Tag: God

A letter to a friend about to lose her home

I wrote this in response to a friend who just found out she is about to lose her home, something her husband was keeping from her due to her panic attacks and fear. Their financial situation is much as ours was 4 years ago. They live on what work and finances God provides (which makes it tricky to work with the bank and government agencies), have been struggling for a while, and she was scared. This is now an open letter to those in that position, those who are struggling with crippling fear as they look at a future of change. Frankly it could be a letter to myself 15 years ago. And again at 10 years ago. And 5 years ago.  And possibly a letter to myself again in the future. 


You are NOT alone. We have been through it, Ame (one of several friends who  knew all that was going on during and helped me through) has been through it (and held my hand through it, including through the panic attacks), I have been through it, many of us have gone through or are in the process of it.  Many moe will find themselves in that place.

The panic attacks do come but once you let it out a bit (you need to let it out like steam in a pressure cooker or you will fall apart) you choose, you choose to stand firm, to be strong, to support your husband anyway- he was protecting you knowing you panic, knowing you can’t cope. He was trying to protect you. It is your turn to be strong anyway. It is your turn to help him and help your family by choosing not to fall apart. Yes, you will. It happens. But then you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and do the next thing. No point in worrying about anything else. You can’t do anything else. All you can do is the very next thing.

I know about the not being able to verify financial info with the bank and government agencies- we tried to keep our house and because of our unusual income sources (how do you explain manna living to a bank?) we never could get anything to happen.

The thing is God is way bigger than that. Bigger than our fear. Bigger than our relationships with people. Bigger than houses and jobs and money and things. WAY bigger.



I know it is hard.

It is REALLY, REALLY hard.

This is where you get to tell Satan he is a LIAR and choose to ignore all the whispers and shouts he is sending at you.

You get to choose to be strong anyway.

You get to stop telling yourself all the things you can’t do and choose to say “I may not be able to do all that BUT I CAN do this, right here. Right now. I can be grateful for the things we have. I can be grateful that my husband loves me so much he tried to protect me from this knowing how weak I have been. I can support him anyway. I can show my kids how strong I can be and make them proud so they know how to deal with all this stuff that is bound to come at them in the future.”

Be brave, Girl.

You can do it!

You don’t have to do everything right now.

You don’t even have to apply for help if you feel God is not leading you to (we never did- God provided through other means and it was horrible and hard and amazing and miraculous) but you can choose.

You have a choice. Right now.

You can do the very next thing. That is all you have to do.

You don’t know what will happen in 5 years, a year, a month, next week, 2 days, 2 hours, geez- you don’t even really know what will happen in 2 minutes.

All you have is RIGHT NOW.

And that is ALL you have to cope with.

All you have to deal with.

All you have to be strong for is RIGHT NOW. Everything else is gravy.

God is good. He loves you. You are worth it. And He is a very ready help in times of trouble.

Just saw this this morning and it struck me as important:

I Will Go Before You

I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. (Isa. 45:2-3)

God’s imagery of going before us lets us know that he desires us to go on a journey. This is not so frightening. Most of us are aware that the Christian life requires a pilgrimage of some sort. We know we are sojourners. What we have sometimes not given much thought to is what kind of a journey we are to be taking.

Not realizing it is a journey of the heart that is called for, we make a crucial mistake. We come to a place in our spiritual life where we hear God calling us. We know he is calling us to give up the less-wild lovers that have become so much a part of our identity, embrace our nakedness, and trust in his goodness.

As we stand at this intersection of God’s calling, we look down two highways that appear to travel in very different directions. The first highway quickly takes a turn and disappears from our view. We cannot see clearly where it leads, but there are ominous clouds in the near distance. Standing still long enough to look down this road makes us aware of an anxiety inside, an anxiety that threatens to crystallize into unhealed pain and forgotten disappointment. We check our valise and find no up-to-date road map but only the torn and smudged parchment containing the scribbled anecdotes and travelers’ warnings by a few who have traveled the way of the heart before us. They encourage us to follow them, but their rambling journals give no real answers to our queries on how to navigate the highway. – John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance.

