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Fulfillment – The Heart’s Cry 1

August 16, 2015

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Take delight in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:3-6)

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”  (Hebrews 11:1, 39-40)

Faith was easy. Time was much.  Yet, something happened….  Time happened.

It is easy to have hope in the dreams and desires of the heart when there is much time to be lived.  Yet, reality hits when much time passes and the realization of some hopes and dreams possibly not being fulfilled.  To hope or dream in something that is not God’s Will, or not within God’s plan for fulfillment, is difficult for the heart to digest.  It would be much easier to live life absent these desires.  Yet, is that truth?  Is it good to hope in dreams and desires that will never be fulfilled?

I think of a man who was several years older than me.  I met him as part of my work ministry.  He was born disabled.  He was always wheelchair bound.  He could not move his legs, and his arms only had minimal movement.  He finished his education, and was able to obtain a professional job.  He used a straw in his mouth to operate computers.  His communication ability was limited.  He had to fully rely on others to take care of his every need his entire life.  I met him volunteering to help him once per week.  I would meet him at lunch and feed him.  He had an electric wheelchair, and would meet me at the cafeteria entrance.  His lunch was always neatly packed in his backpack.  In time, I learned to understand him and we were able to have conversations though limited as it was difficult for him to speak.  For a few years, I met him weekly feeding him his lunch.  He began to share more and more with me in our meetings, and began to write emails to stay in touch.  He desired that I would meet him outside of work, and began to ask me out to family events with him which I did not accept his invitation.  It became evident that this man began to have an attraction for me.  I contemplated much in our interactions.  I was not attracted to him romantically, yet my heart grieved for him.  My heart grieved why it would be that God would allow anyone to be born with such extent of disability, containing the same heartfelt desires as many people, yet in most likelihood the majority of the desires of the heart would not be fulfilled.  It is not fair.  This man is just as loved by God as me.  Will all the desires of his heart be fulfilled?  He is limited by the confinement of his body, and thus limited in the ability for fulfillment of his desires.  All things are possible, yet not all is likely in the reality of the world and this brings sadness.

Any of us can force a desire to be fulfilled by our own means.  Though, this would not end in completion of a desire being fulfilled to satisfy the heart’s cry yet only create for acceptance of something less than the fullness of Christ.  A deep desire and dream of the heart requires fulfillment by Christ alone to truly satisfy the soul.  It is a gift from above, and not something humanly able to obtain apart from Christ and His perfect Will and perfect timing.

Are my desires God’s desires for my life?  Are my dreams God’s dreams for my life?  I have contemplated these questions these past several months with the inability to write about them.  I have felt strongly to sit and write an extensive list of all my heart’s desires praying over them and leaving them to God.  In the reflection, at times, I am hopeful.  At other times, I am challenged.  At other times, I am faced to stare upon reality.  Then, there are times that the mere thought of dreams and desires has my heart aching if this is even Christian thought or is it selfish?  I end with a fear.  The fear is the act of writing out my heart.  In this documentation of my heart’s desires and dreams, it is a reflection of me.  Does this reflection resemble God’s heart and desires for me?  Will I look upon the list in hope seeing the footprints of God and a path to walk?  Or, will I see the list as sadness pouring over much left with unchecked boxes as the most significant being those things that I am unable to accomplish requiring my trust and faith that many desires deeply in my heart can only truly be given to me from God.  I can search.  I can work hard.  I can strive.  Yet, I can not accomplish or obtain the most significant of the desires.  I must wait on God, and trust in God knowing that if these desires are truly from Him that in His perfect timing, they will become part of my life.  They will become part of my story.  They will become my testimony.

So, this is the journey.  The beginning of a series of blogs to explore this topic.  The journey beginning now.  And, tonight’s prayer being simple.  Jesus, I love you more than anything.  You are my strength.  You are my reason for living.  You are my only hope.  You are my deepest desire to know and grow with you.  Help me to trust you more.  Help my faith to grow.  Help me to explore the dreams and desires of my heart.  Help my desires and dreams to be the dreams and desires that you have for me.  Please rid my heart of any dreams or desires that are not of you.  Help me to know your path, your purpose, and your direction.  Thank you for being so present in my life.  I do trust in you, and I believe you will grow my trust.  Thank you for this truth!

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

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Overwhelmed

March 10, 2015

directionI have always worked hard, but I have not always managed my money well.  Too often, I allow my emotions to guide my financial decisions.  Poor financial decisions result in the need to work even harder, make more money, and the cycle never ends.  I need the cycle to end.  A while back, I recall praying to God to teach me to work smarter and not harder.  All this hard work becomes very draining after a while, and life is way too short to be drained.  It seems God would have a smarter plan.  I know my lack of planning has not worked.  Though, my attempts at planning has also failed.  I really desire God’s plan.  I really desire strength to not be so guided by my emotions in my decisions but in a plan that God has prepared for me.  In the past, I’ve allowed my feelings to plan my decisions.

