Thursday, September 15, 2011

"a long story" {or "i almost robbed god"}

i am really feeling led to share this post here today.
this is a little story of how i recently let the sin of selfishness into my heart.
then, by the grace of jesus, that sin was squashed like a bug.

next week, patrick and i will wrangle elijah onto a plane. we'll be headed to southern california.
it's blog sugar time. there are no words to describe my feelings about this event.
i will be meeting blog friends. in real life.
i will have the treat of listening to some amazing ladies
speak to me about things i need to know.
about blogging. and about life.
patrick is even excited for this trek over to the west coast. he will have guy time with elijah,
while i go have some girl time fun. and eat a lot of sweets.
we've also arranged to make a little vacation out of it, staying longer than the blog sugar time. we'll see california cousins and have a jolly time soaking up all that is southern california. we can hardly wait!

haven't you already been to california this year?, you ask?
yes. we went in february.
pretty sure i was still in california when the blog sugar date was announced.
i was thinking, how in the world will i get back here for that?!
wish i'd have known sooner, we could have held off on this trip until the fall. dang.
we prayed about it. if god wanted me to go, i would go.
i bought a blog sugar ticket-figuring that if the money didn't show,
i would give my ticket away to someone who was able to attend.
well, when we got home, patrick had some stellar sales weeks and BAM.
we booked airfare, a rental car and hotels! praise jesus!
wow, we are so grateful for provision for this fun opportunity!!

lately some things have popped up, consistently taking away most of our "extra" money each month.
this month. blog sugar month. well, we have no extra money.
for months now, i have been doing most of the finance management for our family.
it was a necessary step to take extra pressure off of patrick.
we still do it together, i just do the math and budgeting;)
i have planned to the dollar, our gas, tipping, food, baggage fees etc.
it is enough. no wiggle room though. 

this, as you can imagine, put a big hole in my plans.

we like to treat ourselves to fun things when we go out.
we enjoy treating others when we go out. 
we like to have fresh haircuts before a vacation.
heck, a pedicure is a need, isn't it?
we like to do things, usually that cost money, when we are away.
i could go on and on.

here is where i tell you how i forgot all about how grateful i was.
and tell you how disgustingly sinful i can be.

we did have money to have wiggle room on vacation.
it was our tithe money.

how sick is my heart?

the heart is deceitful
above all things,
   and desperately wicked;
who can understand it?
jeremiah 17:9

i was blatantly deciding to rob god.
it was a week and a half ago.
we had missed the previous "pay" sunday(when we would have tithed),
so i would write a double check this week.
only, i wasn't going to write it. i was planning to keep it. all.

after all, i told myself, it's our money. patrick worked hard for this.
we have an unpaid bill, AND we have vacation coming up.
we need haircuts, i'd like some highlights, elijah needs new pants,
i have hardly any clothes that fit me properly, patrick needs new jeans,
there are so many restaurants i want to try...

i started this little scheme with myself and the devil late saturday night.
it continued into sunday morning, i grabbed the checkbook, i knew i needed to write that check!!

what the hell is the matter with me?!
i have lost my mind!
none of this stupid stuff is even important, and i would rob jesus?

that checkbook felt almost to heavy to lift.
i stuffed it into my purse and walked with my sweet family down the block to church.
patrick had no clue what was going on inside of me. if i told him, he'd write that check himself.

he would never even know. he'd just assume the money was budgeted into the vacation fund.
he'd never know i stole it from jesus.

at church, during the break, i stayed in my seat and got the checkbook out. then i put it back.
i got up and went into the restroom. i was hot and sick to my stomach.
i didn't want to write that check. i wanted that money!!!!
i began to cry.
between gritting my teeth in frustration and the awful air freshener,
i had a monster headache forming. quickly collecting myself,
i started to pray as i left that bathroom.
i found my seat. patrick had brought me my usual treat from the coffee bar,
an iced mocha. it tasted like crap.
the service was about to begin. the ushers were moving towards the front,
they'd collect tithes and offerings in just a few moments.
my head was pounding, my stomach was swirling, i kept on praying!

god! this is your money, break my heart, put that pen in my hand and write that check for YOU.

