Tag Archive: doubt


With football season now officially in full swing and the season opener last night for my beloved Green Bay Packers, resulting in a very sad loss I might add…

it forced me to reflect upon my loyalty.

What kind of fan am I?

In the mid-90’s Jax and I lived in the Twin Cities; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.  Two Packer fans relocated to the heart of Viking territory, you’d think we would have felt the pinch of a Viking fan’s bite.  However in the 90’s the Vikings had many mediocre seasons; repetitive 8-8 and 9-7 records with the winning-est season in ’92 in which they pulled off eleven wins and five losses, so we found there weren’t many tried and true fans left.

In fact, the Viking games had so often been “blacked out,” meaning the games weren’t televised locally, so we were able to watch our more successful Green Bay Packers with a surprising amount of ease and unexpectedly found Minnesotans jumping on the Packer-backer bandwagon cheering for the Pack right along with us!

In 1997 Jax and I were able to go to a Monday night Vikings vs. Packers game that of course wasn’t televised, at the Metrodome.  Going into it we sort of assumed, sadly, that the Packers would have a hard time wining only because of the history Brett Favre had playing in the Metrodome but we wanted to go to a game and in Minnesota it was pretty easy to get tickets.   However, it was at this game where we truly found Viking fans; the ones who bled purple and gold.

The roar of the crowd was deafening as we sat like green and gold prey in a sea of purple sharks.  Their insults and jabs encircled us while they took bite after bite before and during the game.  They were full of themselves and sure of their team, but somehow Favre managed to defeat his ghosts and pulled off a 27-11 win.  The crowd became suddenly quiet, there were no more attacks.  The encircling pack retreated.

The Vikings ended that season with a 9-7 record while the Packers went on for a second consecutive appearance at the Super Bowl.  The Pack couldn’t find the win this time around and we sat heartbroken alongside Viking-turned-Packer-fans.

The 1998 Minnesota Vikings season was the turn around.  The Vikings were on fire; they had the best offense in the league, they broke scoring records and ended the season as one of three teams ever winning 15 games in the regular season.  The Viking fans were coming full force out of the wood work.  Those fans who had previously lent their voices to our green and gold song were nowhere to be found.

The Vikings cruised their way to the NFC Central title, easily winning their first playoff game and although finding themselves in a bind and in overtime against the Atlanta Falcons, all that stood between the Vikings and a visit to the Super Bowl was the place kicker Gary Anderson, who had a 100% field goal percentage.

The game was clinched…

until he missed the field goal, sending the Falcons to the big game.

It had been an awesome year for the Minnesota Vikings.  They had a killer run, and although we were quite pleased with the outcome of that playoff game, the Vikes had a wonderful season and seemingly promising future.

But the response after that game from the Viking fans was shocking.  Instead of celebrating the amazing season they just had, they were angry.  They complained about the team and the coaching and wanted head coach Dennis Green fired.  It was such a stark contrast to the previous few months where the Minnesota Vikings team and coaching staff could do no wrong.

But isn’t that exactly how we act as Christians?

When things are going our way, when life is going great and we can feel the sunshine on our faces, we sing a little song and carry on just fine.  But when things get tough or don’t go our way we suddenly go to God complaining and questioning.

What are you doing?  We ask.

Where have you been?  We cry.

What are you thinking?!  We shout.

We wail and moan, throwing down our #1 fan foam fingers and cross our arms in a childish pout.

God is always working, always with us, always constant.  We are the ones who change.  We are the ones who turn away.  We are the ones who rely on ourselves and not the Truth.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”   Isaiah 40:28-31

Perhaps it’s that #1 fan foam finger that holds the key after all.  Where are we to look when we’re struggling?  Where are we to look when we feel alone?  Where are we to look when we can’t see our way?

Up.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

In 2009, I took part in an Origin of Species outreach. This outreach handed out over 170,000 copies of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species to students at universities around the nation. Each book includes an introduction written by Ray Comfort of Living Waters Ministries that contains information about Intelligent Design and the gospel.

