Sunday, December 21, 2008

A New Direction

Our last two weekends at church have been incredible. I'm so thrilled that our pastor, Brady, is leading our church in such a healthy new direction. Two of Brady's passions (which he warned us about as soon as he took the helm at New Life) are adoption and financial responsibility. I think that in the time Brady's been at New Life, he has been working toward goals in the areas of adoption and finance, and those goals are beginning to come to fruition.

Last month Pastor Brady initiated an adoption day, when church and community members could come learn about the hundreds of foster children in Colorado who need to be adopted. Brady believes that 100 local foster children will be adopted into families in our church in the next year, and the procession started today. At the beginning of the 9:00 service today, we were introduced to three toddler boys who have been adopted into families in our church, and one more whose paperwork is not yet complete. What an incredible miracle it is to see these children find loving, Christ-centered forever homes and families. I am truly looking forward to seeing more families in our church adopt. The selflessness that they display is profound. What I love most about Pastor Brady's passion for adoption is that I know it is a passion that will not wane. Both of Brady's children (Abram and Callie) were adopted, so adoption is something he truly understands and believes in.

Pastor Brady's second passion, financial responsibility, has also been in the spotlight recently. He came to our church with the desire to get the church out of debt and the desire to help our church families get out of debt. What a relief it is to hear Pastor Brady talk about money during church! Why is money such a taboo topic in our culture? I find it ridiculous. As Americans, the vast majority of us have no formal education in personal finance. We flounder around, using our credit cards, lines of credit, and loans not only to take care of emergencies, but also to feed our insatiable appetite for more stuff, for "new and improved" stuff. Obviously, our national strategy for gaining wealth is not working. Luckily, it is possible to feel content without spending more money than we make and our church is enthusiastic about teaching us how! Yay!

For those readers who are local, you might be interested in some of the opportunities New Life is offering to help us learn how to manage our finances properly. New Life is offering Dave Ramsey's class, Financial Peace University, a great class for learning how to attack debt and start saving money. Financial Peace is offered at churches all over the country, so if you're not a local reader you might want to look for a class in your area. New Life will also be offering a series of free personal finance classes during New Life U on Sunday nights. Both sets of classes include free childcare! What could be better than that?

I have to say, I know that I am blessed to have a husband who not only earns a great, steady salary, but is also reasonable, thoughtful, intentional, and measured when it comes to our family's finances. I also feel blessed to have learned great financial habits from both of my parents as well as financial strategies from my churches. During our pre-marital counseling, Scott and I realized that we were very different in how we delt with money and we knew it was something we would need to work on if we wanted to have a successful marriage. As a newly-married couple, Scott and I took the Good Sense workshop offered by Crown Financial Ministries at our church in Cincinnati, The Vineyard. It really helped us understand debt, how to get out of debt, how to save our money and how to give money away. We started our marriage gung-ho about getting rid of Scott's truck loan and his student loans. We moved on to saving for a down payment on our house and we really never looked back. We feel amazingly blessed to have an eight-year track record of smart spending, saving, and giving. At some point, Scott will change jobs and will probably make less money than he is making now. Probably a lot less. I get a split-second of tightness in my stomach when I think of that, but when that split second passes, I know that we will adjust and that we will have the financial education and spiritual maturity to be content in that situation, too.

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