Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Talk to me Tuesday...tricky stuff edition...

The husband and I are pretty committed to living a simple life.  We live in a sweet tiny house just over 1100 square feet, we drive used cars and most of the clothes my children wear are hand me downs.  We talk about being satisfied with the things that we have.  We also make sure to give our tithe and spend time talking honestly and often about what giving generously looks like.  BUT, sometimes we ball out.

super fancy baller brunch
We love to travel.  Although children have changed that reality for us, we hope travel will always be somewhat a part of our lives. When we travel, we like to ball out.  We also love us a fancy restaurant occasionally.  We have some baller gadgets including a fancy tv, I have my fancy Iphone 4, and we are going to upgrade our Ipad to an ‘Air’ next Friday.  And here’s the thing…

As I have told some of you, right after I had John Paul, I was VERY overwhelmed with life.  I was recovering from the c-section and in a bit of pain.  Three kids in diapers and hormones were not working for me. Thankfully, that feeling of, ‘omg, I am going to drown in a life of diapers and crying’ went away after a couple weeks and we are doing really well now.  BUT, whilst in the crisis, Aaron tried to make me smile by getting me the best gift ever.  A two hour deep clean of our house by two people.  He saw a coupon for it and bought it to surprise me.  We cashed in on it a few weeks ago.


It was awesome.  You see, I am a ‘surface keep house clean-er’.  BUT, I am not good at the other stuff.  You know, the washing of the walls, the scrubbing of the floors, the pulling down of the cobwebs way up high in the ceiling lamps. I’m not good at the time-consuming stuff, and with three kids, it’s just hard to get good at it, you know?  So these cleaning angels come into our home, and two hours later it was like I was living in a different place.  At first it didn’t seem like they did a lot, but then I saw the shine, and the sparkles and the cabinets that had NEVER BEEN SCRUBBED and I was moved almost to the point of tears (kidding- kind of, okay, not at all).  BUT then, the husband said the most miraculous thing…he said, ‘you know, if you want to do this once every other month, I can make room for it in our budget’.  


At first, I said, ‘no- that would be silly, that’s what I am home for now’.  Then I said, ‘well, it could be cool’.  Then I said, ‘let’s do it’.  And then I said, ‘can we do it once a month instead?’.  However, after a couple days, I got to wondering at what point is excess sinful.

You see, I can get my house clean every other month (and I still might), but that is $150 we would be spending on something completely unnecessary.  $150 that could go to those in need.  $150 doing something I could easily do.  And then, I began to think of something I have struggled with before.
I talked to the ol’ ministry partner (he likes when I refer to him as such) Mike.  He reminded me that decisions such as where to spend money (after the 10% tithe and extra giving) really are a matter of conscience.  He said it is a conversation, one that happens between you and God.  Then, he said the worst thing ever… “I know you are looking for a black and white answer, but with stuff like this, it is a little gray, and you have to pray about where God wants you to put your money”.

I HATE things that aren’t black and white.  It makes life complicated.  SO, help me out…

Assuming required giving is already taken care of and over and above…

How do YOU decide what luxuries to afford yourself?  This can be as simple as new clothes, or getting your nail did, buying a fancy car instead of a used one, etc… How do we reconcile ‘treating’ ourselves to things, when we know that there are those in the world that would give.anything just to live in our lives of comfort?  How do you pray through ‘treating’ yourself, or your kids, to things that aren’t by any means needs (and lets not lie, most of our ‘needs’ are very much taken care of, so we all have area of excess)?   At what point is living with ‘baller’ choices sinful?  This isn’t a political question …TRUST THAT.  This is a personal question (which in my opinion is MUCH more important and not talked about nearly as much).  How have you discerned this in your own lives?  What conclusions have you come to?  

Hook a sister up!

Thanks, once again for talkin’ to me on Tuesdays.


  1. Oh boy, this is a tricky one...

    If Aaron gave this service to you as a gift (like for Christmas) could you easily accept it without guilt? Maybe that's the way to go.

    Also, sometimes I think we can all get too scrupulous about making these kind of small life decisions. I don't think every minor decision is a moral one, and if having someone clean the house makes your life easier, and you can use that time to be a better mom and wife and fulfill those vocations well, then I don't think it's wrong at all. Plus you're giving someone else an income!

    I know you feel that this is a luxury (and it is!) but if all your bills are paid, you are tithing, you are saving, etc. then I think what you do with your discretionary income is totally up to you and your hubby. I know for sure if I had a way financially to squeeze it in, I would have a housekeeper come once a week!!

    1. I agree with you regarding the scrupulous thing. I just wonder if sometimes we justify excessive purchases, and Jesus is going to be like, 'People were starving while you got your hair did...you know that right?!?!" when I get to the pearly gates. :(

