Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bring the Rain! Really?

We sing this song in church by Mercy Me called "Bring the Rain". I have wondered many times how many people sing this song and REALLY mean what the words say (including myself). Bring me ANYTHING that bring you glory. WOW, that is a BIG statement! I have been reading David Platt's book Radical, he tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He says, "The reason God let these guys be thrown into a fiery furnace was so that they would come out on the other side without a drop of sweat on their brows and so that this pagan king would declare that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is worthy of praise in all nations and languages." WOW! They went through a trial so that God's GLORY would be seen and He would receive praise.  Do we really believe that these guys didn't have some fear and trepidation about what was going to happen when they were dropped down into the furnace? I am sure, being that they were human, that they did have fear, but I also am sure that they had resolve! They had resolve in their God and His ability to save them. They knew He would either save them in the fire or He would save them through the fire. They had the hope of their salvation, knowing that even if the fire where to completely consume them, they would be seeing God face to face in a short period of time. And when they came out on the other side not only was their faith strengthened but the heart and mind of a pagan king had been changed and the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob received the glory. That is pretty awesome if you ask me. So, as I look at what Michael and I are going through there is definitely some fear and trepidation but I think to myself that if my family can come out on the other side of this and our faith as individuals and a family has been strengthened, we have been a witness to the people around us that can strengthen their faith, and God is glorified, then I say "bring the rain"! Because I know that my God can save me and if He doesn't I still have the hope of my salvation and that brings me peace.

Below I have put the words of the song by Mercy Me- Bring the Rain. You can also listen to it on the link I have provided (I would encourage you to do this). To GOD be the glory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8HgAVenbUU

Bring the Rain-Mercy Me

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Monday, July 19, 2010

Little reminders

God is everywhere.  You don't have to look far to see His hand at work all around us.  He is in the beauty of our creation, a sunset, a rainbow, a smile.  He is in the skills and abilities of the people around us.  He is in the loving words and hugs of friends and family.  And sometimes He is in the stranger that helps us when we are stranded.

Yesterday morning was my first Sunday back singing at church since the baby has been born.  I was very excited.  I love to sing.  And more than that I love to worship God and encourage people to do the same.  It is one of my greatest passions.  I had gotten up early and decided to take my two oldest with me so Michael would only have two children that he would have to get ready.  I was running a little behind and couldn't find my cell phone, so I left without it, telling Michael to call me on a friends phone if he needed me.  We got in the car and headed to church.  I decided to go the back way through a neighborhood rather than taking the main road.  As I get into the neighborhood I feel the car start to sputter.  I look down and realize that the car is on empty.  I started contemplating turning around to try to get to a gas station but as I roled through the stop sign the car died.  My heart sunk because I was going to be late for our run-through.  It was at that point I realized I had left home without my cell phone.  Well, crap!  Not good!  Bella suggested that I go to the house that we were parked in front of.  As I approached the door I prayed that someone would be home, that they would not have children, that they would be awake.  I knocked on the door and around the corner comes this little elderly woman in her nightgown.  I mouth to her, "I am so sorry".  She comes to the door and I explain to her what happened and ask if I can use her phone.  As I walk into her house, it dawns on me that  I don't know my husbands new cell phone number.  Well crap!  Now what!  So I decide to try my cell phone thinking he will hear it.  Nope!  So, she suggests that her husband can take me to the gas station to get some gas in the gas can.  Another "oh crap" moment.  I had dinner at a friends house the night before and left my purse so I have no money.  As this point I start thinking that this woman is going to think I am crazy or that I am going to rob her or something.  I sit down on her couch to brainstorm while she gets her husband.  He comes in and suggests that he might have some gas in his gas can.  Low and behold a few minutes later I see him walking to the car with a gas can.  During those few minutes with this woman I learned that they go to a nearby church and that she has played the piano for them for 30 years.  She was so proud to show me her plaque that she had recieved in honor of her service at the church.  I asked her for prayer for my husband's job and our family.  She hugged me and I was on my way to church.  I got back in the car and my oldest said, "Momma, God showed up!"  I know, baby, He sure did!  

