Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blessed by those around me

I was filled with happy tears today reading a card that was given to us by T's school. It was a thank you for something we had done recently, but what touched my heart and brought me such joy was what was contained in the card, and what that all meant to me.
First let me say, my kids go to public schools. I have been super pleased over the years to see school teachers and principals proudly show their love for God both in their offices, the school itself, and in their emails. I don't think this happens everywhere, but in our part of the country people are more open with their beliefs than it seems that Christians are in other parts of the country that might be considered more 'liberal minded'. Therefore, they don't feel the need to 'hide' their Christianity, as I feel others may feel in other parts of the country, or world, to avoid scrutiny or even unfavor in their job. That being said, I have been super happy over the years knowing my kids are learning in an environment that has lots of God-minded individuals leading and teaching.
Well, today when we got this card, I was reminded again, of how blessed I am to live in the midst of such a great environment. This card, was not on official school stationery. Someone had purposely picked out this card, and instead of choosing a plain "safe" card, they chose one that clearly gave thanks to God and his mighty ways. Remember this is a card FROM a public school (!) :)  Lots of the teachers had signed it, and my eyes welled up as I read it and saw that at least half of them had mentioned God, His Blessings, or His Bounty in their personal notes to us. :)  I guess if you haven't figured it out by now I will clearly explain my joy. Obviously the teachers (and principal) of this school are living for God, and know and understand God's principals, and therefore lead me to believe they are teaching in Godly ways. How great is that, to know that the teachers who are and will be teaching my kids are Godly People!!??? They stand up for what they believe, and they won't hide His light.  I am so blessed. I called my husband, explained that it was a Godly card, that half the teachers wrote about God, and therefore how happy I was that I was crying, and he smiled and said "I'm glad you're happy".  That's truly what it boils down to. I am happy because this is one more little thing or 'proof', that God gives me peace about the influences my kids are being exposed to when they are away from me, and at school. It makes me happy and gives me comfort knowing there are lots of Godly people at the school leading and directing them.
So, yes, I am happy :)
Very happy.
Thank YOU for letting your light shine!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Praise Report

Early this summer I noticed that I had broken two stones in one of my favorite rings. When I saw it, I vaguely remembered accidentally hitting it on something, but looking down at the ring at thinking it was ok. It must not have been, and I just hadn't looked closely enough, because sure enough two stones were severely damaged. I took it to the place we bought it and they estimated the repair at about $300. Ouch! I took it to a wholesale place and they said they couldn't fix it because I didn't buy it there, but they recommended another place. That place wound up being even more expensive. So, I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to pay to get this fixed because I really didn't want to spend $300 on it, but it really bugged me every time I wore it and saw the broken stones.
Well.... being the Groupon queen that I am, I got an email this week about a Groupon for 50% off at the SAME jewelry store that I bought it at and the one that quoted me $300 to fix it. Not only was the groupon available for the $300 amount, but it was also valid on services (like repairs-I called to confirm!), not just new jewelry! woohoo! God knows my desires of my heart. He knew I wanted it fixed, and He opened the door for me to get it fixed for half off!  I am super happy and super blessed! I am making plans to drop the ring off next week and get it repaired! I am really happy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Don't hide your light!

My husband and I had something really exciting happen in our lives this week.
We paid off the mortgage on our home! I was super excited the day I put the check in the mail. I had a hard time containing my excitement because I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, but yet I didn't know if that was the 'proper' thing to do. I did call my mom though and gave her the great news and she was super-excited for us. She even told me it would be a good idea to share that information with our kids (I hadn't thought of that yet) as it would be a good way to talk to them about diligence, saving, being responsible, and working towards a goal. Another way to show them that living within one's means, instead of in debt, or paycheck-to-paycheck was how we should strive to live our financial lives and that we were setting that example for them.
As I said earlier, I was so incredibly excited, I really wanted to just blast it out to everyone. I was so darn happy!

But then a couple days later on Sunday, the congregation was asked for any praise reports. My first thought was, "oh yeah! this is worth praising!" and I wanted to share. But I don't have a spring attached to my arm so it didn't pop up there immediately, so several other folks started sharing first. As I was listening to them, and rejoicing in their good news, and praising God for all their goodness, I started thinking that my good news... well, just maybe wasn't good enough worth sharing. Which is weird because just two days earlier
I was so excited I wanted to shout it from the rooftops (and did shout a little to a few people, praising God all the way), but as I listened to the wonderful praise reports of God healing cancer from someone's body, or lining up new jobs for someone, or someone coming to Christ and starting their journey of giving their heart to God and therefore living for God...I started to think my 'report' maybe wasn't worth reporting. I didn't realize at the time that ALL of God's good works are worthy of praise. Instead I started to discount His work in me. Which was wrong. I shrank down so low in my feelings of worthiness that I almost didn't share my praise report. If it weren't for prompting from my hubby, I might not have (sad as that is to say).

But if I don't share it and shout it from the rooftops, then I am NOT giving HIM the glory for its accomplishment! And it truly is HIS accomplishment. It is through His direction and guidance through the years that allowed this to happen. It is not because of what my husband or I did ourselves, it is from what God has done through us in our lives.

I had to realize that by not sharing it freely, I was stifling His work. I was hiding it. If I won't let His light shine through me at every opportunity then how can I expect to keep that light burning? We sing the song "This little light of mine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine", but if we don't let it shine, then we are not being a disciple for the Lord. So no matter how that light is shining through you right now, whether it be from your body being cured of cancer, or a new job prospect you received because of your faithful prayer, or your spouse that has now come to the Lord (Praise God!), or that through your faithfulness, you are now mortgage-free and therefore that much closer to being debt-free and not "a slave to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7), REJOICE! And Praise God!

They are ALL examples of His light shining through you. Share it! Share it in such a way that you give all the glory to God! He is the one who deserves the glory, we are simply just His servants doing His work.

So I write this to publicly repent for almost hiding, or covering the light that God has put in me. I can't worry what other people think (as Pastor Chris reminded us Sunday), I only have to concern myself with being a good servant and steward for God. It is He who I am trying to follow and He who I am trying to emulate, and therefore, He who I look to for guidance and approval. I know He would not want me to downplay or hide His Glory. Therefore, I repent to Him for not shouting His glory and praise when given the chance.
Lord, I love you and I thank you for all that you have done in my life. I thank you for my husband, who started me on the path to you. I thank you for my parents, who did not instill a spend-thrift mentality in me. I thank you Lord, for your patience, as it took me years to hear you, but now that I do, I pray for my ears to be continually open to listen to your guidance and do your will in all aspects of my life. I love you Lord!
I PRAISE GOD for His faithfulness! AMEN!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Getting out of debt

I just wrote the check for the mortgage that will bring our balance down to under $20,000!!! (Granted its still nineteen thousand, but its under twenty!) I am excited!

I love paying off debt.

I get giddy and really happy when I get to do this.

And.... I haven't been able to do this for awhile so I am really excited to be closing the gap on one of our two final debts.

I remember the excitement (just like now) that I had when I paid off our first student loan. It felt so great to be dropping that check in the mail. In fact, (I normally brought my mail to the office to mail it from there instead of making a trip to the post office), and I remember bringing that envelope and announcing to my co-workers that it was my final check to pay off our student loans. That announcement was met with a small round of cheers from my happy co-workers who could understand my excitement.

A few years later we bought some new vehicles and we had been saving up for quite some time so we were able to pay all three vehicles off within a year. (We had intended on paying cash at that point for car purchases, but HADN'T intended on purchasing THREE within a six week period, so we didn't have enough saved to pay for all of them at once. I paid the first one in cash, then had to carry some debt for about 10 months or so  (which wasn't so bad considering one of the vehicles was supposed to generate income for us, but that's another LONG story itself that I'm not going to go into  that here). But suffice it to say, I was excited to be able to be debt free from car loans. In fact, since that time (2004) we have not bought another vehicle without paying for it 100% in cash.

The reason I share all this background is to explain why I am so excited to FINALLY be able to pay off (or get close to paying off) some debt. As you can see we didn't have any more 'small' debt to pay off. Only our mortgage and a business loan remained. So we have been working to pay these off for about seven years, and now it is almost upon us. Now I am getting giddy with anticipation because we are just around the corner from becoming MORTGAGE DEBT FREE!   YYYIIIIIIIPPEEEEEE!!!!!!!  I am really looking forward to writing that last mortgage check and dropping it in the mail. I LOVE the feeling of doing that, and as you can tell I am excited for it to happen. I guess I'm even more excited about eliminating this debt, than others, because its been almost 7 years since I've been able to write one of those "final checks", and I'm also excited because its our mortgage! Which obviously is typically a "forever debt"  or one that you normally can't get paid off till you are very close to retirement. And even though my husband keeps trying to retire  ;)    we aren't retired yet, so this is pretty cool.

I share all of this to hopefully provide inspiration to those reading this, that it CAN be done. Put your mind toward tackling any debt you have and work on it whole-heartedly. Don't get caught up in spending all your money, it is much wiser to save it (which also happens to allow you to not get into as much debt, i.e. you can pay cash for purchases instead of getting loans for them).

Our society has gotten us into an economy right now that makes it even more difficult to carry debt, which is all the more reason to be frugal, so that you can survive with these tightened job markets and increasing gas prices. The less debt you have, the less money you need to make ends meet, which is very helpful if your income decreases due to this economy.

Proverbs 22:7 says "Just as the rich rule the poor, so is the borrower a servant to the lender".

