Categories
anxiety

you’ll work, but you’ll love it!

My husband and I are very thankful for the team at Ramsey Solutions. As most of you know, Dave Ramsey has been teaching for 25 years about how to win with money. His motto is, “Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else.” Along with his radio show, where he helps people get out of debt and build wealth, he has also employed several “Ramsey personalities” to focus on specific areas of financial struggles. One of those personalities is Ken Coleman, who talks about what you were born to do. He helps you find your dream job, and discusses practical steps of how to get there.

A couple of weeks ago I was starting to feel discontent at my job. But, after listening to Ken Coleman’s podcast, I realized that I’m doing exactly what I enjoy doing. I’m doing exactly what I’m good at doing. As he would say, I’m in my “sweet spot.”

Ken Coleman taught me how to truly pursue my dream. My dream is to work from home as a freelance editor. I’ve always imagined working in my home office, typing away at my computer, making myself available for my friends and family. What’s stopping me from pursuing a freelance editing career? If I really thought about it, nothing. (Visit this page if you need me to take a look at your novel!).

Through this season of self-discovery, God affirmed my identity in Him. He truly has called me to work where I am now. After years of uncertainty, now it is clear: He loves me, and He is pleased with me. Thank you, God!

Did you know that God intended for us to enjoy work? Work was actually assigned to us before the Fall, so it is not a punishment for our sin. God gave us land to work and oversee (see Genesis 1-3). As a result of the Fall, we now struggle in our jobs (and have work anxiety), but we don’t have to.

Here are some ways to fall in love with your job again!

  • Discover your dream job. Ken Coleman encourages his listeners to find our talents (what we’re good at) and our passions (what we enjoy doing). That is where you will find your “sweet spot.” Take some time to think about what you’ve always loved doing, and what you are good at doing. Then, think about what jobs will help you feel that sense of fulfillment. You now have your dream job!
  • Remember why. Sorry to break it to you, but most likely, you will not get your dream job overnight. You might have to go to school. You might have to get a dead-end job to build up experience or an income to fuel your vision. You may need to pay off debt! If you are not in your dream job, remember why. Why are you pursuing this career path? How is this job going to help you in the long run?
  • Maybe it’s not about your dream job. You may not enjoy your job for legitimate reasons. Your boss treats you like garbage. You have a conflict with your co-worker. The commute is way too long. The pay may be terrible. Before leaving the field where you work, try to pinpoint what about your job you don’t like. Do you fundamentally not enjoy what you do, or do you need a change of environment? Knowing the difference between a toxic work environment and not being in your dream job can change your attitude about your work ethic, and, dare I say it, your identity as an employee.
  • Search wisely. If your current job isn’t going to help you in the long run, maybe you need to look for another job. Before making the jump, consider why you want to leave your job. Holding nothing back, write down all the reasons why the idea of going back to work makes you sick to your stomach. Then, when you search for a new job, make sure the company doesn’t have those things on your list! Ask employees of those prospective companies about the work culture. Research the salaries they offer. Check the job description!

As the popular phrase goes, “If you love your job, you’ll never work another day in your life.” Unfortunately, that’s not true. You will work, but you will love what you do. According to Scripture, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). What makes your heart come alive? Pursue a job where you can love what you do, and your work will bring glory to the One who created you.


Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

Who (or what) is your master?

As a Christian struggling with anxiety and worry, I cannot tell you how many times people have quoted Matthew 6 to me. Not that I don’t love the Word of God, but after hearing Philippians 4:6 and Matthew 6:25-34 over and over again, it seems more like a spiritual band-aid than as loving.

While reading Matthew 6 today, I realized that Jesus isn’t just talking about anxiety here. He’s talking about money.

The original Bible wasn’t split up into sections like it is today (in fact, Jesus spoke these words, so the original Bible wasn’t even written!), but the Bible is organized the way it is for a reason. In the NIV translation, the following is all one section (Matthew 6:19-24):

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

We should not store up treasure that this life offers, because it will not last. We can know what’s in our hearts based on what we treasure, and based on what we seek.

In the second paragraph of this passage, the word “healthy” can also be translated as “generous” or “single” in Greek, so we must have eyes to see money and wealth the way that God sees them. God is merciful and generous, so we also must be merciful and generous. Instead of holding on to wealth, we should have an open hand, willing to receive and willing to give at any moment.

Finally, we can only serve one master, and if we’re chasing after money, we’re not serving God. In fact, Pastor Robert Morris claims that “money” in this case, often translated as “Mammon,” was a literal figure.

It’s interesting that this passage is right before Matthew 6:25-34, the passage of Scripture that everyone loves to quote to those of us with anxiety.

We have needs, and it is normal to worry about how those needs will be met. Our basic needs include food, clothing, shelter, and security. We are conditioned to worry about where those needs will be met, because in the real world, we have to get our own food, clothing, shelter, and security. Jesus originally shared this with people who had to provide, not only for their families, but also for their communities: fishermen, farmers, clothing designers, carpenters, and the like. Of course they had to worry about where their next meal would come from; it was their job!

