Being Poor.

 

 

poor hands

I realize as I write this that there are so many scales of wealth to the poorest of poor and to the wealthiest of people.  I truly believe God will hold each one of us accountable for how we spend our money and that how we spend it reveals so much about ourselves.

Right now, though, I am poorer than I’ve ever been, but I realize there are many people worse off than I, and I truly am rich in the love of Christ.

As I sit back and take a reality check, I have always been thankful that money didn’t have a grasp on my heart.  I loved being generous and I didn’t mind eating bland food and wearing bland clothes and not being completely comfortable as long as it was for a good cause.  I think God is always in the business of sanctification and He never relents with those who believe in Him, His beloved Children. But, the truth is, since last March 2017, I never was in desperate need myself.  I never was poor.  My parents tried to convince my brother and I that we were indeed poorgrowing up, but our ever curious minds knew better 😉 When I got married, when my husband and I did our budget together, we focused on tithing each month and always tried to reach out to the community wherever there were needs.  We saved so much and I am thankful for that now.  We tried not to live extravagantly, but rather soberly, not knowing what the future will bring.

Now, however, with 3 children to provide for, I really am struggling each month to meet ends meet.  Every single decision I make costs money or saves money, so I really have to think about money often.  Naturally, I am learning new things handling everything myself and am reminding myself often that money does not equal love from God.  I am so glad I get to learn so much about it.  I wish there wasn’t as much at stake…and that I didn’t have to be afraid of an accident costing money, or the cost of going to the doctor, or getting my teeth cleaned…these were fears I didn’t have to take to Christ before. They were automatic, I knew I would receive these things.

But, these are real concerns I have to handle and pray through now.  I know that I know that I know that God will provide…and He has and will continue to do so.  But, I have to lower expectations and more than anything, absolutely remember that gifts and things DO NOT EQUAL LOVE.  I think this iswhere the temptation comes from.  Sometimes people confuse things and big houses to mean we are more of a thoroughbred or more loved by God.  I am finding the opposite to be true.  God reminds me that His ways are higher than our ways.  That He has created all people equal.  That His heart IS FOR THE POOR.  And I personally feel and have experienced his tangible love for me during this time of being poor.  It is a place of dependancy.  It is a place of need.  We humans don’t like being in that place!  And I like to do everything I can to be productive and to earn money and to make sure my and the kids’ future is secure.  But, ultimately, God is in charge of the future and we, as Christians, are asked to not store up treasures for ourselves on earth, but to store up treasures in heaven.  I think this means to deny ourselves and to give to others–with our energy, strength, encouragement, money, help, or love.  Keep giving.  This is again, an antidote to selfishness.

As a child of God, you sign a consent form….it’s the most radical one you’ll ever sign and it goes something like this:

Question (God): Do you consent to really believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World, and your personal Savior, that God sent His one and only Son to die for your sins so that you may receive eternal life with God forever in Heaven?

Answer (Humanity): (Thinking first) Hmmm…this sounds easy enough.  Well, I have noticed lately that God is pursuing me and doing everything He can to get my attention….  And as I read Scripture, I suppose God has softened my heart to not doubt so much, because, as I read, the Scriptures that used to bother me and be so difficult for me to accept, I now receive with thanksgiving and joy.

Quick question to God (Humanity): So, it sounds like Jesus does most of the work here as far as forgiveness and salvation are concerned and I get to just do the believing part?

God: Mostly, yes.

Humanity: Well, since I cannot save myself and this offer appears to be free, THIS IS A REALLY GREAT DEAL!!!  YES, I believe. 🙂

____

On a surface level, this is what many of usdo.  I always thought, though:  Do I have a choice?  I need a Savior.  I need a lot of help from God.  So, this is a consent form I have to sign….much like my rental agreement I just signed.  I need a place to stay and this is a good one, so I really do have to sign this form.

However, God is mysterious and his consent form DOES NOT reveal the entire contract.  And did you know the contract is unbreakable>??  Yikes.  Once really and truly saved, always saved.  There are hidden words, there is so much we didn’t know when we signed on.  BUT, we can trust in His goodness.  God is trustworthy, perfect in every way, Holy, without a taint of evil, and has our best in mind.  He does require obedience and Jesus is a tough task master.  But it is so worth it in the end.

I like coming back to my precious promises in Scripture…they give me SO MUCH COMFORT.

Where do you turn to comfort?

