Finding the Right Words

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, and I just don’t know what to pray. I sing to my knees and the words escape me. Thankfully I am blessed by the Word of God, and the prayers of other believers that have passed before. I was studying the word this morning, and this Psalm spoke to me. I felt the relevance of this piece of scripture written thousands of years ago, but a comfort for me today.

Psalm 7:1-24 (NLT)
Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced.

Tomorrow I have a job interview that could relieve a lot of the financial stress and worry. I look to my Father to help me find the courage to do well in that interview.

Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free.

You, Lord, are perfect, and I trust you to do what is right.

Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

My God, rescue me form the power of the wicked, from the clutches of the cruel oppressors.

O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.

Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!

Lord you were with me, even when I wasn’t with you. You loved me even when I didn’t love you. You have cared for me and guided me even when I denied you. From before I was born, I was your most precious child, and I will always praise you.

My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.

My life is only an example of how God blesses his children, not an example of my own righteousness. I am a sinner, and without the grace of Jesus Christ I would be lost.

That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.

No matter what happens tomorrow I will continue to praise you. If I lose my home, my family, or even my life, I will continue to praise you.

And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.

For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me.

They say, “God has abandoned him. Let’s go and get him, for no one will help him now.”

There are those that doubted the wisdom of this move. There are those that spoke against me, when I spoke of the promises of the Lord. I received your wish in March, and I am obedient to your will, Lord. When I get a job, be it the one I interview for tomorrow or one in the future it is for your glory. Even if I lose everything, I will not regret moving here and following your will. Those that doubted will believe.

O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me.

Bring disgrace and destruction on my accusers. Humiliate and shame those who want to harm me.

But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more.

I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words.

I will never cease to share the glory of God. I will never cease to share the miracles that he works in my life daily.

I will praise your might deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just.

O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I will constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.

Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God?

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.

The bible says that we should rejoice in tribulation for in our weakness we reflect His glory. I walk through this hardship knowing that you are teaching me, creating me, and making me into a tool to be obedient to your will.

You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

God does not promise an easy life in this world. However, I know that I will eventually inherit the kingdom. I may struggle and fall for the rest of my earthly days, but He will restore me to greater honor when I join Him in heaven.

Then I will praise you with music on the harp, because you are faithful to your promises, O my God. I will sing praises to you with a lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me.

I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long, for everyone who tried to hurt me has been shamed and humiliated.

I will share this prayer and my testimony so that through my story you might learn His. For those that mock, ridicule and hold me in disregard, I am praying for your salvation. I will continue to share the righteousness of His Word, so that others may know the grace of forgiveness and the love of their heavenly father. I waited thirty years to recognize the one that loved me the most. I waited thirty years to see that although I walked a difficult path, but I was never alone. I pray that others receive His blessing faster than I did.

When I can’t find the word, I look to the Word.

Little Things

God tells us that he loves us constantly.  He told us when he sacrificed himself for our salvation.  He told us when he bowed before the whip, took the nails through the hands, and bled for us.  God gave us the bible which is His love letter to us.  Now, that alone is enough for me.  I will praise God’s glory forever for that alone.

However, that is not enough for God.  Those huge displays of love are not enough for God.  He is our loving father, and He constantly shows us how much he loves us through little every day things.  A perfect flower, the smell of rain, or the friendly smile of a stranger.  Today God showed me again that he loves me. 

As the end of the month draws closer, and things have become financially tense, I have started to let go of unnecessary expenses.  One of those expenses is the money I spend on Dr. Pepper.  Now, to understand this, you must know that I love Dr. Pepper.  I have been drinking it since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.  I love it so much that I put it in my footlocker when I would deploy in the army.  My company commander actually carried me two cases of the stuff when I was in Botswana.  The point is that I love this drink.

As this week started I had three cans left in the fridge, and I decided that I wasn’t going to buy anymore.  In the state of California a case of soda (24 cans) averages about $9.  On top of that there is something in California known as the California Refund Value (CRV).  It is an additional cost for the recycling value of each container.  I was very surprised when I brought a case of soda to the register and paid an additional $1.20 for the case, $0.05 per can.  So as you can see, it can cost $10 for soda.  With the current economy, my current state of employment, and the priorities of my family, soda just didn’t rank. So this week I gave up my soda.

This morning, a new friend, a woman that I have known for a week, came into my classroom and handed me a case of soda.  I had told her that I was giving up Dr. Pepper, and she wanted me to have it.  She handed me the soda and told me it was a house-warming gift.  In this I saw the hand of God.  I thanked my new friend, and I praise God.  He provided for one of my unnecessary wants through the generous heart of a stranger.

