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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Beans and Beef

Sat down to a dinner of two hamburger patties (no bread or rolls in the house) and some beans from a can. My first thought was how meager the meal was and how I was “suffering”. My next thought was to laugh at myself, realizing that my meal is a veritable king’s feast to much of the world’s population.

I also had some chocolate pudding, from those inexpensive box mixes, that I had made up a few days ago. Not exactly starving here.

The can of beans came from the church pantry months ago, along with the pudding box. I am thankful for these gifts and thankful that I have an abundance, for all that I seem to lack compared to my American neighbors, including my fellow church members. The verse that comes to mind is the one about being content with food and clothing:

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.  So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 NLT (Bold print added)

I’m selling household items to prepare for putting my house on the market. Once the house sells, Lord willing, I don’t have any other permanent living arrangement lined up. My mom and step-dad have, once again, graciously opened their home to me. A friend from church offered for me to stay with her, but she really doesn’t have adequate space (her heart was in the right place, though, and I am so grateful for someone offering practical help and not just throwing out a “Prayin’ for ya!”).

On the one hand, I feel at peace, knowing that our Lord, while serving on Earth in the flesh said “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Luke 9:58 NLT  I feel comfort knowing that the Lord can be glorified in me, with or without a house.

On the other hand, I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I know that we are called to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as all of our neighbors. It necessarily follows that if one is the helper then someone, at some point in time, has to be on the receiving end of that help; however, I dread being that person on the receiving end for an extended period of time. I don’t want to be someone else’s trial or “test of faith”.

I will, as God allows, graciously and gratefully accept help. But, I still cry to the Lord to strengthen me to once again be in a position where I may be the helper.

Recent job applications and interviews have come to a dead end so far. A client recently went back into hospice care and told me today that she no longer needs my services. She appeared sad and told me that she would write me a recommendation if I thought that would help me to find another position. I was really touched by that offer. She is weak and frail and yet she is thinking about my welfare.

I don’t know what the next few days, weeks, and months will bring. No one does. The Lord may return soon. He may call me home soon. Circumstances may improve. Circumstances may grow leaner. Whatever the case, I am thankful (though not as much as I should be) that God is teaching me to lean on Him, trust in Him, depend upon Him. All other supports have proved false. I will keep trusting in the One Who is able to do all things.

beef and beans

patricia grace

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Blessings, Finances, Trials, Wealth

 

Saved. Again!

Once again, the Lord has rescued me from destruction. The darkness has lifted and I am trusting in Him. I received a message from my Pastor’s wife, expressing her concern for me. She thought I might be ill. The tears broke and I was sobbing uncontrollably. I replied to her that I was not physically ill but that I was not well and that I didn’t even know what to pray for. She reiterated that many were praying for me and that she would continue to do so as well.  That was this past Monday.

Another friend came by after church the day before that (the 2nd Sunday I’ve missed). It was touching and I did appreciate the visit, but at the time I didn’t change my feelings toward God. It was a comfort to know that people care, especially since I live almost 30 miles from my church and about that distance or more from the homes of my friends from church.

It’s finally settling in that the Lord loves me and wants me to trust Him, even when circumstances appear grim.  We can see the theme of God’s wisdom outshining man’s understanding over and over again.

In reading through the Bible this year, I’ve once again begun in Genesis.  I read about Abraham and Sarah and understand their lapses into error. God had promised Abraham a son, but the years were rolling on and Sarah and Abraham began to think they could figure things out themselves, sort of move along God’s plan–maybe jump start it a bit.

Disaster. We are living in the consequences of that decision, even today.

I don’t have any clear direction from the Lord, other than general principles: love my neighbor as myself, pay my debts, keep working and don’t be idle, keep trusting, keep asking, seeking, knocking…

My circumstances haven’t changed, but I will rest in the Lord, trusting in His goodness, His guidance, His grace and mercy, His power, His provision, and His wisdom.

In His Grace,

patricia grace

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Wisdom

 

Countdown to Crazy

Applied to another low paid hotel job. But, this one has hours that are very early. May be able to do it in addition to my present self-employed work. Combined, the bills might just be paid.

