Diana Kerr »

PinITI’m not sure what prompted us to do it, but after my husband Kyle and I completed our first budget, we decided to pray about it. And just like that, praying about finances became a thing in our home.

It was January 2013—and we had that fresh budget sitting in front of us. We were excited and hopeful, but unsure.

We were ready to kiss our debt goodbye and had an ambitious timeline in mind to pay off all our debt besides our home in less than a year.

We solidified our budgeted numbers in each category with a bit of doubt as to whether it was even remotely possible to say within those small dollar amounts. (We did increase our spending in one area, though—giving. It just felt right; we didn’t want to skimp on God even though we were skimping everywhere else.)

With a fresh budget spreadsheet in place, we prayed about it. Like I said, I’m not even sure why the idea of praying about finances came to mind. Clearly it was the Holy Spirit’s nudging.

I mean, a lot of us Christians have been raised to pray for the classic things like safe travel, a grandparent’s surgery, a new baby, or a job interview, right? But money? We were pretty newly-married, and although we were both Christian, we hadn’t developed a very strong faith life as a couple up to that point. Praying about finances was just not something I think we’d ever even thought of before.

So what did we pray? We prayed that God would bless our efforts, that he would display his glory through us, and that he would help us become better stewards. We wanted to take better care of the gifts he had entrusted us with so we could bless others.

If you’re someone who’s prayed before, you know that God doesn’t always answer prayer as blatantly as we’d like. In our case, though, he seemed to answer our prayers with a bold, clear yes.

Can I share with you some of the amazing ways God worked, to praise him for his goodness and to encourage you that praying about finances is worthwhile? Okay, thanks. :)

Remember how I said we had an ambitious timeline for paying off our debt? Well, actually, our goal was more than ambitious. We wanted to pay off $30,000 of debt by the end of the year, a feat we thought was almost impossible given our earnings and the fact that we owned a home.

It was kind of one of those “Reach for the moon and hope to land among the stars” kind of goals. Set a goal to pay off our debt in a year, and hopefully we’d make it by 18 months or so.

God far exceeded our expectations. Our debt was paid off by August—eight months from when we set the goal.

Over the course of that year, time after time we experienced circumstances that seemed beyond coincidence. I actually started a Google Doc to list everything that was happening, titling it “Financial blessings beyond coincidence.”

Some examples:

  • We had virtually no car repairs on two very old vehicles during that time.
  • Both Kyle and I had job opportunities placed before us that year which raised our earnings by about 25%.
  • Our fridge made loud, awful noises until we decided to finally get it repaired—but before we got around to calling about the repair, the noises suddenly stopped for months.
  • We got an unexpected refund check in the mail from our insurance company for a doctor’s appointment from over two years prior.
  • Our neighbors gave us a grocery store gift card in a month when we had already exceeded our grocery budget. (Their teenage son accidentally backed into my old, beat-up car and I don’t think they believed me that the big dent they thought he caused had already been there.)

To top it all off, when we were just about done paying off our debt, I found out that we had won a debt scholarship essay contest I had entered. The financial services company sponsoring the contest hadn’t stated exactly how much the prize money would be upfront because there was a chance they’d split it up a bit. The prize was $2,000. Guess how much debt we had left to pay off? Almost exactly $2,000.

God taught us so many valuable lessons during that year. I think one of the greatest lessons we learned was to pray boldly.

God doesn’t guarantee us he’ll give us what we want simply because we pray, but he does guarantee he’ll listen. Over and over in the Bible he tells us to ask him for what we want and need. So why don’t we do that more often? Why don’t we make praying about finances a habit? I think we feel like the very earthly things of life, like a budget, don’t really warrant prayer.

God cares about those earthly things, though. He cares a lot. Take a moment to bring your financial worries or goals before your Almighty God with a sincere heart. Be assured he’s hearing you. Then marvel at how he answers them.


Need a tool to help make prayer more consistent, more meaningful, and less difficult/awkward? I recommend Val Marie Paper’s prayer journals! Her 2018 Yearly Prayer Journal is on sale now for a limited time!

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This post originally appeared on the Time of Grace blog.

