The Last Twenty Dollars – A Story of Obedience, Faith and Trust

I have had many miracles performed by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, throughout my life and it has been laid upon my heart to write them down for others to read. I know that faith lies within the heart of the believer, but I am hoping that through my family’s testimonies of miracles, people will learn that God, Jehovah, is real. He is alive. His only Son, Jesus Christ is real and He is alive. And the Holy Spirit of God is real and with us, helping and comforting us.

This is a true story that happened many years ago.

The year was 2007. Josh had just been laid off from Countrywide Financial. When the housing market crashed in 2006 and Josh had no work as a home appraiser, we tried to do our best to stay afloat and keep all we had… but that wasn’t part of God’s plan. We ended up losing our home, selling a truck, and declaring bankruptcy. It was a tough time for sure, but we would have rather lost those kinds of things as opposed to losing one of our babies or each other.

At this time we had three babies, Aven was almost five, MaCaedyn was two and Samuel Braeden was about a year old. We were living with my mom. She had a two-bedroom condo and we arranged all five of us in one of the rooms, which was (thank God!) a second master bedroom with a walk-in closet. It wasn’t what we dreamed of, but since the children were babies, they loved it and we were safe, had shelter, comfy beds, warmth in the winter and air conditioning in the summer–which in Phoenix is a great blessing!

Josh had been doing everything he could to find work, but the country was in a recession and there wasn’t much work to be found. Still, he got up every day and searched for a job, putting applications anywhere and everywhere he could. He took any day job he could find, big or small, no matter how much it paid.

There were some who thought we were a little bit crazy because during this time God had spoken to us to start a 501c3 nonprofit organization for children, which we did. It is called The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. www.huggabears.org

Although this work took a lot of time for both of us, we felt very strongly led by God that we would never take a salary for doing it and we never have. Doing the work for children in need brings us so much joy and taught us that even in the circumstances we were in, we were not poor. We serve children in other nations who live in poverty, children who are orphans or their parents have put them in orphanages because they can’t afford to care for them. In America we serve children who don’t have proper clothing, shoes, have medical or educational needs, children that don’t have proper housing or even a bed. We know what poverty is because of the work that we do. We have experienced financial struggles, but we have never poor.

We always had a place to live where we were sheltered and safe.
We always had electricity, running water and indoor plumbing.
We always had food and clean water to drink and bathe in.
We always had clothes, shoes, medical care, and warm beds to sleep in.
We had toys and educational tools for our children.
No. We have never poor.

Still, the Lord tests us from time to time, and I’m very thankful we had this test.

Although we had applied for different assistance programs, we received cards that had nothing on them. While Josh was trying to work this out, we had help from my family members and friends, but Josh wanted a job. He is a hard and dedicated worker and wanted to provide for his family again, just like so many millions of other Americans at that time.

Josh had done a day job one week that helped us along for several days, but when you have babies, there is a constant need for diapers, wipes, pullups, and milk–especially a big baby boy like Samuel B.!

We went to church one night to hear a special speaker who had come in to teach people about the power of giving and being obedient to God’s Word where our finances were concerned. It was a pretty full house that night. After church, we were going to stop by a Walmart and buy some diapers and milk. We had $20.

Sometimes when I say that people think $20 was all we had in our wallet.
No. Let me be very clear, that was all – we – had. The savings was gone, the home was gone, there was no income. The $20 bill that Josh had in his wallet was it.

During the sermon, the pastor taught that “When God tells you to do or give something, don’t put it off. Obedience is immediate, and if you delay in your obedience, you delay or completely miss the blessing God has for you.”

Then it was time to pray. We prayed for the people of our church and for so many others in the country who were struggling like we were. We prayed for the children of our organization and all the needs that we knew they had, and we prayed for Josh’s job.

When the prayer was over, I felt Josh grab hold of my hand. I looked at his face, and without saying one word, I knew was he was telling me. Tears began to well up in my eyes.

“I have to give it,” he whispered, “God told me to.”

I nodded and squeezed his hand. There has never been a time that I have experienced when Josh did not give when he was told to. I have been there when he jumped out of a car at an intersection with an umbrella in his hand to give to an old woman crossing the street, “Pick me up over there!” was all I heard as he took off. I have seen him jump out of our car to take off his coat, not checking the pockets or anything, and give it to a homeless man on the street who only had a small blanket during one of our coldest January days. I know his heart. It is beautiful, strong and giving. So when he told me that he had to give our last $20, I didn’t say one word. That was between God and Josh and I had nothing to speak to it.

