Friday, July 30, 2010

Providence 701

"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place." Psalm 51:6

This is one of my favorite verses. It's been very fitting that this past week the Lord has reminded me of all the times He has provided for my every need. Even yesterday as I was listening the the Christian radio station on my way to work, they were having people call in to speak about ways in which God has provided for them or ways in which they have been able to be a blessing to others. It was very inspiring.

Today has been one of those days where I needed reminded of all of that. At first, I thought... "I really can't blog about this because I don't know the outcome yet. I don't have a story this time about how God has provided because it hasn't happened yet." But then... again on the radio... they read the verse of the day and it was from the Psalms at a time when David was crying out to God in his time of need. He was laying it all out there for God... the fear, the uncertainty, the insecurity.

David's prayers reminded me that God does not just desire my praise and thank you's. He desires truth in my inmost being. And the truth is, I was feeling worried and overwhelmed this morning. So I told God about it.

It was at this point when I heard a commercial on the radio... they are batting three for three this week!... I have no idea even what it was for. Maybe just a reminder. The speaker reminded me that it is at the end of the tree limb where the fruit is found.

This morning I was feeling at the end of my limb. Earlier this week, I discovered a $100 error in my checkbook... not to my advantage. Then my insurance premium came out... $25 more than usual. I found out they raised my rate due to a claim I submitted in December when my car was broken into. Last week I sent in a pre-payment to the surgeon who will perform my son's surgery next week. $656. My power bill was about $50 more than usual. My water bill was double. The reimbursement claim I submitted for my dependant care spending account was denied twice even though I submitted it exactly the same as I always do and have enough money in the account to cover it. My savings account is almost at rock bottom... my usual safety net. At this point, I tried to remind God that I am a single mom.

The last straw came this morning when I opened a bill from the children's hospital where my son had an xray done last week. $322. Yes, I am out at the end of the limb. I do not have a happy ending to post... yet.

Still, I wanted to post this. Not as a seperate title, but in continuation of the Providence series. One thing I know is true... God is a good provider. I sat back and thought about that and realized... I have enough money to make it through today. So far I have eaten a good breakfast and lunch, as have my kids. I have decided not to worry about tomorrow.

As I was driving to work, there was a giant snapper turtle crossing the road, causing a big traffic backup. He waddled his way across the busy road without a care in the world. He could have been run over multiple times. But he made it. I figured if God could take care of that snapper turtle, how much more will he take care of me!

Now I'm just waiting to see how "Providence 801" comes about. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Providence 601

"... your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Matthew 6:8

Providence 601

I was going to write about this yesterday but as I began writing, God brought to my mind another time when He provided for all of our needs... as He always does. So today I'm going to sort of pick up from where I left of yesterday and fast forward six years.

Yesterday I talked about how my son, Garren was diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome about six years ago after changing pediatricians and seeing new specialists. One common manifestation of the disorder is a submucous cleft palate. In Garren's case, the muscles of the soft palate are positioned differently than those with a normal soft palate. This has greatly effected his speech as he has been described as having a severe speech delay. Garren is a very bright little boy, so to have so much going on his his little head yet not be able to communicate effectively must be very frustrating. His teachers say that when they put him with other kids to play, he will initially try to communicate with them but when they can't understand him, he shuts down. It breaks this mama's heart.

When we moved back to FL in 2005, I was fortunate to find an online support group for parents with children who have been diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome. Most people, including doctors, know nothing or little about the syndrome so to find a group of parents who knew exactly what we were going through was another God-send. I have learned a lot from them.

This past February, I was able to attend a conference specifically on the 22q/DiGeorge Syndrome and meet many of these women who I had previously known only through the world of cyberspace. It was awesome to also get to see other children who were very much like Garren. Most of them were older and doing wonderfully and speaking wonderfully. We also met a little girl named Madison who is Garren's age who was very similar to Garren... she was tiny like him and her speech sounded a lot like his, except a little progressed because she had already had the first palate surgery. There was also another little girl there who had an augmentive communication device just like Garren. Suddenly, I was no longer alone in this world of DiGeorge.

This conference was amazing!! It literally changed our lives. I was able to be in touch with specialists and therapists who have worked with many DiGeorge kids before and had a vast array of knowledge in this area. That, in itself, is incredible. After this conference, I no longer felt so in the dark as I had up until that point.

The only thing is, we have to travel almost three hours every time Garren has an appointment there, now. Although I can't really complain because a lot of the parents travel to CHOP (Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania) for appointments so three hours to them, I'm sure is like a blink of the eye.

