Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Money, Marriage, Miracles, Oh my!

So I'm writing this because Travis and I have been complimented on our ability to handle money over the years.  I can honestly say I feel blessed to be in a marriage that can handle hard discussions and keep going.  After ten years of marriage we relate more and more to those vows we spoke out loud in front of friends and loved ones.  For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, crabbiness and joy( I hope that was one of them!).
 Anyways, somehow we've managed to get through a variety of money issues mostly unscathed.
Although it isn't because we haven't made mistakes.  We bought a condo when we didn't really have the money and got stuck with it for 8 years or so( our family growing, our place not).  We've bought bad vehicles that weren't cheap.  We couldn't afford insurance and then had an emergency that made us realize why we couldn't afford not to.  My husband has been downsized twice and we once went five months without income( which in retrospect doesn't seem long but it did then).
 I'm so thankful for where we are now, which is attempting to aggressively pay down my school loan but at times I feel the urge not to be thankful.  To want things that I can't have right now, to splurge, to not pay attention to our budget.  I ignore it though and thank God for all our financial breakthrough and favor( at least that's what I'm doing right now).  Thank him for the courage to use our tax money to fix and sell our condo when we really just wanted to run away from it.
 Our condo that we'd owned had felt like a hopeless weight trapping us in an increasingly uncomfortable situation.  In all actuality we owned next to none of it and I was afraid that costs of selling were going to outweigh what we got for it.  We did it though.  We prayed and put our money into it trusting it to sell.  By the end before we sold it we had 3 boys in the condo and just about all of our belongings in a storage unit so we could fit.  It sold the day before it was on the market officially!
 There have been so many times in our marriage like that financially that if I stop to think about it I can't help but feel blessed.  Bills being payed on time despite no money, a job with perfect timing so there was no lag in pay between the ending of another job which included severance money, large hospital bills being written off, health insurance being back paid, grocery bills staying at $50 no matter how much I got!  Praise God!
 Travis and I do have a heart for saving, budgeting, living within our means and total honesty in our finances.  For some crazy reason we enjoy it and at times staying within our budget feels like a game and the prize is financial freedom.  Every time we feel anxious about money or frustrated I find the best thing to do is look at reality, not how it feels, to talk and to pray.  At times it can feel personal and raw and uncomfortable because it's addressing needs, wants and dreams you may have for yourself and your family but you can trust God.  You can trust him with money and even with all the stuff that goes along with hashing it out.  Numbers are a fact but dealing with them can get messy. I'm so glad that God's held my heart as I've gotten real about this subject again and again.  How I'm scared, how I'm frustrated, how I just want some new clothes and a haircut for goodness sake!
 I'm going to come back and address some practical things because every answered prayer was not a miracle.  Sometimes it was just an urge to keep going and to steward what we had but for now talk and be honest.  Look at reality and don't turn away.  Be thankful when it's hard to be thankful and know that he's a faithful, loving and personal God who see's you.

About 7 years ago, in the midst of no money, mortgages, giant student loans and no jobs I sat in a service where the guest preacher shared a pretty random fact about the meanings of names before going on to preach an entirely different message.  I was reminded of a little laminated card I had been given as a little girl that said, Jessica- "Wealthy" and felt the Lord impressing on my heart that I was wealthy no matter how much I had and that he was taking care of my family.  I went and told the preacher after the service and when she asked me to share people handed me money afterward.  It wasn't my intention but it definitely blessed us( we needed it) and I went home to look up my name meaning.  My name was derived from an ancient Hebrew name and means God see's.  Just what I needed to hear.

He sees.

Monday, June 23, 2014


      So I heard a podcast this morning and felt as if clarity to my questioning was breaking through.  The title was windows and mirrors and the teacher spoke of looking internally to find ourselves, looking for a constant but finding a confusing, ever-changing thing.  He spoke of looking to God and knowing his truth, knowing him to really see our purpose.  I know this sounds like something we've all heard at some point.  Many times even but this teaching shed new light into dark corners.
      We must lose our life to gain it.  Not stopping to gaze at ourselves until we fully understand who we are to know what we should move forward on but pressing into Christ as he makes our path clearer and clearer.