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Six years ago this month, I married the love of my life. It was a perfect and beautiful day, not to mention a perfect wedding date: 9-10-11. I was beyond excited to move into our first apartment together and to learn so much more about this wonderful new husband of mine as we lived side by side for the first time.

What I didn’t expect, though, was how many things no one had told me about marriage and how much being married would teach me about myself.

Everyone expects marriage to take you to a whole new level with your knowledge of your spouse, but I didn’t realize I’d end up at a whole new level with how well I knew myself too.

And honestly, the things I learned about myself weren’t always good things. Conducting my daily life in such close proximity to another human being put a magnifying glass on a few things about me that I hardly even realized before, things that were often uncomfortable:

  1. My quirks—Having someone watch your every move means they’re going to occasionally point out some things about you that you never knew before—sometimes, things you don’t necessarily want or need to know. For one, I talk too much in social situations when I’m uncomfortable, something I hadn’t noticed till my husband brought it up. I’d say that’s a helpful quirk to know about. On the other hand, some quirks just are what they are. One day my husband and I were eating dinner and he started laughing. “Do you realize you stick your tongue out every time you take a sip out of a glass?” I’ve felt weird about it ever since.
  2. My insecurities—I’ll admit I’ve never been a super-secure person, but marriage made me hyperaware of all my insecurities. Why? Because for the first time, my insecurities affected a lot more than just me—they affected the man I shared my life with. Whether it was related to body image or wanting people to like me or my fear of being average or my tendency to feel guilty about not being good enough, marriage made me confront insecurities that I had done little to fix up until then.
  3. My approach toward money—Like I confessed in the story I wrote about our debt repayment (which, praise God, won us $2,000 toward paying off that debt), sharing all my money with someone for the first time and having to agree upon financial decisions wasn’t always simple or easy. Before then, I never had to have a conversation with someone if I wanted to save, spend, or invest; I just did what I wanted to do. Talking things through with Kyle, having to state my opinions, and dealing with the stress of realizing on our one-year wedding anniversary that we were not taking our finances nearly seriously enough brought to the forefront exactly how I felt about money. It took me rebuilding my approach to money in a healthier way for us to be able to become debt-free (minus our house) by age 24, but it would never have happened otherwise.
  4. The things I value—Along the lines of #3, having a husband (which, it turns out, is quite different than just sharing a room with your sister or an apartment with a college roommate) made me realize what it was that was really important to me. A lot of those values weren’t bad by any means, but one caused some tension pretty often. Kyle and I butt heads very infrequently, but when we did disagree in the first couple years, it was usually because of my strong tendency to place a high value on productivity. Kyle works hard, but then has no problem doing enjoyable activities outside of work hours even with plenty of to-dos on his list. I, on the other hand, didn’t even like watching TV because I felt it was a waste of time. Which brings me to #5 . . .

Are you a productivity-loving girl like I am? Does that sometimes not go so well for you? (Yeah, I thought so. I get it.) Click here for a freebie to help you tackle that challenge! 

  1. My tendency to love others according to what feels best to meI remember clearly a lightbulb conversation in our marriage when I realized that I was loving Kyle according to my love language, not his. “Acts of service” is my top love language, so while Kyle was “wasting time” watching TV one day in the basement, I was slaving away baking some healthy muffins for him to show him I cared about him. What a failure that was for a woman married to a man whose primary love language is “quality time.” My desire to show him love in a way that made me feel good about myself was actually getting in the way of what he really wanted—me snuggled up next to him on the couch while watching TV, something that makes him feel (much to my confusion) happy and loved.

I thank God for what marriage has taught me and how he’s used marriage to shine a spotlight on some areas of my life that aren’t always so pretty. After just six years of marriage, I’m sure I have a lot more to learn about myself as time goes on. I look forward to it. I think I’ve grown up and matured a lot from all that knowledge. And thankfully, I have a patient husband who loves me unconditionally despite the fact that I’m flawed.

You know what else marriage magnified for me? What unconditional love looks like. Thanks to Kyle, I’m reminded each day of how God feels about me and how much he loves me even when I screw up. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

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One of the biggest misconceptions about money is that in order to have more of it, we have to sacrifice what we love and live a lower quality of life.

I.e.:

  • Saying no to dinners out with friends
  • Eating all your food out of cans
  • Clipping coupons like a boss till TLC calls you to feature you on TV because you’re such an extreme couponer

To this I say: NOT TRUE.

