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I get lost in the details. I throw myself into all my projects, and I drown in the details.
For example, last Tuesday I spent my entire day budgeting, then redoing the budget over and over. Every line item. Every reduction. Every bill. And no matter what I did, we were OVER BUDGET.
For hours, I obsessed, until, finally, I did it. We were done, down to the very last penny. It was then that I almost cried. There was nothing left over. No money for new jeans for the boys who have holes in the knees of the ones in current rotation. No money for new shirts or shoes or school uniforms. Nothing for McDonalds or girls night or date night. No movies. No cool zoo. No Sector 6 (or jumpy place as my kids call it). No ICEEs or Frostys for good behavior. Nothing extra. Not one penny.
I will not be traveling to Houston for my sister’s Cupcake Wars. Any Essence Musical Festival activities must be free of charge. All the extra this month goes to school supplies and our portion of the annual family vacation to Destin.
Last month was also a fail. While I so carefully watched and saved for Orlando and the Houston She Flies Solo Summit and Staycation debut event my sister put on, we took one too many trips to Wendys and Sonic for good behavior. One too many thrift store half off days. One too many meals out for date night, gifts for my son’s birthday.
And I sighed as I talked to God about the hopelessness of my current state of affairs. When there’s nothing left, there’s nothing left. And I thought about next month, and all the other months when the bills would stay the same and so would the money. I calculated how long it would take to pay off the credit cards and sighed again as I realized the amount of time I had before we had free money again. I told God, I did not think I could do it. I did not think that WE as a family could do it. I told Him that maybe we were better off with high debt, no savings and slushies, date nights, and Zoovies. I told Him I was over it. We tried. We failed. We were trying again but I was unsure I could stick to the plan.
It was here that God began the speak. He said, “How much do we have left?”
I rolled my eyes and answered, “Weren’t you listening? We’ve got nothing left. We have exactly $0. If we could be in the negative, that’s where we are because I am going to want to spend something somewhere that’s not in the budget. I’m going to get tired of nothing and pull out my credit card or transfer some savings over. I am OVER nothing…but to answer your question, I’ve got nothing. We’ve got nothing.”
And I saw the excitement in His eyes as He let me finish. And He began with one statement, “I can work with nothing.”
“Look around. Look at the trees, the birds, and the flowers. Listen to the laughter of your children. Embrace the tenderness that your husband so carefully shows you. Feel the love of your best friends. Take it all in.
“I looked out on nothing. I stepped into nothing. I spoke to nothing. And I created it ALL. ALL OF IT. The tallest mountains. The lowest valleys. The calming waters. Look around. It ALL CAME FROM NOTHING.
I CAN WORK WITH NOTHING.”
And He stopped as though with 5 words He had answered all my unanswered questions, and I, ever the sarcastic student, asked one last question, “So what’s the plan?”
He responded, “Stick to the plan.”
I got angry, “The plan is NOT working.”
He met my enthusiasm, “The plan is ABSOLUTELY working.
“You did not buy the $600 couch set on credit. You did not buy the $40 swimsuit. You have been spending any extra you have on experiences. You have stopped wasting money on things you may or may not every use. For the first time ever, you developed a budget, and you watched it through beginning to end. The plan is working.
“Calculate your savings. I’ll wait.”
A grand total of $127.12…
God squealed, “YEEESS!! That’s a light bill or a cell phone bill or a cable bill.”
So God continued in His delight without me, “Keep going. I just need you to keep going. Stick to the plan.
- Develop a budget.
- Monitor your spending.
- Make sure you give some back to me and some to others.
- Use your apps and your loyalty cards – your iBotta, your Go365, your Target Red Card, your Plenti card, your Walgreens card, you newspaper coupons and your printable coupons, your Ebates, and your common sense.
- Let me handle the rest.
“Trust me. I can work with nothing. I have a track record of taking nothing and making it into something. Give me your nothing. Give me ALL of your nothing. Sit it right beside my feet, and watch me work. You just stick to your ordinary. Let me handle the extraordinary.”
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