Living not striving…

Random thoughts and daily adventures in my life

Here we are again… December 16, 2010

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 4:00 am
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***  This was written a few days ago when we received word that Mark’s company would be doing lay offs.  Thankfully we were protected from this happening this time.  I wrote this in the midst of the waiting.  I still wanted to share what was going through my heart and mind for the sake of my own documentation so someday I can reread it …next time it is needed:)***

So, here we are again.  Or at least it feels like that.  We’ve come around again to a place in our circumstances where we are being asked to trust God in big ways.  The thing is we were in this exact same place two years ago.  And two years ago although our circumstances felt desperate and uncertain the Lord showed up in huge ways and provided safe passage through what felt like a hurricane.  He gave us unexplainable peace, brought us to a greater dependency on Him, a deep hunger for His favor and a deeper level of intimacy with Him than we had ever experienced.  He showed Himself to be wiser than we imagined, bigger than we realized and even kinder than we knew.

So now that we stand at the edge of this abyss and look into the dark toward a bottom we can’t see…why is it so scary and so hard to trust…again?  Sigh.  I thought I had grown in my faith.  I thought for sure it would be easier the next time.  But it isn’t and that disappoints me.  Not in Him but in me.  He is so faithful…and I have experienced His faithfulness but I still have a hard time just letting go and trusting the future to Him.

I want to be a monument for His glory.  I really do.  We have honestly prayed that the Lord would be in control of the details of our lives.  That He would orchestrate our lives for His glory, not simply for our comfort.  Yet when I look at the possibilities ahead…like a little kid I want to stamp my feet and shout, “This is not what I wanted!  This isn’t part of MY plan!  And by the way this isn’t what you promised!”

But that isn’t true. What did He promise me?  He promised me in Deuteronomy 31:6 that He would never leave me, nor forsake me.

In John 14:27 He promises to give me peace.

In Proverbs 3:5-6 He promises that when I trust Him and stay submitted to Him, He will make my path straight.

And in Jeremiah 29:11 He promises to prosper me and not to harm me to give me a future and a hope.

In verse 13 of that same chapter He promises that if I seek Him I will find Him, when I seek Him with my whole heart.

He promises to forgive me in Matthew 6:14.

And He promises in Matthew 11:28 that if I am weary and come to Him, He will give me rest.

I haven’t found anywhere yet where He promises that life will be easy, or comfortable, or that His way would make sense, or that I would understand His plan.  Ugh, it is frustrating actually!  Looking back at two years ago…so many things that happened then now make perfect sense.  We can see how He orchestrated things that looked like real bummers to cause some really wonderful things.  He brought amazing answers to prayers from really difficult circumstances.  He did grow our faith.  He did.

Resting in Him is an active state not passive.  I have to fight to stay in a place of trusting and peace.  Fight the fear, fight looking at our circumstances through human eyes, fight looking too far ahead at things I have no control over, fight the rising panic, fight a sneaky spirit of discontent, fight a grumbling heart, fight to trust and stand in an attitude of faith.

And what about our dreams Lord?  What about the adoption?  We know we heard you right.  We aren’t crazy.  Once the Lord tells you something and You KNOW you heard Him and He confirms it over and over…you can’t deny it.  So how does that fit into this picture?  Too many questions but it all leads back to trusting Him.  Do I really trust Him?  Do I trust Him to fulfill His promises in my life and his plan for our lives in HIS way, not mine?  Will I trust Him when I can’t see the way and when things don’t go the way I think they should?

Big deep breath.  Yes.  Period.  The answer is YES!!  Trusting Him in this life is the only way.  Life is uncertain but my Jesus IS certain.  He doesn’t change when my circumstances are swirling and shifting around me.  His love for me is rock solid, steady and certain.  He’s got this and He’s got me.  None of this is a surprise to Him although it is a surprise to me.  He likes to mix things up and keep things exciting:)

Will I need to read this post daily?  Probably.  Will I waver and have moments of panic where I lock myself in the bathroom with a bag of chocolate and a box of kleenex?  Maybe.  But hopefully, what is more likely, is you will find me with His words written on my hand and taped on my kitchen cabinets and words of praise playing on my car radio.  His Word helps me to trust Him…it keeps me in a safe place.