I’m lonely, so I go out to eat to be around people versus in my home alone where loneliness will just escalate.  This is a big one.  There are times that I really just desire to be at home, yet I do not desire to be at home alone.  As soon as I get out of the house around people, I feel cheerful.  I feel alive.  I feel like me.  I grew up in a large family.  Life feels better with people around.  It is not necessarily that I need to be relating to the people around, but just the fact that I am not alone feels better.

I feel stressed, so I go to Starbucks.  It embarrasses me to say how frequently I was going to Starbucks.  It was a combination of the caffeine fill up to give me energy and the happy faces.  Starbucks became my friends.  At the Starbuck near my previous employer, I could always count on being greeted by the employees there and I felt like I entered into a family of which I did not feel at home.   For some reason, spending over $6 on a coffee that tastes really good and get a friendly good morning was well worth it.  But, it wasn’t a wise financial decision.  It became habitual.  I enjoyed the place.  I do still crave going there, but I do not go there often.  Before, it was every day and sometimes more than once per day.  Now, maybe once per week and sometimes I do not even go at all in a week.  It is lots of wasted money, but I do miss the people, kindness, and friendliness of the atmosphere.  As for all that caffeine and sugar, it likely was not healthy for me at all.

Brandon, my son needs anything at all so I rearrange my entire checkbook to make it happen.  From new clothes, to activities, to sports, to piano lessons, to a car, to anything at all, I make it happen for Brandon.  There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing Brandon blessed.  Yet, my so giving is not teaching him how to survive in the world.  Plus, I can’t really afford to always be giving so much.  It hurts me inside to say no to Brandon.

vaneTwo months ago, I spent $80 on face cream.  My emotions led me to buy from a friend.   I felt ugly.  I desire to feel pretty, and sometimes when I look in the mirror, I see that I’m getting older.  So, face cream will fix that of course.  It was actually really good stuff, but to spend $80 on face cream every month is ridiculous.  Perhaps, in 5 years, I should go get a face lift to remove every wrinkle so that some man sees me as beautiful.  My heart could never do this because I feel it is a waste of money.  A man should love the heart of a woman and still see that she is beautiful regardless of appearance.  The world teaches me to be vain, as it does everyone else.  I desire to see myself as God sees me.   I desire that a man love everything about me, especially every wrinkle or grey hair or imperfection.  I also plan to love him the same way.  I would be heartbroken if as I aged some man would desire me to continue to get cosmetic surgery so he could see me as beautiful.  Is there beauty deeper than physical, and do men even fall in love with something deeper anymore?  I don’t know.  Vanity is costly.

I like to get to know people, so I enjoy spending time with others doing things.  Everything costs money.  I spend, yet I do not even know if I have the money to spend.

I have compassion.  I desire to give.  Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by guilt so I give what I don’t have because of the feeling.  Sometimes, I know God desiring me to give.  Sometimes, I feel hurt by all the people who ask but mostly I desire to give to lots of places.  I’m barely giving anything these days financially.  Sometimes, I’m not sure if it is God’s leading me to give or if it is my emotion leading me to give.  As I reflect on my past giving decisions, I’m not sure if it was God.  Would God have led differently?  Was the teaching religion?  Was it my heart’s desire?  Was it emotion?  I do not know.  I do enjoy giving, but I also struggle with giving.

Reality, it is all poor planning.  I struggle with planning.  How can I plan for an unknown future?  What am I really attempting to accomplish?  I do not know what God’s Will is for my life.  How do I plan for an unknown Will?

I recall one of my first managers advising me to put as much money as I could into retirement.  This was when I was in my early twenties.  He was pretty well off.  He worked a ton of hours, and then was also a city Alderman.  He worked nonstop.  He saved a ton of money.  But, also, he never enjoyed any of his money.  He planned to retire early.  He ended up losing his job, becoming really sick, and died two years later.

There are so many unknowns in life.  How do you plan?

I know God desires that we do plan, that we use wisdom, and that we are not foolish.  At times, I have been foolish.  Foolishness has no planning.

bankToday, I have been reflecting over all my spending.  What can I decrease?  What do I really need?  What is most important to me?  Where have I been irresponsible?  Where is God calling me to be more responsible?  The thoughts are stressful, and much feels like I’m punishing myself.  I feel the now.

I do not yet have the answers.  I really desire the answers.  I really desire all these money thoughts and stress to leave me.  I wake with money thoughts, and it is overwhelming.  I do not desire my thoughts to overwhelm me.  Nothing in life should be overwhelming and stressful if I am really trusting in God and following His lead.  I really desire to trust God, now worry, and know that everything will work out despite how I periodically feel.  Money is tiring to my thoughts.  Work is tiring.  I need it lifted to feel easier somehow.  I need a better plan than now.

