life

Content With the Hard Stuff

Contentment. It is not an easy state to stay in. We are not content about our food; wrong brand of milk.  Wrong flavor of chips. We are not content about the weather; too windy, cold, or hot. Our house is too little, too cluttery, or too dirty. Our kids are too loud, don’t listen and are too whiny.

Our husbands… Oh we won’t go there! lol

The socks left on the floor…

The hammer left on the kitchen table.

We can complain about a lot of things. Every day. Or we can be content with what we have.

contentment

The cold windy day, because it blows the leaves out of our yard. The small house that doesn’t take long to clean. The kids that are healthy enough to drive us bonkers with their noise.

There is always something to be thankful and content about.

There is one thing that the Spirit keeps asking me if I’m content with… the hard stuff.

Those hard things that keep bringing me to my knees.  The things that keep me running to Christ. My weaknesses.  The thorn in my flesh. The person that I forgive again and again. The HARD stuff that I face each day.

Am I content with that hard stuff in my life?

Not content, as is I want to stay STUCK where I am. No, not that at all, but rather content with the way those hard things have affected me. If you are like me, you have been beaten, stepped on, wrinkled, torn, to some degree. Yet, the hard things I’ve been through have taught me something; they have formed me into who I am today. I have become a different person because of the junk I’ve had to go through.

Am I content with that? Am I content with the fact that I had to go through hard stuff in order to more fully become the person God has planned for me to be?

Recently a pastor showed a crisp, clean, brand new $100 bill. The pastor went on to crumple, step on, and tear the $100 bill. Then he showed us the bill. He asked how much it was worth now.  It looked like it was years older; yet the value was still $100.

He said that we were all once that crisp dollar bill; yet, for many of us, life has crumpled, beaten, stepped on, wrinkled, and torn us. He asked, do those things make us worthless?  Though we are crumpled, beaten, stepped on, wrinkled, torn… Under all those hurts that have happened in our life, we still have the same value. Because of Christ.

Through Christ we are made into a brand new creation. Those things that crumpled us, tore us, and the times we were stepped on… those hard things… Things that Satan might be still plaguing us with today…

  • have made us into the person we have become.
  • have brought us to the place where we can help someone else.
  • cause us rely on Christ more.

Paul said in perfectly in 2 Corinthians 12:

So, to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul asked for that hard thorn to be taken from him. Then he realized that because this thorn was still there, it reminded him how much he needed Jesus.  WITHOUT Jesus, He could do NOTHING.

That thorn that we wish would leave; it is what brings us to our knees.

That hard stuff; it is where we can see Christ’s strength!

Through the hurts that we have, we can see the power of Christ.

His grace is all we need. We can be content in that.

 

Life Lessons Learned Through a Gift Exchange

Everyone has probably been to a “White Elephant Gift Exchange” and if you don’t know what it is, think about a gift you received in the past. It could be something that you smiled and said thank you but knew it wasn’t something you would use. It’s probably still in the box! Got it? Now for the white elephant gift exchange, you would wrap it up and bring it to the party – without knowing whom would take it home.

contentment

When it is time for the gift exchange, you would draw numbers or have your name chosen from a hat. When it is your turn, you select any gift from the table and take it back to your seat to open it.

Now the next name or number is up and they can choose to either steal the gift from the first person or opt to select one of the unopened gifts from the table. If they take your gift, then you get to steal a gift from someone else (not the same person that stole yours) or select another unopened package from the table.

The further down the list you land either through number or name, the more gifts have been opened and your choice switches from the “unknown” gifts on the table or something someone else is holding.

This continues until everyone has a gift. It may not be a gift you like…but the exchange is complete.

Every year we attend holiday parties that have this white elephant gift exchange as part of the evening events. Our family does this as part of our family reunion each year.

I personally enjoy watching the exchange play out, and watching people get really upset when someone steals their gift is funny, considering most of the exchanges have a cash limit that is usually pretty low value.

