A Divine Dream, Two Divine Signs, and A Confirmation About Huggabear Farm

The story which I am about to tell you, at least to me, is nothing short of amazing. A very clear message sent from God to myself, my husband and our children. You may not believe what I am about to write and that is okay. I thank you all the same for taking the time to read it. Never-the-less, whether anyone believes this story or not, it is all 100% true.

Before I begin the story I need to explain the reasoning for my writing it today.

In the month of March my oldest child, Aven Salei, turned 18 and my honorary niece Valerie Nerone had come to visit her. During her visit she shared with us the name of an inspiring pastor she had been watching online during the Covid months. His name is Pastor Michael Todd of the Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Our family watched a sermon he gave on the first Sunday of January 2020 and it was all about “Vision”. In the sermon he told us that when God gives you a vision of something that He wants you to do, you need to write it down. I had the idea to write this blog before I heard him say that, but felt more led to get it done after I heard his sermon. Then Easter came and with it our Huggabear Children’s Project work so the blog was delayed.

Then today we watched his sermon that was from the first Sunday of January 2021 called “Anchored” and in it he taught about how God speaks to us. To illustrate his sermon personally, he showed us how God had been speaking something directly to him about the work he was to do for the year 2021 and how God showed him not one, not two, but three clear and direct signs to confirm the work to him.

After seeing that sermon I knew that today would be the day I would write this blog. So, I want to say thank you to Valerie for sharing with us about Pastor Michael Todd, you were being used of God to speak to me and thank you to Pastor Michael Todd for those two powerful and personally significant sermons that you gave. God definitely used you to speak to me as well!

In order for you to have a solid understanding of this amazing story, how powerful God is, and how He can work in a person’s heart, I have to give you a little bit of my history with my homeland.

I was born on August, 26, 1971 in the Maricopa County Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. I have lived in Phoenix all of my life, which up to now has been 49 years, 8 months and 11 days.

I have always loved Phoenix. I have had the blessing of traveling to many places in this world and always loved coming home to Phoenix. I even loved the heat, well, kind of.

If I am being totally honest, I dreaded the heat. Every year I dreaded it. But I repeated the words of others around me saying things like, “Yes, but it’s a dry heat.” (Which does make sense when you have experienced humidity!) or I would say things like, “You just stay inside and move from air conditioned place to air conditioned place!” or “Our summers are hard but our winters are beautiful!” (Which also is quite true.) Josh felt the exact same way as me and even said the exact same things I did. We both loved Phoenix, Arizona. It was home.

However, as time went by, every year of my life, the summers were killing my love for living in Phoenix… along with all my trees. 😦 This past summer 2020 really did me in.

Then something very peculiar and significant happened. I had a dream.

It was in the month of May 2020. It was the week after Mother’s Day. If you haven’t read it, I wrote a blog about that Mother’s Day and what an incredible day God blessed me with if you would like to read it as well.

The dream was of my family, Josh, Aven, MaCaedyn, Samuel and myself, all standing in a tightly bound circle with our arms wrapped around each other. Outside our circle was another larger circle of people. Some we were close to, some we were not so close to. Not all my relationships were in this circle, just certain ones.

The best way I could describe how this looked is to use the diagram of a nucleus with a ring of electrons around it. My family was the nucleus and all the people standing side by side in a ring around us were the electrons.

In the dream I looked up and I saw that slowly, one by one, those people were being spaced away from our family. Like they were slowly floating backward. As I watched, I saw a giant pair of white glowing hands in-between my family and the outer ring of people and I realized that the hands were separating the people from us, creating distance between us.

When I woke up the next morning, I shared the dream with Josh and my children. I also shared it with a few prayer warrior friends who found it very interesting, yet, none of us understood what it meant.

That was May 2020 and anyone who lives in Phoenix will tell you, the summer heat of Phoenix doesn’t wait until the typical summer months of June, July and August to arrive. It can begin in May… or even April. As I sit outside right now writing this blog April 11, 2020, I’m sweating. Bleh.

After my Mother’s Day 2020 adventure to visit Christopher Creek to escape the heat, my family wanted to have more of that time in the woods and out of the ‘flames’ of Phoenix. We couldn’t afford to take a trip anywhere so we would save up just enough money for gas, then we would pack a picnic and our baseball gear and head up to the woods just for a day. For us, it was thrilling! We were escaping the heat and could spend an entire day outdoors playing in the cool woods without boiling ourselves and burning our skin like we would in Phoenix.

It was during the Covid summer months of 2020 that a significant change began to take place inside my heart and Josh’s. Every morning that we got up to take one of our road trip adventures to the woods we were filled with so much pure joy and we discovered that joy wasn’t just because we wanted to escape the heat, it was because of the land we were going to.

Growing up, my Mema and Papa had three “homes”. One was their Phoenix residence, one was in Payson, Arizona and the other was a cabin that my Papa built out of internment camp sectionals from World War II at Mormon Lake nestled in the Ponderosa Pines.

When I had the blessing of being able to go to the cabin, all through my childhood and into my adult years, I felt something that I didn’t have when I was in Phoenix. It was like I was a different person. I was more peaceful. I slept better at night and had more energy during the day. I breathed in the clean air easy, and as a person who has dealt with asthma since the age of 3 months that is always a welcome relief. In the forest, I loved seeing the blue of the sky, the animals and most of all, the trees. I loved the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and the crunch of the dry pine needles beneath my feet. I loved the sounds of the birds and forest critters. I also loved the lack of sounds from the city of constant traffic, sirens, and helicopters. I loved how the air smelled of pines as soon as I arrived and stepped out of the car. I loved how bright and brilliant the stars were at night and, most importantly, I loved how I could step outside and get away from man made things and submerge myself in God made things so quickly, so easily. I felt closer to God there. I still love all those things now, even more than when I was young.

When I am in the woods, on the beach, or in any other beautiful place of nature made by God, it cleanses me. My stresses melt away and even when there are circumstances of daily life that must be handled, it just seems so much easier for me when I am a beautiful place of God’s nature. Being out in the open reminds me just how big my Beautiful God is and seeing all He has created leaves me speechless.

Then I had another realization… something that is so obvious to me that I am actually a bit embarrassed to say I didn’t recognized it sooner. I am the author of The Huggabears children’s books. I have created an entire imaginary land called the Bearwood Forest and a town called Bearford Falls where the Huggabear Family and all kinds of other woodland critters dwell. The idea for that book series came from God and the place that He had me create is based upon the woods of the Ponderosa Pines, the very same woods where my Mema would take me on long walks and teach me about the love of Jesus, the power of prayer and God’s Word. I write about the woods in every single story of The Huggabears and my love for it is clearly reflected in all those stories. I realized that deep down inside my heart, the woods have been calling to me for years and years, even through my ministry work. Yet, I still live in the desert.

I came to understand that I am so much happier in the woods, Josh is happier in the woods and so are our children. So why are we living in a city in the desert? Josh began to realize this it too. We came to this understanding at the exact same time and felt the exact same way. When we shared it with one another it was such a powerful, beautiful moment in our marriage. All these years we had shared a great love for living in Phoenix and then, all at once, we both had been changed and everything was different. We longed to lived someplace different.

We began sharing our thoughts about our feelings with the children and wondered what they would think about moving. Well… we wondered what MaCaedyn and Samuel would think about it. All of her life we knew that Aven hated the heat of Phoenix. Detested it. Loathed it. Despised it. All those adjectives would fit into her annual descriptions of her feelings about the summers when the heat came. Though she will admit she does love swimming and waterparks, she always wanted to go and be in the snow and loves being wrapped in warm clothes, fuzzy socks and her treasured sleeping bag. Still, I honestly didn’t know how Samuel and MaCaedyn felt about the heat. So, one day during school I began to share with them what was happening my heart and how daddy and I were feeling like we wanted to live in woods. Both MaCaedyn and Samuel immediately shared that they would love to live in the woods and Samuel was quite specific that we were going to live in Flagstaff. Not that he hoped to live in Flagstaff, not that he wished we would live in Flagstaff, but that we will be living in Flagstaff and that Huggabear Farm would be built there.

They also began to tell me how much they loved being in colder weather. Whenever we took winter trips, they loved bundling up in coats, hats, gloves and boots. It didn’t bother them at all. MaCaedyn said, “You know, in the cold you can always add more clothes, but in the heat you can only get so naked.” Ha! Samuel and Aven also pointed out that we spend so many days stuck inside during the summer so if we moved to a place where there was snow, we might not be able to go out everyday but you can still play in snow whereas you can’t play in heat unless it involved a pool–which we don’t have, or water of some kind.

We also learned during the summer of 2020 that Aven has health issues which arise during the heat which she doesn’t deal with during the cooler months. Josh and I also noticed that we have more pain and inflammation in our bodies during the summer than we do during the cold months. These reasons were added onto the pile of why we wanted to move to the forest.

Once we learned of our family’s feelings about living in Phoenix and the heat we began to pray about it to see what God’s will was for us. We asked very specifically in our prayers that if God wanted us to stay here to use us for His glory in Phoenix, Arizona, then that is exactly what we would do, and we asked Him that if it was not His will for us to move to the woods that He would remove the desire from all of our hearts and that we would be perfectly content to stay and get back to loving the heat. We also asked Him if it is was His will for us to move to woods that He would make that clear to us as well.

