Monday, November 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Dear Jeff and Heidi,
We continue to be thrilled about the faith walk you are currently taking for the Lord. We know, and have been in your shoes in other areas, that when we press into the Lord in belief that outweighs logical circumstance the Lord always uses it to 'stretch and bless'. One of the reasons we knew God was calling us to support you was because of this dangerous faith... the kind that really does move mountains. We would like to share our testimony in becoming connected with you, and hopefully encourage you towards God's soverign hand as you wait for the Lord to finish opening doors!
God laid a very clear conviction upon us regarding the use of birth control several years ago. Both Christopher and I recognized the need to submit to his leading. This was scary, totally unknown, and not a little bit outside of our comfort zone. However, we knew we could trust our Lord, and so - we took the plunge. We already had 2 children. Within 2 years we had 3 more. Yum... hello, God? Yeah, remember us? The ones who are trying to serve you and are only succeeding in going INSANE? Okay, just checking.
Not the smallest concern in the jumble was our finances. We had long before become convicted about debt spending, and living within our means but, like most consumer Americans, had not always walked that line obediently. Added to that was the debt we were incurring from multiple births, closely spaced. To say we lived hand to mouth would be an understatement.
I must admit that during this time my husband continued in faith that the Lord would always provide for our needs. I became aggitated, depressed, and irritable. Christopher challenged me to really press into God, and give this issue to Christ. I got on my knees, cried out to the Lord for help in understanding what exactly he wanted from me, and gently ;) reminded him that these were HIS children. Using scriptural promises, and the faithfulness to tithe I chose to believe the Lord would work this out, but I asked the Lord to give me a scripture that I could pronounce as my own. Christopher just had an annual review, where his boss intimated that a promotion might be in the works. I asked that God would work a miracle, promoting him two positions, rather than one. That extra money would finally give us the overage we needed to succesfully pay off our debt.
I prayed. I prayed some more, and during one of my prayer times, on January 18th, 2007 the Lord spoke to my heart with this scripture:
Now, you two might be mighty in scripture memorization, and immediately know what this little gem says... I didn't! Eagerly, but with a little fear over the possibility that I heard indigestion, rather than the Holy Spirit prompting my heart, I turned to the passage.
"When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruits as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield: I am the LORD your God."
I wept, as God opened my eyes for his plan. I believed that the raise was going to come through, and that for three years the money would be forbidden to our use, by merit of debt repayment. The fourth year we would need to tithe it, and the fifth year it would finally see its use as "investment income," something we could use for our retirement portfolio. I was thrilled that God had so clearly answered my prayer. Christopher was nervous.
My husband is an incredibly faithful man of God, and his concern was valid. I had just come off of a mountain heaped in despair, postpartum, and not a little struggle with the Lord. To lay claim to some random promise about the Lord paying off our debt as a sign of his devotion to us was... well, looney. Afterall, the Lord didn't owe us anything. To add to this was the very real issue of how exactly the raise would come into effect, namely the double promotion. Christopher works for the Department of Defense, where everything is regimented in steps. You don't skip a step. You aren't promoted out of turn. You put in your time, and at the specified date of tenure, the completion of the step, the fulfillment of the term you are given what any other DoD civillian is given - your wage as agreed upon by Congress. Not a lot of personal growth potential. Christopher reminded me of all this, and then gently asked me what I would do if the raise didn't come through.
I had to think about that question. What would I do if the raise didn't happen. I realized that God was asking me to believe - to believe that he was capable, and to trust him, even with the scary idea of "failing". The Lord was still sovereign, was still reigning, was still in control of our future, and would still provide. I knew that, and knew that would not change. Christopher was convinced that I was not holding onto a name-it-and-claim-it promise, and encouraged me to wait for the Lord's movement, but still gently reminding me that the government doesn't work the way I was determined it needed to for my miracle. But isn't that the essence of a miracle?
