so i am not really sure exactly how this post is gonna go yet. i just know that God has been doing something so completely awesome that i feel the need to share. He has been building my faith in Him like crazy this past year. i guess i will start where it all started.
when phil and i first got married (almost 3 years ago) i had been going to a spirit filled church. at first i was kind of like, umm this is crazy. i came from an ultra conservative background so speaking in tongues, prophecy and certain spiritual gifts were completely unknown territory to me. in fact, i thought it was fake at first. God forgive me, but i really did. i had been taught that these things had passed away with time and there was "no need for them any more". well, i am not here to convince anybody right now so i won't get into all that, but God has shown me that theory is completely and utterly false. the only place where it says "tongues shall pass away" is where it talks about love never failing in 1 Corinthians. it also says knowledge shall pass away in the same verse and clearly we know more today than we ever have in history. so how can we say well, sure knowledge is still here but tongues is gone when they are in the same breath? that was so convicting to me. i realized most of what i was experiencing wasn't "being right" about something i had been taught long ago, i was experiencing fear because i didn't understand what these gifts were. phil didn't either. we were both somewhat lost and confused about it all, so i guess we thought it better to just dismiss it. but something had already happened to us.
before we were married i was at church one sunday when we were talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. once again, i won't get into ALL that here but i had never even heard of that before. even though it is spoken of in numerous places throughout the Bible, i had no idea what it was. but i realized that being a Christian was so hard for me. i never heard from God. hardly ever. i didn't feel close to Him. i never felt His presence so strongly in my life that i could sense His heart and His direction. i wondered how other people had that relationship with God and He seemed so inaccessable to me. then when the pastor was preaching about the baptism of the Holy Spirit he said something like, "why wouldn't you want God to be close to you? you know what i mean, those times when you're in your prayer closet and you feel God's presence so strongly you feel like you could reach out and touch him, he's so close"... this broke my heart. i had never ever been able to feel God like this. i cried and cried and it honestly still brings tears to me eyes. i desperately wanted to experience God, not just know things about Him. i wanted what they had, which seemed like basically more access to God's presence. it seemed so much easier for them. so i went to the altar unsure if i wanted to be baptised in the Holy Spirit, but knowing i just wanted the most of God i could possibly get. i didn't care if that meant i was making a decision about something unknown and kind of scary to me, i needed to know God. that decision changed absolutely everything.
once phil and i were married, we moved away from georgia to st. louis. we were going to a great city church, but i knew something was wrong. there wasn't a passion and a longing for God there. the pastor is such an awesome Godly man and the church serves that city like crazy. i loved the church, but i knew that i had been to a church where God was sought after like crazy and where His Holy Spirit was free to move among His people. it made all the difference. when the Spirit is free to move, that is when you get to know God's heart and truly feel His precence. because He IS the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is Him. how can we have one without the other? well, i couldn't anymore. we lived in st. louis for 2 years and during that time God put a longing in my heart to go back to georgia and go back to the church where He had started His work of drawing me to Him. we didn't know where we would work or where we would really live, but we decided to go where God was calling us. it was so hard. phil wasn't feeling the pull like i was, so it felt like i was all alone in this step of faith. and if i was wrong then phil was trusting the wrong person. i thought if i was wrong about this, i could be ruining things for us big time. we both had jobs, a nice cheap apartment and were doing okay in st. louis. we had friends and a pretty good church, and we were stepping into something completely unknown. toward something we weren't totally sure about. but i prayed and prayed and fasted. in the end we both decided God wanted us at Covenant Life Church of God in georgia. so we packed up everything.
it was about a week before we were moving and phil had no job. we were putting all kinds of money into moving and we were getting a little nervous. we kept praying and suddenly phil had 3 interviews over the phone. one of the best school districts (if not the best) in georgia offered phil a job having never even met him in person. the principal of his school said she was taking a leap of faith and wanted to offer him a job in Cobb County school district. we were both just praising God for His faithfulness and the confirmation that we were doing the right thing. ever since then God has been leading us one tiny step at a time, not really showing us too far ahead. it is so difficult to follow Him feeling like you're just walking blindly. we just have to put all our hope and trust in Him because for this last year we haven't really had a clue what He has been doing.
after we moved, i went on an interview for a job that was almost a guarantee. they said they didn't have anything for me. i sent resumes and applications. i called places like crazy. part of the issue was we only had one car. we had bought a somewhat newer car before we left missouri. our other car needed repairs that were more expensive than the actual car, so we gave it away. we were left with only one car, so i had no transportation for the first 2-3 months we lived here. we prayed for a way for me to get a job. it never came. then God laid it on my heart to stay home. this was a huge exercise in faith. our bills have been more than our income every month. we ate through our entire savings. it seemed like i must have been wrong, that maybe it was just me not wanting a job. no way would God let this happen to us. why would He just want me at home? but there it was anyway, me feeling like taking a job was just the wrong thing to do. i prayed about it all the time. every sunday i was at the altar trying to figure out if i was hearing God right. it was confirmed to me a couple times in different ways through different people praying over me. even so, i still sent out my resume and searched for jobs like crazy. nothing came. then phil's uncle passed away. he left a very old car with a relatively new engine in it. we paid phil's grandparents $1 for it : ). seriously. we bought it for a buck. so we had given away an old broken car and God supplied a (still old) car with a much newer engine in much better shape. He never fails us. so i started looking for jobs again. still nothing happened.
