A couple of months ago, my friend and I started using the Qapital app as part of our savings plan. Check out her blog to get her thoughts on how it’s working for her. Below are my thoughts based on my experience.

The Pros:

  • You make the rules. For instance, I had every dollar amount I spent with my debit card rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference would be deducted from my checking account and deposited into my Qapital account. So if I purchased something for $5.45, then 55 cents would be taken out and dumped into my Qapital account. I also had a portion of each check withdrawn and put into the Qapital account as well. It took very little time to build up a decent amount of money.
  • You can change, update, edit the rules at any time. If things are tight, you can freeze withdrawals for as long as you need. Qapital also has a safety net of $100 so if your available funds get to $100 or below, they stop withdrawing money.
  • It was easy and as no-brainer as a person can get. For those of us lacking the appropriate amount of discipline to put money away themselves, the automated aspect of it was golden. Set it and forget it.

The Cons:

  • This is where it gets interesting. I wanted to test how easily it would be to get the money back into my regular bank account. I attempted to take all of it out at one time, but they wouldn’t allow that. You can only withdraw a certain amount at a time.
  • It takes three days to get your money.
  • The customer service is not good. At one point, it looked like they had withdrawn $100 out of my bank account twice. I freaked out, and attempted to get in touch with them. There is no phone number. At all. Anywhere. So the customer is left with the only option of email. It took 72 hours to get a generic response.
  • You can’t close the account until the money has been withdrawn. But remember they wouldn’t let me take it all out at once so now I have an open account without access to all of my money.
  • It wasn’t until I sent a scathing response to their generic email insisting that they close my account, that I got a quick response.

My guess is that some of my problem was simply user error. However, not having immediate access to funds for three days and less-than-stellar customer service is enough to convince me that the Qapital app is not for me, and I would not recommend it. In the end, I got all of my money and closed my account.

What I wanted more than anything was the convenience of automated savings. That can be done anywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m middle-aged or maybe because I don’t understand how everything works, but for things like money, I’d rather open a separate account at a brick and mortar bank and have my money automatically deposited there than with some app out in cyberspace.

Have you ever used any savings apps? I’d love to hear your comments below.

Hacking My Way to a Fatter Savings Account

In my last post I gave you the whole story of how we got out of debt. This week it’s all about saving.

We may not be in debt, but our savings is nowhere near what it should be. In fact, according to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey, “more than half of Americans (57 percent) have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts.” 1

Yikes. I don’t know about you, but I would make excuses: I couldn’t save because there were too many things that kept coming up, or I’m out of debt isn’t that good enough? While I’m thankful that in our current state, the things that have come up have been taken care of with cash, a healthier savings would eliminate the what-are-we-going-to-do-if -something-major-happens question.

Despite our bad choices over the years and our emaciated savings account, God has ALWAYS, without fail, provided for our needs. I could spend the next 1,000 words singing His praises and give you example after example of how His goodness is not dependent on our behavior, but that will have to be for another day. On to the matter at hand.

In 2000, my family and I moved to Chicago so my husband could pursue graduate school. We sold our house, cancelled our various accounts, and closed our checking account. One of the habits I had gotten into was rounding up the amount I wrote a check for in my check register to the nearest dollar. I mainly did it because it made the math easier–you know, round numbers and all. Surprisingly, when we closed the account, we had a surplus of $1200. I had inadvertently saved what, for me, was a massive amount of money.

Enter 2018, and there are now apps that do basically the same thing. The Qapital app, does this very thing. Here’s how it works: open a free FDIC-insured account with them and set up how you want to save money. For instance, I have set it so that every time I use my debit card to pay for something, it will round up to the nearest dollar and dump that change into the Qapital account. It can be set up anyway you want.

I’m joining forces with my blogging friend, Amy, who has hers set up so that every time she spends a certain amount of money at Starbucks, it dumps a specific amount of money into her Qapital account. Check out her blog to see the specifics of how she’s using this app.

