One of the things my hubby and I have made a point to be faithful in is giving to our local church. Budgeting for this is really important, because it is too easy to use this money on unexpected expenses or to help balance your budget when you go a little over.
But when you budget for tithing, you're creating a plan for that money as though it were for your mortgage or your heating bill. You've set it aside for a purpose, which means there's less of a chance it will slip into thin air.
God loves a cheerful giver, and I think the proof of this is in how he gives more when he sees that you're joyfully giving what you can. Here's what I mean: It took about a year for us to realize that we weren't tithing out of the extra money that we made each month—Jake's photography jobs, my babysitting and crocheting. Once we realized that we should be giving back to God from the excess he provides, we thought and prayed about how we could do that, and, like usual, God suggested a creative way of giving that has turned out to be a lot of fun.
We've created an account in which our tithing from any excess income builds up. This money is available to us whenever we feel led to give in a way outside of our regular weekly church giving. Recently we decided to use some of the money from this account to bless a little girl through Angel Tree, an outreach through Prison Fellowship. On Tuesday I went to Toys"R"Us to find a dolly for this precious little girl, and knowing I had money in our "extra giving" account meant I didn't even have to concern myself too much with price tags. It was so much fun!
I walked up and down the aisle where all the dolly's lived, touching them, checking to see what ages they were appropriate for, until I found one that was perfect for the 18 month old girl we had selected. I bought her a couple of outfits and a bag with two bottles, a bowl, a spoon, and a fork. I admit, I splurged. And I know I'll never get to meet this little girl, but I do wish that I could be a fly on the wall of her house on Christmas morning to see her open this gift, knowing it came from her daddy who couldn't be with her this Christmas, but loved her enough to send her a gift through me. It's things like this that bring joy to my heart and keep me motivated to penny pinch so that someday we will be able to give so much more!
Keep pinchin' :-)