Stepping Out In Faith

As change continues in my life and the life of my children lately I have been called to make one more change and it is not an easy one to make.

As I have shared before, our financial situation is beyond difficult. Besides a reduction in hours throughout the summer there are several unpaid weeks of time off I have no control over. My children and I live in poverty. Not just that we have more month than money, there are often months where the money I earn does not cover even our basic expenses (rent, electricity, car insurance, phone, parenting time expeditor, and gasoline).

I have no debt outside of the parenting time expeditor who is court ordered through my divorce. Thankfully he takes payments and unfortunately the need for him is necessary for any and all co-paretning communications.

As you can see, we do not have lines in our basic budget for items such as clothing, sports, school fees, household needs, vehicle maintenance, vehicle replacement, furniture replacement savings, dining out, internet, or entertainment.

Things most people take for granted…a stop at Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone, running to the store for toilet paper or cleaning supplies, socks, even stopping at the local Farmer’s Market for some amazing strawberries…the little things that most people can find an extra dollar or two around the house for; we do not have that dollar or two. Every penny is strictly accounted for. Every.Penny.

This week, my gas gauge was low and I knew that I had barely enough money to pay my rent and gas was going to have to take a back seat. If we needed to walk, we were just going to have to walk.

Then God said to me, “If you trust Me, fill your gas tank.”

And I’m like Dude…I know how to count, I know exactly how much money I have and I cannot fill my gas tank AND pay the rent.

“I can.”

It cost $41.37 to fill my tank that day.

I do not claim to understand how God does the things He does; I just know He does them with love for me. He loves me so much and His provision is great.

It was after I realized just how big of a step out in faith this was for me that I decided it was time to start Tithing.

Malachi 3: 10 – 12

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (NLT)

The Lord has provided for us through so much, it is only right that I trust Him to provide for us. How can I claim to be so trusting yet keep my tithe to myself? Will He not provide for all my needs?

“Try it! Put me to the test!”

I have never tithed in my life although I have always been called to, it was always something I wanted to do. In my life right now there is no better time to put ME to the test, not God. It is a test of how much I trust in the Lord.

Proverbs 3: 5 – 8

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

I am challenging myself. I am trusting the Lord beyond my understanding.

Starting July 1, 2017 I am committing to giving a Tithe. I had no worries as I dropped that envelope into the plate this morning. I knew God would take care of me and my boys.

Even though filling my gas tank last week made me short to make the rent, I filled my tank. Even though I have been so worried about making sure I have enough money to pay my rent this month; today I tithed.

I am so very excited to see how God uses this newness for His good. I am so excited to trust Him beyond my own understanding.

God is so good and I am so excited to be His child.

Lord,

I have heard Your call and I have done as You instructed. I live for You; to bring people to Your glory. Lord I want people to see You in me, to see Your love, Your promises.
Lord, you called, I answered…and I continue to grow closer to you and to show the world Your greatness.
I thank you for this opportunity to trust you beyond my own understanding and to show others Your Glory through Your good works.

Amen

Newness

During periods of rapid growth, there is physical, emotional, and often spiritual pain.

Recently my friend invited me to start rollerblading in the mornings with her. She found an amazing deal on some decent skates and I agreed. She does this in the mornings…I am not a morning person.

The first day, I puked. I told her I would do it if she wanted to come and get me. She rings my doorbell to wake me up and off we go. I should have eaten breakfast because exerting myself on an empty stomach was not a good idea. I rollerbladed 4.65 miles that day.

The next day I skated 3.67 miles and my youngest son joined us. We had less time due to having the young one with us, and I did not push myself as hard as I had the day before; but I still skated.

Thankfully we had the next two days off (Wednesday morning it was raining and Thursday morning the boys had to be at golf at 8 am). Today we were out there again and I did another 3.67 miles. I was slower, so less winded yet still active. Her youngest son came with us today so the pace was slow again but being out there is better than just going back to sleep in the early morning hours (do NOT tell her I said that).

