There’s Nothing Evil about Making Money

Dave Ramsey will often say, “Money is amoral.” It is just a tool.  It is neither evil or good. Can money be used for evil or good?  Absolutely.  However, the $20 bill in my wallet is not evil itself,  it’s just sitting there waiting to be plucked out for groceries or the babysitter.

Oftentimes the Bible is misquoted by folks that say, “Money is the root of all evil.” Negative.  The Bible says, “For the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evils.”  (1 Timothy 6:10).

If you love money more than God or people when you make $30,000, you’ll have the same issue (and idol) if you make $130,000.  Or 1.3 million.

If your desire to make more income comes from a heartfelt desire to better provide for your family, but also to be able to give more away, who is to judge your motives?  Let’s give an example: My husband and I, since taking Financial Peace University, have believed that 10% to charity was a minimum amount that we felt comfortable giving.  We don’t believe in the Old Testament tithe, per se, but 10% is a minimum we believe to be a jumping off point.  God has provided us everything anyhow, it is only our money to steward.  

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We could argue then whether that’s 10% of net or gross  income, and we’ve moved from the first to the latter. But for accounting ease, let’s use gross.  Let’s say that first year we started budgeting, Brian and I made a combined $43,000 (I didn’t pull tax returns or anything, but that seems about right).  So that year, let’s say we were able to give $4300 to charity (which may be just a bit high).  The second year I got a different job and was working more hours, as well as had a few part-time gigs, and that year we collectively made $58,000.  So that year our giving would have been closer to $5800.

Now, who would say that I should have not pursued a better job?  How did us as a couple, making $15,000 more per year, hurt anyone?  Would anyone say we were being greedy?

Now let’s talk about those evil people in the 1%.  🙂  Let’s say that they have been thoroughly blessed and they make $250,000 per year.  This enables their 10% to be $25k!  Wow!  $25,000 going to fund missions and orphanages and pregnancy centers.  A single mom walks into their life and they can easily write her a check for $1000 and feel no pain, whereas my husband and I at $43,000 would have felt the ache of giving $1000 to someone.

I just finished an excellent book by Crystal Paine, the founder of MoneySavingMom.com.  I admire Crystal not only because she is a brilliant blogger and business owner, but because she is a transparent woman who shares her victories (and even a few failures)!  Crystal’s new book, Money Making Mom, is a must-read for every mother, working or at home, that would like to make a few extra dollars – either to help Junior play in the football league, to start a non-profit, or just to take some of the pressure off of her breadwinner husband.

The wisdom Crystal shares is business advice that I can endorse because 1. She  doesn’t believe in going into debt to start a business and 2. She knows the reality of “balancing” a family and a business.  She actually shares how at one point she was working TOO hard and staying up too late-or all night- and letting her health and sanity get out of whack.

After Crystal offers page after page of start-up business advice, she states the following,We should focus on making money to impact our family and loved ones for the better, In addition, our focus for making money should be to help those who are struggling in our community and around the world.”  YES!  We don’t go out there and work hard just so that Skippy can have an XBox and we can live in the nicest house on the street, we make more to SERVE others through our finances, but also through our time that we get back.

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It’s not immoral to put money aside for retirement or buy yourself a few nice things. It is wrong though to be so tied to your business or your lifestyle or even your DEBT, that you can’t live for others and give back to your community.  When we love possessions more than people, we are loving money (or what it can give us), instead of pursuing excellence to better our families and their future families.  Crystal sums this nicely with, “If you want to live an amazingly fulfilling life, you must live for something bigger than yourself, something besides material desires, words of praise from others, or a long list of accolades.”  We can fight against the culture by how we live.  We need to stop viewing money as evil and see how WE can be the ones to truly use it for good.

 

money making mom bookMoney Making Mom can be purchased at Amazon

 

**As a part of the Money Making Mom launch team, I was given a free copy of the book.  I was not compensated for my views, though, and all opinions are my own.

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Hooked on Books- October edition

Hi!  I’m here for another monthly addition of what I am reading.  Now that Fall has arrived in the Midwest, I’m looking forward to more afternoons spent inside enjoying books.

This blog, How do you stop feeling guilty about taking time to read? from Crystal at Money Saving Mom was super helpful.  Ladies, we shouldn’t feel guilty about reading!  There are numerous statistics to support why it’s important for adults to read, but I also believe it’s important for our children to see us reading!  I want my kids to see books as leisure. I can’t think of a better habit to instill in them.

In September I finished the following books:

I’m Happy for You (Sort of…not really) by Kays Wills Wyma

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

And I’m still reading Kangaroo Dreaming (out of print) because it is the most in-depth book about Australian travel and wildlife THAT MAY HAVE EVER BEEN WRITTEN.