Every day we prayed and every day the yearning to move to the forest grew stronger and our desire to stay in Phoenix diminished. It is still that way now. During our family scripture reading almost every night Josh read a chapter that spoke “the land you are going to inherit” or “the land you are going to cross the Jordan to inherit”. I looked it up and there is a tiny little speck of a town that is called Jordan which we would be pass or “cross over” when traveling from Phoenix to Flagstaff. This inspired us even more!

We decided to use our time escaping the heat as time to explore some towns and places to see where it was that would be part of God’s plan for us to live. Samuel thought this a huge waste of time as he knew that we were going to live in Flagstaff. He said it over and over again, “It’s Flagstaff… Flagstaff… Flagstaff… You all are wrong, it’s Flagstaff.” Still, we went and explored and with every place we went, though we had fun together as a family, we also felt it together as a family: NO. This is not the town. This is not the place. I can’t explain it to you other than to say we just felt it in and knew in our hearts it wasn’t the place God had for us.

I hope all of that gives you a greater understanding of where we were and what we were praying for because NOW we get to the really cool part of the story! This is what I was supposed to write down and share with whomever will read it!

When I first began writing The Huggabears books, God gave me a dream of a place where children could come to be ministered to. It was a location that looked like the Bearwood Forest and had the town of Bearford Falls from my Huggabear books. A land full of imagination, joy and the love of Jesus as well as being the home base for The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. ministry.

I thought the place was going to be a small children’s amusement park like The Enchanted Island or something, but I could never come up with the right name for it. My vision lacked complete clarity so I just kept creating the stories, the songs, and doing the Huggabear nonprofit work.

When Samuel was a baby he was thrilled with farming. I remember when he was three years old he saw pumpkins in the store and asked me where they came from. I told him about farms and he began planting and growing pumpkins and other vegetables in the backyard. When he was five years old he told me, “Someday, when I grow up, I’m going to have a farm.”

God told me in that very moment the place He gave me a vision of for children was going to be called “Huggabear Farm”! I can tell you right where I was standing when it happened. We had been working in the garden and were coming in the house to wash up. Samuel turned to me and said what he said and I was standing on the patio. I stopped in my tracks as God spoke Huggabear Farm to my heart. After that, the kids and I talked about the dream of Huggabear Farm everyday. We discussed ideas in school, we made drawings and lists, we watched educational videos and we began praying for it to come. This would be a farm like no other the world has ever seen because it would be a ministry farm. It wouldn’t just be about things we grow from the ground, it would be about planting the seeds of the love of Jesus into the hearts of others. A place where all families could come to for free and never have to pay for admission. A place where children would play and make memories. A place that would have the Word of God all though it so that the people who came to visit would be submerged in the teachings and love of God’s Word while they were there. Huggabear Farm would be full of music and laughter. We would put on shows and programs that would teach the love, power, healing and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. It would be a place of education, imagination and salvation. God revealed to me that there are people in this world who might never step inside the doors of a church… but they would visit a farm. While they were there, we would gently plant the seeds of the love of Jesus into their hearts and spirits.

The children and I had a pretty good idea of all the things we should have on Huggabear Farm and when we would talk about it with Josh he always was very supportive, but I could tell he hadn’t seen the vision for it yet. So I prayed for him and asked God, if this was something that our family was meant to build together, please give Josh the vision for it because there was no way I could ever build it without him.

God answered that prayer while we were housesitting for our friends John and Gerry Dillingham. They live on a golf course and each night we would walk outside and be in the beauty of the green course with all the trees and landscaping. Then we would come inside and the kids and I would sit and draw plans for the farm. It was in the open space of the golf course that God gave Josh the vision. He saw it clearly before him and I knew it was God that did it and not us because after Josh saw the vision of it, that was all he could talk about!

We decided to take a step of faith and start building what we could where we lived. We knew it couldn’t be much as we have a small home and yards, but we were going to do the best we could with what we have. We began building in the summer of 2018 and we had the majority of it finished by that fall 2018. We wanted to show God how serious we were about doing this and prove to Him that He could trust us if He provided us the land and the funds, we would build the real Huggabear Farm. But for that time, we were thrilled to have the mini farm.

We began having events for children of all ages, from infants and toddlers to teens and young adults. We had an opening day celebration, two pumpkin parties, a “Boo Bash” teen party with home made haunted house, two Christmas parties, a few birthday parties for our kids and an Easter egg hunt… then came Covid. We had to stop holding events at home, but we have never stopped working, building, improving, planning, designing and adding to the “Mini” Huggabear Farm.

Before our hearts changed about having the farm in Phoenix, we had looked at land all over the place! Anywhere we saw land for sale that looked like a nice parcel, we would visit it, pray over it and ask God to reveal His will. We didn’t and still don’t have one dime to build this farm but that doesn’t worry or detract us in anyway at all. We know God does and He would supply the needs! As God changed our hearts about the farm being in Phoenix, He began showing us that we could never do all that we wanted to during the summer months. It is just too darn hot! And for us, summer was a very important time because kids were out of school and looking for things to do.

I went back and forth on that for several months. Should we stay here in Phoenix where there are so many kids in need? How would they get to us if we were someplace far away? I was praying about this while watering the garden one evening and I asked God that very question, “How would the children be able to afford to drive up to us if they are children in need?” Immediately I heard that ever familiar whisper inside my head, “Do you really think I can’t get the children to you?”

Talk about humble! Boy did I feast on humble pie that night! I went in and told Josh and from that night on, I haven’t worried one bit about the location and whether or not children could come to us. Wherever it is God places us, He will make a way for the children to get there.

We knew so many things that Huggabear Farm would have on it and that it would be a place where Samuel could grow pumpkins, but we knew he didn’t want to sell the pumpkins, he wanted to give them away to children. So the question kept coming to our minds, “What would we grow and sell on Huggabear Farm to help support it so we could keep admission free?”

We wondered about apples or pecans trees. We even planted ten pecan seeds to grow saplings. Not one of them sprouted. So we kept praying. We knew that God would reveal to us what He wanted us to grow to sell so we could support the farm and our family.

No to the amazing part of the story! Not that all that wasn’t amazing, but this is pretty cool!

One day in the year 2017, I was in Hobby Lobby buying some items for a new Huggabear book and I saw an old fashioned red truck. Now, if you don’t know about The Huggabear books, I create all of the illustrations for the stories with my family by building miniaturized scenes that I photograph. If you have never seen the Huggabears, you can visit our website at: huggabears.org to see what they look like.

The red truck that I saw at Hobby Lobby was perfect for Daddy bear to have as a work truck. It was the exact size I needed and looked like it would be a perfect fit for Daddy Huggabear to get in. It wasn’t fancy, just a plain red truck. The only problem was it cost $70 which was far more than I could afford at that time and, oddly enough, I didn’t know about the 40% coupons on their app.

Now, if you go to Hobby Lobby on a regular basis you know that eventually everything in that store gets marked down, but I never saw these red trucks get marked down. Never.

Then one day I went and they were all gone. I was disappointed but I thought, if God wants me to have a red truck for Daddy Huggabear, they will bring them back and He will provide the funds for it.

Two years passed by, it was now 2019. I went into Hobby Lobby and they had red trucks! They were a little different as they were a little bit smaller and they had a cute Christmas tree mounted in the back, but I checked the price and they were on sale! Only $25! MaCaedyn and I scooped one up and happily brought it home to show the rest of the family who all loved it.

I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to the outside of the truck itself. My main concern was whether or not Daddy Huggabear would fit inside and when I measure the windows and saw he would I was so happy! I gave thanks to God for making that purchase happen for the Huggabear Family. I knew I wasn’t going to be creating a book where Daddy Huggabear would drive the truck for a while, so I placed it in our workshop with some of my other story set props and went on my way.

Fast forward another full year. We are now in the year 2020.

I was working on my latest Huggabear book “The Ooky-Spooky, Creaky, Creepy, Scary Old House on Hallow’s Hill” which I released on October 31, 2020. This story doesn’t have Daddy Huggabear’s truck in it, but I was working around all of my story set props while creating it.

One day, I went out to get something from the workshop (or as Josh calls it the Huggarage) and I happened to look at the red truck as I passed by. I smiled and said, “Thank You again God for that truck.”

And then God said to me, “Go back and read what is on it.” I stopped in my tracks.

I didn’t hear an audible voice like when you or I speak. It was like a whisper in my brain. People who haven’t had this experience won’t understand that but for those who have had it, you will understand. The words were strong and clear. I have had this kind of experience before and I knew it was God, so I immediately turned around and went back to the truck. I pulled it out from it’s storage space and looked at it.

When I bought it, I had seen the Christmas tree, but was so focused upon the size of the window, the driver’s seat and steering wheel to make sure Daddy Huggabear would fit, I didn’t pay any attention to the side of the truck which had Christmas trees on it and read: “Farm Fresh Christmas Trees Fir, Spruce, Pine, Cedar”. I read the words aloud and after I did, God spoke to me again and said, “This is what Huggabear Farm will be. Christmas trees and Pumpkins.”

Of course! We could grow and sell Christmas trees to support the farm!