When the offering plate came, I watched as Josh placed the crinkled, tattered $20 bill into the plate. As it passed by me, it was like it was moving in slow motion and all I could do was cry. I trusted God. I trusted Josh. Still, it was a hard moment. Obedience sometimes is.

After the service was over, the pastor’s wife came to me and said, “The Evangelist told me that I was to give this some families in the congregation that are in need. I know your situation and wanted to give this to you.”

She then handed me $220 in cash.

I’ll let that sink into your heart for a moment.

God tested us with something that might have seemed small to many, but for us, it was huge. God knew it was our last $20, no one else did, but He knew and He wanted to see if we would be obedient to give it when asked. Josh was obedient and I supported him.

Our God, Jehovah Jirah, blessed us ten times what we gave because we were obedient to Him. He turned our mourning into dancing– and danced we did! All through the Walmart as we stocked up on diapers, wipes, pullups, and milk! People were literally staring at us as we happily filled up our shopping cart with baby supplies, but we didn’t care. We were as giddy as kids going to Disneyland!

God not only blessed our family with a great gift that helped sustain our children and our needs during that time, He showed us that obedience brings great blessings. God loves us always. He wants to bless us always, but just like all children, we have to be obedient to what He says. If Josh had disobeyed and not given that money, we would had have enough to buy a little. But because he was obedient, we were sustained in baby needs for a few weeks… all because of God’s unending love.

God also wanted to let us know He hadn’t forgotten us. We were in the “Carpenter’s Shop” as one of my characters, Obadiah O’Sullivan, teaches about in The Intercessors books. The “Carpenter’s Shop” is a place where Jesus builds and shapes our lives to be beautiful and prepare us to do magnificent things for His Kingdom. Still, being shaped, cut, hammered on, sanded and stained can sometimes be a painful process. It is sometimes harder to understand why God allows the trial you are in, while you are in the midst of the trial. It is easier to see why He allowed it once the storm has passed.

If we hadn’t walked this road we would never have known what it is like for so many people out there who are in need of assistance and during this time, there were millions of people all over the world experiencing trials just like we were. This experience, along with many others, is an example of how God taught us to live with open hands. He wanted to teach us to be better givers and to trust Him completely and always be obedient–immediately.

God loves all of His children, whether they love Him or not. Jesus loves and died for everyone whether they believe in Him or not. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life!” John 3:16. Nothing can change the love Jesus, and Jehovah, our Heavenly Father God have for you. I hope to encourage you with this story and other stories that I write that having a relationship with the God who created you and His Son, Jesus who both adore you more than you will ever understand, is a decision you will not regret. My hope is that you will and when you do, always obey God’s Word and heed to the still small whisper of His Holy Spirit. If you do, your life will be filled with the sweet goodness and blessings of the Lord that you will never find anywhere else!

 

20+ Pounds for 20+ Years – A Letter of Love to Women with PCOS

To the Reader…

Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. I hope it might be of some help to bring some knowledge about PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrom) that you may not have known before.

I want to make sure that all who are reading this know that I am not a medical professional nor am I trying to recommend or convince anyone to make the same decisions I made regarding their health. I know there are many who believe in the care of doctors and many who don’t. Please do not think I am trying to persuade anyone for any type of treatment. I am simply giving you the facts of my story in the hopes that there may be someone out there who can benefit from my personal experience and what I have learned. Thank you and I hope you will continue reading on!

I have always been grateful for my life and for the body that I have. I have never been upset that I wasn’t taller, being short (5′ 3.5″) makes wearing heels more fun! I don’t compare myself to other women. I have not been jealous or intimidated by other women’s sizes or figures, or beauty, nor do I judge other women for their size. In fact, I can enjoy looking at a woman and appreciate her beauty as a creation of God with no qualms or insecurities on my part. I try very hard not to judge a person by their outside “cover” or outward appearance. I keep my focus upon as much of the person’s heart as they will allow and know them by the fruit they produce.

Until I was 30 years old, I never weighed more than 110 pounds. I don’t say this to brag, just to pass along information so you will have a better understanding of my story. When my husband, Josh, and I began trying to start our family with no success for a year, I knew something was wrong. I then began going through the ever humiliating, emotionally draining, mentally exhausting and highly expensive testing of infertility. Through that process, I learned that there were a few things wrong with me, one of them being that I was diagnosed with PCOS or Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is actually quite common among women.

After almost four years of treatment with various doctors and having a near death experience, I went to an amazing infertility doctor, Dr. Jay Nemiro, who did more testing and discovered I had even more things wrong with me and was not able to get pregnant at all without extreme medication and surgery. Dr. Nemiro then put me on an extensive–and expensive, treatment plan. During this time, I went up to 120 pounds and really liked the way I looked. I had a bit of shape to me and didn’t look so much like a “stick person”.

