Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Rag Doll Story

Have you ever felt like this little rag doll - beat up, torn, worn out - with your stuffing all gone? Useless? Tossed aside by God, by life? I have - but not anymore -

I have recently come out of the worst nine years of my life - long story short, during that time I lost my entire immediate family (all passed away), became physically disabled myself,(severe arthritis in both hips) and as a result of that, was plunged into poverty and deep debt. For much of that time period, it seemed as if God was doing nothing to help me - but I learned one very important lesson then. I learned that when God appears to be silent, it is because He is very busy "behind the scenes" arranging other people, spiritual matters, and our circumstances to deliver and bless us in ways that we (with our finite human minds) could never have imagined. In a nutshell, here is how He did this in my life. I learned to get myself into agreement with the Word - in other words to really stand on and believe His Word stronger than I ever had before. His main way of guiding us is through His Word, the Bible, and He directed me to memorize verses such as these -

"Isa 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. "

"Psa 147:3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. "

"1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. "

"Php 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. "

I heard Him speaking in my spirit through His Word, when I really started applying and believing it. But for the better part of four years, nothing seemed to improve - in fact, the debts were mounting, physically I was hurting more, and adjusting to life without my family was an immense struggle. I had no idea how in the world God would bring me out of this, I just believed that somehow, in His perfect time and His perfect way, He would. (THAT was tough!) But He did come through for me, and in a way I would have never, ever imagined - plus fulfilled one of my life-long dreams in the process!

Here is how He brought me out - over a five year period - He enabled me to sell my house, and move to the place I had dreamed of living in my whole life (which was far more affordable than where I was) surrounded me with a wonderful new church family that took me in like I was family and that helped heal a world of hurt, He is supernaturally healing my body, and provided an inheritance I was not expecting which paid off all my debts! He has also blessed me with a music ministry I would never have had if I had stayed where I was - so you just never know what good surprises He has coming your way - but just stay in His Word and keep believing! He is faithful!


God will take what you already have, and use it in amazing ways you never dreamed of, if you let Him.

I'm still learning this !!

Back before all this started, I had kinda "dabbled" in crafts. I would make a few things, and sold some of it at local craft shows. It was a fun "sideline".

But when I could no longer work a regular job, because of the mobility and pain issues I had, I determined that I was NOT just going to sit around and collect Social Security checks!! No Way!! Now, there is a legal limit to what you can earn in addition to Social Security, but I determined to do my best to supplement it - within the rules. So God blessed me with my own small, home-based business - "Morning Star Creations"!! My body might not have had much strength back then, but my spirit sure did!! By the Grace of God I did, that is. And I already had tons of craft supplies, so I got busy on that. And what did I make ?? Teddy Bears!! Angels!! - and a variety of other things, such as Christmas ornaments, country wooden plaques, decorative painting on ceramics, etc. I also made T-Shirts and Sweatshirts for adults and kids - and it was - and STILL IS - a lot of FUN!! Yes, I'm still doing it - hence the "Professional Crafter - Morning Star Creations" you see on my profile here. I sold a variety of items on ebay for a long time (including a bunch of the "stuff" in the house!) I also participated in several local craft shows - it wasn't easy handling a cane and cart at the same time to get set up, or "take down" when it was done, but by the Grace of God, I did it. It wasn't a "gold mine", but it did help some financially, plus gave me the mild exercise I needed, and kept my spirits up - so God really used it to bless my life!

I could really relate to Job in the Bible!!

The "icing on the cake" was my house. Now, it was actually a lovely 3 bedroom Ranch style house, with a full basement and attached 2-car garage. Had a big, beautiful yard, too. It was the house I grew up in, and my inheritance. But there was just one HUGE problem now - with several years of accumulated "stuff", plus the houseful of "stuff" I brought in when I moved back to care for my Dad while he was still alive - I basically had 3 housefuls of "stuff" crammed into one house! The house, the entire basement, and the whole garage were about 4 feet deep in boxes, furniture, and misc. piles - with "pathways" to walk through each room. I could not even get my car in the garage for a long time. It was an organizational nightmare!! Not to mention a fire hazard, too. Oh, I managed to keep everything away from heat sources, but it was challenging! And depressing, too. Being overwhelmed with clutter - especially when most of it is a departed loved one's belongings - is emotionally draining. None of my Christian friends could come and help me with it, because of their job schedules, and back injuries (and yes, that was genuine - NOT an excuse.) I tried to hire professional maid services, cleaning services, etc. to come in and help remove it - but Worker's Compensation Laws would not allow them legally to do this for me. So - I started on it myself, and even though it was a lo000nngg and very challenging road, it turned out to be very therapeutic for me. God took what the enemy meant to destroy me with - and turned it for my good!! The exercise was good for me, the emotional part was very healing, and by the Grace of God, with the help of the Salvation Army trucks that hauled a lot of it away for me - the job was whittled down considerably!! Somehow, even though I was on a cane the whole time, God gave me the strength and supernatural grace to slowly (very slowly!!) move out one "houseful of stuff" completely on my own - and take it to local churches and charities that were collecting things. Some of it I was also able to sell at a local business that paid "garage sale prices" for just about anything - then turned around and sold it on ebay - what a financial blessing that was to me!! God used this to begin turning my financial woes around - as I made enough to buy groceries and medicines by doing that!! Many days I actually cried from the pain and frustration, but God would always remind me of His promises to be my strength in weakness, to provide for all my needs, and that no weapon formed against me would prosper - not even arthritis, pain, or poverty!!

