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Just a quick note to let you know I've moved my blog to the following address:

http://www.michellebenthamcreates.com

Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Friday, December 19, 2008

God Stop Friday: The Lord Provides - A Year and Life in Review

The Siesta Organizer, Patty, from God is Able has a fabulous MEME that I have never participated in called God Stop Fridays. Yes, I've seen them around the interwebby, but I've never jumped in the God Stop Pond until today! So visit Patty at her BLOG and leave a word about your own God Stop on Your Blog... GOD Stop Here I Come!



This year I did a study on the names of God here at Because I Love You. One of my favorite posts from that study was the name of God "Jehovah Jireh." In that study, I found that our god is so faithful to not only provide for us - but to be in Himself the provision. I have testified over and over again this year about how the Lord in His great abundance is more and more becoming all I need and want to exist and receive victory in my life. So... For my God Stop, I'm going to review the year with my Provision and what He has shown me. (To read my post about Jehovah Jireh, Click HERE.)


*Fasting: I observed the Daniel fast for the first 40 days of this year and a technology fast for the first 10 days. Out of that came a year full of things that don't make any human sense, but God gets it - Oh Yes He does... and so do I ;o)! NOW.


* Breakthroughs: From the fast I received the following breakthroughs - 1.) I had often pressed into God to the point of breakthrough but never pushed through that point and reclaimed what was stolen from me. Oh Yes... This is the year of Taking it Back! 2.) I spent an entire afternoon listening to God. Being still while moving was a great revelation. I learned my body can be at work doing what the Lord has given me to do while my mind and my spirit are at rest being still with the Lord. GLORY! That was so freeing. Yes I do have times when I sit, lie down and just bask in His presence, but that was a lesson about spending time listening and I heard Him loud and clear. No talking, just listen. HARD for a semi-sanguine like me who uses lots of words.


* Ministry: I experienced some supernatural stuff this year with regard to getting jump started into ministry and being equipped by my church to walk in the calling of teacher, leader and intercessor. God put me in place to lead a grief recovery group specifically for Bereaved Mothers this past fall. I had several meetings over the summer and once we nailed down what it would like (that is a whole 'nother story I will save for later - for now suffice it to say we came to the table with different Ideas... almost a deal breaker until I submitted).

And Oh BOY, am I ever glad I did. I went through six weeks of Freedom Ministry training at our church (Freedom ministry is a total focus healing and deliverance ministry - not smack them on the head healing - but a Word focused, power of the Holy Spirit kind of healing that involves laying a lot of Biblical ground work and then creating safe environments for the Holy Spirit to come and work in the lives of wounded and bound up people.

During the summer I also wrote the curriculum - twelve weeks worth of lessons, listening guides and practical homework and devotions for the ladies who would come. HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD. Also had to work my own stuff while I wrote it - Can You Say Freedom? Some weeks I barely eeked out one lesson other weeks I wrote five in seven days. I felt like the brave little tailor that week - who killed seven (flies) in one blow! A few weeks ago I got a call asking me to train/mentor a facilitator to start a support crisis group for grief. We just concluded our group a week and a half ago. I was humbled and blessed by the entire experience. Each and every week God showed up and I walked through the curriculum He helped me prepare to find that freedom was coming in slow measured doses - one lesson, one brick and stronghold at a time until light began to shine.

The feedback has been encouraging and the revelation life-giving for me personally. It is really something to walk in the place God has called you forth to tred out a testimony and see something painful so beautifully used to bring healing to the lives of others. I must stop here... But, Oh Glory... I could go on and on and ON.


* Siesta Fiesta and Healing: The weekend of August 22-23rd has new significant meaning for me this year. In years past (1998-2004) it marked the date I celebrated marrying the love of my life and the man who brought so much goodness to my life - even driving me to press into God and become who I am today. We married August 22, 1998.

But, in 2005 tragedy struck our family on August 15th when my son was in a car accident. He lived 8 days struggling for life in a coma before God called him home on August 23rd.