Chewy Thoughts

I have been gnawing on this bit from the previous post since I read it on Sunday night:

If you seek great things for yourself – God has called me for this and that; you are putting a barrier to God’s use of you. As long as you have a personal interest in your own character, or any set ambition, you cannot get through into identification with God’s interests.

And this bit has gotten some chewing as well:

I have to learn that the aim in life is God’s, not mine. God is using me from His great personal standpoint, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him, and never say – Lord, this gives me such heart-ache.

I have a habit of thinking “THIS is what God wants me to do” and then trying to focus exclusively in that area ignoring everything else.  I want to be like other people I see, with a clear focus for their ministry, and every time I try to go in a direction God says a very clear “No.”  No explanation, nothing, just suddenly I start getting pulled in the very direction I had thought was over and done for.

I am not differentiating here between my life work and my ministry because I have learned that whatever I am doing IS my ministry.  I am to do whatever the next thing is without having a business plan, without focusing on one thing, without going about things the way the world does things.  In fact, in chewing over and praying I have realized how much we, as Christians, miss out on when we treat ministry like a business.  We box ourselves in, we take God out of the equation, and isn’t this the very problem we are seeing in so many of our churches?

James 4:13-16 says:

13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.

I long for a clear ministry.  I long for a non-eclectic website where I know what I should be writing about and where my audience can show up and know what I will be writing about.  I long to know what direction I should go with my art, with my computer work, in my life.  Or do I? I long for those things when I look around and see other Christians who seem to have it all together and yet that is not what God has for me.  If I were in the same business with no changes for 10 years I would get bored out of my mind.  I LOVE change, I LOVE adapting, I LOVE standing on God’s promises in faith, jumping out and doing the next thing without worrying about tomorrow. (Ask my poor, long suffering, change hating husband.)  I live for that.  I hate plans.  I hate KNOWING what I have to do on this date and that date and where I have to be at this time and that time.  Why on earth would I want to live like that when God has formed me in such a way that I LOVE putting my foot in the water and seeing what God tells me to do next.

And yet, sometimes I forget.  Sometimes I see everyone else with their awesome one focus sites or their wonderful ministries or their incredible creative  businesses and think, “Me too?  Can I do that too?”  And the answer thus far is always no.  And would I really want to stick myself in that box so that God can’t use me in other ways?  I love being able to help others with whatever God has given me, not just the talents I deem worthy.  I love how God uses my experiences in a multitude of areas to allow me to help people in many different situations in many different ways. At another point Oswald Chambers said this:

If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 5

Make me useful and plan my days, God.

Yes, that is what I want.  I don’t really want to plan out my own days.  I love leaning on God and as Elisabeth Elliot says, Do the Next Thing.  It is just my longing to be like others, to not stand out and be different, to look like other Christians, that tempts me to plan and choose one thing instead of all the things God has given me to do.  So what if my ministry isn’t organized, so what if I have no clear direction, if you think about it, neither did Jesus.  He meandered, went from here to there with no obvoius plan, helping whomever God put in His way.  Who am I to do things any different.

*Isn’t it interesting how God drives a point home even when He has already explained it to us?  As I write my kids have interrupted me at least 30 times for things they really needed my help with, I have had 3 family phone calls,and almost lost the post once.   My plans for the day have been changed twice and my daughter has lamented with tears of frustration the changes in her own plans which had nothing to do with mine.  ANd now I have to run because my dad is here to fix a leaky pipe. 🙂

God is in control or Christians and politics

Sometimes we Christians forget that God is in control.  We get caught up in the world and think along with them that government (or the economy or education or whatever the current big thing is) is the one in charge, the one that can make or break everything, the all knowing all doing entity.

