Monday, May 23, 2016

Thy hands have provided

The blessing in "Just enough"

In the past week I have been reminded that:
God is faithful.
 Daily he provides.
Like the manna for the Israelites in the wilderness,
Daily he provides. 
And when they gathered more than was needed for that very day, the extra rotted, and caused the hut to stink. 
Because distrusting the Lord stinks, and it feels rotten. (catch up on last week here)

Mon. 5/16

Sunday's crock pot meal was now today's. Woohoo! That worked out wonderfully. I knew it was the Lord who managed to make that happen. So where yesterday's meal was merely enough, being pushed over for today gave me the added benefit of being able to makes sure everyone ate. It was two different entrees, but who's  hungry? No one.  He's a good, good Father.

Tues 5/17

I again had some "bullet-biting" to do. My daughter just received a monetary gift from a church friend Monday evening. It's the thing any parent feels bad about doing, but here I was needing to use her money. I only wanted to use a portion so I took only part of it to the market. I had lasagna noodles that had been sitting in the pantry for months. I decided, lets put it to use. I had some burger meat I brought from last week's grocery trip. I thanked the Lord that he led me to buy it.  It was going to get stretched. I prepared almost two packages of lasagna and set out to Aldi's to grab the necessary ingredients to make lasagna happen.

Pushing the cart through the aisles, I was well under budget and decided to get  a few extra items I saw on sale that could make a meal or two. But I guess I got too happy with the savings and lost track while adding. I got to  the register and was $7 over budget. No biggie. That stuff doesn't embarrass or bother me a bit. I put back the things that weren't  going to be a deal breaker and took care of our purchase.
I walked out, content that we were set for a few more meals this week. I thanked God, and prepared to make a run for it with the 2 ninos in the pouring rain. As I planned our entry into the elements, a woman yelling "Wait" rushes toward me with a box. My first thought is, I must have left something behind, but a green ball caught my eye. This was the ball picked up in one of the aisles and was left at the register with the other toss-outs. One by one I realized the box held all of the items I discarded out of the cart to make budget. I was overcome with gratitude and humility. I sputtered out a barrage of "thank you's" as she explained that it was no big deal. She had been on my end before, she said, and just wanted to "pay it forward". I shook my head looking up into the spilling clouds as we rushed to the car. I sat in the car just amazed at how God prepares my way before me. Why should I worry? The righteous are not forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
I got home, and energized with thanks unto the Lord I got started. I needed a pan, and looked up to see the perfect one. Two weekends before, I was handed an over-sized aluminum baking pan that held a few wrapped burgers in it. I kept the pan and now 10 days later it was what I would need to make lasagna that I never thought I'd make. Again, God's hands at Work.  Guess what? That Lasagna lasted the rest of the week for dinner, plus lunches for Mr. D and I. I could not believe how big the lasagna turned out to be.
His hands- providing once again.

Thursday 5/19

 I had to take a trip on the highway that morning. The road was unexpectedly busy on the ride back. It took a while because of  roadwork to get back in town. I made my approach to my exit, switching in to the next lane. The wheel felt strange, but I chalked it up to me being tired.  I reached the exit and turned off and felt the same strange resistance in the steering wheel. What is going on? I thought. I went to make a right turn again and there it was- this time it was even harder to maneuver the steering wheel. Suddenly the  battery light flashes on. The car is running smoothly ironically but I know this is not good.  I called Mr. D and while he assessed the symptoms he asked about the heat. I looked and it was all the way to a hot engine! He urgently told me I need to get off the road now.
I was conveniently near a Wal-Mart parking lot and turned in, using more strength than should be needed to turn a car into the lot. Once parked, I opened the hood, and was greeted with the beginning of a smoking engine. There is what I was searching for. As suspected, the belt popped. I looked toward the highway I was on, just less than 5 minutes before and thought, what saving grace the Lord extended. I shook my head realizing the car could have overheated and smoked on the 65 mph highway. The belt could have popped in such a way that I lost control of the car in the middle of the congested interstate. But God's hand kept us from imminent harm and danger. Praises be to God.

I made some phone calls and found a ride home. Mr. D calls and asks, " How are you doing?"
"Happy", I said. "It's crazy but I feel uncannily happy right now."  I felt such joy at that moment, that it could only be the Joy from the Holy Ghost. I could hear him smile on the other side of the phone as he confirmed he felt a peace that he knew was God. "We've been through enough to know God's got this," he said. Yes indeed.

At this point we have no more than $10 to our name and have to borrow $10 to get a new belt from the parts store. I borrowed $10 from one of my church moms. I open the envelope and see she gives me $15. I laughed and knew God was up to something. We go to the store and the part was $26 not $20 as we were told. The amount for a different belt. Again I am smack dab in the middle of the unfailing provision of the Lord. That extra $5 was not coincidence! God knew we needed it before we even knew.  Can I just pause for a moment to dance before  Jehovah Jireh?!
 *dance dance dance*


The Take-away

It was just a week, but God used it to prove himself over and over and over again.
I am no longer afraid of not having anything left over from today. Tomorrow's troubles are enough for tomorrow. He provided yesterday and today. He is going to provide every step of the way.
Great is his faithfulness!
Trust in Him.


