This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground,but streamscame up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.Then the Lord God formed a manfrom the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.(The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adamno suitable helper was found.So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
to Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Adamnamed his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.After he drove the man out, he placed on the east sideof the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Every single week we go, every Wednesday, and I question why we do it. She has so much fun and enjoys the water so much but as it gets more intense, so do we. God led me there one day and told me to sign her up. It costs 80 bucks a month and that's a bill, but for some reason I cant stop it. I have come to the conclusion that its not the swimming we are both there for, its the lessons we learn. I have learned more about myself and the spirit of God in a few months at swimming class, than in any other thing or person or place in 30 years. And as an added bonus, Grace learns to swim.
Before we got into class I gave her a pep talk in the car. Grace, don't be so hard on yourself okay? Try to remember that you are here to enjoy yourself? And we pay the teacher to teach you, you are not supposed to know how to do everything. Please don't be so hard on yourself. okay? ok. Every single word that God has been saying to me these past few months.
Every week I watch as she does her usual routine there. They get in the water and do some fun things to kinda break them into the pool, create excitement. Then they get down to business and do whatever skill they are working on to and from the platform in the middle of the pool. And today was a reminder that my daughter is every single bit a part of me, and has all the amazing qualities that I posses and also the not so good ones. Shes me.
I watch her start out strong, confident. She gets to about the middle of the pool and looks back. And from the moment she questions herself, hesitates and loses her bearings she is flailing about in the middle of the pool, panicked and scared. No, terrified. She starts bobbing up and down and looking for something, anything that would save her. She gets back to the platform and she screams "I cant do it!!" which is followed by more tears...and frustration. And I believe this behavior is the physical manifestation of the greatest thing God is trying to break me from, and it is presented to me in physical form. Her teacher grabs her and holds her tight while she catches her breath, turns her over, tells her to relax and gently nudges her to resume the rest of the way, on her back. And all the while I hear God whispering to me...YOU cant do it either, my darling, without me.
I caught myself today just broken hearted watching my own flesh and blood, my own heart, suffer this horrible self worth, questioning everything she does and panicking with no way to save herself. I watch her as tears stream down her face and her shoulders get tense. I watch her from the glass, I want so badly to punch through it and grab her and shake her until she realizes how beautiful she is. I want to throw her back into the pool and tell her to try again, but never to stop. Don't stop Grace, don't stop in the middle and look back. Don't lose your sight. Don't hesitate. Don't be alone. Look for your teacher, shes right there and when you feel like you cant swim anymore, she will see you and save you. You don't even have to ask, that's her job.
I don't want her to trust in herself alone. I don't want her to trust in the pool. I don't want her to trust in her arms and legs. I want her to trust in God. I want her to put less emphasis in self confidence and more value on God confidence. And that's why we go. Every single Wednesday we get up and I anticipate her in situations where she loses it, and I treat each and every moment as an opportunity to point her to the Heavens. And sometimes we cry together...every time we talk about how great she is. I hold her tight and tell her shes going to make lots of mistakes and shes not going to know how to do everything...and that's ok. In fact, that's the way its supposed to be. If we had all the answers and all the knowledge the there would be no need for a God. He is everything. Hes everywhere. And hes never going to leave you.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22 :6
and that is walking, no running, full speed ahead to our Lord. Our Savior. That's it.
I never want Grace to think her self confidence is what fills her up. I don't want her to believe she can do all the things that every other kid does. I want her to know that she was fearfully and wonderfully made by our creator who has given her special qualities to achieve his purpose. And she is supposed to enjoy it! I caught myself today finding glimpses of joy in the journey that he has me on and wondering why in the world I have not stopped to enjoy more, the place right where I am.
I wondered myself today why its so hard for me to enjoy my life if I don't know all the answers. You know those interim periods where God has you in a place of need or in a place of silence. The place where you look around and you have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow. And you finally raise up your hands to the Heavens and say, okay...I'm yours. I finally have no answers.
We are not supposed to know how to swim. That's why we have a teacher. That's why we have a God. To lead us, guide us, equip us, and redeem us in all things. I never want to instill in my girls that they are enough on their own.
They will fail.