Sometimes we forget that though God uses government, government is not God and will be corrupted, we will be persecuted (eventually), and we need to put our trust in God, not in man.

8If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.9After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land. Ecclesiastes 5:8-9

No matter what happens God is in control.  We are NOT to be afraid or worry, we are to pray, trust God, and make sure WE are right with God (we can’t fix the world and aren’t supposed to–we are to tell them about Him and trust Him to make the changes.)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Carefully planned days

As you all know I am NO planner.  I can if necessary and I do have an idea in my head of what, in general, I would like to accomplish each day, but to plan, to schedule, to figure out each detail, I don’t go there.

However, God does.

Recently He has been reminding me that my days, my time, my money–all are not my own.  I am His and all my resources , talents, whatever, are at His disposal.  And every time I think I have a feel for how He wants me to go about my days He flips things over and turns them around so that I find myself, once again, relying solely on Him.

So very much going on–yard sale, fixing other peoples computers (4 including my husband’s and my kids’), web site stuff–just a little, getting ready for our trip, money stuff (check from Canada didn’t go through as planned causing a landslide of fees which supposedly the bank will get rid of but which has not happened), multiple otgher things, all crazy and unexpected, every project having multiple snags but all in God’s timing.

And now, as one thing falls back into  its proper place the  next and the next do as well.  And as we are at the last few days before our supposed trip things continue to begin to make sense and happen as I felt they should have sooner.  God knows exactrly what is going on and is reminding me over and over that I am NOT in control.

On God, Provision, and Money

My husband and I have felt God leading us to pay off our debt for some time. But He has clearly indicated that we are to do it His way and not the world’s way. We have no budget but instead keep a balance of cash in the bank, a cushion against bouncing checks. Yes, we have tried a budget but as I have mentioned before neither of us is good at focusing on it, it makes us both very stressed and cranky, and it holds us back in the area of giving (give freely so that one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing is a constant cry from my heart.) I realize that every single money ministry out there explains how to do this with a budget but it doesn’t work for us and God has made that VERY clear to us.  So, that is where we are, paying extra on one big debt at a time (we have already paid off Rachel’s hospital bills both from her birth and from her hospital stay and ambulance trip a few years ago, as well as my husbands doctors bills and the car and hope to pay off the new windows and continue to pay down my college loan in the next six months), and keeping a small cushion in the bank with a home equity line to back us up in an emergency.

God has taught us a lot about ourselves and how He wants us to manage our money in the meantime, blessing us when we are keeping our eyes on Him and trusting, and withholding funds and sending us multiple emergencies when we start relying on ourselves and our “plan” (not all the emergencies are warnings, but some of them clearly have been).  Because we have a base salary that is stable (my husband’s work) that pays ONLY for the basics and minimum payments and rely on extra incomes from both of us for  paying down debt and treats it is very clear when we are moving in the right direction. 🙂

Having said all that, this weekend was an interesting experience money wise.  One of the reasons my husband said to go is that we had paid the entire months bills and knew how much money was in the bank.  (This is one of our trouble areas–putting off paying bills.)  We knew how much we had left and that in the coming month my husband would be starting a third paying gig, which would allow us to pay down one of our debts completely in a few months, but which also meant he had to spend some money up front (for those who don’t know my husband is a work-at-home programmer, plus runs a well-read blog, and makes web-comics–which starting next month he will get PAID for.  Woohoo!!!!  Since he uses screen shots for his images it means purchasing games to make fun of. :))  This is where things always get financially crazy for us.  We have a habit of counting our chickens before they hatch and jumping in with both feet.  This time was better than others and the Lord checked us at the perfect time.  Literally.

