Friday, September 24, 2010

What do I know of Holy?

I was riding down the road a few days ago, and heard this amazing song from Addison Road.

Isaiah, a favorite right now, saw a vision of God in his lifetime. He saw the angels around the heavenly throne singing, "Holy, holy, holy."

Isaiah's response? "Woe to me! I am ruined!" His reason was because he was a "man of unclean lips." Isaiah and I have a lot in common.

Isaiah, a prophet, dared to speak the words God gave him, regardless of the cost. But, as much as was revealed to him, I imagine he maintained that humility recorded in chapter 6. He knew that only the Lord's mercy kept him from being "ruined" by the holiness He witnessed.

The Jehovah I know speaks a mighty word. A word that requires a response. That's what I know of Holy. Beyond that, I am still learning, on my face asking every day for Him to clean my lips and purify my heart.

That's what I know of holiness. It has nothing to do with me. It's His words and my response to them. It's His blood and my freedom in it. That's all I've got. It's new every day.

What do I know of holy?
What do I know of wounds that heal my shame?
And a God who gave life its name?
What do I know of holy?
Of the one who angels praise?
All creation knows your name.
On Earth and Heaven above
What do I know of this love?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

He cares

I was at a park up the street a day or so ago. While I was walking along this cute little guy with a green bike caught my eye. He was probably about five or six, delightfully round faced underneath is helmet. He was getting off and on his bike and seemed frustrated. I couldn't help but kneel down and ask him if he needed help.

"What's going on with your bike?" I asked him.

"It's sticking at the wheel. And my seat is turning."

He demonstrated his predicament by putting his little hand on the seat and pushing. Sure enough, it rotated to the left when he applied the pressure.

"I see. Well, see that little round part right there? Your mom and dad need to turn that round part and it will make the seat stop moving."

"My mom doesn't know how to do that."

I couldn't help but chuckle at that.

"Well, maybe your mom or dad could get a tool to fix it."

This seemed like a proper end to our conversation. We smiled at each other, satisfied at the interaction. When I looked up, I saw his dad approaching, apparently aware of the bike's malfunction now and on his way to see what he could do.

I liked that conversation. My little friend was in trouble. He couldn't get where he was going because his bike was broken. He just didn't know how to fix it. And he didn't think that he should be able to. That's what I like about him. It might be why he caught my attention in the first place. Because underneath his sweaty hair and plastic helmet, his eyes communicated, "I need help."

I like this because I'm in the same boat as my little friend. I have some places I'd like to and need to go. But there are broken things that I cannot fix. Jesus said that in those moments, I can "cast my cares upon Him because He cares for me." It should be childlike. It should be simple.

"I can't move forward, Papa. Something is broken. I keep getting stuck." End of conversation.

He'll get me going again somehow. And I've got some worthwhile places to go. Check out what's on the agenda:

This Friday night, I'm hosting the girls from small group at my house for an evening of investing into one another. I'm excited about it.

Three weeks from now, my mom is coming!!!!! I am so excited to show her around Austin. I've already got a list of restaurants picked out. We're going to go to Fredericksburg and eat German food and go in the store with all the pretty chandeliers. And we'll visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. And have lunch at the Driskell.

There's also the sixteen ladies God has given me in BSF. What a journey to get to know them all this year!

And there's the matter of that book that I was writing...

I'm glad that I had that conversation with my biker friend at the park. We have a lot in common. Being stuck. Asking for help. And, most importantly, Dads who are willing to come alongside and do something about it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On a lighter note...

Ok, I have to share these. Some friends sent us a wedding gift in the mail. They have a year according to the etiquette guru, Ms. Emily Post, so they are right on time.

When I opened the box, I was shocked. I managed to escape getting barraged with Texas gifts back in the winter, but to everything there is a season. And this season brought a pewter platter with Texas on it, encircled in stars!

I teased Andy and told him that it was his new Texas belt buckle (he already has one that says something about being "Texan by the grace of God.") Since everything is bigger in Texas, I teased him about this being an upgrade to the one he already has.

I told him he needed to pose for a picture with his new belt buckle and Daisy insisted upon sitting next to daddy for the shot. Then Gats wised up to things and wanted to be in a picture too. It was all pretty funny, a good moment to laugh before heading out into the world today.

