“And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.  God does all these things to a person-twice, even three times—to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them.”              Job 33:27-30

This month, I was facing a $439 deficit that included having to purchase very much needed tires for my vehicle.  I had no idea where the money was going to come from.  I figured a budget multiple times, and  spent a few sleepless nights waking at 2am in a panic wondering how I was going to manage to cover the added expenses without falling behind on my other bills.  I prayed and then I worried, prayed-then worried.

Then I did something else-while I was still worrying, I texted many people asking them to pray for me and for God’s provision.  Asking others to pray for me is a challenge because I wrestle with pride and although I love to help others, I hate being in a position to ask for help.   But I asked, and they prayed.  And God delivered.

The week after Mother’s Day, I found a $100 bill in my purse.  $100 is NOT something I would easily forget and would panic if I lost so I knew it was not money I had placed there.  I learned a darling friend, knowing my prideful heart, slipped it into my purse.  She knew I wouldn’t accept an outright offer and would feel embarrassed and ashamed.  (I had another friend offer to send me the whole $439 but my pride would not let me accept the offer.) I praised God for the $100 blessing but still worried about where the rest would come from.

Time came where I had to get my tires.  I have a Christian mechanic who knows my situation and graciously offered to let me make payments on the purchase of my tires.  When I went in to discuss the payment plan, the officer manager lowered the price of the original quote he gave me saying he was going to make no money off the tires he was selling me.  I thanked him for discounting the price even more.  This meant less I would have to make payments on.  Two days later I had the new tires placed on my vehicle.  I walked into the office and was greeted by the owner of the auto shop whom I’ve become friends with as we attended a 9 month training together recently.  I reminded the owner I was on a payment plan. He handed me a receipt showing $0 balance and told me I didn’t owe him anything.  He wanted to gift me the tires.

Tears welled up in my eyes.  I was so overwhelmed with this generosity, not even my pride could keep me from crying in front of him.  As he hugged me, I told him I couldn’t possibly accept such an elaborate gift. My whole being just felt I didn’t possibly deserve such a gift.   He said he wanted to bless me but if I wasn’t comfortable accepting it then I could pay him.  Before I could respond, the company phone rang and he answered it.  While he was on the phone, another line started ringing.  He was the only one in the office so I offered to help him out by answering the second phone call.  He handed me the phone.  When the two phone calls were taken care, to appease my pride I jokingly told him I had just worked off the tires so I felt better in receiving his gift.  We both laughed and I left the auto shop with a brand new set of tires and a heart filled with an unexplainable awe of God’s goodness and love for me.

Driving home I heard Sidewalk Prophets, But You Loved Me Any Way.  As I sang along to the radio, between sobs I belted out these words:

“I am a thorn in Your crown, But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway
“See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with the smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life…”

I didn’t deserve any of the blessings God bestowed on me this month. In fact, I don’t deserve any blessing He has ever given.  I fail Him every single day.  I start my mornings reading His word and praying only to lose my temper and drop an F-bomb before I walk out the door.  That’s not even a dent in the long list of sins I have committed and will commit in my lifetime.  But God loves me, anyway.

Many scriptures tell us God’s love is unconditional. But it’s only when I receive blessings I don’t deserve that I gain a better understanding of what ‘unconditional’ means.  With every undeserved blessing a piece of pride is plucked from within me, my heart is humbled a little more and I find myself offering greater grace to others because of God’s grace and mercy offered to me.  All praise, glory and honor are lifted up to my Father in Heaven, who is my Great Provider and does not give me what I deserve but delivers me time and time again from going down in the pit.  I know He will do the same for you too because trust me, I’m nobody special. But to God, I’m worth dying for, and so are you.

Its Snowing…In May?!!!!

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Like most people I have BIG plans for my life.  As a little girl I aspired to be a Solid Gold dancer or a singing contestant on Star Search.  Don’t judge (but please feel free to laugh out loud!)  Any child of the 80’s with a creative mind like mine and a gift for making a fool out of themselves in front of a crowd, had the same dreams.  When I was 12, I wanted to be president of the United States.  By the time I completed high school my goal was to earn my college degree, get married, become a mom and have a successful career helping troubled teens.  On my 25th birthday I cried-I had only accomplished one of my goals and I was working 3 jobs just to make ends meet.  Now at 40, I am a single mom working 2 jobs, still struggling to make ends meet and clearly in the midst of a mid-life crisis.  Today I want to travel and touch lives all over the world letting people and orphans know they matter and they are loved.

