Puzzle fundraiser update [vol. 5]

I got to wear a baby [my fifth niece] for a few hours and I loved it. However, I am going to need to invest some time into you-tubing those videos about how to wrap yourself up with a baby clinging close and how to stuff them in without panicking that you are smooshing them all wrong. That said, I am stoked to wear our baby someday, to fill my arms with fresh baby that I don't have to hand back, to kiss and smooch and pray over, to learn the curvatures of his or her face. It was sort of one of those days where I fell in love with babies all over again. Or, more in love with, I should say.

ADOPTION UPDATE: quick and simple, this is where we're at:

We are still waiting to have our in-home-study and interviews scheduled. When we hired Susan at CAC in May and finished our part of the home study paperwork in June, were banking on being home study ready by August and applying for grants and to adoption agencies, hopefully being available to present by late August.

But as the story goes, things aren't as planned, and landmark months have arrived and we have yet to schedule the home study interviews to be licensed. We do our best to make plans and have goals and then open our hands to let them run their course. Surrender, is the word. I fail at this thing of sweet surrender so often, but its a constant thing I am aware of, a constant reality I am chewing on and fighting to enter into freely and fully, all the way surrendered. But with this minor thing of paper work and home study pushed back a bit, it seems hardly difficult to surrender. It is a thing that really isn't a big deal, that will happen in time, easy to surrender. We know it is for some purpose, as all things are, no matter how (in)significant.

Our consultant Susan (from CAC) is the best and sent us a list of agencies to pray over and sift through, to decide together which states and agencies we want to apply to. She even helped us make a prioritized list, which was so helpful, because we have no idea what to look for. There are pages of documents to fill out for each of these agencies, more applications and words and histories and stories and medical and financial records to share, so much paperwork. They call us Paper-Pregnant.

We are trucking along on our puzzle! I flipped over the bottom half the other day and snapped some images of the newest names added. If you have sponsored pieces in the last month or so, your names should be there. There are also names all over the top left corner and entire border, but I need to glue them together to flip over. Also, sometimes I just look at it and my stomach flops because all thats left are the 50 shades of whites that might have some blue tint or maybe gray, and I just don't. know. what. to. do. How do we puzzle!?

If you have not yet sponsored a piece, we hope that you will think about it. The double-sided-clear frame is being made at Michaels and will showcase every one who helped kick off our adoption with this awesome fundraiser. Your name will be placed on as many pieces purchased and will be seen in the nursery and kept forever and ever, and ever and ever. One family purchased the entire border and all I can say about that is....GRACE UPON GRACE and oceans of tears and gratitude. Another person purchased part of a piece, and we were stoked to add their name to the puzzle, because hello, you are helping us bring home our baby. Grace upon grace and oceans of tears. Its a common theme in the Brenner home these days. Once this puzzle is completely purchased, we will be half way funded.

  

How it works:

1)   Decide how many puzzle pieces you want to purchase to financially support our adoption fund.

1 puzzle piece = $25 

2)  Click on the donate button below to give securely through PayPal

-OR-

Donate via check. Email us at nataliekbrenner@gmail.com and we will send your our address to mail in a check.

3)  Watch the adoption puzzle come together on our blog and see your name be recognized. We will build the puzzle as you donate the pieces.

The story of our Fundraised Income

fundraised income missionaries Many of you know that Loren and I fundraise most of our income. A multitude of you support us financially, emotionally, and prayerfully. You are our team and without you, we would not be where we are now. We would not have the capability of serving others to the capacity that we are currently able, we would not be able to spend hours with new believers, old believers, and unbelievers; __believers of Jesus and His word, that is. We would still be able to do a portion of these things as all Christians are called to do, but not to the full extent that we have been given the opportunity and privilege to now. For that, I cannot thank you enough. But I also know that this is bigger than us little Brenners...this is eternal and for Him.

To start off our marriage, Loren worked 21 hours a week at Trillium Farm Home - the securest safe unit for troubled mentally-ailed teens in the state - and I worked 21 hours at US BANK in Monmouth. Our schedules were exactly opposite of each other, which was painful on our precious little fragile brand new marriage. Every lunch break at the Bank I would walk to the nearest coffee shop, whip out my computer, and do my computer tasks for the church. Oh how deeply I craved to be in the office or downtown at Starbucks working for Corvallis Church, rather than in another city on my lunch break of a Bank job. But that was what we had to do; I know it could have been a lot more difficult. Eventually a full time position for Trillium opened up and I was able to quit my Bank job in order to spend more time with young women and also building more structure to the "program" [I would hardly call it that] part of the Youth Ministry. Our income was a beautiful $1200-1600/month.

