Tuesday, June 1

Just a third.

We were incredulous at the number presented to us, the number representing the amount Sean's abstract business had taken in in 2009.

I've mentioned before how Sean and I have lived together on every sort of income during these twelve years of marriage. From steady 9-5 jobs to unemployment to self employment and all the ups and downs that entails, our wallets and bank accounts have either taken a beating or been full.

But here's the important part. Our income was never tied to whether or not God cared for us. He always does care and so a year of plenty didn't mean we were striking it rich in faith and favor and a year of penny pinching didn't mean he had turned His face. God isn't a money tree. I like to trust that He provides for us exactly what He sees we need and is more concerned about our spiritual growth than the cushiness of our lifestyle.

Most people who are a apart of any church culture, like me, have heard every sort of sermon on prosperity and how God wants to bless us. I have no doubt God DOES want to bless us - but how embarrassing of humanity to assume God will bless the greediness of our hearts with a fat wad of bills so we can go further in debt and live more foolishly than we already do.

Last year, with the changing tide of the housing market, my husband's business took in a two-thirds less income than the previous year. Now you can guess any number and two-thirds less of it and imagine that living on a third of an income with a growing, already large family might be difficult.

I share this story, because it was such a testimony of God's work in our lives, and all that He has taught us about money and faithfulness over the years.

Two years ago when our income was much larger, we bought nothing new that I can think of. I think a used wood stove was our whoop-di-do purchase (used from craigslist). We also finished a bedroom for the boys. We paid off the truck and worked at paying off the van. I still made most of our food from scratch and we shopped second hand for everything possible. In the midst of our year of living on a third, we paid of the remainder of the van, leaving us with just the mortgage as our only debt. When all was said and done, and all accounted for this past April for taxes, Sean and I were amazed at how little we had lived on and how well we lived on little. Not once did we feel like we were living in a lack or upset that we were missing out on some great lifestyle.

The questions and answers God has presented to me in the past regarding blessing and wealth are:
1.) What things (besides $) does God consider wealth?
2.) What is the Bible talking about when it speaks of the blessings of God?
3.) How should we live and handle our possessions and money, regardless of the width or narrowness of our income?
These three questions make for a great time of pouring over a thesaurus and a Bible.

When I think about 2009, besides the spiritually trying times I wrote about here, I remember the great family days we had at the cabin, at swimming holes on the East Canada Creek, our older two children asking to be baptized, splitting and stacking wood together as a family, harvesting and canning, family walks, great finds at garage sales, beautifying our home (frugally -but never feeling resentful of not being able to pay full price), houseful of friends for meals and dessert, married couples group in the living room...

Learning to be content, whether we have a lot or a little, makes a HUGE difference. I cannot stress that enough. If our happiness is tied to maintaining a culturally sanctified lifestyle, being able to buy everything new, or keeping up with the Joneses of our lives - we will be devastatingly disappointed. And if we are believers and hold these superficial expectations of God, we are selling ourselves short on His majesty.

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” —Hebrews 13:5-6

"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. " Philippians 4:11-13


Unknown said...

So true, thanks for this wonderful reminder that true riches cannot be found in the bank.

Esther said...

Thanks for sharing GOD is good. We are down to a fourth of what we used to be at. The number of mouths to feed grows and the bellies get bigger but we aren't lacking. I just wonder what we did with all that money:) We also have no debt but the house and feel for those who have loads of bills.

1 Timothy 6:8 (King James Version)

8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Have a wonderful day!

Laura said...

Thank you so much for your post and the scriptures! I needed a reminder today :) God is good!

Anonymous said...

Hi Hannah,

I've been reading your lovely blog for a while now and have never commented, but this post really touched me. Living well on little is what my husband and I strive for too. Even more so now that we have a wee one. Thanks for all your insights - keep writing!!


amy said...

Thank you Hannah, I needed to read this. We are really struggling financially right now, (like zero money, zero food, zero bills paid) but we know God is good and He is taking care of us. It is a true blessing to read your words.

Anonymous said...

So true ! thanks for showing one good way ! blessings you & all your family !

www.mominapocket@aol.com said...

I can relate to the lean years; it is amazing the lessons one can learn during those times. I like your question about "what is wealth & what is prosperity".

Another thought that came to my mind when reading your post. This is a little off topic but I used to feel measured when asked "What does your husband do for a living?" or "Are you working someplace?" at social gatherings. Then I read where to not be offended but to think of it as..."how do you serve others".

I think you are showing by action how we can serve others by building up your family, hospitality to others, etc. So much enjoy your site Hannah. I look forward to reading it when you post! Nancy

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a while now. When I got home last night after midnight from a long night of work, Your words brought tears to my eyes. This is the very thing that God is teaching me. Learning to be content, and trusting God. Trusting God for everything. Thanks for the words of encouragement !!