Try to be debt-free so that you are not a 'servant' to your debt.
Interest is the biggest waste of a resource in my opinion. I hate to pay interest on something, because I look at that interest charge and think of all the things that I could have bought with that, if I wasn't paying it to a company on debt. I guess its just ingrained in me to feel this way, because it really bugs me down deep. I know not everyone feels that way (but those people usually also wind up living in debt, because the interest doesn't bother them. They see it as a cost of living.) I don't see it this way. I see it as a waste of money. But before I dig too deep into that portion of this topic, let me get back on track and just say how excited I am. If you don't know me personally you may not know that I am definately a 'debt-free mentality' person. This blog has talked a lot about finances but hasn't had many posts on debt. I've found some interesting blogs that follow people's path to becoming debt free in their lives. If you would like to read that type of "hands on, how do I do it too" type of blog, check them out. They are listed below.

And who knows, maybe I'll finally start making some more blog posts about debt and share ideas on how you can avoid it and get out of it faster :)
Until then, have a great day, and follow my motto "If you can't afford it, don't buy it!"
P.S. charging it on a credit card is 'affording it' ONLY if you pay that credit card off in full every month ;0

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pass it on

There is a woman in our church who can only be described as a gift of God.
She has been teaching Sunday school for over 50 years and has the biggest heart of gold I have ever seen. Several times, without being asked, she has sewn, from scratch, matching Easter dresses for my girls through the years. One time she even made a matching bunny rabbit (in the same dress) for my daughter to carry while wearing the dress. This is really sweet to me, because when I was a child, about the same age, my mom's boss made a dress for me. It was pink with a white apron type thing over the top of it with a pocket in the front. Inside the pocket was a little dolly dressed the same, and inside HER pocket was a mini dolly made of paper dressed the same as well.
This woman currently is a 'school grandma' at a preschool near her house. A lot of the kids that go to this school come from families who don't have much. She has taken it upon herself (with primarily her own meager funds) to handmake small quilts for each child in this school so that during naptime they have something soft and comforting to snuggle up with. This is the type of lady she is. She gives and gives and I would say she gives until she can give no more. But that is not true, because she is like the widow with the oil. God keeps providing for her so that she can keep giving because He knows that her heart is true and she will always give, so He keeps providing so that she can continue giving.
For years she has hosted a New Year's Eve party for the young children in church. The kids all come to her house and she entertains them and celebrates the New Year (at midnight!) (This is way past my bedtime so I have no idea how she does it with a houseful of small children all revved up on sugar, jumping around celebrating.) But she does. And she does it smiling and laughing the whole time! Amazing!
She has suffered through painful health problems through the years which have sometimes kept her from attending church services. But even during those times, she MAILED her offerring to the church. This is a woman of pure faithfulness!
She has been driving a car for many years that is in really sad shape. I don't even know all the details of the disrepair, but a few of the characteristics of this car are: no interior door handle (I don't even know how she pulled the door shut once she got in , because the handle was broken off), windows that don't go up or down, and in fact they don't even stay up (she had rubber door stoppers wedged into the window slot on the door to try to keep the window up while she was driving, and if it started to slip she would pull over and try to fix it and then continue on).
Every day when she would drive this car she said she prayed to God that it would get her to where she needed to go. Every day it did. That in itself is an example of God's faithfulness to those who are faithful to Him. That car on its own was not that reliable. But with God. With God that car never failed her and never left her stranded.
This is a woman who did not 'pray for a new car'. This is a woman who prayed for what she had to continue to be effective and sufficient. And it was. God never let her down.
Faithfulness like this is a very blessed thing. Faithfulness like this is a very wonderful thing.
God rewards faithfulness in many ways. I feel she was being blessed for her faithfulness daily through the joys of loving her family and the preschool children she worked with. Through improved health. Through the love of those around her. And through her needs being met daily for rent, gas, and groceries.
But God sometimes works through other people as well. He did this time too. God laid it upon the heart of a man to provide this wonderful lady with a new vehicle. Fortunately, God not only worked in her life, but He worked in this man's life as well, because this man listened. And obeyed. Now the sweet thing is that this man just didn't do the minimum of what God told him to do (provide a car) but he went above and beyond and provided new tags, title transfer, full coverage insurance and gas for a year.
This woman, Sister Ruth, as she is affectionately known by all those around her, was blessed today for her faithfulness with a new car. Our church partook in the surprise and celebration today as she was given the keys to this vehicle. It was a very wonderful time of celebration. A time to celebrate all that Sister Ruth has done for all those around her and what a blessed soul she is.
Now the most beautiful thing (and what I think really shows just how wonderful her heart is) is that not 15 minutes after she was given this gift, she herself became the giver, and blessed another family (who was suffering a financial setback and car troubles) with her old car. Yes, its not in the best condition. But it still runs. She could have easily sold it for $500-$1000  and used that money for something. Anything. But no, she didn't even hesitate. I was standing right there and saw her not even break a stride when she heard someone was in need she said "well, they can have my car! Let me just get the title transferred over and its theirs".
Isn't that wonderful? I think its the most beautiful thing and I think she is the most beautiful lady. God I thank you for people like her in my life. I thank you for the example of a life she is leading. And I thank you for all the love you have shown her, because she has certainly shown that love to others.
Here are some pictures I took of this joyous occasion...

The big red bow and name tag on the gift.

A very speechless lady :)

A beautiful picture of one of the hugs being passed around afterwards :)

cutest question

My 5 year old daughter just asked me,
"Mom, how old did Jesus turn yesterday?"   (yesterday was Christmas)

Big smile on my face. Isn't this the cutest question? I like that she is laying in bed thinking about Jesus. What a sweetie and a true gift from God. Love her. Love it. Love God.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

wow, that's all I can say

I have begun reading a new book called For women only: what you need to know about the inner lives of men, by Shaunti Feldhahn.
All I can say is its incredible. I'm not even done and I'm writing a post about it, that says alot!
The beginning of the book was pretty easy to implement (read the book yourself for the full insight, but essentially: thank your husband for all he does, build him up (not down), and willingly and excitedly partake in sex). Now that third one probably got your attention and I could go on and on and try to give u the insight I gained from the book about why this (and the others) are so important. But, I think Shaunti does it really well (with research to back it up), so read the book to find out all the real life details that make all these things so relevant and important to our men.
We all know men are 'visual' and that seeing u in a sexy outfit makes him want sex, but what I learned from the research she shared was that seeing any woman in a sexy way makes him want sex, and that men truly do want sex all the time, its not just a joke or stereo-type. Learning how the men are wired (which makes them the way they are) gave me huge insight into these things and how I can better my relationship with my spouse. It also brings up another point, if men are so visual, that means all men are seeing you, (not just your husband), so even though I may want to accentuate my better assets for my husband's enjoyment, I don't want to draw attention to them for other men. Especially other men who are married. I don't want to be something that causes anguish in a married man's mind. Just like I don't want my husband to see images or women who might cause him anguish (anguish, meaning that since he is married he does not welcome unpure thoughts of other women into his head, so when they arrive(because the way men are wired--again read the book for a longer explanation---) their arrival in his head causes anguish as he tries to avoid them or forget them. So this being said, it is an eye-opener for me about the choices we make in the way we as women dress ourselves. I have already ventured into this arena a little bit with Dannah Gresh's Secret Keeper Girl info for our children and their dress, but now it makes me see how important it is for adults as well. I'm not saying we all are to dress like nuns, but I'm seeing now by understanding just how difficult it is for men in our culture with all the images they see, that I don't need to add to the problem by wearing a low cut top. I can simply add a tank underneath it to make it more modest (and then when I get in the bedroom with my husband it is for HIS eyes ONLY!) ;0

Anyway, its just a great book and I could go on and on, but really I just recommend that you read it. I'm not done with it yet, so possibly I will be impressed to do another post about what I am learning, but for now I will leave you with this. I hope it peaked your interest, because believe me, its really clarified things for me and corrected misassumptions I had about some of my husband's behaviors. Now seeing where they are rooted from, I can understand his viewpoint and can therefore relate to it instead of fighting it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Guide for Life

Do you remember when you got a new job and didn't know how to do it?

I remember when my husband started working at Goodyear. Every night he'd pour over a manual memorizing computer codes.

When I worked for ERAC, I had a huge binder with all the info I needed to do my job. Plus of course, I had co-workers to help train me.
I remember in the beginning, not being very confident in my abilities, so anytime I was unsure what to do, I would study the binder.

I did this over and over again until I understood the directions and was finally able to perform what was expected of me automatically. It became second nature to me. The directions and guidance in the binder had become written in my mind.

The same holds true with the Bible. It is God's written word giving us directions and guidance for our lives. If we study it over and over, it's directives will become second nature to us in our lives. Our actions will be a reflection of what is in it. And remember, what is in it, is God's word. His purpose and plans for us. If we are acting according to His word, we will certainly be enjoying a very blessed existence. Who doesn't want that?!

At work, after learning our job well, we become an example to others, or a trainer to new employees. The same is true in our walk with God. By living our lives according to His plans, we are becoming positive examples for others to follow. If someone else comes to know God more because of our positive actions, its definately a good thing.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Put God First

The following is something I shared with our church for an offerring message.

When we lived in Las Vegas, I had gotten a hammock as a gift. I didn't want an ugly hammock stand, so my husband agreed to build a permanent holder for it. We went to the store and bought all the supplies (concrete, metal poles, hooks, etc). He dug two holes, mixed the concrete and poured it into each hole. Then set a pole in each hole and let it dry. Then he attached the hammock to the poles with hooks. Ta-da! It was done!
I then proceeded to sit in it and ... KERPLUNK! I fell flat on my rear as it pulled the concrete foundation right out of the ground!
The foundation was faulty.
It was missing something (i.e. re-bar).
Without that key component (re-bar) it wasn't built to withstand the pressure (of my butt) ;0

Just like in the example of what happened with the hammock, the foundation we build upon with God needs to be strong, and solid, and Right!
How do we know if its right?
We go to the Word.
Where is the Word?
In the Bible.

