Today is one of those days which daunts me. Twice a year I try and take a day to take stock of where we are financially in this season of study. I look back at the many unexpected and wonderful and last minute ways God has provided for us and the people who have blessed us in numerous ways. And I want to say that I am thankful and humbled. I am but I am also doubtful. Can, will God provide again and how last minute is He asking me to hold on till? I am proud, I do not want to ask for help, I do not want people to judge us unwise or foolish for the choices we have made. I do not want pity or charity. I want to be faithful to the call God has placed on our lives and the family He is creating in our home. I want to be a wise steward of all that we have been given. I want to lift the pressure of financial provision off Mark so he can study well. I want to be generous with what we have toward others. In the global context we are rich, in the local context we are not but we are also where we are because of the possibility of extended education. We are living a life beyond the dreams of many, we have lived as graduate students in one of the most expensive beautiful cities in the world, we own a home we rent out, we live in a lovely location on the edges of the Cotswolds. Education for many, let alone to this level is a privilege and we do not want to treat this opportunity lightly or recklessly.
We have sought to make wise choices, to steward carefully what we have and to find work that fits with study and family life. We sought to sell our house but the housing market dropped, money we had saved for Vancovuer lost value as the rate of exchange dropped dramatically and so what we had saved was no longer enough by nearly a quater. It was not until into our third year at Regent did jobs open up for Mark. This year Mark got a few days of totally unexpected employment as a film extra having looked for office work. Mark has sought to be faithful in providing for us but the straightforward doors have never opened and God has brought things out of left field. I remember one totally unexpected provision while in Vancouver was a tax benefit because of climate change.
When we set out on this journey of study we did not know that we would be extending it beyond Regent to PhD but it quickly became apparent that this was the right step for Mark and his desire to teach. He was knitted together by God with a longing and hunger to study and teach God’s word faithfully; to see people engage with God’s word themselves intelligently and faithfully.
So we find ourselves in this place. We have made choices for how we live. Shopping is one of the places I struggle with most. I want to be able to feed our family well on a budget but we both also believe strongly in the ethical choices we make and want to pay fair prices for produce. We have a fantastic charity shop in the village and freeecyle has provided us various items recycled, cheap or free. We both believe in one of us (me at present) being home full time with the boys. We believe in the value of a parent being at home to care and raise the children we chose to have, we believe in the value of one of us being at home so that our home is a home for our family and not just a house and a home for those who pass through it.
And one of the roles of being at home and making our place a home is to tackle the budget and make it balance. Tackling it I can do but balancing it right now is not something I can do. God has brought us on this journey and He says in His word He will provide. He has provided for us time and again, never in advance, never meagerly, never excessively. It is at times like this I need to help my family recall all the incedible ways God has provided for us and carried us through. I need to have faith like I am asking my family to have faith. Some may say that Mark as husband should provide, should be responsible and in so many ways he is in regard to our finances but he has also got a job to do of writing a PhD, of making this season of study count, being free to write and study. Yes he may well be the one who ends up having to work outside of the home and study but I do not want the question of how we will be provided for to be his burden alone. And so I take these days to assess and work our budget and to remember and remind us all of how God has seen us through before and wait with open but trembling hands to see how God will be at work and what doors He will open and close.