Otherwise, I’m probably gonna lose it. May lose it anyway! I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I want to make my own way, pay my own bills. Had to apply for foodstamps recently. I don’t think there’s any shame in needed a helping hand, but it just seems like we should be able to help one another….family to family, friend to friend, churchmember to churchmember, rather than relying on a bloated gov’t program, that may or may not be efficiently run.

Dear Lord, help me please. I freely admit that I am a weak idiot. I need real help.

pg

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Finances, Jobs

 

Devil’s Advocate

Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Job 1:9-11 

A recurring theme of my adult life has been one of struggling with work. Specifically, the struggle has been with finding work that both pays the bills and that I enjoy doing.  Most of my jobs have been low paid monotonous drudgery. For a few years, I found work that I liked well enough, that eventually offered decent pay, but with a boss that was emotionally uneven, controlling, and immature.

Now, I realize that my struggles are shared by millions. I know that my pain is not unique. Before anyone tells me to “deal with it and get on with it”, please know that I have done just that.

Currently, my earnings aren’t enough to pay bills. Since starting my own business, I’ve never stopped looking for full-time work elsewhere. I’ve only turned down jobs that didn’t offer more (or much more) than I already earn–and even then I would have accepted work that I could have done in addition to my current work. But, most offered hours that would necessitate trading my current position for another of much the same offering.

All around me at church, I know there are people struggling with many different issues. The prayer list is pretty much filled with health trials. (In fact, if you removed all the prayer requests that involved health issues, the requests could probably fit into only a few lines of print). However, I haven’t met anyone that is actually living a day-to-day, week-to-week existence. What I mean is that most of the people I meet have homes, cars, retirement accounts, benefits–all the “normal” stuff of a middle-class existence in America. They have enough to support them for months or years, even if they didn’t get a paycheck for a while.

My struggles seem so different from theirs. I have heard of some financial struggles, so I know I’m not the only one. But, overall, I am uncertain that the church feels a need to do much about it and I don’t see anyone suffering the trial of faith that I do when the financial picture turns bleak.

We do have a benevolence fund at our church. A voluntary collection is made every time we have the Lord’s Supper and the funds are set aside strictly to help church members “in need”.  I myself was a one time beneficiary of that fund. And what a joy and help it was! The help came, however, only after I sent a near begging plea to the church email prayer list (“Finances dire. Really needing more income. Praying God would be glorified in this, so that my unbelieving husband would see that God takes care of His children…” That’s pretty much the request I sent out).

When I’ve shared my struggle of faith, I get the response of “I’ll keep praying…” followed by averted eyes and distance.

When I read those verses in Job, I see myself in the words of Satan, and feel terrible for it. Please know, this is painful and embarrassing to admit, but I find myself wishing that God would look at the cozy and secure in my church and “knock them down a notch”. I wonder what the women would do if their husbands who support them sought to separate from them and they had to make their own way. I wonder what the wealthy men would do if God ceased to bless the work of their hands and instead made them work for minimum wage.

If “a man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven” (From John 3:27), then even the work that people find to do and the ability to succeed in it must be a gift from God. The ability to work in that job must be from God, too.  The advice given to me will always be to “work more”, but the opportunities and the very ability to make a living come from God, not our own hands–“Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19, italics added.

Once again, I plead and cry out to God for mercy, grace, and HELP. Please help me, oh God. Please Lord Jesus, have mercy on me. Grant me work and make me able and willing to work any job and pay my own bills so that I may “…lead a quiet life and attend to [my] own business and work with [my] hands… so that [I] will behave properly…and not be in any need.” From 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

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Verses taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
 
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Posted by on January 11, 2015 in Finances, Trials, Wealth

 

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Trust

I am really struggling today. Same old turmoil. I’m stuck and unsure how to proceed. I am in despair and not seeing my way forward. I need help and cry to God but He doesn’t answer.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…”

Many conflicting teachings are swirling in my brain and I don’t know how to make sense of it all.

  • We don’t have the power to obey God, to fully please him.
  • God will work in us what is pleasing to him. But we must trust Him. Without faith one can’t please God.
  • Faith is a gift of God’s grace
  • We can do nothing on our own
  • We must obey. We must trust.
  • But, don’t just obey by sheer willpower! We must cheerfully obey!
  • All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved
  • Praying doesn’t save you, you must pray believing

So, if I’m having trouble trusting the Lord and all I can do is ask, but if I don’t have faith I shouldn’t expect to receive anything for which I ask, etc, etc, etc…..Where does all this leave me??!!! IN TURMOIL AND DESPAIR!!! HELP, LORD, PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Stumbling and Crying

Well, barely five days into the New Year and I blew a resolution. Not surprising, I suppose, for me or anyone else on the planet. Still feels awful.

