’s another great conversation between Beethoven and Anna about silence. Beethoven says …

You have to listen to the voice speaking inside of you. I didn’t even hear it myself until I went deaf. Not that I want you to go deaf, my dear.

Anna replies:

You’re telling me that I must find the silence in myself, so I can hear the music.”

Beethoven:

Yes. Yes. Yes. Silence is the key. The silence between the notes. When that silences envelops you, then your soul can sing.

That has implications for our relationship with God. We, too, must find the quiet place so that we can hear the still small voice of God speaking to us.

Beethoven’s story is something of a tragic story. Beethoven went deaf, and according to the movie, he was creating a new kind of music toward the end of his life that was not well-received. In the movie, the fictional character Schlemmer (but a compilation of 2 or 3 real people, I understand) complains to Anna, “Who does he write for nowadays? It’s certainly not for money. I’m lucky if I can get anyone to pay for his works.”

While sad, I’m inspired by the fact that Beethoven, at least according to the movie, didn’t simply write for money, he wrote the kind of music he wanted to write. In fact, near the end of the movie, Beethoven describes his final piece as his “bridge to the future of music.” His “bridge” to the future did indeed become a model for future composers.

Beethoven was certainly a creative and musical genius and has left a huge mark on the history of music. And the movie does a good job of sharing his legacy with us.

Organizing for Mission

We attended a workshop in our district today on “Organizing for Mission and Ministry.” The 6-hour event was led by Betsey Heavner and Carol Krau, staff persons at the UMC’s General Board of Discipleship.

The purpose of the event was to suggest ways that churches might structure themselves more effectively for mission. Churches, especially smaller churches which tend to be much more strapped, people-wise, often get overwhelmed trying to fill all the positions named in the Book of Discipline.

Biblical Reflection
The day began with an hour-long exercise of getting acquainted with each other and a time of biblical reflection. Using the Lectio Divina process (i.e. sacred reading), Carol read Luke 10.1-3, 10 three times during the course of the first hour. After each reading, she asked a question and then paused for several moments of silence, giving us the opportunity to reflect on what we had heard. The questions included …

  1. “What words, phrases, or images come to your mind as you listen to this passage?”
  2. “What might God be saying to you through this passage?”
  3. “What might God be saying to your congregation through this passage?”

After the first two readings/pauses for reflection, participants discussed, in pairs, what they had been reflecting on. After the third/final question, we had a group discussion.

I’d like to see our church councils incorporate a deeper time of biblical reflection at the beginning of our meetings. It’s important that we ground everything we do in God’s Word. In fact, one of the speakers shared that, in vital congregations, leaders lead their leadership teams to spend more time in Bible study and less time in administration.

Technical Leadership vs. Adaptive Leadership
The presenters talked about the difference between “technical leadership” and “adaptive leadership.” Those were helpful terms to me. It’s basically the difference between management and leadership. Technical leadership is certainly necessary, at times, but leaders need to be doing more adaptive leadership (i.e. structuring for mission and ministry).

Indicators of Vital Congregations
1. Strong sense of identity and purpose (Matthew 16 – Great Commitment)
2. Hospitality and Faith Sharing (John 3 – Great Redemption)
3. Worship and Spiritual Practices (Matthew 22 – Great Commandment)
4. Reconciliation and Justice (Micah 6 – Great Requirement)
5. Service and Mission (Matthew 28 – Great Commission)

Core Leadership Team
Again the purpose of the day’s event was to help churches, especially small churches, align themselves more effectively for mission. This included covering the basic leadership responsibilities of a United Methodist Church. According the Book of Discipline, UMCs are required to conduct a ministry that includes nurture, witness, outreach, leadership training, and planning/adminsitration. Churches have great flexibility in how they carry out these aspects of ministry.

The Book of Discipline has several required leadership positions but some of these are more administrative. Boiling the leadership team to a bare minimum, Carol and Betsey suggested the pastor, council chair, lay leader, and others (as necessary) could serve as the basic leadership team of a church.

We’re always looking for ways to be more effective at what we do for God. I believe what we learned today has potential to help our congregations be more organized for mission and ministry. I look forward to seeing the fruit of our efforts!