Light Shines Here

Out in the courtyard there is a Bradford pear tree. I usually appreciate them most in the spring, when their blossoms sit at the end of each limb like cotton balls, waving white in the spring breeze. They're first responders, those pear trees. They respond well to the changing seasons. While everything else is gray, their tiny petals taunt the winter, warning her that spring is on the way.

But this morning, I caught a glimpse of the courtyard tree and noticed that it had boldly taken on a hue quite different from the oaks and crepe myrtles that surround it. Its companions seem content to remain green or perhaps don a tawny yellow- only appealing to the eye because it offers a slight contrast to the same dull green we've seen all year. But the Bradford pear, the only tree brave enough to dare the waning seasons, dazzled me with something I did not expect to see anywhere nearby- red.

When I took the dogs for a walk, I walked up to the tree reverently. It is still mostly greenish-gold, but at the top of its boughs, I saw a handful of crimson leaves that made my heart swell. It's not only because I love fall. It's because they represent a great truth, one that has rooted its way into my life the past year, one that I will never forget.

When I took Botany in college, I discovered that plant senescence (which causes leaves to change color) is a hormonal response. Like some of our hormones, plant hormones are stirred up by environmental factors. Like a lot of students, I thought that the factor that influenced senescence was the changing weather. Cooler weather means winter is coming, and if you're a tree, it seems like a good time to let your leaves die. But I was so delighted to hear that plants don't rely on something as shifty as the weather for their life cues. It's not chilly autumn weather that causes leaves to change- it is shorter autumn days. Plants senesce in response to the light.

Since I've been writing about Jesus as the Light of the World, I smiled at the Bradford. We're kindred spirits, in a way. Only I am just now learning what God designed into its genome. The light is always what causes the true response. I thought I knew this. But I am a child when it comes to such things. Good thing that it is to children that God decides to reveal His greatest wisdom.

We tend to think of things simply. Good is light. Evil is dark. But the Bible says it's more tricky than that. 1 John says that God is light but 2 Corinthians warns that our enemy Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Isaiah says that God hides his servants in the shadow of His hand, and Jesus said that what He speaks in the darkness should be proclaimed in the light. Revelation says that the Kingdom will be lit by God's own glory, and Moses, after being in the presence of God had a shiny glow to his face. So the Bible is FULL of words and warnings about light- the light of God, the shadows He allows us to walk through, and the false light Satan and his followers wrap around themselves.

Being Satan's follower is a easier than you think. I've never sacrificed an animal or worn a pentagram, but, according to the Bible, I've partnered with him many times. Because God's word is clear- when you are not doing His will, you are accomplishing the enemy's. It's that truth that caused me to sit across from my husband yesterday at breakfast, confessing the work that I've done for the enemy-begging that he not mix up my sin with the glorious light that God insisted upon shining here. It's not that I wanted to partner with him, but that I abandoned God to try to save myself. It's easy to do. It happens all the time. The flesh convinces us that it's necessary for survival. That we have to lie and manipulate and deceive one another. That we cannot let another see what is truly in our hearts. And most of us, out of pity for ourselves or each other, accept this. But God is pure, and demands purity. Anything not pure is not His. This is why my friend Kinsey warns me that the way is narrower than we originally thought. And it's why Jesus said, in regard to true and false light, we should "be on our guard."

There's a poem I like, by William Stafford called, "A Ritual to Read to Each Other." Here is a stanza or two-

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider-
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give- yes or no, or maybe-
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

William Stafford, that tree and I are onto the same thing.

What I mean is this- when Light shines, whether in light or shadow, when God burdens us with His Word and lays His hand heavily upon our heart- we must respond. Like the Bradford, we must take courage and respond to the cues He's given- even if everything around us stays tawny, we must be brave enough to become scarlet.

What does this look like? It's a curious thing. So tricky, you see, to figure out if you are enlightened or crazy. But the Word is the lamp unto my feet- and here is what it says.

