"The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;" Lamentations 3:25

Monday, February 28, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays

So I have joined Ann Voskamp in her quest (which she has far surpassed already) to find 1000 gifts from God.  I must say that I have been off to a slow start and need to keep my eyes and heart much more open to the daily gifts that I receive from my Daddy.  Every Monday I will be posting my gifts. Enjoy!

  • Noah's dirty hands
  • 2nd grade girl coming out to play for recess arms spread wide, head held back slowly swaying back and forth feeling the air's breath on her face
  • Noah laying on the couch groggy with sleep, toy pressed against his face and he presses the top and it pops, he smiles lazily
  • the first smile of the morning
  • pen's that write in pink!
  • A Bible that once was plain to me, now I use frequently, the Word is magnificent no matter what form it takes!
  • a prayer saying thanks for my food that melts my lips and I realize how loving and patient He is. My heart grows for Him.
  • A beautiful rose wrapped in delightful tissue paper
  • An unexpected surprise-Dennis getting Noah up a few minutes early. His hair wild and he is still mostly asleep, head hanging, eyes closed. He looked so big and cuddly.
  • Arriving to daycare and school safely after a white knuckled drive in the snow
  • smells that take you back. It's not always a specific memory, it just takes me back.
  • Noah eating snow for the first time
  • a long written conversation with Jesus
  • when He answers my questions
  • Our bed, fluffy comforter and all
  • A sunny day after so much winter
P.S. I am terribly aware that I have been absent from my blog...which is typical for me but I do not want to fall into that routine again. I will be posting more regularly now (Lord willing!), I am expecting to share tomorrow a powerful conversation that I had today with Jesus.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

He's Spreading Those Wings

   I finally got internet up and running in our new place! Well, I guess not so new since we have been there for 3 months!  We move so much it seems that each time we move we take longer and longer to unpack and get settled.  Anyways, the great thing about having internet is I can sign back up to get daily devotionals from Girlfriends in God (Check them out! www.girlfriendsingod.com).  Today's devotional was titled "Lost that Lovin' Feeling?".  It was about marriages and what happens when that 'lovin feeling' slowly fades away.  That's a point where marriages either dissolve and end in divorce or people choose to press on to awaken their hearts and strengthen their marriage.  Statistics showed that those who stick with their marriage, the majority ended up having a great marriage after 5 years down the road. Those that didn't, were 60% likely to get remarried only to end in divorce! Wow. This hits me hard because my Husband and I were at that fork in the road not too long ago.  Things did not get better right away after making the decision to stick together but it also has not been 5 years yet.  So I have much more to hope for!
  One thing that struck a chord in my heart was she asked us to remember what drew us to our Husbands in the first place.  You know I've been asked to remember when we first met, our first date, all that good stuff.  I do not think I have really thought back on what drew me to my Husband.  And today, for the first time in a long time, thinking back on that gave me butterflies. Oh, how I have missed that feeling!
  It's so hard these days to compete with the Hollywood movies isn't it?  The romance, witty lines said at the perfect moment, the man with the perfect body and flawless face.  Those are nice, but really, the thing that always gets me is the kiss. The kiss.  It always seems so...perfect.  It's the very thing that makes you feel like your own life, your own romance is so pale in comparison.  It's almost dangerous.  But, have you ever watched a behind the scene on those movies?  That perfect kiss is rehearsed over, and over, and over. And over.
  No, Hollywood is not the place to look to.  You know who really inspires me? Song of Solomon. Her descriptions of her man, how much she longs and lusts for him.  The intoxication of it all.  I can better relate to her because I know she was a real person. I know that she isn't writing to please the lust of thousands of people on the big screen.  Somewhere deep inside I know that feeling is attainable.
  The butterflies in our relationship didn't last long. Could be because I moved in so quickly and we had no money. Could be the stress of working together.  Could be because after two months we were catapulted from courting each other into the role of parents together.  Whatever the reason, our romantic beginning did not last long. A week, maybe.  Okay, so where am I going with this?
  I just feel awakened by that one lone little butterfly flying in my stomach.  I thought that was gone and I had just missed the train to that passionate love.  After two years, after having a toddler and all the stress that comes with just living, that butterfly is able to come out of nowhere I can't imagine how much better it's going to get! I am sure I am making those who have been together much longer than a couple of years clutch their sides in laughter. Indulge me ;)
   I'm just in awe with what God can do.  I know He has a handle on my finances, I know He can heal any marriage, I know He is capable of doing whatever He wills for my life, I've watched Him do it.  But how much do I really believe He can do in my heart for my Husband? I know I'm not alone in this. It's the fingers sifting through my hair in the middle of the night, the lingering hand in the small of my back, the gentle whispers of "I love you" when he thinks I'm asleep that tell me God is working in his heart too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

