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Living With and Without

Hey did you guys know life gets busy around Christmas? Nope? Just me? Okay well then I apologize for not posting but I’ve been enjoying the season and being busy serving where God puts me. Annnnyywaaays..on to the today’s post!

If I could go back and meet any one Bible character it would definitely be Paul. (Jesus being exempt from this theoretical question, of course.) I love Paul. His testimony, life, example, writing…everything. I love his rhetorical and sarcastic questions in Romans (he cracks me up) and his love for all the saints. Yup, he’s my favorite.

In Philippians 4, Paul talks about how he has learned to be content in whatever situation God has him in. He has learned to live with plenty and to live with nothing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’ve been thinking about finances. (I work at a bank for goodness’ sake, people!)

I never really worried much about money in the past. I always had more than I needed and I lived what I considered simply. In 2017, when it became clear to my doctor and I that I needed to take a break from working, things changed. It meant I needed to move into an apartment and (gasp!) actually pay for housing. It meant no income until I could go back to work. It just meant a lot more expenses in general. And I was prepared but it was still a little nerve wracking.

There was one Sunday I never want to forget. It was right before I was going to be done at the Farm and I was having a really rough time emotionally, physically, mentally- all of it. I had just finished up a conversation with a lady who meant well but was stressing me out with details that I didn’t have yet. I just wanted to trust that the Lord had things figured out that I couldn’t answer yet and that wasn’t good enough for her. I walked around the corner and (in my usual, fake fashion) I flashed a smile at one of the elders of my church as I started to walk by him. But he didn’t let me walk by. He pulled me around and I realized it was a group of elders there. They didn’t ask me if I had everything figured out; they put their arms around me and prayed with me. And that wonderful man is now in heaven getting some reward for calming and encouraging a discouraged heart at that moment.

But at some point, I did have to think about money. It just wasn’t then. God SO blessed me that I had plenty saved so that I didn’t “have” to worry during my rest time. It was still in the back of my mind that I didn’t have any incoming money, just outgoing, but I knew how much was there and I kept an eye on it. 

In general though, I don’t spend a lot. But I found out that when finances got tight, I didn’t get to spend money on the things I loved doing. Random baking adventures for my friends kind of stopped because suddenly butter looked really unnecessary. Not that I COULDN’T have bought it. It was more evaluating the need.

This year, as I looked at coming off my Dad’s insurance, panic came into my mind. I knew there would be a 3 month gap between coming off and when my work insurance kicked in and I was honestly scared. I prayed and worked my butt off to organize because in case you forgot, meds are REALLY expensive. And just when I thought I had it all figured out that I could get a 90 day supply before coming off insurance, that fell through.

Do you know what I learned? To be content with and without, in every circumstance. Over and over again, I have to remind myself that God has ALWAYS supplied my every need. Sometimes that’s been through other people saying, “Hey, I’m going to get that for you. I know you CAN but I don’t want you to have to worry about it.” And that’s really humbling, folks.

But wait, there’s more. I’ve had money show up anonymously in my church mail box. I’ve had my medications drop in price for NO REASON. To the point that the pharmacists can’t figure it out! This last time I went to get my most expensive med and it wasn’t ready yet. She looked at me hesitantly (they always do) and asked if I was aware of the cost. I said yes and confirmed it. When I came back 20 minutes later, it had dropped over $300!!! I just stared at her. She had no idea why. I’m convinced God creates computer glitches in my favor. That’s literally not the first time that’s happened to me.

Maybe this post sounds to you like a plea for help or money. Oh no, it’s not. It’s an exclamation of praise! And it’s an encouragement. I know a lot of people that worry about finances. Sometimes it’s still a mind struggle for me and I rehearse God’s faithfulness to myself. I’ve never been in need. And I’ve certainly never been in need to the extent that Paul was!

It’s also a reminder to continue to be generous even when you don’t have much. I remember hearing a sermon as a kid on finances and my pastor said as an example that the first check he writes out every week is the one to the church. And I remember thinking, “Huh? What’s the big deal?” Yeah…I get it more now. The temptation is to let that be the last thing because it’s not necessary like a bill and THAT’S exactly why you put it first! I’ve been blessed to remember that this year. I’ve gotten creative with how I choose to bless others. Sometimes, all people really want is a listening ear. It doesn’t cost anything to go to the nursing home and read your Bible to an elderly lady and listen to her story. There are ways to give that involve money and there are ways to give that don’t; both are vitally important.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on enough tonight. What has God taught you about finances and trusting him through it?


