Archive for the ‘Frugal Living’ Category

Giving Above Your Means

One of the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced was being able to give my car away.  This was not just any car.  This was my prized possession, the car that my dad surprised me with my senior year of high school after my beloved 1985 Honda Prelude bit the dust.  I have many fond memories of speeding down lonely country roads after dark, talking and laughing with my friends.  That’s the car that I packed down and cried in as I moved from Oklahoma to Texas when I went away to college.  It’s also the car that my brother used to refer to as the sorry “car they used to give away on Hollywood Squares,” but I digress.  A few years ago my husband and I found ourselves living in a small town in rural Florida, he, a youth minister, and I, a teacher.  We became friends with a guy who was trying to turn his life around after years of drug and alcohol abuse.  He lived 30 miles from his job and his only means of transportation was a 1960’s Dodge pick up truck that was on it’s last leg, to say the least.  My husband Shannon and I talked about it and saw no reason why we couldn’t be a one car family.  Shannon walked to work every day, which was, conveniently enough, across the street, and my school was only two blocks away, so we knew that the transition would be a fairly easy one.  

I was so proud as I washed and detailed that car for the last time, and the moment when I handed our friend the keys and said, “It’s yours” was priceless.  That was the first time I had ever been privileged to be a part of meeting someone’s personal need, and I must say that the experience was a contagion for our small family.  Even now, living below the poverty line as I stay at home with our sweet baby boy and my husband works to finish a PhD, we look for ways to bless others, not because we want any sort of recognition (we try to give as discretely as possible, if not anonymously), but because it is an indescribable blessing to be able to bless others. 

So what about you? What keeps you from surrendering of yourself to be a blessing to someone else?  Is a sense of security  in having possessions causing you to think that you have nothing to give?  We don’t need 99% of the things we own, yet we sometimes have a tendency to give more value to objects than they’re worth.  Maybe you’re afraid that if you give something substantial away, you won’t be able to replace it in the event that you find a need for it again.  Perhaps you think that you have nothing to spare because times are tough and the economy is bad and money is tight.  May I just respond to that by saying that God is faithful.  He was faithful when Shannon and I moved away and took a job that we shouldn’t have.  He was faithful when we left that job, tucked tail, and humbly came back home after only a few months of service.  He was faithful when we moved half way across the country to a place that was in no way desirable to us.  He was faithful a year later when we were blindsided with the news that Shannon was losing his job, and we had to pick up and leave a town and a church that we dearly loved.  He was faithful through our humility of moving in with my parents and, despite all our diligent effort, taking the only job either of us could find, delivering pizzas.  He was faithful when we came back to Texas so that Shannon could pursue a PhD but, again, couldn’t find a job.  He was faithful to us as we bounced from two weeks with Shannon’s parents, to a few days with my brother’s friend, to three weeks in a motel.  He was faithful when we, out of money and with no place to go, parked at Shannon’s school and laid the seats back to spend the night sleeping in our car.  God came through an hour later when we got a call from a stranger offering us a place to stay.  He came through with jobs in times where there were no prospects.  He carried us through a year in which I lost three uncles, an aunt, and my childhood dog.  He brought us through two layoffs, a pregnancy, and becoming a one income family living on a budget that I liken to a diet of water and air, but in every way, God has taken care of us.  There have been days that were so terrible, so discouraging and so seemingly hopeless that I’d almost like to just erase them from my memory.  I’m glad, though, that I can’t, because then I remember God, our Provider, our Comforter, our Father, who has never ever forsaken us.  Though our world, at times, has seemed to be crumbling beneath our feet, I can’t help but remember God, and I can’t help but trust in Him and know that, despite our circumstances, He holds His children in His hand.  When others dismiss us and our memory leaves their minds and hearts, He never forgets us.  I trust in Him because, with all we have been through, it is all that I can do. 

Look around.  We have been blessed with immeasureable blessings from the God who created us and loves us beyond comprehension.  You may not have one dime to spare, but how can you use your abundance to bless someone who may need it more?  You never know.  Your gift may be the catalyst God uses to turn someone’s heart from an attitude of doubt and accusation to one of trust in Him and His faithfulness.