Friday, May 20, 2016

All I have needed

Thursday 5/19

The day didn't go as planned. hardly ever does.
What a difference experience and maturity makes.
 If this were years earlier I would probably have fell against a wall, shrunk to the floor, and cried, "Lord why us?? why??"
This day however when my husband called to ask how I was doing, my response surprised me. "Happy" I told him.
 I felt joyful. Honestly. I felt peace and hope.
 I know it was the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God at work enabling me to "Count it all joy" in this fiery trial.

The Back Story

Wed. 5/11

 We had a few random things in the house that could be creatively manipulated to make meals. I just had to buy a few things to supplement. With the amount we had left I was able to go to my favorite store (Aldi's) and get a few things that could hopefully get us through the rest of the week. I prayed and purchased in faith the best food items to help stretch what we did have. I was thankful for the sale on some chicken that I knew was not a coincidence. It was rather a God-incidence.
I spent $76.It was more than I wanted, but I knew I spent what I needed to spend. In fact it was the "Worry Wanda" in me in the first place that wanted to spend way less. But it was the "Wise Woman" in me that knew spending this now was necessary. I felt faith and confidence in the Lord knowing that he would take care of anything else I wanted to hold on to the money for. The Spirit of the Lord was prompting me to trust him, and a peace waved over me that put a smile on my face and a pep in my step as I sauntered to the car with  bags of food for my family of eight.

Thursday 5/12

I had to bite the bullet. We needed to buy dish liquid. We had used all the "alternative" soap in the house by this time. Dishes sitting overnight in the sink? Not on Dad's watch. To the Dollar General I went for a bottle of DG brand soap. I splurged and got two. We needed it. I ended up going ahead and getting a few ingredients I passed over at Aldi's to save money and laughed. I ended up having to still get it the next day. I breathed. $15 spent. Boy does money add up fast. Trust me, the Spirit said. I exhaled the worry and inhaled the peace. God's got this.

Friday 5/13

I was at a cross road. I went early that morning to the gas station to get gas for the lawn mower we borrowed from our neighbor. Couldn't return it empty. $13. Gas can was full and so was my heart. $10 more put a few gallons in my little car.  I had $141 left and now had to decide who wasn't getting paid. Not a good feeling when deep down you wanna pay everyone. The highest priority was too  far away  in terms of amount.  Still I felt inspired of my own volition to go ahead and dump all I can toward it anyway, though it'd barely make a dent. Yet a resistance in my spirit told me to wait. I grew a little anxious. Wait.

Saturday 5/14

I decided to go on an outing with the ladies at church. The day turned out to be spectacular. The sun shone, the air was warm, the breeze was light. We had an amazing time. I had a budget I was determined to stick to.  I started out wonderfully: $6 for  a fun 18 hole game of mini golf. Then $5 for a ride that transported me a back to childhood. I hadn't felt such bowled over, liberating delight in a long time. It was beyond worth it. It was time to grab a bite to eat at a great spot. I ordered, and before I realized it, my meal was being taken care of by someone else in the group. My heart was moved with thankfulness to the Lord. It could have been small to another, but to me it was a huge sign from the Lord. Trust me. He said. Yes Lord.  Hours later after a long day out and running errands, the family was hungry. Two of the girls had free pizza coupons for the honor roll. Yay! Two down, six to go. It was late and there'd be no cooking by this tired mama. Excuses, I know, yet, I went ahead and stopped at Wendy's. $18 later I returned home with food for one more night.

Sunday 5/15

I had a pack of the chicken I bought on Wednesday in the crock pot during Sunday service. It was going to have to stretch to feed the family. It was the last pack. Once service was over I wracked my brain trying to figure out what to make for sides. Anything I could think of required more effort than I could muster after such an energy-filled worship service.  We got in the car and my husband says we are being treated to lunch. Now all I really wanted to do was go home and crawl in the bed for a few hours, but I knew to complain would be to shut out this blessing. It could not be passed up. I silently thanked the Lord for hearing my heart. We ate with no effort from me or my pockets that afternoon. Only God.
Later that evening it turned out my husband needed $68 more dollars toward a bill he was taking care of.  Hesitantly I  obliged knowing this was the last of our funds. His paycheck barely covered everything since most of his check was committed to paying off an old debt, so there was nothing left. $34 was all we had left to last the entire week. I knew God was going to do something.

to be continued...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sowing- But where's the Reaping?

image by Matt Braun
I'm not much of a gardener, but when I plant a cucumber, it would be nice if I, rather than the rabbits, could be the one to reap those cucumbers. Shoo Peter!

