2016 - Time to Rebuild!

I was looking back at my word for last year and it was "Adapt" because I was pregnant and expecting a new baby in 2015.  Not only did I lose that baby but 2015 was the most painful, debilitating year of my life.  I still can't tell of all I went through because my body actually relives it as I even THINK on it, I start feeling the pain as if I'm there again.  I felt as though I was broken in pieces and hit the bottom and then the bottom fell out!  I felt ground to powder - I felt forsaken by God but I know that is not true but in the midst of it, I wasn't so sure.

I began to think on what my word for 2016 would be.  I knew it was going to do something with recovery as I'm still recovering and it is a long road.  I prayed and the word came - REBUILD!  I started shouting actually because I felt the Holy Spirit so strong - this is the year that not only I, but our family, rebuilds all that has been broken down!  We are so broken on so many levels that the only thing to do is either die, spiritually speaking, or rebuild what Satan and hardship have destroyed.

I'm rebuilding my body, mind and soul!  I'm going to strive to rebuild the structure of our home, my children and I believe my husband is also on board to rebuild in his own life.  This year was a test - would we still continue for God despite the infirmities, despite the losses, despite the friends that walked away...?  Satan - I WILL continue!  

I get Paul now - I glory in my infirmities!  I'm thankful that God allowed what I went through this year.  It made me a better person and it made me stronger.  It showed me things that I needed to let God burn off in my life.  Truly when we are weak, we are strong if we let God have His perfect way.  I pray that God will help me as I endeavor to make this year one of rebuilding.

My theme song for the year is one called, Building Up the Wall, and it is best sung by the Ambassador Youth Choir, but I couldn't find it online, so provided the words:

Building up the Wall
By Jim E. Davis
© 1992 HIM Music


I’m building up the wall, and I won’t come down
I’m building up the wall, and I won’t come down
I’m building up the wall, and I won’t come do - own
Building up the wall and I won’t come down

Verse I:

The walls of Jerusalem were broken down to the ground in shame
But Nehemiah had a heart to rebuild them up again
And when the enemy came to mock, Nehemiah stood his grou - nd
He said, "I'm building up this wall, and I won't come down"

Verse II:

The devil he dropped by today, just to have a little chat with me
He said “Son, you’re workin’ way too hard! Come on down and rest your feet!”
Well I didn’t even stop to take the time to turn arou - nd
Because I’m building up the wall and I won’t come down

Verse III:

The world is lookin’ on; they just shake their heads and say
“That wall’s way to high! You don’t have to live that way!”
My answer is still the same, and it will never, ever cha - ange,
Because I’m building up the wall and I won’t come down

A Look Back on 2015

The year of pain, desperation, hitting rock bottom... that was 2015.  But it was the also the year that I grew closer to God, trusted Him like never before, had to allow others to help me and realized how judgmental I had been in so many ways.  Ouch!  What a painful, yet needed experience this past year was!  It was the year I started getting back the "old Bev" - not the sinful one but the one that was strong and able to stand up for herself and say NO when needed.  Not sure how I lost her but she is back.

Sure, this past year was full of losses - my baby and my uterus - but it was also a year of miracles.  As a wise older woman told my husband; it was the year your wife didn't die!  Yes - instead of saying this was the year that I lost my baby, that I lost my uterus, that I developed numerous health issues and believed I was dying........It was the year I did NOT die, though Heaven would have been nice a bit early but my husband is thankful it wasn't my time!

I'm still having so many health problems but I still believe that God knows all about it and He ALLOWED these things to happen for my good.  Above all, I must make it to Heaven.  Above all, my family must make it to Heaven.  So many friends have quit - they stopped!  They went back to the world, they resurrected their dead, sinful self and sadly, they are dying and going to hell but I chose not to be one of them!  It's still You and me Jesus!!

I thought I was done with this blog and closed it down earlier this year but decided to reopen it and see what happens.

Here are my most memorable posts of 2015:

The Story Behind the "TV" Stand/Window Seat

We purchased a TV, not cable or anything, but an actual TV monitor, along with the Amazon FireTV and a TV stand.  I don't even like the word TV - and some of you may remember why in posts from year's past about how the TV was my enemy as a child, at least in my mind.  We didn't have one until I was 9 years old and it took away my parent's attention and my sister's and it caused a host of other things.  It was the enemy.

So, when I sat and reasoned what was different from having a "TV" screen that was 43 inches from our Kindle Fire - I couldn't come up with much difference, other than the obvious size.  It wasn't like we were getting cable television or even going to watch bad things.  I couldn't even press the button to purchase the thing, I had my daughter press it.  From that moment on, even when it was here, I felt horrible.  I would wake up in the morning and see it and it would turn my stomach.  I couldn't stand having the thing in the house.  I did like watching our history videos on WWI and YouTube channels I like but there was just something about it that bothered me.

I figured out it had to probably do with my past experience and I was just going to work that out myself and let my family enjoy the big screen's benefits.  However, I didn't like that it caught my daughter's attention so much to where that is all she wanted to do or look forward to doing was playing games on there.  My husband doesn't even watch movies, so he wasn't using it.  I finally decided to just keep the thing and not let my personal issues get rid of it. 

That is when my husband said, "I don't want the thing in the house."  He couldn't even stand to say the word, "TV" either.  When I drilled him about it, he said that greater men than him have fallen to this thing and sinned and he didn't want to sin.  He didn't feel like he would sin with it but he didn't want that door there.  My heart sank - wow!  It was then I realized that it wasn't just my issues with my past but my husband also realized the potential of this beast and so we sent it back.

He had already put together the "TV" stand and didn't want to return it, so I was wondering what in the world we were going to do with it, probably sell it.  Then, I saw this space between our bookshelves in the dining/homeschool room and I asked my husband to measure it and wouldn't you know, it fit perfectly!  It makes a great little window seat for my toddler, as it holds 90 pounds and it is great storage for his learning toys.

Real Life Becomes Before & After

Yesterday, I took pics of my house and how horrible it was because I had planned to blog about living with chronic illness.  I was going to show the reality of it all and how my house has been looking for a long time because I've been physically unable to clean, pick up, etc.  I woke up this morning and felt good - which is not normal LOL!  I ended up, along with my husband and daughter, being able to do a clean up and I was amazed at how much we got done and so I decided to take some after photos!

I will start with the living room - things everywhere and toys as usual and the after after my daughter vacuumed and we all picked up and folded the throws.  Yes, I'm aware our ADT yard sign is IN the house, we hope to eventually get it in the yard.

The kitchen is usually piled with dishes but the after photo was actually worse than the before LOL - well, can't win them all!

The dining room is where we also homeschool and I do the budget, computer work, etc.  It is hardly ever clear as my son likes to leave toys or his water there and I leave my laptop there unless we have company.

My daughter vacuums the entire house once a week and does the trash.  I'm usually the one that has to pickup most of the stuff but my daughter does pick her stuff up and cleans my son's room every night.  He likes to dump his toys out on the floor every morning - no idea why but I guess he can't stand it too clean - ain't that like a man!!

Some things that have not been done in probably about 2 years are the blinds, curtains, walls, behind stove/fridge/washer/dryer and any other type of deep cleaning.  No idea when I will be able to do it but we are surviving despite it!  Amazingly, the dirt stays there till you get to it.  Meanwhile, I'm doing the important things since my time and abilities are limited - I'm loving my husband, trying to cook good food and homeschooling and playing with my kids.  Those are things that I won't put aside but the blinds!?  Seriously, they can wait - I have to snuggle with a very special toddler.

What Today's Youth Need to Hear

The President of a Christian University wrote this to the University's students and I'm sharing some of the quotes but go read the whole thing - it is that good!!

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love! In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic! Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims! Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

.........Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up!


What Will Really Matter?