After another year of treatment and another near-death experience, (which Dr. Nemiro saved me from and is a story in the infertility blog I’m working on) God richly blessed us with our precious baby girl, Aven Salei. Thank You, Jesus! After that, I was told by my doctor that my body did a “reset” and all which was once wrong with me was wrong no more. Of course, I knew that it was the healing power of Jesus Christ setting me free from infertility and making it possible for me to have more children without the costs and pains of infertility treatments.

After having Aven, I had no trouble getting pregnant–none at all. I got pregnant with MaCaedyn “a-naturelle” and was even using birth control when I got pregnant with Samuel! The Lord had completely healed me of my infertility—again, that is part of my infertility blog, still yet to come.

With each blessed pregnancy, I gained 50 pounds and would lose all but about ten pounds after Samuel was born. (Nursing, good diet and exercise do the trick ladies!)

When I reached 40 years of age, my metabolism came to a screeching halt. Though it was a new challenge for me, it taught me to be more disciplined with what I ate and to work out harder than I used to.

When I turned 43 I had a few other things change within my body. First of all, I turned positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis. From what I was told by my RA, I have no levels of that particular arthritis, but I do have the auto-immune complication and problems with my hands functioning properly. There is pain in my hands, wrists, and toes, and there are days when I hurt from head to toe, but that can improve from day to day depending upon what I do. The biggest challenge I deal with is the tremendous weakness in my hands and wrists. I have learned how to function differently and what to do to help my hands, so all in all–in my opinion, having no levels of RA was God’s way of intervening for me so the situation wasn’t worse.

You will never hear me say, “I have arthritis.” This is a condition that God did not create me to have and therefore I do not claim it. I always state that “I am battling arthritis” and to be honest, I am grateful that is all I have when there are so many people out there battling life-threatening conditions.

In addition to having this new battle for my body, I also became “Perimenopausal”, which means I was in the early stages of menopause. Now, I know you are probably thinking, “Wait, she said she was 43 years old, isn’t that too young for starting menopause?” I would answer that you would be correct, though ages for women beginning that process can vary. For me, I think that my female organs were always so confused and pathetic at functioning they decided to just go ahead and give up.

At 43 I began battling RA and started “The Change” as some call it, again, thankful that was all I had to battle. I was determined to handle all of it with the healing help of Jesus Christ, education, good diet, and exercise. I tightened up my regiment and really started studying more about the different foods out there which could assist me with handling both conditions.

It was about this time that I got into juicing. I love the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” with Joe Cross, and I was given the lovely gift of a fantastic juicer. I began juicing fresh fruits and veggies daily, giving it to my family… accept my girl, MaCaedyn, I am still praying for the tastebuds of MaCaedyn, and I was loving every juice I made.

For two years I kept up with my healthy diet and tried to keep my exercise regiment strong. I was able to stop taking meds for the RA and only take an ibuprofen occasionally when needed, which made me very happy, but when I turned 45, I started to gain weight.

At first, I didn’t panic. I knew that I was in the beginning stages of menopause, so I visited my doctor to see if there was anything I could do to help the situation. Tests were done and I learned that my hormones were going pretty crazy and hormone therapy was recommended.

I prayed and thought about it for a period of time and decided to give it a try for a period of time. I began treatment, but after a year I didn’t see any improvement in my weight loss.

I then turned 46 and the battle with the mysterious weight gain continued–only it was getting worse. My husband and I planned a trip to celebrate my daughter MaCaedyn’s birthday at Disneyland and while we were there we would be celebrating our 19th anniversary of married bliss! That day we went to the beach and I remember being so sad because my swimsuit barely fit me and I did everything I could to keep myself covered up. I calculated that I had gained fifteen pounds over the course of the past year but I could not figure out why.

If I was eating poorly or not taking care of myself by exercising then I would have had a better understanding as to what was happening, plus due to the battle with RA, I was very careful about not eating gluten, sugars, starches, nightshade veggies, etc. But my doctor assured me that the hormone therapy was supposed to be helping my weight to balance. If that was the case, why was I constantly gaining weight and not able to shed a pound of it?

The situation was now beginning to affect me mentally and emotionally. I was frustrated, confused, tired, embarrassed and all of it was bringing me into depression. What I was doing was not working for me and I knew that something had to change. I went back to the doctor and after more tests and discussions I decided to stop the hormone therapy as I had read that can sometimes cause weight gain in some women. Even after six months had passed without hormone therapy, there was no change. The weight did not go away, in fact, it kept coming.

