Monday, September 24, 2018

Moments vs. Movements

As I was speaking with someone close to me recently, I was reflecting on what the last two years have looked like in our lives.  Yesterday was my two-year anniversary of leaving corporate America and it is hard to believe it has already been that long.  It feels like the last two years have happened in the blink of an eye and yet there has been so much life and change during that time. 

When the Lord placed me in my job at an up and coming (now successful and established), amazing non-profit right out of the gates of corporate America I thought I had found my place.  I was convinced that it was where I was meant to be for the long haul.  After all, God organized the whole thing (still such a crazy cool story). During the time that I worked there, my local church offered me a contracted admin position in an effort to re-evaluate what the needs of the church were in an administrative capacity.  We had just walked through some changes and it was the perfect time for me to step in, be an extra set of hands, and it was God’s miraculous provision in meeting our needs financially. 

I worked there for 9 months when the Lord called me to step away and commit all of my time to the non-profit.  I had anticipated that the Lord would open the floodgates of provision and make a way through that job but that wasn’t quite His plan.  Nonetheless, we remained obedient.  As a result, we walked through some tight financial months as well as major heartaches in our personal life after the miscarriage.  In every tight month though, the Lord provided our daily bread, emotionally, financially, and so forth.   It wasn’t until months after walking away from working at the church that I realized how at-home I felt being there.  Surprised?  I was!

At the beginning of the summer the Lord began to stir even more strongly in my heart and call me back to our local church but I was unsure of what that would look like.  Long story short, after months and months of seeking Him and His will (and admittedly resisting), I finally realized, in yet another abrupt way that the time to act was now!  There were only a few people that I confided in during this seeking time because I was so uncertain as to what it even meant and I wanted to see the Lord prepare the way.  Sure enough, he did.  After three months of personal and private seeking and ultimately saying yes to the leading the Lord placed on my heart, it didn’t take more than three weeks for everything to fall into place.  Every single prayer that I prayed during that 3 month time period, every argument I made as to why this wouldn’t work and every resistant movement I attempted was addressed and then some! 

Over the last couple of years there have been a series of moments that God has walked me through but now I’m able to see that as God was walking me through moments, he was preparing me for a movement; a movement in my heart, a movement in my expectations, a movement in my plans. 

More recently, He has put me in positions and places in which he exposes me to things I never expected.  I am slowly learning that before I react to these things, it is necessary for me to ask, “Lord, was this just a moment or is this the beginning of a movement?”  Trust me when I say that he is faithful to answer that question in bold and powerful ways. 

Depending on his answer, I can tailor my prayers accordingly.  When I know that it was a moment then I can pray for release, willingness and obedience, or forgiveness.  When He shows me that it is a movement then I begin to seek Him in the process and ask for wisdom as far as my involvement and role. 

Listen friends, I know the Lord can take us in unexpected and uncomfortable directions but we need to trust that our presence there is not a coincidence.  It is up to us to be responsible with that placement.  Anyone close to us knows that there has not been a lot of comfort in our lives over the last two years financially or materially but I can sit and tell story after story after story of the bold movement we have participated in.  And this life of obedience is absolutely a life worth living. 

So here I sit, working in a place I never anticipated, doing things that only the Lord can qualify me for and trusting God in the moments and during the movement. 

I challenge you today, if there is something taking place that has rocked you or made you uncomfortable, ponder whether it is simply a moment you need to pass through or it is a movement you need to participate in.  Believe me, God will give you the answer and He will be faithful in the process.  

Moment or movement aside, remember Proverbs 19:21 “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hole-Hearted yet Wholehearted

Am I willing to be wholehearted even when I feel hole-hearted?  That is what Jesus is asking me this month.    

Throughout this last year we have walked through scenarios, circumstances and loss that has left me feeling as though my heart has been pierced and left with holes in it, some gaping, some like a sliver, others as small as a pin-needle but nonetheless there.  I am in my early thirties and I can say that there have been a number of times where I have said, “Lord, this is not what I pictured my life looking like.”  Or I’ve uttered the words, “Jake, I just didn’t expect to be here.  I thought this would be different…”  Enter in any scenario you are currently going through.   Maybe you are in the middle of a break up and you thought this person was “the one.”  Been there.  Maybe you are trying to have a baby and God’s timing isn’t quite fitting into your timeline.  Been there.  Maybe you are grieving the loss of someone, a spouse, a parent, a friend, or a child.  Been there.  Maybe you are waiting for direction in your career and that raise, or promotion, or other job opportunity isn’t appearing.  Been there.  Maybe, just maybe, God’s placed a calling on your heart and all you can think is, “Lord, you must have this wrong.  Do you know who you are talking to?”  Been there.     

Whether the holes in your heart are there because there is a missing person or the holes in your heart are there because it feels like there is a missing piece – its ok.  It doesn’t mean you can’t be wholehearted. 

I was recently telling a friend that this year feels like it has been overshadowed with disappointment and honestly, not just for me, for a lot of people close to me.  Our God sized dreams are changing or our real-life experiences just aren’t what we expected them to be.  Life is hard.  Loss is hard.  Marriage is hard.  Again-it’s ok.  It’s real. 

While in one conversation I told someone the year felt overshadowed by disappointment, in another, just today, I told someone that the last two years have been the most exciting chapters of my faith journey because I’ve felt God the closest.  Want to know why?  Because it’s been all I could do – seek him.  I might not have the energy to work out, I might not have the motivation to eat healthy, but I have my Jesus.  I might not be the best version of myself in relationships but Jesus still gives me his best.  Jesus doesn’t care if I’m not in peak physical condition right now or the epidemy of health, or very engaged - he just wants my heart - holes and all. 

To shed light on another perspective, I realize that there are things taking space in my heart that I have clung to white-knuckled because I believe they are supposed to be part of the intricately woven tapestry of my life and without it my heart may fall apart.  This can come in the form of unrealized dreams or unmet expectations.  Has someone let you down?  Have you lost relationship with someone you thought would be there for the long haul?  Have circumstances changed, whether financially, relationally, otherwise?  I am slowly coming to realize that it is when I have come to the point of full surrender, in relationship, in dreams, in finances, in expectations, that is when God far exceeds my imagination. 