I grabbed hold of the truck and ran into the house! I was so excited and couldn’t wait to share with my family what God had just told me about Huggabear Farm… but everyone was on a device– some with headsets on and didn’t want to stop to listen to what I had to say. So I just took the truck back into the workshop and placed it back on the shelf and kept the Word from the Lord inside my heart.

That was in October 2020.

Time past and one day in November 2020, Josh went to do some grocery shopping for me. We have a game in our household that we love to play about staying on the budget. Whenever one of us goes shopping, we head out with our list in hand and usually come home bragging about how we stayed totally on budget or even came in under it. But this day Josh came home very excited and said, “I went $15 over budget today, but I had to get you something!”

I was excited to see what it was that made him so excited. “I saw these little Christmas barns for sale, and I started to get you one, but when I saw this, I just had to get it for you,” he said happily.

As he pulled the gift out of the bag it wasn’t just excitement that washed over me, it was the power of the Holy Spirit. Immediately, I clasped my hands over my mouth and stared at it in amazement.

“It’s a Christmas tree Farm!” he said with joy.

He had bought me a small, porcelain, light up, Christmas tree Farm that read at the top: “Farm Fresh Christmas Trees Fir, Spruce, Pine, Cedar”.

For a moment I could hardly speak or even breath as I knew that God was now speaking to Josh what He had spoken to me. Both items said the exact same thing, yet one was purchased by myself over a year ago at one location and the other was purchased by Josh at another. It was incredible!

I started jumping up and down and ran into the workshop to get the truck and began rattling off the story of how God had spoke to me that Huggabear Farm would be a Christmas tree farm. Josh and the kids listened intently and were astounded at the story and the two items which we clearly understood to be signs from God before us. I remember Josh saying, “I bet this is one time you are thankful that none of us listened to you! If we had, it wouldn’t make this so incredible!”

MaCaedyn told me that she actually had heard me tell my story so she knew that God had spoken to me first!

But Josh was right. If he had heard my story, then this sign wouldn’t really be a sign from God but just something that Josh did out of love and kindness. Josh NOT knowing my story and what God had shown me made it so much more powerful!

Right then and there we decided that we believed both of these things were signs from God and we also came to understand that the dream I had where the people were being distanced from us was also God communicating to us that we were going to be moving somewhere else. Somewhere other than Phoenix and that distance was going to be coming between us and the faces around us which were being moved back.

We decided that we were not going to tell a soul about what had happened with the two signs, but instead, we were going to pray nightly as a family for God to send us a third confirmation that Huggabear Farm was going to be a Christmas tree and pumpkin farm. We know God works in threes and we just wanted to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that what we were experiencing was communication from God, just like Gideon did in the book of Judges with the fleece. (Judges 6:33-40)

So we prayed and asked that God would send a third confirmation from someone outside of our family unit. It could be anyone and in anyway, from a relative, a friend or even better– total stranger! No one had ever said this to us before so we knew that if someone said it to us now it would be a clear confirmation. They could have had a vision, a dream, an idea, or whatever! However God wanted to give it to us, we asked that He could give us that third confirmation that Huggabear Farm would be a Christmas tree and pumpkin farm.

My family was so excited! We all love Christmas trees so much and use them to teach children about the everlasting love of Jesus just like the ancient German missionaries of the past did in the pagan regions. I even wrote a lesson about this from my character of Obadiah in my third Intercessors book “Confession”. In fact, part of our Huggabear work at Christmastime is to give Christmas trees to families in need so that their children can enjoy having a tree on Christmas day. The more we thought about it the more it made perfect sense! How could we not see this before? It was the perfect crop for Huggabear Farm! After all, bears live in the forest, we wanted to live in the forest and Christmas trees are something that could make a profit to support the farm every year! In my Huggabear books I never had given Daddy Huggabear a job, now I could! He would grow Christmas trees! It was all perfect!

Everyday we would spend time talking about it and everyday we went shopping we were surrounded by it! I have seen cute Christmas decorations that had a truck with a Christmas tree on it and say “Merry Christmas” in the past, but in the year 2020 they didn’t just say “Merry Christmas”. Everywhere it would say, “Christmas Tree Farm”!!!! It was in every store, everywhere we went! Then I had a wake up call, which again is embarrassing to admit I didn’t notice sooner… we keep Christmas trees up year round in and outside our house! Just little ones, but we decorate them for each holiday and we have two inside our home year round and FIVE outside on our patio year round! I also have three growing in our front yard! I used to have 7 but each summer the heat kills another one! (Boooo! Hissss!)

But still! Seeing all this was like that scene in the movie “I Can Only Imagine”. The writer of that song had been writing that phrase all around him for years and he didn’t see it until the time was right. And the time was God’s time. We were now seeing how God had been speaking this to us and preparing us for this for years! Which just added to our joy!!!

All of this excitement compiled with their dreams of experiencing a White Christmas (which is one of our holiday movie favorites) inspired the children to want to spend Christmas in the snow. They didn’t want to leave our home on Christmas Eve, they wanted to have dinner and our traditional events and our traditional Christmas morning but then they wanted to be packed and ready so that we could all–pups included, jump into the Huggamobile and head for the woods! And there was only one place they wanted to go: Flagstaff, naturally.

After weeks of searching, God led Josh to find the most darling cabin for rent where we could take the dogs. After opening gifts and having some breakfast, we headed for the glories of the forest in Flagstaff! There wasn’t much snow, but that didn’t stop us from having an incredible time! Our children were so happy. They said it had been one of the best Christmases of their lives– outside of Christmas at Disneyland of course. 😉 God blessed us so richly and we enjoyed every single minute of that trip!

A few days after we came home, I went outside and called my friend Gerry who couldn’t wait to hear all about our holiday and I about hers. After I had told her about our trip I said, “We all love it up there so much. It is such a great town! We also went to Williams because we love it there too! In Flagstaff we have all that we need up there as far as city needs go, even a university, but then a few minutes out, you are in the thick of the woods.” I conveyed how much we all want to live there–even the little dogs! They loved it! Reblen, who usually spends her days resting on our chaise was outside running and playing everyday. She was the first one out the door!

After a while of sharing how much we love it there and how we are begging God to let us move there if it is His will, Gerry said, “Angelique! Huggabear Farm should grow Christmas trees and pumpkins! It could be a Christmas tree and pumpkin farm!”

As soon as the words came out of her mouth I jumped up off my seat, ran to the house and started yelling in the door, “Gerry said it! Gerry said it! She said Huggabear Farm should grow Christmas trees and pumpkins!!”

My family was ecstatic! Poor Gerry probably thought I had gone crazy! I took the time to explain everything to her about what we had been praying for and when I did she too was amazed! God used my friend of so many years, to give us our third confirmation: Huggabear Farm will grow Christmas trees and pumpkins amidst lots and LOTS of love, joy and imagination!

We would love for it to be in Flagstaff because we have fallen in love with the town–and we love Williams and the Historic Route 66! But does the Huggabear Farm have to be in Flagstaff? No. That is a place we love and the forest I have known all my life. But we all agree, we want God’s perfect will to be fulfilled. Because when it is, wherever He leads us, it will be absolutely, totally and completely perfect! We are placing none of our limits on God’s plan because we know, He knows best. Our prayer right now is, “Lead us Lord, we will follow!”

There even came a great change in my heart about my dream home. I had always hoped to have a home of my own someday, something that reflected our family with enough space for us all to be together and have places of our own as well. We would call it Huggabear House. I, sad to say, had placed another limitation on God where that dream home was concerned. I wanted it to be single story with no stairs, but even that desire began to change in my heart. I would take whatever home God wanted me to have, stairs and all, and if it was an old home that needed love and restoration, we would do that too.

God had transformed my heart during the year 2020 where this dream was concerned and I am so glad that He did because I understand that He has plans for me, my family, and our ministry work that far surpass anything that I could ever hope or imagine. I want God’s perfect will to be done in my life over my own will for I know He knows best, after all… He created me.

So that’s my amazing story! Some people may read this and not be impressed. They may say it is all just one big coincidence. But we know better. We know that there is no word in the Hebrew language that means coincidence. It is all God! And we know that He spoke to us direct three times. Once with a toy truck. Once with a porcelain Christmas decoration and once through a faithful, Jesus loving friend. He also spoke to me many times through my dreams!

The month is now April and we still haven’t heard from God about when or where He wants us to move. But He has given us work to do in the meantime while we wait on His perfect timing and plan. We took a little missions trip on Easter Sunday to do some Huggabear work for the homeless in Flagstaff, enjoyed a trek through the woods, had a picnic and even made a snowbear! There was no snow where we were on Christmas but we were blessed with a little on Easter! Samuel declared that we were the only people in the history of the world to create a snowbear and snow bearpaw on Easter Sunday!

We are still waiting on God and I admit it is hard sometimes in the waiting, especially when you are so excited to go and do something you know you are meant to do. It makes me think of Abraham and Sarah who had to wait 25 years for God to fulfill His promise that one day they would have a son. My waiting is much easier because I have my beautiful family waiting with me and while we wait together we are loving each other, praying together and seeking God’s perfect will for our future place of ministry.

I encourage you as Pastor Michael Todd encouraged me, if God has given you a vision for a work that you are to do, write it down! Share it with others so that when God brings that vision to fruition, not only you, but all you shared it with will know that God always keep His promises, He does speak to people, He has never changed and He is still able to perform miracles!

