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Month: March 2012

Freedom = Being Weird

Freedom = Being Weird

My husband and I recently became debt free minus our home.

Can I even begin to tell you what that freedom feels like?  Oh my goodness does it ever feel great!

Since before we got married my husband and I have been open and honest about finances.  We decided long ago that we would not use credit cards as a means of a 2nd income.  What a pit that can become, right?

Instead we would live within our means and try to live on less than we made.  Becoming rich has never been the goal, staying out of debt and being good stewards of what God has given us, has been.

As we all know, life just happens and sometimes debt can incur because of it.  Since our first year of marriage and our very first loss of a baby, we have had medical debt weighing us down.  I felt so guilty over this debt because in a way I felt that this debt was my fault.  My husband never made me feel that way, but it was a guilt I took on myself.  After all, the loss happened in my body, I was the one who had to stay in the hospital, therefore in my mind it meant it was my fault, right?  Well, I know in my mind that doesn’t make sense, but in my heart it made perfect sense.

Over the 7 years we have been married we had racked up a sizable debt because of our other 3 losses and man alive I felt like I was being swallowed whole!

A little over a year ago I called into the Dave Ramsey show. Ever hear of him?  I was first introduced to him before my husband and I were married, but never was crazy about listening to talk radio.  To many days of hearing Rush Limbaugh over and over as a child turned me off to that real quick 🙂

Throughout the years we have been married my husband and I had been able to attend some classes of his Financial Peace University program and our interest perked but we thought, “Man, we only make pennies!  How can we even get this taken care of when there is nothing extra at the end of the month?”  All of our needs were always met, but there was nothing left over.

Okay, rabbit trail, anyway, back to the call I made. I was so discouraged at the time and Dave gave me some advice I wasn’t thrilled about.  Head out and get a job, put my kids in day care and get the debt paid off.  I appreciated his input, but well, that was just not God’s will for our lives!  He also was generous and sent us his book, Total Money Makeover.

Yeehaw!  We got that puppy in the mail about a week later and we took off reading it! My hubby and I would read a chapter each night together and talk and talk and talk.  We were able to make a great dent in our debt last year because of it, but then we were slammed with another medical bill that hadn’t yet been sent through from the previous year.  Ouch!

The beginning of this year my husband and I began to earnestly pray that the Lord would provide a way to get this debt taken care of by the end of this 2012 year.  We want so much to be good stewards of what He has given us but it seemed hard to do with the debt around our necks.

Oh my lanta, did we ever think He would answer so QUICKLY?  Um, not really!  Remember, we were praying for the debt to be gone by the end of the year and He had it gone by MARCH!  Whoa baby are we thrilled! 

We wrote the last check and with our kids in tow ran around the house like crazy people cheering “WE’RE DEBT FREE!! JESUS MET OUR NEED!”  Yes, we are that crazy!  Not only that but I just HAD to call back into the Dave Ramsey show and share the great news!  The number one question I am asked about that is, “Did you get to talk to Dave?”  Yeppers!  It was broadcast across these great States and I just wanna shout Praise the Lord for HIS goodness!

I was able to share our story rather briefly and then do the countdown to my scream, “WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” 🙂  Oh ya, it was awesome!

The freedom we have right now feels amazing and all praise goes to God, the One who does meet our needs!

We are currently on baby steps 3 & 4 of Mr. Ramsey’s plan and we are just still praising Jesus for His goodness in our lives.

Take it from a person who understands the strain of debt, working hard, putting pleasure aside, and focusing on the goal (along with a lot of prayer) pays off at the end.  The freedom you will have is worth every penny put towards paying off the debt and lack of lavish vacations. 

With God all things really are possibly and He will reward faithfulness.

Today I am once again thanking the Lord that with a lot of His help we can truly say, we are debt free 🙂

Today I Will Be Thankful

Today I Will Be Thankful

Is it not so easy to complain?  Why is it that complaining rolls off the tongue as if we were created to do it, but praise and thanksgiving is something that we often struggle with doing?

My prime example comes with the beginning of the new week.  Just because Monday rolls around it seems so many people mentally prepare themselves for a bad day simply because it’s “Monday” Dun-dun-duuuuuun!!”  As if Monday has ever actually done something to us!  Seriously, it is just a day!

We’ve all read those Facebook status updates….. “So Monday, we meet again.  Oh great!”, “It’s Monday? I’m going back to bed.  Wake me when it’s Friday”,  or even bright and early Monday morning we read, “Is it Friday yet?”

Why is it we find it incredibly easy to be ungrateful for the day God has made and given to us?  Another day to serve Him and love on those He has placed in our lives.  Another day to see His goodness and blessings!  Another day to simply enjoy and live!

After pondering this over, my conclusion is that complaining stems from our hearts attitude.  (Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh“.)  A lack of being truly thankful for all that God has done for us and given to us, that is what it stems from.  What we ponder in our hearts comes out of our mouths (or onto facebook status’) and if grumbling is really what is in the depths of our hearts, it will come out.

