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My Own God Story

For the longest time, I really only understood the idea of God doing great works for and through biblical figures.  Somehow it escaped me that He still does amazing works for and through people today… but you know, other people.  I’ve heard some seriously awesome (the word gets thrown around like kids throwing fits in Walmart, but in this case, it is more reverent and appropriate) stories from other people.

Then I started thinking, Why exactly do I feel these things cannot happen to me?  All these biblical figures were just people with a little faith.  The personal stories I’ve heard have come from ordinary people who just happened to exercise some faith.  God actually wants to bless us, but we tend to hold Him back by our own lack of faith in receiving what He has to offer.  Seriously, if God wants to give you something, take it.  Duh!  And yet, many of us often miss it.  Yes, us- I include myself.

This time, I believed and received.  It works! Go figure.

I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica last summer.  It was an eye-opening and wonderful experience, and I saw God in it.  However, when I felt called to go on that trip, Robert had just regained employment and we had fundraised so much for our favorite organization Love 146 before that, we really didn’t feel right reaching out for money from others to help pay my way for the trip, and we took care of about 2/3 of it ourselves.  Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t a pride thing as much as it was that we were grateful for Robert’s job and figured we should give our thanks through this, because we finally could.

This January was the deadline to apply for this summer’s mission trips.  Robert had been so moved through my experience last year that he wanted to go back with me.  This time around, the price went up for individuals and we would have to pay for two instead of one.  And oh, yeah, we were already pretty sure I was going to be leaving the security of my job as a teacher, meaning that by the time the money would all be due (July 1), we would be on the last of that income.  Financially, this would be a stretch.

Then sometimes our plans get changed.  So few people applied for the trip to Costa Rica that it had to be cancelled, but there were openings in one of the trips to Guatemala.  For just a moment I thought it was a way to escape the financial burden and we could bow out gracefully.  But that thought was overridden by the possibility that the plan change was by God’s design and He really just wanted us to go to Guatemala instead, so we agreed to the change.  Good news: this trip was actually a few hundred dollars less per person, so that helped ease my worries, but not much.

I found myself continually stumbling across various pieces of faith literature that just happened to be about having faith to receive, following God’s plan, and believing that He will always provide.  Then one morning while I was getting ready for work, I had an epiphany (that is such a fun word).  I was looking at the “mountain” of not having an extra $3200 in my pocket, instead of telling the mountain to move, which is what we are told to do in Matthew 17:20.  It wasn’t an audible voice, but I felt in that moment that God told me to stop worrying because He was going to move that mountain and that we wouldn’t have to pay a penny.  One other important part of that scripture is that we can’t just think our mountain will move, but we have to tell it to move, so I began to thank God for providing the finances for our trip and I told Robert it would be all taken care of.

We made our list of people to send support request letters, typed them up, and mailed them out.  We were getting a steady flow of donations for a while and it was encouraging.

Then there was a lull.  We had made it just beyond the halfway mark, and then we had nothing else coming in.  Honestly, I began to feel a bit discouraged.  I was grateful for what had been provided, but since it didn’t seem like anything else was coming, I was bummed that we were going to have to put in our own funds after all.  I figured this meant God was going to provide a way for us to come up with that money for ourselves, but I had really hoped to have one of those amazing God stories to tell people about how God had told me the trip would be taken care of and all the money came flowing in.   Now it just seemed that although I was sure we would manage, the story just wouldn’t be as cool, and I wanted a way cool God story… like the ones other people have.

God also wanted me to have a story to tell others, a way to spread the word about how awesome He is and how He still makes amazing things happen today.

Through a friend of Robert’s family, someone I’ve never even met in person and only have the honor of knowing through Facebook, God provided $1800 in a really cool way.  She and her husband had given to their church to help plant a new church, but it just hadn’t worked out and the group had decided to not pursue it any further and each person could request their fair amount to go towards some other charity, and  this couple chose us for their portion.  Not only did we end up with enough money to cover our trip, but God provided beyond what was needed!  And now I have my own really cool God story I can tell people.

Then Robert and I had a conversation about faith just last night.  He was talking about how sometimes we (Christians in general) tend to forget about having faith for the simple little things in life because we focus on those big mountains.  I totally agree with him because I really wanted a way cool God story so that I could tell others about it and they could see His amazingness.   I think in our world we’re so used to needing to have something big to show and impress people that I guess I’m afraid if I tell people about something small like, “Since peanut butter was on sale at Publix I actually stayed within my grocery budget to the penny this month,” they’ll just think, “So what?”  But those little things add up and are just proof that we can trust God for everything from peanut butter to completely paid for mission trips, and so much more (just add your own little to big issues here).

A New Hope

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… or in present time, right here in our own world… injustice seemed to have the upper hand in the lives of women all over the world- held in captivity, worked in sweatshops, and abused in just about every way imaginable.  And all they wanted was a chance to live in health and to provide for their loved ones.  Trades of Hope is a company that seeks to give these women just this chance at dignity, and I’m excited that I will now be part of their efforts as a Compassion Entrepreneur!

I consider myself to be an abolitionist and an activist for justice, and I have found that empowering women is a passion of mine (especially in the area of redemption from human trafficking).  Women are by nature the nurturers in any society; therefore, it is said in many parts of Africa, “If you educate a man, you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

Please understand that I am not bashing men.  I’m just sharing the shocking knowledge I have learned…the knowledge that made me realize one of my heart’s deepest passions.  Two interesting facts I found while reading The Hole in Our Gospel, written by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision:

*Women own less than 1% of the world’s property

*Women work 2/3 of all the world’s labor hours, but earn only 10% of the world’s wages

Stearns believes, “the single most significant thing that can be done to cure extreme poverty is this: protect, educate, and nurture girls and women and provide them with equal rights and opportunities- educationally, economically, and socially.”  I agree.

What I really love about Trades of Hope is that it is not a provider of charity, but it gives women the ability to work in fair conditions and for fair wages in order to support themselves, their children, and their communities.

I once sold Mary Kay, but not successfully.  I lacked a passion for it.  Sure, I enjoyed the products, but cosmetics are cosmetics.  There was no deeper cause.  Now I have a deeper sense of purpose because I am not just raising money for myself, but I’m helping women around the world live a better quality of life… and for the first few months I will be using whatever I earn towards my Guatemala mission trip this summer!

I am so excited to see where this leads and I hope it opens more doors where I am able to minister towards and in defense of  women needing justice.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

If you are interested in ensuring justice for those being crushed, please support me in my endeavors with this blessing of a company, Trades of Hope.