Where Did My Help Come From?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber Psalm 121

As I think back on the first 7 months of this pandemic including the shutdown in my city, the loss of a big chunk of my income for 3 months, Psalm 121 definitely speaks to me.

I remember when I received the stimulus check in early April. I thought, “great this will be smooth sailing”. Then in June the loss of income hit. So being a teacher, in the summer during a pandemic with no real chance of finding temporary work, what did I do? I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

There was no second stimulus check because of politics. Right now it is one person holding it all up. But no problem. Why? I don’t look to government. I look to God.

God came through for me through his people. I received cash in the mail. I received a $100 Visa Gift card in the mail. 2 sisters in Christ sent me money. A friend called and told me he wanted to help and gave me a check for $500. People brought me food. I received a gift card to a local supermarket. Each time I was surprised in a joyful way and could not believe it.

Now I have a 3 day weekend. Today is a 1 day fall break for my class. I just felt it was a good time to write a post, the night before and scheduled, to give thanks to Jesus and his people.

I also wanted to share this post in hopes it will encourage someone to seek Jesus in a hard time. No I did not become a millionaire, but received something greater. The experience strengthened my faith and encouraged me to keep going in my ministry and teaching.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. Please enjoy this song- Lift My Eyes- by Alisa Turner.

When God Arranges Blessing

God showed up in two ways yesterday to show me he is with me and he will watch out for me.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

First, I received a blessing of a donation from a wonderful friend. When I received it, I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked God for my friend. I prayed for my friend and my friend’s family.

Second was a meeting arranged by God at my bank. I had received a fraud alert call from my bank and after spending 30 minutes on the phone had an appointment with a personal banker. As someone who at times has anxiety issues due to chronic illness, let me tell you my anxiety kicked in.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

But when I got to the bank. my personal banker was a young woman whose family is from Vietnam. She was born here, but her parents are from Vietnam. I shared with her about my young friends from Vietnam. As we talked, memories of my young friends from Vietnam I mentored came to mind and my anxiety disappeared. She was VERY helpful and kind with this old guy. If the personal banker had been from anywhere else, I am not sure my anxiety would have gone done so quickly.

God turned a negative into a positive experience for me.

The experience of a young person from Vietnam helping me and the blessing a friend sent me, reminded me of Isaiah 46:4:


“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

That verse came to mind even though I am not old and my hair is only white because I dye it white to look older. 🙂 lol

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Much Needed Encouragement

On top of dealing with the whole COVID-19 thing and social distancing, this summer something happened that I did not see coming. One week I was asked to teach 2 evening classes online. The next week I was informed that the program I had taught in during the evenings for 20 years was being canceled abruptly and permanently. That meant losing $800 a month income for August through October with no way to really go look for a way to replace it due to COVID.

Sometimes we just have a gut check time in life. So I have pressed on with serving Jesus and trusting him to work it all out for me somehow.

Yesterday I checked my mail and found something from my church. Inside was an envelope someone had anonymously mailed to my pastor with a note:

Along with the note was a $100 Visa Gift Card. I will use it to pay my electric bill this month, so I can keep running my air conditioning. Living with chronic illness, heat is a big issue for me.

Receiving that in the mail gave me a boost big time. It was mailed from a different state anonymously so I have no idea where it could have come from except knowing it comes from a fellow Christian.

Hopefully my anonymous donor sees this and can know how very grateful I am. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Answers in the Midst of the Current Crisis

One of the beautiful things about following Jesus is when we can experience his grace in real life.

Living alone in self isolation because of the COVID-19 virus has been difficult. Last Saturday I prayed about it and this is what I told Jesus:

“This is like when I was sick in 1994 and 1995 and was forsaken by my everyone. I don’t know if I can handle this again.”

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

For me the most difficult part of it all is being separated from the people I love to be with, my refugee and immigrant friends. My friends and students from other countries mean so much to me.

Yesterday I received a card in the mail with some cash inside. There was a note that said- “Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus.”

The day before I received cookies delivered to me.

Yesterday I was also blessed to talk on the phone with a pastor from church about my situation. That was a huge blessing because of what I experienced the night before. I woke up to a neighbor in the apartment below me knocking on my door. An alarm was going off in the basement of my apartment building and my neighbor had called the fire department. A fire engine came and they spent a lot of time inspecting the building and my apartment. We were allowed to reenter our apartments, but I lost a lot of sleep.

So when I saw the email from one of my pastors asking me to call, I wondered- “What’s next” The call was only to see what my needs are. We talked for a while. It was so calming for me.

We do not need to worry about being eloquent in our prayers. We only need to pour out what is in our hearts and souls to Jesus. He loves us so much that he died for us. He loves us so much that he receives us the way we are but loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

Sometimes we just need to cry out- “Abba Father”. When we do, our Heavenly Father takes note of our situation and he knows what we need before we ask and he knows what we need and how to answer.

So let’s pour our hearts out to Jesus. Let’s share everything with our Heavenly Father. Let’s remember what is says in 1st Peter 5:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Even if we are self isolating because to the COVID-19 virus, we are not alone.God desires to be with us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Surprises With Blessings

This past summer as I was hanging on, barely, through one of the worst summers I have experienced, I could have never anticipated what would happen the past several days.

