Tag Archives: hardships

We had a television & microwave. But that’s about it!

When my kids were still really young, and their father wasn’t paying child support, I had to call churches to ask them to help me pay my bills. I didn’t attend church, or have a close one-on-one relationship with God at that point. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know that was a possibility then. But what I did know was that some churches helped people that were struggling financially. If they felt so inclined. I didn’t know why they did it. I just knew they did it.

It’s embarrassing to call places and ask for help. At least it was for me. I felt like I was being such a nuisance to whomever I called. I was embarrassed that I wasn’t able to provide everything I should be able to provide for my children. I didn’t want anyone to think that I thought providing for my kids was their responsibility, rather than mine. I knew that there had to be so many other people in the world who were struggling with a much more dire situation than we were. So, I felt guilty asking for anything that I thought someone else probably needed more than I did. But I was pretty desperate.

microwave

Finally after many phone calls, a man from the local Catholic church came to my apartment to go over all of my bills with me, to see how they could help. As he was sorting through my bills, I kept apologizing to him for having to ask for help. I told him that I was certain there were others who were living in a much worse situation than we were. It’s funny to me now, but I kept apologizing to him for having to ask for financial help even though we could afford a television set and microwave. As if being able to afford a television and microwave indicated you were rich! But even then, when I could barely afford food, I recognized what a luxury it was to have those items. Some people don’t even have a home. I think no matter what our situation is, we must always look for our blessings. Because, they are there.

When I think of the situation now, I realize just how silly I must have sounded for apologizing that I had enough money to afford a microwave and television, but couldn’t afford my bills. I think it had more to do with feeling selfish for asking for money that I knew someone else probably needed more than me. But I truly needed someone to help us!  I didn’t know at the time that churches help people in that way because they want to show people, especially unchurched people, God’s love. I can tell you that I’ve never forgotten the way they showed me God’s love. It truly made a positive impact on my life. How have you shown God’s love to others? Or, how have you received God’s love from someone else? I’d love to know!

No Longer Silenced

As you can see, this blog has laid dormant for a long time. I apologize for that! Almost 5 years ago, I walked away from all of my financial securities and everything I had known to follow God’s calling on my life. During that journey, as I searched fervently for God’s direction and would excitedly share those things that I knew God was saying to me with others, people I knew and people that I only had a brief interaction with would tell me that my story was inspirational. Having heard this over and over again, I knew this was God’s way of telling me that He wanted to use my story (His story really) to impact other people’s lives and hearts.

As I explained this to a coach I was working with 5 years ago, right after walking away from everything I knew, she said I needed to purchase the website and start a blog. So I did, even though I didn’t have clarity in my mind about how exactly I would use the blog since I hadn’t even written the actual Modern Day Noah book yet. I wasn’t sure if I should write the book out on the blog and then turn it into the book. I wasn’t sure if I should just start telling my story from day one of leaving my financial security, etc. The only thing that I knew for sure is that I wanted the blog to be REAL. I didn’t want people to feel like I was preaching at them. I wanted to be sure that people knew that just because you’re following God’s will for your life doesn’t mean you have it all together and you never have a problem. I wanted the readers to know that people who know and follow God don’t live in an alternate reality from the rest of the world. And I wanted people to really, really get that we are all put here for a very specific purpose – and when you live out that calling on your life, it’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever do!

i-believe-in-god

Because I didn’t feel like my story had that big ending that people would be looking for, other than walking away from all of my financial security and walking head on into my insecurities, I became somewhat paralyzed about where to begin writing. And although I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wanted me to tell my story, I began battling with my own fears and insecurities. Who cares about my life? Who am I to think my story is so darn important? Why would I think I could make such a big impact? And so on and so forth. Yet, I knew that telling my story and writing this book, was God’s direction for my life.

Early in my relationship with God and church, I learned that Satan battles hard against those that walk around making a big statement for God. Granted, he makes everybody’s lives miserable, but especially those that are trying to point people to the hope of Jesus Christ. Why? Because he wants to silence them before they share the hope and love of Christ with too many people. I remember so clearly watching people at the first church I attended succumb to this battle. They were always the ones everyone noticed, the high profile people. The ones that were making the biggest impact. They were the preachers and the parishioners that were making a dramatic positive impact on the church and those that were exuberant about serving God and the church.

