Monthly Archives: January 2019

What’s Seen and What’s Unseen

We had a busy weekend. I spent my Saturday doing more laundry than I thought was possible in a day. I washed blankets and sheets until the hot water ran out! I spent time in both Karlena and Elijah’s room helping them clean and organize their spaces.

I don’t know about your kids, but clutter happens quickly in my home and things escalate and pretty soon there are piles everywhere and their rooms are a disaster. The aftermath of Christmas had exploded in their spaces and something needed to be done.

So we sorted and threw away and donated and found the floor again! It was a beautiful thing. I almost took a picture of it and then decided not to. It is easy for me to take a carefully crafted picture of how tidy my space or my life looks and share it with the world.

It is a lot harder to share those places that I would rather remain hidden.

Thus the reason for choosing to share a picture of our horrific “craft closet” space instead. The picture above doesn’t even do the full space justice. I couldn’t capture the entire mess in one shot. It is BAD.

This closet is a large walk-in closet that is in Elijah’s room. Last year we converted it into a craft space, a place where the kids could go and create and make a mess. It has the worst, oldest carpet in it…so I am the least worried about this area getting destroyed over other spaces in our home. But as you can see, things have gotten out of control in here.

I can, for the most part, close the door and ignore what is happening in here if I want. But the reality is unless I am willing to get in there and work through the mess….the clutter will remain.

Several weeks ago we had our new Pastor’s kids over to our house for a few hours. Their kids were hanging out with our kids and in preparation our kids had cleaned their rooms (as best as they were able) and I had straightened up the main living spaces that I thought might be seen. Again thinking that all those places we didn’t want “exposed” to our new neighbors/friends…we could easily hide away.

When our pastor came back to get his kids I said to Dominic “don’t take him on a tour of the entire house…especially not the basement.” I had this fear that he might do this and knew that I would be HORRIFIED if these people, who were new to our family, were allowed to see the real us.

Sure enough a full on tour ensued. Dominic said, “my wife told me not to do this, but….” All I could do was shake my head and laugh. Of course this was happening. You see I am THAT person. The one that wants to look like it is all good on the outside when inside my “mess” is out of control.

And exposing others to who I really am is risky. What if I am rejected. Isn’t that the age old fear? Putting ourselves out there and then being judged as not worthy?

But this weekend I was again reminded that community is SO important. And community with people who will love you in your mess, even more so. I need to be able to not be “fine” when I am not fine.

Life is HARD. I bet if you searched the pages of this blog you would find I said that very statement time and time again. It hasn’t gotten any easier. The Bible even promises that we will have trouble, why are we always so surprised by it?!

So knowing that this is going to be a world full of difficulties, how do we want to walk through this life? I personally need to be surrounded by people who will let me be real. Who will hold me accountable for those things that need to be addressed and will reassure me that my worth is more than my darkest closet secrets.

Of course there are things that I would rather you not know. Like the fact that I lost my temper this morning at my youngest son. He was being disrespectful and rude and it made me so angry. Instead of being an adult. Instead of pausing and praying for even a small measure of peace before I reacted I just did what I always do when I am faced with disrespect and I got mad.

It was an AWFUL way to start my morning and even worse, his. Fortunately I was able to pull it together before he had to go to school and I apologized to him. I told him that he was a lot like me. I told him that I HATED having to take responsibility for myself when I was wrong…especially when it came to disagreements with Dominic. I myself fought saying I was sorry and I told him that it was something that I too needed grace for and needed to be better at.

As he got out of the car to go to school I reminded him how much I loved him, but my heart hurt over the unnecessary damage that I caused only moments before. You see I will share the pretty Bible quotes and memes and do my best to be an encouragement to someone else, but the reality is my heart inside is yucky. I am in desperate need of a Savior every day. Every moment.

I know we all have these moments, these parenting “fails” and I am not going to wallow in self-pity over my mistakes. But it is important that we are willing to be honest about those areas where we struggle, to remain accountable to others and to praise God when we see small changes and victories that are a direct result of His work in our lives. I know that I have so much growing to do, but today I am willing and able to be more honest about my messes than I was even a few years ago. That is a praise!

We don’t have to be ashamed about those areas where we struggle. We can see them as opportunities for God to work in and through us.

