Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ready for football!!!

I'm not a big AC/DC fan, but it seemed fitting. I'm so ready for football season to start. The real football season starts today!

Still waiting

My wife and I celebrated our fifth anniversary yesterday. It has been an amazing five years. When we got married, and were very much in love, I can remember countless people telling me to “just wait ‘till the honeymoon is over.” Everyone has their deadline to when that is. For some it’s after year one, yet when we were still going strong, that wasn’t enough. Then it became two, and then three years. Maybe it was supposed to end when we began having children. Yet, for us, the “honeymoon” may be over, but we are still in love, with a stronger marriage than ever.

Don’t misunderstand. There have been tough times. Just a month after our marriage we found out Deanna’s mom’s breast cancer had returned. This time, though, it was in her lungs, her bones and putting a lot of pressure on her brain. They gave her two years, and she made it a year and a half. We celebrated her life, and still mourn her death.

There was a lot of fear over children. We both wanted a family, yet it took two and a half years for Deanna to get pregnant. During that pregnancy my wife started growing another child. At least that’s what we called it. It was actually a fibroid tumor, bringing a lot of fear to our home. With her mom dying from cancer, we were grateful to find out that it wasn’t cancerous. For reasons I won’t get into, there was still the fear of not having any more children. Praise the Lord, we are expecting number two any time now!

There have, of course, been financial struggles. Isn’t that always the way it goes? We returned from our honeymoon to Florida with checks bounced and not a lick of sense. Sound familiar? We had it pretty easy some of the time, while other times it felt like just one more bill would be the end of us.

Through all of these things, which all the “experts” tell you can be the end of a marriage, we managed to stay strong. Tragedy, financial hardship and children; are there any more difficult struggles for a new marriage? Yet instead of it making us drift, it caused us to draw closer together. Through the love and mercy of God, we are stronger, closer and more ready than ever for the years to come.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Exhibiting a Risky Faith

I had said I might give some examples on a risky faith, so I will give one. It has to do with a financial risk my wife and I took a couple of years ago. Understand a couple of things before I continue. First, faith that risks isn’t always financial. I believe it often is in our world today, because we live in a wealthy country, and money is something we tend to cling to. Secondly, faith that risks simply because of risk is foolish. The decision we made was on based solely on the fact that God told us to do it. We weren’t throwing caution to the wind because of some whim of seeming spiritual. So, here goes…

When I returned home from college, I began working with a church as a youth pastor. While there, knowing at some point God was going to lead me into the position of a head pastor, I wanted to get some opportunities to learn under a pastor working as his assistant. God opened the doors for me to go to Indiana and work with a pastor there for two years. In that time, He taught my wife and I many lessons, and some of them had to do with finances.

Let me tell you that moving in the first place cost us money. It wasn’t a major amount, but I took a pretty heavy pay cut, and on top of that, I had less time to work extra hours because of the time I was working with the church. My wife was able to keep her wage, but didn’t get quite as many hours. She worked at a Cracker Barrel, and we enjoyed the benefits that came with that. All in all, our income was probably cut by about a quarter when we moved. Still, it wasn’t the end of the world. We began to cut here and there, and were still able to make the payments needed.

During this time, Deanna and I wanted to move to the place where she was able to stay at home. We believed this was the direction God was moving us, but assumed it wouldn’t need to happen until we started growing as a family. Up to this point, it was just the two of us, but it seemed to us as if God was leading us to go ahead and have her quit. Understand that if Deanna quit, we would lose our health insurance, and around a third of our income. Not good, really, but we figured if Deanna could keep the insurance through at least our first child’s birth, it would really help.

God had different ideas. I was having my quiet time one morning, and I was telling God that if He wanted Deanna to quit her job, all He had to do was provide for us another source of finances to make up for what we would lose if she quit. Then she could quit her job, and we would remain financially secure. Again, God had different ideas. It was like He came down into the room, and asked me one question; “Haven’t I already told you what My will is?” In other words, here I am telling God that I will obey Him when He provides for us. Suddenly, I saw the ridiculousness of the whole concept.

That night I told Deanna to quit her job. She did so, with much “fear and trembling.” A month later, we found out Deanna was pregnant. Then for about a month I went without getting a full week’s worth of work at my job. In fact, I went for over two months only getting one week with over thirty hours in a single week. Also during this time, we probably had car trouble about every month or so. We had taken a financial risk, and it seemed as if the finances couldn’t get any worse. Yet they did, and continued to do so. Yet we knew we were in God’s will and purpose, so we did as God had called us to do.

God taught us a lot of lessons through that time. Our faith is stronger, our marriage better, and our ministry much better because of this. Yes, it was risk, and there were times we had no idea where the money was going to come from. I could tell you some stories about that time which had us very, very worried, yet each time God came through and proved to us how foolish we were for worrying.

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

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vampire Bat