We will be checking in every three months to share our progress. I love the idea because I’m lazy, and it requires nothing from me. I will not get rich this way, but every little bit helps, and if you sign up using my referral link, we both get $5. Free money, people!

There are a myriad of ways to save:

  • Pay yourself first (which we’re also doing)
  • Invest-my ultimate goal
  • 52week money challenge– This one is easier if you start backwards, saving $52, then $51, etc, or so I’ve heard.
  • Get a side job and save the earnings. Anything from tutoring to picking up dog poop for people who don’t want to do it themselves.
  • Sell stuff and save the proceeds. I’m guessing most of us have way more junk in our houses than we need unless you’re a minimalist. If only….

The key is to find something you will do and stick with it. Saving is hard because it involves exercising the stiff muscle of delayed gratification, but it’s worth it. Join us. Your future self will thank you.

How are you saving this year? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your ideas.

 

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/13/how-much-americans-at-have-in-their-savings-accounts.htm

 

Pulled From the Money Pit

For anyone who knows me, my debt story is old news. In fact, I originally started confessionsofamaterialgirl.com as a means of documenting what God was teaching me through the use and misuse of money. However, my actual story of debt never appeared on the blog. The reason for posting it now is to give a little background as I move into the new year and begin an experiment on this blog.

I may be out of debt (except my mortgage), but like most people my habit of saving could use some tweaking. Stay tuned for a blog coming up that will introduce a fairly new (to me) hack we can all use to beef up our savings. In the meantime, enjoy the reminder of what God rescued me from. You can also enjoy this same story on in the Samaritan Ministries Newsletter and blog here.

 

Money is a strange thing. It worries us, motivates us, and dictates how we spend our time.

But because many of us don’t know how to handle it wisely, it often leads to debt, a condition as common as the common cold.

According to a 2017 study by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co,1,

  • About half of Americans with debt have balances of at least $25,000 (excluding mortgages), averaging roughly $37,000.
  • More than four in 10 Americans with debt (45 percent) spend up to half of their monthly income on debt repayment.
  • More than one-third of adults with debt (36 percent) anticipate that they will be in debt for six to 20 years, and 14 percent expect to be in debt for the rest of their lives!
  • About four in 10 American adults say debt has a “substantial” or “moderate” impact on their financial security. The same number say debt is a “high” or “moderate” source of anxiety.
  • Despite their debt, after basic necessities, Americans, on average, spend about 40 percent of their monthly income on discretionary expenses such as leisure travel and hobbies.

My husband, Bruce, and I were in this pit of debt. After reaching a point where our debt was almost equal to our salary, we had finally had enough. Distracted by the chokehold it had on us, we weren’t serving God and living the life He had for us.

With the help of a couple from our church, who are master money managers, we set out on a path of debt-free living. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever dealt with, but now, with the exception of our mortgage, we are totally debt free.

Here is what we did:

  1. We got help.

This doesn’t mean begging family and friends for money. That will merely put a Band-Aid on the wound rather than heal it.

Our mentors helped us set up a budget, held us accountable, and provided a shoulder to cry on when I’d just missed the greatest sale of the century and had to let all of those beautiful clothing possibilities go home with someone else. It was not easy. We had to do things like get on the phone and talk to creditors and arrange payment plans, ask for late fees to be waived, close credit card accounts, budget, say no to dinners out with friends. We wrote down every expense imaginable. If I purchased a 25-cent gumball out of a machine somewhere, I wrote it down.

But the hardest part of all was admitting our situation to people who thought we had it all together. It was a blow to our pride, but we got over it. There’s something about admitting to one another our sin and need for help that allows God the freedom to work in ways that make lasting change. It forces us to deal with the deeper issue that no one sees.

God designed us for community. We are not meant to do life alone. We had to be willing to swallow our pride and ask for help.

  1. We faced our reality.

Burying our heads in the sand, hoping it would go away, seemed like the least painful move, but not only would it not pay the bills, it would have only prolonged our agony. For us, this meant taking the pile of bills out from the bottom of the drawer, laying them out, and really looking at what we were dealing with.

