The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Five of Us, Spring 2014

Wealth and What To Do With It

Yipes! Is it really almost a week since I last posted! What a naughty blogger I am! :)

So, what's going on here... Aaron and I had a really interesting, somewhat revolutionary discussion on finances during our date night on Thursday. Wanna hear about it? I know finances are one of those things you're not supposed to talk about, but how can we all grow and improve if no one is open to share how their living out this ubi-important area of life? So, if you want to, you can close the window and come back for the next post. But, if you're brave enough to stick around, you just might be a little challenged. And, of course, under the cloak of blog-anonymity, you are more than welcome to challenge me right back! Seriously, I'm not opening this door to toot our own horn and "show you the way"!!! I want to know if you think we've gone off the deep-end or if we've missed a key-point. I know we don't have it all down yet and I look forward to reading and chewing on the comments from this post! Okay, so here we go, folks.

I gotta say, WE'RE TOTALLY BLESSED around here. If money grew on trees, you might think we owned one. But, really it's just God's favor. Really, really. It's kinda miraculous even. When I married Aaron (and he married me!) almost 6 years ago, he was giving away more money than I made that year! Ha! I was (and continue to be) thrilled with his generosity. It is one of his many best traits. Anyhow, we decided that the responsible thing to do was to live on "a typical American income" and give away everything else off the top. It was a lot of fun to live that way, knowing that we were able to do so much good in the world and still have a very comfortable life.

We hung the photos of the Compassion kids we support in our living room, not to show off what we are doing for the world, but because it was a constant reminder to me that their whole houses were quite likely smaller than my living room. And, it isn't about feeling guilty, it's about having a teeny-tiny dose of sobering reality.

Since our wedding day, Aaron's salary has more than doubled. Yep, in six years. And, it was above average to start with. See, I told you--miraculous, no? So, we've met our goal of "giving more to the Kingdom of God than the kingdom of man (i.e., taxes!)" and we've been able to work that for a couple of years. Well, remember several posts ago I was talking about feeling a personal revolution coming on? This is just a facet of that. A couple of months ago, it dawned on me that we kinda just made up that "typical American income" thing without really seeking God too much about it. It just seemed like a good idea. So, I brought it up with Aaron and we started praying about how God really wants us to use our wealth. During that time, I read The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne (Aaron's still reading it). It's by a Christian guy who's trying to get back to the roots and reality of Christianity, to live like Christ and his earliest followers, in a modern context. He had some pretty radical ideas about personal and corporate wealth.

Then, last week, the sermon was about giving and our Life Group talked about it this week too. One of the guys in Life Group sent us all a 26-page article about how the earliest believers used their tithes (and more) to take care of the poor, widows, and orphans rather than on church buildings, staff, and programs. Well, Aaron and I have been growing in compassion and respect for those who are poor, widowed, and orphaned as Jesus has been softening our hearts to them. So, like I said, we spent date night hashing through a couple of months of thoughts and prayers on what to do with our wealth.

Some of the ideas we've recently encountered are VERY radical (e.g.--everyone should follow Jesus' injunction to the Rich Young Ruler and sell all they have to give to the poor; Christians should live on a needs-only basis and that having "superfluities" is akin to stealing from the poor and even tantamount to homocide of those who are dying from poverty) and we're not going quite there (yet?). Here's some things we've decided. We'd like to start "laying up a fund" (I Cor 16:2) out of which we can meet needs as they come along--from a local single mom needing new tires to our orphange needing a new building. We want our giving to be more personal and our money to be ready, whatever the need God directs us to meet. On the lines of being more personal, we want to be more intentional about following Bill Bright's advice to "follow your money." We want to have relationship with those with whom we are sharing our wealth and/or visit (for a piece of time, not just a week) the places our money is going. And, here's the big one... our goal is to adjust our lifestyle (over time) so that we can get to a place where we are able to live on 49% and give away 51% in the spirit of loving our neighbors (locally and globally) as we love ourselves. We're not going to get there overnight. We're not going to get there without sacrifice (even as our income grows!). But, by the grace of God, we're going to get there.