They will fall.
They wont know how to do things.
I want thier hearts to hunger for God. I want them to turn to him first. I want them to live in grace.
Grace, my heart hurts for you. I watch you every day in all the things you do and I just pray. I pray that you would see that you aren't meant to be perfect and in your own time, in Gods time, all that he has for you will come to pass. You will be confident in riding your bike kiddo, not because you wake up one day with the ability, but because your daddy and I take you out whenever we get a chance and let you fall. And then we put you back on that bike and tell you to keep going. And every single moment we are walking right next to you. Our hands are helping to hold you up, and Gods hand will always be on you when we are long gone...And you will be confident that you are safe in Gods hands and be more brave and more sure of Him, and less sure of you. And that will mean that you will walk a bold life with no fear of the deep waters under you or the roaring storms above you. And if he never let you fail sometimes, you would never know the deep love he has for you and the redeeming power he has.
Keep swimming Grace. Dont stop. Dont look back. Thats where the past lies. Keep your eyes focused ahead and enjoy the ride. And when you feel tired or scared or helpless or hopeless, just ask God to wrap his arms around you...and show you the way.
I will never forget the day my husband walked into our apartment, crisp uniform and tight haircut, with a hand full of papers and a look on his face. I don't really remember the words he used or the tone in his voice but I will never forget the feeling that came over my body. The fear.
I am going to war.
I wish I could say that we were so young and naive and unseasoned, but that wouldn't be true. I had already experienced alot of pain in my life up until this point, a lot of trial. This was one I never knew I needed so bad.
The back story on us is that we didn't meet on a blind date or at a youth meeting or we aren't high school sweethearts...we met at the worst time of both of our lives. We were both broken, we were both lost. Immediately we clung to each other in hopes that each other would save us from all the pain and heartache. I clung to my husband from day one and held a grip so tight, it was all wrong from the start.
Despite all the sin and pain and torture that both of our souls were going through, we both knew from one special particular moment that this was meant to be and we would stick it out. We were not spirit filled, we were desperate. Each of us desperate for a different life, and found that in each other.
So when my husband told me for the first time that he was going to war, I felt a wave of panic and fear that I couldn't even put into words. The first things that came to mind were,
Hes going to die.
How am I going to live without him?
Why is this happening?
Hes going to die.
Looking back on the last decade of my life, I can now see that satan had a big tight grip over my spirit and used everything he could to torture my already tortured soul into believing that God had chosen me to suffer and this was my destiny. I felt I served a God who didn't even know I existed and had made me different, chosen me to go into the wilderness alone, and suffer, and die.
I began to have panic attacks that would literally grip my body and cause it to shut down. I would go into the bath tub and cry for an hour, my face so tight and full of emotion, I would sob tears of fear and it felt like they were coming from the deepest part of my soul. The fear and panic and paranoia were so deep in me that, its what I lived and breathed for most moments of all three of his deployments.
Each time I had to leave the bus, the first time with no children, watching him pull away with the thought, surely that was the last time I would see him. I have been really asking God to do some real deep digging inside of me and open my eyes to what is the real root cause of all of my fear in life, and he has told me its because I make him my religion, but not my God.
My husband was my God.
Food was my God.
Alcohol was my God.
Cigarettes were my God.
The gym was my God.
The attractive man who payed attention to me at the bar was my God.
My friends were my God.
I was a slave to my surroundings and had lived a life at such a young age of needing so much rescue and feeling so alone and broken, that I got used to the feeling of physical rescue. I had gotten used to the immediacy of a drink and a cigarette and a good song or the great feeling of a workout or a carton of ben and jerrys or a glance and a wink that came my way...
I spent our first deployment in so much fear that I quit my job so I could stay at home and receive my husbands phone calls. He would always call at 530 am my time and that's when I opened the gym I worked at. I quit because I couldn't handle the panic of the phone ringing and me not being able to answer it. I quit because I was depressed and afraid.
After a long deployment of much fear and panic and much sin, my husband came home. And we would do it two more times, my husband has been gone more than 30 months in our time in the military so far due to deployments and training...and God has used each moment to show me how to lean on him only. I have had my husband and the comfort of my routine ripped out of my tight grip so many times, that now I know in my heart it was only for my good.