Now - before you think this story is only full of sadness and struggle, I want to tell you the "flip side" -

While all the aforementioned disability, death, pain, poverty, struggle, and sense of abandonment was going on - at the same time God was also doing some truly wonderful, amazing things in my life - that might not have happened otherwise !! This cloud really did have a "silver lining" !! In fact - several of them!!

I'm convinced that God sends some of His angels to us wearing four paws and fur coats!! Several months before my Mom passed away - while I was still working in the public schools - I received a very precious gift that was a testimony to God's goodness in itself. I was a Teacher's Aide - also known as a "Special Education Paraprofessional" in a local elementary school (while I could still get around with a slight limp). My job was to be a full-time helper to a precious little 8-yr. old boy - who had "Autism". For those of you who are not familiar with this term, Autism is basically an extreme social/emotional/ learning type disability, which causes those who have it to completely isolate themselves "within themselves" - in other words, they have virtually no social interraction with anyone - not even with their own families. It is an extremely lonely life for them, as they have tremendous difficulty - even aversion - to communicating with others. They literally are "locked up inside themselves." They do not do any of the things we take for granted - such as smile, converse intelligibly, give gifts, show affection, receive affection from others, and they cringe when others touch them. Such was the little guy I worked with - and came to love! I worked with him for just over a year, sitting by him in class, helping him do all his assignments, doing his prescribed physical - and as the need arose, emotional - therapy with him, and so forth. Well, even though he could not relate to people, he did have a lovely pet cat at home that he adored!! One day, his cat had a litter of kittens - and he wanted to give me two of them !! This brought tears to his Mom's eyes - and mine (!!) - when she told me about it!! Apparently, this was the first time he had ever wanted to give anyone a gift - and I have to say it was all the Lord's doing!! Somehow, God must have been using myself and the other staff at school who worked with him to bring blessing and HEALING into his little life - and we didn't even perceive it at the time!! So into my life (and home) came two little "angels in fur coats" named "Fritzi", and "Fidget" !! They were just babies you could hold in your hand at the time, but God had a very special plan for these two little furballs! Their antics kept me constantly entertained. When Mom went home to be with the Lord, and I moved back home - my Dad at first wasn't too sure he wanted cats in the house!! But, being the animal lover that he was - he decided they could stay. Long story short - they brought him a whole lot of laughter and fun in the last two years of his life!! In fact, they were even with him when he passed away in his sleep, and began meowing strangely to alert me that something had happened. In the ensuing months, literally every single time that I would start to grieve - no matter where they were in the house, or what they were doing - they would suddenly stop. It was almost as if they sent a "silent signal" to each other, saying "Oh no, she's crying again - we'd better do something silly to make her laugh!" - and that's exactly what they would do. It would suddenly become a delightful "3-Ring Circus" wherever I was, as they played the cutest tricks and did the goofiest things - and I'd start laughing in spite of myself!! I know God must have been prompting them to do that, to help me. Hey, if He could use Balaam's donkey to talk to Balaam in the Old Testament and save his life - why not??? I know I could not have made it throught the next 2 years of my life without those two little angels!!

God provided for me in many other unique ways, too - unexpected ways actually. Many times I would receive favor from a creditor - more time to pay, a lower payment amount, etc. Sometimes I would be able to sell something - and it would be enough to buy the things I needed - or pay a small bill. One of my Christian friends would often provide cat food when her kitty didn't like it (which happened a lot!!) The local Catholic church had a food program where anyone - rich or poor - could buy groceries of all kinds at a fraction of the retail price! When I had enough money, I could do this - but when I did not even have enough cash to buy from them - God always did a "Loaves & Fishes" miracle for me with the food I already had in the house! Oh, I sure didn't live on "Easy Street" - but somehow God always came through. I would pray and believe - and somehow the food would last longer and stretch farther than I could ever have imagined it would! One incident in particular will be forever etched in my heart -

