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Chicken Grape Salad Recipe

Summertime…and the livin is easy! Mary Zigan has just the easy recipe! I dare say, we all want the easy, effortless, salad to toss in the summer. This recipe is especially quick when you have grilled chicken left over for last night’s supper, and this recipe is also tasty and will be “the go to one” time and time again. Enjoy

 

Chicken Grape Salad

 

2 cups cut-up cooked chicken                        1 ¼ cups mayonnaise

1 cup chopped celery                                     1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup seedless green or red grapes                ½ teaspoon salt

½ cup toasted slivered almonds*                  pepper to taste

 

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Will make 6-8 servings

 

TIP: *To toast almonds, spread on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 ◦ F. about 10 minutes,          stirring occasionally.

 

 

The Year of 11 Weddings

The Year of 11 Weddings: Budgeting for Wedding Season by Jamie Griffin owner of the personal finance blog mrjamiegriffin.com

 

Summer is almost here! As a teacher, summer doesn’t officially start until the students all go home and I can forget all about lesson planning and grading papers for a couple months. During most of my 20s, summer time was also full blown wedding season! I absolutely love weddings, and during my mid-late 20s a bunch of my friends got married and I was lucky enough to be invited to their big day. I even got to be in a good amount of them. Now that most of my friends are already married, I sadly don’t get to attend many weddings.

 

When I was 27, I reached my limit. It was a crazy year that we call “The year of 11 Weddings.” Yep, that’s right, 11 weddings in one year. It was full of fun, laughter, and tough decisions in our budget. I want to share how our budget survived.

 

Getting Invited to a Wedding is Awesome

 

Like I said before, I love going to weddings, especially now that I’m married. I get to wear my suit, eat free food, and dance the night away with my beautiful wife! What could be better?! I also think it’s beautiful watching my friends commit their lives to each other, and the support of the wedding party and family standing to support their union. Did I mention I’m a hopeless romantic? 🙂

 

Adding Up the Costs

 

I think the two biggest expenses of attending a wedding are to cover traveling and staying in a hotel. If the wedding is in the same town you live, you’re in luck! Cross those expenses of the list. If you do have to travel though, try splitting the costs with friends and family who are also going. It might not always be ideal, especially if your significant other is with, but it definitely cuts down your costs.

 

Then, there is always the wedding gift. A side note on gift giving: I learned after getting married myself to always, ALWAYS buy from the registry. We find it so much easier because we don’t need to wonder if the newlyweds want the gift. Of course they want it, they registered for it. The registry gives so many options that can fit into any budget, just find what works for yours and grab it! And as a bonus to the bride and groom, they don’t need to wonder what to do with Hippo shaped cookie jar from Target or where to hang the sentimental collage style picture frame.

 

Lastly, be prepared to pay for drinks at the wedding. A lot of the 11 weddings we went to offered a limited selection of beer or wine hosted by the bride and groom. This is always a nice bonus, but I’ve learned not to expect free booze when I go to weddings. It’s getting more common for hosted drinks during a brief happy hour followed by a cash bar for the rest of the reception. If you don’t plan for it, those $5 drinks can add up in a hurry! And as a fellow bartender, always remember to leave a tip! 😉

 

Being IN a Wedding

 

Getting invited to a wedding is very different from being in a wedding. I find it an incredible honor to be asked to be in a friend’s wedding, but it comes with added expenses. The year of 11 weddings, I was IN 4 weddings, including my own. Jenna was also in one of the weddings. As a result, our out of pocket costs skyrocketed.

 

The first big expense we ran into was renting a suit or buying a dress. We were at the mercy of the brides and grooms and needed to spend whatever they asked us to. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t too outrageous and only cost us a few hundred dollars for all the weddings we needed to be in. We are really thankful it was so minimal compared to what it could’ve been.

