We were married on Spring Break my senior year. We were young, hopeful and poor. The perfect combination for building character.
I graduated a few months later, my husband passed an industry test he’d been studying for, and we started working. In the first 3 years of our marriage, we moved 8 times. He was climbing the ladder, and I was following him around, unpacking and packing boxes mostly. We were still young and money was still tight, but we were still hopeful, so we consider ourselves lucky. We didn’t know it at the time, but God was using those early years in our marriage to prepare us.
My husband settled in Ann Arbor, and I took a job in Lansing, so we split the commute and moved to a very tiny, very old, very crooked cabin on a lake in Brighton. Things were good; we bought a boat. As much as we liked our little life, we knew something was missing. We both grew up in church but didn’t take the practice with us to college. Although we still would have called ourselves Christians, we were not following Christ with our actions.
So, we made a change.
We started attending 2/42 Community Church in 2006. The church met in an auditorium at the local high school and the atmosphere was relaxed and fresh. The message was relevant, the music was moving and the people were friendly. The first time we attended, we knew we found what was missing, and we jumped right in.
We joined a small group straight away, mostly because we were new to the area and wanted friends, but it didn’t take long before the desire for friends changed into the desire for growth. After a bit, we began volunteering and becoming more committed. Little by little things changed, how we spent our time changed, what we talked about changed, how we saw things changed. WE changed. Pretty soon we no longer just called ourselves Christians, we were really trying to live out our faith.
Two years passed. We were pregnant with our first child, and the church preached a series on generosity and tithing. We started giving when we started attending, but we had not yet made the move to committed giving.
Then, the church challenged us to give; they challenged us to tithe. They made it obtainable though and edged the challenged with just a solid commitment to a month of tithing “to see what would happened.” It was the next step in our faith journey and we knew it, so we disregarded the month option, and committed to being all in. We were going to tithe.
Easy enough, right?
So, we ran the budget. We looked at both our incomes, the expense of having a new baby, the cost of my hour long commute, including childcare, and we weighed it against the cost of losing my income but saving childcare and commuting costs. No matter how we rearranged the numbers, there just wasn’t going to be enough money to live, let alone give.
So we prayed.
I’ve always had simple dreams. When I was little, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “a mom.” I wanted to stay home and raise babies, and I felt like God wanted to honor me in that choice. But, if we actually did what we felt God calling us to do, all at once, we would be down one complete income and have a 10% decrease in the remaining income. It was impossible! But the numbers didn’t work in either scenario, so we decided we would trust in the word. Malachi 3:10 states, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessings that there will not be room enough to store it.”
So, we tested him.
Within 2 months of our tithe commitment, my husband received a promotion that more than covered the salary I had just given up. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps. The faithfulness of our God and the blessings he pours out is beyond words.
In 2009, due to the downturn in the housing market and some government stipends for first time home owners, we decided to buy a house. Our daughter was close to one. We bought a foreclosure for an unbelievable price. It needed a lot of work and it’s taken us 8 years to change the carpet, but still I consider it a blessing from God.
Soon after we moved into our house, we became pregnant with our second child, and 2/42 launched their THRU 47 campaign. They started by sharing the dream. A community focused facility. Yes, there would be a church auditorium, but there would also be a basketball court, football field, café, play-structure, and school for the arts… simply put, a gift for the community.
We caught the vision.
Once again the church challenged us to give. But this time, they challenged us to give above and beyond where we were already giving. They challenged us to share our stories, our commitments and how God showed up to provide the funding we pledged. It was so powerful and so scary. We prayed to be stretched. We prayed for a number that God would need to show up to accomplish. We prayed that our hearts and perspectives would be changed. We prayed for our community and the lives of the people that could be changed by our sacrifice, then we came up with a number that was too big for us to accomplish on our own. Each of us, independently, came up with the same number, so we knew it was from God.
But, we couldn’t just sit around and wait for a bag of money to fall out of the sky, so we went to work on the sacrificial part. We sold our nice cars and bought old cars. We sold our boat and all my jewelry. We stopped going out to eat and cancelled our cable and house phone services. We scrimped and squeezed and coupon-ed our way through our commitment. And guess what? God never did drop a bag of money out of the sky. We didn’t get a promotion or a bonus or a new job. God used this experience to change us. He changed our perspective. Once again, he refined our character to prepare us for more, through sacrifice he allowed us to feel the pride of accomplishment and the connection of being part of something bigger than ourselves.
When the doors of the new 2/42 Community Church location, “The Commons” opened, we were proud, we felt ownership. When the number of attendees in our church went from 1,000 people at the High School to now 6,000 people across all our campuses, we were filled with joy. Every baptism and heart transformation that happens in those halls, I prayed for, I saved for, I sacrificed for, and it changed me more than any bag of money from the sky ever could.
Our giving journey took years. We started by giving a little, and as God grabbed a hold of our hearts and chased us and changed us, we began to give more and more. We began to see what giving actually accomplished. Life change.
We co-founded gyve.io to continue this movement, to create a tool to facilitate the progression of giving through heart transformation. We created it to meet people where they are in giving, by providing an option to donate the change from everyday purchases. We created an option to set up a recurring gift, to make committed giving more easily obtainable, and we created a one-time giving option to help fund those radical and amazing giving opportunities.
Don’t hear me wrong, I’m not saying once you commit to give, and God gets a hold of your finances, there isn’t room for fun and personal financial growth. There is. After we finished our Thru 47 commitment, we decided we didn’t need to add back the cable bill and house phone service, but we did buy another boat.
We have been married 14 years. Our daughter is 9 and our son is 7.
I hope you can join us on our generosity mission.
For more information on how to create a culture of generosity, visit us at gyve.io
We believe GENEROSITY is CONTAGIOUS.
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