I have had to give God access to those holes in my heart in order to become whole-hearted for Him again.  I have had to release unmet expectations, realized losses, and grieve and process through relationship changes I never saw coming.  And yet, here I sit – wholehearted. 

I wholeheartedly love Jesus and trust in His good for my life and my family.  I wholeheartedly believe that He loves each and every person on this earth and He has created him or her for a purpose that far surpasses his or her wildest dreams.  I wholeheartedly know what Jesus is calling me to and I know without a shadow of a doubt it will exceed my wildest expectations.  You see, I wholeheartedly realize that this life is not about me but about what God can do through me. 

In a year that my heart has felt heavy with disappointment and I’ve felt distance in relationships and levels of loneliness that I haven’t known in a long time – I can still say that I trust that God’s path is for my good. 

Tonight I just want to encourage anyone that feels hole-hearted and remind you that this is not the end of your story.  Yes, it may be the end of a chapter, the end of a dream or the smack dab middle of a struggle, but God is still good and he is still there.  He sees your heart, holes and all and wants to fill them in with more love than you will ever know.  He believes in you – even when you can’t, don’t or just won’t right now.  He still sees those God sized dreams and guess what the key to unlocking them is – every single hole in that heart of yours.  It is still possible to live wholehearted even when you feel hole-hearted.  Trust that in the midst of that emptiness – God sees you, the real you, and still pursues you and loves you.  

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Come Sit at the Table

Its July 30, 2018.  Today is the day that I thought I would be done.  I thought I would be done having kids, done being pregnant and done with the childbearing stage of my life.  Yet here I am and I have no idea if our family is complete as it is right now, Jake, our two sons, and me, or if there is more in store for us.  I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to get pregnant again, whether through IVF as with our first son, or naturally, as we did with our second (and third). 

There is a trickiness to being a c-section mama.  You see, I know without a shadow of a doubt that this would have been the day we would have met our third child.  I could tell you what time we would have woken up to go the hospital, the exact time pre-op would have started and the approximate time that the baby would have arrived.  As a result, there were certain times of the day today that stung more than others.  4 a.m. when the alarm would have gone off, 6 a.m. when we would have been expected to arrive at the hospital, and 7 a.m. when pre-op would have begun.  If all had gone well, the baby would have been here around 8:30 and by this time we would have hoped the boys would be arriving to meet their new sibling.  But here I am, sitting at home, writing while my sons nap and tears welling in my eyes. 

There is a release for me today.  A release of the expectation for things to work out on the timeline that I expect.  A release of what the redemption of this hurt should look like on this side of heaven.  And as a result of this loss, a release of my expectations of how God heals me and changes my heart.

There were a couple of months that I expected God to grant us another pregnancy because, well, that might ease the pain or distract me from this loss.  I’m not trying to sound insensitive or diminish the impact of the miscarriage; I’m just being honest.  There were other months that I thought God would work things out in a different area that would be to our family’s advantage in continuing to pursue His will for us.  Yet, none of those things have come to pass.  I am not pregnant.  We are still very actively working through some things for our household and our budget and I know that I need to stop putting God in a box outlined by human outcomes. 

I’ve tried to negotiate my way out of this pain in so many different ways in my walk with the Lord.  I’ve tried to negate the pain or distract myself from my hurt but that is when God has drawn closest.  I now realize that it is in fact during our times of greatest weakness that the Lord can press in and fill in spaces of our heart that we thought were unfixable. 

I now know that in this rawness and vulnerable heart space that the Lord has such immense love and longing for each of His children.  I consider it my greatest purpose to simply show people how much he loves them - just as they are.  Not because of anything they have or haven’t done.  Not because of a specific level of strength or weakness.  Not because they know the Bible by heart or sing well during worship.  Just because.  Love has been my most powerful lesson because that is exactly how He has healed me. 

There have been moments in the last six months that I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t pretend to be ok.  I couldn’t pretend to feel fulfilled or know how to move forward.  I couldn’t sing or worship and I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t upset with God that things worked out the way they did.  Don’t get me wrong, I know where fault lies in all of this – this isn’t a debate on theology and spiritual warfare.  Its an honest portrayal of walking through and battling for faith after loss in my life.  Its coming to the jarring realization that no matter how you’ve served or what your faith walk looks like – bad things still happen to you, bad things happen to anyone.  And yet, here I sit – knowing I am deeply and passionately loved by Jesus.  I know just how true it is that he will leave the 99 and pursue me.  I know that I will not be abandoned by Him. 

Grief can make even the most connected person feel lonely and isolated by humans but with Jesus, healing is possible.  I miss this baby with everything in me and unlike anyone else ever will but I can’t neglect to highlight exactly how far Jesus has gone to pursue my heart over and over and over again in the last six months.  He has shown me and unearthed a level of compassion and love for others during this time that I would have never known without being broken apart and slowly put back together again. 

It is so very hard to walk through difficult times and it is even harder to press into faith and Jesus during those moments but when you do – there is a level of love and surrender unlike anything you’ll ever know. 

My heart is broken but it has finally been broken by Jesus.  I can confidently say that I know the Lord is going to use this broken heart for bonding with others through brokenness and building stronger faith.  Our table has seen and felt heartache this year that we never knew before but because of it our table has new seats of understanding and compassion.  With each new journey, God expands my empathy and it will be used for His glory.  So please, don’t ever feel alone - come to the table – I pray we never tire of serving His grace, love and forgiveness through the sharing of heartache, brokenness, joy and laughter.   

Monday, July 9, 2018

Humanity in Emotion

Throughout the last few months I’ve wrestled with an expectation of myself in that I assume that when I grieve I lose joy.  Slowly but surely I am realizing that is an absolute lie.  Just as healing can only come from Jesus, the same is true about joy.  Joy is considered a fruit of the spirit and its something gained when you are in right relationship with God regardless of the earthly circumstances you are walking in.  It is not something that is of our own strength.  It can also be present during the most unusual and difficult times.  The presence of grief does not mean the absence of joy.  In fact, I would even argue that grief opens up a new level of joy that wasn’t realized before because of the gratitude that comes during the grieving process.

Think about the times that you have truly grieved something in your life.  It can be a season that you grieved such as ending college or changing careers.  It can be a person that has passed away or a relationship that ended.  In each of these circumstances, the grief over what has ended or been lost does not negate the joy that existed or exists as a result of that season, person or experience.

