Monday, December 31, 2012

Our financial mess and our way out...

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 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 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.


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 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








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