 

Next was the bachelor/bachelorette parties. This can get out of hand if you’re not careful. In my opinion, the bride or groom shouldn’t need to pay for anything, which leaves the wedding party shelling out extra cash to cover drinks, food, and any fun activities. For my bachelor party, we played paintball and it was awesome! I couldn’t have been happier or more thankful that my friends planned something so fun and picked up my part of the tab.

 

Don’t forget about wedding showers. You will more than likely end up attending a wedding shower or two if you’re in the wedding, especially as a bridesmaid although it is becoming more common for mixed gender bridal showers. It could mean buying party favors, decorations, food, and ultimately a gift. It might not seem like a lot, but you don’t want to get surprised by unexpected expenses.

 

During this crazy wedding season, we chose not to buy gifts

 

This was not our favorite decision. It felt awkward and uncomfortable, and we definitely felt like we were being cheap. We very frequently felt like the worst wedding guests ever. For all of our friends and family, we wish we could have gotten you a gift. But in the end, our money goals required us to make pretty extreme decisions. It wasn’t just wedding gifts we skipped out on. We didn’t go out to eat. We didn’t visit our families very much. We didn’t go on road trips. We did everything we could to work towards our goals. We eliminated all extra spending that wasn’t in the category of absolutely necessary. I’m sure a lot of people won’t agree with our decision, but we needed to do what was best for our family.

 

Wrapping it Up

 

Weddings are a blast! If you get invited to one, or a bunch, remember to plan ahead for the extra costs that creep up. It’s never fun being caught off guard. Share a fun wedding story in the comments!

 

Let Me Know in the Comments

 

What’s the most weddings you’ve been invited to in a year? How do you budget for the extra expenses?

 

If you enjoyed this post and found value, check out more of our story at mrjamiegriffin.com and tell me about it in the comments. Click to check out my pages on FacebookTwitter, and Google+. If you want new posts delivered directly to your email, subscribe in the sidebar or click Subscribe in the menu. Thanks for your support!

 

Savoring Summer

Savoring Summer . . . by Sharon Sheppard

Scents of wild roses and smoke from campfires…

Sounds of waves lapping against the shore of a northern lake…

The wonderful sensation of beach sand oozing between your toes…

My brother Paul and I recently compared notes on some of our favorite childhood memories of sensory details from our growing up years in northern Minnesota:

His favorites:

Digging angleworms for fishing, and catching bullheads at Rocky Dock on Pine Mountain Lake

Catching lightning bugs to keep in Mason jars

Watching ants on ant hills

Listening to the cry of loons on the lake at night

Watching flocks of redwing blackbirds in willow bushes

Adding salt to the ice and hand-cranking the freezer to make homemade ice cream

Inhaling the aroma from bouquets of home-grown flowers adorning the altar of our small church—lilacs, crab apple blossoms, irises . . .

Tasting cold watermelon and the first radishes fresh from the garden

Setting lit firecrackers under tin cans on the 4th of July

Savoring the fragrance of our mother’s homemade bread fresh from the oven (at any time of year)

My favorites:

OK, so my brother took all of the good ones…

(He can have the angleworms, ant hills, and noisy firecrackers.)

Here are some of mine:

Full moons over the lake on warm summer nights

Dainty wildflowers: violets, mayflowers, bluebells, and honeysuckles

Blueberry pie—hot from the oven–with flaky crust and berries fresh from the woods

Sunsets and rainbows

Corn on the cob dripping with butter

The sound of crickets singing in the evening

Deep-fried walleye fresh from the lake

Sunsets and rainbows

Slightly charred hotdogs fresh from the campfire

The smell of pine boughs

 

*And one of my all-time favorite summer memories is from the second date I had with the man I was to marry:  Canoeing on a pristine lake on a perfect June day and picking waterlilies . . .