Next week we are going there for Garren's first palate surgery. After the surgery, he will be in the hospital for 1-2 days. However, we have to be there a day early for the pre-op appointment so I had planned on reserving a hotel for the night. I knew that would be about $100 or so. I was thankful it was just going to be for one night because money is pretty tight right now as I had to pay a chunk of the bill in advance.

About two weeks ago, a friend who I hadn't seen in a while and who attends my old church, stopped by and brought my sister and I (my sister is visiting for the summer) a french silk pie. Yum!! I thought she was just coming by to say hello and to see my sister while she was in town.

During the course of conversation, my friend told me that she and some ladies from church had recently started a new Bible study group that meets at her house. She said that during their last meeting, they decided that they wanted to take on mission where they could be a blessing to someone. She told me that they decided they wanted that person to be me. I was floored. I was not expecting that at all. I don't even go to that church anymore and I'm not a part of that Bible study. But they chose me.

As we continued talking that night, my friend asked me about Garren's upcoming surgery. Then she asked, "Where are you going to stay when you go over there?" I told her how we were going to have to rent a hotel room for one night and then we would be able to stay in the hospital. She responded, "Well, I have a condo over there. Do you want to stay there? Here are the keys!" I can't tell you how overwhelmed I was at this way that God provided... again.

Garren will have two more surgeries after this one most likely by year end and we will be able to stay at the condo when we go and also for follow-up visits, etc. I am thrilled! And not only that, guess what else they are going to do while we are gone? They are coming over to clean my entire house for me so that I won't have to worry about it when we're getting ready to go and I will be able to come home to a nice, clean house.

They are also going to babysit the boys one night so that I can have a night for me... something every mommy needs once in a while.

God is so so so so good. I hadn't even asked Him for this. But He knew what I needed, when I needed it. God is a good provider.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Providence 501

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

Providence 501

Today I am going to back track a little bit. As I began writing about my son's upcoming surgery, I was reminded of another time previous when the Lord provided.

It was May 28, 2004 when my little boy entered the world with his chubby little cheeks like a chipmunk and a head full of dark hair. He was my first and the entire experience was almost surreal. He was born tiny, cute, and healthy.

After being moved to a post pardum room, I remember holding Garren in my arms. I noticed that his cry was very soft, although I didn't think anything of it. I had planned to nurse him and figured it wouldn't be too hard as millions of women had done it before without trouble. I had read all the books and taken the classes offered in the hospital and thought I knew what to expect.

When Garren was having a hard time latching on, the nurses tried to help me. I thought I wasn't doing it right and began to realize that this was going to be harder than I thought. But I still thought I would eventually get the hang of it.

When the nurse brought a pump into my room, I really didn't know what it was for. They told me they would be back later to teach me how to use it. I didn't want to use that thing and I worked like crazy on Garren's latch, still convinced that I wasn't doing it right.

I learned how to use the pump and two days later we went home. It had only been two days of trying to nurse but it was a long two days and I was getting very upset that I wasn't able to feed my baby. I tried all the different holding positions that they teach you in the books and classes along with everything else I had heard of (trying not to be too graphic here)!

He just couldn't latch on.

Eventually I called the hospital who put me in touch with some women from the La Leche League who help women who have trouble breastfeeding. They came out to help me and actually got Garren to latch on one time. But that was the only time.

I was so emotional and felt like a failure. At the same time, I was somewhat relieved because it was so hard. But then I would listen to women who said to give it six weeks and it would get better. I was giving up after two. In my mind, I had failed.

After that, I resigned myself to the pump, which I used every three hours for five and a half months. I had a friend from church who had a Medela (the Rolls Royce of pumps) so she gave me hers. God provides. It was a tough five and a half months but at the time, I felt like the only thing worse than not being able to feed my baby naturally would have been to use formula and I was adament about not going that route. In the end, I did end up supplementing with formula and then switching completely when he wasn't gaining enough weight and now have realized that as mother's we want to do what is best for our babies. And sometimes, for whatever reason, that turns out to be formula.

About the time that Garren was around three months, we took him into his pediatrician for his standard well baby checkup. I had also noticed that his eyes were crossing a lot and it was beginning to cause me some concern. The doctors there basically just dismissed it. During the same visit, when the doctor left the exam room, Garren started choking and foaming at the mouth and turning red. I freaked out!!! I frantically started trying to find the doctor because I didn't know what to do. After a couple of minutes a nurse came back and suctioned him out and everything was fine. They acted like it was no big deal that my infant was choking and I was freaking out. I didn't like that. They may have hundreds of patients, but I only have one child and I didn't know what to do.