The fruit of the light is goodness, righteousness and truth. (Ephesians 5:9) The first one is easy enough to fake. It's not that hard to be good. Any person with morals and self discipline can be good. But righteousness, true righteousness- a right relationship with the Almighty. No one can fake that. Because the Light knows. And the Light won't produce real fruit in something that is faking righteousness. It's impossible. This is the glory of God. This is why I stick with Him when everything is dark, confusing, frightening. When I don't know the answers and I am afraid of other people, even afraid of my own heart. He cannot be fooled. He searches us. He knows us. He requires nothing less than holiness.

And holiness can only come about when we face the truth- incidentally the third fruit of the light. Truth is that we are sinners. We're liars. We're manipulators. We're abusers. We can blame it on others. We can blame it on the enemy. Are they culpable? Yes. Indeed they are. But we are too. All of us. That is the truth we must face when the light shines. It is the truth that draws us to our knees and begs mercy from a Holy God.

If we hide, we cannot shine. If we hide, we cannot be changed. We must face the truth. We must ask for mercy, but then...

He will make your righteousness will shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:6

Friends, not only is the darkness around us deep, the darkness within us is too. But there is Light. The Light that gives life to the souls of men. And to this tired woman. Jesus, my Defender, shines and produces something beautiful and scarce- righteousness, holiness, mercy, humility, love. It's pure. And, like Paul said, I have not attained these things. All I can do is press on toward them, forgetting the tawny around me, responding, changing, trusting the Light.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall...sort of

Over the weekend, I worked on some of my fall projects. Andy was at drill and his truck broke down just before he had to leave. I was "stranded" at home since he needed to drive my Focus down to San Antonio, though my MC peeps offered rides galore. I just decided to lay low and get my craft on.

I got over to HEB and got a pumpkin and this pretty purple mum. It's still pretty hot and humid, but the breeze keeps blowing and momentarily fools me into believing fall might arrive any moment. Then the weather forecast jerks me back into reality. But I must admit, some of the trees are turning a greenish yellow and that breeze, well, it teases me, but I like it. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

For His Glory

I've been writing about the "Light of the World" this week. It's gone differently than I expected. God, thankfully, rearranged my mind and gave me better, more truthful direction that what I had intended.

While writing about it, I have been so humbled by holiness, so I wanted to write down this thought.

I remember the first time I saw my engagement ring. Even though I had picked out the setting (yes, I am that girl) it was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. But as I have been focused on Light, lately, it occurred to me that I would have been unable to recognize the beauty of the thing if Andy had given it to me in the darkness. Afterall, it's the light reflecting and refracting off a diamond that gives it its brilliance.

The thought developed further- now that I have had my diamond for over a year, there are times that it gets dirty. When that happens, its brilliance is reduced, even if the light with which I view it is steady. It's then that I need to take it to be cleaned (or clean it myself with toothpaste, a trick I learned in Real Simple)

How similar we are as children of God. Perfectly cut creations, designed by a Master. He meant for us to reflect His Light, to shine, to reveal His glory. But we are so often hiding from Him. Like Paul said, we are afraid of the light because our deeds are evil. We fear exposure because we don't realize that we were made to shine.

The light reveals our sin and toothpaste is no help in removing such a thing. We cannot shine well then either. We need to be cleaned professionally.

But we were made for brilliance. We were made for Light. We were meant to reflect it. So no matter how much we avoid light, no matter how much we don't deserve to be made clean, it's His desire to make us shine.

I praise God for that today. I praise Him for shining light into my life, revealing sin, calling me to repentance. Search me, Oh God, know my heart. Get every angle. Make it shine. For Your glory, Lord, for Your glory.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The season

I want mums. And pumpkins. White pumpkins and orange ones. I want everything to smell spicey. I want color. I want frost in the morning and something warm to drink in the evening, while I sit outside in a blanket and fill my lungs with brisk air.

I want fall. But I live in Austin.

Before I left, I talked to Lacy about the predicament that would come when the months started to end in "-er." "What will you do?" she said,"Fall is your season."

There's only one thing to be done when fall refuses to come- make believe. I must have an autumn, even if I have to make it for myself. So I am bringing fall into my home, since Texas weather is such a bad sport about the seasons.

I have a list of ideas, and, as I accomplish each one, I will share them! So what if the heat index is still 101? For this North Carolina girl, fall is as good as here. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I grew up in what might have been the last generation of Southern children to have African American housekeepers. I've been given a hard time about this before, by people not from the South, people who think there is something demeaning about employing an African American lady to keep house in a white family's home. I don't know why people who are not Southern think they need to reprimand Southerners for something that they never experienced. They saw Driving Miss Daisy and think they know all about inter-racial relationships in Southern households. They don't.