It began when I had to get gas on Sunday. I needed to go inside to use the ATM to get cash for my tithe, instead of just paying at the pump as I normally do, and while I was inside I bought a drink and some donuts. I hadn’t eaten breakfast so I was ravenous by then. I was telling myself “this isn’t exactly fast food; I mean this isn’t a restaurant–more like a wee grocery store” and on and on, basically trying to find a loophole in the resolution I had made.

The next day, Monday, I had a doughnut for breakfast. Bad choice. After visiting with a friend in the morning, I was shaking from hunger. I had a cleaning job do after that visit and on my way I chided myself for not eating a proper breakfast. I started looking for somewhere to eat. I was getting shaky and nauseous and abandoned any thought of trying to make it through work without eating.

On a brighter note, instead of my usual gargantuan meal, I made a more sensible choice this time (both in terms of finance and caloric intake) by ordering a small sandwich and small fry off the discount “dollar menu”.

I can see that one bad choice led to another; first, the doughnuts purchase; then, eating a doughnut for breakfast the next day; then, not bothering to pack a healthy snack to ward off temptation; and, finally, ordering fast food. *Sigh*

I’m happy to report that after work Monday I finally did some grocery shopping that I’d been putting off, so I have some fresh food again.

Now that I think about it, the problem really began by putting off buying groceries for so long. If I’d had bread, milk, fruit, cereal, etc., I could have easily had a decent breakfast on Monday morning and probably wouldn’t have been so tempted to buy the doughnuts! I also could have gotten my tithe money sorted out ahead of time,  by getting cash back at POS in the grocery store so that when gas was needed I could pay at the pump and not have to go inside and battle the temptation that comes from seeing all the junk food available.

The past couple days haven’t been good emotionally. I have wet my pillow with tears, crying out to the Lord for help with my present situation. I am in need of extra work to pay bills. I am thankful that the Lord has provided for me in the last few months that I’ve been alone, either through gifts or through selling things. However, I don’t want to rely on handouts. I’m growing very weary and trying to be patient. I know I should be grateful and keep trusting, remembering that the Lord was patient with me and that I don’t deserve anything good. But, sometimes, the full weight of my situation just comes tumbling down upon me and I can barely breathe. I am battling against despair. If anyone reads this, please say a prayer for me.

Casting my burdens at bedtime,

patricia

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2015 in Resolutions

 

Good Intentions; Drive By Dinner

Well, I started the New Year with some extra time to work on this blog, and had grand plans about my first postings.  Then, sickness happened. Thursday night I began to cough and get a scratchy throat. By the time I got home after work today, I couldn’t keep warm.

We can make our plans,
    but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

Hopefully, I can get a few more words in before crawling back in bed.

At least I didn’t overeat today! In fact, my first specific resolution (and it’s a biggie for me–no pun intended) is to avoid fast food this year. Stopping for fast food has been a strain on both my wallet and my waistline for YEARS.  I spend more time in my car, driving between jobs, and there are so many choices where I live for a hot, sugary, fatty, greasy, crispy, salty lunch that I couldn’t avoid driving by these establishments. What’s worse, one of my clients often has me stop to pick up lunch for her at these places. So tempting.

However, if I can’t do this one thing, as hard as it may be for me, do I have any hope of settling into a joyful, cheerful obedience to my Lord and Savior? Is it too much for me to pack a lunch and have healthy snacks on hand to avoid temptation? On my own, even these simple solutions are hard. I am such a wretch. I need the strength of Another.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NASB

Comparing Paul’s experience of writing these words from a Roman prison and me struggling to stay away from a hamburger feels a little sheepish.  But, we all have been placed in different situations by God. And, praise to His Name, He can (and will!) be glorified in all of us, one way or another. Do you know Him? Do you know that you need Him?

Stifling a cough,

patricia grace

 

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Resolutions

 

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