Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mostly Fingerprints Part 8

I have SO enjoyed looking back over my letters to God and the scriptures that He has led me to over the past few years. It is so apparent on some days that I was extremely frustrated simply by my writing and the large question marks I drew across my pages! Definitely not a time I want to revisit, however I am thankful for all of it because of what I have learned! Even though I am thankful, there were certainly days I was plenty angry with our situation. The good 'ole Jonah attitude took over, and I was questioning why we were struggling so harshly while others who could care less about God, much less their testimony for him, were seemingly without a care and certainly not struggling to pay their bills and keep their family fed! My friend, Angie, and I had spent many hours contemplating this one!!

One day in particular God led me to Malachi 3:14-15. I seriously felt as if I were a child complaining aloud in my room with my door shut, and my dad swings open the door and repeats to me what I'd said only to let me know He can hear my every word. You see, the scripture says "You have said: It is useless to serve God. What have we gained by keeping His requirements and walking mournfully before the LORD of Hosts. So now we consider the arrogant to be fortunate. Not only do those who commit wickedness prosper, the even test God and escape.' " A couple of days later, which seems like an eternity when you are waiting on God, He led me to the follow up scripture, Malachi 3:16.."At that time those who feared the LORD spoke to one another. The LORD took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name." God who wakes the sun up each morning and puts it to bed each night, my God who spoke the earth into existence, my God who gave up perfection in Heaven and came to earth to suffer brutality and death on a cross, my God who conquered the grave and rose to live again...MY God was speaking to me once again. I cannot explain to you how incredible this makes me feel!!

(I want to share with you that at this very moment I can hear, "this is not going to make sense. You might as well leave it out." For a second I stopped, but then realized Satan is trying to sabotage my efforts of sharing how Christ works in my life. Interesting that there is spiritual warfare going on as I type!)

As incredible as I felt when He spoke to me, it is amazing how I needed that constant reassurance. I could not see with my eyes, there was no groundbreaking change even though God had repeatedly assured me through the scriptures and through prayer that change was coming. I'm sure I sounded like a broken record to Him on most days. When God? How God? What is taking you so long God? I can only imagine how I frustrated Him so!

Summer of 2008 came and went, very slowly it seemed. It was time for school to start and we needed to buy school supplies, clothes, shoes. Only, there was nothing extra to buy these things with. Why is it when you are struggling financially everything seems SO difficult? Could it possibly be that too much faith and hope is put in money instead of in God? Hmmmm...

A little side note, during my intense seeking of God He continually gave me scriptures with reference to the state of our nation. I didn't understand and talked to Shawn about them for his input. For example, Amos 6:3-6 "You are cruel and you forget the coming day of judgment...You drink all the wine you want and wear expensive perfume, but you don't care about the ruin of your nation." I was getting this type of scripture about as often as ones that I understood. It wouldn't be long before I totally understood what God was saying. Banks began closing, the failing condition of our economy was spread all over the news, and foreclosures were on the rise., in the midst of so much hardship and economic failure would our situation change? I know God must have been smiling at this thought!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mostly Fingerprints Part 7

I finally found the scripture when I KNEW God was telling me to share my story with others. On July 6th, 2008 God led me to Zechariah 8:20-21 which talks about leaders from all over coming to see what's going on and trying to get in on God's blessings. It was then that I knew that God was instructing me to tell others what he'd done in my life and how we've come to the point where we stand today.

It wasn't long after the letter sharing that we said good-bye to family coaching, but something I continued and still do to this day is seek God's daily word for me in scripture. I LOVE this part of my day, and could go on and on about how He talks to me!! But, back to the story...