On June 15, 2007, nearly 6 months later, Christopher received his raise, and double promotion! The extra amount the second half of that promotion provided us was $266 a month. The Lord multipled it supernaturally, and before the three years were up we had not only paid every dime of our debt but added 2 more children and bought a house! We were stunned by the goodness of God. It was a phenominal reminder that when we agree with God about his provision for our lives, he really does come through in amazing ways. Our fears are still somewhat present when we think about future children, how we will provide for them, but we have such a tremendous testimony of his blessing that we know all things will work together for our good.
But there is a second part of this story, and that's why we wanted to share it with you. The stipulation, as given in the passage, was that we would be given this gift of a fruitful tree, but in the 4th year the Lord required its fruit to be tithed. We spent the three years paying off debt asking God to share with us his vision for the year of tithe. We knew when God provided the promise to us in January of 2007 that he had a specific purpose for the money. In September of this year we began praying earnestly for God to reveal the purpose for our tithe year. Because of his bounty towards us we were ahead of 'schedule' and looking forward to fulfilling the 4th year of the scripture even though technically we were just barely over the 3 year mark.
Then we had this great family, the Frazees, come speak at our Christmas in October!
Christopher and I left that Sunday so taken by your desire to be real with a mission that wasn't clear-cut. You were following God in belief that he would take care of your provision, even when the culture surrounding you said that wasn't very practical. And your pursuit to see children as a blessing, even when that blessing can mean very real inconveniences, was incredibly refreshing to our hearts. The Lord works mysteriously. We almost didn't go to that church service. But we believe that it was your family, and your the desire to meet the needs of the Mali people, that the Lord sovereignly chose our money to support all along. We were so excited.
When we got home that night it didn't take long for us to agree that you were meant for our tithe year. We quickly went through the steps of signing up with World Venture for our support promise. In the back of our minds we had always assumed this time of added giving above our regular tithe was something that would last a year, as the scripture in Leviticus alludes to - "...And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy... but in the fifth year you may eat of it..." Then something remarkable happened. Christopher again prepared for another annual review. Our hearts were turning towards allowing God complete freedom with this money, and in the midst of that burgeoning desire a possible pregnancy reminded us of the need to trust his provision. We knew it was time to sink or swim. Either we believed God for his hand in our lives and knew that he had a greater purpose for our money, or we took a giant leap backwards, forgot so much of the good God had already shown us, and clamped our fists shut. Praise the Lord, he won out!
Suddenly, "eating the fruit to increase its yield" took on more meaning than our retirement portfolio. It meant allowing that money to bring in the harvest waiting in Mali! As soon as we made the decision to stay with you for the long haul (encouraged by your continued faithfulness in setting your sights on the "impossible" for your financial support) our own concerns for another pregnancy, and the financial provision necessary for it, vanished. Such a gentle reminder that God is so good! We are not currently pregnant, but welcome the Lord's timing. And Christopher is once again blessed in his work, creating the money we need for our financial needs at home. In fact, another double promotion is likely on its way!
I hope that this brings joy to you, as it has to us. We see the sovereign plan of the Lord working to create community in his children, as they lay their needs before his throne. We are bursting with excitement to be in your back pocket as you travel to Paris - on Christmas day!
Christopher, Trisha, Hannah (11), Bethany (9), Caleb (6), Leah (5), Mary (4), Josiah (2), Phoebe (7+ mos)
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
This is the most recent video I've done. It really enjoyed it though it was just like a taste on the tip of my tongue of what I'd really like to do. Praise God that He keeps giving me little opportunities to work on small projects, reminding me of how much I enjoy it. It was a real privilege to hang out with Julie, who sincerely loves God and has hope, believing that He has lovingly planned out her life.
I think my wife's voice sounds pretty good in this video too!
Friday, April 17, 2009
What I say on this video doesn't sound quite right. I really meant to highlight that God is at work providing for our needs.
There is a lot more to the aquarium, but I edited to a song, and these are the clips that matched the mood of the song. I really like this song from one of my favorite movies, "Life Is Beautiful."
Thank God for FBC Monterey. They are really a blessing to us.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Heidi and I just shaved our mailing list a little. So now we're saving trees and about $14 in postage for each mailing we do. We love sending people real mail, and we love getting real mail. But if you've moved fully into the digital age or if you loath paper cuts let us know, and we'll just send you our newsletters via e-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org