When Your Manna Tastes Bland

Last year, I had my wisdom teeth removed *gag.* The surgery went well, but there were complications during my recovery. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, I ate the same bland soft foods for about a month. Let me tell you: diversity of diet is a spiritual need.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration.

But I’m not the only one who finds my heart getting heavy when God’s provision is the same old ordinary stuff day after day.

Recently set free from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites were roaming the wilderness when they cried out to God for food. He graciously provided, dropping down manna from heaven.  Just bits of bread tasting like coriander and honey, the manna was spread across the transient camp daily for 40 years (Exodus 16.)

Though the idea of bread raining down from heaven is extraordinary, the Israelites quickly grew bored with God’s unfailing but monotonous meal choice.

They always had enough.

But the people had enough of just enough.

Bored, they complained against the Lord. The people got sick of manna. It was bland, it was wearisome, and really- how long can anyone live with the same old same old?

Like the Israelites, we are often grateful the Lord always provides. But sometimes we wish God’s provision was just a little more exciting.

Take note of God’s response to the Israelites when they felt much the same. He was faithful. That’s who He is.

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is” (2 Timothy 2:13 NLT.)

Throughout the wilderness routine, God surprised the Israelites with quail and likely livestock from their battle victories.

At the end of those forty years, those manna-fed people crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. They had homes of their own, freedom to live for His glory, and even gardens and pastures for raising all sorts of foods.

When entering the Promised Land, the Israelites also had forty years’ worth of reminders of His faithfulness. The ordinary, too-familiar taste of His extraordinary provision lingered on their lips.

What a sweet treat -one we’re blessed by too.

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The excitement we yearn for has less to do with our present life and more to do with daily taking in what He provides. When we’re willing to believe it, our joy is found because:

His promises are true every day.

His provision, even when it seems monotonous, sustains us.

God is who He is- and that’s exciting, even day by (regular old) day.

Remaining fresh and delighted in faith often blossoms through ordinary ways of witnessing His extraordinary faithfulness.

As you and I take our next big bites of ordinary, let’s chew on the bland in delighted faith. Our provision is from the perfect One. He’s providing us with tastes of His constant presence day by day, nourishing us to grow in Him along the way.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second! More info on an upcoming series with guest posting here.

Maybe God Doesn’t Want Your Best

We’re an ambitious bunch.

Reach for the stars. Be all you can be. Unlock your potential.

This fits with Scripture right? Let’s see…

Noah’s greatest aspiration…probably not building an ark against all reason to survive a deadly flood.

Job. Job was successful. He did great things. And He was a Godly man. Then God let Satan mess up His life and take away His earthly possessions, loved ones, and health.

But that’s the Old Testament.

In the New Testament we meet Peter. Expert fishermen. Based on His devotion to Jesus and his faith, we can be pretty sure Peter was seeking to live a good, godly life. He ended up persecuted, jailed, and using his fishing talents on people who largely didn’t want what he was offering.

Paul was kind of a big deal. He even wrote up a whole list of why he had every reason to brag and was all set up for major success in life- as a God-fearing man. Then He met Jesus. All appearances of success and Paul reaching his earthly potential went out the window. God even gave him a thorn in the side, keeping Him weak.

About those aspirations….

Maybe God doesn’t want your best because He wants His best for you.

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The Lord we serve can use anyone and any circumstance for good. He can be glorified by teachers, celebrities, CEOs, and housewives. He can also be glorified by failures, criminals, the bed-ridden, and the crippled.

Your ability to earn top dollar and desire to use the money for good doesn’t make being CEO God’s goal for you. Your inability to read well doesn’t mean God’s plans for you don’t involve using words to share His Word.

So often we try to reason through God’s plans for us instead of submitting to and following His.

We miss out when be doubt what He prepares for us to do is even better than what we are prepared to do.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10

What that means for you and I is this: focus less on what you believe you can be successful in and more on who He’s made you to be.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Fighting You, For You

Sometimes we turn on ourselves.

Sometimes our loved ones have to fight us for us.

It is, for example, for their own good that we scold and discipline children for running into the road. In a similar way, we fight loved ones when they choose self-harm because we know they need to be fought for.

There’s also a battle that the Lord fights on our behalf, against us.

Read about the battle over at God-sized Dreams, where I’m honored to be guest posting today. 

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This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Just For Me

As the speaker in the video wraps up her lesson, she prays. All of us in the room grow quiet, listening in. The screen grows dark and before anyone launches the discussion questions, a friend speaks up.

