Friday, December 19, 2008

God Stop Friday

This is a Friday meme from Patty at God Is Able, and this is my first time participating! It's kind of wordy, but bear with me.

Boy, have I ever seen the hand of God recently. I guess it started back in 2005 when I met Brian. We met, we liked each other, we dated, we fell in love, and we felt sure we were meant to be together. I looked for jobs there, he looked for jobs here, but nothing ever worked out. Finally, in a leap of faith, he quit his job and moved here, and we got married in April of 2008. Four months later, he finally found a job - not the ideal job (as those of you who've read my blog know), but at least it was something, even if the logistics were fairly awful and the pay wasn't great.

Then I found out I was pregnant. Surprise! And the wondering started again. Surely God didn't mean to keep Brian at a job that had him three hours from home, eight days at a time, with his wife pregnant, or with a newborn and a six-year-old, could He? So Brian kept looking. He kept his name on the substitute teacher list for our school district, hoping for some extra income to come our way through that route. The phone never rang for sub assignments (I think he's had one half-day assignment since the school year started), and every job opportunity that he applied for turned him down flat, without even an interview. It was a discouraging time, and I tried not to worry, but man, if worry were an Olympic sport, I'd be a gold medalist.

During this time, Brian and I talked about tithing. We both felt strongly that we needed to be faithful in our giving. Our ex-spouses weren't committed to that idea, and it was something we felt like we needed to do. Before Brian started working, we picked a number that scared us and stuck to it. That number was $50 out of each of my paychecks. Not much, and not 10%, but we gave it, and yes, with Brian not working, it scared me. Finances still seemed to get worse, though, and it was all a struggle. I was frustrated - I'm 40 years old, shouldn't things be better at this point in my life?

Then in November, it occurred to me that we needed to cut out direct deposit and online bill payment and go to all cash. That way, all of our paychecks could go to pay our obligations and needs, rather than a chunk of it being lost to clear overdraft charges at the bank every time (we had issues with our bank running things through more than once and being charged fees for it every time, which really adds up). And when this occurred to me, it also occurred to me that we needed to tithe the full 10%. We'd started taking that full amount from Brian's check, but we were still only taking $50 from mine, and I told Brian at that point that we either trusted God fully or not at all, and if we trusted Him fully, we needed to give our whole tithe. He agreed, and so we started doing that.

Along the way, Brian kept looking for jobs. He found two that seemed promising, and applied. Let the waiting begin. (If you've read my recent posts, you know how I feel about that.) Our finances began to improve a bit, slowly but surely. At least we knew that when we got to the end of the cash, that was it until the next payday, and there were no more overdraft notices from the bank, which was a welcome relief. Then Brian got an interview. Excitement, and more waiting. And if you've read back, you know he got a job offer yesterday! I couldn't thank God any more if there were two of me. We are so, so excited about this, it just boggles the mind. Starting January 5, he'll be at home, with a job that offers better benefits and salary, and this is absolutely an answer to prayer.

And now comes the God Stop. Several of my friends, or their spouses, or their friends, have received notices of layoffs in the past couple of days. At Christmas, a time of year that should be full of joy and happiness and goodwill toward men. My heart breaks for them, because I know how rotten it is to be forced out of a job (I've been there), and I know how scary it is (in this economy, especially) to not know what you'll be doing to bring in income, and something like losing a job can suck the joy right out of the season. I am humbled by the realization that God does have a plan for us all, that He has walked with Brian and me this whole time and seen us through, and He has chosen now as His perfect time to bless Brian with a wonderful new opportunity. I am doubly thankful for that gift because of the times we're living in, and because I know people who are seeing just the opposite happen right now. Do I think God doesn't have His hand on my friends, or that He loves Brian and me more? No, not at all. God loves each and every one of us, and He has a perfect plan and perfect timing for our lives, and He uses trials and difficulties to refine us and strengthen us. I'm just very thankful that right now, God's plan is bringing us good news instead of trials. The past few years, I've had enough trials and character-building to last for a while! And this particular blessing from God doesn't mean that suddenly everything is sunshine and roses. We've still got some financial issues to square away, and we've still got a baby coming that we need to prepare for. It just means that yes, God hears our prayers, and yes, He provides - in His time, not ours.


Patty said...

I loved your post! My brother, whom my sons and myself have lived when I got cancer lost his job a little over a week ago. You are so right about it sucking the joy out of you, especially at this time of year. At this time he has not gotten a job but you are right, God provides in his timing. I am so encouraged by your post and I am so thankful that you stopped by today!!
May God bless you and Brian with more delights and may God bless your baby!!
I pray and ask God right now to provide jobs for your friends and to bless them with a wonderful Christmas!

Lisa said...

Thanks, Patty! I'm praying for them, too, and I'll keep your brother in my prayers. We've just got to keep on putting one foot in front of the other, keep on praying and trusting, because we never know when the good thing God has planned for us may be right around the corner. (I remind myself of that a lot, because God knows there are plenty of times I get discouraged and want to just give up!)

Michelle Bentham said...

AMEN! I'm right with you. My inadequate budget and math skills are part of what I have to continually surrender to God to keep us out of the overdraft arena.
CAN SO RELATE! Thanks for being so real and authentic here and sharing about your struggles and victories as only a beloved of God can... In Absolute Truth.

To Him be the GLORY for the great things He has done. Praying for you and your baby.

Blessings New Friend.

Melinda said...

YAY!!! Praise God! I am so glad he got tht job! I've been praying for you!

This was a great post and one that was really good for me to read today. I know what you mean about being near 40 and shouldn't life be better financially at this point. I feel that way all the time. Shouldn't we own a home and have retirement savings started, yada yada. My family does not help, since they are all sqared away financially and look down on us because we struggle.

The message about tithing was really helpful to me today though, as I've been skimping on that lately. I have ahard time doing it because my hubby is a non-beleiver and can't stand the idea of just giving money away. But i notice that whenever I tithe out of my humble income, things always get better for us.

Merry Christmas to you and your family! I am so happy for you!