“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
“Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you.”
“We buy things we don't need with money we don't have in order to impress people we don't like. ”
“Live like no other so you can live like no other”
Money. The source of much anger, joy, confusion, struggle, happiness... The root of all evils?
Money has been one of the biggest vices in our marriage. How I spend. Why he does not. Differing priorities.... I have purposed this blog to be about a life changed. A beautiful story of grace and redemption. Yet, I am going off course here....just a bit. Not really, though. Just nothing juicy. Unless, you find learning to trust God in all things... provocative. Or, learning to trust and respect your husband... tantalizing.
In the last three years, I have grown. And, much like a child, I have had growing pains. And, in so many areas! I constantly feel like a 45-year old toddler! (46 next week! Oh boy!) Having so many, "Oh, I get it now!", moments. In October 2010, Mark put me on a cash diet. For several months, I was embittered at his, what I called,.....gall.
I was given......drumroll please ....can you guess?...... $180 a week! Each Monday, neatly laid on top of the refrigerator. This was to pay for all of our food (groceries and eating out!) and toiletries (makeup, hair care,....And, my nails, too! (I will not give that up. I would eat Ramen noodles every day, instead. Just saying!). For a family of six........ CrAzY! Or, so I thought.
For everyone that knows Mark, especially those that have worked with him...they know that he is a hard worker. A work-a-hol-ic even. He learned a good work ethic at a very young age. His parents were in the mission field. There was very little money. But, they had all that they needed. He always worked. He even did a stint at McDonalds to help in his college days. (We still have the polyester uniform somewhere!)
I did have jobs. But, I never really had to work. And, I been given so much, that my view of money was skewed.
We have both played our part in the poor communication regarding spending, not spending, and finances. But, in the last three years I have viewed Mark's leadership in this area, much differently.
As I have shared, about $100,000 was spent on my treatment at Brookhaven. Much of that came from my parents. But, the chunk that Mark paid has affected us greatly. There is no savings. No college funds...
When things get tight and tense, which they do, no one has ever begrudged the fact that it was spent to get me well. No one. And, I have worked through the guilt of it.
I proudly celebrate having done it one year and two months! It took me about six months to get over it. And, get on board. Now, it is like a game. An adventure! The, Let's Play... How can I stretch that money?!? game! If I want to get my nails done..... We may have a baked potato bar that week! ;-) If it's a big toiletries week... I don't let the kids have pricey snacks or QT runs! I can stretch it like no other. We eat out very little! I am a good cook! Who knew? I no longer view this as punishment. It is a challenge that I have learned to respect.
I have jokingly called our family, "The Slumdogs of Southeast". We live in an affluent part of our city. Yet, no "Cabo" or Aspen trips for us. The biggest trip we have ever taken, as a family, was to Houston in the Summer of 2009. Our kids have never been to Disneyworld. And, my children have to work for their "American Eagle" or gas. We love the likes of Plato's Closet, a consignment store! They realize that they have to work for most everything. But, we are also incredibly blessed by my parents gift of giving. I've said it hundreds of times. I do not know what we would do without their love, support, giving hearts, and belief in us!
The work ethic that has been birthed in my children is amazing. With the economic situation that we live in now, they will be fine. They know that credit cards are dangerous. And, they do not have any sense of entitlement..that they should be just given things...just because....No. They must work for it!
That is harder on me...than them. Pride can get tangled in it. But, a different pride has been birthed in me! I get compliments on my kids all of the time! (I am speaking mostly of the boys here. They do most all of the odd job calls that we get.) This last year they paid for almost every penny towards their church trips and camps. They did everything from yard work to snow shoveling. House sitting to well, I would love to say house cleaning...;;;-) Dog walking to poop scooping. Built fences to painting.... People know they are dependable. They have learned life lessons! On some jobs they were paid poorly... Then, another job would over pay them. We did a lot of talking about working with a happy heart...;-) And, seeing and believing that it all comes out in the end...if we trust God in all things!
I am grateful that I am finally teachable. I am grateful for a husband that will never let us get into financial trouble. I am grateful that he chooses to give back to God, rather than hold tight to the little that is left at the end of the month. I used to get angry about that. Now, I trust his leading. I see the sense in watching our cents. I love The Silver Fox. He is very wise. Not without faults. But, because I now have love and respect for myself, I can truly love and respect him. And, you know what? He is trusting me. I actually get sweet little love notes when he sees that my efforts are paying off. It honors him, in trusting him. I'm not always there. But, so much better than before.
You know what's cute about this? He even adds an extra $20 every now and again....:-) My old nature was offended at the audacity of the amount given in general. Now, I get giddy with the extra $20! LOL! I have seen Mark's "love language" so clearly in this process. His is, "Acts of Service". I now love to find ways to demonstrate that to him.
At Christmas this year I had the kids write letters to Mark. It was absolutely precious. (And, hilarious! I may write about it soon!) He was crying three sentences into the first letter. Our gift...priceless.
There have been so many blessings come our way. Last March, a friend paid my way to go to the Brookhaven reunion! Thank you, Dawn! At Easter, two anoymous people helped me get some shoes for the kids! My mom and dad are always blessing us! My "hair" from Sean and Carol! And, just recently, some our new friends, blessed us tremendously with a couch AND a refrigerator! Thank you, Jason and Cristi! And, Thanks to Jeff Sharp, Sean Sommer and Mark Chestnut for helping us get them here!!! All of these people have the gift of generosity and giving. I cannot repay them monetarily. But, they know that we are "paying it forward" in our own ways.
This couch has been the biggest blessing of our latest "season". As soon as we set it up, you could just see a glow on all of our faces. Weird? No. Blessed. Yes. It is the little things that can demonstrate love...
I sat in the living room, reading my book, just a week ago. I started to cry. I was so grateful. And, full of hope!! It overwhelmed me! My house is starting to look nice again. I have worked so hard to get and stay healthy these past three years. But, our house had been run over by children for those several years, while I stayed in my room. Furniture was damaged. Walls dinged. Carpet stained. Savings gone. Yet, I see fun times ahead. I cannot wait to share our lives...not just here in the written form, or outside of our home...but, from inside our walls again! Such a joyful feeling! You can't comprehend.
THANK YOU, MARTENS!