I made a list yesterday of the good places I turn to for comfort and the bad places.  I have many good places I turn.  But, some of the bad ones can make life even worse.  For me, it’s little anxious habits or candy.  Anything I can turn to besides Christ for comfort is not healthy.  Replacing fear and anxiety with TRUST and FAITH is the greatest cure for bad habits and the greatest COMFORT to overcome and to change our mindset.

May God’s PEACE be with you this week in advent.

Your sister in Christ,

Dawn

 

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What does whole look like?

This is a very serious post, not just a reflection, but a cry for God to work miracles.  A call to brothers and sisters in Christ to reflect with me and respond.  I am going to be more transparent about what I have recently written about…I sense that this is the time and place.

So often lately I have thought…what does a whole person look like, what does a whole marriage look like?  So often I have pursued that wholeness, through Scripture, through bible study, through prayer, through extra practical reading, through exercise, through healthy eating, and trying to think good, positive thoughts…but all the time wondering, can I achieve wholeness here on planet earth?

I think I have learned and continue to learn that we will always be broken here on earth…broken perhaps in clear ways and sometimes in ways we cannot even see.  I think Brian and I have realized over this past year–his return from a year deployed to Afghanistan and a quick move immediately upon return….and the following months we’ve been stationed here in a new place…Georgia…we were broken in ways we could not see and our marriage was broken in ways we could not see either..particularly from so much time apart…so much pressure and stress upon each of our shoulders, but I know the stress brings out the impurities that need to be refined…like silver and gold.   Often, I’ve felt like we’ve had a strong marriage.  My mind can return to many of the times and places I’ve felt that way.  There are so many moments.  But, there have been hard times too.  Right now, we are in the hardest place…the best way I can describe it is a PIT that we are stuck in.  I’m trying desperately to crawl out of this pit in any way I can…but my sweet husband is stuck and doesn’t want to crawl out with me or at all.  I think we can choose to focus on the good, or we can fix our minds on the bad–real bad and made up bad….and if we do that, everything deteriorates.  Crumbles.  Is Destroyed.  It reminds me of that verse that says the Enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  I am also reminded that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

If you know my husband and love him (how could you not?) please call him or write him THIS week and let him know what an amazing man he is and what a wonderful wife he has 🙂  Please remind him of all the wonderful moments you’ve seen our family have.

I spoke of miracles for Christmas, but the miracle I was hoping for did not happen.  My prayer is more desperate than it has ever been…for God to save my marriage. My husband plans to serve me divorce papers next week.  He told me 3 months ago on September 30, one month into my master’s degree.  I was shocked, but that shock turned into a desperate call to fight for my marriage.  Now, I feel quite powerless to watch something I have delighted in and invested in crumble before my eyes after almost 11 years of marriage…and a family with 3 beautiful sweet kiddos severely impacted….simply with one other person saying “no more.”

My conclusion tonight is that a marriage can work if two broken people, who realize they are both broken and in need of Christ daily, come together to commit to, accept, love, and encourage one another through life no matter what, and who turn to the Word continually for guidance…it can work.  It does take two.  It does take commitment.  It does take humility.  It does take a tremendous amount of love that can only come from God.

I pray God’s love and power save my marriage and put us back on track focused on Truth and honoring our commitment to one another as well as help both of us remember all the GREAT THINGS HE HATH DONE for us and our family.  Part of that is recognizing all that He has done and truly being grateful and not entitled.  I KNOW IT IS WORTH IT.

Truly, though, I feel powerless to do anything but pray and believe that God will take care of everything.  This is the Lord’s battle. I have to trust in Him.  If it doesn’t work out, I know I must submit to His Will.  God is a gentleman and He does not force us to do His Will.

Pray with me tonight.  Tomorrow I go to celebrate a precious family member’s 90 years of life.  I am glad to be present to celebrate with her.  I am glad for a respite from the emptiness of my home and heart right now.  I have done all the projects I can possibly think of to do here!  I come home in a few days to a house full of my 3 precious kiddos after 9 days without them.  That is the longest time I’ve ever been away from my kids…and without my consent.

The only option when you have no choice is to surrender.

 

Little Nuggets of Joy :-)

This past weekend, we went to Great Wolf Lodge and had a nice respite together at the water park there.  I went in faith.  Faith that the littles would do well in the hotel, faith that my body could handle the trip, faith that my mind would be strong to weather the hiccups that are inevitable in traveling.