When I first found out about this Origin into schools project, I was so excited I could hardly stand it. I immediately contacted Living Waters to find out if there was a group heading up to the UW. Due to the incredible response to the project, the original plan of 100 campuses quickly grew to 1,000’s of campuses, including Madison!! So I was off and running.

As the weeks went by, I prayed diligently for this outreach. I couldn’t wait to see God work! I told many people about what was being planned…I asked for prayers over the outreach week…I posted links on Facebook sparring heated debates…it was so darn exciting!!

Just as quickly as the fire was lit and spread inside me for the cause of Christ, it began to fade. I began to doubt my courage, I feared what might happen, I didn’t trust what God could do through me, and I started to worry!

I became certain that God didn’t want me out there, because I would just mess it up, so I was convinced that God would provide my way out. He knew I couldn’t do this, so I figured I wouldn’t be able to find a sitter, or Jax would end up scheduled to work that day, maybe one of the kids would be sick. I KNEW something would come up.

It didn’t. God clearly had His own plans…

Much to my surprise, one of my best friends jumped at the chance to watch the boys so I could head down to be part of this.

Jax lost his job about a week before, so there were absolutely no scheduling conflicts with him.

The kids had been ill several weeks prior, but this week?? Fit as fiddles.

NOT ONE THING came up. In fact God provided, even through my children, encouragement for me:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”   Philippians 4:6

“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”   Psalm 118:6

“…do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour… for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”   Matthew 10:19-20

Yet, I continued to doubt.

The night before the outreach, I put off GOING to bed, because…well, the morning would come far too quickly. Then that morning, I delayed getting OUT of bed, because I knew people would be arriving at our house in no time. I seriously tried to figure out a way that the group could go without me, but God was NOT about to let me out of this. Everything was falling into place beautifully. No conflicts, no problems, no excuse.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”   1 Peter 5:6-7

Ok fine, I’ll go.

All of the brothers and sisters in Christ serving with us gathered at our house at 9:30am. We divvied up the boxes of books between three cars and headed downtown Madison.

Deep breath Nicole, take a deep breath…

The more I thought about it, I realized this wasn’t going to be so bad. I figured I would be right alongside Jax anyway, so if I had any problems he could take care of it. That essentially, he would be my “Aaron.” I was being sent…but Jax would do the talking.

Sounds like a plan to me!! Yup, that would work.

We decided to head toward State Street to cover the length of it and then would see where to go from there. Jax and I didn’t make it much past the first corner with our books, when we were instantly separated by the swarm of students coming to and from classes. Ok, he’s not too far away… I still felt fairly comfortable, so I began to hand out books. The students snatched them up. They couldn’t get enough!

“Darwin? Oh, I love him!”

“It’s free? Are you kidding me? Awesome!”

“Man, I thought you were giving out Bibles! This is great!!”

They were amazed and THRILLED that we were handing out Darwin’s book as opposed to Bibles or religious literature.

This was going to be easier than I thought!!

One professor, an “Evolutionary Scientist,” was so thrilled that we were handing out the book, that he said he was eager to share it with his students and even invited us to sit in on his class!!

The books were flying out of my arms. Only a few left… Yay, almost done!! Oooooh yes, my last book! Then, a lady asked me a question:

“Why are you handing these out?”

That’s easy enough I thought… “It’s the 150th anniversary of the publication of this book.”

“Who’s providing these books?”

Well…ok, “Living Waters.”

“Who is that?”

I froze.

What do I say now? Oh my word. They’re not going to understand! They’re going to get mad! Oh gosh…

“I don’t know.” I said hoping it was good enough.

“Well, who are you working for?”

Silence. I shook my head playing dumb. The lady looked at me inquisitively.

“Who hired you?”

Sheer terror filled me, and I blurted out: “I don’t know, I answered an ad in the paper.”

I stared back at her, holding my breath. She finally walked away probably thinking that I was an idiot.

“When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.”   Ezekiel 3:18

I walked back to the car to get more books, my heart very heavy. I was so ashamed. Oh my word, what have I done? I just missed an opportunity to share my faith. I played dumb to avoid what God was setting up! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I AM an idiot!!

