Archive for the ‘Devotionals’ Category
Posted on May 15, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
How many of you have ever watched the TLC show, What Not to Wear? I’m a little embarrassed to admit I thoroughly enjoy the show. What the co-hosts, Stacy and Clinton, do is surprise someone who has no fashion / make-up sense with a $5000 shopping spree and a make-over. (Someone like me who can’t fill a pinhead with her fashion and makeup knowledge. Seriously. Now if you want to talk baseball … Well, I digress.)
The catch is, their *victim* must turn over all the clothes in their closet. Now, while this show can be a bit humiliating for the person being targeted, it’s also often an eye-opener for them. It seems that that many of the people spotlighted share a singular issue: low self-esteem or poor body image. And they hide behind their clothes in one way or another.
They don’t see themselves as beautiful. The don’t see themselves as “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Part of the problem is, we live in an image-driven society where exterior “beauty” is lauded. The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch is on record saying that his clothing line intentionally excludes the not-good-looking, the uncool people: Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Explains Why He Hates Fat Chicks. It’s a disturbing article. I can proudly say I’ve never purchased a single item from A&F, and I never will.
Here’s another perspective from a Christian woman on body image: http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/my-wedding-night/. Can anyone else relate?
1 Samuel 16:7b says,
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Are you seeing what God is seeing?
Recently, Dove released an emotional and very telling video that demonstrated women’s self-image issues. I encourage you to take three minutes to watch this:
How many of you see yourself in that video? I’m slowly raising my hand.
Psalm 139: 13-14 says,
“For 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.”
Do you know that full well?
From what or whom do you derive your value? Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you truly believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made? Do you see a beautiful child of God? Are you seeing yourself through God’s eyes or the worlds’?
Personally, I’m working on it.
If you struggle with self-image, if you have trouble seeing yourself through the eyes of God, here are a couple of reading suggestions:
MOM IN THE MIRROR: BODY IMAGE, BEAUTY, & LIFE AFTER PREGNANCY by Dena Cabrera, Emily T. Wierenga, with a foreward by Emme.
Other encouraging music:
HOW CAN YOU WIN A COPY OF WEDDING ON THE ROCKS?
Rose is generously offering not one but TWO copies of Wedding on the Rocks and TWO copies of her previous release Rose of Sharon to readers who comment during the next two weeks and let us know about their most unusual job or a beauty secret and/or mishap. That’s four chances to win a book every time you post here at Inkspirational Messages in the next two weeks.
Contest closes Friday, May 17 at midnight (central time). It is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada only.
Posted on March 8, 2013 - by Kav
As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.
But instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
“How can you be so slow?”
“My child,” He said, “What could I do?
You never let them go.”
I’ve been carrying this poem around for years. The card is creased and worn from heavy use and copious tears because this has been the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn. Despite my firmest resolve I am all too often snatching back my broken dreams before God is finished mending them. Often, I’m completely oblivious to the incredible repairs already begun. I can witness hundreds of times about how He has answered prayers in spite of my interference but the time I want to tell you about happened a year ago. It was my epiphany moment on prayer.
Because this story is of a personal nature and involves other people I’m going to keep the details vague but I hope the message will still come through.
The impossible happened on Thursday March 15 2012. The bottom very literally fell out of my world. I staggered under the weight of the blow, incredulous at how this could be happening to me. Surely the Lord knew I’d suffered enough. Hadn’t I taken a beating on so many fronts over the years? And I’d born up under those trials – not always graciously, I’ll grant, but I’d endured.
I felt like I’d been sucker punched. Quite literally couldn’t catch my breath. Had a moment where I thought I might be having a heart attack. In my despair, I prayed as I have never prayed before and instantly felt the burden lifted from me. I was filled with an overwhelming calm and peace; a divine reassurance. Relieved, I fell into a blissfully dreamless sleep. When I awoke, that peace still lingered. When my mind wandered to that horrible trial, the Spirit pulled me back into that safe, calm place. I knew in my heart that all would be well.
Fast forward to the next day. My mind bludgeoned me with taunts of ‘what if’ scenarios that stirred fear and denial and confusion. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even try to cling on to that feeling of peace. I pushed it away and embraced the chaos of worry and fear. I started praying again, but this time my prayers were akin to accusations. Protests. Denials.
