God’s timing

Mike and I have been waiting for quite some time for some life-pieces to fall into place. Throughout most of it, I’ve been battling some serious anger, resentment, and overall frustration at Mike, but honestly also at God. Most of it has been my own image in my head of how I thought my life would look at this point (or by this age), and it is drastically different than I would’ve thought. 

I was reading in Luke the story of John the Baptist. The angel, Gabriel, just showed up to his dad, Zechariah, and said “this is going to happen.” Zechariah didn’t really believe him and asked, “how do I know?” Gabriel’s response is basically “shame on you. I’m a flipping angel and actually IN the presence of God, so now you’re mute till these things happen.” I remember always shaking my head growing up thinking how silly Zechariah is, an ANGEL showed up and told you!! How could you doubt God?! 

But now I read that section and I pause. First, Zechariah lived in the silent-years; there weren’t prophets, appointed kings, God wasn’t in a burning bush, and they had long since departed Egypt. Even in our time, is our reality really that different? Second, if an angel showed up, aside from freaking out in terror, if it told me what Gabriel told Zechariah, i.e. something that is HIGHLY unlikely will just come to be, would I really believe him right away? Wouldn’t I, in all my human glory, challenge them almost immediately? Without a doubt. I would challenge them without a doubt. 

Zechariah’s question I can relate to. It’s the ultimate question, can I trust what God says will happen and can I trust his timing in it? The on-the-spot moment, all rational thought flees and you’re left wondering where the hell has God plan been in it all?

That Zechariah’s response basically sums up how I’ve been feeling since January 2020. What has been the point? What are you (God) doing? How (if ever) is this going to come together? 

Life doesn’t just stop because you don’t feel like you have a sense of direction, or purpose, or know what’s happening yet. But my overall control, worry, and fear of the incontrollable have decreased. God has worked into some of those nooks and crannies, breathing out the disobedience of my faith in him. Things have suddenly taken a pretty big turn, direction, options, purpose, next steps… they’ve all popped up rather quickly. And like a brick hitting my head I go, “oh right! YOUR timing, God, not mine. DUH.” Then, the rational part of the brain that shuts off when an angel is talking to you kicks in, and I’m sure just like for Zechariah after losing his voice, or in your case the idea of life in your head, you look back at everything that God has timed perfectly and allowed to happen in his plan for you and go “of course these things will come to pass,” and you won’t even worry if these new plans you think are of God don’t pan out because the angel is gone now, you’re already down the road instead of just entering it, and you realize “oh, I guess it just works out in his time anyway.” 

I might not have questioned an angel, but I’ve been questioning God for over a year now. I think I’m just beginning to get it. God’s timing is everything. And his plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope for a future isn’t referring to anything in this life, as much as I sometimes might wish it to be so, but for the continual cultivation of my soul for my life with him.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years. ”The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” Luke 1:18-20

Tithe

Growing up in the church, we’re always told that 10% of our income should be given to the church.

Several church plants/fund raising and who knows how many sermons later, I still roll my eyes just as heavily every time that message-theme pops up.

First, nowhere in the bible does it say 10%. This is taking out of the book of Leviticus (27:30) in terms of how much land/crops/etc. the Israelites were to set aside for God. Then again in the book of Mark (12:41-44) we’re given an example of tithing, in this case a widow versus the wealthy. But no definitive amount is listed.

My most recent exposure to church-funds raising has left me shaking my head. Most of the call to actions are challenges, “Give and see how God gives to you,” “Give and see how your perspective is changed,” “Give and see what we the church can do.” All relevant and good points. More importantly, as a Christian, we believe we are stewards of all we posses therefore making the whole idea easier to understand and justify giving to God. It’s his money after all. But for me, I have an issues with church pushing, all but demanding, you be tithing regularly to their cause. Yes, churches are important, buildings need maintenance, people need a place to go, and the list goes on. However, there are MORE things you can be giving to that are impacting local and global communities better than I personally believe a lot of churches can and will. Churches require staffing, salaries, benefits, maintenance, etc. The cost can be high, justly so, to support all the people that are living and dedicating their life to the church’s mission. One huge benefit of this is that churches can host numerous ministries as a result. They can be the platform other outreaches can use for practical reasoning.