Good news! It doesn’t always have to be that way. There are a lot of ways to keep more money in your pocket if you’re creative.

As Christians, this matters. Our money isn’t actually ours—it’s God’s. We want to manage it well. The less money we spend needlessly, the more money we have to make an impact. (And avoid icky debt!)

Related post: The debt story that won us $2,000

Here are five creative ways to hang on to more of your own money, and they’re not sacrificial financial habits. These are actually non-financial habits that will indirectly save you money:

PinIT1. Getting up in the morning without hitting snooze

If you get up right when your alarm goes off, you’ll have more time in the morning. Duh, of course, but have you thought about what that extra time could do for you? An extra 10-20 minutes has endless possibilities, such as:

  • Making your own breakfast, coffee, or lunch (a habit that will not only make you healthier but save you some moolah on convenience food or beverages throughout your work day)
  • Throwing some food in the crockpot so you don’t end up getting take-out later

(This magical alarm clock has totally changed the way I wake up in the morning, by the way. Who knew this was a thing?!)

2. Taking action on mail as soon as you open it

Get into the habit of acting on mail as soon as you open it. Allow yourself 10 minutes to deal with the mail when you first take it out of the mailbox, or set it aside to open later in the day if you have to. The goal is to touch everything only once if possible. Make decisions, take action, move on.

My goal is to pay any bills (and the occasional parking ticket, ugh) right away so I don’t forget to pay them and also save money on potential late fees. You may also notice an error on something you receive, but thankfully you’ll have plenty of time to deal with it thanks to your great habit of taking action on your mail right away.

We learned this lesson the hard way with a $1900 medical bill, a painful story with this moral: We would have saved money had we looked into the charges sooner because we would have stopped using that pediatrician who was actually out of network!

Here’s another idea—something I do myself: As soon as you get an invitation for an event that requires a present, buy that present right away or at least put it on your shopping list. If I get a wedding or baby shower invite, I immediately go on that person’s online registry and buy a gift to be shipped to my house. It’s not only super convenient and saves me time/money to go to the store to buy something, but I’m also less likely to buy other things while shopping online for that gift versus in-store. Plus, if you check out the registry before it gets picked-over, you can filter the items by price and have your choice of plenty of gifts within your desired price range. (I always try to buy a gift that’s on sale if that’s an option so I can get as nice of a gift as possible for my budget.)

By the way, if you are a couponer, dealing with your mail right away might also mean that you come across valuable coupons you can use before they expire.

3. Getting good sleep at night

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve all read the scientific studies that show that sleep is good for you in countless ways. We know this. Have you ever thought about the fact that the sleep hours you bank each night are actually helping you bank more money?

Many of the ways that sleep is good for you will also save you money. More sleep means being sick less often, which means you’ll save money on doctor’s visits, medication or vitamins, and missed days from work. More sleep also means you’re more likely to make better choices and be less hungry, which translates to less impulse buys and overeating on junk food. (We’ve all done it.)

As a Christian life coach who helps women minimize overwhelm and focus on what matters most, I am all about simple health improvements, and this is one of those.

Getting more and better sleep doesn’t require you to drop tons of money on a specialist or that you do a bunch of research, so why not prioritize it? I personally aim to do my best to take care of my health in the simple, free ways (sleep, moving my body, drinking water, etc.) so I can keep the amount of money I’m spending on more costly health improvements more minimal.

Who wants to spend thousands of dollars on medication or supplements when something as simple as sleep could have prevented some of that spending? Let’s not choose the lazy, expensive way out!

4. Shutting down the kitchen and ending snacking at least an hour before bed

I know, it seems strange to watch Netflix without a bag of chips in your hand, but if you’re able to get into a habit of turning off the lights in the kitchen and ending your snacking for the night by a certain time on weeknights, you won’t just see the results next time you go jeans shopping.

Think about how much money you spend on junk food late at night when you’re not actually very hungry. Wouldn’t it be great to have all that money in your pocket instead?

Note: You might need to buy smaller jeans but bigger pockets. (Sorry, that was super cheesy, but I couldn’t resist.)

