Tag Archives: provider

Dear Someone, Thank You!

Lifelong Christians aren’t supposed to get frustrated, or discouraged, or wonder if they’ve made enough errors to be abandoned. Seeing miracles from time to time is supposed to shelter the faithful ones from all forms of doubt. Or, that’s what we tell ourselves…or perhaps tell each other.

Well, this lifelong Christian, called missionary, and observer of miracles has been having a rough go of it. Few know how discouraged I’ve been getting, how many times I’ve wondered if I’d have served better by staying in my former life. A six-figure life, complete with modest mortgage, two cats, and a fair bit of affirmation from coworkers, church leadership, and my beloved youth group. But I was under a call to another realm – the place of seeking deaf people and introducing them to Jesus. So I packed up my gear and headed north to focus on relearning American Sign Language (ASL).

The plan to become an interpreter for income fell through, leaving a lot of dust, doubt, and debt in its wake. I was at a point of nearly despairing, considering the need to return home and admit defeat. Then came a period of two weeks where I was placed in a home and assigned to a ministry. Not only was I not forgotten, not abandoned, but I was on track once again in a place of service to reach the most invisible and spiritually isolated people all over the world – deaf children. I’ve since moved steadily south to get closer to ministry headquarters, living in four different guest rooms so far.

I confidently agreed to accept whatever funding I could raise, counting on being a scheduled speaker at monthly missionary services. I looked forward to telling about my target group and receiving support to devote myself to the mission. A few of us discussed how a team of people would surround me to encourage, pray, and help me with building a network and a speaking schedule. That whole plan didn’t fall through — it crumbled, slowly and agonizingly… Memories of school fundraiser failures and dishonest televangelists mingled with impossible numeric goals and the already busy life rhythms of those I thought to lean on. It looks like I need to take on all aspects of fundraising, and I just don’t have it in me to treat people like walking wallets.

This is the burden that’s grown to unbearable proportions over the past several weeks. Reminding myself that God is faithful and His resources are unlimited doesn’t effectively counter the idea that I’ve failed too much to imagine continuing forward. It seems time to take on a second job for income, knowing that it will reduce the hours and energy I can give to this ministry. If I’m not in ministry, I’ve wasted the last eight years and the sacrifices of several loved ones. My standing prayer request at the moment is for clarity and against discouragement.

That brings us to the title statement: “Dear Someone, thank you.”

Two weeks ago I visited my friends up north. Not only was it a refreshing encouragement to be with my deaf friends, but they were willing to provide taxi service, lunch, and a love gift of $100 from “Someone.” I decided to put that toward a women’s retreat happening soon in the same area.

Yesterday, I noticed that a local pastor (and friend) intended to speak on John 14, and I could use a little “I’ve gone to prepare a place for you…” right about now. Still exploring church options near my new home, I chose to go there. The radio message was Dr. Paul Nyquist’s “Heirs with Christ,” on being adopted by God. I was warmly greeted by several people at the church and had some discussion with the Lord about perhaps serving with this body, then the pastor gave his message on the Fatherhood of God. His focus was verses 13-14, “ask in My name, and it will be done.” Then, being prompted, he asked the congregation if someone would give $20 to the visiting missionary. I was overwhelmed with more greetings, encouragement, a couple of contacts, a prayer, and a total of $386.

Afterward, I had a text from my friends up north. The cost of the women’s retreat is covered. Another unexpected blessing.

To all the Someones who have given of themselves to pray, encourage, affirm, and provide — especially recently — THANK YOU! I am overwhelmed.

2013 January: Living with my Husband’s family

If you know me, you’re doing a double-take and scanning through every Christmas card and Facebook status you can find… If you know me well, you’re smiling, shaking your head, rolling your eyes, or some of each.

I haven’t changed my last name, nor is there any difference in the number of shoes in my closet or people in my bed. You didn’t miss the big party, well, maybe….but it was a graduation party, not a wedding reception. There will be another article that goes into all that, but for now the topic is January 2013.

In January, I moved into a home prepared several years ago and provided at the last hour (literally) before I surrendered the whole adventure due to finances. The December (Provider) article has details. This home is a place of faith-walkers, people who ride the roller-coaster of trusting God through the ups & downs and around the unseen curves – ever secure yet sometimes scary. We’ve been getting to know one another and sharing stories of our mutual Beloved, much in the same way as women for generations before me have done. Because of our bond with Jesus, we are forming bonds with each other and working together to make this particular roof of His household a better place for all and a spot for welcoming more people into His family. As far as we know, I will be here for an indefinite time, and there will be plenty that we can contribute to one another between now and whenever.