Reassurance dwindled the more I ranted. My prayers increased in intensity, but rather than comforting me, they seemed to whip me into a frenzy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I didn’t need to pray about this issue any more. I had my answer. Sadly, I denied it the very next day.
Because I couldn’t fathom how God could work the miracle required, I snatched back the problem and it soon consumed me. For two months I tortured myself with worry. It was never far from my mind, even in sleep. My stomach was always in knots, my heart physically aching from the turmoil. After a month, my prayers turned into meaningless single word chants: “Why, why, why?” “Please, please, please!”
I was a wreck until May 11 2012 – a full two months later when I discovered that what I had been railing about for weeks would never come to pass because God answered my prayer that very first day. He set things in motion on March 15 so that the dreaded impossible would not happen. In effect, I had been praying hysterically in vain for two whole months! Praying for something that had already been resolved. Praying for something not to happen that God had already stopped from happening two months before!
It stopped me in my tracks. First, in wonder at how marvelous God’s ways are. Second at how incredibly foolish I was to not trust Him in the first place. I actually prayed myself out of comfort! That’s when I began to understand that while trusting the Lord is paramount, trusting in my ability to discern spiritual answers is just as important. My lack of faith in myself led me to doubt a clear communication from God.
I still struggle with letting go of my problems but now I acknowledge the flaw and hand things back over to God. Some days we’re passing worry back and forth constantly. I love that I catch myself though. We laugh about it together, my Father and I. And now, when something really troubles me I let Him know I don’t understand how on earth He can fix it but I trust that He can…and I trust me enough to let him.
Posted on March 7, 2013 - by Regina
I had my post all done, posted, and scheduled this time. I was DONE. So proud of myself . . . and then it hit me.
I had written the wrong post.
Oh, the original was all about how prayer had made a difference in my life many years ago, but then it hit me that prayer has affected my life more recently. Like, in the past three weeks!
In the wee hours of Tuesday, February 19, I received a text message. My dear friend and brother I never had. His newborn grandson was in distress. He asked for prayer. It didn’t look good.
When I got the message the next morning, I, along with many others, started praying, kept the word going, searched for updates, and prayed some more.
The baby was born with the cord wrapped around his neck, no heartbeat, and had gone 5 minutes without oxygen. At the very least, there would be brain damage and significant problems later on. It would take a miracle for this to turn out well.
The prayers continued across several states, and updates came as they could. The baby was resuscitated, and then rushed to an NICU in the town where he was born where he was immediately put on “cold therapy,” which sounds awful, but is the best treatment for oxygen-deprived infants.
As days wore on, he started to cry, and finally, he was able to eat. The first day they started running tests on him at about a week old, they were cautiously optimistic.
The next day they started more tests and found that everything seemed to be in working order. Hmmm. The doctors could not find anything wrong with him. They still planned to keep him a week or two, just to let him get stronger and observe him.
Prayers didn’t stop. They increased, if anything, as the word continued to go forth about this precious baby boy.
On Friday, March 1, at 10 days old, he was released from the hospital, three days after the doctors said it would be a couple of weeks. My friend said that in seminary, the definition of a miracle was “suspending the laws of nature for Devine intervention.”
Baby, mother, and father – and grandparents, aunts and uncles! – are all doing well.
God is still in the miracle business, friends.
Pray, expecting a miracle.
Posted on March 6, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
In January of 1997 my husband and I were living in Moorhead, Minnesota (the city right across the Red River from Fargo, North Dakota). We had three small children (4, 2, and almost 1), and were three and a half hours away from the Twin Cities area where our families lived. It’s not a bad drive, but it’s not fun with three small children. In addition, all the friends I had made in the seven years of living in the FM area had moved away.
Then my husband received news we’d been hoping and praying for: he was offered a new and better position in Brooklyn Park, MN, a northern suburb of Minneapolis. Obviously, we were thrilled.
The job location was perfect, only minutes from Marv’s parents’ home. He could stay there until our house sold. Keeping our home toy clutter-free wouldn’t be so bad as long as the house sold quickly.
