2017

I’ve always loved New Year’s Eve.  It’s been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember.  I remember staying up late as a child to watch the ball drop in Times Square and thinking that it was such a treat.  I’ve always enjoyed going out for New Year’s Eve as an adult.  How can you not love a holiday that involves cocktails, hugs and kisses and new party outfits?

I get a kick out of the year in review shows that come on TV and radio.  News outlets remind us of current events that happened throughout the year and radio shows count down the year’s biggest songs.  Sometimes those events or songs seem so long ago.  We can come such a long way in a year.  The new year is a great time to reflect on your personal experiences and accomplishes over the past year.

2017 was a pretty good year for me.  I feel very accomplished and blessed.  I grew as an artist and professional in 2017.  This meant a lot to me because for years I felt stagnant in my life and I didn’t see any opportunities to grow and prosper.  I year and a half ago I was forty years old with a masters degree, about $30,000 in student loan debt and working as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant.  I was beginning to think that I was going to work in that restaurant for the rest of my life.

I ran across a job opportunity on the internet and I filled out the application.  Just as I finished the application after thirty minutes or so something went haywire with the website and the application was lost.  I got really frustrated.  I had been filling out applications for years without any response and I almost didn’t fill it out again.  But I had a brief conversation with a man I went out on a couple dates with and he told me to give myself a break and try again later.  I followed his advice and found some success.  That relationship didn’t work out.  But I’m grateful to that man.  Without his encouraging I would probably be at the Mexican restaurant with my masters degree breaking my back serving burritos right now.

I’ve also made great strides in paying my student loan debt.  I now owe about $24,000.  That’s still a lot but for a long time I wasn’t even moving the needle on the amount that I owe.  I only ask for progress even if it’s slow.  I’ve even got a little money saved in a savings account.  It’s not a great deal of money but once again it’s all about progress.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

While I was a server I bought a one year old used car.  The car I was driving was around ten years old and I decided I would not pay for any more expensive repairs.  One night after leaving work my car got hit from behind.  I wasn’t hurt at all.  The repairs would have been about three thousand dollars so I took the insurance money and got myself a new vehicle.  At the time I wasn’t sure how I was going to afford a new car because the one that was hit was paid off.  But I was able to make ends meet while serving tacos and then I got my new opportunity.  I owe it all to God.

Things worked out for me in a way that I could not foresee.  I know that the blessing of my car and job opportunity are from God because it all worked out perfectly.  I believe God does things precisely and without a lot of drama or mess.  God was far ahead of me and I just had to be faithful and keep working hard even though I did not see how things were going to be resolved.

I’m looking forward to what 2018 has to offer.  We live in very exciting and interesting times.  It’s kind of like we live in a little soap opera and it’s fascinating to see what becomes of it all.  But as far as my humble life I know God is in control and as long as I keep Jesus and His word first in my life things will fall into place for me according to His plan.  When I was younger people told me this and I’ve read scripture such as Jeremiah 29:11 :

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

As I’ve gotten older and have had the chance to see God work the words of the Bible have become so much more clear to me.  I feel like I’ve seen them in action.  Anyway, here’s to a great 2018!

How Tithing Shaped My Views on Money

tithing

About ten years ago I decided to get serious about my Christian beliefs.  I wanted to be obedient to the word of God and stop picking and choosing the scriptures I would adhere to.  I wanted to submit myself to God and stop be a disciplined Christian.  I decided to fully commit to tithing %10 of my income.

Tithing is a controversial and heavily criticized practice.  I don’t understand the criticism.  Churches have bills and expenses like everyone else.  I think that if you attend a church that is ministering to people, changing lives and reaching out to the surrounding community in a charitable way you should help support the church financially.  Nothing in this world is free and I believe in putting your money where your mouth is.

You can tell where a person’s heart really is by where they consistently put their money.  If they spend money at a sporting goods store, a book store, or a store that sells designer fashions you can tell where their passion lies.  If a person spends most of their money on their child or a lover you have no doubt about how they feel about that person.  If a Christian believes in their church and trusts their pastoral staff they should financially support their mission as long as it aligns with scripture.  If they don’t trust the pastor or support the churches mission they should find a different church.

Tithing has been a great spiritual exercise for me.  It has taught me to not become too attached to money and material possessions.  I have also learned a lot about generosity, sacrifice and selflessness.  Whether you have a lot of money or a little it is very easy to exalt money in your life and make it a god.  Tithing has given me a different perspective on money.  Money is very important but it is not the end all be all.  Money is not a constant.  Money and it’s source is easy come easy go.

I have to be honest.  There have been times when I had to make a mental IOU to God because if I wrote a check for %10 of what I anticipate earning the next week the check would have bounced.  But I will also say that tithing has in no way been a detriment to me.  I’ve always gotten the bills paid.  I’ve always had money for my necessities and I’ve usually had money for things that I want (within reason).  There has always been enough.

I wish I had a story to tell you about me tithing at church and then I hit the lottery next week.  Nothing that dramatic has ever happened to me and I do not believe in prosperity Christianity at all.  However, I have always made ends meet even when money has been tight.  I have been blessed and God has always made a way for my household.  I have had several financial blessings come my way.  I believe that these blessings come from being obedient to God and the financial discipline that tithing brings.

The world we live in is absolutely consumed by greed.  People do horrible things in the pursuit of money.  The lack of money and the chase for more creates a great deal of anxiety and stress.  Tithing is a great practice because it teaches you to prioritize something ahead of your own financial gain.  Tithing teaches you to turn to God for your needs instead of your own ability to earn money.  Tithing also teaches you discipline which will help your finances in the long run.  I believe that tithing has been a blessing in my life in more ways than one.