 
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Posted by on December 13, 2018 in contentment

 

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A Real Christmas

This weekend I got to do one of my favorite things of the whole year. The Farm where I used to work was putting on their annual Christmas event and I got to volunteer for it. This event is great- a wagon ride that stops at different scenes where the story of Christ’s birth is told by volunteer actors. The culmination of the scenes is the last one. A simple nativity in a barn and angels singing. The gospel is told at this scene which means that all the thousands of people that come to this event have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I. Love. It. 

Friday went really well but Saturday came around and it was POURING. Torrential downpours, people. And for an event that is outside, it didn’t look like it was going to be quite as much fun that night. But I was reminded that things go on and the gospel is shared no matter the weather. And I prayed. Lo, and behold, we had practically no rain for the tours and as soon as we finished, it started to rain again. Isn’t God incredible??

But this weekend, I also had a good friend of mine say something unusual to me. She asked me why I was smiling so much and said I just looked so happy and she loved it. She said she is so happy and wished her face could show it like mine can all the time.

Gotta admit, I was kind of taken aback for a minute. I had to stop and think. Of course my answer would have been different if this person wasn’t saved but she’s a strong believer and we are good friends. I thought and just realized that somehow, seeing God answer small prayers like clear skies and being surrounded by people I love, doing something I love filled me with a joy I haven’t felt in a long time.

But I think there’s more than that. Growing up, I was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. I was ALWAYS cheerful, ALWAYS singing carols, ALWAYS excited for Christmas. And that’s a hard expectation to live up to. The last two years, I have felt very depressed and numb at Christmas but I didn’t show it. I felt like I needed to be the cheerful person that my family and friends expected me to be. And I hated every minute. I hated pretending to take joy in my favorite time of year when I felt nothing. I would enthusiastically participate in every Christmas activity and then come home and cry because I felt so empty.

And this morning at church, sitting taking communion, I realized that I wasn’t faking that joy this year.

It was real.

Amidst all the pain and difficulties this year has brought, God has given me his joy for this season and I don’t have to pretend to have it. I suddenly felt so relieved and unburdened.

So if you saw me quietly crying during communion this morning, no worries, they were tears of thankfulness. Just pure gratitude as I remembered all Christ has done for me.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2018 in Christmas

 

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Tradition! Tradition!

I’ve always been a sucker for good, old musicals. Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain, The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and the list goes on. Yup, I’m one of those people. So a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed that Fiddler on the Roof was on Prime, I put it on my watchlist. 

But everyone knows you can’t just jump into a 3 hour movie without forethought. It didn’t take me too long to decide that it wouldn’t be a waste of my life to watch it again and plus I’d probably only watch the first half anyways….yeah….I watched the whole thing.

There are a couple of things that really stood out to me this time. Which is saying something considering I grew up on that movie. My sisters and I would sing those songs on car rides and while we did dishes. Harmony and everything. I have it memorized to the point that I left the room for a minute just as the line came up, “We’ve been waiting for the Messiah our whole lives; wouldn’t this be a good time for him to come?” And I called out from the other side of my apartment, “He’s already come, Motel!” (Yeah, I talk to movies when I’m by myself.)

But back to life lessons, people. I was SO struck by how much Tevye talks to God throughout the whole movie. He’s literally in constant communication about every single thing. I’m not saying he always has the best attitude but I’m saying it actually really convicted me to look at my life and see how it compared.

Also, when I watched the scene before the Sabbath it suddenly reminded me of church. They are rushing around crazily to get everything done before the Sabbath comes. They are arguing with each other, shouting, everything is chaos. And then suddenly it’s like, “Okay, hush, it’s the Sabbath now.” Whoa. Have you ever had a Sunday like that? Have you ever had a crazy morning where nothing goes right, you fight on the way to church, and then get to church and pretend like everything is perfect? Yeah, me too.

And lastly, I got a huge chuckle right at the beginning of the movie. Tevye is, of course, explaining the basis of the whole story line: TRADITION! He explains about the traditions and then says, “You may ask, ‘How did this tradition get started?’ I’ll tell you!…..I don’t know. But it’s a tradition!”

And I laughed because there are SO many things in our churches today that are like that. Things we do simply because that’s the way they have always been done and no one even remembers why. BUT IT’S A TRADITION! And sometimes you can look at Scripture and see why a certain thing is done and other times it’s not clear until you try to change it. There may or may not be a reason. I’m thankful to be a part of a church that is becoming more open to new ideas little by little.