However, I do believe there are some life lessons that we can learn from a white elephant gift exchange.

  1. Hold onto physical things lightly.
    As in this exchange, the gift you just opened or stole from someone else can be taken away in a heartbeat. While this is part of the game, it’s also part of life – when the stakes are so much higher than a trinket. How fast can everything be lost in a fire, theft, accident, or an investment?  In less time that you can react, you can lose physical things you may have placed too high a value on. While having nice things is nice, if we place too high a value on them, it can be devastating to lose them. We can’t take the “things” we collect with us to Heaven, and being willing to let them go when they can be used to help another person blesses us as well as them.
  2. Rejoice in the relationships.
    Games like this gift exchange will expose the condition of the relationships of those participating. If the participants have a close and loving relationship, it is a fun activity. Yes, mock shock and horror may be exclaimed, but the laughter and fellowship with each other top you having lost that little trinket. This exchange can also show where the cracks are in the relationships of the group of people. Does someone feel left out? Does someone really get upset when their gift is stolen? When you look at the group gathered together to celebrate, does this person always seem to be on the fringe of the group? That is the relationship that you need to invest in and build.

    Our relationships need to be focused on the fellowship and heart strings with each other and not on the little gift or “things” others can do for us. Relationships are not about us. They are not about what you can do for me. They need to be about how together we are better than when we are alone.

  3. Be generous in all things.
    In the game, being generous could be that you brought something that was super popular, or valued at more than the guidelines, or perhaps something that several of the participants could really use. This gift that you brought (remember though that no one is supposed to know where the gift came from), may be stolen a dozen times before it ends up in the hands of the person that will take it home.

The last time I participated in a white elephant gift exchange, I was the last person to take a turn. I had watched as gifts were opened and so I knew what everyone had in their hands. There was one unwrapped gift on the table. I finally chose to steal a gift instead of taking the last wrapped gift from the table. The gift I selected had already been stolen several times because it was a neat gift and one that most of us would be able to use at home.

Oh the disappointment and hurt on the person’s face when I stole her cherished gift. She was really upset over it, although she herself had stolen the gift from someone else when it was her turn. Upset or not, the gift was mine to take because that’s how the gift exchange works. As I sat looking at my gift, I noticed the person that had to select the last wrapped gift off the table was holding her new gift and was trying to keep up her composure for the party, but it was clear she was disappointed.

The gift in my hands fairly quickly lost the “joy” gained by acquiring it through the game. I had not meant to hurt anyone, but my actions had caused another pain. I started considering if I really wanted or needed the gift. I didn’t, it was cute but it would probably end up in the next garage sale or packed away until another holiday party needed a white elephant gift.

I thought about what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I got up and walked over to the person that I had taken it from and re-gifted it to her. Did I have to do that? Nope, not at all. Would I have been justified to keep the item? Sure, I had gained control of it through the rules of the exchange. But, I also knew that it wasn’t something that I needed so I gave it back with a hug and a wish that she would get enjoyment out of the item. Her joy and smile meant more to me than the trinket.

In Hebrews 13:5 Paul writes:  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Ladies, during the holiday season when we are often focused on things around us and forget the real reason for the season; let’s stop and refocus on Jesus. He was the Ultimate Gift sent from God. He was the only way for us to have a relationship with God.

As busy as things get around the holidays, we need to remember to value people and relationships over physical things, and to be generous with our time and “things” because of how grateful we are for what God has done for us and for others in our life.

While the holiday season may bring our attention to others more, it shouldn’t be the only time we practice these life lessons. Let’s start the New Year with a commitment to ourselves and those sisters in Christ to be there for each other. Together we are stronger than when we are alone.