 

So rather than allowing this summer to go by in a blur,

Let’s SAVOR special moments…

 

 

 

 

Canoeing on a pristine lake and picking waterlilies

 

Photos from the Trail

Greetings,

It’s Brad from the Alaskan frontier, back with more photos to share.  This batch comes from a recent hike I did from the small community of Hope to Cooper Landing along the Resurrection Pass Trail.  The trail travels 38 miles through Alaskan wilderness, and is maintained by the state parks department.  There are several cabins and campsites available for rent, but it’s up to you to get there!  I took a friend’s dog along for the three day journey.  We saw many beautiful landscapes, a few ptarmigan, marmots, moose, and even some wolf tracks!  Enjoy!

A Few Tricks to Keep Your Budget Cool This Summer

A Few Tricks to Keep Your Budget Cool This Summer

 

Jamie Griffin is a Middle School Teacher and Blogger who runs the site MrJamieGriffin.com. He and his wife are working hard to pay off their student loans and teach others how to Do Money Differently.

 

Summer is my favorite season of the year! It is full of adventures at the beach, hiking, playing golf, grilling, and camping. Oh, and if you’re in your 20s, don’t forget about all the weddings you will get invited to or asked to be in. Summer is time to let loose a little more, get outside, and be more active. It’s also a time where it becomes really easy to spend more money than you really want to. That’s right, those extra activities aren’t free! Now I’m not saying to skip out on all the awesome, fun adventures. Definitely have fun, hang out with friends, and make some great memories. I am saying however, that you don’t need to break your budget to have fun this summer! I want to share a few tips to help you get the most out of your summer, and stay out of the red.

 

Map Out Your Summer Ahead of Time

March and April seem to be the months that I start making plans for summer vacation. Since I’m a teacher, I still get to dream of and enjoy a true summer vacation 🙂  I’m a huge baseball fan, so I try to get to at least one game every summer, two if I’m lucky. I feel like my wife and I talk about taking a camping trip every year, either together, or with friends, or heck, maybe both! It is a lot easier to travel and visit friends and family who live a few hours away, so we make sure to include those mini trips into our calendar. Plus, my family usually spends a week camping in our neck of the woods around the 4th of July, so that throws off our normal schedule of meal prepping. The warm weather seems to beg us to buy brats or steak to throw on the grill and have a few beers while we host some friends on our back deck. And that isn’t even close to all of it! Your summer schedule can fill up so fast, with an overabundance of events, dinners, adventures, and traveling. If you don’t sit down to map out your summer, you could end up spending money like a football player who just signed a $20 million dollar contract, which I can only imagine is like crazy! Don’t let summer get out of hand, take control now!

 

You may have picked up on this by now, but Jenna and I are really intentional when it comes to our money. Therefore, we don’t just plan out our summer adventures ahead of time, we also plan out how much our adventures will cost. In my dream world, I would love to go to a Minnesota Twins game a couple times a month, go on a long road trip to the east or west coast, and spend a few nights a week grilling out with friends. But the realistic part of my brain, and also my practical minded wife, kick in and remind me that it would be crazy expensive to always do whatever we want each summer. Yes, we might have fun, but we would also be cringing on the inside knowing that we are spending a lot of money, moving us further away from our goals.

Make a List and Estimate Your Costs

When you start to make a list of your summer plans, estimate the costs of each adventure. It helps put into perspective how much money you will need to save up ahead of time. We like to make lists, or at least my very organized wife does. On our list we write down all of our plans, and then we write the best guess price next to it. It really helps us visualize the value in terms of cost and enjoyment. Another nice benefit of actually making a list is it helps you prioritize what you actually want to do, and can afford to do. Which conveniently leads me to my next point.

 

Prioritize Your Plans

If you can afford all of your summer plans and that is truly how you want to spend your money, I say go for it. Do it all! Traveling, camping, and visiting friends is always a blast if you don’t have to stress about money. Carpe that Diem! But if that’s not possible, the list you make will help you figure out which plans are important and what is actually feasible with your budget. It also helps you see if you even have enough free weekends to get everything done, and not feel burned out. When I see a price next to an event, I can more easily weigh the cost against the experience. Is it really worth it to spend $250 on a weekend out of town to watch a Twins game, eat out downtown, and stay in a hotel? Or is it more worth it to spend that $250 on a week long camping trip? Or going to see the Opera or a concert? There are so many ways to spend money and time during the summer. Choose what is most important to your family, and start booking weekends to make it happen.