I still don’t like the pushing. I have just finished over a month worth of sermons telling me how to give, why to give, what to give, and when to give. In my life, sometimes I have given more out of discipline and obedience than my heart being in the right place. I don’t think that’s wrong, although ideal you’re working towards your heart being in alignment with the action.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

However, sometimes people’s circumstances are just too much for them to be giving; too much debate, a known huge expense coming, barely scrapping by, and in those instances we are directed to that chapter in Mark. But not because a church or pastor is telling you to. I believe personal financial guidance and overall stewardship encouragement would have a greater impact for the people of Christ.

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. – 2 Corinthians 8:12

I have used the 10% as a guiding block of where to start, but I personally hope to be giving and using what God has given me on a much larger scale than that in my life. I also understand that sometimes the barn (or church) needs to be raised and obviously they need funds to do it, and there are always some great biblical points to take out of the “money-bag” sermons.

Here are some things I’ve gathered over the years:

  • Earthly treasures can’t follow us into eternity (this does NOT mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy them. See Solomon.) Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Luke 12:33-34
  • Money (or time, or resources) can be used to create eternal impact (this is cool to think about) both for the giver and receiver: You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. – 2 Corinthians 9:11
  • God is generous, so we should be too: Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. – Hebrews 13:16
  • You can’t serve money and God: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:10

This was mostly a rant, but needless to say it’s been a good challenge of making sure my perspective is on God and not just what’s next.

Here are some of my favorite missions (and a church trying to build) if you’re at all interested or unsure where to start:

Drop your favorite charities in the comments! I always love to know what else is out there!

All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. – Proverbs 21:26

Anchor

Ely, MN

Working through some yoga this weekend, too exhausted to convince myself to do a regular workout, I got to the part where the video asks you to set a mantra for the duration of the practice. Usually it’s some self affirmation, “I am strong,” “I am worthy,” “I am free,” and whatever else. All good things to remind yourself, with a Christ centered lense for sure. This time around it was about your breath being your anchor, which I right away found insteresting because God breathed life into us from the beginning. Our breathe is our anchor, but our breathe itself is of God. So I repeated “Christ is my Anchor. My Anchor is Christ.” It felt so powerful and also so peaceful.


” You will keep in perfect peace those whose mindsa re steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.”

– Isaiah 26:3-4

Everyone has their doubts and there are moments where I lay in bed praying “please be real, please be real, please be real.” But there have been so many before me and even more after me challenging, questioning, seeking, and proving that God is real. And when I look back at my own life, my own walk, and I reflect on the promises God has given us, I am reminded that not once has he let me down.

I will doubt, I will struggle, I will get caught in my own web of creation, completely unfocused on Christ and what, where, and who my identity lies in, but he is always faithful. I’m not nearly as biblically versed as I should be in my faith, but when I seek, I always seem to find.

I’ve been working towards focusing on not letting my own selfish ambitions define me, my worth, my identity. It’s hard. A daily (hourly) struggle for me. But as I get ready to (hopefully) enter back into the workforce, I am working towards challenging myself to remember I am not defined by what I can or can’t accomplish or what people think. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work hard and strive to achieve, but that I should remember Christ is my Anchor and my Anchor is Christ. Life (or death) doesn’t seem so terrifying when I remember that.

“God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sactuary behind the curtain,”

– Hebrews 6:18-19

Valentines

❤️❤️❤️

I was going to write this whole post about this holiday and how sweet it is, how even when single I loved it for a variety of reasons, but I honestly had a pretty rough week leading up to it and I just couldn’t muster the happy-go-lucky feelings I usually have surrounding it. Even going into this week, the PMS-turned-period emotions have trailed my like a faithful puppy setting a less then thrilled outlook on life at the moment.

But I still love v-day and despite my crappy week and mood, I had a fantastic one. One thing I’ve been working on (and admittedly failing at last week/this week) is owning the fact that I am in control of my reaction, response, and emotions to any given situation or circumstance. Despite the crappy week, I buckled up and got excited about what I DO have for my Valentine weekend.