The Word says we should tithe our first 10% (see Malachi 3:10 if you don't believe me).
So in order to be Right, we need to do that.
We need to tithe our first 10% before we do anything else. Put God and our obedience to Him above all else.

When I was assisting in Children's Church the kids were taught to keep God in front of earthly things like toys, cars, houses, friends, and money.
They even made a little craft that showed a cross positioned in front of the earth, to remind them that God should always be in front of anything on earth.

Well, we need to put God first too!
Our submission to Him is more important than earthly things.
So remember, if you want Joy in life, and all that God has in store for you, put Him first, obey His Word, and bring your tithes into His house as He instructs us to do (remember Malachi?)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to be strong against the floods

About once a month I have the opportunity to share the offerring message at our church. This is what I shared with our congregation today. I hope it is beneficial to you as well.

In Luke 6:46-49 in the NLT it says,
"So why do you call me, 'Lord', when you won't obey me?
I will show you what its like when someone comes to listen to me, listens to my teaching, and then obeys me. It is like a person who builds a house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built.
But anyone who listens and doesn't obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floodwaters sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins."

The floodwaters refer to difficult times.
When we experience difficult times (sickness, heartbreak, arguing with our family or spouse, hard times at work, or a decreased income), do we want these floodwaters to destroy us or hurt us because we haven't obeyed God?
Or do we choose to not only listen to God, (read our Bible, go to church, pray), but also obey what His Word is telling us (to tithe), so that when these floods come we are able to stand strong because God is protecting ans supporting us (like a foundation).

Malachi 3:11 says, "your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease".

This tells me that He is protecting us from those floods.

Wouldn't you rather be protected because of your obedience and have abundant crops to share with others?

Instead of being torn apart by the floods and possibly losing your job, your house, your spouse, your credit, or your everlasting life?

I would.

I'd like you to think about that before you bring your next tithes and offerings to God. Remember it in the future as well, because as I've said before, tithing becomes easy with practice. You just do it over and over again and it becomes second nature.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Want a successful business?

Any enterprise that is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.
Proverbs 24:3-4

Friday, January 29, 2010

Take back what he stole from me!

Do you know this song?

I went to the enemy's camp and I took back what he stole from me.
Took back what he stole from me!
Yes, I took back what he stole from me!

He's under my feet
He's under my feet
Satan is under my feet!

I'm trading my sorrows, I'm trading my pain, I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord!
I'm trading my sicknees, I'm trading my pain, I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord!

I say Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes Yes Lord!

Do you know that song?
I love that song. If u really let it sink it, it is so true. We have the ability to take back EVERYTHING that the devil stole from us. Whether it is emotional, physical, or spiritual. Its up to us. God gave us the ability to make choices. God gives us His strength to back us up. So if we are leaning on God, there is no way the devil will be stronger than us. We just have to make the choice to follow God instead of following our own selfish ways. Sometimes that is easier said than done, but it is certainly worth striving towards. Don't you agree?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Have u ever been fatigued?

In 1 Samuel chapter 30 it tells the story of David destroying the Amalekites. But before he did that, the Amalekites had raided and plundered his people, and took all the wives and children with them. When David and his 600 men set out to find them, they had to cross a river. However, 200 of them were too fatigued to do this. They stayed behind while the 400 continued on searching for the Amalekites. When they did find them, they won the battle and got all their wives and children back, PLUS all the spoils and riches of the Amalekites. When the men traveled back to meet up with the other 200, David rejoiced in their victory. However, some of the victors (from the group of 400) grumbled that because the 200 had not participated in the battle they should only receive their families back and not any of the riches. David said no. They were a team and they would behave as a team. If some stumble, the others help. If some guard the equipment, while others fight, they still all rejoice.

There are times in everyone's life when they get a bit fatigued and may need the help or aid of someone to get them through. Remember, YOU can be that person to help them.

In life, there will always be some who get fatigued. We need to work together as a team. We don't leave them behind. When I am at the gym, and I start to get drained, my teammates cheer me on and boost me up. They support me in my time of need. We need to do this to everyone we meet. Help them in their time of need.

If someone lost a job or is them.

THEY are fatigued.

They need the help of those who are still fighting the battle, just like David and his men.

Don't let an opportunity pass you by to be a blessing to someone else.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The time is now!

Do you ever notice that people are more concerned with the book of Revelation and what the future holds, instead of realizing that 99% of the bible is about how to live right, right now?
The bible is a huge resource of instructions for how to live the way God intended. It teaches us how we should act, how we should love, how we should forgive, how we should work, how we should share, how we should give, how we should war, how we should raise our children, how we should honor our parents, and how we should honor God. Its all there. Everything we should do in every situation that this life gives us. Any crisis we have, we can look to the bible for answers on how to overcome it.
But with all this wealth of knowledge and answers to every question, why is it that so many people look to themselves or to man for answers instead of to God? They are interested in what the future holds, "will I go to heaven?", but they forget sometimes that the bible is written all about how to live RIGHT NOW. Yes, there is scripture about the future, but most is written for us to use here on this earth right now. So let's make an effort to use the manual God gave us and live RIGHT, right now. I think we'll find it will make this time we have here on earth SO much more enjoyable and prosperous :) Let's give it a try!

Do you love? Do you give?

God so loved the world, that He gave His only son. (John 3:16)

God loved. So He gave.

We need to love, before we give.

Think of a farmer.

He works the soil. He plants a seed. He waters it. He prunes it. He picks weeds. All in all, he is nurturing, or LOVING that plant.

The result is yes, indeed, a harvest. But it would not have produced such an abundant crop if he had not LOVED it first through his dedication and actions. He gave his time and efforts.

Another farmer could have planted a seed too, but without nurturing care (love, water/weed wacking, etc) he would not have received the same results.

What is interesting about these stories is that if you are the farmer you may not really see the dedication and love you showed unless you look back. While the first farmer was working he wasn't thinking "oh, I'm doing a great job!" No, he was simply doing what was right and expected of him. Because he did honest, Godly work, his work prospered.

This principle applies today just as it did then.

In fact, this same thing happened to me when I was working in the corporate world (not for my husband as I am now-ha ha). There is an opportunity in the business world (as with probably most professions) for dishonest work ethics. In my business it was actually very prevalent for employees to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing just to make their numbers look good and thus make them a stronger candidate for promotions. I did not believe in this and at every copportunity, I would chastise and correct every employee who I found who was behaving dishonestly.

Over the course of time-even though I wasn't padding my numbers(cheating)- my numbers put my office in first place for net profit. This "gold star" benefited me when I applied for a new position. Which I got.

Now, the cool thing about this new position was that it set me up for more pay, less hours, and less stress (which was great because by now I was a new parent!)

What I'm trying to show you is that while you are putting your 'hand to the plow' like a farmer-if you do your work with honesty and integrity (love)-God's light will shine through you and you will be rewarded. I was rewarded with less hours and stress, and more money. Even in the workplace we can do God's work, not just in the pulpit.

You see, I was LOVING God by working in a Godly way. I was giving what was right to my job and not cheating my company or my customers. My employers saw the results (which by the way were blessed by God since I wasn't cheating) which then resulted in a promotion. I know that promotion was from God. The hours and pay I received just don't match up to what is 'standard' for that position across the nation in that company. I give HIM all the glory and praise for that career turn. HE gave me the opportunity to lessen my hours and stress at work (which was VERY important to me). The increased pay was a nice bonus, but it was ALL for the Kingdom. You see, I LOVE to GIVE. God knows that. He knows He can trust me to give, what He gives me. So by remaining Godly in my work ethic (instead of doing what everyone else was doing---its not ok to cheat, even if everyone else is), I was blessed with a promotion that resulted in something great for me(less hours and stress), and something great for the kingdom (more money to sow into the kingdom). Remember, "those who are faithful with little, will be given much".

Through your walk with God, your integrity will be tested. It may be at work, it may be at school, it may be in a relationship. Stand firm in all areas against temptation and dishonesty. Your love for God will be that light shining in the world for all to see. God will make sure you are rewarded for your love!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Throw it up or Throw it out?

A long time ago, a friend told me about someone who didn't like to throw away food (even if it was on the verge of going bad, or already was spoiling). She gave it this funny phrase... she said her friend would rather "throw it up, than throw it out!"
Kinda gross when dealing with food, that's for sure. I would certainly prefer to throw it out instead of getting sick eating it and winding up throwing it up later. But I got to thinking about this the other day and it made me realize that sometimes we are like this with things in our life that we should be getting rid of.
Instead of throwing it out and getting rid of it, we hold onto it and it makes us sick. It tears us down or drags us down and we are not able to live out the life God intended for us because we haven't gotten rid of the junk.
That junk is different for everyone. Maybe its cigarrettes or overeating (both of which literally do affect our health and make us literally sick, not just figuratively), or pornography (which hurts our relationship with our spouse), or jealousy, or pride, or dishonesty, or slander (bad words coming out of your mouth that don't build up, but instead tear down and hurt someone else). There are a number of sins, or junk, too many to list. Most people have some, not just one.
So, if you have some junk in your life. The first step is realizing it is in fact junk and not worth keeping. Then you need to throw it to the curb and leave it there! Don't keep it in your life, thus making you sick. When you are sick, you will eventually throw it up. So, wouldn't it be easier to get rid of it on your own before it makes you sick?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

His plans are greater than ours

Several years ago I sufferred a miscarriage. Honestly, right now I can't even tell you how far along I was. Details like that have faded with time. What hasn't faded though is my memory of two things:
1. How God prepared me and my husband for it.
2. How God used my experience to help someone else.