The past couple of months I have been restless- physically, emotionally and spiritually. This restlessness has boiled into fear and anxiety.  It’s become a serious condition like a rash that takes over your entire body or a virus that eats you from the inside out.  It invades my dreams, it wakes me in the middle of the night and it robs my joy during the day.  The simplest task can become easily overwhelming when fear is hitting me full blast.  I become easily angered or I sob.  I’m exhausted but can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep because my mind simply won’t shut down or be still.  People who know this struggle about me often ask what I’m so anxious about.  Sometimes I tell them I don’t know. But I think I’ve figured it out.  I simply feel stuck.  My life feels stuck in a season of winter and at this age of my life, I am afraid I will stay stuck in winter forever.

Did I mention I HATE winter?  I’m speaking of the actual season.  Where I live we get very cold, very long and very snowy/icy winters.  Days are dull and skies are gray.  Many days I drive to and from work in the dark and never see any daylight.  I get quite depressed.  By the time February and March arrive I am anxious for warm days, sun filled skies and for all the snow to melt away.  We tend to get a mid-winter thaw-a few warm days here and there but then we get slammed with more cold, more snow and more ice.  April arrives and I check the weather daily hoping for a hint of even 50 degree (10c) weather.  And in May, I celebrate the colors of green, the blooming of apple blossoms and spring time flowers.  I relish the smell of the first lawn mowing and celebrate the year’s first real thunderstorm.  I buy my park pass and count down the days until the lakes are warm enough to swim in while planning out my beach days for the summer.  My spirits lift as I think snow is finally gone and my toes will be buried in the sand in not time.

This past weekend, in Mid-May, it snowed!  As I woke Sunday morning to a dusting of white powder covering my lawn, I reflected on my life and feeling stuck in a winter season.  I have so many plans for my life, yet none of them seem to be coming to fruition.  It’s like my life has come to a standstill with no hopes of moving forward relationally, financially, spiritually or even in my career.  Seeing that snow outside my window, I thought “That’s it, winter is never going to end, summer is never going to arrive.  All my beach days are never going to happen.”  Reflecting on my life, I tend to think “My dreams are dead.  This is it.  This is as good as it gets.  God just wants me stuck.”

But God has a different answer.  Weather wise, He’s shown it by gifting us with a prediction of 70 degree temps (21c) later this week.  Life wise, He says “Don’t worry,” (Matthew 6:34.) He keeps sending me Proverbs 19:21 and a few other verses like Job 23:14 and Isaiah 46:10.  He gently reminds me that His way is better than my way and I simply need to surrender my hopes and dreams to Him.  After all, every dream He planted in my heart will come to pass in His time.  Because patience is not a virtue I was born with and God knows I LOVE being in control, He makes me wait, refining me and conditioning me into the Kingdom Woman He designed me to be to do the big things He has planned for me.  Dreams He’s already shown me, I’ve turned into idols and tried manufacturing my own miracles instead of trusting Him to bring them to pass.  I always lose when I get in God’s way.

Winter is a time when days are shorter and life slows down.  This winter season in my life is God’s way of teaching me to just “be still.”  I make myself restless because instead of obeying Him, I act like a crazy hamster in a plastic wheel running a race that will never end, chasing after empty things, and going absolutely nowhere.  If you’re in this same season, remember this-a wise woman recently told me, “There’s never been a year summer didn’t come.” With that I will add, there’s not a story in the Bible where God’s dreams and purpose didn’t happen either. Practice being still, practice trusting in Him and read His word every day.  When someone I love dearly was going through an incredibly difficult time, we read the book of Psalms together.  Psalms was the same book suggested to me just this week to read and pray, as a means to overcome my fears and anxiety.

Lastly, find contentment in every day no matter how long you’ve been waiting, longing and praying.  Most importantly-don’t lose hope, but place your hope in the One who gives us something to hope for.