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Category Archives: Finances

Discipling

My church has no formal setup for discipleship. I am so lonely and in so much need of help, wisdom, and instruction. The especially frustrating part is that many in my church are older, seasoned Christians, no longer raising children and no longer holding formal jobs.

As my 2nd job has me working many Sundays, I attended our prayer service last night, since there’s always a chance I may not make it to Sunday service. Once again, I met kind, warm Christians who inquire after my welfare and tell me that they are praying for me. I need the prayers! But, I have concrete needs as well.

I am in danger of falsely judging my Christian brothers and sisters. I don’t know what is going on in their own lives, but our Pastor, taking a break from normal expository preaching, has been teaching through our church covenant–which includes much about the “one anothers” of Scripture and about discipling–and I know there is much agreement about these commands, but I don’t see it in action. Lots of “amens” heard during the service, but I don’t see how it’s lived out.

I asked a lady at church with whom I’ve gotten closer about whether or not she had a disciple or was discipled, or had an accountability partner. She said she had partnered with another lady who attends our Wednesday evening service, as her own church doesn’t hold a prayer service, and they encourage one another, memorize Scripture together, pray together…She confirmed that there is no formal process at our church, just an expectation that we should be doing things like this with one another. *sigh*

I’ve put it out there several times, to several people, that I am starved for fellowship. I’ve opened my home to others, offered help to others, and made it clear that I am in need. (True, I’ve shunned opportunities for fellowship in the past, and I regret doing so. Lord forgive me. I see the need now, and now that I am lonely, I see how I should have taken opportunities to foster community long ago, before I ended up in such trying circumstances).

One thing that has got me confused is that I’ve learned that several people in my church own multiple properties and are landlords, but no one seems to have a place for me. It’s widely known that after my house sells, I do not have a place to live, other than moving back to my mom’s house. I have made clear that we don’t have enough equity in the home to be able to profit so much that I could secure another home.  I have, however, made clear that I am willing to work, that I am working, and that I am seeking more work.

I can’t say that we should all be giving away our property–I won’t go that far, and I don’t expect free housing from my brothers and sisters in Christ. However, it is troubling that none of these has even made a temporary offer. PLEASE note, I am not asking for free housing, just someone to say “We can help you until the Lord makes clear the path you should take; pay what you can, take care of the place, until you can afford to pay us market rent prices or can move elsewhere”. Perhaps their properties are already under leasing contracts.  Again, I know I shouldn’t judge, as that may very well be the case.

Mostly, I’m just discouraged and hurting and tired of holding it all inside where it’s festering.

It IS still confusing, however, when the majority opinion is that we should not be seeking government assistance, but should be working and earning our own bread. But, when the work doesn’t earn enough to pay bills….then what? Shouldn’t we be filling in the gap for our brothers and sisters?

One lady, the one I mentioned above, has opened her home to me. I may have mentioned before, that I stayed with her for a weekend. Delightful home and delightful lady. But, there isn’t really much room for me. The bed I slept in “has issues” she told me, and asked that I keep to one side of the bed.  The bedroom door doesn’t shut all the way. There are no blinds or drapes that completely give privacy in the room; in fact, other than the bathroom, the windows are not covered throughout the house and all is visible from the outside after dark. There was no empty closet to use and the bedroom has all available spaces filled with her own personal items and toys for when her grandchild visits.

This dear lady, who became a widow not long ago, has opened up a modest space to me, while the wealthier among us have remained silent.

I am being selfish? Am I missing something here? What would you do if you were in my situation?

How wonderful to be in a place where you can give to others. I look forward to the day when the Lord may put me again in a position to be a giver and not the one with so much need. I love to give and I know that is a gift and power from the Lord. I know another thing for certain–my circumstances have caused me to be more sensitive to others who may be in need. Instead of so much judging of others and allowing envy to overtake me, I suppose I should ask the Lord for opportunities to be serving others even in my needy state. That certainly seems more Christian. Now, if He will just give the power and strength to do it. Believe me when I say (er, write) that I know how ungrateful this reads. Will you pray that God help my tired, ungrateful, confused heart?

 

So Tired,

patricia grace

 

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in church, Finances, Giving, Trials

 

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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

 

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.

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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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