I remember his third deployment being so afraid again that it was his time to die that I came home from watching the buses leave and called a dear friend who had no words to say. She knew that I needed much more than a simple, its gonna be okay honey. She knew that this deep rooted fear was only something that Jesus could confront. She called a pastor friend and a prayer chain was on my phone, my door was shut I was on my knees and before I knew it God had begun his good work of breaking my chains. The holy spirit filled the room like I have never felt before. Gods love was being unleashed on me like I thought I never deserved or would ever experience. This is when he begun to show me that He alone, was my God.
The first 5 years of our marriage, my husband was my God. I intrusted my whole life to him. I leaned on him and expected him to be my all, my everything. My mood was based on his mood and the state of my soul was dependent on the state of his. My identity was in him, and that is why I had so much fear.
I pray often for God to open my hands up and release the tight grip that I have over my husband and my children, and for me for that matter. And just the other day while I was walking up the stairs, he whispered to me, your so afraid because you think this is your life, that you control it. So whatever you do, is what determines the outcome...
Thank God I am not in charge here. And thank God that every time my husband leaves for war or for the gas station, I can trust God to prepare me, equip me, deliver me, save me and heal me from whatever the outcome is. I have learned that it is better to focus on this moment and thanking him for each. I have learned that the paranoid thoughts and feelings that beat up my mind and body so bad are not from him and he is hurting right along side of me. But the most important thing i have learned is that he loves me. And that love is more comforting than any other earthly love that I have sought after.
If you are a military wife reading this and you are experiencing great fear right now, I say run to your nearest church, run to the bible and his comforting presence. Have someone pray over you, many people pray over you and let God remove the overwhelming sense of panic and fear. Sit and read his word, his promises to you and write them out and put them all over your house and write them on your heart. Ask God to use this fear to reveal a deep new found peace and love, in him.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Ever since I was a little girl I have been drawn to creation...I had a rainbow hanging over my crib and that is one of my very first memories. And ever since Lucy has been drawn to the moon, it has been a pull on my heart to make them some art. And I just knew I had to incorporate a rainbow, Somewhere Over the Rainbow is also a very special song to me.
Lucy, you have your moon...
Grace, you are my sunshine...
And the rainbow, its all of ours...
Lucy has been talking more these days and its so funny because she says "moooon" all the time, she sits by the window, begging us to take her outside to see it. And she has now begun to say rainbow, and I never want to forget that sweet little voice..."maimbow".
Every single time we ask Lucy to say a word, Grace yells in the background, "mommy! she cant! she can only say moon and rainbow!!"
It was a cold and rainy day yesterday and I just knew it was the right time to make them this collection. We made a run to the "art store" to grab some chalk and we came home and finished what I had started in my heart since Grace was born. Each piece has very special meaning and its my hope that it sticks around and will hang somewhere my grand babies will enjoy it someday...
This morning I awoke anxiously waiting to hear from God in my morning bible time that I am absolutely enjoying, and my reading was in Genesis, about rainbows. Tears and joy in those quiet moments together just thanking him that he is part of this art. That he really is the one putting it into my soul to create...I really feel like he is walking right beside me.
I don't think that its far from common knowledge that financial blessing is directly tied to how much we give. And there are many things I don't understand in this world such as why some of the most selfish people in this world are so wealthy, but what I do know is that this financial crisis our family has been in has turned out to be a bigger blessing that I ever could have imagined. If I could start and end this blog post right now saying one thing, it would be that whatever you are going through whether it be depression or addiction or maybe even cancer, its all for our good. Well, God uses it for our good. He takes the very sickness and sadness and horror tied to such a broken and sinful world and uses it to make the most beautiful of things. The one thing I have learned is that its never about cancer, its never about debt, its never about addiction, its all about God wanting a relationship with us so bad that sometimes he must allow us into the wilderness, alone, so that we may call on him. And when we call on him, he will always answer and lead us out, and greet us with a warm blanket, and some hope.