Who would have thought I would have gotten a blog post from a menopause video but I did.  No, I'm not in menopause but I'm preparing for the future so I can do it in the most natural way.  I found some interesting information from history that I had no idea about it and so far, everyone I've shared it with had no idea either.  Menopause is actually a modern problem because up until the 1800's, women's life expectancy's didn't go past age 50!

In Ancient Rome, women normally only lived until age 25!  In Renaissance times, most women rarely lived past age 35!  By the Victorian era, they were living till age 45 and it wasn't until the beginning of the 1800's that they lived until 50!  Today, it is around age 80 that we can expect to live on average as women.  WOW!

Here is a chart showing average life expectancy for men and women from the 1850's to 2000 showing how much longer we live now:

Image credit: Oregon University

Think about that for a while - I probably would have been dead had I lived in Renaissance times!  Now, I probably could have a good 45 more years to go.  Amazing how time changes so many things.

This, along with a message that was preached recently, reminded me of the importance of what really matters.  Ultimately, it is God, salvation and living for Him but as women, our importance besides that comes from what?  We don't start churches.  We don't pastor or preach (generally).  So what are "we" doing for God as women?

This is something that most women forget to think about until it is too late.  Well, I decided years ago that I didn't want to be "too-late Nanci!"  I want to be right-now, no-regrets Beverly!  I still need reminders when my priorities get out of sync but I always come back to God and my family - being that wife and that mother training my children, so that they can continue on the legacy that our family is.  That which is done for Christ, the modeling of the minds of our children to know Him, is what will last.

I will leave you with this great quote from the video I watched from Dr. Low Dog that sums it all up so well:

A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of job women had, what she did, what kind of house she lived in.  The only thing that will probably really matter, is how well she taught her children, her neighbors and her grandchildren.

Preparation for the Future

If it had not been for God and the lessons we learned the hard way, I'm not so sure we would have done what it was going to take to make it through the past couple of years financially.  Most of you remember our story that I blogged about in, Our Financial Story, and how we realized that health insurance was a must.  We went on to pay off debt, insure ourselves and plan for future crisis's.  Thanks to that planning, we have spent the past few years being able to pay off all medical bills through the numerous surgeries I've had and ER visits, etc.  We don't have to be covered in piles of debt anymore!  Preparation really does spare you the extra burden on top of a health crisis!

This week, I will be paying our last medical bill for the year.  It was a rough year with 2 surgeries and a surgical procedure, many ER visits, CT scans, ultrasounds and an MRI - along with all the doctor visits and more ahead the next few months.  However, we reached our out-of-pocket maximum and will have no more bills the rest of the year and will have paid all we owed already.  What a difference planning for crisis makes!

We haven't used a credit card in 6 years and it has almost been 5 years since we became debt-free.  I'm a number-cruncher and love to do it and I love seeing how things can be removed as financial stressors, if we just plan for it.  God allowed us to go through hard things to really cement these lessons in our minds.  God knew what was ahead with my health in the coming years and thank God I listened and learned the lessons beforehand.

What are some things that could happen to any of us that we must prepare for?

  1. Health Crisis - Insure your family with medical insurance and make sure you have that year's out-of-pocket maximum in your reach with an HSA or savings.  If you can't have the full amount, at least have the deductible.
  2. Job Loss - Have an emergency fund of your expenses for 3-6 months worth in your savings in case of a job loss.  That way, you can go on living, pay your bills, ease your worries and it will give your husband time to find the right job.
  3. Disability - This could fall under health as well but make sure you prepare in the event that your husband becomes disabled and can no longer work.  Have long-term disability insurance up to at least 55-65% of income along with a good emergency fund.
  4. Death - Have life insurance on both spouses and all children in the event of death to pay funeral costs.  Insure the husband's life at a higher level to cover lost income and even possibly the wife to cover childcare in the event of your death.
  5. Auto Crisis - Auto accidents happen and autos break down - make sure you have car insurance and include rental car coverage if needed.  We had our car stolen in Alaska and thanks to our car insurance, we got money to cover the cost of the vehicle's damage (which was totaled) and put towards a new vehicle.  Also having a fund set aside towards the purchase of a vehicle once you know yours is nearing its end.
  6. Home Crisis - Insure your property and home or have renter's insurance if you rent to cover your possessions in the event of devastation.  Also having a home security system will benefit you from burglaries or even protect your family from harm as the alarm will give you time to retrieve a weapon and protect your family.

Doing these things is not only wise, it will spare you a lot of extra heartache and burdens!

God Created Family

A lot of people forget just who created family.  Who came up with the idea to make a man and a woman produce offspring?  Whose plan was it for us to have children?  Whose plan was it for there to be future generations?  Who would have wanted such a thing - oh wait, that would be our Creator; God!

If everyone took on the mentality of some family-opposers, we wouldn't even be here.  Some Christians say we shouldn't have children during these evil days but they forget that when Christians stop bearing offspring, there is less a chance that there will be those that will bring others to Christ.  If anything, we should be having more.  The Muslims get this and they are more eager to promote their religion and they know the key is to produce children and in the future, they will most likely be the majority.  Of course God is more powerful than numbers but even God Himself, wanted Israel to increase in number by bearing offspring.

Did Christians fail in the spreading of the gospel because they limited their children?  You could make this argument because there are less hands, less feet and less mouths to share the gospel but all that is considering that your children actually become Christians.  What we can't forget is that the ultimate design that God set forth was for male and female and that of creating families.

What if Adam and Eve had said they would rather do more for God in the garden and decided to prevent children?  Could they really have done MORE for God just themselves?  Was it Satan's sick idea for them to have children so it would hinder their work for God?  Oh wait, it was GOD who commanded them to be fruitful and multiply!  I still can't find that verse of scripture we reached "enough" and God said STOP being fruitful and STOP multiplying - it has got to be in there somewhere right!?  Or was it just supposed to expire at 100 people, or was it a 1,000... a million... hmm.  I guess I will have to ask Dr. Prevention to find out when we were supposed to quit.  The commandment to stop must have been after Paul because he actually told Christian women to marry and bear children.  It must have been so recent that it didn't make it into God's Word, that along with the new definition of marriage....

God created families, he doesn't try to prevent them!

What we must do as Christians is examine everything that brings itself against the design of God and His Word.  Just because one man says that anyone can marry, no matter their gender - doesn't mean we just accept it because it seems "loving."  What does God say?  What is God's design?  THAT is who we must consult.  We either follow God or we follow man's perverted views.

Thank God for family!  Though my days of bearing children in my flesh are over, if God wants to send some my way to raise, I will have open arms and be willing to raise those that others did not want!

Who's At Fault for Gender Confusion?

You can sit back and scoff at gender confusion and even go so far to say it is demonic but what most people miss is that being confused about your gender is exactly what comes from past generations' lack of gender distinction.  Masculinity and femininity used to be clearly defined.  It wasn't just dress, though this plays a big part, but rather the manner of each gender that was carried out in everything they did and didn't do.

Men throughout time took care of their wives - you know when marriage was between a man and a woman?  Then, women decided they wanted to be equal with men and so began the "equality" or what was really the mimicking of being a man.  Then we had women leaving the home, leaving the raising of the children, leaving the wearing of feminine dress and ultimately leaving the delicacy of the female.  Here she was - acting like a man, dressing like a man, working like a man and even carrying herself like a man.  The children were raised by whoever and the feminity was not being displayed.

It wasn't just the women.  The men sat by and let all this happen (as usual).  They slithered down into a submissive, spineless, effeminate "man."  Instead of letting their sense of manhood be about providing for their families, being that masculine figure of the home - they became lazy and didn't even try anymore.  The children were raised by whoever and the masculinity was not displayed.

So... with mom wearing the pants and bringing home the bacon and dad sitting around playing video games and caring less about his family - you want to blame WHO for gender confusion?  I think for some, it may take just looking in their mirror or their family photo album.  The examples of male and female for the majority, died out a long time ago.  We are just living in the age of the result of the lack of proper distinction of the sexes.

