If you know me personally or have read my blog for any amount of time, you know my story: Army officer’s spouse turned ministry wife. While we know without a shadow of a doubt we made the RIGHT CHOICE to leave the military (it was almost painfully clear that it was time to go), I can’t say the transition has been as gloriously wonderful as I imagined it would be. Five, six years later, I’m still reeling and adjusting. Sometimes, honestly, like the Israelites, I want to “go back to Egypt”.
However, I will also say that the lessons I have learned and the “refining fire” I’ve been through in these last few years of ministry have been such a blessing. Not that they have been easy or pain-free – in fact, it’s been HARD and PAINFUL – but God, the Master Potter, has sculpted and scraped and mashed and kneaded my life to conform me into a better Christian than I’d ever become had I stayed in a comfortable life as an Army wife. I think every area of my life has been touched, forced to change, and needed to be surrendered. I still have a lot of work to do – and I’m thankful that God is revealing so much sin and dross to me (even though I don’t like realizing how truly selfish and sinful I really am!).
One huge area of struggle for me has been our finances. Dan grew up “poor,” and he doesn’t really resent it; he was one of six children who survived on powdered milk and peanut butter crackers. In my childhood, my family went through periods of having less due to my dad’s volatile job situation, but I don’t think I really ever lacked for much – thanks in part to my grandparents – like Dan did. Therefore, even though I didn’t have everything I wanted, I also never really learned to “do without.” As an Army wife, though I thought I was a “bargain hunter,” it was more of a hobby than a NECESSITY like it is now!
Since March of 2010, after having our third child and giving up my job (though I work a little from home), we realized we needed to live on a STRICT budget in order to keep ourselves out of debt as well. We have been trying to live by a cash-only budget (the “envelope system”), and while that sounds simple enough, for me, it is a HUGE deal. I do not like to budget, and I resent having limits on my finances sometimes – but I know it is the RIGHT THING TO DO – and so I struggle onward. AND God has BLESSED us sooooooooo much!!! Our income, of course, covers our bills – but there isn’t much left over for wants and extras. HOWEVER, many times, when I “wanted” something, GOD PROVIDED through means I never imagined! I have shared many of those stories – especially concerning things for our baby (like crib bumpers and exersaucers). I’m still praying about a few things I think I “need” though it really is just wants – and I am anxious to see if God will (because I know He CAN) provide those too.
I often felt bad sharing on my blog about my financial struggles – and successes – for several reasons. First of all, finances are a very PERSONAL thing – and I didn’t want to give away too much about how much or little we make/spend (my husband is VERY private about these things, so I want to respect him too). And then, I feel like those we work with don’t go through this, so why do I? However, I shared sometimes anyway (and honestly, there is SO MUCH I don’t/can’t share) because it was a testimony of God’s work in my life (which I feel is something to praise Him for!) … but I still felt a little alone about all this. You’d think by now I’d be able to be a big girl and not act like a spoiled brat when it comes to finances. It’s just that I have so much to learn … I’m NOT a naturally frugal, do-it-yourself-er woman who can build and sew and cook up nutritious food from scratch. I really am more of a real-housewife-wanna-be who would prefer to pay someone else to be my tailor, handyman, cook, and maid. 🙂
So, those are my confessions for the day! And I wanted to share an article I read this morning. Written by a pastor’s daughter, now pastor’s wife, this article is from today’s (in)courage: NO POOR TALK. SO MANY of her observations are what I’ve experienced and seen these last few years. Apparently, I am not alone.