He is Sufficient

   I have never been good at managing money, which is okay because I have never really had a lot of money.  I do not think there was really a time that I did not feel the frustration of poverty, but I can say that more often than not it is only a mild frustration. It would be nice to have security and be able to get the things I want, but there is also a lot of positive things about growing up below poverty level and currently living below poverty level.  Small things are so huge to me, like going out to dinner, twenty dollars at a thrift store, getting to see a movie in theatres, heck even just renting a movie!  One of the best things about being poor is getting to watch the Lord do miracles with such a small amount!
  When my Husband and I were going through marital troubles last summer our finances felt it.  Before then, I had made a budget for our income and, at the time, I was the only one bringing in the income.  The budget worked great and the Lord was constantly working every day miracles providing for us whether it was rent, diapers, or food.  Being a faithful tither was very important to us and usually we would give more than 10%.  Things were going pretty good. Then, I don't really know what happened. All of a sudden, the budget showed that we didn't have enough money to pay bills after our tithes.  It's not that I intentionally made the decision that we would not tithe, but I stopped tithing first.  Normally, when we received our paychecks we would tithe on it first before we did anything else. Once summer hit we slowly fell into the routine of taking care of our needs first and then whatever left over was the tithe.  Eventually, there was never anything left over.
  I began listening to my budget rather than my God who tells us "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9.  How had I so easily forgotten the times that we had nothing, absolutely nothing, yet everything was taken care of? It doesn't make sense! God's math does not make sense, but it is always perfect and right.
   For a while, I blamed my budget for my disobedience to the Lord.  It was the budget fault for showing me I couldn't tithe. But, I knew that wasn't true. I just stopped trusting the Lord.  I wanted to take matters into my own hands and do it on my own.  I started hearing more and more sermons on the obedience of tithing.  What struck me the most was Haggai 1:6 "You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill.  You put on clothes, but are not warm.  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
  That was my life.  Isn't it strange that without tithing we had an extra $200 dollars each month yet we had less bills covered were far more stressed.
  So Friday, I was listening to Network of Praise like I always do when I am home.  The sermon was the wonderful James McDonald and it was on God being sufficient enough for our needs.  It hit me that I was not seeing it that way.  The only thing that was keeping me going was the hope that we would be receiving our tax refund and school refunds soon and that is what was going to get us through. Well. If I know God, I know He isn't going to let anything or anyone take credit for something He is supposed to be.  There always seemed to be some sort of hold up with the money.  Cranky financial aid women, an incorrect tax return that needed to be ammended. It seemed like it was so close  yet so far.  Isn't it weird that normally I don't realize how broke I am until my son has run out of diapers and there is no money to pay for more.  That seems to always be my tipping point.
  So, there I am, listening to this sermon.  I realize that I don't see God as sufficent.  That I constantly doubt that He is all I need to be happy and be filled with everlasting joy. It's hard not to doubt when we live in a money hungry society that is sending never ended messages that happiness comes from things.  I know in my heart what's right and that the way we've been handling our money is wrong.  I asked for forgiveness and told God that I wanted to hand my money over to Him. To trust Him. He is sufficient.
  I felt calm.  That everything was going to be alright. He would provide diapers and wipes for our son.  I realize too, that God wanted us to relinquish our control over our finances and give them to Him before we receieved a large amount of money. 
  So I start going through all the junk on our coffee table.  We have this little wooden toolbox that we keep all our important papers and memorabilia like our son's wristband from birth, ultrasounds, first pair of moccasins that I made him. I started sifting through it, throwing out stuff that was no longer important.  I find an envelope. It belonged to our old budget when I divided every 'account' like rent, utilities, clothes, gas, etc. into different envelopes.  I thought to myself "wouldn't it be crazy if there was money in there?".  I flip the envelope over and inside is $16.  It was the envelope designated for kid's expenses like diapers and wipes.  The date said the money was put in there in December.  I have no idea how the envelope got in there or even why the money wasn't spent in the first place. I could only laugh and smile at my God who just amazes me. He literally makes my jaw drop.
   He also told me that it was time to use the budget again.  Not to use as a concrete and final decision, but to have order and I think also to watch how even when the budget says we don't have enough, God knows better = )