In order for both of us to have the capacity and availability to serve the church the way we dreamed, the way we felt called, we needed more income. We needed to fundraise.

When Loren and I first began fundraising in December of 2012, I was scared to my wits end. Fears loomed and the reality that I had to be confident in this calling was frightening. THE THOUGHTS YELLED AT ME: You mean, we are going to ask people to send us money...every month...for...years? What a request to ask of others. Who was I to say I was called to this? Who was I to say that I am equipped? All we had were willing hearts and a confidence in this calling. When in High School, I did my fair share of fundraising for sports teams and mission trips - but those were easier and less daunting because they were one time events. We asked for a certain amount, one time. Not a recurring amount for years. There are many foreign missionaries that live solely off of fundraised support - but we were not moving to Europe or Africa or Haiti. We were remaining in Corvallis, exactly where we were, for the purpose of training and equipping the growing church plant right before our eyes, working to save lives eternally.  The individuals that Jesus was bringing to Corvallis Church were our mission - the humans of this city.

Mike (our Pastor/Mentor/Boss/Friend) walked us through what it meant to fundraise and how to do it. He taught us things like creating a pitch, reviewing the pitch, praying about the pitch. What is our story, how were we drawn to CC? What is the need here in Benton County --> statistics show that this exact county has the least percentage of church goers in the entire US. What is our bigger mission? What is our role in this mission? Mike taught us how to ask as specifically as possible. The need is monthly support - he reminded us not to be deceitful, be honest in humility. And let me tell you, it was humbling. It is still humbling. Mike spent so much time preparing us and walking us through fundraising - he trained us, he equipped us, he empowered us. I will be forever thankful for the hours, years, of investment Mike Miller has given us.

That first year we began receiving about $200/month of outside support in addition to Loren's second job. By the end of the year almost $600/month was being donated. As God faithfully continued to grow us and the church steadily and yet so faithfully, He also provided more income. Little by little, we saw that there was hope for Loren to possibly cut back on hours at Trillium to spend more time serving this church community. By December 2013, our faith had been built by mountains that were moved - though we were not quite half-way supported financially, it was possible. We saw that we could get there and were nudged deep within our hearts to make the leap. A part time position at Trillium opened back up and Loren went back down to 21 hours. By paper, that was the stupidest thing we could have done. But my heart was so inspired by my husband's faith. I was brought so much closer to Jesus by his act of faith, in leading our small family towards God's heart. We sent out more letters letting our Support Team And More know that we had experienced what God can do with willing hearts, and we craved more of it. We were hungry for more of His goodness. THESE WORDS WERE SENT SO FRIGHTENINGLY AND YET SO HONESTLY: So Loren is cutting his hours in half at Trillium, which removes all of his benefits and half of our income, and we need you! We need your support, so please continue, if not add to it.

 

matthew 6 11 daily bread

How scary this was! There were so many feelings of fear, excitement, and uncertainty. I knew that God had never let us go hungry - He always showed up in miraculous ways. Food on our doorstep, potlucks with left overs, random unexpected cash/checks/getaways, etc. But this was a big step for us little Brenners. We decided to lean in to God's mission rather than seek comfort on our own efforts. There is much more comfort in knowing that your 9-5 job will always bring you a paycheck, no matter what. There is so much comfort in having benefits and paid vacation time and promised raises. Hourly wages. An hourly wage and set hours = comfort, as we know what to do, we know when we can clock in and clock out, and we know with confidence that we will receive a certain amount of pay. But as we talked and dreamed and vision casted, we knew that God' mission was bigger than those comforts.