Oh God, I am so sorry. YOU put me here. YOU orchestrated all of this. Each person that passes by me YOU led here at this exact moment. You are trying to use me, and I am stopping you!! Oh God, please forgive me, I am STILL doubting!

At that moment, I was done. I was done pretending. I was done doubting. I remembered Psalm 118:6 – the verse my daughter gave me the week before. What CAN man do to me? Absolutely NOTHING with God on my side!

From this moment on, if I was questioned I would answer. No holds barred. God knows I can do this, and I know I can trust Him. I grabbed more books and headed back to State Street. Now I was on a mission.

I hadn’t taken time to set all the books down when an elderly gentleman approached me. He had some questions. It was CLEARLY God saying, “Ok, prove it.” This man literally asked the exact same questions the lady before him asked and as I was talking to him, he finally got around to the poignant question:

“Living Waters? Who are they?”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and as I was about to speak when a young lady interrupted us:

“Is that Darwin’s original work, Origin of Species?”

“Yes,” I answered.

She screamed, grabbed a book and exclaimed, “Oh, thank you so much!! That’s fantastic! Thank you, thank you!” She walked away practically hugging the book.

The man looked at her, then at me, and awaited my response.

“Actually,” I said, “Living Waters is a Christian organization who wrote the introduction to the book. It explains Intelligent Design, and how Darwin’s theories are incorrect.”

The man paused, looked back at the gal who was now showing people this precious treasure she had just received, and said:

“Well, she’s going to be surprised now, isn’t she?!”

A huge smile engulfed my face. “Yes sir, she is.”

He thanked me, took the book, and walked away.

It was then that I knew God was with me. He was NOT going to allow anything to happen. HE was in control.

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.”   Psalm 125:1

We were on State Street for about three hours. We handed out a little over 1500 books. We were given the immense honor of speaking with a handful of people in whom the Holy Spirit was obviously working. Who really wanted to know why we were out there, and who still accepted the book after hearing that Intelligent Design prefaced it.

Now that it’s over, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Great joy that I was able to witness to people — great joy that over 1500 students/professors were given a book which also contained the gospel message — but also great sadness.

It was astonishing how many people practically jumped up and down that we were handing out Darwin’s book. In fact, the amount of people who came back to THANK US!! One gal even bought me a pumpkin spice latte because she was so appreciative of what we were doing…and, because I looked cold!! Another guy said to Jax: “Thanks for not telling me about Jesus.”

Oh it broke my heart. Just how lost those people really are! That their view of street preachers is so negative, they view it as “refreshing” to be handed something other than a Bible!

Oh Lord, I can only pray that you touched one life that day. That one person read the introduction and made a choice to follow you. I leave it in your hands and thank you for what you have done and will continue to do because of that outreach. Thank you for including me, for NOT giving me an Aaron, and for teaching me amazing truths.

Oh, and by the way…thanks for the pumpkin spice latte!!

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”   Jeremiah 17:10

 

I traveled along the Blue Ridge Parkway this past week.  It was the most beautiful and calming stretch of road I have ever traveled.

The expanse of highway travels along the Appalachian Mountain range, through Virginia and North Carolina, at a comfortable leisurely 45 mph pace and offers no distraction of cellular service making it impossible to ignore its splendor.

It is filled with amazing peaks, stunning vistas and gorgeous views.

It entices us to jump; to soar in God’s promises and His word is heard in its echo:

“they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”   Isaiah 40:31

And while we stand upon the mountain, our adversary uses those close-up magnificent views to turn our focus upon the rugged, daunting mountain set before us. He reminds us we are incapable and unable to walk the path that lies ahead:

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…”   Isaiah 64:6

One minute we are on an incredibly spiritual high; we know what God has planned for us, our steps are sure and strong, the path ahead is exhilarating and clear enabling us to sit a while in His presence.

“but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”   Proverbs 1:33

Then at the next turn the shadows appear; our footing is slow and apprehensive, the darkness drifts in and the path ahead is questionable.