Oh yes, and Samuel wants me to make sure that everyone knows that he knew first that it was Flagstaff… just in case it really is Flagstaff!

Josh’s Career Path – A True Walk of Faith

Today is August 10, 2020 and our family is celebrating!

Why, you may ask? In order for you to have a complete understanding of why, I must go back to March 2019.

I picked up the mail one day and in it was a notification from the company Josh worked for, DiTech Financial. They had filed for bankruptcy.

When Josh came home I gave it to him and he told me they had explained to everyone what was going on, but he wasn’t the least bit worried about it.

A few months later, we learned that the company had been sold but Josh’s department was told that they were going to keep them all on staff and not make any changes. He even had a meet and greet with the new owners and new bosses.

On September 15, 2019, the phone rang during the middle of the day and it was Josh.
I don’t pick up the phone during the middle of the day because Monday through Friday I am teaching my children in school, so for Josh to call me at that time it had to be important. It was.

Josh had been informed that the new company had decided not to keep his department and that their last day would be October 1, 2019.

Again, Josh was not worried. Not – in – the – least. He was calm, cool and totally confident that God had a plan for him and was keeping us all firmly tucked inside His mighty, mighty hands.

Now, you may be wondering how could a man with the responsibilities of a family with three children who are loaded with dreams and hopes for the future, be completely calm, cool and full of unshakable faith when he was told that he was going to be without a job in a few weeks?

In a word. Experience.

Josh, and the rest of our crew, are veterans when it comes to him being laid off from jobs. In fact, I keep telling him he could teach classes to others on how to handle being laid off.

In 2007 when the housing market crashed, Josh was a home appraiser apprentice. You see where this is going, right? In order to complete his apprenticeship he had to accomplish 2000 hours of work. He started off well after completely his schooling, and had been blessed with a wonderful boss whose company was based in Anthem, AZ.
Josh loved the work and did anywhere from 7 to 10 houses per week. He was also richly blessed that he was paid for every house he appraised which is not always the case for apprentices. When the housing market collapsed, he was thrilled if he got to appraise 3 houses per month.

Josh had other work that he did while still trying to accomplish his 2000 hours or apprentice work, and of course, it took him close to double the time to finish his task because of the status of the housing market… but he did it! I was so proud of his hard work and perseverance.

We didn’t see it at the time, but God had a plan.

In 2007 after the market crashed, Josh went to work for Countrywide and it wasn’t too long until they had a massive nationwide layoff of over 3500 employees. Since Josh was new to the company and landed in that 3500.

The next company Josh worked for was called Marix… I honestly have no idea what it was he did there, but he was happy and he learned a lot about mortgage investments and client service management. After about three years, Marix was sold off in pieces, but Josh was offered a job at Chase Bank as the Senior Operations Manager which was a tremendous blessing from God. He was very happy at Chase, he made some beautiful, life long friends and learned much more about his industry… which I couldn’t explain to you at all. But, after about three years of working there, Chase had a layoff and Josh’s position was one of those jobs cut.

Back in the saddle again! Giddy-up! 

The layoff from Chase was much harder. The kids were all involved in sports and activities and they were just beginning to take off. Aven had been on the Sunrays Bronze Excel gymnastic team and had skipped over the silver level and was now on the gold team. Samuel and MaCaedyn were working hard on becoming first degree black belts in Tae Kwon Do and all of it cost lots of pretty pennies– pennies which we didn’t have anymore.

But God had a plan. God always has a plan.

I cannot name names, but I can say that God sent us a very special angel who blessed us so richly during that time that we did not have to take the kids out of any of their programs. Everything was paid for in full for the children. It was a miracle from the Lord and we were more than thankful for it.

Josh was laid off that time for over a year. Every single day, except Sundays, he was searching for a job and applied for over 300 of them. He took any and every side job he was offered and did everything he could to keep us afloat. I also taught private voice and piano lessons from home.

The stories for the job hunt for Josh were always the same, “You’re over qualified.” or “This position is for internal hiring or internal transfer.” And so on.

Finally, God brought him the job with DiTech and we were ecstatic because this layoff had lasted over a year. As always, Josh loved his job, the people he worked with, and he really excelled there.

By the time he got to that job, he was a changed man. I was a changed woman. We were a changed family.

We had learned to be thankful for every single blessing that came our way.
We learned to appreciate the small and simple things of life.
We had a home. We had food. We had clothes. We had vehicles, yes they were old and needed a lot of constant care, but we had them. During that time we were also blessed with a gift of our little “Hope Van”, but that is such a beautiful story, it deserves it’s own blog so I will save that for later.

Our children didn’t have to give up their dreams and their goals and we didn’t have to give up the way we wanted to raise and home-school them.
Yes, we had struggles and challenges, but we were never poor. Through it all, God was there, teaching us, guiding us showing us we could trust Him for everything. God was good. God is good. God will always be good. All the time. He never, ever fails.

Now, you may be wondering why on earth our family has gone through so many layoffs.
People who have beliefs in other faiths that teach about karma and the like might think that Josh wasn’t a good man, perhaps he was getting pay back, what he “gave around, came around” or something like that. But that is not what we believe.

I can honestly say that my husband, Josh Cox, is a very good man. And I know exactly why we went through all of these layoffs.

They were periods of preparation, training and testing, though we did not realize it at the start, we certainly know it for sure now.

For those of you who don’t know us, our family has a nonprofit organization for children in need called The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. We started that organization right after Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005 and in 2008, during the midst of a challenging recession, we filed our application for our 501c3 status. On June 5, 2009 we received our declaration letter from the IRS that The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. was an official 501c3 tax exempt nonprofit organization in the United States. That was a great day!

One of the many things that we learned through all these layoffs was how to be better givers because we know what it is like to be in need of help.

We learned how to truly walk by faith. The definition of faith can be found in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Let’s repeat that last part, “certain of what we do not see.”
To walk by faith, truly walk by faith is not something easily done. It takes practice. You can’t just talk about it, or just sing about it, or just post scriptures with beautiful backgrounds about it. You have to do it. You have to walk it. We learned how to do it.
We learned how to walk by faith and faith alone. It is not easy, I can tell you that, but boy is it life changing for the better!

If you haven’t walked the road of being laid off for a length of time personally, there is no way to truly understand all that it involves. It really is an experience you must have with a family to be able to fully understand. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have or have had other challenges which could require walks of faith. Not a partial walk, not an occasion walk, but a full throttle walk of faith. Not being able to see at all what was ahead. At times, not hearing any word. Not knowing what was happening or going to happen. Just free falling through space and time believing and trusting that the Almighty hand of God would be there to catch you.

Trust. That is what we really learned through all of the layoff days. While our faith was increased we had to learn the difference between faith and trust. In my opinion, faith was easier to learn. I have always believed with my whole heart that God’s Word is truth and I have developed a strong personal relationship with my precious Jesus through the years. I know He is alive, real and sovereign. I know ‘With God all things are possible.’ (Matthew 19:26). I know that nothing is too difficult in all the universe for the God who created the universe. I know He holds my life in His hand and that of my family and most importantly, I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins because He and my Heavenly Father God, love me more than I could possibly imagine.

But trust… trust can be much harder to learn. You see, trust is different from faith because while faith is in the believing, trust is in the waiting. With trust, you have to learn to let things go that you cannot fix. But isn’t that the hard part? Letting God have total control so He can orchestrate what He wants accomplished? We all have had the experiences where we want to keep things in our own hands so that we can fix it. We can set things right… right? But God has a plan and He always knows best.

I often teach my children when they would bring me a toy to fix but sometimes while watching me work on it they would become impatient and take it back so they could work on it themselves. When they were small, this happened from time to time and so I was able to use it as an analogy for how we are with God with our problems. If we give something to God and completely take our hands off of it, then we are completely trusting that He is working on it. But… if we keep taking the problem back and try to fix it ourselves then we take it out of His Mighty hands and He cannot do what needs to be done. We frustrate His plan with our will instead of waiting for His will.

This is one element of trust. Giving the problem to God totally and completely.
The second element of trust is in the waiting.

In the world we live in everything is fast. Fast lanes on the freeways, fast internet, fast food, fast service, fast delivery. We have become a very impatient society because we want what we want and we want it now. But that’s not how it works with God. To completely trust in God with a situation, you must give it to Him through prayer, claiming the promises in His Word that He will handle it and then… you must be still and wait. Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

This is where my personal struggle was. I needed to learn how to trust God completely. I had strong faith. I knew that all He had to do was speak a job into existence for Josh and it would be his. My trouble was waiting on God’s perfect plan to be accomplished in God’s perfect timing.

We went through some hard days during Josh’s layoffs. We lost a beautiful home. We had to sell a truck, we spent all our savings and we had to declare bankruptcy. Financially, we lost all we had. We know what it is like to live on welfare, to have food stamps and government health insurance. For us it was a completely and totally humbling road to walk, and we did it several times.

During the recession of 2007 we moved in with my mother and all five of us shared one bedroom, closet and bathroom. We lived that way for over two years. During the Chase layoff we sold off even more possessions, jewelry, anything that could keep our family afloat. God had to strip us down of all material things so that He could rebuild us to understand what was really important in life and its not about things.

