Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: Part 1/3

  I went back and forth, debating.  Do I post about this? Do I not post about this?  It’s such a private issue!  BUT, it could be used to the glory of God.  But it’s SO embarrassing.  But God’s finger prints are all over it!  Ok, on we go, to the glory of God…..

  I have several blogs I follow, one being Nikki loves Mike.  Here is what she wrote one day, that gave me the push to go ahead with this journal-type, pour out your heart, blog mini-series, and I couldn’t have said it better myself:

One of the hardest things for me about blogging is that, on the one hand, I want my small patch of internet to be bright, happy, joyful, creative, and enjoyable; a reflection of God’s tremendous grace to me. On the other hand, I also want to be honest, vulnerable, “real;” I don’t want to hide the bad or ugly parts of life. I don’t want to project an artificial reality of glib cheeriness. God’s grace isn’t always sunshine…sometimes His grace comes in the form of bad weather, too……”

Well said, Nikki.  Just the boost I needed to move forward….

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  This post was written starting in December, 2010:

  You know, the Bible tells us the Lord disciplines those He loves?

  And I know you’ve all heard the saying: “The Lord loves us as we are, but loves us too much to keep us that way.” 

  I can tell you right now, the Lord loves me VEEEEERY much!

  As I write this, we are currently going through a rough patch in our lives.  I am recording events in the midst of it all, like a journal, to capture in writing just what the Lord is showing us.  However, I will choose not to share this with you until further down the road, so my story is not mistaken for a pity plea or a cry for help.   

  No, I plan to share this with you, so that you may see God’s hand at work in our lives, cause I know it is.

I can feel it.

  Back in October, we received a normal paycheck.  Whatever “Normal” is when your husband is at a commission only job, but normal or not, we knew what to expect each month.

Little did we know, it’d be the last “normal” we’d see for over 8 months.

  In all of our 9 years of marriage, we have not experienced such a dry spell, financially.  And not since the beginning of Dale’s career as an Insurance Agent, have we experienced such small and spaced apart pay checks. 

  The difference between now and his career beginnings 10 years ago? 

Um, how about 4 kids, a mortgage, a car payment, school tuition, and medical/credit card debt from 8 babies in 8 years?

  We lived like normal in November, shopped for groceries the first of December, all the while thinking a big commission check was on it’s way any day.  By the end of December, we needed to pull a bit from our savings, which we HATE to do, to continue living on our normal budget, fully expecting to pay our savings accounts back in a week or two. 

  In tightening our belt, we chose not to shop for Christmas presents for the children since, thank the Lord, I had a stash of small trinkets and toys from garage sales and store clearance racks, just waiting for future birthday’s and Easter baskets.  What a blessing that we were able to still give the children their 3 Christmas gifts from us, as tradition indicates. 

  Was this what the Lord was asking of us?  To tighten our belt before He’d allow us to be paid?  We cut out excess spending and eating out, even committing to a “Pantry Purge” by living out of the pantry and deep freeze, to spare us that $450 expense each month. 

  Another 2 months passed, and the savings accounts got lower and lower.  I begin to cry out to the Lord in fear, “What is going on? Are we being punished?  Have we displeased you that you have removed your hand of blessing upon our finances?” 

And He was silent to me. 

I felt as if my prayers were not going above my ceiling, as I pleaded with Him in the quiet of night.

    After a very dry January spiritually, with the accounts lower than I’ve seen them, I felt very lead to write a friend and mentor of mine, asking for prayers.  It was a bit scary to purge my soul and share, but I needed an outside party to talk to, someone who maybe could see something I was missing!

  I am going to share a portion of this letter with you because it was written in the moment and will help you gain a better understanding of where I was at this point in the journey.  Here is a bit of what I wrote to him:

 I have a heavy burden and need your prayers.  I really try to be sunny and happy all the time, but man, it gets hard during times like this to not be bogged down with the weight of it all.  First things first, before I tell you what is going on, let me give you a disclaimer…..
  I am not writing for your sympathy. 
  I am NOT writing to hint for your financial help, at ALL.  
  I am writing because I desperately need your prayers, worth far more than any monetary help anyone could provide…..
 