My hope is that I can be an encouragement here, to show you that I don’t have it all together and while I am not super thrilled about sharing my messes with the world…I am committed to walking the road of transparency. God continues to use my junk and transform it into something beautiful.

It is incredible to me that God does this. That a holy, righteous, perfect God could use us in our messes to share His hope and light with a dark world. I have made so many mistakes in my life. And yet His unending grace and abounding love is available to me. I just am so so grateful – how can we not share that?!

Fixing My Eyes on Jesus

It is an interesting thing this life. The start of a new year brings the opportunity to pause and reflect, to have hope for the coming days.

I shared last week that because of some bad choices, after what was an incredibly difficult year….I chose to embark on a discretionary spending freeze for the first quarter of 2019.

I wanted to take some time and not only look at establishing a budget and an understanding of where our money goes each month, but I also wanted to get at the root cause of why it is that when I feel bad (or sad, angry, hurt, frustrated etc.) that my impulse response tends to be to do something to make myself feel better and that “something” for me has been buying things.

It is humbling being confronted with your sin. Let me be clear here too…for me, spending in this way, as an emotional response without pausing, without going to God, has become a sin in my life. It has become something that I have done in secret, I have hidden it from my husband, I have justified my actions. THAT makes it a sin for me.

So I knew that sin nature needed to be addressed. I also knew that in making a public admission of my faults and my intentions for this quarter, put me at risk for enemy attacks. We are only 8 days in and it has come as no surprise that these first several days have been filled with difficulty.

I have taken some proactive steps and started a spreadsheet to start tracking our monthly budget. I admittedly have no idea how much we spend each month on things like groceries and household items. We use Amazon subscribe and save for many things, which is handy and convenient, but when the bill comes at the end of the month I just pay it. I haven’t ever realized where the products purchased were being used, in regards to a budget.

Tracking those things is a start. Making a list of those required monthly bills was also important. As business owners, we have monthly expenses that come each month for the business as well as expenses that come each month for our personal family. Listing them all out so we could see them was good for us.

I also took some time to start cleaning out various spaces in our home. My closet was the first place to start. I was humbled (and horrified) to find several gifts that I had purchased for Karlena and Elijah, some maybe even 3 years ago, that I had never given them. Buying in advance can have its advantages, but when the gift goes ungiven in your closet for years….that is a waste. I will find a place to donate these, but it was another eye opener as to why this process is so important for me.

And then today I got a call. It was a call I didn’t want to get and honestly came on an “anniversary” date that carries with it a lot of heartache. I am absolutely broken for this loved one and this enemy attack feels like a personal one. And quite honestly I am ticked. I am angry that these difficulties have to come. As a fixer, I just want to make things better. And as much as I want to, I honestly can’t fix this.

I remember the desperation I felt last year, the worry and anxiety and hopelessness. I have been reading the book “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst. It has been such a gift to me, speaking to me in advance of this moment today. She says this, “Every time we face anything that causes us to cry out to God, let’s declare that this hard time will be a holy time, a close-to-God time.”

So that is what I am doing. I read through 2 Corinthians 4:8-18 this morning (I am sharing it below) and it speaks such hope to us. I don’t have to like trials that come at me or those I love, but I am not without hope because of who Christ is in me. I am trying to pray that God would just be present and not pray MY will in this situation. Trusting that God knows the best outcome and that no matter what God will not abandon us. I am holding on to that today.

My response in hard times has been to run out and get something to make myself feel better. Today I am going to seek to find my peace and contentment in prayer and praise of who God is. All I have is Christ….


2 Corinthians 4:8-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”[a] 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,[b] will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[c] being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

A Fresh Start

The last time I sat down to write on the pages of this blog was almost a year ago. There were many times throughout 2018 that I wanted to come here, to share my heart…but the reality was I often found myself unable to adequately express exactly what I was going through.

Some of the stories are not mine to share. I think there may be a time that God will use those stories for His purposes, and maybe I will have a part in sharing them. But for now I can just say that going through this past year was painful in many ways. I leave the year changed. I spent more time in desperate prayer than ever before. I saw God answer prayers in ways I hadn’t expected and felt that He was stretching me in ways that made me very uncomfortable.

I am grateful for my family, especially my husband who was that strong tower that I needed multiple times. I am also thankful for two of my best friends who with the wonders of Voxer encouraged me and prayed for me daily. Each of us had our own unique struggles this past year and their voices cheering me on every day were a lifeline for me.