Yes, there were challenging days for sure but I wouldn’t trade any of it. Not a single day. Because everyday we learned something. We learned appreciation for the things which were most important, our family. We learned to appreciate everything we had and we also learned that a simple life is much more rich and fulfilling. Precious days and time with our precious children is what we had. I still was able to home-school our babies and had the blessing of not missing a moment with them.

We also saw the best of humanity from our friends and loved ones during these days. People who saw our circumstances and came selflessly to help us during those times will never be forgotten. I often hear people talk about what they would do for charity or to help others if they won the lottery. I always think to myself when I hear that, but what are they doing now? These beautiful people who came to help us along this road are those people who are not waiting for the lottery. They helped with what they had and I pray that God blesses each and every one of them. To these special people, you know who you are, we are so thankful.

Josh and I would hear of stories about children who were battling life threatening illnesses, children who had lost a parent or the unimaginable; parents who had lost a child and we saw just how richly blessed we were. We never had to live in a shelter. Our children were never hungry or without clothes or shoes. We always were able to see a doctor when needed and our children always had toys, entertainment and education materials. We were never poor. We were never destroyed. We were always blessed.

As I look back upon all of the years of preparation, I give praise to God. There was still so much more happiness in our days than sorrow. So much more rejoicing than mourning and so many precious moments and memories that we will cling to for the rest of our lives.

One of the reasons that I believe Josh had this last test was because of the dream that we have for our Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. ministry. We want to build a nonprofit Huggabear Farm. A place where love, joy and imagination grows. A place where children who cannot afford to ever walk into the doors of Disneyland during their childhood or any other them park or perhaps even zoo, could come and enter for free. We want to provide a place where families who are down trodden and families who are not can all come and spend a day playing, laughing, learning, imagining and forming precious memories with their children. Investing in what is the most important treasure you will ever have, your family.

This is, I believe the reason that we had to be tested a fourth time with a fourth layoff.
We had learned to walk by faith, totally and completely. With NO worry, NO doubt and NO complaining! And God filled us with great joy daily– even during this pandemic!
We had learned to be grateful for everything!
We had learned to trust God completely and free fall through His time and space to land when and where He wanted us!
We had learned how to be better givers!
We had learned how to give more compassion for others!
We had learned not to repel the problems that we faced, but to embrace them and walk through the storms holding tight to God’s unchanging hand to learn all that he wanted to teach us while in it.
Now, to take our ministry to the next level, we had to be tested again. We needed to prove ourselves worthy of this kind of blessing because we are going to step out into the world someday and build something that has never been done before. The Huggabear Farm will be the first of its kind.

I can say with confidence that we passed this test. There was not one day where any of us were worried, concerned, scared, or complained about our circumstance. That is not to boast about us, that is to boast about the mighty work that God has done in us. We all knew God would provide for our family and provide Josh with a new job. We knew it was coming and we thanked Him for it. We thanked Him daily for the BEST job that Josh ever had!

In fact, the only people who knew about Josh not having a job were people who asked us about it. We didn’t discuss it because it wasn’t something that troubled us.

So, now I will get back to why we are rejoicing. Last month my beautiful children, Aven, MaCaedyn, and Samuel had a special prayer time of their own for their daddy to get a job. I had reminded them that when their daddy got the job at Marix it was because Aven and MaCaedyn at the ages of 4 and 2 years old sat in the corner of our room with their little pink Precious Moments Bibles and they told me “We are praying for daddy to get a job.”

That very Wednesday he was offered the job at Marix.

Yes, friends, there IS power in prayer and especially those of precious, innocent young hearts.

After remembering that story, the children, now 17, 15 and 13, went to prayer and I kid you not, that very day Josh’s old boss from DiTech called him and offered him a position with her new company. He began work today, August 10, 2020 and we are more than thankful. His office is also located in our bedroom which is another great blessing during the time of the Covid Pandemic 2020!!!

The job is with a company called Cenlar. His position is called Default Client Liaison Manager. He had his orientation today and learned that this company is employee owned and after a year he will start receiving Cenlar stock!

What a miracle! In a time of a pandemic where there are so many people laid off or companies have shut down, God provided Josh a job. And not just any job, it is the BEST paying job he has EVER had with the BEST benefits he has ever had!!! Praise GOD!!! THANK YOU, JESUS!!!! We give ALL the glory to YOU for this gift!!!

I can tell you that there is power in prayer my friends, and I hope that you when a difficult or challenging time come to your life, you will turn to Jesus. He loves you more than words can say and He is there, waiting for you to let Him help.  I have much more to say about walking by faith, but I will save that for another blog. This blog is mainly to give thanks and praise to our Almighty God, Jehovah Jirah, our Provider for all that He has done for us, all that He is doing and all that He will do in our future!!

God always has a plan, life is so much better when you let Him take the reigns!

God bless you and thank you so much for reading! Remember, JESUS LOVES YOU!

 

Covid 19 Pandemic Entry 7 – The Road from Infertility to Motherhood

Reflection. That is something that I have been able to spend a lot more time doing lately. During the Covid 19 Pandemic of 2020 one of the things that I have been so very grateful for is my family. I have a wonderful husband and three amazing children that God blessed us with, Aven, who is currently 17, MaCaedyn, who is currently 15, and Samuel who is currently 13. You might think, “Wow! That must be rough! Being quarantined with three teenagers!” Honestly, it has been a blessing. Though I admit teenagers are an entirely different being of their own, I love being with my children and I try to soak up every moment I can with them while they are with me. I know that on the timeline of life, the days of my children living at home are fleeting and so I am thankful for every day.

This past Mother’s Day 2020 was an interesting one. “Normal” plans of attending church and lunching publicly or with extended family members is not on the agenda due to the quarantine. Still, my crew had all kinds of wonderful plans for me! First, we all slept in, which was lovely. Then, I was showered with hugs, kisses, “I love you’s” and sweet gifts. I get hugs, kisses and “I love you’s” everyday, but on Mother’s Day, Christmas and my birthday, I get extra! Next, my husband packed a fantastic picnic and then, we drove to northern Arizona and spent the day at Christopher Creek. For me, there is nothing better than getting out to God’s great nature with my family. I appreciate all the marvels that humans can build, but there is nothing compared to the beauty of the natural world that God spoke into existence.

Being in nature cleanses me. Whether it be the beach, the mountains and woods, lakeside or hiking a desert trail. I love being outside with my family. But I admit, my favorite places of nature are where I can hear water flowing. I remember my Mema and Papa taking me to different places in the wilderness and whenever we were by a river, stream, or babbling creek, Mema would say, “Listen, it’s singing a little song!”

So there I was, wading through Christopher creek and laughing as Josh would teeter upon an unstable rock he stepped on and yell “Bad rock! Bad rock!” or watching my son Samuel fall into the creek time after time, after time, until he looked more like he had been swimming, and I I began reflecting upon how blessed I am to be a mother.

I am truly a blessed woman to have the family I do and be a mother, I know that and it is something I have never taken for granted. I have reflected upon it thousands of times in the seventeen years that I have been a mama, but this particular Mother’s Day during the pandemic, gave me an even grater perspective on how richly I am blessed.

The road for me to become a mother was not an easy one and that is the story I will tell you.

I have always had a very special love for children in my heart. I was an only child until I was almost ten years old. I remember the day my baby brother was born. It was one of the happiest in my life. I loved helping take care of him and watching him grow up. I remember it so well. His coming into my life lifted the love I already had for other children in my heart to a higher level. I began teaching and directing children’s choirs at my church at the age of twelve and fell in love with the sweet, innocent, sincerity that can only be produced through the vocal chords of a child. I am happy to say I have never stopped teaching and directing children to sing since and I never plan to.

I love children’s curiosities and laughter, to see their eyes sparkle with wonder and excitement and, of course, I personally believe the sound of their giggles are like seeds of healing joy that when heard can plant and grow happiness in even the most sorrowful heart.

I loved having children in my life as a child, as a teen, and as a young adult. They made me feel happy, young and they always gave me the opportunity to be silly, playful and imaginative.

I was twenty-five when Josh and I first got married and he wanted a baby right away. He told me that one of his greatest goals for his life was to be happily married and have children. I love that about him.

We were married in May and it was in the following month of June that I thought I had a miscarriage. I had missed my regular cycle date and then later on there came a day where I had horrible abdominal pain that was different from regular cramps. Sharp, cutting like knives, not dull, heavy and pulling. Though the pain spread through my abdominal area, it seemed to stem from one certain location on my left side. I went to the doctor and she thought that I was having an “early miscarriage”. Since this was different than anything else I had experienced through menstruation, I had no reason not to believe her.

At the time we were sad, but then it also helped us to understand that we were not actually ready for a baby. We were living in a one room apartment and I was working three different jobs while attending college. I was the director of the Arizona Girl’s Choir, the Music Minister of Parkway Community Church, and I had my own voice and piano studio and had over 40 private students. Josh was working and still going to college, so the experience helped us see the reality was it wasn’t time.

We decided to wait. We wanted to travel, buy a house, finish up what we planned to with school and have more financial stability.

We married in 1997 and by 1998 I was working full time at the church, Josh finished his two year degree, and we had bought a four bedroom, two and half bath condo. We had also done some traveling during that time, so we threw caution to the wind and decided to start our family.