I remember one couple that took over running the youth ministry. They had great ideas for growing the group and connecting the youth within the group – and they were making a huge impact on all of the kid’s lives and relationships with Christ. Little by little, I watched as their lives began to slowly unravel. She began struggling with depression. I remember watching her trying this medication or that medication. The drugs had an obvious impact on her and she slowly became less and less involved in the church. Within no time, this couple that had been married for at least 15-20 years were getting a divorce. The youth ministry fell apart as their lives fell apart. Satan’s attack on these 2 wonderful people had successfully silenced them and killed any hope of them continuing to impact other’s lives for God. I could tell you many, many stories like this where Satan attacks those who are making the most noise for God with a vengeance. And that is what he has done with me for the past 5 years.

As I mentioned, when it was officially time to start writing the book (when I quit my other “real” full time job), I immediately began struggling with confusion about where and how to start writing and so I just didn’t. Slowly but surely, every insecurity I had became bigger and bigger. I began struggling with social anxiety and little by little I withdrew from everyone and everything I was involved with. Within a year, I spent most of my days alone with no interaction at all with anyone but my clients. Social anxiety caused me to be paralyzed at the thought of interacting with others. My weight went through the roof and unfortunately still is. That furthered my desire to hide away from others. All the while, I knew exactly what was happening. I knew Satan was trying to silence me from sharing the amazing story of how knowing and following God has impacted my life. I hated that Satan was successfully silencing me. But yet, I just couldn’t shake it.

My organizing business, Simplified Living Solutions, has been so successful that I am constantly busy with that. Although it’s a good problem to have, I know that it has been one of the biggest things that has kept me from writing this book and sharing my story. In August, I ended up flat on my back for about 3 weeks with a broken rib and strained back. I had to cancel every single client session I had for about 2 months. Although I hated letting down all of my clients, I secretly was thrilled to have everything come to a screeching halt. I also knew that while others might have seen this situation as a negative thing – money lost, letting clients down, etc – I saw this as a blessing and as God shaking the heck out of me and saying DO IT! I was thrilled that through this injury, He helped me take back control of my life in this way. I needed rest and I needed an opportunity to get myself refocused on Him. Thankfully, 2-1/2 months later, I am clearer on what matters most and have begun battling my social anxiety harder and moving back into relationships with people. So, today begins the official start of me making this book and blog my main priority. I hope you’ll follow along with me and that you’ll be inspired. And I hope that you’ll pray for me when you have a chance. I know my story is a strong, inspirational message of hope that many people need to hear. I just pray that enough people cover me in prayer so that Satan doesn’t succeed in silencing me again. Buckle your seat belt. Tray tables up. We’re taking off and I can’t wait!

comeback-story

Glad I Used My Heart Not My Head

It’s no secret that I often struggle with wanting to help people for free. My desire to help people is stronger than my desire to make money for myself. Unfortunately after a few years of helping so many people for free, I began to realize that what I was doing was FREE for them, but it came at a cost to me. Once I quit my full-time job, helping people was my only source of income, so I tried to buckle down and do a better job of requiring payment for my help (services).

Back in December, I blogged about how difficult it was for me to charge a young Mom who called for help because she had just found out her 2 1/2 year old daughter had cancer. (You can read more about that here.) She could only afford to have us come help her for a few hours one day and that broke my heart. She still needed our help and I knew it. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and how I could make her life so much simpler, at least in that respect. However, I continued to fight my urge to run over there and help her because I was working on letting my head lead rather than my heart as far as my business dealings go.

Rebekah-Annika

(www.AnnikasEpicJourney.com)

Through a very odd set of circumstances after we worked with her initially, I found out that she wanted more help. Without hesitation and with sheer excitement at the thought of it, I made the decision to get a team of professional organizers together and go back to help her family for free for several days and I felt good about it! We got through decluttering and organizing the large majority of their home. I knew that I couldn’t take away the pain they were experiencing from fighting for their daughter’s life, but I knew that by helping them get organized, that would reduce a small portion of their stress.

