Out of the Fire & Into the Oasis of His Love

  Do you remember the Blog series I wrote in June on our Year of Financial Discipline?

  If not, please take a moment, and catch up here!  God worked some AMAZING miracles for us, praise His name:

1) Jesus Loves Me This I Know

2) Seeing God’s Provision

3) God Loves Me Too Much To Keep Me As I Am

  So so many of you dear sweet friends, have written me privately, asking me how things are going now? 

    Remember, when the Lord gave the following verse to me early on, and I BEGGED HIM, pleasepleaseplease don’t let it be a WHOLE year of financial “drought”.

Jeremiah 17:8 “He 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.”

October 28th, 2010 we received our last “normal” paycheck (whatever “normal” is in a commission only job) and began a journey to a new us. A journey that included trusting in God to provide for today ONLY today’s needs, no extra. A journey to humbly being on the OTHER end of a grocery drive or gracious giving, time and time again. A journey that included a tearing down of us, our dreams, our plans for our financial future.

On October 28th, 2011 we were removed from the Refiners Fire in the area of Finances. We felt it occur like a breath of FRESH air. Like someone opening the door while you are sitting in a sauna room.

  This is how it went:

  Around the 3rd week of October, 2011, both Dale and I felt the Lord had told us (separately, in different ways) that our year of financial discipline was coming to a close. Good, I thought, it’s been a year almost to the day: October 28th is just around the corner.

Guess what?

It was just past this year mark, when we bounced our first check.


  All these months of discipline, all these months of no money, yet all the bills getting met just as they come due, and NOW at the end of the year mark, when we are hoping for reprieve, THIS?!  A bounced CHECK!?!?!?!?


  Enough is enough!

   You can imagine our heart-break. All along we had been saying:

“Look how God is providing, we have had this awful year of low pay and high bills and look…not one bounced check.” 

  It was like our “proof” of God’s faithfulness or something.  Here we thought our time of drought was over and the harvest had come, then whammo, bounced check…..

  I think that last little bit of a crutch needed to be removed.  I think it needed to be a full on, 100%, God doesn’t need my “Proof”, kind of experience before it could be over.  That bounced check was a breaking point for Dale. I found him weeping in our darkened room early one morning, kneeling by the chair crying out to God:

 “Why? Why must we continue this path of discipline? We are stripped of all we are, please, take this financial discipline from us, it’s too much.”

   I sat down on the ottoman, wrapped my arms around him and prayed for my broken man.  He stopped crying and praying, and looked up with the most amazed expression on his face and says:

“I just heard Him say, ‘It’s always darkest before dawn.”

A flicker of Hope.  A breath of Fresh Air.

  3 weeks later, we got 4 checks in one week, unheard of this past year.

  Then, clients started calling Dale and asking him to come write them some business, and while he was there, could he take the name of their friends, too?

WHAT?!  Praise you, Jesus!

  This was when we noticed we had been removed from the Refiners Fire & the rain drops of blessing were beginning to fall.  No kidding.  Our “Year of drought” literally ended a year after it began, just as the verse had promised.

  This will be the 3rd time I have posted this letter on the blog, but I think it’s important you read it again, because it describes exactly what occurred!  It is to be read as if your Heavenly Father is speaking to you:

My dear one, my refining fire was never intended to hurt you, only to help you. Refiners%20Fire

When the firing is complete I won’t leave you in the heat one second more than is necessary, but will RUN to you and deliver you into my loving arms.

Can I not remove you from the heat of the fire in a split instant… into the Oasis of my love?


I am pleased pleased pleased with you, my child. Don’t doubt for a minute my immense love for you……

  You will never on this earth know what measures of my love I am bestowing on you and your family in these days. I’m only giving you a glimpse here and there. Don’t fear in these days, my dear one. You’re not passing through the fire alone.

You may not feel my hand or see my loving face, but I’m here… right beside you… silently, quietly, patiently, holding your hand.


I love you,


  We have passed through the Fire, and now are in the Oasis of His love!  Praise His name!

  One day, my families financial “store house” will be full again, maybe even overflowing.  No matter what, we’ll always be able to look back on this time and see God’s finger prints all over it. We learned such valuable lessons, and sadly, it took lack of finances to get our attention and refocus it on our Father and His desire to provide for our every need, big or small.