After several months I felt something was wrong. I began reflecting over my bodies history remembering how things had been for me before marriage. I had never really had a regular menstrual cycle during my teen years. One of my doctors even had put me on birth control pills to try and regulate me. That didn’t fix the problem either, though it did help my skin through those challenging acne years!

As Josh and I moved along in life together we took steps of faith that someday we would have our own family together. We began creating a nursery. A room of hope where someday we would rock our babies, play with them, dress them, sing to them, cherish them. There were times when I thought I was pregnant as I would skip over a month or so at a time. But I would learn I wasn’t. I remembered that I would sometimes skip months in my teen and premarital years too. Remembering this led me to believe there was something going on.

During this time there were people around us at the church who were getting married and starting their families. We were able to enjoy learning a little bit of what life with a baby was like through them. We were very happy for them and loved all the children we were blessed to be around very much. They were all so precious and beautiful. Those were very blessed days that helped prepare our hearts for our own family. As time went on, I knew we were ready for our own baby. We had the home, had done even more traveling and were financially stable to care for a child. The longing I had to have my own baby was growing deeper within my heart.

I went to my gynecologist and had a conversation about my history. After asking many questions she believed I needed some testing. The first round of testing revealed that I didn’t produce hardly progesterone, only a very tiny bit, but nothing close to what would be considered normal.

That doctor referred me to an infertility doctor who worked with insurance companies. He put me through more tests, tests which not only tested my female organs and their fertility but also my patience and pain tolerance. Tests that leave a person in total and complete humility, which at the time I didn’t realize, but God was using to build great character and strength for our parenting skills in the days to come. Let me just say it like this, and for those women out there who have gone through the testing they will agree with me, you know a woman is really desperate to have a baby to endure it! Infertility testing is not easy–or cheap!

For Josh it was a bit easier, maybe even more enjoyable. 😉
We learned that he was strong (like bull) for his sperm counts. In fact, the day the doctor received his test results she literally opened the door to call her nurses in to see them.
For some reason she thought his name was Johnson and kept saying, “Johnson is Gold!”
I guess an average sperm count for a man is anywhere between 15 million to 200 million.
Johnson aka Josh’s count was over 260 million. Something that still makes him walk tall with pride to this day.

When my test results came in, we learned that I did not have any blocked tubes, but that I did have a common condition among women called PCOS, which stands for Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.

I have another blog for women with PCOS and symptoms it can cause with weight gain, but for this story I want to focus on the complications it caused me with infertility. In addition to the regular occurrence of cysts being present on the ovaries, PCOS can affect the levels of progesterone produced. Hmm, now we are getting somewhere.

Progesterone is a hormone which helps regulate a woman’s monthly cycles. BINGO! We have a winner! There was one answer to one of my problems! Progesterone also thickens the wall of the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant. If there is no fertilized egg, the progesterone drops. If there is a fertilized egg, the progesterone helps keep the lining of the uterus thick and strong to support the growing fetus.

I guess I should have warned you ahead of time that this would also be like a mini-class in reproduction. Just be glad I’m not taking the time to explain in detail what some of the tests for women are like or involve!

The doctor put me on progesterone supplements and also a prescription called “Clomid”. I can’t get too technical with this because there are things I still didn’t quite understand about it. I do know it was to raise my FSH and LH levels to help me with ovulation to produce more eggs… I believe.

The problem was that in order to take the drug, I had to make sure I didn’t have any cysts of threatening size on my ovaries. Clomid can add cysts on ovaries and it can also cause ovaries to swell. So if ovarian cysts are present, the medication cannot be taken so as not to cause the woman any harm or damage.

Month after month we tried this process and I was now in the third year since beginning my infertility treatments. I was becoming more and more desperate. I was trying my hardest not to covet the beautiful families which were blossoming all around me. In my heart, I wasn’t angry or jealous of the women who were having their own babies, I loved them and I loved their children dearly. It was that my heart was longing deeply to pour love into my own children. My arms longed to embrace my own babies. The nursery that Josh and worked on creating off an on in our home was silent and patiently waiting for the children to come and live there. We both were longing for that day to come.

The doctor knew I was depressed and asked me if I would like to try something new. I agree and he said we could double the amount of Clomid that I was taking.  After taking the meds for a few days I knew something wasn’t right when I could literally point to where my ovaries were located because of the pain they were in. They were on fire and so I stopped taking the medication. I was out of town when this happened so I didn’t get into the doctor. Then one night after I came home from my trip, the result of the double dose of medication hit me. I remember the night it happened vividly. I thought I had food poisoning because I had horrific pain in my abdomen and kept throwing up. One moment I was burning hot, nauseous and vomiting, in the next moment I was shivering violently and cold all over. My husband got me to the hospital and on the way a new pain began. Now, there were stabbing, sharp pains in my shoulders. I had no idea what was happening but knew that it could not be food poisoning.

The doctors at the hospital told me that my ovary had erupted. The double dose of medication either caused a large cyst to form and explode or there was one on the ovary that the doctor didn’t catch in the ultra-sound. Either way, it landed me in emergency surgery to cauterize the ovary. By the time the bleeding was stopped I had bled out over 60% of my body’s blood into my abdomen. It was the blood gases which were building up  in my abdominal region that were causing my shoulders to feel like they were being stabbed. Crazy right?

After all this happened and I was back on my feet, the infertility doctor, whom I will just refer to as Dr. AlmostKilledMe, told me that he wanted to try the medication again…

(crickets)

The exact same treatment which exploded my ovary, he wanted to do again.
Needless to say, I walked out of that office and never went back.

I began searching for new doctors that were covered on my insurance, but for our particular insurance program, the list was slim and the other doctors on the list were not taking new patients at the time. I had to be put on a waiting list.

More waiting. For women who are waiting to have their own child, waiting is depressing.

I kept quoting the scripture during this time, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall walk and be weary, they shall run and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. At the time, I didn’t understand this verse and how the waiting would be good for me, just like another verse where Jesus said in John 13:7 “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” There is truth in both those verses that I didn’t realize at the time. I would understand on many levels later on what God was doing through this infertility and the patience of waiting that I learned during this time of was the strength of patience that I would use later on as a mother.

It was at this time that my mother decided to take out a loan on a home that she owned free and clear. She wanted to do somethings for herself and my brother, but also wanted me to go to one of the best doctors in the nation. His name is Dr. Jay Nemiro and at the time he was one the of top four infertility doctors in the U.S.

My mother, Bonnie LaFon, graciously and generously gave Josh and I $55K, no strings attached, to go to Dr. Nemiro because he did not work with insurance companies. It was a gift from God and an answer to our prayers.

Although Josh and I had a new awakening to our hope, the gift of the infertility funds didn’t come without challenges. There were some who thought it was completely ridiculous that my mother would do such a thing. Some said she was enabling us to “Go against God” in taking conception and creation into our own hands. Some said, “If it’s God’s will for Josh and Angelique to have a baby, they will without spending $55k.” We had a variety of things spoken to us, mostly by those we loved and cared about which made it all the more painful.

Comments like these from people are all part of the test.
Before Josh and I started the infertility treatments we had dealt with people giving us their advice and opinions on the matter. Sometimes it was put forth gently and with love, but sometimes it wasn’t. Some would say I was “causing my own infertility by stressing out over it.” That we just needed “to relax”, or “have a lot of sex” or “just let nature take its course.”

When you can forgive others for making hurtful comments about a circumstance that you are involved in and they are not, it builds your character. We did forgive all those who made their remarks and did not respond back to them in frustration or anger. The reason why I write about it now is because I want all those who read this blog who are going through infertility treatments to know, if you have heard comments like these or others and just need a shoulder to lean on, you can reach out to me. This is a place of understanding. A safe place where you will not be judged, mocked or ridiculed. But instead a place of prayer and support.

You will hear all kinds of things on this journey, but just listen to God. I fully believe that God gave us doctors and nurses, not to replace Him, but to be His hands extended to help one another. I also believe this was why Jesus asked Luke to be one of His disciples so that we would not be afraid to utilize the help that doctors have to offer. After all, God created the men and women who are the doctors and God is the one who gave them the knowledge they obtained to help us.

If a person had some other ailment and felt led through prayer to go to a doctor to learn more about their condition and possibly help it, that does not mean they do not have faith in God, it means they are using the resources God has given them for help. The danger of a person’s faith being hindered is when they put all their hope and trust in the doctor or science and not in God. A person must always take their situation of their health to the Lord first, and if they feel led to go to a doctor that should not be a judgement upon their faith. Even though I came across a doctor that made a poor decision which led me to a critical life and death moment, I fully believe that doctors and nurses are blessings from the Lord. God is the one who gave them the very special gift and heart they have to serve and help others. Not everyone can do it, that’s for sure. It is a special gift placed in their hearts by the Lord and when they go to work everyday, they are fulfilling the purpose God has for their lives. I felt God was in this 100%. It was His perfect timing and the movement of His hand which made it all possible.

We took the funds my mother gave us and went to see Dr. Nemiro. During our very first visit I learned that there were several tests which had not been conducted on me by other doctors in the past. This was probably because of insurance restrictions, but one of those tests proved to be the main reason I could not get pregnant the good old fashioned way. I had ASA or, Anti-Sperm Antibodies. Basically what that means is that my body produced antibodies that saw sperm as an enemy and would attack and kill them instead of allow them to do their thing.

