Friday, December 21, 2012

A Joyful and Loving Father

God is so purposeful in how He chooses to reveal His nature to us.  Recently I was reading a book in which the author described God as loving, joyful, and having a great sense of humor.  In that moment I had such an epiphany:  although I've previously said "amen" to those descriptors of God over the course of my life, that was not the God with whom I had walked.  (This, I now know was because of my view of Him, not because the descriptors were untrue.)  The God with whom I had walked was loving, yes.  But He was concerned--if not disappointed--in me.  He certainly was not looking at me through eyes of joy.  And although He may have often shaken His head at me because of my words or actions, He was not lovingly laughing with me.  That moment of realization was honest and raw for me, but it became even more so.  I closed my eyes and asked God to please, please reveal this part of His nature to me...personally.

From that moment it became almost comical what began to unfold.  We had one blessing after another. Some big.  Many small.  Each one significant.  I was thrilled with finally having in home wireless access for the same price we had been paying for our phone service alone.  Then, after three attempts (on my husband's part) we got a new van...well, new to us!  This van is better for us for many reasons and we are saving money!  We received a couple unexpected checks in the mail.  We are in the process of refinancing our rental property, which will in turn allow our profit to go from next to nothing--to three times that!  We received some insurance breaks as well as having one insurance bill completely canceled.  We received two unexpected gift cards in the mail for things we enjoy.  My husband has even had overtime opportunities on his job in a struggling economy.  (I am not insinuating that everything has been ideal, because we've had our share of plumbing issues over the past few months as well as other normal life setbacks.)  

One night I was thanking God for all of the recent blessings and I realized that God kept doing one thing after the next to prove Himself.  For us, it is very impacting that much of this has been in the area of finances....for more reasons than I can mention right now.  I started to wonder what would happen next--even if it was seemingly small--I knew God was answering a very specific prayer for me!  I suddenly had this picture of God smiling so big while He blessed us again and again.  In fact, I had a very real picture of God chuckling--getting a kick out of Himself!  Even when we experienced a very frustrating setback, God would turn around and prove Himself again!  The morning after I realized this I opened my inbox to find an email with the subject "you won!"  Seriously!  I had to laugh.  Again, I saw God chuckling:  happy with Himself...happy with me.  I won a giveaway from a blog writer whose writing I enjoy.  I was encouraged by her post the day before and simply wanted to tell her!  (As a fellow writer, I enjoy encouraging other writers!)  I had no idea she was doing a giveaway until after I submitted my comment.  So, to win one of the giveaways--no matter the prize--just made me smile.  

We went from wondering if we'd be able to buy our kids even one good present for Christmas--to having some creative ideas and being able to do some neat things for them.  We are never extravagant with them at Christmas, but it's so nice to put smiles on their faces.  Isn't that what God has been doing for us?  After work today, my husband informed me that he received a Christmas bonus!  This is especially significant because in the six Christmases he has been with this company, this is the very first one in which a bonus has been given...and it was a complete surprise to us!  Again, I see God chuckling!  I think He's just getting a kick out of revealing this part of Himself to me!  

Now, I am certainly not proposing that God will just start providing financial blessings abundantly to us simply because we ask if He's happy with us.  I had no idea that He would use this way to reveal His nature to me.  (We have been very purposeful and mindful in our giving during this holiday season as well because we believe that we are blessed to be a blessing.)  But, I had a very raw moment of honesty with God despite many, many years of loving Him, walking with Him, and believing that I knew His true nature.  This was definitely an area for me that despite the many nods of agreement, I didn't believe with complete conviction in my heart.  It wasn't personally true for me.  God chose to answer my heart's question at a most significant time in my life (but that's another story entirely).  By His love and grace, I am beginning to believe with absolute conviction of heart that God not only loves me, He is pleased with me.  He smiles and chuckles lovingly as I walk with Him--as I fumble and stumble, but desire to love, please, and reflect Him.  I am beginning to picture a loving God who isn't frowning at me in disapproval.  Rather, He is lovingly smiling at me.  And when I run into His arms, He chuckles warmly--just as my husband does when our children run into His.  He's a loving Father.  He is joyfully pleased with His children.  He is joyfully pleased with me!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Just Jump!

