Psalm 37:25 ~ I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
The TEACHER OUT OF SERVICE day is going well. There has been no argument (other than over sorting laundry this morning when we first woke up). There has been a lot of housework done. The kids have actually enjoyed themselves while doing it all! I even heard them singing together while they did our lunch dishes. We warmed up leftovers from Mexico, Italy, Japan and Madagascar in the microwave. All but the Mexican tasted much better the first go-around. The vanilla fruit-salad from Madagascar was getting a bit 'strong'. We threw out the last bit that wasn't eaten. Mommy has been upstairs doing bills, checkbook and laundry... and soon some school plans for tomorrow. Later I have to go return our library books and go to the bank to get an ATM card.
This brings me to my blog topic today: Finances and Faith. No one wants to talk about money (at least those who don't have much of it). Money tends to be a really personal topic and everyone has an opinion. However, money is a necessity - just like food and water... because without it, you don't have food or water!
Why am I going to get an ATM card at the bank if I don't have much money? The answer is simple: ATM cards make it much harder to accumulate overdraft fees! We are going to really buckle down and try and prevent the needless fees (late fees, bank overdrafts, ATM fees, library fines, etc) that tend to bleed our account dry needlessly.
After moving back home, we realized that the raise my husband was getting would only cover our medical expenses (because his company changed his health plan and is taking an additional 250$ a month out of his check for it). We doubled our housing payment by purchasing a home, too. Even though we don't have state income tax here in Texas, we pay a pretty penny for property taxes (to the tune of nearly 5K a year)... so we actually are not coming out ahead. It does cost a tad less at the grocery store here than it does in Arkansas (we don't have produce taxes in Texas)... and we have a lower sales tax and restaurant tax than the county in Arkansas we lived in. However, the fact remains that we added bills and didn't really increase our pay like we had anticipated. Thus the crunch is on to find a way to budget where there's not any left-over. I'm sure there are many of you out there in homeschool land who are in the same shape. I'd love to hear your tips on how to get it done without having to move out of your house and under the nearest bridge.
Since we moved, we have been really slow about tithing. In fact, we have decreased what we normally would tithe by perhaps 85-95%. I justified this off by saying that "surely God would understand if I am 'moving' and in a state of flux with my bills for a while". Strange thing was... I still had guilt. Not guilt because of our church... but guilt because I know that tithing is an issue of FAITH and TRUST in God. My guilt was based on my responsibility after reading God's scripture. In fact, the only place in the Bible where God asks you to TEST Him is Malachi 3:8-12, and it happens to be about TITHING.
Malachi 3:8-12 ~
8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.
Ouch. And I knew this verse... before I justified not giving what I should. So I guess a panic attack over lack of funds to pay bills isn't such a harsh punishment for poor stewardship. After all, it is His money, not mine. Maybe (as a brother in Christ said last night in our small group Bible study) we should not ask how much we should give back to God... but how much of HIS should we keep for ourselves.
So today was bill-paying day. Normally, I would leave myself enough to get by for two weeks (until the next payday). Even if sometimes the 'enough' is still very slim. But this time, I stood on the cliff of faith and jumped. There wasn't enough to tithe my 10%. I did it anyway. Amazingly, the panic is gone and I feel peace instead. I'm not sure how less than 100$ can last for 14 days with two kids to feed and a vehicle with only 1/2 tank of gas... but I know that with God all things are possible.
I know that he fed the multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fish (Matthew 14)...
I know that He turned water into wine (John 2)...
...and I know that He created the universe from nothing (Genesis 1).
I'm going to have to just believe that He's got this whole thing worked out for us... in advance.
Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I don't think that believing is going to be hard. I have seen Him working in my life for such a long time now. How could I not believe? And why should I worry? Read below what God has said about worrying about our provisions:
24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I can't wait to tell you about how God managed to keep us in the black in the next 14 days. I'm sure He's got another miracle up His sleeve for me.
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