  We’ve learned to not waste another MINUTE of these precious moments in time, worrying about what we will eat, what we will wear, how I can pay several thousand dollars worth of bills when the numbers DO NOT ADD UP, because time and time again, month after month, week after week, minute after minute, He will take care of my family….just in time. He is rarely early and NEVER late.

We’ve learned that we NEVER want to take on the spirit of self-sufficiency again! No matter how comfortable things seem, we want to commit everything to HIM!  Our finances, Dale’s job, our marriage….all of it.

  We’ve learned that we don’t want to be “Lazy givers” and just throw a little money at every good cause that comes our way. We want to commit to prayer what we should do, knowing full well, we may be asked to volunteer our time, resources or prayers instead of cash.

  We’ve let go of the “American Dream” and are making serious plans to get out of debt, even working towards selling off our “Dream Land” we prayed so many years for.

  2011 will no doubt go down as the toughest in the history of our lives as a married couple. We have been broken down to nothing and built back up again.  We have been redefined down to our core beings.  NEVER have we been stretched so much, never have we spent more time in the refiners fire being molded, chiseled and changed. NEVER have we felt the Lord’s gentle, loving hand more, as He held us up when we could no longer stand on our own two feet.

  Now, we are in the midst of a quiet harvest:

Hebrews 12:6, 9-11 “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children. For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

  I want to bottle up this experience up and carry it with me forever. I don’t want to “lose it” like you lose a spiritual high after coming home from Summer Church Camp. Somehow, I MUST take this and apply it, use it as a filter on my life from here forward, so that every purchase, every decision, every check to a good cause flows through that filter.

  Like a country coming out of a time of famine, I know it will take time, even years, to build up our savings again, to catch up from a full year of belt-tightening, to look around and see the lush beauty of a land of bountiful crops.

But, one thing we can immediately count on is this:

Isaiah 55:8-13

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. The rain and the snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

  Isn’t that a beautiful image?  “Where there were once thorns, cypress trees will grow.” 

The ugly brown of drought is being lifted, as the faint green of harvest begins to peek it’s head through the cracked, dry soil. 

One day, things will be lush and beautiful again, and it will be all for God’s glory…..



Praise be to God, for He is working in our lives in VERY real ways!  The miracles occurring in these 4 walls will be a testament of His great power and love!  Glory be to my Father in Heaven, who loves me too much to leave me as I am…..



God Loves Me Too Much To Leave Me As I Am: 3/3

For those of you just tuning in, this is part 3 of a 3 part series, get caught up here:

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

Seeing God’s Provision


March, 2011:

  We are now well into month 5 of waiting for a paycheck, any paycheck of size will do.  Instead, the Lord continues to provide $45 coming in, the day $45 goes out of our account to pay a bill.  He wants me to trust Him today for all my needs and I know He provides, look at us! There is NO WAY we should be “making it” with finances the way they are. I know He provides, we are living proof! But still, I struggle.

  We recently, with heavy sad hearts, cancelled our much-anticipated trip to Florida this May, to go see my family.  It’s too expensive to fly, and with gas the way it is, too expensive to drive.  Besides, in the scheme of things, there is just not money for such a trip, EVEN IF this check finally comes. 

  Our whole lives seem to be revolving around this silly check, yet when I look at our accounts, even “normal” checks aren’t coming in anymore.  I feel as if God is blocking “normal” right now….there must be more I am to learn.  I am constantly fighting panic and trying to be soft, moldable and ready to learn.

    I had a clothing sale last year, open to acquaintances only, spending days and days, hours and hours, setting it up like a store at my mom’s house, then scheduling friends to come shop.  I had a goal in mind: 

I wanted to raise enough money for new kitchen countertops.

  Guess who met that goal TO THE DOLLAR?  I was super excited!  Good-bye 1970’s yellow countertops, hello gorgeous black and beige ones!  The next clothing sale I held would be to raise the money for the installation fees. 

   Fast forward one year, to this year:  I carefully set up and planned for my 2nd sale, and got the word out to friends.  I knew the money should go for living expenses and bills this time around, but I desperately wanted those countertops.  Surely I could still tuck away for that particular item after saving for so long, right?

   But alas, the week before my “Countertop Instillation Money Clothing Sale”, the Lord asked me to give up my countertops. 