When Hope Wears Thin

We had a bad week. Our air conditioner was leaking water onto the floor. Our gas stove was leaking gas into the house. We had air in the pipes that sounded like a ship leaving port every time a toilet flushed. Our septic system backed up.  We couldn’t use our bathrooms, wash clothes, or wash dishes. All of this happened in the course of a few days.  We were carrying loads of clothes and dishes next door to the neighbor’s house to be washed. In fact, we were carrying ourselves next door to be washed. It was a tough week and it was expensive. Mostly it was just frustrating. It seemed like everything was falling apart. Our hope wore thin.

hope wears thin

I’m sure you’ve had times like that. We all do. We just feel inadequate. And in those times, the world is right there to slap labels on us: unprepared, unreliable, disorganized, uneducated. Often we beat the world to the punch and put the labels on ourselves. We decide that we’ll just never get it together, so what’s the point? Just wear the label and suffer through it.in the story of Rahab. She is mentioned eight times in Scripture, and in five of those she is referenced as a prostitute. Two of those are in the New Testament. It seems like Rahab just can’t get away from the labels.

When we first read about Rahab in Joshua chapter 2, she’s working in a demeaning job and living in a detestable culture. Like the rest of the people of Jericho, she had heard the stories of the Hebrews and their God. But unlike everyone else, Rahab responded with faith instead of fear. She believed that the God of the Hebrews would deliver Jericho and she recognized in that God something she had never known in any of the Amorite gods. Don’t get me wrong. She didn’t understand it. She knew nothing about tabernacles or manna or scapegoats or wave offerings. She had never heard of the Mercy Seat.

She just knew that this God was different, truly powerful.

She had a faith-filled hope in God.

God saw Rahab respond WITH faith and He responded TO her faith.

God sent two Hebrew spies to confirm Rahab’s faith. He’ll do the same for you. If you will just hold on during those difficult times, God will send people into your life who will confirm your faith, who will let you know that you are seen and you are worth protecting. The spies also delivered a promise: Rahab and her family would be spared because she dared to believe in a God she didn’t know. It’s not about understanding or having it all together; it’s about believing and trusting.

hope is believing

When the walls of Jericho tumbled down, so did Rahab’s past. She climbed out of the rubble of the city that defined and confined her. She walked into freedom. In time she married Salmon, one of the spies that she had saved, and they had a son, Boaz, who would become the grandfather of David. She went from foreigner to family; from pagan to believer; from harlot to hero of the faith.

You see, we use labels to define our present, but God uses those labels to describe our past. I can hear Rahab say, “I was lost, but now I’m found. I was bound, but now I’m free.” Now let’s hear you say the same.

Practice hope, it’s a choice, believe and trust in His perfect plan.

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Three years ago I was rocking my 2-month-old baby when my (then) husband broke the news that he no longer wanted to be married.

I’ve struggled daily with forgiveness for more than 3 years, learning that forgiveness can’t always be given in an instant.

forgiveness

I can’t say, “I forgive you for leaving us.” and suddenly be rid of anger and hurt forever. That anger surfaces over and over: when I face a parenting decision alone, when medical bills arrive, when I’m lonely, when a child asks why her father left, and on, and on. Each and every time that anger washes over me, I must again try to forgive.

What can be done to forgive what feels unforgivable?

Realize that forgiveness isn’t ‘once and done’. It is a constant. Each time anger surfaces, there is need to forgive once again.

What is forgiveness? Is it condoning the actions of the one who hurt you? Is it removing the need for accountability? Is it pretending the wrong never happened or there were no consequences?

No! Forgiveness is simply acknowledging a wrong and giving it to God, realizing that He is the one in control of the situation. Rather than worrying about just punishment for an offense, allow God to take care of it.

forgiveness

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

Even after three years, I am no pro at forgiveness. I must still frequently revisit forgiveness through prayer, asking for help to surrender my anger and hurt.

Friend, if you are struggling to forgive, remember that forgiveness is an ongoing battle. Approach God with prayer each time you find yourself dwelling on the transgression. Recognize that God is in control of righting injustice and you are simply in control of letting go.

Forgiveness Is Freedom

Have you ever noticed that the words GIVE and GIVEN are in the middle of forgiveness? I guess I never really thought about it. Until today. And now, that which has been seen cannot be unseen.

