Joyfully Serving My Master

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Location: Indiana, United States

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Be Thou My Vision

I'm so very thankful for God's nearness right now. At the moment I'm feeling very weak and worn, and tempted to be fearful if not for the sweet arms of God wrapped around me. My body is so fragile it seems. Yesterday I started to pass out because of the heat in the school kitchen. Since my body doesn't sweat, the heat is a real issue for me. I spent the next couple hours in Jon's office curled up on the floor or leaning over on him or his desk. It was nice just to be with my dear hubby. He knows me and how to take care of me. I came home and slept for several hours. I ate supper with Jon and the boys. Then I went to bed early. I expected to wake up and be back to normal, just as I have done after each other heat-related incident. But instead I woke up with a terrible headache and slightly blurry vision. So I must lean on God's strong arm. He must be my vision today. Father, help me to trust in You and You only.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pressed Down and Running Over

Once again I sit here in wonder at how abundantly God provides. To understand the full impact of His great provision I need to back up a little bit and give some background story. Last month we purchased a wedding gift for our nephew and his new bride. There was a computer glitch at Target when we tried to buy it and have it shipped directly to the, so we ended up just buying them a gift card so that they could purchase the item on their own -- which they did, immediately. Then I got home and found a confirmation e-mail that the first gift actually had gone through and the gift was going to arrive on our nephew's doorstep soon. They ended up returning the shipped item, and mailing us the gift card issued to them by Target. Yesterday, I went to Target to buy some of the good deals. My time there was horrid! Well, I guess to be fair, only the checking out part was horrid. The rest of the shopping time was just fine. But I felt like they were treating me like a criminal because I used so many coupons. I had to keep justifying the coupons, even needing to dig items out of the bags to prove that I really did purchase an item that matched the coupon. Naturally a process like that takes a VERY long time when there are a bunch of coupons. I ended up with $33.31 left on the gift card (that number is important). After leaving the store I went to drop something off at my parents' farm. I told my mom about the coupons and she ended up offering to buy the gift card from me since she needed to run by Target to get a few things anyway. I was thrilled to have $33.31 cash so that I could shop wherever I wanted instead of having to face the Target coupon police again.

Today after soccer practice I decided to run over to Meijer to pick up the few things that we really need for next week, including a bunch of meat for a large gathering we are hosting next weekend. When I checked out the total came to $33.31. Yes, God provided the exact amount, down to the penny. Because of the great deals I got on milk, meat and laundry detergent and the coupons I had that could be doubled at Meijer, the amount of the gift card was enough to purchase EVERYTHING that we needed for the next week. I went home rejoicing and shared God's provision with my sweet husband.

He then looked at me and said that there was a family at church that was really having a tough time right now. Did we have enough food to pack some up for them? Once again I gleefully went through the pantry, the stores in the laundry room and the refrigerator. I packed up 6 bags of food, cleaning supplies and toiletries for that family. As I was leaving Jonathan said it would be nice if I could just drop off the food without the family knowing it was from us. I agreed, but didn't know if I could do that with a sack full of refrigerated items in the mix. So he said don't worry about it and just give it to them. When I arrived they weren't there. So I set all of the bags on the porch except the refrigerated ones. I carried those bags to their next-door neighbor. A sweet lady answered the door and was very happy to keep the items in her refrigerator until they returned home. I had introduced myself when she first opened the door, but as I was about to leave she stopped me and asked for my name again. I smiled and said that I would actually prefer that the family not know who gave them the food.

