This is our story...the story of how our hearts are being moved.
In early October J and I sat down with a fun stack of papers. Money papers. The details of our financial world right there in our faces. Good, good stuff...
Enlightening for sure.
We are goal-oriented people. We like checking successes off of our lists. We like a good financial plan. And we have been really good at making those plans. They work something like this: Sit down and look at the sobering reality of where our money is going--house, cars, college funds, savings, retirement, utilities, food, clothes, giving, etc. Talk about and make changes to our giving and savings goals. Go about our regularly scheduled business. When the credit card bills start looking a bit high, just cut back a little. We're living the "American Dream."
Grocery shopping with a superhero.
The problem is that so much of this is totally wrecking us. How do I go on living in my own little world when I KNOW that this is the reality for so many. Really it haunts me--truly, what if it were me?
I (We) have this one life to live and we are beyond blessed that we get to chose what to fill it up with. I am so disturbed by posts like this, that I can not keep going the same way. Stuff is not bad, but consuming my heart and time with it is not so good. And ignoring the genuine pleas of help from so many is not okay with me.
I want what we do to be about more. I want to live more generously. I want M and T's heart that says, "What?! They don't have food? Well, give them the money in my piggy bank. I don't need any of it!"
And so, we've hunkered down to become more intentional. I'm not a fan of the word "intentional"--it's too, well, formal and...disciplined. To me it's not, shall we say, very romantic--it lacks a certain...spontaneity. But sometimes, it's what I need to readjust my habits.
We've turned those financial goals into an actual budget. And we're doing it with monopoly money. :)
And the Ethiopian princess. :)
The nitty gritty--most of our expenses are already determined, but there are a few things that have a bit more variability--Food, Household (clothing, gifts, entertainment, etc) and Home Improvement expenses each have a wad of available paper money in a marked envelope. We use credit cards for almost everything and then we we come home we take the money from the "available" envelope and put it in the "spent" envelope. When it's gone, it's gone. (PB&J for dinner, anyone?)
The oh-so-glamorous envelopes. ;)
The goal is that by having a better idea of where our money is going dollar by dollar, we'll be able to make wiser decisions and we'll be able to give more spontaneously without that nagging notion that, "Hmmm...well, I don't know...if I donate money now, won't that make the end-of-the-month statement sky-high? Maybe I'll do this later..." Then out of sight, out of mind.
We are so, so not perfect. Definitely not even close. In fact, we're a bumbling mess. But it is our heart's desire to use what we've been entrusted with to the best of our feeble abilities.
And so it is that we are taking these tiny baby steps to respond to the faces and stories that God has been using to nudge us. Totally laughing at our colored paper money, yet absolutely discovering how unexpectedly fun it is to find ways to save money when you understand the power it has to make a difference to someone else. And doing it together.