Monday, February 02, 2009

Noble Plans

This past summer, we moved into this house. As I wrote in today's devotion, this house wasn't our "dream" house. Yet it was the house we felt led to buy. We knew we were making the smart decision financially, but my heart (fickle as it is) was a bit disgruntled.

This house, you see, wasn't pretty. It didn't have any bells and whistles and certainly lacked the latest and greatest house stuff that we had been looking at in other homes. But we knew without a doubt that this is where we were supposed to go. And the longer we have lived here, the more certain of that we have become. And you know what? Over time I have truly grown to love this house.

More recently, I inherited a tiny bit of money from my grandmother. When we knew that the money was coming, we prayed over what we should do with it. We needed new countertops for our new (old) kitchen in our new (old) house. Yet we didn't have a peace about that decision either. The only thing that we felt good about doing was putting my grandmother's money in the bank. As the economy news worsened and Curt's company went through their second round of layoffs, I quipped to Curt, "You can't eat countertops."

Just a few weeks ago, we found out that Curt's pay structure in the next two years is going to be drastically affected by the hurting economy. Basically, no matter how you slice it, we are going to have to learn to live on less. And while we are thankful that he has his job, it is still not fun. And yet, all I could think of as I reflected on these two most recent financial decisions is how, if we will seek God in our financial decisions and truly listen to Him, He will help us prepare long before we see the "why's" of what He is directing.

This summer when we bought our home, we were very tempted to buy a house that would have required his salary plus his commission to make all the monthly numbers work. But God quickly showed us that that was not the right thing to do. And boy are we glad now! Also, my grandmother's money being in an account makes me feel much better-- just knowing we have money to pull from during those lean times or in times of emergency.

My devotion at P31 today was on making noble plans for our finances and trusting God as He leads and directs us. For a long time, we resisted this, not wanting to surrender our finances to anyone else-- including God. We wanted control of what we regarded as "ours." Worst of all, we hated to be told "no" to something we wanted. We had to learn to align our plans with God's, trusting Him to go ahead of us and desiring what He wanted for us and being content with that.

How has God been showing you the value of including Him in your financial plans? I would love to hear your stories!
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Judy Dearing said...

Yes Marybeth - of all areas needing change and growth I heard God's direction to shred my American Express card. And you know, it was time. I didn't panic or worse, ignore that gentle voice. And - I think of God's timing as we have been away for eight days, during which I never even used my card. So getting home and settling back in - just the business of it all and God speaks!

Arlene Grimm said...

I can identify with your feelings of being disgruntled in the first days in purchasing your new house. We are looking to downsize to get ready for retirement and I am tempted to look for all the bells and whistles too. I blame HGTV for making us think that we MUST have granite countertops and stainless steel appliances or we are just for being an encouragement in the area of trusting God for every need.

Rhonda said...

It is so weird how @ every turn since joining Financial Peace University about 4 weeks ago I see financial stuff every where. It was refreshing to read you devotation today just hearing from others who are in the same financial boat as my husband and I. We really need to get out of debt b/c I will be able to retire in about 4 years. Unfortunately my husband was laid off last week so now we are in "survival mode". Please pray that even with the job loss we will still be able to get out of debt. God bless your ministry!

Michele said...

Today's devotion was just what I needed. Every month for the last six or seven months I have been overwriting on my checking account, which has over draft protections. I know that I should not do it but I seem to fall into the same trap month after month. This is not God's will for my life. I know that He will supply my every NEED. Please pray for me that I get out of this cycle. Thank you so very much for being transparent, and may God bless you richly in your obedience.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Marybeth. Your example and wisdom definately are very encouraging. The message we get in the world is not to be wise and not to be faithful. I really needed your reminder to trust God with everything, even my money.

I can relate to what you shared. I have also had a hard time being told no. For about the first four years of my marriage, my husband and I brought in A LOT of money each year, but still had no savings, no plan, no home, and lived paycheck to paycheck. It was so stressful. I felt very guilty and finally just asked God to help us be more wise with our spending. A few months after that prayer was said, my husband lost his job.

