Frugality as a Means of Giving (and Meet Keeper of the Home’s New Sponsor Child!)
Why do you practice frugality?
It’s such a hot topic these days, how to save money and do more with less. We read about it, talk to our friends about it, put great amounts of effort into living it. What’s less common, though, is to examine exactly why we do it.
Perhaps it’s because money is tight, especially as a single-income family in a dual-income world, and we want to make staying at home with our children a priority. Or maybe it’s because of the recession, as we all cope with rising prices, job losses or decreased income , as people and businesses alike tighten their belts.
Maybe it is because we truly desire to be a good steward, carefully making use of the financial and material resources that God has so graciously given us.
All very valid and excellent reasons, many of which I myself would state when asked the question of why frugality matters to our family. Allow me to add one more to the list…
We practice frugality as a means of giving more generously.
To whom much is given
In just over one week, I will be on an airplane, flying to the Philippines to see what poverty looks like firsthand. In reality, there is poverty around us here as well, but there are levels of poverty that exist in the developing world that we in North America can hardly fathom.
I saw my first glimpse of true poverty when I was 16. I travelled to Mexico with my church’s youth group, and walked through a urine-stenched slum, full of cardboard and tin one-room shacks, and a lot of very desperate people. It was only a small picture of what is happening to various degrees the world over, but it impacted me. I recall returning home, painfully aware of how blessed I was to sleep in a soft, warm bed, to take a hot shower, to eat a full meal of whatever I wanted. It’s a sobering realization at 16 that most of the world doesn’t live like you do.
I struggle sometimes with that first-world, middle-class guilt. The one that says “what did I ever do to deserve being born here, while another woman is born in Africa, fighting AIDS and watching her children die of starvation in the midst of a civil war?”.
The answer? Nothing.
But somehow, for some reason, this is where our sovereign God has placed me. In a nation of wealth and resources and luxuries and comfort.
It is a weighty responsibility. “To whom much is given, much will be required…” (Luke 12:48)
Living simply so we can give generously
Though she’s changed it now, the tagline over at Passionate Homemaking used to be “living simply so that we can give generously”. I love that.
For all of the other reasons that we practice frugality and seek to live within or below our means, the ability to give generously to others should be at the forefront.
I have not always been a terribly generous person. It took marrying my incredibly giving husband for me to really grasp what it looked like to open up my tightly clenched fists and bless others freely, trusting God to meet all of our needs. Ryan’s joy in giving to others has inspired me to want to do the same, and God has used it over the years to develop a love of giving in my own heart.
Through times of plenty and times of little, God has faithfully (oh so faithfully) provided for all of our needs and even many of our undeserved wants, as we sought to respond in faith, giving as He called us to. Sometimes we’ve had the extra and the giving came easily. Other times we didn’t know how we would make ends meet if we gave, and it was a sacrifice. No matter what, it has always been worth it. Always.
Meet John Mark
I want to show you someone whose life that you (yes, you!) are making a difference in today.
This is John Mark. He is a 14 year old boy, living near Manila in the Philippines. He lives with his parents and 4 siblings. He loves basketball, art and going for walks. He helps his family by buying and selling in the market, gardening and caring for his siblings while his parents are working.
Through your support of Keeper of the Home, John Mark is now receiving care as a sponsored child through Compassion International. Access to better food and clean water. Medical care when he needs it. The opportunity to learn and study, and more importantly than anything else, he will hear the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
He isn’t just my family’s sponsor child. We have two other children that we sponsor as a family and that is so precious to us. But John Mark is all of ours… yours and mine and every other amazing woman who reads this blog. Ours to pray for, to care for, and to rejoice in the fact that another child that is being reached with and because of the love of Christ.
Lord willing, I will be meeting John Mark during my upcoming trip. I hope to be able to see where and how he lives, meet his family, play basketball with him (he’s going to school me, of this I’m sure), pray for him. I hope that you’ll join me as I share about the work that is being done to ensure that John Mark has hope in Christ and a bright future.
Follow us May 29 – June 4
Our incredible team of bloggers and Compassion staff will be in the Philippines from May 29- June 4 and we will be blogging throughout our time there. We’ll share with you what we see, the people we meet, what God is doing there, and the work yet to be done.
We would be honored and humbled to have you join us and follow our trip. It will be a life changing opportunity, for everyone involved. I will be blogging right here on Keeper of the Home, every day of the trip. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe either by RSS feed or by email so that you don’t miss a post.
Would you like to learn more about sponsoring a child like John Mark? There are so many precious little ones, just waiting for someone to say yes. Put that frugality to good use and see how just $38 a month can change a child’s life.
