Finding Your Enough: A Personal Reflection

By Timothy Siburg

Two and a half months ago my wife Allison and I packed up all of our worldly belongings- our countless boxes of books, dressers full of clothes, and our entire winter wear wardrobe. With the help of our family, we loaded all of it, except for one car load’s worth, in a moving container, and then watched as it was driven out of sight in early mid-August.

Now we’re in Nebraska. We know where we will be living, but can’t quite move in yet. We are excited to dive deeply into our roles and callings. And even though we don’t have our own home right now, we have been graciously welcomed by the local Lutheran camp, and two great friends who have been hosting and housing us.

small-wooden-house-906912_1920This past month, as we have lived without our own space in Nebraska, has been an “in-between time of sorts.” Or, perhaps as one of my favorite pastors likes to say, a wilderness time. It’s been a beautiful time to reflect, live simply, and be in community with those hosting us.

The other day, Allison leaned over and asked, “do you miss our stuff?” I said, “sort of,” and then proceeded to ask her the same question. Allison said, “nope. It’s been great.” Perhaps one day we’ll be a “Tiny House” family yet? Though we’ll definitely have to downsize our library of books.

This experience has been one where we have had to make do with less. And you know what, strangely, we have. And it hasn’t been bad at all. It’s been a chance for me to think about what indeed is my enough.

What does your enough look like?postergen-chalkboard-generator-i-have-enough-and-i-am-enough

Besides a sense of having enough stuff, there is the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual sense of being enough. Allison likes to remind me of the work of author Brene Brown.

Among many of the great quotes Brene Brown has shared, she has said that, “We are living in scarcity. If we want change, choose gratitude and joy over scarcity.”

For me, this means deeply knowing and being reminded that I have enough and I am enough.

Feeling called, loved, and affirmed, and helping others feel the same, that’s enough for me. Being able to help others grow and be better at what they do, that fulfills me. And knowing that God is with me, and being open to whatever that relationship and call looks like, is more than enough and opens up doors to experiences like the one I am having now in this in-between time of life, with more than enough.

About the author
timothy headshot
Timothy Siburg is the Director for Stewardship of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and is a member of the COMPASS Steering Committee. His wife Allison has been called to be an ELCA pastor, and the two of them reside in the greater Omaha area. Timothy can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and on his blog.

Image credits: pixabay.com, postergen.com/chalkboard-generator

New Engine, New Tires & Luke – Faith in the face of debt

By Timothy Siburg
car-1564300_1920

Student loans? Broken down cars? How am I ever going to pay this off? Those are some pretty normal reactions to debt, and ones we have heard a little bit about this past month on the COMPASS blog.

What strikes me though as I think about these questions, is a reminder of the way God is present even in the face of our stress, uncertainty, doubt, and fear, all of which can surface when thinking about money and debt.

The Gospel of Luke is full of stories and parables from Jesus about money, wealth, poverty, and debt. For example, there is the confusing parable of the Dishonest Manager found in Luke 16:1-13.

In this story we hear of a manager who has been called to account for his business. In the face of what sounds like the manager’s certain firing, he goes about reducing the amount owed by different individuals in the community to the manager’s master. This is something that certainly could be praised, in that those oppressed and marginalized by debt were getting some of it forgiven. Of course, the story is much more complicated than that.

It’s not as likely in our daily life that someone will come along and just because they can, reduce the amount of debt we owe. If you are assuming that is going to happen for you, I wish you well, but I wouldn’t advise you to plan and budget that way.

Debt is a reality of life. It doesn’t need to be a crushing one, however. It only has power, like money, when we give it that power. We can certainly live in fear of it, if we are not careful. And unexpected and big expenses can help lead us to be in fear.

hand-truck-564242_1920A couple of days ago, my wife and I faced one of the downsides of moving across country from Washington to Nebraska. My wife Allison went to turn the car on in the morning, and every warning light started to say hello to her on the dashboard. As we suspected, our car needed a new battery. That’s not all that surprising, since we have shared one car between the two of us for our six years of marriage, and it’s been a few years and a couple cross-country moves since getting a new battery.

Unfortunately, one of the other downsides of moving, wear, and tear is that your car might also need new tires, plus its next regular oil change. So, with new tires, fresh oil, and a new battery, we spent a bit more this week on our car than we like to do in one day.

This could easily have led us into despair and debt. Thankfully, we budget for such days as this, so it wasn’t that bad. But interestingly, there is another faith element to this.