Jesus, please give me wisdom to know what needs to change.  Please help me to trust in you, and to not be stressed and overwhelmed by all of this money stuff.  I trust that you will lead me.  And, I pray that you take all of this from me.  I pray that I do not dream about money, or wake with money thoughts.  Please help me to know your plan.  Help me to know that I am able to follow a plan that will work.  Help me to know your Will for my life.  I need to see something.  Maybe seeing nothing requires me to trust more in You, but I need  Your help so that I can trust more.  Amen.

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Significance

March 6, 2015

it's a wonderful lifeAs it pertains to my financial situation, I can most relate to George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  He comes to the conclusion that he is worth more dead versus alive.  That would be true for me.  I have life insurance that could zap all debt away, provide for my son with a fully paid off home, car, and likely even cover his college.  Is this the true value of a human?

To many, my value is just a financial statement and nothing more.  It can be experienced in many places, even within the walls of the church.  A single mom often is treated as a charity case, instead of an intelligent woman who has all capability of having an impact on the world.  There isn’t a person in the world that desires to be diminished to a case of charity needing help unable to be of help.  The fact of doing so diminishes worth.

I still recall a conversation at a previous church with one of the leaders.  I was sharing, and automatically the man came to many assumptions.  He offered suggestions of what occupations would be best fitting for me.  His suggestions were very insulting in consideration that none of the occupations required a degree or intelligence.  He had placed my worth as little, with the stereotype of “single mom”.  Reality, I made more money than him, yet he assumed my worth was less. He could not see beyond my circumstance to see any worth. I was a single mom and every stereotype that encompassed that title was not my reality.

Is worth defined by my circumstances or occupation?  Does it matter the size of my bank account, level of debt, or extent of income?  Is my balance statement significant?  What is most significant?

The answer to these questions is essential to make progress financially, or to even have the capability of maintaining a budget successfully.  If I do not believe in my need to budget, how successful will I be in accomplishing a budget and planning for my future?  Lack of belief will dictate the course, and not lead to a successful outcome.

spendingThe greatest desires that I have are going to guide my spending patterns regardless of what is outlined on paper.  My heart, emotions, and desires are going to drive the success.  Life is not easy. To persevere remaining steadfast in the decision, the belief must be known deep within the heart that this is actually the best plan for my life.  Absent deep commitment and belief, the plan will be left in frustration.

I have struggled with the idea of restrictions, a plan, and if this will be beneficial.  Earlier today, my eyes filled with tears at the idea of a potential budget.  The primary reason for this is my emotion.  For most of my singleness, I focused on being debt free.  My thought was to have a successful relationship with a man, I must be debt free.  For several years, I did not take vacations, attempted to spend little, and trusted God would make all things right. It felt like I gave up living, while I watched others live.  I could never find freedom.

After facing the financial strain of 2.5 years of legal battles, I gave up.  Life is too short not to live, experience, and enjoy living.  I decided I would take a vacation every year. I would be intentional visiting family. I would spend times with friends. I would live and enjoy life.  I used my tax return money for vacation, and sought friendships. I never felt more alive living versus trapped in punishment that I could not escape which seemed the reality of my life somehow as a single mom.

The escape brought relief.  As long as I could pay my bills, I no longer worried about the status of my financial well-being. Ignoring my financial condition and allowing my feelings to guide my decisions was also not a healthy plan. Though, it seemed to me that there wasn’t a plan that could really work.

budgetThe reality of planning a budget now causes me to ask myself, “Is this really what is best?” My biggest hurdle and concern is my relationship with my son. I have basically given him pretty much all that he needs. It is very difficult for me to say no to my son, though I also know that it is healthy to say no. He also needs to learn to budget especially before he goes to college. He needs to learn that instant gratification is not really what life is all about.

As his mom with only 1.5 years and he will be gone, I struggle. My biggest struggle is I do not desire to lose my son. I can easily cry at the thought. The greatest blessing of my life has been being his mom. Without Brandon with me, what worth is my life? It is difficult for me to see anything beyond being Brandon’s mom. I had dreams, hopes, and desires. At this juncture, I do not know God’s Will.

In the unknown of God’s Will, I desire to have every experience that I can with Brandon. As with most experiences, there is a cost. I have committed to not taking a vacation this year, but always ringing in my thoughts is my time is limited. It seems like Brandon will be gone soon, and now he desires to spend time with me. I did promise him that we would take a vacation in celebration of his high school graduation. I desire experiences now as well. Today, the most ridiculous thought came, “Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.” That thought can be the most dangerous in financial planning. If tomorrow was not guaranteed, I would spend every moment enjoying life with Brandon regardless of cost. I would give him every experience that I could in the little time that existed left with him. None of us know our last day.

