Tag Archive | Faith

I’m Not Ashamed (or am I?)

It is no secret that I am a believer in God and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that Christ walked the earth and that He died for you and me. I believe that He lives today and I believe He speaks to me, through His word, His followers, and in my heart. Most people I associate with know this, even if we don’t agree or believe the same thing.

It might surprise some people to know that I was not raised in the church. My faith came after my marriage (we even requested that the minister who married us NOT pray during our wedding). (and God joined us together anyway. Yikes!) My faith has only strengthened and felt real in the past few years. We started attending the church we attend nine years ago. Even with regular attendance, I still struggled because other believers spoke about how God talked to them. I couldn’t understand why He wasn’t talking to me or how I could get Him to speak to me.

Then it happened. I started hearing his voice. I started to feel His presence. I began to feel truly led by Him. What’s more is I started to truly follow Him. I let Him lead me where He was calling me to go. He never forced me to follow or obey, I did it by my own choosing.

This is something I am not very forthcoming with. The truth. If someone says “why did you do that?” or “wow! How could you?”, I kind of, sort of skirt the real reason. I can come up with a lot of glib excuses. It hurts just to admit that.

Why though? When it is pretty much common knowledge what I believe, why would I not just say “I feel that this is what God wants me to do?”.

Um, because I don’t want to appear crazy. It’s one thing to say I believe, but to actually BELIEVE that the “invisible man in the sky” (said in a sarcastic tone, as I have heard it) talks to me or tells me what to do? Yeah, that makes me look a bit insane. The last thing I want people to think is that I have lost my marbles. Many times what God leads me to do makes sense in His kingdom, but is off the beaten path on Earth. As different as I want to be, I don’t want to be any different! I want to hold my belief close to my heart, never sharing it and never publicly professing it, because I don’t want people to think I am weird.

I typically don’t share these things with believers OR non-believers. So it’s not that I just don’t want to share with people who don’t share my beliefs and don’t understand, I don’t want to even share with people who share my beliefs and SHOULD understand. There have been times I have discovered that even believers hold a worldly view about certain things and raise an eyebrow at you if you attribute something in your life to God or your faith in Him.

I have ONE person I feel safe sharing these stories with. ONE. Really, I should be sharing these stories with everyone, whether I feel safe or not. I have learned that faith is not safe and nothing worthwhile happens as long as we remain “safe”.

I have been feeling strongly convicted in this area of my belief over the past few weeks. God has been saying to me “why aren’t you sharing MY story?”. He is holding my hand and saying “you have nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what anyone else thinks”. I hate to make promises and not follow through, but with God by my side, it’s time to start sharing these stories. Am I prepared to be called an idiot? No. Do I want people to raise their eyebrows at me and think I am crazy? Of course not. In faith, I will do it regardless of the risk or how unsafe I feel.

Stay tuned. Until then….

Luke 9:26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

And the song that plays in my head a lot:

I’m not Ashamed – Newsboys

I Choose

Life hasn’t gone according to (my) plans this year.

Chad lost his job. Twice. In 6 weeks.

I’m pregnant. 16 weeks.

Our dishwasher started leaking all over.

My computer up and died.

Our house is too small. (according to some people)

There’s too much month at the end of our money.

And on and on and on. Nobody chooses this kind of life, right?

I’ve been angry, ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, sad, jealous, envious and on and on and on.

I could be choosing joy, but I’m not. I’m choosing to respond to life with every negative emotion you can imagine. I may not choose what happens in life, but I sure as heck have been choosing how I respond.

This realization hit me square in the heart today. It was an email that a friend forwarded to me. A blog post from Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience. I only made it halfway through her post when I noticed her name. Sara. And I remembered her. I only discovered her blog shortly before she passed away, but I saw the indelible impression she left on many people. I read through many of her blog posts. I was mesmerized with her story. With her. Because in the midst of pain, in the moments of death… She chose joy. Always. It’s what people remember her for. Her joy. Her ability to love, to serve and to give, in the midst of an illness that she did. not. choose. She couldn’t choose her circumstances, but she chose how she would respond. Over and over, SHE CHOSE JOY.