Rrrrr, I KNEW it!  But come on, not that money! 

  I had saved that money for a whole YEAR, untouched.  Please, not the counter top money!

    There was no doubt He was asking me to use my money wisely and spend the saved money as well as the sale money, to help our family.   And I knew it was the right thing to do, I had known it all along.  {SIGH}

  Selfishly, and sobbing as I did it, I handed the money over to Dale, to pay Destiny’s school tuition bill. 

  Such a petty thing I was clinging to!!!! And funny, that after months of not grocery shopping, or living the way we had grown accustomed to, THIS was the time that made me break down? 

Over countertops? 


We humans, are silly and selfish people. 

God is such a loving God. 

   You know how I gave up my Florida trip? 

  Guess who surprised me with a visit? 

My family.  🙂

   Again, something I didn’t pray or ask for, was dropped in my lap!  God knows our hearts and He knew mine was missing my Florida family. 

What a blessing and what a fun week!  Again, I praise His name!

  March 23rd, 2010:

  We received a paycheck today, one of more “normal” preportions!  My heart leapt for joy!!!! Hurray!!!! This valley is over, right? We are headed up the other side to bigger and better things, right?


  The very same day we received this normal sized check, (FINALLY!) we also received a notice from the IRS.

  In addition to the thousands and thousands we owed for 2010’s taxes, (remember, we are self-employed so we always pay in! Ugh.) we also discovered we owed $4,000 from a missed 1099 in 2009 as well.  And of course, we had no idea about until that very moment! 

Oh Jesus, help me.

  I felt as if I was going to vomit;  the rollercoaster of life had me so high and so low all in a matter of hours.  I am just weary of this “Lesson” the Lord is teaching us and trying to keep my head up.

  I am frustrated.  I am broken.  I am TRYING to be a learner, I am TRYING to have faith.  I am trying to keep my head up, but my burden is heavy and I have fallen to my knees, defeated.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

April 12th, 2011: 

  This is “The Week”, the one when I have to pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  Well, pay to Uncle Sam’s what is Uncle Sam’s.  Except, I don’t have nearly what I am being asked to pay.  We barely have money for regular bills, how am I to pay $9,000 in taxes? 

  I feel sick as I write out 2 of the 4 checks to the IRS and State.  I know there is no money in the accounts.  I know I have 2 more huge checks to write and get in the mail tomorrow too.  I can’t pray, I can’t think, I can’t even let myself process what could occur, should these checks hit with no money to cover them. 

I go to bed, defeated, weary, broken.  Physically sick to my stomach about it all.

The next morning, April 13th, 9 am: 

  I just got a call from Dale…..

God IS so good! My soul is rejoicing! 

The Bible PROMISES that if we leap, He will catch us and not let our foot strike a stone. 

Guess who just got paid this morning? 

Yes, we did!

  We got paid “The Check”!!!!!!!!!!!  The one we’ve been holding our breath for, for 6 loooong months now.  It hit today, praise HIS name!  God knew we needed this particular check today, at this very moment in time, to be able to pay our taxes, plus the “surprise taxes”. 

  Had we received it 6 months ago as planned? It’d be gone and spent to fulfill other needs and obligations. 

  God’s plan is so much greater than our own could ever be.  With this miracle money and the small amount remaining in our tax savings account, we are able to pay last years missed taxes and this years taxes IN FULL

 I wept. Whether from joy, relief, or the fact that all that money went to the government….I’ll never know! 

What I do know is that the God I serve is amazing and I am in awe of His provision in my life!!!!

Months 7-9:

  Things are still tight and not “normal”.  Small amounts trickling in just in time for the checks to clear, but its ok, after almost a year of living this way, we are really getting used to it.  It’s no longer a huge deal to pay $2,000 worth of bills when there is only $200 in the account, we know God will provide the right amount at the right time….how else could we have gone 9 months without a single bounced check or unpaid bill?

The Lord has provided us another Grocery Angel, one that gives us food almost weekly, what a blessing!!!!! Not only that, but it’s as if He tells her what I am missing from the recipes I have layed out, because if I need taco shells, that “Happens” to be in with what she sends that week.  Amazing.