It was after this visit that my mommy intuition told me that this was not how it should be at a pediatrician's office. It was an odd feeling because I was a brand new mom and I just expected that because there was an M.D. at the end of the name, that meant they knew way more than I did. But God knit this baby together in my womb so I believe that He has also given me the instincts to know how to care for him.

On the recommendation of a friend, we switched pediatricians and began to see Dr. Michael George. It was always easy for me to remember his name because I would think of George Michael! Wake me up before you go-go!!

Dr. George was a total God-send. When I told him of my concerns about the eye crossing, he agreed with me that it wasn't normal...even though the other doctor said not to worry about it. He also noticed that Garren was floppy and low on the growth chart. He sent him to neurology, opthomology, and genetics. After a lot of testing, Garren received his diagnosis of DiGeorge Syndrome.

I realized that I actually wasn't a failure when I wasn't able to breastfeed. Instead, I now knew that Garren had very low muscle tone which made him unable to latch on. I learned that DiGeorge babies also often have weak cries. I learned that all of my God-given mommy instincts were right on and that I should listen to them despite what anyone says.

I see Dr. George as Providence 501. He always treated me with respect and treated Garren as if he was his own son. If it wasn't for him, I'm not sure when/if the proper diagnosis would have been given. God introduced us to him at just the right time to learn early and get involved in early intervention services early and I truly believe it has made a great impact in Garren's life, and in mine.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Providence 401

I usually start my posts with a scripture verse. Today I have several that came together and spoke to me very powerfully at an uncertain time in my life:

"Behold I will put a fleece of wool on the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon the earth beside, then I shall know that thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou hast said." Judges 6:37

"I took up the wine and gave it to the the king said to me, 'Why do you look sad, since you are not sick?'" Nehemiah 2:1-2

"And I said to him, if it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you would send me to Judah... that I may rebuild it... so it pleased him to send me." Nehemiah 2:5-6

Providence 401

Shortly after I returned to work at my church after maternity leave and the subsequent crashing down of life as I knew it, things were different. The consequent pain that followed such a painful trial was hard to escape as the boundaries between my personal and professional life had suddenly vanished.

It wasn't long after I returned, that I began to think about finding something new. I dragged my feet a lot. I really didn't want to leave because I loved my role there and I loved the people. I casually started searching different job listings in various locations. I even went on a few interviews.

One job in particular was for an office position in a local Christian school. I went into that interview with high hopes and the possibility of having the summers off to spend with my boys. Later that week, I found out that I did not get the position. I was very disappointed because I felt for sure that this was the job that I had been waiting for.

At that point, I wasn't sure what to do. I began to wonder if maybe I was supposed to step out and just quit my job at the church even without having another job lined up. I mentioned it to a few of my friends and they committed to pray for me. Still, I thought there was no way I could do that being a single parent and kept looking at the want ads.

During this time, I began studying the Bible a lot more. I really got into Bible study and realized what a passion I have for it. I also began visiting a different church not far from my house on Sunday mornings, while still attending services at my home church on Saturday nights.

I really just felt a sense of peace and safety at this new church. I began to feel more and more pull to leave where I was and I again wondered if God was leading me to take the first step of leaving my job without knowing what the second step was or how I would pay my bills or put food on the table.

I prayed hard the second time I began to feel this way. I wanted to make absolutely certain that this was from God and not something else. If it was from God, then He would make a way. If not, I would be out on the streets.

The timing of all of this is interesting. A few months before I began to think about leaving my job, I had finally moved back out of my parents house after having to move back in with them temporarily when my husband left and into a nice little single family home. When I was searching for a new home, I remember having a conversation with my mom. She asked me if I had a fleece. I didn't understand what she was talking about. We live in FL... we don't need fleece. She explained that when she was younger that to have a "fleece" meant to have sort of a sign... if A happened, then you knew that you were supposed to do B or that it was just meant to be. Not so much a lack of faith but just a visible direction of God's leading.

So I when I found a house that I really liked but was above what I could afford, I decided on a dollar amount that would be my fleece. I went back to the landlord and asked her if she would be able to come down on the rent. She wasn't sure she could because of the outstanding mortgage on the house. She said that she did have another house that she knew she could come down on. I saw that house but it just didn't seem right. So I just waited. A few days later, she called me. She didn't come down to my price. She went $25 lower and threw in lawncare. That was the confirmation I needed.