5. Being present when you’re out in public (as in, not on your phone)

Shopping or eating out without your phone out constantly isn’t just a good habit so you can enjoy your surroundings and the people you’re with.

It can save you money, too.

It’s hard to know how many times you’ve paid more for something than you should have because you weren’t paying attention.

Put your phone away when you’re checking out at Target or when the check comes at a restaurant and you might pick up on some errors that would have resulted in being overcharged.

There’s the list—5 good non-financial habits that save you money, too. The power of habits has gotten a lot of buzz lately for a reason (there’s even a best-selling book called The Power of Habit if you’re especially interested in this subject). As you think about all the types of habits you could try to work on and cement as a routine in your life, why not consider habits that will serve you in multiple areas?

What are your ideas for habits that save you money? And what would you do with the extra money you save?

Want to change a bad habit? Watch my recent Facebook Live to learn how and follow along on Facebook for more videos to help you live an intentional life!

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  • September 9, 2017 - 2:00 pm

    Candace Bright - Super duper insightful stuff, each one of these is so helpful to think about! And honestly, I should totally want to do things for their own benefits (going to bed on time? totally worth it as it’s own discipline!), but sometime the extra nudge of, “yeah, and if I don’t do this I may lose money too! ” is the added incentive I need to try to be consistent at something!ReplyCancel

I would say I’m in a pretty similar place this month as I was last month, so if you haven’t read my August life updates, check those out here!

First, here were my August PowerSheets goals!

1. Complete Content that Connects course

2. Refresh content strategy + implementation plan

3. Plan out the details for an incredible launch of the next class of my group coaching program, Bold, Intentional Life 

Decided to postpone the next launch to an undetermined date. :) 

4. Complete The Curated Closet process

5. Transition Harrington to going to bed at 8

6. Figure out the basics of starting to feed Harrington solid foods

He had pureed organic grass-fed beef liver as his first food and loved it. SO thankful for my dear friend Dr. Meghan and her advice

7. Test God in my time spent with him

Definitely room for more progress here–I am adding this to September’s goals as well.

Weekly goals:

Goal: Do each of these at least 3/4 weeks

1. Spend 30+ minutes processing papers and organizing files

2. Do one email list-building activity

3. Have fun loving on someone 

4. Savor a true Sunday Sabbath

5. Keep calories to <2,400/day

6. Share valuable content on Facebook Live

Daily goals:

1. Pray on my knees Goal: 20 days // Actual: 19

2. Pray Samuel’s prayer Goal: 20 days // Actual: 21

Based on 1 Samuel 3:10 (I got the idea from this book!)

3. Exercise (non-walking) Goal: 10 days // Actual: 11

4. Open the texting app on my phone <18 times Goal: 20 days // Actual: 25

5. Put phone on airplane mode and be done with phone/computer by 8 pm Goal: 15 days // Actual: 16

6. Practice gratitude Goal: 15 days // Actual: 21

7. Track food in FitBit Goal: 20 days // Actual: 20

Books I finished:

These and all other affiliate links in this post support our Giving Back initiative

Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life

The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction

The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster: Why Now Is the Time to #JoinTheRide

The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe

Now, here are my September goals!

SEPTEMBER GOALS

I use the PowerSheets intentional goal-planner to set and track these goals!

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1. Test God in time with him

2. Enter tags for Divine Consign sale

3. Prepare for intentional, God-focused business + family photos with my Making Things Happen friend, Nicolette

4. Love through listening

5. Dig into You and Me Forever and the action steps

6. Set up a system for content upgrades to replicate

This goal means more valuable freebies like this one will be headed your way, but only if you’re on my email list!

7. Resolve QuickBooks issues and develop a system to stay on top of it better going forward

Weekly goals:

Goal: Do each of these at least 3/4 weeks

1. Savor a Sunday Funday Sabbath

2. Exercise at least 2 times (Other than walking)

3. Process papers and files 30+ minutes

4. Keep calories to <16,450/week (2,350/day)

Daily goals:

1. Pray on the ground | Goal: 20 days

2. Track food in FitBit | Goal: 22 days

3. Open the texting app on my phone <16 times | Goal: 20 days

4. Grow in faith with Kyle | Goal: 15 days

5. Practice gratitude focused on God, not my circumstances | Goal: 20 days

6. Avoid phone or computer use after 8 pm | Goal: 20 days

7. Lights out by 10 pm | Goal: 12 days

Share your goals with me in the comments or link to your goals post if you blogged them!