Sometimes I need to remember myself that change is okay. Feel free to remind me anytime. I’ll try to be like Tevye and examine to see if it’s something that really matters or not.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in movies

 

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Robbing our Affections

I’m going to be honest. This post has taken me a while to write because I really had to do some reflecting aaaannndd it was super convicting for me. In my previous post, I talked about things that stir up my affections for Christ and make me love him better. But the hard truth is there are also things that rob us of our love for our Savior.

The more I thought about it, I realized that the things that really distract me from keeping my focus on Christ are small things, not giant, glaring holes in my faith or anything.

Going again from Matt Chandler’s book, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain:
“No, in fact, the morally neutral temptations are far more apt to rob me of my affections for Jesus Christ, because God’s grown me to the place where those ‘big sins’ aren’t things that appeal to me anymore. But I can easily justify sinfully indulging in things that are non-sins because they are little things, or what the Song of Solomon might call the ‘little foxes’ that get into the vineyard of my worship of God.”

I can think of three things right off the bat that are just like he describes. They are not sins per se, but they do not encourage me to love Christ better and in fact do just the opposite.

  1. Rushing. The ABSOLUTE worse way for me to start my day, or end my day, or get anywhere in between is to rush. I’m pretty sure I get this from my Dad because I can’t think of a single time growing up that we were late to something. And we always arrived at church with 20 minutes to spare. When my mornings are rushed, my devotions are hurried, and I start my day off feeling grumpy and frustrated. If I’m going to any event, I will be on time if it depends on me. The wonderful thing is: I know this about myself. I prepare. I wake up with plenty of time in the morning. I set things out the night before and I leave myself ample driving time to get to work. Do things always work out? Absolutely not. And then God has to teach my heart what is the proper way to respond.
  2. Politics. Wow I cringed just typing that word. I have seen so many people tear each other down over politics that it hurts me. And while I’m an avid voter, you usually won’t find me discussing politics with anyone. And you will almost NEVER find me discussing it online….except now….and here. I have learned that political discussions don’t lead me to love Christ better.
  3. Theological discussions. Did you topple over in your chair? Yeah this was actually the first one that popped into my head when I started thinking about this. Sometimes I get really passionate about theology (which is a good thing!) But sometimes I can get into argume…err…discussions…with people about said theology and it doesn’t end up building up either party. There is a time and place for everything and I have had to learn this the hard way many times.

Now comes the disclaimer. This is MY list. Not yours. Absolutely none of these things I listed is a sin in and of itself; they are just ways that I have found can lead me to sin. They don’t lead me closer to Christ. Now, does it mean if I’m running late, I don’t move faster? Of course not! Does it mean I never discuss theology? Bahahaha! It means that I know how to control my emotions better and have learned when a discussion should be stopped or moved. So the beauty of it is, your list is probably different. In fact, I hope SOMEBODY has a different list because the world would be in a pretty bad spot in all believers refrained from discussing politics! I’m SO thankful for those that can!

Feel free to tell me what’s on your list. I won’t impose mine on you and vice versa. 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2018 in books

 

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What Stirs Your Affections?

Earlier this year my Young Adult group went through Matt Chandler’s video study on Philippians, “To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain.” I have to say, I was SUPER excited to do it because I had already read the book and loved it and was ready to share that with my closest friends. Pluusss…I just love Matt Chandler…

There was a thought in the series that really struck me. Chandler is asking you to look at your life and think about what stirs your affections for Christ and causes you to passionately pursue Him. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it before. From the book:

“What is it that stirs you to know Him, to love Him, to worship Him? It will probably look different for a lot of people. It will have to involve the Scriptures, because that’s how God speaks to us. It will involve prayer, because that’s how we speak to God. It involves worship, but we have to remember that worship is bigger and more expansive than singing songs in church. What is it that incorporates the Word and prayer and ultimately builds your heart in worship?” pg.98

He goes through several things that build his love for Christ and let me just say, I’m pretty sure he and I are kindred spirits. Most of the stuff on his list is on mine too. But I wanted to share with you a couple things that stir up my affections for Christ. I want to be clear that these aren’t just things I like in the way that I love cozy blankets but they are things that actually cause me to love and worship Christ more than I already do.

The first would definitely be early mornings. There is just something about waking up early and watching the sun come up as you do your devotions. There is a quiet beauty during that time that makes my heart whisper thankful prayers to the Lord.

Secondly, listening to others who are passionate about their faith. Being in the presence (or, ummm, screen) of someone who SO obviously loves Christ and is excited to share about Him and what he has done encourages me to love Him and serve Him better!

