The Preparation in Poverty

by | Oct 3, 2014 | 31 Days to London, Encouragement, Trust


We all had to leave the house at 10:00 this morning; vacating for prospective buyers coming for a tour.

In my pajamas, I push the broom around the kitchen, clearing countertops of clutter, when H leans over the bar and asks me, “What do you want to do for an hour?” Normally, Starbucks would be my answer but our wallets are empty.

“I think we should take a walk on the beach,” I tell him.

We drive to the consignment shop first, to pick up our monthly check from the van loads of possessions we’ve relinquished. As I stand next to hooks holding used bangles and necklaces, I see my crystal clock, a wedding gift, among the pitchers and vases. As the sales clerk scours her database for our account numbers to print out two checks, I think how did we get here. This used to be extra spending money and now it pays for bread and butter.  

The here I’m currently living isn’t foreign to us. We lived off the $.59/$.79/$.99 menu at Taco Bell when H was in seminary. The $.99 items were a splurge in those days but I’m noticing how poverty is affecting me differently now.

My hands aren’t shaking.

A decade ago, poverty brought fear along with it. Every time I paid for something – food, clothes, bills – a physical reaction came with the fear of being overtaken. It’s as if my body remembers what my mind forgets. As a child, my hands trembled every time my mother signed the credit card receipt for things she couldn’t afford that put us in a compromising position.

But a track record of God’s faithfulness gives me peace.

We no longer fear being overtaken when we know we’re overcomers in Christ. God doesn’t put the faithful in compromising positions, he provides a way out. 


As we drive onto the island toward the beach, past sweaty runners and egrets standing next to fisherman pulling nets full of fresh catch, it’s as if we are transported to another place. Suddenly, the cares of our situation fall off in exchange with the wonders of creation. I am carefree, light and expectant.

Though you may be in a season of preparation, you aren’t stuck because God continually creates. He wants you and I to know that, yes?

Pushing toes into sand, H and I walk a long stretch of empty beach. A conversation of prayers energizes our steps as we cast cares onto frothy waves rolling over the top of the ocean.  H points behind us, toward the wide expanse of water and exclaims, “Our new home is that way, on the other side of the Atlantic.”

I don’t know who is walking through our house and opening closets but I’m praying for a miracle of an offer. The pan I need to make dinner is packed in a box. Or maybe it’s on a shelf at the consignment store.

Whatever it is you are going through, God wants you to know that He will make a way out. Your poverty in circumstance is preparation for trust, not a life a sentence. Prayer is your lifeline.






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  1. Ashley Tolins Larkin

    In a season of preparation, you aren’t stuck because God continually creates. What hope in those words. Yes, he is always doing a new thing…will we perceive it? Bless you in that hard, hand outstretched waiting place, friend. I understand this kind of lack, too, and it makes me not feel so alone there. Xoxo

    • Shelly Miller

      Empathy does some good work in our circumstances, doesn’t it Ashley? We aren’t alone . . . that is His continual message to us. Hugs.

  2. Lynn Morrissey

    Wow! I never saw the connection between your childhood and now, EXCEPT for one huge difference. God was always there, even back there in Jennings. But you didn’t completely realize it. Now you have all that perspective and experience to know that He will bring you through. I thnk the worst poverty must be poverty of spirit. Your spirits are rich in the fullness of Him.
    Praying for a sale and that across-the-ocean home. I’m thinking you drinking in the ocean of His love.

    • Shelly Miller

      Well, you’ve just described the purpose for writing my book Lynn. (I finished my book proposal. *squee*) I love how you “get” me. Thank you.

  3. Pam

    Shelly, I know this worry of living on pennies, being up in the air… I’m praying for His jugs of oil to overflow in your life in unexpected and wondrous ways as you wait on Him. I just can’t seem to make myself write as openly online about these things as you do, talk about losing a 26 yr job 4 years ago, not being able to find steady or full income all this time, cancer, medical bills etc… But I do try to write about how He is providing in dire times. How he encourages me to sow whatever tiny seeds I have (tithe whenever I get any pay, but even more with giving of talents etc as you do too) and believe His word of bread cast upon waters opening His hands to providing…

    I’ve been seeing Him move in such extraordinary measures in this way these 4 years (never had to live so completely on faith), just when I’m on my knees wondering how I’m going to make it. A completely unforeseen check (or two or three actually!) from my bank when they’ve “made some error I knew nothing about and want to refund me unexpectedly. A bonus check I didn’t expect right after my job ended, coming just in time to pay bills to the exact amount. An out of blue email requesting a drawing at just the moment I need… So many ways he is saying to me, “I have your manna… I will not abandon you. Do not think poverty… think heir to the King! I send my ministering angels to bring my increase and provision to you! Ask me to do so…I want to make your jars of oil keep on flowing supernaturally…like the old woman who gave her last resources and saw my overflow…”

    I also encourage you in something you know too… there was a drastic difference in your childhood, because your mom didn’t know her strength and provision in Him. But praise Him, you do! 🙂 When you spoke of feeling free on the beach, I could relate… sometimes I feel like I am “not worrying enough” or that others might think I am too complacent because He does take that worry and replace it with joy in Him, doesn’t He? He shows me… He has many ways to provide even for that starbuck’s treat (He delights in our delights) – by sending open doors, temp ways of earning money, gifts out of the blue from unexpected sources…

    And so, I trust He has so many of those “unending oil ways” on the way to you now… I see doors opening for me with earning from my artwork…but it is slow and definitely not enough to cover bills. I am always stretching things as far as they will go. And sometimes I wonder if people I’m “marketing” to just think it is a hobby, I try hard to get it out there…but then God reminds me, He is in charge of moving in this and in all ways I need for sustaining life… He has blessings of that manna for us both, Shelly, and I pray He fills us both with daily expectant faith to see Him move. I love the verse that says He is looking to and fro through the world to show Himself mighty on behalf of those who love Him! Blessings to you in all these ways! Love, Pam, apples of gold

    • Shelly Miller

      Pam, this was like sitting down with a cup of tea and talking. Thank you for sharing your heart here, what a treasure. We are seeing God’s miraculous provision and it is quite breathtaking actually. And there is a peaceful joy in trust that is like falling in love for the first time. A lot of darkness beforehand though, which perhaps makes the blessing even brighter.

  4. Glenda Childers

    There have been many seasons in my life when I could not afford Starbucks, and I always missed it. This month, I can afford it, and wish I could pick you up for a little Starbucks treat.


    ps. I know that what you are going through is so much more than not having Starbucks, but sometimes it is the little things that get us the most.

    • Shelly Miller

      I took your comment in the spirit it was written — caring, loving and empathetic. Thank you Glenda. I would love to go out to Starbucks with you any day.

  5. Jillie

    “BUT a track record of God’s faithfulness gives me PEACE.” Amen and amen, sister Shelly. He WILL come through for you; THAT you can rest assured in, no matter what things look like from the outside. Praying fervently for the sale of that house, and so looking forward to news from “your new home…that way…on the other side of the Atlantic!”

    • Shelly Miller

      Your point about remembering His faithfulness in the past is so important Jillie. It is easy to get swallowed up in the dark details of the moment and forget the ways he rescued us in the past. Thank you for your prayers, I covet them (especially for the sale of our house).

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