The next few months were mainly a struggle financially. On paper, NOTHING added up. I was still receiving checks from my business, even though I wasn't working it. That would be the beauty of residual income. I still am not sure if that business was God's plan for my life, but just as He promises in His word He makes all things work together for the good of those who seek Him!! We were having to use the company credit card just to makes ends meet each month. We cut everything out that we possibly could, and continued to pray that God would show us what we needed to do. (We even gave up a paid vacation at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine because we could not afford the gas to get there!) Continually I would get scriptures telling me the harvest was ready, abundance was coming, and God spoke these very scriptures along with a peace deep into my spirit so that I knew He was speaking these very living words to me...(not quoted but paraphrased, and some are linked to how God spoke to me directly through the scripture)

June 22nd, 2008: Psalm 119:89-96 Look beyond what human eyes can see. God is more powerful than I can wrap my mind around
July 6th, 2008: 2 Kings 3:16-19 It is going to come from unexpected and unexplained resources. This is easy for God!
July 11th, 2008: Isaiah 31:1-3 God does what he says and he can do anything.
July 11th, 2008: Job 36:5-15 Too much pride has caused the trouble. God delivers and promotes the righteous endlessly.
July 14th, 2008: Matthew 1:20-23 God does what he says he'll do
July 15th, 2008: Jeremiah 51:11-13 God will do what He says, He'll set things right.
July 22nd, 2008: Psalm 22:30-31 God does what he says!

***Keep in mind that day to day we still had bills to pay and the stress of not being able to pay them was overwhelming for me. Not being able to see the end result, I struggled with what God had in store for us. Was the abundance and "everything being o.k." in heaven? He had told me that it was going to be o.k. ... but I couldn't see it just yet, and so in His loving way He repeatedly led me to different scriptures in the bible that said specifically that "God does what He says". I love the way He comforts and reassures me!!!***

God also repeatedly led me to the book of Jonah, which is a very short book so I read it many times. He showed me that during this time I was seeking him and obeying him, but I was still getting angry at God because our condition had not changed. We had hope in him, but questioned that hope when we couldn't see with our human eyes. Satan took that questioning and turned into anger when things were so stressful and God didn't seem to be there. I was acting just like Jonah, who finally obeyed but then got angry with God when God didn't do what Jonah expected him to. Wow! Thank you God for such a personal lesson!!

So...while he repeatedly led me to scriptures and spoke rescue and hope into me, things seemingly were not changing. On June 5th, God had led me to Acts 7:11-15 and I KNEW that I KNEW that I KNEW that there was going to be a change that would end our financial hardships. I felt certain that a move would be involved, I just wasn't sure how or when. The days, weeks, and months wore on. Shawn's family business continued to fail, and they were seeking daily someone to buy the business or partner with them. Each lead led to hope, and then dissapointment when the lead fell through. Summer turned into fall, and our situation was the same. We were thankful that we had not sank, but I often felt like I was in a funnel and the sand was falling quickly below me as I was grappling to stay at the top...fighting my fears and holding onto God.

(My kids are begging me for breakfast, and as much as I want to continue with this post...I must be a mommy!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mostly Fingerprints Part 6

Each week Shawn and I were writing our letters to God, seeking scripture, and meeting with our coach. After several sessions, our assignment was to write a letter to each other. The letter was to include how we had been hurt by our spouse. I put the letter off all week knowing this couldn't be a good thing. I would have to read this letter to the coach, and then to Shawn. First of all, if you know know there is nothing that I had not already "shared" with Shawn. But it was our assignment. SO...I sat down and started writing. Then I stopped, prayed about what God would have me to share, and went on about my business. The share session came, and Shawn left the room so that I could read my letter to the coach. Then she left to go and listen to Shawn's letter. They both came back. Shawn was pretty sure I needed to go first, but somehow I won out and he went first...only, he didn't have a letter. I think this was the most cherished and loved I'd felt by him in a LONG time. His reasoning was that he didn't want to hurt me...he saw me as fragile and went on to explain why. A flood rushed over me and that was a huge turning point for us. He did still care...about my feelings, about protecting me. (Now some of you reading this may be thinking it wasn't healthy for him not to share...apparently what he did was the exact thing that needed to be done). It was my time to share, and just as Shawn felt there was not a need for a letter...this is what God had told me when I prayed about what to write. Shawn had already heard all of his trangressions over the years and there was no point in airing them in front of someone else. I'm not sure how it made him feel, but it felt good to me. It was almost like wiping the slate clean and preparing to step forward. I was choosing to behave like my Father. The sun started to shine a little brighter that day, but clouds were still in the forecast. Would they bring a refreshing rain or would a trip to the storm shelter be needed?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mostly Fingerprints Part 5

It seems as I tell this story, there are so many details of fingerprints that I am leaving out...but I may bog down the entire blogger website if I fill all of those details in! I just pray each time I write that I am doing God justice and that the reader can truly understand how victorious He is in our lives and in our circumstances. These entries would be completely different if He were not in control of our lives!! On that same note, just because He is in our lives doesn't mean we do not face the same trials and heartaches as those who are not Christians. We face it all, we just know in the end, with Christ...we win!!