I feel that this is often a misconception about faith and relationship with Jesus as well.  Just because someone is in relationship with Jesus does not mean that they have all the answers, nor the ability to be carefree.  The presence of faith does not mean the absence of doubt.  The presence of faith does not mean the absence of human emotion or even sin for that matter.  It does, however, mean that there is a direct line of information, spiritual gifts and forgiveness available to you through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit that will bring healing and wholeness through Jesus.   

I think that often we set ourselves up for failure in thinking that we can only experience one emotion at a time, which is absurd.  It also frustrates me that when a person is open and honest about the tough emotions (anger, sadness, grief, jealousy) society assumes that those are the only emotions that person is capable of feeling and sometimes they become ostracized.  The fact of the matter is that when someone is open about the tough stuff it simply makes other people uncomfortable and that’s on them not the person trying to be honest in processing their emotions. 

Jesus did this so well.  He walked this earth and challenged the common way of thinking and he made people uncomfortable for all of the right reasons.   There will be times in our own lives that if we are really allowing God’s light to shine through us – others will be uncomfortable.  At the end of the day, that is on them – not us.  If something you are walking through or experiencing in your life or your faith walk makes another person uncomfortable it means that they have some digging, processing and healing to do on their own time.  It does not mean that we need to coddle their discomfort, mask our emotions, and/or play a part of some kind in order to fit in. 

We have all been created to experience the full range of emotions differently and to do so in community and in love.  As I continue to read the book of Job, I see that Job’s emotions and wrestling with God made his friends uncomfortable but why?  It is because they had their own preconceptions and ideologies of what being in relationship or in favor with God meant.  Even Job had to wrestle through and question what he defined as God’s favor. 

Ever since the loss of my own naiveté of what it feels like to live without suffering, I have come to realize that the depth and breadth of my own personal emotional understanding and relationship with Jesus has vastly been changed.  I now have such an appreciation for what it meant for Jesus to walk the earth, deeply engage in relationship, experience loss as well as opposition and continue to treat everyone with grace and love.  And while I am not called to sacrifice myself for any of you, I am willing to sacrifice myself for Him in an effort to show just how deeply loved you are.  Plus, the simple fact that he himself experienced all of the hard emotions that we walk through here on earth deepens my love and appreciation for him and the effort He put in to saving me. 

I’ll end with this.  Today when I felt myself beginning to feel sadness and grieve our angel baby I simply allowed the spirit to pray for me and in that moment I was overwhelmed.  The Lord spoke to me and said; “you know the tears you’ve shed over your lost child and the joy you have in your other children – imagine the tears I shed over all of my lost children and the joy I have in those that are found?”  I wept.  I simply wept.  If the world only knew how much God loves us!  If you only knew how cherished you are – goodness, would your life change.  I realize a lot of my Jesus talk and God moment stories and Holy Spirit references make people uncomfortable, but if even just one person can sense, feel and turn to the grace and open arms God has for them, this is all worth it.  Today I pray that you know God’s heart for you, I pray that you realize that He knows EXACTLY how you are feeling and He loves you just as you are.  Don’t be ashamed to feel – God created you for just that and when you feel that its time to know Jesus – don’t be afraid of that either.  He is waiting for you. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Lessons in Grieving

As we enter into what would have been the birth month of our third baby, due date July 30, there have been a few things laid on my heart to share regarding living with grief.

The best way for me to describe grief would be in terms of a fog.  Fog can be debilitating and cause you to stop in your tracks, it can be distracting or disorienting in the sense that you no longer see the lines that typically guide your path, and it can be dense enough to block out everything around you so all you can do is just focus on where you are at right in that moment and take one step at a time to proceed to your destination.

Grief works the same way.  Throughout the last few months I have experienced all of the above and the key has been to simply keep taking the next step.  The tricky part about grief is that it sneaks up on you in the most unexpected moments.

Please hear me when I say that grief and joy are not directly correlated.  It is possible to still be joyful and yet have grief be a very real and present emotion in your life.  Proverbs 14:13 says that "Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains."  Additionally, grief and gratitude are also not directly correlated.  In what I consider to be one of the most powerful chapters of the Bible, Job, Job 1:20 states "Job stood up and tore his robe in grief.  Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship."  This imagery hits directly into my soul.  The most powerful thing I've been able to do during this process is worship despite my grief because that is where the Lord meets me and brings me joy. 

For anyone who has lost someone, the fact that they are grieving does not negate their gratitude and appreciation for the loved ones that remain here.  While there is comfort drawn from those loved ones - it does not take away the pain of the loss they have experienced.  I write that because there have been many moments when friends or family note how blessed I am to still have my sons and yes - I am extremely blessed to have them, however, it doesn't mean I didn't still love and long for that third child.  As Jeremiah 10:19 states, "My wound is severe, and my grief is great.  My sickness is incurable, but I must bear it."  Grief is not curable, however, it does change, it does become more manageable but its not going to be according to any personal timeline.  It just takes time.

While my loss appears differently than the loss of others, these are lessons within the grieving process that I feel are applicable and unless spoken they will not be understood or recognized by those who have never been in the trenches of grief.

Finally, I know that it is uncomfortable to ask people about their loss because you are afraid of stirring up some negative emotions or sadness but can I ask you to do something?  Don't be so afraid of someone's tears that you aren't willing to see their heart.  Yes, it can be uncomfortable to see people cry but when people who have lost someone don't feel that they have the ability to be vulnerable or honest about their emotions, it can be an incredibly lonely feeling.  While I appreciate the fact that you care enough not to hurt them - can you care enough to be willing to help them bear their hurt?  For many people, being able to talk about the one they lost brings healing.  It may not be in a way that you understand but sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is to willingly bring it up, talk about it, and ask questions.  If they don't want to talk about it I can bet they will tell you that and ask for grace in giving them their space.  I know that even if I am not in a place to talk, I do appreciate the effort made.  While no one else on this side of heaven got to know my baby the way I did - it doesn't mean that it didn't effect me. 

