“I have to let go of any pride or embarrassment and write about this,
because it’s too inspirational not to!”
(Keep in mind, I began writing this post about a week ago.)
As some of you have figured out, we’re back in Colorado trying to settle down once more. Upon returning, we were told that we could stay with some friends without having to worry about rent for up to 30 days to give us some time to find our own place.
Needless to say, that didn’t work out as those friends changed their minds once we got here. It was for the best though, because it wasn’t a pleasant situation by any means and my health quickly became a challenge again due to the living conditions and lack of sleep.
How Do You Respond If Someone Kicks You While You’re Down?
So, suddenly I was faced with outrageous hotel costs because it’s tourist and moving season here, not to mention all the college students who are returning for the semester. This is not something I was prepared for, nor do I have any savings to fall back on since Hawaii, nor anyone else to rely on. Here is an overview of what has happened since…
The Ripple Effect… Of Blessings
First, we were given enough funds to get us back here not to mention, some that we also put aside to use as a deposit for the very near future. Then upon learning what happened after we got here, someone booked us four nights at a hotel to give us a little breathing time.
Two weeks and two realtors later found us still in the same hotel searching high and low, far and wide for a permanent place to live. About this time, one of my daughter’s friend surprised us by paying for half of the weekly rate.
Finally, our prayers were answered when I received a call of acceptance earlier this week on a place that will suit us just fine for now. The stickler, is that we can’t move in until the end of the month.
By now, our finances are so low again that if I use what’s left for another weeks stay at the hotel, I won’t have enough for the first month’s rent. Therefore, we’ve been trying to find someone to bunk with again while we wait it out (boy, I feel like I must really be brave to try that one again!)
So I’ve been praying consistently about it, because while my daughter has friends here to stay with, I don’t. I have even tried searching for a temporary room to rent and met a handful of people off Craigslist, but I quickly found out that is not the thing to do around here!
What Is The Answer?
I decided to go to church… finally! When I think about it, I haven’t been in any regular attendance since living in CA. In fact, I don’t think I’ve gone to more than a couple of services all together since Hawaii… that’s a long time!
I can’t even believe it and feel so much shame too. It’s been weighing on my heart for awhile now and someone I respect gave me some really great advice ~ he said to just go… anywhere! It didn’t matter where, but just to go.
Well, I finally did and it’s making me realize just how hung up on some things I’ve really been. I was an evangelist for heaven’s sake! But, even when I wasn’t doing things for the sake of work, we were always very involved with our local congregation and attended services about 3 times a week.
Don’t Be Naive
You know… I’ve always been so joyful and grateful for my salvation and remember thinking that after years of being so involved and developing such a close personal relationship with God, I would never stray. Subconsciously, I don’t think I ever believed that I could fall away from Him or the church (even though I have said and taught others not to be so naive as to think that it could never happen to them.) I suppose I thought about it in the same way as I did about never being divorced either. So, this would be one of those lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way…
Never Say Never!
So on Saturday night I attended a church service. Part way through I was thinking about leaving though. Oh, I had one really good excuse after another, but something inside kept me there. Then, the guest speaker came out.
Love thy Neighbor
He spoke about things which touched me deeply regarding foster care children, single moms, etc. These are things that I’m personally familiar with. Then he spoke strongly about what it means to love thy neighbor and about being a church which reaches out beyond it’s own walls to a hurting world ~ one which isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty, like the Good Samaritan. It felt like he was talking directly to me!
Are you talking to me, God?
Have you ever had that happen? Have you ever gone to a service and felt like the sermon was written just for you? It never ceases to amaze me when that happens ~ it’s as if God is speaking directly to us and I believe He is! He will use those souls that are willing to speak, to those who are willing to listen.
Anyways, this guest speaker was teaching about the same kinds of things I used to as an evangelist and I began to feel at home again. Of course, I couldn’t quit crying either!
The Spirit Knows…
After the service and a bathroom break to wash my entire face, I dared to venture up front for prayer. It wasn’t intended however, but something deep inside got me to walk up there and wait patiently. My heart pulled and tugged closer to Christ while my mind fought and wrestled with the idea of leaving.
I would have felt blessed receiving prayer from any of the men and women who were waiting to spend time with someone like me, but the guest speaker came to my side instead. He just asked if I was OK or wanted prayer and I lost it… I broke down and just started crying.
I can’t even remember what words I may have mumbled or if I even really answered him. I just remember this man praying for me, as God’s love poured from his lips, and I knew I was home. Even greater was the realization that I had even been gone, lol!
After leaving the sanctuary, I decided to explore what else this church had to offer. By the time I left, 3 people had asked if I was OK or needed a hug and I immediately burst into tears each time.
Drowning In Public
Have you ever felt like you were drowning yet, were desperate for rescue? That is how I’ve felt for a long time now where my faith is concerned. It’s even harder to admit when your faith becomes for the public view like this. Here… I am supposed to be some strong, courageous woman who never loses her faith and whether self imposed or not, feels so responsible to always be successful in helping others to never lose their faith. I’m supposed to offer YOU encouragement and hope ~ I’M supposed to be helping, guiding and teaching YOU.
