Self-Sufficiency Sucks

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about God’s faithfulness being enough for us every single day. My husband and I have been reading a book written by Mark Batterson called ‘The Circle Maker–Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears”. It’s been so very helpful to have this book lately. Last night I was on the verge of (another) meltdown over the fact that I can’t get my living room to look like something out of a magazine so that someone will want to buy our house. My guys provided the grunt work to move the furniture where I thought it might work only to realize that it wouldn’t work at all. They were tired. I was beyond frustrated and getting angrier (not at them) by the second. The guys went downstairs for a much needed break from my insanity and I plopped myself down at the kitchen table with my Bible and this book.

Here’s some of what I read:

The Manna Miracle

When God provided the miraculous manna for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness, it says He provided “enough for that day.” Just enough. The language describing God’s provision is extremely precise. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered a little had enough. God provided just enough. Then He gave them a curious command: “Do not keep any of it until morning.”

So why does God provide just enough? Why would God forbid leftovers? What’s wrong with taking a little initiative and gathering enough manna for two days or two weeks?

Here’s my take on the manna miracle: The manna was a daily reminder of their daily dependence on God. God wanted to cultivate their daily dependence by providing for their needs on a daily basis. Nothing has changed. Isn’t that the point of the Lord’s Prayer? “Give us today our daily bread.”

We want a one-week or one-month or one-year supply of God’s provision, but God wants us to drop to our knees every day in raw dependence on Him. And God knows that if He provided too much too soon, we’d lose our spiritual hunger. He knows we’d stop trusting in our Provider and start trusting in provision.

One of our fundamental misunderstandings of spiritual maturity is thinking that it should result in self-sufficiency. It’s the exact opposite. The goal isn’t independence; the goal is codependence on God. Our desire for self-sufficiency is a subtle expression of our sinful nature. It’s a desire to get to a place where we don’t need God, don’t need faith, and don’t need to pray. We want God to provide more so we need Him less.Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

Having to pray and ask the Lord where I should put furniture to stage my living room seems a little well, ridiculous to me. I mean, you never see someone on HGTV stop and pray over the next home makeover, do you?!!! Why does it have to be so hard that I can’t even decorate a living room without Him? I’m a little embarrassed to even share this information with you because you’re probably an expert. But maybe there are places in your life right now where you don’t feel much like an expert…like things are way beyond your ability to control? Could it be that God is cultivating our daily dependence by providing only what we need on a daily basis? If we humble ourselves (stop kicking and screaming) long enough to ask for his help?

My prayer today is that we will gather enough of what we need today and simply let enough be enough. I want to trust the Provider more than the provision.

I’m depending on Him to help me with my living room puzzle today.

Where are you needing to depend on him for today?

 

 

It’s Never Too Late **plus a giveaway**

Woo hoo! Today marks the first full week of blog posts on PBnJGrace! That, my friend, is something to celebrate.

New habits, like writing, taking vitamins, or making the bed, or reading some scriptures every day, are hard to form. At least it’s been that way for me. I had no problem developing an insatiable need for caffeine way back in high school. Diet Pepsi was often on my nightstand at bedtime. After my second child was born it became very clear that cans of soda were not going to even get me through 7am. Soon I began to hit the hard stuff…coffee. I didn’t even like it at first, but mixed with enough cocoa it became a chocolate lover’s dream. Although I knew I was addicted, I convinced myself that if I ever needed to stop I could. I mean, it wasn’t crack. Right?

For some reason unhealthy habits are easy to come by, but making healthy habits are really hard for me. I won’t even tell you how many times I’ve began an exercise program and stopped…with a very good excuse every single time. Nearly every single ‘healthy’ habit I have embraced has come down to choosing relief over a lot of pain. My body has rejected most of the standard American diet. Caffeine got the boot a few days after my 40th birthday. Happy birthday to me, right? I’d like to tell you that I don’t think about it anymore because I feel so great, but that would be a lie. I do feel better, but I think about coffee every single day. It’s like an old boyfriend that I can’t quite seem to get over even though I know I’m better off without him. To make things harder, I bump into him all of the time. It’s a high drama break-up.

What I’m saying is that it’s never too late to make changes that will make us healthier. As long as we’ve been given another day to breathe in and out, we have another day to choose differently. His mercies are new every morning. I don’t know what kinds of choices you’re facing right now. But I do know that there are people who love you an awful lot and are depending on you to fight to do whatever it takes do be ‘healthy’. Chances are good that you know in your gut what you need to do and just need to take the first step. The Lord will help you. One step at a time, one day at a time. When you’ve used up all the strength you have for today, he’ll give you more tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. You’re not a victim. You are more than a conqueror. You are.