I know it is easy to judge and speak evil against children who are confused of their gender - but they are the result of a society that has left God and left His Word that has ALWAYS called for gender distinction and given us the roles of men and women.  Then we have "Christians" that want to say that those who actually look like a woman or a man and do women or man things are LEGALISTIC.  Way to go Satan - you really got them working on your side.

So who really brought the CONFUSION?  If I can't tell you are a woman standing behind you in line with your man haircut and clothes, then what do you think that has done to others?  Why would gender confusion matter to women (or men) who are cross-dressing already?  You are promoting it!

Try putting on a dress and acting like your gender ladies.  Men, try wearing the pants and providing for your family like a real man does.  Then maybe, your children can pass down to future generations what male and female really is all about because they might need a reminder 40 years from now because body parts evidently don't make a difference these days!!

Times are SO Bad Now

Times are so bad now, the schools are so bad now, the government is so bad now...

Well - times are not "so bad" just now - they were already BAD many, many years ago when they took GOD out of schools and the government.  I guess you have to decide what you personally feel is "bad".  It is either your children not being taught about God and excluding Him from their day or it is a long list of things that ends at, "Oh my goodness, they are teaching about gays now, I can't let my kid hear that."  It was ok to let them hear that God wasn't real, that He didn't create anything, and all that goes along with humanistic education but now that they are teaching changing families, it is a disgrace.

It is time to realize that it was a disgrace when they took God out!  That is more awful than a gay, than a transgender, than gay marriage, and all the other perversions they can come up with.  God is more important.

The government decided that killing babies was ok but that's ok because who cares about children, must less having them, these days anyway.  That isn't a fight many Christians wanted to have because hey, they were sold on birth control - which commonly kills babies every year since they made their uterus a killing machine.

We have let all these things slip for the past 70 years and what we have today is the generations of children raised by the parents that allowed these horrors.  They were caught up in the American "dream" of having a house and all they could fill with it that they put money above family, education and God.  What we have left is the result - the "times are so bad NOW" syndrome.

Thank God we have those that will still fight for what is right and try to save this great country but is it too late?
Can generation X turn the tide of the boomers and the mothers that left their homes to work and decades of neglect?  Can we change that most adults today need psychotherapy and antidepressants because of the neglect of their parents?  Can we change the many lives that aren't even sure their own gender because they didn't see the distinction in their homes or those around them? Can we undo any of this!?!?

What kind of children will we raise - ones that continue the cycle or ones that break the cycle!!  The future is in your hands mother, you can raise that generation that WILL turn the tide, that WILL get back to the truth and holiness!!

Robbing God, His House & His Pastors

I was waiting for the final thing to put this post together that I've been considering the past week and I got it this morning from the sermon!  God is always right on time!!  I'm going to blog about our financial role in supporting the house of God.  I'm here to state why every true Christian pays tithes and gives offerings to their church.

The house of God, or the Church, does not run by itself.  Did you know that!?  I mean someone has to pay for the building, the land, the upkeep of both, the electricity, water, heat and even the pastor!  So, for those of you who don't believe in paying tithe - do tell me how all that gets done?  God is a God of order and He has set up a way that the Church and the Pastor will be taken care of and it is our duty to take care of them as Christians.

Abraham paid a tenth of his increase, which is tithe, before the law was even given - so that is for all those that say "we are not under the law" in their excuse to keep their money.  Abraham didn't need a law, he honored God with a tenth of increase!  All throughout the Bible we see the giving heart of God's people and even about giving God the first-fruits.  God calls those that don't pay tithe and give in offerings as robbers of Him - yes, you rob God!  Let's bring out some scripture to show this continuing work that has always been and is still is required:

Hebrews 7:1-2 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all.
Hebrews 7:8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

Abraham paid a tenth tithe to Jesus, who is our High Priest and who appeared to Abraham as Melchisedec, which you can read about in the entire chapter of Hebrews 7.  Abraham was before the law was given, that shows how ancient this tithing custom is - it was started by God and it has never ended as Paul was stating in verse 8 that it still continues.  Even Cain and Abel brought offerings to God that were required, and Cain used the same teaching that is spreading today that "you don't have to give what is required, just bring what you want" and we all know what God said about Cain's offering!  Don't be a modern-day Cain and think you can do whatever you want - God still requires a tenth of your increase.

Pro 3:9-10  Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

You are honoring God when you give him the FIRST of your increase!  I like what Henry says:

God, who is the first and best, must have the first and best of every thing; his right is prior to all other, and therefore he must be served first. ...We mistake if we think that giving will undo us and make us poor. No, giving for God's honour will make us rich, Hag_2:19. What we gave we have.

Notice what God says:

Mal 3:8-11  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.

God counts not giving your tithes and offerings as robbery!  You bring the cursing upon yourself - thinking you will have more if you don't give God the first, the tenth.  The opposite is true - when you give God what belongs to Him, He WILL open the windows of Heaven and bless you!!  Not just that but He will make sure that the devourer will not be able to ruin you financially.  WOW!!  Too bad that was just for Old Testament people and not for us right?  WRONG!  It is STILL the same today!!  It is God's money from the get-go and it never was yours - so when you keep it all to yourself, you are robbing God of His required portion of His money - you are a thief and no thieves will be in Heaven!  There will be robbers of God filling up hell - those that didn't honor God and kept their money to themselves and didn't take care of God's House and His pastors.

Notice how God even told us WHERE to bring His money - to the house of God, the storehouse that there would be supplies in His house.  Henry says it so well:

Robbing God is such a heinous crime that those who are guilty of it are not willing to own themselves guilty.

God set up a way for the church and Pastors to be taken care of - by tithes and offerings.  When you do not give your portion, you are robbing God because you are preventing the support of the church and the Pastor.  You rob God out of the money, HIS MONEY, that was reserved to take care of GOD's Church and God's man!  And you call yourself a Christian!?  Let's look at biblical examples of people like you:

Haggai 1:4-11 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?  Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.  Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.  Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.  Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.  Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.  Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.  And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.

Here we have people that took care of their houses but let the house of God lie in waste!  They didn't put God first.  A great example of what can happen to God's house when there is no tithe or offerings (or in this case, willingness to help in building God's House).  Notice the curse that came upon them!  Notice the evil heart of people that are against giving God a tenth and offerings and do not take care of the church or the Pastor!  Selfishness, greed, covetousness and forgetting whose money it is in the first place because you wouldn't even have an issue of giving God a tenth - it is honoring God!

These notes from the Geneva bible say it so well:

Showing that they sought not only their necessities, but their very pleasures before God's honour.

You dishonor God when you withhold HIS money from Him, that shows where your heart and treasure truly is - you have made money an idol.

Let's travel on over to the New Testament and what God's Word says about who provides the living (money) for a Pastor:

1 Cor. 9:11  If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
1Co 9:14  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Paul explains how wrong it is to not take care of the Pastor.  The Pastor should reap carnal goods, or money, for what he gives us spiritually.  The Lord ordained that Pastors should LIVE or earn their income how?  Of the gospel!  Barnes expounds on this law that the Lord ordained:

...the minister is entitled to a support; and then also a people are not at liberty to withhold it. Further, there are as strong reasons why they should support him, as there are why they should pay a schoolmaster, a lawyer, a physician, or a day-laborer. The minister usually toils as hard as others; expends as much in preparing for his work; and does as much good. And there is even a higher claim in this case. God has given an express command in this case; he has not in the others.  ...Are not ministers often in distress for that which has been promised them, and which they have a right to expect? And is not their usefulness, and the happiness of the people, and the honor of religion intimately connected with obeying the rule of the Lord Jesus in this respect?