A few days earlier we had received a refund check in the mail for the balance of Allison’s seminary cost, as she graduated from seminary and actually had money left on her account in her favor. We didn’t think much of the check at the time. The day after the car was running like new, we remembered that check. It was just about the exact cost of all of the car expenses. Sometimes I think God truly has a sense of humor. It’s experiences like this that remind me of just how much abundance we live in and have, thanks to our abundant God.

What makes confronting the reality of debt—whether student debt, housing mortgages, car loans, etc.—possible is the reminder that God is with us, and wants us to live life abundantly. Living abundantly doesn’t mean living irresponsibly. It means enjoying, giving, sharing, and using all that God has first entrusted us with to live our lives and steward them for the sake of our neighbors and communities. It also means responsibly paying off debt early or on time, so as not to be overwhelmed by the interest accrued from it, so that we can live abundantly.

As long as I can keep this in perspective, making those monthly student loan payments, and needed car expenses, for example, doesn’t seem to be as daunting.

Note: That check, in addition to helping our car expenses, will be stewarded in part back to the larger church in gratitude, and in support of other future seminarians.

About the Author
timothy headshot
Timothy Siburg is the Director for Stewardship of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and is a member of the COMPASS Steering Committee. His wife Allison is awaiting call to be an ELCA pastor, and the two of them reside in the greater Omaha area. Timothy can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and on his blog.


About COMPASS

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook or Twitter.

And join us this Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET for a Live Chat with Darryl Dahlheimer, Program Director for LSS Financial Counseling, for Conquering Your Debt: the Overlooked Key to Faith and Finances. It’s free! Register at https://stewardshipresources.org/compass-live-chats. People of all ages are welcome!

Image credits: pixabay.com

Talking about Faith and Finances during Life Transitions

During September, the COMPASS blog is digging deeper into the topic of conversations about money by sharing different perspectives, questions, and approaches.

Inside our car while moving cross country

Inside our car while moving cross country

Talking about money can be hard under what we might consider normal circumstances. But it can be even more difficult to do during times of life transitions.

My wife Allison and I have just gone through one of these times as we have moved across country and started new jobs. Allison is serving as a pastoral intern in a congregation and I am serving as the congregation’s mission developer. These are exciting roles, but their hours, expectations, and location are new and different.

Our new jobs have changed our budget for the longer term. But we also had other one-time expenses like moving costs, costs related to starting or ending services (like utilities), and insurance changes.

Because transition times can sometimes come unexpectedly, you may face expenses that you did not anticipate. Allison and I had to move before the end of our former apartment lease. That made for some hard conversations and choices. In order to make the leap into our new grand adventure, we had to pay to break our lease at our former apartment. Our budget and savings took a noticeable hit.

I believe it was the right thing to do, and I am grateful that Allison and I have done it. However, it was not an easy process. It helps knowing that we did this in part because of a call into new ministry roles. It helps also because of how welcoming our new faith community has been, and how doors have just opened to opportunities and relationships. All of these feelings are great, but they don’t solve the issue or challenge of talking about money.

How do you talk about money- especially when you are going to have to spend a large amount of it- unexpectedly?

Allison and I have found that the conversational practices we have developed for talking about money under normal circumstances serve us well during unexpected times too, such as:

  • When we are having breakfast, and can look at our budget and related spreadsheets.
  • When we are out for a nice walk around a lake or in a neighborhood we share and listen with care to each other’s thoughts about the possibilities and our hopes, fears, and dreams.
  • When after processing our emotions and budgets, we come up with a budget and a strategy, we revisit it every week or so to see if it’s realistic or not.
  • We talk to God about it. We pray, we listen, we hope, turn our fears over, and then trust.

Allison and I on a quick summer trip last year to see a couple friends of ours be ordained as pastors.

Allison and I will be fine. But this recent life change and experience has reminded me that these money conversations aren’t always easy. Thankfully we have found ways that work for us for talking about our faith and finances together.

What ways have you found in your own life? What questions do you have in talking about money and your faith in your own life?

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

Meaningful Gifts- Stories Remembered While Packing

Today’s post is one more in the spirit of “Christmas in July,” the guiding theme for this month on the COMPASS blog.

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes... Packing, packing, and more packing...

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes… Packing, packing, and more packing…

I currently find myself in the midst of more boxes than anything else. My wife Allison and I are busy packing as we’ll be moving soon, leaving Minnesota to return to the Pacific Northwest so Allison can begin her pastoral internship.

As I have been packing, I have come across a few things which have been gifts to us over the years, and they have me thinking about meaningful gifts. Most of them aren’t special or meaningful to me because of their fiscal value (if they have any). The stories that go along with the gifts and the memories they have given have a value far beyond their monetary worth.

