Living By Faith

If you know Jeff and me very well, you know we love a good deal and we have tried to teach our frugal-ness to our children. It isn’t uncommon for me to go shopping for clothing or home decor and after going through the check out my receipt usually reads something like, “Total cost $80 and you save over $300.” I think my best deal, was the one time I bought a coat that normally cost over $200 for $2 from Macy’s.

Many people have asked me, how do you save so much money? To which I reply “I shop the clearance rack.” I typically don’t go shopping with a list when I am shopping for clothes etc. I simply go to the store and search for the clearance signs. Now, let me clarify here, the best deals are at the higher end stores, the ones that I would never even think of buying anything from at regular price because I know I couldn’t afford them. But I don’t let their high-end reputation intimidate me. Once I find the clearance rack which is usually at the back of the store,  I search them to see what is on it that will fit me and what I like,  out of those I decide what is the better deal,  then I decide what I can’t live without, from there I decide how much I want to spend and head to the check out. Because I have some pretty good solid basics in my wardrobe I can usually always mix and match it with something I already have at home. This kind of shopping also requires me to think ahead of what I will need in the next season because I am typically buying a year in advance.

This has pretty much been my shopping lifestyle as long as I can remember. I realized at an early age from my parents who were pastors also, that typically you don’t have an unlimited budget so you need to be as good of steward with what God has given you as possible.

This has even carried over into a lot of our grocery shopping. Our meals are usually planned around what is on sale at the store. Often times my husband will come home from the grocery store with several bags full of sale, reduced or discounted items. Then I have to come up with meals out of it. I guess you could say my kitchen is a constant live “Chopped” T.V. cooking show. We give a whole new meaning to the term ” Living By Faith”.

But, It has recently come to my attention (call me naive)  Apparently, this is just the opposite of what most people do. It is my understanding that some people actually go to the store with the intention of buying certain pieces of clothing etc. and have to purchase those things at whatever price the store is selling it for that day, which is usually full price.

This got me thinking, I believe shopping habits are a lot like life and it is up to us if we choose to live by faith or not. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying if you don’t shop like this you are not living by faith. But I would like to compare the two.

I mean, How often do we expect certain things out of life? How often do we come to God with our list of things we need and expect Him to deliver no matter what the cost?  The truth is more often He gives us what He wants us to have and more often what He gives us, doesn’t turn out to be exactly what we had on our list anyway?

All too often we have these expectations for God to meet and when He doesn’t do it the way we expect. We get anxious and begin to worry because it obviously can’t be right if it doesn’t go the way we expected.  We want something for this exact moment but God sees the bigger picture for what we need for our future.

Satan wants us to be intimidated and walk in fear when things rise above our understanding. Just like those high-end stores, some people won’t even consider going into the store, simply because they think they could never afford anything in it. But the fact is I go into those stores for 2 reasons. #1 Because I want to see what the regular price of these items are in case I see them at a second-hand store to assure I get a great price and #2 I want to overcome my own fear and self-intimidation by going in. Because granted sometimes it can be intimidating but I refuse to be intimidated and we need to refuse to be intimidated when we don’t understand what God’s plan is.

Just like God sometimes makes us wait for what we want, most stores put the best deals at the back, we sometimes have to wait to completely see what God’s plan is and how it will work in ours. I have noticed, the cheaper stores put their sale items right in the front, sometimes they even sit them outside on the side walk, why? Well, I think because it is just that cheap, and it doesn’t have any real value. In the same way, sometimes the first thing that we see isn’t always the best for us so we have to trust God to bring us what we need.

Sometimes we have to stand up for what we believe and that isn’t always easy, sometimes we have to wait for the right spouse instead of taking the first person that comes along or wait till next year to buy that tractor because we are determined to be good stewards of what God has given us.  If our faith is solid and standing on Christ than we can trust that I might not get what is on my list now but we know that God will provide what we need when He knows we need it.

It is at these times I believe God is saying “Trust me”,  Don’t come “Expecting Your Way” but come “Accepting My Will”. Because after all, there is nothing that comes to us that hasn’t gone through God. Accepting whatever comes your way. We can trust Him to give us what we need and give us the strength to do what we have to do to get through it.

