Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Goes Around Comes Around

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.    I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  (Philippians 4:10-12, NIV)

People must get tired of me talking about money, but these days it is an unavoidable subject in our household.  With the sudden loss of my husband's job (eighty-five percent of our income) several weeks ago, we have understandably been preoccupied with making adjustments, making do, and leaning heavily on God's provision not only for our daily needs but also for jobs to help us recover the income and medical insurance we lost so we can get back on our feet.

We have been humbled by the generosity of those who have given to us in our season of want, especially when we know they are struggling themselves.  Those who have given sacrificially absolutely radiate the joy Jesus spoke of when He said, "It is better to give than to receive."  Their joy makes me long even more for the day when God blesses us financially so we can be a blessing to others!

In Proverbs 3:27-28 we are instructed, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you."  Instead, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Although I am no financial expert, I have been around the block enough to know that money works better for people who learn first to give, then save, then spend.  Fortunately for us, even though we had not saved the recommended three to six months worth of income when we suffered this setback, our commitment to tithe to our church and give to others in need has resulted in God's gracious provision for us during this difficult time.

Have we learned our lesson?  Yes.   We have certainly learned that it is wise to live within one's income and wiser still to save for a rainy day.  And we have also learned that even when we sometimes fail to be good stewards of God's provision, He never fails to fulfill His promises to provide for our needs and to return blessings to us when we joyfully give to others.  We are living proof that God is good even when we are sometimes not.

If you find yourself in a financially-challenging position, talk to God about it.  Ask Him to reveal any areas of improvement you can make.  Surrender your material possessions and money to Him, giving as freely as you can, even during those times when it seems you cannot.  If God leads you to meet someone's need, be obedient and enjoy the special blessing reserved for those who give.

God has given us everything we have -- our gifts, talents, and material possessions -- so that we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us.  You have been blessed so that you can be a blessing!  What are you waiting for?




Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Friday, July 27, 2012

When the Answer is No

What do you do when it seems God is taking you a particular direction but things don't work out the way you hope or expect?  In other words, how do you respond to God when the answer is no?

For the past six weeks, since my husband unexpectedly lost his full-time job without severance or benefits, our family has been prayerfully seeking employment to replace our lost income.  My son, who never thought anyone would hire him, landed a great job this week and we are so thankful!  On the other hand, after his fourth interview with a prospective employer, Steve learned that someone with more experience in an educational setting had been offered the job he so greatly desired.  Even though things had looked so hopeful for Steve, God's answer was "no."

You've been there, too.  The pieces fell into place and everything looked just right for your breakthrough, but it didn't come.  Odds are, God had another plan -- a better plan -- which he unfolded for you at just the right time.  Not in your timing or according to your expectations, perhaps, but immeasurably greater than anything you could have imagined.

Do you have faith enough to wait on God's breakthrough for your life?  If not, perhaps the miracle God has in mind for you is a more intimate relationship with him and the revelation that he is all the breakthrough you will ever need.  I am thankful that my husband and I know that.  As we face a still uncertain future, not knowing what job door will open up for us or when it will open, we rest in the blessed assurance that "Jesus is mine.  Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!"





Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

While It Is Quiet

While it is quiet I think I will pray
And thank God for blessings He sent me today
Maybe I'll ponder the next blog to write
Or go through my closet to see what's too tight
Watching a movie with kids might be fun
Or watering flowers in the setting sun
Make my to do list a few items longer
Or workout with bar bells to make my arms stronger
So many options, too little time
But never too busy to jot down a rhyme
Days pass so quickly, the day soon will end
Tomorrow I'll get up and do it again




Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Friday, July 20, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth

A month or so ago I began work on a book project that requires a lot of mental energy and focus.  About the same time, my husband unexpectedly lost his job and joined the ranks of the unemployed.  (Welcome to the club, Darlin'!)  Between my kids being out of school for the summer and fighting boredom, and my husband in frequent need of moral support and advice on how to word a cover letter or which tie to wear to an interview, my office looks more like a three-ring circus than a writer's nook!

Why run away to join the circus when I live in one, right?

Lest you think I am complaining, I am not.  Never have I felt more needed or valued than I have this summer.  Life is crazy!   Between prospective employers, concerned friends, and neglected creditors, my phone rings off the hook all day long.   My husband and kids are constantly in and out of my office and my train of thought is frequently derailed.  Even though I technically have a job as a writer and am under contract for the book project I am working on, my family somehow doesn't get it that I am actually employed because I am at home all day. 

I could pull my hair out by the roots in utter exasperation or run away to my mother's house in the quiet woods along the Little Red River, but that won't solve anything.  The chaos would still be here when I return, so I simply choose to be joyful. 