And that became my daily prayer, that our house would sell.
There were a few problems with that. First of all, that winter was a doozy. We had eight freeway-closing, school-closing (a rarity) blizzards that dropped a total of 117 inches of snow. Who’s looking to buy a home in that? Four of those blizzards occurred after my husband moved to the Twin Cities. Still, he made it home every weekend.
Then, along with that record snowfall, came the threat of flooding. A 100-year flood was forecast. Again, people weren’t exactly in the moving mood. That threat became reality as water not only spilled over the banks of the Red River that April, but also crept inland across the flat farmlands. Homes miles away from the river were swamped. (See photos <here>)
We lived a mere block and a half away from the river. A new daily prayer was added, that our home would survive.
I remember listening to the radio nightly as the announcers would plead for more sandbaggers to dam a broken levy or to build taller levies where water climbed higher than expected. At one point the announcers warned the entire area that if we heard sirens, we were to evacuate immediately.
All this was happening with my husband 220 miles away. I called him that night of the warning and begged him to come home. That drive took him down I-94 where, for miles, ditch water was licking at the freeway.
The waters eventually receded, and our home was spared, but now it was May, and our home had been on the market for three months. A definite negative for home buyers. But I continued to pray that our house would sell, that God would bring our family back together.
Well, summer came then said goodbye, then fall swept in, and then another winter. We were beginning to believe our prayers would never be answered.
The stress of keeping a house immaculate with three toddlers was overwhelming, especially without local friend support, so that December of 1997 we took the house off the market. I wanted to enjoy Christmas. I wanted the kids to be able to play and make a mess. I wanted them to be able to be kids.
Shortly after Christmas, we listed the house again and our prayers were more fervent than ever. Finally, weeks later, we received one contingency offer, then another non-contingency.
14 months of keeping toys picked up–14 months apart from my husband, of him driving back and forth amid rain, snow, ice–14 months of being alone with three small children. After 14 months of praying, we finally put out that Sold sign.
Why we had to wait that long, I doubt I’ll ever know, but I did learn from the experience.
* Knowing *why* you have to wait isn’t a given. Sure, God has His reasons, but we’re not owed an answer. But, God does know what’s best for you, and He’ll walk you through this season.
* Don’t give up. Over 3000 years ago, the Israelites fled from Egypt, aimed for the promised land–their new home. A trip that should have taken days turned into 40 years of wandering–and then, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, only the children and grandchildren reached the new home. The point is, they never stopped. They didn’t give up. The 23rd Psalm says, “Yeah, though I walk through the valley …” They were in the valley, but kept on moving and eventually came through it. When you are ensconced in that season of waiting, keep moving. During our wait, we were discouraged, but that didn’t stop us from living life, and life certainly didn’t stop around us.
* Expect a roller coaster ride. The Israelites desert wandering offered moments of hope and times of despair. While you’re waiting, expect it to be a roller coaster ride. Expect to see those glimmers of hope that are snatched away by defeat. Expect daylight and tunnels of darkness before eventually arriving at your destination.
* The answer may look far different than you anticipated. Those same Israelites awaited the Messiah for centuries, but when He did come, they didn’t recognize him. Jesus wasn’t the majestic, warrior king they expected, and they rejected Him. Your waiting season will end, but keep listening, and be prepared for the unexpected answer. While we eventually received the hoped-for answer, that wasn’t a guarantee.
I’m in another waiting season right now, waiting for an answer from an agent, but I refuse to sit still. I had high hopes at one point, but then they were snatched away. So I wait. And I keep writing and editing. I plan to enter contests and query more agents. When this wait is finally over, I pray I will recognize God’s answer.
Are you in a waiting season? Have you previously experienced a tough waiting period? I’d love to hear about it.
Posted on March 5, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
My current writing journey started with a television show. Oprah’s, to be exact. But let’s back up. I’ve written “my whole life” as have so many. While other people would draw amazing things, I’d doodled with new ways to write the alphabet. Honest! (and yes, a little weird)
While working in downtown Minneapolis, I wrote stories on the bus or read new books. I loved having that me time to just be in my head with characters – mine or someone else’s. One day, six years ago, I had to drive since I was picking my dad up from cataract surgery. Usually I got off the bus about 4:45, but after picking up my dad, we were back to my house by 3:30.