Anyway, the woman I grew up with was named Katie Rhone, known to my brother and I simply as "Katie." And she was our housekeeper. She wore long skirts and smelled like lemon-scented Niagra. When she ironed, she used her broad hands to smooth the garment over the ironing board in a motion so strong, yet fluid, Barishnakov would be jealous. She gave me ginger ale when my stomach ached. And she would never let me eat just a jelly sandwich, though I tried to convince her many times. She insisted that I have just a little bit of peanut butter on it, too.

Katie was a part of our family. In fact, she had been family to my mom a lot longer than I had been. Katie and her husband lived on the land that my grandaddy (a mechanic/farmer) farmed. She had worked for my grandmother and helped her with her five children. Now he was in our home, helping the child she had seen grow up, with hers.

She did not cook meals, but she ironed all of our clothes and cleaned house, and kept us when my mom was out. She was warm and comfortable and delightful. Someone to hug and say "hello" to. A part of our home. Never did I fear or avoid her or think for a moment that I was for some reason "above" her. She had a place in our family, as I did, as my brother did. We did not dare make trouble or pull some kind of prank while Katie was with us. We knew she would report us to our mom! There was no pulling the wool over her eyes!

I remember hearing her talk to my mother as I got older. I don't know the details of their conversations, but I know that Katie would talk about the Lord. After she retired, my mom would go visit her at least once a year, and she would report back to me about their visit. It was probably from these second-hand conversations that I realized that Katie was, in fact, a strong woman of God, a daughter of the Most High and ultimately, my sister in Christ.

My dad sent me an email this morning letting me know that Katie died yesterday. It makes me sad that I won't be able to attend her funeral. It feels wrong. Someone who took such precious care of me, and I cannot be there to worship God in her honor. I wish I could be.

But, I know this much. Katie is currently doing something that I long for- she is in the presence of the Lord Jesus. I imagine her seeing His face. I imagine Him seeing her. I imagine their joy at one another- a lifetime apart- finally together, finally whole.

Those who are quick to criticize a relationship of which they know nothing, fail to see that we were looking up to her, following her example all along. Both in her work and her life with the Lord, she was honorable, faithful, true. I rejoice at the thought of my Father saying to her, "Well done! My good and faithful servant!" She was always serving Him, you see. She knew that. We knew that. Some others who saw it from the outside thought she was serving us. No, no. He always got the glory. He was always well pleased. And she is getting ready to reign, a princess in the heavenly realm, a royal child. One who I will be happy to see again, when I get to go where she is today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's raining, it's pouring

"It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring. He bumped his head when he went to bed and he didn't get up in the morning."

Do you remember that nursery rhyme? It came to mind for me today because a tropical storm hit the coast of Texas and decided to let Austin borrow some of its rain bands. Austin says, "Thank you Tropical Storm Hermine" like students in a kindergarten class thanking someone's mom for bringing cupcakes for their kid's birthday.

It was delightful to hear the rain last night, after the first summer I can remember where afternoon showers have not been a normalcy. Growing up in NC, almost every afternoon was accompanied by a giant thunderhead or two, which, regretfully made you leave the pool, but gave life to the trees and grass and shrubs. Austin afternoons sometimes come with cute little mini-cumulus clouds that look like over-sized cotton balls floating by but that's about it.

So it's nice to see a rainy day. But, when I thought about that rhyme, I also thought about the book I'm currently reading. Shattered Dreams, by Larry Crabb. "Meredith, you are a newlywed. What on earth are you doing reading a book called Shattered Dreams? Aren't you supposed to be living in wedded bliss, at least for a little while?"

But, you know what? I can't get past the reality that God allows us to always hunger for Him. That He disciplines us because He loves us. That He says "No" to prayer so that He can teach us how to crave Jesus, and how to hate sin. And to do that, He let a dream shatter. Even when He made another one come true.