I don't think there is anything in the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs about life in the circus except perhaps this verse:  "She laughs at the days to come" (verse 25).  Call me a clown with sawdust in my veins -- life with Jesus, no matter how crazy it gets, is the greatest show on earth!







Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Living with Confident Expectation

In my second devotional book, A Pleasing Aroma: Inspiring Devotions for Joyful Living, I wrote a devotional about God's provision entitled "The Little Things."  It was the story about a time when God wow'd me by providing exactly the number and style of heavy duty curtain hooks I needed for some custom made curtain panels I ordered from an out-of-state hospital curtain supplier so we could partition off a section of the women's robe room at church for costume storage.  When I went to the store to shop for the curtain hooks I had no idea how many grommets were on those curtain panels, but God did.  And he took me to a Wal-Mart where I purchased every packet they had on the rack, not one hook more or less than I needed and at the lowest possible price!  How great is our God!

In the wake of my husband's recent and unexpected job loss, God continues to show himself faithful in small ways that make a big difference.  With no way to pay for an annual check up for our dog, the vet agreed to forgo the necessary exam and simply prescribe the monthly heartworm prevention our dog needs to stay healthy.  Simple phone calls to a couple of doctors have resulted in reduced costs for back-to-school shots and exams, a good thing since we also lost our medical coverage.  A friend brought us dinner one night, which was such a blessing as I was too emotionally spent to think about dinner that day.  Another helped me find a free mattress to replace my son's badly deteriorated one so his back won't hurt.  The list goes on.

How thankful we are for a God who knows just what we need and how to supply it.  We live with confident expectation that he is lining up the perfect jobs for my husband and me and preparing us in the meantime to be wow'd once again.  That's our God, doing immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28)!



Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

As Raindrops Fall

 The summer days devoid of rain
Reflect relentless, searing pain
Which stress of life inflicts on us
Until we’re laid face-down in dust
The summer drought is getting old
And making weary my own soul
Which, parched and dry, for God does thirst
Oh, how I wish the clouds would burst
And offer rain to soothe the land
A cooling balm from God’s own hand
To wash away the dirt and grime
That covers me from time to time
A cooling breeze, God’s very breath
Does blow upon my weary breast
A calmness to my soul He’ll bring
Until once more my heart can sing
When pain and trouble worry me
And endless clouds are all I see

I know that even in each test
God works in me his very best
Be still, my soul, and hear the rain
My heart, rejoice, despite the pain
As raindrops fall and breezes blow
God’s peace and presence you will know
He sees your tears and wipes them dry
Beneath the cloudy, stormy sky
If God to you seems far away
Remember a more joyful day
Give thanks for blessings you have known
Until He comes to take you home



Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Well Done, My Child

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!...Come and share your master's happiness!'" (Matthew 25:21)

Most of us go through life wishing at some point that we could have a profound influence on others. Many people accomplish that on at least a small scale, but there are those rare individuals who manage to impact untold numbers, often without even realizing it.

On July 5, 2012, a young man named Trey Erwin, who lived in my community, lost a brave battle with adult pancreatic cancer, a form rarely diagnosed in anyone his age.  Trey would have turned 16 on July 31.  Trey leaves behind his parents, a younger brother, and hundreds of friends who will miss him.  This teenage Christ-follower impacted more people worldwide during his four-month battle than many of us will our entire lives. 

Never in my life have I seen a community mobilize in such great numbers to pray for and support a family like the Erwins. From the #prayfortrey campaigns set up on social networks and fundraisers held to assist the family financially with the costs of treatment, to the loving friends who provided meals, transportation, and tender care, people from around the world united to pray this family through a devastating illness. 

Trey's mother, Lisa, maintained a CaringBridge site to keep us plugged into their prayer needs and the progression of Trey's illness.  The growth of Trey's cancer, however, was no match for the strong faith of this young man and his family.  Lisa's journal entries were so inspiring and I was humbled each time I read one.  Although I did not know Trey personally, I have cried many tears since his passing, tears of gratitude for the bold faith of this young man and his family and for the way God used Lisa's journal entries to make me re-evaluate the way I parent and relate to my own teenagers.

If I could say one thing to Lisa it would be this:  "Thank you so much for demonstrating what it means to truly cherish our children.  Thank you for modeling such incredible faith and amazing grace in the midst of such heartbreak and loss.  I am so sorry for all your family has been through, but so grateful to you for allowing us to be a part of your journey and so very thankful that Trey is happy and healthy in the presence of his Lord.  May God comfort your family with his peace and fill your hearts with the joy of knowing that you each have made a tremendous impact on the lives of so many, including me."



Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike.  All rights reserved.  www.deedeewike.com

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Not At All What I Expected

(Sigh.)  This summer has turned out to be not at all what I expected.  As I write this I can't help but think of others whose year hasn't turned out all that great either and I am thankful for the smallness of my problems compared with theirs.  Kind of makes me feel like a wimp for even feeling the slightest bit disappointed, but I do.  I just do.

I had such high hopes of doing fun things with my teenage daughter, like driving to Jerry's for sno cones, taking in movies, and having some fun field trips.  It would have been nice to get out of town with my family, but my eighteen-year-old is at that age where family vacations aren't his thing.  My daughter and I have managed to spend some time together on a couple of short trips to my mom's house, but the family vacation never materialized.  With the unexpected loss of my husband's job, our attention has been diverted to more urgent matters like finding work...quickly.  We know that God is in control and we are waiting as patiently as we can for him to move in our circumstances and open some doors.  It's not like we haven't been down this road before in our twenty-five year marriage, but this time it is different.  It is harder.  Much harder.

All of the challenges we are facing as a family are very distracting to me.  I find that I am not nearly as focused on my writing or on ministry as I should be.  Perhaps that is because I am afraid to set my heart on something I feel is disappearing right before my eyes.  What if I am the one who has to go back to work?  How will that affect my children or my parents-in-law?  I have enjoyed having the flexibility to be home for my kids after school and during vacation and holiday breaks.  It has been a blessing to be able to say, "Yes, I can take you to the doctor on Tuesday."  What happens to all of that now?  I am praying like crazy that our situation will not come down to my having to work outside the home, but it could.   If it does, by the grace of God I will make the necessary adjustments.

We all have challenges in life that are difficult.  Challenges that derail us and sometimes even cause us to question God.  When our course becomes a series of detours, our vision becomes unclear and doubt creeps in.  Did I mistake God's call on my life?  Wasn't this what I was supposed to be doing?  If this is my heart's desire, then why isn't it being fulfilled?  Hard questions plague us and sometimes we just shut down because we don't know what to do next.

This has become a summer of searching...for God's will, the next step, and for peace as we await His provision.  I confess that I am not handling things as well as I know I should be.  My fuse is short.  My patience is shorter.  With the heat wave we have been experiencing of late, coupled with miserable drought conditions, more than ever I feel the need for a refreshing breeze and a fresh breath of the Spirit in my life.

I find myself praying often for God's forgiveness for mistreating those closest to me, whining about my circumstances, and being less than grateful when I have so much to be grateful for.  We are healthy.  Our bills (the critical ones anyway) are paid.  God promises to provide for our needs daily, and He has.  We are not dealing with cancer or homelessness or disability.  We are simply dealing with a problem many before us have faced in this economy.

I am reminded of the following commands from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  Could it be that the only thing standing between me and God's will and provision is my lack of gratitude?

My prayer in all of this is that God will change me for the better, help me develop an attitude of gratitude, and use me somehow to encourage someone else when all is said and done.  That's the best any of us can hope for.








Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Even in Disobedience


Jonah said, "Throw me overboard, into the sea. Then the storm will stop. It's all my fault. I'm the cause of the storm. Get rid of me and you'll get rid of the storm." But no. The men tried rowing back to shore. They made no headway. The storm only got worse and worse, wild and raging.  Then they prayed to God, "O God! Don't let us drown because of this man's life, and don't blame us for his death. You are God. Do what you think is best." They took Jonah and threw him overboard. Immediately the sea was quieted down. The sailors were impressed, no longer terrified by the sea, but in awe of God. They worshiped God, offered a sacrifice, and made vows. (Jonah 1:12-16, The Message)

Sometimes we do stupid things in life.  God directs us to do one thing, as he did when he instructed Jonah to go preach to the people of Nineveh, yet we choose to disobey God and go our own way.  When we do that, we often create problems for other people or complicate our own lives by bringing unnecessary stress upon ourselves.  When will we ever learn that the only true obedience is swift obedience and that God's ways will always be better than our own?

Our God is amazing.  Though we are determined to mess with his plan and do things our own way, he manages to accomplish his purposes even in our disobedience.  Even though it took an unplanned three-day vacation in the belly of a giant fish, Jonah learned that God means business and that he is quite capable of using us at our worst to accomplish his best and bring glory to his name. 

Even though Jonah tried his best to avoid God's mission by boarding a ship headed away from Nineveh, his disobedience ultimately resulted in the sailors worshipping God, who by his mighty power calmed the sea once Jonah was tossed overboard.  Isn't it good to know that whether or not we intend to mess things up, God is still in the business of redeeming our mistakes and using us in spite of them?



Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!