Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We tithe and yes, it works

We've been going to our church, Forest Pointe, since November 2008. In December 2008, Matt lost his job. Each week, when the offering basket came around, we passed it on without adding to it because we felt like we couldn't afford to make donations. Donations to anyone.

Matt was working at his shop, trying to make his new business work and bring in enough to pay the bills. But, it just wasn't bringing in enough work to keep him busy. He spent most of his time doing personal work to his own Jeep. Or cleaning and organizing the shop so it functions better for when he DOES get work.

A few months ago, we watched a video at church of Dave Ramsey, author and radio talk show host of The Dave Ramsey Show. He gave a talk about what it means to tithe and to be a steward of God's money. Dave is a conservative spender who does not use credit cards and teaches others how to get out of debt and how to budget and save money with a common sense approach. There are people who make $150,000 a year and are in deep debt and there are people who make $45,000 a year who have a huge savings account and are debt free. It's not about how much money you make. It's about what you do with the money you have.

The word "tithe" literally means "tenth". That is the guideline the old testament gives us as to how much we tithe each month, although, a tenth is not a requirement in the new testament. The concept of being a steward is that this is not your money. It's God's money. You are his steward, or accountant. God gives you the ability and the opportunity to work and provide for you family. In turn, you give some back to Him... happily. If you can't do it happily, then you aren't doing it with the right heart and He does not want that money. Donating should feel good!

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. -2 Corinthians 9:7

Our pastor speaks about this frequently. He actually has a money back guarantee(have you ever heard of that?). He challenges all who are not tithing, to start doing it and watch the way God starts working in your life. And if you don't see any difference, he will actually give you your money back. No one has needed their money back.

We started tithing right after this, which was about 3 months ago. About that same time, Matt had an interview at a company called Siemens. It was an amazing company to work for. We prayed a lot. Not for him to get this job specifically, but for a job to come along that would bless us financially and relieve some stress. Whether it is this job or not, is out of our control. Matt applied for this job because he wasn't sure if his offroad shop was what he was supposed to be doing. Then we waited. Then the jeep work started rolling in. And hasn't stopped yet.

He didn't get that job, but we got our answer. He's been working 10 hr days since then and meets people everywhere that want him to do some work for them(and lots of repeat customers. I guess he does good work!). Not only that, but a guy in our small group from church(actually from our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Class), asked Matt if he would be interested in some temp work at the place he works. It's I.T. stuff where he changes their computers from an old system to a new system(definitely not what he wants to do long term). He said it would be a 30-60 day project, and now possibly 6 months. And since it's hourly contract work, it pays pretty well. And he has some flexibility with hours, so he can still work in his shop in the evenings, or just take a day off. So, yeah, God is blessing us right now. We aren't asking for our money back, because without Him, we wouldn't have the money to begin with.

Here's a good quote(and Dave Ramsey's philosophy):

"Make all you can,
save all you can,
give all you can."
-John Wesley

Even if you are not a Christian. Find a charity and give to them. It doesn't have to be 10%. But pick a percent and stick to it. Do more than just a donation or two each year around Christmas or a natural disaster(well, do that too), but commit yourself to giving back to someone, each month. By the way, church offerings don't just go to pay the pastor's salary(they don't make that much). Much of that money goes out into the community to help those in need.

Money is not evil. Money is inanimate. Just like a brick, which can be thrown and used to destroy, or used to build a school or home. It's what you do with it that makes it good or evil.

"For the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil." - 1 Timothy 6:10

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tree today, gone tomorrow

The picture below is dated October 2007. This dates back to our very first visit to our soon-to-be land. The view point is from the end of the driveway, facing towards the house site. After a lot of hard work from Matt mostly, and me, and some other people, we saved ourselves a lot of money by taking down the trees ourselves. And it only took TWO YEARS! What a deal! It's not like we had a life going on in there too. Keep reading to see what it looks like today. (click photo to enlarge)

I promise we are not anti-tree! We LOVE trees, but we also want to be able to enjoy this space too. Our future children need a place to run around and play ball and learn to ride dirt bikes and get chased by the dog. There is even more tree removal down the hill that you can't even see from this photo. You also can't see where we are building our apartment. It'll be about where the tailgate of the truck is. I hope we don't get a tree shortage. There are only 16 more acres of them!

