On Losing Your House

Well, I can finally talk about it after 7 years. We lost our house to foreclosure on Mar. 1, 2005. I haven’t wanted to talk about it openly because it seems like a bad testimony – at first.

Gary lost his job in Dec. of 2001, right after 9/11. When I saw what was happening that day, I told my mom on the phone, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” I didn’t know it, but I was prophesying. It really was the end of the world as we knew it. Gary’s company laid off about a third of their employees a couple of months after that, and Gary was one of the lucky ones.

We really did see it that way. Things had been really bad there at his job – with people planting things in his personnel file to make him look bad, accusing him of things he didn’t do, etc. He was ready to meet a few guys in the parking lot or just quit. He had been trying to start his own technical writing business on the side, so when his job ended, we thought God was setting him free from a job so he could work from home. We were kind of excited about the whole thing. The only problem was, God didn’t do what we expected Him to do. We were assuming a lot of things. We didn’t really pray about the business. It just seemed like the logical thing to do, and it was what we wanted.

But Gary couldn’t stir up any business because at the time, nobody in our area wanted to contract out their technical writing work, which involves the documentation (operator’s manuals, troubleshooting manuals, etc.) they have to provide along with their product. Every manufacturing business he called said they were handling it from inside and didn’t need any help from outside. They were all trying to save money, and trying to hang on to what they had instead of putting out more money during those uncertain economic times. Nobody knew what was going to happen after the World Trade Center was taken out.

So Gary finally went to the Lord about it after so many disappointing calls and no results, and the Lord told him He wanted him to lay his Isaac down. He knew that meant his business. He did not want to give up on it, but he knew he had to obey God. God also told him not to look for another job.

So we knew that our time of living by faith was starting in earnest now. I was excited about it. I had been wanting to just trust the Lord for provision and see what He would do. I had read lots of testimonies about God providing for people in miraculous ways.

So we lived by faith from the time his 6 week severance pay ran out. We got Unemployment and food stamps for a while, but that opened up a whole can of worms that I’ll write about another time. We were forgetting something important. We kept forgetting to pray about things before we did them. And we kept finding ourselves in messes.

But God did sustain us supernaturally for 4 years with no income, and we never went hungry. We didn’t have one single bit of income from the end of 2002 until Gary got a job at Walmart in Kansas City in 2006. We are not from Kansas City. The house we lost was in Ohio where we both had lived our whole lives. Our families are all still there. But we’re not. God had other plans for us.

When we first started trusting God to provide everything, He did some amazing, miraculous things for us. Gary asked the Lord what he was supposed to do if he wasn’t supposed to get another job. And the Lord told him to go pray in the field every day. We had a field right beside our house. So Gary went out there every day and prayed. He wasn’t even sure what to pray sometimes, but he went out in obedience. Meanwhile, I was in the house with the kids handling everything by myself as I had always done, but I was not happy that Gary wasn’t helping me since he was home now. We had 6 children, 10 and under at the time. I did all of the care of the nursing baby, the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, educating, and keeping toddlers from destroying everything and themselves, while Gary went out and prayed and then went into his office and did whatever he did in there. He didn’t help any more than when he had a job, and I was getting very resentful.

I finally made a list of everything that needed to be done each day. I checked the things that I would do and asked him to check the things that he would do. He checked a bunch of things, but he didn’t really follow through on many of them. I don’t think he knew how to do them.

About that time we met a man from Nigeria who started mentoring Gary. He taught Gary that he needed to make sure his wife’s needs were met before anybody else’s. Every time he called, the first thing he asked was, “How is your wife?” Gary would look over at me and ask me how I was. At first I found it kind of annoying because I always assumed I was fine. After a while, I caught on and realized that I was feeling pressured and tired because too much was on my shoulders, and I started really telling him how I was. Then he started understanding how I really felt and what I really needed and how he could help and things really changed after that. He started spending more time in the house with us, interacting with us and helping with things that needed to be done. He took over the grocery shopping, and he started cooking. I found out he was a very good cook! He had always told me he was, and I finally got to see it and taste it.