I also could not have anticipated how he would answer my prayer one day as I listened to Lauren Daigle’s song rescue and said to Jesus- I need to be rescued. That was how I felt after a summer of lost income and also of dealing with chronic illness flare ups.

First it was the help my Vietnamese friends gave me that got me through August/September. Then there was an unexpected extra support check from my church for my ministry last month. Then something happened starting late last week.

I never look forward to checking the mail, snail mail, as in from the post office, because my mail always fits into one of two categories- junk mail or bills.

But last week I checked the mail and one day there was an envelope with no return address and handwritten addressed to me with a note inside; I opened the envelope and found this note:

Inside the note was some cash. When I saw the amount, the first thing I did was thank Jesus over and over.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

The next day, there was another envelope with another note and more money. On Saturday there was another envelope and yesterday the final one. All 4 had notes of encouragement to me and money. The amount I won’t specify, but it paid my rent, utilities and other monthly bills for November. It helped put me in a much better position financially. For a home missionary, that is HUGE.

The four notes with the gifts inside were a BIG shot in the arm for me. They confirmed for me that God wants me to press on in my ministry. Nothing like this has ever happened for me before from an anonymous donor. I am praying for God to bless my anonymous donor claiming the verse in Matthew 10:

“Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.”

No that I am a prophet, but the principle of helping a home missionary is similar, so I am claiming that verse as I pray for my anonymous donor just as I have for my Vietnamese friends who helped me the past two summers.

This past several days God has breathed new life into me spiritually, confirmed my ministry for me again, and encouraged me through my anonymous brother in Christ.

I am not sure if my friend will see this post or not, but I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU!!! I am praying for you.

Thank you for reading.

God Bless.

Matt

A Day of Being Blessed

After the difficult summer I experienced, and after the recent health struggles, yesterday was a blessing in many ways. Sometimes we just have to hang on until such moments come. God will help us grow in the hard times and take care of us and then a moment or a day comes that is such a boost. Yesterday was such a day for me.

Photo by jonas mohamadi on Pexels.com

Thursday evening I received an email that my ministry support check was ready. That was a week earlier than I expected. In the email. The pastor asked me to call him about it. There was an extra check. I had two. The other one was the amount that is being given to all missionaries my church supports. I picked it up Friday morning. The extra amount has made it possible for me to catch up on some things. My home church has helped me a lot in recent months. It was because of my church and my Vietnamese friends that I made it through a real hard patch.

In the afternoon, I joined a family from Mexico for the Open House where the husband works. It was so much fun to interact with them. The husband gave us a tour of the factory. It is a company that works with metal products. I had met the owner when he came to visit my morning class at the elementary school where I teach moms. I was able to talk with the owner and mentioned that one of my students is married to one of his workers. He came over to the table with me to greet the family. He held their baby for a few moments. I told the owner about how his employee visits my class when they have a day off because his family is important to him. The owner looked at him and said, “We need to have lunch.”

In the evening, I visited a young family from El Salvador.. We ate papusas a food I love from El Salvador. I had an opportunity to practice my Spanish with them and learned a few new words. They have a 16 month old baby. She is a joy to be around. They sent me home with some papusas, so today I will enjoy my favorite recipe of putting food someone else cooks for me in the microwave. 🙂

Yesterday was a day of being blessed by my church, and by spending time with friends. It was the kind of day that one feels their cup is filled.

When God Answers :)

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop when I noticed two young women playing chess. One seemed to be teaching the other one how to play. I walked by and asked who won. The one who was learning said, “she did.” I found out they are cousins. We talked for a little bit and I found out the one teaching chess has lived in India and in Germany and has experience with learning language and a little experience teaching. She is a recent college grad who wants to be a Fullbright Scholar to teach English in a university in another country. The light went off in my head 🙂

Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

I needed a new assistant for my morning class that will start September 3rd. I had just prayed about it earlier that morning. I told her about it. She was interested, so I explained how to apply. I already knew I wanted her to be my assistant, but she still had to go through the process. Yesterday we interviewed her and hired her. I am so excited. I enjoy mentoring young people and seeing them gain new skills.

Sometimes God answers prayer quickly and sometimes it can seem like a slow boat. I am grateful he answered this one quickly.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

This experience was a great reminder for me of how God connects the dots for us. I went to the coffee shop at the same time my new assistant was there with her cousin. She was looking to get experience with teaching ESL because she wants to be a Fullbright Scholar teaching English in a university in August 2020. I enjoy mentoring young people. It is a good fit.

With God there is no such thing as coincidence. 🙂

A follow up to my question yesterday- Most popular was picture #2 of me with a short beard. No beard was second. However, I still think I will let it grow long for Christmas for the Santa look. Maybe I should do a drawing for which follower to embarrass by sitting next to them at their church for Christmas Eve service with a long white beard with Christmas ornaments attached. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- I Will Trust in You by Lauren Daigle

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You

Yesterday was thinking about my dear little sister in Jesus, Dawn of drawingclosertochrist.com. She will have some changes in her life, which will be positive changes, but even positive ones can be stressful.