Nothing is too small for God to care about.  Our smallest feelings are His greatest concern.  When we think that what we want is too small to pray for, just remember this… He keeps his eye on the sparrow.

Psalm 84:3
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young– a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

God’s Time

The hardest part of faith for me is being patient.  I used to joke that when God was passing out patience in heaven, the line was too long.  Since then I have had to learn patience.  In the Army you learn to wait.  When your life is held together by duct tape and twine, you learn to be patient.  It becomes a skill you acquire whether you want it or not.  However, it has never become easy for me.

So for me, the hard part of being faithful is being patient.  I have to constantly remind myself that God can see the big picture.  He knows what his plans are for me, and what needs to be done for me.  He knows that during this period of struggle I am learning and growing into a woman of unshakable faith.  He knows that this period of time is preparing me for a service in ministry that I am uniquely qualified.  We don’t know what He knows.  All we can see is our immediate needs and our wants.  God knows what we really need, and where we are really headed.  He knows the plan.  He knows how to make things work out for our best.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

All we can do sometimes is pray and wait.  Trust in our Father that He isn’t going to hurt us.  Trust in our Father that He will answer prayers in His time.  God is not a vending machine where we put our prayers in the slot and a miracle comes out after we pound on the button.  God doesn’t answer to us as a servant, anymore than we would answer to our children’s demands.

Patience, it is a hard hard thing.  I watch the calendar creeping past me, and I pray.  I pray so hard that I find myself face down on the floor in tears, begging Him to help me and my family.  I pray so hard that my knuckles are white.  I wake up in the middle of the night and cry out to my Heavenly Father to save me before my life falls apart. I am scared and trembling at what could happen, so I am constantly reminding myself of what is happening. God is performing a good work in me, and I have the promise of forever in Heaven with Christ.

However, the difference between the faithful and the unfaithful is that I trust in God.  I make that choice every day to place my trust. I know that no matter what happens it is for our good, and for His glory.   I know that as I stand in the line for food stamps or go through my closet looking for things to sell on consignment that this is just one part of the plan that He has for me, and I trust Him like I trust nothing else.

I may not have moved to California and walked right into the perfect job.  I may have applied to over two hundred jobs in the last month and a half and only gotten three interviews.  I may be looking at the end of the month with no idea how I am going to pay my rent.  However, I also know that God is awesome, wonderful, and perfect.  I know that God will put me in the place where I can do His will for His glory.  So I can be patient.  Even if it is hard.

Learning to Accept Help

Tonight I spoke with a close friend of mine for a long time.  We spoke about the situation I found myself in, and she told me that I had been making a mistake.  Ready to accept any advice she had, I listened as she told me this story.

One night a man was driving through a snow storm, and his truck slid off the road into a ditch. Being a faithful believer in Jesus Christ, the man prayed to God to help him. “Lord, please help me to get out of this ditch.” Shortly after the prayer, another driver pulled up and offered to give the man a ride into town. The man declined the ride politely, and explained that God would get him out of the ditch. The driver continued and the man returned to his prayer. “Lord, please help me to get out of this ditch.” Shortly after that another driver stopped to offer him a ride, and the man again declined. Later that night as the snow continued to fall, the man froze to death. After arriving in heaven, the man turned to God and asked why he wasn’t saved? God replied, “I sent you a car and a truck, what more do you want?”
The moral of this story is that God uses his believers to help other believers.  The church is more than the body of Christ, it is the way that God can move among his people.  He uses us to answer the prayers of others.

It’s true that right now I have to accept the help of friends, family, long lost acquaintances and even strangers.  This is my period of tribulation.  However, I know that my time will come and I will be the person that gets to fix a friend’s broken car, pay their cell phone bill, buy them groceries, or send them a little something extra in the mail.  I will get to be the answer to someone’s prayer.

Thank you Lord for the many ways you have blessed my life.  Thank you Lord for surrounding me with a network of believers.  Even though I may be financially poor, I am rich in spirit and rich in blessings.  He never lets me walk alone.

What I Have to Give

Now that I live in California, my daughter has two homes, and two families.  I am so thankful to be here with her, to be a regular part of her life.  It has been such a blessing, but still… is it a blessing for her? I look at her two lives, and when compared, my life with her falls sadly short in ways that some might consider important.