January 2014, my goal was to have Loren done with Trillium by July. Oh how earnestly I prayed for this to happen! It did not happen. August however, Loren took the entire month off to travel around for camps and retreats and all of that good Youth Ministry stuff. That was kind of a trial month to see how we would survive without the Trillium paycheck. Things were tight, but things have always been tight, and that is okay. We have learned to accept the tightness, pick ourselves up and say, "We have never gone without. We live extremely rich and blessed lives. Nothing we have is ours, everything a gift from Him." November was another month he had to take a lot of time off of Trillium. Tons of conversations and hopeful, terrifying prayers later...we decided to make the biggest leap yet at the end of 2014: Loren put his 2 weeks in. Officially quit. Be done. No more paychecks from a 9-5 job...but no more days and hours spent there, no more Trillium. This was a blender of scary and thrilling and trusting. It was here! Finally, we were at a place to leap into the unknowns of full time ministry and fundraised income. More letters written and sent out, letting our faithful and so generous supporters know that we are indeed leaping into a big pool of something and were trusting that He would be there to catch us. Our supporters are His hands - we needed His provision through them.

beautiful girls at camp

January 3, 2015 was Loren's last day at Trillium. Oh the praises were mighty and loud that day!

We had made the decision to lean in to God's mission rather than seek comfort on our own efforts. "And that always starts with being ready and willing to sacrifice and God having room to show up." [<<Mike shared that with us the other day]. Mike, among other Corvallisites, continuously confirmed our calling and reminded us not to doubt it. So did every single person who has supported us in one way or another - they have said with their sacrificial generosity, "You are called to this mission and we are here to support you. We've got your back. We believe in you, we believe in God in you."

"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any God except their own God.'" [Daniel 3:28]

God has never let us go hungry. He has never failed us, He has never abandoned us. I cannot tell you the depths of trust He has won me over to.

- - -

"The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it pleases the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.” The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request." [Nehemiah 2:4-6].

With this piece of scripture, which has been so helpful with fundraising, we are reminded that the provider isn't Artaxerxes [humans], but God. They key to fundraising is our attitude, our heart, our humility. The results are God's - it is not about getting money, but being shaped into a godly you, transformed into a trusting, faithful, good steward.

I cannot begin to share the depths of transformation that has occurred through this huge thing of fundraising. It is one small and yet vastly significant way the Lord has been working in us over the last three years. Reminding us that all of our things are not ours at all. The cars we own were literally given to us, the home we rent is used for so much more than housing us (currently we have an extra loved roommate), the money we receive is to pay our bills and bless others, and the community we live in is a gift. Nothing we deserve. Everything, I learn again and again, is simply a gift bound up in love by God's faithful provision.

The other day I was telling Loren that I am learning to grasp this verse in a whole new light: "For we live by believing and not by seeing." [2 Corinthians 5:7]. When I look at the numbers and the budget and the income and outflow...when I SEE the numbers, it hits me that we should be panicking and having anxiety attacks and one of us needs to go get a 9-5 pm. But...never have we felt this angst as deeply as the numbers try to tell us. [Don't worry, we don't rack up the credit card]. We have always attempted to swallow our fear and entitlement - key word here: attempt - and Jesus always shows up. He always provides, whether through a random check given to us, a meal dropped off, someone purchasing a car for us and then offering to support us by paying for our car insurance [WHAT], and so many more things. So Many Things that make me say, "God, I never need to worry. Why would I? You have never failed us. You always always always come through, when I am seeking your way."

We have had many [young] couples share with us that they wouldn't want to put the financial burden on others. Also that they would never be able to live with such uncertainty when it comes to income. That they would never, "put their family through that." To those words I want to encourage you to really put those fears down and place them in His hands. If He is calling you to something bigger than yourself, you have no room to throw "buts" into the equation. If your ministry and calling is bigger than yourself, which it is, then everything that encompasses it will be bigger than you can handle. And that is where He comes in and rescues and assures and builds trust.

My friends, I share all of this to encourage you: do not doubt your calling. Do not doubt what has been laid upon your heart. If you are called into anything but money feels like the show stopper...don't listen to that. Don't see money as a show stopper. I have experienced that this is far easier said than done. But please, take this story and let it be another confirmation to the faithfulness of God. Let it be empowering.

And Support Team, from my heart, thank you.

My church: I cherish you oh so much. I still cannot believe that we get paid to spend time with you, to love you, to write letters to you, to plan events for you, and all the things.

Millers: thank you...Thank you.

fundraised income

[ If you have any questions, please email me. I am mainly an open book. Also, this post was already so jam packed, I figured I should stop before I kept going.]