Imagine an emergency room doctor with a patient who was in a terrible accident and whose wounds are so grotesque, the doctor couldn’t bear to look at them. So he ignores the patient, hoping that somehow the wounds will heal on their own. Meanwhile, the longer he waits, the worse the patient gets. Infection  sets in, internal organs begin to shut down, and every minute without treatment pushes the patient closer to death. How ludicrous. In the same way, our debt wasn’t going anywhere on its own, and the sooner we faced it, the more quickly we could stop the madness and reverse the effects.

  1. We tithed.

One of the first things we were told to do was tithe in the sense of giving back from our income. We started following the principle found in Malachi 3:10, that says,

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

This is an absolute necessity, not because God needs our money. He doesn’t. He has plenty.
“For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” (1 Corinthians 10:26, NASB). Rather, tithing forces us to exercise the often-atrophied spiritual muscles of faith, surrender, and obedience.

Faith says we trust God with our finances even though one more dollar to Him is one less going toward debt or food or whatever. Surrender means we’re handing over the control of our finances to Someone much more trustworthy than us. Obedience is our response to a command in Scripture surrounding basic money management.

  1. We changed our habits.

For me, this meant staying out of the stores. I didn’t darken the door of a shopping mall for two years. I had to find a new hobby to replace window-shopping, which, let’s face it, rarely stays at just the window.

In my days of overspending, most of the time I wasn’t looking for something specific. I was just in the mall for something to do, and, all of a sudden, I would see things that I didn’t know I needed prior to walking in the store. How could I possibly live without $200 leather pumps? It would be a tragedy not to buy them, especially if I took out a store credit card and could save 30 percent. A no-brainer, right? Right. No brain was used in the making of that decision.

It’s no different than if an alcoholic is trying to become sober. How mindless would it be to hang out with his friends in a bar? I stopped going where temptation lived.

  1. We cut everything from our budget that did not contribute to staying alive.

Basically everything but food, shelter, and clothing were cut from the budget. This is where coming to terms with need vs. want paid huge dividends in stretching our money. For some people, something as simple as downgrading a phone plan, cutting out cable, and not going out to eat is enough to loosen the chokehold. For others, it could mean selling a car or putting college on hold for a time. In our case, we did all the little stuff, but it still wasn’t enough. Our situation was desperate and called for desperate measures.

At the time, we were living in a house we couldn’t afford. We overbought. It was bigger, better, on a quieter street, had more square footage, more bathrooms, a pool, attached two-car garage. The works. Our white-carpeted castle was way out of our league. So we downsized in the middle of the 2008 crash. We didn’t make a dime off of it, but miraculously, by the grace of God, we didn’t lose anything either.

6). We found a way to make extra money.

I know. The thought of adding more work to an already-stretched schedule seems daunting, but it’s just for a short time. Leverage some hidden skill or talent you may have. Are you a math whiz? Great. There are plenty of kids out there who could use your tutoring skills to get them through the necessary evil of geometry. I know because I raised a couple of them!

I took on extra cleaning jobs, my husband started umpiring for Little League on the weekends, and we got very familiar with Craigslist. For some reason our home had become the collection site for unwanted furniture from family members who were either moving or updating their decor. So we sold their stuff along with our unnecessary stuff and put the money toward debt.

All of these steps helped us to realize that debt may be common for the world, but it doesn’t have to be common for the believer. My husband and I learned that we were created for so much more than the useless collection of trinkets.

As believers, we have an awesome opportunity to show the world how to do money differently. In so doing, we can serve them better without the restraints debt places on us.

The simple truth is this:

1). Being content with what you’ve been given is priceless. Looking back, I can see just how true Proverbs 27:20 was about us:

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied” (KJV).

2). When possessions become more important than people, we become slaves to the very things we own.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1, NASB).

3). What stuck out to me the most is that God does the heavy lifting. He does the fixing and redeeming. None of us, no matter what we have done, have wandered beyond the reach of  His redemption. Not even my husband and I after accumulating thousands of dollars in debt. Our job is simply to surrender and obey.