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October Reading List

Longing for Paris: One woman’s search for joy, beauty, and adventure– right where she is by Sarah Mae

The Hole in our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards:  How our Children Really Learn– and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsh- Pasek

 

Have you read any of these?  Any you hope to read soon?  Ever feel guilty for reading?

 

More info:

September Reading List

July Reading List

 

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Hooked on Books- September edition

My reading the past two months has been lackluster.  The best of intentions, but lack of BEING intentional.

However, since July I have finished four books:

The Traveler’s Gift– This book has really mixed reviews, but the combination of history mixed with motivational speaking really hooked me.

Dirty God– It was just ok.  I really wanted to like this more!

Smart Money, Smart Kids This is Dave Ramsey’s book with his daughter, Rachel Cruze.  The central theme was how the Ramsey kids were raised to understand money, along with some practical tips on raising money-smart children.  I took away a few good ideas and would recommend this quick read for all parents.

The Meaning of Marriage– Maybe one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of marriage.  Tim Keller gives the perfect balance of Gospel and application.  Married for over 30 years, the Kellers don’t sugar coat the trials of marriage, but they also give lots of hope and even spend some time talking about singledom.  A must read for Christians.

Books I’m reading right now:

I’m Happy For You (Sort of… not really)–  This title grabbed my attention at the library, because I would say that comparison is something that I struggle with.

Kangaroo Dreaming– Because I can’t refuse a book about a roadtrip around Australia.  Out of print, I found this at the library.

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth– This is my morning read so I move through it very slowly.

Books I want to read in September:

hooked on books Sept

 

First I must finish the three books above! 🙂  Then…

For the Love – I adore Jen Hatmaker and living with more grace is just what I need!  Can’t wait to read this!

Longing for Paris– Sarah Mae is another blogger/author to whom I can relate.  After listening to a podcast where she talks about the book, I’m even more dive in.

 

Any that you’ve read or want to read?

Here are my June and July updates.

You can check out my Pinterest books list here.

Goodreads account

 

Some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links.  I would make about 22 cents if you decided to purchase a book. 

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Best of the Web- August 29

Hi friends-

My web content is sparse.  Hoping to change that soon, now that house projects are done, painting supplies are being put away, and life shall return to a relative state of normal (if normal even resides with three little kids, one whom I start homeschooling this week)!

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Here are my favorite links from this week:

Life/faith

I may have to hang this one on the fridge:  When people let you down

#5 is something I’ve been realizing more and more:  Here’s what I learned during a year of worldwide travel

Finances

I’d never heard of these, but I’m interested in signing up for a few.  If the author can save $1600, it’s worth a try, right? :  My 6 Favorite Financial Companies this Year

Travel

American Marvel: First thoughts on reentry – This is a little painful to read only because she is spot-on on so many things.  I will never forget when two of my friends came over from Australia for our wedding.  They took a  picture holding a 32-ounce Coke and a piece of Sbarro pizza!  Until then I’d never thought of the SIZE of our lives- to the demise of our health.

Must. go.  The Isle of Skye: Still my favorite part of Scotland

25 Children’s Books from Around the World:  Because I love books and this is one way to create tiny travelers.

 

That’s all for this week- have a super weekend!

xo

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How Fair Trade Friday turns ashes into beauty

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners…

to comfort all who mourn, 

and provide for those who grieve in Zion–

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, 

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a Spirit of despair”  Isaiah 61: 1b-3a

When the words I’m trying to say or write don’t come easy,  I’m at a loss.  Talking (or writing) has never been my weakness (my poor mother!), but when I’m perfectly trying to craft what I want to say, nothing comes.  The perfectionism kills and I’m left with blank pages and blank stares.

So I’m going to hopefully use some of my own words and many of other’s words to tell you about something that is close to my heart.

woman with beads

Fair Trade Friday Club is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya.  You may not have heard of either, but maybe you’ve heard of Kristen Welch, whose popular blog, “We are THAT family” has over 100,000 Likes on Facebook.  Kristen began a mommy blog as a outlet after having children.  Then, back in 2010 she was chosen by Compassion International to travel to Kenya and blog about her experiences as a way to raise awareness for the cause.  This is where I came in (No one knew I was there, but myself) and I began following Kristen’s blog.  I was knee-deep in reading Radical and Crazy Love and reading Kristen’s thoughts, a mom also interested in International Missions, seemed like the next step.

Fast Forward to May 2014 and I’m sitting in a Washington D.C. hotel room waiting for my youngest to take her nap and reading the words of Kristen’s book, Rhinestone Jesus.  As I had been for the past 4 years, I was wrestling with what this all means.  We aren’t saved by works, but as believers in Christ we should be driven to good works.  How can I as “just a mom” of these 3 little ones be a catalyst for change?  How can I help women and children in far off lands without hopping on a plane or selling all I own to give me?

