Thanksgiving Seven Years Ago: A Season of Miracles

The previous post reminded me of so many miracles that God did for us just while we were in Colorado Springs in November of 2005 that I knew I needed to record them here.

We left Arizona because the Lord let us know that Arizona was not really the land of our dreams after all. We had been staying at a ritzy hotel for $50 a night, but we could feel that our time there was coming to a close. Fiona became so sick that she couldn’t breathe through her nose, so she couldn’t nurse. She was coughing. She was feverish. I didn’t know where to take her or what to do for her. I just knew we had to leave Arizona. So we called Pastor Bill Wisener and told him we were leaving Arizona and heading back to Colorado. He said that he already knew that. He told us to go to Colorado Springs and he would make some phone calls to try to get us hooked up with a ministry there. As soon as we started driving out of Arizona, Fiona started feeling better and was able to nurse, and all of the symptoms disappeared!

We picked up a guy in New Mexico whose truck was sitting by the side of the highway and took him to a gas station. We were stuffed to the gills in that van, but our attitude was “God helps us whenever we are in need, so if we see someone in need, we will do whatever we can to help them”.

His name was John, and he was quite a character. He was trying to get to New Orleans to help with the clean-up efforts after Hurricane Katrina. He didn’t have much money, or anything else, but he was always willing to go help others. He cussed like a sailor and drank, but he had a heart of gold.

We took him back to his truck, and he was so grateful for what we did for him. He kept thanking us and shaking his head about how full our van was, but we still stopped to pick him up.

Then we drove on to Colorado Springs. We stopped at a hotel when we got there, and went in to check in. Something didn’t feel right there, so we left and Shawn found a Days Inn in our coupon book that he said God was telling us to go to. The price was good, so we went there instead. Gary went in to check us in, and who do you think he found there at the desk. John! The guy we had picked up in New Mexico. He was checking in to the same hotel!

We were shocked and amazed! He came out and greeted the rest of us like we were old friends. He would have helped us pay for a hotel room, but we didn’t want anything from him.

We stayed in that hotel for a couple of weeks. We got to know the head clerk really well. She would talk with us each time we came down to get more towels or when we left to go somewhere or when we came down to eat our continental breakfast. Her name was Sharon Followill. She knew our story and why we were there.

She was amazed that we were friends with John. He was such a salty character, and she knew that we were very clean and trying to live a godly, pure life. She also knew that we were running out of money. We paid our bill, but our account was almost dry and we had no way of getting any more money. She asked us every day if we had found a place to stay or a job or if anything miraculous had happened yet. It hadn’t.

One day, we went to visit Focus on the Family. The kids loved it there. They sang and danced on the stage. They went down the big slide. They went through all of the exhibit rooms. I had always listened to Focus on the Family, and we all listened to Adventures in Odyssey, so it was a really neat place for us to visit. We went to Whit’s End and got the cheapest things on the menu just so we could say we ate there.

The kids were having fun, but Gary and I were feeling pretty down. We knew that we were not going to be able to pay for another week in the Days Inn. We didn’t know what we were supposed to do next. We had tried to ask the Red Cross and United Way and other government agencies to help us find a place to stay, but they wouldn’t help us. Somehow we didn’t qualify for their assistance. One of them had a waiting list and didn’t think they would have anything ready for another month or two. John was trying to help. He tried to go fight in a “Tough Man contest” to make some money for us, but he couldn’t find the place where it was happening.

So I was feeling down and sitting in a chair just watching the kids sing and dance on the stage in the Adventures in Odyssey play area when a young lady started talking with me. She had her little boys there, too. She lived there in Colorado Springs. Her name was Pennie, too! Spelled differently, of course. I told her a little bit of our story, and she got all excited. She called her two friends over to listen to what I was saying. They were so impressed by our faith in God and the way our children were learning how real God is because they saw God provide our every need every day. They wanted the same thing for their children. They gave me their names and phone numbers. I gave them Gary’s cell phone number. They told me to call them if we needed anything and said they wanted to help us.

Well, the day came that we had to check out of the hotel. Our money had run out. Sharon Followill was so worried about us.

She asked what we were going to do – where we were going to go. We had no idea. We got into the van and headed for a park to pray.

As we were approaching the park, about to turn in, Gary’s phone rang. A man told Gary that Shampa (a woman we met at Dutch Sheets’ church) had told him about us and he wanted to meet us. So we turned around and went to the address he told us to meet him at. It was a bank. He met us in the parking lot and talked with Gary for a while. His name was Burt. He had his wife with him. I was sitting in the back of the van, so I couldn’t hear much of what was going on.

(I rode in the back of the van with Morgan the whole trip to Arizona and back to Kansas City to keep Morgan out of everybody’s hair and to keep them all from killing him. I literally saved his life. He was only 4 years old, and he was very obnoxious.)

Burt and his wife told Gary that they knew what it was like to lose a house. They had lost two houses in the past. They knew that God sometimes lets things like that happen to people because He has some things to teach them. They didn’t judge us or deem us unworthy of their help because we were poor and seemed to be under God’s judgment or a curse or had been foolish or something, like other Christians along the way had. Burt gave Gary a check for $500 and went into the bank with us to make sure that they would cash it for us. It was his bank, so we didn’t have any trouble. Now we had money again! We went back and checked in to the same Days Inn. Sharon Followill was so happy to see us. She was amazed at how God had provided for us.

Burt had told us to go to his ministry headquarters to get some coats and stuff since the weather was getting colder. It was November by this time.