 

Save Money Ahead of Time

I have always been a saver when it comes to money. Even when I was a kid, I would hoard Christmas and birthday money for years before spending it. I didn’t always know what I was saving it for, but it seemed like a better idea to keep it tucked away than to spend it on candy and pop. Maybe that is why I love planning ahead and saving for things I really want. It helps remind me every month of what I want to do and gives me something to look forward to. Saving also helps me determine if I really want something, or if it is just an impulse. For example, if I see a shirt I like at Target, I like to carry it around the store while I do the rest of my shopping. While I am carrying it, I can continue to analyze if I really want it or if I’ll actually wear it. When I get done shopping, if I still feel like it’s something I want, and I have cash for it, I buy it. If not, then I put it back. Saving for summer plans can work the same way. If you spend a few months saving, you might decide that you don’t really want to charter a sailboat for a week after all.

 

I also feel like it is more satisfying when I know I have been working hard to plan and save money. I like to reflect on the journey it took me to be where I am, and it feels good to know I met my goal. I appreciate the journey as much as the reward.

 

Find Free and Cheap Dates and Adventures

For the past four years, we have been extremely frugal with our money and in the process found a bunch of dates and mini adventures that are free or very cheap! In fact, sometimes the cheap dates were more fun and memorable than when we splurged. One of our favorite dates that we repeat every summer is “Act like a tourist day.” We live on Lake Superior where tourism rules during the summer. There are all kinds of fun activities around town especially driven by the tourism industry. On act like a tourist day, we choose a handful of these mini adventures and do them with full enthusiasm, including taking all of the typical tourist pictures. Last year we spent $10 on a ship tour, wandered through the gift shop, explored art galleries, walked along the lake, and skipped rocks into the lake. One year we even talked in accents the entire time and built up a backstory in case anyone asked where we were from. For the record, I claimed to be from Ireland and Jenna was from London and we met while I studied a semester at the University in London. We explained the trip to Duluth as our honeymoon to America. It was an absolute blast!

 

Our city also has a free movie in the park every Friday in the summer, and one time we even brought our own computer down to the park with speakers, a blanket, and pillows to watch a movie. We always enjoy a good trail hike, packing a picnic, and spending quality time with each other. If you are creative enough and willing to be goofy and silly, there are loads of things to do really cheaply right in your own backyard!

 

Wrapping It Up

Summer is awesome. Period. But to get the most fun without stretching your budget too far, make a plan and prioritize what is most important to you. Save up and have a blast without the stress. And don’t forget about the free stuff around town. There is always free stuff!

 

Let Me Know in the Comments
What are your favorite summer activities? Any free or cheap date ideas or getaways?

 

Running, Numbing, Fighting

 My adult life has been spent either running from myself, numbing myself, or fighting myself. That’s the truth.

But during the last six years I have been open to facing myself differently, with the help of friends, therapy, 12 steps, and God. Overall I have come to peace with me and what being me entails. I am aware that what happened to me still hurts, still frustrates me. The difference is being able to let go of it. I still feel anxious at times, but with God’s help I can soothe my anxious thoughts and fears by praying, breathing, or taking a walk.

Learning how to take care of my body, mind, and spirit has been life-changing. My career changed as well as my thinking patterns, my eating habits, sleep habits, and social expectations. In order to take care of my body I realized I had to SLOW DOWN. A lot. Way down. Irritatingly slow. It was in that place of rest that I began to heal. My body still screams out in anxiousness if it is not properly tended to.

I recognize and understand that life happens. I also recognize that only I can take care of myself. If left unattended to, I deteriorate physically and emotionally quite rapidly. The way I take care of myself is by getting enough rest, spending adequate time alone, journaling, and talking with my two closest friends. This is a daily practice that has made all the difference for me.