I'll start with the first one. We were very excited to be expecting again. I had already wrote notes in my journal to the "baby", and we had started to teach our daughter how to hold her baby-doll for when her little brother or sister came along. However, I started having 'thoughts' (or in the church world you could call them visions) about the possibility that the pregnancy wouldn't last. In these 'visions' I had to walk through the aftermath of losing the pregnancy. I tried to get rid of them. I thought maybe the devil was putting bad thoughts in my head and I just needed to close that door and not let fear into my household. But the thing was, I wasn't really afraid. I simply was experiencing these thoughts or visions. And in each one, I would think about how sad I would be if that happened and how I would have to carry on, and what I would do to 'smooth over' the information to my daughter that a new baby wasn't coming. My husband at the same time happened to be having dreams about the pregnancy too. We didn't know this till we discussed it the day the doctor told us, and we then realized, yes, indeed God had been preparing us mentally to handle the news.
Well, he was having dreams too, and they were about the pregnancy. But his dreams were about it going full term, and that I did not survive it. So obviously he was enduring some turmoil because he doesn't know why he is having these dreams either and he certainly doesn't want his wife to die. Well, to jump ahead, I go to the doctor for a check up and the doctor does the thing on my belly and looks on the screen. Now since I already have a child, this is not new to me, so I know the routine, we look at the pictures, he does measurements, we ooh and aah, and everything is sweet and cool and laid back and relaxed. However, this time, I can tell he is not laid back and relaxed. He is intently looking at the screen and re-doing measurements. I know something is wrong. They haven't told me yet. But I know. They do eventually tell me. Yes, of course I cry. Even though I can look back and say God prepared me, when u are in the middle of it u don't feel all that "preparedness". And of course it is our child so I am very sad and heartbroken. I call my husband. Then drive around for a bit. Then call my office and tell them what happened and that I won't be coming back into work that day. I then head to my husband's office and we mourn our loss. We also tell each other about our dreams and visions and we realize that God was preparing us for this. He prepared my husband to realize that this was probably best, because something even worse would happen if the pregnancy continued, so even though he was sad about losing the baby, he knew God's hand was in it, because I was spared.
He prepared me on how to handle the aftermath. That's what all my dreams were about, 'what happens next'. So I simply walked out what God had shown me in those dreams.

The next day, I go back to work and... I work. I guess you could say I handle it with dignity and courage. But you know what? Its just God. He is great and He loves us. And as much as we wanted that child to come to fruition, it didn't . We don't know why, but in heaven we will find out, and also get to meet him/her for the first time. I don't know why but at the time I can't say the word miscarriage. I really don't know why, but when people come up to me (its a large building where I work) and ask about the baby, I simply say I am no longer pregnant. I guess looking back that could sound weird (as if I had had an abortion), but at the time I simply couldn't say I had had a miscarriage. I don't cry at work, I am very congenial and respectful of those who are asking, knowing that my answer is not what they expected and they don't know what to do or say now. I simply go on... and work. I oversaw 3 people at the time, so we all sat in the same office so they were next to me day in and day out. It wasn't like I could go behind closed doors and freak out.
By the way, on a side note, I would like to mention there was one woman who stood out to me in this experience. When asked about the baby and I replied, she KEPT looking me straight in the eye, and said she was sorry to hear that. Very simple. Very true. Very honest. I have to admit, I learned something from HER. I never knew how to handle it when people told me uncomfortable news. My eyes would avert as most people's do, but I knew mine did it a lot, because I was really uncomfortable. I learned from her, that when someone is going through something difficult. You don't have to have the answers, and most likely you don't. But you can listen, and you can look them in the eye and give them your full attention. I respected her reactions more than anything else. Even though they were so simple.
By the way, the miscarriage didn't turn out to be so simple. My body didn't want to let go so for about six months I was dealing with bleeding issues, so the two women who worked with me were aware of this and watched as I dealt with this as well. The doctors and my husband wanted me to do a D&C, but I did not, and never did. God finally finished it (at work one day[lovely!]) and we were then able to move on to try for another baby.

But this leads us to #2. One of the women who worked with me,became pregnant shortly after my 6month ordeal had finally ended. We were all very excited. However, a month or two later, she had a miscarriage. I actually had already 'retired' , so when I heard about it, I called her to offer my condolences and ask if there was anything I could do for her (this was her first pregnancy). She basically said to me: "no, you've already done enough. Don't take this the wrong way, but I think watching you go though what you did, helped me to see that this is going to be alright. The way you handled everything really set an example for me and I can see that God is in control and I will be fine."
I didn't take it the wrong way. In fact, when I had had the miscarriage I thought to myself, "you know, since I had such a easy time getting pregnant the first time and had never sufferred any miscarriages or fertility issues , I felt like I really didn't know how to relate to people who had. It wasn't that I didn't feel for them, I just sort of felt clueless about their ordeal. I could nod my head and listen, but I didn't know what they were feeling. Now that I had gone through something myself, I could now relate and I felt I could be a better friend to lean on."
Her telling me this, just made it more obvious to me that God can use any situation to better His kingdom. She was already a Christian, but she saw God in me in the way I reacted to my situation, so when she went through the same situation she didn't have fear or as many questions. She was at peace and trusting God still. My reaction of keeping God first (and not yelling "why God Why God?! why me?!" or getting mad at God,) helped to show her that God can walk us through even difficult times.

So I share this today to hopefully be a help to others. If you have experienced something similar this may help you. But more than that I think we can learn that it is the way we behave everyday that has the greatest impact on those around us. If we are a shining light for God, then His reflection is seen in what we do. Others can't help but notice it. How can one miss a light shining in the dark? All I can say is praise God! For He is almighty and all-knowing! Whatever troubles you are experiencing in life, know that God is there with you, and He WILL walk you through. Every trial we experience should be used to praise God and show His glory, because we will for sure grow from that experience and will be a better servant of God because of it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Love your kids with your time

My husband and I were at a marriage session that our church was hosting, and the speaker said one of the reasons you love someone is because of the way they make you feel about yourself. This got me thinking not about my husband, whom I love dearly and I think my actions show him that, thus probably making himself feel well. But it got me thinking about children. You've seen children in movies or real life who are emotionally broken by the actions and words of their parents. You can see the pain in their eyes and face, and it almost feels like you can see it in their heart. They are so young their emotions are worn on their sleeve, they don't know how to hide them yet like us well-trained adults (that was sarcasm by the way). It is so painful to watch and it tears my heart out everytime, even if it is just actors doing it and not real life. Because I know in real life this really does happen. It is so important as parents to make sure that we show love and compassion to our children. I love my kids dearly, but I feel sometimes like I am so consumed with the rules of getting them to behave properly that I don't show them enough love to actually help them behave properly. I just think its really important that we don't take being a parent for granted. We are given an awesome responsibility to shape and mold our children (and those children around us), that we need to make sure we make the time to do that. I don't want them growing up with no memories of me playing with them because I was too busy doing other things. Someone said to me one day 'you'll have many years to decorate your Christmas tree anyway you want' when I had complained that my kids were 'messing it up'. I realized that I need to stop and treasure each and every moment I have with my kids. I can't take one moment for granted. I need to push aside the busywork, or not take on as much, so that I can devote more time to simply being a mom. One who plays with her kids, reads to them (not just at bedtime), makes fun (and messy-yes that is where I struggle most) projects with them, and just goofs off. Instead of always being there to only say "is your room cleaned yet?have you finished eating yet?did u brush your teeth yet? hurry up we are late! no, I won't do that right now I'm busy".
Yes, this is painful to write and possibly painful to read. My point is that I'm not perfect and I know that-although I truly wish to be, at least in the mother and wife categories- so I am making a point of pointing out that loving our children in such a way that they FEEL loved, and they then also FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES, is how we can be assured that they will always LOVE US. Not just because we are family and families always 'love' each other, but because they truly love us because we act in such a way that makes them feel good! Maybe this post only helps me, to get my priorities straight, but if it helps someone else too, then I am glad.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Along for the Ride

Do you ever try to figure out God's next step in His plan for your life? Sometimes we as people do this. Its almost like children trying to guess what their parent's got them for Christmas. The anxiety of the unknown is so great that we try to get the answer before we are ready to receive it. Just like the children try to get the gifts before it is time for them to be bestowed upon them. Do you see any similarities here? I do. The children are being somewhat immature in their behavior because they "just can't wait", the thought of waiting is too much to bear. Yet, they DO wait (because their parents don't give them their Christmas presents early), and they do in fact survive. No emergency room visits because they were faint of heart by not getting those gifts early, right? Aren't we as adults sort of doing the same thing when we try to figure out where God is going with His plan? Wouldn't we waste less resources, time, and energy if we simply stepped back and said, "Ok, God. I don't understand. But I am along for the ride." My Pastor preached a similar vein of this recently and it got me thinking, "yes, we do need to trust God more!" Our plans are certainly not better than His. He knows the big picture (and we don't) so He has already taken all variables into account when formulating and carrying out His plan. Just like Isaiah 55:8 says, " ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." Don't we need to quit trying to re-imagine new ways, and instead trust Him in His ways? I guess in accepting this fact, the only thing we then need is a bit of prayer to help us to gain peace while we "take that ride". Say your prayer, and settle in , because when you look back, it may be a colorful ride that you'll be able to share with others someday of what a testament God is in your life :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Don't get yourself in a stinky situation

