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!

 

It’s Not Fireworks – Be Vigilant, Be Prepared, Have A Plan

When I first sat down to write this article, it was August 3rd, 2019, a horrible day when two mass shootings took place in two different US cities, El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. Since then, there was a new type of mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, one that was mobile. The shooter traveled on a highway randomly killing 7 and injuring 22, including a 17-month-old baby girl. Some of the information in this blog will hopefully be helpful but given the fact that evil is continuously on the move and changing methods of attack, I want to remind readers that the best form of defense we have in this darkening world, is through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, Jehovah, keeping His hand upon us, memorizing and speaking scriptures from the ‘Sword of the Spirit’, the Word of God, and praying over ourselves and our loved ones all throughout our days.

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This Saturday, August 3, 2019, we turned on the tv to learn there was yet, another mass public shooting in our nation. It took place in El Paso, TX. Twenty people were killed, and many were injured. My heart was still broken for the victims of the Garlic Festival shooting in CA that happened the Sunday prior. I had been praying for the families of the victims all week and was still grieving that one… then came another… and then that night, another.

I would like to make it very clear before I go on, that I belong to no political party. I am a registered independent voter. I am a Christian Humanitarian and minister to children internationally. This is not a political blog, so for those who have given so graciously of your time to read it, please do not turn it into one.

For those of you who don’t know me, my family has a nonprofit organization called
The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. Our full mission statement can be found on our website at huggabears.org Our mission is to listen for those who cry out in need, speak for those who have no voice, protect and help those who cannot protect and help themselves, and take the love, peace, and hope of Jesus Christ to those who don’t know how much He loves them.

I felt very led to put forth to those in the world–especially those who live in America, that we need to make a change in how we go about our daily lives publicly.  We must change the way we think and act when we go out now. It is very sad but very true.

For a normal, healthy mind, that has respect for others and would never dream of causing injury or death to their fellow man, it is difficult for us to think that each time we walk out the door we are stepping into a world where we honestly do not know if we will come home or not. We are living in a different time and age, an age that grows darker with each passing day. An age where public shootings are becoming more and more common, in schools… churches… synagogues… mosques… movie theaters… public parks… shopping malls… night clubs…  concerts… city streets… neighborhoods… restaurants… grocery stores… libraries… workplaces… sporting events… bars… have I left anything out? I’m quite sure I have, but hopefully, you get the point. (I now am adding highways and freeways to the ever-growing list.)

Whenever I see interviews being conducted with those who survived the horrors of public shootings, there is usually one person who says, “I heard a sound and I thought it was fireworks.” This is a very true statement and many people speak it because that is what they really think is happening. Why?

In my opinion, there are a couple of reasons for this. I believe that one of the reasons “fireworks” is a thought, is because a person with a healthy mind and good heart that has respect for others doesn’t think about going into a public place and taking people’s lives with a gun. It isn’t the way normal minds and good hearts function. Those of us in the world who are not filled with evil thoughts cannot relate to a mind that is.  In essence, healthy-minded, good-hearted people associate the popping sound they hear with fireworks because our minds can’t process why anyone would be firing a gun in a public place.

The other reason was given to me by my husband, Josh. He said he believed people thought the sound they heard was fireworks, for those of us in the world who do not fire guns or are around others who do, was because we have not had enough personal experience with gunfire to recognize what they really sound like.

Although I am not putting blame on Hollywood for this, I think it is important to state that many of us have only heard guns being fired in movies or television programs, and the sounds being portrayed are not always the same. While there may be some that are similar, many commonly used guns have a popping sound, more like the smaller fireworks that give a short sudden blast of sound that is a bit higher in pitch, as opposed to a thunderous, exploding sound that is deeper in pitch and timbre like what is  portrayed in movies and tv shows. I believe this is an important reason why people who survive public shootings could become confused as to what they are hearing. I would like to encourage readers to find some YouTube videos that demonstrate various sounds of gunfire so you can learn the difference and retrain your ears and minds to what actual gunfire sounds like.

