Inline With Jesus

My oldest son has come to the conclusion that myself and a few of my friends are psychotic. I admit that I am getting more comfortable with him thinking we have a serious mental illness of some sort.

My friend is an inline skater. That is her happy place. She gets up at the butt crack of dawn and skates 10 miles. She uses the time as one-on-one time with Jesus. She prays, she can focus, she is at complete peace in the middle of spiritual warfare.

This is where it starts getting wonky…

She found a great deal on a pair of inline skates for me and has been trying to convince me for the last year that it could be my happy place too during the hockey off season. I should not have to remind you that I am NOT a morning person, I am not an athletic person, I am not a physically motivated person.

On my first outing, I did four laps…and had to stop to puke after lap two. Besides learning what my lungs actually taste like; I was reminded by my screaming body how much it had been through the previous two and a half years and it was not having any of this energy expending stuff.

The next day she asked if I wanted to go for an evening skate. I committed to one lap (approximately 0.86 miles). I did another four laps.

A week and a half later I half heartedly agreed to join her on a ten mile skate. I always pushed myself physically when I was sick; as much as I wanted to give myself the excuse that I could ease in to this activity…well, we finished the ten miles in 1 hour and 50 minutes. She usually accomplishes this skate in under an hour. For her to be so intentional with skating at my pace was such a blessing.

The next thing I know I am making goals and already I am skating six laps (5.46 miles) three to five days a week. On the last two Sunday’s I even am at the trail before 6:00am because it works better for everybody’s schedules to be done early. The first early Sunday we invited people, there were FIVE women out there with us. FIVE OF US. I told her that was more of that God Math we often talk about.

Right now I am working on getting my six lap time down to 35 minutes. I have my five mile time at 35:01…but that last 0.46 miles I just have not yet been able to break it yet. My fastest time is 36:40. When I get it down to 35 minutes I will add another lap (bringing the distance to 6.33 miles).

Today I was slow…39:09. When I was disappointed she laughed at me. I have been skating for six weeks. She says I am doing okay…no longer do I collapse in the grass at the end of the five miles. That is a big deal.

In just six weeks I have progressed from her showing up at my house to wake me up and take me with her to sometimes I even beat her to the trail in the morning. From puking and drinking two bottles of water just to survive, to even forgetting my water bottle some times. From needing to eat breakfast before going or I would puke for sure, to eating when I get home.

Change…growth. All of it.

I have committed to doing an inline marathon next year…and will likely do more than one…I am definitely hooked.

On social media we use the hashtag #InlineWithJesus as we use the time to discuss everything from relationships, children, goals, prayer needs, and everything in between. We focus on biblical truths as we deal with the rough patches in our lives as well as the innumerable blessings.

I do not know if I have told her this yet (consider this being told as I know YOU are reading this)…we are going to get t-shirts with #InlineWithJesus for when we do my first marathon! We can sell them as a fundraiser!! We can even add #DoneDying or #DoneDating as an option!

Lord, 

Your grace and mercy are overwhelming. This new season of life has been so exhilarating and absolutely FUN! Even the hard days have light…Your light. 
I am so excited to be writing this new chapter. Thank You for my story not being finished yet. As that reality hits me every once in a while I am humbled and brought to tears again.
May our road rash heal quickly and our prayers be loud. 

Amen

 

God Math

I am a smart woman. I can budget like an accountant on steroids. The poverty we have endured thought the last three years was able to be endured thanks to, among other things, extreme diligence and discipline.

As I step out in faith and begin to tithe, and truly trust that God will provide it was been lesson after lesson of trust.

My income for the month of July totaled $926.30. My rent is $800, insurance is $87.04, phone $43.25 for a total of $930.29.

Just as Jesus fed thousands, my income was enough to not only pay those essentials, my boys were able to attend the county fair, I was able to buy myself a pair of jeans, we had a full gas tank all the time, we even had a couple evenings where we treated ourselves to fast food.

That is what I call God Math. He told me to trust…I obeyed and was given great peace.

As I explained it to a friend this morning, that I am right back to zero to begin August with, I am confident that God did not provide me X amount of dollars and gifts, He provided the fair experience, He provided for our needs and a few wants.

