howe1Trish grabbed her husband’s hand and together they traversed the path that led them up, over, and around the main walking areas and to a less used, but lovely hillock secreted behind the line of trees that encircled it. At the center of this small open space, Trish led Carl hand in hand.

They unburdened themselves of their favorite now-careworn wool blanket, a wedding gift from years past, and spread it out. Carl set their wicker picnic basket aside and they lay side-by-side faces toward the sky to cloud-gaze. Simultaneously they both sighed as they relaxed.

After a few minutes of quiet, Carl began their summer ritual game of trying to locate pictures in the clouds. There’s a buffalo, he pointed toward their left. Look, look, I see a giraffe, Trish exclaimed with delight. On and on they went until the clouds drifted by and in its place the sun shone down on their solitary watch. Getting up, Carl opened the basket and retrieved two glasses and some sparkling cherry juice, made especially from their state’s native cherries. Trish pulled out the napkins and plates and they ate a light snack of assorted cheeses, crackers, and fresh fruit.

More relaxed than she’d felt in a long, long time, Trish turned to Carl and reluctantly opened up the dreaded topic of their finances…one of the main reasons they’d gotten away for the afternoon. At her cue, Carl dug into the basket another time and found the notebook, calculator, and pen. Ok, let’s get started. Trish and Carl began listing each of their monthly expenditures and then compared the total with their monthly income. Ouch. No wonder we’ve been under so much pressure to bring in extra cash, Trish realized.

We’ve been overspending by hundreds each month. Carl and Trish then tried to brainstorm ways to cut costs…a few minor skirmishes later, both felt they’d achieved a workable budget for their family. Now, if we can just stick to our plan without getting sidetracked again, Carl spoke aloud the exact sentiments Trish was silently thinking. If we’re faithful to living under what we bring in, we’ll be debt-free within thirty-six months. Doesn’t sound so long when you put into "months" instead of years, Trish admitted.

Surely, since we’re both in agreement this time, we’ll be able to par back on our extravagant habits and retrain ourselves to enjoy life in a simpler style. Pulling her close, Carl nodded upward, the clouds had returned. What better way to begin their debt-free journey than with an afternoon of free cloud gazing?

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." Galatians 6: 7-9

Dear Lord:

I want to give you thanks for the special moments we shared today. It was a delightful, relaxing reprieve. One that we both needed so desperately. You know how much we’ve struggled of late to work through our money problems. It’s been a long, difficult period of months since we’ve started coming up short. And still we continued to spend!

Amazing, that the more stressed…and in debt…we became, we never stopped mindless, wasteful, and impulsive spending. Lord, I realize now that you entrust us with material wealth. It is in fact, yours alone. We are given it as a tool to use with wisdom. Please impart that much required wisdom to us now. Help us to say no to foolish purchases and selfish desires. Give us the sense to look long term and to be content with what we already possess.

I pray that each day you would speak to our hearts of your ways and teach us to make cautious choices. Place a hedge of protective restraint around our hearts so that we think twice, even three times, before handing out hard-earned cash for nonessentials. Lord, above all…open our eyes to the marvels all around us. Help us to see your world in all its majesty and realize each of us is as rich as kings as your beloved children.


"Never forget the value of time. Time heals wounds and time has a way of resolving conflicts. Decisions made in haste are often filled with regret."

Mary Hunt in Debt-Proof Your Marriage

Copyright 2009 Michele Howe