Paul did not take the pay he had a right to from one church but he later apologized to those he didn't allow to support him.  He also said that he robbed other churches because he didn't take pay from this church but from others.

2 Cor. 11:8  I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
2Co 12:13  For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

Paul acknowledged his wrong in not having this particular church to support him or provide his income.  He made them inferior to the other churches by not allowing them to receive the blessings that came along with taking care of the man of God!  Clarke expounds on Paul's realization of his mistake:

It was your duty and your interest to have supported your apostle; other Churches have done so: I did not require this from you; in this respect all other Churches are superior to you. I am the cause of your inferiority, by not giving you an opportunity of ministering to my necessities: forgive me the wrong I have done you. It is the privilege of the Churches of Christ to support the ministry of his Gospel among them. Those who do not contribute their part to the support of the Gospel ministry either care nothing for it, or derive no good from it.

One last thing that non-tithe payers and non-supporters of the church and pastors like to use is a verse about the Pharisee that paid tithe:

Mat 23:23  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Notice that Jesus said they should not leave the other undone - Jesus, the Son of God, saying you should pay tithes!  It is doing one thing and not doing the other is what Jesus was pointing out.  Pharisees like to pick and choose what they will do - much like people today pick and choose to not pay tithe but follow other teachings religiously.  Pharisees also prayed, so was prayer wrong too?  No, it was the manner in which they prayed and their motive that was called out just as Jesus was pointing out their doing one thing and not the other, the most important things.  Pharisees exalted themselves yet they left out the weightier matters showing they don't prefer the FULL gospel as Henry points out so well:

They were very strict and precise in the smaller matters of the law, but as careless and loose in the weightier matters, Mat_23:23, Mat_23:24. They were partial in the law (Mal_2:9), would pick and choose their duty, according as they were interested or stood affected. Sincere obedience is universal, and he that from a right principle obeys any of God's precepts, will have respect to them all, Psa_119:6. But hypocrites, who act in religion for themselves, and not for God, will do no more in religion than they can serve a turn by for themselves. The partiality of the scribes and Pharisees appears here, in two instances.  ...They that are taught in the word, and do not communicate to them that teach them that love a cheap gospel, come short of the Pharisee.

What I've shared with you is God's Word on tithing and offerings and how they are used towards the support of the church and the income of the Pastor.  It is our duty, but we should do it cheerfully as we know that God let us keep 90% and we have the privilege to take care of God's House and His Pastor!

Part 8 - Q&A - Living On One Income

I have to apologize because one of the questions submitted was missing the last part, which contained more questions.  I missed this somehow and only found it when I went to delete the file from my documents.  So, I'm reposting the entire question here and my answer - sorry to whoever this was!

Q. Hello,

I have been following your blog for some time and had a few questions on one income.

My husband and I are both currently working full time high stress career fields, which has definitely taken a toll on our marriage. We have talked about me eventually quitting my job and either pursuing homemaking full time or an accounting/or bookkeeping job that is under 10 hours a week that I can work from home. I want out of corporate accounting.

The catch is like most Americans we are currently in debt. My husband currently has around six thousand in student loans. Thankfully, my husband paid for my college, so I don’t have any loans. We have three cars, two of which still have car payments, and I have $2,400 left on my credit card.

Our plan that we came up with a month ago was for me to continue working for the time being and to contribute a majority of my pay check to pay down the remaining of our debt before me quitting my job. This would allow us to see what it would be like on one income and to eliminate debt before our income gets cut in half. Last month I was able to pay off $3500 on my credit card and I made a double payment on my husband’s student loans and one of our car payments. I was able to do this by not eating out and by not spending money on frivolous work clothes, ect.

My first question is when you decided to be a homemaker, was money at all taken in consideration? Did you go into being a home keeper with ideal circumstance of not having debt and high savings or did you just do it and gradually pay off debt and build up savings?

The other issue that has arisen from talk of me staying home is all the negativity from friends and family on the issue. We are twenty-nine and thirty, and have been married for ten years. We are unable to have children, so everyone has expected me to work full time, since I’m still somewhat young. I don’t necessarily need validation, but it has been hard to receive so much criticism on the subject. Had we been able to have children, this would have not been an issue, since it is generally culturally acceptable to be a stay at home mom. I was wondering if you ever received such criticism from staying home before you had children and how did you deal with it?

I might also add that huge contributing factor of me wanting to be a home keeper is I am an insulin dependent diabetic since I was a small child as well as having an underactive thyroid which I take medication for, too. It is extremely hard to take care of myself when I work such long hours. Also, my coworkers are not excited by the fact that I give myself insulin shots at work when I eat lunch or snacks and several have complained. :(

A.  First of all - get out of debt and save an emergency fund and then destroy the credit cards.  You can do that on one income even, as many do.  Is the stress worth the money?  Can you even enjoy the money if you are working and stressed at that?  You didn't mention children, so I wonder why 3 cars - I would sell one at least.

I think your plan sounds good but it really isn't something you try out - to me, it is honoring God's Word for women.  You do have to learn to live on what he provides and look at it that he is being what a man should be and you be that woman and you will be amazed at the added peace to the home.

I honestly didn't even think of the money when I stopped working.  I let my husband think about that.  I felt like the burden of my life had been lifted off me and it was one the best feelings I've ever had to know that my husband was going to take care of me and I didn't need to anymore.  I felt like and still do feel like, I had/have a real-life Prince!  We had no debt as we were just in our lower 20's at that time but we did have to stop eating out all the time and budget our money.  There were some scary times that first year when we didn't know how to pay the rent - but God always provided and made the difference.

The second question about what others think is something you will have to deal with but you have to not care what they think.  I know that is easier said than done and I still get criticism even though I am a mom staying home, I've heard it all: "Quit making your husband do so much and get out and get a job."  The ironic thing is that these comments come from people where the wife works but they are STILL in debt up to their eyeballs and I don't work and we have no debt.  I think it isn't about the wife working, it is about our hearts and greed and covetousness.  Most men should feel like they are a man to take care of their wives and families, we shouldn't take that away from them.  Men that want their wives to work are lazy and/or covetous or maybe they just didn't know what God's Word said and just followed the culture.

You should be at home enjoying your life as a loving wife and taking care of your home, yourself and your husband!  I think you will find the greatest peace if you make the step.  Life isn't a bed of roses for anyone but it can be blessed by God if you trust Him, obey His Word and the roles He made us for and lean on Him!

Part 7 - Q&A - Living On One Income

Q.  Hi Bev,
My dear husband lost his job of nearly 25  years suddenly on Good Friday. His job was funded by the State of IL and the Governor ceased all spending on Human & Social Services with NO warning.  My husband's program was NOT a government handout program, but one that prevented juvenile delinquency. 
I have been home from my job as a public school teacher for 13 years.  I LOVE being a stay at home wife and mother and my husband says it's his top priority to continue that.  Any ideas on what to do in this situation?  This is my first time dealing with this.  Thank you in advance! 

A.  I think the person that asked this, also asked in 2 other comments and so I'm copying/pasting my answer from there to here.  First of all, PRAY! God will open another door where it was closed I believe. Next, seeing that he has 23 years experience, he will probably be able to find another good job I assume in his field. A possible move to another state or area to find a job may be something you need to pray about. Did you prepare for something like this? I know that is what is optimal but most people aren't prepared for these things. He would need to find another job soon but in the meantime draw his unemployment compensation, which he paid a lot into over the years. Pray, pray, pray and trust God to meet the needs and it doesn't hurt to encourage your husband to be proactive and find another job - who knows, he may find one that is better!

In the event of a job loss, they say to cut all expenses down to the crucial needs - kind of like skimming all the fat off a piece of meat.

Part 6 - Q&A - Living On One Income

I only received a few questions and we will start with the first few in this post and finish up the rest in Part 7.

