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Contentment is a Choice

My husband was going through old financial statements a few days ago and we were aghast to read the numbers. During the first year Jesse was in law school, there were six months when we made less than $900 — and some months it was as low as $650. I recall that season of our lives fairly vividly, but seeing those numbers on paper again after a number of years have past was a shock to our systems.

Our rent alone during those months was over $500. I’m still not sure how we made it on so little! No wonder we rarely ate meat and did so many other pretty “extreme” things. (Yes, we had money in the bank to cover most of law school, but that money was locked up in CDs and we’d both decided that it would be untouchable to us except in the case of a dire, life-threatening emergency.)

Our commitment to live within our means and stay out of debt was hard. There’s no doubt about that.

I remember we’d pay our tithe money, our rent check and our basic utility bills and then we prayed that somehow the rest of the money would stretch until the next check would come in. How we were going to afford basic necessities was constantly looming over our heads.

And yet, those months were some of the most precious and memorable in our lives. We saw God provide for us in amazing and unexpected ways. We learned to be wildly creative. We were forced to be incredibly entrepreneurial.

Most of all, we discovered that contentment is a state of the heart, unaffected by outward circumstances.

Contentment is a choice. So choose today to bloom where you’re planted. Choose to make the most of whatever situation you find yourself in. Choose to stop focusing on what you don’t have and start being thankful for the many blessings you do have.

And remember, no matter what difficulties you might be dealing with today, somebody else would love to be in your shoes.

photo by tanakawho

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110 Comments

  • Kristin says:

    Beautifully said! Just what I needed! Thank you!

  • Wendy says:

    What encouraging words, Crystal! I love the fact that you point out the ways God provided for you during the lean times! So many Americans never truly learn to trust in the Lord. (He is the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills!)

    Thanks!

  • Andrea says:

    Your post is so true! It was a great reminder to me that I have to make the best out every situation and not always think the grass is greener on the other side. Thank you!

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It hit home for me. This year has not been one of the best for me, but when I think about all the things I have been through, I just remind myself that it can be worse. Any situation you find yourself in could always be worse. For a lot of people it is much worse than what you may be facing. Give God thanks in everything, in every situation no matter how hard it seems. He is good and faithful every day!

  • Janna says:

    I learned this lesson a long time ago, but need to be reminded often! We can focus on the material, and forget that we are rich in family, love and friendship, not to forget that a Godly church and the opportunity to have true Salvation! These things cannot be bought with money and are truly a gift from God! Thanks Crystal!

  • Kathleen says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Crystal. We have had to learn over the past few years to live on less and it is hard. But, we have learned that we can be happy with less material things. We have managed to pay for all of Christmas with CASH this year even though we have made less than previous years. We did buy less gifts for our children and family, but really I don’t think the children even noticed. My husband said this is the first year he has not felt stressed out over the holidays because we are not going to have to worry about the credit card bill coming in January. A couple that we are friends with told us they charged their whole Christmas and when we told them we paid cash, they thought we were making it up. We have been trying to get them to read Dave Ramsey’s books but they just won’t do it. Thanks to you and letting us know about Dave Ramsey we have really started to turn our lives around. You and Dave Ramsey have been a blessing to our family.

    • Sue says:

      @Kathleen, Kathleen, I am not sure if this will help.. But it makes our lives eaiser.. My husband and I started this about 4-5 years ago.. we start shopping for Christmas in October. We take a week day the two of us go out and get all the kids shopping done.. We pay cash.. and since it is October.. you are not paying for EVERYTHING for EVERYONE at once.
      Just something that works for us.
      Sue in NJ

  • Amy says:

    You are absolutely right! That is a very inspirational and motivational story! I too, have been going through some hard times, but I try to focus on the blessings that God has given me, and be thankful for them. He always provides, and I have learned some valuable life lessons during this time. God bless you, your family, and your staff.

  • abbie says:

    I found some old check registers not too long ago and so did my sister-in-law. We discussed how little each of our families made and HOW did we do it?!? To look at a different angle on this, we talked about how when you are newly married, you have a different mindset. The newly in-love, we can get through anything together, easier to laugh time. (Make sense?) Somehow as we get older and been married longer, more responsiblities, more “worldly” knowledge, more things expected of us and for us to have we lose our drive to “get through anything together”. When the world gets crazy, don’t forget your spouse. Keep your marriage focused on God and each other. You will be surprised how content you will be.

  • Sarah says:

    You could be describing me & my husband in this post. 🙂 10 years ago, we sure could live on a lot less. It seems that the cost of living has risen so much, and of course, the added costs of 3 children. I appreciate this post, as it has made me think about ways to be content with less again. Thanks!