Gary started enforcing the rules of the house and making the kids do the chores that I had been trying to get them to do but just couldn’t make happen because I wasn’t really sure I should be asking such a thing from them.

He got more involved with the family and learned how to be an integral part of our family.

We still had trials and problems, but we had learned to pray together as a couple and as a whole family. We prayed together every day.

God provided food every day. Sometimes He used people to bring us groceries or give us money. Sometimes He used food banks at churches. But we never went hungry the whole time. Our bills got paid, too. God gave a friend of a friend a dream about us, and she brought us a check for $1000 and leftover food from their company Christmas party. A group of our friends put their money together and gave us enough money that we could get something for the kids for Christmas that year. We got several anonymous money orders in the mail inside cards that were signed “From Jesus”. Gary had money slipped into his hand during handshakes many times at the small worship group we attended. We never told anybody our needs.

God paid our mortgage many times through friends. We paid a double payment on our mortgage during our first year of living by faith and the next month we paid a payment and a half. I thought, “Wow, this living by faith is great!” But I started to get kind of dependent on the mailbox instead of God for our provision. I started feeling kind of neglected because our needs were barely being met, and none of our wants were being met.

We had to do without a lot. We never went to stores. Gary did all the grocery shopping, and he only got the bare essentials.

Then the supernatural provision for the mortgage stopped coming in. We had been watching Kenneth Copeland – Gary did more than I did really, but I couldn’t really get the faith message into my spirit. I kept trying to earn what the Lord wanted me to use faith for. I couldn’t use my faith to receive because I didn’t really believe that was right or that it would really work.

The day came when we knew that the bank had us in foreclosure. We prayed that God would keep us in our house. We had marched around our property praying and giving it to God. We tried to sell the house since we couldn’t keep up mortgage payments, but it wouldn’t sell. We didn’t know what God was doing! We didn’t try to make plans for a place to go because we thought that would show a lack of faith.

We just prayed that God would do something miraculous when they came to make us leave our house. Well, He did, but it wasn’t what we were expecting – at all.

On Feb. 22, 2005 we all gathered in the living room to pray. The little ones were still in bed asleep. The twins were only 1 year old. Morgan was 4. The knock came at the door. Gary answered the door and let the sheriff in. Two other men followed him in. They looked around the room in amazement at all of us calmly sitting in the living room – Shawn, Katie, Patrick, Anna and Kelsey and me. They asked what we were doing, and Gary told them we were praying. They kind of looked at each other and shook their heads. Gary said he would go wake the other children. One of the men followed him to the kids’ bedroom. The sheriff asked me if we had somewhere to go and I told him no. He asked if we had family in the area, and I said we did, but we couldn’t go to live with them. He seemed perplexed. So was I. Where was God? Where was that miracle we were looking for?

They guy who followed Gary into the bedroom came out and conversed with the sheriff. They went outside to talk. Then they came back in and called me and Gary to talk with them privately in our bedroom. The guy’s name was Tony. He was from MERS. They were the mortgage people. He told us that he had made some phone calls and told them what he found. They agreed to let us stay in the house one more week if we promised to pack up and be ready to leave the house in that time. We agreed. Then he asked the sheriff to leave so he could speak to us privately. He asked us if we had any food. We had just run out of food that morning. For the first time during the whole 4 years, we didn’t have cereal or milk or the makings for a meal. I told him that. He nodded and said, “I thought so.” He and the other guy (who we found out was a realtor that was going to handle selling the house for the mortgage company) put money together and gave us $500! And then Tony told us to give him a grocery list and he would go buy us groceries. And then he took an order from us and went to McDonald’s and doubled everything we ordered and brought it to us. He went to the grocery store and got us twice the stuff we had put on the grocery list, too. He said that in the future it could be him in this situation and he was showing mercy in hopes that he would be shown mercy if it ever happened to him. We were so grateful and shocked at everything he was doing. We sang some songs for him. He couldn’t believe us. He took Gary aside and remarked about how calm we all were and how well-mannered all of the children were. He asked how we did it. Gary told him we were just believing God to take care of us, and we prayed all the time, and we were trying to obey Him. Tony was blown away by the whole thing.