ForGIVEness is a noun, and as such, it is a thing. It is something you can give, and it is something that can be given to you—whether you choose to receive it or not. Isn’t that interesting?

forgiveness

Psychologists have long contended that the offer of forGIVEness benefits the person giving it regardless of the recipient’s reaction. Why? Rarely do the people we need to forgive have a clue how much harm they have inflicted or the extent of the pain they have caused. Can I get a witness?!

ForGIVEness is not about fighting for justice or holding the offender accountable—that’s completely different. ForGIVEness is an attitude of the heart. It’s about us and our willingness to trust God’s sovereignty: Do we trust God enough to forGIVE someone for hurting us? Our family? Our friends? Our pastor? Our animals? Our possessions? Our bank accounts?

When I consider what authentic forGIVEness looks like, I think of the incredibly inspiring and humble members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. I think of  Nadine Collier, the daughter of Ethel Lance, a senior citizen who was shot and killed after an evening service in 2015 for no other reason than the color of her skin. When Collier had the opportunity to confront her mother’s murderer, she did not seek revenge or curse his existence. She did not question why or scream in his face. Instead, she offered the unexpected and holy gift of forGIVEness. Though he was held captive by his hate, she was FREE.

When I consider what authentic forGIVEness looks like, I think of Debbie Godwin, daughter of Robert Godwin Sr. whose cold-blooded murder was posted on social media and shared all over the interwebs. Instead of hate and bitterness, she has shown tremendous grace and emotional fortitude by offering forGIVEness and showing empathy towards the murderer who later took his own life. He was held captive by his hate. She was FREE.

What do Collier, Godwin, and others who genuinely practice the art of forGIVEness have in common? They share a heart filled with humility and trust—the combination of which unlocks our ability to offer forGIVEness to those who have hurt us, even if the hurt can never be undone.

Isn’t it interesting that when Jesus taught His followers how to pray, He taught them to “Let it go!”

“Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. (Matthew 6:12, CSB)

And just in case Jesus’ followers didn’t understand that forGIVEness was tied to their willingness to forGIVE others, He re-stated it more clearly:

“If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14, CSB)

In this model prayer, Jesus highlighted the essentials of an effective prayer: honoring God; calling out for His will to be done; looking to Him as provider; requesting protection and deliverance from evil; AND seeking forGIVEness with the same measure we offer it to others. It’s almost as though Jesus was teaching His followers that forGIVEness was an important daily practice—a spiritual discipline, of sorts—and withholding it would have serious negative consequences.

ForGIVEness requires neither a frontal lobotomy nor a risky reconciliation. It simply requires (1) a humble spirit convinced that the best judge of character, motivation, and intention is the Lord God Almighty and (2) a heightened sense of self-awareness that we are not Him! 😳

Only in humility are we able to place our trust in a God who is who He says He is and does what He says He will do. When we trust God, we can genuinely offer forGIVEness—not concern ourselves with the reaction of the recipient—and experience freedom from the bondage of bitterness.

forgiveness

Are you willing to trust God’s judgment over your own and offer forGIVEness to ___________________ today, even though she or he might never know? Or might reject it? Remember, His forGIVEness is directly related to our willingness to forGIVE others. There really is no better time than the present to let go of bitterness and trust God’s sovereignty with your pain. ForGIVEness is freedom.

When We Don’t Pray

What would you think if your husband didn’t speak to you for days or even weeks at a time? What if your children talked about you but rarely spoke with you? What if your friends went to your house but didn’t talk to you while they were there?

prayer

Of course these situations sound strange and are probably pretty unbelievable, right? But when we don’t pray, that’s essentially how we’re treating God. Even if we read the Bible. Even if we go to church. Even if we sing hymns or worship songs. Even if we read Christian books. All of those things are great. They are all things we should do. But they shouldn’t take the place of prayer in our lives.