The story in the bible that jumped out at me later that morning was the story of Moses as he is leading the people through the wilderness.  He provided manna for them and told them to only gather enough for the day, any more than that would rot by the next day.  Funny thing is they even tested God in that tried to store up but it didn't work.  That morning God provided manna for me and the kids.  He didn't fill up my tank, He gave me just what I NEEDED to get me to church.  Thank you, God, for reminding me that you are there and that my family and I will be taken care of.  Amen!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Amazed

As I have time to think about our current situation I am amazed for so many reasons. Yesterday I spent the morning in my kitchen pulling things out of my cabinets that I don't need that I can put into a garage sale. I am amazed at how many things we moved into this house that we haven't used since we moved in. I am even more amazed that when we moved into this house 2 1/2 years ago we were in the same situation that we are in today, without an income. Why did I move all this stuff in the first place? I mean, really! How many bread loaf pans do we REALLY need. I think I only use one and I have 4. Crock pots-2, 9x13 casserole dishes-5, cake pans that I don't use, bunt pans I don't even know what to use them for, cups and glasses galore, and the list goes on. I am amazed that that is just my kitchen. I am amazed that just a few weeks ago my son asked me if we could have a garage sale and I told him that we didn't have enough stuff to put in a garage sale, and yet in about 2 hours I had three boxes of just kitchen stuff. (And a box of stuffed animals that my oldest brought in to contribute-I am amazed by her too!). 

I am also amazed that while we look at this time in our lives as temporary there are thousands upon thousands of people in our country and around our world that this is the reality of their daily lives. Read these statistics that I read:

1. On the national scale, Alabama has the 7th highest poverty rate at 16.1% of its population. It only has one county in which the poverty rate is in single-digits, and that is Shelby County with a poverty rate of seven percent.
2. About 39.8 million Americans were living in poverty in 2009, up from 37.3 million in 2007.
3. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
I know that we are not living in poverty.   I wouldn't want to offend anyone by claiming to completely understand what it is like to have to live under those conditions but when you realize you don't have an income you realize how blessed you are to have all that you do have, and then guilt sets in.  How can people, even people 20 minutes from me, live in such terrible circumstances while I have so much and me NOT do anything about it?   And yet I am amazed at how you can visit places where people live in poverty and yet there can be so much joy (although I know this isn't always the case).  I can not understand how that is even possible.  And yet, maybe there is some truth to the saying, "money can't buy happiness."  

So, our new motto:  LIVE ON LESS, SO WE CAN GIVE MORE.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How Prophetic

Ok, so three days ago I posted how God had called us to a 3 month challenge in regards to our finances (for details read post for July 12th).  Well, obviously God was preparing us for something because yesterday Michael was laid off.  It's amazing that He had already prepared us by getting us into the mindset of living extremely modestly.  The greatest part about the whole thing is that we don't have to tell the children if we don't want to because they are not expecting to get ANYTHING extra for the next 3 months.  I mean, why burden their little minds if we don't have to.  I am also amazed at the support we have, not just from family and friends, but from very close friends who are also going through the exact same thing right now.  We have four other people who are close to us who have all lost their jobs in the past 2 weeks.

I will still be posting regularly what is going on with the Smith Family Challenge, it will just have a little bit of a different spin in light of the new circumstances.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Smith Family 3 month challenge

For years now God has been working in different areas regarding our finances and we have made many changes.  We stopped using credit cards, we got rid of satellite TV, we only have one cell phone, we drive cars that don't require us have a car payment, we don't go on fancy vacations, we live in a modest rental home, we wait for movies to come out on DVD rather than go to the movies, although we do splurge for family fun night occassionally:-).  We have scaled back in many ways.  It has been a process that has occurred over the past 5 or six years, although most of it happenned when Michael was unemployed for 6 months in 2008.  It has happenned so gradually that most of the time we haven't even felt the effects.  But in the past couple of months WITHIN our means, we have not done well with living on a budget.  So, at the end of the month, while all our bills are paid and we have had food and clothing and even some fun, what we don't have is extra.  Not extra to spend but extra to save and give.  I sat down with a calculator and our bills and our last months bank statement and devised a budget.  It includes necessities only.  It will be interesting to see how God uses this 3 months to grow us as a family.

Here are the rules of the 3 month challenge:
1.  We MUST live according to our budget and do a zero balance worksheet with each paycheck
2.  No eating out
3.  No new clothing (except for shoes for back to school)
4.  No household projects
5.  No new books, games, movies, etc.
6.  Kids must save every penny of their allowance for the 3 months
7.  We must find free things to do for date night and family nights

So there you go.  It will be hard but it will be fun to see how things turn out.  Stay tuned, I will be updating.

My Little Blessings