This morning, as I have time to process, God gave me so many little nuggets of joy to remember.  My husband was so strong in serving the family so selflessly, so joyfully.  My kids were so strong and joyful!  They did so well in the car, so well in the hotel.  They had so much fun.  It was wonderful to see the delight in their faces.  Lewis was the brightest light and was so selfless and tender with all of us.  He is developing such an obedient heart.  Hannah slept in a bed for the first time and slept all night long!  This was mommy’s greatest concern 🙂  There were hiccups along the way, but the Lord brought us through them all, and gave us surprising REST throughout the whole time.

I am so blessed to have a husband who wants more than anything for me to be happy and encouraged and provided for.  I am so thankful to rest without any stress or burden on my heart to get things done.  I know he will be content with whatever I get accomplished during the day and strong to do the rest of what needs to get done.  The kids gave me their horsey pole to hobble around on as a crutch, as deep sciatic nerve pain on my left side has really crippled me the last week.  The Lord also provided so graciously through a friend who is a physical therapist and showed me some exercises I can do, and through some tylenol.  I am almost through another long sinus cold…and I have hope that this might be the last one, as the pollen subsides and summer arrives 🙂

I know as these memories of pain grow older, all I will remember is how sweetly my family has loved me….with perspective, it is actually quite comical.   My kids really have the concept of the importance of rest!  Hannah tells me often she needs to go rest….Lewis has been so sweet and understanding to give me some space while I rest 🙂  The kids hold my hand as I hobble around the house to get things done.  Their favorite place to be is with mommy resting 🙂  And jumping on the bed 🙂

Getting things done has always been so important to me; it has always given me such deep fulfillment.  Most days have gone by the past 9 months and I  haven’t felt accomplished whatsoever!  I have found contentment in learning to peacefully rest, and finding little ways to bless and love my family.  And you know what, they are just as happy and fulfilled with the little things I do to bless them as they are the big ways.  As I joyfully serve them and love them in little ways, I see a real contentment develop in their faces, and I see their little spirits blossom with real joy—joy in being with family, loving each other, serving each other, and learning about God’s ways together.  I see pure hearts.  I see deep contentment.  I see a greater love for Jesus and appreciation of God’s blessings.  My husband is changing in so many ways right now.  His relationship with the Lord is deepening.  He is learning to rely more on the Lord’s voice and direction and less on his own understanding and to walk in faith.  How hard that is to do as the leader of our family.  Our hearts crave understanding.  I see my heart changing in so many ways too, my walk deepening and maturing.

This week and perhaps today, we are to get clarity for our months ahead.  We are supposed to find out whether we stay or go next December, and we have a possible hint of where we might go if we move in December.  We are learning to follow Jesus, step-by-step, even if and when the journey takes us on a different turn than expected…than where we felt led.  We are following faithfully with the understanding and direction we are given each day.  And this is the journey and life that He asks us to live–in FAITH, trust, and obedience.

New life

With Brian in the field…but our time apart coming to a close…I am convicted of so much that needs to change in my parenting, in my marriage, in my life.  I am praying for new life.  I want SO much for the old ways to pass…and the new to be resurrected in my life.  God is transforming, renewing my mind.  I know that the new life and JOY will come.  Not just because my husband is going to come home ;-)….but because SO much of the old needs to go.  He will make it happen and I am trusting in that today.

His Voice Lifts up my Head

“I am already being poured out as a drink offering….” (2 Timothy 4:6)

“Are you ready to be poured out as an offering?  It is an act of your will, not your emotions.  Tell God you are ready to be offered as a sacrifice for Him.  Then accept the consequences as they come, without any complaints, in spite of what God may send your way.  God sends you through a crisis in private, where no other person can help you.  From the outside your life may appear to be the same, but the difference is taking place in your will.  Once you have experienced the crisis in your will, you will take no thought of the cost when it begins to affect you externally.  If you don’t deal with God on the level of your will first, the result will be only to arouse sympathy for yourself.

“Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27).  You must be willing to be placed on the altar and go through the fire; willing to experience what the altar represents–burning, purification, and separation for only one purpose–the elimination of every desire and affection not grounded in or directed toward God.  But, you don’t eliminate it, God does.  You “bind the sacrifice…to the horns of the altar” and see to it that you don’t wallow in self-pity once the fire begins.  After you have gone through the fire, there will be nothing that will be able to trouble or depress you.  When another crisis arises, you will realize that things cannot touch you as they used to do.  What fire lies ahead in your life?

Tell God you are ready to be poured out as an offering, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be. ”

-My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.