However, Jesus tells us not to chase after treasures on earth. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much money we have; it only matters that we pursued righteousness (Proverbs 11:4). Jesus wasn’t saying that it’s wrong to work or that it’s wrong to have money. He is saying that it’s more important for us to be pursuing righteousness than it is for us to be focusing on our paychecks.

God loves you, and God is in control. As scary as it is to not be in control, it’s so much more comforting to know that God, who has been around longer than any of us, knows what He’s doing. And, as it says in Matthew 6:33, when we put God first, we’ll have His righteousness and we’ll have our needs met.

Who is your master? Trust God with your needs today.


Photo by Travis Essinger on Unsplash

Categories
Marriage

Getting your financial life in order AFTER marriage

This post is not to judge anyone, but people want to get their financial lives in order before marriage so that they can live blissfully when they finally tie the knot. However, this pushes back their union several years, and may cause them to compromise their integrity or to even end the relationship. I’m not saying this is the path that we all should take, but for those of you who are on the fence, deciding whether you should get married now or pinch your pennies together first, we pray that God may use our testimony to help you figure out what to do next.

When we first started dating, I was working part-time in the church office, and he was working for his parents’ ice cream truck business. Separately, we were getting by, but without the cushion of living at home with our parents, and with my college debt, marriage wasn’t even a dream for us. Of course, that changed rather quickly, as I transitioned to full-time at the office, moved into an apartment closer to him, and started to watch my budget.

After three months, Lenny told me he wanted to marry me. He told me he had talked to his parents about how much money he would need to start a life with me, and the number didn’t seem to bother him. Our entire relationship, we were in prayer, but when Lenny started talking marriage, I was on my knees a lot more often!

In general, we both have frugal mindsets. I grew up literally saving every penny in a piggy bank, spending money only when it was completely necessary, and making wise purchases at bargain prices (thanks to the teaching of my mom, who intentionally buys the items she needs at the cheapest prices, and grandma, who was the one that made thrifting cool!). Lenny grew up watching his parents start and maintain a business, so he learned the value of a dollar at a very early age.

When we started dating, we saved money everywhere we could, from going to walks at the local park, to eating dinner at home. When it was time to get engaged, I didn’t give Lenny a preference for a ring, but I told him please don’t spend a ton of money on it. He spent more than I wanted, but I learned later that it’s polite to spend a certain percentage of your income on an engagement ring, so I appreciated it.

We were engaged for a couple of months before we decided on a wedding date. While praying, we each felt pulled in different directions. Lenny was concerned about the money, while I was concerned that we were secure and maintained our integrity. We’ve learned that men and women have different priorities, and, generally, men feel more of a burden to provide financially for the family, and women feel more of a burden to provide a secure, nurturing home for the family. Lenny was concerned that he couldn’t provide for us, while I was concerned that we wouldn’t have security until we got married. One thing we agreed on for sure: no matter what, we wanted to be together, and we wanted to keep God at the center of our relationship.

So, we decided to get married eleven months later, giving us just enough time to gather our dollars together.

Right after making that decision, Lenny started looking for a job in his field, and I started to budget more intently. We cut the costs of our wedding (we’ll talk about that next week), and we kept a running total of what we spent and what we received from our friends and family. When we got married in November 2016, we both had jobs that gave us the ability to afford an apartment in our friends’ house, buy our necessities, and save for a house. We used the money from our wedding, and the selling of my husband’s car, to pay off my debt, so we could start our marriage without any financial burdens.

Of course, it hasn’t been easy, but looking back, we’ve seen how God has provided. It all started with a step of faith. We’re now in an apartment that we didn’t think we could ever afford, and now we’re saving for a house that we also didn’t think we could afford. But as God has led us, we have trusted that He will provide for us each time to choose to say “yes” to what He has for us.

What “yes” do you need to say to Him today?


Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Categories
Books

Beyond Blessed: Give Your Budget a Heart Check

This post was #sponsoredbyfaithwords. I was not required to give a positive review, so my review is my honest take on the book Beyond Blessed: God’s Perfect Plan for No Financial Stress by Robert Morris.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity from Faithwords to read this book for free! I’ve enjoyed the other books that they’ve recommended to me as well, such as Pull it Off by Julianna Zobrist, Get Weird by CJ Casciotta, and You Are Enough by Mandy Hale.

Out of all the books I could have picked to review, I picked this one because it included a foreword from Dave Ramsey. My husband and I have followed Dave Ramsey’s financial advice since about a month before we got married. Because of his teaching, we’re debt free, and we’re making excellent progress saving for a down payment for our future house. Any book recommended by Dave Ramsey is a book for me!

Since I got the book before it was released, Dave Ramsey’s foreword wasn’t in it. However, I did enjoy reading the introduction from Robert Morris, founding senior pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas-Forth Worth. Beyond Blessed is a follow-up to Pastor Morris’ book The Blessed Life. Honestly, it was so refreshing to read a book from a megachurch pastor who didn’t preach the prosperity gospel. I’ve seen so many pastors pray over their wallets and ask for a donation to make their big church even bigger. Instead, Pastor Morris writes about his journey from humble beginnings to a church of over 39,000 active members.

