Over the years Jeff and I have made our share of financial mistakes and learned our share of financial lessons. To quote my friend Andy, for a while Jeff and I were a “financial train wreck.” But in 2001 we decided to do something about it. Since then we have paid off all our debt, except our mortgage, and have done what we can to help others either become debt free or start off on a firm financial footing in their marriages. Neither of us has a formal education in finances; but earning a degree from the School of Hard Knocks sure teaches you A LOT!!!
Today we spent the day with two great couples who will be married in the next few months. We shared our story with them, looked at what the Bible says about handling finances, and hopefully taught them some practical tools for paying off debt and living debt-free.
We also ate well! You know I love a good opportunity to cook for other people and today provided one! So yesterday I spent the majority of the day shopping and preparing food. I was in my element.
Because I’m not a morning person, I wanted to make sure everything was done yesterday or could be easily finished this morning. And I had to choose things that would travel well from home to church. So I leaned on some old favorite recipes for support – you know, the tried and true! The menu was as follows:
- Baked Egg Casserole (a cheesy egg casserole that was perfect for a cold and dreary morning).
- Raisin Bran Muffins a.k.a. Six-Weeks Muffins (the batter actually lasts in the fridge for six weeks, which makes this an excellent make-ahead recipe) – I’m not sure of the exact origin of this recipe, but I remember my mom making these as far back as the 1970’s
- Orange Juice
- Pizza Rustica (a quiche-like Julia Child / Nick Malgieri creation)
- Mixed Green Salad with Granny Smith Apples, Roasted Beets, Spicy & Sweet Pecans, and Orange & Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Oatmeal Cookies with Currants, Pepitas, Chia Seeds and Dried Cranberries
We arrived at church at 7:30 a.m. to set up for the day. The couples arrived just before 8:30 a.m. and we started the day with a meal together and some light conversation. Eating together is a great way to break the ice and to put people more at ease. It allows people to connect! After breakfast we gave our testimony, studied several scriptures about handling money, examined our attitudes about money management, learned about our personality profiles, and looked at what the Bible tells us about communicating with others.
We broke for lunch just before Noon, after an unscheduled but much-welcomed visit from our lead pastor. He was able to spend a few moments talking with the couples about his experiences with money in marriage (among other things). I really appreciate that he took time out of his sermon prep to encourage these young couples and share some of the wisdom he’s gained from 25+ years of marriage.
During lunch Jeff and I got to hear all about he couples’ wedding plans. I love hearing about the details and planning. It’s almost always easy to get a couple to talk about their upcoming wedding and their enthusiasm can be contagious!
After lunch we talked about hoarding vs. overspending. We also discussed the difference between needs, wants, and desires – a difficult concept for most Americans to grasp. And we finished out the day talking about budgeting, credit cards, and home-buying.
It was a full day for all of us; but hopefully a beneficial one as well. Each time Jeff and I get together with young couples for these classes, WE learn so much and are reminded of things we need to keep in perspective.
God gives us each many gifts. Fortunately he does not give us all the same gifts, which means that if we share those gifts we were given and others share the gifts they were given, we are all better off. Imagine what it would be like if everyone had the same talents….B-O-R-I-N-G…not to mention the fact that we wouldn’t need one another.
I encourage you to identify your gifts and, more importantly, to share them with others and to invest them in the future. Giving away your gifts doesn’t leave you with less, it leaves you with immeasurably more!!! So whether you invest in children, young adults or couples just getting married – give them the benefit of your wisdom, give them your time, give them the love God has given you, teach them what you know and watch them do even better with the knowledge than you did!!!
When Jeff and I were struggling to make ends meet and to pay off our debt, we often said to one another that we didn’t want our struggles to be for nothing. We are blessed today to share what we’ve learned so that others don’t have to face the same struggles. It’s a great illustration of God turning a test into a testimony!
Thank you, God, for all you have blessed me with. For the gift of a patient husband, for the trials that have made me stronger, and for the big mouth to share those trials with others. Thank you for all the grace you have shown me, for the broken places you have healed, and for the talents of others that have helped me along the way. You are truly amazing! Amen.