No matter how many times I had taken the other medication, at that time without a miracle of God which I know was possible, I wouldn’t been able to conceive a baby without the assistance of surgery. So, that’s what we did. We knew that my Fallopian tubes were not blocked and were healthy so we elected to try the ZIFT procedure. ZIFT stands for Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer.

With this procedure, the eggs are extracted surgically from the ovary and fertilized in a dish. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are placed surgically into the Fallopian tube. The theory behind this treatment is that by placing the fertilized egg back into the Fallopian tube so it can travel and find it’s place of implanting on it’s own, it provides the fertilized egg a more natural process.

The first time that we went to extract the eggs all went well and we ended up with 2 fertilized eggs to place into the Fallopian tube. Before and after the surgery, I spent much time in prayer and I knew that it did not work. We grieved the loss of those two fertilized eggs and after some rest physically and mentally, I was ready to try again.

I will never forget the second day I went to have the eggs extracted… or should I say eggstracted. 🙂

The anesthesiologist did not show up.

I had the choice. Go ahead and do the procedure with a little bit of “twilight” meds which would not knock me out, just maybe take the edge off, or I could miss the chance at extracting the eggs and wait another month which meant going through all the medications and treatments to prepare for the extraction again.

My longing heart chose to go forward with the procedure and I can tell you I felt and remember it all. Even as I write this, I can remember the pain of it.
First, they clean you with a pretty decent sized sponge. They do this on the outside… and on the inside. That seriously was torture. Next, came the nice, long, sharp instrument that went up inside, punctured through the wall of the uterus and then into the ovary to extract the eggs. This was done on both sides. Nice huh?

The whole time I just kept thinking about the baby or babies that I would hold and love. The joy they would bring and the fulfillment I would finally feel as a mommy.

Once the procedure was completed, we learned we had 5 fertilized eggs to transfer, and this time after praying, I knew it had worked.  I felt different. I felt the surge of hormones in my body and I felt a spring of joy well up in my soul.

When we got the official word that THIS test was positive, we celebrated like we have never celebrated. All our friends and loved ones were so happy for our success and were rejoicing with us. Everyday felt like Christmas morning. I felt wonderful. Such happiness. I had no pain, no sickness, nothing but complete and total joy, joy, JOY!

I remember sharing this once with a woman who was pregnant and having a terrible time with illness. I felt so badly for her. She asked if I ever had experienced illness during pregnancy and I explained that I had not and that I attributed it to the incredible, constant oil of joy that the Lord had anointed me with. She rolled her eyes, laughed and mocked me, “Experiencing illness during pregnancy has nothing to do with how happy you are.”

Maybe for some, but not for me. I knew not ever experiencing illness during pregnancy was God’s way of blessing me for all the other pain and suffering that I had endured. The Bible tells us in Neh. 8:10 “The JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH!” And it was the great joy of the Lord that filled my heart and soul!

My dream had come true and I knew that God was the one who made that happen!! God spared my life from the first doctor’s treatment. God brought the gift of the funds to my mother and placed it in her heart to give it to us. God led us to find Dr. Nemiro and God made it possible for me to see him right away and not be placed on a waiting list. God revealed through Dr. Nemiro what my problem was and God was the one who created the incredibly amazing baby that we were going to have. Absolutely, positively everything that happened to us, the lessons we learned, the strength which was built inside us, the compassion we gained for others going through this, God used to work for our goodness and I give God the glory for it all!  I rejoiced in the coming of our baby through praise to my mighty, compassionate and giving God. Josh and I were finally going to have our own child and nothing that happened around us or even to us was able to penetrate that joy!!

There was never a moment, not in all these years, when I have not been totally and completely grateful for God answering my prayer in the way I had hoped. I would have loved to adopt a baby, I just had it in my heart to strive for my own and felt led to pursue it. I know several women who spent many years striving to have a biological child, but God had another plan for them. Some adopted beautiful, precious children who God knew needed them as their mother and they are totally and completely their children. I remember a beautiful song I once heard Marie Osmond sing called “From God’s Arms, to Your Arms, to Mine.” I firmly believe that people who open their hearts to adopt or foster children are examples of unconditional love and acceptance that whole world can learn from.

Then there are some I know who decided to just have furry babies in their lives and they do a great work caring for unloved animals in the world that God told us to care for. I know all these women to be very happy and consider them to be pillars of strength who looked upon God’s answer and choose to embrace it. I do not know them to be bitter or envious. They are very happy and consider themselves richly blessed. I must also give my public thanks to some of these women who walked down the road of infertility with me, especially one in particular named Becky Merryman. The Lord sent her as my own personal infertility angel and, Becky, I am forever thankful for the help, education, support and encouragement you poured into my life during that time. God knew I needed you because you understood what I was going through like no one else. I only hope that I can be for someone else what you once were for me.

I was almost at the end of my first trimester when I got up for my second trip one night to the bathroom. It was then I felt it. The ovary erupted again. Within seconds I was feeling the same pain that I had felt just over a year ago when it happened the first time.

I woke Josh and he got me to the hospital. This time, I asked him to take me to a different hospital. After the ovary had erupted the first time I was sent to Good Samaritan in Phoenix. They did help me by cauterizing the erupted ovary, but then sent me home with a blood hemoglobin count of 6. For those who might not know what that means, a healthy blood hemoglobin count is between 13.5 to 17.5 and for women it is from 12 to 15.5. Needless to say, I crashed and crashed hard. I had to be hospitalized a few days later and receive two more blood transfusions to go along with the first one I had after surgery.

This time I asked to go to St. Lukes Hospital. Big mistake. If I had gone back to Good Sam they would at least have had my records on file for having an erupted ovary the first time and they would have believed me. Instead, St. Luke’s decided not to believe me and just pumped me up with Demerol and morphine. They kept me in the emergency room for seven hours and did nothing but an ultra-sound. When the results from the ultra-sound came back we learned I was pregnant with twins… but for how long? The doctor told Josh, “We see there is some fluid in her abdominal area but we are just going to give her pain meds and send her home.”

Now, keep in mind, I’m pretty crocked from all the meds they were giving me, I am in unbelievable pain, pain that I never knew existed, and every few minutes I am hot and throwing up or freezing cold and shivering. This time the pain is not just in my abdominal area and shoulders like before, this time it is also all over my back. I can’t even lie down and different ones are taking turns holding me up. I remember my uncle holding my back in an upright position and then holding my head up in the front because I lacked the strength to do this on my own.

I knew I was dying. I literally could feel my life drifting out of me. I looked at Josh and with as much cohesiveness as I could muster I said, “I am dying. Please get me some help.”

Josh called Dr. Nemiro who did not hesitate for a moment but had me transferred by ambulance to Scottsdale Shea Hospital where I was taken into emergency surgery. Once inside we learned that the ovary had erupted again, as I knew, and had bled into itself so much the ovary was the size of a Nerf Football. Normally, an ovary is the size of a thumb, so this was significantly bigger, yet no one at St. Luke’s hospital did anything at all to try and help me.

Normally, when I write something I don’t like to call people out for their mistakes and if it is important to the story, I don’t name names. This situation was about life and death and boy did I come close to death. We also had to pay a significant amount of money because Dr. Nemiro did not work with insurance companies. So his fees were out of pocket. It was all a mess... but Jesus was with us.

Dr. Nemiro tried to perform laparoscopy surgery but I had too much blood in my abdomen to see anything. They had to cut me like a cesarean, all the while they had a scope to monitor the babies’ heartbeats. One baby kept struggling. Dr. Nemiro said it’s heart beat kept stopping during the procedure. Once again, I had lost over 60% of my bodies blood and my ovary had to be removed. We were told after it all was over and done with that 20 more minutes and I would have gone into irreversible shock.

I have to take a moment and just process that… twenty more minutes. That was it. Seven hours I was kept in an ER room and had Josh listened to the doctors there and just taken me home, I… we, the babies and I would have died. Thank You Jesus for being with us and for Josh’s obedience to act when he did.

After the surgery I had to have ultrasounds every other day to check on the babies. After about two weeks we did lose one of them. I knew it before the ultra-sound technician said it but I didn’t want to speak it out loud. After having as many ultrasounds as I had, I grew pretty good at identifying everything.

We went home that day and grieved the loss of our little one. I wondered if I had done too much too soon and contributed to it’s death, but the doctor reassured me I had not. It was just not strong enough to endure all that we had been through together.

For the next two weeks I still had to have ultrasounds every other day to monitor the other baby and see if she would live. Of course, at the time we didn’t know it was a she, but she did live. She was strong– and she still is… incredibly strong in will, spirit and body. God made her that way so that she would survive with me. I praise God for her life and I know that someday, we will see her twin, whom we named Skylar Reagan, in the glories of heaven.

After I healed from the surgery, the rest of my pregnancy went back to being just as perfect as it was before the ovary episode. Our sweet little baby made it and on March 3, 2005 our first baby, Aven Salei La Fon-Cox was born. It was  of the happiest days of my life. Josh and I cherished every single moment of being parents and having Aven in our lives was all that we had hoped and dreamed for and so much more!