It is my prayer, right now this very second that you hear my testimony and receive the good news of Gods love for you, just as he has shown us. Its my prayer that you may finally realize that whatever challenge you have going on in your life, God is hurting for you and he's the way out. Hes the ticket. The beginning and the end...
The back story.
I don't have a giving issue, I have a trust issue. When you grow up in an environment full of divorce and custody issues and court systems and separate houses and anger and resentment, its hard to really feel trust, incarnate. I'm sure you can relate for whatever reason. If you trusted your job to financially provide and you lost that job, then you lost your trust.If you put all your trust in the gospel of money or in a job or in believing that your spouse is without sin and will never betray you..and he or she does,then you have lost that trust. Its easy to fill our lives up with trust in money or even ourselves for that matter. But as a child, if you are born into a world of not being able to trust, that's pretty much how you learn to do things. I have never recovered that trust and it led to a life of not really trusting in God either.
The part where we have run out of money
We bought a house without asking God first. We used to be very reckless and selfish with our money but most of all we just didn't even ask God into the equation. He just wasn't a priority for us. My husband has a steady income, smaller than usual since he entered into the military at an older age. And you have kids and they get bigger and everything just gets bigger. And we have struggled to keep up. So we moved to Texas and God told me to start painting. He just knew my heart and that I couldn't bear it to go out into the world to get a job where I would have to leave my kids at daycare all day or not be a full time stay at home mom. The other truth is at this point, with no family around, it would cost more in daycare than I would actually make. So I started painting...in my kitchen.
The part where I have no money to put in that business.
We used part of last years tax return to start me up. The supplies cost ALOT of money. There was a lot of risk but I just knew it was what I was supposed to do. I believed God when he told me to do it. I trusted him. There have been many moments when I have felt scared and anxious when buying supplies but I just prayed and asked for peace. If it was what he wanted, he would give me peace. And I have made mistakes. I have jumped the gun. But this has been trial and error and he has been there the whole time, faithfully forgiving me every time I fail.
When I learn to accept help.
I have learned that its ok to accept help. I could not have done this without my family. At every chance she could, my mom would send Michaels gift cards and potential clients and my dad has been very generous financially in this whole process. I realize that not everyone has supportive family or friends who can help when times are tough, or are even capable of helping financially. But an important part of this story is that I could not have done this alone. Each person is capable of giving something of themselves. And if you cant give to a friend or a son or daughter financially, you can give in other ways. Even words of encouragement is a gift. And just as my heart aches to help those in need, I am also now able to accept help myself when I need it.
We start seeing some sales
I started to sell things. I couldn't believe it. I still cant. But what would happen is I would be praying on the floor of Graces swim class, in tears because I didn't know how to pay for her classes and i didn't have the heart to stop them...and then I would check my phone and I would have sold a painting. Or I would be in the grocery store buying groceries and i would feel so guilty for buying healthy food because of my food allergies, i would just cry. i would be so anxious and nervous, but then I would sell something. He provided. He kept me going forward. He kept telling me that it was okay to be as happy as I was. I was so happy doing what i really loved, I felt guilty. How could i be able to paint in my own home doing what I really love and its all okay? How could it be true that this life I am living is real? He kept encouraging me, and putting people in my path to take me to the next level . He kept working for me when i could hear crickets...he kept loving me...
I start to have the desire to give
Well I shouldn't say "start" because I have always been a giving person, but what happened was I was feeling it really strong. God was changing me. I was getting so close to him and I kept asking him to break my heart for him, for those he wanted me to touch. I kept crying out, use me! I'm here! Use my story! And then came all the times where I had to chose to trust him or not. I would be at the grocery store and I would be in line and have an opportunity to give a few bucks to the soup kitchen and i couldn't even hardly afford the $150 bucks in groceries I just bought...but I prayed to him right there in line...make it ok. Make it okay God for me to give this to you and help me to understand that you will see me and feel my heart. Make it ok....I would give and then almost instantly i would see a sale. When I say instantly, i mean on the way out of the parking lot. I would just sit and cry in that parking lot thanking God not for the sale, but that he heard me. He really heard me. And I was starting to trust him.