At her other home, she has three grown-ups.  They are there to help with her care, provide her attention, and share the responsibility of being a parent.  If one is busy cooking, then there are two others.  If one takes her for an outing, dinner can still be ready when they walk in the door.  The chores are shared, and there is a housekeeper that comes once a week.

At our home, there is just me.  I am the only one to do the chores, the parenting, and there is no housekeeper.  If we go on an outing, I still have to prepare dinner when we get back.  On family night, the dishes are waiting for me the next morning.  She spends more time alone, as Mommy does the chores, or has work to do on the computer.  There are times when she wants attention, and I cannot give it to her.  It’s not a personal failing, it is the obstacle facing all single parents.

At her other home, there is always enough money.  It would be inappropriate to talk about their finances, so I will just say that they are doing well.  A small gated community, with a pool, several nice cars in the garage.  They can go out to the grocery store with her, and impulse buy snacks.  They can take her school clothes shopping and allow her the run of the store to be creative.  They can run the air conditioner as much as they wish, to keep the house comfortable for her.

At our home, money is always a concern.  With my current state of employment I have had to have too many conversations with her about being conservative, turning off lights, and not getting the “gimmees” at the store.  When we pass the aisle of sugary items and snacks I typically have to tell her no.  Our dinners are healthy, but simple.  We buy clothes at the consignment store.  We buy special treats at the Dollar Store.  We open windows and run around in shorts to save electricity.  I have had to suspend her allowance until further notice.

At her other home, their outings are the things of fairy tales.  They have season passes to Disneyland and go on a regular basis.  They have trips to San Diego and Palm Springs.  They are planning a cruise at the end of the school year.  An afternoon spent at the fair, the zoo, Hollywood, or a number of other marvelous places is not considered uncommon.

At our home, our outings are those that cost little to nothing.  We have a picnic on the grass and play on the playground.  We go to the library for story time or the summer reading program.  We go camping or fishing out into the country.  Or better still, we set up the tent in the living room and camp at home. There are no flashing lights, souvenir shops, or prizes to be won.  There are no thrilling rides. 

I know that I am able to give my daughter a good home.  We spend time together on a regular basis.  We have special times together, and we have made marvelous memories.  She has her own room, a closet full of clothes, plenty of toys, and a fridge full of food.  I tuck her in at night, I read her stories, we do her homework together, and sit down to dinner.  There are children all over the world that would love to have a home like this one, but compared to her other one is it enough?

I guess I could allow doubt to creep in and begin to ask the painful questions.  I know that the enemy wants me to ask if this home going to be enough for her as she grows into a woman?  Do I have anything to offer her that she isn’t already getting with her other family?  Is there anything left to give her?

When I pray on this topic, my answer is this.  Yes, I have something to offer her.  I have a devotion to our Savior that isn’t reflected anywhere else in her life.  Jesus Christ is a real part of our life here.  We listen to VeggieTales in the car, read Bible stories together, pray over our meals, and turn to Him in our times of stress.  Whenever she gets scared or has questions we always turn to God as a family.  There have been times that we have knelt in prayer together to find an answer for her tears.

What do I have to give?  I have an example of a life lived in faith.  I can teach her to trust in the Word of God.  I can help her grow in her relationship with Jesus Christ.  I’m creating for her an inheritance of faith.  Our life together now may be simple, but eventually we will live in a Kingdom.

To Be Continued…

The move has happened.  It has been almost three months since I last posted to this blog. Anyway, the move has taken place, and through God’s grace we found a wonderful townhouse apartment in a nice little town.  I moved out here on faith, without a job.

It has been almost two months and I am still unemployed.  Yet, my faith remains unwavering.  I have my moments of fear and trembling, but I trust in the Lord.  That actually surprises me, because I tend to be a Doomsday Merchant, looking for the darkness in every situation.  However, this time I know that God has a plan for me, and I just need to be patient.

God never promised us a perfect life as believers.  There is no wonderful plan for an easy life.  In some parts of the world believers are being murdered for their faith.  The promise is for everlasting life after this one, not the promise of an easy lifestyle right now.

Despite what is going on with my employment, I am still hopeful. I get to spend time with my wonderful child, watching her and being a part of her life.  We get to have all the moments that fall in between.  The kind of moments that grow in spaces when you have unplanned time together.  The kind of moments that you can’t plan.  Yesterday it was throwing a ball up and down the stairs.  Or singing in the car on the way to school.

To an average person, my life is going into cascade failure.  I have no job.  The money is running out.   I don’t know what is going to happen.  I spend hours every day applying for every job from janitor to executive with little response.  Yet I feel blessed.  Praise God!