  I’d love to tell you this ends with a “Happily Ever After” type finale.  I’d love to package this all up neat and tidy with a pretty bow to end this series….’cause that’s how we roll in Tonya-land, you know.   🙂

But, I can’t.  And you know what?  It’s ok.

  I’ve accepted this new life….after living this way for 9 months, how could I not?  Of COURSE I hope that one day we can move past this and be comfortable again, but not at the high cost of financial/spiritual laziness.  The price is too high!

  I want to bottle up this experience up and carry it with me forever.  I don’t want to “lose it” like you lose a spiritual high after coming home from Summer Church Camp.  Somehow, I MUST take this and apply it, use it as a filter on my life from here forward, so that every purchase, every decision, every check to a good cause flows through that filter. 

  From my God’s Creative Power For Finances book, based on John 16:13: “I am filled with the wisdom of God, and I am led to make wise and prosperous financial decisions. The Spirit of God guides me into all truth regarding my financial affairs.”

So, what am I learning from all this? 

That this is not The Tonya Show

That this is an Extreme Makeover: Ferguson Family Finance Edition.

That God loves me SO much more than I will ever know. 

That He loves me too much to leave me as I am. 

That He is preparing me for bigger and better things.

My only job?

To TRUST and walk in FAITH, not by sight, cause things have looked really ugly for a while now.

  My blogger friend Arianne said it best when she said: 

Faith is like a rubber band. It’s no good unless it’s stretched. 
Well just call me “Gumby” cause I have been stretched to my max and back!!!
  God doesn’t owe me explanation or reason for everything He asks me to go through. Understanding can wait, but obedience can’t. Instant obedience will teach us more about God than a lifetime of Bible reading, learning and discussion. In fact, I may not understand some commands until I obey them first.
Obedience unlocks understanding….. 
~Understanding of what God is asking of us.
~Understanding of our selfish choices of the past and how they directly affect what we are going through today. 
~Understanding of how quickly self-sufficiency can set in when financially comfortable.
  God loves me just as I am, but He loves me too much to keep me that way. Hallelujah!
  Well, thanks for sticking through these more serious posts with me…..I told you this blog was a peek into my world: the good, the bad and the ugly! 
  I chose to share this with you, so that you may be encouraged, so that you may have hope, and so that most importantly, you can praise the Lord with me for His provision.
Tomorrow I will return you to your regularly scheduled, sunshine-y programs!
~T  🙂

Seeing God’s Provision: Part 2/3

    When I ended yesterday, God had just provided Valentines and Laundry detergent for our family.  He was teaching me to rely on Him and Him alone to provide for ALL our needs, and even some wants, like the Valentines.  Something that seemed so trivial to me, but something that screamed PROVISION on the Lord’s part.

   During month number 3 of waiting for our check, and choosing to continue to refrain from grocery shopping, the supplies in our pantry and deep freeze were rapidly diminishing.  Again, God provided in a way only HE could.  He is SO good to provide for my every need before it even crosses my mind to ask Him for them!!!!!!!

   I owed a promised photo order to a friend and had to call her and apologize that I was unable to place my order with her or pay her, until we received this illusive check.  She was very gracious and gave me an extended time to take care of it.  We hung up, and I felt much better about it all.

  Not 5 minutes later HER MOTHER shows up at my door toting bags and bags of groceries for us. 

I was blown away. 

I just stood there and WEPT, as she brought in load after load of food for us. 

  Here this precious woman, who only knew me through her daughter, was allowing God to use her, to provide for a need of ours.  She told me that just yesterday, she was looking in her cupboards wondering why she had so much food for just her husband and herself?  She instantly knew why, when she heard of our situation.  She was going to share her food with us, asking only for prayer in return.  What an amazing moment! It was food for my soul as much as for my families tummies!

   It was right after this that the Lord started showing me verses about the Sparrows not worrying about what they will eat, or what they will wear, yet my Father in Heaven cares enough to feed them.  He also reminded me that He wanted me to rely on Him to meet my needs for today and today only. 


  No gathering manna for tomorrow, it would only spoil. (Exodus 16) I was SO grateful for His provision from Valentines, to laundry soap, to groceries, that I was able to let go of another piece of my fear. 

  Hadn’t He proven His faithfulness enough for me to believe He was not going to let us go without? 

Oh ME of little faith.