Psalm 103:4 says that He “redeems your life from the pit.”

  1. (https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/2017-planning-and-progress-the-debt-dilemma.pdf)

 

What Child is This?

Today’s post is a nod to my pastor, John King, and a sermon he delivered a couple of weeks ago. You can watch it here.

I used to fancy myself as an easy-going, roll-with-the-punches kind of person who loved change and adventure. Truth be told, the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that I am not nearly as flexible and welcoming of change as I would like to think. In fact, my stubbornness regarding the subject is not so unlike that of a pig I once knew.

The fact is, life is changing. Some of it’s good. Some, not so much. Either way, I’m finding it challenging to deal with much of it. But I’m reminded that God is still God. The following four points are those laid out by my pastor along with my own two cents.

1) . Lay claim to the nearness of God. “You will never be where God is not.”

In fact, Psalm 139:7,8 says the same thing:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.”

Just because it doesn’t feel like God is there in the middle of our chaos doesn’t mean He isn’t. Emotions are God-given and have their place, but when the rubber meets the road, truth is what we fall back on. And the truth is that God will never leave us or forsake us.

2). Rely on the character of God.

In his sermon, Pastor King told the story of JJ Jasper who was given some devastating news that he was going to have to tell his family. Before he did, though, he sat them all down and asked them to start listing off everything they knew that was good and true about God.

This is quite possibly the most valuable exercise we can do for several reasons:

  • It’s an exercise in recalling what God has done for us up to this point. What characteristics of God has He displayed in the past? How has He answered prayer in the past? How have you seen Him work in your life?
  • It’s an exercise in renewing our mind: It replaces the doubts, questions,  and worry we have regarding our situation and replaces it with truth.
  • It’s an exercise in reciting His praises. There is nothing quite like singing the praises of God to drag us out of our pit of self-pity and into the realm of truth.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9, ESV).

3). Pray your pain out.

“When you’re going through tough times, it’s not a time to stop praying. It’s not a time to pray sweet little prayers.”

We have the freedom to tell Him how we feel. He already knows anyway. I have found myself over the years praying something like this: “Lord, I don’t know what to pray anymore. I feel like the magnitude of my situation requires words I don’t have, that the ones I’m using are just not reaching your ears, that possibly my situation is too big for you.”

Ever felt that way? Ever wondered if your situation is the one situation that will trip God up?

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:25-27, ESV).

Tell me one other belief system in the world whose god, in spirit form, intercedes on behalf of his followers when they’re too distraught to know what to say. There are none. Only our God is so intimately involved with the daily goings-on of His people who even when words fail them, he fills in the gaps. Amazing.

4). Don’t isolate yourself.

I will admit that when things get hairy, my initial reaction is to hibernate, to hole up in the deepest corner of my house and sulk. The last thing I want is to be surrounded by other humans with just as many problems as me especially if it’s other people who have contributed to my current state of frustration. Besides the fact that this is a case of me pointing one finger at someone else with three pointing back at me (immaturity at its best), it’s also unbiblical. We are not an island meant to do life alone.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV).

Adoption into the family of God comes with unparalleled perks. Just as the Holy Spirit speaks for us when we can’t, the family of God is a built-in support system for whatever we’re going through. Don’t run from the one thing that God designed so specifically for the way He made us. We are relational. We need each other.

What Child is this? The simple truth is this:

The Child is everything we need. There is no substitute for Jesus. God’s plan of redemption is complete in this Child.  We don’t need, nor can we, add anything to Him. He’s completely perfect. Completely redemptive. Completely restorative, loving, all-encompassing, not lacking in anything, completely gracious, merciful, and good.

I pray this Christmas will be especially meaningful to you as you remember God’s great Gift of hope to us. Merry Christmas.