When my oldest daughter was about 2-3 years old she went to a Christian daycare center while I was at work. She had learned about the story of Jonah and the whale, and had some cute hand motions to go with the story. We started talking together about this story and in order to explain it in terms she could understand, I said that because of Jonah's disobedience (in not following God's orders to preach to the people of Nineveh), Jonah had gotten himself into a "stinky situation". She understood this because the belly of the whale must have been pretty smelly and stinky. So that stinky situation for Jonah was the result of his disobedience. I talked with her that she needed to make sure she didn't get herself into "stinky situations" by disobeying her parents as well. It was a great learning tool for a 2 year old, just as it is still a great learning example for adults. Sometimes we get "stinky" situations in our lives. Often it is never our fault, its our boss, our neighbor, our spouse, etc etc etc. Its never our fault. Or is it? Do you think its possible that maybe when things are not going our way, its because we are in fact doing it "our way" instead of God's way? If you'll remember, God's way is perfect. Ours is not [remember the Garden? God had a lovely plan for peace and harmony forever. We screwed it up by doing it 'our way' instead of following His directions and doing it His way.] Just something to think about.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gideon obeyed God (sometimes).
Great things were accomplished by God, through Gideon. Such as when the Midianites were defeated with only 300 men (Judges 6).
But Gideon did have moments where his obedience was not "second nature" or automatic, as seen in Judges 6:36-40. To paraphrase this is where Gideon asks God to "prove it to him" that he is going to be used by God to rescue Israel. His proof is that in the morning the wool will be wet but the ground will be dry. God proves it. Gideon still doesn't feel confident, so he asks again, but this time the opposite. The wool will be dry and the ground will be wet. Again God comes through. So Gideon is satisfied with this 'proof' or 'test' and he goes out to battle.
I think WE sometimes try to test God's work in our lives as well...
"I'll go on a mission trip"
"I'll pay my tithes more regularly"
"I'll start giving offerrings"

"you get me a raise or promotion"
"you erase my debt"
"you heal my body"

We shouldn't NEED to test God, or require proof from Him. We should simply love Him enough to obey His commands.
God wants to use us to do great things for His Kingdom, but first we need to be obedient to His Word to do that.
You may ask, well, what commands am I to obey? The answer lies in the Bible. Just start reading and a whole new world may be opened up to you. Even if you are not new to Bible reading, God can give you new 'eyes to see' what is there for you in this day and time. Have fun! ;)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turn on the slowcooker, Baby!

This title will make more sense as you read this post, but a while ago our church did a session on husbands and wives understanding each other. It had a lot of good information about how men typically perceive things and how women perceive things. It talked about our innate differences and how those differences complement each other to create a cohesive couple. It talked about how men were more visual, and women were more emotional. This explains why Playboy peaks men's interests, while Playgirl does not peak a woman's interest. It talked about how men typically, since they are visually-tuned, are ready for sex "at the drop of a hat". Especially if they see their wife naked. That typically doesn't do it for a woman. She needs a warm-up period. Like a soft touch on her back while she's making dinner, a thoughtful comment or gesture during the day, then when the "hanky panky" time arrives, she is certainly ready. These differences were described as a man being a microwave (instantly hot), while a woman was a slow-cooker (eventually hot). I don't know about you. But this description made me laugh so hard, not only because its funny, but because its so true!
So I thought I'd share this funny description with you, and maybe next time your hubby calls home from work he might say "Turn on the slowcooker, Baby, I'm coming home!" ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is your life changed?

Are you living the same way today that you lived before God became a part of your everyday life? I hope not. I hope that the love of Jesus has infiltrated you in such a way that you are different. Not just on the inside, but on the outside too. I hope that you are a shining example of God's love. I know people who are like this. I'm not sure if I should name names or not, so I guess I won't. But there is this elderly lady at my church who u can almost SEE God shining off of her. She is just so 'THERE'. I want to be there! I want people to be drawn in to me to see His gloriousness. What a testament that would be , don't you think? You almost wouldn't even have to say anything, God would just eminate from you. I guess when we are in heaven we will be like this, but I want to try to live like this now. Yes, there have been times where people around me have "picked up on" the fact that I was a Christian and maybe didn't do or say the things others did. But yet there are other times when I know I wasn't a good example of what a Christian should be. For example, one time while working I was in the attached garage to our office and I accidentally slammed my thumb in the car door. I (unfortunately) yelled out the loudest most vulgar curse word I know, then gritted my teeth in pain and finished my job. HOWEVER, my employee came running back to see if I was ok. That meant that he AND his customer had heard me. (How sad-what a sorry example I was setting). I was very disturbed this had happened, not so much that I had let my flesh (and words of my past) take over, but that in doing so I had just possibly broken the positive example I had been setting for this employee up to this point. I know he was a Christian as well, and although we didn't talk about our faith outright, we had 'noticed' the kinsmanship I guess u would call it, in each other. I was also his mentor to a degree (as well as his boss) so I was trying to teach him not only to be successful in our business but to do it with a Godly intent. On this day, all that seemed like it had shattered with that one word from my mouth. Now I don't know for sure how much this affected him. But I know if affected me. I know I was not setting a good example. So I share this to enlighten. If we make a stronger effort to put the past behind us and move forward in our walk with God, eventually God will talk to us and tell us what things from our past are not necessary or maybe good, for our future. Like our language, or the movies we see, or the books we read, or even the company we keep. God in fact 'convicted' me (there's a church term for ya) of Danielle Steele romance novels. I used to be addicted to those things. I had every one ever printed on my shelf and the moment a new came out I bought it and read it immediately. Shortly after I let God into my life I realized I really didn't need any of the new books coming out, and I didn't need to keep the old books I had. It wasn't that romance was bad. It was that in EVERY one of those books there was some form of premarital sex or emotional and/or physical adultery. God had showed me that this wasn't right. Up until that point I didn't know that it was necessarily 'wrong' (can u imagine?! I thought it was ok!). But in today's society, it really ISN'T thought of as THAT wrong! That's why we see it on almost every tv show from Friends to CSI. That was just something He showed me. I'm sure he'll show you different things. But if and when He does show you something (you may start to lose interest in it, or you may become more aware of the transgressions that before didn't seem to affect you, or you simply realize its not right and you don't want it a part of your life anymore), then I pray that you will listen and take heed. Make the adjustments necessary to change your life to live it more fully to honor God. I personally won't go see or watch a movie that involves adultery any more if I know its in there, because the movie loses all validity for me when the characters are doing something that God has spoken so strongly to me about. I don't want to support that storyline with my money, so I won't see it. Not everybody is going to have the same convictions I have, but that just happens to be one of mine so I shared it. Like I said earlier, I just hope that whatever God does tell you, you listen. A changed life, is proof that our commitment to God is real. Just like when you got married, you committed to your spouse and quit dating other people. Well, a committment to God will often cause changes in our life as well.

God will help you out of debt

Have you ever heard the Bible story about the widow's oil? Its found in 2 Kings 4. To paraphrase it here, a woman's husband had died. He owed a bunch of money to a man. She didn't have any money though, or any food. The man told her she had to pay it and if she didn't he would take her sons. She went and sought guidance from Elisha. He asked her what she had in her house (her resources). She said nothing but a few drops of oil. He told her to go ask all her neighbors for empty pots. Then to go in her house, close the door, and start filling the pots. She wasn't to stop until every pot was filled. She did this and as soon as the last pot was filled, the oil ran out. Elisha then told her to go sell the oil and use the money to payback the man with whom she had a debt. Then the extra money could be used for her and her sons. When it was all said and done, she had enough money to buy a lot of food for her and her sons, her sons weren't sent into slavery, and the debt was paid off.

In this story we can see that God, through Elisha, showed the widow how to pay off her debt. Often times, as was the case in this story, we have to put our 'hand to the plow' to fulfill God's work. We can't just sit and pray and hope it will be accomplished. We can pray, and God will DIRECT us HOW to accomplish it. Some sort of ACTION is usually required. The action isn't on God's part either. Its on OUR PART. God could have easily erased the debt from that man's memory. Or He could have multiplied the oil in her house by himself. But he wants us to have FAITH in Him, and that usually requires us to be tested in some sort of way. Its very easy to be 'faithful' when everything is right. But when things go wrong, that is when our faith really shows through. So instead of just multiplying the oil in her house, he required her to do something. She had to gather pots from her neighbors. Now you know as well as I do, that in a town like this, all the neighbors already knew her situation. They knew her husband died and they knew she had no money. So they would probably think she was crazy for asking for empty pots ("why do you need a pot, you don't have anything to put in it?!"). So it wasn't just action that was required such as walking door to door and carrying the pots. She had to humble herself to ask for something and not worry about what those people were thinking when she did it. Her trust in God had to be so great, that it would not be overshadowed by any discomfort that was caused by carrying out what she was told to do. Because she did this. She was obedient. God's blessings flowed, and flowed, and flowed, until there were no more pots to contain it. Only then did it stop. When we are stretching our faith, He will meet those needs just as He met the widow's needs. If He did it for her, He will do it for you. In Acts 10:34 Peter says "...of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons." This means if He did it for others, He will do it for you as well.
Deuteronomy 28:9 says "If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in His ways, He will establish you as his holy people as he solemnly promised to do." Deuteronomy 28:12 continues, "He will open to you His wonderful treasury of rain in the heavens, to give you fine crops every season. He will bless everything you do; You shall lend to many nations, but shall not borrow from them." God wants you to be a LENDER, NOT A BORROWER. I like how when we keep this verse in context with the preceding verses (28:9), it is all related to our OBEDIENCE... connect the dots here... it takes ACTION on our part.
If we are OBEDIENT to God, we can be put in a position to become lenders, not borrowers. Remember... we can be put in a position to become lenders, not borrowers. This doesn't mean its going to happen overnight. It may take time. It also doesn't mean its going to happen to everybody. Your hand has to push the plow, your work is going to be involved. So its up to you whether you can or can't. If you are currently a borrower, work on paying off your debts. Once your debts are paid off, your obedience and faithfulness to God can allow you to then become the Lender. This isn't a fast-food, instant gratification scenario. It will take time to move from one position to the other. Keep pressing through and you will reach the goal of becoming debt-free.