The parable of the widow
Things started getting really intense. I started to pray that God would make me like the widow who gave everything she had.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” I prayed to be like her. You see, its easy to give when you have alot. But when you have a burning desire to give to people in need because you feel so abundantly blessed but the blessing isn't measured in dollars, its hard. And if you understand that sentence, I'm glad your here. The amount of joy I was feeling was my blessing. I loved being able to stay home with my girls and still be a full time mom but I was also feeling blessed by making the art. The fact that people were enjoying my art and actually spending their hard earned money on it still blows my mind. Its a blessing. But God was also providing for our needs. the part where we look at our own sin God was convicting us. He was showing us where we weren't exactly honoring him with our money. Somewhere along this story my husband quit drinking beer. He used to drink about 12 beers or so on the weekends and one day he just stopped. I don't know why or how or when but I noticed it. And he also quit tobacco. We both used to smoke but quit the day we found out we were pregnant with our first daughter Grace, almost 5 years ago. But my husband would chew tobacco and one day this year, he quit. I believe he did that for lent, and it stuck. And God kept revealing to me how my food addiction was wasting his precious financial blessing. Not only was it causing me to be unhealthy but lets face it, all these addictions cost money. And where were we putting ours? I also recently quit drinking diet soda. One day the Lord said enough, and I took back a case that I bought to the store and the girl asked me why I was returning it. I said I quit. It was a blessed moment. The part where I have the biggest revelation ever Just this morning I was sitting here thinking about all of the things we quit...and how much money we save by not letting these things take hold of us. And I just kept thinking about how God has always provided for us even when we were horrible sinful addicted messes. Nights turned into mornings with huge bar tabs and hundreds of dollars gone to cigarettes. He still loved us. He still loved me. He saw what a horrible sad mess I was and loved me through it. And that will be the biggest revelation I will ever have. He loved me through it....nothing I could ever do will make him love me less. But let me tell you friends, asking God to get you out of the mess and sadness of addiction is the best thing I have ever done. Praise the Lord. We start to tithe. I have always had the desire to tithe but we have never had a church home until now and frankly it was not an issue for my husband. And you cant make someone tithe. Believe me, God doesn't want us to give unless its done cheerfully and joyfully. I get that now. My hands were so tight around our money before because I always felt that what I had was all I would ever have. But then the word started speaking to me. Its not my money. Its his. And he can take it away in a flash, and he has. You cant make someone share their wealth unless his heart is in the right spot. Unless we finally realize that every single gift and blessing is from above.My husband started to feel convicted every time that basket went around and he approached me with that. We decided to start and we would start where we were comfortable. We read up on tithing and decided that what was more important to God was our hearts and not the number. I asked my husband to come up with a number and he did. And we have been faithfully putting a check into that basket every week, with peace. No wringing feeling in the gut and no anxiousness, remember we are asking God to show us that we can trust him to provide, and he is. Its like all the feelings of hesitation are going away...But I will revisit that "where we are comfortable" place. I still want to fully run toward where God wants to meet me and show me beyond my wildest imagination, what He is capable of. And I am sure I wont be comfortable in the process... The scripture that rocks my world. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3 :10 The part where my husband crashes his car. My husband called me one morning a few weeks ago, very shortly after he had left the house for work. I answered it because he never calls that early. "I got into an accident, can you give me the number to our agent." It was his fault, we filed a claim, nobody was hurt, and we now have a 250 dollar deductible and its Christmas time. And we don't have 250 dollars. And we need our car back. I start to ask God to let me give. Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.Matthew 6: 1-4 This is the part of blogging that I hate. What I am about to tell you. Because I am not a hey, look at me kinda girl. I hate to draw attention to myself and I am starting to see the fruit in honoring this scripture above. But this part is the important part of the story and so I will tell it. I pray that you receive this knowing that my heart is in the right place and God is allowing me to tell you. I used to be a selfish mess. I still am. There are times I have meltdowns in the Target parking lot quietly, to myself of course, because I feel entitled to a new jacket or throw pillow...thats for real. I have spent many years living in entitlement and thinking I deserved things. But my heart has started to change ever since I started to know Jesus. My heart started to literally break looking at my abundance and seeing all the lack in the world. Goodness, my heart for those kids and their mamas...the ones who have no food or no shoes or no water...no hope. I have been praying to see the world through Gods eyes but I still have my selfish moments. I still want target throw pillows but