Long time no post!  Some breaks are refreshing, rewarding, and necessary.  Other breaks make you realize just how much you miss, love, and need that something in your life.  That's writing--and blogging in particular--for me.  My life has been in transition for months in more ways than one.  It's a good thing and I'm more thankful than I have words to express.  (That sounds strange, huh?)  Nevertheless, I'm ready to get back to this business of writing!

Recently I heard a message in regard to faith.  Often, making a decision of faith feels like standing on the edge of a cliff and knowing you just have to jump.  Wooey!  Scary thought, huh?  One thing I'd like to do someday is to parachute from a plane.  My husband thinks I'm nuts, but I'd really like to....with a guide, of course.  Parachuting, jumping, or propelling off the side of a cliff on my way!!  However, this is often how we feel when we face certain areas in our life that require great faith, or as the pastor said, unusual faith.

Every now and then our faith has to be exercised in a most unusual or unexpected way.  We are often prompted to pray unusual prayers or reach out to unusual people.  What I'm learning is that the blessing is found--and our trust in God is deeply strengthened--when we take those leaps.  We must remind ourselves that it probably won't feel good at first.  It will most likely be scary.  In fact, sometimes it is so scary at first--or for a while--that we doubt ourselves.  We may question why we ever jumped in the first place.  We may question our instincts (and everything else about ourselves) during that first few hundred feet of free-falling.  During that time, we have absolutely no one and nothing to lean on or trust in but God.  He promises to catch us when we fall.  Yes.  But He is also the one who occasionally asks jump.  Thankfully He's very patient because most of us stand there frozen in fear, or asking questions in which the answers aren't necessary, before we get up the courage to jump.  (The unknown can be so scary!)

I needed to jump back into my blog.  The dilemma I had faced with blogging over the last eight months is that we moved to a different community.  In doing this, we lost the ability to enjoy high speed internet through our local cable company.  The move and renovations alone have been pricey!  Every time I looked into new options for high speed internet, I became discouraged as it would cost us quite a bit more monthly than we had been paying.  We just have not had that extra wiggle room.  Without in-home internet, however, I have not had the ease of blogging the way I used to. was put on hold.

At church last Sunday, when the pastor encouraged us to envision our cliff, all I could think of was my writing aspirations.  So, I prayed a quiet, simple prayer:  Lord, somehow make a way for this again.  Shortly after we got our routine Sunday coffee treats, I realized that the calendar on my phone was completely wiped out...gone!  I use my calendar function more than anything else.  I keep track of our family schedule, my kids' school events, birthdays, anniversaries, everything!  My husband suggested we stop at the nearby Verizon store, but we had already stopped at the grocery store so I declined.  Shortly after we passed the street, I mentioned it again.  He turned around and said, "Let's just go see if we can have them look at it real quick."  No other customers were at the store.  After my husband was in the store for five minutes, he ran out to the car and told me he was going to get me "hooked up with some wireless at home!"  Sure enough, within minutes, we had a new plan for both of our phones and wireless at home for the exact price that we had been paying for our phone service alone!  Additionally, we will receive a small discount through my husband's employer since they use Verizon also!  Couldn't get my calendar fixed at that moment.  But, within an hour after saying a simple prayer for provision (based on a conviction that I needed to jump off a faith), God had winked at me and made a way.  He does that often when we are open to it!

I'm learning to jump.  How about you?  I'm not certain that I'll soar gracefully at first--or at all!  I may cry to be caught.  I may land very awkwardly.  Or maybe I will think I can land on my own, but instead fall and experience some hurt.  I can trust that even then, He will be right there with me!  And, past leaps of faith have taught me that God will join me as soon as I decide to jump.  He will never leave nor forsake me!  The fantastic thing about jumping--or even declaring that it's time to jump--is that God starts sending little reminders that He's right with you.  He will give peace even in the unknown.  Much like a father watching his child climb the ladder to jump off the high-dive for the first time, He is so proud of us for trying.  He will love us no matter how we end up in the water...or how fearfully we jump off that cliff.  When we take unusual risks, He is right there with us.  This is the comforting, reassuring truth that I'm learning.  He will pave a way.  He will wink in approval.  He will quiet our soul as we lean in and just trust.