Debt-cancellation is for today-its not just some neat OLD story from a book written a long time ago. Hebrews 13:8 says "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever." He did it before (with the widow), He'll do it again!

God is willing and able to bless you with miracle debt cancellation. But I bet there is going to be some ACTION involved with it! ;)

Friday, November 20, 2009

It takes practice

Proverbs 12:14 says, "People can get many good things by the words they say; the work of their hands also gives them many benefits."
We often work at something, such as knitting until we create something such as a blanket. The work of our hands produced a benefit. If we are cutting logs, we get the benefit of firewood. If we don't do either of these things well the first time, we practice until we get better at it, thus improving the resulting 'benefit' ie. the blanket or firewood. In the world today we have a very good understanding that in order to improve in an area we need to practice in that area. The music team at your church doesn't just jump up there every Sunday and perform great songs at the drop of a hat. They come in during the week and practice. If you lift weights or exercise, you will probably remember when you first started. You didn't do very well and you were really sore after the first day. But now after much 'practice' you are better at it and can lift heavier weights and go for extended periods of time while exercising. This happened to me with running. I began running with only 1 minute at a time. Then I increased it to 2 minutes, then 8 minutes, then 20. Eventually I practiced enough to be able to run a half marathon. A huge accomplishment for someone who grew up always believing that "I hate running". The benefits of practicing something are undisputable.
The funny thing is... tithing and giving offerrings can also be like this.
If you are not a consistent, regular tither [10% everytime, no questions asked] then this post can help you get to that point of becoming a consistent regular tither.

If you are a consistent, regular tither, I am glad you are obeying God's Word. But maybe your obedience stops at 10% and you need to get to that next level in you offerring, of freely giving all you can to help to spread the Word of God. Then this post can help to get you to that next level in your offerring.

This post is about practicing in order to make obeying God's Word easier.
Giving can be very easy, if you realize in your heart that you are simply obeying God. He loved us enough to give His Son to us, don't you think we could love Him enough to follow His Word?
By giving back to God (notice I say "giving back" this is because everything we have is provided to us by HIM. When we grasp hold of this, it is often easier to then release the hold we have on our pocketbook), by giving back to God we are giving into His Kingdom in order to help advance it.
So, whenever we start something new, we practice at it until it becomes "second nature" and we no longer have to think about it as we do it. If tithing, or giving offerrings, is new to you, then today is the day to start practicing. Each time you give, it will get easier and easier. Know that when we are obedient to God, we are pleasing Him. Also know that everything we have belongs to God already, so you are only returning to Him what is His anyway.

Don't worry if you stumble or fall at first. The first time Michael Jordan shot a freethrow he probably didn't sink it. However, he practiced and practiced and continued shooting them regardless. We have to do the same with our giving. If its not easy at first, don't give up. Simply keep trying. Keep practicing. It will get easier. Believe me, I know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The day my daughter saw an Angel

Years ago, when my daughter was about 3 years old we were traveling through Colorado on our way to my husband's annual elk hunting location. We had a bit of a caravan with us that year: my husband was driving our "retro-mobile" (old motorhome) with our dog in the front seat, I was driving a Suburban rental that we had just picked up in Denver (with my 3yr old daughter in the backseat), and my husband's parents were driving a truck with a trailer towing behind it carrying a bunch of hunting gear and probably a 4wheeler or two.

We had just left Denver and turned north off I-70 onto this pass (I forget the name), but it was going up the mountain and down the other side and it was all switch-back. It was very steep and the switch-back corners were very tight (for a motor home, and towed trailer), and the edges off the sides of the road just dropped to sheer cliffs (very few guardrails).

We started driving up it and hadn't gone very far when my daughter said to me, "Who's that man?"

I said "What man?" (as we are driving up the mountain and there are no people walking nearby.)

"THAT man!", she says, pointing.

"I don't see him", I say, "can you tell me where he is?"

She then points straight out the front window.

I (unfortunately) don't see anything. So I ask her "can you describe him?"

She doesn't really. To him, he's just a man, and at 3yrs old, she doesn't have much of a descriptive lingo. So, without much of a description, I say to her that he must be an angel. She just nods and we go on our way.

When we arrive at a stopping point I tell my mother-in-law what has happened. She is pretty happy about it and goes and tells her husband.

Her husband simply replies "He must have heard". She asks him what he means by that, and he explains that before we headed up the mountain pass he had prayed to God to send His angels to watch over us and get us safely over the treacherous pass.

Isn't God good?

I'm smiling right now remembering that time. I am so happy my daughter was able to experience God's power. I personally would love to experience being able to see God and His angels. Isn't it wonderful that the innocence of a child allowed her to really SEE. Yet, we sometimes as "logical, rational" adults aren't able to see the beauty of God's embrace. I would love to lose whatever it is that prevents me from seeing. Clear my eyes Lord, wash away the haze. Let me see clearly. Open my eyes!
Don't you too?
I know its not just the pure at heart (like a child) that can see God's work. I know of adults that have come face to face with spiritual beings. I, have not. I wish I have, and more importantly, I hope I do in the future. Oh, I can just imagine the touch that would have on my life! Can't you imagine it on yours too? I know how it felt to HEAR God for the first time, and to have Him prove to me that He was real (yes, I was a bit like Gideon I suppose). Its wonderful! Imagine how much MORE wonderful it would be to SEE AND HEAR! How Awesome!

Do you hesitate to think that maybe she didn't really see an angel? I don't, and never did for a second. The moment she told me, I KNEW what she was seeing, even though I couldn't see it myself. Do you want to know how I knew?

God's Word.

Its true.

Collossian 1:16 says, " Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see."
God has created everything (remember Genesis?). He created us for fellowship, and he created angels to worship Him and carry out His plans. Psalm 103:20-21 says, " Praise the Lord, you angels of His, you mighty creatures who carry out His plans, listening for each of His commands. Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve Him and do His will."
That angel she saw was carrying out His plan. It was an answer to prayer (her Grandpa's prayer), to protect us and guide us safely through that pass. Psalm 91:11-12 also says, "He orders His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone". (Or a sheer cliff, in our case) :)
Isn't it reassuring to know that God is always there for you, always watching out for you. And He loves you so much, that even though He is all-powerful, He even has His 'security guards' look after you too!?
I like it.
Just remember that no matter what you are going though, whether it be a trying time with fertility issues, finances, health, your walk with God, or even a drive up a mountainside, God is there with you.
All the time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Be Blessed

My signature "tagline" for signing letters and cards for years has been "Be Blessed". One time my aunt mentioned that she struggled with this because she felt that God is the one who blesses us, so who was I to say "Be Blessed" , as if I was the one who was doing the blessing. After I explained my interpretation and view of this, she understood what I was really saying and was then ok with it. So let me explain... the motive behind me saying "Be Blessed", was that you would live in such a way, that God would pour out His blessings to you. I'm not acting like a "holy one" tapping you on the shoulder and saying "be blessed", as in "I bless you", but instead I am saying live your life according to God's Word, so that He can open the windows of Heaven to you and pour out His Blessings upon you! So in closing today, I say, BE BLESSED! ;)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Faith is the belief in things unseen

Some people have faith. Some people don't.

Some people believe in God. Some people don't.

Some people are at peace in all things. Some people aren't.

All of these second sentences above could have been replaced with "most people", instead of "some people", and still would have been true. Unfortunately.

We tend to surround ourselves with people who are like us. This is normal, you are going to pick your friends based on things you have in common and can share in. However, this sometimes causes us to lose touch with the rest of society who are very different from you. I was reminded of this recently when I shared some unpleasant news regarding a person's illness with two people who are very close to me. First, let me say the immediate family was dealing with the unexpected and sudden news of this illness. We believe in God and His miraculous healing powers. We believe he is all-knowing and has a voice with which He talks to His people when His people are willing to listen. We firmly believe that NOTHING is above God, and therefore NOTHING is too big for God to handle, including any illness. So when we were discussing and "handling" this sudden news, we never lost our faith that God could take care of it. We dissected the news and the consequential procedures that would be needed and tried to learn as much as we could about this illness. But we did not lose faith or act like death was at the door.

When I shared the news of this illness with these two people I was reminded of how different people are. My closest friend who probably IS my best friend because of our shared faith and the fact that we can talk about anything together and pray together, took the news with complete faith. (Just as the immediate family was handling it). She actually knows something about this illness so she had lots of informed, detailed questions. But she did not act like it was a death sentence or was un-treatable, or un-survivable, or hopeless. In contrast, when I told the other person, I could immediately hear it in their voice (the sense of grief, sorrow, pity that someone would have if they had no faith). They didn't SAY anything bad, but you could pick it up in their countenance and physical reaction. They do not know God and His amazing power the way the people who displayed faith know God. It actually saddens me that so many people purport to be "Christians" and "believe in God", yet they don't let Him into their lives to have control of it. Let me tell you something, when God is in control of your life, you will never feel out-of-control!