We spent that week packing halfheartedly. I still didn’t believe that God would let us lose our house. I thought He was going to rush in with some kind of miracle that would let us keep our house. I took some special things that I didn’t want to lose over to Mom’s house, but I didn’t tell her why. I didn’t want to upset her, and I didn’t want anybody to hurt my faith.

The next Saturday was Mar. 1, 2005. They came with movers and moving trucks and started loading up our stuff. There was still a lot to pack, so they had to do it for us. Tony told me I had to leave and take the kids, but Gary could stay and help pack. I got the kids loaded in the van, then sat there. I had no place to go. That’s when it hit me that we were really going to have to find somewhere else to live and that our house was no longer ours. But I still didn’t know where to go, so I just sat there. Finally, my friend Gina who had been helping me pack told me to come to her house. I followed her then went into her tiny house and sat, not knowing what to do. She called a few friends and asked if they knew of any place for rent, but nobody did. She made a decision and told me that we could stay at her house. I couldn’t believe it or see that it was possible. She said that she would pay for a hotel for us for 2 nights and she and her daughter would clear out 2 bedrooms for us and we could just stay there until we found something else.

Meanwhile, back at the house that was no longer ours, Tony was doing some more amazing things to help us. He told Gary to find a local storage facility to take our stuff to so that we could actually get to it instead of the movers taking it to some warehouse where we could never get to it and would never see it again. Gary found out where a storage place was, and Tony had the movers put our stuff in two storage units there. Then Tony paid the first month’s storage!

He talked to Gary about programs that would help us find a place to live and help him find a job, but we didn’t feel that we were supposed to go that route, so we politely turned down any of those offers.

I know now that I should have been standing on the Word and saying it and believing it instead of just hoping that it was true, but really doubting in my heart. I should have saturated myself in faith teaching and saying the Word over and over again, but I wasn’t convinced in my heart.

God had to take us through a lot to build true faith in my heart. In the process, He built up my kids’ faith so that they trust God for everything. My prayers for my children that they would believe in Him, know Him and love Him with all their hearts have been answered. It was a difficult journey, but the results have been very good.

Gary and I are still recovering from the shock. But there’s no denying that God took good care of us through the whole ordeal. We never went hungry, and we always had a roof over our heads. Even in Arizona, Colorado and Missouri, where we didn’t know a soul and we didn’t have any money.

I tell this story in the hopes that someone who is facing foreclosure or something similar will be encouraged to trust God and know that no matter what happens, God will take care of you. He takes us where we are and makes all things work together for our good even if we’re not to the point where we can use our faith like the Copelands do.

Our story isn’t over. I believe with all of my heart that God has great things in store for us. I believe He will give us a house and land debt-free. I’m saying these things out loud now. I really believe them now. Our situation now is so much better than it was in Ohio in so many ways. And the best is yet to come! For those who believe!

Lessons from the Butterfly

If you followed my caterpillar-to-butterfly saga back in August and September, you might find this interesting. I was looking for the meaning of all that happened. I knew that God was speaking to me. But I wasn’t sure what He was saying to me exactly. These posts told more of the story here and here.

I think this paragraph gives some more insight into what he was saying to me through the process of my finding a surprise caterpillar and watching it transform.

WORD TO PONDER: CHANGING YOU
Just like the birthing of a butterfly, I AM changing you. I AM bringing you into alignment with My mind, the mind of Christ. Your mind, will and attitude will be transformed into the beauty of one who is meek, gentle and humble. I shall thoroughly prepare you to be among the living blossoms of glory and spread nectar to the world around you. You shall emerge with the full wings of faith and be a source of vivid, yet delicate beauty, displaying My glory and love.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:1-2 NKJV)

I pray that He will change me into His image and prepare me to spread nectar to the world around me and fly with the full wings of faith, displaying His glory and love.