Back to the story. It is May of 2008 and I am miserable in my marriage, simply put. How could this happen to us? We were SO passionately in love early on, we were both Christians, and we knew that the dissolution of marriage was not of God. What had happened? HOW could this be happening? Did God not see everything else that was going on? ( One thing I forgot to mention was that after Hollis was born, I began having severe joint pain all over my body. So battle was also physical!) Had I not had enough??? Apparently not, so there we sat...and the only reason in my head that I thought I was there was for my kids. Satan had blinded me into thinking I was completely finished with our marriage, which is odd because I felt so close to God with regards to other areas of my life but somehow satan had an entry point into our marriage as big as the Grand Canyon! The young lady at Family Coaching (which is a free Christian service that I would recommend to anyone and everyone for any issue you are going through) talked to us for a bit and then handed us both The Message/Remix. Our assignment before we came back to see her the next time was to write letters to God everyday that were at least 3 pages long, as well as randomly turn to scripture and allow God to use His words to speak to us. NOW...some of you may be thinking the random scripture idea is rubbish, just let me know and I will give you PAGES and PAGES of scripture where He has point blank answered my prayer in a way that was so direct that He might as well have been physically standing next to me speaking in an audible voice!
I still have my journals of letters to God and the scriptures that he led me to. My first journal entry is dated May 22nd, 2008. The very first scripture that God "randomly" led me to on May 23rd was 2nd Kings 13:5. "...The children of Israel were able to live at peace in their own homes". I knew from that very minute that we were right where we needed to be, God was going to heal our marriage, and there would be peace. He also told me again the very next day that He did not want divorce for Shawn and I. The scriptures that he led me to on May 24th was in Isaiah 1: God's right actions will restore her pentinents. But it's curtains for rebels and God-Traitors, a dead end for those that walk out on God. Again, I heard Him loud and clear. If I trusted Him and did not walk away from the hope He gives and His will that all things will be restored!
Joel 3...God is a safe hiding place...the sky turns black, the earth quakes and all the world seems doomed but my refuge is in God. He is my protection and there I find all I need. Wow...He was on a roll! I felt like my whole world had been crumbling, but I knew God was saying you are going to be o.k. and that He was all I needed!!
My 3rd verse for that day was Job 33:29-30 (if you have read the book of Job, you know why I cringed when I saw that is where I was reading from!) This is the way God works. Over and over again He pulls our souls back from certain destruction so we'll see the light-and live in the light. Wow only two days into this journey of letter writing and seeking God's direction through scripture and I was 4 for 4! Thank you God!!
Was our marriage immediately cured? No. But I had a hope because I had heard clearly from God. Because I was seeking Him, He was pulling me back from disaster, He was protecting me, we would be restored and there would be peace in our home once again.
This is kind of becoming like Friday the 13th sequels, I know...but look for Part 6 soon! This story isn't over!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mostly Fingerprints Part 4

