Sometimes You Have to Sell Your House

Budgeting. It might as well be a four-letter word. Despite the initial hatred of the idea, we learned how freeing it is to spend within a budget.

We never kept a close eye on where our paychecks went. We had one income for the most part while I was a stay-at-home mom. We paid the bills fine. We took vacations. But, we had a little bit of debt. Although it wasn’t much, it was there all the same. We both believe in tithing, and we made sure that didn’t fall through the cracks. Yet when opportunities came up to give something extra to a cause, we couldn’t do much, if anything.

A friend told me about YouNeedABudget.com. She told me what a huge difference it had made in her finances. We decided to try it out. We started keeping track of all our spending. It was tedious – keeping receipts, entering expenditures in the proper categories, budgeting the next paycheck. After about a year, we really started seeing a difference. It was becoming easier to pay bills, and we had a little left to save!

About the time we started budgeting, I got a full-time job working from home. That was a big jump in income from my stay-at-home mom pay… So, not only was our budgeting paying off, we were now able to start saving more and having extra for those times when we wanted to give to special offerings at church or give to a charity. We were also starting to get involved in missions. We both wanted to be able to give to missions, and also to be able to go on mission trips.

Sometimes you have to sell your houseMy husband felt it first. He half joked about selling our house and getting something less expensive. I always said, “No way! I don’t want to move!” We built our house on an acre and a third. We had a creek, trees, and lots of space (which is kind of a rare find in our area). We planned to raise our kids there until they graduated high school. I loved our home. We had lived there for 11 years.

In 2012, I went on a mission trip to Zambia. It’s funny how God uses mission trips to change our perspective. When I returned, I began to feel what my husband had already been feeling. “God, you want us to sell our house?”

This was a tough decision for me. However, I came to recognize this was something God was asking of us. He wanted to make it possible for us to have more freedom to be generous like never before. We could refuse and stay in the home we’d been comfortable in for so long. But in doing so, we would miss out on his greater plan.

Sometimes you have to sell your houseWe followed His leading and sold the house we loved. We moved 10 minutes away to another house the same size – with a considerably smaller yard. (My husband doesn’t mind the yard work so much now!) We cut our mortgage in half. We are living debt free. We have paid cash for home improvements, a new car, vacations, and mission trips. Last year, we were able to be generous like never before! God is providing for those in need through our obedience, and we are blessed in the process!

When God calls, He usually asks us to do something we might not do on our own. But, wow, what amazing things happen when we do what he asks! We are already seeing new things He has in mind for us. And, we’re ready to say, “Yes!” More to come…

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Trust Despite the Question Marks

My first mission trip was to Swaziland, Africa in 2008. I learned a lot about trusting in God’s provision when he calls us to do something for His kingdom.

It was September, 2007. I had just made the decision to go on my first mission trip. Wow, Africa! I was excited to be going on a performing arts trip. We were planning to partner with a local Wesleyan church for a free concert in a park in the middle of the city of Manzini. My role was to sing on the worship team, but also to dance with my two dancer friends. We had two dances as a group, and one dancer (not me) did a ballet solo on pointe.

DSC_0172Shortly after making the decision to go on this grand adventure, my husband and I took a vacation to Maine. It was beautiful! We stayed in a nice bed and breakfast on a hilltop with a wonderful view. A couple days before heading home, we spent the day hiking. Our trail followed the shoreline. The path was an uneven path, not a paved walkway. Yet, not too difficult. We were hiking on the mountain side. It was a full day, and I slept well that night!

The next morning, I awoke to something completely unexpected – pain – all over. Before I even got out of bed, I asked my husband to find me some ibuprofen. Was I THAT out of shape? Our trip ended, and we went home, but the pain continued. I’m not one to go to the doctor at the first sign of a cough or runny nose. I just ride it out until it’s gone. But this was different. The next week, I made an appointment. My pain was in most of my joints, on both sides. The doctor referred me to a rheumatologist. What just happened??

The day I went to the rheumatologist, the pain had gotten so bad I couldn’t even bend down to tie my shoes. What was I going to do? I was supposed to be traveling to Africa in 5 months. I began to give in to fear and anger – and doubt. The rheumatologist did lots of blood tests. My symptoms were presenting like rheumatoid arthritis. I began steroids to reduce the inflammation and pain. Then, she decided to put me on long term drugs used for treating RA. How were these going to affect me physically? Would there be side affects?

Do I go to Africa?

There were so many unknowns about the drugs, the arthritis and about going to Africa in general. I prayed to God to tell me what to do. After I got over the self-pity because of what I was experiencing, my fear began to subside. My prayers were being heard. I knew what I needed to do. I would NOT let the devil convince me that my fear should keep me home. I would go to Africa. And then there was peace.

The long flight was a bit difficult. I experienced some stiffness and pain, but it was manageable. The dancers and I rehearsed for quite a while after arriving and settling in. I overdid it. I started hurting and had to lay down for a while. That evening, we were supposed to dance at a worship service. When I woke up from my nap, the pain was still bad. It hurt to walk. How could I possibly dance? Fear began to set in again. How would I manage this trip if I can hardly walk? I prayed, and others prayed, too. This is where God showed me he gives power and ability to those he calls for a purpose.

About 45 minutes before the worship service was to begin, I started feeling better quickly. I realized I would be able to dance after all – and I did! I knew for a fact, that was God at work.

During the remainder of the trip, I still had some stiffness and pain, but every time I needed to walk, stand to sing, or dance, I was able. The glory of that goes to God who gives what we need just in time.

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Since then, the arthritis has only gotten better. I’ve never had an episode again like the first one. I still take medications, but on a much smaller scale. In fact, there is a possibility I will be off of them within the next couple years. We’re taking it slow just in case.

“He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” Psalms 103:3

Maybe He will heal my physical disease this side of Heaven. If not, I know my spiritual “diseases” are being healed daily. The lesson I learned on that trip to Swaziland about trust prepared me for more things to come.