 

An Ode to Christmas Trees | Blogmas 2017

I had the opportunity to be part of Blogmas with some of my blogging friends. In case you missed this post from three years ago, I resurrected after determining it was too perfect a fit for the theme my friend, Jaclyn, was going for. So I resurrected it, and it appeared on her blog.
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

see all Blogmas 2017 Creators

By Kathryn Nielson

Like most kids, I grew up loving Christmas. Hands down the best part about the whole season was decorating the Christmas tree. My mom and dad would drag it up from the basement, pull it out of the box and assemble it, fitting the branches into their color-coordinated holes in the base. I loved it. We doused it with colorful felt ornaments, homemade ornaments, sparkly ornaments, colored lights and a truckload of silver tinsel. To my young eyes its grandeur stood unmatched dwarfing every other ornament placed around the house.

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But…there was always this niggling frustration in the back of my head. The tree wasn’t real. I don’t know where the obsession with real trees came in. I didn’t know anyone who had one. But the oddity of placing something real from the forest in the middle of my house taunted me.

In moving to an apartment, to college, and back to apartment, I had all shapes and sizes of trees. Short trees, emaciated trees, skinny trees. No matter what they looked like, they all had one thing in common: they were fake. I wanted a real one, and it was a dream that would not die.

Enter Bruce, my husband, the quintessential New Englander. Unlike my history with fake trees, he’d never had one. He knew they existed, but no true self-respecting New Englander would actually have one-at least not as their only tree. One could accessorize with the copycat version, but to have a plastic evergreen heralding the season in one’s home was unthinkable.

Our first Christmas came two months after we were married. We decided to spend it alone in our little apartment watching Christmas movies, eating steak, and gazing at what I insisted would be a real tree to which my husband responded with a look of is there any other kind?

So one Sunday afternoon while my sister was in town we set off for a tree farm to pick out our own tree and cut it down. Not only would the blessed thing be real, but Bruce was going to show me what picking out a tree was really all about. Ritualistic in nature, it involved the tedious task of finding it, cutting it down, mounting it to the top of the car and driving it home. Lest you think all trees are created equal, you couldn’t be more wrong. A Fraser Fir, considered by my husband as the Cadillac of trees, was simply the only option. The whole thing was incredibly romantic, and I almost couldn’t take it.

About an hour and a half into the search, I got a little tired. We walked all over the stinking farm looking for the perfect tree. In my head, they were all perfect because they were real and big and smelled like Christmas. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this painstaking search for perfection would be how my sweet my husband would research all future purchases from baby strollers to sandwich bread. I could appreciate that he excelled at the skill of tree shopping. Apparently, he was so good at it that his family would not purchase a tree until he was home from college on break and able to go get it, no matter how late in the season it was. It was impossible for anyone to pick out a tree like Bruce. So I’d been told.

Weary of the whole thing, my dream of authentic foliage dashed by the sheer absurdity of the search, I suggested that a fake one from Walmart would suffice and marched off in the snow back to the car with my sister in tow. We waited another hour and a half. Finally, from the distance I saw a tree moving toward us. As it got closer I realized that buried under this mass of foliage was my husband manhandling this thing proud as a peacock. We waited another half hour as he hoisted onto our little Ford Tempo, triple checking the bungee cords to make sure it wasn’t going anywhere while we drove home.

To say that it was large would be an understatement. It literally took up most of a the wall where the sliding glass door sat, protruding out into the living room leaving no one to wonder what season we were in. I could not wait to get my hands on that tree and decorate it, bringing to life what I was feeling inside.

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The decorating of a Christmas tree is much like accessorizing an outfit. “Forest fashion” represents the “wearer” to the outside world. In this instance, my “forest friend” donned blue Christmas balls, red tinsel, and big white lace bows leftover from my wedding representing my newlywed bliss and diehard patriotism.

In my humble opinion, no more beautiful a tree could be found anywhere. Every morning as I sipped my coffee, I would sit and stare at its blinking lights and be taken back to that beautiful childhood tree-though fake-that I found so mesmerizing.

In the 24 years we’ve been married, only twice have my husband and I ignored our tree standards, disappointed both times. In moments of strict frugality, my romantic visions of the perfect tree were thwarted by the price, and we succumbed to plastic simplicity one year and something real but very pokey the next year. We decided that like saving for Christmas presents, saving for a tree that lasts a month at best, then dies and is thrown to the curb, is a priority that cannot be ignored.