I am one of those middle-class kids who always had way more than she needed – but I married a great guy who grew up as an MK in South America – not only does he have a completely different definition of frugality than my own (or… did… I’ve changed a lot) – he also has a completely different definition of generosity.
I’m a fundraiser by trade – I specialized in understanding generosity – but my only concept of it involved writing a check to help a starving child (or some social cause equivalent). We’ve started tightening our budget a lot and reigned in almost all of our generosity to focus on our families, church families and community. Generosity for us now means things like giving a stranger a ride home, taking a last-minute trip out of town to help my sister, or sharing an extra large cut of meat with friends. We tithe to our church and give any extras to the church’s benevolence fund. I recognize many noble causes, and I look forward to a day when our income can support causes beyond what we are currently able to do – for now, I am enjoying this new way of being generous.
@Amanda Z, I think that’s a wonderful way to be generous. Generosity is certainly not limited to our finances, nor is it limited to giving to the poor or only those in third world countries. I think we are given opportunities to share of ourselves and our resources all the time, including examples like the ones you gave.
thank you for this reminder and call to action.
I’ll be honest and say I really struggle with it. I am not sure why really but I know that I’m in a similar situation as you that my husband gives and gives and loves it. He has been known to give things that I think he actually needs (but doesn’t really as we all know our needs are very simple in true reality). Sometimes he gives things that I am not sure if its the best idea but I try to go with his leadership. I love this part of him but its shown me that I am not good at it. I find it easier to give time and encouragement and those types of things than money or gifts that cost us money.
Generally speaking I am frugal because it enables us to do more with our money- get better quality food, make trips to visit family, save up for things we need, etc.
Its an interesting concept to be frugal so you have more to give to others. I’ll be honest and say that I’d be more tempted to spend the extra on the rising cost of food or gas or on something that I think I need (probably just want). I have to keep working on this.
You have no idea what a treat you are in for. I spent 3 months in Davao (Southern Philippines) living with missionaries and working along side them. I went to serve and found myself leaving feeling like I had been blessed more than I had given. They are a people filled with the generosity that your post is speaking of. I will be praying for you and your team.
@Jacqueline, That makes me even more excited. I can’t wait to go! 🙂
If I were to describe my spending/money habits, I’m not sure frugal would come to mind, but maybe I am more than I think. I want to get the best value for the money I have, but if there’s something I want/need and we have the money, I buy it. God always provides (we give a bit more generously than what’s defined by tithe) and I don’t feel like we go without. Sometimes when it’s tax time I’m surprised at the dollar figure that goes into charitbale giving.
We have goats and chickens and in January when a goat had twin kids, I felt led to give a similar blessing thru World Vision, so as a family we have chosen to thank God for our ongoing blessings by sending a goat and two chickens thru WV. Two more goats just had babies this week, so time to give again! I much prefer (and feel it’s more Biblical) to give a hand up whenever possible, rather than just a hand out. Knowing that our animals provide life for us really makes me want to give that to a struggling family.
I pray for a wonderful trip as you go to the Philippines!
Loved this entry! So true! Also, I wanted to say that I started reading Real Food on a Real Budget today, and I am loving it so far! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and counsel.
@Grace, Awesome, I’m glad you are enjoying it!
Thanks for this post. I am going to India as part of a medical team next week, and am looking forward to the service I will be giving. Such experiences can surely be life changing. My husband and I have sacrificed much, but we know it’s worth it.
That said, I really like Amanda Z’s comment about her generosity right here. I often try to remind myself that, while helping the extremely impoverished is very important, loving your neighbor starts with… your _neighbor_.
@beccachan, Your trip sounds so exciting. What an amazing and worthwhile sacrifice to be able to go and do that!
Can’t wait to read all the marvelous posts on this trip! This blogger trip will be the 3rd one for our family to follow. We began last Spring w/ the trip to Kenya and then the fall trip to Guatemala.
We currently have 2 sponsored boys, Fred (Kenya) & Fernando (Indonesia). I am convinced that we are truly blessed more than they are in this small act of giving. I never imagined 2 boys on the other side of the world could capture my heart but it has happened and my children love to see letters from their “siblings” around the globe.
Blessings on the journey Stephanie – May God use your trip & your words to help many children and in turn bless the hearts of those willing to step out and give.
@Deb, I have also followed several of the previous trips and can hardly believe that I am about to embark on a trip myself.
I so agree that we are the ones who are truly blessed. 🙂
What a great post! It makes me think of a couple of life-changing books I’ve read that address the same topics: Richard Swenson’s Margin and David Platt’s Radical. And it reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a young woman at my church. She’s self-employed and, because of the recession, had a period where she had to practice extreme frugality and was still barely scraping by. But she kept giving money whenever she saw a need. “I just figured I can’t out-give God,” she told me. And she was right–all through that period, she always had enough for necessities. What an inspiring attitude!