Why not? Because prayer is the way we communicate with God. It’s the way we tell Him how much we love Him. It’s the way we thank Him for meeting our needs. It’s the way we ask Him for guidance. It’s one of the ways we communicate with God in response to all the ways He communicates with us.

And it grieves the heart of God when we don’t pray.

Years ago my husband was filling in for our pastor who was away one Sunday. He began his sermon by telling how he was caught off guard by the amount of love in his heart for our first child when she was born. Of course he had loved Hannah before she was born, but when we welcomed her into the world, a whole new level of love filled his heart. An unexpected love that he never could have understood until our child was born.

He went on to tell how, as she grew, every little thing she did seemed so miraculous. Every milestone she reached made him so proud! Every noise she made sounded like music. Every smile lit up his heart and made him love her that much more.

And then, around the age of 15 months, things changed. Our sweet girl stopped talking. She lost the ability to understand speech. She no longer looked at her daddy with love in her eyes. She no longer laughed when he played with her. She no longer understood his instructions or tried to follow them. She no longer craved her daddy’s attention or sought his approval.

In other words, she no longer responded to her father’s voice.

My husband learned by experiencing Hannah’s lack of response toward him—Hannah’s earthly daddy—that God feels the same way when His children don’t respond to Him. And if we earthly parents grieve when our children don’t respond to our imperfect love, how much more must God grieve when we fail to respond to His perfect love for us?

prayer

Yes, prayer is important. It’s one of the ways we show God that we’re listening. It’s one of the ways we ask Him to help us understand His will for our lives. It’s one of the ways we thank Him for what He does for us. It’s one of the ways we acknowledge Him, communicate with Him, and respond to Him. It’s one of the ways we worship Him. But the most important reason to pray is simply because God desires a relationship with each of us.

Walking with God in Prayer

Sometimes, we forget to do “it.”  Other times, we take “it” for granted.  Often times, I wonder how little power we attribute to “it.” But truly how often do we take a step back, stand in awe of the fact that our Lord and Savior has given us the amazing gift of prayer?

walking with God in prayer

Prayer connects us to God

Prayer gives us a way to connect with THE GOD of the Universe!

How amazing is that!

Let’s stop and contemplate that for a moment……

 

Before the world began, God knew we would sin and that this sin would keep us from having a relationship with him.  So, he formed a plan to save us and reconcile us back to himself.

“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”
1 Peter 1:20-21

He not only wanted us to be with Him in heaven one day, but He wanted to cultivate a relationship on Earth.  This is why he blessed all who believe and are baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Not only do we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, but we also have the gift of prayer.

Walking with God

Throughout the Bible, we read that so and so “walked with God.”  Enoch walked with God 300 years, Noah walked with God, etc.  In the past when I would read about them walking with God, I felt a longing in my heart to do the same.  But for some weird reason, I didn’t believe it was possible.  And then, I read this verse and realized God wants to walk with ALL of us!

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 (emphasis added)

Yes!  Walking with God is possible for all of us, but how? 

Walking with God in the Power of Prayer

Jesus emphatically tells us in John 14 & 15 that Jesus and the Father are one. That if we know Jesus, we know the Father.  Then in a bolder statement, Jesus says:

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in  me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
John 14:11-15

Honestly, this boggles my mind a bit…what about you?

Have you ever thought about doing greater things than Jesus?  Um…Never!  But here is the thing:

prayer

It was by God’s power that Jesus did everything He did.  He walked with God through a prayerful life.  Jesus wants us to walk in a prayerful life with Him because in doing so, we will walk in a prayerful life with God. Then, God will work through us in the same way He worked through Jesus! 

We are, after all, supposed to follow Christ’s example.  Are we truly taking hold of the power of prayer or are we settling for something less than what we could have?  These are questions I’ve been asking myself.  Would you join me in this challenge of walking with God through prayer in a more powerful way?

How does this change your outlook on prayer? 

Does it scare you at all? 
Because, it does me just a little, but in a good-God’s-pushing my comfort zone kind of way.

