We started our day in what has now become a familiar Saturday routine, except the day began much later than usual. Since I’ve been battling this cold and taking all manner of cold medicines, I slept until 8.
Without an alarm, I scored two extra hours of rest. When I finally came to some form of consciousness, I felt well enough to turn on the Keurig (such exertion!), pull out his red Tim Horton’s mug and fix Peter a cup of coffee. I was still undecided for myself. For the last ten days, I’ve barely had a desire for coffee, focusing instead on green tea and Earl Grey, both with lots of honey and lemon.
I went back to bed for a while because Saturday morning time together is always what the doctor ordered.
Eventually, Peter went to the kitchen to fix himself some toast while I showered and dressed. I’ve learned I function much better in the morning once I’ve showered, put in my contacts and brushed my teeth.
I made my way into the kitchen and pulled out the ingredients for my morning shake (Chocolate Juice Plus+ Complete, banana, cocoa powder, peanut butter, blueberries, kale and walnuts) before deciding coffee was indeed doable too.
By 10AM, Peter and I were side by side, sitting on the living room sofa. As is our new custom, we pulled out the laptop, iPad, calculator and bills folder.
Yesterday was payday, so we needed to budget for the rest of the month.
(That’s the first lesson we learned in YNAB [You Need a Budget - affiliate link-check details at end of post]. Rule #1 – Give every dollar a job. We LOVE this budget app. It’s easy, intuitive and since we’ve been using it, we have a much better grip on our finances. Better than at any other time in our marriage.)
Before we even started, Peter blurted, “I need to talk about something.” I detected a bit of angst in his voice. I knew exactly what was coming.
His paycheck included a bonus and this was unchartered territory for us. (Not the bonus part, but how we budget it.)
We talked it through, asking questions we already knew the answers to.
“What is tithing?”
“Can we out give God?”
“Do we trust Him?”
We stopped mid-conversation and prayed, asking God to give us pure hearts, give us joy, and increase our faith. We talked a little more.
Tithing on the entire bonus required a huge leap of faith. Again, we stopped and prayed, and waited so we could both draw near to the Spirit. We sat in silence for what was probably less than a minute, but felt much longer. Finally, we were ready.
Peter entered the first transaction into the budget. Our tithe – based on paychecks and the bonus. The WHOLE thing.
The rest of the budgeting went well – much quicker than our first few times. We’re building muscle memory.
We paid the bills, even paying some that aren’t due until next month. We set aside money for groceries and fuel for the rest of the month.
For many people, this is simple. The stuff of grown ups. But it’s new to us – this intentionality and stewardship. And we’re making progress!
For the last two and a half months, we’ve tracked every penny. (Remember Rule #1? Give every dollar a job.)
We’ve been hyper-focused on paying off credit cards. As a result, we imposed a spending freeze on all non-essentials. For seventy five days, we’ve denied ourselves anything resembling a splurge. We’ve worn the same clothes, over and over, and over. And secretly, I prayed the kids wouldn’t grow bigger than their clothes and shoes. Prayed I wouldn’t either!
It’s paying off, too. I’m happy to report that as of today, we have zero credit card debt. Zero! In two and a half months, we’ve successfully paid off our credit cards.
It doesn’t make sense, exactly, but that’s when the Spirit reminds me of Paul’s words to the Corinthians.
“The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them for they are spiritually appraised.” 1 Corinthians 2:14.
That’s it! The Holy Spirit is moving in our hearts so that we’re catching a glimpse of his principles at work. We’re actually becoming stewards. Stewards with joyful hearts!
It’s been a LONG journey, and we still have a long way to go, but God IS at work. I’m reminded that steward was one of my words for 2012. More than a year ago I started studying stewardship. Then one month later, I had a really bad false start. Last summer we continued the conversation. By December, FINALLY, I was ready to embrace my identity (part of which is) as a steward.
I write about our journey, not to boast, but to give God glory. HE has been at work. HE is faithful.
AND, if He can work in us, He will work in your life and your situations as well.
Linking up with Sandy tonight.
[YNAB - You Need a Budget is an application we've been using since January 8th. We LOVE it! If you use the link here or the earlier in the post, you receive $6 off and we receive $6. If you decide to try it, please let me know. I'd love to hear what you think, and I'll be happy to share any thoughts/tips with you. Of course, we're not experts. Not yet, anyway. But we are stewards.]