Yet, truth be told… I am just like you. I have the same kinds of weaknesses, faults and insecurities as anyone else. And yes, I am still a Christian! I’ve heard too many sermons that teach if you are struggling in life, become ill, or are feeling anything negative like this, well then… you MUST NOT be praying enough or be close enough to God anymore and it can only be for some reason of your own doing.
I think we all go through different seasons in life and just like our everyday relationships, we can feel closer at times than others, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost all faith, or that I don’t believe anymore, or that I must be sinning, or that I’m not a good person anymore, or that I’m on my way to hell, etc. etc. etc!
Reach into the pit and help your brother up!
Being saved, being a believer, or being a good Christian doesn’t mean that we will live perfectly the rest of our lives. Nor does it mean we don’t still need help or quit learning. It should be the opposite of all that.
It should mean that we can ask for forgiveness and accept grace when we mess up from God and others. It should mean that we have an even bigger family to rely on, especially when we’re down. It should mean that no matter where we go or what we do, we’ll have our brothers and sisters in Christ to lend a helping hand if we need it, or have a shoulder to cry on, or at the very least it should mean that we have people who will help us rise up when we fall down.
“A new command I give you:
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)
As If That Wasn’t Enough
Now (to get back on track) as if all the help so far wasn’t enough, I was graced by yet another couple as I left the building. In short, they offered us a bed for the remaining time we have to wait, so I don’t spend what little money there is left. Presently, I may have the finances to pay for another week at the hotel, but if I have to use it now there won’t be anything for our first month’s rent. Call me crazy, but somehow I just don’t imagine that sitting well with the property management company.
Until The Next Ripple Comes
So, we’re all happy and feeling good at this point, right? Wrong again! Without going into details, that situation didn’t work out either due to no fault of my own. So it’s back to square one!
Although, not quite…
So, I jump in the car to go look at another place in an RV campground with slightly less expensive rates than what I’m paying now. It was a definite no, no though.
As I’m driving back to the hotel having yet, another argument with God and wondering how much longer I’m going to feel like some wild yo-yo spinning out of control, I pass by a mother and baby tucked off onto the side of a road. They were not near a good area, so considering that and how she seemed to be hiding behind a stroller, I found a place to park and walked over to make sure they were OK.
This was the best part of my day!
Here, it was a family who’s just immigrated to our country from Uganda and their car ran out of gas. The husband was walking to refill it so after she called to check on his progress, I ended up waiting with her. She is pregnant and has a baby, but their son is stuck in Uganda still due to problems with his green card/immigration status (or something like that.) They came to this area hoping to be involved in one of the major Ministry circles here and we hit it off right away, so I hope to have made some new friends again too :) I’m still trying to find what resources I can in order to help them as well, so please keep this family in your prayers!
Back To The Mill
Upon returning to the hotel, things were a chaotic disheveled mess as usual, so I cleaned my own room and entertained a handful of new guests to try and help out (I’ve been getting to know the managers who work the front desk.)
Anyways, once all was said and done, I was blessed with a very low flat rate which gives us a huge nightly discount for the remainder of our stay. So, it may not be a ‘free’ place to stay, but at least it’s much more affordable now. I’m thrilled about this, because we’ve been fortunate enough to have a very quiet corner in the back where I have finally been able to sleep and regain my health. It is my wish to just keep things as they are, so I can be in the best physical position possible to get us moved out of here and into our new home later this week.
Things don’t always turn out the way we want, the way we think or even the way we plan. While we may hold ourselves accountable and responsible as individuals to follow through with plans, we can’t control what other people do or how they choose to behave. We hope they are of the same character (at least possessing common courtesy and respect) but the truth of the matter is, we can’t make them hold up their end of a deal and there’s no guarantee we can rely on them.
And Unfortunately, there will always be people who take advantage of a kind, sincere heart and others who will look to exploit someone who is vulnerable. That is our world, there’s good and there’s bad. It is the natural consequence of God’s greatest gift to us ~ our freewill.
So, what is the lesson?
What am I not learning that I’m supposed to?
Why do I have to keep repeating this specific test over and over again?
I believe it is two-fold, but I’ll have to keep processing and learning more before I can put all the pieces together for a full picture. For now though, here is what I’ve gathered…
First, I am beginning to realize that I have continued to put way more trust and faith in ‘man’ than I have in God where meeting our provisional needs are concerned and even in how I may view some of life’s blessings (This is the part I have to process and learn more about in order to share more though, because I’m still trying to figure it out!)
Second, the biggest part of the lesson (at least for me) is learning how to still be grateful (giving God thanks and praise) even when things don’t go our way or as we’ve planned. Here I thought I had that one mastered, because regardless of what happens in life, I’ve still been able to remain transparent and become even more compassionate and loving towards others. Struggles have only proven to empower my resilience and tenacity. But, even though I haven’t let Life break my Spirit, I’m discovering there is much more to it than that. If we are lucky, life’s challenges will only prove to empower our belief and faith in God too. I think that means we are supposed to learn how to still give Him thanks and praise, even when something which appears to be a blessing… falls through. I realize this is where I have struggled the most.
*Breaking it down… it means learning not only to be content with where we’re at, but also to remain grateful in any given situation or circumstance regardless of the outcome… because we trust and have faith that it will all work out to the glory of God.