 

Escape Through Provision

Have you ever thought about how the Lord provides a way to escape through provision? Honestly, I had never considered that until these past few months.

provision

Through my life, I have always thought about how the Lord gives blessings and provides for his children through material possessions. But, now, I can see so much more than that because of this verse:

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

Do you see it?  He provides a way to escape from temptation.

Isn’t that beautiful?

To me, it is because I have fallen into temptation my entire life. I have longed for material possessions, to be the best (at many different things), I have suffered from jealousy, coveteousness, gossip, anger….. and the list goes on.

One thing I have held higher than I should is the need for stability.

I never really thought about that or how it can be sinful to need stability, but this past year, God has shown me that anything I place above Him causes my heart to wander.

It took a true friend, one who knows I long to learn more about the Lord to speak the truth.

One day, as I shared our financial situation, she very lovingly replied: “The Lord will bring to light the things we need to work on so that He can do bigger things in our lives and the lives of others through us.”

That hit me like a load of bricks.

She didn’t say “Oh, I am so sorry” or  “Oh, I hope things work out…”  She spoke the truth and showed me that no matter what was going on, the Lord had allowed it to happen, but for a bigger purpose than I could imagine.

As I considered what she said, I asked her to pray for me. I asked her to pray that God would give us clear direction….

God did give us clear direction.

Within a few months, a neighbor called and told us she was selling her home and asked if we would like to speak with her realtor.  I agreed to  do so but knew that we had to make a certain amount on our home, or it would not make sense.

The realtor came that night and within 48 hours (even before listing on MLS), we had a full price contract.

In that transaction, God provided a way for us to pay off almost all of our debt.

While we do not have a home of our own, he has also provided shelter – through the same friend who gave me those words of wisdom. We needed to sell our home and a place to regroup; she needed house sitters while her home is empty.

God has provided.

His provision was not just for our physical needs; he has also provided spiritually.

provision

I no longer judge how other people mess up their finances and end up homeless and needing food stamps.  There are times in this life where things happen because of lessons that haven’t been learned.  There are also times when things happen that are completely out of our control.

I am thankful for my friend and her lack of judging me. I am thankful for her love and desire to speak truth.

Most of all, I am thankful for how deeply she loves the Lord.

God has shown His love through His provision for me and my family.  I pray He will also provide a way for us to bless others…

…and on the 7th week, she rested

pro·vi·sion

I woke up this morning and realized July is almost over. GASP! And my blog is due – double whammy! The topic for this month, “provision,” which is: the action of providing or supplying something. I could easily write about another “pro” word, you know, as in procrastination but such is not the topic this month.

provision

As I prayed and sought the Scriptures, the first verse that came to mind was Philippians 4:19. I’m going to be real honest with you, I usually tend to think about this verse when I’m trying to figure out “how am I going to pay for ‘X’?” I know my God is not a “genie in a bottle,” so I immediately felt convicted that provision must mean more than God making sure I have food, shelter and enough money to pay the bills. As a former pastor used to say, read the Scriptures s-l-o-w-l-y. So, I did. I looked up that verse and read it slowly and this is what I saw.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

If you recall last month’s blog I was in the midst of a full kitchen remodel that began the 1st week of June and construction / final installation didn’t end until July 11th. We still have items that need to be completed, but the kitchen is fully functional. Praise the Lord!

Being the planner that I am, I had a built-in cushion; all boxes were checked, but the surprises just kept coming…along with the tears. My prayers sounded like this, “Hello God! Do you not see that I have been a good steward with this project? I need you to make this go as smoothly as I planned it.” Me and my list explains why I fell through the ceiling and why things went a bit out of whack during our kitchen remodel.

God needed me to see my need for Him and let Him take care of things because I really have no control. Not having a clue on how things were going to get fixed kept me my attention on the One who is in control. I kept focusing on the “how are we going to pay for it” aspect instead of remembering God’s provision for our needs.