See I believe that living by faith is a lifestyle we choose. Just like I have chosen my shopping lifestyle. We choose what we will do when we don’t get the things on our list.  Now I am not saying quit your job stay home and just trust God to pay your bills. No! But what I am saying is all too often we get focused on our plans for how something should work out and when it doesn’t we begin to walk in fear and anxiety when we need to realize that we have a Heavenly Father that created us and loves us with an everlasting love. (Jer 31:3)

He tells us in Jeremiah 29: 11 I know the plans I have for you, and they are for good and not to harm. So if we say we really trust God and we say we believe His word. Then we can trust that He will give His best to us and although it may not be what we expected. We know He loves us enough to assure He will give us everything we need.

God loves us so much we can trust Him, that we are not getting His leftovers at a reduced cost. No! God paid the ultimate cost for you. He gave His life for you and because of that He wants nothing but the best for you, so we don’t have to worry when things come our way that wasn’t on our list. All we need to do is rest in Him. This week lets not allow the things that don’t go the way we planned worry us or make us anxious. Let’s trust Him, and what His word says in Romans 8:28. He works all things together for our good…..

 

 

 

Advertisements

All Small Cars Don’t Go Around

My Mom celebrated her 4th anniversary in Heaven last month.  I am sure she and daddy are thrilled to be together after spending 25 years apart. They are  probably still catching up.

Momma left us many memories and phrases that we still fondly repeat today. One of our favorite quotes from momma is “It’s only a dollar!” which I wrote a whole story about on here a while back.

But one of the funniest stories we still tell today and the phrase that made momma the most famous in our minds was the time that she was driving as my two youngest children, along with myself was riding along with her in the car, when she pulled up to a stop sign. She was a little delayed in pressing the brake so we ended up with the front of her car about halfway out into the first lane of the 4 lane highway we were about to enter. I’ve had the same thing happen to me and I simply put the car in reverse and backed up to assure I wouldn’t get hit. So I didn’t think to much about it, until momma didn’t move. As the car approaching us grew closer I asked mom “Don’t you think we should back up a little?” to which momma looking at the car growing closer turns to me, says ” Oh! It’s a small car it can go around.

Needless to say that was the last time we let momma drive when we were in the car, because although she might have been kidding she never moved back but thank the Lord we all still lived and the car did go around!

This got me thinking……

Momma’s phrase “It’s a small car, it can go around” made me think, don’t we all to often do the same thing in our lives. Now I don’t mean literally. But we often put ourselves in positions that could possibly be harmful to us physically and more importantly spiritually.  Just like Samson in the bible, (if you don’t know the story you can read it in the book of Judges) Samson was born in a time when Israel was being held under the rule and oppression by the Philistines.  He was anointed with a special supernatural strength from God to help his nation for that time. Samson was a Nazirite but he fell in love with a woman who was a Philistine which basically met she had different beliefs and standards which were opposite of what God’s word says. His parents warned him of the possible problems but Samson was determined to be with her. Samson had gained an attitude that he was unstoppable. He forgot who had given him his supernatural strength and begin to get cocky, thinking more of himself than he should. Believing he couldn’t be tempted.

Don’t we do that today, we hang out with people that might lead us to temptation that might cause us to sin. Proverbs 6:17-19 tells us there are 7 things the Lord hate they are, a proud look, lying,  and hands that kill innocent people,  a person who devises wicked plans, people who are quick to do wrong and a dishonest witness, along with a person that stirs up conflict in their family.

Often we place ourselves in these situations and thus allowing temptation to take us over. Just like Samson who was finally so prideful that he ended giving doing exactly what God had told him not to do which ended in complete disaster for him.

My mom thought, “they can just go around, I don’t need to move” and whether joking or not there was a since of arrogance that she didn’t have to obey the law, that somehow she was above it and the rest of the world could just work around here.

