Do you ever get the budget blues? The budget blues is the occasional feeling of discouragement and overwhelm caused by the gap between what you think you need/want and what your budget says you can afford. The feeling can be made worse by scrolling through Pinterest or watching HGTV.
Battling the Budget Blues
I have a bad case of the budget blues this morning where it seems everything is falling apart. My house is a mess with suitcases and dirty clothes. An unexpected plumbing problem cost big $$$ Friday, my dishwasher isn’t working and is out of warranty, I need a new dryer, Maddie’s car needs tires, and Eric goes out to his car this morning and finds the windshield cracked top to bottom by a giant, green pinecone!
All of these first-world-problems remind me of something a friend told me many years ago. We were all seminary students each working several jobs and still barely making ends meet. I complained about some financial stress when he said, “If money can fix it, don’t sweat it.” He was going through an emotionally difficult time that no amount of money could fix. I needed to hear that reminder then.
Today we still live on a budget. Years ago, after realizing that consumer debt is a joy stealer, we committed to living within or below our means (income). Thank you, Dave Ramsey! The decision has required us to be willing to make-do or do without sometimes and always trust God to provide what we need. He has never failed and along the way I discovered a love for thrifting!
After many years of walking with the Lord, I realize my friend had it wrong. If I could talk to him today I’d like to tell him, ”
If God can fix it, don’t sweat it.
Because I’ve learned that:
- just because money can fix it, doesn’t mean it should.
- sometimes God wants to do more than fix it.
- our place of greatest need is the very place God wants to meet us.
- while He can and often will give us what we want and need what He wants more than anything is to be our provision.
So today I’m bashing the budget blues by counting my blessings and testifying to you of a few of the ways God met me on ordinary days recently.
Counting My Blessings
#1 The trip home from South Africa is a long one. Eric was returning from a wonderful mission trip (thanks to the generosity of a dear friend) and had a long flight from Johannesburg to London and then an 11 hour layover at Heathrow. I prayed that he could change his flight to avoid the long layover and get home to me sooner. After checking the options he decided the cost to change was just too much. I was sad because I was so ready to see him; but I believed that God was in control and at work so I left it in His capable hands. I continued to pray that Eric would be able to catch up on his sleep a bit and land safely in Atlanta.We texted on and off during his long wait in London and were just about to say our goodbyes after he boarded when I got one last text before the plane took off:
I’ve been upgraded to business class!! Thank you, Lord!
What a gift! A roomier seat, a foot rest, real headphones, and a menu that included Fillet of British Beef made the last leg of his trip much more restful and enjoyable. And the upgrade didn’t cost him a dime!
#2 Several months ago, after the Africa trip was planned, I began setting aside a little money each month so that we could spend the night in Atlanta to rest and reconnect. We love to stay in Midtown so I began checking all the discount travel sites to find a good rate. All the prices were about the $ame until I picked up the phone. The Renaissance Midtown quoted me a rate for a standard room that was over $40 less per night than what I’d seen online! I really wanted a king room with a view but, hello upgrade. I chose the offer that fit our budget (cash in an envelope in the dresser drawer) and booked it.
When I arrived and checked in she said, “How about a room with a king bed and a higher floor with a beautiful city view?”
“Yes! Thank you!!” I responded.
I can’t say enough good things about the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown. It’s a beautiful hotel in a great location and the staff was wonderful!
#3 His flight was scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at 8:10pm on Friday night. I anxiously waited at the hotel expecting him to arrive between 10:00 and 10:30pm since he had to go through customs, get his luggage, get a cab, and drive through downtown Atlanta on a Friday night. I’d prepared myself for a very late dinner. Just before 8:00 pm he texts me that he’s landed. Wow! A little early. I’ll take it!
Within 40 minutes I get another text from him saying he’s on his way! Wow again!! So much sooner than I expected and exactly one hour after he landed he arrived at the hotel in record time. He said the cab driver even drove under the speed limit!! God had answered my prayer to get him home sooner after all.
#4 On our way home Sunday afternoon we stopped to eat just outside of Atlanta (his eating and sleeping schedule was still off). After eating chicken and waffles we decided to stop at a thrift store we’d seen. He quickly found a chair and tried to take a nap while I browsed. The clothing portion of the store was fairly neat with everything sorted by color. However, the housewares and miscellaneous items looked as if they’d been thrown toward the nearest shelf. Thankfully, I wasn’t deterred because I found something that only the Lord knew I wanted.
Some of you know that Maddie is moving to New Orleans soon to continue her undergraduate studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We’ve been thrift-store-yard-sale-hunting-and-gathering dorm room stuff over the summer and having a blast! One of the things we hadn’t found was a bicycle but she said she didn’t really need one so rather than buy a new one she’d do without. I had also been thinking that she would need a way to transport the bike to and from school and around town to the great parks and bike trails. I had in my mind’s eye one of those bike racks that would mount easily on the back of her car. (Her car is another prayer answered. I’ll have to tell that story another day.) But since she hadn’t found a bike yet, I’d kind of stopped thinking about getting one. Then 2 weeks ago a friend at church texted her to say, “I’ve got a bike I’d like to give you to take to New Orleans.” Oh my goodness! The bike is practically brand new and much nicer than anything we hoped to find or planned to buy! So I was back to thinking about a bike rack.
As I’m walking around the thrift store Sunday, I see something buried under piles of junk on a huge metal shelf in the middle of the store. (I have bionic thrift eyes, by the way.) I dig a little and when I pull it out I can hardly believe it. The very bike rack I had been hoping to find is in my hands. I did a quick inspection and noticed that it had never been used. The original ties and bands still held all the straps neatly folded in place. The best part: $8! I Googled it standing in the store and found the same brand and model number listed at Walmart.com for $39.93. I wanted to squeal!! We tested it out yesterday. Thanks, Caleb, for your help!
Dear reader, you may be in a different season and the line items in your budget may be very different from mine; but living by faith in obedience to the principles in God’s Word and trusting Him for all we need is the call for every believer. I pray that you will be encouraged to count your own blessings (no matter how small) and open Your Empty Hands to receive what God wants to give you.
Do you have a story of God’s provision you’d be willing to share? Will you share it here or maybe on Facebook. We can all get discouraged on our faith journey and I believe sharing a testimony is one of the ways God invites us to give Him the glory He deserves and encourage one another.
The Autobiography of George Müller is a little paperback book that has encouraged me greatly on my faith journey. You can get the Kindle edition for $0.99 right now. Here’s the description of the book:
What can be accomplished in an ordinary man who trusts in an extraordinary God? George Müller discovered the endless possibilities! These excerpts from his diary allow Müller to tell his own story. Join him on his journey from a life of sin and rebellion to his glorious conversion. Share his struggles and triumphs as he establishes orphan homes to care for thousands of English children, depending on God’s response to his prayer of faith to supply all things. Müller’s unwavering, childlike dependence upon his heavenly Father will inspire you to confidently trust the God of the impossible in every area of your life.