    Q. What activities do you do as a family for fun?

    A. We are pretty easy to please and it doesn't take much for us to have fun.  We like playing board games (7 Wonders, Funglish, Rummikub, Made for Trade, 10 Days in.., Homeschoolopoly to name a few).  My kids and I watch Netflix (my husband doesn't watch movies).  Things we like on Netflix are educational, documentaries, cartoons, home & craft shows and some Christian films they have like Ace Wonder that are clean.  We do things outside and sometimes go to the park or for a drive.  Church is our big family activity - I guess you could say that is fun but more so, it is the basis of our family life.

    Q. For retirement do you only fund one account in your husbands name or do you both have seperate accounts?

    A.  We have a joint retirement account - nothing separate because we are married and that ends the separate accounts when you join together.

    Q.  Ways you save on household goods!?

    A. I'm not sure what you count as household goods but I'm assuming you are talking about cleaning supplies?  I make my own all-purpose cleaner, detergent and hand soap and have for over 10 years now.  Those are big savings.  I buy the blue Dawn dish detergent or the generic brand of it and it does so many things in the house (dishes, grease, tub, laundry).  I use a steam mop, so I don't need any floor cleaners as the steam is the best, in my opinion, to use for your floors and make them safe for children and it is easy, efficient and kills germs and only takes distilled water!  I use SOS pads for our tubs and sink because they are very old plastic material that is frustrating to clean.  I use a generic window or rubbing alcohol for my mirrors but a friend showed me how I could use a hot water and a microfiber rag to clean them and it worked!  I use a piece of an old t-shirt as a dusting rag by soaking it in hot water and squeezing it out and then I wipe my bookshelves, tables and other surfaces.

    Q.  How do you plan for the unexpected expenses?

    A.  I plan for the unexpected expenses by actually planning for them in the budget.  I usually plan $50-$100 a month for miscellaneous things that come up.  If we don't use it, we put it in savings.  I've gotten better at knowing what to expect each month, so eventually I can lower this because we are finding that unexpected expenses are more expected as I track our detailed budget.

    Q.  Tips on gift giving, please!

    A.  For our family we buy gifts on birthdays and Christmas.  For outside of our immediate family, we only buy gifts as we feel led to do so.  I believe the money that God gives us should be used as He sees fit and I just don't go out and buy everyone I know a gift all the time.  I also limit my attendance to events that expect gifts.  My tip would be to not spend money you need for your family to soothe your guilt in giving gifts as I know a lot of women that are stuck in this trap.  It isn't really a gift anymore because you are giving it out of expectation or guilt.  God does touch our hearts occasionally to give someone a gift and we do so - I love when He leads like that!  It is His money and we want to do our best to use it wisely.

    Part 5 - Budgeting - Living On One Income

    I've blogged about budgeting in several series before - Financial Budgeting 101 and Living Debt Free.  I did want to touch on a few things about budgeting in this series for those who haven't read the other series.  Your husband can do the budget or he can defer that to you.  My husband always did the budget until the past year when he let me take over.  I'm very good with numbers and so, he has given me reign over it now.

    In Part 4, we talked about the home management fund, which includes food, necessities (toilet paper, etc.), clothing and some maintenance (cleaning supplies, light bulbs, etc.).  There are still other categories left to budget for and they are:

    Tithe - should always be first and foremost! Here's why: http://www.christianhomekeeping.com/2015/05/robbing-god-his-house-his-pastors.html
    Tax (federal, medicare, social security)
    Savings/Retirement (emergency fund, college funds, etc.)
    Housing (mortgage or rent)
    Housing maintenance
    Housing insurance (home owner's or renter's)
    Utilities (electric, gas, water, garbage, sewer)
    Phone & Internet (cable if you use that)
    Cell Phone(s)
    Security system monitoring
    Gasoline for car
    Car insurance
    Car maintenance (repairs, oil changes, etc.)
    Personal Insurance (life, disability)
    Health insurance
    Health Savings Account or Fund for medical bills
    Vision costs (contacts/glasses, solution, exams)
    Dental Insurance
    Medications and/or Supplements
    Job fees or Union dues
    Entertainment (Netflix, books, etc.)
    Home Management (clothing, food, necessities, small maintenance)
    Miscellenous expenses (gifts, toys, etc.)
    Music lessons
    Vacation or trips

    DEBT - should be zero but if you have it, get rid of it!

    Yearly Expenses
    Homeschool Legal Defense (if you homeschool on your own, you need this!)
    Memberships (like Amazon Prime)
    Car tags and registration
    Property taxes
    Homeschool curriculum and supplies
    Identity Theft Protection

    I may have missed something or there may be things you pay that aren't listed.  You need to find ways to cover the above categories based on your income.  The best way to do this is by first subtracting tithe, offerings, tax and other payroll deductions and then budgeting your take-home pay.  Most families of 4 pay anywhere from 11-15% tax, so make sure you allot for that and thank the government for their continued wise spending of your money and take joy in the increases to help them. <-- You didn't think I was being serious there did you!?

    Once you write down everything you need to take care of monthly or yearly, you will get a clear picture and then be able to budget your money and purposely budget for savings instead of wondering where your money went each month.  Dave Ramsey has a new, FREE program for budgeting called Every Dollar and I use it and love it!  It includes some tutorials in the help section if you need them.  Or you can simply budget on paper - I do both.

    Work on lowering the categories and eliminate those you can, to bulk up your savings.  Create funds for whatever you need or will need - car, clothing, furniture, etc.  Make sure you have an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of expenses if your husband loses his job or until disability becomes available.  Fund your retirement so you will not burden your children when you are older (and to have something to leave them!) and so that you can support the both of you.  Fund or don't fund your children's college - that is up to each family.

    Part 4 - Home Management - Living On One Income

    We've talked about why women should be homemakers in Part 1, why men should provide for their families in Part 2, and then the basis of being able to do in Part 3 on contentment.  I will do a future post answering all the questions submitted but it will be last in this series.  In this post, we are going to discuss home management, which entails everything that you are responsible for in being the manager of your home.

    Home management usually (this may vary) includes the cleaning, meals, clothing and care of the children and some maintenance.  The wife usually takes care of these things as the husband is busy working outside the home to bring in the funds to run the home.  I think it is a good idea to budget a "home management" account that the wife can cover the above things and decide how much goes where and then she can also save and have spending money of her own.  We used to do it this way for years but now I do the entire budget and so I decide a lot more, but for the sake of this post - I will show you how we had done it for years while getting out of debt.

    A prior pastor of ours advised my husband that if he wanted to keep his wife happy, he should give her this "home management" fund and let her split it up into the categories of care for the home and then from her hard work of learning to save, she can pocket the rest to do with as she pleases.  At the time, I was very foolish with our money and that may have influenced his advice on this but it did work for us for many years and kept me happy - though, I had to learn contentment with everything eventually as we talked about in Part 3.

    We set aside $550 for our home management fund when we did it this way.  It depends on your family size but the $550 was for our family of 3 at that time.  This is how I would split that money up:

    $550 Home Management Fund
    - $250 food
    - $90 necessities
    - $30 clothing
    - $30 misc.
    $150 to save or spend

    I sometimes could save more than $150 and I usually did spend it every month.  It was a challenge each month for me to see how much I could save and how much I would have left to have fun with.  That is how I learned to be frugal and make things homemade, etc.  I wanted more leftover of my home management money and I usually had a lot.  My husband stuck by this and only gave me the $550 and I wasn't to ask for more each month and that allowed us to pay off debt quick because he knew I wasn't going to come to him for more for this or that - he had given me a sufficient amount to cover the home needs.

    That was an example of how you could do it.  Now, we simply budget categories and even budget "fun" money, so that we have a set amount each month.  I don't spend as much fun money as I used to because I began to want to finish funding our emergency fund and reach our goals, so I learned to curtail my spending to make those things happen.  Some months though - I get tired of that and I just go spend LOL!  That is ok because I'm not doing it on debt and we do have things set up in case something ever happened.