It was the week before Thanksgiving Day, 2003. The months leading up to this time had been particularly hard, and I had no money left at all. Literally, the only food I had left in the house were 2 cans of vegetables, a box of crackers, some coffee, and two chicken breasts in the refrigerator. There was nothing for a Thanksgiving feast of any kind - that seemed to be out of the realm of possibility. Now, for those of you living outside of the United States, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the third Thursday in November (winter here.) It is celebrated with a huge dinner in every home. We do this to give thanks to the Lord for all His blessings of the previous year, and have done this for over 200 years here. Families come together from miles away, and it is a very joyous time. That is - if you have a family. But for me, with no family, and almost no food - well, it was really testing my faith!! But I was really learning to stand on the Word of God through all of this, so I prayed "Lord, I really need a miracle right now - so I'm trusting You to do another "Loaves & Fishes" miracle for me, and my 2 kitties!! And somehow, I'm even going to believe You for a Thanksgiving Dinner, too - it would really cheer me up! Thank You!" I remember praying that through tears. Now, here is the "miracle" part - God came through in a big way! That little dab of food literally lasted 7 days - I never missed a meal, and each one was filling!! Even greater than that - I ate from one chicken breast that whole week, and my 2 cats (very active, hungry tomcats by then) were kept full on the other chicken breast - I kid you not!! And it gets even better - the day before Thanksgiving I received an unexpected check from a business - which was enough to buy a complete Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings - and a big bag of cat food, too!! (Sorry, I'm crying tears of joy as I remember this!!) My kitties and I all had a glorious Thanksgiving Day dinner - and I will always treasure the memory of God's great goodness to me - and my animals - that week, even though I sure didn't deserve it!!

When I stop crying tears of joy - the story will continue -
so please hang in there with me . . . . . . .


Have you ever wished Ty Pennington and his TV crew from ABC's "Extreme Makeover - Home Edition" would show up on your doorstep - and revolutionize your life??

Well - I had a very similar experience !!

God is full of surprises - and our "turn-a-rounds" often come in ways we certainly are NOT expecting - that's what makes serving Him so exciting!!

I had decided that the only way out of my tremendous financial problems was to sell my house - so I had contacted a wonderful Christian realtor, and started the process. I had also made tentative plans to move "back home" to Kansas, USA. It was tough to part with the house I grew up in, the only place where I felt loved, and I really wasn't sure how I could handle moving - but I trusted God, and knew somehow He would again come through for me. And He did -

One snowy, cold winter Saturday evening in November, 2004, I was eating supper and watching TV - when there came a knock at my door. Now, when you live in a large, metropolitan area, where there are gangs and all sorts of crime going on - you do what the police tell you to, and NEVER open your door unless you are expecting someone !!! That was the rule at our house for 40 years there. But something in my spirit said "Go answer the door, it's OK" - and I'm so glad I did - for there was a HUGE surprise waiting for me!! There stood my cousin, Doug, whom I had not seen in 20 years!! He's a lawyer, and had come entirely on his own initiative to help me with the sale of the house - and to move me out to Kansas!! I had not even asked anyone for help - so I KNEW this was from GOD !!! Long story short - over the next 6 weeks - he and his son made several trips (400miles one way!!) out to my place to help with the sale, and to help me sort, throw out, and pack everything. It was a mountainous job!! But finally, on Dec. 10, 2004 - I sold my house to the realtor (he fixes them up, then re-sells them on his own) and paid off nearly all of my $46,000 in debts!!! The very next day, we finished loading the U-Haul my cousin rented - and away I went to a new life in Kansas !!!

Now, here I need to take a little side trip with you - this move "back home" to Kansas was actually a dream come true for me.

Forty years earlier, when I was just 6 years old, my father's job with the Air Force had forced us to move to Denver, Colorado, USA - a move I absolutely DID NOT WANT - because it tore me away from everyone I loved!! That's extremely hard on a child. So, in my heart I had DETERMINED that I was coming back!! Over the next 40 years, I had cried, prayed, and believed God that somehow He would either make my dream come true, or take away this desire from me. Well, I tried several times over the years to move back - especially after I graduated from college, but every time something spoiled it. I had nearly given up. But to my great surprise - this time it was "all systems go" !! God just seemed to throw all the doors open wide for me to return - not to the town in Kansas I had left, but to a new location there. Plus, I would be living near my dear Uncle - so I was back with family!! My family's roots run deep here - as my grandfather had purchased a farm in the area in 1926, which my family still owned, my Mom grew up around there, and we visited my Uncle at the farm every summer when I was growing up - so it is the dearest place in all the world to me! I am constantly amazed at how God took all this sorrow and tragedy in my life and turned it into my "dream come true" !!

And yet . . . . . . . . the story was not quite finished!

Stay tuned, more to come . . . . . . .


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