At supper tonight we talked with our boys about God's abundant provision. We told all about His provision for us. Then we told about His provision through us for the other two families this week. Then I took the boys to the pantry and refrigerator and had them look at how much food was still left. They were shocked that we still have at least as much food as we normally have after I go shopping. And then Jon reminded them that there was also a stash of food still in the laundry room. And I reminded them that I spent only HALF of our normal weekly budget, both for this past week and for next week. Jonathan then read to the boys various Bible passages about giving and how God gives to His children. Those verses came alive to our boys this evening as they saw them lived out before their very eyes. All I can say is wow! What a wonderful God!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Abundance Given to Give Abundantly

God is so very amazing! When He chooses to give and bless He does so with such incredible abundance -- "pressed down, and running over." Over the last few weeks God has allowed me the opportunity to use lots of coupons along with some great sales. My cupboards are so full that I have been storing things down in the laundry room. And even that got so full that I really wasn't sure where I could put anything else. With such abundance it was a pretty easy thing to say that I wasn't going to go to the store for anything other than the bare essentials, or those items I could get free or almost free. So I set my spending limit for only $40. As I wrote below I easily stayed within that amount. Yet I had so many great deals that I did bring home many bags of groceries for that $36.

Some friends at church had a fire about six months ago. Their house was finally approved for them to move back the day before yesterday. Yesterday I was over there helping clean out the kitchen because the smoke and soot had covered every surface on and in the cupboards. In doing so I found out that they had to throw away EVERY item of food except those in cans. That means every spice, every box on the shelf, everything. They could have kept the things that were in the freezer except that the electricity was shut off for several days and all that food was ruined.

As I prayed for my friends this evening God brought to my mind the abundance He has provided recently. And I realized that this great abundance was not given to us so that we could sit back and enjoy having our cupboards stuffed so tightly that the doors won't shut. He gave that to us in order to provide for a very real need for another family. I practically skipped around the kitchen -- and laundry room -- as I gathered together bags of non-perishible food, toiletries, cleaning items, etc. I ended up with a laundry basket full of bags to take over to them. And there's still plenty left over for my family.

I know that God could have provided for this family in many other ways. But He chose to allow me the thrill of being a part of His provision. And He did it in a way that showed such abundant provision that my heart sings in amazed gratefulness.

Monday, September 15, 2008

God's grocery provision for this week!!!!

I just returned home from shopping for our family for the week. My goal was to spend $40. I knew that this was going to be difficult for our family of 5, of which I'm the only female and my quickly growing boys (well, Luke really doesn't look or sound much like a boy anymore) can eat an amount that amazes me. I had also gotten notices from two different teachers that I needed to provide snacks for each class this week. And I'm providing a meal for another family today that I needed some ingredients for. So I asked God to help because I knew without His work that I would easily go way over the $40 limit. I had to buy one medical item which will be reimbursed as soon as I turn it in, so I don't really count that in the limit. The total for all the groceries, toiletries and medication was $45. When I take out the $9 that will be reimbursed later in the week the grand total comes to under ********* $36 ************* !! Woohoo! God gives so very abundantly. This $36 represents over $141 in products. We will in no way be scrimping in our food this week. Our cupboards are full, and I'm even having to put some of the items in extra storage in the laundry room. God provided me with great sales combined with an abundance of coupons for just those items, that were sorted and ready for me to use. Thank you, Father!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I was reading lately in Dee Brestin's book, "A Woman of Moderation." I was particularly struck by the concept that the best way to be moderate in areas of life where I struggle is to be immoderate in my passion for Christ. So my plan, as God gives me strength and blesses my very meager efforts, is to replace the immoderation that shouldn't be in my life with immoderation that should be there. Usually I pick a yearly focus on my birthday. I'm still a month away, but I think the new focus is going to start now, especially since last year's focus of growing in prayer still fits very well.

I can't say how excited I am to have as my focus this year. I have been praying through just how this will look in my life. How can I grow in passion for the Lord of the Universe and the work He has given to me?