Here are a few stories and memories of my most valued gifts:

  • I am a pianist and vocalist. I love to work out my stress on the piano, and because of this I have quite a bit of sheet music that I’ve been packing. Last week as I was going through some of it I came across a song that had been written and dedicated to me by my good friend Tom. The gift of that song, a thank you for serving in leadership in a particular congregation, brought me to tears when I was surprised with it in worship a couple years ago. Finding the music again brought back many memories and joys from those years.
  • Christmas in JulyThis morning I was sorting through many of our holiday decorations, especially our Christmas ones. I wanted to make sure that our nativity scenes were all packed snugly and comfortably so that they hopefully will make the trip unscathed. I took particular care of our largest one, a crèche that was a wedding gift from my Grandma. It was the scene I grew up playing with, and when Allison and I got married my Grandma said I should have it. I’ve been taking care of it ever since because it brings back many memories.
  • Last weekend I was packing some of my jazz CDs and some baseball things. I credit my love for both in a large part to my other Grandma and Grandpa. The gift of great conversations about how the Mariners are doing, dreaming about what it will be like when they make it to the World Series (sadly, which definitely won’t be this year), and listening to the melodies and improvisation of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Irving Berlin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and many others, are areas of interest which I share with my grandparents. And they bring back great memories.
  • It’s pretty easy to tell what Allison and I do for a living based on what we’re packing. Clearly the things we have the most of are books. We’re definitely life-long learners, and I am grateful for the gift of a deep understanding and appreciation of vocation which was instilled in me growing up by my parents. Thanks Mom and Dad!

As I write this today, I have to admit I’m grateful for many gifts which don’t fit in boxes like the ones I’m packing. Of course, many of these things help me remember the gifts of faith, hope, and love that we have in God. Gifts with the most worth in our lives are often holy moments in life that come unexpectedly. Just today I received an email and call expressing great news of a miracle. A family friend battling a terrible form of cancer just found out that thanks to prayers from all over, and her willingness to hit her pancreatic cancer head-on, her cancer mass is gone. It hasn’t just been reduced, it’s gone. That sort of thing doesn’t just happen. It’s a miracle, I believe. And for that, and so much more, I am giving thanks today.

What gifts with valuable memories stand out to you? What stories are attached to them? And for what do you give thanks today?

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

Summer Fun on a Budget

RevealsThe sun is shining, the water is warming up and the days are much longer. Happy Summer everyone!

COMPASS is sharing different perspectives and ideas during the month of June to help get you in the mood, and to help prepare you to have fun this summer while on a budget.  Some of the topics and questions we will share about will be:

  • Having Summer Fun on a Budget with Young Adults and Kids
  • Camping and Christian Camping as part of summer
  • Tips for Travel, Vacations and Staycations on a Budget

We’ll cover these topics and more with the help of a number of guest writers and me. To start our month of ideas, tips and conversation, consider these three questions:

  • What is your best summer memory? What makes it so memorable, and how could you make that experience happen again?
  • What kind of a budget do you have for summer fun? Or, do you need help making a budget for the summer?
  • Have you ever gone traveling on a vacation or spent a week (or more) at camp during the summer? If so, where did you go and what did you learn?

As I think about those questions, my best summer memories either all involve vacations with families and those close to me, or the fun around the summer that my wife Allison and I got married. The common denominator in all of these memories is fun outside (at a pool, playing baseball/kickball, etc.), spending good quality time with important people in my life. Allison and I will be moving later this summer for her internship toward pastoral ministry, so hopefully we’ll be able to build some fun sightseeing into our moving trip.

Allison and I on a quick summer trip last year to see a couple friends of ours be ordained as pastors.

Allison and I on a quick summer trip last year to see a couple friends of ours be ordained as pastors.

Our upcoming move and a planned trip for a friend’s wedding are considerations as we plan our summer fun budget. We look forward to hosting friends at our home this summer and exploring local options, like attending a ball game or two.

I have been very blessed to be able to travel throughout much of the United States with family and loved ones, and I’ve even seen some different parts of the world. What I’ve learned through traveling and vacations is that I really love learning about history and the stories and cultures of different places and different peoples. It gives me a better perspective about how I relate to the larger world which I am part of as one of God’s children and part of God’s creation.

Now, it’s your turn. How would you respond to these questions?

Also, I am still looking for guest writers on any of the topics above. If you would like to share a perspective or reflection, please let me know!

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.