  • soury says:

    I SO needed to hear this today, definitely a word from God for me, thanks so much for posting it!

  • Becky says:

    AMEN SISTA!

    And kudos to Kathleen about paying for your Christmas in cash. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. I remember that feeling when we paid for our first Christmas in cash, then vacation, then house repair, then car repair, and so on–that great feeling never fades once you’ve known the burden of credit cards. I also remember going to see Dave Ramsey live (& I had never actually listened to him before) & while waiting in line for the bathroom, hearing someone talking about having paid off a large amount of credit card debt & was then working on paying off the house. I heard a few other stories like that, & I really thought they had planted people around the place to get people going. So, I totally understand the opinions your friends had too!

    • Kathleen says:

      @Becky, Thanks Becky! Our next goal is to save up for my son’s preschool tuition for this fall. We want to have it all saved up for the entire year so I don’t have to worry about it every month. I would love to see Dave Ramsey live, I live in MA I don’t know if he ever comes up north. I bet he was awesome.

  • MM says:

    I work for the postal service – where most workers make at least $50k per year. One couple has told me they’ve been eating spaghetti for a week because they are so broke – and that’s on a combined income of well over $120k, based on their years of service.

    What the heck???

    I’m one of the lower paid, having just started there this year. I still manage to live fairly well despite throwing all but my rent/utilities payments into my debts (from a failed business).

    I hear the complaints of the workers – bad working conditions, the work is back-breaking (some of it is, but not all…), I didn’t get asked for O.T., blah blah blah. I usually make a comment on how I’m grateful for my job and it sure beats the year+ of unemployment I just lived thru…

    It’s all about perspective. I’ve lived thru good times, I’ve lived thru bad times – financially and otherwise – but I’m still ALIVE. Enjoy every day, even if you have heavy debt, medical problems, family issues, etc. It sure beats the alternative, and things will get better eventually!

  • Marie Hil says:

    Great post! Our God is so faithful. I know this past year has been a challenging one for us. I have had a difficult pregnancy being on nursing care at home and a picc line. I was so sick I could not even get out of bed or care for my twins. During the same time my husband was unemployed. However, it was a blessing his not working for 6months. It was exactly the amount of time I was sick. As soon as I came off the picc and med’s. within a week he was offered a job, close to home and NO TRAVEL!!! Just what we wanted!!! I am due in 5 weeks. We saw God provide meals, help with the kids, even woman coming and cleaning my house!!
    We haven’t followed Dave Ramsey yet but we have had a cash envelope system for 6 years now. We have no debt, just our mortgage which we plan to have paid in 3 years. It’s amazing when you live by God’s principles you truely have all that you need.

  • Shantique says:

    Thank you, Crystal. I too have had a very rough couple of years and find myself sometimes being very bitter, disappointed and depressed. This next year probably is not going to be much better, BUT I am trying to go forward with a more positive attitude and as you said, enjoy what I DO have. A wonderful husband who can make me laugh, and moments later still give me a chill with his touch on my arm AND the two most beautiful little girls in the world (I’m quite biased of course!). No matter what is behind us and what is ahead, we have each other and always will. Thanks for all that you do, over my last few months I have learned so much from reading this blog and it has been fun and inspiring!

    We had a very lean Christmas, but we paid cash for every bit of it (with the help of my survey points and gift certificates earned from them, and some gift certs earned at work along with winning a few sweepstakes). I was able to sit back and enjoy watching my girls open their gifts without worrying about how I was going to pay for it. That was a GOOD feeling, and I want to carry it thoughout the remainder of my life!

  • Beautifully said! You are gifted as an encourager to others. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family!

  • Andrea Freeman says:

    Thank you for your encouraging and uplifting words today. It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. We are debating whether or not to take or house off the market (trying to sell to get something ‘bigger’-not a need, but a want). In this economy we will no doubt be losing thousands of dollars if we do this. We are happy with our children’s school situation, after school activities, and where we arecurrently located is closer to both of our jobs. We are definitely going to be re-evaluating what our priorities are in 2011! Thank you!