God has been faithful to redeem the heartache of my loss one step at a time and I can genuinely say that I am in a good place with a peace that surpasses my understanding.  I know Jesus in ways that I never knew him before and I am continually learning the strength that is found in weakness, loss, and vulnerability.  Today I challenge you - have the tough conversation and ask the hard questions, your temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the lifetime of grief that person will experience.  Move forward with a Holy Confidence that there is healing in the hard and wisdom drawn from hurt.

Thanks for your time. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Kingdom Dreaming

I have been convicted lately in feeling that I've been highlighting the negative of my life more often than I have been giving praise for the good that exists right now.  While I believe in transparency and being honest with my thoughts, I also believe in pressing into the positive and I'm tired of not being able to do that so this is my active effort to shift into positivity, joy and hope.

I wrote a while ago that Jake and I were functioning in SERVE-ival mode and I'm happy to say that while we are still in a season of seeking our daily bread on a daily basis, the Lord has given us the ability to dream once again.  Although, this dreaming is not in regards to our personal lives but in regards to dreaming of how WE can make a positive impact on God's kingdom with our time here on earth. 

I believe Brian Houston would refer to this as kingdom dreaming and it is far better than any dreaming I've ever been able to do on my own.  These dreams that are laid upon our hearts are dreams that are not of us but ones that we are called to participate in.  We have no idea how they will happen, when they will happen, or our exact involvement in them besides the fact that we are called to steward them and when the time is right work with in the Lord's strength and provision to make them happen. 

Kingdom dreams come from hearts of complete abandonment and a deep deep desire to simply honor God with all that we are.  All that we have. All that we can do.  In the pursuit of God's calling on our lives He has highlighted giftings within us that almost feel foolish yet, we can be encouraged that they are there because our Creator has put them there.  Do you know what it feels like to have a spirit-filled self-worth?  Amazing. 

In kingdom dreaming, the Lord highlights how past experiences and current experiences are leading you and forming you for something greater than you could imagine.  My friend so beautifully prayed yesterday, "thank you, Jesus, for giving us God-sized dreams as humans because we know that they can only be accomplished by you working through us." 

The best part is that our Kingdom dreams almost take us entirely out of it and we can wholly put it on God to help us foster and steward their development in His time.  It takes one step of obedience at a time.  One day of serving at a time and a faith-filled boldness that seems foolish to the world but yet - God is faithful.

We are in another season of waiting to see exactly how God will bring the evolution of these dreams to pass. My goodness, you guys! There is some seriously exciting stuff that God has planned for someday and such a time as this.  God has such a heart for us all and even more excitingly he is calling my husband and I into these dreams together.  What a sign of faithfulness to the covenant of marriage.  God is so good. 

Today I simply write to express my gratitude for the ability to kingdom dream and to do so with my husband.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to sit front row and watch my husband's heart and passions evolve into something that will revolutionize relationship.  Thank you, Jesus, for this life and showing up in the midst of the trenches. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Missing the Miraculous

The last few weeks have been difficult for me emotionally.  Yesterday I couldn't hold back tears that came for what felt like no reason.  As my sons played in their toy room upstairs I stood at the kitchen sink doing the dishes and cried.  Finally I simply uttered, "Lord, help me.  I feel weak.  I don't have any strength in this on my own.  I need you.  Be my strength."

Our pastors over the last two weeks have been discussing creating margin and taking time away from distractions so yesterday I decided to take that into consideration and switched up my devotional time.  It is no coincidence that I haven't been in the word much over the last week and my emotional load has been heavier, just saying.  

As I walked away from my sons' bedroom I simply asked, "Lord, what do you want me to read today?"  I simply heard, "Luke."  Spontaneously I grabbed my husband's Bible instead of my own and opened up to the Gospel of Luke.  I literally SHUT OFF my phone, no do not disturb, no ringer on vibrate, I shut it off completely - what a concept.  Before I really got to dig in my four year old son came in and tried to delay his inevitable nap but I told him, "Buddy, mommy's attitude hasn't been very good lately.  I really really need my quiet time with Jesus today."  He immediately understood, gave me a hug and walked back into his room.  Thank you, Jesus, for moving in that moment and granting him that understanding.

The thing about my husband's Bible is that it is not a commentary Bible or "study" Bible unlike mine.  Its just the word.  God's word.  As I read, I simply said, "Lord let your word speak."  I read Luke 1-7 and realized exactly why the Lord had me there.  This book of the Bible records Jesus' conception as well as a large number of miracles he did among the people in his time on earth.

I knew what he was telling me.  He was reminding me of his faithfulness to so many others and of all the miracles he has performed.  He was reminding me that I am not forgotten and He will continue to work for my good - I just can't see it right now.  This is all for a purpose.

You want to know my initial thoughts after reading it?  I miss the miraculous in my life.  I realized that I have clung to my pregnancies so firmly because they have been such a living testament to the MIRACLES that God has done in my life.  I miss the pregnancy, not simply because I miss that baby that I will not meet but I miss the tangible example of the miraculous in my life.

Hey guys, guess what I realized this morning!?  I have two living, breathing, daily reminders of the miraculous in my life.  I have a husband that is a daily reminder to me of someone's capacity to love without end, even in my worst of moods.  Our home is tangible proof of God's hand over our decisions and finances.  The food on our table, the heat, air conditioning, and cars in our garage are proof of the miraculous provision from him over the past couple of years.  Even my husband's job is an answer to prayers and circled back into our path in a miraculous and unexpected way.  Are you tracking with me on this? 

What I realized this morning is that I don't need a human growing inside of me to see God's hand and covering over my family's life.  My pregnancies are not the only miracles I've ever experienced.  Yes, they were some of the biggest and most apparent but they aren't the only.  I just need to open my eyes to the goodness surrounding me.  The miraculous is always around - if you open your eyes to see it.

Today I am grateful that the Lord took me to a place in His word that reminded me that miracles don't always come in the ways that we comprehend but that the miraculous and God's presence are there in the subtleties of life.

Being able to write this week feels like being able to actually breathe again. I'm so grateful for the subtle grace of God showing up in times of extreme weakness.  Can you feel it today?  Can you see the miracles?  There can be strength found in the subtleties of your life.  Look for it.  The miraculous is there, I promise. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Would I do it differently?