Join my email family for email-only tips and encouragement (all with a focus on Jesus) to help you live a #boldintentionallife!

 

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  • September 5, 2017 - 4:59 pm

    Kelsey kuske - I loveeee your goals! I recently started actually typing out my goals so that I am accountable thanks to your posts/emails/encouragements! It makes such a difference! I also love all the book ideas you share in your monthly goal updates! One of my goals is to read more so that is super helpful! I always look forward to your blog posts coming out! It makes my day when I get to read one :)ReplyCancel

This post originally appeared on the Time of Grace blog.

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“God won’t give you more than you can handle.” How many times has someone comforted you with that statement?

It’s a nice thought, and people who say that mean well, but can it be real?

I’m not buying it.

I’m no pastor or anything, but I can’t think of a Bible passage that supports that.

Hello, this whole life is more than I can handle! I need God desperately each and every day.

I never needed God more in my entire life than on a certain day the week after I graduated from high school. I woke up that sunny June morning and could barely move.

Rheumatoid arthritis had literally crippled me overnight.

In the years and days leading up to that day, I had experienced undiagnosed knee pain and some random joint issues here and there, but within one night’s sleep my entire body flared up.

It was way, way more than I could handle. 

Related post: When fighting gets so, so exhausting

As long as I live, I will not forget the specific moment when I sat and waited in a patient room at Children’s Hospital a few days after my diagnosis. It was June 13, the day before my 18th birthday, the last official day of my childhood. I was in severe physical pain, but the emotional pain was just as great as I realized I was trapped, living in a crippled, elderly woman’s body.

That summer I needed my family members’ help with a million basic things just to get by—getting dressed, squeezing toothpaste out of a tube, doing my hair. I barely ever slept because I tossed and turned all night in pain. The beginning of my freshman year of college quickly approached while my mom kept begging our insurance company to approve the heavy-duty shots of medication that were my only hope of being able to move away to college and exist without someone’s help.

Just thinking about those months right now is making my computer screen blurry through my tears. Those were the hardest months of my entire life.

When I think about them, the “God won’t give you more than you can handle” philosophy feels like a big fat lie. At the time, I believed that statement was true, and I remember praying, “God, if you think I can handle this, you’re giving me way too much credit. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’m not strong enough.”

Bingo.

I’m not strong enough.

You’re not strong enough either.

None of us are. Each day brings more than we can handle with our own strength.

Arthritis has taught me how weak and needy I am, and I’m totally down with that truth. Everyone could benefit from something that makes them fall on their knees and desperately depend on God for strength.

The realizations that I’m not strong enough on my own and that I absolutely need to depend on God have been just about the most precious gifts he has given me, aside from my salvation.

So you won’t hear me tell you that God won’t give you more than you can handle. I will tell you this: “God won’t give you more than you and he can’t handle together.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be days or seasons of intense pain or stress or suffering; in fact, you can count on all those things.

It will feel like more than you can handle. 

But, dear friend, you’re not handling it alone. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Feeling overwhelmed with life? Download my free workbook about time for Christian women and uncover some much-needed freedom.

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  • August 24, 2017 - 9:04 am

    Karen S. - The real key here is that God is the unmentioned help anytime we think of that concept as a Christian. As a matter of fact, even if we are doing something very simple and easy, God is still with us and by our side. As far as the more challenging situations in life, I remember a saying that my mother-in-law had up on her wall as she endured ovarian cancer till her life’s end and it read, “God, I know that you won’t give me anything today that you and I can’t handle together”. ‘Nuff said… HE is our ever-present help in trouble… and actually at ALL times.ReplyCancel

    • September 8, 2017 - 12:31 pm

      Madeleine C. - Karen,
      I’m sorry about your mother-in-law passing. I love the saying she had on her wall “God I know that You won’t give me anything today that You and I can’t handle together.” I just found that out for myself last week. I thought I was alone but found out that I’m never alone. God is always there 24/7 guiding me along our journey together. Thank you for sharing those wonderful words that gives HOPE even through trouble times. God Bless You!ReplyCancel