A man wanted to teach his four sons an important lesson, so he sent each one to observe a pear tree. The first son went during Winter and discovered the tree was ugly and twisted. The second found the tree full of fresh Spring buds. The third son observed the tree in Summer, laden with blossoms. The final son visited in Fall and found the pear tree ripe with fruit. The father explained no tree can be judged on one season alone.
We all go through challenging times, but it’s important not to let the discomfort of one season destroy the joy of the rest. Are you in a new season? Perhaps you’re recently retired, empty nesting, or widowed. Maybe you’re starting a new career or raising children. No matter your season or circumstance, you always have at least one of the following three things to offer:
Time. When kids are young, a parent’s time is broken into small increments. There’s very little capacity and a million demands. But as we age, we settle into a slower, more manageable pace where we can volunteer or serve in unique ways. Do […]
Some families make surprising discoveries after a loved one dies. As one blogger recalls, “My mom’s step- grandpa told everyone he was an electrician that was often called to do repair jobs out of town. After he died, the family received a letter from the president of the United States, revealing he was actually a demolitions expert and worked in some sort of special ops bomb squad for the military. Even his wife had no idea.”
But not every revelation is such an admirable one. Some families discover their loved one was hiding an addiction or debt. Many children are stunned to discover they were omitted from their parents’ will – with no chance for an explanation. Not only is this bewildering and hurtful, it’s ultimately the last message a parent sends to their child. These heartaches can be avoided. Here’s where to start:
Construct a plan. Did you know 60 percent of Americans do not have an estate plan? Creating a will is actually a simple process but the impact is monumental. An up-to-date will can ensure your loved ones are provided for without additional expense and frustration.
Someone who wisely chose to remain anonymous once said, “Marriage is like a walk in the park… Jurassic Park.”
Have you ever found yourself struggling to get on the same page as your partner? Finances, parenting and family dynamics can make it challenging to find common ground. Maybe you’ve even found yourself at odds on how to spend your retirement or structure your legacy planning. Here’s some help.
See conflict as an opportunity. Conflict is uncomfortable but it’s an unavoidable part of intimacy. The best way to resolve it is to see it as necessary for growth. Conflict helps us rethink priorities, uncover harmful patterns, and identify weaknesses – so we can work to fix them.
The wise way is better than “my way.” It’s human nature to see our way of doing something as superior, and in some instances, it is! But other times we’re being […]
When Lynette Gillard appeared as a contestant on the game show “Deal or No Deal,” she shared she was hoping to win at least enough money to fund her In Vitro Fertilization treatments. The following day she was notified that an anonymous source had called the TV station and donated $20,000 to pay for the treatment. After his death, it was revealed musician George Michael was the person who had given her the money.
Much of our lives are spent raising families, building careers, and preparing for retirement. We all want to make a difference in the world and be remembered fondly. Are you building a legacy that aligns with the values you most want to express? With thoughtful planning you can leave:
A legacy of provision. Nearly 70 percent of Americans do not have an up-to-date will. That means the majority of people you know have yet to ‘get their financial house in order.’ But an up-to-date estate plan is not only good stewardship of the resources you’ve been given – it also establishes a plan to ensure your loved ones […]
During an appointment with his cardiologist, a patient indicated frustration with one of his medications. “Which one?” the doctor asked. “The patch. The nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I’m running out of places to put them!”
Sometimes details get lost in translation. For instance, we all know there is a particular timeline for health screenings and routine procedures we need to consider as we age, but sometimes important ones slip through the cracks – and can put us at risk.
There’s another important life detail we need to keep updated as we age: our estate plan. Did you know nearly 70 percent of Americans do not have an up-to-date will? Good estate planning may help you avoid:
Legal risks. Your will could help loved ones avoid delays in receiving an inheritance or property and enable them to pay any outstanding bills associated with your care in a timely manner. Plus, there are numerous tax reduction strategies to maximize the amount your family receives if you plan wisely.
When an EF-2 tornado hit a small town outside Omaha, the 120-mile winds destroyed the home of Mr. Robin Stoll. He had been working in his shed when he spotted the twister coming across the field. Stoll’s dog ran to take refuge under the porch, but Stoll recalls the tornado “…picked me up and threw me against the tree… so I just held on.” And the tree helped save his life. While the storm ravaged around them, both Stoll and his dog survived with just a few cuts and scrapes.
As you reflect over the past year, you can probably name many unexpected things that blew into your life – perhaps the whirlwind of a diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, financial difficulty, or the global pandemic that affected us all.
When times of crisis and uncertainty hit, it’s important to know we have something strong to hold onto, to protect ourselves and those we love. Psalm 46 says “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” He can be trusted to protect and provide, no matter the stakes. We can also take steps to ensure we’re financially secure for years to come.
Three college students skipped an exam to attend a concert instead. The following day they claimed a flat tire kept them from arriving to class on time. The professor graciously granted them permission to make the test up later that week.
