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!