While he watched TV, I sat at the computer nearby, working on a story. At 4:00, Oprah came on. Since I was always on the bus at that time of day, I hadn’t watched the show in years. This particular show was about women and midlife crisis – what they were calling “midlife opportunity.” I loved the positive spin on where I was in life (only a few years from 50).
One thing you need to know about me is that very few people knew how much I loved to write. I could count on one hand who knew that writing a book was a secret dream of mine. Over the years, I had prayed (now I think rather haphazardly) about publishing a book, but I’d never moved on the idea. I basically wanted God to write the best seller and put my name on it!
So I listened to the show with one ear while still writing at the computer. Several stories caught my attention. One was about a stock broker who had picked up an antique chocolate mold at a flea market during the summer – just for fun. Six months later she got laid off. That impulsive purchase became her focal point. At the time of the show, she’d been running a highly successful, upscale chocolate shop in New York City for a year or so. And to top it off, she met her fiance in the elevator of the building where her shop was (at 48, she’d never expected to get married!).
Another was about a female radio DJ who’d always wanted to open a flower shop. Now she was happily creating flower arrangements. Story after story told of women’s secret dreams and how midlife (along with other extenuating circumstances) had made them look at their future in a new way.
By the time the show was over, I was sitting on the couch with my dad, tears running down my cheeks as I told him, “I’m supposed to write. I know I’m supposed to write seriously now.” (Poor Dad – he just patted my hand and told me that sounded like a great idea.)
It was clear that God was calling me to write. I’m still not sure that He’s calling me to publication but He has definitely called me to use the gift of writing. Within days, I had signed up for a novel writing class at The Loft where I received wonderful feedback from the bestselling author-teachers and met a gal with whom I’ve been in a critique group ever since.
I learned about RWA (Romance Writers of America) and joined the local chapter where I’ve been the lone inspirational writer among 80 members. Then I learned about ACFW. I traipsed off to Denver for my very first conference – all alone (a very brave thing for scaredy-cat me). By the time I left Denver, I’d agreed to start a chapter in Minnesota, now called MN-NICE.
Every step of the way I’ve questioned God. Am I doing the right thing? Would He lead me to the next person, place or idea to move my writing forward? Should I quit writing? (after a particularly difficult rejection)
And every step of the way, He’s been faithful. The answers haven’t always been clearly written in the sand. There are times I still question what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. But through these six years, I’ve met amazing, talented, wonderful people with a passion to glorify God with their writing. I’ve been to conferences, won contests, been rejected, found an agent, and made friends with people across the world I’d never have had the chance to meet otherwise.
God answers prayers we didn’t even know we had, or had given up expecting an answer for. Even when I’m not faithful, when I question everything that happens, when I flail after a painful rejection – He’s there. He put the passion in my heart and gave me the gift of words. It’s up to me to do something with it. I’m glad He’s there to guide me through the journey.
Posted on March 4, 2013 - by Kim
Almost six years ago, I faced a crossroads in my professional life. Dissatisfied by changes in the office where I’d spent the first eleven and a half years of my career, I was unhappy. Extremely unhappy. And it bled over into every aspect of my life. But in an economy where one did not give up a job on whim, what was I do to?
Pray. After over thirty years of hearing sermons on the power of prayer, I decided to actually put what I had heard into practice. The words “change me, and if not me, change the circumstances,” became my mantra. I even gave up coffee and anything remotely sweet in a kind of extended Lent to show just how committed I was to seeking an answer.
And wait I did. Seems God wanted to teach me a little patience along the way. But when He answered, it was a whirlwind of blessing that made me dizzy.
After four, agonizing months, the beginning came in the form of a phone call from a family friend. She had gone to the movies with a friend of hers. Out of the blue, her friend said she thought another mutual acquaintance was still in need of an audiologist for the state agency she was district supervisor for. My family friend said she knew of an audiologist who just might be interested.
That was the first domino in a long line that landed me in my current position. The second was my family friend insisting I call the district supervisor that afternoon. Then, knowing what I big chicken I am, she demanded I call her back to let her know I had done what she’d said.