~ Terri Johnson

Happy Mothers Day? Not for Everyone.

Happy Mother’s Day? Not for everyone . . .
However, God can redeem anyone
By Mary Zigan
Excerpted from my book, An Upside-Down Heart
The sting of the darkest Mother’s Day weekend ever still burns in my mind. On Friday morning of that weekend, my husband, Don and I had been arguing about who knows what, but the verbal assaults and bickering escalated until there was a major blow up.
I retreated to my prayer closet, which was my lower-level office. I picked up my Bible, and wouldn’t you know, the reading was from Matthew. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you . . . , go and be reconciled . . . , then come and offer your gift.”
I said out loud to God, “No! I’m always the first one who apologizes, and I’m not going to do it this time.” There is no way I am going to say I am sorry first. The nagging words from Chapter 5 were relentless, and I caved. I went upstairs to where my husband was seated on the rattan loveseat located on the deck. Quietly sitting down beside him, I reached for his hand, but he pulled it away.
With remorse I said, “Honey, I’m sorry for my part in this argument.”
Don quickly retorted with, “It’s too late. I’m going to the farm and when I get back, I’m calling my attorney.”
My reactions to these words were fear and shock! I thought, * After all we have been through, now you’re willing to throw in the towel? I could not believe my ears.
“It’s too late,” he repeated, and he got up and left for the farm. In a panic, I thought, what am I going to do? We had no cell phones or landline at the farm. I was completely cut off from him.
With my stomach churning I did what I would typically do. I went for a walk.
My heart was heavy, my tears were hot, and fear of the unknown welled up in me as never before. These heated, hostile encounters had become a habit all too familiar, but this time Don meant business. The unknowns ahead gripped me stronger that day than I think I had ever felt them. Yet, as I walked, I sensed a voice, a Still Small Voice, saying in my spirit, “Mary, you were faithful to go and ask forgiveness. I will bring blessing and abundance to your marriage.”
Desperate almost to the breaking point, I went through the necessary motions of ordinary life on Saturday. The house was quiet, but Don’s and my hateful words to each other still rang in my head. On Sunday, I arrived at church early, hoping that Elsie and her husband, Don, would be prayer ministers that day. Elsie was a faithful prayer warrior who believed God could do anything.
At the end of the service, I nearly ran to the altar for prayer. There Elsie and her husband gently prayed with me. They encouraged me to put my trust in God for whatever the outcome might be. When I left church that day, even though everything was still uncertain, a load had been lifted.
Don didn’t return home for several days. I had anxious and unsettled feelings of the unknown that were like a vice around my heart. I prayed that somehow our love would supersede our selfishness. God had been working in my heart, had He been working in Don’s? I wondered.
After nearly a week, I had hopeful anticipation that today might be the day he would return. Wanting to put my best foot forward, I took a bubble bath, perfumed, and pulled out a pair of shorts and a T-shirt that showed off my tanned skin, and I was careful to have my attitude in check. In contrast with last week’s blowup, I hoped a gentle, quiet spirit would win his favor.
Don did return that day, and I could sense by his subdued demeanor that he was feeling some remorse. We did not discuss what had happened between us, but there was an unspoken willingness, you might say a silent truce, to ease back into the normal routine we had had previously.
The weather was perfect that summer and God was gracious to give Don and me several opportunities for solitude at the place we loved the most—our farm. We had time to walk together, to talk together, to begin a friendship together, to forgive one another, to laugh and cry together. In a sense it was a courtship. There was tenderness, respect, compassion, and kindness. It became clear that Don and I more than loved each other, we were committed for life!