 We can feel the same way when we put in all the work we do at our various jobs everyday and in return we receive "thank-you-for-your-payment" notes with an invoice for next month's bill from Mr. and Mrs. service provider.

And when it comes to kingdom work, we put in countless hours with the sick and the wayward and there seems to be no change. We clothe and feed the homeless, volunteer at shelters, and bring gifts of food and just plain ol' good company to our neighbors.Still they just can never find the time to be your guest at a small group bible study.
We wonder...

Am I doing something wrong here?
Is this the wrong method? Is it me?

But then we turn around and see a visitor that  no one directly invited, and they hungrily immerse themselves in the atmosphere of worship. They are ready.
 or We pump gas at the gas station and the Holy Spirit leads you to say Hello to the person across the pump, who sees your bumper sticker and happens to be looking for a church.
or You walk down the frozen section in Wal-Mart and see a mom trying desperately to keep her crying toddler from escalating while reaching for a bag of green beans. The Holy Spirit compels you to offer a hand, and you nod your head and smile while you tell her you've been there and she too will be able to laugh at it later. Before you part ways you share numbers and a play-date is born.

Wow, I must have done something right we think.

Reality is, the reaping was the result of someone else's sowing. And our sowing will result in someone else's reaping. This is why we ought not give up when we see no harvest from what we directly sow.
 Plant seeds of the gospel and there will be a harvest. Even if your seed results in a harvest of one, some thousands of miles away;
The harvest we reap is another's sowing. Our sowing is another's harvest. Sow heartily and reap just the same.
37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”- John 4:37-38

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Strength in Quietness

Lately I have been given many opportunities to practice quiet humility.

Some backstory: I've only recently been growing out of  "people-pleaser" status. I must say it has been challenging, yet liberating. I am learning how to speak up when I do  not agree with something, rather than go with the flow, and being ( let's be frank) dishonest about my views just to avoid confrontation.
Well in this process I have become more willing to be what some may consider opinionated. I still have my former tendencies however, so I do offer my opinions rather gently, yet -hopefully- firmly enough to not be dismissed.

In light of this my husband has gotten to be the honored recipient of my new found voice, and it has been great for our growth in the area of communication. He understands me more, and I am not relying on him to read my facial cues or my mind. I say it. He loves it. It's done wonders for us.
Of course this new empowerment can fly off the handles if allowed, and it takes an intentional effort to obey the voice that says it's best to be quiet in this moment, rather than respond with what, to me, sounds good and gentle, yet can light a fuse all the same.

For example the other morning it seems Mr. D had a bit of a rough start. I was in the kitchen taking care of breakfast for the children and wrangling them up for school when he walked in with a concern. The concern was very valid. We were set to pick up rental equipment for an upcoming event and some things seemed unclear about the pick up. The issue, however,  was brought up in a way that caused me to want to defend myself. I took it as criticism to my ability to handle the situation. I felt like I was being questioned as to why this would be an issue this late in the game. My concerned husband then asked me to be sure I call the business that day and resolve any complications that could arise preventing a smooth pick up. I knew that  I was already aware of the issue and had been in contact with the business about it. I was ready to make it known that I am handling it and I'd appreciate if you get off my case ( well that part I'd say in my mind) but the Spirit put up a stop sign. I was keenly aware that though this was the present upset, this was merely a drop in the bucket of  a hundred other worries. Something was bothering him and this just happened to get the attention. So, the entire time he spoke I repeated one word in my mind- humility humility humility...

I knew that even though I had a leg to stand on, it was not the right timing to get into a " I've taken care of it" mantra. It just wasn't the time. It took loads of humility to stand there and feel like I was being criticized for dropping the ball. Notice I said feel like. My perception of his approach was just that- perception. I felt the Spirit show me that he was being justly concerned about the details of a very important matter. It may have translated to me as an offense, but because I was quiet- the Spirit could speak to me.

With the Spirit's help I affirmed that I would make the phone calls to confirm any missing details. I knew deep down it wouldn't hurt to have extra assurance.
It took a lot for me to remain quiet and not jump to my own defense, and my quietness allowed God to work. He worked in me. He also worked in my husband who shortly after apologized for being so worked up about it all. Then he was able to share the real issue, confirming what the Spirit spoke to me earlier.

A small matter could have turned into a large unnecessary confrontation if  I walked in the loudness of pride rather than the quietness of a humble spirit. 
Humility vs pride

Humility and submission are what I am focusing on these days, and it seems I am being given more opportunities than I'd normally care for, to practice them both.
 But I feel something transforming in my heart. Submission and humility toward others is unearthing pride I thought I overcame, and unveiling a level of compassion and appreciation I thought I already had. I am amazed at the depths of love and compassion that I really have not even touched. My heart is overwhelmed by the small taste of the deeper level of love that submission reveals.
Praise God for the strong work of gentle quietness!

May God grant you and I grace as we walk in grace and the strength of meekness and humility today.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.- 1 Peter 3:1-4 NIV