Chapter Five-God is Able…

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter Five

 God is Able…

I am not sure how you manage your difficult financial times but I have a tendency to check the mailbox a lot.  Gone are the days of God providing manna from heaven but occasionally we have experienced a little mailbox manna.  Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I am a firm believer that we should do everything that we can to be responsible.  But, when you get past that point what do you do?  When you get to the place that God has to show up or you are sunk.  Some people really have to be beat down to rock bottom before they will admit that there is a place where we depend on God for our very next breath.

I remember the Christmas where things were so tight that I wasn’t sure if we would be able to buy gifts.  My family was in prayer about it and we were waiting to see what the Lord would do.  I can still remember someone coming by our house and dropping off a Christmas card.  When they left we opened the envelope to find almost to the penny what we needed for our Christmas budget.  My son, who had been praying with us about this, immediately recognized that God had answered our prayers.  As I write this I am a little embarrassed that we were in that spot.  But let’s be transparent for a moment.  There are hundreds and hundreds of people who are in just that predicament from time to time.  It may not be at Christmas, but there are times when you are looking to God to land that deal, sell that car, turn your sales around or make that bonus check materialize.

It is at these times that we find ourselves asking some tough questions:  Is God able to handle my situation?  Is God willing to help me in my situation? Continue reading “Chapter Five-God is Able…”

Chapter Four- Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter Four

Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times

 My Dad calls it a flesh break.  I call it the tirades of a crazy man.  The Lord calls it sin.  I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the string of expletives coming out of my mouth.  Even though I whispered my displeasure toward the Lord, I think my heart screamed inside.  And to my chagrin there is no doubt that He heard me.  It has been a long time since I had been that upset.  Before I became a believer I had a pretty foul mouth but that was one of the things that I really hadn’t struggled with afterward.  That is till I hit the wall: the financial stress wall.

The Scripture says that anxiety in the heart of man weighs it down. Said another way anxiety in the heart of man wears him out.  Just like a marathoner hits the physical wall, a person who is dealing with ongoing financial struggles hits the emotional wall from time to time.  Growing up in a chronically poor family, I saw it first hand with my Mom who must have had the patience of Job.  But, ever so often she would lose it and have to work through her emotions.  I would like to think of myself as strong, but the reality is that in challenging financial times my heart is full of anxiety and that little boy who was so self-conscious about being poor reappears with all his insecurities.  I know that I am to focus on daily bread, but I am concerned that the bakery may break down in the future.  Managing our emotions in the face of financial adversity is a key to managing yourself.

But how do you do that? Continue reading “Chapter Four- Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times”

Chapter Three- Managing our Will in Tough Financial Times

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter Three

 Managing our Will in Tough Financial Times

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now but when I was a kid I used to be pretty fast.  I was not blazing by any stretch, but I ran a respectable quarter mile (54.5 was my best time, which by the way would be the record at my son’s middle school).  The quarter mile is the race that separates the men from the boys.  One time around the track as fast as your little legs will carry you.  It tests a lot of things but especially your will power.

The first part of the race is navigating the opening curve.  Your legs are fresh and your adrenaline is pumping so it’s pretty easy.  The backstretch is pretty boring and even though you are not tired, you are tempted to step off the track and walk straight out to the bus.  By the last curve, you are starting to feel it but there is something about being almost done and the curvature of the track that makes this part of the race kind of fun.  Then you find yourself staring down the final straightaway.  You can finally see the finish line and out of nowhere a 100 pound gorilla jumps on your back.  Your legs are burning.  Your lungs are exploding. And your mind screams at you to stop.  By this phase of the race I used to look down occasionally at my legs to make sure they were still moving.  The only thing that moves you forward is the will to finish what you started and the fear of your track coach who will help you learn to persevere to the end at the next track practice.  The key to managing the will in the quarter mile is to not look at the track, the crowd, your coach or even your own physical capabilities, but you must look at the finish line. Continue reading “Chapter Three- Managing our Will in Tough Financial Times”

Chapter Two- Managing our Minds in Tough Financial Times

JPEG Cover-VibrantBy Tim Howington

Chapter Two

 Managing our Minds in Tough Financial Times

I remember when my son studied about Johnny Appleseed in his first grade history class. Some think that Johnny was a fabled character who embodies the generous spirit of America. But, he was a real person. He was an entrepreneur type who loved his apple trees and made it his mission to plant nurseries of apple trees all over his part of the country. By the time he got through there were apple orchards all over the place. Johnny was a planter. And he spent his time and effort planting seeds that would blossom into trees that would provide sustenance to millions. Our topic in this chapter is not about agriculture, but is neurological in nature. The question today is what kinds of seeds are you planting in your mind? What kinds of thoughts are consuming your days? There is a battle going on for the mind and it is being lost at the seed level. We are planting the wrong kind of seeds and therefore we are growing the wrong kind of trees.

This is really true when it comes to managing our minds during tough financial times. The key to winning the battle for the mind has to do with what we allow our minds to focus on. If we focus on what we do not have, then we will plant seeds of anxiety that will grow into mind-trees of hopelessness. If we focus on what God is able to do, then our minds will grow beautiful orchards of contentment. Now I know that our thoughts may not pay the light bill.  But thinking about the right things keeps our hearts with the right perspective, which affects our attitudes, which allows us to struggle well in times of adversity.

What should we be thinking about?  Continue reading “Chapter Two- Managing our Minds in Tough Financial Times”

Chapter One- Managing Yourself When There is No Money to Manage

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

Chapter One

 Managing Yourself When There is No Money to Manage

 I attended a college meeting once where the speaker asked for a couple of volunteers from the audience to come and illustrate a point he was making.  He chose a big burly football player and a petite cheerleader type gal.  He had a large clear pitcher of water, filled to the rim.  He handed this to the cheerleader and told her that her task was to keep the water from spilling out of the pitcher.  He then told the football player that his task was to make her spill the water.  Well, as you can guess the football player was successful. The speaker then turned to the audience and asked “why did water spill out of the pitcher?”  The audience was split: some said it was her fault; some said it was his.  Then the speaker made a profound statement that I have never forgotten.  He said, “Water spilled out of the pitcher because water was in the pitcher.”  He then went on to explain that life will bump us from time to time and whatever is in our hearts will spill out. Continue reading “Chapter One- Managing Yourself When There is No Money to Manage”

How to Manage Yourself When There is No Money to Manage – Intro

JPEG Cover-Vibrantby Tim Howington

This book is the by-product of a painful process of financial anxiety over about a 12 month period where the Lord sustained my family by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.  We paid every bill, ate every meal, and never lost our housing, transportation or the clothes on our back.  So, by those standards we were very blessed, and to some degree, we learned to be content.

But, every night I prayed diligently for the Lord to intervene in our lives.  Every day I worked hard to secure the funds we needed to survive.  And while I desperately wanted the “Lord’s will” to be financial stability in my family’s life, I knew that there was something else going on that was bigger than just me paying bills on time.  The Lord was stripping me of my pride and my independence.  The Lord was teaching me about how to manage my spirit when there was no money (little money) to manage.  The Lord was connecting me to the needs of families all around me who are living paycheck to paycheck and asking themselves if God can be trusted. Continue reading “How to Manage Yourself When There is No Money to Manage – Intro”