At a dinner with friends last night I was discussing the fact that we had been feeling weary lately.  Weary in waiting on the Lord and weary in a tight financial season.  This couple is the couple that we can share everything with, they are the friends to us that we need to see on a monthly basis simply for the sake of being together.  They know us, they walk with us, and at times it feels like they carry us through all seasons of our lives.  They have walked with us from dating into marriage, infertility to child-rearing, and miscarriage into laughter.  I am so grateful for them and I also know that they are a safe space and we can always be completely open and honest with them.  

As we were talking, my friend simply asked me, "have you considered just getting a regular job so you can pay your bills and then do all of this on the side?"

The short answer is yes, but, I won't.  As I have been writing over the last couple of weeks I have been sharing that the Lord is on the cusp of bringing something new into my life and I don't know what it is.  While I am comfortable in the waiting, it can be weary FULLY relying on the Lord to provide for our needs.  We all KNOW how stressful finances are and most people know what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck.  We are in that boat and you know what, IT IS OK.

I have admitted that the Lord continues to have to work with us on refining the idol of money in our hearts and I genuinely believe that we are daily choosing to knock it down.  How so?  Daily we keep track of what our most important financial priorities are.  For us, that often looks like forgoing purchasing anything extra throughout the day.  For me, it looks like wearing the same wardrobe of clothes year after year and only getting new clothes from hand-me-downs, or buying essentials like camis from Wal-mart.  For Jake, it looks like stretching out that tool or doing maintenance on our cars himself instead of hiring someone.  None of these things are deal breakers and all of them are manageable.  Indulging materially is not an option.

You know what we have been able to indulge on?  Family time!  We have been able to make more meaningful and impactful memories over the past year as a family and as husband and wife than many of the years prior.  Yes, before we took amazing trips but now, everything we do, is done with more intention than was ever considered before.  We are also grateful for the generosity of our parents in multiple different regards - shout out, we love you mom and dad (both sets)!  From treating us to dinners out to heavily discounting vacations, you guys have given us the opportunity to indulge in life at a time when we wouldn't be able to on our own. 

We have also been able to indulge in friendship with incredible intentionality.  Not working five days a week has reduced my work stress level immensely so going to those impromptu cook-outs on Wednesday or even Sunday nights are a lot more manageable.  I am no longer too stressed to jump in and be spontaneous in an (budget-friendly 😉) activity with friends on a weeknight.  Our time is ours, not anyone else's.  

Finally, we have been able to indulge in our faith.  Not only have we been able to serve more readily, but out of sheer need, we have dug into seeking God's will for our family.  I have never been more confident of Jake's love, respect and adoration for me and my gifting and God's role in our marriage.  He has proven to me time and time again of his trust in the Lord and me.  Not once has he wavered.  God has also begun to reveal ministry points within us that we didn't realize on our own. 

You see, we may not have a lot of money right now but we have an incredibly close family bond, I have a loving husband and a thriving marriage and the boys have a present and involved father and most importantly we have our faith.  A faith that has proven real in the most tangible and intangible ways over and over again.  What more could I really ask for?

I wanted to write this today to remind you that when I am transparent with you during the difficult moments, my intention is not to make God look bad but to be honest as far as what walking into your calling can feel like. It can wear you down but it takes a conscious effort to see the bright-side. 

As the question from my friend so quickly revealed to her and I, I am not willing to trade this season or step away from the work God has me doing in order to feel more comfortable.  I will not trade the time that I have, the quality of my marriage or the ability to be present with our kids right now.  God has us walking in this season for a reason and while the fruitfulness of our lives is not showing up in dollar signs, God has been so faithful to bring fruit in much more important ways.

I hope that you see the fruit in your walk with the Lord today.  I hope the weight of the good fruit far outweighs the weight of the weariness.  God is faithful to provide for your needs - just pay attention because He may be showing up in a different way than you expect. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Progress in Tension & Time Outs

Over the past couple of days I have had the opportunity to be vulnerable and honest with a couple of close friends.  In speaking with them I was able to talk about the tension I am experiencing spiritually.  In a recent post, I spoke to the fact that I can sense God stirring and working toward something.  In a step of obedience, I led what could be considered my first altar call over the weekend and was privileged to see the Spirit move people to commit their lives to living for the Lord, but more importantly, walk into the freedom that is living with Jesus. 

While this was incredible and seems like something that would lead to spiritual high, it has actually had the opposite effect.  I’ve felt as though I’ve been in such a battle over the last few days spiritually and it has been exhausting.  Today, while attending a Mental Health conference, I heard a man speak about living with schizophrenia/bipolar disorder and it hit home in such an unexpected way.  Ironically, as part of his story the man stood in front of the room and stated that he doesn’t believe in God.  While that was not the main take-away from his presentation, it was a big take-away for me.  Reason-being that his story had a profound impact on my own personal struggle right now.  As he spoke about his manic episodes and the last 20 years of his life, he also spoke to very recently feeling suicidal.  He stood in front of the room and actively spoke to his current battle for existence and how he works through that on a daily basis. 

At the end of his talk I commended him for showing us what is truly means to live the existence that is mental illness and not allowing his current state of vulnerability to keep him from speaking to the group.  Although he personally does not believe in God, the Lord used his speech today to speak grace and encouragement into my life.  The reason I was impacted by his talk was because I fully realize that I am walking through a spiritual battle right now.  I am working hard to cling to the strength of my faith while also fighting off the enemy.  I know that I can claim victory in Christ, as my dear friend so lovingly reminded me yesterday, but it doesn’t make the attacks from the enemy any less real or difficult.  Listening to this man’s speech today, moved me in such a way that, as I said to my husband at dinner tonight, the Lord wants me to remind people that it is ok to be real during the battle.  It is ok to allow people to know that there is a battle.

Just because I love Jesus, and have for a very long time, does not mean that I am not a target for the enemy.  Yes, I know who will be victorious in the end but the enemy wants to distract me and hold me back from whatever it is the Lord is calling me towards.  The enemy tries to speak lies to me and fill my head with negative self-talk just like he does everyone else. 

He tries to tell me that I am unqualified and truth is, I am.  The only qualifications I have for stepping into the land where the Lord leads me is that HE is my leader and HE is the guide.

The enemy tries to tell me I am too much for people.  That I have “too much” Jesus and that it puts people off.  Ok, yes, I know that talking about Jesus all the time can put people off, but the fact of the matter is that I would rather look foolish among men, and make a few people feel uncomfortable here and there for the sake of reaching those that do listen when God wants to speak through my voice. 