I can too. Even when life is not going my way. Especially when life is not going my way.

Chad and I sat and watched a video about Sara, made for InCourage’s Irl conference. Afterwards, I said “wow. I feel like a whiner”. He said “you too, huh?”. Even after death, she is touching the hearts of people. I want to be like Sara.

Grab your tissues, and friends, choose joy. I’m going to.

Sara’s Story Final on YouTube

Judging Tomorrow’s “Value” on Today’s “Prices”

A few years ago, things were hard. We were barely making it, if we were making it at all. Financially, emotionally, relationally… It. was. hard.

We thought we we going to lose our house. We didn’t.

We would wake up and check the driveway to see if our vehicles we still there. They were.

I had a great fear of answering the phone and door, or opening the mail.

Then things got better. A lot better. We caught up on all those bills and we paid all of our debt.

Right when we were breathing just a bit easier, Chad was laid off. then we found out that we were expecting…. again. he got another job. Although he was earning 60% of his previous income, we were hopeful. After 6 weeks, he came home in the middle of the day, laid off again.

I went in the bathroom and cried.

What were we going to do now?

I’m pregnant.

My husband is unemployed.

I felt very hopeless.

My thoughts were running through every possible option we had. Some of them were not, um, nice.

It took me a while, but I realized that I was judging the value of our tomorrows on what was going on today. Life is always evolving and changing. Things never stay the same. Just because Chad is unemployed today doesn’t mean he will be tomorrow. I look down the road to 6 months from now and wonder how we are going to survive with another member of the family. Why am I worrying about that now? I don’t have enough information to know for sure what our life is going to look like in 6 months. I only have today’s information, and it’s not a good predictor of our future.

I’ve learned that things can change for the better and they can change for the worse. The only guarantee I have is they will change. I should only be judging today’s value on today’s prices. Tomorrow will be a brand new today, and the price just may have changed.

Not Ashamed

Things often don’t turn out the way I plan. More often than not, they don’t even turnout the way I would like. If they did, I wouldn’t have fallen in a hole in Nicaragua. My husband wouldn’t be unemployed. I wouldn’t be a stay at home mom. Since I never dreamed of having kids…. I wouldn’t have four!

We don’t know how the unemployment thing will turn out, but each of those other situations? They turned out okay. My kids have been joy in my life. Being a stay at home mom, serving my family, has blessed us beyond measure. That hole in Nicaragua, ironically, opened my eyes and my heart.

If things went according to MY plans, well I guess I would be missing out on a whole lot of joy and experiences.

So without shame, I will now “publicly” state that shortly after Chad’s first bout with unemployment, we found out that I am expecting.

Yep. You absolutely read that right. We were surprised too.

Yes, to answer your question, we DO know how this happens. 😉

I was surprised when Chad took the news better than I did. My kids love the news so much that I am tired of the word “baby”. (I might be a bit cranky)

I don’t know how this will turn out, but I do know that things have a way of turning out better than I ever plan… Even when things don’t go according to my plans. This will be no different.

To all my friends whom I have confided in these past several months, thank you. Thank you for being there, for calming my fears, for loving me and for keeping my secrets.

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(No?) Worries!

As of today, my husband has been unemployed for exactly 4 weeks.

Come Monday the 14th, my husband is gainfully employed! More on that later.

Our motto of the last four weeks has been “no worries”. We had been through this before. We had worried, cried, argued… and then seen the impossible happen, over and over again. We had medical bills up the wazoo, shut off utilities, foreclosure notices, etc. It was stressful.

Even with our lack of true faith at that time, God restored and redeemed each and every issue we had.

We didn’t want to be that way again.

Yes, the circumstances are the same… it’s our response that is different.

We went to the beach the day after he was let go. We’ve spent time together, we’ve hiked, we’ve prayed, we’ve focused on our faith in the God that saved us before, because we know that He will save us again. He’s never failed us.