The day of the test, the students took their seats on opposite sides of the room, feeling quite smug their little lie had worked. But when they flipped over their papers the test had just two questions:
What is your name? (1 point)
Which tire was flat? (99 points)
Sometimes even the best laid plans fall apart. You make it to the airport in plenty of time, but your passport is lying on the kitchen counter. Or you wrap the Christmas gifts, but forget to label who they’re meant for. However, there’s one plan everyone should take extra care to create – their estate plan.
Author Alan Lakein wrote, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” When you […]
Fred Barley was a driven, intelligent 19-year-old. He was also homeless. When the police found him living in a tent on the campus of Gordon College in Georgia, he explained he had traveled six hours by bicycle in 100-degree weather to attend his second year of college. He was two weeks early, hoping to get a job before the school year began.
Touched by his desire to succeed, the officers put him up in a motel room and word quickly spread throughout the community. A local pizzeria gave him a job washing dishes, the motel owner allowed him to stay until school started, and a GoFundMe donation page raised over $180,000 to help.
When we think creatively about giving – big things can happen. You can donate time, energy, unwanted food, clothing, blood, and of course, money. But even cash gifts don’t have to come from just what’s in your pocket. Have you ever considered gifts of appreciated stock? Here are three tax-smart ways to give them:
Two men went fishing at a nearby pond. They brought poles, bait, and supplies to cook their catch over a fire. The first fisherman quickly caught a big, beautiful fish, but the second man went hours without a single bite. Finally, his bobber disappeared. He reeled in a huge fish… but immediately threw it back.
Bewildered, his friend asked, “Why did you let him go?” The second fisherman replied, “He was nice, but I didn’t bring a pan large enough to cook him!”
It seems silly, but many of us live like the second fisherman – so fixated on a particular outcome or limitation we miss obvious opportunities right in front of us. We want to make a big, generous impact in the world, but we don’t think we have the financial means to do it.
In most instances “cash is king,” but when it comes to charitable giving, retirement assets are an often-overlooked “honey hole,” swimming with opportunity just waiting to be caught. Some experts have even called qualified retirement plans “the most significant, yet underutilized category” of all giving options.
During the 1600s, potters used an orange-hued clay material called “pygg” to make dishes and jars. These containers were sometimes used to hold spare change and over time became known as “pygg pots.” By the 19th century people had begun requesting their money jars be made into pig shapes as a play on words – and thus the “piggy bank” was born.
Modern “piggy banks” come in all shapes and materials, and almost universally allow money to be added and withdrawn. But there’s a special grown-up piggy bank that securely holds your money until you’re ready to grant funds as a charitable gift. Often referred to as a “family fund,” “giving fund,” or “Donor Advised Fund (DAF),” these accounts are a clever and convenient way to set aside money strictly for generosity. It’s giving before you give.
DAFs are the fastest growing philanthropic tool in the United States. People love them because they are:
Simple. To bless a charity like Money for Ministry, you simply contribute to your DAF then provide instructions to have gifts distributed where and when you’re ready to give.
Flexible. DAFs allow you to bless multiple organizations from one account. Plus, you can easily contribute a wide […]
One Christmas Eve a mother told her young daughter how Jesus received just three gifts for His birthday – and that she should be grateful for whatever she found under the tree Christmas morning. Her daughter innocently challenged, “But do you think He asked Santa why none of them were toys?”
Every December we display Nativity scenes that include a variety of figures, often including the three kings who brought gifts from the East. Most everything we know about these gentlemen comes from the book of Matthew but looks a bit different than our modern-day Nativity.
Here are three surprising things we do know about them:
There may not have been three wise men. Because the magi brought at least three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – it’s often assumed there were just three individuals, but the Bible never offers a number. We only know the passage refers to them in the plural.
They didn’t arrive the night Jesus was born. The Gospels tie baby Jesus to […]
Two daughters were comparing the less-than-desirable physical attributes they inherited from their father. The older one said, “I hate my freckles from Dad.” Her unsympathetic younger sister replied, “At least you got his freckles. I got his eyebrow!”*
Certain family traits pass naturally from one generation to the next – but values of faith and character may require a bit more effort. What values do you hope to nurture in your children and grandchildren?
Here are four everyday ways you can build a foundation offamily valuesthat will last for years to come:
Play together.Enjoying time together as a family helps ease tensions, establish a joyful home, andcreate a sense of belonging. Research shows that children from families who regularly indulge in play have high self-esteem, and parents report increased creativity and better problem-solving abilities at work.
Pray together.When parents and grandparents pray with little ones, they modelhowto talk to God. The action of praying together helps cultivate gratitude, deepen family unity, build faith, and demonstrate how to trust in God.
Share together.Part of creating a strong family heritage is sharing from the heart. Children love hearing funny or meaningful family stories from years past.You can also talk about struggles you’ve faced and […]