I found the above paragraph in an ebook I bought from The Elijah List today for only $4.99. It’s called Beautiful Butterfly – God’s Mystery by Sandy Warner. As soon as I saw the title, I knew God had a message in it for me. I didn’t get far before I found that amazing paragraph that I just quoted.

I have felt spiritually dry but restless and seeking and wanting more. I believe that God keeps giving me encouragements like these to let me know that I AM changing and things are happening whether I see them or not.

Praise Him for His abundant mercy and steadfast love.

Let me know how God is speaking to you even in the dry times when you feel like you’re not really connecting with Him.

Favor, Favor

I had two miscarriages in 2002. The second one was at 19 weeks. I was halfway through that pregnancy! I was devastated. I’m crying even as I type this.

I couldn’t believe that God had let that happen to me. I found out later that she had been a little girl and didn’t appear to have anything wrong with her. I named her Cassie Mae.

After that, I felt like a loser. Even though I had six children already, the loss of those two babies made me feel like I had failed at motherhood. Combined with the other stresses we were facing at that time of having no income and totally living by faith with people criticizing us and the state and the law coming after us every time we turned around, I was feeling crushed and beaten down.

We had been attending a house church in a neighboring city for several months. God used many of the people there to help support us through our living by faith period. God would speak to one of them, and he would give Gary a $100 handshake. Those were nice. Sometimes a guy would just stick a $100 bill in his shirt pocket. I would find money in my purse or Bible when we came home from meetings. They did many things like that and helped us to keep on going when it seemed like the rest of the world was against us.

One night at a meeting, my friend came over and told me that she had been praying for me and Gary and this poem kept going over and over in her mind. She said she had never prayed a poem before. She wrote it down in a notebook she found lying close by. It happened to be my notebook! She read it to me. Here’s what she read:

Favor, Favor

Favor, favor
Above and below
Favor, favor
Whatever you do, wherever you go.

Favor, favor
From God to you in your lives show.
Favor, favor
His love forevermore.

I was really surprised. Mostly because it was the opposite of how things felt. It felt like everything we were experiencing was lack of favor. Like everybody hated us and the system was out to get us, because we had dared to step outside of it. It felt like we were attacked and unprotected. It sure didn’t feel like we were experiencing favor.

She had torn the page out of the notebook to write on it. I wish she had just left it in my notebook, but she didn’t know it was mine. But I thanked her and took it and folded it and put it in my notebook and told her I would keep it and ponder on it. It was encouraging, even though it seemed so far-fetched.

About a month later, I started experiencing some familiar symptoms and realized that I was pregnant. I was happy, but at the same time dreading what everybody else was going to think and say. I didn’t tell anybody. I never really did. I didn’t have to. After six babies, I was already showing by the third month or sooner. I never talked about it to anybody. It was just something I kept to myself. I didn’t go many places, so I didn’t have to hear or see what other people thought about it.

I didn’t go to the doctor until halfway through the pregnancy. My last visit to the doctor had been when they couldn’t find a heartbeat, and that memory was too painful for me to even think about going back until I had to. I finally made an appointment and they set me up for an ultrasound because I was already 19 weeks along.

Gary took me for the ultrasound appointment. Gary let me out and then went to find a parking spot. We had Morgan with us who was a baby then. They called me back before Gary came in. I asked them to send Gary back when he came in. The ultrasound tech started the preliminaries and said she would wait for Gary before getting more specific. Suddenly, she said, “Did you wonder why you were so big?” At that moment, I knew. “Do I have twins?” She said, “Look!” I looked at the screen and saw two little heads. She said, “It looks like twins to me.” I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited. I said, “Where’s Gary? Please have someone send him in!” So she called out to the waiting room.

He was just sitting there reading or something. He came rushing back with a worried look on his face. He was remembering my last miscarriage. I had a big smile on my face and the ultrasound tech told him he better sit down. He still looked worried, and I burst out, “We’re having twins!!!!” He looked relieved and shocked at the same time, if that’s possible. Then he said, “Eight? What does eight mean?” We had been thinking of this as Baby number 7, which means “completion, perfection”. Now we would have 8 children, not just 7. So he was wondering what the spiritual significance was. The ultrasound tech didn’t miss a beat. She said, “Eight is enough?” We all started laughing. I just shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. Only God does.”