Before supper, I had an interview scheduled for the following Tuesday. A Tuesday I had off because I had originally scheduled vacation so I could go as a chaperone on the youth choir tour from church. It had been canceled, but instead of giving up the time off like I usually did, I decided to keep to the plan and spend the week at home.
After the interview on Tuesday, I had to get on the state registry. To do this, I had to have an Alabama license to practice audiology. The licensing board, which meets only once a month, was meeting that very Friday and would need all the paperwork in their hands by 10:00 am that day. It was signed for at 9:30. By 5:00 on Friday, I had the license.
The very next Monday, I was on the registry. And less than two short weeks later, I had been approved by the Commissioner and was ensconced in a brand new job.
And I still couldn’t be happier. Or more satisfied.
Posted on March 1, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
This past summer my middle son Dylan went on a mission trip through Let’s Start Talking ministries to Belgium. His older brother went to Brazil a few years before with the same organization, and though his trip didn’t completely go without a hitch, he came back home safe and sound. But as a parent, you still pray for things unseen, problems unknown. You worry. And then pray some more. (Photo: Dylan, Kellan & Cameron, Belgium team mission)
Dylan’s trip to Belgium went well, he even experienced a special
side trip to Paris, France, but when he returned he had to join Psallo, his college singing group, who was touring at the time. So, instead of coming straight home, he would be taking another flight up to Portland to meet them for their tour. I made a hotel reservation for him so he could wait for his group to pick him up.
Snag one came when I had the wrong airport. I was able to cancel the hotel reservation and put in a new one at the correct airport hotel. It was a last minute reservation, so there was no cancellation refund for the room, so I prayed I had the right information this time. Snag two happened when Dylan’s plane was to arrive close to midnight, and if he didn’t check in before midnight he would lose his reservation. Dylan tried to assure me that everything would be fine, and he would call me if necessary to rebook a room if needed.
Since Dylan had to debrief his mission in Dallas before heading to Oregon, and he was suffering some major jet lag, it was not easy keeping in contact with him. I prayed that God would clear his path and get him safely to meet up with Psallo. Midnight came and went without a call from Dylan, so I figured everything went as planned.
Except that it didn’t. Dylan called the next day to tell me that his plane didn’t make it in time, and he missed out on his hotel reservation. Then he said a flat tire on the bus his singing group was traveling in was going to cause them to be several hours late to pick him up.
Before the panic could get a good foothold, Dylan informed me that everything was taken care of. He met another member of the Let’s Start Talking mission group on the plane ride. He offered to let Dylan stay at his house when they realized he would lose his reservation. Good thing, Dylan said, because he would have had to stay in the lobby of the hotel until the next afternoon before he could check in. Better yet, the gentleman from the airplane was also able to take him to meet his Psallo group, instead of having to wait for them to come and get him, which would have made them later than they were already going to be with the flat tire. (Photo: Psallo, Dylan is in the center)
Somehow, through the simple prayers to keep Dylan safe, and before we knew he needed it, God already worked out the details.
Isn’t it grand that we have a God who knows what we need before we need it, and clears the path for us? Isn’t it great that with our God, nothing is impossible? Not even the ending of this particular mission.
Posted on February 28, 2013 - by Shari Barr
A little over a year ago my husband surprised me with roundtrip airline tickets to Maui. On arrival in our tropical paradise, we perused the scads of flyers in the resort lobby trying to decide which activities and excursions we wanted to try. After much discussion, we decided on several, one of which included a boat trip to a nearby island, Molokini, to snorkel along the coral reef.
This may sound wonderful, but there was a problem. I don’t like water. Or more accurately—deep water terrifies me because I never learned to swim. I must have been determined that day because I convinced my husband I could do it. After all, I had snorkeled once, years ago, but in much shallower water.
The day of our excursion arrived and our boat, crammed with tourists, left the dock. The captain began explaining the details of our trip, casually mentioning that snorkelers should rent wet suits for their buoyancy because there were no life jackets on board. Gulp. You say what? No life jackets? Surely I didn’t hear him right. Unfortunately I did, though.
While he instructed the divers on proper snorkeling procedures, I began to worry if I could handle this. Everyone else seemed so sure of themselves, eager to get in the water and begin the dive. Me? Backing out was looking better and better all the time.