 

Each corner appears sharp, unsure and cold and we begin to doubt.  We question if we are on the right road after all; incapable of seeing through the forest, unable to decipher the way.

But we can trust in God’s promises.  Light will appear once more and the shadows will run.

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”   2 Timothy 1:7

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”   Psalm 40:2

Are you in the midst of a shadow?

Are you unable to see the way out?

God promises to guide and to lead.  Trust in His timing, take rest in His plan and you will again feel sure-footed and secure.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   Jeremiah 29:11

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…”   Philippians 1:6

 

Has God given you a promise that you aren’t sure He can fulfill?

Have you seen Him work and verify the calling He has made on your life, only to find yourself question and doubt whether it will come to fruition?

In who have you placed your trust?  Are you relying on God’s promises or your own ability?

There are so many stories in the Bible of God revealing His plan, and in response hearing an “are you out of your mind?!”

Sarah:
“The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?’  Genesis 18:10,12

The Shunammite woman:
“’At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.’ And she said, ‘No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.’”  
2 Kings 4:16

Moses:
“’Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’   But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’”  
Exodus 3:10-11

Gideon:
“And the LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?’ And he said to him, ‘Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’”   Judges 6:14-15

Sounds familiar.

I have felt God’s strong presence and calling in my life to write.  He has provided many stories of amazing provision and proof of His existence that I long to share with those who don’t yet know Him, as well as to help encourage and realize His movement in the lives of those who do.

I have been filled with an unsettling beyond anything I’ve known.  An awareness of the path He wants me to take and yet the road stands before me; a path filled with light as well as shadow, straight, sure ground and questioning, uncertain curves.

I find myself shoulder to shoulder with those who have come before me, echoing their mistrust, questioning the One whose promises we are to rely on.  But no matter the make of the road or the curves that lie ahead, I will blindly follow while likely questioning the whole way, but in the wake of those who trod before me,

I will take one more step forward,

and trust that His plans are better than my own.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

“Now the angel of the Lord came… while Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.’”   Judges 6:11-12

Gideon, a “mighty man of valor,” hid in a winepress to avoid the Midianites.  He knew that the Lord was with the people of Israel, but questioned God’s plan for them to defeat the Midianites after years of oppression.

God told Gideon to “Go.”

Gideon responded, “But…”

God reassured Gideon, “This is my plan.”

Gideon said “Prove it…”

Not that the whole talking to an angel thing isn’t proof enough, I suppose… but God gave Gideon proof:

“‘Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.’ And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes…”   Judges 6:20-21

That sounds so familiar.  God calls me to write and in response I question Him; Is this really Your plan or my own pipe dream? God assures me, but I want a sign.  Echoing Gideon I pray; “Show me that it’s You, Lord.”

… And Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be to you. Do not fear…’”   Judges 6:22-23

And like Gideon, God reassured me and gave me peace, so I responded in faith trusting that this was His plan and signed up for the She Speaks writer’s conference.

However once I registered, I realized there was a very short window of time available to raise nearly $1000 to attend this conference; an exorbitant amount of money.

And like Gideon, I began to doubt.

“Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.’ And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water.”   Judges 6:36-38

God provided 70% of the funds needed in a very short amount of time, but echoing Gideon again, although I could clearly see God providing and reassuring, I wanted another sign.

“Then Gideon said to God, ‘Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.’ And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.”   Judges 6:39-40

Like Gideon, I was much more certain of the calling God had given me, but a balance of $278 lingered for weeks and the due date quickly approached.

“…the Lord said to him, ‘Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.’”   Judges 7:9-11a

Like Gideon, God sent friends and even strangers to validate His plan for me; verifying the gift He gave me to write, offering thankful praise of God touching their lives through my writing, and reassuring me that He would provide.

One friend continually told me, “God loves the 11th hour.”  Although I knew she was trying to reassure me, I didn’t want to hear that.  I wanted God to provide NOW so I didn’t have to worry, and in those last few days leading up to the due date, I continually focused on that $278 and questioned how God would provide.

In true God form, as He provided in Gideon’s “11th hour,” He answered that ridiculous question in mine.