Unity

God is showing me so much through my sweet husband right now.  We are experiencing right now part of a promise of the Lord, that when two unite, they become one flesh–we are learning from each other and becoming more and more one as time goes on.  My husband’s Christ-like characteristics are such a testimony to me and it just happens to be that the very Christ-like qualities I am desiring right now are the ones my husband is most powerfully displaying (without me telling him a word about what I have been praying for!).  God is showing me what my prayer looks like in human flesh, right in my own household.  I think that is pretty amazing!  And I think my husband is pretty amazing too!

Last night I got to celebrate a triumph in my husband’s career with him. (I haven’t been able to witness too many of these either because of our long and frequent separations in the past, so it was extra special!)  I saw the Lord pouring out His blessing to my husband and our family…and my husband’s humble attitude and sincere appreciation and thanks to the Lord and everyone who played a part in helping him get there.  I am most grateful, not for his promotion, but for the humble heart my husband has and his awareness of the Lord’s grace to our family.  What a witness he is to me.  I am truly thankful for the opportunity to grow closer to Christ by learning from my sweet and dedicated husband.

Guilt

The Accuser

This topic was on my mind today.  I was thinking of how God inspires me…but doesn’t make me feel condemned.  The Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin…and I am left feeling sad…and then He shows me His forgiveness, comforts me, and equips me with the TRUTH and ways to change (repent).  Repentance involves sorrow and CHANGE.  He separates my sin from east to west (Psalm 103:12), so that I can be FREE to change according to His good plan for me. 

I think there are a few thoughts on guilt out there.  The two most often I hear about are:

1)  Guilt is a good motivator for change. 

2) We should not experience guilt (or give it any thought), because it is not from God, but instead from the enemy. 

This is NOT a case where we should find a “balance” between the two.  Guilt is NEVER a good motivator for change.  But, the other case isn’t telling us the whole truth either.  We should not ignore guilt.  Guilt TELLS us something.  Just like our emotions TELL us something.  They tell us about ourselves and they tell us something about the situation.  So, what do we do with guilt???

Guilt tempts us to be heavy laden, burdened with despair.

We ask God to tell us!  We pray something like this: “God, why am I feeling guilty about this?  What does this tell me about myself (my desires, my fears, my dreams, my understanding)?  What does this tell me about this situation (whether to run from it because it is dangerous or a temptation to sin, whether there is sin involved in my actions, etc)?”  God WILL tell you.  He will probably tell you one of two things:

1) You might be believing in a lie from the Enemy about what you should or shouldn’t be doing, and therefore experiencing unecessary guilt based off of that lie.

2) You need to change something!  Perhaps you need to avoid the situation because it is dangerous or not healthy or glorifying to God.  Or perhaps you need to change yourself or your actions in a particular situation.  

If it is 1), then you should ask God to show you the lie and replace it with His truth.  There is no need to walk around misguided (and heavy burdened) by unnecessary guilt.  If it is 2), then you should ask God to show you what you need to change and LIVE off of God’s inspiration and the Holy Spirit leading you/CONVICTING you to change.  Remember, God does not want us to be heavy laden.  There are MANY Scripure verses that tells us to cast our cares/anxiety/burdens upon the Lord.  Proverbs is a good place to start reading if this is a struggle for you, as it is for many.  And reading one Proverb a day will last you for a month.  This is how I started out reading the Bible every day.  I started with Proverbs, then went to Psalms, and then the One-Year Bible.  Now, it is too good to stop!!!

Conviction comes from a proper Fear of the Lord and His Commandments

Some people confuse conviction with guilt.  Conviction LEADS you to action.  It tells you that you did something wrong…or that something is not right in a situation.  It isn’t easy though!  Conviction has led me to tears MANY times.  But, along with the Godly sorrow I feel, I feel forgiveness and GRACE and I am motivated by THAT grace that I feel form the Lord.  Forgiveness leads to change.  Repentance leads to change. God’s GRACE is what actually changes us.  We are so thankful and recognize our sin and our NEED of HIM, that the Holy Spirit comes into our humble hearts and does the work of CHANGE for us.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit are our defenders and intercessors.  They stand ready to help.  But, we have to have willing, humble hearts.

Guilt comdemns.  Guilt accuses.  Guilt does come from the Enemy.  BUT, it can TELL us something.

Let us confess to the Lord any guilt that we feel…and let him heal our hearts, show us HIS truth, and then we can feel the proper conviction and repentance that Leads us to HIM and His grace.  He will make us faithful.  He will transform us.

I think the number one way anyone can see Jesus in my life is for them to see how HE has transformed me.  I often tell people of this testimony in my life for Jesus, because it is the only testimony people cannot refute!  People can argue theology, especially if they like to debate.  They can argue pretty much anything.  But, they CANNOT argue with seeing someone transform before their eyes. 

