Things I grew up staring at. Thanks Mom.
I’m going to be very honest about something right now: I make roughly zero dollars. I mean, alright, that’s a lie. I make enough money to ensure that I am not sleeping on a bench at night, but that is pretty much where the train ends for me. Working at a nonprofit organization has its upsides: I love the people I work with, and the job I do everyday is one that I am completely passionate about. However, there is not a lot of…monetary benefit. If I buy something outside of my means one week, I pay for it dearly the next week. I spend a good chunk of my time worrying about finances, and praying that my car doesn’t spontaneously combust.
Money has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been wondering why I always have to worry about it. Wondering where it all seems to disappear to. Wondering how long my life will consist of paycheck-to-paycheck living…and I’ve come to a conclusion that I will now share. Because I can’t stop myself.
I love being independent. I love being able to do what I want, and change my plans halfway through the day, and decide where I’m going to live and how I’m going to live and who I’m going to live my life with. I love this freedom. A lot. But the thing is, God has other plans for me. I think He knows that this stubborn girl of His would probably depend on Him and talk to Him a whole lot less if I didn’t need Him to provide for me. I’m not saying that I should spend carelessly, or that I should be irresponsible with my money. I need to be a better money-saver, and I know that. And I’m also not saying that God is withholding a blessing for my life in order to force our relationship. I’m just saying that my whole life, God has provided exactly what I needed, and never anything more. I’ve always had food to eat (alright, sometimes it’s just oatmeal, but I’m okay with that), coffee to drink (yes I am counting that as a necessity, I think Jesus would have loved coffee), and more than enough clothes to wear. My house has heat, there is gas in my Civic, and there are covers on my bed. Really, what more do I need? If I had more money–if I had excess at the end of every month, I’m positive I would find a way to waste it, anyway. Honestly. I have a crush on technology and I love musical instruments, so it would be a disaster. Living on little has taught me how to plan ahead and budget, and it’s also taught me, oddly enough, the importance of generosity. It’s forced me to realize that though I might not have much, there are a lot of other people who have a lot less. Just because I don’t see them everyday doesn’t mean I’m not responsible for their well-being. I am. And you are too, by the way.
Money stress has taught me the importance of loving people the way that Jesus loved people. And, even more so, it has taught me humility: receiving the love that Jesus freely gives, and encourages His followers to give as well.
“44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:44-47
There is something about experiencing, firsthand, the love of people who want to serve God, who are generously willing to give to you. My sister April has four little kids, and her husband is a youth pastor, and I have no idea how they make ends meet at the end of each month. Nevertheless, at least once a week, she calls me to make sure that I have something to eat for dinner, and extends an invite for me to come over. I don’t always take her up on it, but she always tells me that no matter what, there’s always enough for one more. It’s so humbling to be loved like that– that crazy kind of love that wants to give to me even though it means sacrificing what she has. My parents are the same way, and for a 24-year-old that wants so badly to do it all on her own, that can sometimes be a tough hand to receive from.
I don’t know if I’m making any sense tonight, but this is what God has been using to beat out the pride in my heart as of late. The pride that builds up like plaque in my soul, and makes me think that I’d probably be just fine without God’s Fathering love. The pride that makes me look around and think that I can do anything better than the person next to me (I think that this is a complex that comes from being 95% Irish). Whatever this pride is, it takes a serious beat down every time I look at my bank account and realize that I am still completely reliant on the provision of God, not in some ethereal, philosophical way, but in a very concrete, oh crap I have $30 left in my bank account so please help me Jesus kind of way. And He always provides.
Last week my friend Jill brought me into her office and gave me an unbelievable gift. She gave me the CDs she didn’t listen to anymore, or had never really listened to– that crappy indie music that mostly just dorks like myself flip out over. Most of these CDs were honestly albums that I’d been wanting to purchase for years but had never had the money to spare on. I think she thought I was insane, but when someone gives you the Ben Gibbard/Andrew Kenny Home EP for FREE, it is Christmas in February. Christmas, I tell you. And last Saturday, my friend Beth gave me a gift certificate to Trader Joe’s as a housewarming gift–which means I get to eat this week. Fo’ free. And my insanely generous friend Kira made me let her buy me Subway on Sunday, and I almost cried because I was well, really tired, but also, because I was just so grateful. I know, I know, these might seem like small things to you, but they mean so much to me. And they have shown me that I TOO need to be generous with the little that I have. I feel so rich. I live in an abundance of love.