The very morning the final $278 was due; I woke and prayed for God to miraculously provide, thinking perhaps God wanted me to give the remaining balance myself.  I was absolutely happy to but wasn’t sure how that would happen because we didn’t have it and wouldn’t at least until my final paycheck on Friday, still 3 days away.

A couple hours later a friend came over to visit, and although she had come to look at some items I was trying to sell, I knew if she bought them it would only be a small portion to put toward my $278.  We had a wonderful visit, she and her husband stayed much of the afternoon and we shared wonderful conversation and laughs.

As my friend got ready to leave and her husband was writing out a check for $70 for the items she purchased, she asked for a drink of water, which apparently was a decoy, and when I left the room she and her husband answered God’s call to give toward my scholarship fund.  When I returned and handed her the bottle of water, she said:

“I’m going to pay you $100 for this bottle of water,” and handed me a check in the amount of $170.

I was in shock, awe, and tears at the incredible selfless generosity this couple showed me, and at God’s provision.

But God was far from finished.  Shortly after they left, I spoke to another friend on the phone who told me she had planned to give money toward my fund but had forgotten, and would give me $100 the following day.  And, at that exact moment I received an email from another friend who said she also wanted to contribute.

”As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.”   Judges 7:15

Now tell me, how many times does God have to prove His faithfulness to me?  How many times do I have to read stories from His Word to remind me of His love and provision?  How many times do I have to see Him work in the little things?

What about you?

“Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”   Matthew 8:26a

Apparently, just one more…

Oh Lord, please forgive me for my doubt.  I praise you for your forgiveness, understanding, patience, and provision, and am in awe and thank you so much for how you work.

I serve an absolutely amazing God.

Have you ever questioned God’s plan for your life?  That, like Moses, perhaps He’s got the wrong guy?

“But he said, ‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.'”   Exodus 4:13

That He should use someone who is smarter, speaks more eloquently, is more qualified, more prepared, has more money…

God’s Word tells us that He does not make mistakes.

Ever.

He knew your every moment even before He formed you in the womb.
“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”   Psalm 139:15-16
He chose you and takes great joy in you.
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”   Zephaniah 3:17
He chose you for a specific purpose.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   Jeremiah 29:11

He will see you through.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”   Philippians 1:6

Breath of Heaven was written as “Mary’s song” but it applies to all of us who have doubts that we can live up to God’s plan for our lives…

Breath of Heaven – Amy Grant

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong, help me be
Help me

I Spy more…

Ok just to start off, before I tell you all the amazing things God has done today, I have to mention that I forgot my apple.  (inside joke; check out how God worked yesterday… What a day!)  Yup, I didn’t have a lunch again.  Now there’s NO WAY, three days in a row, God would provide another snack for me because I, absent minded and foolishly, didn’t have a lunch yet again.

Mmmm-hmmm, the conference room light was ON!!

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”   Genesis 1:3

I Spy God #1:

         

[IMAGE CREDIT]  [IMAGE CREDIT]

PLUS!  (as if He had to provide even more…)

Today is apparently, “Administrative Professionals Day,” I Spy God #2.  Because I am an “Administrative Professional” ( I just like that title), I got a gift from my boss which included things that were absolutely perfect for me:

  • a cross wall hanging   (perfect!!)
  • decorative note cards   (yup, that fits!!  Check out… I Spy God writing a note)
  • a sweet little box of tissues  (quite appropriate; just read I CRY… it will explain)
  • and my absolute fave, pistachios!!!  (nothing more to say, they’re just awesome.)

“who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:”   Job 5:9

Unbelievable.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”   Ephesians 3:20

THEN, (oh come on, you had to know there was more…)

So you know how I’ve been stressing how God will provide for the Writer’s conference this whole time?  And I’m sure you’ve heard those people say not to worry because what you are worrying about probably won’t happen anyway??

“Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”  ~ Tom Petty

Ok, I guess it was just Tom Petty that said that, but it’s true.  God had this financial thing all figured out.  This whole time, and was just waiting for me to trust Him!!

