Tonight, my back started going wonky. This is not good news, because I’ve been battling with it for the last 3 years. Here I am, using my TENS machine, lying on the floor, and praying for it to get better.
I keep reminding myself of what God says about healing:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Psalm 103:2-3)
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
These are realities. Our iniquities have been forgiven- gone! Which means that our diseases have been healed, too- gone! We are healed!
Soooooo I’m not exactly sure how this all works, but I know what the Bible says. And I’m just going to keep believing and see how God works.
This is story that you have all been waiting for. That life changing moment that occurred last week. The monumental event I hinted at on Friday. It starts off a little sad but gets amazing fast- I promise!
Last Monday, I went through the day not knowing that my life was about to be changed. In fact, I had a bit of a budgetary hangover. Relaxing for the weekend in Sonoma was wonderful, but it also cost moolah. Dinners out, zip lining, etc… add up… especially when you leave your favorite tasting room with this:
Yep, that's a lot of wine! (I have good news about this expense, too, but that comes later...)
I had done an okay job over the weekend in relaxing and not thinking too much about all the changes loomed ahead of us, but, in coming home, reality hit me in the face. While trying to stay calm about our finances over the last few months, I had done what I knew to do and then put off thinking about the details. Knowing exactly where we stood wasn’t going to make the problem go away. This is what my desk looked like:
Holy schmoly- that's a desk? Yep, there's a bra there...
Some of that stuff even had to do with us GETTING money, yet I still ignored it! It’s not like I was handling the situation remarkably well, but…
I did the only thing I knew to do. I just kept praying. Honestly, there was nothing else I could do; I was looking for a second job, as was Chris. We had cut back on expenses and were pretty diligent on not spending extra. I truly didn’t know where the money for the impending HSLP was going to come from. We had enough to get by; how were we going to get more? So on Monday, just like many days before, I faithfully asked God to help us. I did this every time I thought about our finances.
On Tuesday, my prayer was answered. Have you ever seen the Publishers’ Clearing House winner receive their prize? The morning of my birthday was a bit like this:
There were no balloons or camera crews or suits. But there should have been. I was in my pajamas, opening birthday presents with Chris. For my last gift, I opened a series of envelopes, each nestled in each other like Russian dolls. It seemed as if it would never end, but the final envelope held a card and a check filled in with a VERY large number. (It was a number many, many, many times larger than I had ever written on a check, that’s for sure!) This check was intended to pay off our debt- ALL OF IT!
Chris’ student loans- PAID!
Em’s student loans- PAID!
Dental bills- PAID!
Credit card we used Aug-Oct while Chris was job hunting- PAID!
Chris’ upcoming braces- PAID!
This is how absolutely incredible God is: The number on that check, once I added up our debt, was $336 dollars more than what we owed. No one knew what the total of our debt was- not even me! Yet God heard my prayers and worked in someone who chose to do what he asked and sent a check that would pay off every penny that we owe.
Honestly, I don’t even know how to tell the story to do it justice. To top it all off, Chris received an unexpected quarterly bonus on Wednesday. This paid for all that wine I showed you at the beginning. Score!
I’m really excited to share this with you because it shows that God answers prayers. He is the one to be praised.
Now to Him Who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we request or think about, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, WTJ)
Amen is right!
Over the next couple of days, I had to work on two things:
Recognizing that God had answered my prayer and being thankful. Who was I to tell him that it was too much? That I didn’t want it in the way he answered? Or to feel guilty or undeserving? He had answered exceedingly above what I requested, so the appropriate response was thanksgiving.
That I should allow people to give to me. I don’t like it when I try to do something for someone and they won’t let me, so why should I do that to someone else?
The last week has been remarkable, because now that our debt is gone, we are ourselves again. We now see that God really is as big as he says he is- and he’s talking to us! With that realization and free from the burden of debt, we are now able to look up, to dream, to plan.
Tonight at our Bible fellowship, we looked at how we are to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
This section of scripture from Philippians was extremely encouraging:
(Philippians 2:1-4, WTJ) If there is, therefore, any encouragement in Christ, if there is any comfort from love, if there is any fellowship pertaining to the spirit, if there is any compassion and pity, then fill me with joy to the end that you think the same, having the same love, with souls together thinking as one. Let nothing be done out of factious strife or conceit, but with humility of mind consider one another more excellent than self, everyone focusing not on his own interests but everyone even on the interests of others.
I love this, because we can start doing this today! When I do things out of conceit, no one is benefitted. Instead, I can care about other people! If we are all looking on the cares of others, we too will be cared for, because someone will be looking out for us! Isn’t that a great system?
Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill came out in 1995. I was 16 and absolutely infatuated with her music; she was hard but emotional. She called herself a bitch but still sang about heartbreak. She talked about doing things in public that no one should do- let alone tell people about! She even made playing the harmonica look cool.
I thought she was a total bad ass, and my sisters sat upstairs on Wildwood playing “Head Over Feet” over and over and over. Sarah and I sang lines from “Isn’t it Ironic” while riding up Smugg’s Madonna chairlift behind Travis and Kyle. All these memories came flooding back to me tonight when I heard “Hand in My Pocket” at Randy and Susan’s tonight.
I turn 33 this month, and it’s been 17 years since I first heard this song. Somehow, though, this song stuck a chord tonight and resonated in a new way.
“I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine…
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be quite alright…
And what it all boils down to
Is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet”
It’s reassuring that Alanis is still able to break through all the layers and reach to the heart of the matter. And though I don’t have it all figured out, I’m doing fine fine fine.
Romans 8:28- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Occasionally, I’ll post videos or articles that I enjoy from around the web. If I like it, maybe you will, too. I found this article via Facebook this morning, and, though I don’t have children, found it very valuable.
Finding our own little moments to be joyful in and thankful for seems much more doable than constantly striving for an outsider’s idea happiness. Read it (click here) and let me know what you think.
O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
Each morning, pouring rain or sun shiny day, Honey and I go for a walk. It’s usually a half hour, sometimes more but never less.
I try to use these times to do something productive, like pray or just be quiet.
That rarely happens, though. Sometimes, I talk on the phone to my mom in Vermont or my sister in Turkey. That’s nice, but most often, I spend my walks just running through all the things I have to do in a day or trying to find an answer to something that is just unsolvable at the moment. The end result is that I wind up at home frustrated, unthankful, or unhappy. What a horrible way to start the day! What a waste of a beautiful walk!
I noticed myself doing this the other day. My mind was going at a hundred miles a minute as I worried about my job hunt, my resume, and money. It was exhausting. Instead of letting myself go down the rabbit hole, I decided to stop. Someone recently told me that your thoughts are just that; they aren’t necessarily based in reality. Instead of getting bogged down in what goes on up there, we can change our focus to what is real- that is, what is around you and happening at that moment.
I know, I know. That sounds REALLY Californian-y. And while I don’t really understand it all or even necessarily agree with it all, I don’t need to keep listening to the noise going on in my brain. Especially when God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)
So I just stopped the whirling, and I got quiet. And I heard birds singing. Lots of birds. I am not joking or exaggerating when I say this, I promise! Beautiful songs came from the trees on each side of the street. It had been going on all around me, and I had been so absorbed in my own self that I was missing a wonderful, joyous occurrence. I continued on my walk, watching the depth of the sunlight, enjoying Honey as she engaged in the scents and sights of the neighborhood (meaning peeing on and chasing everything she could), and experiencing what was happening in the real world.
It’s amazing what I saw when I finally decided to look.
Throughout adulthood, I have held the belief that some debt is good while other debt is bad. While that may be true, it turns out that it feels the same when you have to pay for it each month. Ouch!
We’ve amassed debt that I consider to be worthy of the sacrifices we now have to make. Some of it was for health purposes, but the majority comes from student loans. My wonderful husband finished college in August. This was a huge accomplishment, and it helped him to land his dream job as a game designer. Yeah!!!
It also landed us with a Huge Student Loan Payment. HSLP’s notice showed up at our house this weekend and sent me into a little bit of a tailspin. Instead of wallowing, I decided to change my mind and trust God. This debt was not caused by irresponsible spending, and I know God will provide to meet our needs.
Matthew 6:25-33– Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
We are going to be diligent to pay down this debt, and we’re going seek God while doing it. It’s nice to know that He’ll take care of us along the way.
One day in the future, I will take large wads of cash and enjoy a Treat Yo Self day when I spend whatever I want on whatever I want.
Today, though, is not that day. Tomorrow isn’t either.
Chris and I are digging out- of debt, of clutter, of weight gain, of apathy. It’s time to get to work one shovel full at a time. (I’m certain that some days will be one spoonful at a time.) There are probably issues that we have yet to focus on, and surely we will uncover more junk as we strip away the layers. There are a million little steps ahead of us, and we get to do it together.
I am very excited for the journey ahead. There is so much to be thankful for, to be aware of, and to rejoice in. This blog will chronicle some of the exciting (or mundane) changes we make as we work to makeover our finances, our diets, and our lives.
My goal for all of this is that God gets the glory and that people learn from our experience… And that we’re still standing at the end.
on February 8, 2012