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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pressed down, Shaken together, and Running over

About 75 days ago our church gave a bold challenge to the congregation:  
For the next 90 days can you live on 90% of your income, giving 10% to the church and trusting God to provide and sustain you?

Well, with my accounting degree and my husband's math degree we had already constructed a well-thought-out budget that allows us to live comfortably on 110% of my husband's income. LOL! 

Household finances have always been a struggle for us.  But in the last 6 months they have gotten even harder.  

I quit my job in March to stay at home with my 3 preschoolers...Our rent increased $250 in July...I need to buy some "affordable" health care by the end of the year.  So even before the church issued this challenge we were already praying desperately about our finances.  God had promised to meet the needs of our family, but we weren't seeing it yet.

So, Brian and I looked at each other in church that morning and said "Well, why not?"  

Now there's all sorts of tithing verses people quote, but my favorite is:

 Give, and it will come back to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. Luke 6:38

So, as we wrote that first 10% check this was echoing through my mind. "Give, and it will come back to you.  Give and it will come back to you."

"Lord, if I give you this measly, paltry 10%, do You think You could find a way to please give it back?  We really need it."  This was the size of my faith.    

So here we are at Day 75.  It has felt like holding your breath for 75 days. The kids have been standing at the fridge or pantry asking "What can I eat?" and I go join them and I can't come up with anything.  Well, let's see...we have mustard.  Or split peas.  Look, Logan! Tofu!  I don't even cheerily say "But Daddy's getting paid on Thursday!" the way I used to, because there is no money in that paycheck allocated toward food.

But here we are after 75 days.  We have had 3 meals a day, we have found apples on sale, we have eaten a hearty Thanksgiving and come home with leftovers.  But we are $350 in the hole because of a plumbing problem that went onto the credit card. I don't know where it is going to come from, but I heartily believe God will pay that bill before the 90 Day Challenge ends.  See, my faith is growing!

But then yesterday my beautiful, brilliant 12 year old comes home with a paper.  "Look Mom!  It's for paying for college!  I decided I want to be a Math Teacher!" 

 My heart sank.   

You see, despite the best of intentions, there are not 7 little college savings accounts growing at 12% a year. And as one sweet grandbaby has blossomed into 12 and simultaneously the stock market and economy have tanked, my trust in the Grandpa Joe Scholarship has faltered.   So, over the last several years, when Mackenzie mentioned her desired profession, or asked how we could pay for college, my somewhat glib, and not very honest answer was: 

"Well, we're just gonna have to pray about it."

And inside I felt fear, and sadness, and failure.  

And now here she is, only 6 years away from college, joyfully sharing her new desire to be a teacher, and flapping this paper in my face - what I was sure was another Guaranteed Education Thrift Plan...if we just pay $300 a month for 18 years she'll be good to go!  

She carefully placed the paper in front of me.  And when I didn't look at it she wisely moved it to her backpack lest a toddler spill food on it.  She asked me if I had signed it at least 3 times before bed.  Each time the fear filled my heart.  

...She's never going to go to college, even if she really want to.

....She's going to end up saddled with debt the same way we are.

... I'd better start talking to her about how all single, rich men are in want of a wife.

And then I finally got around to looking at the paper.  And then I read it again.  And then I went online and read it again.  Because what it is saying cannot possibly be true.

It seems that Washington State wants to keep their beautiful, brilliant 7th graders from leaving for California or New York upon graduation.... they provide FULL tuition and a book allowance for all middle schoolers who fall into the (low) income requirements once they graduate, as long as they don't become felons or leave to go to an out-of-state school.




I put my accounting degree to work.  $15,000 per year x 4 years x 7 kids.   That's $420,000.

I gave God 10% of (low) income and a teensy weensy bit of faith

...and He gave back $420,000.

Pressed down, Shaken together, and Running over, will be poured into your lap.

....I'll keep you updated on the $350 plumbing bill!

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