As I mentioned before He kept me from leaving Monday as I had planned. Instead I picked up groceries at Trader Joes (money I knew we had and had planned to spend on groceries already), we had a big storm, and I had a dead battery.  I decided to hang out on Tuesday and spent some time online at CJ’s work, checking my email, feed, and blog.  At one point I had nothing that needed done and I felt prompted to check our bank balance.  Praise the Lord!!!!  There was our bank account, with several items pending, which in one hour would have taken our account into the red and would start the snowball of bank fees.  I was able to immediately transfer funds from two other accounts–one to pay off all that needed paid, the second to give us a cushion until I could get home (I knew that two checks were on their way which would more than replace the cushion).

God is SO GOOD!    Not only did He bless the trip and make sure that I had enough cash for all I needed, including gas and groceries, but He protected us from a huge crash that would have ruined much of the work we had put into saving and paying off debt. We didn’t accrue a single bank fee, everything went through, and nothing bounced.  Had I ignored the prompting to check our balance for even one hour, we would be in a very different financial place right now.

The interesting thing about this is knowing that we are doing things the way God has led us to do them–which is very different from the world’s way or even other Christians’ way.

Yesterday this was brought  home to me clearly as we sat listening to two sales men try to convince us to “buy it now” and “lock in this awesome price, $2,000 off our normal price”.  As you might know by now our house has issues.  Big issues.  Lots of them.  We are not very good at dealing with these issues except in a piece meal do-it-yourself sort of way and my husband wanted to see what this company (who did our windows) would offer us for the job.  My husband’s idea was to find out how much it would cost to get the work done after we paid off the next big debt.  They wanted to lock us in now and he would have none of it. (I am so proud of him–it was very tempting).

A lot of what they said made sense from a worldly point of view. However, the factor they were missing was God. We are trusting God, our Jehovah Jireh, to protect us and to help us pay for each job in His timing. This was not His timing, this was THEIR timing (they kept calling asking if they could come out.)  The two salesmen were flabbergasted that we didn’t jump at their offer.  In fact, one of them said that in all his years of doing this he had NEVER seen anyone turn such an offer down.  We know that God will protect us and He will provide the funds when the time is right.

What I Have Learned about God from Unschooling

God is everywhere working all around us, just as learning is everywhere, and with both all we have to do is open our eyes to see so we can join in.

Photo: Trees in bloom.

When God really wants us to learn something He speaks to us through our circumstances exactly where we are.

Photo: Rachel’s gift to her brother and sister–peanut butter sandwiches inspired by Willy Wonka’s candy land.

Living for Him and loving His people should be our lifestyle just as learning should be a lifestyle.

Issac drawing in the dirt in the shade at the playground--it was too hot to be on the equipment.

Photo: Issac drawing in the dirt in the shade at the playground because the sun was too hot.

Opportunities to learn and to know God better are everywhere, not just in traditional settings.

Photo: Rachel also sits in the shade and draws.

In fact, those times when we are learning outside of traditional settings tend to be those where we learn and grow the most.

Found while out walking.

Photo: Daffodils found deep in the woods where we walked.

Expect the unexpected and don’t be surprised when God shows up.

Photo: Issac sits watching the fire burn the sticks he had gathered.

It is amazing the learning and growing that God has provided through living life to the fullest, finding joy in His creation, and reading about Him from His Word.  I am so thankful for the numerous opportunities He provides us to learn and grow in wisdom and understanding and in getting to know Him better.  God is GOOD!

Serverlicious and strange answers to prayer

I just spent the last 7 hours trying to fix what was broken with my server–the one where I host 20 different blogs plus several stores. I am finally, I hope and pray, finished. That was arduous and panicky.

The good news is that not only did I fix everything (with a ton of prayer included) but I also managed to deal with some issues that needed dealt with. Some cleaning up, deleting of unused stuff, updating plugins, all the stuff I hate about running things and usually put off.

Finally, we had an answer to prayer. In order to explain I need to tell you a story.

As you may know I have my teacher’s certification in both Elementary Ed and Special Ed which means in this state I can teach all grades practically anything. When I got pregnant with Rachel we, after, much prayer, decided I needed to stay home and home school. However we were in huge amounts of debt and when Rachel was about 11 months old we felt the pinch. We decided that I needed to go back to subbing and let my mother-in-law babysit just so we could fill in the monetary gaps and start paying down debt.

