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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Simplify Sundays: 3/14 (Don't Wait for the Money Van!)

Debbie McCuiston, self-proclaimed "Queen of Clutter-Free", does a segment for us each Sunday on simplifying our lives, getting rid of "clutter", and focusing on what's important.  We're really excited about this new segment - and hope you are too!  Take it away Debbie....

This may  be the hardest article I write but I want to share from my heart about how the clutter of debt can take over our lives and steal our joy. 
This weekend was the dreaded BUDGET discussion at our house. I know, many of you cringe when the budget word is spoken. Up until a few years ago we did too. My sweet husband and I rarely had a "strong discussion" about many things but the budget talk could get ugly.  We had a lot of clutter in our finances.  As the oldest daughter I was raised to be in charge of things and taught to make decisions and take the lead.  I married the youngest son (that would be the baby child of the family) who was raised to be a southern gentleman (I really like that about him), and this was an OK mix at first. I took up where his mom and sister left off, and he let me take the reins and leadership in all things. 
The clutter we both brought to the marriage did not raise it's ugly head until after the 1st baby (a son) arrived and then almost 3 years later we were blessed with a sweet baby girl. Who would have thought that only 2 children could make your "budget" spin completely out of control?  My idea of a budget was to buy what you wanted and/or needed, then pay bills with the rest. And my husband, being the gentleman that he was and the smart man that he is, never fussed much. Every once in a while he might ask how the money was going and I would assure him I had it under control. To tell you the truth - I didn't have anything under control. It was spinning quickly downhill... But my kids looked good at any activity they were in. We ate out alot. And made the trip to Florida several times a year (my family lives in Fla so it was a cheap vacation) but the clothes to go and the sights to see weighed heavy on the budget. So being the typical American family, we continued our lifestyle thanks to the wonderful world of charge cards. 
This is where many people start to acquire the clutter also known as BILLS. On the surface, the paper clutter alone is enough to take over the kitchen table to the point we set in front of the TV to have family meals. If you are like many families and are in over your head, most of the bills lay on the table unopened. I guess we hope the good fairies are going to come in the night and take them all to a place far, far away.  Reality is - they are always there every morning and every night. I, like many of you, made it a matter of prayer ALOT!  I never was quite sure why God didn't send the money van to our house or why He didn't give me a rich uncle to make all my money problems go away. He kept insisting I get our finances in order (I thought I was when I cleared the kitchen table off!). I heard many a sermon on tithing and teaching your children by example. One day I guess I realized what I was really teaching my children when my daughter "needed" something and I had to say I couldn't afford it now- she sweetly replied, yes you can mommy you still have checks. Oh my! That shocked me a bit into reality, but not enough to clear the money monster clutter from our life. 
It wasn't until I quit my teaching job of 21 years to homeschool my daughter through high-school. I know without a shadow of a doubt that it was the best thing to do for my daughter and God has blessed us more than we could imagine. She is my best friend now. At the time all my husband could say was "someone will die" because we are too much alike (sorry sweet daughter) and we almost hated each other at the time. But God brought us home to teach us to love each other and along the way He taught me how to clean up the mess I had made of our finances. You see, the real problem wasn't that we went from two incomes to one income overnight. The problem was pride and the attitude that I could handle it all - but I had God as a back up plan. Into the first year of homeschooling, we needed to decide if we were going to file bankruptcy or keeping fighting a losing battle a little longer. This is where God took me so I would completely understand I needed Him in all things. He didn't need me to give over a part of it or ask His advice, I had to completely let it go. 
The first step was to swallow my pride and tell my husband the truth. You don't realize how big a pill that pride is, until you have to swallow it. Now don't think that this is where God sent the money van or the good little fairies to make all our problems go away. No--He sent the answer in the form of a class that was being taught at our church called "Financial Peace University" by Dave Ramsey.  A friend started the class on a Sunday evening and by Tuesday I had read ahead and had redone our budget and had letters written to those we owed to rework a payment plan. The class is the path that God chose to lead us out of the debt that held us in bondage. 
We are now free of the clutter of debt. It took us several years to get to this point. No it doesn't happen over night. Lessons aren't learned overnight. It's the putting one foot in front of the other day after day, paycheck by paycheck. It's a lesson in trusting Christ is ALL things. It's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but isn't that what faith is- following Christ without knowing where He is leading. We have been debt free for almost 3 years. We've had many opportunities to share the lessons we have learned along the way. We've been able to look back and see the path that God laid out for us to get us to see the blessing along the way. It is amazing how God can take the bad choices we make and turn them around to bless others through the lessons He patiently teaches us. 
If you are trapped in the bondage of debt and are overwhelmed by the clutter that comes with living a lie, do not wait for the money van. It's time to ask the Lord to show you the way out and trust Him to do it. Don't believe the world's lie that we need to keep up with others to be somebody. Find your identity in a relationship with the Creator of the universe, not in what you have. Look for a class at a church near you, if one isn't available call and ask if they have a financial counselor that could help you. Don't go another day living a lie!!! 
If you have any questions please contact me at

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