What to do with all this stuff (email 10-20-2011)

We can model generosity for our children. We can trust God for Him to provide for all our needs.

The Rich Family In Church

By Eddie Ogan

I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene was 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

When we got home we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1.

We made $20 on potholders. That month was one of the best of our lives.

Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever money we had to give the offering would be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change.

We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before.

That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering.

We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile form our home, but it didn’t seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.

But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes and I felt rich.

When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting in the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill and each of us kids put in a $20.

As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 bill and 17 $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, just sat there and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night.

We had two knives that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I’d never thought we were poor.

That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn’t like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn out shoes and felt so ashamed – I didn’t even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were the poor family!

I thought about school. I was in the 9th grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished 8th grade. That was all the law required at the time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed.

All that week, we girls went to school and came home and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor.

We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on the way. Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse.

At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. he said $100 would put a roof on a church. the minister said, “Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week.

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering.

When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn’t expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.”

Suddenly it struck us. We had given $87 of that “little over $100.”

We were the rich family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary said so? From that day on I’ve never been poor again. I’ve always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!

Web links for further training and connections

5 steps for teaching sharing

Teaching the Art of Sharing

7 ways to teach your children generosity

Ideas for Families

1 – Pick out unused or seldom used toys and choose a charity to donate them to.

2 – Think about the holidays coming up and ways you can practice sharing and donating. What about Halloween candy and people who have none?
Or those in your community who will not have Turkey at Thanksgiving
Adopt a family at Christmas or
Pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child

3 – Develop a plan for teaching your children about Tithing. Its easier to make this a regular part of your life when you make very little money. Then as they grow up and get jobs the habit will be in place.

4 – Talk about ways in which your family can sacrifice something in order to give to those in need. Like give up a meal together, and give the money you would have spent to charity. Use that meal time to pray together and talk about Christian giving.

5 – Sponsor a child through such organizations like World Vision, or Compassion International.


Families in Faith is a Free email resource.  We will send an email every week offering tips, suggestions, training, and encouragement to parents as they work to pass the faith on to their children.

Please share this email with others.  You can also encourage others to sign up for Families in Faith online by having them text the word “families” to 22828 or go to www.familiesinfaith.org 

  Created by Dr. Joel Dietrich

Minister to Families and Children
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
8304 Old Keene Mill Rd  –  Springfield, VA  22152

©2011, all rights reserved

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The Magic of Family Dinners (10-13-2011)

Below: This is a youtube video promoting a book on the topic. The family table is a God ordained place of fellowship and connections.

Set the Mood

Family dinners are as much about what we do as what we don’t do. To get the most benefit from your family meal times, take a moment to set the mood.

Start with a technology free time. No TV or cell phones, ipods, video games, etc. These technologies tend to limit relational interaction.

Next take some time to make dinners special and fancy. Lower the lights and use candles. The lower light leads to more intimate conversation. Bring out the fancy dishes. Rather than waiting for a visit from the queen, bust out the fine china for your family dinners. Using the special dishes tells the family that the meal is special, and that they are important.

Take turns offering the prayer for the meal, thanking God for the blessings of the food, for those who prepared it, and for the family time while eating it.

Include the kids in meal prep, meal set-up, and certainly meal clean-up. Family dinners can actually be more than just the eating. Make sure to include the kids, not leave them to it. In other words, do the dishes together…don’t leave the kitchen a mess and tell the kids to clean up.

Finally be intentional about what you eat. Cook meals that you remember from your childhood and tell your kids about your memories. Plan healthy meals that include fruits and vegetables. Plan a dessert, or an appetizer. Both lengthen the time it takes for the meal, which increases the time the family is together.

Ideas to Try

  • Eat outside
  • Move the meal around the house to make it memorable
  • Cook breakfast for dinner
  • Take turns planning the menu
  • (Exception to no technology rule) Get ready for bed, in your PJs and watch a family movie together while eating dinner.
  • At Christmas time eat near the Christmas tree – use the time to talk about the gift of Jesus and His birth
  • Try themed nights – Mexican food match the decor with chili pepper lights, and colorful napkins – Italian food, create an Italian restaurant feel, Finger food night, etc.
  • Use mood lighting, and mood music
  • Make special occasion meals, like Birthdays and Baptism Birthdays
  • Seasonal Meals – Fall is here, use pumpkins, squash, apples etc.
  • Start and Finish your meals with a prayer
  • Dinner time is a great time for family devotions – take turns reading from a devotional book.

Quick Links

Time Magazine article
Interesting Statistics on Family Dinner
Web MD article on importance of family dinners

Do something… (10-6-2011)

originally published 10/6/2011

Welcome to Families in Faith Online.  Here is the first video and email.  May God bless you and your family as you seek ways to bring Jesus into your everyday life.

Do Something…

“Brethren, do something, do something, do something. While committees waste their time over resolutions, do something. While societies and unions are making constitutions, let us win souls. Too often we discuss, and discuss, and discuss, and Satan laughs in his sleeve. I pray you be men of action all of you.”    – Charles Spurgeon

This quote from Charles Spurgeon is one of my favorite quotes as a worker in God’s Kingdom. Too often we make excuses or we over-plan, over-think, and under-do. Families can be the same way. We often plan to talk about Jesus, get ideas from church about having spiritual conversations, or know that it is our role to teach our children about God, but we don’t do it. Life intervenes, we get too busy, we don’t feel qualified, we don’t know what to say or where to start. Does that sound familiar? Then let this quote motivate you… just do something.

God isn’t looking for the best speakers, the most intelligent theologians, or the worlds most dynamic pastors to teach children about Him. No, God is looking for parents to do it. The beauty is that God doesn’t need our ability, just our availability. Will you make yourself available for God to use you this week in teaching your children about Him?

Below are some ideas to “Do Something.”

Do Something Ideas

1. Pray together – before meals, before bed, before leaving the house.
2. Notice God together – look around and point to the wonders of God’s creation together.
3. Bless each other every night before bed. Use Number 6:24-26
4. Ask your kids about their day – listen and then pray with them, thanking God for the good times and asking for assistance when needed.
5. Share your favorite Bible verse with your kids.
6. Go online and google search “Jesus” and discover together what you find. (Be prepared, not everything on the internet is Christian – shocking but true)
7. Watch TV together – shows on Discovery about Nature, or shows like Veggie tales. Find ways to talk about your faith and what you watched together.
8. Pray for your neighbors – friends, colleagues, classmates. Make a list together for all the people you want God to bless.
9. Skip a meal together and talk about sharing the money you saved with those in need. Make that donation together.
10. Clean out your closets or old toys and clothes you no longer use and donate them to charity. Talk about serving others, and sharing.

Created by Dr. Joel Dietrich, Minister to Families and Children, ©2011, all rights reserved