  Dale was very thankful for this precious woman’s kindness, but a bit frustrated that I was talking about our finances to people.  I assured him I had not asked for help, only called about a bill and this was as much a surprise to me, as it was to him. 

  Humble pie is hard for a man to swallow and I know he struggled with that on and off this whole process.  I did my best to be supportive and let him know we were a team.  It was us against the world, survival of the fittest. 

    It’s easy for our guys to feel as if their value is determined by their financial worth.  I could tell by the slump in his shoulders, that he was taking this personally. I had to be careful the words that came out of my mouth like: “No Taco Bell kids, we don’t have money to eat out right now”. 

  I didn’t mean it offensive or hurtful, just was stating the reality, a verbal reminder of what can and cannot be at the moment. I tried my best to be encouraging to Dale, telling him I appreciate him getting out there everyday to sell, despite what the numbers in the bank show.  

  We started reading a financial prayer book my aunt had given us, talking about the power of spoken prayer using God’s word, and are starting to pray for our finances in that way.  “When you speak God’s Word over your finances, you are planting seeds that will grown and produce abundantly for you.” We added this to our evening devotions in hopes that God would release His blessings on us once again.

  You can imagine my shock and surprise, when MORE food showed up that next day.  More meaning, my entire kitchen table full plus 2 big boxes and 2 large grocery bags on the floor.  This time it was from my friend, who had asked her group of friends, for extra staples and groceries for a family in need. 

  It is SUCH a humbling experience to be on the other end of a grocery drive. 

  Once my grocery angel left, and it was just me in the kitchen, I just stood there and looked around at all these wonderful items we’d been blessed with and sobbed.  Just sobbed at the blessings others had bestowed upon us, having no idea who it was going to, yet willing to pull from their very own cupboards to help another family out. 

  My kids ran around like it was Christmas,  picking up on my excitement and tears, thanking Jesus for our food and asking questions like, “Are we poor?”  This opened the door for great conversation about God’s provision in our lives, and we immediately went to splitting up the extras for a family we knew could use it.  God had provided for our need in a MAJOR way, the least we could do was pay it forward, and bless them as well. 

  Dale came in from working out in our shed, to me putting away groceries.  As I knelt there, unloading cans and packages of wonderful items onto empty pantry shelves, I mentally prepared myself that he may be offended by this and thought for sure he’d say: “You know we’ll be fine once this check hits, you shouldn’t have accepted this.” 

  Instead, I saw this softness come over him.  I am unsure how to explain what I saw, but a physical change occurred, and he very quietly, and very humbly said:  “We’ve always been on the other side of this sort of thing, maybe our job is to humble ourselves and be receivers at this time, allowing OTHERS the blessing that comes from giving.” 

  Praise God for the work He is doing in both our hearts!

  The organized part of me wants to continue to think and plan ahead, make lists, and have excess funds in the ol’ bank accounts to feel safe.  Yet the Lord continues to challenge me to hand over my “security net” and trust Him to not let my foot strike a stone. (Ps. 91:12)   

  Fast forward another month, and here I sit, typing you at 1 in the morning, and STILL working on letting go of my fear, and not taking it back again.

  It’s now March 2nd, 5 months later, and still we await this specific check, actually ANY check will do.  We’ve waited so long, that the second the check hits, it will be spent and gone on the bills we have pending.  However, I have learned, and am still learning, to commit it to him.  To not waste another MINUTE of these precious moments in time, worrying about what we will eat, what we will wear, how I can pay several thousand dollars worth of bills when the numbers DO NOT ADD UP.  Yet time and time again, month after month, week after week, minute after minute, He takes care of me and my family….just in time. 

  One day, my families financial “store house” will be full again, maybe even overflowing, and we’ll look back on this time and see God’s finger prints all over it.  We are learning valuable lessons, and sadly, it took lack of finances to get our attention and refocus it on our Father and His desire to provide for our every need, big or small. 

  May we never take on the spirit of self-sufficiency again!  God disciplines those He loves!  And like a piece of coal passes through fire and becomes something of beauty, so He is doing the same in our lives.  And when we get through this fire?  Something refined and beautiful will be there for all to see HIS glory in.

   Hebrews 12:6, 9-11 “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children. For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness.  No discipline is  enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

Praise His name!

Conclusion tomorrow….


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….


  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


  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….