I had the honor of sitting next to Marine Veteran, Rich Karren, who has served our country diligently for decades, on a plane ride to Texas after the El Paso and Dayton shootings. I discussed this theory with him about the differences in sound that people hear in movies or television programs. Since artillery and weapons are one of his specialties, he agreed, there are differences in what is portrayed in movies and television, for the sound of gunfire. He also agreed it would be beneficial for people to gain more understanding of what real gunfire sounds like, so they can quickly identify it and help protect themselves and their families.

I want to try and help people change their mindset so that their first reaction is not, “What is that? Fireworks?” Which takes time away from their escape. Therefore, I felt led to write this blog and start a special project for the HCP Inc. nonprofit children’s organization. The Project is called “Huggabear Cub Care” and is designed to provide parents information on a variety of safety topics for their children which will hopefully assist them in living safer lives in our increasingly dangerous world.

In the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus told us that as time went on and we drew closer to the end of days, things would get worse, not better in the world. Friends, I think we’re there. I encourage you to not take my word for it, but get into God’s Word, the Bible, and read the 24th chapter of Matthew, to enlighten your heart and mind.

So, here we go, for my first article on Huggabear Cub Care, this is what I would like to share with you.

FIRST…

PRAY.

Hebrews 4:16  “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Before you walk out the door to start your day, whether it be to get the kids to school, for you to go to work, run errands, or any time you walk out the front door of your home, take the time to PRAY.
I’m sure for those who do not believe or understand in the power of prayer, you might want to quit reading about now, or maybe you are still reading but with an eye roll and a sigh. I would like to gently say to you, there truly is power in prayer. Jesus is always there, loving us, longing to live in our hearts and have a close walk and relationship with us. I encourage you to pray over yourselves, your family members and friends, every – single – day. Ask God to keep His hand of protection upon you all and place His angels around you all while in the car, in school, at the office, the store, anywhere you go. Every single time you go out into the world, ask God, JEHOVAH SABAOTH – The LORD our Protector, for His protector. I pray Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon formed against me shall prosper!” and I pray it in the Name of Jesus.

There are dozens of scriptures that cry out to God for His protection and one of those that I recommend reading and praying over your family is Psalm 86, again, I encourage you to take the time to look it up and read it through. It is very easy to find the right scriptures for what you are you looking for, Google is an excellent tool to do that. Just type in: Bible verses for_____________ … and fill in the blank for what you are looking for, in this case, protection.

SECOND…

Be PREPARED Ephesians 6:10-18Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

I am not a lover of cell phones. Still, I am very thankful to have such a device when I am out so that I can call for help in case of emergencies. Keeping pepper spray is a good idea and try to keep a tight grip on your keys when in a parking lot so that if you were to need them, you could at least have something to use to defend yourself. I know that doesn’t really apply to a public shooting situation, but it is good overall safety advice.

Another phrase that I hear constantly in personal interviews is: “I never thought something like this would happen here…” or “I never thought something like this would happen to me…”  We must stop thinking like that, period. Evil is what is ultimately behind all these hideous acts of violence and murder. The Bible tells us in
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, prowls around, as a roaring lion, seeking some he may devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” That means anytime, anywhere, be prepared which brings me to my next point.

THIRD…

BE VIGILANT.  Luke 21:36 “But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

When our children were small, vigilance was the responsibility of my husband and myself. As our children grew, my husband would say, “Keep your head on a swivel. Don’t live in fear but stay alert and attentive to your surroundings.” This is also good advice for people when they are out and about on their own, especially young ladies. This is also very important when you are at an outdoor event. (And now, even when you are driving) I tell my children, “Have a good time when you are out, but think like a pirate and ‘keep a weathered eye open’ because we honestly never know when or where evil will strike next.”
While speaking with Marine Veteran, Rich Karren, he gave some tips about this. He explained that he always sits in a public place where he is facing the main entrance and although he is able to spend time engaging with his family and friends, he is also keeping watch over their protection.
While this kind of ability was certainly something Rich mastered while serving in the Marine Corps, this is something that we civilians need to start practicing and mastering so that we improve our tactics of keeping ourselves and our families safe.