during this time a woman from our church kept praying with me. she would pray with me every time i was at the altar. she was telling me some of what God was doing in me, but our financial situation was never explained to me. or when we would be out of trouble. every month we wondered if we would be able to pay all the bills. i struggled through feeling guilty for not working, wondering if i was listening to God or just myself. maybe i was just hearing what i wanted to hear, not necessarily what God was telling me. during this time the desire to have a child overwhelmed me. since we got married i've wanted a family and kids.. eventually. but last fall i was suddenly drawn to my knees in tears, begging God that He would give us a way to start our family. i didn't even know if that was the right thing for us right now. long ago i had dedicated my life to the Lord and His ministry. i didn't know exactly what that meant, other than i will go where He says go and do what He says do. i thought i would probably be a missionary, but i had no desire to move away. i received a prophecy that i would be doing my passion someday, working with girls. in some way. i don't know how or when, but that is what the Lord has made me passionate about. i wondered if i had a right to want a family now, or if it was time for me to start my ministry (whatever it is). i just didn't want to do anything outside of God's plan for me. i prayed that His plan might be for me to be a mom soon. i fasted and prayed like crazy. all this year. our finances have looked pretty bad all year. it seemed like the answer was no and i was so heart broken.
people kept praying for me and over me at the altar. my mom was explaining to me that of course God wants me to have kids. babies are a blessing from Him and it's something i desire so passionately, so why would He not want that for me? He wants all good things for me. i should know this. then i asked the woman who has been praying for me and interceding for me since the time i first started coming to the church to pray about it with me. she started praying and told me there was nothing in her spirit of God saying no to me wanting to start my family. i felt the same way, except for our money situation. then she came up to me after church a couple weeks later and said i need to stop doubting and hesitating (which i totally was). i still wondered if it was the right thing. is God really that good? that He will let me have the strongest desire of my heart? she said to me that God has ordained me to be a mom and to go forward with starting my family. well since we have been literally scraping by each month and our entire savings is gone, it still seems pretty impossible.
during this time phil has been finishing his masters degree in special education. he will complete it by the end of this summer. also, being his 5th year teaching, he gets a raise for that too. we realized to pay for insurance (the good kind that will cover doctor visits and hospital delivery and stay) we need at least another $240 a month. phil gets a $5000 raise next year. that is about $400 a month before taxes. then we realized we are paying about $50 a month paying off our sofa (which we have about $150 left i think) and we spend $130 a month on our car. that is a bit more, we owe about $2800 on that. phil gets a 12 month salary, so we realized that if he gets a good paying job this summer we can get all that paid off and with a raise, we will finally be out of the red. we will have the money we need to get the insurance i need and then the money to raise a baby. so of course i have been praying like mad that God will bless us and give us the money necessary to pay off our car this summer.
we wondered what God was doing because phil couldn't find a job anywhere. everything we thought was going to work out fell through. then the school called him and said they had a job for him at summer school after all. he might be able to take the job of parapro or they may still have an opening for a teacher. they contacted him and told him he would be a parapro. i was so upset. we needed to make at least as much as we owe on the car in order to pay it off and a parapro would only make about $1200 over the whole summer. so i started praying again, asking God to help us. i know it was He who put the desire in my heart to be a mom, so He will have to make it possible. when phil went to training the next day they found out they had more kids than they originally thought, so he was promoted to teacher. he is making double the parapro salary. praise God for His provision! because he was originally a parapro, he is a co-teaching with another teacher from the school so that cuts the stress of preparing and teaching in half. i know that was God's purpose because phil has already been so completely stressed finishing his last 2 masters classes (apparently the 2 hardest classes were saved for last. sheesh.) so now he will have half the stress of teaching than he would have originally had if he had just been placed as a teacher in his own class. God knows what He's doing. i seriously need to remember this now. how many times does He have to prove it to me? geesh.
God has taught me so much about His faithfulness, about perservering through trials, about the power of prayer, about fighting for your desires and being a strong praying woman of God, about His knowing what's best for us and that He will always bring it about. i have learned how to live on a strict budget. i have learned to be a good stay at home wife, training me to be a good stay at home mom. He also let me stay at home because He knew it's what i wanted, even if i didn't really fully know it. He is so good. He knows what i want before i do and gives it to me before i even realized i wanted it. and He has given me the time and creativity to start this lovely blog you see before your very eyes : ). i wonder if another part of this year was to teach us to live on a smaller budget so we can give more in the future. phil and i both feel passionate about giving our tithes and offerings (which we do now) but we both want to be able to give more. we desire to bless other people as much as 20% or more of our income. it has been impossible for us to do that so far, but i believe some day we will be doing that. and this has been amazing training for that point.
i love God. He has been doing the most amazing things in our lives. even though this has been the absolute hardest year of my life, i am glad He has been bringing me through it. i am stronger and i have a deeper and more intimate relationship with God than i would have if He had just let us stay all safe and comfortable with our money. i have learned to rely on Him every minute, every hour, every day. He is the ultimate provider, my shelter, my strength, my strong tower, my comforter, my healer... everything. He is teaching me that He is absolutely everything i need. oh amen. : )
if you would like to donate to our "pay off our car so we can have a baby" fund just let us know... ; )