Thirdly, SNOW. I’m already prepared for some negative feedback on this one. I don’t know what it is about snow but it makes me giddy. I literally start giggling like a little girl and laugh (out loud) with joy when it snows. That God would create something so unique, soft, and beautiful is just amazing to me and I love it! It adds a beauty and quietness to winter.

The last one is probably weird. Music. Worship music, yes! Singing praise songs by myself or, even better, with my brothers and sisters in Christ is a beautiful thing! But it doesn’t even have to be that. Have you ever listened to movie scores before? Like from awesome, epic movies? There is something so moving and incredible about them that causes me to worship God. I thought at first it was because I was relating it to what I knew was happening at that point in the movie but I’ve listened to scores from movies I’ve never seen and it can still happen. Classical music can have the same effect. The pure beauty of music itself screams out glory for the Creator!

The book also addresses things that can steal your affections for Christ but I want to talk about that in my next post (whenever that comes.)

What about you? What are some things that make you love and rejoice more in our Savior? What stirs your affections for Him?

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in books

 

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The Pit of Despair (Link)

I really enjoyed writing this guest post! Lamentations is soooo under-rated. Click below to head on over to Guys With Bibles and read it!

The Pit of Despair

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2018 in Bible

 

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To Coffee or Not to Coffee?

Growing up our family never drank coffee. My Dad hated the taste of it and my Mom didn’t like any sort of hot drink so I never even tasted coffee until I was an adult. Although we did have a coffee maker we would dust off for guests occasionally and pull our can of years-old coffee out of the freezer to make for them. I actually felt hugely bewildered and almost betrayed the last time I went home and watched as my Dad got coffee at church and found out my Mom drinks it every day. I was in shock. Apparently it’s a thing for them now.

Which I’m okay with because I love coffee. When I moved away from home, my world opened up to the wonderful smell of it in the morning and I grew to enjoy it. It wasn’t the caffeine (a little bit of caffeine makes me pretty shaky), I just loved the taste and the boldness in the morning. I didn’t drink it every day (also a HUGE tea fan…) but a lot of days.

You are probably wondering if I actually have a point with these ramblings or not. Guess you’ll have to wait and find out, huh? Fast forward to 2016. When I started having seizures, I was told that caffeine is a big trigger for most people. I did a little testing with myself and found that to be true. I figured that would be the case since I was already sensitive to caffeine. So I veerrryy sadly cut coffee (uh, because every sane person knows decaf is gross) and my favorite black teas out of my diet to prevent seizures.

Fast forward again (boy, we are just flying through time today, aren’t we?) to about 3 months ago. I was REALLY struggling. A major side effect of my meds is depression. They actually monitor you for it and ask you about it at every appointment. People, it’s a really hard place to be in. To force yourself to take medication that is (finally!) working for one thing but really hurting you emotionally. The meds were also making me SO tired and foggy that I was struggling to do anything. Every day was a battle. As weird as this sounds though, my relationship with the Lord was close. I was learning and growing in Him but struggling at the same time. It’s hard to explain.

And one day, I had had enough. I wanted some coffee and by golly I was going to have some. I did use a small amount of wisdom and got half-caff. It didn’t taste good at all but within a few minutes I could feel my brain becoming clear. The fog was dissipating some. And while I felt a little what I call “seizury” (I think I made that word up), nothing happened and my day ran better.

I have drank half-caff coffee pretty much every day since then. One cup. Actually using the amount they recommend. (Which is new for me. I was always dark roast all the way.) I have a little more energy, and my thoughts are better and more focused. I don’t live in that darkness that was hanging over me before. As best I can put it, the coffee is fighting the depression in some way. I absolutely DO NOT want to be put on medication for it because I know of side effects from those. (Can I mention here that I’m not recommending coffee as medication and if you and your doctor decide anti-depressants are needed, I’m not saying it’s wrong at all! I just don’t want to go that way.)

And the reason I’m telling you all this is because people keep mentioning that I look better and seem like I have more energy. Sometimes I’m at a loss of how to respond to that because for me, it feels fake. I know it’s simply the coffee. And if I were to take that away, things would go right back to how they were before. Back to foggy Kimmy, unable to accomplish or understand what she needs to do for the day. Is that who I am or is Coffee-Kimmy who I am? (Oh thank goodness, I’m just redeemed-Kimmy!)

So I contemplate and pray about this often. Does that seem ridiculous? Praying about coffee? Maybe it is and maybe I’m overthinking it. Anyway, in the interest of being transparent, I wanted to share and get your thoughts on the topic.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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