as the usher held the basket right in front of us, i jerked the checkbook out of my purse and like lightning wrote out that check-the double check, and even a bit more-and tossed it into the basket.
as hot tears streamed down my cheeks,
i squeezed patrick's hand for dear life.
he asked if i was ok. i said i am now.
truth be told, i didn't hear the sermon at all that morning. i was praying and thanking the lord.
he would get that bill paid. pleading him to help me.
crying out to him, to cut out that wicked selfishness.
none of that me stuff even mattered! asking him to forgive my thieving, faithless heart.
my headache and stomach were at peace. my husband held my hand.
i sipped that iced mocha-it tasted delicious now.

the problem here was that i let my sinful flesh have its way that morning.

i read a sermon awhile back, don't even remember who it was by,
but this thought was tattooed onto my mind:

the question isn't
how much should i give
of what god has given me, 
rather, how much dare i keep?

every. single. penny. belongs to god.
we are stewards of these finances he blesses us with.
he provides for our needs, and even some wants.
we must cheerfully give to our local church and to missions and ministries to further his kingdom.
it truly should be our joy to do so!!
it's easy for us to give when we have a huge comission check.
shoot, we happily give to anyone that needs it!
other times though, when the bills are just paid, and we can't hire a sitter, or even eat meat every day...
those times it is a little bit harder to write that check, or help that other family who is in need.


since that sunday, i have cried at some point during each day.
tears for hurting jesus, tears of praise for his forgiveness,
and even tears that i can't have my own way.
a true a tug of war.
i'm so thankful for the word, filled with the promises of god.
i am not alone. his grace covers me. i can be guilt and shame free by his blood.
i can get right back up again!
i'm sure that this war within is not over.
that most recent battle, it was championed in jesus' name. for his glory, he shut me down.
he wrote that check. he freed my mind. he even gave me a smile.

so, i won't have a pedicure, we won't have lots of fancy new clothes.
i may not even get my hair trimmed.
i do know, we'll be enjoying some tasty fast food,
and soaking up all the free fun we can on our vacation.
and you know what? i'm looking forward to it being that way.
it's going to be a beautiful and wonderful time with family and friends!

hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
create in me a clean heart, o god,
   and renew a right spirit within me.
cast me not away from your presence,
   and take not your holy spirit from me.
restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and uphold me with a willing spirit.
psalm 51:9-12 esv

31 comments:

  1. Tears in my eyes reading this. Thank you for being so vulnerable with us. This was what I needed to hear today. The Lord always provides, which should come as no surprise to us since it's His money to begin with but boy oh boy do I feel this way a little bit too sometimes. He is faithful & forgiving though!

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  2. wow! this is an amazing post! I am a firm believer in tithing...this is the one thing that God says test him in :) I can say that every time I have felt like you felt I tithed anyway and the extra money came...almost out of nowhere. So have faith and keep strong who knows you might get a little blessing before your trip? p.s you shouldn't be so hard on your self :) ...we aren't perfect ;)

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  3. you know, i've never thought of it as stealing from Jesus. but you're so right on, every penny we have is His. how much dare we keep?? it's so true and so opposite of our "american dream" lifestyle and sometimes i'm sick just thinking about all the extravagant things i think i need, and waste money on. i should be giving 20% or 30% or even much more! thanks for getting to the heart of it. i just love that you were convicted so clearly. you're such a tender heart for the Lord.

    ps. can't wait to see you in ten days :)

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  4. thank you for sharing...I knew before I read it, you'd do the right thing. Love you lots, Hannah.
    Angela

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  5. Hannah,God Bless you for wearing your heart on your sleeve. Your blog has become one of my favorites and I hope to learn more about Blog Sugar :)
    I'd love to attend a Blog conference some day.

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  6. I so needed your honesty with this. We struggle with this! Such stupid, selfish little humans we are!!! So proud that you made the right choice and I know you'll have SO. MUCH. FUN. on your little vaca :) xox

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  7. There have been a few times when I have "waited" to tithe or didn't, because something else seems more important, but there is never peace, nothing ever works out as planned and everything seems tight there is no peace.

    When things are tight and I do tithe, I still feel peace, because I know it will all work out.

    Thanks for sharing this bit of humanity with us.

