Every year at Christmas time, as I am trying to "balance the budget," I begin to reflect on the many blessings we have received in the past year. It never fails that I can see that the windows of heaven have truly been pouring down upon us due to our commitment to paying tithing.
In my 2005 version of this post, I named the many unexpected little windfalls we received during lean times. This year, it hasn't quite worked out like that, but we have been very blessed nonetheless.
The first blessing came in the form of a job for Joel. It wasn't the job we thought it would be, and financially it was not the job we really needed. Yet, we knew it was the right one. It has been wonderful living here in Cedar City, and we have felt peace in knowing we did what the Lord planned for us to do. It takes a great amount of faith to take a job you know won't cover all of your living expenses. We had to buy a new minvan, and while we got an incredible deal on it (second blessing) and help financing it (third blessing), we knew it would be difficult to cover the payment.
We decided if I could get enough voice students to pay the car payment that we'd be okay. What happened instead is a true miracle, if you ask me. As you know, Joel came a few weeks before I did and moved into our place. I followed with the kids. I had been in town only about 4 days when I was contacted by Southern Utah University about teaching voice lessons there as adjunct faculty. When I got everything squared away and signed my contract, I was making enough to cover the car payment, with just a little to spare. Guess what that little to spare was? Tithing.
Joel was also given an adjunct position at SUU, and while we didn't realize it at the time, we also desperately needed that money and it helped us to make ends meet.
The blessings don't stop there. Of course, neither do the financial obligations. All of the wonderful student loans we racked up while in school came due this month. The payment is almost as much as our car payment. We were able to find the money for our December payment (due to a bonus Joel was given from the school district. Yet another blessing) but I was worried about subsequent months. We fasted and prayed that we would be able to find the financial means to do it.
And guess what? We did. Two days after that fast Sunday I went to a party at my Sister in Law's home. One of her friends that came is the vice principal of a high school for performing arts that is located in St. George (about 45 minutes away). It came up that I sing and teach lessons. She asked me if I would be interested in driving down there once a week to teach at her school because she had several students who desperately needed lessons and she had not been able to find them a teacher. We worked out some details, and after speaking with her last night, I know I have at least 6 students down there. I have also found a few local students due to a presentation I was able to do in the drama class at the high school where Joel teaches. These will more than pay our student loan, and make up for the students that won't be continuing at SUU. As much as I don't like the time spent away from my children, I realize that the Lord is blessing us greatly.
On top of all of this, I feel like I am being a better steward of the money we have been given. I have been forced to learn how to be as frugal as possible in feeding my family, decorating my home and entertaining ourselves. I have learned a lot and am happier than I have been in a long time. It's almost as if I have released myself from "needing" things that I see others have. Things that really don't matter in the long run. Things that don't really make you happy.
Blessings aren't always material. My husband, my three beautiful children, the Gospel, the Savior and all the love that they bring to my life...those are the best blessings.