Yesterday I shared a live video that was very different than I intended. Just three days before, I got asked off the wait list for Beachbody’s Success Club Trip to Punta Cana, the exact place my husband and I have wanted to go on a honeymoon to but were never able to yet. I earned the trip in my first year of coaching as well, but I was never asked off the wait list. I was too high up, #9,000 or so, but I left it in God’s hands because I knew that if it was his will for us to be on that trip that we would. I was disappointed when I realized we wouldn’t be going, but I hoped until the final moment and I trusted him with the outcome. It’s difficult when God’s answer is no, or not yet, but if we truly trust him it makes that a lot easier. The more I learn about him, the more I get to know his true character, the more I feel and see his great love for me, the more fully I trust him every day. This year, when I saw the trip destination, I understood why I hadn’t been asked off the wait list the year before. Punta Cana, exactly the place we had wanted to go, and it would be free instead of $3,000+! God had said “wait” last year because he had something better this year. I was ecstatic. The moment I saw the invitation, I couldn’t wait to go live and share a message of hope with everyone, a message about not giving up despite setbacks, disappointments and obstacles. A message about how we should not tire in doing what is good because at the right time we will reap a blessing, as God promises in Galatians 6:9. But between a busy couple of days, and figuring out passport and time-off logistics with my husband, I didn’t get a chance to go live until my message was very, very different…
Yesterday it was with a heavy heart and tear-filled eyes that I logged onto Facebook and shared my crushing news with the world. It looked like we would not be going on the trip to Punta Cana tafter all. There would be no honeymoon like I thought, at least not now. All of the rooms I had earned were sold out and the only ones left were double the price, meaning we would have to come up with $1,200 to go. I also learned that this year’s trip is not a cruise like last year, so we would be responsible for airfare as well. That’s another $1,000. We have been in such a tight place financially that I knew, despite what I wanted, that registering for the trip was not a wise decision. I wanted to, trust me, with all of my heart (and so did my husband), but it just didn’t feel right. God doesn’t give partial gifts. He gives in excess, he gives abundantly, he gives in a way that meets our need, not in a way that burdens us further. I wrestled with trying to understand why God would allow me to be asked off the list, why he would answer my prayer in a seemingly perfect way, just to have it not work out. It didn’t make sense. I cried to him and confessed that I felt like I deserved this for all my hard work, even though I know I don’t. I admitted that I wanted to go anyways, but I knew that would be unwise given our financial state. The trip was unraveling quickly and I didn’t have peace about it after all, so I knew that opting to go regardless would be foolish and more importantly, disobedient. In my humaneness I wanted to force it and trust God to provide the balance, but I also didn’t want to put him to the test. I needed to lay this trip down, to surrender it to him, and I knew it. I needed to allow him to be God and to do his will, not mine. I told him that my will was to go on this trip, but that since I wasn’t sure that was his will after all, I would let my spot go. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I could never express how deeply I have wanted this, how often I have prayed for this, and how hard I worked for it so many days and nights that I didn’t want to, which God knows all about. He knows my heart, he knows my dreams because he placed them there himself, and if he is saying no to this trip then I know it’s for my protection, my own good, or because he has something even better in store. I don’t know why his answer doesn’t seem to be yes right now, but I do know from past experience that we don’t usually get to see or understand ahead of time. That’s why it’s called trust. Trust is confidence when we do not understand. And despite the hurt, despite the confusion, and despite the disappointment, I trust God.
I was amazed at the flood of supportive comments I received, personal and encouraging messages, and all kinds of evidence that God was working through my willingness to share my heart. It was really cool to see. But the coolest part by far, one of the greatest blessings I have ever received, came today in the form of an anonymous gift…
I obviously shared in the live video about our current financial state, which is why I ultimately had to decline the trip, and my frustration over how hard we have been working and sacrificing for so long just to feel like we haven’t made any progress. I also recently blogged about how God has used our finances as a place to not only humble me, but to teach me more than in any other area of my life about relying on him versus myself. I like to feel in control, especially when it comes to our finances, and I’ve worked hard to align our financial life with scripture. Yet God knows that even if I am seeking to apply wisdom to this area of our lives, as he wants us to, that if my confidence is resting more in my emergency fund, savings account, and tight control over our finances than in him, that’s not good. So I honestly feel that despite lots of sacrifice and hard work, God is keeping us here for now because of how much I still have to learn. It’s for my own good and his glory that I learn how much he wants to be the one who provides for me. He knows that I’m a perfectionist, a performance-driven person, and that I still wrestle with feeling lazy if I seek to allow him to work on my behalf like he wants to. I try to do it all myself, and that’s not what he wants for me or for any of us. As I said in my last blog, he created us to live in dependence on him – not ourselves – and that’s a radically different way of living than most of us are used to. And today I got to see a crazy, real-life depiction of his ability to provide perfectly, to meet our needs in a way we could never forsee or plan for.
