#733 10%.

Let me preface this by saying I don’t mean to sound preachy. But I think God is prodding me to talk about this publicly so I can’t argue with that. It’s gonna be a long one, but a good one. So stick with me, please.

Here’s the thing. I grew up with parents who tithed to the church every single Sunday morning. Daddy had a box of little pink envelopes from the church that he would drop his check into before we left the house, and while I knew it was money he was giving, I didn’t understand how much or what for or anything like that.

When Ben and I started dating, I found that he also gave money to the church every Sunday morning, regardless of the fact that he was a dirt poor college boy. I had never tithed before. It’s not because I didn’t want to, I just hadn’t ever thought about it and I didn’t know much about it. The Bible says to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s (pay your taxes) and give to God what is God’s (then give 10% of whatever you have to the church). Well that was a tough pill for me to swallow after we were married. I’m stingy. I’m the baby of the family and I never share my French fries. I thought it was just for people with money to spare.

So here’s what happened. Ben tithed all along, ever since he was old enough to make his own money. I began by giving a bit less than 10% when we were just married and I have to be honest about this—I didn’t really believe that giving my little portion would result in anything other than a smaller number on my checking account balance (which was already very, very small). I was happy to give to my church, to help pay the staff salaries, to help buy food for the needy, to help pay the building’s utilities. I felt like that was really the point.

But then, things changed. I began noticing how I didn’t notice that money at all. I never missed that money that I was giving away. In fact, something very strange happened. Every week that I increased my giving, getting closer to 10%, my little side job doing wedding invitations became increasingly popular. Our bank account was growing little by little. By the end of 2009, I was giving a full 10% of both my day job and side job income. In December that year, I quit my day job feeling very confident that I could make a living doing what I love. You can read all about that here.

So 2010 brought an amazing year for me. The most wonderful year of my life up to that point. Lucky Luxe was popping up in magazines and on blogs around the world, Ben and I were blissfully happy with my new flexible schedule with work in the morning, bike rides, dinner parties, and day trips on the docket every day. I wasn’t sure about the salary of my new self-employed income at the end of the weeks, so I decided I would write one big check for 10% on the last day of the year. December 31 came and I felt my chest tighten and hot tears stinging my eyes when I wrote the biggest check I’ve ever written. I felt rotten and selfish, but I felt like God expected it of me and I had made that promise to Him, so that was that. A done deal. I put it in an envelope and carried my offering to the church secretary. Our bank account was okay, but taking away 10% of it was terrifying. Money! My money. The thing we all want so badly, that the world revolves around, that I finally had for the first time for my very own.

This is what I read in the good book that gave me the courage to give it away:
Mark 12:41-44 Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”

Luke 6:38 Give to others, and you will receive. You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands—more than you can hold. You will be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.

Deuteronomy 8:18 If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.

Malachi 3:10 The Lord All-Powerful says, “Try this test. Bring one-tenth of your things to me. Put them in the treasury. Bring food to my house. Test me! If you do these things, I will surely bless you. Good things will come to you like rain falling from the sky. You will have more than enough of everything.

In January 2011, we experienced the biggest month in the history of Lucky Luxe. We received 20 orders, resulting in a very hefty sum of revenue, and the trend continued through the year. In March, it jumped even higher with 28 new orders.

I began to give more than just my money to the church. I was completely galled by the whole thing, honestly. I began to give my time, my heart, my talent to anyone and anything that needed it if it was at all possible. I began giving anything I could to fill any need I might be able to meet. I just had to. God gave me no choice.

I wrote another tithe check a few days ago. The stakes were higher and the checking account was quite depleted since we bought a house a couple months ago (another unbelievable thing in our life made possible by God). The holidays always cause a slow-down in the wedding industry and it was harder than ever to write that check. I felt my faith in God slipping a little, which is all you can expect from a human being I guess. Again, I cried writing it. Ben held me close and assured me it was the right thing to do. I read those scriptures again and felt assured. Then I felt a peace about it once that check was out of my hands. It was done and I’d made good on my promise.

Today we got more inquiries than we’ve ever had in one day. 7 orders were placed. I could cry again, but this time with overflowing, unabashed thankfulness.