Kevin DeYoung may clear that all up for us in his post “Getting to the Root of Radical” (which Kristen quotes in her book).

The Christian needs to be generous, but generous charity is not the answer to the world’s most pressing problems of hunger, inadequate medical care, and grinding poverty. Wealth is created in places where the rule of law is upheld, property rights are secured, people are free to be entrepreneurs, and there is sufficient social capital to encourage risk-taking. We can and should do good with our giving. But we must not lead people to believe that most of human suffering would be alleviated if we simply gave more.

Giving is a beautiful act of worship.  I’m grateful that God has called us to financially support different ministries… but beyond sending a check every month, as DeYoung points out, the real way to nullify poverty is create businesses and self-sufficiency. 

Again I find myself asking-  How?  Where?

I could tell that Kristen was working that out in her book (written before Fair Trade Friday was started) when she wrote:

“I’ve been down the confusing and hard-to-follow road of trying to buy only fair-trade or secondhand clothes, among other things, I am not advocating boycotting clothes made in other countries, I am encouraging conscientious shopping.”

I’ve been there.  When it feels like solely buying fair trade is too expensive, and buying only used is nearly impossible.  It seems like nothing can be 100% holy or sweat-shop free so instead we (I) throw in the towel and head back to Target Dollar Spot and load up on more worthless junk.

How do we capture consumerism and still help women in the process?

fair trade change lives

Fair Trade Friday is a monthly membership club that delivers high-quality fair traded items directly to your door.  Not only do the items provide employment to women all over the world, they are really cute!  They currently have two clubs- the Fair Trade Friday Club which is 3-4 items that come once a month (for 31.99/month) or the Earring of the Month Club ($11.99/month) where you receive one pair of earrings every month!  Both make great gifts, re-gifting just became a social cause :).   The other option is a one-time box which can be used as a trial or as a gift.

FTF collage

I was sent these beautiful crocheted earrings to try and was impressed by the quality and the color.  They look great with so many things!  Even the packaging seems exclusive and inserted is a business card that tells you where the item was made.  As shown above, my earrings were made by a refugee in Houston, TX.

If you need any more reason to support Fair Trade Friday, check out what a Kenyan artisan told Kristen the last time she visited:

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Fair Trade Friday is now helping women sell their goods and help feed their families in 18 countries worldwide.  As Kristen says, “Your YES matters.”  Will you be a part of someone’s story today?

wear a story

Remember, you can sign up for the Fair Trade Friday Club or the Earring of the month club HERE.

And learn more from Kristen herself HERE

(Disclaimer:  I was given one free pair of earrings from Fair Trade Friday.  All opinions are my own!)

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Hooked on Books- July edition

Hi everyone!

Back in June I decided to tell you the books I was planning to read each month and give my progress!  You can see my June list here.  Reading is like everything else in life, if we aren’t intentional about it the time will just get away!  I usually try to read 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night.  This past week my kiddos have been getting up early so I’ve mostly only gotten the time in the evenings.

I thought my reading goals for June may have been a little ambitious and they were!  I didn’t get through my entire list, but I did finish the following:

Essentialism – This book was not on my June list, but I had it on hold at the library for a few months and it finally came in.  I really loved this book.  It would be helpful for anyone in business or just trying to figure out the most important tasks at work and in life.  You can read some more of my thoughts here.

The Magic of Thinking Big  – I wish someone would have given me this book when I graduated college.  It is only $7.80 for Kindle today.  You will not regret purchasing it!

Crazy Busy–   I really enjoyed this book, too.  Busyness from a Biblical perspective.

Clutterfree with Kids – This really helped me think through some of the emotions we tie to our stuff.  At $5.38 for Kindle, you will want to pick this up!

I’m also about halfway through Dirty God (Kindle version is only $2.99 right now) and started The Traveler’s Gift.  I hope to finish both over the long weekend.

I did not finish The Great Railway Bazaar because I just could not get into it and I’ve stopped wasting time on books that don’t draw me in.  Read this to find out why, Emphasis on #3. 🙂

That makes my July reading list a whopping 2 books long!

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The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth

Life On Mission

So there’s my July reading list.  Any books you have read or want to read?  Or maybe you have a great book recommendation for me?

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How to be more productive by doing nothing

It’s 9:19 on a weeknight….

and no one needs me.

The children and the husband are asleep.

The house is quiet.

Sure the kitchen is still showing its post-dinner exodus – a dirty stove-top and unrinsed dishes.  Thomas the Train has spewed his track all over the living room floor and there is a pile of graham cracker crumbs on the side table.

There is no one to ask me for another cup of milk or if the budget is up-to-date in Google drive.

The silence has created a place to think.

I wonder how much I just sit and think anymore.

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As a teenager, I would sit in my room at night, read, listen to Delilah (oh my), and write poetry and music lyrics.  I would doodle my future children’s names (none of which are named those names) and think about school and guys and what life would be like in 5 years.  There was no agenda.

