Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A New Start

Who knew life could change so drastically in a week?

Me. I knew it. In fact, we all know it. We just forget that we know that until it happens again.

The actual life change isn't as drastic in my physical world, but it's insanely drastic in my mental world. My brain was turned upside-down and thoroughly shaken by God.

I think He got tired of waiting for me. Or hearing me whine.

It started a little over a week ago. I've been salivating over this online business school for three years, even going so far as saving up for it last year, but due to vehicles needing repairs and other real-life wonderfulness, anything saved went merrily out the ding-dang window.

Then came March, the time to register for the classes. The classes were only buyable for the next ten days. By day eight I had given up hope and started an envelope fund to save for next year. I figured I could do it if I saved my tips from my part-time job- as long as I got an average of five bucks a day. Most days I could accomplish this, and on the days I couldn't, God made people generous the next day, so I was averaging more than five dollars a day by the end of the week. Saving for the classes was feasible, and it wouldn't put a dent in the household funds.

The school wanted either a lump sum or payments for the next four months; both were way too high. I contacted the proprietor of the online class (I've been speaking to her on and off for two years) and told her of my situation, and that I would still be an online lurker and Facebook page contributor until next year when I could take the classes, so please keep me on the email list and forum.

God and this wonderful lady had other ideas. She told me she would get back to me within a day.

When she sent me a link to a different payment plan, I was flabbergasted. She changed the payments to monthly ones for a year, and though in the end I would pay a little more, it seemed almost feasible.

My heart broke. the payments were still too much for our pitiful little account. My brain (and most likely God) swatted me upside the head. How much was I saving per week for this school? How much did it add up to by the end of the month?

My tip savings added up to the payment she was asking for, minus one dollar. It would be tight, but I could actually take the classes now. All from tips. No impact on the account or family expenses. Tips were extra. Tips were free. Basically, I could take the classes for free, as long as the tips would hold up.

I called my husband to tell him my plan, and he encouraged me to go for it. I started classes last week and for the first time in a very long time, I happy-ugly cried. God restored the joy in my heart. I was on my way to being awesome, and I couldn't wait to start the classes!

I won't give details just yet, as my original business plans have already changed several times because of the awesome introductions to business. One thing I will tell you is I've learned a lot already, and by the time I'm through, I'll be doing something I love that will generate enough income to get us out of our barrel bottom. Maybe even enough to more than cover my husbands' salary so he can finally work in ministry full-time. I'd love to see him doing what God meant him to do!

Are you having trouble taking the leap into something you know God wants you to do? Does your heart falter when that final step needs to be made? Remember that God not only provides the courage to take that step but will also provide what you need to succeed! Not just in business, but in everything He sees within you. Now go out there, take that final yet beginning step, and be awesome!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Barrel Bottoms

I don't like barrel bottoms. Have you ever looked at the bottom of a barrel? It's dark and gloomy. It's not the best place to be in life, but absolutely the best place to be concerning God.

Why? Because the only way to see a way out is to look up.

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Right now I'm at my own personal barrel bottom. I thought I hit it a few months back, but it seems this barrel has deeper levels.

How did I find those deeper levels?

I found a way to fix things where I didn't have to entirely depend on God to get me out of the barrel. So I went and 'fixed' what I thought I could repair, only to find out my wrench was really bubble gum and a band-aid. 

Even now my little mind schemes to find other ways of making life repairs; I hesitate to implement them because I know there are more barrel levels than a Mario Brothers game and I don't want to entrench myself deeper. And it seems every time I try to make things better, I find a new level of worse.

I know that isn't proper grammar, so put your red pens away Grammar Police. I'm making a point here.

Am I saying don't try at all? Nope. I'm saying keep on trying- just make God the main part of your efforts.

I've tried to solve everything through my own means. I'm tired, heart-worn, and frustrated. I don't care what Sinatra says- if I do it my way, it just isn't going to flourish. 

Why wouldn't I go to God in the first place? He has infinite resources and He's a lot more clever in using them than I could ever be. He has a way of sneaking in blessings before I know they're there, and the bounties of those blessings far outweigh anything I could ever do on my own. 

'Outweigh' as in I made myself a blessing like a grain of sand, and He's waiting with a blessing elephant. And a blessing whale. And a blessing universe. And here I sit with my sand grain blessing thinking I did something awesome all by myself.

Seems silly now, doesn't it?

God doesn't want us to sit in our own mess and pray for deliverance either. Don't get me wrong, prayer is great! I do it every day, several times a day. But He wants us to make an effort to clean up the messes we make as we're praying for help. Only then will He give us what we truly need- when we're ready for it, that is.

Honestly, I've sat in my messes waiting for God to do something without lifting a finger, and when I stopped waiting, I also stopped praying and depended on myself to get the job done. Neither works very well. I've proven that many times.

The lesson I learned from that was to do what we can in our own strength, all the while praying for more strength from Him and depending on Him to get us out of it in some wonderfully blessed way.

We're not always delivered from our barrel bottoms immediately. I don't always understand why during the struggle, but afterward, I can see He was using that time to make me grow as a believer. Hindsight is always 20/20, and we hardly ever see the long-term benefits when we're going through a hardship- that's a good thing to remember.

If you're facing your barrel bottom like me, I pray that you come out of it soon with an awesome perspective on life- and a greater love of God in your heart!