Also- oddly, I enjoy spreadsheets, excel, and budgeting. We have quite the system down that helps us remain flexible but not go under. We save for things like adoption, Christmas, Germany, and gifts for others. If you would like some help, I would love to see what I can do for you!

Come visit me! I'm talking about money

how-to-set-budget Good morning and good day to so many good friends!

Today I am talking about budgeting! A few things I am touching on: how we live on an extremely tight budget, how we still save even with a low income, and quick tips to saving money immediately! It's not all fun. It takes discipline - but it's worth it!

I have the honor of guest-posting over at A Beautiful Exchange. Come on over, read my post and be sure you visit her beautiful blog. She is pregnant with Baby #2!

Click HERE.

BLOOD-CLOT DEBT: I am FREE!

Friends! Today, I PAID OFF THE REMAINING BALANCE OF $77.61 IN COLLECTIONS from my blood clot!

Today, I was set free of a debt that once felt like it was drowning me.

Today, I was reminded that we can conquer small things that seem DAUNTING and HUGE! Today, we Brenners are free of a debt that was a result of me almost dying!

And the story goes: Monday October 4, 2010, I fell on my walk home from Fred Meyers. I know right? Fell. The muscles on the right side of my body were extremely tight the entire precious week. My muscles were full of knots and my breathing stabbed my lungs. I was fatigued like never before.

As I crawled into bed that evening, somewhat early, I wore a crazy patterned pink GoodWill sweater over a long sleeved shirt. {I am a warm body, so this was rare for me}. I had on red and blue plaid male boxers {they were comfy}. I tell you, because I will never forget the details of this day. I pulled twice the amount of covers over me as I lay there shivering, crying myself to sleep, hoping the pain in my body and breathing would subside. What seemed to be 3 hours, was actually 1 hour, of me attempting to sleep but only sobbing; I decided I should drive myself to the emergency room.

As I slowly crawled out of my top bunk, I walked through the study room in quite a haze. My newest friend and one of my first official roommates in college, Haley, saw me trembling as I grabbed my keys.

This is Haley & it is her birthday today:

She noted my lips & nail beds blue and insisted she drive me to the hospital {neither of us knew where this hospital was in this new college town}. As she frantically called her friend Brett, he somehow guided us in the dark via cell phone.

We parked. We walked to the wrong door, which was actually locked. We stared inside. Out of nowhere a lady with blonde curly hair & a red jacket touched the door, opened it, turned around & left. Obviously, she is now known as my angel. We ran to the check in and after a late night of tests, finally found the nemesis trying to take my life:

A massive blood clot, completely blocking my right lung as well as a many number {maybe 50} of minor blood clots floating around my left lung, ready to lodge at any minute.

[Bilateral Pulmonary Embolisms]

I was diagnoised with two different blood clotting disorders. {They don't affect me on an average day, currently - life could be bad. I have a great and blessed life.} Haley stuck with me late into the night..so, the early morning.

I remained in the hospital that week. I was a prideful and angry sun of a gun, "not wanting" visitors. "Not wanting" balloons or get well cards. I was stuck in the mud of pride, confusing it with false humility. A whole different post and learning experience in itself. I barely got sleep that week. I spent a lot of time writing letters to the nurses, thanking them. I cried a lot. It was a week of emotion. Then again, I'm always having emotional weeks. I am a giant emotion.

A miscommunication happened: one of my parents told me they would be sure to pay off the medical bill. Unknown to me, I was being sent bills to their house for months, and no payments were made. The bills were in my name, I was 18+. If anyone has any experience with this, you know that the hospital ends up sending it to collections, when no contact has been responded to.. You also know that no one really let's you know; it just sits & collects a lot of interest.

A year later, September of 2011, I went to apply for a credit card to begin building my credit. To my shock, I was declined with this reason "outstanding medical debt." I remember staring at that statement.

I stared.

Then, my eyes filled with tears.

I called the hospital and they gave me the debt collectors phone number. The medical bill had gone from $1500 to $2400. And the interest rate was high. By this time in life, I was a full time student at OSU and working at least 40 hours a week, night shift, as a caregiver. I was barely making ends meet and was overwhelmed by this shock. It was one of those moments you are sure you can't go on. You only see darkness. You see no hope. You feel alone and lost and empty.

Once I calmed down enough to pray, I found peace. I put on my big girl pants and set up a payment plan. The lowest payment they would take was $50 a month, or they could increase the interest rate 3% and lower my payment to $25. I took the latter option.