It took more than a year (he just started work last week) for my husband to find a steady job again. During that year of living on one income, we continued to struggle and juggle payments. We should have been able to live off of my income and still have some money left over. But we were irresponsible. I'd let my husband waste money and make poor decisions. As a wife, I didn't think it was appropriate to set boundaries, to insist on Godliness. I thought that all I should do was pray and hope for the best.

Throuh it all, God has taught me that I must trust him with everything and obey the scriptures. I as a wife, must obey God first and respectfully insist on Godliness in my household. Respect isn't ignoring sin! Once I finally realized this, God started turning things around in our lives financially. We started getting help and we started actually listening to the advice we were given.

So now, I manage the budget (because God made it clear that I was better equipped, NOT because I wanted to do it. I was actually terrified at first), my husband is working again (AMEN) and we are both making a real effort to glorify God with our finances. We budget everything, I use coupons when we eat out and buy about 75 percent of my clothes second hand. I don't regret or resent any of it. Right now, our goal is to be out of creidt card debt by the end of March and with God's help and our obedience, I believe we will do it.

Pelase keep preaching this message. It isn't popular, but we need to hear it!

Leighann said...


Your message is so timely for me! We are beginning Financial Peach University on Wednesday. We've been talking about it for more than a year and we finally signed up for the class.

Praise God that you and your husband took this step to get out of debt at just the right time. That was definitely a God thing as my pastor would say!

Thanks for being an encouragement to me.


Team Caulk said...

My husband and I paid off our final piece of debt (our car) a few months ago. It is entirely through God's grace and provision that we were able to do so. It is an incredible sense of freedom to not be beholden to any bank or person! Now we're free to use God's money as He wants us to - by supporting friends in need, missionaries, and our growing church.

It wasn't easy by any means (Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace helped - now my husband leads a local class!), but through prayer and dilligence we made it. I love to shop, but now I think twice about how those new shoes fit into God's plan for His money before I buy ...

Thanks, ladies, for all your postings! It is encouraging to me to read those who have also come out the other side of debt. Helps me stay on the straight and narrow in a world that would trade new granite countertops for financial stability!

Anonymous said...

This past summer, I also moved into a house that was older,and not the fancy model, because the Lord led me and my husband to.We have not lived the most fashionable lifestyle, but we have learned to be content in any and every situation.The true joy and blessings in life ,are for sure things that money cannot buy,and I believe that this is a great wake-up call for American christians to give materialism the old heave-ho.thanks for the confirmation and encouragement.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your message today. I think the previous blogger had a good point, we've become HGTV-minded and constantly cast a critical eye on our homes. We've been working the Financial Peace University plan for just over 6 months and we are hoping to be debt-free by the end of this year. The thought of this is nearly intoxicating! Can't wait to read your new book, thank you for the message today.

Marybeth said...

Thanks to all of you who are leaving comments! I am enjoying reading your thoughts and shared experiences with making the difficult, but rewarding, decision to get out of debt! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

FPU came at just the perfect time for my husband and me. He is the president of a small and struggling start up company (since 2000)and he's now laid off most of his employees and is down to about four total, who get paid only when money comes in. We praise God for those who work with him for that kind of pay. We started FPU at church just as the company ran out and the lay-offs started. Without Dave Ramsey's Godly wisdom, and our church family, I don't know what we would be doing today. Praise God for how He works all of this together. We're now five months into this situation and while investors still aren't coming out of the woodworks to invest in the company, we thank God for the business that He sends our way. Our bills are being paid and we've learned to scale back, and pay cash for everything. In my thoughts, credit is Satan's tool to ruining families. Thanks, Marybeth, for today's devotional, as it spoke directly to my heart, as another one of yours did a few weeks ago. God bless you!

Lorri said...

