Archives for : March2017

Are You Fluent in Kindness?

Are You Fluent in Kindness?

The Greek word for kindness has its origin in the smaller word, chre, “to lend.” It’s not hard to see how the idea of kindness evolved from the act of lending. In today’s hustle and bustle, division and divisiveness, it is easy to move through the day disconnected from our capacity to be kind. I am happy to be reminded of the forthcoming quotes.  However, much to my chagrin, I do not always practice the principle of kindness.

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Mark Twain


“Kindness is a grace that all can understand.” J.C. Ryle

Kindness is the universal language that is comprehended beyond any boundaries. Each and every individual understands and speaks this language. An act of kindness never goes futile. If we are kind to someone, it will be reflected in our behavior. Being kind to others makes this world a better place to live.

A need, giving, and kindness are linked together intimately in the Holy Bible.

John 3:16 states:  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  

God saw our need and gave us His Son as the remedy. God’s Son is actually referred to as “the kindness of God.” Jesus appearing on earth was not only evidence of kindness, He was kindness itself; He was kindness incarnate.

God sent kindness Himself to earth to save us. In a day when it appears there is little kindness on earth, it is good to remember that God’s love was demonstrated by kindness. Let us think of ways we can be kindness to someone in need today!

 You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.                                                                             ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

How Decluttering Your Home Can Build Your Financial Foundation

How Decluttering Your Home Can Build Your Financial Foundation


By Jamie Griffin


In Minnesota, spring is right around the corner, and with it, spring cleaning! Everyone I know has stuff that they don’t need, or maybe more accurately stuff they don’t use. Stored in garages, attics, basements, and storage lockers across the country are piles of stuff that are taking up space, forgotten, unused, and unappreciated. Instead of your old stuff wasting away in a dark corner, you can dust it off and sell it to someone who can put it to good use. Not only will it create more space in your house, but it can help you get started saving money and build an emergency fund.


Emergency Fund = Financial Foundation


An emergency fund is a great first step to building a solid financial foundation. According to Dave Ramsey, prominent author and speaker on personal finance, it is the first step toward true financial freedom. The entire purpose of creating an emergency fund is simple; it is a reservoir of savings meant to help your family through unexpected emergencies. These can include a wide variety of things such as car repairs, hospital bills, or broken household appliances. When an emergency hits, most people are unprepared. I recently read an article from Market Watch that says 62% of Americans do not have more than $1,000 in savings. That means if the furnace stops working in the middle of winter, a lot of people will have to rely on credit, loans, or build a fire every day to get by. If you already have debt, the last thing you want to do is add more to cover emergencies.


A simple way to combat unexpected expenses is to plan for them to happen, because trust me, they will. Just last summer my car started making a bunch of scary clunky noises and the repairs were about $900! It was the least stress I have ever felt with a car problem. I simply transferred money from savings and it was covered. Then we set to work to rebuild our emergency fund back to where it started. Without preparation, this could have turned into a stressful situation that would have set us back on paying off our loans. Instead of a giant crater in the road, it was a small speed bump. Trust me, creating an emergency fund will go a long way to setting you up for future financial success. Let’s see how decluttering can help get you there.


Declutter Like Crazy


Back to the basements, attics, and garages. If you don’t have an emergency fund, you probably have your jump start lying around waiting to be sold. A favorite quote of mine is from Jim Carrey’s Grinch, “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri” is a perfect way to sum it up. (Or you may be more familiar with “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” :)) If you aren’t using it, it serves no purpose to you, so why not sell it. My wife and I like to go through our house a couple times a year to reassess and reevaluate what we still want and what we are ready to get rid of. In the last month, we sold a snowboard with a bag, an electric guitar, and some old beanie babies for $150! It was basically free money since we hadn’t used them in years. We have a few more items waiting to be sold that can make us another couple hundred bucks.


