Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Negative Balance...Positive Lesson

I was driving home from a friend's house last night, my mind processing the events of  the day.  It had been a busy one...Fridays always are in my industry and the last six weeks of the year are always the craziest.  Usually I eat a home-made lunch at my desk, but I had rushed out empty-handed that morning.  By 1:30 I was really hungry,  so a brief trip to a local eatery of some sort was in order.  I called a local diner, ordered a grilled cheese with tomato and bacon and a few minutes later went downstairs to hit the ATM.  I pulled out $60 so I could also get gas on the way home.  As I looked down at the ATM slip, I was shocked to see a negative figure, especially since payday had only been 3 days prior.

I turned right around and headed into the bank to put the money back in and get back on the plus side...albeit only by a few dollars.  I told the teller what had transpired and she brought my account up on the screen.  It was all there in black and white...after paying all my bills I had less than $5 to make it through the next 12 days.  I remembered an uncashed check for $16 in my wallet, so I deposited that too, bringing my grand total up to $20 and change.  I live modestly, but the reality is still that it's generally hand to mouth.  I truly make it through by faith in God's grace and provision, but this was a bad situation even by my standards.  I now realize where things got off track - it's actually a number of factors coming together - but unfortunately, I hadn't been paying attention closely enough to avoid the problem.

As I left the building again, I said under my breath 'God, how am I going to get through these 2 weeks?'  I'd pretty much lost my appetite at this point, but I felt bad - I'd ordered the sandwich, so I went to go pick it up.  When I arrived at the diner, I dug out my credit card.  I've been trying to pay them down and hated to use it for something so trivial.  Inside, I handed it over to pay the $6 bill.  The man behind the counter pointed to a sign I hadn't seen - "$10 credit card minimum".  "There's an ATM in the lobby" he said.  "I don't have cash" I countered.  "No, there's an ATM for you to get cash in the lobby."  "I understood you" I said again..."I have two dollars on me and this card...that's all.  He shook his head.  "Then I guess I won't be able to buy the sandwich."  He let me walk out the door.  I assume he wasted the food by throwing it out rather than relent on the $10 minimum.  I know credit card companies charge a fee and that was the reason for the minimum, but by sticking to his guns, no one won.  He probably lost as much money on that food as he would have by taking my card.  For myself, I was utterly humiliated at the exchange, crying as I got to my car.

I was embarrassed, frustrated with my lack of attention to detail that landed me in this spot, and hungry.  I headed to Wawa to pick up something because I knew they wouldn't turn down my card.  I picked up a sandwich, diet soda and two little York peppermint patties because, as I'm sure everyone knows, chocolate is the great spirit lifter lol.  Once back at my desk, I finished out the day.

At that point, it was time to turn my attention back to my paltry account to make sure no more surprises were in store.  I have a lot of things automatically withdrawn which assures things get paid on time, but a problem can arise if there's a hiccup in a utility bill for example.  The phone rang, interrupting my worrying, and a friend of mine asked if I was still at work.  She invited invited me over for dinner.

While we chatted at her kitchen table, I shared the story of my mistake and ensuing embarrassment.  She didn't say much at the time, but before I left, she passed me $40.  When I protested, she said "I've been there, I understand."

So there I was, on my way home, thinking about the money I had and how best to utilize it to make it through, when the car in front of me slowed down.  There weren't a whole lot of cars on the road and the light up ahead was green so it annoyed me that the vehicle seemed to be slowing for no reason.

I threw my blinker on, got in the left hand lane and was just about to pick up speed when I saw it.  A very confused doe, unsure of whether to run back to the woods on our right, or take her chances by continuing on.  I immediately hit my brakes, and looked to my right because I knew where one deer was present, more were sure to follow.  In fact, there was at least one other deer on the side of the road, watching to see how this would all play out, wondering if she should stay put or venture into the melee.  The doe in front of me finally opted to run on to the left side of the street.

As I watched all this transpire in a matter of seconds,  I thought about the impatience that almost cost me an accident.  "Thank you Lord for protecting me."

How often do we put ourselves in harm's way?  God has us traveling at a certain speed for a reason, but all we see is a road block - something that's slowing us down from getting where we want to go at the pace we want to get there.  Instead of trusting that He knows best, we take matters into our own hands and wind up in a dangerous situation... maybe even a wreck.  Only then do we see some of the bigger picture and realize that God wasn't trying to frustrate us or keep something from us - He was saving us and protecting us from harm.

It's the same with my money issue.  I made an assumption based on the only thing I chose to look at - a sum of money had been deposited a few days before.  I hadn't taken the time to tally all the obligations I'd met to realize there was nothing left.  I was spent, and it resulted in my embarrassment at the bank and in the diner. Isn't it the same way with our lives sometimes?  All the little sins add up until one day our world comes crashing down.  We think we're 'okay' not realizing how the little things are chipping away and then suddenly the mess is exposed.  Only then do we turn to God to ask 'what do I do?'

When we take our eyes and minds off God and start to put trust in what we think we know, disaster follows. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:25, "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."

I'm not sure what these next two weeks hold.  Not sure where the funds will come from to get me through although He's already provided some gas money via my friend.  But, through the events of yesterday, I am reminded of what God said in Matthew 6:27 - 33 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." 

Not long ago, my son had this "accusation" for me.  "I think you see God in too much...I don't think He's as responsible for as much as you give Him credit for."  While hearing those words from my son saddened me on one hand, on the other, I was glad that an all consuming trust in God is what he sees when he looks at me.  Because trusting in God for everything...everything...finances, protection, day to day provision, and more...is not a Pollyana approach to life.  It's faith, pure and simple...and I learn that lesson more and more every day.


  1. What a raw, authentic and honest post. Your faith is beautiful. I am so sorry for this time of challenge financially. You are not alone. I love the deer- I used to live in a rural area, and they reminded me of God's hidden, quiet presence. Thank you for not withholding this precious story. It really touched my heart, dear Toni!

  2. Dawn- Thank you for your kind words...and I love that thought - the deer are like "God's hidden, quiet presence" - how beautiful and true! As far as finances go, I've often said I think God has me here because it keeps me on my knees looking up for provision - and He never lets me down :)

  3. Great blog stuff. I have been in the same/similar situation. Can be so frustrating, embarrassing and humiliating. what are you guys doing to Thanksgiving? Are we still on for December 1? What time and where? Don't worry about the $$ for dinner...it is already been taken care of! :) Love YA!

  4. Toni:
    thank you so much for this. It is right where I have been lately. Thank you for your willingness to share. I don't always trust God for everything and that is what I am learning about.

  5. Miss you Carol - haven't seen you in awhile - sorry you're dealing with this stuff too. Some days I trust a whole lot better than others, but ultimately He brings me back to the knowledge that have nothing apart from Him. What always blows me away is the creativity of His provision - when I think 'there's no way this or that can be covered...I have no resources...He shows me again that it's not about MY resources. HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills, all resources are His and He loves His children and cares for them. Praying for you my friend!