My thought process went a little something like this:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Trust in the LORD with all your hear and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straights.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

First, the things I was upset about weren’t anything important when looking at life. They have no barring on my well being and it wasn’t as if God was purposefully screwing over all and any plans I had. Second, if I wanted to have a good weekend, I was responsible for making that happen. Not God, not the stars aligning, not Mike… me. If I wanted to have a great weekend, feel loved-up and romanced, I had to CREATE the mood and act upon it for myself. If I want Mike to be fun and romance-y, I have to be fun and romance-y. Third, my attitude towards Mike and my marriage are seeking out God’s purpose and intent with marriage. It’s seeking his will and his way over mine and resting in the promise that he will direct it either way. Some of the things bothering me are 100% circumstantial, but how I engage and treat Mike, especially on v-day weekend, is 100% my own actions.

The good news is it was a great weekend. Mike has been working a ton and that was honestly the most togetherness and time in each others presence we’ve had in probably a month. It wasn’t anything crazy, but it was much needed. We kicked it off Friday with a Dave Ramsey live event (if you’re ever looking for something to do check out live-streaming events about whatever you might be interested in!), Saturday was half chores, but we finished the day with home-made charcuterie boards, wine, and some movies, and Sunday we hosted some single friends for dinner.

I hope you had a good vday. I would love to know what you did!

You can’t just stop

I was thinking about a lesson with an old trainer way back in my riding days, she would always yell at me “Jacki, you can’t stop riding the course just because you screwed up the first fence!” Immature fourteen year old me definitely couldn’t understand what she was trying to implement into my life at that time, but as 2020 closed out and 2021 started off a little rocky, I feel like that lesson couldn’t be more applicable.

Several years ago I was introduced to the tradition of instead of making new year resolutions or goals, to pick a word and try and see how that word might play out in your life. One year it was thirst (thirsting in my faith), one was grace, faith, wait, and so on. It’s amazing how much you see that word pop up throughout the year and prompts reflection on the thoughts surrounding that word. Sometimes I would very clearly know what the word was going to be and other years I haphazardly choose something that didn’t really have that big of a meaning throughout the year. But I like to always try.

So this year I’m going with the word Seek. There’s a lot of unknowns up ahead for Mike and I, and as I look back over the last year, I definitely see a pattern of just sort of being lost. I want to seek what it is next for our lives with Christ, whatever that means, and work towards being more accountable and intentional with the direction my life is heading. Because I am awful at all the above.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8

How about you? Do you have a new years resolution? Or would you try the word idea? What do you like to focus on and look forward to heading into a new year? Because we can’t just stop or give up because the year has started off.. well, like crap. It can still turn into a beautiful ride, especially if we set our eye above.

Looking back.

I was stuck awake one night with my mind racing, looking back at what this year has been. The thoughts started really dark, but I was able to turn them around. I grabbed my phone and furiously typed everything out next to my sleeping husband. I think it perfectly summarizes a lot in my life right now and more importantly what this year has been to me. I apologize for the length in advance, but hopefully you walk away feeling a little bit more encouraged that you’re not alone.

2020 started off with a bang.

Newly married, newly jobless, new apartment, new city, new life, and overwhelming shock.

The holidays were over and the hustle and bustle of just creating new everything had ended. 2020 had rung in loud and clear. THIS would be THE year.

Until suddenly it wasn’t.

There I found myself. Alone, emotional, distraught and directionless. I had done it! I was freshly married, free of what I hope was the worst job of my career, in a new city with the world at my feet. Everything was supposed to be set, accept it wasn’t.

I told myself I would get a quick easy little job to fill the time, but when I was finally honest with myself, I didn’t want to just work at Target. I told myself that marrying this guy was going to be great and life would just work itself out, until it wasn’t like I thought it would be. I told myself we would be moved by august and none of it would matter anyway, but we’re still here.

The depression took hold and the light at the end of the tunnel dimmed.

What had I done?

Or more importantly, what had God done.

Jobless, sitting in the same city for another year, marriage seemed like a mistake on so many levels, and who I was as a person no longer existed. I had failed.

And I cried.

In January, I realized that while I might not want to work at Kroger, I needed to do something. I thank God for my lifelong family friends. The brother was building his own business near by and needed help a couple days a week with basic work in a warehouse. It was my saving grace. Having no real social contact had worn me down more then I had realized. It was honest pay and a flexible schedule. I felt I had earned this little reprieve after the insanity of grad school right into a full time job. It also allowed me to play house wife and dally around with chores, etc. It wasn’t what I had wanted, but it was enough.

