Friday, February 1, 2013

Spending or Saving Part 5

Hello! I’m so glad you stopped by and since in my neck of the woods we’re getting buried in Lake Effect snow, I’d love it if you’d put something warm in your cup, stay awhile, and join me in exploring some of the principles, practices, and tensions regarding  finances.

This is part of a series and you can find the other posts here

I've had a lot to say about the some of the big ideas and principles that come to bear on the matter.
Today we’re going to get a little more specific and explore six habits to cultivate for greater maturity in stewarding what we've been given.

Believe it or not, I have more suggestions on this topic than the preceding ones. Today we're still in the big picture. I promise - next time - specifics!

I've loved hearing from you – keep the comments coming.
They help shape where I’m heading next, and I pray that the direction I choose serves you well.

It’s important to distinguish that these six habits are concurrently actual things to do as much as they are attitudes to develop.


Yup, I've already talked about this, but it bears repeating.
No budget is too tight to practice this habit.
For the believer it is more than habit.
It’s faithful, loving, and cheerful obedience to the direction scripture gives.

Whether it’s a regular percentage of your income given in a tithe to your house of worship, a charity, or another form of benevolent giving, open up your wallet and – be blessed. (Did you think I’d say give? I could have, but here’s the thing…)

You can’t out-give God.

How many times have you heard stories or experienced for yourself of having MORE money or exactly what you needed exactly when you needed it and there is no accidental correlation to how generous you’ve been?

The blessing of giving isn't always material of course.
But the principle of obedience always yielding blessing holds fast.
And, when we don’t obey, there’s trouble.

For the dear moms who heard this from me in early January, they got a firsthand account of how this has been the second biggest challenge for Weekend Farmer Husband and me. (The first is budgeting…but you already knew that).

We’re working on it – not by might, not by our power, but by His spirit.

Be Charitable.
Wait, I already talked about giving, so I must mean something else.

Is it ever difficult for you when you’re struggling to make ends meet to encounter someone reasonably close to you who with their surplus is doing something you’ve longed to do?  Or, maybe an offhand comment about finances or a purchase cuts you to the quick.  And you find yourself comparing.  The comparisons may tip into grumbling or forgetting to give thanks in all circumstances.  Might the internal dialogue turn personal and envy rear its unwelcome head?

Do you have plenty, possibly an abundance? Have you cultivated a meek and quiet spirit that is deeply grateful for what you've been given?  Are you approachable and in as much as you are able, humble?  In our times of plenty I can be so full of celebrating that I sometimes make the mistake of being too public about our blessings without considering how that might come across?

I’m trying to move us toward a responsible and gentle sensitivity.

If you lack and you compare, you are at risk of cultivating a root of bitterness.

Abundance easily deceives and tempts pride.

I’m suggesting we need to have charity in our hearts.
Really, it’s love one another. 
Quit comparing.
Give thanks.
Serve one another practically.
Be kind in word, in action, and maybe most importantly in your thought life.

Give Thanks.
Maybe this one is too obvious?

I’m of the mind to pay close attention to the things that are right in front of me as I’m most likely to miss those first!

So, thanksgiving in your heart, on your lips, and in your thoughts is something to make habitual.

Sometimes this is hard to measure, so I try  to make it something that I can connect to my feet on the ground.

Consider, would you, when your mail box holds nothing but bills, grasping those statements tight and thanking God for the month of utility service you just enjoyed, the orthodontist who has the expertise to correct your tween's bite, and the garbage truck that came on schedule to take away your smelly trash? 

Thank him for whatever amount is in your bank account and for showing Himself faithful again and again and gently teaching you that He is our true provider.  Move your lips and thank him for teaching you to be humble, resourceful, and committed to managing His resources well.

Move your lips, or your pen, or tap out your thanks on a keyboard – whatever.  Do it for real.
It is scriptural, profitable, and makes the next habit more attainable.

Be content.
How is this different from being thankful?
You’re right, they are closely linked.

In my case, contentment begins with thanksgiving, and then develops in to a deeply rooted more permanent awareness of how good things really are for me. 

It also reminds me to guard my eyes (in particular) very carefully.

I need to limit my exposure to all the home improvement, house decorating, richly photographed, food glistening publications and blogs “out there”.  None of those venues are bad/wrong.  I simply need to keep strict limits on how much I let those images into my life.

When I spend too much time studying other people’s homes (and by default possessions and circumstances), I fail to recognize how much I have.

I miss the colorful, pretty, vibrant, well appointed home that I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of. I am in danger of coveting someone else’s closet (yeah, when I write that it is just as ridiculous as I thought, but it’s true… I've coveted a closet before).

Oodles of good advice, insight, and practical wisdom has been written about the practice of cultivating contentment.  I don’t think you’re missing the point.

So, next time I’m putting together my menu plan and I’m heading off to the grocery store I am gonna first give thanks for this amazing first world culture I live in, (helps me get rid of any false guilt I might experience for the privilege of God’s appointment to this time and place), and then I’m gonna decline to complain about rising costs at the store. 

Instead, I’m planning to approach the shelves with contentment and thankfully put the store brand item in my cart rather than the name brand, be content with another simple meal, and in my case go one step further and bless the Lord for another week of all my offspring gathered around our family table enjoying His good gift of food.

Phew – two more.

Practice hospitality.
When we intentionally and spontaneously serve others through the practice of hospitality, we equip ourselves to more easily cultivate the habits I’ve already identified.

And, it gets our eyes off of other people’s homes and circumstances and forces us to cultivate ours.
I am more apt to prepare space, seek and cultivate beauty, make ready the heart of my home, and follow through on my intentions when I am committed to serving beyond my immediate family.

May I encourage those of you with small homes to move beyond the perceived “need” to have more space?  Maybe this is the perfect time to reach out to elderly couples in your church, the single woman in your book club, the newlyweds next door, or the widower at work.  You don’t have to have lots of people over to practice hospitality.  You just have to be willing to open your door and yield your heart.

Delight in hard work.
Yes, I mean that.

None of these ideas over the last several posts are rocket science.
But they’re all hard work.

If we fail to understand that this is work we put ourselves at risk of expiring too soon.
When we commit to delighting in the work at hand we fuel our passion, inspire our actions, and more adequately prepare ourselves for the process of incremental change.

All these ideas staring back from the screen have the tendency to fool me into thinking that I can just read and then do.  It is not so.

I remember high school algebra so clearly.  The teacher would review yesterday’s lesson on the board, and then introduce the next concept or function.  And, I always understood what transpired on the board. 
When trying to complete my homework I was a mess.  I rarely could finish a problem because I would forget or misapply the functions necessary to solve the problem.

This is much the same for me.  I must commit to the hard work of doing my homework, dealing with my lack of understanding, and correct my mistakes.  And, I have to come to class every day.  I cannot ever assume I've mastered this.

What’s next?
I hope to put together a bullet list of habits that are “doable”. 
Yup, a checklist of sorts.
Help me, would you? What habits do you regularly practice to stay in the game?


  1. Once again, your words encourage me and also challenge me. I often begin to peruse through all the beautiful blogs and compare. I wonder why God has not chosen to bless me in these ways instead of being truly thankful for the abundant blessings He pours out on me daily.
    Thank you

    1. Oh,Ruth- You're welcome. We're in this together friend. We need to encourage and remind one another, don't we?