we have come to the end of month #1 of the year 2010 and i would be failing in my promise to proclaim God's faithfulness if i did not publicly acknowledge his incredible provisions for us this month. sometimes (okay, a lot of times) i wish that God would provide in one big massive lottery win. of course, that would require me playing the lottery......which i have thought about doing.....but have yet to follow through on.

but instead i truly believe he has us on the game board of small, faithful provision. every single month he pulls us through and i have to admit, it's sort of fun to watch (sort of. i think it would be really fun to watch myself accept a lottery check too.)

i do feel like i need to add a disclaimer. we don't live paycheck to paycheck as some would define it. we are not starving or wondering how the next bill is going to be paid. but we are actively trying to plan for our future (investments), be smart about building up a nest egg (savings), prepare for the unpredictable (life insurance and disability insurance), etc. so by the time all the money is divided up each month, there isn't much left. but i would never want anyone to think we are spending every last penny on the electricity and water.

anyway...given our division of money and wanting to be wise with our finances both in the present and in the future, each month presents us with an opportunity to trust God to see how he is going to provide for the unbudgeted expenses. whether it's a car repair, the dentist, family pictures, a trip for eric to perform a wedding, a family trip to D.C., whatever it is i have finally realized after 12 years of budgets that no matter what, each month there is going to be something. as much as we try to plan, it just seems like God has us in a place where we are forced to do our part to be frugal, and then watch him provide.

so here is the story of january.

#1. God provided an opportunity to babysit for a sweet friend. she paid me what she would have normally paid her childcare provider who was out of town. $65 for us!

#2. somehow we managed to spend less than $500 on groceries! God has provided a way for me to become more and more savvy at shopping with coupons and i think it is really helping our monthly grocery expenses. $100 saved!

#3. i had strep, which was a trip to the doctor. but no one else got it! so only one co-pay when we could have easily had 6. God provided by giving us good health! $125 we didn't have to spend!

#4. God provided for eric's plane fare for his final trip to minnesota before he graduates with his masters. we were able to pool miles and pay only $100 instead of close to $400 for his ticket. wow! close to $300 God kept us from having to spend.

#5. josiah and annaclaire needed to go to the dentist. God provided by giving us a free dentist visit for both of them. $150 saved!

#6. and last but not least...a couple of days ago our washer soaked the floor of our garage. after some investigation i figured out it wasn't the washer itself but the drainage pipes that were gushing water back into the garage as opposed to draining out wherever the heck they are supposed to drain. so eric borrowed a plumber's snake from a friend and worked for about an hour and voila! our washer is working wonderfully! so instead of paying out at least $150 for a plumber to come out, God provided a new friend of ours who had a snake and eric was able to fix the problem! thank you jesus!!!!

so i would say God is showing himself. sometimes it is hard to see amongst the checkbook figures that crowd my vision. but when i go back through and open my eyes, His hand is everywhere. and i should add, our church came out right on budget (actually over a little bit) and so we were given a very generous year-end bonus that helped us significantly. God is faithful to provide.

we ended 2009 in a decent hole due to several pretty large expenses we had the last quarter. but through God's provision of extra income and His provisions that kept us from having to spend, we have started 2010 just where we should be.

so where do we find ourselves now?

we have about $25,000 more in adoption expenses. none of that is due imminently. we are in a lull in terms of paying out money. that's the good news. the more challenging news is that after the lull the money comes due pretty much all at once. that will happen once we have a little girl that we have agreed to adopt and then when we travel.

we also have (i forgot about this until it was due this month...) the final semester of eric's masters program to pay for. our church has been unbelievably generous and paid for his program up until this point. but it is on our shoulders for this last semester. i made one payment of $1500 this month and another one will come due in a couple of months. ah yes, one of those unbudgeted expenses i was talking about!

so yes, i want to remind myself as much as i recount to you that God is providing for us! but if i am honest, it can also be overwhelming to look at what we still need to come out of this season debt-free. which is the prayer we are asking God to answer. we envision happy hearts as we fly to china free of financial burden. and we can bring home sarahjoy, who in all likelihood will require some significant medical care, to a home that has seen and tasted the goodness of God's faithfulness in the area of financial provision.

we continue to plead with God that he would give us grace in finances. and that he would show his power to provide, miraculously, through ways that we cannot even imagine. i can't wait to see. thanks for being an audience to the Almighty Jehovah Jireh.