And it is so easy to sell your stuff today! There is craigslist, ebay, and even facebook. If you use facebook, there is a garage sale type group on facebook for almost any community across the country. The bigger city you live in, the higher probability you will find someone that wants your old junk! But even if you live in a small town, all you need to do is find the right person. I’ll bet if you declutter with a sense of purpose, you can make $1,000 within a few months and voila, emergency fund complete!


Inspired by Minimalism


When I first began taking control of my finances and started living on a budget, I was highly inspired by the blog Becoming Minimalist. The entire premise is to declutter your life and focus on what is truly important to you. They have a lot of articles about practical steps to declutter your possessions and become a minimalist with your finances as well. Part of our debt free journey has involved being minimal with how we spend our money. We say ‘no’ to a lot of things that our friends and family don’t and choose to live very simply. I believe this has helped us stay focused and motivated to get out of debt and provided a basic framework for our financial philosophy. Give his blog a read and see how it can apply to your own attempts to declutter and start your emergency fund.


Wrapping it Up


Creating an emergency fund is a big first step to prepare for the unexpected and set your finances on the right track. Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to not only declutter, but to get a jump start on your emergency fund. It may be hard to part with some things, but if you can say goodbye, you can earn some serious money basically for free. Then as a side benefit, you may be inspired by your new life of being more minimal.


Endnote: How has an emergency fund saved your finances? Tell me a fun decluttering story. If you want to hear more about how my family handles finances, budgets for expenses big and small, and for tips on how to get out of debt, follow the link to my official blog at





Love Stories

Love Stories . . .

By Sharon Sheppard


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about love.

I suppose it started around Valentine’s Day when lovers of all ages came out of the woodwork, and the media reported romantic accounts of lovers who met young, married someone else, then later, when widowed or divorced, found each other and fell in love all over again.

And there were heart-warming stories of extraordinarily long marriages, sacrificial love–the works.

On a personal level, Valentine’s Day tends to bring pangs of missing the only man I ever dated—the one I married young and would marry again in a minute, given the chance.  The one I lost after his extended battle with cancer—a rollercoaster of pain and hope: chemo, stem cell transplant, dialysis.

So I’ve recently been reflecting on many kinds of love—between parents and children, siblings, and dear friends.  I think about people donating their kidneys, sometimes to strangers.  I think about the response of those good-hearted police officers in California where some Girls Scouts were robbed at gunpoint while selling cookies outside a supermarket.  Local officers showed up and bought all the rest of their cookies and donated $1,000.

I cherish the memories of the warm and loving marriage my parents modeled as I was growing up.  My mother was in her fifties and a patient at the University Hospital in Minneapolis, where she struggled with serious health issues.  My dad had to work during the week, but he would drive down from Northern Minnesota to visit her on the weekends.

“When your dad walks into the room,” my mother said, “He makes the sun to shine.”

When my sister-in-law, Marlene Moser, was caring for her elderly parents, who were well into their nineties, she told me of going to their new assisted-living apartment to see how she could make them more comfortable.  She rearranged the furniture, placing a small table between their recliners so they would have a place to set their coffee cups while they watched TV.

But when Marlene returned for her next visit, the couple, who had been married 70-plus years, had rearranged the furniture to their own liking.

“We moved the table,” her mother said, “because it’s too hard for us to hold hands with that table between us.”

But as precious as these stories are, there is a love that far exceeds any other.

Lent began on March 1, and as I ponder Good Friday, yet to come, to be followed by Easter Sunday on April 16, my mind is awash with a different kind of love—the Greatest Love Story Ever Told.

The sacrifice of God’s only Son to atone for our sins was an act of love so immense that it stuns me.  And it was so willingly bestowed that I can’t begin to comprehend it.

Never were gift recipients so undeserving. 

Never has the cost of any sacrifice been this lavish. 

Never have the eternal consequences been more monumental.

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” Romans 5:8


I cherish this costly act of Love that made it possible for us sinners

(that’s ALL of us!) to have the chance to approach a holy God and take

Him up on His offer of salvation through faith.

This is the ultimate HOPE FOR THE JOURNEY.