It's been quiet here on the blog. Between having all the kids home for the summer and taking classes, I haven't had a lot of time for much else. However, quiet on the blog does not mean quiet on my heart and God has done a good deal of convicting, shaping and restoring. I hope you can say that you've had seasons like that. Seasons where it seems like you don't have much to say but it's only because you are choosing to be still and know God. He can't speak to us if we never stop talking or moving long enough to hear him; we can't make changes if we don't know where change needs to happen. It's interesting sometimes to see what God will use to stir your heart and bring about conviction. For me it was a lecture in one of my classes and a book the kids and I read aloud together over the summer.
In one of my lectures the professor gave us an acronym: ALIVE. It stands for Always Living In View of Eternity. We were learning this as a tool to have in order to help someone we might be helping understand how our perspectives influence our responses to life's circumstances and how our response influences the outcome 100% of the time. We were being taught to challenge someone to think about whether or not it is God's Word that influences our perspective. Throughout our lectures and our teaching, while we are being taught how to help others we also, if we are surrendered enough to allow it, are being challenged ourselves to make positive changes and look at life with a filter of hope and life in Christ. I began to see that there were some areas in my life that I was not completely surrendered and this really grieved me.
Then as the kids and I got to the end of our book on "Hero's of the Faith", we read about two men: George Mueller and John Wesley. What these two men had in common and what the Lord spoke to not only me about but the kids also was how these men told only God of their needs and trusted Him fully to provide; they were incredible stewards with what God had given them, giving back to God more than what they kept for themselves. I realized that I had fallen away from the kind of steward I wanted to be. I felt the Lord convicting me about letting HIM provide for my needs rather than trusting in my bank account to provide. I was also being challenged about what I spent my money on.
As I realized that I needed to live my WHOLE life with eternity in view not just part of it I realized that this had to extend into how our family spent our money and on what. One night I sat down with Ben and shared with him what God had been showing me and not surprising to us, Ben had been feeling convicted similarly. I love how God does that and how only He can make two hearts one...it gives me goose bumps every time it happens. From there we talked about ways that we as a family can live with a perspective more focused on eternity and how we can be better stewards with what God has given us. We both wanted to involve the kids and make them a part of this work that God is doing in our lives. Showing our kids (and others too) practical ways we can practice what God is showing us is really important to us... so this is what we did...
We decided to give the kids an allowance. The kids work really hard around the house. They all have chores to do and for the most part they do them with sweet spirits and little complaint. Because we have seen how hard they have worked this past year we were okay with giving them a little compensation for their efforts with the intent of using the allowance to teach them about budgeting and being a wise steward with what God gives you. They will each receive 1/4 of their age per week (I told you it was a little compensation!). From that amt. they must tithe 10%, save 70% and can spend 20%. We thank Ben's parents for helping us with the percentages. It's what they did with their kids and I don't know about the others but it was a good system for Ben! We have also told them that for each need or want they have whether it is new sneakers or a new Lego set, we would pray about it and give God time to provide it in a way where we can get the item for the best deal possible instead of going out and just buying it brand new. We want the kids to see that God is ABLE to provide ANY need we have and as we as a family purpose to live this way, we are excited to see what God will show us. Keeping eternity in view will allow us to be more thoughtful on what we spend our money on and hopefully give us even more resources to give back to God. One passage from the chapter on John Wesley read:
“When you [John Wesley] were a young man, you made 30 pounds; you lived on 28 pounds and had 2 pounds to give away. The next year, you doubled your money to 60 pounds, but you still lived on 28 so you had 32 to give away. And when you made 120 pounds a year, you still lived on 28 and gave away 92!" John Wesley laughed and said, "I call it Kingdom economics!" ~Hero Tales by Dave & Neta Jackson
For Ben and I, of course there are set bills that have to be paid but aside from those things we are responding to the convicting of the Holy Spirit and leaving our budget and spending in Gods hands. We do not know what the future holds and there may come a day where we will have to live on less out of necessity; being convicted to live on little and need little may just be a blessing for the future that we have yet to understand! God always moves with a purpose and a plan and while I know becoming more disciplined in this area will not always be easy, I am excited to see God's plan worked out.