Quiet time is so different now.  A smart phone and social media compete for my attention.  The laptop beckons – I can even take it to bed if I want.  There’s laundry to fold and tables to wipe and maybe even a lesson of homeschool to plan.  I feel lazy if I’m not busy and wonder if I’ll ever “get it all done.”

The last few days I’ve been reading two books that have made me rethink all of my attempts to do it all.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown and Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung have both made me consider how undervalued having rest and solitude are in our culture.

As McKeown points out, “In order to have focus, we need to escape to focus.”

And DeYoung, viewing busyness from a Christian perspective says, “We can’t be “all in” all the time.  Just think of the Israelite calendar.  It had times for feasting and times for fasting.  It was for their piety and their productivity that God put them on a predictable pattern filled with daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, annual, and multiyear rhythms.”

In other words, we need down time to be most productive during our up times.

As Pablo Picasso said, “Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.”

Time alone to ponder and pray or meditate creates space in your brain to forge the next big idea, to-do list, or dream.  I’ve found this especially formulaic since having small children, I try to get up early in the morning (it’s hard to beat them sometimes) just to have time to literally think before I have three small voices begging for juice and cereal and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

As McKeown points out, “People can’t figure out what is essential if they’re constantly on call.”  So true!  I can’t create an intentional list for my time if I’m under a barrage of requests and noise.  I need the space in between to master life.

In other words, trying to carve a few minutes of boredom into your day, may just add to your productivity.  Take a walk around the neighborhood.  Put away the smartphone.  Turn off the music.  Get out a notepad and doodle and think about your life.  As DeYoung added, “Both work and rest can be good is they are done to the glory of God.”  I’m going to work on this more- finding the quiet and not reaching for an electronic device to fill the void.

 

Additional Resources:

Michael Hyatt interviewed Greg McKeown for his popular podcast.  You can check it out here!

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Hooked on Books

A new feature on what I’m reading

I can remember being in the 4th grade and checking out every book on Native American tribes from the school library and reading them until Mom came in and told me to turn out the light.  I’ve always loved to read, so much so that when seeing a statistic like 19% of Americans didn’t read ONE book in 2013 makes me nearly insane.

Or that among the 81% of Americans that DID read a book, the average amount of books read in one year was 5!  Five?!?

We did Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class in early 2006.  In his program, he states that the average millionaire reads 2 non-fiction books per month.  Now at the time I was working part-time during college, and in no way planned to be a millionaire, but from that moment on I changed my reading to include or be driven my mostly non-fiction books.   Nicholas Sparks became dead to me (except for a few long plane rides haha).

Now I read not only because I love it and it helps me learn so much about finances, faith, and leadership, but also because it helps me to be a better writer.  How can I construct solid sentences if I don’t learn from the best?

Each month on the 1st, I would like to share with you what I plan to read for that month.  I may choose to highlight some of my favorite books from the month before, but most likely I’ll leave you to reference my Goodreads account to see how I rated things those books previously read.  I’d also love for you to share in the comments what you are reading or a book that made a big impact on you.  As you’ll see, most of the books I read come from suggestions from friends or people I trust.

bookcoverJune

 

Here’s what I plan to read for June:

The Magic of Thinking Big–  I’m actually about half-way through this book.  There are some powerful insights and I really wish I would have read this about 10 years ago.  (i.e. It’s all the things I didn’t learn in college).

The Great Railway Bazaar– (Not pictured) This book came highly recommended from one of my best friends.  I’m hoping it will inspire some of my travel writing.

The Traveler’s Gift– Another one that came highly recommended by someone I respect.  It’s only $2.99 for Kindle right now so you may want to click the link and snatch it up!

Dirty God– This book about the grace of God was an inexpensive find and I respect many of the authors that gave solid reviews.  It’s also only $2.99 for Kindle right now.

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth– I listened to a couple podcasts from John C. Maxwell about the content of this book, so I’m looking forward to learning more.

Clutterfree with Kids– Our house has taken on so much STUFF since having the kiddos.  I enjoy Becker’s blog at Becoming Minimalist, so reading this book was the next step.  I’m about 1/3 of the way through.

As you can see, I still prefer to read real books.  I like to underline and bookmark and doing this is on the Kindle or Nook app just doesn’t do it for me.  That said, Kindle and Nook books provide an easy way for me to read while I work out, and so for that I’m thankful.  In 2013, 32% of e-Book readers read one on their cell phone!  How cool is that?  Another reason why there is no excuse not to read!  Almost everyone I know has a smart phone right now, you can read a book while you wait instead of playing Bejeweled Blitz! 😉

Any books you’d like to check out?  Or maybe you’ve read one of two of these?  I’d love your feedback!

For your continued reading…

Pew Study on Reading

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