    • Sarah says:

      @Andrea Freeman, I too, wanted a bigger house. When my hubby got a job transfer, it was a great opportunity, and with foreclosures up the wazoo, it was quite tangible. And of course, there’s a “but…”. But, along with the larger house has come so much more worry about energy bills, upkeep, and renovation projects. And I find we don’t use the extra space all that well either. We mostly cloister ourselves in one room and sit on top of each other anyway! And the big yard we have now? We can’t afford a swingset, so we walk to the park all summer anyway. Definitely consider your priorities. This article pretty much sums up where my priorities should lie. http://www.thrivingfamily.com/Features/Magazine/2010/jul/love-as-a-lifestyle.aspx

  • Sheena says:

    Crystal – like so many others, these words went straight to my heart. Although my husband and I have been fighting our way out of debt, I can’t help but think of my Mother who has struggled her entire life as a single mom, providing for her two children. She has spent her entire life taking care of others and for the past 6 months, has been fighting to find a job. She is currently living on less than $600 a month and still manages to make a mortgage payment and utilities, although she doesn’t eat as much as she should. I have so much to be thankful for and it’s because of her, so I want to share these words with her in hopes of picking up her spirits and helping encouraging her to find that inner hope that she has lost. I hope you can encourage her like you have me.

  • Connie says:

    Very good reminder, especially as we approach a ‘new year’! The apostle Paul, in the book of Philippians agrees with you, “…I have LEARNED to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Phil. 4:11).

  • Kathy C says:

    I NEEDED to hear this today. I just got home from my 2nd round of spinal injections in two days and I was laying in bed very depressed about our financial problems. I am not able to work full time right now due to my spine issues and my husband is a realtor and we have not received a pay check in over 8 months now. We have two kids and a house. Luckily both of our cars are older cars and are paid off. BUT mentally I feel like I am about to lose it. I keep praying and trusting God and I still feel down. We haven’t been able to tithe in the last 8 months and that gets very hard because it has always been our top priority. I KNOW God is good ALL the time. Thank you for sharing.

  • Wow. That story touched me so much, God is so amazing with how He provides and blesses us. I loved reading everyone’s comments and stories. No matter how many times I see it unfold, I am STILL amazed by His perfect timing and His perfect plan for our lives. Thank you everybody for sharing. Rose 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I really appreciate your whole website and the many things i’ve learned from you and your experiences. I am glad that I got to read this today. Its a nice reminder to be thankful for what we do have even if it seems so small. May god continue to bless you and your family in the upcoming year!

  • Michelle says:

    Your prespective goes right along with your contentment, I believe. Three years ago my husband received a new heart the week before Christmas. I learned having my husband recover and be in good health is really all I-and our three children-truely need. Anything else that we are given is like icing on the cake.

  • Debi says:

    Well said, Crystal! We were in a similar circumstance when we decided I would stay at home with our first child. Our income was $800 a month, our bills pretty much took everything. We tithed what little we could faithfully each week. We had to make some very difficult sacrificial acts just to survive. I wouldn’t trade that experience of hardship for anything, we learned so much! It also made us appreciate the little things in life and everyday miracles. One of the miracles I remember very well. My husband needed shoes, there were holes in the bottoms and the soles were falling off. He had to have a certain kind for his job that usually cost $40. He called and told me he was going to swing by the Goodwill on his way home from work and just see what they had(I was pessimistic about this idea). I was surprised when he walked in the door with a HUGE smile on his face and a tear in his eye. He had found the very brand and style and size that he needed in nearly perfect condition….for 50 cents!! I guess you could say that we discovered the “joy in suffering”.

  • Ally says:

    Thanks Crystal! it is great to ‘hear’ those words for encouragement. We are working on paying our debt off – so that we can continue to add to our family and have a better means for our family in the future. We both work; and have the college bills.. unfortunately. But we are working HARD to get rid of those to make for a better life all around!

  • Jennifer D. says:

    Thank you Crystal for these encouraging words. I hope you don’t mind but I used it as my facebook status to also remind family and friends of the same reminder you just gave me. This past year has been very difficult for my family as well. My husband spent the whole year traveling for his job because his position went away. For him to keep his salary he had to make a sacrifice and it was his family time. He was home Thurs and Fri each week. It was a very difficult year but God carried us through it and now he was offered the position he was holding out for and our family is back together again. We are very blessed now that we have what means the most without any material possessions!

    • Tammy says:

      @Jennifer D., My husband has been traveling for his job also .he started the year out unemployed and took a job in Indiana-we live in North Carolina.He lost that job after 4 months and was unemployed for 3 months.Unfortunately he had to take a job in Florida.been travleing back and forth from there for almost 4 months.Hopefully we will all be together soon.

  • Christi says:

    Thanks for allowing God to use you to speak to me today. I was just pouring over our budget for the coming year trying to figure out which of our already bare-minimum catagories could share to cover the crazy high oil and gas prices as well as our doubling property taxes and water and sewer payments. I was feeling pretty depressed and hopeless about the whole thing. I needed the reminder that God provides and that contentment and thankfulness are a choice. THANKS!