“Sorry you all had to sit through that,” she grins, “because that was just for me.

I know what she means.

One of the amazing abilities of our Lord is reaching out to us individually while reaching out to us all.

His sweet love and unique relationship with each of His children involves personal gifts and private moments. There are inside jokes and memories that hold us warmly, tucked into his care.

One of the kindest, more precious things the Lord has taught me is this: He doesn’t just care for me, He cares about me.


Sometimes the sunrise’s streak of gold peeking over the trees is just for me.

The weather isn’t what everyone wanted, but He did it for me. I asked last night.

Whoever donated those exact boots to the thrift store didn’t know it, but they were just for me, an unexpected gift from the Lord.

My husband’s shoulder, though not his own selection, isn’t too large or too small. It’s just right- made, I believe, just for me and my heavy head.

As I speak to God on a matter, asking a specific question, He rephrases it back to me with an answer through the song on the radio proclaiming truth I need in that moment. The lyrics are familiar, but that time, He played it just for me.

At the end of one Saturday, I am tired of struggling to surrender something to Him and I’ve grown weary from the humbling that’s been happening. The reason I press on is the commitment I’ve made to obey Him in this matter. Settling into bed, I open a book I’ve been struggling to enjoy, one I’ve grown weary of plodding through. I’m reading it only because I committed to making it all the way through.

The chapter rubs salve on my soul. Words just for me, custom shaped from an author’s keyboard to my aching heart by the Lord’s own hands.

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I open the good book, the only one I’m known to actually hug goodnight, and open to the page I left off on. This is His word, active and alive, and it quickly enfolds those feelings of fear in the triumphant embrace of the one who died just for me. Words spoken a couple thousand years ago, spoken right now to me by the same Savior.

In the words of the Isaiah 25:1, “Lord, you are my God.”

And because of Christ, I’m more than your creation. I’m your child. Do you know if you’re His child, too? As His child, do you see God’s good gifts- the just for you kind?

It’s a precious thing, that He cares so much for just me and just you.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

What God Has For You Today

It’s a new day. What if it’s a good one?

God has a few things for his followers today (and everyday.) They’ll make whatever your schedule holds better. You don’t have to take them or appreciate them, but you can if you’d like. His offer is free and wide open.

What’s His offer? Read the rest of this guest post at Uniquely Yours Ministries

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Daily Bread

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”

Proverbs 30:8

Literally, the end of this verse reads something like” feed me with staple food conveniently.” That last part about “convenience” is descriptive of a daily allotment.

In essence, this Proverb says “every day, Lord, give me the basic portion I need.”

If only we were grateful to have only what He gives.

Instead of just our daily bread, we want the super-sized loaf. We’d also like a fridge to store it in so we know it will be good tomorrow. Preferably, we’d like butter and other spreads to make the daily bread more exciting too.

In our world of “more,” receiving just our daily bread looks meager.

But our ration, our measure, is prescribed. It’s preset by the Lord. He never fails to provide for what He has prepared in advance for us to need. Yes, indeed, the Lord selects the extent of our need and guarantees to meet it.

Each day, your daily bread is just what you need according to the Lord’s plan for you.

It might be:

  • The amount of money you need to pay the day’s bills
  • The food you need for the day
  • The loving relationship you need to be full for the day
  • The assigned work you need to use your time well
  • The quantity of rest you need to function this day
  • The 5 words in the verse that led you through the day honorably

This simple system negates our worries.

Do you need it today? You don’t need to control the obtaining of it.

The Lord knows; He planned the need perfectly. He’ll fill it likewise.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I Do! But How Did I Do It?

 

Confessions of a Bride on a Budget

Guest Posted by the lovely Maggie Miller

A newlywed, Maggie has been blessed by the Lord with a wonderful man- and a wedding to fit their story. Though she faced discouragement, she can testify to the Lord's provision for their wedding and the beginning of their marriage. Enjoy!

When I first got engaged I was thrilled – the man of my dreams (hilarious, hard-working, soft-hearted, God fearing, wonderful all-around) wanted to spend his entire life with ME!

We had been dating for 2 years at that point and I was so ready to say, “I Do!” I immediately got into planning mode and began taking my Pinterest wedding board ideas into full swing (yes, I had a wedding board long before I got engaged…) However, I quickly realized two things:

1. Weddings are incredibly expensive

2. I have a very limited budget.

Every venue I found cost as much as my entire wedding budget – or more! Just to use the venue!

