About that zero balanced budget

Despite his handful of not-entirely-Biblical concepts, I do much admire the teachings of His Financial Highness Dave Ramsey. And most of his ilk, in fact. They teach some really good stuff – much needed – make that, desperately needed. By a sobering number of us.

So we signed up a couple of years ago for the much-vaunted and highly worthwhile “Financial Peace University,” offered at our church. And those who’ve been through this iteration of the course are familiar with the terms “nerd” and “free spirit.” Basically, in any given two-adult household, you have one of each: the one who thinks budgets are exciting & necessary, and the one who thinks they are, well, nice suggestions for other families.

Well I’m the nerd in our family. Surprise, surprise. I skimmed ahead in the book (told you!) and saw the exciting part where we get to fill out a budget.

A “zero balanced” one.

You know, so your monthly income minus your monthly expenses (and savings) leaves you with zero.

It simply means every dime is accounted for – it’s just tracking. As Ramsey says, “Don’t wonder where your money went. You tell it where to go!”

And this was fun, filling in all those blanks, adding things up, adjusting this, adjusting that, adjusting again…and again…and again…until the line item marked “gifts” said zero and the line item marked “vacation” also said zero and the line item marked “entertainment” also said zero.

Because, you know, I was trying to get to ZERO on the very bottom line.

I massaged those numbers till I was cross-eyed. But I could not get that last line to zero. However I cut, however I sliced or diced or chopped or erased, that line was always in the negative.

I sat there, motionless, pencil eraser worn down to a nub, and stared at that bottom line. For minutes, not seconds. Pondering.

And I had two very different thoughts.

First: “Geez Louise this is depressing.”

Second: “Dear Jesus, you really are our provider.”

Because, on paper, our financial lives looked, okay, honestly, pathetic. The numbers simply didn’t add up.

But in real life – at home and at the grocery store and in the car and at the (online) bank – our days added up to unbelievable richness.

Not just the “oh well I’m glad we have our health and a loving family” – though those are rare enough and worth the term “wealthy” themselves.

But even in ways that, again, simply didn’t add up.

Food in the pantry and fridge. Good food.

Cars (note the plural!) that run. Comfortably.

Date nights (note the plural there too). Fun ones.

The absolute joy of tithing. Yes, joy. Tithes…and offerings too.

And a million other financial blessings – dance for our daughter, Scouts for our son, camping trips as a family, gifts under the Christmas tree, a gym membership, and enough new music and books to satisfy my soul. budget

Okay, well, maybe not enough books, because there really isn’t any such thing. (See “nerd” comment above.)

What would Dave Ramsey & Co. say to my “terrible” bottom line?

Don’t know. Don’t too much care, actually.

Because Jehovah Jireh. “The Lord Will Provide.”

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 2:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Back on the blog wagon

“His word is like a fire shut up in my bones,” lamented the Great Lamenting prophet, Jeremiah.

Well, I’m certainly no prophet, and what I have to say is 100% my own words – except what I blatantly steal from better writers, which is more than I will ever admit.

But all this writing for assignment lately (paid & volunteer) has gotten to me, and I have been reminded how much I do love this.

Some days it flows, y’all. Some days it don’t.

But nearly every day I wish that I could sit down just for these five minutes and put these things on paper (er, screen).

What things? Oh, my, it’s a varied assortment of pseudo-profundities and pseudo-poetry, rants, outpourings of gratitude, bafflements, and declarations that think they’re manifestos.

So, here goes. I’m getting back on the blog wagon (or is that “off the wagon”? I never can keep that metaphor straight). My friends Rhoda, Jenny, Cathy, and Dawn have joined those other bloggers I wish I knew personally (yeah, you, Hatmaker) to inspire me to take those five minutes – which inevitably turn into 10 – and put all this down.

Jesus is always getting to me (under my skin sometimes, sweet in my heart sometimes), and he’s been after me to say more. Something. Somewhere.

It’s not prophetic, but his creativity flows out of me in words, phrases, sentences, compositions that I have been idling for too long. We are created to create, as my friends Alisha and Dave are so fond of saying.

So, again, here goes. If you want to follow along, this is where I’ll be – every week. Join in.

me. Duh.

me. Duh.

Published in: on September 23, 2015 at 2:27 am  Leave a Comment