  • Tricia says:

    Thank you Crystal for sharing this. I just read a book and one section was about perspective. It’s all in how you look at things. Quick story…my grandparents are getting up in years and my children just adore them. When we go to town to the bread store, my girls know that we are close to their house. One day my six year old asked if we could go by their house, I said no because I had “so” much to do and I knew we would be there for at least an hour, if not more (me and my Grandma can TALK!:) All of my girls were upset and I could see it in their faces, so I said that we would go by for just a few minutes. My six year old, from the back seat said, “God just made my day, we get to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house”. We showed up, unannounced, and the smile that radiated from my grandparents faces was all I needed to know we had made the right decision. It was then that it hit me, it was just a little bit of my day, but meant the world to them. My Grandpa has Alzheimer’s and it’s getting worse by the day, so that day my Grandma really needed someone to talk to and the kids always brighten my Grandpa’s day. One day they won’t be there for us to stop and see, so I realized that I needed to look at it that way. I was thinking only of what I had to do, not about what was really important…it’s all in the way you look at things!

    • Debi says:

      @Tricia,
      So very true, I can totally relate only it is my Mother-in-law with dementia and my Father-in-law gets so lonely, he asked for as many books as we could find for Christmas as he has read 500 books over the last year….he hates to leave her side and is a constant witness to me each and everyday what true love is!! I hope to keep remembering as your story reminds us how very important it is to put ourselves aside for a greater good.
      Blessings!!

  • Britt says:

    Wow. I think God had you write that post just from me. This is my biggest struggle in life right now. Something I think about and try to remind myself hourly.

    My husband was let go from his job a couples week ago (we worked together) for very wrong reasons. Basically, he was being over paid by about 15k and they found a reason to let him go. Now, I’m here working with the people that fired him… and our goal of me being a stay-at-home mom is seeming more hopeless.

    Thankfully, my husband is starting a new job soon. Every night beore I go to bed I want to cry because of how much I don’t want to go to my job, but at this point I have to stay for the money. I daydream about being a stay-at-home mom for our baby boy about 7 hours of our 8 hour day. Our goal is for me to be able to stay home by the end of the year, and pray that somehow someway God will let that happen.

    We know God is in control and maybe testing us for some reason, but it’s still so hard. Thanks for this!

  • Lisa Grace says:

    Beautifully shared; thanks! The lean times are often the most memorable and the ones that shape us the most…and the ones we remember with a smile.

  • Leslie says:

    Excellent post and so true. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all lived this way?

  • Brittany says:

    This is my favorite type of post from you. I love the personal stories that I can relate to or that encourage me to change something in my life. This post definetly hit home today! Thanks!

  • jennifer says:

    Thank you!!! We too are in a ‘different’ situation than we’ve been in years past, but thinking back and remembering, I cannot believe we’ve made. I didn’t know if anyone would take to it, but I would love to write a guest post about our situation and how THERE IS HOPE!!! I’m that crazy lady at the grocery store who sees a younger mom and the stress written all over her face, and I just want to hug her and say, “honey, there is hope!! I’ve been where you are!!!” Thanks so much to this blog, and God using you, I’ve had little to no stress this Christmas, and I don’t worry about buying groceries. I thank God for that lady with the huge binder at target who told me about this blog. I literally went up to her and asked for advice/help. People think we’re crazy sometimes but it’s a very simple equation: Mom worried over money+no money=strife in a marriage and for the kids. That’s what I’m so grateful for. Does it seem crazy that coupons saved our marriage??LOL!!

  • wonderful words Crystal! As a therapist I can promise you that your perspective and attitude are 99% of the battle! I wrote a post on choices here (not just related to finances)if anyone is interested in reading:

    http://thebigredpot.blogspot.com/2010/09/mental-health-monday-choices.html#

  • Thank you, this was beautifully written and speaks volumes to me.

    The past year has been terrible for me and my family. My parents lost their jobs and their health insurance and suffered severe medical problems requiring hospitalization. I gave birth to a much-wanted baby boy, and then suffered severe postpartum depression for which I was hospitalized.

    Two family members of mine died- a 17 year old cousin, unexpectedly, from Wilson’s Disease- the donor liver was cancerous and no other organ was found, and she passed. And my Grandpa, passed on Thanksgiving day, a few days after suffering a heart attack.

    Our furnace and heat pump had problems and then died. Our washing machine died. Our sewer backed up- $9k in repairs for all that.

    It’s so easy to count all the above and think, “Woe is me.” But I know I am blessed. I chose to bless our daycare’s food pantry, a domestic violence shelter and a maternity resource center with our charitable giving for the year. I have two healthy children and the love of my husband. And my health is coming back, slowly but surely. Indeed, I am blessed.

