A breakthrough tale of faith, bitterness and practicing shutting up

I was reluctant to write this post, Dear Reader, lest you think it a “how to” for wealth creation.
It is not.
It is a tale (a testimony, really) of the power of God, His faithfulness when mine lacks, the war raging between my 2 ears, how easily the enemy places thoughts contrary to God’s Word and the eventual breakthrough that came when I just shut my mouth, and steadfastly remained in the Word.

Let’s get to it.
Recently, the company my husband works for was sold. We knew it was coming. We also knew that my husband was going to get some monetary incentives from the sale. We had figured that we would get enough to buy a new car and maybe, pay a few bills. When the day came for the sale, my husband received a heads up on what he would be getting, once the sale went through.
It was A LOT more than what he anticipated.
I was ecstatic for him. After all, he gets up at the butt crack of dawn every day, drives to the other side of the planet, hustles all day, yet manages to make every lacrosse game, every dinnertime/bedtime and sometimes has conference calls in the evening or early morning.
He deserved this. I was happy for him.
Then my fickle feelings took over and I allowed negative thoughts to turn it all to crap.

One night, he asked me how much debt I owed. He wanted to pay all of our debt off and move forward, debt free. For a brief moment, I had so much hope…hope that we could finally get out from under, maybe save a little…start living like grown ups. Finally!
Immediately a voice in my head began screaming: “Don’t trust him! He’ll Lord it over you!”
I didn’t want to tell him the number, yet I still held out hope.
About a week later, still feeling full of hope, I told him the number.
He got quiet.
Very quiet.
He allowed me to blather on and on, full of hopeful futures where we could do this and that.
I noticed at dinner he wouldn’t even look me in the eye. He was angry at the number. You see, Dear Reader, about a decade prior, I had filed bankruptcy after a failed business attempt. And here I was again. In debt, and full of excuses.
Why should he believe me?

Days went by, us not speaking…stonewalling, avoiding each other.
I started to get angry.
Very angry.
I had asked him how much debt HE owed and he told me (very smugly)…a number far less than my number. I knew that the number sounded off, so I started looking through his bills, collecting “evidence” for when we met again. What he told me he owed was 1/3 of what he actually owed…and I was going to prove it to him. Show him the proof. Throw it in his face! I would be vindicated!
All of this wasn’t actually about the money. It was about trust. And I felt a deep betrayal.
The hope I had felt turned to anger, then to bitterness…then a deep, seething rage. Scripture says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) And what festers in the heart, flows into your life. (Proverbs 4:23)
I watched my husband on his ipad, up all night, worry and languish over the amount of money he was going to receive…and what to do with it. He was thinking about cars, boats…stuff…while I was struggling to pay my debts.
None of this was fair.

I cried out to God and asked him: “Why?” I’M the one who tithes faithfully….HE tithes a FRACTION of what I do…and he makes more money! When will MY breakthrough come? (I’m chuckling at the point of writing this because Joyce Meyer does a fabulous “Robot- “What about me?” and “Why God why?” “When God, when?”)
At one point in my self righteous rantings at God, a small voice came through the noise and said to me: “Because you are not trustworthy.”
Ouch.
Truth hurts.
You see, my husband and I are opposites on the spectrum. He is very cheap. Stingy even, and that is not a Godly principle (2 Corinthians 9:6)
I, on the other hand, give things away willy nilly, without care or thought. Wantonly. Also, not a Godly principle (Galatians 6:7-8) God had shown me that the two of us offset each other, balance each other, like 2 columns that would collapse, one without the other.

