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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rich in Love, If Not in Money - Christmas on a Dime

This year was an interesting one.  It started out very normally. . .which, for us, is decidedly 'un-normal.'  We were getting settled in our new home, looking forward to some home improvement projects, and expecting  a quiet 12 months (which is also hugely unusual for us!).

We made it about half way through the year before we sensed a change in the weather.

To put it delicately, some 'situations' presented themselves and we needed to make some rather important family decisions.  To be honest, though, the choices weren't hard.  Unorthodox, maybe, but not hard.

And that is how we found ourselves giving up our jobs to focus on some family issues that, well, needed some focus.  My husband left his job as an IT Project Manager and I stepped down as the Worship Leader for our church. In the blink of an eye, we went from 'everything is great' to 'what will happen next??' 

We got everything from raised eyebrows to full support to 'what the heck are you doing?!?!?!' from our friends and family.  It's kind of hard to explain a deliberate choice to end your income, especially if you are not independently wealthy and have four kids to raise.  It was kind of hard to explain to OURSELVES, really.  But we knew in our hearts it was the right choice.

And it has been, largely.  I won't say that I have not had moments of panic, or that I haven't had a weak moment or two of wondering whether we made the right decision last summer.  But then I remember the reason we did it, and the results of that choice, and I am peaceful again.

But I am ready to have a little security as well.  :)

Especially, now, at Christmas, when I usually try to help out a number of organizations and families in our community.  This year, things are tight.  Very tight. That's a little hard for a Mama's heart.

But I have discovered that, with a little effort and ingenuity, my kids aren't going to be staring into an empty stocking this year.  Through using sites like Swagbucks (a search/shop/survey/activity site that earns you swagbucks, which can then be redeemed for things like Amazon or PayPal gift cards swagbucks.com/refer/Robynne ) and apps like Shopkicks ( http://get.shopkick.com/silicon10491 ), as well as some very savvy shopping (earning money on some things, which I then use to buy other things with!), I've actually accrued at least as much as I would have spent on Christmas presents normally.  That, frankly, is pretty cool, and a pleasant surprise in the midst of a lean stretch.

But that isn't really what I am grateful for this Christmas.  After the challenges of this difficult year, I realize that my best gifts, either given or received, aren't going to be found under a tree. . .a husband who takes his responsibility as a husband and father very seriously and is incredibly intentional about how he cares for his family. . .four beautiful, precious children who have each overcome several significant obstacles with poise and grace and courage. . .friends who love and encourage and challenge me. . .and a gracious God whose greatest gift we celebrate this season.

I had no idea what this year would hold, nor of the many lessons that God would teach me through a set of circumstances that kept directing me back to His heart.  But I am so very grateful for how things unfolded.  The truth is, I am very rich. . .in just about everything but money.

I wonder what 2014 will hold?






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