In September 2007 when Living Proof Ministries announced that they would host a special event called the Siesta Fiesta for bloggers at the San Antonio Living Proof Live on August 22-23, 2008 - I knew I was all in. God was going to do something that weekend and He did. Check out my siesta fiesta posts HERE and read more about it. It was a glorious time of fun, God's Word and Beth Moore totally brought it... We fellowshipped, loved on and shared so much in those three days. The ladies in my room (Nesha, Lora O., and Alexia) joined me each evening for a Holy Spirit filled time of worship, prayer, sharing and ministry - we had church, ya'll - right there in that hotel room we lay down our own burdens and took up each others carrying them straight to the Throne Room for God's tender, loving care. It is a precious memory. On Saturday morning as Travis and the Praise Team sang about the Throne Room God love and healing flooded my soul Isaiah 61;1-3 style and I was finally set free as I worshipped Him in Spirit and in Truth and the last ebbings of painful grief began to wash away. The next morning I sat in the wee morning hours waiting for my ride home to arrive and I read Isaiah 60 and received such a beautiful word from Lora about my future that included the words "BIG - that's B. I. G. - Big plans for you my dear" and that's when I read through tear-filled eyes, "And the days of your mourning shall come to an end." Isaiah 60:20 NKJV.


I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.


* PROVISION: Okay. Don't laugh. I struggle, like big huge hurdle kind of struggles, with finances, budgets and anything mathematical. My husband happens to leave all of that to me... Yes, He does. It kills me to have to deal with this stuff, but I have found a place of rest in my Lord this year about it all. At a Freedom Ministry event called Kairos (my church hosts about three times a year) God showed me how the Spirit of Mammon has held captive my family for generations and that though most of my family handles finances fairly well - as in they pay all their bills on time - they all have huge debt loads, worries about the economy and all things tied to the economy, and well not one of them is faithful in the area of giving. This is a GENERATIONAL issue - not just a choice, but there is great bondage in this. FOR ME it manifests in irresponsible behavior and obedience for obedience sake. The evening after I received this revelation our pastor shared a message on "Breaking the Spirit of Mammon" and I went straight to the altar for prayer and surrender.


So this summer I was calculating our bills in my head and came up with $30,000 as a figure that would get us through the year and pay off our debts. NOT EVEN KIDDING. The hubs overtime hours dried up immediately. I mean - not a minute of overtime came his way. It looked bleak. I had heard God that morning I was contemplating getting a job that pays $30,000 say, "You haven't asked me about that." So I said, "Okay, if you want me to get a job - then show me how it works - and if not then show me how that works... I'm open." I then began to confess all the ways I have screwed up our finances and all the ways I have made our debt load... And... then the Kairos thing... And then, no kidding, I stopped desiring to shop. As a matter of fact, things I would have paid $5.00 for at the beginning of the summer just 'cause I wanted them - they totally made me sick to think of spending that much money on such an item - like a glass of lemonade at the street festival in Grapevine. Oh Yes. Something was happening - and I was very nearly unaware until I looked back on it.


Well... And this is huge. My husband got the call after Hurricane Ike to go work down in the Houston Area for seven weeks. He worked gobs of overtime and well God provided half (before taxes) of the amount I had talked to Him about in the summer. But, if it stopped there, that would be amazing enough - would it not?


Last weekend, hubs and I were at my brother's place helping my dad raise the roof on a shed... Another Long Story I'll explain later... when I got a phone call from ex-husband. He was hopping angry and about to go drown his sorrows in a bottle of beer when he said, "I have something to tell you and I want to keep it short because I'm angry, but not at you." Okay, so that's new.


Then he said words I couldn't help but think - God, you have a way about you, 'cause that was not even on my radar. What - You may be asking - Was going on? I was, too.


"You are going to be getting a really large child support check this week."


"What?"


"My employer garnished my Christmas Bonus and sent it to you as Child Support."