After he finished his demonstration, I pulled the captain aside and asked him if he was sure the wet suit would hold me up since I didn’t know how to swim. Apparently, not many non-swimmers go snorkeling, because he looked at me like I was nuts. He assured it would keep me afloat but glanced at my husband and asked, “Are you going to stay with her?”
“Yep,” my husband nodded.
After anchoring alongside Molokini, I let everyone else get off before me, delaying the inevitable as long as possible. Finally my turn was up. I climbed down the ladder at the back of the boat and sat on the bottom rung as I slipped my feet into the fins. I put on my goggles, took the paddle board the tour diver handed me (for baby snorkelers like me) and prayed like crazy. “Oh dear God, help me. Please.”
I glanced nervously at my husband waiting patiently for me in the water. I clutched the paddle board in both hands, pushing one end toward him, begging him not to let go. He promised, grabbed it with one hand, and then I slipped off the rung into the chilly waters of the ocean. He tugged me away from the boat, and suddenly an overwhelming fear enveloped me. “I don’t like this,” I cried out.
Mike calmly assured me I’d be fine and suggested I put on my snorkel and put my face in the water. All I could think about was the deep, deep water surrounding me. Putting my face in the water was something I didn’t want to consider right now. But I did, praying all the while, asking God to help me. I breathed through the snorkel like the instructor had taught us. A peace washed over me, and I felt my fears floating away. My husband continued to tug me via the paddle board round and round. The sights beneath me in the crystal clear sea were simply breathtaking. Swimming among the sea turtles and tropical fish was one of the highlights of the trip—something I’ll never forget.
I couldn’t have done it if my husband hadn’t been at my side, but a greater power took away my fear. God knew my weaknesses and helped me through a time when I needed it most.
Now, if someone asked if I’d snorkel again, I’d answer “yes” without hesitation. I can do anything through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.
Posted on February 27, 2013 - by Rose Ross Zediker
Many times when people talk about the power of the prayer in their lives, it’s during a huge life changing event, like terminal illness, relationship problems or a new job. And like others, I’ve struggled with each of those events in my life and have stories of how my petitions were heard and answered by God. But today I want to talk about how simple everyday prayers have affected my life.
Since I’ve always lived in the plains states and worked full time, I’ve had to drive in nasty weather, including white out conditions. From the moment my vehicles wheels start turning, I call out to God to help me and other travelers get to their destination without incident. I have always made it home safely and know that God heard my prayers.
Many times when I’ve have a bad morning, I’ll ask God to help the day get better. Then something will happen. I’ll hear an old song that brings back a happy memory. A stranger will smile and say ‘good morning’. I’ll get an email or a text from a friend I haven’t heard from in a while. I don’t believe in happenstance so I know those things are sent from God. And sure enough my day gets better!
Do you realize when God answers even your smallest prayer? I will admit I didn’t always recognize those little things that are answers to my simple prayers but now I do, I never fail to thank Him for them.
Posted on February 26, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
“I bet your baby is glad to have you on vacation,” I commented while cutting my client’s hair. Her three month-old napped in his carrier a few feet away.
“He misses his baby-sitter,” she calmly replied.
I thought it was one of the saddest things ever uttered and vowed that I would stay home with my children one day.
‘And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son,’ (John 14:13). These are the words of Jesus and I take Him at his word. When my husband and I learned of our coming baby, I began to pray earnestly that we could afford for me to stay at home with our child.
My mother never worked until my teen years and then only part-time. She was always there for me and I yearned to follow in her footsteps. It didn’t appear that it could possibly happen, but I kept praying. Hubby, though supportive, didn’t think that we could do without my income.
During this time, hubby who had been ordained to preach months before, began to get calls from churches. He filled in at several pulpits and a few of them needed pastors. Suddenly he went from enduring months with nowhere to preach, to preparing a sermon for a different church each Sunday. We enjoyed it thoroughly, even though I battled morning sickness and excessive tiredness.
As our son’s birth neared, we struggled with whom we would trust to care for him. Would he get enough attention at the daycare? Would he be sick often if he went to daycare? My mother-in-law had volunteered to baby-sit. But after years of working toward retirement, would babysitting tie her down too much? Hubby joined me in my prayer.