Around February, my husband had been studying for the GMAT for months. He had a great score, worked on a million applications, and spent a couple thousand dollars when it was all said and done to get into grad school. At the end of April we realized it wasn’t going to happen this year. He hadn’t gotten into any of the programs he had wanted to. We made the decision to stay in Columbus another year. It was the best decision we could make, but I felt conflicted.

For the first time in my life, I found myself buried in my thoughts and I couldn’t dig myself out. The plan that was going to save me wasn’t going to be a reality. But I realized that in not going to grad school this year was that I could do something about my mental state because our health insurance wasn’t going to run out. Even better, I was able to spend much needed additional time with my family. Despite the positive outlook and the much needed income, I couldn’t get myself to look forward to tomorrow. Five months in to it all, I started therapy.

In May, Corona was in full swing. Mike was furloughed and we stayed with my parents for two weeks. Things slowly returned to normal, well the new normal, and work picked back up; my warehouse job had exploded over night. Therapy continued through the summer and I was taught how to use mental tools to help me re-examine my reality with truth and optimism, i.e. my world wasn’t going to end. More importantly it was a life lesson in get over yourself and take toe God. Around September, I started to feel myself again.

The next few months blend together. Me pushing myself to create the type of life I want to live now and not dwelling on all that it wasn’t, because the truth was that life was pretty damn good. A little bit of sled doubt crept back in when I learned my husband had thought I would do more or be more and financially contribute in ways I simply hadn’t. So I started applying for jobs like a fresh faced undergrad hoping anything would stick and crying when they all fell through. At my one year mark of being unemployed, I broke down for the 100th time. My mental health had changed and my vigor for life returned, but my circumstances weren’t any different.

I was still jobless, my marriage was still a frustration, and we still weren’t sure where we were living next. The thought process went something like this: I hadn’t fully committed to team mentality, I had wasted a year of potential for productivity on nothing, I hadn’t done or seen or lived a fraction of the life I had wanted to, and God still hadn’t given me an answer on any of my questions.

My Leo/type 3 inner being was crushed. The feeing of failure was all around me and I couldn’t even comprehend what would be next. So I called my dad.

He told me that every ounce of everything I was feeling was normal. He told me I hadn’t failed anyone or anything. He told me I wasn’t letting anyone, even myself, down. He told me I didn’t waste anything by nothing. He told me there are millions of people in my shoes feeling how I feel and that every single one of them works out how they should. He told me that God didn’t forget me and he wasn’t playing a joke. He told me I was going to be ok. And I believe him.

Then I remembered everything I have done this year. I helped my friend build his business up. I helped my oldest friend with her new puppy while she worked and we went to her parents lake house (finally!!). I got to travel down to Cincy whenever I wanted to spend time with my mom and family. I got to help move my sister across the country because I had the time. I went with my bestie to some random blogger event because I could. I spent a whole day with a new friend creating new community. I traveled to more Ohio state parks then I knew existed. I got to be a model for eyebrow-microblading because I had the time to spare. I invested (and lost money) in attempting to learn how to sell on amazon, but learned so many fascinating piece for selling online. I became a MaryKay consultant, because why not? I started a podcast with my bestie and did I mention how much time I got to spend with my family?

None of the issues have just disappeared in my life. None of those thoughts have just gone away. But here’s what I’ve learned… correction, I am learning in (from) 2020.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
— Isaiah 40:28-31

It’s December. This awful dreaded year is coming to a close, with the ‘rona taking us down for two weeks. I’ve hated this year and I hate how I have felt most of it. I still feel like a failure and that probably won’t change for awhile. But now whenever I struggle with the voices inside, I remember what I have done and lean in to hope… then the light gets a little bit brighter at the end of that tunnel again. And I remember… the year’s almost over, Jesus still loves me, and wow… look at what God has done.

Grateful

We made it through the first round of holiday travels! Quick trip out to Iowa to visit the in-laws before turning around to spend some time with my family.

For those of you who don’t know, I am one of six kids. While most of my siblings have varying levels of family tolerance I love when we are all at the ‘rents. As you can imagine, it’s a lot easier said then done, especially as everyone gets older. This thanksgiving we were missing our oldest sibling due to work, but hopefully we’ll all be together over Christmas. I think this year marks one of my favorite thanksgivings to date.