This should have been fine. Rachel loved being at Grandma’s and seldom fussed when there. She also had been sleeping through the night since day one. There was absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t take the occasional subbing job to help us make ends meet. At least that is whjat we thought.

I got my name back into the system and got my first call to sub. I was supposed to teach 8th through 10th History for one of my old teachers at my old high school. I had plenty of time to prepare. I made arrangements for my mother-in-law to pick up Rachel, had everything all ready to go the nigh before, everything was set–or should have been.

That night, for the first time in her entire life, Rachel would not sleep. She was up screaming every single half hour, all night long. At roughly 2 am I was exhausted and spent the next hour frantically searching for the call back number to tell them I couldn’t sub. I never found it though we did realize that God did not intend for me to be working outside the home.

It took me a while to learn the lesson but every time I tried to take some new work on–babysitting at home, designing baby clothes, whatever, everything would fall soundly apart.

Over and over the Lord reestablished that my main focus was to be our children and that He would provide for us as long as that was the case.

Yesterday my husband and I were discussing our income and how we could bring in more. As you know I have a small but big for me web design business and as well as commissioned art. My husband is already working 4 different jobs from home and can barely handle it all as it is so the next obvious choice was for me to get a part time job. We spent some time discussing it and decided to pray about it. We did then today happened.

When we prayed together about this situation suddenly everything started getting fixed and falling into place. I could finally relax and we realized that we had our answer to whether I needed a part time job. The answer was NO.

Not only that but I suddenly have a few other paying projects in my hands which I could not do if I were working outside the home.

God has promised to take care of us and He has and He will for He continues to be Jehovah Jireh.  And days like this when He reminds me He wants me to be home and be available make me want to go bake cookies, read to my kids, and go all domestic.

Thankful Thursday

Right now words are eluding me so you will just be getting factual sorts. I am still reading all your posts but have very few words to spare. I am also a bit behind on my doodles. I have ideas but my pencil does not seem to be flowing so I am just waiting. I am feeling very content and quiet so am just reading. I am content with all that God has done. God is good.

The first day of spring. What an incredible blessing. we are heading to Grandma’s where the kids will get a bounty of springtime gifts and a new outfit each. God is good.

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My Testimony

Jen of Diary of 1 asked me (among a slew of other people) to write up my testimony.   I wrote mine up  back when I was running “What is the Shape of Your Faith?” which I may do again as several people have been asking about it.  This is the perfect time for me to transfer it over here.  

1. When did you become a Christian?

You can read the answer to this and the next four questions here. Go over then come back, we’ll wait.

2. Was there anyone instrumental in your decision to be a Christian?

3. Were there any difficulties to overcome in your early walk with God?

4. How did your life change after committing yourself to Christ?

5. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I have three favorite verses.  Joshua 1:9, Jeremiah 29:11Psalm 1:1-3

The Lord gave me the  first when I was just learning to read my Bible and full of fear.  Last January he gave us the last two as a promise.

6. What does it mean for you today to be a Christian?

It has changed a lot.

For a very long time I was just trying to learn to not be afraid, to not complain, to not lie.  Then later I was trying to learn how to love others and to be a good wife and mother then I needed a serious dose of humility.  Somehow now I spend more time praying for wisdom than anything, more time learning how to answer others than trying to fix myself.  Now it means loving Him completely and living in such a way that others see it.  I am blessed in that I have ample opportunities to use my gifts and talents to help others in ministry (which is my passion) as well as to help other women who are struggling through things I have dealt with.

Most recently He has been changing how I see those around us.  For a long time I had tunnel vision–I was only really friends with people like me.  I still have the same beliefs –those haven’t changed, but He has stretched my relationships  beyond anything I would ever have expected.

7. Any last words?

God has been very, very good to us.