So here I was in my new place, out on my own again finally and what comes along but the thought of leaving my job. The thought of doing that would have been much easier had I still been living with my parents. But I was not. How could I do this?

That Saturday night I had a very vivid dream. I won't go into the details here, but I felt like the Lord was speaking to me and I began to feel more and more like this calling was from Him. It was at the front of my mind when I went to my new church that Sunday. The pastor was out of town and in his place was a guest speaker. He preached about Gideon. I knew about the Gideons who would come to our church when I was growing up and speak. I knew that the Gideons put Bibles in hotel rooms. But I had never actually read the story about Gideon in the Bible.

What I learned in Judges was that God told Gideon to go out and fight a huge and powerful army... and by the way, he could only take 300 men with him. Seemingly impossible situation... kind of like what I was praying about. Then the preacher began to tell the story about the fleece. I couldn't believe it. I had no idea that this story about the fleece was actually in the Bible! I immediately remembered when my mom told me about asking for a fleece.

He also told a story about Nathaniel Hawthorne. He told about how Hawthore was fired from his job as a surveyor where he had been working because he was not able to make a living at his true passion... writing. When he came home, he was nervous to tell his wife because they would no longer have the money to support themselves if he was out of work. What transpired, however, was that his wife had been secretly saving money in a small drawer for years in the event that he was ever able to leave his job and pursue his passion of writing. Because of this, he was able to begin writing again and went on to write The Scarlet Letter.

The sermon from that day had my mind spinning and also had me praying like crazy. That night I decided that I again would ask God for a fleece. At the same time, I felt like I was lacking faith by asking. And I had no idea what my fleece should be regarding this anyway. I went to bed feeling more and more confident that I really was supposed to leave my job but now I wasn't sure when or how.

I went to work that next morning. During this time, I had been involved in the current sermon series on Nehemiah and had been given the opportunity to write daily devotionals... something that I loved doing. That morning, I read one that I had written on Nehemiah chapter 2. Nehemiah was preparing to go into the king and ask him some big questions. I'm not sure if he knew what he was going to say, but He trusted God and knew that He would work out the details. When he went into see the king, he did not have to say anything. The king brought up the subject when he said, "Why do you look so sad when you are not sick?" This gave Nehemiah the opportunity to bring forth his proposition.

Later that day, my pastor/boss came into the office late in the afternoon. We used to meet every Monday afternoon just to catch up on ministry things and talk about the week. This particular day, he didn't start off talking about ministry. The first thing he said to me was, "Were you at church yesterday?" I realized that, just as the king had opened the door for conversation with Nehemiah, this was my fleece. I proceeded to tell him that I had gone to a different church that Sunday. I told him some of the things I was thinking and feeling. We had a nice long chat. Probably nicer for me than for him because he was very sad that I was considering leaving. I told him that I would let him know by the next day what my decision was.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up singing "This is the Day! This is the day that the Lord has made!" I had already written a letter of resignation and I felt and overwhelming sense of peace about my decision. I got to work early that day and I was incredibly nervous about what I was about to do. The first thing I did was go back to my pastor's office. I sat down with him and gave him my letter. I remember we both sat and cried. But I knew I was doing what I was supposed to do and I didn't look back.

I worked there for two more weeks after that. I decided that for a time I would use this opportunity to stay at home with my boys. I had been saving up some money and I knew things would be really tight but that we would be able to make it for a couple months.

In the meantime, I began searching harder for a job. During the last week I was at the church, I found a posting on for an administrative job at Allstate. I had a friend who worked for the company so I decided to apply. At this point, I had probably applied for 100 jobs. So when I didn't hear back from Allstate, I wasn't surprised and kept looking.

In the meantime, I absolutley LOVED being a stay at home mom. I also kept another little girl during the day, which helped to make ends meet financially. However, her mom had already lined up another daycare for her when I began keeping her that would start in about a month. I only had so much money saved up and without that extra coming in, I still wasn't sure how long I could stay above water.

It was about a month later when I got a call from an Allstate recruiter. I had actually forgotten that I had even applied for the job because I had applied for so many. They wanted to do a phone interview. I was very excited and very nervous. I was thankful for the previous job interviews I had been on in the recent past that helped prepare my interviewing skills. When the phone interview was over, I wasn't sure how it had gone because I was so nervous. They said I would know something in about a week.