I tried in my own strength to change things in me that I didn’t find desirable before I knew the Lord.  But, I failed!  I submited to the Lord Jesus, and He is continuing to change me, day-by-day.  And as He does this, He shows me more and more things that are not pleasing to Him in my heart.  This is a constant process.  It even has a name!  Once you accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, you start the Sanctification process.  He refines you more and more to look like HIM.  And HE is BEAUTIFUL!!!! 

He LONGS to have a relationship with us

I encourage all of you along this process.  It is a tough process.  It is a very humbling process.  But, nothing in my life has ever been more satisfying than to draw nearer and nearer to Jesus.  As I draw nearer to Him, I love Him more and more.  He beckons me with His love closer to Him as My Father and Shepherd. And that LOVE compels me further.  And it is HIS love that He pours out on us.  May you be compelled also by His love for you and the love He gives you for Him and others.

He Shepherds me as a Little Child throughout each Day

LONGING

The heart yearning for dreams for the future

“A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul.” -Proverbs 13:19

There are many longings that are running deep in my soul right now.  I am waiting, waiting upon the Lord.  May He make me faithful to Him, so in my waiting, I can look back once He fulfills my longings in the way He sees fit and see obedience and submission unto the Lord (and not manipulation to get my way!).  I want to wait in full obedience.  I want to never stop believing until the day He chooses to give me redemption and deliverance.  And on that day, the longings fulfilled will be SO sweet to my soul.  And there will be no regrets.  No guilt.  Only JOY.

My Hope is in Him.  I know you are faithful Jesus!  I know you love me and have good in store for me.

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 20:11

Amen to that!  I am so thankful we have a Lord who is SO GOOD and JUST and SOVEREIGN.  He loves us so much.  He sent His only son to die for us–one who was perfect and blameless…to die for us who are full of sin and in need of so much grace. He did this while we were still sinners!  But, now we are covered with His grace and can approach His throne of grace with our petitions.

He is enough for me.  His grace.  His love.  His comfort.  His compassion.  His provision.  His heart is more than enough for me.

Staying Refreshed and Encouraged in the Lord

 

Living Water to our Souls

I’m borrowing from a sweet friend’s words to me recently.  With my sweet, but VERY spirited and determined toddler, who’s throwing tantrums right now literally every few minutes (pretty explosive ones), my little Hannah and her developmental delays and medical stuff going on right now, and my loving husband in the field quite often, I am learning how to stay refreshed and encouraged in the Lord.  My life is not my own.  I am to put the interests of my family and others above my own.  But, when I get to the point of overexhaustion, distress, or have a downcast spirit…simply because I am pouring out more than I am getting filled up…then I am not doing what the Lord wants me to do.  How can I serve others well when I am going on an empty tank quite often?  I am learning to take care of my body, take care of my mind, and to FILL up my spirit–as often as I might need to (I wish I could read about the Lord and worship Him all day…but I cannot!).  God will show me how to do this each day (it might look a little different each day)…and how to communicate my needs in the way He wants me to (gentle, kind, pleasant, respectful, but firm and honest words)…and how to do this all along the way so I don’t get a build up of uncommunicated feelings. 

I am able to catch my breath right now and it feels SO good!  I am so excited today about the growth I am seeing in my little baby already with the help of EDIS (early developmental intervention specialist).  It is such a relief to have help when things are above and beyond my level of understanding and ability.  And it is so neat to learn new ways of helping Hannah!  I am so thankful for Hannah’s love of learning new things and curiosity.  This will serve her well!  What a cutie pie!!! 

Tomorrow, we get to focus on the medical stuff….one thing at a time!  God will take care of each thing…and I am trusting HIM with each moment…one at a time right now.  I’m so thankful that HE is enough for me.  And I’m so thankful that He equips me with everything I need to get through each day.  He won’t give me more than I can handle!  May I trust in this each day and focus on HIM: HIS qualities and promises, not my circumstances.  Praise be to God, our sweet and loving Father in Heaven.

Amazing Sermon Series-Video and Audio

If you are unable to listen to sermons at church (or even go to church), or just desire to be fed more throughout the week, this is an amazing church in Washington State, that has quite a few sermons online. They have a great series on marriage and many other topics of interest, as well as very controversial ones. I am totally impressed with the boldness and confidence the head pastor has for the Lord. Check it out if you get a chance:

http://marshill.com/