  • Susan says:

    this was so encouraging! every time i sit back and think, ‘how the heck did i make it last month?’ my faith gets increasingly stronger. God does, indeed, always provide.

  • Felicia says:

    I am so glad that you posted this today as we head into the new year. My husband is active duty Air Force and we are currently stationed overseas in Germany. We recently just completed the Dave Ramsey course and wow what an eye opening experience for us. We are determined to go back to the states in 4 years debt free. We’ve been in Germany for 3 years now and that was our original goal if we had not got the extension we would’ve went back with still credit card debt. I believe God had a plan for us because our original request to extend here was denied. But I prayed and prayed and luckily our second time at asking we were granted that extension. So it is a goal for me to get these credit cards paid off. We’ve done well so far we’ve paid off 4 credit cards since September it feels so good to have that momentum. I needed this blog post to keep me going. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful and inspiring words with us!

  • Pam says:

    I soooooo needed this! Why is it that the simplest of things are sometimes the hardest to sink in??? Thank you!

  • Abigail says:

    BRAVO !! Contentment is a choice !!! In every part of our lives…..

  • Tammy says:

    A good post as always.When you decided to start frugal and be out debt then it helped to be content with where you were and had with Jesse.

    At times it hard to be contempt and I would rather tell somebody I am discouraged then lie or be a fake about it.This past summer it was hard to be happy when we were on my husband’s 2nd unemployment in less than a year and couldn’t collect unemployment.Almost lost everything.

  • Lori says:

    Thanks once again for the inspiration Crystal. I am bookmarking this post for those days when I need an encouragement boost!

  • Danielle says:

    Thank you so much for that! It IS hard to be content somedays. But we feel extremely blessed even with LITTLE finances. Thanks again for the encouragement!!

  • BS says:

    Lovely post! I think it would be true for every aspect of our lives, not just money matters!

    It seems that people always think the grass is greener on the otherside. I have a friend that makes much more than me and she is so unhappy and complains all the time about how “under paid” she is. She cries herself to sleep because they aren’t able to afford all the stuff they’d like to have. I don’t think there is a value were being content kicks in, it’s a matter of the heart.

  • mary ellen says:

    Such an encouraging post–thank you.
    When I feel discouraged, I try to remember one of my favorite sayings: Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. ~Abraham Lincoln
    It is a choice!

  • Nancy says:

    Excellent post Crystal. Stay encouraged all of you young moms! We were a poor struggling family 16 plus years ago and I echo the sentiments of all of the many posters here. Attitude is so important. STAY close to our Lord for He provides to all those who place their trust in Him. And He is amazing in even the little things (like the pants for .50 from the story above) Also, don’t forget to pray for those struggling people who do not know the Lord or who are unable or unwilling to trust in His care . For they fall into envy ,despair and an entitlement thinking.

  • Catherine R. says:

    What can I say? Contentment is a struggle to say the least, but when it comes down to it, you are right. I think what can make it much harder is when there is no plan or vision. That has been *really* hard for me. Living in survival mode with huge debt and no plan at all. No “This is temporary” for comfort. But praise God, it seems (through some caring godly people that have come into our life F.I.N.A.L.L.Y.) that we may actually be looking towards a plan and some strategies to break out of this cycle we’re in. Oh how I hope. Thanks for your encouraging ways.

  • Rachel E. says:

    Excellent perspective.

    Times are tight with the birth of our 2nd child and the decision to keep me home to raise our girls. However with that said I am enjoying and cherishing this time…as well as thinking about what and how to start something from home to earn some extra money.

    I love this community you’ve created, well done. And one of the things I enjoy the most is your honesty and being open about God. Something some people shelf in a business such as this. I’m thrilled to see so many of your readers share the in the passion of Christ as well and I love how the other blogs you share also are Christian driven.

    Great post! Keep them coming.
    Blessings,
    Rachel E.

  • Shirley says:

    Wonderfully said. Growing up I always knew that we didn’t have much money but I never really saw it or felt it. We always had enough food to eat and I never really felt like I had to go without. We were very close as a family and did a lot of activities together, and we had a lot of traditions such as family game night on Fridays, making each other gifts for holidays & birthdays, fishing, hunting, etc. Talking with my mom now, those were part of the ways that they saved money, but I always thought it was what made our family special and I hope to carry on those special yet “frugal” traditions to my own family whether times are thick or thin.

  • Candy says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Definitely needed this TODAY!

  • Crystal,

    How this post is SO TRUE. Contentment is a choice. It is a state of mind and it is accepting that no matter how much or how little the Lord provides it is always at least enough and often MORE than enough. Thanks for this post! I am going to link it to my facebook fan page facebook.com/ourpeacefulhome Many Blessings to you as you experience contentment in this season of your life as well. And I praying blessings on all others reading your blog who are trying to find that a simple life is a life worth living.