I have just started getting the Encouragement devotions and was looking for support in my daily struggles. One of my top struggles lately has been how much money I seem to 'blow' and my concern on how I 'get around to' paying my bills. The worry and concern is there, but just not the commitment and dedication to do with our pay what I know I should.

This devoational was perfect for me to understand that I need to pray harder and let God led me. To go to him before each of those crazy purchases I seem to do on a whim.

I am going to check out this Financial Peace University, but wanted to say thank you and it is funny how God works with your mind and soul.

smcvicker said...

Thanks so much for this post. I have been struggling trying to put our family on a budget. I purchased Ellie Kay's book on finances but have had a hard time knowing how to make it work with our income and bills. Do you put 10% in savings and tithe 10% even if you won't have grocery money and gas money? Any advice?

Julie Coleman said...

Great advice, Marybeth. We Americans have a hard time saying no to ourselves. Living in prosperity has almost become a "right" in our minds. This is NOT an imitation of Christ, who left glory behind in obedience to the Father. If we are in imitation of Him, saying no to our material desires is a part of that package.

I aggree that watching HGTV can be detrimental to contentment. So can shopping be, at least for me. Since I left my job to write full time, I have avoided going shopping unless I have a list and a determination to stick to it. I get what I need and get out of that store, fast!!

Another thing that has helped us stay in the black is a 24 hour rule in our marriage. We have committed to not making any major purchase (over $100) without first waiting 24 hours. It is amazing how quickly the urgency to buy fades away. This rule has saved us from some very foolish decisions. It is also a great thing to hide behind when being pressured by a salesman.

Kristen Myers said...

MaryBeth, Thank you so much for you devotion today. I can always use some encouragement in this area.

My hubby and I began using Dave Ramsey's plan in August '07. Since then, we have completely paid off all of our debt except for our mortgage. It has not always been easy, but the "true peace" that we have now is so worth it.

I truly believe this process has also brought my hubby closer to God, trusting Him for our financial plans. The trick however, that the devil still tries to use, is that we somehow were the ones responsible for our success. We continually have to remind ourselves that it is and was God.

One more thing. The biggest hint that helped me through this process was to "quit window shoppint." I don't mean walking around at the mall only, but quit looking through sale flyers when I didn't "need" anything. I also quit watching HGTV and reading magazines like "Better Homes..." I know this may seem drastic to some, but this step really helped me quit comparing our life to others.

I pray we all can begin trusting God more with all we have.

Blessing to you MaryBeth.

Kristen Myers said...

Sorry. I meant "quit window shopping."

DOakley said...

While our economy hasn't been hit as hard, here in Canada, we were still faced with a tightening spending belt.

I'm a freelancer and work from home after having worked for two years with the Government. Add another mouth to feed (born Aug 20) to that and we were faced with the challenge of doing more with less.

We have paid off extra credit card balances, smaller ones, while consolidating the bigger ones.

We have over the last few years put a portion of our income into a high-interest no-fee interest account, which we use to pay off large purchases (the next one will be orthodontics for our son).

We have learned to say, "no, we don't really need that", while still allowing some room for fun.

I'm looking forward to your book, Marybeth, to learn about other things that we can do.

JottinMama said...

I sooo needed that devo and blog post this morning. Such wisdom. My husband and I have really been trying to figure out God's will in our finances here lately - and I'm so thankful that P31 ministries has been touching on this. Please know, it's really making a difference in our lives.

I hope your weekend away was wonderful. Have a lovely week, Marybeth!

Kate :)

Amelie said...

Thank you Marybeth! It's funny, I only come and ready these devotionals once in a while, and each time I do, they totally speak to me!

We are in the process of changing houses ourselves. At first we had looked at downsizing massively but we ended up finding something brand new that was still within our means. We put in a conditional offer a week ago and are now in "waiting" mode as we wait for an offer on our current home. I have been very good about not worrying about it but last night I finally lost it. It's SO hard sometimes to know what God's will is. If we end up losing this house that we all want so very much, will it be because God closed the door or because satan took it away from us?!? My heart has been so set on this... Thanks for reminding me that sometimes less is so much more. I think that if we don't get this house after all, I will be o.k.