    I've blogged a lot about food budgets, so there is no need to repeat all that here.  For necessities that covers things like diapers, toilet paper, shampoo, etc.  The clothing allowance is up to each family and according to how you want to do it.  We buy most of the clothing for the year with our child tax credits and then we set aside a small amount each month for unexpected clothing expenses that come up - new shoes because someone's foot grew, something gets ruined, etc.  The miscellaneous category would cover anything to do with the home that isn't food or necessities.  This would be some of the maintenance like light bulbs, cleaning supplies, etc.

    Those are two ways that you can budget these things - either in a home management fund that you get every month or by simply allotting these categories into the main budget.  You know yourself - choose which one would work best for you!

    Part 3 - Contentment - Living On One Income

    I know all about this one as I've lived it, was able to come to the place of true contentment and am still practicing being content no matter the future decisions.  I can say that I've been there, done that and bought the entire collection.  What am I talking about?  Contentment.

    If a wife learns to be content with what her husband provides, she will save herself, her husband and her children a lot of needless problems.  I admit that I was NOT content in the early years of our marriage because I didn't fully understand what was really important in life.  All I could see is what we didn't have and there was always something more I wanted.  This caused problems with our marriage and with our finances.

    As a wife, you must learn contentment and learn to be content with what your husband provides.  If you don't, you will be that millstone, that nag, that brings everyone down.  You will squander the family finances on your discontent and tear down your house with your own hands as the Bible speaks of.  If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self - I would slap her and tell her to look around and how blessed she is and quit belly-aching about what she didn't have!!  Obviously I can't do that but thankfully God did, over time, let things come our way that made me "wake up" to the fact that I was not a good wife.

    Some husbands can never pay off debt or even save a dime because their wives blow it all on stupid stuff they didn't even need.  The ironic thing is, this same wife that squanders all the money, will have the gumption to blame her husband for not providing for her needs later on when she spent all the money and can't buy a loaf of bread.  Most husbands would get tired of this kind of woman and who could blame them?

    I never have anything.  I haven't bought a new dress in 2 years.  The kids need new shoes.  This house needs repairs.  Tommy needs more diapers.  And on and on...  What about the money that you spent on Mcd's?  Or how about the $200 you spent on that new electronic you had to have so bad?  See - nobody wants to face themselves when the hard times come, especially wives!  They want to blame the husband, when in most cases it is shown that women are the big spenders; not men.

    It is time to wake up to the important things in your life ladies!  Look around you at your children and what your husband has provided you with and BE THANKFUL!!  That is contentment really - a thankful heart.  A thankful heart will not whine about all it doesn't have.  A thankful heart will be overwelmed with all it does have. 

    Your not going to make it on one-income with an unthankful, discontented, greed-full heart and if you do, you will do it with DEBT!  You will find the way to spend money you don't have and that is what state most Americans are in today.  Don't spend what you don't have by learning contentment!

    This post, if applied, will save you life-long marital and financial battles!

    Part 2 "The Why" for Men - Living On One Income

    In Part 1, we talked about "the why" for women and now in Part 2, we will discuss "the why" for men.  I know that this is a blog for women but believe it or not, I do have male readers.  I'm mostly blogging this for women but hey, the men need to hear this too, especially in this effeminate society we have today.

    I'm going to be very blunt here, so if you get offended, consult God's Word and then tell Him off.  There is no way around it - a real man, a real husband, will not put his wife on a job.  *dodging rocks*  I remember a preacher that used to say that you shouldn't prostitute your wife out on a job and that has a lot of truth to it.  Men throughout time took care of their families.  At some point in American society, most likely when women became domineering, men lessened their manhood.  Throughout all time, wives were a "help meet" to their husbands by keeping the home, bearing and raising their children and making a home of peace as a resting place from their husband's daily work outside the home.

    A man should provide for his family, he shouldn't depend on his wife helping out.  A real man, that has a pair as the saying goes, will be man enough to provide enough.  He doesn't need his wife to bring in income, he is man enough to do it himself.  WOW!  Where are those type of men?  This isn't just for Christians - all men used to think this was their duty - you know, back when divorce rates were less and women were called ladies?  It should affect a man's manhood if his wife is having to help him provide, he should feel bad about it.

    God made men the head and their head is Christ and we are under man's headship.  That doesn't mean we are dogs to be trampled on; as a Godly man will love his wife as Christ loved the church!  That means that you are his flower, his soft, feminine woman and he is your manly man that will do all to provide so that you can fulfill your Godly duty at home.  THAT is a man!

    Ok, enough about what I said - what does God say about all this?  Well, God doesn't hold back - He goes so far as to say that a man is WORSE than an infidel if he doesn't provide for his own. OUCH GOD - you should be softer in your words, you might offend somebody.

    1 Timothy 5:8
    But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

    That verse is saying that those that aren't providing or won't provide for their own (his own house) are guilty of two things:

    1. Denied the faith - men that don't provide for their families are denying the faith or in other words, they have rejected the gospel!
    2. WORSE than an infidel - men that don't provide for their families are not just compared to infidels, or men that are heathen, they are WORSE than them!  Even heathens and pagans believe you should take care of your own.

    That flies in the face of the modern-day Christian teaching of everything goes and everything is ok as long as you said a little prayer.  If you can do something that equals rejecting the gospel and being worse than the heathen - then, I would think it would be ok to assume that are you are no longer a Christian.  But that is another post in itself.

    God used strong words because this is a serious thing!  Men should take care of their families; women should never feel that they have to do it.  I believe that this would include men preparing for situations such as: losing their job, becoming disabled or their death.  If men prepared for these things by having disability insurance, emergency funds and life insurance, then their family would still be taken care of.  There are some times when the man becomes so disabled he cannot work and if he didn't prepare ahead with disability insurance, he will find it hard to support his family on his disability income from the government in some cases.  That is where it is up to each family to decide if the wife must work but in most cases, she just needs to be content with his income if it is truly enough.

    Adam Clarke's commentary speaks of nature teaching us these things, these are foundational things that shouldn't change:

    "For what are called the dictates of nature lead men to feel for and provide for their own families."

    Barnes commentary goes on to say even more in support of the preparations that men should think about concerning their families:

    "The meaning is, that the person referred to is to think beforehand of the probable needs of his own family, and make arrangements to meet them.  ...according to our measure, we are to anticipate what will be the probable needs of our families, and to make arrangements to meet them.  ...We may hence learn that it is possible to deny the faith by conduct as well as by words; and that a neglect of doing our duty is as real a denial of Christianity as it would be openly to renounce it."

    Men should provide and that includes prepare.  Why should a woman have to even worry about what to do in the event of her husband's death?  Why should she have to worry about working if he becomes disabled?  She shouldn't, if he prepared for these things ahead of time.  She should never have to face such things and I think that is where you find a lot of scared women holding on to their jobs as their "security" for the future, when they should be able to trust in their husband and most importantly, God.  Men should be man enough to have wives that don't fear the future, or in that matter, even the present.  She should also not spend his earnings foolishly and destroy her own family with her own greed but that is the next post.

    So women, let the men have their pants back and men, put them on!

    Part 1 "The Why" for Women - Living On One Income

    I'm starting a series about Living On One Income in hopes of helping those that are on the fence about doing so and continuing to encourage and help those that are doing so. Obviously you know that we live on one income, my husband's, and I'm a homekeeper. The first post in this series is going to be about “why” you should live on one income as a Christian woman.

    God intended for women to marry, bear children and keep the home and that is a full-time commitment. When you step outside of God's design, you live on the arm of flesh financially as you don't really 'need' God anymore in that regard. You also forsake what scripture told you not to – bearing children and loving your husband.