     For me I know that looking inward pulls me further in until I'm not sure how to make it back.  I begin to judge even the victories in my life until I see faults in everything.  I feel discontent and what do I do in response?  I look deeper.  Oh crazy, crazy me.  Turning into a pillar of salt, made immovable by looking backwards instead of where I'm heading.  In the teaching he spoke of the mirror becoming more like a hall of mirrors with distorted visions of ourselves shaped by how others have seen and spoken of us as well.
     I've heard that verse about losing our lives so many other times and thought about it intellectually, hearing but not quite understanding.  My life really does feels lost and my trajectory out of whack with myself, my thoughts, my logic at the center.  No matter how full of good intentions, I'm lost.  How can I stop comparing and live;  if at the heart of my self-contemplation is a desire to save myself apart from Christ?  Whether that's what I acknowledge it to be or not.

Looking out

    So how do I go about trusting in such a way that I leave the past and my future in God's hands?  All I can think is that I seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.  Seek to really know God and look outward.  See others.  Seek him in such a way that I am enthralled with his majesty and driven by the overflow.  Where my steps are naturally directed, not artificially manufactured.  Motivated by his beauty and his heart and my truest self taking shape through that.

Messy, impatient seeker of Truth,

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Resurrection in the Rubble

        Inside my heart is rumbling a story.  I don't quite know what's inside.  It feels a bit uncomfortable and messy.  I know that what wants to come out will not be contained.  I've been sitting in church services with a discomfort in my soul as if there is a question in my heart that has not been answered.  A question that requires digging and long honest looks in the mirror.  Is it one question though?  I feel full of passion and fragility.  Am I enough?  What does it means that you are made strong in our weaknesses?  Is it too much to ask that I be myself, fully alive and fully submitted to you?  Oh God it seems scary to be myself around others and to love the way you've made me to.  Not a faded counterfeit tainted by compromise and comparison.
       Oh God I want to boast in my weakness and see you shine through till that's all others see.  I want you to shine forth like a bright light through all those places where brokenness and submission have made a way for great testimonies of your faithfulness, miraculous provision, healing and reconciliation.  Make me braver each day, regardless of past rejection or fear of perception.  Embolden me and teach me to write the words of your heartbeat.  

for the barren
Resurrection in the rubble
You do these things 
while we still stumble

Green shoots.... 
up through the cracks
new life forcing it's way through

This is what You do

You hold our fragile hearts
in your rugged hands
strengthen us to sit
encourage us to crawl 
then hold your breath, while we get up to stand


Only you can

Heaven's breaking in


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Brave Failures

Noah looked at me just now from his sandbox and said, "I wanna fail mommy."

I thought for a split second about trying to boost his self esteem and encourage him not to but I stopped.  I stopped because I thought I about all the times I myself have not done the very thing I desire to because I was afraid to fail.

So instead I said, "That's very brave of you.  Did you know that some people are afraid to fail and miss out on a lot of cool things?"

Noah was silent for awhile and kept playing.  After a few minutes of quietly pushing his truck around, picking up sand and pouring it out he replied.

"I'll do it Mom, I'll fail then," he said with quiet confidence.

And there it is, our greatest fears and accomplishments all wrapped up with a messy bow.  Failure.  It's brave and adventurous.  Gruesome.  Scary.  Exhilarating?  Necessary.

Yesterday a woman came into MOPS to talk about stress management and something she said really struck me.  She talked about playing a game against a computer and how the computer has an algorithm that knows all the different moves you could make and plays accordingly.  She was relating it to how God is in control no matter our choices.  He can anticipate the outcomes of our next moves and as she was speaking I remembered a speaker named Danny Silk and how he talked about God not being afraid of our failures.  God placed two trees in the garden and pointed them out.  He knew the potential for bad choices and yet gave Adam and Eve the freedom to fail.  And he had a plan.  I don't believe it caught him by surprise or threw him into a worrisome tizzy.

So I ask him for the boldness to love in the face of failure.  Mine, my husbands, my boys(oh those boys), friends, strangers.

And to create, dream and step into joyful desires willing to fail and fail hard.

Even at this post!  lol*  Hope you're failing triumphantly today.