A week after I moved in, I had a 3-hour impromptu informal interview with the founder & director of a deaf ministry. We are negotiating a partnership so that I can begin formally raising financial support and the accounting, accountability, and tax paperwork will be managed by people who know what they’re doing. Much of our discussion came back to faith-walking, tales of how God made arrangements to see His objectives accomplished. Just like the family I’m settling into, the ministry and I can contribute resources and skills to one another, working together to add more people to God’s household. After all, we’ll want plenty of fluent signers in Heaven’s visual praise choir, don’t you agree??

The personal Bible Studies are regaining their footing. I have a preferred seat at Panera two days a week to Skype with my Chicago friend, and my other friend has returned from her travels so we’ll get that study resumed soon. Cold weather is a hurdle, but it comes with the territory. Now that I’m in a new geographic area, I’m going to try my hand at identifying and meeting with deaf people in this locale, perhaps getting a group together for fellowship & study nearby.

Pray for the odd but essential things like internet connectivity, Skype cooperation, and an easing of pain-inducing weather patterns. Several in my circles are dealing with health issues, many significant, and we have a growing list of deaf people who have lost (or are losing) their fathers in recent weeks. Eternity is rather in-their-face at the moment – pray for wise and fluent people to step up beside them and lead them to the One who holds time and life in His hands.

Grieving Christians often comfort one another with Jesus’ promise: “I go to prepare a place for you”. These words have taken on a new meaning for me. In short, He can coordinate multiple people and places here on Earth from His vantage point in Heaven. (yes, I know that’s very much out of context, as surrounding statements clarify) With the stories I’ve been witness to in the last several weeks, I’m convinced that God’s been busy in the Real Estate market. He owns it all, prepares to provide, and relationships are His highest priority. Who wouldn’t want to be part of His family??

The Man I Would Marry

During one foray into online dating, many years ago, I was asked for 5 characteristics that I wanted in a man I would marry. Fair question, a good one really, and I gave it some thought – how would I pare down a list of preferences and must-haves into the top 5 without losing some of the essentials?? I finally came up with a list, and being the word-wrangler that I am, I was able to make an alliteration, which has come in handy. I still want a few items that don’t fit conveniently into this list, like someone who enjoys variety in dining, but the absolute essentials are these:

Pastor of our home. Above all, this man must have a solid relationship with Jesus Christ, and a readiness to lead his family to the throne room with praise and prayer for any issue big or small. He is the one answerable to God for the decisions of our family, and he should be in a position to get his answers from God before that time comes. He is to have a pastor’s heart, as gentle and comforting as it is firm and uncompromising, appropriate for the situation.

Provider. He must have the ability and ambition to bring an income that will cover our need for food and shelter. He must have a reasonable perspective on money and what it takes to earn enough, being neither a workaholic nor wasteful. He must also recognize where provision ultimately comes from, and not deny the need for Godly generosity, yet with wisdom.

Protector. I will be his prize, and a not-so-bad prize at that, so his first thought should be toward my best interest. It may or may not mean heroically sacrificing himself to snatch me from the teeth of death – but he should love me enough to be unflinching if it comes to that. Generally, it would mean encouraging me and my to-do list to maintain appropriate balance, and stepping in to do the heavy lifting so that my body is not prematurely worn out.

Partner. We’ve got to work together, whether it’s in ministry, remodeling, or dishes. There’s no point in me joining my life with someone else’s if we’re going to continue living as independent individuals. He will need to be ready to discuss and negotiate, then follow through, holding up his end of the bargain and occasionally lifting me – as well as accepting that I will occasionally need to lift him. Partnership works that way.

Playmate. Part of life is enjoying its blessings – the scenery, the stories, the flavors… While we will have interests & friends that don’t necessarily cross over (he isn’t invited to women’s retreats), we must truly enjoy one another’s company. We have to laugh together, and be free to laugh at whatever strikes us as funny, even if in a moment, it’s the iced tea I just dumped in my lap or the keys he accidentally locked in the car.

I started, over the years, to believe that such a fellow doesn’t exist in our century. I’ve been learning lately that I’m incorrect. I’ve met guys such as these, usually through my relationships with their wives. These are blessed women indeed. One day, perhaps, I may meet a single man in my age bracket who meets these qualifications, and whose qualifications I meet. Until then, I’ve learned that I have Someone who meets all of the above characteristics. I have a Pastor, a Provider, Protector, Partner, and yes, even a Playmate. I’ll have to tell you about Him in another post, but I can honestly say (and have), I am well cared for. There is no man on this planet that could have given me all the provision, protection, and encouragement I have gotten from the Lord. Granted, I don’t get to sneak bites of chocolate pie from His plate with an impish grin, but He’s managed to make up for that. He’s also promised a big party & fabulous meal in the future, when spilling tea in my lap will be impossible.