There is not anyone or anything in my life that I love more than Brandon. Yet, also, some have said that I sacrifice too much which is not healthy for either of us. In many ways, I try to make up for the brokenness which exists in our family. I cannot change our broken life. I can make it the best that it can be, while glorifying God in the process. Part of this is teaching Brandon the importance and value of money, which also takes my discipline and belief that this journey has value for both of us. May God be glorified in this journey, and strengthen us as we progress with the desire to honor Him in all that we do, and all that we spend.

I desire to commit to this journey, with the belief that God can and will be glorified. I trust in the process that God will strengthen my family, bless us with a long life, and guide our way on this path. 

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 25:14-30)

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Money Matters

March 1, 2015

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”  (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)

show-me-the-money

Growing up in a family of nine I learned quickly, if you wanted anything in life, hard work was required.  I learned to work, yet also my heart was conditioned to give.  I hated that there was such definition of a person’s value by their wealth.  Wealth was outward appearance of significance.  To have significance, you had to look right and be right.  To do so, you had to have the means.  Those that were significant had stuff.  It is something learned at a young age.  Even at a young age, you learn that there are some who have nothing yet somehow there is significance in their nothing.  That is where the battle lies.  Am I significant regardless of my something or my nothing?

I remember in grade school having to write a paper on whom I most admired.  I would say half of the class wrote on Elvis Presley.  I wrote my paper on Mother Theresa.  Elvis Presley was cool, and he could rock!  There was nothing cool about Mother Theresa.  She helped the poorest of the poor, working in the slums of Calcutta.  She risked health, her emotional well being, and her own dignity caring for those who had nothing.  It was admiration, but an impossible admiration.  I admired her, but I could not understand how someone could be like her.  How to live with such compassion and love that your every thought is for the needs of others versus the needs of self?  I still struggle with that reality as an adult.

Money has been an ongoing struggle in my heart, and mind.  I have difficulty relating to those who have much, yet I also have difficulty relating to those who have nothing.  If I was a business, I would be shutting my doors with a sign hanging “Bankrupt!”  I have a good job, yet money is a struggle.  Compared to the homeless person whom I pass daily on the streets, I am financially rich.  Compared to the billion dollar executive, I am poor.  In the world, money defines a person’s value.

I wish money did not exist.  It breaks up marriages.  It is a hurdle in relationships.  I have not seen anything good happen from money, apart from the greatest blessing giving it all away.  Yet, often, I have given too much.  Money is a struggle, and a stress.  I recently began the journey of attacking the greatest stress of my life, and that is finances.  To God be the glory as He directs and guides every step of this journey.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

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Joyful Heart

February 7, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  (Proverbs 17:22 ESV)

Are you joyful?  In this economy and with the troubles of the world, it can be easy to feel crushed.  How is it that God desires us to live despite circumstances?

In times of difficulty, it is good to meditate on the truths of God.  Consider the Psalms with many written by David.  The Israelites were experiencing difficulty.  You see the roller coaster of emotion expressed in the 150 Psalms.  Though, of greatest significance is the Psalms end in praise to God.

Life can be difficult.  Though, within those challenges, God is very present.  He knows you!  He loves you!  There is nowhere that you can go that God is not present.  In the darkest of places, God is there.  To God, the darkness is light.  God created you, and you are exactly as He desired you to be.  His thoughts of you are precious, countless, and loving.  God has redeemed you.  He has called you by name.  There is nothing that you need fear.  God will never leave or forsake you.  God loves you!

“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!  Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”  (Psalm 150)

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Fear Not

February 7, 2014

father beach“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

In today’s lunchtime bible study, this passage was discussed which resonates the peace and love of our Heavenly Father.  Consider these truths:

  1. The Lord created you.  He has redeemed you.  He has called you by name.
  2. Do not fear.  The Lord is with you.
  3. You are precious in the eyes of the Lord.  You are Honored.
  4. God loves you!

The greatest blessing was received with these truths touching my heart today.  As stated by our leader, “We gain peace when we know God intimately and loose ourselves in Him.”

Take some time today, and in the upcoming days, to get to know the Lord who loves you dearly and desires an intimate relationship with you.

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Breath of Life

February 7, 2014

fetusFor you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.”  (Psalm 139:13-18)

God knew me from the moment of my existence.  Even as just a tiny microscopic cell not even visible to the human eye, God knew me.

God created me, forming me within my mother’s womb.  Everything about me as His creation is exactly as He desired it to be.  Not only that, He loves me.  His thoughts of me are precious, countless, and loving.  He is our loving Father.

 

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