I have found a new appreciation for how my nuclear family unit has changed and grown over the last five years. We had family game night several days in a row and no one stormed out of the room — believe me, this is monumental for Tonuccis. We even picked out a tree, cut it down, re-strung the lights three times, and decorated without a single argument. It might not have been with everyone, but the time spent with any of my siblings and parents fills me up.

The downside to the whole shebang was mom passed out the ‘rona with the turkey this year. Don’t worry we’re all varying levels of sick and recovering. But even that has lead to group-texts, side chats, phone convos, etc. that seemed all but unlikely even just 3 years ago. Family engagement my mom would push for (and then throw her hands up and called it quits after the fifth fight broke out) is actually enjoyable.

So despite being terribly sick the last few days, one week post thanksgiving I’m still feeling overwhelming gratitude for the big man and all that he has done and is doing in my family.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

So what was your thanksgiving like? I hope you didn’t catch the ‘rona!

Fake.

I’ve noticed this growing trend on social media. I know the algorithm is just trying to tailor itself towards what you click on/look at and how much time you spend looking at it, but what I’m finding really alarming is the amount of plastic surgery and “transformation” videos/reals/clips etc. that keep popping up. I know the algorithm is seeing my “engagement” as a good thing… But is it?

I end up putting my phone down thinking “one day that procedure will work so well on my face,” “I wonder if this new technique works now? Would it correct X?” Then I’m fixated. Should I talk to a professional? Is this something that might cure or fix X? Should I try this new product or that new hack? I stand in the mirror and just correct, correct, correct, correct. Even if I try and counter act it with more “authentic” and “real” accounts to follow, I still critique and criticize my own face and body. Endlessly.

And the gram just keeps showing me more.

Is it bad that I want to try and find a solution for some things that bother me? No, I don’t really think so. But it IS bad for me to think that there’s something wrong. That there’s something wrong and it needs to be FIXED. Every body and every face is made differently. Carries features differently. Connects joints, fat, movement, etc. differently. If I’m really honest and stop nit-picking, take a step back and try to look objectively? My mom is right, I don’t need whatever latest and great procedure I sent her. There’s nothing that needs to be “fixed.” There’s nothing even wrong.

I saw a post about normalizing real houses and homes, not these fancy-social influencers’ half paid-for brand-new renos or builds. It made me think of my face, my perception of my face and my body. No, it’s not perfectly curated to optimal “attractiveness”. My biggest hate is my dark circles and sunken eyes along with my middle love-pouch.

But here’s the truth, my skin has NEVER looked or felt better. The dark circles? I don’t think anyone has ever told me they legitimately notice them, especially with the concoction of skin care I use. And my body? Never been more in shape and in-tune with itself. Stronger then I thought I would be and determined to keep improving. THAT is the truth. No earthly fix is going to solve the fact that my body is NORMAL. Completely and totally normal. Better yet? I get to trust that the one who made me doesn’t think I’m ugly.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14

In fact, most of the bible instructs us not to put too much emphasis on external appearances or put much stock in people who make it their everything. We’re told it’s fleeting. What does it say about me if my top focus is looking better? If I let it consume almost every action and thought throughout the day?

It’s hard. Everything is in our faces comparing everything. Try this or do that. Talk to this professional, look at these results. So let’s change it. Let’s #normalizenormalfaces because they’re beautiful and they’re real. And they mean so much to the one who made them then anything we can do to them. Hopefully, I’ll start remembering that.

#normalizenormalfaces

Envy

I am a HUGE comparison junky. Always have been and probably always will be (to some extent). It’s a deeply rooted pride issues that I have struggled with forever.

I’m jealous. I covet. The envy is all consuming. It’s a struggle.

Combatting it is so hard for me. My type 3/esfj/leo/approval & people pleaser in me strives to be seen, accepted, respected, looked-up to and most importantly first. No matter what stage of life I am in, there’s always someone somewhere that I am knowingly or unknowingly comparing myself to. I WILL be better then them, I WILL go further then them, I WILL be X then them. In some ways it has been good for me, pushing me in ways I probably couldn’t have pushed myself alone. But in other ways it’s not good. Hyper focused on someone else’s life.

So what do I do? How do I combat it?

It’s not easy and most times I 100% fail. A lot of it is mental exercises and strength, repetitive reminders the difference between what you perceive and the truth. More importantly, it’s arming myself with biblical truth. Equipping myself in God’s truth and his word.