Eventually I was able to increase the monthly payment to $50, and in the last 9 months, $100. We wanted to get rid of it as fast as we could because of the high interest rate.

When I called today I was paying my second to last payment of $100. Or so I thought. When she declared that I only had a remaining balance of $77.61, I jumped with complete victory. She unleashed squeals of joy and freedom found in releasing this looming bill that I once saw as impossible and daunting. Everyone at Jiffy Lube heard of this victory. I made sure of it. Although this was not my biggest debt I have paid off {school was!}, it was the biggest victory. This debt came at me with a shock that felt like deep betrayal. It came at a time of already-darkness, with my parents divorce deep in loom. This debt felt like a trap and chains, it was suffocating me with fear the moment I learned of it & its interest rate. School was different  -  I had known it was going to happen. I am in awe at the way Jesus releases us and frees us and glorifies Himself in the ways He provides.

One minor side note: the timing of paying off this bill was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Our income is adjusted slightly, come June. I was slightly nervous about this. But let's just say, Jesus always provides. He always works in mysterious and majestic ways. He never fails. I don't know why I allow myself to worry, ever.

Friend. Keep on going. Keep on making those payments. You will conquer the looming debt! It is quite freeing to let loose those weights that try to hold you down. It is such joy to see how far Jesus has carried us in small things like finances.

And always, always remember: money is not what sustains you. Money is not what gives you life. Money is not what brings hope and joy. Jesus is.

Some ways we personally steward our money with a low income: •We budget, using the envelope & jar system, only paying with cash >> we often make ourselves leave our cards at home, so we don't spend unnecessarily

•We are a one car family and ride our bikes & walk as much as possible. Less gas money, less insurance payment, less maintenance, etc.

•We don't have an internet bill, which also means we don't have a Netflix or Hulu bill

•We eat out no more than 2-3x a month

•We meal plan - and eat left overs for lunch

•We keep a Gifts For Others Jar for birthdays, anniversaries, and random blessings

•We plan for things in advance {as best we can}: we are going to Boise at the end of this month. So for April & May's paychecks, we saved $50 from each paycheck, cut back on our coffee dates, and now have money to go! We also have a Car Tires Jar that we stick $10-20 in each month, so when the time is here, we will at least have something ready!

We don't feel restricted by this. We feel freed and find adventures through it.

I am so passionate about stewarding our money well. I fully believe in Gods power to use it for His glory. Fully and 100%. I want to be available to be used with all of our resources. And what freedom to not be buried in debt! Growing up, there were days without power because the bill couldn't be paid...among other things. I want to fight that life style by blessing Jesus with the way we use His provision.

We have learned time and time again that life isn't predictable. Money doesn't sustain us. We don't depend on money for security; but we do what we can to save for what we know is happening, rather than spend on things before our eyes. Life doesn't always go as planned, but we plan anyways. We have found such freedom in not having internet - we read, we walk, we run, we chat. We don't have to pay for it.

This isn't what a lot of people choose. And that is 100% completely okay with me. If it weren't, I would be out of friends.

How do you manage the money given to you? Do you have any tips or victory stories?

See our Budget Page.

I am willing to talk numbers and would be honored to help you set up your own budget / money system. Email me via the CONTACT ME Page.

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Money & Budgeting

"For the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 1 Corinthians 10:26

Disclaimer: I have yet to read Dave Ramsey's books. At the bottom I have 2 excel sheets for budgeting that we have created and used.

I've always "known" that everything I owned belong to God, even my money. But in the last year and a half, I have been completely liberated time and time again. I have this odd freedom and lack of "desire/greed" for money, and it's something I can only give Jesus credit for - I didn't even know I needed to be freed from it! It's beautiful and I am so deeply grateful.

In the last year, I was confronted with the idea of "poor talk."  Constantly making {bitter} comments about money; lack of. Since being confronted with it, I have worked hard to dispose of it. I hear it fall out of other peoples mouths and I now understand why I was convicted to quit: it is dishonoring to The Lord, distrusting, and discretely making an idol of it. Money is cool and all: you need it to pay bills and to eat, to go on a vacation, and even often to bless others. But besides that, it is just like anything else I may or may not posses: a material thing. --> Honestly, this could be an entire blog post in itself! It's a heart issue & we can chat later.