There is such a huge difference in knowing God exists, and having Him be a part of your daily life. I wish this person (and everyone...myself as well) had a stronger relationship with God.

I wish this person had enough faith in God to not have that pity in their voice. Nobody needs negativity. But everybody needs faith.

Faith gives us hope.

Faith gives us courage.

Faith gives us strength.

Faith can be unwaivering.

Its up to us how much faith we have and therefore how hopeful or hopeless we become in our lives. God is always there. He is always waiting for His sheep to come home. He is the shepherd, we are the sheep. Remember, a shepherd will always take care of his sheep. Have faith.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Life adjustment

Have you ever heard economists or financial analysts on the news talk about "market adjustments"? Its what happened with the housing market recently. Its when something gets so overblown or out of control, that in order to get it back right, it has to go in the other direction in an extreme way.

Sometimes people do this in their lives with their finances. Our society is unfortunately very "ok with" and "accepting" of "living beyond our means". Our government doesn't live within a budget and neither do most of Americans (sadly). Everyone is always trying to give you credit (buy it now, who cares if u can't afford it, u CAN afford $20 a month, can't you?). Everyone wants us to buy it on credit. Even the McDonalds commercials recently showed people using debit cards to pay for their food, and those who paid cash were frowned upon because it supposedly took more time so it slowed down the line. Can you believe the power of marketing?! Many people do!

When buying our first house, we qualified for X number of dollars. We wanted to look at cheaper houses so we would have some money left over to actually furnish it and have a refridgerator to eat out of, and yes, even have food to put in it. The mortgage lady kept trying to get us to use "all that we had qualified for" and get a more expensive house. We were like "no way, I don't want to be stretched so thin I can't afford to eat" (by the way we were and still are of the mentality of actually paying for something WHEN you buy it, not buying it on credit and then paying it off for 10 years). So for us it wasn't like we were going to buy our groceries and appliances on credit, we would buy them if we could afford them, and if we got a bigger house we didn't feel comfortable with our budget being so thin, so we bought a cheaper house. I know this still happens today, everywhere:houses, cars, you name it, someone will try to persuade you to "buy more". In reality we should just be buying what we "need" and not what we "want". By the way, needs are food to eat (groceries, not restaurants), clothes so as not to be naked (but not to be the most stylish person in the room-who really cares?Not God[about your style, that is] ), health (buying medicine because u are sick, not lets say, getting a luxury like a massage). A "car" may be a need if you have to get to work, but a car that is beyond your budget is not a "need", that's a "want". Snow boots for your kids might be a need if you live in Michigan and have snow 9 months out of the year. Snow boots for your kids are only a "want" if you live in Oklahoma and only get snow 2 days a year (keep the kids inside if you are afraid of wet toes-its only 2 days!). Are you getting my point? Sometimes we really have to look hard at what we think is a "need" versus what really might be a "want". As a society we have adopted this "I deserve it" and "I want it now (not when I can afford it)" mentality. It has hurt us as a nation, and definately hurts many people individually.

I remember after we had built our second house, we were hanging with friends and anytime my husband jokingly talked about buying something I would say "not until we get the pool". (We hadn't had enough money left over in the mortgage loan to build the pool at the same time as the house, so we had to wait to build the pool so that we could save up $30,000 to do the pool and all the fencing/landscaping/decking around it.) This went on for quite some time, and my comment was always the same "not until we get the pool" (we had a goal, and we were going to accomplish that goal before moving on to buying other things, you see). Well, one day, I guess my friend got tired of my comment, and she said to me "why don't you just build the pool already?!", and I answered quite simply "we don't have the money". She then laughed and said something like "oh, what a relief, you actually have money problems too!"
Now I didn't say anything at the time, although I probably should have (because it would have been a positive example for them), but the reason we never talked about "money problems" or things like that were because we didn't have any. We simply only bought what we had money to pay for without buying it on credit.{now I will clarify, you are probably thinking, "but you just talked about a mortgage, that's credit". Yes, we had a mortgage, student loans, and at that time we even had a car payment-but up until that point we didn't buy anything except houses, college, and cars on credit. And even today, the only "credit" we have are business loans and a very small mortgage that I am in fact working on paying off definately before my oldest child turns 15(that was my original goal), but probably even sooner than that (I love the feeling of sending in that 'last payment', it drives me to pay off anything I can as quickly as possible). So to get back to my point in this part of the story. We had a goal to buy that pool, but we wouldn't do it till we had the cash, so we were very focused on simply doing that and not getting sidetracked spending the money on other things so that we would have never reached our goal. Or heaven forbid, spending the money on other things, and then saying the pool was a "need" (HA-not even!) and buying it anyway with a loan. I'll tell you, one of the reasons we were so adamant about buying the pool with cash was because in the FIRST house we had built, we DID finance a pool. $400 a month-ugh! So discouraging to see what you REALLY pay for something when you don't pay cash for it-yuck! I guess I'm really just too cheap to want to pay any extra (interest) for something. So about 2-3 years after building the second house and starting to save for the pool we finally built it. Yes, with cash. I can't even begin to tell you the wonderful feeling it was to get in that pool the first time and feel that refreshing water, and look around and think "ahh, this is so relaxing, and there is NO monthly payment coming in the mail!" That part was probably even more stress-relieving than the water itself-ha ha. Let's face it, financial issues cause stress. That is one of the biggest problems marriages have today (but that's another post), so you can help to lessen your stress, and (thereby better your health), if you live within your means and not on "credit".

If you have made the mistake of living beyond your income by using credit cards and numerous loans, then you need to really think seriously about cutting back your lifestyle (needs vs wants) in order to get back into your budget. This is where the "market adjustment" comes in.

Now just like in the housing market that went to high (spent too much), when it adjusted it didn't just go back to regular pricing (living on a budget), it went way below (you are going to have to spend ALOT less than you earn in order to fix the overspending from before).
I had a friend who had decided to start getting their finances in order and they were going to quit "living beyond their means with credit cards". After a few months of living in the "market adjustment" period, he exasperately said one day "This really sucks living within our means!" (His words, not mine, ha ha). But what he didn't realize was that now he wasn't living WITHIN his means, he was living BELOW them, because of all the mistakes he had made ealier by living ABOVE them. So what I'm saying is, its not going to be easy to get a reality check and actually live on/within what your income is, when you've become accustomed to living beyond it. But this "sucky" period in necessary in order to make amends for what you did earlier. After a while, the "market", your budget, will even back out and it won't be so "sucky" anymore because you actually will be living WITHIN your means, not above them or below them. The time it takes will depend upon how long and how much you lived above, and how quickly you accept and embrace the new definition of "wants and needs". Its very do-able to live within your means when you can actually determine the difference between a want and a need.
I hope this post has been inspiring and motivating to you.

Right reason

I was up all night, fretting about a situation.
Real briefly for now, let me try to deposit this for anyone out there who might be able to use it...
Quit looking at the "return". Just make your deposits. Think of the economy and your 401k-it was very disheartening when the market took a dump. But the point of investments is long term savings for retirement, not immediate returns. Those who couldn't grasp that concept and pulled their money out (after already losing lots from the dump), never saw the realization of the gains that inevitably came when the market started to climb back up.
The same holds true for life. Keep putting your deposits in, don't think out or focus on the return. You need to remember God is in control of your life and as much as u may want to be in control, you are not supposed to be the king. He is. Quit overanalyzing it. I will also say this, you will probably not see the return you expect if you are "desperately expecting" it. Being desperate means you are too focused on the return and not on the intent, which should just be love. From experience I can say that 99% of the time when I give, I have absolutely NO interest or desire for all the blessings the Bible says will come my way. I simply do it because its my heart and it makes me happy to help others. Now, I am not perfect. So I will admit that I can recognize the 1% when I gave, and in the back of my mind a small voice started talking to me.(about how I could use that money elsewhere(for myself), or how I really need a breakthrough in a business, or something like that). Guess what? I shouldn't have given then. My heart wasn't totally into it-I was preoccupied with MY PROBLEMS instead of simply giving out of love to help someone else in their struggle. My sowing in that case was simply worthless. It won't and didn't produce anything because it was given with a "tainted motive".
If you aren't doing something out of pure love (absolutely NO desire for something to come out of it to benefit you) , then maybe u shouldn't even being doing it to begin with because it won't be fertile.
Something to think about.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Growing in hard times

James 1: 2-5 in the New Living Translation says, " Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. If you need wisdom-if you want to know what God wants you to do-ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking."

Did you notice James doesn't say IF its rough, he says WHEN its rough?

He assumes we will have trials, and it is possible to BENEFIT from them!

We need to make sure that we turn our hardships into times of learning and growth! Know that it is good for you and don't resent it, or resent God.


We can't really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure.
Its very easy to say we are a good parent, but do we act patience and loving even when times are stressful and the kids have pushed you to the brink? Or do we snap and yell? I know I personally have to consciously work on this area of my life ALL the time. I want to be the best mom possible. I want my kids to have positive wonderful memories of growing up. I don't want them (or their friends) to think of me and think of that non-happy, yelling lady. But, I have to make a huge effort to control my emotions and remain calm when their behavior and actions are not pleasing me. Its an everyday focus. Until we master something, it has to be our focus everyday. If you are struggling in an area, be sure to focus on overcoming it everyday, and when those situations arise that are going to test you, consciously make an effort to do the right thing. To react in such a way that would please God.