I’ll be honest, I cried a lot and then it was time to balance the budget, where the credits and the debits left us $156 ahead and left me saying, “Wow God, Wow!”

A friend who was going through a kitchen remodel at the same time we were, summarized my feelings so eloquently and she gave me a hearty laugh in the process —

“I feel like I am on a mission trip. I’m in a construction zone; paint all over myself, no plumbing, etc….*except*… no one is getting saved and there’s no plane waiting for me at the end of the week.”

While “nobody got saved,” I was able to have some fruitful discussions with the contractors. As a worldview teacher and pro-life activist, I pray faithfully that God provides me the words needed to speak should I encounter such situations. Interesting to note how I trust Him to faithfully provide for those situations and yet, I “panicked” about what I was seeing as the growing expense of our money pit, (ahem!) kitchen.

Why the panic? Why do so many of us panic over certain situations and not others. It’s different for each of us, but the issue remains. For those areas where we choose not to panic and when we focus our energy on seeking God’s peace and trusting His provision, things always work out better than we could have anticipated. Remember, I don’t have answers, but I do have a lot of questions and those questions keep me close to the Vine. I know all too well that God will be teaching me this lesson yet again. Hopefully next time I won’t fall through a ceiling.

provision

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

This whole process reminded me that I have zero control, and that is a good thing. It also left me weary because I kept trying to control what I couldn’t. I teased that what I now needed was a very long nap, and what do you know God makes provision for my need to rest too! That part about “all my needs” means all my needs. While there wasn’t a plane waiting for me at the end of the remodel, there was a Sleep Number™ bed with my number programmed and ready to receive me.

Wondering About God’s Provision?

I was very excited when I saw this month’s topic: God’s Provision. My husband and I have been on a journey of learning about God’s provision in a whole new way. This year has been one of ‘those’ years. One in which we have sure questioned God’s Provision. One in which we have wondered what God was doing. We have wondered why He was not providing like we thought He would.

provision

So as I looked ahead to writing this article, I was excited to share with you the complete story. I thought it surely would all be solved by the end of this month. But, friends, we are still in the middle of the story. We still haven’t seen the ending to these situations we’ve found ourself in. We still have not seen God’s provision come yet. 

. . . . Or have we?

Throughout this whole seven-month saga in our life, outwardly, it may seem like God is not providing for us.  But, oh WOW! There are many things that our God has provided! Things that go beyond human eye sight.  Things that go way deeper than the physical needs we have. Things beyond the very large decisions that weigh on our minds.

In His goodness, He has provided:

Preparation. Though some things can never be prepared for, we have felt prepared. God’s Spirit quietly prepared us to unclasp our hands to the things that rot and decay. God’s great provision!

Teaching. Great lessons, that can only be taught thru life’s hard times. We are being gently taught by God’s Word. God’s great provision!

Wisdom. We are wiser than we were a year ago. Certainly. Not that making any decision is any easier than it would have been a year ago. It might even be harder. Yet all the things God has taught us this year have prepared us to make the big decisions we are facing now. God’s great provision!

Peace. Throughout this whole year, though circumstances are less than ideal, we have felt peace. Peace in the midst of the storm. God’s great provision!

So, friend, if you also find yourself in need of God’s great provision, look around. He shows up everywhere. He may not look like what you think provision looks like. It may not be a physical provision. Yet, His Word, His grace, His peace, His preparation, His teaching. The lessons learned. Are all a part of our God’s great provision.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4 NLT

He sees the big picture. He sees the emotional and mental provision that we need. More so than all of that, He sees the spiritual provision we need. He knows what we need to go thru in order to come out refined as gold tried in the fire. As clay, molded and shaped, ready for what the Master has for us to do.

provision

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.  Isaiah 64:8 NIV

We are not thru it yet. I don’t know how much longer we have before we can tell the whole story. For now, the story we can tell is that God provides. More than we think. And while he is providing, He is shaping us into the couple, the family, the person, He wants us to be. And because of that, we can praise God for His amazing provision.