FOURTH…

KNOW YOUR AREA AND HAVE A PLAN. Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.”

Wherever it is that you are going, whether it is a location that you have been to a dozen times or are visiting for the first time, learn where the exits are. If you are in a store, know where the exit doors and the employee doors are located. Employee doors lead to storage rooms and there are usually back exits where the stores receive their merchandise. In a life and death situation, forget the formalities and utilize these doors for your escape. Restrooms are not always the answer, they are not usually connected to exits and you could become trapped. So, when you go to a public establishment, take a moment to get to know the place you are in and have a plan in place to get out should you need it. Rich Karren had an additional safety tip that I wanted to add and that is to know what uniforms employees wear in an establishment, this helps you be able to quickly identify who is who. It would also be helpful for parents to teach their children who security guards are, what they wear, and how they can be of help in case of a crisis.

When they are of the right age, and you know your child best, include them in on your plans. You may be thinking, “How could I do this without making my child feel scared?”
I can tell you from years of experience with raising and teaching children, when you are giving them information, how you speak, the tone of your voice, the words you chose, what your facial expressions are, how you act, and the feelings you convey will be how your children will react. Your confidence becomes their confidence. Your fears can become their fears. Don’t put this information into them fearfully, but with gentleness and with the assurance that you love them and just want to always keep them safe.
I have done this with my children since they were small. I would tell them when we were getting into the car to leave, “Let’s pray and ask Jesus to keep us safe while we are driving and all those who will be driving around us.” We pray and then are on our way. I do not make them feel afraid to ride in the car. At the same time, I teach them that accidents in cars can happen, so we must pray, always wear our seat belts and pay close attention to the road.

When we would go into an establishment, I would not present my plan in fear, but I let them see that I respected their intelligence and strength. Never underestimate your children, they are like little sponges absorbing everything that is around them and they have a greater understanding of things than we give them credit for.
When I would speak to my children of my plan to leave if necessary, I did not present it to them with fear, but with wisdom and a calm spirit. They were not afraid. I simply told them there are some people in the world who are not good and should one of them come where we are and we need to leave, these are the ways we can do that. They understood.

FIFTH…

KEEP YOUR CHILDREN WITH YOU. Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

I believe that the first miraculous gift from our Heavenly Father is the gift of salvation and eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. The second miraculous gift we receive from God is our children. They must be cherished and valued as the irreplaceable treasures that they are. From the moment that you are in the parking lot, you should have a hold of a young child’s hand or have them buckled in a shopping cart. I have had times when I was walking through a grocery store parking lot with my children and someone started backing up without checking their mirror. If I had not been holding my children’s hand, I would not have been able to pull them to safety in time. Also, the shooter in El Paso started in a Walmart parking lot, so start being vigilant as soon as you pull into an establishment’s parking lot. Again, don’t become complacent, thinking “It will never happen here or to me”. It can. Once inside the location, keep your children with you. Gone are the days of childhood when children could visit the toy sections of a store while the parent would shop. The world has changed, and to keep our families safe, we must change along with it.

Do not allow your children to go to a restroom by themselves, there are too many stories and videos of predators following children and women into public restrooms and attacking or killing them. It is the same for dressing rooms where people can try on clothing. If you need to check my facts, please feel free to do so. I encourage people to learn what is happening in the world their children live in so they can take precautions for their safety.

If you are in a grocery store, take the time to park the shopping cart or stop what you are doing and go with them to the restroom. The items you are purchasing or whatever it is you are doing is never more important than the safety and lives of your children. Keeping your children close to you is one of the best ways to make sure you can all move to safety quickly if a public shooting occurs. Good parents would never leave without their child(ren), so if the parent has their children with them, the moments of time they have in a shooting situation won’t be spent looking for their children, it will be in protecting them and getting them to safety.