To celebrate His daily faithfulness, I’m giving away a copy of ‘Jesus Calling’ to one random winner. All you have to do is fill in the blank:

I _________________ every day.

in the comments here on the blog (not on Facebook) by Sunday (8/12). I’ll draw and announce the winner on Monday (8/13). Even if you already have a copy of this book, I’ll bet you know someone who needs it.

Thanks for stopping by this week. I pray that you’ll continue to experience the daily faithfulness of the Lord in a powerful way. He loves you more than you can imagine.

See you Monday.

Jesus Calling is a devotional filled with uniquely inspired treasures from heaven for every day of the year.  After many years of writing in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever she believed He was saying to her.  It was awkward at first, but gradually her journaling changed from monologue to dialogue.  She knew her writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but journaling helped her grow closer to God.  Others were blessed as she shared her writings, until people all over the world were using her messages.  They are written from Jesus’ point of view, thus the title Jesus Calling.  It is Sarah’s fervent prayer that our Savior may bless readers with His presence and His peace in ever deeper measure.–Publisher Notes

Trust vs. Stuff

One of the most difficult things about getting my house ready to sell is decluttering. I am one sappy sentimental sister. Like I feel emotional pain when I find a birthday card that someone has given me. My inner-sap wants to save it forever because that person could be hit by a bus tomorrow and I’ll never see them again. I’m not kidding. My struggle to hold on to all that stuff means packing it into boxes and probably paying to have them stored, even though they may never see the light of day again. I romanticize the thought of my sons treasuring my treasure when I’m old and gray and remembering me with fondness. It’s important that there are tears in their eyes as well. Anyway, it wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were just old cards, but it’s not. I have cabinets full of dishes we never use, boxes full of books we’ve already read, drawers full of clothes we rarely wear, and it’s time to move them. Again.

I hold on tight because I have a hard time trusting that I’ll ever have anything nice again.

If you live in the United States, you’re probably aware that we are a nation crazy about having more stuff than we could ever possibly need. We stuff our homes and fill our two car garages until we can’t park our cars in them with all of our glorious stuff. Then when Christmas and birthdays come around we ask our kids what they’d like to receive as gifts and they’re completely stumped. Like we have to give them ideas for more stuff. Does anyone else have to do this besides me? It’s CRAZY. Hello, you’re reading a crazy person’s blog!

We might even be able to justify all of our awesome stuff because we need it or might need it in the event that war-torn refugees come to stay. We’re always thinking ahead. Obsessing. Planning. Worrying that we won’t have enough. But somewhere deep down we believe that if it all falls apart tomorrow, we’re screwed.

Remember the bible story about Moses leading the children of Israel through the desert? God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. He had performed miracle after miracle on their behalf. The Red Sea wasn’t just a story to them, they walked through it on dry land and then watched it drown every single soldier that tried to take them back. And yet it didn’t take long before they started to freak out about not knowing what they were going to eat every day. They had been so used to being in captivity that they were used to settling for what they got from the slave masters. This new found freedom stripped their security away and exposed them for what they were. Afraid.

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough food for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions…”-Exodus 16:2-4

Every day the Lord rained down manna for breakfast and flew in quail for dinner. Those that tried to gather up more than they needed were met with a nasty maggot mess the next morning. He would not allow them to hoard his goodness. They had to trust him for it every day except for the sixth day when he would allow them to gather enough for the Sabbath.

It seems kind of mean to test people when they’re under a lot of stress. Kind of like having a fire drill when there’s a tornado coming. Testing shows us what skills we’ve mastered and which skills need more practice. Ugh.

I don’t think God hates my stuff. I don’t think he thinks my stuff is a great big sin and needs to be burned on the altar. I think he knows I’d be less stressed if I wasn’t constantly worried about what may or may not happen to my stuff and where I’m going to put it. My trust matters more to God than my stuff.

He says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”-Matthew 6:25-27

Every day his mercies are new. Every day is a chance to trust him again. Every day is another day to learn to master my stuff instead of allowing it to be my master.

I’ve been using this FlyLady decluttering challenge to get my house ready.

I’d love to hear some feedback today. Any tips to save our sanity would be treasured, but not stored. 😉

 

The Cost of Being High Maintenance

A little more than eight years ago I entered a mentoring program at House of Hope to face my depression head on for once and for all. The mentors told me that God could heal me and I was desperate enough to give him a shot because nothing else I tried had worked. The medication my doctor prescribed had worked well in the beginning, but my body stopped responding to it. Even though I tried different medications, the side effects were starting to outweigh the benefits from my initial experienced. My daily ‘happy pill’ wasn’t working anymore.

