It was 1988.
Julio and Vicky Cardenas were newlyweds and finding themselves in a messy situation. Though they loved each other fiercely, their marriage was quickly saturated with financial difficulties. “We didn’t know how to manage our finances very well,” Vicky says. “We quickly spent what we made and lived paycheck to paycheck, slowly going deeper and deeper into debt.”
After six years of marriage, with two toddlers now in their lives, they lost everything – including their primary residence and two rental properties.
“We were forced to sell our home, we lost our two rentals to foreclosure, and we filed for bankruptcy,” says Vicky. “We had no choice but to move in with my mom and her husband.”Vicky says it was at this point that her husband, Julio, found himself depressed, calling himself a failure for being unable to provide for his family. For Vicky, she forced herself to stay strong, especially as they both tried to figure out next steps to move forward.
“We knew that God would use this part of our story for good,” she explains. “We didn’t know how and we didn’t know when He would accomplish this, but we knew He was good.”
Julio and Vicky knew things needed to change. So, they sought out financial counseling, ending up with Larry Burkett’s ministry, Money Matters.
Through the program, they received one-on-one monthly counseling, as well as financial and Biblical stewardship. They learned how to create a budget based on what the Bible says.
The program redefined what was important for the couple.
“It was hard to change our spending habits that had caused the ship to capsize,” Vicky says. “However, sticking to the plan got easier with time and we saw great rewards, both financially and spiritually.”Through their new plan of giving, saving and living off the rest, they experienced a freedom in their finances that they had never felt before.
“We learned how to manage our money and what the difference is between needs and wants,” Vicky says. “We learned to wait on God and trust Him, instead of making compulsive financial purchases. We learned to be content.”
Vicky says learning the importance of giving was the greatest takeaway from their counseling.
“God is not as concerned with the actual dollar amount of your giving as He is with your heart and commitment,” she says. “Figure out what your amount is and commit to it without a grudging heart.”Today, Vicky and Julio find themselves on stable financial ground. Though their marriage started on rocky financial ground, their trust in God’s provision has enabled them to experience new freedom and generosity over the past 25 years.
In addition to regularly tithing, they find joy through their gifts to various ministries and campaigns, knowing that God has blessed them to be a blessing.“We know now, more than ever, that God will meet our needs because He always has,” Vicky says. “We trust Him and want to honor Him – that’s what it comes down to.”
Money and financial issues are considered by many to be the number one stressor in life – but this is not what God desires for us! He wants us to experience peace, joy and purpose in our finances, and this can be accomplished when we align our lives the way God wants us to so that He can do what only He can do.
By giving first, saving second, and living on the rest, we acknowledge that God is in control and we trust Him completely with all aspects of our life – especially our finances.
Through our giving, we honor Him and point others to a generous God. After all, He gave us his first and His best through the gift of His son, Jesus.
Summer Generosity Challenge
This summer, what would it look like for you and your family to think through your giving and step into generosity like never before? To step out of your comfort zone and into a place of complete trust and dependence on God?
Our Summer Generosity Challenge is an invitation to move to the next level in your giving. All across the spectrum, we have room to take the next step:
NOTHING >> SOMETHING >> CONSISTENT >> GENEROUS >> SACRIFICIAL
God's greatest blessings are often right on the other side of obedience. May we find ourselves this summer becoming the most generous people because we serve the most generous God. He is worthy of it all.Give Now