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  8. Hannah, you are a true blessing.
    And He will bless you for it.
    God is good.
    Love from,
    Greta
    PS can't wait to hug you!

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  9. I love how God has used you. I love that you listened to Him and shared your story. It certainly makes us all stop and think. I remember the days when my husband and I both would have rather kept the money then give it to God. Sadly, we did keep it...often. How God continued to bless us through those times is beyond me. Since then, our church has come up with a state of the art perfect plan...ACH transactions. While it's VERY impersonal, I don't think a thing of it. I know our money is being taken out each month and I don't have a say in it (I can't keep it for myself...it's a done deal). I'm so thankful for ACH transactions or I think I would be playing tug-of-war with God more often. Praying God blesses you and your family in an amazing way just for following through with what God was telling your heart all along to do. :)

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  10. This is something I have struggled with since I was a kid and my dad would encourage me to think about giving some of my babysitting money at offering time. It was never required, but I hated doing it. This is a beautiful story, and I thank you for sharing it!

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  11. Hannah, you have such a beautiful heart. God is a God of many chances. : ) Love ya!

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  12. Bless you for bravely sharing your heart!
    I can SO relate!!!
    A couple of years into our marriage we opted to not tithe on that falls farm rent. We had 'important' bills that needed paid. We were so very poor for the next 6 mo. After that we decided to ALWAYS tithe right away, even if it looked like we didn't have the money & ya' know what? He has always provided. He has always made up the difference. I'm sure you know all this! So, thanks again for humbling thy self & sharing with us!
    So happy you get to go meet bloggy friends!!! How exciting!

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  13. Dear Jesus,
    Thank you for giving this experience to Hannah. Thank you for her vulnerability to share it with us. Thank you for Hannah.
    And thank you for blogs.
    Amen.

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  14. What a great lesson! How many times have I felt the same way???? And how many times have I neglected the tug the Lord is pulling at my heart? Ashamedly, too many times. Thanks for the lesson Hannah!

    And blogsugar wise, I sooo wish i were going. Have a blast! Where are you staying afterwards? Like what part of SoCal? I would LOVE if you were near me!

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  15. Hannah,

    I can promise you this. Not one single person at Blog Sugar will care about the toes not getting pedicured (heck, my feet are TERRIBLE), they won't notice the hair isn't trimmed (just wait until you see my 3 inch roots), and they won't care how long you've owned the clothes on your body. But we WILL notice your heart, your smile, your kindness, your laughter, your happy eyes, and your lovely conversation.

    At the end of the day... what we look like just doesn't matter. I had to let that go for this trip as well. I was SO focused on what I was going to wear that I forgot about WHY I was going. And I was being greedy. And forgetting that HE has provided this opportunity for me... I was ruining it with my sulking over not getting a new outfit.

    Tithing has been the ONE thing my husband and I miss about attending church. That's a whole other story for another time when I'm just talking with you. But this post was VERY raw... and hit right in the middle of my heart.

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  16. Hannah, you bless my heart so much. Thank you for sharing this with me. We've been where you are (and just recently went through this in a similar giving situation). We obeyed too and were so blessed for doing it. I agree with Jan that automatic deductions are helpful, though we personally choose not to do that. There's just something about the cheerful giving part when I put the offering in the basket.

    I am really excited you're able to go to Blog Sugar (Thanks, Patrick, for supporting this for Hannah!)! I can't wait to hear all about it. I hope to do that one day too. And a vacation on top of that? Too awesome.

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  17. this was so good. i have no words. seriously. Your hoensty is beautiful and freed alot of people. God is going to bless you SO much. He loves you and what you did. xoxo.

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  18. Hannah~ What a beautiful post! Found you through Casey today...so thankful to have been blessed by your words <3 Enjoy your Blog Sugar time!!! I am excited for you all that are going!

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  19. whoa hannah. convicting.
    i probably should have read this before i wrote to you about my tra-la-la's about getting a mani.

    yikes.

    i have been there.
    recently.

    it is not a good place to be.
    i get it.

    sometimes i think its not FAIR.

    but then i remember the joy it really is to give (even if that joy gets covered in a cloud of my own selfishness - it is still there - and it is an awesome joy).

    thanks for being honest with us today.

    it goes a lot longer way than you might imagine. <3

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  20. Thank you for your transparent heart. It was just what I needed to hear today. Your obedience to God has blessed me and caused me to think about the ways I spend God's money. I pray your trip is wonderful!

