I hope to inspire and encourage others through my own life experiences and my faith ...

Saturday, July 17, 2010


"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." Proverbs 1:8

Today I am thinking of my family.  Not everyone is as lucky as I to have such an amazing family.  Growing up I learned just how important family was at a very early age.  We were always tightly connected with our extended relatives.  Whether they lived near or far, I knew my family and appreciated them for exactly who they were.  We spent holidays together, went on weekend trips to my grandfathers cabin together, celebrated together, etc.  I remember our "family time" to be so fun.  Even when there was drama, I loved being around my family.  No matter how complicated or crazy things got or still get with my family I will always look at them as my people ... my family.  We share a history and are connected and when it comes down to it, that means something.

My immediate family was equally amazing and had a huge impact on who I am today.   As a child and teenager I fought with my parents so much.  Since I had terrible grades and was interested in being a social butterfly more than anything else I was hardly ever in agreement with my parents and I felt that they were very hard me.  I was grounded more then any kid that I knew, I just couldn't get it right.  I'm sure that as much as I thought I was being treated utterly unfairly, my parents were dealing with their own struggle of  trying to figure out how to parent/manage me.  I'm sure there were times that they probably thought I was a lost cause.

Once I got through high school (which was a miracle in and of itself) and lived through a couple crazy early adult years, I came to appreciate my parents so much more.  I actually liked spending time with them and couldn't get enough of their advice.  I became so interested in who I was and where I came from.  I wanted to know how my parents became who they are today.  I would call my Dad at work and ask the most random questions about his past, his likes and dislikes, among other random stuff.  I inquired and listened to my Mom's stories about growing up and what her life was like before she met my Dad.  I began to see them as more then just parents, but as real people with real stories.  I wanted to know EVERYTHING about everything because I didn't want the day to come where they were gone and I had questions that I couldn't get answered.  I wanted to be able to pass their stories down so that my kids and grandkids could know these extraordinary  people who raised me. 

Now that I have my own children I understand why my parents were so hard on me.  This world is a scary place and I want to protect and prepare my children as much as I can, just like my parents wanted to protect and prepare me.  I understand the importance of instilling strong values and character.  I know that being a parent means more then just being the person who physically takes care of their children, but rather never giving up, constantly working hard so that your children can be the best that they are capable of being and being there no matter what.

My parents gave me the greatest gift they could have ever given me by raising me in a Christian home and pushing me to constantly pursue a life with Christ.  They taught me how to live, how to lead, how to love, how to handle crisis and so much more.  I have the deepest appeciation and respect for both of my parents and I only hope to someday have their wisdom to pass on to my children. I am so incredibly blessed! I love my family from the depths of my heart and couldn't imagine a life without any of them.  Our history is rich, our relationhips are strong and we represnt everything that a family can be.

Who do you come from?  What have you learned from your family?  What can you still learn from them?  What can you do for them?  How can you use your experiences and lessons from your family to help others?  I challenge you to take a look at your family and dig deeper.  Christ blesses beyond measure through our families!

Friday, July 9, 2010

And now we breathe ...

"But as for me, I will sing about your power.  I will shout with joy each morning because of your unfailing love.  For you have been my refuge, a place of safety in the day of distress.  O my strength, to you I sing praises, for you O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love." - Psalm 59: 16-17

Where to begin ... At the end of February my husband was unfairly let go of his position at work.  It was awful.  He had been struggling with the working relationship between his boss and himself for a long time.  She was a cruel woman who truly had it out for him. She finally set him up for failure and there was no way out of it.  He was let go and denied unemployment benefits because of the situation.  Can you imagine our worries as a family of five going into a period of unemployment with no income and no substantial savings to back us up?  Yikes ...

Oddly enough, despite the situation, I didn't feel too terribly worried about how we would make ends meet. I had a strong sense of faith in my heart and felt that God would surely carry us through this time. At the beginning of the year we committed to start tithing every month for the year of 2010 ... no matter the circumstance we would give what we could. Before my husband even lost his job things started happening in our finances.  Some of our monthly bills began drastically dropping in what we owed.  It was almost as if these savings dropped into our laps as I hadn't gone looking for them.  After my husband lost his job, these savings continued as little refunds and opportunities to earn extra money came up often.  It was an amazing blessing!  For the entire four months that he was unemployed we paid every single one of our bills on our own, on time (even early) and still ended up with extra money to treat our children and do fun things as a family.  Such a blessing!

During this time we were also caught in an ugly battle with his former employer fighting to get our unemployment payments since they had been denied.  This employer was ruthless, adamant and would stop at nothing to fight us.  They went to the extreme of hiring a large firm to represent them, they fabricated evidence, etc.  It was ugly to say the least.  We were EXTREMELY blessed by the kindness of a friend of our families, an employment attorney, who took our case and fought for us.  He spent hours upon hours of his time to help us asking nothing in return. 

The emotional stress that this case caused was awful.  My husband was sick to his stomach often and couldn't even talk about it.  I prayed like I have never prayed before .. I got on my knees, begged, pleaded and even praised Him throughout the situation. I felt like David hiding out in the caves from my enemies, clinging to my Lord for protection and begging for justice.  Then one day justice came.  I opened the letter from the unemployment office and read the words "Claimant is found NOT AT FAULT and is awarded full benefits." !!!  My heart felt like it could burst with joy and excitement.  "The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged.  They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked.  Then at last everyone will say, 'There truly is reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.' " - Psalm 58:10-11.

God is so good!  The same week that we received the news about the unemployment (right as our money had run out), my husband interviewed for a job and was offered the job on the spot.  This was also a job in a completely new field which uses his skills that he has recently acquired since joining the military.  He was "tickled fancy" to say the least.  He is making more money, doing what he loves and has a schedule that is convenient for our family allowing him to have even more time to spend with our daughters.  Is God amazing or what?!

We have been blessed to say the least.  We made a commitment to give to Him financially, which was a hard choice to make, but He took that small step and blessed us immensely.  Thank you to our friends, family and church family who have continually lifted us up in prayer throughout this situation.  To know that we had an army praying for us was incredible and we are so grateful!  Thank you to our attorney for having faith in us, working with us, giving us your time and your efforts.  Without you justice would NOT have been served.  You have been covered in prayer by so many and I pray that now you are blessed ten fold for blessing our family.  Lastly, praise be to GOD who carried us through.  Words cannot express my love, my faith, my appreciation and my joy for you.  Thank you for continuing to carry me when I couldn't face you, for never letting go, for protecting my family and for the awesome testimony you have provided.  Yahweh Nissi you ARE my banner of strength!

I pray that as you all read this, you are encouraged in your own struggles ... when life is seemingly at wits end or if it seems like there is no hope trust in Him.  There is always hope.  Things might work out differently then you thought they needed to, but sometimes His plan is even better then we could have imagined.  Even when your faith is rocked, keep trusting, it is then when you are humbly on your knees before Him that miracles begin to happen.