Author’s note: This Mother’s Day may not be all that you would like it to be. Maybe you have unresolved issues and pain in a relationship. God can carry your burden for you and empower you with His grace to see the trial through.
If you would like to purchase the book, An Upside Down Heart, or invite Mary to speak at your conference, retreat, or Bible study, you may contact her at: mzigan2442@gmail.com

Photos From the Last Frontier

Spring comes late in Alaska.  It starts in the valleys in late March to early April and doesn’t complete it’s climb up the mountains until mid-July.  Only in the last two days have the trees started to bud, which means for about a month we’ve been living in the brown zone, the time period between snow melt and bloom.  If you look across a vast, open space, you pretty much only see browns and greys, which depending on your attitude, can be depressing or a sign of hope.  A friend of mine made the observation that the lack of color makes the few things with color that much more striking.  I think he’s right.  The brown zone gives you days when you can get up with the sun and drive up into the mountains to cross country ski, only to come home in the afternoon and ride your bike.  If I’ve learned anything about weather and seasons in Alaska, it’s that it’s best to not plan your life around it.  Don’t wait for things to be warm enough, dry enough, sunny enough, or anything enough.  It’s best to just embrace the brown.

-Mary’s grandson, Brad

 

The alpenglow on some Anchorage peaksBeautiful brown
A curious marmot pokes his head up

Two otters try to stay warm in the harbor

A close up of some rocks near the sea

The greys of the sea

My dog, Tim, exploring the newly created lake in our front yard

Spring

QUIPS & QUOTES

Doug Larson says, “Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”

Like it or Not, Spring Has (finally) Sprung…

And, depending on whom you ask, it’s a delightful time of crocuses and daffodils when “April has put a spirit of youth in everything,” (William Shakespeare, Sonnet XCVIII)

or “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land. Mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain…” (T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, pub. 1922).

In either case, April is a month that is memorable for a lot of different events, for better or worse:

Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon sighted Florida and claimed it for the Crown – April 2, 1513

Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, TN, on

April 4, 1968

The Civil War effectively ended when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865

President Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912

Paul Revere took his famous midnight ride to warn the American rebels that the British were coming on April 18, 1775

George Washington was sworn in as the first U.S. President on April 30, 1789

~ SS

 

 

 

 

Tithing: Honoring Jesus with our Finances

Tithing: Honoring Jesus with our Finances

 

Jamie Griffin is a Middle School Teacher and Blogger who runs the site MrJamieGriffin.com. He and his wife are working hard to pay off their student loans and teach others how to Do Money Differently.

 

Last year I wrote a post about tithing, and it was by far one of the most popular posts on my blog. Plus, with Easter last weekend, it is a pretty fitting time to bring the topic back around. In the Bible, God asks all who follow Him to give back to him the first 10% of everything we have. That is the basic definition of a tithe. If this is a new idea for you, whether you actively follow Jesus or not, tithing can have a powerful impact on your finances. In this post, I want to share how tithing has blessed our financial journey through honoring Jesus, learning to be stewards of our resources, and practicing becoming more generous

 

Honoring Jesus

 

To honor someone is to hold them in high esteem and treat them with respect. The definition seems easy enough to understand, but I don’t feel like honor is a word that is used very often. I most commonly associate it with funerals, and doing the best we can to honor a loved one’s wishes in death. But I think we can apply this to living people we encounter everyday, and definitely to Jesus. Another common use refers to authority figures. You can honor a person in authority by doing what they ask of you. When I was a kid, I honored my parents by doing the dishes or taking out the garbage, not because I wanted to, but because they asked me to and they were the authority over my 8 year old self. We can apply the same principle to Jesus. In the Bible, Jesus asks us to tithe the first 10% of everything we produce. If you choose to say yes, you are being obedient and intentionally choosing to honor Him.

 

At first, you might not like the idea of giving away 10% of your income, and to be honest, neither did I. But the more you do it, the more it becomes about loving Jesus and falling under his authority, and less about trying to aggressively clutch onto every penny you get. I think love has an important connection to honor, and without love, the honor doesn’t mean much. Showing honor is an act of love, and that’s what tithing can become. Be intentional and choose to honor Jesus with your finances.