2012 December: My Provider has Provided

It’s nearly Christmas, I’m not even half ready, and I’m putting out a ministry report early… This report is about how God, and people, have ministered to me – how my Provider has provided…

In short review, the school bill turned out to be two bills, and a total beyond what I could pay with rent. My choice came down to keeping the job in North Indiana or moving to my parents’ home in Central Ohio (free rent & good cooking). Either choice had both good and not-so-desirable points. The one solution was to purchase and convert a box truck, but I was having difficulty finding one suitable, and my friends and family were having an impossible time of seeing value in that decision.

When you’re painted into a corner, talk to the Carpenter about a new door…

I told my employer and coworkers I would need to resign, but since our business is human services, I would hang in until the first week of January. Every time the decision was settled and I prepared to bid my friends farewell, someone would present another option – and that option would fall through. I got the paperwork to resign, and had it partially filled out, and there was another option, another waiting period. The director and I arranged to meet at 10am this morning, Wed, 12/19. The last option fell through on Sunday, and Monday, my coworker said “wait, there may be one more”.

Tuesday’s plan got completely scrambled – one critical thing got accomplished, shipping kitchen essentials to a deaf couple who lost their home to Hurricane Sandy. The rest of the day was a study in frustration, and I hadn’t heard from my coworker, with a decisive meeting looming. (cue the cliffhanger music) I went to bed befuddled and discouraged, no longer caring what the decision might be, but only that it would be securely made (and declared) by Him who knows the end of every path.

This morning, I woke with the strains of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” running through my head. I am joyful when I take time to reflect on adoring God…I should do it more…and thus began (or resumed) our conversation.

My coworker arranged for me to meet the homeowner at 8:45 this morning (recall, resignation meeting with director is 10:00). I set the GPS for the address, and began driving through farmland between large houses. The address numbers went past what I was looking for, so I turned around (my car and I do this often). The numbers I sought were on a stone entryway with the hinges of an iron gate, and a long driveway lined with young trees leading to a stone and brick plantation house with a distinct center and wings on either side. I knocked softly, waiting for my coworker, and the door swung open to a friendly greeting and a foyer between two curved staircases. The view through the large windows along the back is inspiring, and I was told that the 2nd floor of the wing to the right would be mine – two bedrooms and a bath. The young man there now is the son of travelling evangelists, and will be moving out the end of the month. I will be moving in the first week of January.

She then told the story of how they came to own this house… Five years ago (when I was making earnest preparations to move for ministry training), her husband saw the empty house and decided on a whim to look it over. The following week, he brought his wife to look at it, and she believed that God was making arrangements for them to own this house, reason unknown. So they moved from where they had been for 16 years to where they now are and began renovations (he’s in the construction business). Perhaps my current need was their reason, she told me. Two daughters live in homes behind them, one on a farm with 25 horses and an open invitation for me to go riding. I plan to take them up on that offer, with joy!!

I’m not certain when the soundtrack in my mind switched over, but by the time I arrived at the office to meet with the director, I was singing an old chorus I grew up on:
“Living by faith in Jesus above…trusting, confiding in His great love…safe from all harm in His sheltering arm, I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
I care not today what tomorrow may bring, shadows or sunshine or rain…the Lord I know ruleth o’er everything, and all of my worry is vain. Living by faith in Jesus above….trusting, confiding in His great love….safe from all harm in His sheltering arm, I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.”

It is December, and my Provider has provided, above what I would have asked or have thought.

p.s. – The meeting with the director included a short discussion on how capable a deaf person could be with our clients, if only given an opportunity. Pray that the opportunity is granted and expanded, as we have a couple of deaf clients in need of care and several deaf people in need of work.

Merry Christmas!

Me First!

Me First!  I’m the stomach that will keep distracting your mind until you feed me…

Me First!  I’m the task you’ve been ignoring for weeks, and you can’t move forward until I’m done…

Me First!  I have a lag time, and the deadline’s looming…

Me First!  I’m the project you’ve postponed until the last minute, and that minute is now…

Me First!  I’m the store where you’ll get the supplies for tomorrow, and these things take time…

Me First!  I’m the commitment you made to someone else, and you haven’t tended to me today…

Me First!  I’m the bills, and it’s the end of the month…

Me First!  I’ll only take a moment or two, honest…  (how many times have I believed that one?)

Me First!  I’m that letter you need to turn in, today…

Me First!  I’m that new resume that you need to write so you can apply for jobs, so you can pay bills…

Me First!  I’m the stack of papers that might be hiding tax info, and taxes are due in two weeks…

Me First!  I’m the shower, and you need to spend time with me before you go out in public…

Me First!  I’m the Alpha and Omega, and I promised that if you would put Me first, I would work on your behalf for everything else you need.

Lord, continue to be gracious to me, a clock-dodger.