The enemy tries to tell me that I don’t have a story to tell.  Oh heck no, sir!  Because of the things that I have had to walk through as a result of sin in this world – my God will use them for good and redeeming and Christ-honoring works.  He will use them to take you down so don’t you dare try to silence my voice.  Don’t you dare try to make me feel isolated because there is power in my volume!   

Let me also remind everyone of faith one thing, it is ok to spiritually tap out or take a breather if you know that someone has pulled away.  It is ok to understand when spiritual boundaries have been put in place.  It doesn’t make you any less of a prayer warrior or mean you have any less impact on a person’s life.  If anything, it indicates to the person that you respect their space.  Also, you can still LOVE someone while respecting his or her space.  You can still pray for them, you can still support them, and you can still encourage them.  Just because someone does not choose to engage with you does not mean you are a failure or you have failed God.  I have so many people in my life that this has happened with and it used to hurt, but now I understand that there is a growth process in faith that you cannot force on anyone.  ALLOW THE LORD TO WORK because you will be amazed at how much better he is at this than you ever will be. 

At the end of the day, I am blessed that I am in a place where I know and recognize the lies that are trying to be spoken over my life.  I am blessed to know where to go to look for the truth in the Bible and how to battle through this fight.  However, if there is anyone else out there that is walking through a similar spiritual battle, please know you are not alone and it is ok.  Spiritual warfare is not weakness; it is refining and strengthening. Please also know that IT DOES NOT MAKE GOD LOOK BAD, it reminds people that we are human!  Nevertheless, I know I will be victorious and I know the truths on which my faith and identity stand. 

2 Corinthians 1:21-22
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Burning Light

Deep within my soul there is a burning passion to show you all Jesus.  It is my deepest heart's desire for everyone I know and love, and everyone I don't know, to get the opportunity to experience the depth and intimate love of Jesus.

There has been a passion ignited within me since the loss of my baby for everyone to understand how deeply loving my Jesus is.  I want the world to know just how far He will go to pursue each and every individual here.  I want to be a part of that.  I don't care if they ever know who I am, I just want them to know who Jesus is.  I am perfectly ok with ambiguity and living a low-key servant's life if that is what points to who Jesus is but I am also coming to terms with being seen in order for Jesus to shine.

If you ask anyone that knows me, I have zero fear of public speaking.  I have no problem getting up in front of a room, making announcements, going to meetings with people that are considered more important than I am or dining with dignitaries because I know who I am in Christ.  If, however, you ask me to stand up in front of you (outside of the safety of behind my computer screen) and talk about my personal life or my personal walk with Jesus, I hesitate.  I don't hesitate out of fear but I hesitate simply because who am I to be the messenger? Who am I to share God's work?  Who am I to tell people what Jesus can do for them?

I just ran across the message version of Matthew 5:14 as I was doing my devotional and I now realize why I am supposed to allow myself to be seen.  Why I am supposed to talk about who Jesus is in my life.  In The Message Matthew 5:14 it states, "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.  If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I am going to hide you under a bucket, do you?  I'm putting you on a light stand.  Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives.  By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous father in heaven." 

Boom! Everything I have been dealing with spiritually in the last few weeks was just address by that one Bible verse.  It is my deepest desire to bring out the "God-colors" in the tapestry of your life.  Whether you are able to see them or not, He allows me the opportunity to do so.  Through his wisdom and Spirit he allows me glimpses into what He has in store for your life.  It is the most precious and sacred spiritual gift I have.  He involves me in praying for and knowing the path or good things He has in store for others in order to be encouraging.  

A year ago I wrote a post about being the face of something and how Jesus became the face of things he despised in human form so that he could be the savior and greatest sacrifice for those things.  It is time that I allow my face to be seen for the thing I love the most in life.  Yes, even more than my husband, my children and my family.  You can ask them and they will tell you who I love most - Jesus. 

I love the line, "We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill," and I realize that it's time I do the same. Truthfully, I don't even know what that means or what that looks like but I know the Lord is telling me, "BE SEEN." 

In being seen, I am not showing you the highlight reel of my life but rather my deepest and most difficult moments of faith and pursuit of Jesus.  I will allow Jesus to put me on a lamp-stand and be generous with my life and shine.  The key part of this verse that struck me the most is the very end.  He states, "By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God..."  It doesn't state that by opening up with others, people will open up with me and I am coming to terms with that.  This is not my work to take credit for - it is His.  For the majority of my life I recognize being the crisis person that people go to.  I am steady in the midst of most storms because my God is steady.  My strength is drawn from something greater than I am, that never fails.  More recently, I've been the person going through storms of my own but Jesus' steadiness has never wavered.  I want people to experience that same unwavering love.  I want people to have the best resource to cling to during the storms of their lives.  The most constant, omnipresent, ever powerful, loving and faithful companion during trials. 

It feels as though I am rambling writing this a bit but these words and feelings are so strongly stirring within my heart that I want them to be released.  I want you all to know my heart and Jesus' deep deep love for you.  It brings me to tears simply to think of the people I know getting to experience this love or alternatively, missing out on this love. 

It seems ironic that I am vowing to allow myself to "be seen" on the internet like this since I am still behind a computer screen.  Trust me, there is purpose in this.  I want to be able to look back at this and say, "wow, I didn't even have a clue then what that meant but praise Jesus, He is faithful."  Also, for the majority of my writing, I have never known who is paying attention and even still, I don't and I am perfectly fine with that.  I want those silent observers and even the spoken ones, to be witness to what God is working on.  I want the naysayers and the encouragers to witness God's power.  There have been a few times in my life when I've physically felt God stirring and creating something profound around the corner and this is one of them.  My friends, Jesus is stirring powerfully within my heart FOR YOU.  I am so excited to be a part of what is coming and I hope you will join me expectantly as we wait to see what He has in store for us.

Just as Jeremiah stated, "his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary holding it in; indeed, I cannot."

I cannot hold this in.  I cannot hold in the fact that Jesus wants this same incredible, deeply personal, relationship with all of you.  Every.Single.One.  It's just too powerful not to proclaim.