Aside from all of that, Loren & I have found a way to budget during this stage of newlywedness; we wanted to find a way to use it with wisdom. We wanted to set these foundations and expectations before our family grew, setting a standard that we save for things we want that are extra. Or not extra. But we won't be using the credit card unless we have money in the bank to transfer right after. Like a lot of people our age (and older), we are not rolling in the dough, so we are learning to be resourceful. Which is actually part of the fun in marriage, might I add.

Budgeting Binder + Jars for Saving!

We don't have extra money floating around; it all has a home. When it has a specific place to go, it doesn't get blown and burn holes in our pockets. It doesn't get spent and then later realized that we needed it for a bill. We don't fall for the illusion that we have more money than we do. Also, when it has a home & there is an influx of any sort, the opportunity to give more or bless more is such a blessing and salve to your soul! I will always encourage you to find ways to do that.

I have created a system with a binder. We budget for 2 weeks at a time, because we get paid on the 1st and 15th of each month. I purchased dividers with pockets and some envelopes. You could also use manilla-yellow-envelopes and punch holes in the side! I put two envelopes in each slot, 1 for week 1 & 3, 1 for week 2 & 4.

When payday comes around each time every month, I sit down and look at the excel sheet I created. I have made out the amount of different bills I need. For instance:

  • $20 in the Laundromat Jar (2 @ 10$ bills)
  • $10 in the Home Decor slot (1 @ 10$)
  • $15 in the Health slot (1 @ 10$, 1 @ 5$)
  • $10 in the Beauty/Hygiene products (1 @ 10$)
  • $40 in the Splurge for Loren and I (4 @ 10$)

I do this with each section - food, gas, jars, etc. I add up the number of each bill and when I go into the bank, it is all laid out and ready to ask for! The bank teller is appreciative of this (I know, because I once was one). When I get back to my binder, I still have my cheat sheet and just stick the bills in their alotted homes!

Budget. Money. Save. Cash. Budgeting Binder with envelopes

Similar to most people, we have dreams and plans! We have been dreaming of visiting Germany since before we were married: there is a little town called Brenner on the Italian/Austria border. (We have saved both of our tax returns in a secured/locked account with plans to go someday!)

We also dream of adopting a child or 7, (my heart goes out to babies who were almost an abortion - so if you hear of anyone...give them my name).

Car tires & Christmas are two jars we keep a going tab on all year.

Each month, if circumstances allow, we put $20 in each envelope/jar.

Jar savings! Save up for trips, car tires, adoption, etc.

Some people choose to put their money towards the here and now (going out to eat a lot, buying new clothes, television/cable, internet -- and that's fine) but we choose to do a lot of dreaming with ours.

Let me tell you, when Christmas rolls around, it is a massive good thing we planned.

We don't want to be stingy. We aren't stingy. We are working towards being honoring with what we have and not pretend to have what we don't.

We don't feel restricted by this. We feel freed and find adventures through it. It is freeing to not have a credit card bill to constantly be chasing us, never able to get ahead. Always behind. It is freeing to not worry or have that distraction. I am all about freedom - finding ways to release our hearts from the chains this world puts around them is something I aim to do. Release those hearts to Jesus and the way He has created us to live. There is so much freedom in that!

At the end of the day, money is just money. It gets you food & shelter. Please don't talk poor: I guarantee you're not poor. Look outside of yourself and see the bigger picture: what can you do with the money God has bestowed upon you?

I hope this can lead you closer to Christ on your journey of life. 

If you need a starter excel sheet, here are two: 1 Paycheck/Month Budget Worksheet 2 Paychecks/Month Budget

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20131223-214201.jpg

In the past, we were paid one time a month. Using gasoline as an example, at the beginning of each month as soon as we got paid, I took $160 and stuck $40 in each week. I did this for food money, "splurge money" (coffee, a book, etc), dates & laundry and house goods ( in separate envelopes because there weren't enough slots). It was so handy to budget for the entire month!

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If you are needing some guidance, wanting to look at numbers, or would love some help setting up your own budget, go to the Contact Me page and I would be honored to help!

Read our story about conquering my Blood Clot Debt!