@Kathryn, That is certainly inspiring. What a wonderful example of generosity she is!
I got back from the Philippines on Sunday. Prepare for an amazing experience – and amazing coffee LOL!!! Ask for it with muscabado sugar, which is the first process of the sugar cane.
@Kelli, Oooh, you’ve got me more excited. I will definitely try the coffee! 🙂
Excellent thoughts. Thanks for faithfully sharing. I find your blog a breath of fresh air. It is a joy to find someone headed in the same direction even when it is just over the net.
@Heather Anderson, Thanks for the sweet comment, Heather.
I started to give generously, literally out of nothing, after I returned from a mission trip to Nicaragua. Even though we didn’t have much, I was still buying books from Borders and coffee from Starbucks. I very clearly heard God tell me that if I gave up the coffee, I could save a life. I started looking for organizations and found Compassion International. My husband thought it was a little crazy that God would ask us to sponsor. He had just had his hours cut at work, took a pay cut, and were not making ends meet. The only reason we had food on the table was because we received food stamps. But I knew that God was asking me to step out in faith. It was then that I learned “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called” applies to financial matters too. We now sponsor 3 children, 2 completely on our own, 1 by donations from friends and family. We are also correspondent sponsors for one child.
Our lives have been blessed richly, because we gave/ give generously.
@Amy, Thank you so much for sharing that, Amy! I absolutely agree with your quote that God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. And he usually gives the means for us to be generous (or to have our own needs met) after we respond in obedience and faith, not before. 🙂
Stephanie this post is one of those gut posts. By that I mean, I feel the conviction & affirmation in my life as I give. I’ve not found giving that hard. It’s not something in which I’ve struggled as I still remember wanting to give everything I had away to families in Mexico that we would visit (when I was only six years old).
My family didn’t have an abundance, so being frugal was necessary. I lived in that way. I’m married to a very generous man too, which I love. We share this vision of giving & hospitality. And although I’m a SAHM, we do well on a one income budget (right now that is). I have been seeing how I have been struggling with spending. We still give, but I feel like there is something lacking in terms of being frugal. In order for this to not be so long, I do appreciate your words & couldn’t agree with you more about being given much is a responsibility to give much. This is what I desire the most:)
Christ led my husband to simplify things in his life as he grew closer to retiring. Little did we know how much joy that would bring us, not only because it gave us more time to spend in prayer and fellowship with Him, but because He was about to show us first hand His power and faithfulness.
Part of that joy has been downsizing our life, eliminating debt, eating intentionally and living with less. We gave up the house in town and moved to our “real estate investment” property that was just land and have been living very simply. We are blessed to have room to have cows, goats, chickens, pigs and horses. The Lord has at every opportunity given us so much more in return than we have given. We have pigs that breed like rabits and it has been a struggle to appreciate them (for me) because they consume so much of our feed budget and are not very grateful for it (they exploit fence weakness and consume garden areas with impunity) BUT we have been able to help neighbors put pork in their freezers because we have too many, and since it’s a gift we can process it here and not incur any butchering fees. We have been GIVEN 3 Jersey milk cows even while we were wondering if we should even keep the ones we had. I believe with all my heart that it is because out of the fullness of our blessings (Chirst’s love and eternal life, what more can one ask?) we have been led to give our milk, our eggs and whatever there is extra that we have to whosoever will. We were able to give shares in beef to several families last summer (plus have an overflowing freezer) and will have more next year. We have been so humbled to meet so many people who are grateful for just some milk and eggs and fellowship; many are elderly folks who are now on very tight budgets and have to make choices over eating or medication, we hope God’s generosity to us (milk, eggs, and pork) that we can pass along helps them to be more able to eat and still make ends meet. Their gratefulness and appreciation for a gift that is free and clear never ceases to cause me to praise God and thank Him for the chance to see the light in their faces. Hearing them relate how their parents used to have milk like, how they haven’t made butter since they were little, that or how they kept chickens when their family was young and see the peace and joy in their eyes and hear it in their voices is amazing. And hearing them praise God and tell us they remember us in their prayers, well that feeling is indescribable.
I am humbly grateful to report we have never been left wanting for any of the things God has encouraged us to share freely. There is always money for feed and hay, even hay given to us and a free pasture lease for grazing. By virtue of that we always have milk, eggs and pork to give. The smallness of what we do and the hugeness of what we have been given causes my heart to cramp because we deserve nothing and have everything.
Christ had equipped us to be missionaries right here at our own doorstep, and I have no doubt if He leads us to support His work elsewhere, we will continue to have our needs met, because reading the replies here are witness to His faithfulness.
The witness to His power reading these posts is encouraging, thanks for that.