  • Cindee A says:

    Amen to that I just finished reading how you started this site and it was a miracle of God! God bless you and the friend who God put in my path to direct me to your site!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you! Your post was just what I needed today!! I used your last paragraph as my facebook status!!

    Warmest wishes for a very Happy New Year!!!

  • Jana says:

    i loved this post. i loved it for its story, its sense of encouragement and most of all, its timing.

    my husband and i have recently decided to start focusing on areas of our life where we can improve and contentment is one of those areas. while we are happy with all that we have, we realize that sometimes we focus too much on what we don’t have. as a couple, we need to practice choosing to be more content.

    we are also making it a point, each and every day, to focus on gratitude and remind ourselves not only how lucky we are but how far we’ve come. we’ve experienced the “sticker shock” of looking at old check registers and wondering how on earth we made it through those times.

  • Kara says:

    I needed to read this post. I just had to lower my safety net for each payday because of how much I want to set aside to pay off debt. I was shocked and wondering how we could do it. Making this sacrifice now, will put us in a better position later this year and in life.
    It also reminded me to be content with where we are with Dh’s job and the role/position I was just offered this morning.
    Crystal, may I borrow this article for my volunteer work? This article really goes with the section that I teach.

  • Perspective certainly is a powerful tool. The right perspective, attitude, faith and choices are really what makes for a happy and full life.
    Great post!

  • Love this post, I was planning a similar one in January! Thank you for blessing so many lives and giving us all inspiration! I hope you and your family have a wonderful New Year’s! A good book that gave me inspiration is Dave Ramsey’s More Than Enough: http://www.daveramsey.com/store/Books/dave-s-bestsellers/More-Than-Enough/prod463.html

  • Brittny says:

    Thanks for that reminder! What a great lesson, especially this time of year. I know that having little money can be especially hard during Christmas when you want to give your friends and family all they deserve but just can’t afford it. We had to spread our shopping out over about 4 months to make it happen for our kids and nieces and nephews on a pretty modest level. For our parents we made the Memory Baskets that you posted about with all their favorite snacks and they loved them! Thanks for being so diligent in posting home-made gift ideas, they really helped!

  • Kathy says:

    Thank you for reminding me of my blessings. You are truly an inspiration to your young and not so young followers.

  • jill says:

    Does anyone have suggestions on how to deal with the situation of a husband’s constant discontentment with a smaller home? He feels the walls are closing in on us. We are in no position to move anytime soon and have another baby on the way. His constant complaining and me not being able to fix the situation is really bothering me. I feel that no matter what situation we’re in he will want more, so it’s more a matter of an attitude issue. I just dont even know what to say as I’ve always been a content person by nature. I generally try to point out the positives in our life like we are debt free. I can be a stay at home mom with our kids rather than have to work to pay a lg house payment etc, but it just seems to frustrate him.

    • @jill, I’ve been reading “Lies Women Believe” and in one section she talks about how important it is for us to pray that God will guide our husbands and that it is our job to submit to their will for our family. She even gives an example of a woman saying, “But if I didn’t step in, my husband would have let our family go bankrupt!” She responds to that by saying, “Maybe bankruptcy is exactly what God needs to get your husbands attention and you are keeping him from it.”

      Prayer for him and a humble example can go so far in a marriage! God is watching over you and your family and He will never leave or forsake you 🙂

  • Jerilyn says:

    Have you ever read a biography on George Muller? He had recorded over 50,000 answers to prayer in his life (30,000 were immediate). Very encouraging read! This is why I enjoy keeping numbers/reciepts/a journal, etc. like your documents it helps us look bad and see how faithful he was.

    We had something similar happen. In 2007 when we did our taxes we realized that we had only made $5,000 dollars the whole year on our own- we had some help that year as my husband lost his job, and we had a baby, and moved across the country, so our parents gifted us some money so we could make it through. We were so excited the next year because our income tripled- to $15,000. He was faithful with us then and now even though we make much more than that (though not a TON more 😉

  • Megan says:

    I agree completely with the post. After receiving our last checks of the year, my fiance and I combined grossed little more than $25K – and we also have 2 kids. We purchased our vehicles for $1,000 a couple years ago and we rent for $500. Though our children were “surprises” (birth control failed TWICE!! – got my tubes tied this last time!) and we had to use Medicaid, we were able to float $1,000 of our tax check through most of the year. We almost never go out and don’t really desire to – it’s more fun at home and we’re both very leery of restaurant cleanliness.