Can you just picture driving up right here in your car and seeing a gorgeous two-story farmhouse in the distance? Circling around the field and pulling up to a garden that leads to a 8-10ft deep wrap-around porch. Can you see it? Ok, come visit us in about 10 years once it's finished.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Happy Helpers

I realized that I had newer pictures of the foundation(as if you really care), posted on facebook but not on here. I just want to give recognition to Cousin Brent for coming out on MULTIPLE days off of work, just to help out(he really just wanted to see the sun, since he works 3rd shift haha). Thank you, thank you! Zach also came one day since he is "having a career change".

The Professional Engineer

I know that I have been super slack about writing new blog posts. That is because there hasn't been much to write about, at least as far as construction goes. If you live in North Carolina or the surrounding states, or pretty much the entire East Coast, you've experienced this bad weather we've been having. We've had record breaking cold temperatures and endless rain and snow. We are still trying to lay our block foundation. As I think I have mentioned before, in order for the mortar to "set", the temp can't fall below freezing. So even if we have a warm day of 50 degrees, the overnight low has still be hovering in near the freezing mark.

Matt has been getting ready for the next step, which is filling the inside of this wall we are building so we can pour the concrete slab on top(the garage floor). Normally, in a house, if there is space under the floors(aka crawlspace), the floors are supported with wooden trusses. Garage floors are concrete and the weight of it can't be supported by trusses. It must be poured onto solid ground. Since our building site is pretty significantly slopped(I know it doesn't look like it in person), this results in an 8ft tall wall in the back. We found out that before we can go and fill this foundation with free dirt, we have to get it engineered stamped(that means more money). Matt doesn't have his PE so he can't do it himself even though he's an engineer.

The issue is, with the garage floor being solid concrete and holding the weight of cars, they want to make sure that if the garage foundation were to fail, that the floor wouldn't fall in because there would be solid ground beneath it. To help everyone relax, remember the weight of the house/apartment is not on the slab at all. It is being supported by the footings that were pour at the very beginning. All this fuss is just about the garage floor. Dirt and clay will compact over time and form a gap under the slab where it could give way and crack. You also have to make sure it is clean dirt, meaning no organic matter in it(like wood/tree roots/leaves). Organic matter decomposes leaving space for dirt to settle. The fill must be rock because rock does not compact, or some mixture of rock and sand(also does not compact because it is essentially rock). So we have dirt=free, washed stone/gravel=very expensive(we're talking thousands of $), sand=kinda free. I wasn't even looking forward to buying gravel for the rest of our driveway and now I have to buy it to pour in my foundation that I will NEVER EVER see again!

If that weren't enough, the engineer drew us up a fancy plan to FURTHER support the slab. It is basically concrete pillars and concrete "beams" that will be pour at the same time as the slab, but after the gravel. There are these cardboard tubes that will be placed in the ground before the gravel, to help form the pillars. His design services cost us $525 just for a piece of paper. Fortunately, Matt really hit it off with the engineer and they had a great time talking about tractors. The guy spotted a tractor implement laying in the woods and asked Matt if that was a 6ft scrap blade. To which Matt responded, "Actually, it's a 7ft". The engineer got all excited because those are rare and super heavy duty(too big for our tractor actually), and said he'd been looking for one. They came up with a trade. A value of $450 was placed on the scape blade, so we only owed him $75. YAY! And we have less stuff laying around outside. YAY! But I am no fool. I asked Matt, "Does this mean you are going to go out and buy another scrap blade?". No, his dad has one he can borrow when the time comes we need to smooth out any dirt in our yard. If only we could find a trade for some gravel! I don't about you, but I think this all sounds a little excessive for a garage. I guess it's better safe than sorry. It would be more expensive to have to fix a problem with a foundation later than right now.


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