I for one believe that God can heal us instantly (I’ve had that happen several times) and I also believe that God can heal us over a course of time. So, instead of just trying to push this situation away from me, I wanted to see what it was God wanted me to learn from it.

As I said before, weight for me with myself or with other people was not an issue. I never judged anyone for their weight, looked upon them poorly or with disrespect. I like to look at the heart of a person and not keep my focus on the outside. Having said that, I have never experienced what it was like for people who battle their weight. I never understood how hard it was to lose weight. I never knew what it was like to dread opening the closet or the drawer and get dressed. I never knew their private pain or understood their personal struggles.

When I looked at my situation as a lesson from the Lord instead of a problem, my spirit became quiet about it. I turned my eyes from myself and placed them upon others who I knew were going through the same thing or had been battling their weight for years.
When I did, God filled my heart with great compassion. Although I didn’t know all that they might have gone through with their weight, I felt that I wanted to treat them with some extra special care and love and make sure I let them know that they were beautiful, important and loved.

This brought me great joy and although I didn’t give up trying to lose my weight, I was not angry about it.

Now, if you are anything like me, you know your body very well. I’ve lived with mine for quite some time and I know when there is something not quite right. Although I had come to a more peaceful place with this particular situation, still, I knew I wasn’t done trying to figure it out. I kept praying for help and felt led to go back to the doctor, only this time, I couldn’t see my usual doctor so I chose to see someone different.

When the doctor arrived, she had with her a nurse practitioner who was shadowing that day. They asked if she could visit me and of course, I welcomed her to do so. While discussing the situation, the nurse practitioner was looking over my doctor’s shoulder and quietly said, “I see that she has PCOS.”

This caught my attention, “I was diagnosed with that years ago,” I replied.

“Well, that can cause insulin resistance in some women,” the nurse practitioner replied.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means that instead of your sugars being burned, they are being stored as fat,” she explained.

I paused to take this information and process it, then asked, “What can be done for that?”

“If you chose, you can take Metformin, it is the same medication–”

“Taken for diabetes,” I interrupted. I knew this well as many of my extended relatives, including my mother, are diabetic and take Metformin.

It was not a hard decision for me to take the medication as I knew I had prayed for so long, asking God for help with my weight and to figure out what was wrong. As I said before, I believe God can heal us without any help from anyone, as I have had it happen many times, and I also believe that God gives us help through doctors who He has given the knowledge to help us.

I began taking the Metformin that week and the weight started coming off! The next week I set a goal for myself. My twentieth anniversary was ahead of me on May 13th and my husband had planned an incredible beach vacation for our family in Oceanside to celebrate our beautiful love and marriage and I was going to lose twenty pounds by that time.

Long story shorter (too late), I did lose those twenty pounds and so I pressed on with the weight loss, deciding that I was going to be happily married for as many years as the Lord blessed me with and so I would keep working to lose weight and get myself strong in body, mind, and spirit so that I can be with my husband, children and someday grandchildren for as long as possible. Twenty plus pounds for twenty plus years is what I decided to do and I am happily still walking that healthy road.

I am grateful for this experience for several reasons. It taught me so much more compassion for others who struggle with their weight. It taught me to never think that I have all of the answers for people and their weight loss–not that I ever thought I did, but I have had experiences with people like that and though I’m sure they mean well, their words can sometimes bring shame or embarrassment to the situation instead of support. A person who is struggling to find help for themselves should not feel shamed but encouraged. It also taught me more about the PCOS condition that I battle, and that it can cause unwanted weight gain– but there is hope!

Before closing, I would like to say—and I say this with much respect and kindness, please, if you are a person who does not believe in doctors or taking medication, please do not send me your anti-doctor or anti-medication comments. Everyone is different and people must make the choices for themselves that they feel are best. I am not trying to influence anyone to make any choices for themselves. I simply wanted to write this blog to share what I experienced and learned because I thought it might help someone else who might be experiencing the same thing and is also searching for answers. I just want to help anyone who is out there living with the same confusion and frustration that I had to know they are not alone.

I also want to encourage women out there to never quit trying to find answers if you think there is something wrong with your body. You know yourself best, so listen to your body! It also doesn’t hurt to get that second opinion. Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes upon your records and a different mind of ideas can be a good thing! And always know, above everything else, God looks at your heart, (1 Samuel 16:7) not the physical heart, (which is also important to take care of for your life and family!) but the spiritual heart. In time, the outside beauty will fade away and grow old, but the beauty of the heart can last forever!

God bless you and thank you for reading!