    All that said, we’re very content to know that being smart with our money has me able to pay OOP for college this next semester – I don’t qualify for financial aid due to past circumstances. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and delayed gratification is the best!

  • Really nice reminder to be grateful for what we have. Thank you for sharing it!

  • Jenn says:

    Great reminder for all of us.
    God IS good.
    God will provide.
    Be humble and listen to what God wants from you.
    Thanks!
    ~Jenn

  • Angela says:

    Amen! Thanks for sharing the little reminder. It’s all about the perspective we create for ourselves. Contentment is key… focusing on Him is essential. Looking back we’ve seen a similar cycle. From a gross joint income of $30K to $100K with health insurance provided by employer to $50K without health insurance provided. I love being creative.

  • Kelly says:

    Thank you! We just finished paying for car repairs on both of our vehicles, and I was stressing about how I will pay bills now with those unexpected payments. Thank you for the calm your post has brought me.

  • Judi says:

    Well said! Happy New Year!

  • Joy says:

    This goes both ways. Some people are content to do nothing with themselves.

  • Cindi Ellison says:

    I had already chosen this word as my word for 2011…no resolutions..just a word..well besides saving money and living within my means. Your post touched me so much and I just want to say how much I am enjoying your blog!

  • Cora-Sue says:

    Thank you for a great article.I live on $694.00 a month. I pay rent,some utilities,buy my prescriptions,buy groceries,and still have the bad habit of smoking.So spend money there too. I have started paying off a doctor bill that is long overdue,and I have 3 other bills totalling about $4000.00 that I am planning on paying off. I am not a religious person,don’t go to church,but I do believe in God.
    I have not read the Dave Ramsey theory,mainly because I laugh everytime I think about the money people pay for his books and classes. He is becoming rich from everyone who pay for his advice. But I feel that is everyone’s own personal decision.
    I raised 4 children entirely by myself on about $6,000.00 to $8,000.00 a year and they never went without,sometimes had to wait a while for new shoes or whatever but they always got them. This year for the first time in 3 years I did Christmas for all my children and 14 grandchildren,and even though it was not a big amount–$500.00 total.It was all paid in cash so I don’t have to worry about paying it off now.
    My only concern is how are things going to be this next year. They say gas will be $4.00 a gallon by spring,$5.00 a gallon by the first of next year. And grocereies are supposed to raise a lot this year. Hopefully everyone can make it through those changes. Still I am contented,maybe wish I had a little more to just be able to buy something I want once in a while instead of just things I absolutely need.
    But God bless you and yours and keep up the good work with your posts.

    • A says:

      @Cora-Sue, Dave Ramsey’s books and materials are at most libraries, too, just so you know! I was surprised to discover that our library had not only his books, but also lots of the DVDs!

    • Erin says:

      @Cora-Sue,
      Cora-Sue,
      We paid off $58,000 in debt after reading Dave Ramsey’s book which we got free from the library. We’ve since bought the book (maybe $15?) which I am sharing with my neighbor right now. I hope it blesses her family. $15 is nothing compared to the $58,000 we paid off, and so worth it. My parents have since followed Dave Ramsey’s plan and paid off debt and increased their savings.
      There are a lot of scams out there, but this is not one of them :).
      Oh-and if you can’t get to a library easily, Dave Ramsey does have his Baby Steps online at his website for free.

  • Kate B says:

    Amen!!!! I think people are as happy as they make up their minds to be. I also know that God is faithful.
    This year we pared Christmas down, a lot, and I have never been so content.
    I paid cash, out of my everyday budget, and didn’t feel pinched or anxious.
    I have been simplifying my life a lot since I started reading your blog. Thank you so much for the encouraging posts, Crystal.
    Happy New Year!

  • Meredith says:

    Great post!! I’m so happy to say that my husband and I just paid cash for Christmas!!! What a blessing. Keep the great blogs coming. they’re so encouraging!!

  • laurie says:

    Great post Crystal. Learning to be content has been a process,but here is my story. I am 39 and became a mom in 2004 to a Chinese little girl who was 10mos old. I am single by choice and paid cash for her adoption. Our first yr home was an eye opener financially,but we made it. Fast forward to Nov 2008 and my Claire was placed in my arms in China and she was 12mos old. I also paid cash for her adoption. I started read Dave’s books in early 2008 and am just now finishing FPU and have loved it. I am so proud to say that as a family of 3 we were debt free about 6mos ago and just have our mortgage every month and basic bills. It is my dream and hope to pay my house off early and to use that money to help my girls through college with no debt. I find you blog amazing and I just love that God is all over your blog. Have an amazing 2011.
    Laurie
    DD Olivia 6
    DD Claire 3

  • Jacque says:

    I have had this blog coming in to my reader for several weeks but not only have I not been reading it I have actively avoided it by hiding it down at the very bottom of my list. Not because I don’t like it or think it doesn’t share anything worthwhile (obviously something made me subscribe!) but because it has the word ‘Mom’ in the title. My husband and I desperately want to have a child but are facing fertility issues. While I can usually handle the situation pretty well these past 2 or 3 months have been a struggle. If all possible I have been avoiding all things mom, baby, family, etc., etc. It just hurts too much. But today, this post is exactly what I needed to hear! I needed to be reminded that contentment is a choice and to appreciate the blessings we DO have. Thank you so much!