  2. Oh wow and I see no one took the bait and commented yet--guess i will be brave first. Well first off--I do agree that no one really discusses this stuff because its tacky and hurtful and everyone gets ruffled feathers. But i do see it black and white myself although your friend is correct--technically. Well, initially, we had more luxuries but with more children you just gradually cut back and see things more in needs and necessities. 16 years ago and 1 child my needs did not look like my needs now with 7. Ironically, I did just say to my husband that I would LOVE for someone to clean my house just once to get me back to the state it was once, before I opened this post. HA! Well, right now there is no way we can afford it. But if you can, I really don't see anything wrong with it at this point in your life with the 3 babies. I would if we could. In general because I think long term I just always chose the most frugal option myself in everything. The only thing I splurge on is eating out every now and then--because for me, it is hard to prepare so many meals all the time and I need a mental break. My mental health counts way more than other things... But when I say black and white--if there are 2 shirts one is name brand and nice and the other is not and nice, I take the lesser...I think the pope did speak about this recently I forget what exactly, but wasn't it about cars? Like that is was a type of sin to splurge on some expensive cars when a cheaper one would be fine....it was about managing your money for the glory of God. But, back to you--if you can I would because you have to take into account mental health issues as well and that counts more....but at the same time perhaps pray for all those who can't afford things like...perhaps that equals it out ;)

    1. Truth be told, it is pope francis that is kind of rocking my world with all this. Needs vs wants, what we do for other people, etc.... I think sometimes, in the ol' US of A, we go a little far with 'treating ourselves' but I just don't know the line!!!

  3. This is a really really tough one! I've been thinking more and more about it lately, too. And it's a really hard thing to talk about as well but we need to! I guess I would say that motivation must play into a lot of it. What are my reasons behind the choice? Is it REALLY a front for vanity or pride or laziness or jealousy? Is it to celebrate something unique and good? Am I already giving generously to those in need? I think this may be one of those issues where we can choose to just get by and do what's required or we can choose to live heroically, know what I mean?

    As far as the cleaning situation, I feel like that would be a luxury for me. I've said before I'd love to have help like once or twice a year but more than that I would feel guilty about...valid or not. Could I really do it on my own but I think I'm so "busy" but really I'm spending hours on the internet everyday? Or am I really taxed for whatever reason and I'm already spending my time well but just can't do the cleaning right now and my family needs it? It's a tough call because there's nothing inherently immoral about hiring help and other people do need to make a living! ($150 sounds like a lot, though. We helped another mom out and the woman charged $50 for a whole house cleaning. Maybe you could find someone doing it on their own that charges less and that would help you make the decision?)

    1. See, that's what Mike was saying. You have to pray through the situation, discern the whys, etc... He said it is a very subjective thing. But FOZE...I like my world black and white ;)

  4. well... are you saying you feel guilty for spending money you have, on something that will make your life easier because - why? Um, not sure what the problem is with this. Sometimes I think that we, general third world people who are trying to follow Christ's example, should not do something nice for ourselves for fear that we may be judged by someone else that we are not 'Christ-enough'. If you are away from home for your ministry and when you are home, you are taking care of 3 VERY small people, all in diapers, no less; and you have taken care of all your financial obligations, and are not creating debt, is deep-cleaning truly a luxury? or a sanity-saver? Yes, you can do it - but would you really? because you might think cleaning is not as important a time-spender as playing with Lil A, or making dinner, or cleaning up after Joey or.... you fill in the blank. I like to clean. There, I said it. I LOVE to clean. So this would not be where I would spend my money. However, taking children shopping for clothes - I will pay someone to do that. Probably more than I should, at that. That is my downfall! That would not be a luxury for me. Same as how my husband's fishing stuff and boat are not a luxury for me. They are his down-time. If it makes him more relaxed and a happier daddy, I say: WORTH THE MONEY!

    Sometimes something good is just a gift from God and who are we to refuse a gift from God!

    a bit all over the place, but so is my brain today - sorry

    enjoy the clean!

    1. Isn't it funny how, depending on who we are, different things bring us happiness? I cannot imagine cleaning being something I enjoy. Ha! maybe as I get better at this staying at home thing, I will grow to like it more.

  5. Love this.
    1: Post partum trial. Once tiny bit is on a routine you re-evaluate.
    2: if you hire someone who needs the work, does that mitigate the excess?

  6. In the case of housecleaning, the fact that if you are hiring someone and paying them such great money is great. No one would be cleaning someone else's house unless they NEEDED to, so you are giving to the needy in this situation just by hiring them. I have cleaned houses in the past, and believe me, I appreciate the work, especially if it pays well.

    I see the gray though, in other things. I am around many wealthy women who are buying things constantly. But these are also people I see giving to people in need also. And some of the people they buy jewelry from are stay at home moms who sell from those multi-level marketing things for extra money for their families. SOoo... the wealthy women who help them are doing a great thing too. I think it gets really complex, so it does have to be a matter of conscience. Like if I had money, and a needy mom I knew sold jewelry to provide for her family, I would totally go out of my way to help out. But maybe a person could do it in a subtle way, not an ostentatious way. You could even give the jewelry to others so that you yourself weren't always showing off wealth or benefitting from the purchases. People need to decide for themselves, but I think inner joy and peace are a great result of giving things away that don't benefit you.

    Recently, I have not been that generous, because I'm struggling even to buy food and keep our house. That's no excuse though, but I experienced lately the "giving out of my need" that Jesus says about the widow in the Gospel. I have to say, I have never experienced a feeling like that. I think when we give so much that it "hurts" and causes us to do without things ourselves, like even GOOD things, it's a real gift. I think that if we put ourselves in a place where we gave away so much that we had to rely on God to provide - like a really poor person has to daily - that there is real grace and serious Joy in that. It was an unforgettable feeling and one I want to replicate as often as possible. Nothing like the happy fun that you get from buying something new (which I love!) but it was a twinge of pain whenever I'd remember what I gave away, followed by a huge feeling of happiness from getting to give away something I loved to someone who needed it more.