Monday when she rang my doorbell I was still sleeping and ran down stairs in my bathrobe to open the door. Tuesday I was awake and had time to grab some cereal. Today, my skates were on and I skated out of the house when she got her eating a bowl of cereal. She commented that it was the first time she’d ever seen anybody rollerblading while eating cereal…I told her to take a picture, it lasts longer. I am so not a morning person.

The one thing she had shared with me before was that she uses this time to pray. I know people often pray while dying so I did not find this hard to believe.

What I did not know, was how present God is out there on that trail. The Holy Spirit is very active. The first day, I was moved by how much the physical growth is akin to spiritual growth.

While I am out there skating and remembering what it feels like to taste your lungs, I was struck by how difficult this period of growth has been for me. My lungs are scarred from radiation and my endurance is so diminished due to the scarring plus chemotherapy, plus multiple surgeries over the last three years.

The only way to get back on my feet…is to actually be on my feet. My friend gets that and is willing to put up with my whining, pouting, and growly face in the early morning hours to keep me on my feet.

I am struck by how difficult my spiritual journey has been and how I am willing to go through the difficult periods usually with less whining than I am doing now.

As the Holy Spirit fills me up, I am being used as the hands and feet of God. I am reminded often just how loved I am. I am still learning how to get through the tough days in one piece.

When I start to question my prayer requests I try to focus on the fact that my Father loves me perfectly and that I would do anything within my power to fill my own children’s requests and I long for them to come to me with requests ranging from seemingly impossible to run of the mill.

Matthew 7: 9-11

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

How can I even doubt that God wants to hear my requests when I so cherish every request made by my children. So I ask my Father for so much and He answers each prayer accordingly. When I begin to think I am undeserving, I am reminded:

Luke 12: 27 – 32

27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

It gives me great pleasure to meet the needs and wants of my children; and I am far from a perfect parent. I can only imagine the sincere love of God as He provides for each of His children.

While our financial struggle is still so suppressing, I remember that God provides. I am reminded that I am not living in poverty as punishment for anything I have done; that this is merely a season of my life and as the season changes, so will our circumstances.

If you would add us to your prayer list, I am grateful.

Dear Lord,
As the seasons change, I must remember that each plant in the valley grows at the pace You have designed. As I grow spiritually, I am thankful that my emotional growth has kept pace. I understand my financial situation is also a season I must endure and give my trust to you. With each glide of the rollerblade, help me to remember that each outing is one closer to the physical freedom that I long for. 
I give you thanks for those in my life who remind me that this season of abject poverty is not a form of punishment from You; that You love me completely and perfectly. They remind me that I am worthy of nice things and that You give us community to help each other during times such as these. 
When my heart is open, You speak to me and I am listening. 
Give me the resolve to continue through this dark valley, because I know You are with me.
God, C would like a trip to Northern Air or an afternoon of Go-Karting and mini golf. K would like an evening out at a nice restaurant. You know these are the prayers that I have difficulty sharing with others as they seem selfish…I also know that You know their hearts and know that my children are far from selfish…and I should never have to apologize for their sincere prayers. 

Amen

Done Dating: Part 2

My first Done Dating post was the announcement. This one is more of an explanation of how I got there and why I can be confident in my decision.

My friend Katie and I have only known each other for a little over a year. We met after the hard chemo was finished and I was healing from radiation and the after effects of chemo.

In normal circumstances, Katie and I never would have met. Her husband is a pastor of a church I had never stepped foot in and had never even been curious about stepping inside. Not that I questioned their church, I was just happy with the church I was regularly attending and very heavily involved with volunteering.

She started a MOPS group at her church and I was invited by a friend from Epiphany Station. I explained I have no preschoolers left and so a MOPS group was not really my thing. I was assured they were also a MomsNext group for mom’s with older children and I agreed to give it a try.

I was through what we thought was the difficult part of cancer, life was moving forward, and I was interested in social activities that were not overly time consuming. I enjoy group social activities that are regularly scheduled; especially if they include food and a craft!

Katie was very pregnant and we did not socialize much. We were familiar with each other but I would not have called us friends.

Then it happened.

I went to Rochester for my reconstruction in March 2016. I flew down on with Angel Flight Central and was scheduled to fly back with them as well.