I have been learning to wake up thankful for all that God has blessed me with.  I have been so blessed in my life, how can I find the time (or even make the time) to complain?

A wonderful verse that challenges me to be thankful is an easy one to remember.  Psalm 118:24 “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  If we notice, this is not a question.  It is not asking or suggesting that I rejoice and be glad, no, it tells me that I will rejoice and even be glad about it!

Just in case one verse is not enough to convince us to be thankful, the Lord gives us several. How about I Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Though this may not be an easy task, to always give thanks in everything, it is possible to do.  How?  Well, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks….. what am I pondering in my heart?  If I am pondering the blessings the Lord has given and am focusing on being joyful for this day and this moment, then when those not so easy times come to visit, I will already be in the habit of giving thanks.  It will already be in my heart and will still flow off my lips when the temptation to grumble is present.

Instead of grumbling about the day or about what we don’t have or complaining about whatever it is that crosses our mind, why not stop and be thankful?  Why not take some time to hide these verses away in our hearts and let our minds ponder the blessings we have been given.

As a friend of mine so wonderfully put it, the fact that it’s Monday and you have to go to work means God has given you a job to supply your needs.  Having bills come in the mail means you have clean water to drink and electricity to keep you warm/cool.

I end with a quote that has been floating around the internet and is a great reminder. “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”  What would we be left with? We have been blessed so much!  We have been blessed too much to find the time to complain.

 

The People Pleaser

The People Pleaser

Everyone has something that they battle with.  Something that nags at them and is something they want to overcome and yet it seems nearly impossible to do.

One of my things is I am a people pleaser.  I long for everyone to just get along and be happy. It honestly hurts my heart deeply when I know others are upset with me or simply don’t like me just because I’m me.

Know what I mean?

Over the course of the past couple years I have had to learn MUCH about not living to please others but rather, live to please my Maker.  It is much easier to live to please God than it is to please everyone.  The simple fact of the matter is, it is impossible to please everyone.

The problem with not being able to please everyone is that means I usually end up offending someone unintentionally, or hurting someones feelings because I failed to say hi to them when honestly, it was not intentional.  Their seems to be a level of perfection that everyone expects from each other and that is a level I cannot reach here on earth.  Perfection is something I would LOVE to have, but is not something I can attain right now so I mess up more often then I would like to admit.

The Lord and I have been on quite the journey trying to overcome this battle.  It is not something that I have completely overcome yet, but I’m working on it.  A few things I have learned along the way I would like to share with you.

First, I have learned a lot about casting my cares onto the Lord.  1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” and it is a verse that I have learned from childhood.  One night I was having trouble getting to sleep.  There were issues not yet resolved and my mind and heart were just going over and over the ways to get this all resolved.  My heart was heavy and since I knew tossing and turning would probably keep my husband awake, I grabbed my prayer journal and headed downstairs.

I found myself sitting at my kitchen table writing out the burdens of my heart in prayer form in my journal.  As I wrote them and really gave them over to God I felt as if a true weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  About 30 minutes later I closed my journal and headed back upstairs to bed and fell asleep within minutes.  Why hadn’t I thought to do this sooner? Casting my cares upon the Lord is what has helped to keep me sane and has protected my heart from being hurt or holding grudges.

Second, I have learned that I have a lot to work on in my own life.  I am an introvert and would be very happy to live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere the rest of my days.  Learning to step outside of my comfort zone is something that does not come easy to me.  However, I have also learned that sometimes people mistake the shy personality for that of a snob.  Something I do not want to be accused of and have been shocked to find out!  Sometimes I just have to shake my head at myself and remember that He’s still workin’ on me, to make me what I ought to be.  If I am to minister to others I must be willing to step outside of my comfort zone.  I don’t ever foresee myself doing a complete 180 to be an outgoing person always desiring the lime light, but I know I can be better than what I am now.

Lastly, and this is probably one of the biggest things I have learned, is that when we choose to live our lives to please the Lord and not man, we will face adversity.  There are times I have found myself sobbing into my husbands arms completely convinced I am not cut out to be a Pastor’s wife.  I always imagined this would be my life, but sometimes it is just plain ol’ tough!  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of wonderful aspects of ministry and I know we are right where we should be doing what God has called us to do.  But, just like you, I have “those days” too 🙂

Proverbs 24:10 has been a good reminder to me, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.”

Giving up when life gets tough is not an option.  Why?  Because I have a God that is so big and so strong and so mighty, there is nothing He cannot do.  There is no day that goes by where His grace will not be sufficient.  There is no temptation or trial that is too hard that I cannot get through without Him. My God, THE GOD of the Universe, is SO good!

Learning to not be a people pleaser is not always an easy thing to learn, however, it is definitely something I need to learn and am thankful that God has not given up on me but that He is still workin’ away to create His masterpiece.