For about a month, the war in my head went from Scriptures bubbling up out of me, to empathy for my husband, to a raging hatred of him. This whole time, I knew that I had to avoid him, keep my mouth shut, for if I allowed the anger/betrayal/bitterness a voice, there would be no taking back the hate filled speech. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)
Basically, what you focus on, comes bubbling up out of you. Garbage in, garbage out.
I needed to change my thinking.
The days were occupied by work, and the war raging on in my head. I’d have full on outbursts of anger, screaming at the air, then crying uncontrollably….then the scene would devolve into getting a divorce. (Was I really prepared to throw away a covenant relationship between God, my husband and me over…what exactly? Money? Hurt feelings?)
Scripture says that within a marriage, the 2 become one flesh (Mark 10:8) Basically, I was hating myself by hating him.
Yet, my emotions asked: How could I live with a cheapskate hypocrite and liar? (By the way, spending money I didn’t have like it was water was also lying..I just didn’t want to admit my own faults)
I felt like I was going crazy.
Nighttime was spent avoiding my husband…and reading the Word.
I HAD to continue reading the Word of God, it was the only thing holding me together at that point.
I finally got to the point, worn out, where I prayed to the Lord to shut me up. Like Daniel in the den of lions…shut my mouth like the lions. I prayed for help (that was my prayer: “Help me Jesus. I can’t do this alone.”) I spent a considerable length of time preparing a sheet of  biblical scriptures to show my husband, regarding money, idolatry and the Babylonian demon god of mammon. I had a whole speech prepared. I rehearsed for days in my head. (FYI-if you would like to see my notes on this sheet click: here)

Finally, the day came to confront my husband about the debts. I prayed for the Lord to give me the Wisdom, to shut my mouth when necessary, and to give me empathy for the man that I married.
We sat at the dining room table and I point blank asked him if he was going to pay the debt, like he said he would. The whole conversation took 20 minutes.
No screaming.
No bible sheet full of scriptures proving my self righteousness.
No confrontation.
No divorce.
We both had empathy, one to another.
The Holy Spirit was there, at the table, with us.

My prayer going forward is for the Holy Spirit to continue to lead and guide me in Wisdom.
Sometimes, though, when you don’t know what to pray, just pray the simplest prayer: “Help!”
“Help me Jesus. I can’t do this alone” for Scripture says that He will never leave or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8, Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5)

Takeaway lessons:

1. Tithing WILL reap reward, it’s the spiritual law of reaping ans sowing. Under the New Covenant, we don’t HAVE to tithe, we aren’t under the Mosaic Law; however, tithing is good for us, and good for the community that we sow into. Understanding Mark 4, Matthew 13 and Luke 8, the Parable of the Sower, is the key to understanding all other parables, according to Jesus. (Mark 4:13) Giving is always an issue of trust. It’s not about the money.
2. God is good. He blesses us because HE is good, not because we deserve it. And He can bless anyone, it’s not performance based.
3. God will never do anything to harm us. He will not bless us with things that we can’t handle. He will add things into our lives when we are equipped to deal with them. And, He may give them to those that will handle them correctly.
4. God wants to be first in our lives, He doesn’t want other things placed before Him. Seek Him first. (Matthew 6:33)
5. Forget circumstances. No matter how bad it looks, no matter how much noise your emotions want to generate, focus on God’s Word. Many people do not receive their breakthrough because they don’t leave their faith out there long enough to manifest. They let their emotions derail their faith and move them off of what God has promised in His Word. Faith is like fishing. Cast your line, and leave it there, focusing on God’s Word, until you catch a blessing. God is faithful.

 

 

 

 

 

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I died again and no one cared

There seems a never ending list of people these days, who disappoint me daily. From friends who never pick up their phones when I call, or only call me when they need something, to my husband, who, in finding out that I had the flu, peeled out of the house as fast as he could to go on a business trip clear across the country for 5 days.
Every time I turn around, someone is letting me down.

It’s very difficult not to feel hurt, not to feel let down by those around me. I’m not going to lie.  I feel like most people in my generally vicinity suck. That’s the long and short of it. And I could, very easily, fall victim to a mindset of getting back at them. Ignoring them, making life difficult for them, all because I hurt.
But I choose not to.

Self centeredness is something that every person, Christian or not, will struggle with until the day we die. When we are self centered, nothing spiritual gets through. Any blessing, any breakthrough, is bogged up, like a clog in the line of the drain from Heaven to Earth. Sure, you can justify your hurt all day long, telling yourself that others deserve what they get from you. After all, they’re the ones who forced you to act this way.
But no one is forcing you to act poorly. It’s just an excuse. It’s a demand that self centeredness requires to keep you in bondage.

The Apostle Paul said that he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). He didn’t mean that his body physically died, but that he had to choose not to be self centered every day.
The cure for self centeredness is God’s Word. To replace your thoughts with God’s thoughts.
And God’s thoughts are not of this world.
Renewing your mind with God’s thoughts requires the death of your old mind. It’s constant and dynamic, requires choice on your part and a willingness to do the work.

