Inspired by More than Just Making It by Erin Odom, The Humbled Homemaker
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MORE THAN JUST MY STORY
“We arrived in Charlotte with next to nothing: two bags each, a Pack ‘n’ Play, a stroller, and each other.”
When I read those words in Erin Odom’s new book, More than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated, the story of her family’s season of financial struggle reminded me of my story.
Or rather, it sparked a look back at my parents’ story and gave me an appreciation for how it has affected my own.
In her book, Erin, better known by her blog name, The Humbled Homemaker, writes about how she and her husband had planned for their family to be heading to Mexico as missionaries. Instead, circumstances sent them to North Carolina, where they would face their “most hopeless financial season.” Having come through this time of struggles, both financial and in the heart, Erin shares about God’s provision and faithfulness as well as offering hope and advice to those who may still be in the midst of financial (or other) hardship.
My story, like Erin’s, starts with a move, only it was when my parents were following God’s leading for their music ministry group all the way from Ohio to Alabama.
Even before they were married, my parents had been called into ministry and have been serving for most of their lives. While life in ministry has been amazingly rewarding, those rewards aren’t always tangible things, like material wealth.
During the season when my dad was ministering with his singing group, many of the churches where they ministered would give their visiting speakers a “love offering.”(For those who didn’t grow up in church, a love offering is a special passing of the collection plate for the congregation to give to something specific, such as a guest minister or missionary.)
However, love offerings weren’t always as generous as the name might imply, especially when split between the three families represented in my dad’s band.
As it was, during a good portion of my childhood, my family was living on “less than,” even when my father served in specific positions at the churches we attended because not all of them were able to pay their pastors or music ministers a full salary, if they could pay them at all, and even though my dad (and sometimes my mom) worked a regular job in addition to pastoring or ministry.
So, when my parents prepared to move to Alabama with that music ministry group, it wasn’t for financial gain or stability. It was to pursue God’s purpose.
MORE THAN JUST STUFF
I was only a couple of months old when my parents loaded up their tiny car with whatever essentials they could and headed down south with: a crib for me, an Army-type sleeping cot for my soon-to-be 3-year-old brother, pots and pans, linens, clothes, and my dad’s guitar.
That was it. (See why Erin’s words caught my heart?)
My parents slept on the hard linoleum-covered floor of our apartment with only their sheets and blanket. No beds, no mattress. No couches, tables, or chairs. For months. (My mom recalls that she didn’t even have a broom and had to borrow one from a neighbor.)
I’m sure it wasn’t easy, especially with two little ones. I’m sure it was humbling.
But yet, they knew they were where God called them, doing what He asked them to do.
And there was joy and contentment in that obedience…just not a lot of money or furniture.
“At the time, we didn’t know why we couldn’t find affordable furniture when we got down there,” my dad once told me.
However, God was not withholding His provision.
About 6 months after they’d moved, one of the band members brought a very well-to-do friend from a very well-to-do family to visit one weekend. Like everyone else who came to our apartment, they had to sit on the floor the entire time.
This man left amazed by what he had witnessed, saying that he never realized that you could have nothing and still be that happy.
And wouldn’t you know it? A week later, a random stranger knocked on the apartment door, offering my parents a houseful of furniture from a friend who was moving, but not before my parents’ testimony and witness had left its mark on the heart of that one man.
Looking back on that time, I think my parents could echo what Erin says of her family’s own struggle, “we walked there so God could use us here.”
That always-on-time, God-glorifying provision became one of the cornerstones of my childhood and my faith.
MORE THAN JUST FAITHFUL
There were times in my childhood when, just as Erin shares about her family, God’s provision came in the form of government assistance and food stamps.
I remember what it’s like to only have powdered milk for your cereal or only a couple pieces of toast for breakfast.
I remember being on the “free lunch” roster at school and the little card we had to use in the cafeteria every day.
I remember NEVER eating out unless it was a very, very special occasion, and then it was a huge treat to even get a cheeseburger from McDonald’s.
However, I don’t remember that being a sad thing. I don’t remember feeling defeated or deprived.
Because hand-in-hand with all of that, I remember all my parents’ answered prayers & God’s faithfulness, those times when God showed up in surprising ways, or as Erin calls them, “kisses from Jesus.”
I remember checks coming in the mail at exactly the right moment, beautiful clothes handed-down to me from random people just as I grew out of mine, a Christmas or two when “Santa” showed up early and unexpectedly, surprising even my parents.
Basically, I remember that even though we didn’t have a lot, we always had enough, and I always knew that we were never without the hope and the peace that God would take care of all of our needs.
Having experienced first-hand God’s unfailing provision and witnessing my parents’ faith as they lived in absolute dependency on and trust in God’s goodness has given me my own foundation of faith in His faithfulness and the confidence to trust that He will always make a way because He has good plans for me, even when I can’t see it yet.
MORE THAN JUST MANNA
In the past, when my husband and I have talked about my childhood, I’ve mentioned to him that in some ways, it was like the actual children among the children of Israel in Exodus, like that generation who were born in the wilderness.
Because there were among that second generation of Israelites coming out of Egypt those who didn’t know anything of Egypt, except in stories from their parents. From the time they were born, they knew only a cloud by day, a fire by night, and manna in the morning. Their Source, their Provider had always been God.
And just like those Israelites, I always knew that ultimately, God was our provision. He was taking care of us.
Sure, the children of Israel might not have had sumptuous feasts in the wilderness. But they had manna. Always the manna.
(In my case, sometimes the manna tasted like government cheese. 🙂 Haha)
But it was still miraculous provision.