Job 2:5 says, “Surely resentment destroys the fool, and jealousy kills the simple.” and Proverb 13:40 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” It destroys you, it reveals the simplicity of your own attitude by letting it suck you in. I’ve felt that. I STILL feel it. I don’t win every time. I’ve physically and mentally feel the rotting of my bones and the destruction of my thoughts to simplicity.

But the book of James reminds me “But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. (3:14-16).” and it’s SO TRUE. The disorder in my thoughts, let alone my life, that the envy and jealousy creates… it’s destructive.

So how do I, how do we combat it? Well, I think part of it is acknowledging you’re struggling with it. Second, I think the goal is to work towards God’s heart and his view on it. Again in James (4:7-8) “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts. you double minded.” and Jesus tells us exactly what that looks like “Love the Lord your God with all your hear and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39.

If we are focusing our eyes on God and not things of this world, are we so bothered by what we don’t have (see Colossians 3)? I know I’m not. Even more so, if we’re looking up, we tend to have a more gratitude focused mindset about what’s surrounding us here. We aren’t consumed by what we don’t have or what we’ve been robbed of because God promises us that his peace and Jesus’s power will guard out hearts (Philippians 4:6-9). And just as Matthew 22:37-39 tells us, if we are loving ourselves as God loves us, realizing what he has done and given us and then loving our neighbors and our enemies the same way, is there even room for jealous? For envy? I hate admitting it, but there’s not.

Here’s where I’m at. I’m stuck in the cycle of envy. I’ve made leaps and bounds forward by putting myself in the word and having close friends remind me of the truth whenever I find myself comparing, but it’s still there. I suck at it and honestly my overall progress has been minor. But the more time in God’s word and more time I spend focusing on my faith, the less it bothers me in my core.

So tell me, what do you struggle with envying? How have you found freedom from it? Do you use a special mental exercise to catch yourself? I would love to know.

Until next time!

Monthly Budget

I’ve been pen-to-paper budgeting for about 3 years now. Before that, I was a stone-cold saver. There was never enough cash tucked into my drawers or enough sitting in the bank. That hasn’t left me, but as I’ve grown and my income has grown I’ve loosened the reins a little bit.

Once Mike and I got married, my budgeting practices were implemented immediately. From the time I took my first full time salaried job, met Mike, got engaged, and then married, I paid off $23,000 in student loans and cash flowed (about 17k) my wedding all in less then two years. I worked my butt off and had a great job and I moved back in with my parents for a period of time. But being diligent with your finances works. I’ve personally always loved Dave Ramsey and I firmly believe in not buying anything you can’t pay with cash. Together, we both listen to Ramsey’s team and are growing in our financial conversations every month.

Monthly Budget

This is my basic breakdown of what our budget looks like, I start with known(or expected if not salaried) income, known needed expenses (rent, gas, food, utilities, phones, personal/cleaning, etc.), wanted expenses (weekly outings, clothes, subscriptions, travel etc.), and finally unplanned expenses (wedding gift, car break down, etc.). I delegate a certain amount of money for each category, prioritizing known/needed and then the rest. An example would be $100 for food weekly(400 monthly), $240 in gas, $100 in personal/cleaning and so on. I always make sure to calculate what 15% would be for savings, and make not of re-occurring charges (such as a gym membership). All of this I put in the “expected” column. Next to this column, at the end of every month I track what was actually spent and made (side hustles for example can increase the designated take home).

After I delegate all known expenses, the first weekend of the next month Mike and I go over everything. It’s not always pretty and I definitely don’t like feeling as if I have someone looking over my shoulder, but I’m beginning to learn the importance. First, it increases overall accountability and responsibility for our spending. Second, it joins us as a team in our financial goals. Right now, we’re saving for Mike to go back to grad school. That’s a BIG expense and requires BIG savings. It is hard to do, it’s hard to be diligent about doing, and it’s hard to start doing if you’ve never done it before. Someone people just don’t want to see where their money is going, and I can understand that. Sometimes I’m looking at what was spent thinking “I spent HOW much in Target on what?!” But it’s important, especially important if you want to build wealth.

So what tare you waiting for? Take charge! If you’re daunted, reach out! I would love to help. Or just share your budgeting story!