These days my house is filled with trees; one in my bedroom decorated with all of the ornaments created by my kids through the years; one in the dining room, white with lime green, fuchsia and turquoise decorations, a nod to my lime green walls; two in my daughter’s room because there is no other person more obsessed with Christmas than she; one in my son’s room, and finally the rock star of them all, the big Fraser Fir in the living room crammed with white lights, Nielson ornaments tracking the years we’ve been a family, cat ornaments because next to the Christmas tree in importance is the cat (of course) and a variety of others we’ve collected over the years. Take all the other decorations away, and you can still eek out a bit of Christmas cheer. But take away the tree and none of the other decorations make sense. Plus, where would the presents go?

Whatever makes Christmas merry for you, enjoy it with your family, rejoice in it, and for heaven’s sake, get a decent tree!

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ABOUT ME

When I was a kid, I remember lying in bed one night and, to my great disappointment, was struck by the realization that there simply wasn’t enough time in life to do everything that I’d dreamed of doing.  I wanted to get married and have kids, be a war correspondent, or a famous writer living the life of a recluse in a New York City high rise accompanied only by my cats. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to be Asian and speak fluent French.

As I’ve gotten older, the list of things I want to experience has gotten bigger and includes owner of a cat cafe, living out of a backpack and working remotely, complete location independence, being a contestant on the Amazing Race. And assuming Jesus has an affinity for coffee, my dream job in the Millennial Kingdom is to be His barista.

What does all of this have to do with blogging? Simple. This is the place where I write about all of the things that interest me in an effort to curb my insatiable appetite for coffee, cats, minimalism, simple living, money management, and travel. First and foremost, though, it’s the place where I sort out what God is teaching me about living an authentic Christian life. Hopefully, you’ll find something here that piques your interest.

 

How An Attempted Ban on Bump Stocks Got Me Thinking About the Miracle of Faith

On the radio the other morning, I listened as the commentator gave a rundown of local news, everything from the impending first frost to legislation over the ban on bump stocks. It was a quote regarding the latter subject that piqued my attention.  In response to passing a ban on bump stocks, Illinois state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer had this to say:

“You’re turning law-abiding citizens into criminals,” he said.

That single sentence played over and over in my head all day. Maybe it’s because we’re studying Romans this year in bible study, and my heart has been reminded of grace and without it I am a simple criminal. Maybe it’s because we’re hours from celebrating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses and the beginning of the Reformation.

Whatever the reason, I was struck by that quote and continue to be so for two reasons. First, despite our law-abiding tendencies, apart from grace we simply remain criminals next to a holy God.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:2-4).

As if His dying on the cross to fulfill the Law’s requirements wasn’t enough, that was merely the beginning. It was enough that every slap of the whip and pound of the nail through soft flesh was payment for every evil thought, unkind word, ungodly motivation I have indulged in over my lifetime.

But it doesn’t stop at the cross, and it is this second part that I find stunning. He finishes His work of salvation by not just offering me the gift of going from criminal to forgiven through unmerited grace, but then extending another gift: faith. The faith to not only believe that all of this is true but to accept it as such and believe.

When I was teaching my kids to pick up their toys, I would take their small hands in mine, walk them to the pile of toys and one by one, walk them through the process of picking up each toy. Closing their hands around the toy, I walked them over to the toy box and opened their hands where it would slide down their fingers and into its designated spot.

In the same way, God reaches down, takes the curled fingers of our clenched fists and opens them one by one until they are reaching back to His.

Ephesians 2:8 says it best.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (ESV).

The simple truth is this: as humans, we take part in a myriad ofcactivities over the span of our lives; activities that get things done, accomplish goals, and change the world. Let’s marvel at the one thing we will never be credited for doing, having the faith to accept Christ’s gift of salvation. We are simply too broken and rebellious to ever accept the life-saving act of Christ without His intervention. Praise God for the completeness of His work.