When Erin compares God’s provision in her life to manna, she also reminds us, “The manna or ‘bread’ from heaven in Exodus 16 wasn’t what the Israelites wanted, but it was what they needed.”
For those who remembered Egypt, the “want” versus “need” could be a problem, but the only way that their children would have known to be discontent with what God was providing was through the complaints of their parents and those around them.
For my family, while God’s manna was a constant, we didn’t take it for granted. I’m sure it wasn’t always what my parents (or my brothers and I) wanted, but thankfully my parents are more of the Joshua and Caleb type – they trust God despite the circumstances and what they can see.
That’s because they’ve walked through the wilderness with Him, and He has ALWAYS been faithful. Through every need. Through every struggle. Through every triumph.
And Erin has walked there, too. She says, “we could trust the Lord to meet our future needs because He showed over and over that He met our present ones.”
Growing up in a home that trusted God to provide, growing up on His “manna,” I have lived Psalm 37:25, which says, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
God always supplied for our needs, and thankfully at some point, our family began to prosper more financially, although never to the point we would be considered wealthy by American standards.
MORE THAN JUST US
As I read my way through Erin’s book, I became more and more excited, not just for Erin and what she learned through their time of financial hardship and not just for how her experience and advice will empower, encourage, and equip others who are facing difficult times. I wasn’t just excited because of the challenge to look beyond ourselves, our attitudes, and our preconceived ideas so that God can use us to bless others, as we align ourselves with His heart, His Word, and His purposes.
I was most excited for her children and the children of those who read her book and begin to look for God’s faithfulness.
Why? Because Erin and those other parents will be leaving their children an eternal legacy of God’s goodness.
In a recent podcast interview she did with Becki Rogers on “Not Quite Supermoms,” Erin shared about talking to her 9-year-old daughter, who had been quite young when Erin and her husband were struggling financially.
Having heard her mom talking about the book as Erin was writing it, the little girl asked one day, “Mommy, were we poor?”
And Erin’s answer made me tear up and shout praise to God as the same time.
Because Erin was able to say, “Yes, we were. But look what God has done!”
(And it wasn’t just that God was blessing them financially. It was that God had provided in every area of need – wisdom, relationships, resources, and more.)
Oh, parents. Don’t be like the older generation in the wilderness who lost heart or complained in the struggle – whether it’s financial, spiritual, health-related, or whatever. Be among those who trust in God to lead them through difficulties, putting their hope in His plan and His provision, even when it seems like “just manna.”
Not only will He be faithful to you, not only will He provide exactly what you need when you need it, but you’ll have an opportunity to be like my parents, like Erin, and like that next generation of Israelites, who had the faith to take the Promise Land.
Let God use your struggles and the overcoming of them to become a memorial to God’s power and faithfulness, like the rocks from the Jordan River in Joshua 4.
In that chapter, God held back the river so His people could cross on dry land as they headed into the Promise Land. Then God charged them to create a memorial with stones from the river. He wanted them to have a reminder for themselves and future generations of what God had done for them there.
Because I had parents who trusted God to make a way, I’ve trusted and seen God make a way. No, my faith isn’t perfect, but when I face my own difficulties, I don’t have to be overwhelmed because I have reminders of His provision in their life and in my own. I can look expectantly for God to show up as He always has.
And when He does, I can now tell my own children, “Look what God has done!” and I know He will continue the legacy in them.
MORE THAN JUST MAKING IT
It was such a “kisses from Jesus” thing to be a part of Erin’s launch team for her new book, More than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated, which releases September 5.
No matter where your family is financially, this book has something to offer you. As I mentioned above, this book is part memoir of her family’s most hopeless financial season and part mentoring to help those still facing a struggle, Erin’s desire is to bring hope and allow God to bless others through their story.
As she says, “We walked there so God could use us here.”
In More Than Just Making It, Erin shares her heart and her experiences with a transparency and vulnerability that let you know you are not alone, and she reminds us that we can trust in God’s provision and His plan in every situation. Her book offers encouragement and inspiration as well as a plethora of simple, actionable strategies and habits for saving money and provides readers with a stocked arsenal of resources to help you go from financial stress to financial success.
This is definitely a book that I highly recommend.
In fact, I recommend that you pre-order it NOW (before September 5) so that you can claim over $200 worth of amazing bonuses, including the What’s for Dinner Challenge (a 3 week e-course on meal planning), a printable Gratitude Journal, a 2-month subscription to You Need A Budget, and more, as well as access to the first 3 chapters so you can start reading immediately! Plus, pre-ordering qualifies you for Erin’s special MEGA-GIVEAWAY, where one lucky entrant will win a prize package worth over $2,000! (Yes, $2,000!) You can see the complete list of prizes here: Mega-Giveaway.
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER: Sneak Peek – 1st Chapter
To quote Erin, “When God’s people help others, they’re demonstrating His love and kindness. When we receive provision from other people, we’re able to witness God’s generosity in our lives and praise Him. Both giver and recipient can worship god together…”
I am honored to be the giver this time. One happy reader will get the joy of being the recipient of their very own copy of Erin’s new book, which comes out on September 5. (The giveaway winner will receive their copy within that week.)
Thanks for entering! This contest is open to residents of the U.S. only and runs from Monday, August 21 (12:00 a.m.) through Sunday, August 27, 2017, at 11:59pm EST (I know, specific.). The winner will be notified by email within 48 hours of the contest ending. Winner has 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected.
Note: I was privileged to receive an advance copy of the book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest opinion. My positive review is based solely upon on how much I enjoyed this book.