A week had passed and I hadn't heard anything. I began to assume that I didn't get the job. I called to follow up and the recruiter called the direct office to see what the result was. She called me back and said they wanted me to come in for an interview. I was excited!! I spent a lot of time on google trying to figure out what kind of questions they might ask and writing down and practicing my answers.

In the end, before the interview I decided to give it to God. I prayed that just like Nehemiah, that the person interviewing me would find favor with me if this was the job I was supposed to have. When I walked inside and sat down with the director of the site, I felt immediately at ease. I decided that I was just going to be myself and I knew that my worth and value was not based upon what someone else thought of me. It was on who God created me to be.

I left that interview feeling confident. About a week later, they asked me for a third interview. I have never been on three interviews with the same company... ever. I figured that must be a good sign. Shortly after that third interview, they called and extended to me the job and the rest is history. It's a great place to work and I am enjoying myself and the providence that God has extended to me time after time after time.

Whew, that was a long post!! God is in every little detail of life so I didn't want to leave anything out!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Providence 301

"And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:22

When I was a kid, I used to love to watch the old re-runs of "I Dream of Jeannie." She had the coolest little setup inside her ornate genie bottle. I remember that she had these red, velvety couches with shiny, satin pillows all around. Whenever her master, Major Nelson wanted something, he just had to say "Jeannie!" and the pink smoke would start to flow out of the top of the genie bottle and Jeannie would appear when the smoke cleared away. And that Dr. Bellows... what a hoot! They were always keeping him off balance trying to keep Jeannie's true identity a secret. I have to admit, after the show was over, I would secretly practice my blinking skills to see if I could do the same thing as Jeannie!

I think sometimes, God is portrayed like a genie in a bottle. Prayer is not about getting whatever I want. In reality, the Lord already knows what we need and when we need it. As a result, God doesn't need us to pray in order to give to us. He wants to give to us as a Father wants to give to his children. Instead, asking in prayer is not so much about the result of what I want, instead it is about me giving myself to God... About my relationship with Him and about submitting myself to Him. C.S. Lewis said, "I doesn't change God. It changes me."

Providence 301

In the early spring of 2008 I was driving a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Even though it was a 12 year old vehicle, it had been a decent car up until that point. However, as soon as it hit a certain point, it seemed like there was just one thing after another going out on it and it was constantly in the shop. It was draining me not just financially, but also in the time it took to keep taking it in. I began thinking about the verses where God encourages us to ask Him for the things we need. Now, I didn't really need a nice new car. I could have kept driving that Jeep. But at the same time, I would have enjoyed something a little more spacious now that I had two carseats in the back as well as something in better condition that didn't need continuous repairs.

So one day, I began asking the Lord for a minivan... which is funny because before I had kids I swore that I would never ever ever drive a minivan. At this point, I was a newly single mom and could not really afford to go out and buy a minivan so I decided to pray for one instead. I figured that if this was something that God wanted to bless me with, then He would also bring it to pass and put it on someone else's heart to give away their minivan.

After I began praying this, I did not start looking at minivans. I did not try to find cheap deals. I did not do anything other than ask the Lord and then wait. I'm not sure how long the wait ended up being... maybe 6 months or so.

One day in the summer of 2008, my mom called me and told me that my grandparents were thinking of buying a new minivan, as they do every few years or so. The one they were currently driving was a 2004 Chrystler Town and Country Touring Edition which was the top of the line model. She told me that my grandpa had wondered if I would be interested in taking their "old" one off their hands. Um... yes please!

I ended up taking to my grandpa about it and he ended up selling me that minivan for about $7,000 under the listing value of it. It was an amazing gift. Because he sold it to me so cheaply, I was able to afford the low monthly payment on it.

I was amazed that God actually answered that prayer, which I had somewhat considered silly given things like world hunger and childhood cancer. But at the same time, I knew that if God wanted to give me a minivan, He would give me a minivan. It wasn't really about the minivan. It was about faith.

In the end, God answered my prayer. Even in that, I would have been satisfied with a minivan without any bells and whistles... just something that wasn't going to break down all the time. This is what the Lord decided to give me instead: Automatic doors (very nice when you have your hands full of kids and all their gear), Stow n Go seating/storage, buttons on the steering wheel to change the radio rather than having to look away when driving the change it, computer w/ all sorts of settings, and I'm sure tons of other extras that this non-mechanically inclined woman knows nothing about.