We have to be careful not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We are blessed only because of what God has done for us and when we begin to think in any way that we don’t need to first ask Christ before we do anything we are sorely mistaken.  So this week as you go about your day, be sure and ask yourself, “Am I  being sucked into the “Samson Syndrome”? Am I  acting or even giving off the idea that I might be prideful and continue to go down the list of what God’s word says He hates and assure you aren’t being tempted. Because you may not be as lucky as we were and that temptation that you have allowed yourself to be exposed to, may not “go around you” because there are no small sins nor large ones, but they all will plaster right into you if we put ourselves in situations that might temp us to do what we know we shouldn’t. See there’s another quote my momma was famous for. Well she didn’t really make it famous because the book of James is where she got it from, but she always told me “He that knows to do good and doesn’t do it, to him it is sin” So lets not be tempted, you now know. Don’t be deceived into thinking you can just put yourself out there and it won’t effect you because all small cars don’t go around!

 

So close we can’t see

You know being raised in a ministers home and now being married to a minister, I have lived all over the country and each place my husband and I have lived, we have always made a point to get out and learn about the community. We always go see the sights. Sometimes we will just get in the car and drive, then stop in at the first little place we come up on and check it out,  we have been known to spend  the whole day just walking through a town and visiting every business. One of our favorite things to do is check out the local restaurants so we can experience the local cuisine, we may all be american’s, but there is definitely a difference in how and what we eat. From the seafood and down home cooking of the south to the fresh beef, sandwich spread and sauerkraut of the mid-west. One of our favorite things to do is go to those little, as some would say “hole in the wall” restaurants and experience the atmosphere of the community. Another fun thing that we feel helps us learn about our new community is check out the local museums and tourist locations in the area just to help us experience what others who have lived here for years or maybe even all their lives, already know.

We are always excited to share what we have learned with our present congregation where we are living.  Excitedly and almost proudly we share our recently new found knowledge and more often than not we are met with a “deer in headlights” kind of looks, even from prominent people in the community who should be aware of what is going on in their town and surrounding areas.  It seems to us more often then not, people who have lived in the same town for a long-time tend not to really actually know about the area they live. They are content to be in their own little world, mainly their home and work, without ever experiencing all that is available to them. They are so close they don’t even see what they have at their disposal.

This got me thinking……….

It seems to me that most people fall into the trap of just living their life, unconcerned about everything around them and all that it has to offer, or better yet, what they could offer to it. They have what some would call tunnel vision and I am not just talking about restaurants and museums I am talking about. The needs of others, or the very need in our own soul to grown deeper in a relationship with Christ. Perhaps we were raised in church and it is “just what you do” instead of it “being who you are” perhaps people know you go to church but they don’t see the loving, forgiving spirit that God gives us everyday,  in you. Often, we are so consumed with our daily to-do lists just to survive, we are forgetting what God has really called us to do. Oh! I have heard all my life, excuses like “Well, it’s just not in my nature to talk to people about God, I am not as out going as you” or “Its not my personality to raise my hands or clap in church” and you know I have really thought about this, and it was like the Lord said to me one day “They are right” “It is not their nature to do those things, because sin is the root of our nature.” It is only when we follow Christ we learn to die to our self and in the same way we turn away from sin, we also have to choose to turn and do the right thing. Even if that means we have to step outside our comfort zone. Because truth is our comfort zone is probably more on the selfish side then it is on the Godly side.

See God cares enough that He not only knows all the good places to eat in town, but He also knows your favorite food. 🙂 Seriously though, He does knows every hair on your head and knew every time you would say or do something to hurt Him and yet He still gave His life for you. He wasn’t inward focused but He was outward driven, driven so much that even though He did not want to hang on a cross where nails would be hammered into his feet and hands, where He would be stripped naked and beaten for you and me, even though He didn’t “feel” like going through all that, He did it anyway for you and me. (see Matt 26:39 & Luke 22:42 ) He loved us enough! He cared for us enough! That He left the comforts and home of heaven above and gave His life for you and me. So don’t you think you and I can step out of our comfort zone, can’t we look beyond ourselves, get involved in our community, reach out to our neighbors that live around us and most importantly, give Him ALL the praise and glory He deserves?Let’s not be so close, that we can’t see what is right in front of us.