So, we now have a bright spot in our family after having gone through the death of my sister. Hollis came home from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day 2007, and so while the emotional tone around my house was elevated with the excitement of the newest addition, there was an unappreciated guest...heartache. It was there, for the most part unannounced and we all tried our best to avoid it. Christmas was a time of obvious pain, tears, and more honesty with emotions. By the time February rolled around, I was a wreck. Partially due to postpartum, but mainly due to unbelievable grief over the loss of Sherri as well as stress and tension due to our financial circumstances. I decided to tackle a 21 day fast in order to find answers from God on all of the turmoil going on in my life. For the first time in my life I felt beyond connected with God. He ended my severe grief over Sherri's death and gave me hope in our financial future. At the end of my fast, I was praying one day and felt very strongly God was leading me to give my entire check to our church's building fund. Now...this meant we would fall another month behind on our mortgage which we were already playing catch up on. This SO did not make sense, and you can bet that satan tried to make me believe that I misunderstood God. Satan tried to make me believe there was no way this would work. The mortgage company would surely take our house if we did this. I was like a little girl who was scared to death to tell her parents she'd done something wrong when I had to share with Shawn what God was telling me. You see, I felt it in my spirit, but God hadn't spoken to Shawn and so how was he going to understand this? He wasn't happy, but he knew I had to obey. The next morning arrived, and I went to my online banking center to see if my check had been deposited. I fully expected a certain amount, because God had revealed to me an exact amount of what I needed to give to the church. (If you have not ever understood deep in your spirit what God is telling you...down to a number amount for a check... I encourage you to really seek Him and spend some time immersed in Him. It is a wonderful feeling to know Him in this way!!!) I sat shocked looking at my computer, because my check was for more than the amount that I was SURE God had revealed to me in my prayer the day before. I went to my closet, got down on my knees and asked for clarification and immediately He gave me the understanding I needed. The "overage" in my check was my tithe off of the check! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I sat with a smile on my face when I realized that the difference between what I was sure God was telling me to give and the total amount of the check was the 10% God commands that we give to him. I was very familiar with the tithe because this was something that Shawn and I felt strongly convicted to do...even though we needed that money so badly every month, we knew it wasn't an option to hang onto it. That would signify a lack of trust in our God...and we KNEW he was so much bigger than that 10%!! So I made the checks out and gave them to the church. (For the record, we didn't lose our fact, the over zealous man I dealt with at the mortgage company never even questioned it!)
I was still determined to make my career with the home based business work until a few months later when God began speaking to me as he had during my fast. He made it very clear it was time to let that dream go. Keep in mind how awful our financial situation had become. The crazy car payment, our house payment that we could not afford even with my check from my did NOT make sense to me that God was telling me to let that go. My husband's solution was to put the house up for sale, and from a human perspective this seemed like a no-brainer. If you can't afford the house you are living in, you sell it. We had already cut out everything that we could cut out. We were upside down on his truck and couldn't sell it, we still had a year on my car the house was the only thing that seemed doable. I prayed about it and very clearly heard the Lord tell me that it is the enemy who devours and it wasn't His will for us to lose our home. Shawn and I had several "conversations" about needing to sell the house, but I knew that was not what God wanted us to do. In the meantime, there was a day when I had a few things that I needed to return...all totalling about $40, but we REALLY needed that money to make it to Shawn's next check. I went to all 3 places that held my money...only my items were unreturnable. One was an Easter holiday item, and since I was passed that date I couldn't return it. I couldn't find the receipt for one, and I don't even know what the issue was with the third item. There in my car that we could not afford but could not get rid of I sat, talking to God. In an almost audible voice I heard, "Let ME do this". I realized I was still trying to control things if it was only by digging up items around the house that I could get money for! That was a pivotal moment for me as far as knowing that God was wanting me to let it ALL go and rely on Him completely!!
The next pivotal point I found myself in was in May of 2008...Shawn and I were sitting in an office at the family coaching facility. Due to all of the craziness we'd gone through over the past year...death, financial struggle, huge issues with his job which caused him to work late and added more stress to both of our plates...we found ourselves in the middle of a marriage that neither of us were happy in and were not sure how to make it work anymore. More to come...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mostly Fingerprints Part 3

So it is now the summer of 2007. I am in my third trimester of pregnancy and things are about as stressful as they could ever be. Each week I am making trips to Amarillo to visit my sister in the hospital and praying for a miracle. After all, God had already healed her once from brain cancer when she'd been given less than a year to live. Life at home was taking a toll as Shawn's job situation wasn't getting any better, nor were our finances and I was basically living as a single mom and dealing with all of the stress alone...or so it seemed. There was little time for Shawn and I to be together, and so we began to drift further and further apart. Then I was told I would not be allowed to see my sister anymore because of MRSA and the danger to my unborn son. WHAT?!?! Did they not know that my parents needed me there, I needed to be there. This was my sister, laying in the hospital unable to talk or move half of her body. Life as she knew it was no longer. What would she think when I didn't show up anymore? Would she understand that my absence was being forced and not by my will?
In September it became very real that God wasn't going to step in and heal my sister when she was placed in Hospice care, and so I headed to Amarillo once again and was allowed to see her if I completely covered up each time I entered her room. After several days she passed away, her funeral came and went and yet I felt like my grieving was limited because each time I was upset Leagan and Addie Claire would get upset. So I held it in, and turned my focus to the upcoming arrival of my first son. His birth would be a bright spot for our family and a reminder that the Lord takes away, but He also gives abudantly! While everything around me seemed to be crumbling, Hollis arrived in November of 2007 and the world seemed bright once least for a while. You know the routine, stay tuned...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mostly Fingerprints Part 2