    Titus 2:4-5
    That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
    To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

    1 Timothy 5:14
    I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house...

    I've talked to MANY women over the years that are older than me, even my own mother and these women have come to the place of being able to admit their regrets of not doing God's Word. They have grown children that want nothing to do with them or have distant relationships because they weren't really there for them growing up. They were off working on a job and their child(ren) came home to an empty house. When mom did come home, she was grumpy and tired and the last thing she wanted to do was cook, clean or spend time with her children. All she can do is collapse from fatigue, agonize over everything that had to be done and feel the guilt pour over her that she couldn't be more. It is one thing to be forced into this life by being a single mother but it is another thing to CHOOSE it as a married woman. We will have to give an account for how we spent our lives, time and obedience to God's Word and order for the family.

    If I could turn back time... as the song goes. I hear it all the time from mothers telling me to keep doing what I'm doing and how they wish they could have done the same. They would give anything to go back and have that time with their children and not just their children but also their husband, who was also neglected. Do they remember the “stuff” they bought with the money they made? No. Most of the time the women I talk to, remember the TIME they were NOT there when they should have been. That is a miserable life to live in your later years – years of regret that God has to heal. I've always said that I want to be in my rocking chair when I'm old and smile on all those memories of me and my children and husband – all the fun we had, meals I prepared out of love, special treats I made for them that lit up their faces, being available for my husband and how I taught my children their education and raised them up in God's Word. Stuff won't matter then – it will be the memories and hopefully, my children and their children around me and seeing the legacy live on.

    So, what is it mom that drives you to work? Most say it is because they “have to” and we all know that isn't true because you are surrounded by so many that make it and what about God - does He not provide anymore? Isn't it rather greed? Money for what? More stuff. Or maybe you say it is because you need to feel a “purpose” in life. Since when is God's purpose of being a wife, mother and homekeeper not enough for you? Who are you listening to? Others will say it is because they can't stand their kids. Well, that is easy to fix – if you were the parent that you are supposed to be and trained your children properly, you would LOVE to be around them!! People that say they can't stand their kids are really saying that they choose to not train them to be loveable kids or maybe their children are acting out because they are not receiving the attention they need. Or maybe sometimes it is in the mirror – they are mimicking you and that is what you cannot stand.

    Those are all excuses because it isn't money you need, it isn't more greed you need, it isn't a purpose you need or to get away from your children – it comes down to needing to be who you were made to be and you will never be happy (now or when you are older) until you fulfill your God-given role.

    "Poor" - Depends On Who You Ask

    We discussed what real wealth is in my previous post and how if you have no debt and some cash in your pocket, you are in the top 75% of Americans.  We had an ER bill that my insurance denied coverage saying it didn't meet "medical criteria" for a medical emergency.  On the third try, someone finally got it covered and upon notifying the hospital billing, I found out that they had already zeroed out the bill because they consider us poor.  We are so poor that they don't require any payment from us at all for our future hospital or ER visits - it is all covered at 100% and that is without insurance even.  We are poor according to who you ask...

    Poor - hmm, I don't feel poor.  We have a nice 1500 sq. ft mobile home we rent that has 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms with big walk-in closets and our master bathroom has a garden tub.  We have a large pantry room between our living and dining rooms and we have a locked, electric-provided shed to use as storage and a nice-sized yard with a large deck.  Not just that but we drive a car that we own.  We have high-speed internet at 100 Mbps, a home phone and even a cell phone.  We buy healthy food and most of it is organic and we sometimes eat out.  We don't have any government assistance and buy insurance for most of the crucial things.  This is what "poor" looks like to our state.

    It was great to know our bill was taken care of but then it was weird thinking that they consider my husband's pay covering the 4 of us as poverty.  I thought poverty was where you live in shack, only have rice and beans all day and have no transportation.  Our family is poor but we are richer than 25% of Americans put together as we have no debt.  Compared to the world - we are in the 1%, as are most Americans.

    I laugh at the thought of us being "poor."  It just isn't so.  I'm guessing they get those numbers based on family size by going by the "average" American that has debt up to their eyeballs and mortgages that are too big for their income.  We are part of the "weird" Americans that have no debt and plan only buying a house that they can afford at 25% of our pay and save for the future - and that makes us "poor" to the government (who is in debt up to their eyeballs btw).

    How Do You Determine Real Wealth?

    My financial posts on this blog are becoming some of the most read posts of my entire blog and I love writing about financial things and seems like others like reading it, so before I start the series on Living On One Income, I wanted to talk about wealth.

    Most people think of wealth as making a lot of income but that is not true wealth.  I know people that make large amounts of income that are poor and I know people that make low amounts of income that are wealthy.  What wealth really comes down to is what your net worth is.  What does net worth mean?

    Net Worth = Assets - Debts

    Your net worth is a true indicator of your financial situation.  That is how you can make $100K a year but the guy next to you that makes $30K could be wealthier than you because he has no debt.  As the saying goes, when the dirt hits the fan, you will find out what your financial situation is.  (That is the "Christianized" version of that saying)  What happens when the income stops - are you rich or poor?

    If you have zero debt and $10 in your pocket, you have more wealth than 25% of Americans put together!  This is because 25% of Americans are in debt and  that gives them a negative net worth.  If the banks and lenders called for their payments in full today - how many Americans would be destitute?  That is why it is good to owe no one, pay your debts and be a lender, not a borrower.

    You can use this website to calculate your net worth: http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/networth/networth.html You can see what your assets are (savings, retirement, possessions, stocks/bonds, etc.) and then subtract your debts (mortgage, credit, etc.) and you will see what your financial situation really is.

    Most Americans do not even pay off their mortgages in their lifetime.  They refinance, they take out loans against their homes and by doing this, they spend their lives with a negative net worth.  In America, you can have a 3,000 square foot home and luxury cars in the driveway and be POOR!  In America, you can live in a trailer with a junker in the driveway and be wealthy!  Isn't that amazing?

    Was Jesus for taking from the rich and giving to the poor, or wealth equality as they call it today?  Jesus likened the kingdom of heaven to a man that took from the one that had less and gave it to the one with more, who was more responsible with his money!  Matthew 25 

    Real wealth is being wise with God's money, yes I said God's money because as a Christian you should understand that the money you receive is God's.  Once you acknowledge that, you will want to treat His money in a correct way and not squander it.  You will also pay tithe of 10% of all your increase - that is, if your heart is in the right place but that is another blog post.

    I'll Never Be The Same

    Romans 8:18

    For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

    This miscarriage has changed me so much that I don't feel I will ever be the same.  It changed me in a good way, some things that I needed changed that I didn't even realize.  It sparked something inside.  It built up my faith by bringing it down to the test of my life.  I felt those feelings of God not there - I related to Jesus in a small way.  I was alone in the garden praying when others fell asleep but I couldn't stop as it was me that was getting ready to go through what I did - alone.  I got a taste of the sufferings of Jesus in so many ways the past few years.

    I got woken up to the feeling of the grief of death, which I had never really felt before as I've only lost an aunt when I was young.  Sure, I've had miscarriages but they were so early, they didn't really make me grieve in the way this one did.  I got a taste of the future of life - grieving of losing those I love, it is inevitable and will come.  I think to myself - Oh God, do we have to bear this?  Can't you just come soon so I won't have to see the death of my parents and others I know?  Then, I think of those that need the extra time before Christ comes to be saved and I see my selfishness.  God, Your grace is sufficient.

    I'll never be the same.  God has already started moving in amazing ways in my life, in my soul, my heart and my mind.  He burned off the dross.  I survived the fire.  Here I am Lord.....my eyes are open.

    Friends, let God fine-tune you through your trials.  You can let them make you or you can let them ruin you - we have the choice!  "Refine me O Lord!" should always be our prayer and like Paul, we can thank God for our sufferings - it is what makes us better.