Throw Back of Thursday Thoughts—Obviously, You don’t know who my Momma is???

Throw Back of Thursday Thoughts—Obviously, You don’t know who my Momma is???

Originally Published in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

 The phone rang and when I answered, it was my son. He was in college about 200 miles away.  He says ” You’re not going to believe what just happened to me?” I respond ” What?” He replies ” Well, I just came out of Wal-mart and I found this note on my car, it is someone accusing me of denting their car with mine, and it says I had better call him right away or he is going to come after me” Wow! I was taken aback, this was the first time that our son, after graduating from homeschooling had ever faced a challenge like this and so far from home. A little bit of fear came over me, so I asked ” Well, did you call him?” My son boldly replied ” NO! and I am not going to, because obviously he does not know, who I am or who my momma is, or who my friends are.” (my son has 3 friends that are lawyers) I was amazed by my son’s boldness. He never called and nothing ever came of the issue.

Since then, it is not uncommon for you to hear anyone in my family say ” Obviously, you don’t know who my momma is”… or “Obviously, you don’t know who I am.”. with our heads bobbing and maybe even a finger or 2 snapping. We mostly do it in jest, but the point is well taken.

My son could stand there in that parking lot, 200 miles away from his greatest support system (family) with a uncommon boldness, because he knew, I had his back no matter where he was, or what the issue was. He has seen more then once his momma go to bat for him in different situations. He also knew legally he has friends in high places that could take care of him if something came up and most importantly he knew he had a God that he served who loved him and would assure the truth would come out.

As I have pondered that conversation, I have asked myself “How often do we take that same stand, when trouble comes our way?” or when we are challenged with a new issue concerning our child?

Maybe, we suddenly find out our child has a learning disability or illness comes into our lives that we do have not answers for or there is just some subject that our child is not understanding and we have tried all we know to do and they still are not getting it. Maybe our husband has been unemployed for months and we’re not for sure how were going to pay the bills.

As homeschoolers we are typically very independent. If there was not some independence in us, most of us would not have had the guts to even start homeschooling. But what we have to remember in everything we do, we are children of God, our Heavenly Father owns cattle on a 1,000 hills.

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of GodRomans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. And as much as you love and care for your child, God cares for your babies even more then you do. (no matter what their age) He has a plan for those children and even when we do not understand why God would allow these learning or physical challenges to happen, we can’t see the purpose in any of it and the thought of what will happen in the future for them overwhelms us with fear. It is at those times, we need to tell the devil. “You obviously do not know who my Heavenly Father is!.”

Jer 29: 11 Says. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. He promised that before we were even born he knew us and has great plans for us.    Jer 1:5Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. The question is who are we trusting? My son trusted enough to know that no problem could come his way that was too big to handle.  So if a 20 yr old kid 200 miles away from home can stand with that kind of confidence and faith, so can we!

We may not have all the answers, we may not be able to figure out what the future holds, but we know who holds the future, and that is Jesus Christ our Lord and Heavenly Father. A father who is not just a “father” but he is our “Daddy”.  He is in control and we can have the faith and confidence to know that there is nothing that is coming our way that he doesn’t know already about and  he has already figured out a way to get us out of it!.

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. So remember the next time the devil tries to control you by bringing thoughts of fear and uncertainty to your mind. Just stand up boldly and confess,

“Obviously, you don’t know how my Daddy is!”

I am Here, Keep Walking!

I am Here, Keep Walking!

Chad about 4 yrs old.

I am Here, Keep Walking!

Have you ever wondered, “Where did the time go!”? That is what I was wondering, the morning my youngest started his first year of college. Oh, I was good. I wasn’t going to cry! I was prepared, and, actually, kinda happy that I was so close to the empty-nest season of my life.