I boast in Christ. He gives me joy. He gives me peace. And He continues to fill my life with wonderful people and experiences and little tiny tastes of heaven that wet my pallet just enough to want to keep chasing after Him. Joy is purely based on the peace and grace that Jesus Christ brings when He changes your heart; when you allow Him to start loving you.
“11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”- Philippians 4:11-13
If I was still a small child, and I wanted to throw a fit, I would definitely throw it in a library. It has the best audience. I know this because I am currently watching a three-year-old throw a fit at the library and she has me completely riveted.
Speaking of weird kids, I saw a little boy throw a snowball on the ground of the church parking lot today, and then pick the snow back up off the pavement and eat it. Eek.
I clearly need some sleep.
My pastor told us this week that any substance you have to have every single day is an addiction, and you need end that addiction. It is very unfortunate for me that I was so convicted by this, because I feel this morning that there is not enough coffee in the world to wake me up.
Maybe I’ll switch to black tea. Or espresso.
In other news, my phone has become possessed by the devil himself. I’m fairly positive.
I spent this weekend with my best friend. It was absolutely glorious, as always. Steph is one of the only people in the world who can talk any sense into me, and I am so thankful for her. Where I spend most of my time dazed and daydreaming, she is practical and futuristic. She plans–I chance it. When she packs her bags for the weekend, everything is in travel sizes, and her clothes are folded neatly. I tend to throw everything into two Gap bags and run out the door (and usually I forget something important, like pants). I’m cool with this, and so is she. I like that. We co-exist and speak into each other’s lives– I tell her to loosen up and she tells me to get it under control. It is a win-win.
As hang loose as I may be, and as (NOT) hang loose as she may be, ironically, she is the one who has gotten all the peircings and the tattoos. I have spent years saying I want a tattoo, and months saying I want one very specific tattoo, but I had never just gone for it. Yesterday, at a tiny table in Starbucks, we were discusing what we should do next with our open Saturday, (and also hitting on the topic of my young nieces’ recent debacles getting their ears peirced). Steph looked at me and tilted her head for a second, and then took a sip of her latte. “You know, we could just go get you that tattoo today. Right now. I think we should do it, Moore.”
Somehow, knowing that my very logical bestie was telling me that I should go ahead and let someone stab me with an inky needle (repeatedly) gave me the courage to do exactly that. An hour and a half later I was walking out of a little tattoo shop near the downtown area by my house, tattoo stuck to me permanently, eating a lollipop. Apparently I had looked like I was going to pass out, so the tattoo artist gave me candy and said I needed to eat it before I left, so that I didn’t faint. Don’t worry…no fainting for Ashley. I did like, however, that I got a sucker for being such a good girl at the tattoo parlor. High fives. Steph drove us back home though–my driving skills were not up to snuff.
I think God gave Steph and I to each other because we make each other braver. We tell each other to take chances but we never push each other to the point of being stupid or unsafe. I have met a lot of new, wonderful people this year, but Steph has known me since I had really, REALLY bad hair and was still making my own hemp necklaces. (That wasn’t a drug reference– I just liked making the necklaces.) She has always been there to remind me of who I REALLY am, because she knows who that person is, even when I forget.
Steph is the kind of person who gives me room to be creative, but will also TELL me when something I have created is terrible. She also lets me know, with no sugar-coating, that I have way too many clothes. She gives me a heads up about bands I will like, and she reminds me that the way I live on a day-to-day basis is a reflection of my spiritual life. We talk about our faith together: our struggles, our joys, and everything inbetween.
I tend towards hermicy (I made that word up, pretty sure), but God is always showing me that there are people in the world to love. This weekend, He showed me that there are also people in this world who love me, and they do so selflessly. Jesus said that where two or more are gathered in His name, He’ll be there too. So really, I guess the three of us hung out this weekend. It was just… it was great.
I know, I know, this blog is basically just a gushery of my love for my best friend. But I don’t care. I am so blessed to have beautiful, caring people in my life, like Steph. People who push me towards Christ, and who show me the love that He shows us. I have been reading over 1 John a lot lately, and I think the thing that keeps coming back to me is how God tells us to love Him, and to love each other. Selflessly. Whole-heartedly. 1 John 3:23 -24 says, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” It’s so simple, and when we obey it, it is exactly right.
I like that.