Proverbs 14:12 states “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”.
We live in a modern world where 144 characters can define our moods. Where we have 1000 opportunities a minute to be offended at the very slightest thing. We talk at each other instead of with each other, each waiting for their turn to get their points across.
But no one ever gets their points across because we are all too busy making points.

I choose not to be offended, because God has shown me that in doing so, I will have peace.
His peace.
A peace that surpasses all understanding.
Quite frankly, it’s too much work now to get rankled over every little thing. For the length of time I’d spend being angry, hurt or plotting revenge, I could spend that time more productively, at peace.
I’m not perfect, not every day. There are days I would much rather cut someone than love them, much rather pick a fight than walk away from one. But those days come less often than in the past.

I could’ve spent the 5 days my husband was gone, moping around angry. Instead, since I was down for the count anyway, I CHOSE to renew my mind with God’s Word. To replace the anger with His Peace.
I CHOSE to die to self. And I am grateful for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Beyond Church Walls

How does God speak to you?
Many people don’t know, they never thought about it. How many people go to church every week, check off the “church” ticker on their “to do” lists, and don’t revisit the “God thing” until the next week? Maybe some add a few nightly prayers into the week. Some might even go to the church masses on a daily basis, but never open the Bible outside the church walls. Or never actually have a conversation with God.

Let me ask a question: does God want your attention only when you’re in a designated building, designed for prayer?
I found that answer in my own life to be: no.
He wants my whole life, every day. He wants me to know that He’s there, always and forever, and He wants me to rest, knowing that He’s “got it covered”.
What “covered”?
Everything.
It’s called Grace and it’s there for everyone who is willing to receive it.

I grew up in the Catholic church. Every week, I went to church because I was supposed to. My parents took me there. I sat in the pews and listened to what sounded like the equivalent of the grown ups in the Peanuts cartoon (wha wha wha wha). Jesus was mentioned, but I didn’t really know Him. Most of the time I spent silently assessing people’s outfits or demeanor, during mass. Hats were of particular interest, especially the really elaborate ones.

I also went to church school on Tuesdays. I didn’t mind that, because I got to leave school, and most of the time in church school, we just fooled around and got into trouble with “Sister Judith”. Fun times.
But not really educational.

Later, after much soul searching, studying and truly finding out who Christ is, what He did and why, I have come to the point in my life of much freedom.
I get it.
Most of the questions that I had growing up, that never got answered by the people I asked the questions to, are now answered. Those that aren’t answered yet, I have faith will be, some day. And there are some that God plainly says are “Not to be answered now. It’s not your business”.
Because I trust Him, that’s okay with me. He is never going to do anything in my life that would result in harming me. In any way. Ever.

I also learned that God speaks to me through nature.
Recently, I had a conversation with my brother about how God speaks to us. For him, it’s through music. For my other brother, we were both guessing that it would be through written words, although, he hasn’t yet come to know God very well.
Yet.
The point is, God speaks to each one of us through a unique channel. Even though He might speak to many through a medium like music, it’s not the same process, the same conversation or the same message. Each individual has a different experience, even though it could be the same medium, the same genre, or even the same song! God knows each of us individually. For some, the conversation begins, and may stay, in the church walls. That’s okay too.
But if you are not being fed the proper spiritual food, don’t just starve. Purpose to find out how God wants to communicate with you. He wants to communicate with you. In fact, He probably reaches out hundreds of times in a day, but it’s chalked up as “coincidence” or “that’s weird”. Those are the moments to pay attention to. He’s there, always patient, waiting with His hand outwardly stretched and inviting all to grasp it.

Now I pray in the middle of a field, while walking my dogs. (I still “go to church”, but I don’t limit my time with Him to just that) That’s my favorite thing in world, to be in nature, talking to God. He shows me things that other people never see. Sometimes, other people come with me, just to humor me, and come away amazed. “Wow! I have never seen that before!” is oftentimes repeated afterwards. “That was amazing!” or “It’s just so….so….beautiful out here!”.
I know. It’s God. He wants to show you those things too. Just ask Him to.