  God disciplines those He loves.  And things are a lot easier if you just learn quickly, be soft and moldable and hold everything with a loose hand.  This is something I work to apply to every area of my life.

  We are going on 3 months waiting for this paycheck.  Our living expenses are high due to the some medical debt + the credit cards we had to put groceries and bills on the year Dale took a pay cut at work AND we had a high risk pregnancy.

   I am constantly giving this money matter over to God and taking it back and giving it up again.  I am begging Him to reveal to me what I am to learn, so we can learn it, get paid and move on. 

Maybe that’s my biggest problem, wanting to learn it just so we can get paid? 

  I just don’t know. 

What I do know is God is being silent to me, and I don’t know what else to do.
  Dale and I both feel, as we talked last night, that we probably had gotten to the point where we were giving just to give. 

 Last night we decided that maybe we had gotten to the point of trying to “fix” a friends problem, or help out a good cause by “throwing some money at it”, not asking God what He’d have us to do first……all this time thinking this was “holding our money with a loose hand”, but maybe, just maybe, not really seeking if that was what God wanted from us each time. 

  What I do know is things are getting ugly.  I was praising the Lord for the continual amount in our checking account, I called it “The Account of Oil” (like the woman’s oil jar in the Bible).  No matter what came or went from our account, the amount stayed steady, the same amount dribbling in as going out and always JUST in the nick of time!  But even that bit of cush is gone, after our house payment went through this morning.

  I don’t know what else to do, so this morning when you came to my mind, I knew the Spirit moved and thought I’d at least write and ask for your insight and prayer. I am too much in the muck of it all to reason clearly, and maybe you can see something I am not.
Thanks for listening.  And thank you more for the prayers I know you are already lifting up on our behalf as you read this.
I love having someone like you on my “team”……
Bless you!  Love, T

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  Do you know what blew me away more than anything else this dear friend said back to me?  That the Holy Spirit already told him he’d be hearing from me in a dream the night before I wrote him.

WHAT?!  He was ALREADY praying for us!? 

  I was moved to tears at the love my Heavenly Father showed me by prompting this friend and mentor to pray for us BEFORE I even asked. 

  I was reminded then and there, that the Lord still cared for me, He was hearing my prayers, and He was ready to work in our lives if I was willing to let go.  I pushed up my spiritual sleeves and prepared for the hard work to begin!

Interestingly enough, God started to speak to Dale first, through a book he was reading called “Miracles Can Be Yours Today” by Pat Roberts.  This is what lead to our discussion that maybe we had been “throwing money” at issues and good causes, rather than seeking God first. 

Here is what he read in his quiet time:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) In order for anyone to have faith, he must be profoundly aware of weakness and inability.  One who is self-sufficient will receive nothing from the Lord.  Not only does God not cooperate with the proud and arrogant, He actually becomes their enemy.  He resists the proud.  So if you want to experience miracles from God, beware lest you be filled with a sense of your own ability, your own strength, your own wealth, or your own position.  God’s power comes to those who truly are dead to self but alive to God in Christ.” 

  Dale then read in James 4.  The whole chapter is great, but I liked verse 10: “When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor.” (and a paycheck?)  🙂 

  I love when God speaks to us through His word! 

  Dale immediately begin working on turning his career back over to the Lord rather than feeling so self-reliant.  I wanted answers too, I begin to cry out to Him to speak to me as I fell asleep that night.

   I continued to ask the entire next day, “Speak to me like you spoke to Dale, show me what you are asking of me in all this”.  I headed to bed that evening, and opened my Bible.  I turned to Luke 11, the last half of the chapter.  (I had fallen asleep reading the first half the night before and didn’t finish it) And right as I begin to read, a verse leapt out to me:

Luke 11:42b “For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you completely forgot about justice and the love of God.  You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.”