May you sense the stirring in you today and if you do - pursue it!  Jesus is waiting.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Year 7: Drawn Closer

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this last year in my marriage.  Thank you that during a time when, statistically speaking, many couples experience a lull or dip in their marriage whether drawn from exhaustion, child-rearing, chaos, mismanaged funds, or unrealistic and un-aligned expectations, I feel closer than ever to my husband.

Thank you for drawing us into and through totally crazy and irresponsible life choices that only make sense to us because we know they are guided by you.  Thank you for a passion within our hearts to whole-heartedly and recklessly pursue your will for our lives.  Thank you that the ultimate goal we have is unabashed obedience to you.  Thank you for drawing us in.  Drawing us in to callings, unknowns, and drawing us out of comfort zones.  Thank you that through the growth and refining of each of us as individuals you have drawn us closer to each other and bonded us as one even more.  Thank you that each year the lines between Jake as an individual and me as an individual blur a little more and the wholeness of us as one shines brighter.  Thank you for giftings that individually are a force but aligned with you and each other are a tidal wave.

Thank you for the difficult moments, the difficult conversations, the difficult breathes, the difficult transitions and the difficult losses.  Thank you for meeting us in our weakness and allowing us the opportunity to be held by you while also holding each other.  Thank you for our ability to turn upward toward you and inward toward eachother.  Thank you for the unity we had at year one but have cultivated even further in you each year we celebrate.  

Thank you for speaking to us.  Thank you for speaking to both of us so we know that what we are doing is not of ourselves but of your will.  Thank you for joy and excitement amidst sadness and grief.  Thank you for loving us each so much individually that you gifted us the opportunity to be each other's here on earth.

Most of all, thank you for Jake.  Thank you for his heart.  Thank you for his strength.  Thank you for his leadership.  Thank you for his life.  Thank you for speaking into him and guiding him as he leads our family.  Thank you for the passion he has for serving you and the example he sets for our sons.  Thank you for his heart to reach others and lead a new generation of men toward you, toward honor, toward humility, toward serving, toward strength, toward genuineness and toward leadership through service.  Thank you that he is a man after your heart more and more each year. 

Lord, in a year where the enemy could have so easily tried to manipulate and abuse our hearts toward one another you were ever present and constantly protecting us.  You have refined us and aligned us in such powerful and incredible ways all while maintaining and increasing our passion for serving alongside each other and loving and leading our family toward your will. 

You are faithful.  I am so grateful.  Thank you for loving me so much that you gave me Jake to love and be loved by.  Thank you for the opportunity to do life with him these last seven years of marriage and the three years of dating before that.  I pray for so many more years together.

Use us.  We are yours.  Let your light shine through our love.  I pray you are honored and glorified.  Thank you for your presence in our lives, in our marriage and in our family.  May your love be more fully known as a result of our love for one another by our sons and others.  May we live our lives more to build your kingdom than our household. 

To you be the glory.  Amen.  

Thursday, March 1, 2018

24 Hours: Serve & Survival

I have recently overheard myself, in multiple different conversations, telling people that we are living and existing within the 24 hours that God has given us.  We are surviving one day of service at a time -- that is how we are pressing forward.

I have an aversion to making plans.  I have written about the fact that I don't set resolutions and I don't like long-term planning with regards to my personal life, ambitions, or goals.  I simply don't make plans anymore that stretch further than the next few months.  Sure, I'll plan a vacation, and yes, I'll plan a night out with friends, or make business plans for the next few weeks but when it comes to our personal family life - nope.  Not going to happen.

I wasn't always like this.  I remember that well into my mid-twenties I had a full blown timeline of what my life would look like, how things would play out and the path I would walk to get those things.

Then God started to turn my world upside down when all of the most important, impactful, life experiences and relationships were not playing out according to my plan.  I mean, what kind of nerve did the Lord have messing with my timeline like that?

The first thing that the Lord really took the reigns on was my relationship with Jake, which in turn led to changes in career choices and basically lifestyle choices (moving me from Chicago to rural Illinois).  We, as in the Lord and I, made it through that one but after we got married, the Lord still had other plans.

At 26 we began to try for a family, then we walked through infertility for two years until we had our first baby.  In my plan, I was going to be "done" having my three or four kids by 30 years old.  We didn't have our first child until I was 28.  We planned to have our second 1.5 years after our oldest was born but you all know that story - surprise! Natural pregnancy right when our oldest turned 1.  

We won't even get into the job stories here since most of you know my crazy jump out of a very successful, secure, career into the unknown story.  I will also mention that my husband in the last 6 months also had a surprising career change, which is essentially a change to his dream job so that's a huge blessing.   

But ok, we are starting to get the picture.  Life is not within our control - the Lord has other plans.  You'd think we would learn our lesson by now.  Nope - we wanted a third baby.  Ok, we will try naturally.... 6 months later, a pregnancy.  14 weeks later - a miscarriage.  SCREECH. HALT. STOP.  KNOCK THE WIND OUT OF OUR SAILS.

I've had enough.  The Lord has walked us through these lessons time and time and time again and yet, we still try to take control into our own hands.  So here we are.

In everything that has taken place over the last 18 months between career changes, to finance changes to family changes, the Lord has shown up but it has not been easy.  Especially after the miscarriage, I am serious when I say the wind got knocked out of our sails.

Lately, it feels as though nothing is promised or guaranteed other than God.  He is teaching us that nothing is more important than the impact we will have within this next day, within the next 24 hours of life that we have been given to serve and surrender.  This day - these moments - these minutes and these daily interactions are exactly where we are supposed to be serving the Lord and showing his love and his grace, whether it be to 2, 5 or 5,000 people. 

I am blessed in that I have three days at home with my sons and two days in my office.  In my mind, I have been granted incredible opportunities every day to serve with purpose and surrender.  I will also note that just because my work life "balance" is a definite privilege, no matter my location or my husband's, we choose to serve and live these next 24 hours with full surrender to God's will and plan.  Sometimes this is hearing God clearly speak hopes into our lives and visions for our future through devotionals and the word.  Other times, that looks like intentionally playing with and paying attention to our sons and serving their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and drawing out and nurturing the qualities that the Lord has placed within them. Other times, it looks like an intentional conversation over coffee, or in a duck blind, with a close friend.