Aven was a month premature I might add, but very healthy and beautiful. She was a footling breech baby and danced her way out. I remember every time I went in for an ultrasound they said, “She’s doing great, she looks healthy and normal, but her legs are measuring almost two weeks ahead of schedule.” Ha! That’s because she’s got her daddies long legs! I went back to work two weeks after having Aven do direct an Easter Musical production. Aven was brought into this world through cesarean and although I still had an incredible amount of healing that needed to take place, I felt nothing but the JOY of the Lord!

Although I loved the work that I was doing for the Lord at the time serving as Music Minister and Administrative Assistant, I was beginning to grieve my time away from Aven. I didn’t want to leave her everyday. I wanted to be with her every moment that I could. It was also hard for me to leave her because she had something called “torticollis” which involves the muscles of the neck. Because Aven was in the footling or standing breech position for so long, her head was pressed up into my diaphragm. This kept her neck in a bent position and caused her to have not only a weak, crooked neck, but her little face was also crooked. Something that straightened out as she grew and nothing that hindered her beauty! But she would choke easily and often. The doctors we saw gave us instructions on how to care for her which involved constant attention. Even when she was sleeping, for the first six months while she went through therapy, we had to allow her to sleep upright in a vertical position either propped up or held on our chest because she choked so easily when asleep. The doctors also were concerned about her being in a day care where workers caring for many children might not notice right away if she were choking.

All of this just made me want more and more to be a stay at home mama and not work outside of the home. The joy of being a mother was the greatest experience of my life and I didn’t want anything coming between me and the precious and fleeting time with my baby.

There were so many wonderful changes that came to my life from being a mother and I embraced them all. I became very thankful for my infertility treatment because I knew it had prepared me for being a mother. And then, God revealed something else to me which was incredibly significant and took me back to the scripture of John 13:7 when Jesus said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  A moment had come for Jesus to reveal to me something which helped give me great understanding my infertility. I can’t remember the exact date I learned this, but sometime after Aven was born I remember Josh had a strange memory come to him. Something that he had forgotten about for years but suddenly remembered. He said that he had been told a story about me by one of his family members. It was told to him many years ago back when he was a kid and I was a very young adult, maybe still a teen myself. The rumor was that I had an abortion.

When I first heard this it took me a moment to process. Did I hear that right? That I had an abortion??? Me? A person who has loved, taught and worked with children for the majority of my life? Are you kidding?? Once I had a hold of the information an explosion of feelings shot through my mind, body and spirit. Pain, anger, confusion, bewilderment all went roaring through me. Why on earth would someone say something so cruel about me?

At first, I couldn’t understand it and I wasn’t angry that he told me or that he had been told by one of his family members. I honestly felt that God put that information to his family so that I could learn it. I had never heard it before, not from anyone. Who told it didn’t really matter. What mattered was it wasn’t true. I was never pregnant before I was pregnant with Aven. Not even in the times I thought I was or thought I had a miscarriage when Josh and I were first married. Dr. Nemiro explained that when a cyst on an ovary erupts, it can cause pain and bleeding, and so sometimes the symptoms can be mistaken for early miscarriages, especially if a monthly cycle had been skipped.

I don’t believe that God placed infertility upon me anymore than I would believe God placing illness on someone else. That is not how God works. He doesn’t punish us, Jesus took all the punishment needed for sin and GIVES us healing! Our troubles come from our enemy who seeks to destroy us in every way possible. We live in the world where sadly bad things often happen. I believe that God works through those circumstances to help us, teach us, mold and shape us, to bring us into a closer relationship with Him and to bring something beautiful from the ashes. Just like it is written in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” After spending time in prayer about this painful rumor, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. I began to see how God used the circumstances of my infertility to prove that rumor to be false. I don’t know how many people heard and repeated it but for those who heard the story of my infertility it should bring up some important questions. How could a woman who could not conceive a child without the help of extreme tests, shots, medications, and surgeries to get pregnant, spending over the $55k given for treatment possibly have had an abortion? The answer… she couldn’t. The truth is… I didn’t.

I prayed and thanked God for revealing to me the story. I did not know of it until Josh spoke it and I thought, how amazing that of all the people in the world, the man who would one day be my husband and father of my children heard it. Why? So he could let me know that it was out there and so that I could find more understanding about my road of infertility.

Now,  in a world where abortions are common and in some places even celebrated into legislature, there may be some reading this who may wonder why is it important that I learned such a story was out there about myself and why it would bother me so much. I can answer that with three words:  my children’s ministry. My life’s work is in serving and protecting children. This is part of God’s plan for my life and He knew that story could rise up and come against me in the future if it kept going. Again, and always, God was and is with me, working for my good. Even when I didn’t see it, even when I didn’t understand. He was there. Now, I do see it and I do understand and I am so thankful for everything I went through because it not only killed out that wicked story, it also transformed me into the mother and child advocate that I am today. The only thing I wish could have been different is that Josh and I could have paid for the treatments and my mother could have kept all that money for herself. Other than that, I know every circumstance taught me something I needed to learn and brought me closer to God, and I would never trade that for anything. I also feel it is important to say that I personally do not cast judgement on anyone woman out there who has had an abortion and

Never was I pregnant before Aven, and never have I had an abortion. I love children dearly and have devoted my life to serving, protecting, providing for, caring for, educating and hoping to make them happy. I firmly believe that outside of the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ, our children are the greatest gifts our Heavenly Father God can bestow upon our lives.

I have learned that God does work in mysterious ways and I could see how my journey through infertility would not only help me become more compassionate and understanding of others who walk that road, it would make me so grateful for every moment I got to be a mother and also set my name and reputation of serving children free from any wickedness that was spoken to try and destroy it. God can use anything, including infertility for something good.

Fast forward about eighteen months after Aven was born and I started feeling strange. I told Josh, “You know, if I didn’t know better, I would think I was pregnant.” But of course, in our minds that was impossible, right? I had all these things wrong with me, I couldn’t possibly get pregnant without surgery and medication. But…

With God ALL things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

I was right, I was pregnant. God blessed us richly by healing me so that I could conceive a baby the good old fashioned way, which is so much more fun than infertility treatments. 😉  And FREE!

I learned the wonderful news of our new precious baby the week of Thanksgiving 2004 and oh my goodness we were beyond grateful! When I learned that I was pregnant with another precious child, I resigned from my job. I wanted to be home and not miss a moment.

(I began writing this blog after Mother’s Day in May 2020 and worked on it off and on. Today is June 17, 2020 one of the happiest days of my life!)

On June 17, 2005 Josh and I were blessed yet again with our beautiful, sweet, loving MaCaedyn Janei La Fon-Cox whom we loving call our Kooshla bear. I was in baby heaven and was never happier. After two months, MaCaedyn was involved in a crazy accident which is another blog for another time, but again, and always, God was with us and protected her life.

Aven loved being a “Big Sissy” and always wanted to hold and take of “her baby”.
We were so in love with these two precious girls and thought we were richly blessed when God decided to pour out even more blessings upon us. MaCaedyn is a beautiful child, not just on the outside but also on the inside. She gifted musically and has a tenderness, love and compassion that runs deep within her. She works with me constantly for our family’s organization for children in need, The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. and I see her working in ministry with children with me for many years to come.

Eighteen months after I had MaCaedyn, even though we were using birth control, I got pregnant again!!! This time with our beautiful boy, our “brother bear”, Samuel Braeden La Fon-Cox. He was an early Christmas gift for me coming into the world on December 12, 2006. I know I am partial, but he seriously was one of the most beautiful baby boys this world has even seen and he is growing into a beautiful young man. The girls are definitely going to be swooning in the years ahead!

The joy of being able to have my own children is something I honestly didn’t know I would ever experience. I asked God and He answered me. The joy that these three children have brought into Josh and I’s lives is absolutely irreplaceable, priceless and constant. I know that my life would never be as full and rich if I didn’t have them. Yes, they are all three firecrackers, we don’t have an easy one in the bunch. But I know God has a plan for all of them.

This past Mother’s Day and today with MaCaedyn’s birthday, I reflected upon all these things more than I usually do. This is a strange time for the world. The Covid19 Pandemic has changed things greatly, some for the good and some for the worse. But for me, these days with my family being so cozily secluded in our home have been priceless and precious. I know that there are so many others out there in the world who are not as blessed as we are. Many are alone, many are with empty nests and cannot have their children or grandchildren with them. Many have lost loved ones due to this crazy killing Covid. So I am extra thankful and know I am extra blessed.

God is so good to me. I could thank Him every minute of the rest of my life and it still wouldn’t be enough for all that He has done for me. So, I write my stories and share them with others who might need encouragement.

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus or our Heavenly Father God, Jehovah and would like to learn more about them, please never hesitate to contact me. My personal email is thehuggabears@gmail.com

I always want to talk about Jesus and the goodness of God and will be happy to help you.
If you are walking on the road of infertility and just need a safe place to talk, I am here for that too.

Always remember that Jesus loves you, no matter what and He told us 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!”

Jesus knew we would have trouble in this world, that’s why He promised to never leave us. In closing I just want to say a prayer of thanks…

Thank You Father God for answering my prayer to make me a mother.
Thank You, Father God, for giving me the father for my children that You have and
Thank You, thank You, THANK YOU for the children that you blessed me with!
I love them with all my heart and soul and will always be so grateful that You made me
a mother!

Amen!

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!