I am a stay-at-home writer, or something like that. Andy, graciously, has supported my hair-brained idea to write a book by working two jobs (his engineering job and National Guard) while I stay at home and do laundry, read my Bible and other books and try desperately to write coherent sentences into a Word document every other day or so.
Reading the other books is good mental exercise because once I start to think that I'm coming close to "sacrificing" for the Lord, I will read about a missionary held in a Japanese prison camp for three years and realize that my coffee-drinking, mind-puttering days are not even close to real sacrifice for the Lord. And the Bible, well, it keeps revealing to me the Amazing Person about whom I want to write. But, to be honest, sometimes it all feels like it's going nowhere. I get up in the mornings and take the dogs for a walk sometimes and watch the traffic going up and down the roads around our apartment complex and I wish that I had somewhere I needed to "be." I miss work. I loved my teaching job in North Carolina. Literally, I loved every day. I didn't love every minute of every day, but I adore teaching, especially Biology, and who could have a better work place than I did at Jack Britt? Heaven will be the only thing that can out-do that set up. ;-)
But, I'll be honest, I also miss the money. Also, to be honest, I don't like money. That sounds stupid and like a lie. Of course, I like to do things with money. Most people do. But the actual stuff itself I do not like. I don't like keeping track of it. I don't like trying to save it. I don't really even like spending it. But there really is no getting around that, is there? And, at least, when I was teaching, it was wonderful knowing that the exact same amount of money would appear in my bank account every month, and all I had to do was make it last until the next time it appeared (which wasn't always easy, and I was by no means good at that, but at least I knew it would appear again and I could try over if I messed up).
Before we got married, Andy and I were asked by several people, "Who is the spender, and who is the saver?" We just looked at each other with guilty expressions, like overweight children caught stealing Oreo's out of the cookie jar. We are both spenders.
Alas, in marriage, when both like to spend, and one wants to accomplish something for God that may or not ever "pay" in monetary terms, both have to be willing to change. And, by God's grace and with lots of prayer, we have. The girl who was once flunked out of National Honor Society because of a C in Calculus (math has always been my downfall) is now keepin' the books with a mite of success, praise God. But, keep in mind, I am by no means good at this. It not natural for me, and there are some principles that I must uphold. God taught me to give first. Always. So there is the need to tithe. Then, we have both learned that it does not honor God to borrow and not repay- so, trying to shirk the guilt that Christians are so good at heaping on you if you have credit card debt, we pay those bills and the others next. And I try not to be stingy if there is an opportunity to give a gift or host friends or some other work that I believe shows people that we care for them the way that God cares for me. I do not believe in being stingy with what we give to others. God is never stingy with us. I like to give. I love hospitality. And, of course, Andy and I love to go out to eat and to the movies to entertain ourselves. Figuring out how to do all of that on one income is an interesting interaction with the Lord. Truly an opportunity for His strength to be manifested through my weakness.
Well, this past month has been a tight one. We traveled a lot over the summer, have had vet bills and car expenses. Here it is the end of August and we're sucking it in a bit. But God has been telling me not to worry. Bills are concrete and God has put it on my heart that I must seek to honor Him by paying each bill on time, in full. There really is no wiggle room in our budget except for the amount set apart for food. This week, our rent is due, and when I left the grocery store yesterday (with $1.98) worth of groceries, I contemplated letting the rent slide until Monday (we have three days grace period with our apartment complex before being penalized). Andy gets paid Friday, and if I held out on the rent, everything would be fine. If I paid the rent on time, then the amount of money left to eat off of could be counted with my fingers. But, while walking to my car, I was determined that God deserved the honor that comes with paying on time. He has provided enough to pay, and I would honor Him by paying on time, even if it meant eating plain pasta, because that's pretty much all that's left in the pantry. But, even as I determined to do this, I knew that I had nothing to worry about. I have been memorizing the book of Matthew (another thing that I learned from a book I read. I thought I knew the Bible decently,then I read about a Chinese lady who didn't know how to read, but then a missionary taught her how. She managed to memorize the entire book of Matthew and recite it- it took her four hours. I decided that I would stop thinking so highly of myself and actually memorize what Jesus said and did, though I am not attempting to memorize it word for word.) One of the things that I have learned is from Matthew 6, "Do not worry about your life. What you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear...your heavenly Father knows that you need them (food and clothing)." What I am learning about God lately is that it is not His way to withhold from His children what they need- whether that is love or attention or money for groceries. So, I believed that somehow we would get money or food or something- somehow there would be enough.
Every morning, I check our bank account. Even developing this habit is evidence of God's grace because, like I said, I hate money and the lack of it scares me and what scares me I try to avoid, which is why, prior to having no income, I did not always look. I would just hope that there was enough in there, and because I was one person living off a salary, there usually was. I know that sounds so stupid to those of you who are rational right-brained people, but I am a writer for goodness sake. Anyway, when I checked our bank account this morning, for absolutely no known reason at all, there was an additional amount recorded in the balance. There was almost fifty dollars more than there was yesterday, and there is no record of why. The only record that I know is that God told me that He knows my needs yesterday when I was walking across the HEB parking lot. Now, you might be thinking, "Meredith, you are just bad at money, and you didn't calculate correctly." And you might be right. But I am confident that there was almost fifty dollars less yesterday than there is today, and, neither Andy or I could figure out why. And, to be honest, we didn't try to for very long, we just thanked God, who is able to do more than we could ask or imagine.
I debated on whether or not to write about this. I am wary of becoming self-righteous about this time of financial need, and I don't like the idea of starting to "complain" about money. But David was always talking about how he was going to praise the Lord in the great assembly. I think that he was saying that he was going to give God credit publicly for the great things that He does. And I wanted to do that. God is showing me in many ways that He is my Need-Meeter. And I am really stoked about that.
Yesterday I read Psalm 24, and I loved these words, "Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle." Who doesn't have some battle that they are trying to fight out? Either with their worries or their circumstances or their sadness or lost hope? I am fighting. I know that you are too. But He is too. He is the King of Glory, the Lord strong and mighty- mighty enough to make money appear in a Chase bank account and no one even knows why. Well, I guess I am beginning to see why- because that's who He is, and He is not afraid of making Himself known to those who want to know Him. Right next door to Psalm 24, I found, "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way." (Psalm 25:9) Lord, I like your way. And I wanted to say that in front of this "great assembly."