Just last night, I sent this email to my bible study group:

I just wanted to tell you that Chad got a job! He starts on Monday. It is for a lot less than he was earning before, but we are trusting that God put this job in his path for a reason and that He will provide for us as He always as. (even in spite of other people’s doubts) We are very at peace right now. Our motto is “no worries”. 

That was before I started filling out some financial forms. With each number I wrote down, hope left the building and despair settled in. When I realized how far the gap between our income and expenses is going to be… I started to worry. Though I know that God is in the business of miracles and doing the impossible, I doubted. I thought “Maybe we have already used up our miracle. Maybe He doesn’t have anymore for us.” I was already mentally packing our bags and envisioning us homeless.

Then my email notification popped up, I clicked over and read the response to my earlier show of hope:

No worries is a good motto. As I said on Weds., I haven’t seen any sparrows pushing shopping carts at Safeway lately!!!!!!

And I reread what I had just written two hours earlier. “No worries, no worries, no worries“. “He will provide for us as He always as“. Surprisingly, my own words comforted me.

I laid there and thought about all He has done for us already. I rested in the assurance that His mercies are never ending. I have to assume that His miracles don’t end too. I prayed in my heart and my mind. I lifted my worries to Him.

Mark 9:24 says Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I have been saying the same thing. “I do believe, Lord, help me overcome my unbelief“.

I will say it again and again and again, because I fail at it every day. I am praying for miracles, I am praying for Him to overcome the impossible. And if things don’t work out the way I plan, I am praying for His grace, mercy and peace to see me through.

How can I pray for you? 

So Many Questions

Who has the answers?

I was going to blog about a completely different topic today (why I don’t like asking for or accepting help), but something just came up.

In all honesty, I am feeling quite a bit of anxiety today. I have a lot of questions, but not so many answers.

My husband lost his job on Friday the 13th. We have been here before, and here we are again. When he lost his job before, I was employed full time at a well paying job. I don’t even remember it hurting us at all.

This time, I am not employed. I am a stay at home mom. We made the decision for me to stay home over 3 years ago, because our family was falling apart. Other families were able to do it; raise a family and have both parents working. I didn’t understand why it was such a struggle for us. I had to come to the realization that God doesn’t intend the same thing for each and every family. It’s been the most difficult thing we have ever done, living on one income, but we were finally to a point that it was getting easier.

When he lost his job before, we at least had my income to fall back on. This time we have our faith to rely on, but it doesn’t pay well.  

The thing is, at the beginning of this year, I told my husband that I just had this feeling that something big was going to happen this year. I was right, but it wasn’t the something big I thought it was going to be. I took a break from blogging to focus on whatever this big thing was that was going to happen. We have spent extra time strengthening our marriage. Thank God we did, because right now, we need the strength of US. 

I am making an extra effort to focus on TODAY. Only TODAY. TODAY I am thankful, because God has provided. We have food. We have a house. We have all of our utilities. We have a few extras. We have great neighbors, great friends and a great family. We are wanting for nothing… TODAY. 

I have so many questions about tomorrow though. 

And so few answers.

Only faith. 

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen  

And TODAY.

Pray for me?

How can I pray for YOU today? What are your needs, your wants, your desires? How can I bless YOU? 

 

Breathing Easy

We were just starting to breathe easy. We were still taking it slow, but after three years, we were starting to see some normalcy return to our lives.

Our bills are on time. We have no debt, except for our house. Our medical bills are current. Our credit scores have started to creep up into the normal range. Recently we even added garbage service to our household, and finally upgraded our falling apart phones.

Things were not perfect and there was a lot of stress. Late hours, working on the weekends, hours missing from paychecks. Annoyance because employees were not being treated as valuable assets to the company.

We were still breathing easy though, just because we weren’t struggling.

On Friday I even treated myself to a long needed haircut. I returned home to Chad making dinner.

I casually said “Did they give you an adjustment check?”

He quietly said “Well, yes and no”.

“What do you mean?”, I said. “They owe it to you. You earned it”.

Even quieter, with eyes so sad, he said “They gave me my final check”.

It took a minute for the words to register. Then the full weight of what he said hit me.

And I wasn’t breathing easy anymore. We weren’t breathing easy.

At all.