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  21. Hannah, thank you for being so honest with yourself and with us. I needed to read this. We have been struggling so much with our finances so we're in sort of a different place right now, but that seed of selfishness, it never goes away! It's a daily struggle. That's why I love the verse you posted. If we give our true, honest feelings to Jesus, He will create a right and willing spirit within us! And that is awesome. Don't ever get discouraged when you make a mistake. God is always there to forgive us, to change us, to cleanse us, and we are all going to have times where we just want what WE want! Just like Adam & Eve... same old story! But I know every time you make the right decision, God is saying to you, "well done, good and faithful servant!" and you are building a strong foundation to have for all of the "next times".

    You are such an encouragement and I pray that you and your family will be BLESSED with protection, provision, and fellowship on your trip to CA (my state!) :-)

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  22. hannah,
    first let me just YELL, "I LOVE YOU!"

    what christian doesn't struggle with this? i bet we can all (if we are honest) confess to times (many many times) of robbing God one way or another.

    i applaud you for struggling. struggling is much better than plain ol' feeling entitled and not struggling at all.

    i applaud you you for being obedient, especially when you didn't want to (God help me do the same. all. the. time.)

    i applaud you for glorifying God in this post (yes, you did). you are speaking Truth into so many lives STRUGGLING with the same issue.

    i LOVE JESUS IN YOU!

    your feet are beautiful and don't need a pedi. they are beautiful feet that bring good news!!! i can't wait to see those feet.

    you wear Jesus! (heck, i don't need a new outfit for blog sugar either! i NEED to put on Jesus) Oh!!!!!! and He looks so attractive on you here in blogville, i just can't wait to see Him on you at blog sugar! He is going to look RADIANT!

    and i KNOW our good God will provide every single one of your needs. that is who He is. looking forward to reading that post too.

    much love!

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  23. Blessings to you sweet friend. You touched my heart with your honesty, and blessed me with the awesome story of how He worked through you, in spite of you. Blessings and praise to God for raising you up as a faithful an obedient daughter. You bless me!
    xo
    Andee
    (who will also remain pedicure-less, new cute outfit-less, and new haircut-less right along wit ya at blog sugar!and it ain't gonna stop us from having the best time ever!)

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  24. I have been through this battle too. You are an amazing woman of God. I just found your blog & can already sense your love for Him.

    ♥Jazmin

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  25. I love you dear friend. You just TUGGED at my heartstrings with this. Thanks for sharing. I know your trip to CA will be blessed! Have an amazing time at Blog Sugar ~ Pretty Puhlease Share all you learn!

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  26. Hey, Hannah-Rose!

    Sigh. Isn't wrestling with the flesh tiring? Ha! I was just thinking, the last two days I've been working under a house. My back hurts and my knees are SO SORE. Not to mention my thumb which is being tortured in rehab.... But none of these physical pains compare with that pain which my flesh can cause my spirit! Nothing is so exhausting as when I let my flesh get a foothold in my life...

    I love you! Praying for you. God is good. Thank you for sharing your struggles. Will be praying that you continue to rely on God. He is able! =D

    - YO BRO, Jared

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  27. This is such a beautiful, honest post, Hannah! It reminded me of the verse 1 Cor. 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

    What a great temptation you faced... one that I have faced to. So many others have faced it... and yet you overcame, you found your escape and you endured!!

    God is glorified in all of this!

    Have an amazing time at Blog Sugar and on your vacation!!

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  28. I'm so glad you came and between us - I didn't have a pedicure or new outfit on either :)

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  29. wow...thank you! your honesty and your struggle and Gods triumph in the end were truly inspiring! Im a new regular reader now ;)

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  30. I think I ended up here off of your post on Take Heart. I so needed to hear this today, and I realize that you wrote it 9 or 10 months ago. Thank you for your honest postings. What satan intended for evil, God intended for good! I have found that I learn more about God and His love when I go through those hard times. I hate them, but I love them at the same time. I get to see just how big of a God I serve, and I am amazed that He created me and loves me!

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