Hello friends! I have been taking a very strong stance in nurturing my faith and my relationship with Jesus. No, I couldn’t care less about the Starbucks coffee cups or if you wish me happy holidays or merry Christmas. The gesture of holiday cheer, remains the same to me and I will return the same to you with enthusiasm! Let’s get that clear, right now. And to quote Forest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
I have always been good with my money, for the most part. Even when I was a waitress I was never in a dangerous place, financially. I think this was the main reason I couldn’t feel OK with having our wedding 12 months after our engagement. Financially we could not do it. So, with the holiday season upon us, it becomes (most notoriously) the spending season. Does it not? In years past I’d have a little extra money to indulge in those I love with a couple of extra things that they have had their eyes on, or that I picked up on a whim because it made me think of them. This year, however, is very different. Although I am more than capable of making my bills with the money I work hard for and the blessings that God has given to both Steve and I, I also have to keep a little extra for us, this year, for planning our wedding. Does that make me selfish? I don’t think so. I think the opportunity here is to serve and do the best you can with the little (or a lot) that you have. My goal, this holiday season is to be obedient and serve the best way I can with my resources.
This is not easy for me. My old ways consisted of starting my Christmas shopping in August and hoarding gifts for people and keeping check lists for everything, so I didn’t forget who I bought what for. This year I didn’t start my Christmas shopping until almost Halloween. I have given everyone a pretty strict budget for their gifts of $20.00 or less. The only people this rule does not apply to is the parents, because… duh, they’re our parents and they have always been darn good to us. Even they’re gifts are not much higher, though. We are even in Secret Santa exchanges and cookie exchanges to eliminate the extra spending and add more time spent with friends and family.
Instead of showering the people I care for with tangible store-bought gifts (as much as I’d love to spoil those close to me) I am trying to spoil them in other ways. I am also trying to serve God with what I have in any way I can. That’s the important part of this. As part of a relationship with God, you start to learn that your obedience is not out of fear of consequence, it’s because you want to live up to what you can. It’s a strange feeling to explain. If asked to explain it I’m not sure I could do much better than elaborating on what that’s like.
So in trying to reach out to those that matter most and trying to spread God’s word I’ve decided to challenge myself into bringing a new person with us to service, every weekend. Our church’s main mission is expansion. In fact, we’re one of the fastest growing churches in Michigan! That’s great news! Anyway, I’ve decided to extend God’s gifts to those I’m close to in that way. I have also been trying to load my holiday break from work up with volunteer opportunities. I came across an interesting sensation earlier this week when contacting my local food pantry. They didn’t need me because they had all the volunteers they could take that week… Wow. I mean, WOW. At first I was bummed out, because I couldn’t do it. Then I thought on it for a minute and my heart was filled because there are so many people willing to help others that I had to be turned away. How FANTASTIC! I mean, really, wow. Now my heart is full and I’m beaming from ear to ear because I was turned away from our food pantry. That’s great news!
Another part of my goal is to tithe as often as I can. I haven’t been able to give the full 10% or 20% that is suggested, because of the bills that we do have. As much as I’d love to be able to contribute weekly, it just hasn’t been an option. But this is something I’m looking to change. I am 2 days away from my next pay check and my checking account has $9.77 in it. Am I worried? No. What am I going to do about it? Tithe $5.00. God provides just enough, just in time. My extra $5.00 will help someone in need, through our church. Since I’ve been baptized on September 12, I have had such an overwhelming sense of peace in my life. Has my life hit speed bumps? Oh you bet! There have definitely been days I’ve been more down than up, but in pursuing God’s work and trying to build on my relationship with Him, my life is exponentially better. I am able to face life’s crazy turns like, when my debit card number was stolen a couple of weeks ago. Did I get upset? For a hot second, yes. I was frazzled. Immediately following I was relieved because my bank called me after only one transaction barely over $100. It was pretty quickly resolved with little inconvenience to me. All I could think was, “wow, that guy picked the wrong person to steal from. I hope that small purchase was worth it!” I noticed I thought more about the person stealing from me than my own problems caused by the theft. Wow. Total change of heart and I did not consciously change my heart, it came from someone else.
I look forward to heading into the holiday season with this on my heart. I look forward to bringing what gifts I can to those I can reach through donations of time, energy and even a little money (because let’s be honest, those bell ringers get me EVERY TIME).
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” Galatians 6:9