Jesus has impressed upon me that many of my fellow bloggers are experiencing seasons of change at this.time. Some are enduring difficult ones and some positive ones.

When change comes in our lives,.they are moments that stretch us. We can feel out of sorts, uncertain, and anxious. I love the lyrics in Lauren Daigle’s song-I Will Trust in You. The chorus I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you are an expression of trusting Jesus when answers don’t seem to come right away.

There are lyrics that remind me of a simple, yet profound and solid truth. Jesus already knows the future.

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

Think about it. Every place we will go in our lives, Jesus has already been there. Our steps of faith are steps of following his voice while he guides us.

So yes I am dedicating my post to my little sister Dawn. If you haven’t checked out her blog, please do and you will be blessed.

But my post is for all of my fellow bloggers and my readers going through a season of changes. Jesus knows where the change is leading. I hope this song encourages you. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- $10 in Quarters, An Old Chevette, 430 Miles to Go and the God of the Impossible

IMG_1183

In April 1994 when I had to leave Minneapolis, where I was at a school for ministry, to come back to my home city Lincoln due to being sick, there was a problem. MONEY.

I knew there was nothing in Minneapolis for me. I had visited a church in Minneapolis and while there felt led to go to a church I had never been to in Lincoln when I returned. I thought it was just to come back to pray for the church while I died, but then something happened, I didn’t die. So back to my story, I had 430 miles to drive to Lincoln.

2 problems with the scenario, 1- I had an old Chevette that I wasn’t sure could make it, and 2- I only had a full tank of gas and $10 in quarters. I don’t recommend anyone try this, but I had nothing to go on except I knew God wanted me back in Lincoln for some reason. So I prayed and reminded God, as if he needed that, that I had no one to depend on but him. The reason? I had changed denominations and people were not happy with me. So yes I was sick and dying, had almost no money, lost my friends, and God wanted me to drive 430 miles with no plan, that I knew of anyway,  of what would happen when I got to Lincoln.

download

After praying, I went to the gas station and filled up. That left me with the $10 in quarters. Off I went down a highway to go home where I had no place to stay. Halfway to Lincoln, it began to rain, heavily at times. So I drove through the rain until Omaha and the rain had stopped just outside of Omaha.

I made it to Lincoln and looked at my gas gauge again. I was sure it wasn’t working because it stayed on full the entire trip. Just to make sure, I pulled into a gas station just outside of Lincoln and tried to put some gas in. I couldn’t because the tank was still full. I had driven 430 miles and used ZERO gas. Our God is the God of the impossible.

I got into Lincoln, in the days before cell phones, and stopped at a payphone. I called someone I knew and they let me crash at their house for a few nights. The next day I called the pizza place I had delivered for before and they had a job for me to start that week delivering pizza. The first shift I made enough tips to buy food for a week, I called the owner of the house I had rented a basement apartment from and the apartment was empty. The owner let me move in with a free first month.

I felt I should share this not because I suggest you do what I did. I felt I should share this because there are times we feel our backs are against the wall and there is little hope. When those times come-Our God is the God of the impossible.

Thank you for reading.God Bless

A Surprise Gift- A Huge Blessing

Sometimes we are blessed and it comes from seemingly out of nowhere in a way we would never expect. That happened for me last night.

adult birthday birthday gift box
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Last week I saw the mother of a young woman from Vietnam that was once part of a group of young people I mentored and helped with English to prepare them for university. Her daughter is now a successful architect. I met the mother when they were new to America and she was in a class I taught.

In April 2009 after my father died, I prayed about what to do with my extra free time since I would no longer be spending time with my father. As I prayed, the mother came to my mind. I stopped by their apartment one night and met the family. Even though I do not see them much anymore, they are special to me as are the memories.

So last week when I saw the mother, she told me she had a Christmas gift for me and would bring it to me last night. I was expecting something like a picture or gift card. She gave me an envelope and we hugged out of friendship. I did not open the envelope until I got to my car. When I opened it, I found $200.

As a tentmaking missionary, I can’t tell you what that means to me emotionally let alone financially. I get the term tentmaking from Paul in the bible. He made tents in places he went to start churches to support himself. I teach part-time and am supported part-time. It is not a get rich quick thing at all. But the intrinsic rewards are off the charts.

So in a week that I knew I need to get 2 new tires because of slow leaks, I was given the money to pay for them. Slow leaks are a bigger deal in the cold of winter. I have been putting air in them each night. Now I can go get the tires and not worry about going out to see a flat tire. With my autoimmune problems changing a tire is more challenging than it was ten years ago.

To know I have not been forgotten is a huge blessing. To be blessed with the money is also a huge blessing because I can get new tires. To absorb and process this spiritually, emotionally, and mentally is a bit overwhelming in a very good way.

I never expected for my friends from Vietnam to bless. They blessed me last summer and it happened again last night. When I first met them, they needed my help and one would never have imagined they would turn around and bless me.

I am thankful and feeling blessed. Thank you for reading. God Bless.