January 2, 2008
Living on Less and Liking It More…Part 1 w/Maxine Hancock
Welcome to Haven Today. I’m Charles Morris sharing the great story that’s all about Jesus. In the next few minutes I want you to meet someone special. Someone who saw their entire source of income dry up. They saw crops fail. Literally. Cattle had to be sold at below cost. Literally. But this person has great lessons that all of us need to learn. We’ll be joined in the next few minutes by Dr. Maxine Hancock and we’re calling the program “Living on Less and Liking it More” and that’s the title of the book that Maxine’s written on how to reduce your spending and increase your living. And that’s something that I think a lot of us need to hear, just getting past the holidays. So don’t go away as we begin. Let’s open our program now with Chris Tomlin and the “Best of Passion” album and a song called “We Fall Down”.
Song: We Fall Down
Performed by: Chris Tomlin
Welcome to Haven Today for a brand new year, 2008. And while I’m in sunny Southern California, on the line with us from a much colder Nova Scotia is Dr. Maxine Hancock. Maxine, welcome to Haven Today.
MH: Thank you. Lovely to be with you Charles.
CM: And you told me when we spoke a number of weeks ago that you actually grew up with the Haven of Rest.
MH: That’s right. I can actually hear the quartet as I remember,
CM: Right, yes.
MH: strains of that coming into our little home on the prairie where my folks raised us as a family just, oh, night after night.
CM: OK. And you are Canadian, and that will figure into the story, but your story is something that people anywhere need to hear. And I might say though, first before we get started, that you actually spent more of your life in the prairies if you just went from like Kansas, Nebraska and just keep going north, you’d get to where you grew up in the prairies of Canada but then you, later on got a PhD and you’re still on the faculty of Regent College in Vancouver, aren’t you.
MH: That’s right Charles.
CM: And then now you’re on the east coast too, just because of family considerations, you and your husband Cam. Well, thanks for being with me. You’ve written a book called ‘Living on Less and Liking It More”. We’ll get to that a little bit later but I just you know am thinking of a lot of our people listening to Haven Today. They’ve overspent at Christmas, they’ve gained too much. Maybe even some people are just out of a job or something. And I know a lot of people in the United States right now are being hit with mortgage rates that are going up, houses that are being repossessed, but you’re coming from a different background yourself. You have lived through a time in your life when you and your husband and your family lived on a farm. The crops failed and bank notes were coming due and your livestock, you were having to sell them off. Your world was falling apart. Let’s just go into that because that’s going to relate to all of us in one way or another.
MH: Yes Charles, it was a time that actually I’d seen happen in cycles to a particular area, agricultural families, but to all of us who are implicated in the economy. It just seems like there are just times when everything seems to fall apart at once. And it’s a pretty shocking experience when you go through it, especially when you more or less expected life to treat you a little more kindly than that.
CM: Yes, and this was a number of years ago. Your children are grown now but you had young children at home. Your husband Cam was a teacher. Go ahead and just tell the story for us.
MH: Oh sure. Well, I’d be glad to Charles. We, both my husband and I had teaching degrees and were heading out into, what I thought would be a professional life when his father reached an age when he needed to make a decision about retirement or selling his farm to, within the family. And suddenly, my husband Cam had this, realized that his passion, and really his calling from God was to care for the land for another generation so we kind of took a big gulp and took out a large mortgage in order to pay his folks out so that they could retire and then we sort of headed out into farming. And it was the same time at which we were having our family so I wasn’t earning at that time either, at least not very much. So we had little children, born about every 18 months for a period of time so we actually had 4 children in 6 years.
MH: So, and I always warn people that that’s just a statement, not a recommendation. That’s just how we spaced our family and at the same time we were trying to get a farm operation going so that this would be our basic family sustenance. Cam usually taught school part time in some way or took a session or course at a local college to teach to augment farm income.
CM: As a good farmer you wear lots of hats, right?
MH: You do. In fact, it’s quite intriguing that at the time we went farming these many years ago we couldn’t get a farm credit loan because we had a part time teaching job. Now you can’t get, you can’t get an agricultural loan unless you have some off-farm income. So that’s how much it’s tightened down.