 

In the weeks prior to this day, I had kept warding off all my son’s questions because they made me realize he was not alone in being scared about this new adventure. I had discounted his comments, indicating hesitation about the subjects he has struggled with. However, down deep inside there was fear and anxiety concerning what the future would hold for my struggling learner with severe dyslexia, who is also somewhere on the autism spectrum.  How would he handle a full day of classes, then head to work for four hours, and still try to get everything else done?
But I was good. I kept reminding myself, “It’s going to be OK. God’s got this!” But deep, deep, deep down under, somewhere by my gizzard, I still felt that little flicker of fear for him; and his constant hesitation was not helping me build my faith! Still, I was determined to put on a brave face, even though the unknown was still so unclear.
And now, it was the morning he was heading out. I opened up my Facebook page as his breakfast cooked and he finished getting dressed for his first day of classes. Then, Then, It Happened; and I just had to ask, “How did Facebook know that he starts his freshman year of college today? Why was this picture (see picture above) the first picture I saw in my memory box? Why did every post in my memories box today talk about how we are to be looking ahead, forgetting the past, trusting God? Why did today’s devotional talk about the fact that we don’t always know where we are going, or what we are going to do, until we get our feet where they need to be? Were these accidents? Or appointments with God?

 

I choose to believe it was God. I choose to believe that He loves me enough to remind me that this little guy is in the palm of His hand and as much as I love Him, God loves him more.

See, this isn’t the first time God has showed up – for us, or for others. One of my favorite parts of the Bible includes the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus and the early years of His life. Maybe it’s the fact that I am a mom, and I am always looking for direction from God so that I am in His will when it comes to guiding my children, that I relate so well to these stories.
Think about it.  An angel shows up to tell a virgin girl that she is going to be pregnant. And just when she is thinking there is a strong possibility that she will be killed for her “sin” of being pregnant out of wedlock, the angel shows up on the other side of town to confirm to Joseph the truth that she is still a virgin, and this is a God-thing!
Now fast forward. When Mary goes to her cousin’s home for shelter from the gossip, the first time these ladies are together there, Elizabeth’s baby leaps within her. Neither Mary nor Elizabeth had any idea, at the time, how their two sons would be joined together in the future, but God did! And He was reminding these ladies that He had a plan, and they were to just keep walking in it.
Then came Jesus’ birth, after a long, tiring ride on a donkey, who knows how many hours of labor, and in a barn no less!  Perhaps Mary and Joseph were questioning even more, “How did this happen? Is this really the Son of God? What are we going to do next?” Out of the blue, some angels show up, along with some shepherds to worship Jesus! Then, when Jesus was about two years old, three kings appear with gifts, to worship Him as their King! Somehow, I have a feeling Mary wasn’t feeling like the mother of a King that day! Sometime later, Joseph and Mary are told to run away with Jesus in the middle of the night to save his life. And every mother of a two year old will tell you that, at one time or another, she needed some confirmation that God is in control.
There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that tells me for sure they were thinking these things, but if these people were human, just like you and me (and they were), I have to believe that if I sometimes have doubts and fears, they could have them as well! If I needed that song on the radio at just the right time to encourage me, couldn’t God provide an angel to show up for them? Or, if I need a financial miracle in my life, or just a reminder when life gets hard and I begin to question, “did I really hear God?” (like when He told me to pick up my family and move for Him!) If God can show up with a unexpected check in my mailbox, or a post on my Facebook, can’t God show up at His Son’s house with a few kings and some treasures?
See, God doesn’t change. He is still working in all of our lives. His methods may have changed a little with the inventions of electronics, but God still hears every cry, knows every fear, and is watching over His children.
My point is that He loves and cares about us enough to show up! He shows up every day if we are only looking for Him. That is why, no matter the fear or anxiety that comes (to either of us), there will be NO dancing with the devil on this first day of college! We speak LIFE and are excited about what God has planned for this man! We will not look back, but we look forward to the things that God has in store! Today we choose to TRUST instead of FEAR. Even though we do not know what the future holds, we know who holds the future!
Ask God to show up for you today! Perhaps, you are like me and can look back over the years and see where God was faithful even with the little things. If you ask, I promise you will see. Just open up your spirit eyes and look for those ever so small, but ever so special, reassuring gestures, when we hear God whisper in our ears, “I am here, keep walking!”