I met Andy, we fell in love and for a few months there, God gave the most peculiar respite from the various forms of hurt I've felt since I was a teenager. But, true to form, God allowed pain to re-enter my life, He let me feel the consequences of my sin, and the sin of other people. He didn't do what I thought He should do. He made me search deeper within my own heart, begging His help, as I discovered roots of bitterness, disappointment, anger, frustration. As odd as it always feels to journey with God through your heart and soul, it also felt like coming home. Being happy was foreign to me. It felt strange. I enjoyed it, every moment of it, and I do not think I took it for granted, but I knew it was a present, something God delighted to give me, just for a moment, maybe because He couldn't help Himself. I hope He loved it as much as I did. I think He did. I truly believe that God delights when we delight in what we are given. And I delighted in the months of getting to know my would-be husband. It was the only time in my life where almost every craving of my life felt satisfied. It was odd. I never expected to feel that way. I never expect it again in this age.

But I am not sad about that. Not at all! I don't want anyone who reads this to think that I am complaining. I adore my husband. He is a delight and a great help to me every single day. God didn't stop blessing me through that gift, He just allowed other trials to enter into our life together. This too is a blessing. And I am thankful.

The nursery rhyme is part of the reason. Because when I look out my window at the falling rain, and I consider the season of discipline and disappointment we are going through, I smile when I realize, God is not the snoring old man in that sing-song. For one, He is not an old man. Praise God. One of the most fantastic revelations I ever had about God was that one: He's not a man (though Jesus is, and I think that there is significance that God reveals Himself in a masculine context. But still, He's not a man, and I think that is AWESOME. In the most literal sense of the word.) For two, He's not snoring. Or sleeping. Or hiding out. He's here. And I can feel Him. And, like most people who are given the privilege of pain, I feel Him best when I hurt.

Pain is a relative experience, is it not? Right now, I can think of dozens of people that I personally know who have endured much greater pain than I ever have. I have two things that some people never get, or lose too soon. A father who loves God, loves me, approves of me, appreciates me and desires to know me. And a husband who desires to know God more completely, who provides for me, and voices his appreciation on a daily basis. I can imagine that to look at that from the outside and then hear me talk about pain might make people going through more severe trials want to gag. I don't blame you for that. I don't take for granted that there are greater pains that I could have endured, that I could still endure in the future. But, like I said, pain is a relative experience. It's not absolute. There's no way to actually measure one's experience of pain against a world-wide standard. How does a widow's loneliness compare with an orphan's longing? How does a starving child compare with an abused one? There is no way to measure this. We only know pain in the capacity in which we experience it. And, regardless of the cause, it is always real, and always truly felt. When I was in high school and my boyfriend broke up with me, I was in pain. It was real pain. It hurt. Later in life, I discovered a much deeper pain, but it doesn't mean that I wasn't in pain back then. A teenager suffering from feelings of inadequacy, friendlessness, depression is in real pain. A mother whose child chooses a rebellious lifestyle is aching as well. So is the widow. So is the starving child. So are you. So am I.

We hurt. Then we do other things. Some people yell. Some eat. Some sleep. Some drink or shop or make fun of other people. But eventually, those of us who desire to follow God, we pray at some point. I've done that. In fact, I've done all of that stuff. And then I've prayed. It's knee-time, not me-time. But, though I've prayed, consistently, fervently, following Christ's model in Matthew 6, God hasn't done what I wanted Him to do.

Instead, this is the sort of thing that happens. Last night, while the rain was falling, I woke at 2:30. I wake often in the middle of the night. I know that it's God waking me. I can feel the soft warmth of my husband and my dogs nearby and I don't want to move, I want to roll over, I want to find solace in sleep that will instantly feel good. I don't want the longing, the attention, the deliberate honesty and humility that prayer requires. But He won't let me sleep. I lie there awake, hoping He will be placated with my "guided thoughts" as I try to fix them on Him. He's not. He wants me up. He wants me to acknowledge Him by shirking off my sleep and facing my aching head and stomach, and the cold floor. Eventually, I do. I rise. I kneel by the bed. I pray. It's not even for very long.

I climb back into bed, wondering if it is selfish to ask for sleep now. My stomach hurts. My head aches. I've barely prayed, but will He take away my physical aches and give me rest? I don't think that He ought to just because I've been up and praying, even though I want Him to. I know that He can. And I also know that I haven't done anything to deserve His kindness. But He can. And He is kind. So I ask. Moments later, I feel a warm numbness spread over my head and bowels. I rest.