    • Crystal says:

      Huge hugs, Jacque! I know we have many readers here who have (or are) experiencing the deep, deep pain and difficulty of infertility and my heart breaks for them and for you.

  • yulean says:

    I just lost my job, I don’t know what to do especially when I just had my a little baby. I worked for the company almost 10 years and now they decided to moved to China, I lost hope. Thank you for your post Crystal that just what I need to hear to make me feel strong for little baby.

  • Lisa Viles says:

    Thank you!! My car was recently totaled and I am getting a check for it tomorrow. I’ve been struggling with what to do and I think I’m going to find something cheap and get it. Who needs a fancy car with remote start and high payments?!?

  • Deborah says:

    Thank you so much for the reminder! My husband works construction and at this time every year things get really tight. I always need a reminder to be content and trust God!

  • Evelyn says:

    Thank You for your constant reminders on how awesome our God is.

  • Chantel says:

    This made me smile, because this is where I am today. For the past year, each and every day I wake up and choose to believe that the God that we serve is faithful and mighty and that He will take care of us. From that springs contentment, even in the most humble of circumstances.

    In all honesty, we shouldn’t be making it each month. Not with both of us more or less unemployed for near a year now and not with sometimes several months going by between our small earnings here and there. We didn’t have much in savings to start with, and yet living simply and being content and trusting HIM…we haven’t really been hungry, and we are still paying our rent and we aren’t in debt.

    And every month, as we pay our bills, even if that is all we do right now, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude that He who multiplies loaves and fishes is right beside me helping to stretch our best efforts and providing for us in so many beautiful and amazing, even if small, ways.

    I have no idea when this season will end. And it isn’t easy not knowing about tomorrow, and to live on nothing.

    But I am so thankful that He has and continues to help me to be content with where we are, and with the good gifts He has given: a home to live in (which we didn’t have this summer!), and life with my very best friend and sweetheart.

    Someday, it might not be a struggle to get through each month, but I hope I’ll never forget how He is taking care of us right now.

    • Crystal says:

      Hugs, Chantel! I will pray that the Lord continues to bless your faithfulness to trust Him cheerfully for your daily bread. He is faithful!

    • BS says:

      @Chantel, I wanted to tell you that both Crystal & your comment was such a blessing to me today!

      I had just saved and gotten some Christmas money to make a somewhat big purchase, something I had been hoping to do for a while. This morning on my way to work some not so nice person plowed into my car and fled (while I had just exited my driveway) tearing up my car and my mailbox. I will have to pay $500. to get my car fixed. I was/and still am broken hearted in that I was so excited that all my saving had finally paid off. Now, I have to get my car fixed.

      I really just needed a reminder that through all of this God is still in control and on His throne. I don’t understand the why but I am sure there is some master plan of His that will in some way work for the good. It doesn’t seem that way right now. The same God that multiplied those fishes and bread is holding me and my car in His hands!

      Thanks for the reminder!!!

  • laura says:

    we were there a few months ago, about $600 for the month…. it has gone up a little bit with God’s help, but still struggling. It is amazing what the Lord is teaching us during this time.

  • Jill says:

    Your words ring so true in my ears. The one thing I have NEVER EVER questioned was the Lord’s provision. Growing up in a single parent home and being on welfare for 11 years, I learned that the Lord will provide exactly what we need, when we need it, even if it isn’t exactly what I want. As I grew up, and after my mom remarried and we had money, my mindset changed to, well, now that we have it, let’s spend it! What an incorrect way of thinking! And I completely set myself up for financial failure by ever thinking that the money and possessions I “owned” were truly mine. It continues to be a battle for me to see what others possess that I do not, but I praise the Lord for his precious reminder that everything in this world is His, and that I have the opportunity to glorify him with how I steward HIS resources. May I be daily reminded of his faithfulness and provision, even in the hardest of times as we are in now. And may I ALWAYS remember that the Lord will provide exactly what we need, when we need it.

    God Bless!

  • Christie Lee says:

    Wow! This is just what I needed to hear (read). Thank you so much for the reminder.

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