After looking over my last post, it may have been a bit rough to follow. I said I would start the story in 2005, then backed up to 2000. Anywho, fast forward to 2005 and my phone is ringing. It was my cousin on the other line offering my an opportunity with a home based business. I don't remember praying about the decision, but had been praying for I just knew this was God! For the next couple of years I was a part of this business, and for a bit my checks were larger than Shawn's. One of the perks of the business was they paid qualifying consultants to drive a Mercedes. I reached that level within 3 months and so straight to the dealership I went. We were also building a home at the time, unsure if we'd move in or sale that home for a profit since Shawn was doing most of the work. Due to my huge increase in salary, we decided to move into the house. Everything was well for a few months. Our bills were being paid on time and it appeared as if we were set for smooth sailing. ICEBERG dead ahead! My business took a sharp turn about as quickly as it rose to the top, and we found ourselves with a $1000 car payment for just my car and a house payment we could no longer afford. Again, we started sinking. In the past, we always seem to be able to pull out of our slumps. This time, it was different. My car was on a lease and so we could not just get rid of it, we were upside down on the financing for Shawn's truck so we'd have to pay to sale it. (I promise all of this is going somewhere!) We had fallen behind on our mortgage and so we were having to pay an extra $1000 per month to catch up...AND my checks had been cut into a 1/4 of what they had been!! Oh, I was also pregnant with our third child, Shawn's family business was sinking and he was working at all hours, and my oldest sister was struggling in the hospital after a massive stroke. Stress was at an all time high with no relief in sight...but I held on to God the best I knew how! Little did I know I was going to need him more than ever in the months to come! Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mostly Fingerprints

I've learned over the past few years, that often times when God is moving it is most often evident AFTER He has left His fingerprints. Sometimes He leaves Godsized footprints, but mostly it is fingerprints that leads up to one large incredible picture!
Prepare yourself for some airing of dirty laundry as Shawn used to call it! This may be the first of several posts as this is a long story!
I am not altogether sure of where this story starts, but I'll start at the beginning of where it will mean the most to you! In 2005, God began moving and I had no idea where we would wind up. We always knew once our first baby was born that I would stay at home with her, but giving up my teaching salary...even as small as it was...would be rough. So, in 2000, I took a job at the doctor's office I had worked at during college. God provided pretty close to my teacher's salary and I just worked two days a week for a total of about 10 hours AND I was able to take Leagan to work with me from the time she was born until she was about 4 months old. this time, I didn't necessarily see this as God's provision. You see, I was not walking closely with the Lord at this time. Although we went to church every week, that was really where I left God I am sad and ashamed to say. Things had become very frustrating at the office, and so after praying about it I knew God was telling me to quit that job. WHAT!?!?!?! That was like the ideal situation...being salaried at $2,000 a month for 10 hours a week. Are you kidding me?? No, He was not kidding me.
So, I turned in my two weeks notice, but then made another choice without really praying through it. You see, from a human standpoint...we needed that income and I wasn't ready to trust God completely. Now, this will sound ridiculous from a money perspective...but I took a job working at a KDO program 2 days a week. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that going from $2000 a month to $300 a month was not going to be good...and it wasn't. We stayed behind on all of our bills and were simply in a mess. At the end of the first year of teaching at KDO I felt God telling me again to stay at home. this point, prayer had become a bigger part of my life. Not close to where it should have been, but much better than before. So again, I obeyed trusting God to provide. A few weeks later, I was offered my job back at the doctor's office but the Holy Spirit was telling me this was not a good idea. Shawn and I talked it over, and based on finances it was a no brainer but I couldn't help but feel like I would be taking the control away from God to return to a job that He had led me away from. I turned the job down, and within days received another phone call that would set our lives spinning in another direction. Stay tuned...