This character test can also be applied to tithing. Like I said earlier, we can't really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure.
Its easy to give when we have much. It takes more character and faith to freely give when we have not so much. (Remember the widow's mite? She gave a teeny, tiny bit, but it was SHE who gained Jesus' positive attention by her faithfulness and giving. Not the wealthy folks who had been giving out of their abundance. She was giving all she had, they were just giving their "extra". Her gift stretched her, and was therefore in faith. Their gifts were not stretching them at all, and therefore they were not exercising any sort of faith.

Charities are suffering everywhere in the U.S. right now because of the hardships people are experiencing in our society.
But growth will come to those who persevere and don't let the world's fears keep them from doing God's works and obeying His Word.

Instead of whining and complaining about our troubles we should see them as opportunities for growth. I always look back on hard times and realize how important that time/experience was to me in making me who I am today. During the hard time, I didn't always see the benefit of it, but looking back I don't wish it didn't happen, because it helped to mold and sculpt me into what I am now. It has helped me to grow. If we can look at a trying time WHILE we are in it and know it is helping us and molding us into more of God's image, I think it makes it easier to get through that trying time.
What I am saying is this, if you can know DURING the hardship that it will HELP YOU, it will be easier to walk through the hardship and easier to maintain your right-relationship with God through it too! It will always make you grow in your walk with God. You will learn and be better for it. God is always with you. Even in rough patches.
Don't be discouraged and give up.
Don't be discouraged and quit doing what is right in His sight.
During this economic downturn it is easy WITHOUT GOD to lose hope.
The difference is... WE HAVE GOD!
Therefore, we have hope!
Keep your faith strong.
Thank God for being with you even in hard times.
Just like James said in 1:5, Ask Him to help you solve your problems and give you the strength to endure them. And Make sure when you ask Him for direction and wisdom that you are ready to listen to HIM (James 1:6).
I pray that if you are going through a hardship, that is will pass quickly and that you will be stronger because of it. I also pray for God to use this season to help us to grow and to come to know Him more! And just as importantly, that we are a Godly example during our hardship, so that OTHERS will come to know Jesus, because of the light He has shown through us during difficult times!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Only God has all the answers

This post is to try to be a helpful reply to the comments written regarding the last post on "Riches".

First off, as the title proclaims, ONLY God has all the answers. We boggle our minds trying to figure everything out for ourselves, but the truth is, we often waste a lot of time, because only God knows everything, and some day when we are in Heaven and it all becomes clear, we will go "hmmm, that makes perfect sense now God, I totally understand what you were doing and trying to accomplish in my life. Seems odd that I could have been so clueless back then". But truth is, some 'truths' won't be revealed to us until the time is right, so we essentially are 'clueless' until that time. I do know though, that God is in control and even when bad things happen (1. its because sin was let into our world through Adam and Eve's disobedience. and 2. because since sin IS in our world, God sometimes uses these trials to make us stronger.) He will never give us something we can't handle. He is always looking out for us. There are SO many directions to go in this "answer" to try to help you and quite honestly my mind is swirling with avenues to take. But if I wrote on each one right now, I'd be here till bedtime (and its morning now). So to hopefully, just give some food for thought and maybe help get in the right direction I am only going to hit on a couple of points, but I'm sure I can use these other 'avenues' for future posts (so stay tuned).

1. We've hit this briefly already. God is in control. YOU can't always figure everything out and that may just be something you have to learn to take in stride. God does have a plan though and like Ashley added in her comment, we are His stewards. He will only give us what we are capable of handling. Why do you think so many lottery winners wind up in dire straights after winning millions? They weren't ready for it. God knew that, and that's why He hadn't already put resources in their hands to help them become millionaires through Him. He knew they couldn't handle it. They weren't good stewards (yet). {I think everyone has an ability to grow in all areas of our walk with God, and therefore I think everyone has the ability to someday be a good steward of His kingdom if they aren't already}. By building up our stewardship little by little, we are proving faithful in our actions and therefore being blessed with more. Make sure you are being faithful with what God has ALREADY given you before asking for more.

2. When dealing with finances, tithing is the cornerstone. We can't expect to be blessed in our finances if our foundation is cracked. The Bible is very clear "bring all your tithes into the storehouse". The Bible is also very clear that a tithe is 10%. The Bible is clear on this, but some people don't want it to be, so they modify it to fit their plan instead, BUT we are to tithe off our gross, not our net income. Somebody once said if you want to tithe off your net income, then you better plan on getting a net blessing. Wouldn't you rather have a full blessing? To me tithing is black and white and I have lots of posts I can share on this, but two things are most important in tithing. 1. You HAVE to do it with a loving, grateful, honest heart. You CAN'T tithe expecting that return (that is indeed promised in the Bible) you can't put the money in the bucket and be thinking about the "windows of heaven opening and showering you with blessings that can't even fit in your barn/bank account". You HAVE to give your tithe JUST BECAUSE YOU LOVE GOD. Not for anything He can do for you. You don't want a friend who only hangs around you because you give them stuff and buy them lunch, right? Well, God doesn't want a son/daughter to hang around just for blessings either, He wants us to want to be with Him, JUST because we LOVE Him. Remember, that's why we were created. For fellowship with Him. He wants communion with us. He could have created robots just to worship Him. He created us with minds of our own so that we would CHOOSE Him. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve made a poor choice long ago, so that perfect world He created for all of us, is now tainted with sin, and yes, Satan does have some power in this world now (because we gave it to him). Which will bring us to my next point, but before I get there I've got to give you the second requirement of tithing... that is that you are obedient in it. You not only do it with the right heart, but you do it the way God told you to do it-10% of all your income (that's gross). Just write that tithe check immediately after you record your income check in your checkbook. That's what I do.
So there is no sense in praying or fasting for finances if we haven't obeyed God in the first place with our tithe. Honestly, when people come to my husband and I for financial guidance, the first thing he says to them is show me your tithes and show me your income. If you aren't doing that right, we are wasting each other's time, because there is nothing "I" can do to help you if you aren't first following God's Word in your finances. You have to get that right between you and God first.

3.The third point comes from that same book I'm reading (God is so good in His timing isn't He?) Its The Three Heavens by Mark Gorman. To summarize some, this book talks about 3 Heavens. Earth and us being in the first heaven. The physical one. The 3rd Heaven is where God is and where you will go when you die-its spiritual. The 2nd heaven is between the 1st and 3rd, it is also spiritual. That is where Satan is. Real briefly, Mark gave an example about prayer and why sometimes its seems like we are praying and not getting results (make sure your foundation is right first though!). He drew it out like this, you pray in the 1st heaven, and your prayer goes to the 3rd heaven. God always HEARS our prayers (the Bible tells us this so I know its true). Its like you reached your arm up to the 3rd Heaven, God put the answer to your prayer in your hand, and now all you have to do is bring your arm and hand back to the 1st heaven to receive your answer. However, satan is in the middle there and he doesn't want you to get your prayer answered. He CANNOT take your answer to prayer out of your hand of faith. He doesn't have the power or authority to do so. But since he can't do that he tries the next best thing, he delays it. He tries all sorts of things to slow down you receiving your answer. That's why sometimes it seems like we pray for something and we don't get our reply. God replied but satan stalled it. Now you say but God is bigger than satan, just kick him out and give me my answer (in due time!) but until then, satan is messing up stuff, just like how he messed with Adam and Eve, and because of this we've got to deal with it (for now), but God isn't letting satan push you beyond your limits, just like He didn't let him push Job beyond his limits. Keep your faith. Keep your foundation rock solid, and continue on in your walk, glorifying God all the way (nothing makes satan madder than God being glorified, so keep it up!)

4.Remember Job. Sometimes it looks like we are doing everything according to God's plan. We are obedient, our heart is right, and yet we still suffer hardships (yes, we know we will grow from them, but "come on God, enough already ", right?) Like I said earlier, in the end this will all be clear, but sometimes, there is no explanation we here on Earth can give and the explanations we do give might be wrong (Job's friends started saying "come on Job, WHAT have you done wrong, you need to repent" and he HADN'T done anything wrong). However, Job survived. And you will too. God NEVER tempts us, but he WILL test us. He won't test you beyond your abilities, and I always say "there must be someone in my future who I will be able to 'minister to' (in church terms, but truth is , just talk to and help through) in this area since I am now experiencing it. For example this happened to me with my miscarriage, maybe some day I'll write details on that, but for now, let's just say, that it became very clear to me shortly afterward what a servant I was of God to have gone through that, JUST to help someone else in their same circumstance. Before that, I completely could not relate to women who had difficulty in getting pregnant (I wasn't rude, I'd nod my head and try to be helpful, but I honestly couldn't relate-my first pregnancy had happened super quickly and I just hadn't experienced that part of life). Afterwards though, I now had experience to relate to them and therefore be helpful to them. And in my case, it wasn't as much as what I said to THEM when they were going through it, as it was HOW I walked when I was going through it. So all this to say, you may be being groomed for something in the future that will allow you to help someone else become stronger in their walk with God. And isn't that the whole point anyway? God wants us all to come to Him, so if we have to bear something that enables us to bring someone to God, don't you think its worth it? I do.

I hope this has helped. Obviously its long (and now I'm late-ha ha-oh well) but hopefully it may open the doors for you (and others reading this) to dig deeper into one of those 'avenues' to try to find YOUR answer that God has for You. Love you! So does He!