When Caleb and I got home from the grocery store, a card was resting in the handle of my front door. The minute I saw it from the car, I felt it on my heart that it was something special. As we walked to the door, I read what it said on the front: “For the McCloskey Family – Your faith gives others hope.” I opened the card, which contained a huge wad of cash. There was no writing inside, no name, simply the money and a card that that read, “I know things have been tough for you lately…so I just wanted to say I’m praying for you and trusting things will be better soon.” There was also a small bible verse printed in the card from Hebrews 10:25: “Let us encourage one another.” I fell to my knees with tears in my eyes, disbelief spread across my face. How was this possible? I had no idea how much money was there yet and it didn’t matter. I know that this was a gift straight from the hands of my Heavenly Father. Caleb started playing with the money and throwing it around, but before I gathered it up we prayed together and thanked God for this blessing. We prayed abundant blessings on the person, or family, who allowed themselves to be used by God in such a mighty way. Then, as I gathered the money up and counted it, I realized there was $800 in the envelope. Not $1,200 like we would’ve needed (at a minimum) to go on the Punta Cana trip. Like anyone who follows me on Facebook might have thought. In fact, what was in the envelope was exactly what we needed to cover the remainder of the final payment for our baby’s birth, the payment due on Tuesday. I felt God put a home birth on my heart several months ago, and although my husband and I were unsure, God made it clear that was his plan for us. It has taken extra faith, extra planning, and all the money up front, but I know it will be worth it since he called us to it. However, the reason we have been so stressed financially lately is because of having to pay the birth before it happens vs. after or in payments to a hospital, because my business has been slower than I thought it would be this fall and we had expected it to cover the birth on its own. “Little Miss Planner” (yep, that’s me) didn’t plan as perfectly as she thought after all, which was a lesson in and of itself. We have been scrambling to come up with the money, cutting everywhere we could for months, living as humbly as possible, but even with draining our emergency fund and my final Beachbody paychecks this month, at the 36-week appointment next week when the balance is due, we were still exactly $800 short. I’ve realized this for weeks and have been so anxious and stressed about it, often breaking down in tears, knowing full-well that God could and would provide but struggling under the weight of not seeing how and when yet. That appointment is now just six days away and I have still had no idea where the remaining $800 would come from….until today. And the craziest part is that I never shared how short we would be with anyone except God and my husband, so no one else could possibly know what we needed unless God put it on their heart. That is the part that absolutely blows my mind, the part that I just know put the biggest smile on God’s face. He knew full-well that that would be the way I would know this gift was straight from him, beyond the shadow of any doubt. This whole situation has been a scary and uncomfortable place to be, to say the least, but God doesn’t grow our faith inside our comfort zones. And boy has my faith grow in leaps and bounds today!
This right here is exactly how God works. He never promised we won’t go through hard, scary, or uncomfortable times, but he has promised that we are never alone in them and that he will meet all of our needs if we allow him to. Everything we go through is for our good and his glory. If I wouldn’t have gone through this scary and uncomfortable season financially, I never would’ve seen how perfectly and completely he provides: with a free maternity photo session, random $150 credits on two of our utility bills when we needed it most, $2,000 in Caleb’s medical bills wiped clean, and now $800 in an anonymous card. He has met needs, he has even met wants, and it’s because he loves me and all of us so completely. He wants to be the one who provides, but in order for him to do that, we have to come to the end of ourselves and we have to let him.
I know how hard it is to trust God when you can’t see the way, when life is pressing in, and time is running low. I know it’s scary, I know it seems crazy, but the more I lean on him and rest in him, the more I realize that living on my own is so much scarier. I can’t see the future like God can, I can’t plan for unexpected obstacles and events, and I can’t provide for myself in the way he can. None of us can, in reality, we just like to think we can. So whatever it is you’re struggling with today, whatever area of your life is the hardest for you to let him in, please PLEASE just hand it over. You will be so glad you did. Let him take control. You don’t need to struggle with it and collapse under the weight of it the way you probably are. You don’t need to keep living telling yourself the lie that the only person you can count on is you. Trust me, I know what it’s like to live that way, and it isn’t good. It’s lonely, disappointing and absolutely exhausting. Life is hard either way, but trusting God to take care of everything is actually much less hard than trying to take care of everything, everyone, and all the things we can’t control ourselves.
Tonight I am praising God for his unending love, faithfulness, and provision, thanking him for this perfect gift, and praying an abundance of blessings on the person/family who gave so generously to us out of obedience to God. I hope that one day soon my family will be able to live and give the same way, using our finances for God’s glory rather than our own. Thank you, so so much, to whoever blessed us today. We will never forget this act of kindness.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! <3