Yay God... isn't He the greatest?!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Providence 201

"The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up." I Samuel 2:6

I'm not sure if I've ever read that verse before the way I read it today. God is certainly a God of 180s. He brings death... but he also makes alive. He brings down to the grave... but he also raises up.

In my studies, I have seen countless times when the Lord has turned the circumstances around back on the heads of the unrighteous. Most recently, in my study of the book of Esther. Haman had prepared the gallows to hang Mordecai the Jew on, however in the end, it was the evil Haman who hanged there instead.

But I hadn't thought about the opposite also being true for the righteous. What Satan plans for evil, God uses for His ultimate glory to those who love Him.

Providence 201

There is a song by Casting Crowns called "Slow Fade" that talks about how people don't crumble in a day. It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray. While this was certainly true of my reality two and half years ago, the bottom dropped out of my marriage in one day.

On Monday, I knew that something had to change and there were things that I would no longer tolerate. I went to spend the night at my parent's house with my 3 year old and 5 week old baby.

On Tuesday, I was still at my parent's house but I was hoping my stay there would only be about a week and that it would have been a wake up call for change. Although my husband pleaded for me to come home, I knew that nothing was going to be different so I held my ground, probably for the first time in my life. That day I sent an email to Pastor John who is a part of Focus on the Family in an entity dedicated to pastors and their families asking if he had any recommendations for Christian counselors in my area. I had decided that even if I had to go alone, I needed help for me to know how to deal with this.

On Wednesday morning around 10am, I made an appointment to see Dr. Marilyn Van Wingerden at Family Life Today because she took my insurance. At 11am, I got a call from my husband that he was coming over and needed to talk to me. My heart was racing because I knew it was something bad. And that reality came true when he arrived and had no choice but to tell me that what I had been suspecting all along was actually true. I felt like instantly my world had crumbled. Not only did I realize I would be at my parent's house a lot longer than I had anticipated, but the situation was even more real as it was also payday. As I drove to the church to pick up our paychecks, I knew it was the last one that he would receive and I would now be trying to raise my two sons on my one paycheck if I could even continue working there at all after what had happened.

The reality of my suffering being in front of the public eye was bittersweet. I stayed home from church for two weeks because I wasn't ready to face it yet. Even the first week I returned, I sat in the back row hoping to go unnoticed. However, that didn't happen. Instead, people were actually lined up to hug me and love me and give me gifts. I really did feel so loved and was so thankful to have such great support.

Had this happened just two years earlier, I would have been living in VA as a stay at home mom bringing in no income at all. I had a few friends but life there was much different and my support system was not nearly as strong as it was here in FL. This very well could have happened in VA. But it didn't. God knew this was a fire I was going to have to go through but I think He also waited until I had such a strong support system in place first. I am so grateful.

God's hand of providence didn't stop there. This all happened in early December, just before Christmas. A couple of weeks later, I ran into my friend, Jackie at Subway (or should I say that God gave us each a craving for a Cold Cut Combo on the same day at the same time). We were friends back in the 90s when we were in the youth group together but we hadn't seen each other in a few years. We sat down together and had lunch and caught up on each other's lives. About a week later she called me. She told me that the year before, she and her family had decided to not buy Christmas gifts for each other anymore and instead they were going to choose a different family each year and give to them instead. She told me the family they had chosen the previous year they sent to Disney for the whole weekend. She told me that this year, they had chosen to help the boys and me. I was absolutely overwhelmed with their generosity. She said, "So if you guys would like to go to Disney for a weekend, or if you would rather have something else, just go ahead and make up a list. We would really love to help."

I just couldn't believe it. Aside from this, I also started receiving free diapers through another ministry that our church supported. And I was able to apply for WIC and I received free formula for Evan as well as a few other groceries. God's providence during this time was absolutely incredible. I could have never put together all the pieces. But the God who brings down to the grave, also raises up.

Now, I was still very very devestated during this time and the emotional pain was tremendous. It was going to be a long road and one that I am still on even though I am much further down the road two and a half years later. But God is good. He knows just what I need and just when I need it.

And in case you're wondering what Jackie and her family gave us that Christmas??? I had made up a list of some "little" things we might like. When she called she said they wanted to get us everything on our list!! She gave us a big wooden swingset for the backyard with swings, a big slide and a little lookout fort at the top. She gave us a little cottage playhouse for the back yard. She gave us a great big box of diapers. And she gave me a $100 gift card to Target to get something for myself since everything on my list had been for the boys. It almost brings me to tears again today thinking of what an awesome God I serve and what a great thing that my friend did for my family during such a dark time in our lives. It wasn't just the physical gifts. It was also the friendship and knowing that I wasn't alone.