Bless you and your ministry!

Cristal Wilson said...

Thank you for this - my dear husband and I have been "talking" this out for years and trying, I needed to be reminded that others are going through this as well and that using resources (Dave Ramsey, etc.) actually help. Sometimes I feel as though we hear what God has to say and then think we just have to accomplish it and forget that his plan may not include torturing ourselves without any guidance!

I am energized to see my husband tonight and pray about a new way to address our debt and budget.

Anonymous said...

Dear fellow readers,
Last November, our family also downsized after being prompted by God's call almost two years ago to make financial changes. Our "new-to-us" home is just right. I keep telling everyone "it fits like a really nice pair of gloves". We have great comfort, protection and peace here. (Living in Maine...a great pair of gloves is important.)
A really amazing benefit to downsizing is the ability to donate so many extra things that didn't fit into our new home to families, churches and shelters locally. God keeps giving us opportunities to help those in need and we are now in a better position to serve the call. Living with less is much less stressful! Make the commitment and stick with it; you have everything to gain.

JaniceLee said...

Thank you so much for this devotional. I have felt God's prompting to start looking to buy a home instead of rent for a few months. After a bit of looking, I found a forclosed condo and put in an offer at the max. price I can afford. Although approved for "more house:, I decided that it is more important eat than to "keep up with the Joneses".
I still feel God's prompting to be a better steward of my finances and to always, always put Him first in all my decisions. Your devotional and timely message has only reinforced what I feel God is telling me. Thank you so much for all that you do!

Anonymous said...

Just 15 min ago I made the call to drop cable servece. As wierd as this may sound I was so nervous to do it. Then I read your P31. It is just what I needed to keep perspective, and become encouraged. We are on our way to becoming debt free! Thanks for letting God use you!

Anonymous said...

When I opened my inbox and read today's devotion it was like God speaking to my heart. Thank you! It was just what I needed to remind me to stop worrying and start trusting.

Patricia said...

Thank you for your inspiring devotion today. Can you tell me a Godly way to convince my husband we need financial plans for today and the future? He says he just not going to worry about it. I am a real saver--(retirement and cafeteria plans) and he spends and makes enough to get what he wants. He is stingy when giving for others--ie. Christmas and tithing. I do all the tithing in the family and am generous with my money giving extra to local non-profits.
Thanks for your input and prayers?

Casey S. said...

Thank you your wise words. We too recently cut extras that aren't necessary. We've come to realize that saving every little bit really adds up, no matter how small.
Thanks again.

Laurie Ann said...

Praising God for your obedience to Him in your finances, and your willingness to share these truths with other believers. God never lets us down!

When Steve and I decided to trust Him with our finances, He brought more money into our home in ways we didn't expect through people we love and chose to gift us. We obviously were very grateful and submitted our plans to God. In return, He instructed us to work toward becoming debt free and we are moving in that direction.

Bonita said...

I'm still on my blog sabbath, but stopped in just for a minute at your blog and saw this post. Just had to comment.

My hubby works on commission and this last check was way less than usual due to the economy. My grocery budget was cut by a third. I wasn't sure how we would do it, but I went to the grocery store with the money that I had and God did a miracle of multiplication. I was able to get an entire two weeks worth of groceries on 2/3 of my normal budget. Usually I spend my budget and beyond, but not this time.

In addition, last night we attended a Super Bowl party with massive amounts of food. We were some of the last to leave as I helped clean up. The hostess sent us home with tons of leftovers because her whole family is starting a special diet today and eating only organic.

I'm praising God because He supplied our need and even enough for me to make a meal for a friend's family when she has surgery this week. I feel like the little boy with the loaves and fishes!

Kelly said...