I was released to fly home on Good Friday. With my appointment time and the volunteer pilot’s schedule, flying home Friday was not an option. Then the weather was bad for small aircraft travel and my weekend flight was canceled. I was heartbroken.

When I knew I would be going home before Easter I had visions of surprising my boys at church Sunday morning. With no available flight, my plan was crushed. I posted my heartbreak on Facebook and was flooded with messages of sympathy.

Then Katie said she would come and get me…she would drive to Rochester (384 miles) to pick me up and bring me home so I could surprise my boys and be home for Easter. This plan was coming together on Good Friday.

The caretakers of Nazarene Well House (where I had spent my post operative time) knew what was happening and they offered to meet up with Katie so that was it…they drove North and she drove South the day before Easter and got me home in time to surprise my boys at church Easter Sunday.

Our friendship has grown from there and she has become a best friend. She babysits our cats when we are out of town, I babysit her animals when they are gone. I can walk into her home as they start a meal and sit down at the table as if I was invited.

A few weeks ago when tragedy struck and four people died, she comforted me, she engaged me, she got me through. When I did not know how exactly chicken eggs were fertilized (she has chickens, I was curious) she taught me. (Note to self: Don’t ask if you really don’t want to know…I didn’t really want to know). When she needed help taking straw off her septic field, she put me to work. When my heart is rattled and confused and breaking and filling all at the same time, she grounds my feet.

This woman, a mere stranger just 15 months ago who let me carry her water and nothing else when we stopped for coffee on our way home from my surgery. The woman who understands my humor, who gets me, who loves to see me growing closer to Jesus and helps me through the tough spots.

This woman is why I know I no longer need to be on dating websites where men with questionable motives lurk. She is the reason I do not need to be searching for my life partner.

If God can bring together Katie and I, He certainly can bring together the man I will spend the rest of my life with. He certainly can make things happen without my assistance.

I thanked Katie for this the other day; telling her that our friendship gave me the understanding that I did not have to be out there looking for ‘The Right One’ when God already knows where to find me.

Lord,

Thank you for everything You have provided through Katie and her family. They are truly my family here with so many others.
I am so thankful that You have opened my eyes through her about the ways You work and that she has been able to show me just how much You can do.
For my future husband, I pray he also has a friend or group of friends who teach him lessons he doesn’t even know he wants to learn. (save him from the chicken stuff though if he doesn’t already know)
For all of my friends whom are now family; the thanks goes to You. I am eternally grateful.

Amen

Done Dating

Yes, you heard me right. I am done with dating and finished looking for Mr. Right. I trust that God knows who I am meant to be with and for all I know we both still need some major work in our lives.

Who am I to mess with His plan? I have had an online dating profile for sometime on a free site. The quality of men is…umm…well; you get what you pay for.

The other day after some big heart to God conversations (similar to heart-to-heart but at least one side knows what they are doing) I removed my profile completely. I finally deleted it for good. I used to set it to invisible but would always find myself back there looking, searching.

I never had any success as I knew that every one of the people who contacted me were wrong on so many levels and it never took more than a quick conversation to shake my head in disappointment or more often disgust.

One of the wonderful outcomes of last weekend’s retreat was the complete security in God. My health, my finances, my children, my future. My mate.

If and when the time is right for me to be matched with a man for the remainder of my days; God knows where to find me. God will bring us together. Finally I get it.

Finally I am free.

I am free from dating, I am free from loneliness, I am free from questioning. I just know and I am so filled with this sense of love and security and everything that goes with those things!  #DoneDating

Lord,

I have so much appreciation for Your love, for Your guidance, for everything.
I am so thankful that this realization has finally been settled in my heart for once and for all.
I am humbled by those who surround me and have be supporting me through all the good and less good days.
Continue to guide my path and help me be light for those searching in the darkness.
You know my needs, and I continue my daily prayers for my needs and the needs of others, both known and unknown.
Thank You Lord…just thank You. I am so blessed.

Amen

I wish you could all see the 100 pound rock that was just lifted off my shoulders and the smile on my face…ear to ear.