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My parents and fiance’s parents were very generous in helping us out with what they could, but even with their help I knew pulling off my “dream” wedding was going to be tricky.

Now, 8 months later, I can officially say my wedding was everything I could have wanted it to be and moreand I was able to make it happen even with very tight finances. I know so many brides-to-be are in similar positions (we’re at that age where it’s more shocking if we don’t see a “newly engaged” social media post each week), and I want to encourage all those ladies that if you’re a bride on a budget, don’t fret! I did it, and so can you!

The venue was probably the most difficult thing to find – I knew I wanted something that had an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception, and I wanted it all in one location (picky, I know). However, I knew I could make it work. Instead of googling “wedding venues in Phoenix” I decided to research “unique event sites in Phoenix,” simply because tacking on the word “wedding venue” is instantly going to increase the price of the rental place.

Even though they were beautiful, my budget couldn’t afford any traditional venue. I had to think outside the box. We ended up renting out a small nature center that was extremely affordable (less than ¼ of the price of traditional venues) and absolutely beautiful. Parks and churches are also great options that can sometimes be rented free of charge.

After the venue was chosen, there was so much more on the to-do list: flowers, catering, decorations, photographer, a DJ, the dress, invitations, rehearsal dinner…the list (and costs!) never seemed to end! There were so many things I wanted for my dream wedding, but I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to have it all, and that made me feel so discouraged.

With current pop-culture and reality television, it is so easy to get wrapped up in shows like Four Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress, where the brides have unlimited budgets and a wedding coordinator to plan their entire lavish $50,000 day. However, the truth of the matter was that that bride wasn’t me, and I had to realize that that was okay.

You’re not any less of a bride because you can’t afford peonies in your bouquet or floor length tablecloths for your décor.

Some of the best advice I received was to sit down with your fiancé and prioritize the things that are of utmost importance to each of you. Are you dead set on having an incredible professional photographer but couldn’t care less about the “dream dress”? Do you want to cut back on flowers and décor so that you can be inclusive and invite more of those extended family members?

Choose what works for you – every wedding is unique and fit to that specific couple. Make it your own! Even though you will have to compromise in some areas, you will be sure to have the most important things done the way you want them.

After that discussion, I expressed that my priority was the venue, but that I also cared a lot about my dress. Don’t limit yourself to chain bridal retail stores for a gown – I knew I had a tiny budget but still marched right into a Scottsdale high-end bridal boutique convinced I could find something on sale, was honest about my tiny budget (I’m talking $500 people!), and walked out an hour later having found a dress that surpassed my wildest dreams hugely discounted because another bride had purchased it and changed her mind (P.T.L.) Yes, I recognize this doesn’t always happen, but sample sales and last season gowns are fairly easy to find!

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For everything else, I once again thought out-of-the-box. I signed my mom and her friend up for a free DIY flower arranging class at a local wholesale florist so that they could create handmade bouquets for me, rather than paying a professional to do them. We also enlisted sweet and talented friends as our photographer, videographer, and DJ to cut back on those huge costs. Instead of a wedding coordinator, I had a girlfriend (who has an incredible eye for design) help create centerpieces and put the venue together the morning of the big day.

My mom’s friend is a graphic artist and she handmade (and printed!) our invitations as a gift to us. Multiple of my girlfriends who had recently gotten married let me borrow hundreds of dollars worth of décor for centerpieces and tables. The point is, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your friends and family want to be a blessing to you during this time, and allowing them to help makes them feel like a part of the big day. 

Piecing everything together wasn’t easy, and I frequently got discouraged. I prayed daily for trust and peace, as our expenses seemed never-ending.

Jesus knew financial insecurity was one of the biggest areas in which I needed growth, and he truly used my engagement season to remind me of his consistent faithfulness and provision. Does this mean he will always provide a hugely discounted wedding gown, or help you get a bonus at work to pay for the day? Absolutely not! But I am convinced that he will provide the resources to help you feel special no matter what – so be on the lookout. 🙂

Lastly, remember, your day is going to be beautiful, and not because you are wearing your dream dress or because you are saying your vows in your ideal location.

Your day is beautiful because you are starting eternity with your best friend in front of all your family, your friends, and most importantly our sweet creator – and nothing is more beautiful than that.

If you would like to connect with Maggie, you can find her on Facebook here.

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This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.