My husband and I have tithed most of the time during our 20 years of marriage and I have to admit there are times I have strugged with it, thinking I could use the money to pay for things that I have used credit cards for. But more and more, I have seen God's blessings and how he takes care of us and I am committed to tithing as well as other things like sponsoring two girls through Compassion. When we give to God first out of what we have (which actually is all His anyway) He does bless and stretch things and we have seen that time and time again. My husband is firmly committed to tithing and to paying off our mortgage (we owe around $45,000). We live in an older house (1921) and I have often been dis-satisfied with it when compared to some of my friends' homes..but I have to remember we have chosen to give and some of them haven't, so they may have more in material stuff. I know stuff doesn't make you happy in the long run, the flesh is always craving more. I love clothes and books and knitting (yarn) so those things can be tempting for me to overload on. I am committed to not using my credit cards and I have recently saved up $1000 in an emergency fund as recommended by Dave Ramsey. My next step is to pay off my cc debt, which I should be able to do by the end of this year. In our culture it is so easy to get caught up in the materialism and having to have it now mentality. I really want to get off the fast lane of all of that, and trust God to meet all our needs, because He always does!
Thanks for your devotional post this morning, those are the kind of things that keep me encouraged!

Linda said...

Reading your Encouragement for Today, and the comments from others has helped. I understand about living on what we can afford, and if you can't pay cash for it, you cannot afford it.

My husband quit his job with an insurance company about 3 years ago. He just could not take it any longer, and was headed for depression. He has been practicing law, which is not his passion, but in these difficult financial times, some lawyers are not making it. I was let go in May, but I am glad to be out of that place, in fact I believe that the Lord had a hand in it in order to get me to do something else. I have a part-time job (20 hours a week)and that is what we are living on. My husband is paid for work he does, however, it is inconsistent. He is in a state of depression and spends most of his time in bed. He has gone to a psychiatrist and is on new medicine, but is so stubborn about taking it as directed.

We do not have credit card debt, except for one, because he paid for tires and automobile work. We no longer have that car. In fact we had our car repossessed, are making payments on another less expensive, older car.

We really cannot afford our current house payment, and a few years ago, he insisted on taking out a home equity loan to pay off bills, etc. This was not what I wanted to do, but as I said, he insisted.

We have nearly been foreclosed on, and the housing market is lousy.
Frankly, I feel like we are trapped and keep going round and round with no way out or off.

I trust God with all of my heart, and I know that He expects us to do our part. We are in our middle 50s, and should have been better prepared. There is no more savings. There are "For Sale" signs all around us, but they are not selling.

Although I know that God is in control of everything, I do not want to give the banks control over our house. We have started selling furniture, lamps, etc.

My youngest daughter and her daughter (my 3-year-old granddaughter) live with us, and I feel that we must provide a home for them, as well. She helps us financially.

Just being able to write this all out has helped me.

Thank you.


Patricia said...

Dear L
My prayers are with you--esp. for your husband's depression and his agreement to take his meds.
My husband also deals with depression, quit counseling and will NOT take medication.
I feel for you and would be glad to help anyway I can.
You sound like a great wife, mom and God 1st and all else will fall into place.

mary said...

My husband & I are retired. For several years he wanted to get rid of everything. Yes everything. Home, possessions, everything. To just have clothes & the few things that we NEED. We would live in sublet in different places. After reading "Parenting 20-something Kids: Recognizing Your Role as They find Their Way" my life changed! God was telling me that it is now time for my husband. Our children are grown, have real jobs, health ins. & apartments. We no longer were responsible for them. (I thought we still were until reading this book.) I prayed & prayed, 'God how can I sell my home & things!!' Well this book plus the peace of the Lord told me it was time. We sold our home, either gave away or sold our possessions. We put the money from the sale of the home into the bank. I prayed where should it go? Well you know the what has happened to the market. I thank the Lord we are now safe financially. Originally the money we used to live on was in the market. Now the money from the sale of the house is what we live on. We don't have to touch the stocks. We can wait it out. By listening even when it goes against what you think your life should be, God leads the way to a better way. We realize that we can not spend as we once did. However it has been fun finding ways to enjoy ourselves that are low or no cost. God's blessing on all, may His wisdom guide you to financial security!