Money, Fundraising, Pride, Corvallis Church

Fundraising.That word in itself puts a bad taste in some people's mouth. It used to in mine. Even last year, as Loren and I geared up to fundraise, I wasn't completely convinced that I was ready to ask a number of people to support us financially month by month. I was raised to work hard and EARN money..so to ask people to support us in something that was yet to be built, it was frightening & took a lot of humbling moments. I wanted them to know I wasn't going to waste their investment. But that was simply the fear in my pride.

This time around, as I wrote the letters, addressed the envelopes, picked out the photos to share...my heart was completely thrilled. I was and am ecstatic to invite people into what we are involved in. Over the year, I have learned that money has very little to do with money. It can be your God whether you have a lot or a little. I have learned that it is needed to pay the bills and needed to do ministry full time. I have learned that what's mine is not mine at all, and that we truly live in a world that is God's economy. Never have we gone a day without eating; even when our account read $0 & the fridge was empty. I have learned, but not perfected, in humbling myself to ask Heather to share a meal with us.

This community that The Lord has put in Corvallis is outstanding. I cannot tell you the depths of my gratitude, the honor, the privilege it is for me to serve by Loren's side, bringing glory to God. I would not choose to do anything else. This is where I am called. This is what I love. The people that God has brought to Corvallis Church amaze me. Someone needs fire wood? What do you know, someone has extra. The people bring forth ways to serve this city, ways to pour the love of Christ into the darkness.. They inspire me. When someone is sick, you should just see what happens: one lady had to ask us to stop bringing her meals because she was receiving too many to eat. Sharing vehicles & sharing yard work. I love hearing about a business man be prayed over by a "house-less" man. See what I'm saying? This community is unique and truly special. Serving these people is my honor. And the people it serve under...don't even get me started. We may not always see completely the same on the little things, but we always begin & end with grace. We always remind one another of our mission & purpose. I have learned so much from them, I pray I can teach others half the amount of grace.

Many of you will be receiving fundraising letters from us. To be honest, I wish for you to move to this city & literally join us on mission day to day. Serving & accepting those around us. I crave for your to be built up by this truly unique community, so that you can go out and make disciples. But, I know that's a little too biased & probably not going to happen. Also, you probably are doing these things just where you are. My prayer is that you are plugged in somewhere, you are being built up, you are serving & being good news to those unsaved.

As I wrote these letters, I earnestly prayed that you would join us in this. Financially and prayerfully. The Lord is moving & I want no one missing out.

Loren has inspired me and I hope this will inspire you. He has stepped out in faith. In August he requested a position that was half the amount of hours he was working at Trillium -- our church is growing, the need for more of his time is growing, his ache to spend more hours serving was growing. With this aching & need came a response. With the response came a sacrifice. Half our income. It was tough for me to wrestle through - not once did I doubt, not once did I fear not having money to eat or pay the bills, but I did struggle with the sacrifice. Acknowledging that this is nothing compared to what Christ has done for me. Nothing. This is no pity-party but a celebration. To see my man trust in his God moved my heart towards Jesus. Moved my heart to an even deeper investment into this church, which I did not know possible.

Something you must know. As leaders, Mike, Heather, Jeff, Mark, Bethany, Loren & I...we love the individuals in our church. I love real deep. And Jesus, through this church, has taught me how to love even deeper. With deep love comes deep pain. As a leader, you love your sheep. You invest in your sheep. You pray for them, you ache with them, you rejoice with them. You spend your last $4 on a homeless girl who calls Corvallis Church her home, just to give her a quiche & a hot cup of coffee. You invest in someone and they leave, sometimes without letting you know. With deep love comes a lot of risk for deep pain.

With complete commitment comes complete sacrifice. Sacrifice of time, pride, selfishness, people's opinions.. Oh opinions. I am humbled to be a part of this, I am humbled to invite others into this beautiful journey. I am honored to sacrifice for the sake of spending more time actively being good news. It hurts sometimes...Sunday we sang Oceans. And it was a little painful to sing...but in a beautiful & humbling way. "Lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, where ever you may call me." Oh those words! Those words. We are completely committed to Jesus and with that commitment brings sacrifice.

BUT. The amount of joy that this deep love brings, the amount of fruit & complete blessing that this commitment brings... these things altogether outweigh the sacrifice & pain. It discounts it. It's worth every minute of it.

I choose this life. I choose serving this church & this community & this city. Honored am I, to have the opportunity to do so. And I pray that I am able to continue to.

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