God is good, my friend. God is good.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Providence 101

"So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide." Genesis 22:14

When I was a teenager, I used to sing it at the top of my lungs. "Oh the haaaaaand of providence, is guiding us through choices that we make. Oh the haaaaand of providence, is reaching out to help us on our way." Gotta love Michael W. Smith. And the 80s. Good times!

For a while now I have been telling myself that I'm going to make a list of all the times when God has provided for me and the timeline of His providence in my life. Then last week I read a couple of Proverbs 31 daily devotionals (one of my favorites) and they reminded me that I had not done this yet.

In the first devotional, the writer was talking about how she got a new car for her sixteenth birthday. She said that had she received the car instead for her sixth birthday, it would not have served as much meaning because she wouldn't have been ready for it yet. The same is true of our Heavenly Father who knows how to give us good gifts and whose timing is consistently perfect.

The next day, there was a devotional about the providence of God writen by another Godly woman. She thought about all the times in life that looked bleak or uncertain and contrasted them with the promises of God. She said that they economy may be down and we may not know where our next meal will come from but one truth is certain... God is a good provider.

Those devotionals reminded me that I wanted to make it personal. By having a tangible list of God's providence in my own life, I can go back and read over it on dark days when it seems there is no end in sight. So here is my starter list of the areas in my life where God has provided for me with perfect timing:

Providence 101

I think it was back sometime around 2002 or so. I don't even remember what the specific need was, but there was a time when I needed about $1,000 for something in particular. A few days later I opened the mail and there was an envelope in the mailbox from AmSouth. I had not worked for them for them for several years and did not bank there, so the piece of mail was out of the ordinary.

When I opened it up, there was a check inside for $1,300. Apparently they said that I had a 401K plan or something like that and since I did not work there any longer, they were sending me a check for the balance. The only thing is, that I was young and naive when I started working there just out of high school and had never had a checking account or credit card at that time. So I did not know anything about 401K plans and don't remember ever starting one. To this day I really don't understand how that money had my name on it at just the time I needed it... but I do know one thing:

God is a good provider.

Because the Lord has provided for me so many times, I'm going to continue this post over the course of time and as they happen. I have several right now in my memory bank that I will share in seperate posts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

God Paves the Way

"He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:3

A group of friends of mine recently had a discussion on the topic of sending kids to public school verses homeschooling. As with any discussion among a group of women, there were differing points of view.

A uniqueness among this particular group of friends is that we all have two year olds. In fact, this was how we met... when we were all pregnant and due at the same time. Since then, we have remained close friends and talk often. Even though we live in different places, we have a special kinship through our children who God used to bring us together. We laugh together and cry together. In fact, I am getting choked up just thinking about them. We have been together through joy and and blessing as well as sadness and grief. And although many of us live far apart, it has been very special to "see" all of our LO's (that's our little nickname for them - little ones) grow and change over the years.

Several friends in this group have chosen to homeschool their children, several have chosen the public school system, and for others, their oldest LO is only two years old so the subject of school for the future is one that is new.

One particular woman chose the public school system until her oldest son was in the 4th grade. One thing she said about the decision I felt really hit the nail on the head. She said, "I never thought I'd be a homeschooling mom, but when faced with the situation we were in, God paved a different road for us - the road less traveled... you never know what you'll have to face with your kids until you get there."

I think there's a great point in that God paves the way. I think that's true with most anything in life. He will lead you to the path you are supposed to take. Another friend in the group who has chosen to homeschool said that she has a friend in her town who has chosen public school and while the kids are at school, she is able to volunteer and be a part of different Christian outreach programs and is able to reach a lot of people. Yet at the same time, my friend's role is equally important even though she is in the home during the day because she is watering the seed.

God has led them each on their own respective paths and although they are two different paths, they are both the right ones because God led them there. The important thing is to follow the path that God is leading you on and not wander down another path even if it is a good path. What is the right path for one person, is not always the right path for another. It depends on where God is leading each individual person.