MH: and changed in that time. But we were, we were probably just on that leading edge of maybe the last generation who maybe could afford to buy out a family farm and carry it on. I think maybe that stopped being possible almost with the generation we were involved in. But at any rate, we got rolling. We thought things were working quite well. We started to expand and started to buy and rent additional land and then a neighbor farmer and we went into partnership together to feed cattle which we thought made good sense because grain prices were low. And then in one, in one 18 month period the cattle market fell apart, grain crops froze and we had neither crops to sell nor crops to feed our cattle. We had to buy feed to feed out to these cattle so we were losing money by the day, by the pound. So that would be how any retailer would feel if they had materials that didn’t sell over the Christmas time or any person would feel if a job suddenly disappeared. It simply, there simply was not only no money coming in but we’re actually losing.
CM: So all of a sudden you’re doing what you think you’re going to be doing for the rest of your lives out there, “Little House on the Prairie” with the farm and all of a sudden your source of livelihood has just been wiped out more than one way then.
MH: That’s right. And not only our source of livelihood Charles but also our equity base because it eroded our equity that we had been carefully building up by paying our mortgages, you know, one year at a time sort of thing. We had begun to build up a little bit of equity. So we lost income source, cash flow and equity base all in one fell swoop. And it was. It was a tremendously bewildering experience because we had, like lots of good, thoughtful Christian young people had prayed about these things. We thought we were moving in harmony with the will of God for our lives and for our family setup and all of a sudden the rug was literally pulled out from under us. You felt like you’d been turned upside down.
CM: Now, there aren’t that many people in agriculture today.
CM: Although we’ve got a lot of listeners in the middle of the United States and on up into Canada but the fact is, there are other people who could identify with what you’re talking about in other ways. They may be living in a large city or it could be, as I mentioned when we went on the air, jobs are lost or something else has happened, a house has been taken away from you. We’re seeing those hard times today, at least in the United States right now.
MH: That’s what we’re seeing, we’re noting this. It is a very difficult time for many families. And we can feel it all over again.
CM: Yes, yes. Well tell me this. What do you feel the morning after something like this hits?
MH: You know, the first thing you feel is you feel utterly bewildered because you thought there was a path, you thought there was a road ahead and suddenly you feel like there is no road ahead. And then the very first temptation I think is to ask, “Why? Why would God let this happen to us?” We were active in the church. We were giving of our time. We were tithing on our income. We were seeking to be faithful to the call of God on our lives. Why if you get all those things right do things go so wrong? And I think that that was one of the very first huge maturing experiences in this, was to come to realize that following the will of God and seeking to be obedient in life does not leave you immune from the hardships of human existence. And that God doesn’t promise that you’re going to have perfect financial security or total success in the thing you feel called to do. He really, his promise is to be with you until the end of the age.
MH: And what is promised is Emmanuel, what is promised is “God with us”, in this, not some kind of a success formula by which, if you got it right it would all go right. And if it goes wrong you must have gotten it wrong. I hope that makes clear sense to your listeners Charles.
Cm: It certainly does and of course there are ministers on TV and radio who would be disagreeing with you but I must point out to our listeners that what Maxine is telling us is biblical and God promising you success if you just claim it is not biblical. So, we need to make that clear!
MH: Yes, first real spiritual hurdles in this was to quit asking, “Why us? Why would this happen to us?” and to start asking “Dear Lord what are you wanting to teach us in and through this and how do you want to meet us through this?”
CM: And it must have been tough on your relationship, yours and Cam’s relationship as a couple. And then you had these little, little children that you had to feed at the same time!
MH: Yeah, well the little children add a huge dimension both as something that calls you forward and makes you solve problems because you have little ones whose needs you must meet. And then they’re wonderful joie de vive. You know the little ones never knew there was that problem. Maybe the oldest one did understand a little bit that we were under some kind of duress but the little ones were fed, clothed and loved and you know, children’s needs are much, much less than we think in this affluent age in terms of the brand name toys and the very next things they, we think we must get them. Their needs are pretty basic and when there’s love and when there’s joy children’s needs are met, can be met pretty basically. And we did really trust the Lord for those needs. And I think that was the next thing we really started to learn was the difference between wants and needs
CM: Good point.