WOW

This past weekend I attended a Single Mom’s Retreat through an organization called Bridging the Gap. My girlfriend Katie knew of the conference/retreat and insisted a few months ago that I go. I tried to back out of it; it was my weekend to have the boys, the cost of the ticket ($69) plus gas there and back was out of my budget…anything I could think of. Of course, she was hearing none of it and took care of the cost because she believed I needed to be there.

I am working on writing about all that happened throughout the weekend and words are jumbled and have escaped me somewhat. This morning she texted saying she wanted to post on Facebook but had no words and kept checking if I had posted anything as I tend to be better than her with words. I told her I had refrained from posting after we got home last night because there were no words. She replied that sometimes God is just too big for words. #NailedIt

The ongoing ‘joke’ throughout the weekend, and even before we arrived, was that not only will I be back next year; I will be one of their speakers.

I have already contacted them to request a guest blogger opportunity. Right now, I am praying for that. I have hope, I have a calling…and I am listening intently.

As they request all submissions to be original, I will refrain from posting about my weekend here for the time being so that I can share the experience with their audience as well.

Faith Filled Friday

I just found this on my Facebook from June 24, 2007 (my seventh wedding anniversary). I am leaving it unedited:

Well everybody, I have good news and bad news…GOOD NEWS FIRST: I am still pregnant…
the BAD NEWS is:
-I had hemmorhaging this past week
-I had premature preterm rupture of membranes
-It has been determined that I have a low lying placenta.

The doctor in the ER has said there was a prognosis of ZERO…I was heart broken (as you can imagine).

Jay had just left that day for a fairly long trip and was parked for the night when I called him with the news. I knew there was nothing he could do and told him I would keep him up to date through the night.

After several calls in the middle of the night (Jay, my parents, and Kara) I was finally taken upstairs to a room at 1:30am.

The next morning I was scheduled for an ultrasound after being counselled on the probability that Stickers was already dead…the nurses were great…I could not have done this on my own.

The doctors were very shocked when they did an ultrasound and found Stickers in there with a strong heartbeat… Then the attitude was that we would be waiting for the baby to die so they could perform a D&C…There was no way Stickers would make it through these complications.

Jay was turned around and on his way home when he had to stop and gather himself after I called with the great news.

I spent one night in the hospital and was sent home with the advice to prepare for “fetal demise”…why can’t they just say go home and wait for your kid to die…then come back and we will rip it from your body.

As you can all imagine, I have done a TON of research on everything that has happened and none of it was very promising. After the membranes rupture, approximately 50% deliver within the first week, and another 50% everyweek thereafter. I have done the numbers and have discovered that we have a 5% (yep…FIVE PERCENT) chance of carrying this child to the age of viability (24 weeks)…and even at 24 weeks, it would mean weeks or months in a neonatal intensive care unit with a survival rate of about 50%. Everyday inside me after the 24th week increases the chance of survival.

We sat down, discussed the options, statistics, and everything we could think of. My biggest fear is delivering too early and having a baby so small that it could fit in the palm of my hand. We had had a routine ultrasound only five days before this all happened and saw that Stickers was growing big, and had a strong heartbeat. This little being had two arms and legs, eyes, ears, fingers and toes…perfect in every sense of the word.

That was Tuesday night and Wednesday…it is now Sunday and I am still carrying this miracle. Jay and I keep saying that obviously nobody explained the rules to this kid so we are going to think positive.

Friday Funny

I am so excited to start my day. It is the last day of school and after work I am leaving for a two day Single Mom’s retreat. My first retreat ever and it looks like it is going to be amazing.

I woke up feeling rested and just all around awesome. In my head, the verse “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” is spinning through my head as the song my children once sang in church.

I grab my phone and look at the time.

5:45 A.M.

The song stops with a record scratching sound; and my brain thinks, “I’m pretty sure He didn’t plan it to start this early.”

My work day starts at 10:15.

I guess I will get out of bed though because the song has started again and I still have to pack and finish cleaning out my vehicle. One of the boys was in trouble the other day and as a way to work off part of his sentence, he had to start cleaning out the van. (I’m all about rehabilitative justice and sentence to serve.)

Here is the website for the retreat I am attending. I am so stinking excited! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

http://mnbtg.org/retreat/