The Mudges: A Journey in Generosity
Do you ever feel like you want to give MORE, but you can’t afford it?
Do you want to trust God and follow him with your life, but struggle with handing over your finances?
You are not alone.
“No matter how we rearranged the numbers,
there just wasn’t enough money to live; let alone give.”
We were married during Spring Break my senior year in college. I worked as a waitress and went to school full-time, and my new husband, recently graduated and unemployed, spent his days studying for an industry test at my University’s library. We didn’t have much, but we didn’t need much.
I graduated in May and my husband passed his test and started working. In the first three years of our marriage, we moved eight times. He was climbing “the ladder,” and I was following him around, unpacking and packing boxes mostly. We were still young and still poor, but we were happy.
He finally settled at a firm in Ann Arbor, and I found a job about an hour away in Lansing, so we decided to split the commute and moved into a very tiny, very crooked cabin on a beautiful lake in Brighton, Michigan.
Life was good; we bought a boat.
We liked our little world but knew something was missing. We would have called ourselves Christians, but we were not following Christ with our actions.
So, we decided to make a change.
We began attending 2/42 Community Church in 2006. The church met in an auditorium at the local high school, and it had a fresh and relaxed atmosphere. The messages were relevant, the music was moving, and the people were friendly. We found what we were missing.
We wanted new friends, so we joined a small group; then we began volunteering on Sunday and helping in community outreach events, and little by little, we progressed down a spiritual journey. We no longer just called ourselves Christians; we were living out our faith.
A year passed, and the church preached a series on generosity and tithing. We began giving when we started attending, but we were sporadic and not overly committed.
Another year passed, we got pregnant, and the church re-preached about generosity and tithing. But this time, it was different. This time, they challenged us to do more; they challenged us to test God and trust him with our finances, to tithe, not to just give. We knew it was the next step in our faith journey, so we committed to being all in going forward.
Sounds easy, right?
We ran the budget. We looked at both our incomes, the expense of having a new baby, the cost of my hour-long commute, added in childcare, and we weighed it against the cost of losing my income but saving on childcare and commuting costs. No matter how we rearranged the numbers, there just wasn’t enough money to live; let alone give.
So we prayed.
It was impossible. But, the challenge was to trust God and trust in the word of God, and Malachi 3:10 states, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so many blessings that there will not be room enough to store it.” So, we tested him, not only with our finances but with all our decisions.
We decided I would quit my job and stay home and we felt peace from God in that decision, but our choice to trust God and take action left us down one full income and decreased the other by 10%. It didn’t make sense, but we did it anyway.
Within two months of our tithing commitment, my husband received a promotion that more than covered the salary I had just given up. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps. The faithfulness of our God and the blessings he poured out is beyond words.
In 2009, due to the downturn in the housing market and some government stipends for first-time homeowners, we decided to buy a house. We bought a foreclosure for an unbelievable price and spent the next eight years slowly remodeling it room by room. It was a lot of work, but still, I consider it a blessing from God. I’ve since learned, many of God’s blessings take a considerable amount of work.
Soon after we moved into our house, we became pregnant with our second child, and 2/42 launched the THRU 47 campaign, named after Acts 2:42-47. The campaign started with a vision; a community focused facility. Yes, there would be a church auditorium, but there would also be a basketball court, a football field, a café, a play-scape, and a school for the arts, simply put, it would be an open building where people could gather, a gift for the community.
We caught the vision.
Once again the church challenged us to give. But this time, they challenged us to go above and beyond what we were already doing. They challenged us to share our stories, our commitments and how God showed up to provide the funding we pledged; it was powerful, and we were moved.
So we prayed.
We prayed God would stretch us and grow us. We prayed God would give us a number beyond our ability, something we couldn’t accomplish on our own, something God would have to SHOW UP for and achieve with his strength and provision. We prayed he would change our hearts and perspectives. We prayed he would change our community and the lives of the people in it through our sacrifice; then we made a pledged. Each of us, independently, came up with the same figure, so we knew it was from God.
We didn’t have that much money, but, we’d made a promise, and couldn’t just sit around and wait for a bag of cash to fall from the sky, so we started with the sacrifice part. We sold our nice cars and bought old ones. We sold our boat and all my jewelry. We stopped going out to eat and canceled our cable and house phone services. We scrimped and squeezed and couponed our way through our commitment. And guess what? God never did drop a bag of money out of the sky. We didn’t get a promotion or a bonus or a new job. God didn’t show up the way we expected him; he showed up the way we needed him. He didn’t use this experience to awe us with his provisions; he used this opportunity to change our perspectives. He showed us what he could accomplish through us when we put someone else’s needs above our wants.
When the doors of the new location for 2/42 Community Church, “The Commons” opened, we were proud; we felt ownership. When the number of attendees in the church skyrocketed from 1,000 people at the High School to 6,000 people on campus, we were joyful. Every baptism and heart transformation happening in those halls, I prayed for, I saved for, I sacrificed for, and it changed me.
Our generosity journey took years. We began by giving a little, and as God grabbed ahold of our hearts and chased us and changed us, and we saw what communal giving accomplished, we wanted to do more.
Don’t misunderstand me now; I am not saying, giving over your finances to God and committing to sacrificial living destitute you to a life of poverty, remember, God, opens the floodgates and pours out blessings.
After completing our two-year Thru 47 commitment, we never did renew our cable contract or reintroduce a house phone, and we’ve continued to maintain a monthly spending budget which creates room for generosity because it’s important to us, and its how we want to use the money God gives us.
We co-founded Gyve to continue this movement of growing generosity.
Gyve is a tool to facilitate the progression of giving through heart transformation. It’s designed to meet people where they are in their giving journey and help progress them through distinct giving stages.
We just celebrated 16 years of marriage; our daughter is 11, our son is 9, our house is completely renovated and worth three times what we paid, and of course, we bought another boat. BLESSINGS.
I hope you can join us in our generosity mission.
We believe GENEROSITY is CONTAGIOUS.
We would love to share your story… please send us your generosity story below.