There is a season for building up an emergency fund so that we can bless others in their time of need. That season will start when I am back to working my regular hours at work in the fall. The confidence that God will get us from here to there is a weight I cannot even measure that has been lifted off my shoulders.

If I did not trust that God would provide, the boys would not have experienced the fair, I would have taken from my children the knowledge that God provides.

They have seen a different side of Mom this month. They have seen peace we have not known for three years. They have been witness to unfailing faith and obedience.

Lord, 
I pray my children never again witness the insecurity of me not trusting Your love, grace, and mercy. May they remember these days and moments as the people on the shores once did while Jesus fed thousands. May they understand the miracle of God Math.

While they are away for the next three weeks, guide them as they spread Your love wherever they roam. Give them the confidence to follow You when the people around them live a different lifestyle than they see at home. Teach them empathy and compassion for those who do not know You.

Continue to give me strength to be vulnerable in my current social situations. As life is ever changing, it is good…and it is difficult. 

Your light guides my feet, and they are on the move. 

Amen

The Next Week

After making the decision to start Tithing, although I was not panicked or worried, there was a nagging in the back of my head. What if that $26.00 is the difference between making the rent payment and not making it. What if the cost of a tank of gas does not get replaced? How was I going to come up with those needs.

I just kept hearing God say, “Trust Me.” He repeated Himself over and over again in those first days and weeks as I did the math over and over.

What I did not know and am learning beyond all rhyme or reason is new math; God Math.

When He says, “Trust Me” He is NOT kidding.

Not only did I have enough money to pay the rent, I also was able to take my children to the local fair (something they had resigned themselves to not being able to do). I was able to buy myself a pair of jeans (I only have one pair and they are not suitable for work/play). The jeans I had BOTH (yes, I only had two pair of everyday jeans) had holes worn through that made them unwearable within weeks of each other.

I remember when my friend explained to me the loss of dignity when people are poor…I have lived this way for so long that I was baffled to have it explained. To be able to walk into the store and buy myself a pair of $29 dollar jeans felt so amazing, so empowering.

I always say it’s the little things that matter, I just did not realize how many of those little things we were going without.

When I give my tithe, I feel like the modern version of the Widow’s Mite:

Luke 21: 1-4 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

It is a humbling privilege to give with great joy what little I can give. I truly trust that God will provide for all our needs.

I gotta say, His batting average for taking care of me thus far is pretty good 😉

Lord, 
Humbly I come to you with such a grateful heart. Thank you for all Your good works, your faithful servants whom surround my family. 
I will continue to praise You from the rooftops, the sidewalks, the playground, the parking lot, the fishing hole, the open vehicle window, the top of the stairs, the workplace…
Your love is abundant and my cup overflows. 
Be with the boys and their aunt, cousins, and my mother as they travel over the next couple of days. 
Amen

Welcome Back

Thanks everybody for being patient while God took care of a few things.

This will be a very short post today as I am trying to type with a broken middle finger that has to be splinted and buddy – taped to my ring finger. (I actually un taped it from that finger just so I could type this…but I know that can’t happen every day.

I have been using my Facebook page to download some of my thoughts with their LiveFeed feature. I never would have guessed that Vlogging would be so awesome. Seriously considering maybe starting to YouTube some of my less ‘filtered and edited’ thoughts as I know not everybody has Facebook and I hate to think that anybody is missing the message that might be the exact one they need to see or hear.

Life has been moving at a lightening fast pace this summer. It is absolutely crazy how God has been showing up and getting things done every time I turn around.

I lost a dear friend and cancer mentor last week and my heart continues to hurt for her family. Her funeral was yesterday and the boys and I made it though in one piece…and some times that is all that matters.

When she died on Saturday morning I talked to my mom (over 600 miles away) and she told me, “I don’t care what you have to do, you just get through this. You be strong for her family, and you let others take care of you.”

For the first time…I did just that. I ugly cried my good friend and she came over. When she had to go be with her family, another friend showed up just as I was going to lay down. That friend stayed while I tried to nap and cleaned my house while she just was here for me. I cannot thank them enough for getting me through that day.

I will continue to do my best to catch you up on God’s amazing work this last couple of months.

I pray you are all well and having a wonderful season.

Deb

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