“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!”  Psalm 40:17

Today He revealed I Spy God #3.  Because I have been “let go” from my position and have accumulated ETO time (Earned Time Off), I will receive a check reimbursing me for the hours I have not used.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!

Oh yes He did!

“Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.”   Psalm 40:5

Oh but wait, there’s MORE!!!  (whaaaaa?!!)

When I arrived home from work, I Spied God #4 & #5; I had virtual and literal mail waiting for me.  P31 Ministries sent an email with my most current scholarship update, and in the mailbox were two letters; one anticipated and one quite unexpected, but both from dear friends who felt God calling them to “help me reach my goal.”

And with the financial support sent in and counted for, God has provided 40% of my total registration need, and I still have my Pampered Chef fundraiser on Friday!!

“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”   1 Peter 5:7

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:19

I Spy little faith

[IMAGE CREDIT]

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”   Matthew 17:20

As most of you know I have registered for the She Speaks conference in July… a writer’s conference to help me (hopefully) be more effective with the stories God has given me to share, as well as guide my next steps in this calling (and amazing gift) I feel God has given me.

I’ve been stressing a bit because my financial support is not where I had hoped, three weeks before the due date of May 15th

{gulp…}

Plus, my job has been essentially phased out, so that financial reduction is not going to… y’know, make things easier.  So I decided I need to be proactive and host a Pampered Chef fundraising show.  Unfortunately because of the time constraints, and getting the scholarship money raised to She Speaks before May 15th, the only date available for the show would be THIS Friday.

{again, gulp!!}   Yeah, I’ve got a week.

So, like Noah, I got to work.  I sent out a BOAT-load (heehee) of emails and Facebook invites on Sunday hoping God will do something amazing this week.

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“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”   Hebrews 11:7

Shocker, He has already begun answering that prayer.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”   James 1:6

I received two separate, yet nearly identical, messages Sunday night from two wonderful friends saying:

“I received your invite for the Pampered Chef fundraiser. I have to be honest though; I can’t cook worth a darn, and have so much expensive Pampered Chef stuff that rarely gets used. I would be happy to help you achieve your monetary goal though. If you would like, I could send you a check directly.”

I was blown away.

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”   Philippians 4:6

I was in high spirits heading to work on Monday, armed with catalogs and fliers to hand out at work, and immediately a couple co-workers approached me and said they wanted to place orders.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.”   Jeremiah 17:7

Then, my boss approached me and said:

“The doctors said that you can work two more weeks.”

{gulp.}

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”   Matthew 6:34

I took a deep breath, figured God had a plan, and am thankful for another two weeks of work…so I’ll make the best of my time.

When I got home and checked my email, I got a message indicating that another dear friend had already placed a significant order on Pampered Chef’s website…

“… your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”   Matthew 6:8

Then Jax called.  He got news that the company he has been contracting for has gotten approval to hire two contractors into full time positions, and Jax has been encouraged to apply.  Although we’ll have to wait for the final word next week, God is orchestrating all of this, and I praise Him for what He will do!!

“At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.”   Psalm 69:13

I have registered for the She Speaks Conference through Proverbs 31 Ministries.  At the time of doing so, I actually believed God wanted me to write.  He made a way for me to reduce my hours at work, validating He was giving back the time to write that was lost two years ago when I began working full-time.  So, I knew there would be no problem raising support.

This P31 conference is terribly expensive.  So expensive, that signing up for a conference I can’t possibly afford coupled with the reduction of hours and pay at work, flies in the face of all logical reasoning.  It is so costly in fact, that for the same amount of money I could practically self-publish my own book!!

For several years I have longed to combine the stories God has given me into a book.  Backed with gentle nudging and encouragement from friends and family who offered to actually consider reading it, I looked into it.  After weighing my options; literal book in one hand, conference and chance to propose book to publisher with no guarantees in the other, (although on paper weren’t really options because I couldn’t afford either one) I noticed God providing an open door; the option to “raise my own scholarship funds” on the conference website.

DING!  DING!  DING!