It reminds me of the story I read about in Matthew 8. Jesus is met by a leper. He says, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus says, "I am willing." Sometimes Jesus is willing to take away my stomach and head ache. Sometimes He isn't. Last night He was, and I went back to sleep.

In my life, this is what it looks like to have "shattered dreams." Most of my dreams are still in tact. I think that every time I feel the warmth of my hubby and doggies. Or when I am able to call my mom and dad. Or talk to my brother on Gmail chat. They are here. God has blessed me with them now. But I know that He might bless me by taking them from me, or me from them, later. That's what I know about God. Far from being a snoring old man, He is always working out a way so that we who are willing will be able to know and experience Him more. I love this about God. I love that He doesn't let us sleep, even though we want to, even though it's easier and it feels warm and good. I love that He awakens our minds, our hearts, our desires so that we can go to Him.

I don't have this figured out, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm thankful for this. He is always working. Waking. Letting us hurt. Disciplining us. Making us hungry and thirsty for what truly satisfies. It's crazy to think that could be love. It's crazier to think that it's not.

God doesn't stop at shallow. We don't have to either. He is a deep well of deep satisfaction. And, Larry Crabb is right, we have to hurt to find the well. We have to ache enough to want to find it. We have to be unsatisfied in the false relationships that we have settled for. We have to seek truth, and we will find Him.

Another nursery rhyme about rain comes to mind, "Rain, rain, go away, come again another day." But I don't mind the rain. Not the water falling outside or the stormy feelings that come sometimes with a shattered dream. I'm learning, not to "dance in the rain", but to cry in it. And God hasn't turned into a giant umbrella to shield me from anything. No, He's doing something so much better than that. He's showing me that He brings the rain. He is in the rain. He wanted me to experience it because He loves me. And He wants to wash me. To make me holy. To make me His.

Far from that snoring old man, isn't He? He's alive. And He is life. To the full.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who is this King of Glory?

I am a stay-at-home writer, or something like that. Andy, graciously, has supported my hair-brained idea to write a book by working two jobs (his engineering job and National Guard) while I stay at home and do laundry, read my Bible and other books and try desperately to write coherent sentences into a Word document every other day or so.

Reading the other books is good mental exercise because once I start to think that I'm coming close to "sacrificing" for the Lord, I will read about a missionary held in a Japanese prison camp for three years and realize that my coffee-drinking, mind-puttering days are not even close to real sacrifice for the Lord. And the Bible, well, it keeps revealing to me the Amazing Person about whom I want to write. But, to be honest, sometimes it all feels like it's going nowhere. I get up in the mornings and take the dogs for a walk sometimes and watch the traffic going up and down the roads around our apartment complex and I wish that I had somewhere I needed to "be." I miss work. I loved my teaching job in North Carolina. Literally, I loved every day. I didn't love every minute of every day, but I adore teaching, especially Biology, and who could have a better work place than I did at Jack Britt? Heaven will be the only thing that can out-do that set up. ;-)

But, I'll be honest, I also miss the money. Also, to be honest, I don't like money. That sounds stupid and like a lie. Of course, I like to do things with money. Most people do. But the actual stuff itself I do not like. I don't like keeping track of it. I don't like trying to save it. I don't really even like spending it. But there really is no getting around that, is there? And, at least, when I was teaching, it was wonderful knowing that the exact same amount of money would appear in my bank account every month, and all I had to do was make it last until the next time it appeared (which wasn't always easy, and I was by no means good at that, but at least I knew it would appear again and I could try over if I messed up).

Before we got married, Andy and I were asked by several people, "Who is the spender, and who is the saver?" We just looked at each other with guilty expressions, like overweight children caught stealing Oreo's out of the cookie jar. We are both spenders.