But I walked away from 2018 with some “baggage.” And I started to feel very convicted that the causes and conditions related to that baggage needed to be addressed. You see I am a pretty emotional person. I shared this on FB recently “I am a “feelings” person. I feel big and love big but it also means I get angry big and resent big and get sad big. There is always a good with the bad it seems.”

When I am not addressing my feelings in a healthy way I start to make poor, emotional choices. I made a LOT of those choices this year and mostly in the way of my spending. It is hard for me to admit that, but it is true.

A little backstory for you…when Dominic and I got married we were broke. Just all the time broke. We lived paycheck to paycheck and our parents always had to help us and we just never seemed to get it together. Early on I racked up some credit card debt, mostly due to necessity items like food and diapers we needed, but I only ever made the minimum payments on those cards. (I know OUCH!) I cringe now realizing how much in interest we must have paid over the years.

Tax return time would come and instead of saving the money, that was the one time we could buy something big…and often we did. We spent years making very poor financial decisions. I even worked for a bank during some of those years and it wasn’t until I was there a few years that we started to see the value in contributing to a 401k and paying off debt each month. So many mistakes!

When we moved to MN we were in a better financial position than we ever had been. We were finally able to start giving to our church a little, being charitable was something I always wanted to do…but never seemed to be able to manage. We left SD with no debt except our house, cars and some student loans and had a plan to work at those.

Many of you know our story, what we thought God brought us to MN for ended in a way we had not expected and we faced the reality that we might lose everything. But Dominic trusted God’s calling/leading and started his own business…and now we do this thing together. God has blessed this business from day one and I am forever grateful. But sometimes I take that for granted.

I think I have gotten in a habit of justifying my actions. I love to be generous and now we can be and that brings me such JOY. But when I use that as a reason to justify spending on things for myself (or my kids) that we really don’t need….well that isn’t right. {Like we gave big to XYZ Charity…so now it is ok if I want to buy this sweater for myself right?!}

And that is where I have found myself this year.

I have always been the one that handles our checkbook. I balance the books at the office and manage all the bills etc. at home. A few weeks ago Dominic and I were talking and he made some comment about that he trusted me and how I managed things and that if I bought myself something from time to time it didn’t bother him.

But you see, his words of trust..they bothered me. I was super convicted and called my best friend to share that something had to change. She and I had done a 40 day fast a few years prior before Easter and “fasted” on spending on clothing for ourselves. I thought maybe I should do that again.

She came back with something even more challenging. “I think we need to fast from all discretionary spending for the first quarter of 2019.” UGH. And she told me that I needed to return something that I had purchased on impulse the day prior. She said if I was serious…it was the right first step.

I knew she was right and so the next day I made that return. I canceled a recurring monthly subscription I had that I didn’t really need. And I unsubscribed from about 30 emails from retailers that bombard my inbox each day with their best sales and offers. Too tempting for me!

Even though I could have spent prior to the New Year, I really didn’t. I was thoughtful about each purchase I made. Was this something we needed, or something we wanted? I told the kids no more Minecraft mod downloads, or movie purchases for a while. It has become too easy to say yes and not even think about it. It may only be a couple of dollars…but is it necessary? And will they ever learn to respect finances well if I am always saying yes?!

And then I had the hardest conversation of them all. I shared the challenge with Dominic. You see, not telling him about where I spend our money has become second nature. I don’t discuss purchases with him, or ask permission, and as a result I have given myself WAY too much leeway. I am not accountable to anyone and that has led to poor choices.

And even more truth for you….I really just wanted to get through the 3 months and not tell Dominic what I was doing and then proudly show him how great I did. But the reality was keeping it a secret would just make secrets later easier too.

So I am coming here and being way too honest, to remain accountable and to maybe encourage someone else who might be struggling in the same area. Buying new things isn’t bad. I love to treat my kids and I am always looking for great deals. Most of what I do purchase is with a fantastic deal. But they aren’t always necessary purchases.

My friend and I talked about how we both want to be able to be more generous in our giving, and to save for more experiences with our kids. Being thoughtful about our spending helps reset our view on what matters most and where we want to use our money. How can we best honor God with our finances?

I know this will be a challenge for me. But I believe that God is leading me down a path to learn more about Him in this process. My prayer is that He will continue to refine me so that my choices going forward will bring Him glory.

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