No Spend Semester

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Okay, it’s time to be painfully honest for a moment.

I’m not that great at managing money. Yep. I’m a self employed photographer and I’m not that good at managing money. Yep. That’s not a great thing. I will admit it openly and honestly. It’s not that I’m horrible. I manage to never run out. I can do my own taxes and keep track of expenses and ultimately, I make it all “work” in the end.

But I think God is calling me to not just have it all “work out” or to scrape by financially, but to actually be a wise steward of the crazy blessings He has placed in my life. I’m aware of my privilege – of having a roof over my head, food in my stomach, owning clothes and books. Those things are luxuries. Starbucks is a luxury. Even thrift store shopping sprees are a luxury. Having a clean and safe apartment is a luxury.

Yet my careless attitude towards money does not reflect that knowledge.

I’ve also had an attitude towards money that it’s something I earn. I know, that’s the prevailing thought in our culture. Work hard. Hustle. Make money. Be successful. It’s not that it’s all wrong, but it’s been a source of pride for me. I like proving my worth by my earning potential. Asking people for money always makes me cringe. I’ve done several trips (missions and otherwise) without asking people for money, but last year I had to ask for funds for Vegas and it was pretty horrible for me. Okay, it was stretching and growing and good more than anything, but still really hard.

All this to say, I’ve had plans for the last six months to get a job come January. It’s been on the radar, even as I purposefully lived in the moment and didn’t worry about it before it was time. I’m moving into the slow season for photography. So I figured that it’d be time to get another job for the semester so that I could save up money. Then I got to January and nothing seems quite right. Now, I totally 100% know that sometimes you work any job that comes your way and it’s not about finding the perfect fit all the time. But what I’m lacking is a peace in my spirit to move forward.

The other day, I made a to-do list for Well Water Fargo for the month of January. My heart started to race as I continually thought of things to add. Dang. There’s a lot to do. Time consuming things. And I’m still running a photography business and finishing editing clients’ photos. I’m also still a student and in my last semester of classes that I desperately want to knock out of the park with straight As. I’m also a small group leader and mentor and the thought of the time with these girls being severely diminished makes me feel sick as I know God has still called me to pour into them for the remainder of this school year.

Yesterday, I heard the story of the boy bringing the fish and loaves to Jesus. Twice. He brought what he had to Jesus and then the miracle happened. Abundantly more was poured out than what was ever put in, but action was also required. Last night, I was praying and asking God to make job things clear to me, for Him to provide a way for me to have both money and time.

He told me to stop spending money on coffee.

Ouch.

You know, it makes sense. If I’m seriously about really wanting to spend my energy on what I believe God has called me to and placed in front of me, I need to be willing to make sacrifices. God will show up, but He asks me to do the same.

I believe that this season can be one of abundance. God has been showing me lately the crazy favor He has placed on me as His kid. That He wants to see me walk into an identity powerful and into a destiny that is wild. Part of the preparation for that though involves me growing up and learning.

So Welcome to No Spend Semester

From now until May 11th, the last day of MSUM finals, I’m not going to spend money on anything but essentials. That means yes to:

  • Rent + utilities
  • Grocery store food
  • Gas
  • Essentials like toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo. No one wants a stinky Liv.
  • Spending for Well Water
  • Tithing to my church + giving to others

That means NO to:

  • Fru-fru coffee. “Pay as you can” drip from 20Below is allowed on coffee dates/work time.
  • Spotify Premium membership. *tear*
  • New clothes. Not even thrifting.
  • Eating out. “Let’s do dinner!” can be cooking at my apartment. That way I get to improve my cooking skills, practice hospitality, AND save money. Winning.
  • Books. Or journals. Or pretty little things. Even at the Craft Fest in February.

Practical steps include:

  • Turning in weekly receipts to a trusted friend
  • Meal planning and prepping
  • Packing food for trips
  • Working odd jobs like babysitting and cleaning and whatever else comes along.

I believe that this semester can be a time of saving, abundance, favor, and generosity all while not having a steady income. This is me, bringing my fish and loaves to Jesus’ feet and letting him break it to give me back more than I can imagine. What if I actually saw my savings account grow? What if I learn to live wisely, but not controlled by fear? What if I gain skills in self control, management, organization, and discipline that will set me up for success in the rest of my life? What if I see God provide for me in both big and little ways by making this practical step of trusting Him?


What if?

I guess I’ll find out.

P.S. Shout out to people who’ve proven this is possible and have inspired me, namely Marisa Jackels’ No Spend November and Hannah Brencher’s Contentment Challenge

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When Wild Comes to Visit

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Wild.

“passionately eager or enthusiastic”

“not subject to restraint or regulation”

“marked by turbulent agitation”

“going beyond normal or conventional bounds”

“indicative of strong passion, desire, or emotion”

To say that Wild is on its way is not the most comforting thought. It’s the sort of thought that sends chills up your spine and makes your stomach clench into a tight little knot. Wild is not predictable. Wild is not safe. Wild is not tidy.

But Wild is fun.

Wild shows up with crazy hair that knows wind and waves intimately. Wild laughs from a place of astonishment with life. Wild grabs your hand and pulls you into the things that you are not ready for. Wild makes a big mess and leaves you to clean it up yourself. Wild isn’t always the most impressive one to take home to meet the family. Wild makes you smile, though. Wild is a great encourager. Wild inspires in a way that is so native and natural.

I can’t shake Wild.

Wild gets comfortable in the places where I am most uncomfortable. Wild may not quite carry the depth of a forever friend, but Wild will be the friend needed to get to the next place and to take that next step. I may do a few more dumb things when Wild is hanging around, but I also do a few more brave things.

And doing a few more brave things is good for one’s soul. Sometimes the brave thing is simply speaking words out loud that have been hidden away for years upon years. The brave thing may be to let yourself dream about the future and actually figure out what you want. The brave thing could be be showing up and being present when you want to hide from the world or that one particular person who hurt you. Sometimes the brave thing may mean putting yourself out there, to fill out the job application or ask the person on a date or vocalizing the burning question.

Brave is a subjective term. It looks different for me than it may for you. But big brave or little brave, brave things build bravery. And bravery is a weapon that’s worth possessing.

Wild is teaching me to possess bravery in these ways:

  • to dream of impossibilities
  • to shake off false humility and comparison
  • to pursue the creative things that I’ve held back from
  • to build a life of intention and a community of depth
  • to squash lies that attack my identity and say that I’m not enough
  • to live in wonder

I’m not ready for Wild to visit. I never will be. That’s okay.

Wild stirs up within you the ability to do things scared. And doing things scared is really the only way to get anything done.