Thursday, September 18, 2008

Not-So-Great Day

Today started out awesome. Fiance and I spent the morning window shopping after taking Teenybop to school. We've got some expensive great ideas on how to cut people off the shopping list what to get her for Christmas,

and some ideas about why we should focus more on getting the things our daughter would like best, even if those things are a little more costly and might mean a smaller pile of gifts. It's also a perfect time to start introducing her to the real meaning of this particular holiday, and only partially because we had a huge Christmas last year and will feel guilty for not doing as many things this year. Each of the above toys costs about $60 dollars, but each toy is something that Teenybop would hardly ever put down. They mock big-kid toys in that they are electronic, and all but one are totally portable. The first is quite like the Nintendo Wii, the second a portable preschool teacher dressed up to look like a Sony PSP. And of course the laptop is almost just like the one her cousin has, and that's one of the things she has actually asked for this year.

The rest of the day was spent feeling lousy and freaked out and feeling like all that window shopping was just a cruel waste of time. Christmas is just around the corner, but Fiance works in a factory where there doesn't seem to be any work lately. Because of the lack of work, the factory has been shutting down early almost every night, and everyone is being sent home. So when we went to get his check yesterday, it was almost $100 short of what we expected. It set a terrible mood for the rest of the afternoon, what with the dashed hopes of the morning and the bills we knew were waiting on the table. Rent had to be paid (it was already late since the last check was short also), and the lights are late enough that we need to pay them ... we've got the "or else" sitting on the kitchen table. How on earth did it get that bad?

We had a month in the beginning of the year where Fiance was out of work and once he'd found his current job, the economy seemed to hit rock bottom. The price of everything went up, and it made it really hard for us to catch up on the month of bills that didn't get paid. We are current right now on the rent and the phone, but need about two months of lights, and two months of cable to be truly back in the black. We were caught up on the cable, but we skipped it last month in favor of paying the lights. But we've got to juggle them both because Fiance is in school ... online.

Maybe God is trying to teach us a lesson about pride, I don't know. Today my little mini-devotional says, "Let My purposes guide you rather than your own fears or others opinions." My own fears? Like the fear of asking for financial help when I need it, and being seen as irresponsible? Check. I grew up in a home where wants often came before needs, and because of that we moved. A lot. I determined to never become my mother, to always do a great job managing my money, and I even took a budgeting class in high school so I would know how to balance a checkbook, how to manage bills, all of that. And I'm good at it. I can balance a checkbook, and I can squeeze the very last cent out of a dollar. When I've got money, I can manage that cash all over the place, and I'd rather go without wants than see my daughter go without needs. So I am not irresponsible. It's simply not a part of me. The opinions of others ... They do not always achieve God's purpose for my life, and being in fear of what others think of me will do my family no good right now. But there's another lesson in that, too, hidden between the actual words.

"Do not be prideful." "Humble yourself."

James 5:14-15 says, "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." On Sunday morning at church, I will ask for prayer when our Pastor gives the altar call. This will be so hard for us, since neither of us likes to share financial information, let alone tell people that we are struggling. That will be hard enough without asking for help. I can't guarantee that I will be able to ask for help ... but I can ask for prayer and trust in God to send help my way. He doesn't expect me to change my thinking overnight. But I am trusting Him to mold me and shape me into the person He wants me to be. Humility and the ability to admit when you struggle is part of that. After all, if Jesus could feed hundreds with two loaves of bread and a fish with plenty left over, I can surely trust in him to lead and guide my family to a financial solution for the light company, right?

After all, Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Matthew 7:7-8 says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

And Matthew 6:25-31 says, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'"

In these passages, I am assured that all will be well, if only I trust in He who has led me and loved me this far. So I will continue to bury myself in His word, I will seek prayer at my church, I will struggle with my flesh and hope for victory over myself in the ability to seek assistance, and with hope in Christ, I will continue to pray over my family's finances and the Christmas season looming around the corner.

Funny ... I looked up all those verses, I typed all this out, and I have lifted up prayer through this post ... and though the problem isn't fixed, He has given me peace to go along with my hope, and I feel better. For now.