Can I share with you one other dream on this topic? Months ago the Exec Director of Acres of Hope (the humanitarian org facilitating our adoptions in Liberia) shared with me her dream of opening a home for the HIV+ women in Liberia who have been excluded from their communities. My eyes are stinging with tears as they do every time I think of this (which is once or twice a week usually). I want a good bit of our wealth to go toward that dream, and when we talk about following our money... I want to "retire" there. I want to be the "house mom" at that home. If there are widows in need of care in this world, these are the women who top my list of qualifiers.

Well, there you have it, my off-the-top-of-my-head summary of a lot of thoughts! I was going to write about other things tonight, but I think that will keep us all busy for a while. Nigh'-night!


Jennifer said...

LOVE THIS POST Rachel and you know I love that Shane Claiborne book! :) We, too, have had similar conversations lately. We have a pretty modest lifestyle (tiny house, old cars, etc.) but we have SO MUCH MORE than enough. We have talked about capping our lifestyle where it's at now (though at some point we need to upgrade our fire hazard electrical panel and get a car that will fit all of our kids) and give everything else away (and ask God to show us new ways to give more than we are now). It has been really exciting and is so exciting to talk to our kids about. I want them to grow up knowing the joy of giving away!

Anonymous said...

Rachel, you are right on here. This is something that hit my husband and I like a lightning bolt about a year ago. Capping the lifestyle and giving the rest away, yes.

Any chance your small group leader would allow the 26pp. article to be sent to me? I would love to have that for my husband and I. I'd be glad to send postage, or whatever... Love and prayers, Denise (from the Liberia yahoo group!) :)

Tarah said...

Oh Rae,
You always make me think deeply!:) I believe you are right about this. I can totally see you as a wonderful house mom. I need to read the book you are referring too. :)
Deffinately need a play date.

Amy said...

Wow. Well, I'm coming from a very different place, but your post is really making me think! I've always wanted many children, and my husband is surprisingly agreeable to all my crazy plans. My most recent plan is to add a 2nd story to our 3-bedroom house and add on 4 more bedrooms, allowing us to have up to 12 kids!!! I feel crazy even talking about it, but it is my greatest dream! The only thing is, I can't imagine how we can afford it.
But what this post is making me realize is that we do have more than we NEED, and if we cut back our lifestyle to living on our needs and not our wants, MAYBE someday we will be able to afford that 2nd story, and up to 9 more adoptions!!!!!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love your dream of the HIV home for women!
God has blessed us all with SO MUCH, and the bigger our blessings, the bigger our responsibilities!

My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001


ours through biology, born 7/25/2004, home 8/1/2004


ours through adoption from Liberia, West Africa, born 7/15/2005, home 10/25/2007


ours through domestic adoption, born 1/15/2011, home 2/10/2011, final 8/3/2011

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Round Two Timeline

  • 9/24/08 Home study update home visit for Ghana adoption
  • 10/15/08 Dossier sent to AOHG
  • 10/15/08 I600A application sent to USCIS
  • 10/30/08 First heard about possible domestic private adoption
  • 11/18/08 Last spoke with contact about possible domestic adoption; expected to hear back about meeting with birthmother
  • 12/3/08 Withdrew application from AOHG
  • 1/6/09 Found out another family had been chosen for possible domestic adoption
  • 1/21/09 USCIS fingerprinting appointment
  • 1/8/09 Received USCIS fingerprinting appointment notice
  • 4/11/09 Sent Pre-Application to Covenant Care Adoptions for Domestic Infant Adoption program
  • 6/8/09 Social worker visit to update home study from International to Domestic
  • 7/24/09 Received completed home study update
  • 8/25/09 Went "on the list" for birthfamilies to choose from
  • 4/28/10 Found out a birth mom had chosen us
  • 5/8/10 Met the birth mom
  • 5/11/10 Got the call that birth mom changed her mind
  • 5/19/10 Birth mom's scheduled c-section
  • 11/30/10 Visit from DSS sw about foster parenting
  • 11/30/10 Got the call that another birth mom had chosen us
  • 12/21/10 Met with the birth mom
  • 1/15/11 @1:42 PM BB was born!
  • 1/19/11 ICPC (interstate) paperwork sent to GA for approval
  • 1/31/11 ICPC Clearance Approved
  • 2/10/11 Placement Ceremony and Pup comes home!!!!
  • 8/3/11 It's Official! Pup's Adoption Decree was issued