Now I told everybody my news. I called my mom right after I left the clinic. She was very excited! She started telling everybody. They had a big shower for me. I got two of everything. It was so fun and exciting!

The rest is history. I had twins, a boy and a girl. We had thought this baby would be the tie-breaker. But instead we were tied again at 4 boys and 4 girls.

Several months after they were born, I took out the poem prayer that Shari had given me. I looked at the date and started figuring. I realized that she had written that poem the same night or the night before I most likely got pregnant with the twins. Favor, favor! That’s why the word was given twice! The Lord was telling me that He was going to bless me with twins!

Here they are:
Favor and Favor!

I had lost two babies, and now He was blessing me with two babies. At the same time!

I realized that I felt different now. After I lost those two babies, I had started feeling like a loser. That feeling was gone now. I didn’t even realize that I had felt that way until the feeling was gone.

God opens the womb.

Children are a blessing!

He has blessed us with favor, and then some!

When God Sings Over You

Misty Edwards at IHOP-KC with a song of the Lord

Beautiful Prophetic song by Misty Edwards. If you’ve ever wondered how God feels about you, listen to this. He used these same words to change me by His love.

What Kingdom Does Your Heart Live In?

I frequently check Pete Wilson’s blog at WithoutWax.tv. Especially lately. Today I found a gold mine there. He published a quote that puts everything into perspective. Perfectly.

G. Cambell Morgan said:

“You are to remember with the passion burning within you, that you are not the child of today, you are not of the earth, you are more than dust; you are the child of tomorrow, you are of the eternities, you are the offspring of Deity.

The measurements of your lives cannot be circumscribed by the point where blue sky kisses green earth. All the fact of your life cannot be encompassed in the one small sphere upon which you live. You belong to the infinite. If you make your fortune on the earth,– poor, sorry, silly soul,– you have made a fortune and stored it, in a place where you cannot hold it.

Make your fortune, but store it where it will greet you in the dawning of the new morning…. We cannot lay up our treasure on earth, it is not characteristic of those in His Kingdom. It was characteristic of the Pharisees. In a sense He was saying to them, “This is just another indication that you are not in My Kingdom no matter what you claim. People in My Kingdom don’t lay up treasure on earth.”

We should be living in a different Kingdom than the people all around us who haven’t made Jesus the Lord of their lives. Some people have called it “the Upside-Down Kingdom”. We humble ourselves, He exalts us. We give to others, He provides for us. We die to ourselves, He gives us life abundantly now and eternal life from now on. We obey Him, He gives us authority. But if we don’t live these principles, we don’t get the promised rewards.

It’s a different kind of life. We should seem kind of strange to the majority. We should appear foolish to those who are storing up their treasures on Earth.

Our family learned how to do this by losing every earthly treasure we had. We willingly gave it up for the spiritual blessings that we knew God wanted to give us. We knew that we had to pay that price. You may not have to, but that’s how God worked it in our lives.

The point is God wants our hearts to be willing to give up everything that pertains to the kingdom of this Earth, just like He said to the rich, young ruler. He may not demand it of you, but He wants you to have your heart in heaven. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Being willing counts for a lot with Him. Consider Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. It counted for righteousness. His obedience showed his faith. His treasure was obviously in heaven. He was willing to do whatever God asked of him, because his treasure was in heaven. Radical, child-like, extreme, foolish faith is what God is after. Is that how you would describe your faith in God?

When (Jesus) comes back will He find faith on the earth?

Luke 18:8

If your treasure is truly in heaven, you will have this kind of faith.

Two of the comments on Pete Wilson’s blog struck me. One person said this quote reminded him of a Charlie Peacock song that had a line, “What if we lived like heaven was a real place?”

The other thought-provoking and clarifying idea among the comments went something like this:
God wants and needs to be in that place in our heart that is filled with “things”- worldly treasure- and the more of that stuff there is in there, the less room there is for HIM.

It makes you wonder about the validity of the American Dream.