Let them all Die and Go to Hell, I Don’t Care!! (but I should)

Let them all Die and Go to Hell, I Don’t Care!! (but I should)

girl-864392_1280Most people would never guess this about me, but I am shy. Oh, you don’t see it when I am in a crowd laughing, smiling, and cutting up with others!  But I am. No one feels the heart palpitations I feel before walking into a group of people. No one else knows the anxiety that rises up when I know I have to meet people. And, no one else but me can sense the fear I feel when I have to talk to someone. It often seems like the smaller the crowd the more anxiety! And, it has really risen since I have moved to a smaller town.  As soon as I walk out my front door, I feel all eyes are on me. No one, except for my immediate family, knows it takes everything within me to get out of my house and simply go shopping in this small town where I live.

 

Very few people know that the reason I have such big parties and invite so many people is not that I am such an amazing hostess; it is because my husband’s job calls for us to be sociable. However, it literally terrifies me to talk one-on-one to most people. So by entertaining several couples or large crowds, I just become the hostess; serving, while the group holds a conversation.

 

I have literally “gone blank” so many times, trying to think of what to ask people or say to someone in order to start a conversation, that, before I go to an event, I have begun to look questions up on the internet, so that I can be a good conversationalist. I have even gone to therapy for this problem!

 

I know most of you who know me will not believe a word of the above statements, but it is honestly something that I deal with on a regular basis and it happened again this weekend. You see, I am adopted and I have known my birth mother and siblings for only about 15 years now. In that time, I have had the opportunity – and pleasure – to attend about three reunions. Yesterday was one of these occasions, and as always my mind went whizzing with the same fears that hit me before any group event. What will I say? What will they think of me? How do I look? Will they like me? What if we have nothing to say to each other? On and on my mind will roll if I let it. There is no reason for this; I have NEVER felt anything but welcomed with open arms by this family that I was separated from for so many years, yet my fears continue.

 

When we look in the Bible, we find that God tells us fear is not from Him but is from the evil one, satan.  And, when I have looked back over my life, the biggest mistakes I have made have been when I was in fear. I have learned that if I allow myself to fear, if I allow fear to be the ruler of my heart, I can sabotage anything. But this isn’t news to God.  He knew this would be a number one tactic satan would use against believers! So God gave us a plan, a way out, and in His Word He tells us that we are to take every thought captive.

 

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV “ We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

 

See, I have learned in this life, it is NOT about me. God has commissioned all of us to; first of all, “GO into all the world” . . . and, later on in His book, He says that people will know us by the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  So I am faced every day with the decision, “do I go…. do I show love”?? And every day I have to choose to either listen to the monkeys in my head and retreat into my own place, or to follow the commands that God has given us and do what I don’t want to do.

 

Christ’s crucifixion on the cross is a perfect example of what true sacrifice is. We read in the Bible that Jesus said, “If it be Your will , let this cup pass from me.”  See, Jesus didn’t want to have to do something His Father told Him to do either, but He did it. He gave the ultimate sacrifice, which was His life.

 

As for me, I know I have never been asked to give my life, in the literal sense, for anyone! But daily, in the spiritual sense of what I am to do, I AM asked to give up my life – my wants, my desires – especially when it comes to interacting with others. When I look back and see how Jesus was willing to be beaten and abused for me before He even knew me – the Bible says He died for me! – then how simple is it that I could give 20 minutes or an hour of my time to show the life that was given for me to others?

 

I hope you will accept my challenge today: step out of your comfort zone, your anxiety ridden situation, and fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. In Him and only Him is where we find perfect peace.

There Comes A Time

Draw-A-Line-in-the-Sand image                                                                                                                         There is NOTHING to big for my God! There just comes a time and a place where we can look back at what God has done in our lives and say “I am more than conquer because of who I believe in!!” So when the next trouble comes (and it will come) we can remember what God has done for us and rest in the fact that He WILL do it again! That my friend is when satan can no longer control you with fear or worry. Because you have chosen to focus NOT on how big your problem is, BUT how big your God is!!