Do I Know Him?

  Oh, Jesus. I need You more than I realize. Do I even know You? Do You know me?  How close would You say we are?
  Day in and day out, I am consumed with my flesh.  It is a black shadow that comes silently in the night. It sneaks in without a sound, and slowly wraps itself around me like a cloak.  I don't even notice it at first until all at once it seems I am possessed.  Taken over by negative thoughts, bitterness, and constant scowling.  My heart is no longer pure, it's ragged and growling ferociously like starved lion.  Love does not reside here.
  At first the water feels good.  It is refreshing.  Following Jesus is so hard.  It goes against every fiber of my selfish being.  This drowning, indulging in my fleshly thoughts and harboring hurts and licking my wounds, it feels good.  I like the smooth feel of the water, I like not having to fight against my thoughts and feel guilt.  "This is nice", I think to myself. So slowly, the water rises.  It starts at my feet, crawls up to my waist.  I'm wading, oblivious to the danger I am in.  That, or I do not care. I wrestle with loving the unlovable, being nice to those who drive me nuts, having compassion for those who seem to have brought things on themselves.  My judgments may be correct but there is no love, no mercy.  I judge only to condemn, when I should only judge in order to restore, to guide, to shepherd. To love.  I do not give it to God, I do not battle these serpents in prayer.  The water rises.  It's up to my neck now and I am fuming. I read the Word. "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." Overlook an offense!? No.  I will not let them walk all over this church. I will not overlook it Lord.
   I am drowning. No control, just sinking deeper and deeper.  Panic sets in. I do not even recognize myself anymore.  I fight desperately against the water, trying to claw my way up to the surface. Where Jesus is.
 "Help me!" I cry out to Him. "Take these thoughts away from me. Change my heart. Take it away. I only want You!" So why is it that I am still sinking?  Why does His face seem to drift farther away?
   "Do you really want Me?" He asks. "Or do you just want to be saved from drowning?  You say you want to do the Lord's will. Yet you cannot even love.  Do you even know what His will is?" His eyes fill with tears and He says it so slowly, almost a whisper "Do you even know who I am? Do you know Me?"  
  I am stunned.  I feel the weight of the water, my lungs feel as if any moment they will implode, it burns.  Everything burns.  The water is all around me and I have inhaled much of it, yet my mouth feels dry. It is scorched, dry like a desert. Just like my heart.  Do I know Him?  Do I truly want to follow Him?
  "Yes. Yes. I love You, I need You.  I have neglected our relationship, caught up in my own selfish desires. In my own life, forgetting that the whole purpose of this life was to follow You. To know You and make You known to the world."  It's almost like waking up from a dream. I feel as if I have been dreaming, caught up in the woes of my life. In the sandpaper people.  My world, hazy, empty. Constant noise.  Unshakable thoughts, pointing fingers, rushing from one day to the next.
  He reaches His hand down through the water.  I cling to Him.
  We are walking along the shore, and for the first time in a long time, it's quiet.  There is nothing going on in my head except how much I want to stay in this moment with Him forever.  And the realization fills me with joy that one day, not that far away, I will stay in that moment with Him. Forever.