The medication had given me enough hope of feeling ‘normal’ that I began to depend on it. I gave regular testimonies about how good I felt. When ‘normal’ evaporated, hopelessness moved back in. This was a normal I wasn’t willing to accept. My boys deserved better.

House of Hope’s program was intense. I was expected to not only participate in group therapy type sessions, I also had to attend bible studies, personal development classes, and do my homework. It was hard. I hadn’t had time to read a book that didn’t rhyme and have pictures in years. I still don’t know how I was able to pull it off other than I know that a small army was praying for me.

After I graduated from the mentoring program depression free, I tried to do life the way I had before. It didn’t work. Joy felt too good to not be my permanent ‘normal’ and my circumstances hadn’t changed. My kids still needed more than I had to give on a daily basis. I had a choice to make. Fall back into my old habits OR learn how to make the truth I’d learned during those three months continue to transform my mind and heal my heart? I chose Truth.

For me, this means doing my homework. I have to have some kind of bible study to work on almost every day. My family had to learn that this was an important step in staying healthy. Like taking medicine. If I begin to feel funky, I can almost always relate it to not being in a study.

The truth is that I used to resent the fact that I needed that kind of maintenance to feel ‘normal’. Finding time isn’t any easier now than it was all those  years ago, but the stakes are too high to ignore the facts. I am a different person than I was eight years ago and I will never go back. Whatever it takes.

Some of us need more maintenance than others. That’s OK. I don’t know what it is that you need regularly to feel ‘normal’ or experience peace and true joy. Perhaps you’re not even sure. This I do know, the more you allow God to be part of your everything, the more you will not want to go back to life without him.

He loves you with an everlasting love. Every single day.

**Some of my favorite resources have been studies and books written by Beth Moore. Not all of her studies have intense homework. I highly recommend The Inheritance series as a great place to start. Priscilla Shirer, Jennifer Rothschild and Kelly Minter have also written studies that are about six weeks long. These are fun to do with some girlfriends and all of them have digital video downloads for as little as $5 per week. It costs about the same as my favorite Starbucks drink, but lasts a whole lot longer.**

The Daily Dilemma

Babies are created pretty much the same way they were long before our grandparents had stories to tell. Science has come up with some creative ways to vary the process, but it’s the same recipe. A+B always = C. I love recipes like that.

Regardless of where or when our kids are born, their basic needs are the same: they need to eat, sleep, diapers changed, and lots of loving human interaction. They don’t need it once. They don’t need it twice. They need it every single day. Once a day would be nice, like caring for a goldfish, but no. It’s multiple times a day. They need it right about the time that a hot meal is ready. They need it every few hours during the night. More when they’re teething. They need it whether there’s money for diapers or not. They impose complete dependence on the fiercely independent. And that’s where things get sticky. The fail-proof recipe that produced that chubby little blessing now needs more upkeep than anything else in the house. The recipe’s tricky that way. It’s not in the fine print. It can leave even the most nurturing parent feeling totally duped.

It did me.

I will admit that I didn’t have a clue about how demanding motherhood would be. Hello, I was a babysitter. How hard could it be? It began kicking my butt right around the second I realized that I wasn’t just a few days late and hasn’t stopped since. That was fifteen years ago. My buns hurt. Seriously.

It took me a really long time to figure out that I was just as needy as my kids but didn’t know it. My kids were lucky though because even though their mother was borderline nuts, she jumped through their hoops and gave them what they needed to the very best of her ability. I wasn’t so lucky. I ignored my needs. I tried to anyway. There are very real and serious consequences for parents who neglect their children. There are very real and serious consequences for parents who neglect their own needs and deep down we know it.

You and I are way more needy than we care to admit. We still need to eat, sleep, and handle things in the bathroom. We’re human. Like our children, we were created to need someone else to take care of us. We were never meant to do it all by ourselves regardless of how much of a ‘big girl’ we are now. The recipe’s tricky that way. It’s not in the fine print. It’s why no matter how hard we try to do it right and follow the instructions to the letter, it doesn’t turn out quite like it should. It tastes funny. It’s missing something.

It’s missing Someone.

We need God. Not once or twice a week, but daily. Sometimes hourly. More at Christmas. Now, if this makes you want to cross your arms with a sassy pout and say “I do it myself!”, you’re so not alone. But what if today was different? What if you allowed Him to help you today? What have you got to lose? You can start by simply saying “God, I need you.” He’ll take it from there.

It would be an honor to pray for you if you’d like to leave a comment today. If you don’t want it published, simply say so. You’re safe here.

See you tomorrow.

 

 

 

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