SIXTH…

KEEP AS CALM AS POSSIBLE. Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I know this is easier said than done, but remember, should a shooter come where you are, YOU are your immediate rescuer and, of course, the rescuer of your children. Police officers need time to travel and time will not be on your side. The shooter in Dayton, Ohio was able to shoot 26 people in 32 seconds. Try to keep calm and follow the plan that you already had in place IF it is possible to do so. Keeping yourself together will help you be able to think more clearly and if you have children with you, they will be kept calm too. Keeping calm also helps you keep QUIET which is vital. In the past, we would hear videos of people running and crying, a normal reaction for certain, but if the shooter hasn’t seen you, and doesn’t hear you, it will be a great help to your escape and survival if you are quiet.

SEVENTH….

RUN! HIDE! FIGHT! TELL! Instructions from Officers of the Law

If you are in a public place and can run, try to stay as low to the ground as possible so that you are not in the eye line of the shooter. If you have small children who cannot keep up, carry them. Do not worry about anything else. Purses, bags, phones, or whatever else you may have with you are replaceable. You and your family members are not. As you run, pray again and ask God, Jehovah Sabaoth, to shelter you, your family and those around you so that you can escape without injury.

If you are not able to run and can hide, police officers say that this is the second act of defense you have. For example, the shooter who went inside the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado had many people trapped. Some were able to run and escape, but some could not. Some of those who could not run said that they tried to hide or laid on the ground very still, as if dead, not making any sound and being very still. If by chance you find yourself in this horror with your child or children, lay down on top of the child to protect them. The shooter in El Paso shot and killed a beautiful, young mother and father and when the police moved the mother’s body, they found she was laying on top of her two-month-old son, who survived.

I will say it again if you ever find yourself in this kind of hell on earth, pray. If you are not a believer, it might be a good time to try Jesus and call out to Him for help. Jesus didn’t say that we wouldn’t have any trouble in the earth He told us directly in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Many schools are also teaching children to fight. If they are trapped inside a classroom and cannot escape or hide, they should find whatever items they possible could use to throw at their attacker: books, desks, chairs, if they were close to the shooter, to use a sharpened pencil or pen. They should look for anything that could possibly defend them from the shooter to bring him injury or distraction. Again, praying to Jesus Christ and calling out His name for help is always the most powerful thing a person can do.

If you were able to run outside of the location where the shooter is, then you can call 911 for help, but do not waste your time making that call until after you are out. Establishments are making great strides in how they keep their patrons safe. Many establishments now have systems in place which will notify the police to come. It is important that you get yourself, your children and influence as many others to follow you to safety as possible and get OUT. Do not delay. As soon as you hear shots, DO NOT ASSUME IT’S FIREWORKSDO NOT HESITATE to get you and your children out to safety.

As I sit here writing this blog, I am overwhelmed that I have spent so much time writing instructions to parents on how to try and keep their children safe in a public shooting. It is unfathomable for me. I remember when the shooting at Columbine shook the nation and we hoped we would never see the likes of it again. What once was an unbelievable incident of horror has now become a monthly, sometimes weekly occurrence in our country. An evil epidemic plaguing our nation that I am battling with the power of prayer. I wish my children could have known the world that I grew up in. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t this.

I know this blog won’t change the evil that is out there. My hope is that you will take to heart my only intention is to help keep you and your family safe. My hope is that you will talk to your children, who have probably already had as many training drills on how to handle a school shooter as they have had fire drills in their classrooms. My hope is you will teach your children the love of Jesus, the power of prayer, and how to speak God’s Word to battle against spirits of darkness that will certainly arise in the world they live in. My hope is you will teach them how to live on this beautiful earth that unfortunately has some very dark and evil people living in it. My hope is you will teach them to pray for the police officers, first responders and security guards who serve with their lives to protect our lives. My hope is you will teach your children to live vigilantly, to know their areas, make game plans, to run, hide, fight and be brave. For when you do the things you are most afraid of, especially to protect the life of someone else, you are very, very brave.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”