Sunday, September 21, 2008

Seeing God's Hand...

Here is something that Michael wrote about God's recent working in our life. God is so good! I know it is long, but may it bless your life and grow your faith as it has ours.

"Have you ever experienced a time in your life when everything was going simply wonderful... and then reality struck a hard blow right at the very climax of your happiness? Or perhaps, have you ever gone through a week of not knowing how you were going to make it through the next? Sometimes the grit of life grinds hard against the oftentimes tender flesh of our humanity. And, it is during periods like these that we often discover the reality of how deep our faith may truly be.

When life stretches our emotions to the breaking point we learn. Yes, we learn through hard times. In fact, I believe it would be honest to say that I have been taught far more invaluable lessons during times of angst, stress, and loss than amidst the soaring times of joy and happiness. But, why must this be so? Why do we have to go through hardship to grow and learn? Why does it take a swelling tear to come a step closer to the Master?

Many days I have pondered this question and for many days I have not had an answer. Yet, eventually by the mercy of God I found that in my questioning, the answer had already been given. The answer happened to lay in the valley itself, and in the swelling tear of discouragement. I found that this answer was simple, yet "hard". The answer is "hard" in that it is difficult to accept from our so-often worldly mentality. And, as frustrating as it might seem, this lesson has to be learned over and over and over again - at least this is true for me. :-)

Falling on Hard Times

Just about one month ago I yet again went through an experience that taught me of the answer to this question. It was not easy or smooth sailing, it was not soaring high with joy and happiness, it was not even fun at all... it was just the opposite. However, after having gone through similar lessons before, there remained a certain level of hope and faith that God was in it all, and in this time I would again learn of the answer to the question.

Upon our arrival back here in Dallas after our unbelievable, "mountain top" honeymoon of bliss, Stephanie and I were presented with a tough dilemma. After settling into our new apartment and finally climbing out of the hills of boxes, we began to discover that we were fast approaching zero in our bank accounts. This did not bode well at all because both of us knew that our expenses were only going to rise (especially once my school tuition bills starting coming in the end of July).

However, with a general budget in hand we began seeking out jobs that would hopefully help us meet our needs. Stephanie applied to more than half a dozen positions around the area, yet after several weeks it appeared that nothing was going to "pan out." More than a month went by and with events at the church running low on my work schedule, I too went looking for something extra to add on to my duties. With many thanks to the Lord, He opened up a door just a couple weeks later for me to do some marketing work for Tommy Nelson's Song of Solomon Bible Resources. This certainly was an answer to our prayers and would definitely help our financial situation. And during this time it was also confirmed to our most pleasant surprise that a little "Peanut" had been planted during our honeymoon in northern Georgia. WOW! What a wonderful joy... yes a mountain top. But over the past two and a half months of scraping by with little work and having significantly increased expenses for rent etc... our situation still looked quite dim.

The past month of August was discouraging at times and even involved some panic, yet we continued to believe that God would provide and keep us out from under the heavy load of debt. I began working on my new job which seemed to be going pretty well, until just as I began the second week of work I came down with strep throat and could not eat solid foods, let alone work for more than five days. And, our bills for tuition, rent, insurance, and others kept flowing in. This was a period of inner strife for me because every other time I had run low I had always been able to work myself out of the hole and get back to "running again." Yet, this time I could do nothing but lay in bed sipping on tea and trying to swallow yogurt. Stephanie did her best to take care of me, even though she herself was severely struggling with morning sickness due to pregnancy. What a wonderful wife God has given me.

As that week came to an end, I slowly started to recover and once again began to look over our finances. Glancing ahead at all the bills due right around the first of this month, I first began to panic... but then as Stephanie reminded me, we again cried out to the Lord for our needs to be met. We both believe that God knows all our needs before we even ask Him, yet felt entirely prompted to ask of Him a specific amount that would cover our expenses and asked of Him that He would be pleased to answer our prayer by the end of that week.

Down to the Wire

By Wednesday I had only $15 in my checking account, yet remained at peace that God would show His power. And show us He did! On Thursday Stephanie had an interview for a part-time nanny job and was offered the position, and that same day she also acquired a new piano student! While these things would not offer us an immediate solution to our pending bills, they certainly brought much needed encouragement from our Lord. That evening we thanked God for the wonderful events of the day and again brought our needs before Him.

On Friday morning (the end of the week) I woke up and decided to check our bank account online to see if my regular paycheck had gone through. As I rubbed the sleep away from my eyes, I could not believe the number that stared back at me from the screen of my laptop. With my heart pounding and tears welling up I clicked on the account status to see if, in fact, what I was seeing was true and not just a figment of my imagination. And, low and behold there was an amount sent along with my paycheck from some dear friends that would meet all the major pending bills that I would need to pay in the next several days...

Wiping the emotion from my eyes I ran into the bedroom and quickly brought Stephanie over to the computer so she could see for herself that our God had heard our prayers. As we both wept and praised the Lord for His goodness that morning, we realized that God had taught us a very important lesson about faith and trust. Yes it was VERY hard to go through such a test, yet we had grown closer to our Savior and to one another as well.

As we hand over our self-trust for belief in God we come to realize that life is not about us, but about Christ and His glory. The events and experiences of this life on earth do not measure one chord to that which is to come in His great Kingdom. Yet, through these days of life that are woven together with hard times and with the good, we see that He is at work and we see His hand. His hand is shown in our lives not that we may have what we want, when we want it, but that He might show the excellencies of His grace toward us who are in Christ.

To know that He is near and to believe that He is sovereign - literally watching over every circumstance of our lives; this is the answer to the question! Life is not learned until there is pain. Until we know the anguish of death and loss we will never know the value of life. Until we have nothing we will never learn the value of one single dollar. And, until we surrender our self-trust into simple belief in the omnipotent Lord will we learn to see His hand.

And then, when all this life is over and we lay our heads to rest we shall enter the streets of gold and cast the crowns that we have earned by our faith through Christ at the foot of the throne of our Powerful God and crown Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords. For it is all for Him and by Him and for His great glory.

May we wholeheartedly say as Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi during his imprisonment (an obvious hardship), "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21)

Watch for His hand... He is waiting to show His glory.

May His glory be known and His power shown in and through our lives for the praise of His glorious grace."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cute stuff...

So I definitely want to buy one of these for our little peanut when the time comes... it also comes
in pink and blue. We shall see what little Peanut is first. ;-)
And here are some maternity tee's I love...

And my all-time favorite...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New hair cut...

I love it! Awesome salon and stylist... for only $20.00 plus tip too! The salon is normally $45 and above for cuts, but it is a mon-thurs deal they have for stylist in training. I felt like a princess... got a scalp and neck massage, she brought me a glass of water with a slice of orange in it, she shampooed my hair and then cut and styled it. Very Happy It got a little flat by the time I took these pictures, but there are a ton of layers and stacking and it is vavavoom when it is in it's full glory. ;-) Michael loves it! There are a couple more pictures on facebook. :-D

Thursday, September 4, 2008

In His Strength...

"Trying to do the Lord's work in your own strength is the most confusing,
exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit,
then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you."

~ Corrie ten Boom

About Me

My photo
My name is Stephanie and I grew up in Florida. I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon. Even though I never had any formal training, I am well known for my vibrant style. I enjoy painting murals, drawing wall art, colorful stationary & invitations, and many other artistic projects. I am currently working on writing and illustrating my first book.