After 17 years in ministry and 14 years of marriage we are still living paycheck to paycheck. Setting aside the ministry part of “The Job” and just focusing on the financial part of things for a second…
Obviously none of us were so naive to get into this job for the money. We all knew it wasn’t going to pay well. We all knew there would be financial sacrifices. We all knew we would have to live differently. But sometimes I struggle to know if its responsible, or the right thing to do when society and all things reasonable are saying, “How long can you live like this?” And at my age the question is more like, “How long can you actually do youth ministry?”, as if the cuteness factor is beginning to wear off.
At my worst, I beg and pray for Jeff to have a regular job outside of the church where we can make some money and actually fix our falling down fence in the front yard. And fix the three holes in our ceiling that have been there for 3 years from a leak in the upstairs shower. Or fix the upstairs shower for that matter! And in my dreams I have a budget for the grocery store where I dont need a coupon and a budget at all that includes clothing. Ahhhhh, to shop for new clothes… (I just drooled a little). Oh, and kids make it all the more challenging. I am constantly taking 5$ from groceries to help pay for soccer, or baseball, and trading date night money for a tank of gas, but then not filling up the gas tank entirely so that extra $10 can buy a new baseball”cup” for my growing son. Just 2 weeks ago I got caught picking flowers in a neighbors yard for a birthday gift for my daughters teacher! Seriously people, it can get exhausting! Not to mention embarrassing.
At my best, I am thankful. My prayers are overflowing with gratitude and humility. I can’t believe God would meet my needs each day and fill our lives with such blessings. I am overwhelmed by the amazing life we live that is defined by love. I love my little home! I am convinced it keeps me grounded to what really matters. It keeps me creative in how to make the most of a small space and how to make new stuff out of old stuff. I could write a book. … in the forward I would thank God and Pintrest! I have learned to make a wardrobe out of beautiful hand-me-downs, and thankful for all the fashion blogs and pintrest (again) for teaching me how to wear a skirt as a shirt or wearing and old t-shirt as a new scarf. And those things are really FUN for me!
I know that the relationships and people we invest in can not be replaced by money, clothing, or groceries. I know that there are no guarantees that more money would make life easier. I know that God will provide what we need for each day. And I know that this job is an incredible gift, an incredible responsibility, and an incredible passion for our family. And I don’t have any real answers for those that might ask, “How long can you live like this?”. I’m sure I’ll ask myself that same question tomorrow. But for now, I have to go “borrow” 2 bucks from my kids to replace the batteries in our remote control. (thankful I have a TV!)