I had to absorb those words. Okay, this man is responsible for a great deal of pain in my life. Stopped paying child support in 2002 and resumed in 2007 when the state found him through the Texas Workforce Commission. Promised to help with his daughter's graduation expenses, but did not and then said, "Well, I send you child support every month - what do you do with that?"


He has not gotten either of the girls gifts for birthdays or Christmas in years and his entire side of the family sent our oldest daughter a $25 gift card to Wal-Mart for her graduation gift even though they OWN a gas company. (Do I sound Bitter? I hope not) I'm not at all. I have had to deal with my negative feelings about it... but the truth is, I'm used to it after about 16 years of the mess and I actually am nice about things most days. I do slip off the wall into the pit over this stuff every once in a great while but not so much anymore.


The bonus was $2,154.80. Almost 10% of the arrearage amount he owes. OH MY GOODNESS. But, he was hurting because this was the very money he was depending on to purchase Christmas gifts for our daughters, to help with the eldest's school expenses, and to make up for the times he has not been able to give them gifts in the past few years. So the conversation was really about if I would get them some nice things on his behalf. I said, Sure. Why not?


Then I realized - there is a real opportunity for healing here. My youngest daughter has no memory of her father and I as a family and now she will get gifts from Momma and Daddy (on the same gift tag) this year. Glory. How that worked out! And I prayed for their Father as I wish no ill to come to him. However, I recognize God is doing a work in his life as well and it is all about God there. So, I walk a fine line between interfering and helping, and being empathetic to his plight. It is what it is... And, I can thank God for His faithfulness to this household in spite of everything that is happening around us.


So... My God Stop is this... Today, I am telling God - man, We've come a long way together. From insecure, fearful, self-destructive young woman... To growing, learning minister, wife and mother who lives every single day in awe of her God. He is so Good - I praise His Glorious Name today! Holy Spirit Fall...


Please, also stop by my post on the Holy Spirit and consider the survey there. I could really use your help. Much love and Merry Christmas...




8 comments:

Michelle V said...

Michelle,

I am totally fascinated by what you said about being still while going about your day and listening to Him. Even when I am still I have the hardest time making my mind be still!

Blessings
Michelle

luvmy4sons said...

Wow. You and God have beeen busy. That is great about the money from your ex. And I can't imagine being still all day to listen to God. I hear Him often as I go about...as I write...as I sing...as I work...and sometimes when I am still...but couldn't do it all day! LOL!

Lisa said...

Michelle, thank you for your post! You have come a long way, and I'm proud of you and inspired by you. I'm off to write my own very first God Stop here in a minute - stop by if you like!

Lisa said...

And hey, I just noticed - we're nearly neighbors! I'm right down the road a ways in Midlothian!

Lisa said...

Hey Michelle - thanks for visiting! I finally finished my "official" God Stop post. I've certainly got one! :)

Patty said...

Your entire post has blessed me more than you know. My heart was so tendered by the way God connected each of you in your hotel room in San Antonio. I am smiling at how God is providing for you and your family to rid you of your debt. So many people are in a debt bind and this could minister to so many. The ex-husband, I can relate there...more than money is the time that my ex has wasted in spending time with his sons. I agree with you, God is at work in their hearts and we can step aside and let Him. :) Hard at times but we can do ALL things through Christ who gives is strength. :)
My heart is full of joy at what you shared about God giving you complete healing and comfort in your grief. I knew when you told me about leading the greif and recovery class at your church that God was up to something HUGE in your life. To think about the people that you can help and minsiter to because you have suffered great loss and have seen God's healing in your own heart. Amazing!
Thank you so much for sharing and joining in on God Stop Friday! You are truly a blessing.
Love,
Patty

micey said...

what an awesome testimony!!!

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

Hi there sweet Michelle. I just wanted to stop by and wish you a wonderful Spirit-filled New Year.

I hope your Christmas was a blessed one, too, dear one.