MH: and really went through a sifting process in our own hearts and minds as to what constituted the thing you could trust the Lord for because he promises us our daily bread.
CM: Yes he does
MH: And learning, learning to be stripped down to that, where you were trusting the Lord for this week’s groceries – I don’t know if I ever got absolutely to daily bread, but certainly this week’s groceries – that’s a good trust experience to learn.
CM: Well, obviously you were in the midst of a financial crisis and as you think back on it now, just, can you recall some of the pitfalls that came forward with all of a sudden not having money like you ‘d had before – and you weren’t wealthy in the first place –
CM: You were hard up though.
MH: for a while we were really hard up. And one of the big, one of the biggest problems I think is to avoid any kind of blaming each other. You know I think the first thing that happens, and marital counselors will say that financial stress is one of the biggest contributors to marriage breakdown.
MH: And the first thing that happens is that you tend to do just what Adam and Eve do in the garden, you just turn and point big fingers at each other and say, “You got us into this because of your business decisions” on the one hand or the other one saying, “Yes but if you’d be more careful with your spending we wouldn’t be in this exposed position at this time.” And that kind of back and forth between husband and wife is going to tear down the very fabric you need now to build with. And so I think that’s one of the first things. And then the second one is the one I’ve probably already mentioned and that is the asking God “Why?” because God doesn’t owe us explanations on this kind of matter. We’re humans, we live in an economy and a culture that the rain falls on the just and on the unjust, whether it’s the generous rain of goodness or the hardship rain of economic downturn. And just learning to live as a human being in a loving supportive relationship with another human being, neither of us whom got it all right but who are standing before God with our hands open to say, “Lord help us. We need you. We love you and we love each other.” And those affirmations seem so essential to me.
CM: I know some people that have had a crisis hit in their life. They resort to panic. I’ve had moments of panic myself, I know my wife Janet has, but then other people I’ve known of there seems to be some sort of paralysis that comes over them. Now did either of those happen to you or Cam?
MH: Oh, I would suppose probably a little of each. Probably the fact that we had to make decisions quickly in order to salvage what we could stopped paralysis. You simply couldn’t afford to be paralyzed. You had to quickly be realistic about the situation, quickly get to your banker and say, “Here’s what our plan is,” so quickly make a plan, and begin to move forward. But, so I think the paralysis was almost denied, blessedly by the fact that there were immediate needs that had to be attended to and a family that had to be looked after. The panic, the panic is huge and I think that the only answer I know to it is to go to the Lord in prayer and to say, “Lord, we’re really scared. This is frightening. We don’t quite know, we don’t know how to go ahead but we know we must go ahead, so we’re calling on you for wisdom and we’re crying out to you for a path where there is no visible path.” And there’s a wonderful verse in the Psalms that speaks about the Lord leading his people by a path they did not see or a path they knew not. And I do believe as you look back, you see that there was a path but you can only, you only find it by walking it. You only find it by doing the next thing, you know, in continual obedience and seeking to be telling the truth to yourself. I think that’s a pitfall Charles. Another danger is just denial, just lying about it to yourself.
CM: Or today, just going on credit.
MH: Or going on credit which is a form of denial
CM: Sure, that’s right
MH: a form of telling yourself a lie, that somehow –
CM: Pulling those credit cards out
MH: That’s right, and we could talk some more about the dangers
CM: that’s for another day, yes
MH: But I think that telling the truth and then speaking the truth in love one to each other so that you’re facing your reality together and then you ask the Lord for wisdom and you do the next thing.
CM: Maxine Hancock is with us here on Haven Today. We’re beginning a new year. We’re talking about living on less and liking it more. Maxine, how is faith in Jesus Christ relevant when your source of income dries up and you’re just flat out wondering how you’re going to buy groceries for the next week?