So there you have it…that’s where I’m at…

Here we are again…

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The Giving Jar December 9, 2010

Filed under: Family Life — erikaivory @ 9:45 pm
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“Leftovers again!?!” “Why can’t we just go out to eat, Mom?”  Ah, these are sounds that most moms recognize and we cringe when we hear them.  With three little boys, ages 9, 6 and 4, I grew just plain old tired of these complaints.  My personal pet peeve is wasting food, so when I serve a meal I take full advantage of leftovers.  My boys do NOT appreciate leftovers.

With the economy struggling and my boys appetites increasing, I have become extremely aware of our grocery and food budget.  In the pursuit of decreasing this portion of our monthly budget we decided to cut back drastically on our eating out.  Once we started eating at home more often we were amazed at the amount of money we had been spending on eating away from home.  It took a few weeks but mom and dad quickly began to appreciate a home cooked meal over fast food or the chaos of a restaurant with three little boys.  My fellas really missed eating out though.  Somehow they had to eat many more vegetables at home…funny how that happens.

Excited by the savings I also began to plan meals that were economical and made enough for a meal of leftovers.  This really resulted in saved money and saved time as well!  However, once again my boys were not in favor of this change.  I become determined to find a way to bring them on board.

As a mother I really strive to help my family gain perspective of the bigger picture.  Yes, we want to stay in our budget and we definitely want to pay the bills and make healthy choices.  The bigger picture though is that as we strive to be wise stewards of the resources we are given, we establish goals.  Our larger goal as a family is to not only meet our budget but have money to save as well.  Then we can decide what we want to do with those savings.

So we instituted the Giving Jar.  We made a deal with our boys.  Every time we ate leftovers for dinner and did not eat out during the week, we put $5 in our Giving Jar.  We researched and discussed as a family what we might want to do with our savings.  We discovered a wonderful organization called The Smile Train. It is an international charity that provides cleft lip and cleft palate surgery to children in need, as well as providing cleft-related training to doctors.  For as little as $250 and 45 minutes, a child’s life can be changed by this surgery.

We decided that our first goal would be to save $250 to give to The Smile Train.  Putting this goal in front of my children seemed to be exactly what they needed.  Instead of complaining, they became excited to eat leftovers.  If I was tempted to run through a fast food place when we had a busy evening with baseball and homework, they would remind me of our goal.  Suddenly, they didn’t mind as much eating out of the cooler at the ball game or eating what we found in the cabinet.  They loved seeing that five dollar bill slipped into our Giving Jar.  We didn’t stop eating out entirely, but it became a planned event that was a special treat instead of where we turned during a dinnertime crisis.

It took what seemed like a long, long time but the day we  reached our goal was a time of celebration.  We sent off our donation and a few weeks later we received a letter from The Smile Train.  Inside we found a picture of the child that our donation helped.  There was a picture of this little boy before his surgery and a picture of him after his surgery.  My boys were amazed at the difference.  We talked about the obstacles a child would face if he did not have the oportunity to have this surgery.  That little boy’s picture hangs on our refrigerator as a reminder of how good little sacrifices can feel.

We started saving again and dreaming of what we would do with our savings this year.  We were not quite to our goal yet for this year, but recently we had the opportunity to give to a family that suddenly experienced the death of a child.  We were so thankful for the opportunity to do something during such a painful time.

My boys & a pic of the child we helped and the Giving Jar

The Giving Jar has turned into the Blessing Jar as well.  We are the ones that have been blessed.  We have found great joy as a family in learning the power and benefit of putting aside our own desires in the anticipation of meeting someone else’s needs.  It has created great opportunities for discussions about: needs versus wants, how financially blessed we are as a nation and as a family, the importance of giving to those in need, living unselfishly, staying aware of the needs around us, and working as a team toward an important goal.

We still use the Giving Jar.  We need to decide on our next goal.  There are lots of ideas on the table…for $100 we could microfinance a loan for a woman in a third world country through the organization, Kiva, for $200 we could purchase a donkey and bring help and relief to a child-headed household through World Vision, or for $300 we could help build a well to provide clean, fresh water for a school in Africa through the Water Project.  We are so blessed…and the possibilities are endless!