Jenny said...

Hi Marybeth-- I decided to check out your blog! Thanks for coming to speak at our retreat this weekend. You were a real encouragement to alot of women. It was great to meet you!

Sheila said...

Dear Marybeth:

"The right word at the right time is like a custom made piece of jewelry." Thank you for sharing this blessing and thank you for sharing it TODAY. I am preparing to write out my budget, and decided to go online before I began. Your story was a confirmation for me. Thank you for your ministry - it came at the write (smile) time.

Blessed to be a blessing to you,

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Marybeth, I feel so deeply for you because I too have been placed by the Lord into a home that wasn't my idea of "home". It's old, everything breaks, nothing is "right" and I've had a hard time with it. BUT, I've also learned that obedience isn't always a blast. =) But, I also know that Lord sees our desires in our that is why I offer up this link to this website about transforming your counter tops!! =)

Let me know if it works out for you!!

Anonymous said...

Proverbs 22:7
The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave.

After reading this verse, my eyes were opened and God's word made it clear to me that I needed to be debt free to serve him first with my finances, which are not mine because everything belongs to Him.

Lynn Cowell said...

From the very beginning of our marriage, Greg and I have lived by the premise "If you can't pay cash for it, you can't have it." I can't say that it has always been easy to be disciplined, but it sure brings a whole lot of peace! Greg is in the financial business. I am so glad that because of listening and obeying, we are debt free. It sure makes this economy a lot easier.

Connie said...

Oh, how I wish that I had discovered you and or Dave Ramsey three years ago. During our 2.5 year marriage, my husband and I have accumulated over $500,000 worth of debt. Our marriage has suffered as a result of the financial stress. We have learned some tough lessons. We are starting Financial Peace University this Saturday. Please continue to tell your story of getting out of the bondage of debt. There are millions of people who need to hear it. May God bless and keep you as you do His Work.

Anonymous said...

Great message Marybeth.
We are $1,700 away from being debt free, woohoo! We struggle from week to week because I am a stay at home Mom and my husbands work is getting scarce. With the economy like it is nobody is concerned with getting new counter tops ;) or tile flooring. Last week he only got to work 2 days.
People really need to learn survival skills and how to live off their land. If they live in the city they need to read up on container gardening and preserving food. It's awful at the amount of food being recalled and prices have gone up so high.
We are growing are first organic garden this year, hopefuly we wont kill everything, LOL. Raising chickens is also in our plans within the next few months.
We need to eat pure chemical free foods the way God intended us to. Those chemicals build up in our bodies and cause cancer and tons of other preventable illnesses. Doctors only prescribe more chemicals that helps one problem and starts a whole new problem.
OK, back to the subject, LOL.
Our marriage has been put to the test the past two years with this failing economy. I'm trying to have enough faith for the both of us and it's hard sometimes. But I know God will provide our NEEDS and see us through. A lot of people think God has forgotten about them or doesn't care about them when they start to have struggles and they lose faith. They forget God is right there with them. The Bible tells us our faith will be tested.
One Nation Under God, is becoming a dwindling light. I can't even begin to imagine the pain and hurt God is feeling with this nation right now. Some might even say we deserve what we our getting. We are allowing God to be taken out of everything to accomidate a few.
God Bless,
Cheryl =)

Patricia said...

You had some great comments and really got me thinking. Thanks for the link to the site and I agree whole heartedly with you about our nation and its state of being to accommodate a few--so well stated! I have come to understand we--"society" are being misled by the media and we need to pray that we can focus and see through what is portrayed to us and stand by our Christian values and keep a straight and narrow path.
Bless you and your family during these difficult times.