God certainly has blessed Pastor Morris with an ability to teach us about our finances while also reminding us of our identity in Christ. He starts each chapter off with a word-picture, a parable, to introduce the topic. In each chapter, he debunks the myths of what the world says and what we’ve even been taught in church about money. While we all strive to be rich, he writes, “The rich are more likely to be on antidepressants or antianxiety medications than average working-class folks. Millionaires and billionaires commit suicide with shocking regularity” (15).

Pastor Morris spends the beginning of the book laying down the foundation of what it means to steward God’s money well. God owns everything, but He has entrusted His people with resources to be a part of His Kingdom. “Your little enterprise is an important part of a much larger conglomerate” (79). God has given us all responsibility over the resources, people, time, and energy with which He has blessed us. With this mindset, there is no comparison and no ownership.

While Dave Ramsey talks more about the financial aspect of money than the spiritual (although his teaching is biblical), Pastor Morris’ book truly digs deep into what the Bible says about how we should take care of our money. Using charismatic language that I personally agree with, he even discusses the demonic spirits that try to entice us to worship money rather than God. His teaching opened my eyes to what the Scriptures say about money, and how my perspective on money needs to change.

My favorite quote of the book, and a good summary of the book, is how Pastor Morris explains the gospel: “You see, contrary to what many would have us believe, the gospel is not a poverty gospel. Nor is it, as some preachers and teachers would have us think, a prosperity gospel. No, the good news of life in Jesus Christ is a provision gospel” (63). Praise God that He gives us enough. We don’t have to be rich or poor; we just have to have enough.

I recommend this book to anyone who has even a dollar to his/her name. Although I’ve written notes in it, I’m giving it to my husband so that we can talk about it and do a heart check about our finances. Beyond Blessed will be available on January 8, 2019. You can pre-order the book and also be entered to win a free copy here.

Categories
Marriage

Finding Financial Freedom as a Couple

This post is a unique one because my husband helped me write it.  Go, team!

My husband and I are excited to say that we are 100% debt-free.  In our first year of marriage, we paid off my student loans (about $20K by the time we got married), his car loan ($21K with 0% interest), and a few dollars we owed my sister!  We are now in the process of saving money toward our emergency fund, and after that, we will start putting money toward a down payment for a house.

As many Christian couples that have gone before us, we have learned a lot from the teachings of Dave Ramsey, as well as from Christians around us who are good at budgeting.  We are thankful for their wisdom, and ultimately, for the wisdom that God has provided for us during our newlywed stage.

Here are some quick tips that have helped us to find financial freedom as a couple:

  • Evaluate your priorities. As a couple, we’ve had to make some hard decisions together about our spending.  Do we use our wedding money to pay off student loans, or to buy a house?  Do we save for a house, or do we go on vacation?  Wherever we choose to spend our money demonstrates our priorities.  Even while looking for jobs, we’ve had to ask ourselves: would we rather be making six figures, or would we rather be together as a family?  Unfortunately, the world does not promise us both.  We often have to pick between long hours of overtime and spending quality time with our loved ones.  We’ve clearly chosen the latter; we’ve both decided that we never want work to come before our marriage, even if that means making less money.
  • Tithe.  Along with priorities, in our marriage, our priority is to give glory to God and to serve Him above anyone else.  We have chosen to love God first, then each other, and then our family, and then everyone else.  That pattern of love is the way we make every decision, including with our finances.  We honor God by giving Him the first-fruits of our income, not the last bits of crumbs, if there’s even any left!  We have seen God bless our marriage and bless our finances through our decision to honor Him with the money that He has given us.
  • Make a budget.  Sit down together and make a budget that works for both of you.  One thing we’ve learned from Dave Ramsey is to assign every dollar that you make to an item on your budget.  The money shouldn’t just sit in your bank account.  It should have a purpose, and you and your spouse should have control over it.
  • Stick to the plan: This is the point that my husband wanted to add.  If you don’t stick to the plan, then you’ll just get right back into debt.  Plain and simple.  These are the wise words from my husband!
  • Have open communication: Today, I got a check for $10.  Ten.  Dollars.  That’s it.  But I still sent a message to my husband to let him know about it and to let him know what I was going to do with it.  Part of sticking to the plan is to talk about what money is spent, what money is taken in, and what money is being saved.  We can talk about what is working in our budget and what needs to be adjusted.  We don’t hide any money from each other, and we don’t make any major purchases without talking about them.
  • Make it fun: My husband and I have truly enjoyed saving our pennies together.  We have found fun and creative ways to save money each day.  In the beginning of our marriage, we would go out to eat in order to have fun.  Just yesterday, our date night involved learning how to play the guitar together by watching videos on YouTube (for free!).  When we went out to eat on Friday, we tried to see what little things we could change to our meal to lower the cost; we ended up sharing a drink and the fries.  It can be fun coming home after a day together and still having money in our pockets.

I am thankful to God that my husband and I are a team.  Since we do everything together, we are able to celebrate our personal victories together.  That includes becoming debt-free and saving money toward bigger things.

Make the decision today to trust God with your finances and to work toward your financial goals as a team with your spouse.


Photo by Jonathan Brinkhorst on Unsplash