Satan will tempt us to travel down many different "good" paths in order to keep us from following the true path where God wants to lead us.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't Be Afraid to Speak Up

"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:14

Most mornings, I like to listen to the Christian radio station on my way to work. They usually have some sort of interesting and thought provoking topic to discuss on there where listeners call to weigh in with their opinions. Now, I tend to be somewhat opinionated and occassionally I get the urge to call up and comment on what they are talking about but usually I back out and put the phone away after thinking of hearing myself talking on the radio.

This morning they were discussing a particular topic and most of the people calling in were of the same or similar opinions. My opinion wasn't completely opposite of theirs, but it did differ from what most of the other callers were saying and agreeing on.

It's interesting how differently we view things, even all as Christians. Although my opinion went in a different direction from popular opinion, I don't think it was wrong. I'm also not saying the other caller's thoughts were incorrect either however I don't think just because it was the popular school of thought, that it was the right one.

I have led a painfully shy life for most of my life up until the past few years. And even still, I would consider myself more reserved until I reach a certain level of comfort. There was a time when I would not have voiced my opinion for fear of being wrong, especially if everyone else seemed to be in agreement on what was right. I used to think that if everyone else in the conversation was in agreement, then my thoughts must certainly be wrong.

It's not easy standing up and voicing what you believe, especially when it is in contrast to what everyone else is saying. Oswald Chambers says, "If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in - it stirs us up to overcome."

Jesus says that the gate is small and the road is narrow. Popular opinion doesn't always fit through.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sometimes I Feel So Overlooked

Today's post comes from the Proverbs 31 Ministries daily devotional by Lysa TerKeurst

"After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart, he will do everything I want him to do.'" Acts 13:22 (NIV)

I'm sorry. I try not to complain very often. I do know that I am incredibly blessed to have a grocery store down the street and a washer and dryer to use when doing laundry. But sometimes I wake up on Monday mornings a little grumpy. Time to do it all again. I'll go buy food that gets eaten. I'll wash clothes that get dirty again. I'll sweep floors that just an hour later will be littered with crumbs.

Is there more to all this than just doing the tasks of everyday life?

Before I jumped into the normal routine this morning, I sat with Jesus. And this is what I found... some big truths by tak ing a little glance at David's life. Despite how other's saw him, his own propensity to sin, and his lack of position in his own family, David had the sweet reassurance of God and that was enough.

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

To his older brothers, he was a pest. To his father Jesse, he was just the youngest son. To on-lookers, he was just a shepherd boy. But to God, he was the one destined to be king. And not just any king. His lineage was the one from whom Jesus would come.

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

Even how he was anointed to be the future king is such a telling story. In 1 Samuel 16, God tells Samuel that He has rejected Saul as king and chosen one of Jesse's sons to be the replacement. Think of the list of qualifications that must have run through Samuel's head as he pondered which of Jesse's sons would be qualified for such a position: tall, smart, articulate, brave, groomed, well mannered, regal, a natural born leader. "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his outward appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. (meaning Saul who had these qualities.) The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (vs 7).

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

Next Samuel has Jesse line all of his sons up before him. All of them were to be looked at. Yet Jesse doesn't call David in from tending sheep. Was this an oversight? An assumption? A judgment call? A necessity? A deliberate choice?

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

Samuel passes on each of Jesse's sons and then asks, "Are these all the sons you have?"

I imagine Jesse with a quizzical expression replying, "There is still the youngest but he is tending sheep." Surely one who spends his time taking care of animals is not the one to take care of a nation.

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

As soon as Samuel saw him, he knew he was the one. David was anointed to become king. But he was not immediately ushered to the throne. It was years before David would be recognized by the world. So, where did he go after being anointed as king? To a refining school? A government academy? Military training? Nope.

He went back out into the fields and continued to shepherd his flock. A king doing lowly tasks. A king whose character was being refined in the fields of everyday life to prepare him for his calling.

How like us. In the midst of smelly laundry, dirty dishes, snotty noses, misplaced keys, overdue library books, bills, and that birthday gift that still needs to be mailed to grandma - there is training there. There is character building. There is attitude shaping. There is soul defining. There is heart grounding. All which must take place for us to become what God intends.Ever feel overlooked by the world? Take heart sister - we are handpic ked by God.

I am not just doing tasks. I am building a legacy. I am shaping God's kingdom. I am in the process of not only discovering my calling but that of my family as well. And I don't know about you, but it sure does make me look at my everyday tasks, even the smelly laundry in a whole different light.

Dear Lord, thank You that even when I feel overlooked, I can rest in the fact that I am handpicked by You. Help me to live my life for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.