There was my answer!  I could raise the money I needed to pay for the conference!!  Granted, chances were slim that I would get a publishing contract out of it, but I was sure I would receive valuable tools to help me be a better writer and give me answers on how to begin this whole process.

Plus… it would be another great story to write; how God would provide for this conference!  So I registered, prepared my financial support letters, sent them out, and sat back to watch God work.

{Cue: crickets}

Nothing happened.

God stopped.

A week went by…

Although I hardly noticed.  I worked on past stories that hadn’t been completed since I began working two years ago.  Working to get these stories finished up continued to fuel my passion and I was still feeling quite confident and excited about my decision.

Another week went by…

With hardly a blink, I was busy starting a blog, made connections with other She Speaks Conference attendees and P31 workers, and had been encouraged and even more excited about my decision to register.

Another week went by…

I began to notice I had heard nothing regarding financial support and began to deal with a bit of doubt, but had felt reassured and confident that God would provide.

Another week went by…

Now I encountered doubt and fear so strong that I started to question my decision.  Why am I doing this?  Have I made a mistake?  Perhaps this isn’t God’s plan for me…  Is this God closing the door?  He’s right!  Who would want to read my stories; I don’t have anything to say after all…

I prayed fervently for God to provide…

“For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.”   Psalm 50:10

“Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”   Jeremiah 32:17

This amount of money is nothing to an Almighty God, the Artist of infinite design, Orchestrator of all things, the One who upon exhaling, breathed things into existence…

God responded with:

“Nicole, the doctors at Dental Health Associates have decided that you are no longer able to work part-time in your position.  Sorry, but we have hired your replacement.”

I got punched in the gut.

I’m not sleeping well, my stomach is in knots.  I pray for something, anything, to assure me I’ve made the right choice.  I pray literally for God to send me a sign…TODAY.  I check and re-check email.  I run out to the mailbox in hopes of a letter.  I go on the conference website, I read articles looking…no, begging… for God to affirm this choice and reveal His plan for me.  I try to write…

Nothing.

“But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it…’”   Matthew 12:39

This morning I couldn’t sleep and decided to get up, defeated and not sure even what to say anymore in prayer.  I asked God to take this desire for writing away from me.  This clearly is not His will, or He would have made it clear.

I decided to open the book “for the Write Reason” and wonder why I do.  Each time I read it I get more discouraged.  These are stories about SUCCESSFUL writers.  How God allowed THEIR dreams to come true.  How He gave THEM something important to say.  How everything just worked out and fell right into THEIR laps.

Then I read these words:

“…a book contract was all I could think about.  And I didn’t just think about it, I meditated on it, focused on it.  In truth, I couldn’t think of much else.  Every day when I walked out to the mailbox I would wonder if this might be the day.  And day after day I was disappointed.  My deep disappointment surprised me and served as a wake-up call…  I realized that my getting published was not up to the editors, it was up to God… if He wanted me published, He would get me published.  …in the end it was still His message, not mine.  

“… apart from me you can do nothing.”   John 15:5b

Do your circumstances seem impossible?  Does what He has called you to do seem overwhelming?  Do you think that He has forgotten you?”    ~ Rachel Carman

I had my focus wrong.  God had been giving me a sign; I was just too focused on myself to notice!!  God reminded me of what He told me when I first felt His call to do more with my writing…

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise from another place… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”   Esther 4:14

He has given me words to say, and has even given me time to write!  And He gently reminds me…

“that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”   1 Corinthians 2:5

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”   2 Corinthians 12:9

Apart from Him I can do nothing!!  It’s not about me…it’s about Him and where He has placed me right now.  He is in control and will fulfill my desires as long as I seek HIM first… NOT the other way around.

As I finish my time with Him, my phone beeps indicating I have a message.  I finish up (gosh…look at how calm I am.  I didn’t even rush to the phone!  Ok, so I waited to finish my sentence…)  and see that God in His wonderful sovereignty and loving way, sent a devotion from P31 ministries entitled:

“When Waiting is Hard”  by Wendy Pope

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”   Psalm 27:14

Praise you Lord for understanding my doubt.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.   Proverbs 3:5-8

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