its not as strong. Hes taking that ick away...and replacing it with this overabundance of joy I feel when i get to make less of me and more of Him...with that being said.. My husband and I gave this year. We did it on purpose. We made a choice. Less of us, more of him.Our church gave baskets away to fill with Thanksgiving dinner for family's in need and we were asked as a congregation to take one if we could and fill it and bring it back. We couldn't afford thanksgiving dinner ourselves but took one anyway. We filled it. We brought it back and it brought us joy. And then out of nowhere, my 86 year old grandma sent us a check for fifty bucks with a simple note on the check "blessing". We chose a name to buy Christmas gifts for a child in need. We couldn't afford it. But we just knew that it would be ok. And we knew that our own children were generously blessed by our family and would get gifts. This year I carefully took the time to pick out things this girl wanted and even went over the limit. And every time, God said it was ok. I gave alot away this Christmas. I asked God to let me bless people. I shipped a lot of art, about a thousand bucks worth out to very unsuspecting people. I just took some art, packaged it up and shipped it off to peoples door steps. And I also took the time and consideration to make Christmas gifts for people that would truly bless them and bring them joy. I stayed up very late and woke up very early and spent alot of money we don't have on shipping costs. Remember we are trusting God and since i read that scripture in Malachi, I started to pray it over my life. God you said to test you...I'm testing you. The only time ever in the bible where God says test me, is with giving. And I also had to make a choice, pay our deductible or give my annual donation to mission feeding of 100 bucks. I asked my husband to be in prayer about it and he woke up one day and said do it. We promised God we would and that's, that. He will honor that. joy This Christmas was the best one ever. I have never felt so much joy. It was magical.The blessing it was to me to anxiously await people getting their art and covering their walls with love made from my own two hands was amazing to say the least. I still cant get over it. Thinking of the girl we bought for, who we don't even know, watching my own girls open their gifts made me feel so full thinking of her... I am still so filled up.And even thought we still have to pay that 250 deductible...I am still trusting God to provide. And he did. My husband got $50 from his family in one of his cards and we chose to set that aside to help with the cost of the deductible. And staying in faith and thanking God in advance for his provision...kept our spirits alive and put smiles on our faces even in the midst of all the financial crisis and the unknown. We chose to be different and instead of worry about where we would get it, we gave faithfully, honored what God had put on our hearts. We gave what he prompted us to and didn't question it. This morning I woke up to a $200 sale and a few days ago a $40 sale and a phone call from the shop saying that the car would be ready this week. Perfect timing. the part where I ugly cry over the Internet sometimes Gods love for me, and you, is too much for me. Sometimes I just sit and cry. I cry everywhere about everything. Its like nothing looks the same. Nothing smells the same. I cant put it into words how safe i feel in his arms. A trust that I have never felt. This is the part where I could give you a bunch of scripture about trusting God but you already know it. You already know that he says not to worry about what you will eat or drink. You already know that he says to trust in him, lean not on your own understanding...you know. But you will never feel this overwhelming sense of love and security if you aren't asking him for it. If you aren't personally asking him into your heart, into your home, into your marriage, into your finances...He needs to be the gospel we trust in. He needs to be the answer. The only answer. Its not your job, its not my art, its not the economy and its not the vitamins we take. Its him. And i am thankful that I am learning to let go of the trust I have in our bank account or in my medical report or in the economy. He has walked us into the wilderness, and let us stay there. He has let things happen to us there that we could never have control over.Bills, debt, illness you name it. He has let animals come sniffing us with growling jowls and big appetites...and he left us there so he could finally break us into believing that we could save ourselves..if my husband just worked harder or I worked harder. Or if we could just... There is nothing I can do. If there was something I could do I wouldn't need him. the homeless man on the side of the road.
yesterday I was driving with my two girls to the grocery store and had five bucks in my wallet. we drove into the lot and there stood a homeless man with a sign. He was different. My heart broke, just as it usually does. I asked God if it was okay, and i gave him the five bucks.He took it and said God bless you. I lost it. I really lost it. Then I asked God if I could go to the atm and get him more. And we did. Grace agreed and we took out another 20. We drove back and gave it to him, I asked if he was okay and if he needed anything and he said no. He was rough. Missing teeth, scraggly hair and a smile. He was in and out of sleep and I kept seeing my handsome husband in him...I kept seeing him as a young man. We went shopping and came out and I drove by again and he had left. The whole way home I kept thinking how sometimes I believe God himself comes down in form to show us, to lead us. It felt like it was Jesus sitting there holding that sign, waiting for his people to stop and give, stop and pray. Waiting...