We had left Ohio on September 4, 2005. We arrived in Kansas City about 3 days later. We stayed in a house that was pretty well empty for a month. But it was for free, and we were very thankful to Connie for letting us stay there. We left there during the first week of October. We drove to Colorado, on our way to Arizona. We had met Risa Lind at IHOP in Kansas City. Before we left, she gave me the phone number of a pastor in Limon, Colorado. As we approached Colorado, I called Pastor Bill Wisener and left him a message. I asked him if we could stay in his church for the night. A little later he called me back and he said he had everything ready for us. He told us where to go. We did, and it was a hotel in town, and he had already paid for two rooms for us.

He also invited us to his church the next morning. We went there, and he had the whole church pray over our family. He talked with us and prophesied to us. He seemed to know us before we ever opened our mouths. He greatly encouraged Shawn. He told Gary that God was leading us, and we were in His will. He told me something that I just could not tell Gary. He said that Arizona was not really the land of our dreams like we were expecting. I just stared at him. I said, “I’m not telling Gary that.” He said, “You don’t need to. Just go on to Arizona and see what happens. God will take care of you. But that’s not where Gary will find what he’s looking for.” So I kept these things in my heart and pondered them.

We went on to Arizona. We were there through the month of October into November. Then the thing happened with Fiona getting sick, and we knew by this time that Arizona was not the place for us after all.

Now we’re back to the time that I started this post with – the month of November 2005.

So we had met Burt and he gave us $500 and some coats for the kids and me.

We were able to stay at the Days Inn for another week.

But then we ran out of money again.

Gary went to check out of the hotel for the last time, and Sharon was really worried now. She kept asking him what we were going to do. We didn’t know this time any more than we did the first time. We told her not to worry, that God would take care of us, and we left the hotel. As we were driving Gary saw that he had a voice mail on his phone. It was from one of the young women we had met at Focus on the Family. She wanted us to come and stay with her family at their apartment! She had 3 young boys and a husband in a 2-bedroom apartment and was inviting us to stay with them! We didn’t have any choice, so we drove to her apartment. She was so gracious to us. They made us very comfortable and treated us like honored guests. She told us that one of the other young ladies we had met at Focus on the Family wanted us to come over for a Thanksgiving dinner. So we went to Gina’s apartment the next day and ate a delicious meal of turkey with all the trimmings! We were overwhelmed with the way God was taking care of us through these people we had just met. That afternoon, Gary found another voice mail on his cell phone. Sharon Followill had been praying for us to find a place to stay, and every time she prayed, she kept seeing her own house. So she asked us to come and stay at her house! So we drove to her address, and her family welcomed us like long-lost friends and treated us like family and let us stay at their house for two weeks. It was a 4-bedroom house, and we had the house to ourselves most of the time because Sharon and her husband worked during the day and their sons went to school. Somebody gave them money to use for us, so she bought a bunch of food at the store so that we ate well the whole time we were there, and I made a big Thanksgiving dinner for all of us. But the time was closing on this leg of our journey. They had to leave to go to Texas to visit family for Thanksgiving, and we couldn’t keep staying in their house because they were renting the house. Otherwise, I think they would have let us keep staying there. But we knew it was time for us to leave. There was only one problem. Well, two actually. The van was almost out of gas, and we had no money. We prayed. The day before they were planning to leave, we got a card from Risa Lind with $25 in it. Gary called Pastor Bill in Limon, Colorado and told him we were coming. Pastor Bill said he knew we were and had already made arrangements at the same hotel we stayed in before. That night, my friend Shari called us and told us she wanted to send us money and asked for an address to send it to. I gave her Connie’s address since we knew we were headed back to Kansas City. We left the Followill’s the next morning with our van packed even fuller than before. Someone who stayed at the Days Inn had given us all kinds of brand new clothes and toys and stuff. Katie laid on top of a big pile in the very back and the rest of us scrunched into the rest of the van.

We stayed in Limon, Colorado that night, and Pastor Bill met us at the hotel (which he had paid for our rooms in again) and prophesied to us and prayed over us again and gave us all the money he could scrape up. It was enough to pay for gas and food to get us back to Kansas City.

This is just a brief summary of the many miracles God did for us just during one month of our Journey of Fire. The month of November 2005 in Colorado Springs, Colorado – exactly seven years ago.

God provided exactly what we needed at exactly the time we needed it moment by moment! At the time, it was very scary and hard to enjoy. But now I look back in amazement and gratefulness for the way He took care of us and passed us along from one of His children to another to make sure that our needs were met.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes. He is still taking good care of us.

He has good plans for us.

He has good plans for you, too. Put Him first in your life. Put His word and His will above everything else. Only do what He tells you to do. Obey the Law of Love. And then, whether by miracles or by natural means, He will take care of you and your family.

There’s no need to worry or fret. God will take care of you. I guarantee it.

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!

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.

New Blog – New Vision!

Hi! Welcome to my new blog! Please feel free to look around. My web designer has done a wonderful job. Jocelyn at A Pondering Heart designed my template and gave me lots of tech support!

I have articles here on Homeschooling, some comparing it to other forms of education.

I have articles on Faith and hanging on to it when the hard times come.

And I have lots of pictures of cute kids who have helped God shape me into the person I am today. I know that God has called me to shape them into vessels for His glory, but the pots have done plenty of shaping of the potter in this case. And the shaping continues. If you would like to share in our adventures, please come back often. I will try to keep my spiritual ears open and post what the Lord is wanting to say each time I write.

If you need encouragement during trying times, read my posts under the category Journey of Fire. If you need homeschooling ideas, read my posts in the Homeschooling category. If you need encouragement to continue homeschooling, I have several posts that should fire you back up.

There are many posts, so don’t forget to check out the older posts by clicking on “previous entries”. I invite you to come along with me on this journey as we follow the Lamb wherever He goes.