We decided that my maternity leave would serve as a financial test. I planned to work as long as possible, hopefully right up to the birth, and then take three months off. At the end of that time, we’d know if we could afford for me to resign.
However, our plan didn’t work. Six weeks away from my due date, the doctor put me on maternity leave due to severe swelling and blood pressure concerns. Years before, I had hung up my scissors for an office job. Sitting at my desk all day contributed to the swelling. My doctor ordered me to keep my feet elevated as much as possible.
We realized just how good God is. I had disability insurance at work and had no idea that it covered pregnancy. The disability checks kept us afloat during my leave of absence.
Though thankful for the checks, it further proved that we could not make it on one income. My father-in-law helped us along financially during that time, however, it took every penny he sent along with the disability checks to keep our bills paid. I also received a nice Christmas bonus from my employer, which we used to pay more bills. We continued to pray.
Miraculously, we managed to sell my car. Only a few months after September 11, 2001, the economy staggered. The car dealers offered 0 down and 0.9% interest. If anyone bought a car, they bought new, not used. Yet, my car sold. We bought an older model truck, with cash. We now only had one car payment. Our finances improved overnight, but still not enough.
My husband soon accepted an interim position at a church. After two months, the congregation planned to vote on whether they wanted him for their pastor. Midway through the interim, another church offered him a two-month interim as their pastor. They understood that he’d already committed, but insisted that he let them know if he was available after fulfilling his obligation.
Both churches were small and offered bi-vocational positions, requiring hubby to keep his full time job as a dental technician. We’d never thought of his call to preach as extra income. We had assumed it might take years before he had his own church. However, we began to wonder if this was the means God would use to answer our prayers.
Our son made his debut the sixth week of my leave. I’d have six weeks with our precious child before returning to work, which I dreaded with every fiber of my being. All I wanted was to stay at home and raise my son. Once we actually saw him, we couldn’t imagine leaving him with someone else all day. We prayed harder.
I returned to work. The first day back was one of the worst of my life. My son stayed with my mother-in-law and cried all day long.
My boss understood my preoccupation and cut my hours to part-time. Still, each day I went to work was a nightmare. Though my mother-in-law never complained, I know the almost constant crying frayed her nerves. Hubby and I worried about him all day. We couldn’t stand to think of our baby crying so much without us there. My husband begged me to give my notice.
By this time, he had fulfilled the interim at the first church. The congregation wanted him as their pastor. However, after much prayer, hubby didn’t feel it was the right church for him. He began the second interim and immediately felt more at home there.
If the congregation asked him to stay, we could afford for me to quit work. They didn’t pay quite as much as I earned, but enough that we could squeak by. We felt sure God was answering our prayers. However, the interim had only just begun. If after two months, the church didn’t ask hubby to stay or he felt that he shouldn’t, we would need my income. I didn’t want my husband to take the church if asked, simply for the money, but because God wanted him there.
My plans to work until the interim was fulfilled and a decision made, only lasted four miserable days of work, with my son crying all day and hubby begging me to resign. He promised he wouldn’t take the church unless God wanted him there.
Deciding I could work as a hairdresser again and set my own hours gave us a backup plan. I gave my notice and worked two more miserable weeks before leaving my office job.
Immediately, after getting to stay home with me for a few days, our son’s fussiness improved. I knew we’d made the right decision and continued to pray that God would take care of our finances. My husband finished the interim, six weeks after I left my job and the church asked him to stay on as their pastor. With much prayer, he accepted their offer. We loved the church and the people there. God truly answered our prayers.
Over the next months and years, I witnessed all of our son’s firsts, instead of my mother-in-law telling me about them.
He’s eleven now. Two churches later, my husband is a full time pastor and, I am thankful that I spend my days at home writing. When school’s out, I’m here. When he’s sick, I’m here. During summer break, we play.
Hubby and I thank God daily for working everything out so well for us. We will do our best to raise a godly son and make certain that God is pleased that he answered our prayers.
My advice to women, who would love to stay home with their children, but think they can’t afford it: Pray. God is the best financial manager.