I'm done waiting.
I'm done waiting until I have enough money to give. I'm done praying for my needs to be met when there are others out there who need more. I am done believing that this life is about me. I am frustrated living in so much abundance when there are others suffering so bad. Help me father to trust in your word. Make it real. Use me. Show me how I can use what you give me to make much of your son who died for my very shortcomings. Bless me father, so I can bless... The way that God has chosen to rescue us from our financial mess is day by day...It did not come in the form of one big break. It wasn't winning the lottery. Nothing has really changed in our bank account. What he is doing is showing us, step by step, day by day how we can trust him. Its a beautiful exchange. Its me laying down a little of me, and him showing me alot of him. Its a huge challenge being thrown in our world and him rescuing us. Its not luck. Its not even us working harder. Its all him. He loves you. Hes got the answers. . He wants to show you. . He wants to bless you and love on you like nobody here on earth has ever... He hurts when you hurt. He collects your tears and will use them later as part of the story of your redemption. Your sin is not catching him off guard, you are not a surprise. Your not to broken to ask him for love and help. He will never leave you. He is waiting for you... some scripture to pray while your in a financial mess...
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. Proverbs 19:17 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight Proverbs 3:5-6
A few months ago I found myself up at the altar at church, laying down a heavy load that had been sitting on my heart for a while. Weighing down my shoulders, making it hard to walk with him. I found myself crying out literally, on the floor, hands cupped over my face...tears pouring down my face. A few people came up to me after, people I didn't know, and said that the Lord was speaking to them about me. They were praying for me while I was up there. But one guy in particular, handed me a piece of crumpled up paper and told me that God had a message for me...
Psalm 56:8 God saves all of our tears in a jar... Lam 2 :19 pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord...
I haven't been the same since.
Last night I read a post by casey, and her word. She chooses a word every year. And the past few days God has been speaking a word to me but I caught myself questioning if it was from him. But after reading her post I just know that he is giving me my word.
You see, just because I share alot of my life here, there are huge pieces left out. Huge pieces that only the Lord knows. And you wouldn't understand my word unless you knew...but to know that God has saved up all my tears in a bottle and is ready use them, is beyond anything my brain can handle. But my heart is screaming YES! I'm ready! Use it father, redemption.
2012 has been a year of a whole bunch of new starts. God has given me things I never knew were even possible, my art for one. Who knew that a girl like me, never went to college, never taken an art class (except in school) would be an artist? And who knew that my 4th grade art teacher who said I would be...who knew that her words would hold so much power to me today.
Its quite possible that God is using art to give me power. The power to love people and give people hope and encouragement. And its possible that He has given me a clear understanding of forgiveness, not just what the word means, but how to live it. When you are walking out of years of being cold and lonely and lost in the wilderness and you finally you see the light of a day and a warm blanket and you are greeted with hope,that's redemption.
the dictionary says the word means: deliverance, rescue
but to me, it means that he is using every single hurt, every single tear, every single moment of what shouldn't have happened and giving me beauty for those ashes. Every single addiction, every single moment of being so scared as a child, every moment. Its all for something. He wants to use it. Hes got a plan.
When your in the midst of hurt or depression or a tragedy it all seems to make no sense and you question God. How could a loving God allow so much pain and hurt. And I have been there. But when you step out of your own brain and you really feel Gods love, you start to understand. Its all a beautiful story, weaved together for his glory. Every single second of it, he wrote. Every single second of it, he was there.
And there will come a time, when your bottle is full, he will hand it to you and say, Im ready.
I am saved, I am rescued, I am redeemed.
Thank you Jesus.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.