Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Simplifying Life

Be careful what you ask God for : He answers every time!

Allow me to back this story up a little bit.

At the beginning of 2013, I began doing some digging within my heart. God opened up many windows of areas I could work more strongly on within myself. He showed me things that I could be molding (or rather, He could be molding in me), and opened my eyes to aspects of life which I wanted to change somewhat. In light of those revelations, I began to evaluate and pray more deeply. One of those things which I longed to embrace more once again in my life was simplicity. Thus, I began praying about it.

Warning: God answers, and not always how we might expect!

When I was growing up, I had an amazing childhood. Sure there were problems or moments that I didn't like, but overall, I was really happy. It didn't matter to me that I wore hand me down clothes or that our car was out of date. I didn't care that I had odd lunches that I carried with me to school. (That could be a totally different blog post, but in essence, mom made ends meet in every way possible, even with our sack lunches, and we had some weird food sometimes!)
Somehow, along the way, I lost some of that simplicity. I realized that I - and my kids- had become accustomed to having pretty much what we wanted. It by no means meant that we are rich, because we most certainly are not! But we were well enough off, that when we wanted something, we could usually get it. Not just needs, but wants, too. We both have good jobs. We have been blessed. But what was I teaching my kids in the process? What was I becoming myself?
So, I began praying and looking deeper and I began to see through a crack, and then through a wide open window that I needed to simplify my life.
This was my heart decision, not my husbands, so I knew this could be challenging. But I needed to return to simplicity and leave the longing of wants behind. I wanted to learn to give more again and to have less. Not for my glory, but for His.
Growing up, this is something both my parents taught me well and I saw through the window of praying that I had wandered a bit away from that direction. Dad was a farmer, and he worked really hard. Mom stayed at home. They made a lot of sacrifices, we embraced simplicity, and I never cared. At one time, dad worked farming, excavation, and even a third shift job to provide for us. I'll never forget those lessons. At that time, I didn't understand, and as a teenager, I was even hurt at moments that he was so busy. However, I have come to understand and appreciate what he was doing more than I will ever be able to verbalize to him.
All this being said,when I began evaluating this, I began to pray that God would teach me to simplify. And boy, has He! And it has been quite the challenge at moments. And to be honest, I didn't even realize until recently, that He was answering my prayer and I was re learning this aspect of life.
When I first started out on the journey of trying to simplify, it was challenging. My husband is good about getting me things. He likes to buy me things. As we would pass by something in the store and I would stop to admire it, he often would ask "Do you want it?" and saying no (in effort to simplify) was really hard at first. But as I prayed on it and began to practice it more, it became a little easier and more natural again. I began working with the kids a little bit on saving money and the cost of things and the importance of working hard for what we have. I wanted them to understand this more than they ever had to before. We began talking more about it on a regular basis. I began saying no to them about things far more often. I didn't realize how much guilt I often carried as a full time working mom that I would try to make up for many times by getting them something. (Tough admission to make there, by the way).
Please understand, I am not saying that having things or buying things is in any way wrong. What I am trying to say, is that for me, it had become more than it should be, and I wanted to re-learn that simplicity aspect.
And let me tell you, God answers.
Tax season came and the end result for us was far different than it ever has been or what we expected would be. That was the beginning of realizing how much God was answering. Then 2 different things on the cars broke (one right after the other, of course). Then bonuses were obsolete for a few months. Then the dryer broke. And so the list goes on. To a point of total reliance on God as to how we would get through til the next pay check. Groceries were re-evaluated. Meals became more simple. The answer became "no" more frequently. We gave up going out of town. We turned down dinner invitations out. And through all this, I would fervently pray that God would help my heart not to worry (yep, that is a first class problem with which I struggle) . I relearned what I needed and didn't need. I put kids' needs in place over all else. I collected change through the house so they could do the little end of school year events. Again, I know that being said, we weren't poor or even bad off, but it was far different than where we had to be for a very long time. It was a lesson I needed to relearn in life.
Dependance on God.

And He answered. He answered me by helping me relearn this aspect of life.
He answered by some really powerful lessons my kids have seemingly embraced in the process.
He answered by providing . EVERY TIME!!!

Through a neighbor.
Through a friend.
Through an offering.
Through collected change.
Through a lowered bill.

He has answered in countless ways.

When we ask Him to do something in our lives, He will. Maybe differently than how we pray for it, but He answers. It took me back to a conversation with my daughter a few months ago, and how she began praying for patience. A night or 2 after she began this prayer, she came home from school and told me this:
"Mommy, remember I asked God for patience? Well, He is doing it, but it is really hard. Today I had to have patience with the girl who sits next to me. Then I had to have patience while I waited for help. And then I had to have patience with Joseph this afternoon!"

You see, God answers. And maybe not how we expect or even want. But when we ask, He will answer. And I am so thankful he does. Because I know that with those answers, He is molding me deeper into His child. I heard an old song the other day, and I smiled at the words, as it reminded me of how God shapes us and answers our prayers. A few of the words go like this:

I didn't come lookin' for trouble
And I don't want to fight needlessly
But I'm not gonna hide in a bubble
If trouble comes for me
I can feel my heart beating faster
I can tell something's coming down
But if it's gonna make me grow stronger then…

Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let the trouble come, let the hard rain fall, let it make me strong
Bring it on

Now, maybe you're thinkin' I'm crazy
And maybe I need to explain some things
‘Cause I know I've got an enemy waiting
Who wants to bring me pain
But what he never seems to remember
What he means for evil God works for good
So I will not retreat or surrender

Now, I don't want to sound like some hero
‘Cause it's God alone that my hope is in
But I'm not gonna run from the very things
That would drive me closer to Him
So bring it on

Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let the trouble come, let it make me fall on the One who's strong
Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let me be made weak so I'll know the strength of the One who's strong
Bring it on
Bring it on

So, Bring it On. I will trust God, One day at a time. He will answer. He will use these things to drive me closer to Him and answer my prayers, even if it looks different than I may have expected, one day at a time. One prayer at a time.

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