Alas, in marriage, when both like to spend, and one wants to accomplish something for God that may or not ever "pay" in monetary terms, both have to be willing to change. And, by God's grace and with lots of prayer, we have. The girl who was once flunked out of National Honor Society because of a C in Calculus (math has always been my downfall) is now keepin' the books with a mite of success, praise God. But, keep in mind, I am by no means good at this. It not natural for me, and there are some principles that I must uphold. God taught me to give first. Always. So there is the need to tithe. Then, we have both learned that it does not honor God to borrow and not repay- so, trying to shirk the guilt that Christians are so good at heaping on you if you have credit card debt, we pay those bills and the others next. And I try not to be stingy if there is an opportunity to give a gift or host friends or some other work that I believe shows people that we care for them the way that God cares for me. I do not believe in being stingy with what we give to others. God is never stingy with us. I like to give. I love hospitality. And, of course, Andy and I love to go out to eat and to the movies to entertain ourselves. Figuring out how to do all of that on one income is an interesting interaction with the Lord. Truly an opportunity for His strength to be manifested through my weakness.

Well, this past month has been a tight one. We traveled a lot over the summer, have had vet bills and car expenses. Here it is the end of August and we're sucking it in a bit. But God has been telling me not to worry. Bills are concrete and God has put it on my heart that I must seek to honor Him by paying each bill on time, in full. There really is no wiggle room in our budget except for the amount set apart for food. This week, our rent is due, and when I left the grocery store yesterday (with $1.98) worth of groceries, I contemplated letting the rent slide until Monday (we have three days grace period with our apartment complex before being penalized). Andy gets paid Friday, and if I held out on the rent, everything would be fine. If I paid the rent on time, then the amount of money left to eat off of could be counted with my fingers. But, while walking to my car, I was determined that God deserved the honor that comes with paying on time. He has provided enough to pay, and I would honor Him by paying on time, even if it meant eating plain pasta, because that's pretty much all that's left in the pantry. But, even as I determined to do this, I knew that I had nothing to worry about. I have been memorizing the book of Matthew (another thing that I learned from a book I read. I thought I knew the Bible decently,then I read about a Chinese lady who didn't know how to read, but then a missionary taught her how. She managed to memorize the entire book of Matthew and recite it- it took her four hours. I decided that I would stop thinking so highly of myself and actually memorize what Jesus said and did, though I am not attempting to memorize it word for word.) One of the things that I have learned is from Matthew 6, "Do not worry about your life. What you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear...your heavenly Father knows that you need them (food and clothing)." What I am learning about God lately is that it is not His way to withhold from His children what they need- whether that is love or attention or money for groceries. So, I believed that somehow we would get money or food or something- somehow there would be enough.

Every morning, I check our bank account. Even developing this habit is evidence of God's grace because, like I said, I hate money and the lack of it scares me and what scares me I try to avoid, which is why, prior to having no income, I did not always look. I would just hope that there was enough in there, and because I was one person living off a salary, there usually was. I know that sounds so stupid to those of you who are rational right-brained people, but I am a writer for goodness sake. Anyway, when I checked our bank account this morning, for absolutely no known reason at all, there was an additional amount recorded in the balance. There was almost fifty dollars more than there was yesterday, and there is no record of why. The only record that I know is that God told me that He knows my needs yesterday when I was walking across the HEB parking lot. Now, you might be thinking, "Meredith, you are just bad at money, and you didn't calculate correctly." And you might be right. But I am confident that there was almost fifty dollars less yesterday than there is today, and, neither Andy or I could figure out why. And, to be honest, we didn't try to for very long, we just thanked God, who is able to do more than we could ask or imagine.

I debated on whether or not to write about this. I am wary of becoming self-righteous about this time of financial need, and I don't like the idea of starting to "complain" about money. But David was always talking about how he was going to praise the Lord in the great assembly. I think that he was saying that he was going to give God credit publicly for the great things that He does. And I wanted to do that. God is showing me in many ways that He is my Need-Meeter. And I am really stoked about that.

Yesterday I read Psalm 24, and I loved these words, "Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle." Who doesn't have some battle that they are trying to fight out? Either with their worries or their circumstances or their sadness or lost hope? I am fighting. I know that you are too. But He is too. He is the King of Glory, the Lord strong and mighty- mighty enough to make money appear in a Chase bank account and no one even knows why. Well, I guess I am beginning to see why- because that's who He is, and He is not afraid of making Himself known to those who want to know Him. Right next door to Psalm 24, I found, "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way." (Psalm 25:9) Lord, I like your way. And I wanted to say that in front of this "great assembly."