One of the things that happened recently is that God took some things out of my life. I have a tendency to get very involved in serving at church and at the Christian school where my husband is principal and our three boys attend. Last month I made a list of all the roles, responsibilities, and serving opportunities that I had. I wanted to pray through them before the new school year started, and wanted Jon to go through them with me. I honestly desire my husband's input on where I serve and how I use my time. He is an extremely wise, loving, kind, servant-minded man and is truly looking out for my best interest and that of our family whenever we talk about my serving and schedule. He serves well and hard too, and always supports me in my serving and work 100%. That is why when we discussed my list I was so surprised at his response. He told me, "I don't want you doing that. You need to cut back on this. You should re-evaluate whether you are really needed in this and this." Oof. I took a moment to regroup and realized that God was answering my prayers with a very easy to understand "Yes to this, but no to the rest." I must admit that I was tempted to say, "Now wait a minute! I like serving in those capacities! I'm good at what I do! They need me!" (notice how the focus was just on me -- oh, the pride that lurks in my heart). Thankfully I have learned after many, many failures that it is always better to submit to God's direction the first time than to have Him have to use other measures to get me to obey. So I talked with leaders of the various ministries and stepped out of pretty much everything except two main areas for my ministry: leading the discipleship portion of the women's ministry of our church (which, being a church of 1,600 people really does need me to focus on), leading my own Bible study, and keeping in contact with friends who are missionaries (but that's really more fun than a ministry, so I'm not sure it counts). That's it. And it seems like such a small list to me.

What I haven't mentioned yet is what Jonathan said next. He gave me very clearly the reason that he wanted me to pull back on some ministries where others in our church are equipped and able to do take over my work. His frank comment was, "Nikki, I need you to help me more in my ministries. I don't have any more time I can devote to them. I have to have your help in caring for our deacon care group, and helping me with things at the school that nobody else is doing."

Wow. I get the great (and fun) privilege of stepping out of some ministries in order to spend more time serving alongside this wonderful man God gave me. And I didn't have to struggle or agonize over how to get it all done. It was so simple. I got out of the ones Jon said to get out of, and I'm focusing my energies on the ones he asked me to help him with, and the ones where God has given me a passion and a position of leadership. Who says finding God's will is hard? All I needed to do was ask my husband and then humbly submit to his answer. I am blessed beyond measure and so full of the amazing grace of God that it just keeps spilling out on my cheeks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sweet Answers to Prayer

I see by the dates of the last posts that it has been a LONG time since I last blogged. Life certainly is flying by. However the reason I'm picking this up again is simply that I have a desire to chronicle how God has provided for me and my family, how God stretches and causes us to grow, and how He answers prayer. In short, this blog is simply to bring glory to God. Actually finishing the autobiography of George Muller was my motivation. It was so encouraging to read how God answered prayer and provided for this man and his ministry so many years ago. I want to do the same -- primarily to encourage myself as I look back upon God's faithfulness in my life.

I'll start with a sweet answer to prayer that God provided 2 days ago. I currently have 4 dossiers to translate. That in itself is a wonderful answer to prayer. But that is also pretty much my limit. So I asked another woman who has helped me with translations when I am unable to take them if she would be interested in one, and she said a resounding YES. With that in mind, Monday as I prayed I asked God specifically if He would give me another translation that I could hand over to Gaylene. About 4 hours later I checked my e-mail and there was another family asking me to translate. I gleefully replied that I could not but that another dear Christian woman would be happy to. Then I shared the answer with my boys. What a joy to be able to testify of God's answers to prayer.

Today I realized yet another answer to some prayers this summer. I don't know why it took me so long to see what God had done. Sometimes I'm just more dense than others. Anyway, earlier this summer we decided it was time to get rid of our full-size van. It was sitting parked in my parents' barn and it was time to renew the license. We explored selling it and found that we would probably be able to get around $500 for it, but certainly not more than $1000. Still that is a lot of money for our family. Then we heard of a need of a friend who had no car and no funds to buy one. Jon and I both desired before God to give our van to this man. So we did. And we rejoiced in God being able to provide for another person through us. Now, what I just realized today is that even though we had some very extraordinary expenses this summer we continued to have a surplus of around $1000 in our bank account. I never have figured out how that happened. Today though I came to the conclusion that God supernaturally plugged some holes in our finances, and provided little bits extra here and there in order to provide for our family the maximum amount of money that we could have hoped to receive from the sale of our van. Wow. Talk about not being able to out give God!

God has been so very good. I want to write more about becoming IMMODERATE in my passion for Christ, but I'm tired and need to get to bed. So I'll pick that up next time.