    2 Corinthians 12:9-10

    And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

    Average Family Water Usage

    I shared our family's average monthly electric usage in this post, and now I would like to share our water usage.  I had seen an article stating the average family of 4 spends $80 a month on their water bill and I was shocked.  We rarely go above $25 a month on our water bill!  I had to find out how many gallons we were using a month and then it became a little complicated.

    On your water bill, it will tell you how much water you used that month but sometimes it is in cubic feet.  Ours is in cubic feet and I had no idea how to convert that to gallons, so the search began for answers.  I found this conversion information on the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/our_water/understanding_your_bill.html  That told me that one CCF (Centum Cubic Feet) is equal to 748 gallons.  One CCF is one hundred cubic feet.  Our average water usage for a month is 700 cubic feet and that is equal to 7 CCFs.  I now had the formula to find out how many gallons - 7 CCFs x 748 gallons = 5,236 galllons.

    Our Family's Average Water Usage
    700 cubic feet = 5,200 gallons a month

    The average family of 4 has an average water usage of 1600-2000 cubic feet a month, which is about 12,000-15,000 gallons per month. We are using less than HALF the amount of the average family and that explains why our bill is $20-$25 a month.  The average for one person is 100 gallons a day or 3,000 gallons a month.  So at 3,000 gallons per person, you can estimate easily for your average depending on your family size.  For example, a family of 6 would use an average of 18,000 gallons of water a month.

    Who knew we were such big water savers?  I don't really have any tips because I don't know what we are doing that others aren't.  I do know that we are mindful of water usage in that we don't let water run for no reason.  Here is a chart of the average number of gallons certain things in your home use that may be helpful in cutting costs and the website also provides some links to calculators:  http://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html

    Thoughts on My 2nd Trimester Miscarriage Loss

    I was 18 weeks pregnant when I found out that our baby had died many weeks before.  The size of the baby was measuring 11w 5dy, but they said that they shrink, so there is really no way of knowing the exact time it died inside of me.  Estimations are that it died in the 14th week, which was around New Year's and then spent the month of January shrinking back to the size it was when we found out.  I was just 4 days away from finding out the gender, though I really thought it was a boy, we just will never know.  We were going to call the baby Kyle for a boy or possibly Emma for a girl, so we named it Kyma since we don't know.

    That image on the ultrasound is not only imbedded in my head - they gave us a copy of it (because I requested it.)  I knew when I saw it on the screen that it just didn't look right.  My baby's body was curled up and it was so small, not moving and there was no heartbeat.  Even though I knew the baby was probably not alive, I wasn't ready to know that not only was it dead, my body kept it in there for so long, it just didn't want to let go.  I didn't want to let go but once they saw it was possibly in there for 6 weeks, they had to rush it out of me.

    I kept thinking maybe it was just asleep really good and curled up.  Maybe they were wrong and its heart was beating and they just didn't put the wand on the right spot.  "Are you sure it is dead!?" I said over and over again.  Maybe God could raise it from the dead, should we pray?  Even after they took it out, I would put my hands on my stomach and pray for God to put it back in there.

    No one told me that if I had been induced, I could have held it and buried it.  No one told me that I could have requested the same after the D&C.  No one told me I could have its body tested to find out if the reason it died was something it had wrong.  No one told me that they might miss part of the pregnancy in the D&C and I would pass it at home.  No one told me that I was in shock and that intense feeling of grieving would come over me when I came back to reality.  No one prepared me for the feelings I would feel about God.

    There are so many questions, regrets, emotions - my life is a blur.  I didn't even feel God for a week, it was as though He wasn't there.  I felt like discarded baggage by a God I thought always wanted good things for me.  How was this good?  How could God let a woman in Lake Stevens, WA have 3 children and abuse them and leave them locked up in a house with no heat or food and feces everywhere and let my baby die?  Why didn't God stop it?  Why didn't God heal the baby if something was wrong with it?  Was God unable to stop it?  Do things just happen to us and God doesn't have control?  Is it worth praying if things are just going to happen?  Does God love me?

    Psalm 42:3
    My tears have been my meat day and night....

    God, you know I would have loved this baby.  You know I would have raised it up in Your Word.  You know me God!  However, I know that you can love it more than me and my baby is with You forever and I will see Kyma one day.  Heaven got so much sweeter and my longing for it, so much more intense.

    Where Do I Go From Here?

    This past miscarriage was the hardest I've ever experienced because it was the only one of the 5 I've had that I had seen the baby, seen it move and heard its heartbeat three times over several weeks.  I thought I was in the safe zone and I admit I took it for granted.  I felt like I was detached from my body in the first 24 hours or so.  My doctor noticed this but didn't say anything until today.  Some people experience that initial shock and numbness and disassociate themselves from the trauma and that is what happened to me and now I realize that.

    It did finally hit me and I've been grieving very hard experiencing a pain that I've never gone through.  I've read a lot and though it hurt, it helped too.  I talked a lot with my husband and that has been helping in the process.  I went through guilt and blame thinking I did this somehow by not eating enough or taking tylenol when I had the flu or doing too much, etc.  That is normal too from what I read and was told.  I also felt like I was being punished for something from God - and that is even a normal feeling in this type of loss.

    So comes the question of where do I go from here?  It is hard to have hope again but I know that one day it will come back.  I had thought this was my "sign" or whatever from God that I just can't have babies anymore but my husband does not believe so and doesn't want me to close the door on future children.  My doctor already did a lot of tests and we will have more tests soon on my recurrent miscarriage issue.

    I try and think of the future and it is hard as all my dreams for this year revolved around this baby coming.  Focusing on my husband, children and home again is helping me and I'm slowly immersing myself back into my life.  I know one thing for sure - I wouldn't want to go through this without God!  As a friend of mine added today, she wouldn't want to go through even life without God and that is so true!!  Thank you readers for your prayers and support, I appreciate it and am thankful for each one of you!!

    In His Arms

    I saw this on a blog and wanted to share as it really comforted me through my loss yesterday and I think it would do the same for those who have lost a baby as well:


    My dearest little baby, my dearest little flower,
    The time of your departing, was my darkest hour.

    I longed to see and touch you, I longed to hold you close,
    I dreamed of counting fingers, and all your little toes.

    I dreamed of what we'd name you, and the joy that you would bring
    To your brother and your sister, oh how they'd laugh and sing!

    For there is nothing quite as precious as a brand new little life,
    And nothing quite as empty, when it's takes eternal flight.

    Others think I'm mourning over such a little thing,
    "We'll have plenty more and our lives are still the same."

    But what is greater than life? And what is deeper than its loss?
    Is it not what Jesus gave us when He died upon the cross?

    Life is the greatest of all gifts, life is the greatest of all joys,
    Life is ever so much more than just another girl or boy.

    And so our lives are NOT the same, they never will be again,
    Because we'll never know or see, all that might have been.

    If you had come into the world and lived life to the full,
    Perhaps you would have stopped another shooting at a school,

    Or maybe you would have been the one to find a cure for cancer,
    Maybe you would have found that long and sought for answer.

    Of course the Lord can still choose to use another way,
    But maybe it would have been you, who on earth can say?

    But no, they never stop to think of what you might have been,
    As life is not highly regarded by our modern man.

    They move on and they forget. The unborn never gets a thought,
    They say things without thinking and crush a mother's heart.

    It's amazing how you've changed me, and for that I have to smile,
    I'll not soon forget the lessons I've learned through this great trial.

    I'll use it for God's glory and to bring others comfort too,
    It wouldn't be this way at all, if it hadn't been for you.

    I'm so glad God gave me a glimpse, as painful as it's been,
    For I see His unseen hand, and I trust His master plan.

    I'm so glad you're in His arms, though I'd rather have you here,
    But it won't be long until I'm there, holding you my little dear.

    © Ashley Plourd