Wow! This is just what I had been asking Him!  Wasn’t my tithing and cheerful giving enough? What could be wrong with wanting to hold my money with a loose hand and try to help others?  In this verse, He acknowledged that yes, I was making the effort to be a faithful tither, but He wanted more than that.  I love that He knew those thoughts were in my mind! It was the pat on the back I needed, so I claimed this verse as a word from the Lord, marking it with the date in my Bible, and then started to ask Him, “What are those more important things you are referring to?” 

Again, He was silent. 

  A few weeks later, He answered through my Bible study book by Elizabeth George, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.  He reminded me that my heart’s desire should be to prefer God and His ways in all things.  To ask God these questions before I speak or act: (or write a check to a “good cause”)

What do You want me to say? Lord, what do you want me to do?

  Maybe God wanted me to volunteer my time, maybe He wanted Dale and I to stop and pray about a specific amount before writing a check, maybe He just wanted me to add that person to my prayer list and DAILY commit to the ministry of prayer for that organization. 

 Our good intentions of being free with our money had turned to Spiritual laziness.

  At this point, I was feeling very parched Spiritually, very disciplined, and just plain exhausted of the emotional rollercoaster of the unknown.  Again, the Lord blessed me with a verse to cling to during this time:

Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing stream.”

  God knew I needed a drink, He knew I needed reassurance of his guidance through this, what a promise!!!!

  The second verse He gave me was Jeremiah 17:7-8:

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

  I’ll admit the first thing I said to Him after reading this 2nd verse was “PLEASE LORD, DON’T LET THAT VERSE MEAN IT’LL BE A YEAR OF FINANCIAL ‘DROUGHT’!”

    At this point with that cush gone, our accounts were nearly empty, just enough in them to keep them open.  Interestingly enough, by the grace of God, we didn’t bounce one check during any of this trying 12 month time frame. If I paid a bill for $300, even though the account held way less than that, the day that $300 drafted, He provided a refund check or renewal check to hit our account, JUST in the nick of time.  Providing always JUST enough to cover what I had written, making it a “faith in God” experience for each stack of bills I paid, believing that He WOULD provide despite what the calculator in front of me read. 

And He did.  Every single month, praise His name! 

  Around the beginning of February, I started to prep the kids that this year we wouldn’t be ordering Valentines toys/crafts or cards for their class parties from the Current magazine.  We were going to make our own cards out of construction paper.  They didn’t say much about it, but inside my heart was aching that we couldn’t provide this little bit of fun for them and their school friends.  I was trying to be obedient to God and not spend on frivolous things, but really, was I going to have to ask my kids to give up fun VALENTINES too?

  Guess what happened next?  

  Right about this time, a family member offered her 2 extra boxes of Valentines to us.  They were left from a party, and she had no use for them.  I didn’t tell her at the time, but I knew that was God showing me that He hears my hearts desires and wants to meet ALL my needs.

Even the ones I deem “silly”.

  A week later, I opened my last bottle of laundry soap and thought, “Well Lord, this is it.  No more laundry soap in the stash.”  Didn’t pray, didn’t ask Him to provide, just thought it.  The next day I get an email from a friend who had recently switched to a new washer and dryer that required special soap, she had come across some leftover regular laundry detergent during cleaning day and knew she had no use for it.  Amazingly, I came to her mind, could I use it?!

Why yes, yes I could. 

Thanks Lord.

 God is so good I just want to shout of His provision in my life from the rooftops! (or this blog will do for now!)  🙂 

  But just when I think I’ve learned enough, the Lord tells me again, “Nope, I love you just how you are, but I love you too much to keep you that way.”

Trials by fire make beauty from ashes, RIGHT?!?!?!?!?!  

 More tomorrow and Wednesday….

~T