 

Being a Steward of Money

 

I mentioned that Jesus is an authority in our lives. The cool thing about Jesus is that he also gives every one of us authority. He commanded us to go out and make disciples, spread the Good News, and speak and act with His authority. How cool is that! He gives us authority over our families, our neighborhoods, and the world around us and gives us the charge of taking care of it. Whether you know it or not, you are a steward to the world around you and everything in it. Well, one aspect of this world is money, and that is also a gift from Him. It is our responsibility to be good stewards with our money, and a great way to do that is to tithe. Tithing acknowledges that our money came from Jesus, and we are giving back to Him what is His.

 

Tithing Leads to Generosity

 

Tithing is a wonderful act of giving, and I believe that giving teaches us to be generous. There is so much we can give. We can give our time, our energy, our ideas and intellect, our food, our hospitality, and an abundance of resources (including money)! I’ve said before that budgeting and being intentional with money takes practice, and I believe the same goes for tithing. Each month you get the opportunity to practice giving your money back to Jesus! But like any new skill or act, the more you do it, the better you get at it and the easier it becomes.

 

Tithing has led us to becoming more generous with our money. Since my wife and I started dating, we made tithing a non-negotiable and haven’t missed a month in four years. Through our giving, we have become more generous people, and have found ways to give more of our money than just 10%. In the past year, we started giving away $50 each month in practical ways, in addition to our tithe. It might be a check in the mail, donating to a charity, or buying a gift for a family. Each month is unique and we treat it that way, finding a new way for our giving to be a blessing to others. Our goal is to increase this amount each year and eventually give away 50% of our income each month! It might sound crazy, but tithing has taught us to be generous with our money, and content with our lifestyle. I look forward to the challenges of growing in our giving as the years go by.

 

How to Get Started

 

At first, it might feel weird, or counterintuitive. Like how am I supposed to save money and get out of debt if I am giving money away!? Trust me, I have thought the same thing before! Right now we are sitting at about $9,000 left on our student loan debt! We are so close! Last year we tithed nearly that amount, so it is really easy to think, “if we only used that money to pay our debt, we would be debt free by now!” But I truly believe that we wouldn’t be. Jesus has blessed our socks and shoes off (in that order), and it is because we are good stewards of his money, are obedient, and honor him through tithing. For Jesus, 1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2; it equals whatever he wants it to be! Trust him and let him be your financial planner.

 

If you feel Jesus tugging on your sleeve to start tithing (or just want to explore it more), I have some practical tips to help you get started.

 

Step 1: What is 10%

 

Figure out what 10% of your income is. This seems like a no brainer, but sometimes you have to start with the basics. Find out how much 10% of your monthly income is and see if you can pay all of your expenses without it. It might mean reconfiguring certain parts of your budget, but see how you can make it happen.

 

Step 2: Tithe Right Away

 

If you are worried about having enough money at the end of the month, don’t wait until then to tithe. It is a lot easier to tithe the first 10% of your paychecks than the last 10%. If you wait until the end of the month, you run the risk of spending extra money going out to eat, seeing movies, or a whole lot of other fun things. If you tithe right away, it is over and done with! It might mean adjusting the entertainment budget, or a few more home cooked meals, but it can definitely be done!

 

Step 3: Be Consistent

 

Once you start tithing, don’t skip a month. It is like building a muscle, your tithing muscle. The more you work it out, the easier the workout becomes. Make a decision to be consistent and tithe every single month.

 

Wrapping It Up

 

Tithing has been an unbelievable blessing to my family! It has taught us to really trust Jesus and become more generous people. By giving Jesus the first 10% of your paycheck, you are choosing to honor Him and be a good steward with what he has given you. Tithing will also help you become a more generous person, not only with your money, but also with your time and energy. It is another way to say Yes to Jesus!

 

Final Questions

 

Why do you tithe? How has tithing changed your finances?