That was back in March of this year. Sadly, their daughter, Annika lost the battle and was laid to rest October 3rd – exactly one year after the diagnosis. This news shattered my heart into so many pieces. I cannot begin to imagine how Annika’s Mom and Dad are doing. I was always so impressed with how calm and positive her parents were able to be in such a difficult situation.

Although my work with clients is normally confidential, in this particular situation I got permission from her parents to share their story. Annika’s Mom had started a blog when she was first diagnosed and I wanted to be able to share her blog with others. The main reason I wanted to share her blog was because there are opportunities for people to help them financially there. Like all of us, it’s not easy for them to ask for help. However, they need it. We can’t bring Annika back but we can help them with the other day to day hassles and expenses of having a terminally ill child while still trying to be a parent to their other children.

Please keep this family in your prayers and hug the ones you love. We’re never guaranteed a tomorrow. R.I.P. Annika.

Annika

(www.AnnikasEpicJourney.com)

R.I.P. Mom

Sadly, my Mom died exactly 1 week after my last post “Her Smile Said It All”. As tragic as it is to lose your Mom, I feel like we couldn’t have asked for it to go any smoother than it did. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 and was given 6 months to 2 years to live. That was 11 years ago!

She decided early on not to fight the disease with chemotherapy and I can’t help but wonder if that was a blessing in disguise. Either way, the cancer itself didn’t seem to impact her life at all. Then about 3 months ago, she lost control of her right side, almost as if you would if you had a stroke. Within 2 weeks of noticing that initial decline, the doctor told her she could no longer live alone and he sent her home to die. Apparently the cancer had metastasized and spread to her brain and bones.

My brothers and I stayed with her around the clock for the next 5 weeks until she died. It’s amazing to me how much of a decline there was every day. I was the “weekend girl” and was responsible for caring for her each weekend. It was unbelievable how much of a change I saw week to week. I could have never foreseen the night that I got her all dressed up to attend her grandson’s wedding reception, and we posed for the selfies in my last blog post, that when I returned the following weekend, my Mom would no longer be able to communicate or interact with me. I don’t think anything prepares you for that. By the following weekend, she died….peacefully, surrounded by all of her children.

Saying Goodbye

My brothers and I at her funeral.

The blessings in all of this are more than I can count, but here are just a few: 1) She didn’t suffer in pain for very long. It could have went on and on for years, but it didn’t. 2) She got to die at home like she wanted, surrounded by the people she loved. 3.) She could have ended up having to go to hospice which would have cost a fortune! 4) She got to spend the last 5 weeks of her life surrounded constantly by her loved-ones. 5) Exactly 2 weeks before she died, she was all smiles and so excited to go to her grandson’s wedding reception. To me, the fact that she was laughing and having fun with the people she loved 2 weeks before she died, was a gigantic blessing in itself!

Her Smile Said it All

I find myself today at an all too familiar place as of late, the bedside of my mother who has been sent home to die. We have had a very unusual relationship almost my entire life. Somehow, somewhere, early on in my life, I took over the parenting role. Not only parenting her, but also trying to parent my siblings as best I could.

Mom

Her health has been declining rapidly each day. Today as I watch her lying there confused, in pain and scared, my heart breaks for her. My biggest concern since she was diagnosed with cancer  has been that I wanted to be sure that she knew God in the close, personal way that I know Him before she died. Unfortunately, from everything I can tell, and every discussion we’ve had, I’ve gotten the impression that she still doesn’t. She can no longer carry on conversations. So I quietly pray at her bedside for her.

The one sign of hope that I do have is that she was raised Catholic and I know that it has been very, very important to her that a priest visit with her so she can give her last confession. Because she has not been super active in church, we’ve had a hard time getting a priest to make that visit.

Moments after I began writing this post, there was a knock on the door. A priest that my brother had contacted was here to pray over her, take her final confession and do something Catholics call anointing the sick. Though my Mom was heavily medicated, it was clear that she understood what was going on. I felt such peace and comfort hearing the words the priest prayed over her – promising that God would comfort her, give her peace and that all of her sins have been forgiven.

As the priest left, my Mom thanked him wholeheartedly with a smile, nothing more. That smile was the biggest smile I had seen in days from her. And for that, I thank God. He reminds me there is always hope.

Mom