MH: Well, I think, that is the ultimate relevance when we haven’t got a whole lot of answers when we go to the Lord I prayer but we just go in our need and go in our neediness. And I remember so well speaking to the Lord day after day in the early stages of trying to sort out the financial debris that we found ourselves landsliding under and I just would say, “Lord, I don’t know anything. I don’t know how we’re going to come through this I only know that we’ll come through it together and that I love you.” And then I went even further down in the cycle of depression and distress and I remember the day that I said to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t even know if I love you anymore but I do know that you love me.” And at that moment Charles, I really felt I had hit rock bottom and I mean the Rock was there. That ultimately it is the steadfast love of God that sustains us, not our love for him, not our great brilliance in solving our problems, although I think we had to think hard and to begin an action plan, but the steadfast love of God that never ceases and the mercies that are new every morning is the thing that sustains us in these times.
CM: Wow. Thank you. That’s what I needed to hear from you today. Maxine, we’re going to have you back on tomorrow.
MH: That sounds wonderful
CM: And we’ll talk about what happens then after the immediacy of the crisis passes because a lot of us are there too. It’s already happened. Maybe we’re out of a job or maybe we’ve lost our home. Well now what do we do. We’ll talk about that tomorrow, but would you mind just leading us in prayer before we go?
MH: I’d be so glad to Charles.
Father, we are your children and you take responsibility for us, and how grateful we are. And as I remember how our little children just quietly, gratefully trusted in us through those lean, hard years when we didn’t know how we were going to buy them overcoats or where the bread was going to come from for their sandwiches. We thank you that they lived in merry trust. And so I ask that these your children who have listened to this program today who have deep needs or are in financial distress, that they will remember that they are your children, that you love them and that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, that your mercies are new every morning. We give you thanks in Jesus our Lord, amen.
Cm: Thank you Maxine, for leading us in prayer and a lot of us really needed you to pray for us. This is a program called “Living on Less and Liking it More” and that’s the name of Maxine’s book and the subtitle is “How to reduce your spending and increase your living.” It’s a great story to read, Cam and Maxine and what the Lord took them and their young children through, but you know, you get to the last half and it gets pretty basic and pretty practical but never lose sight of the fact that this was a family that was leaning heavily on Jesus and the Lord God, in his mercy, came through, as he does for all his children. Let me just mention as well that Maxine, in case you didn’t pick up on this, is not against prosperity but instead she just believes that you can honor God by choosing new thought patterns and new values and she wants to suggest ways that you can get off your merry-go-round of excessive spending, and a lot of us are feeling that coming off the holidays. And she wants to help you find creative ways to just take care of yourself but also how you can grow in the Lord. She’s going to be back with us again tomorrow on the program so I hope you’ll tune in for part 2. If you would like, and I would strongly suggest that you like to get a copy of her “Living on Less and Liking it More” you can go to our website, read more about the book, haventoday.org. We ask for your first-of-the-year gift to Haven Today to help us tell the great story about Jesus and we’ll get you a copy of the book out right away, haventoday, one word, h.a.v.e.n.t.o.d.a.y, haventoday.org, or call us at 1-800-654-2836. I’ll say it a little more slowly, 1-800-654-2836. The book’s by Maxine Hancock, “Living on Less and Liking it More”, it’s a cute title and the book is worth it. And I want to see you grow in godliness with contentment and, as the scripture says, that’s great gain. So, you can call us, you can go in the internet and also, if you really liked that song by Chris Tomlin that we just opened with, “The Best of Passion” so far, it’s a 2 volume CD set with artists like Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman and David Crowder’s Band and Charlie Hall, it’s got a lot of great music and it’s not too over the top either, I’d like you to get in touch with us about that as well because we have those albums in our warehouse.
I’m Charles Morris and I want to invite you to come back tomorrow with Maxine Hancock. We’re going to give a run at part 2. And if you get the book from us we’re also going to put in the 2 days of interviews that we have with Maxine. So come back again tomorrow when again we’ll be lifting high Jesus Christ, the Author and the Finisher of our faith and we’ll do it together here on Haven Today.