Let me start in college days, I had a full tennis scholarship, Brandon had a wonderful job on campus. We acquired no student loans. What a blessing! I know people who are my age who are still paying student loans.
Fast forward to when we were youth pastors. I know times were tough but I don't really remember having to go "without". I mean we didn't have some of the basic luxuries (like cable and cell phones) at the time but we never had so we didn't miss those things. When I think about our house payment and all the things we managed to do on that little salary I ask myself "How did we do that?".
Then I look at our time in California. At first I had gotten a job but just couldn't handle being away from our 3 and 1 1/2 yr old boys. Poor Ethan literally cried all day at day care. We decided we would do whatever it took for me to be able to stay home.Brandon got a full time job shortly after we decided. Our rent was higher than we had ever paid, yet our income was about the same as in Oklahoma- "how did we do that?" Again- I remember we didn't eat out as much but I don't feel like we were "deprived" in any way. We met all of our bills plus some. (This is where I started clipping coupons and using the Grocery Game and saving money-it came out of necessity and that was a blessing in itself! It has paid off through the last 5 yrs!)
(Brandon right before graduating with a Master's in Christian Apologetics. He is pictured with Chase (HS) and Lori Elmore (Bachelor's) who were also graduating:)Through Brandon's $16,000 payment of a Master's degree (we paid $13,000 of that), we never took out any loans. We paid as we went (about $1000-$2000) a semester. "How did we do that?".
We got to go to Disneyland 15 times in a 1 yr span (w/our passes). We went to the beach and so many fun places. Our house payment was $1550 at the time and now it's about half that! "How did we do that?"
Looking back, I always say I don't know how we did it but I really do. GOD did it! He provided. He is always faithful. We never stopped tithing or giving. We truly believe that is being obedient to the Lord. I don't want to think that because we did that, then He blessed us. I think He just takes care of His children. But, there is something to be said about giving to Him with the mindset that our things belong to Him!Keeping Him first in ALL things includes your finances. Giving to Him should be in good times and in bad.
- Making almost $40,000 on a house in Cali that we really just kind of happened into-no planning whatsoever I promise). With that we were able to put down 20% on our house now as well as do some updating which puts us in better shape on payments and house value. We were scared to death buying that house (that we honestly couldn't afford) but God took care of every detail!
- Being able to live in Mexico for 2 months (with a mission organization called Back 2 Back)
- Being able to help out some friends in need and pay their entire mortgage payment one month
- Brandon and I taking a week-long trip to Seattle last year
- Being able to pay for an emergency surgery I had last year
- Getting a great deal on a 2001 Ford Expedition that is paid off
- Not acquiring any debt except our mortgage (we have our house on a 15 yr. note -starting in 2005- and are working to pay it off).
I encourage you to write down your blessings. Even write down those extra expenses. I wonder if you will ask "How did I do that?". The answer is...
...you didn't,God did!