It is within these moments that we feel the Lord guides our steps the most.  He directs our steps in relationships, in parenting, in work, and in pursuit of His will.  While we hear Him and seek His will - we still don't "make plans" we simply take the next step that he has called us to in that 24-hour window.  Some of these steps, we know are toward something greater, but we don't know the full picture.  Instead of trying to force our vision into the Lord's reality, we simply exist within the moments that God is moving us and ministering to us.

Some may call this survival mode after loss but in my opinion it is more like SERVE-ival mode.  Our ultimate goal now for our marriage and ultimately our family is no longer a number of children or acquiring things, but simply to serve in whatever capacity the Lord calls us to.

I pray that this speaks to some of you that find yourselves more in the no planning camp like me.  It is ok to simply live within the moments that God has given you.  After all, I once heard that the Lord only gives you your future 24 hours at a time.  Now we are choosing to make the most of the 24 hours that we are given instead of rushing through or wishing them away.  One of the definitions of serve is to be of use in achieving or satisfying.  There can be beauty and hope that exists in the right now - as long as you put in the effort to find it, God will be faithful to show it to you.   

Here's to living in SERVE-ival mode.  Serve God. Serve your marriage. Serve your family.  Serve in this day. 

Psalm 139:16  
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Financial Planning of Faith

The Lord has really been laying the topic of finances on my heart lately.  Or if I’m being honest, I should say, challenging me on the subject. 

Jake and I have been at a point of reflection regarding the last 18 months and what the Lord called us to walk away from in order to allow us to step in.

I’ve written before on the subject of obedience but I want to be transparent regarding what the last 18 months have “cost” us. 

When I stepped away from my former job, we knew we were taking a big risk financially and fully depending on the Lord to step into that space of provision for us.  After receiving tax documentation for 2017, we were humbled to see exactly what that meant.  We learned that we have adapted to living on less than 50% of our former household income and wow is that eye-opening. 

People have asked us how we did it or how we do it.  How could we feel comfortable enough to step away from the material security to step into the unknown? 

Truth is, the Lord had already begun preparing us.  For at least three years leading up to my departure, the Lord really spoke to me about being a good steward of our finances.  Time and time again I was reminded to pay down debt rather than spend.  It was through the income from my old job that we were able to pay down nearly $35,000 in student loans.  It meant spending bonus money on student loans rather than vacations or shopping sprees.  It meant paying down credit cards as quickly as possible. 

As a result of taking that debt off of our financial plate, we knew we had two less monthly bills to pay on when we walked away from that income.   Originally we thought that the Lord would call us after we had all of our debt paid off - ha, wouldn't that have been convenient?! 

Let me give you a realistic picture of what this last 18 months has looked like so that you aren’t under the impression that we just walked into this fresh as daisies.  The last 18 months has meant cutting out all extra expenses that are not vital to our family.  It meant refinancing our home to pay off car loans and credit card bills to remove the burden of those monthly expenses.  It also meant walking away from a 15-year mortgage that we would have had fully paid off in 3 years, to a 30-year mortgage that we barely break even on each month.  It means selling cars for cash flow and buying cheaper/older ones without a car payment to replace them.  It means incredible gratitude for my husband’s talents and skillset and his patience for watching youtube videos on car repairs in order to do any repairs himself before paying an mechanic.  It means stretching the ingredients in your cabinets until your grocery fund gets replenished on your next payday.  It means bypassing on your favorite brand name grocery items for the sake of cost effectiveness.  It means trusting God for pennies from heaven on the months that your paychecks aren’t going to cut it because of unexpected expenses – and seeing him come through. 

I don’t tell you this for pity.  I tell you this for preparation.  I know there are many of you that want to step into God’s calling on your life but you aren’t sure if the time is right.  I say listen carefully to what the Lord is speaking to you RIGHT NOW.  If I had not listened to God when he told me to pay down our debt, we wouldn’t have cut it these last 18 months.  Had I not listened to the Lord when he told me to dig in, work hard and prepare at my last job, I would not have been willing to jump when he said jump.  Please hear me when I say that just because you jump in, does not mean it is going to be easy. 

If you are in a place where you realize that God is stirring within you – let him stir but listen to His instructions.  Right now, there may be things holding you captive that you need to get out from under before you can be a willing servant to the Lord.  That is ok.  There is a season for everything.  If you feel that the Lord is calling you to a specific financial step, whether it is taking a leap of faith or good stewardship to prepare for a future step, look to the Bible for affirmation.  His word is living and active and will speak to what He wants to you do.  

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.  

I do want to share some encouragement so it doesn’t sound all doom, gloom and budget talk here at the Gus household.  While we aren’t rolling in the big bucks these days this time of financial diligence has pushed us closer to certain callings on our lives than we ever could have expected.  Jake is stepping into opportunities, such as coaching, as a result of having the time to do so.  If we had the money, we’d be taking more trips or doing more things within our nuclear family unit that have nothing to do with serving or interacting with others right here in our community.  Instead, God is giving us the opportunity to serve others while enjoying time as a family.  As a result of Jake getting involved in coaching, my boys will have the opportunity to see their dad grow, encourage and mentor young men.  They will get to see the man of God I hope they aspire to be in action.  They will see his heart and his commitment toward growing and challenging young men to be their best and most genuine selves.  And I will get low-cost, good old-fashioned baseball entertainment for my two highly energetic toddlers! 

The Lord will bring fruitfulness and joy into your life in whatever stage you are but you have to cling to him in order to experience that joy. 

Let me add that there are many people out there who have very lucrative and successful side hustles and I can fully respect that but not everyone is called into that.  There will be a balance that needs to be agreed upon between you and your spouse with regards to time, sacrifice, and financial needs.  Jake and I know what our balance is and we pray through it and work toward it.  The Lord will show you yours, trust in his wisdom.  Please also remember that there is no shame in budgeting or being cost conscious – I’m tired of the world making it feel that way. 

I will end with this, whether or not you are ready to take the leap, cut ties and step into God’s calling on your life, or whether you are in the planning and side hustling stage of faith financial planning– trust the step that God has you in.  He has your very best interests at heart and will not lead you astray.  Remember, the Lord gives us our future 24 hours at a time and he will provide your DAILY bread.  It does not say ABUNDANT bread it says DAILY bread.  Trust in his faithfulness.  

Philippians 4:19 
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.