Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pretty Feet?

The news here seems grim everyday. I do not read the entire newspaper and I sure do not have time to sit and watch the news. However, I do try to keep up with things going on around me. Not once have I imagined hearing real life stories similar to things you hear about in third world countries. However, in the city of Phoenix Arizona there are homeless people who are sleeping out side the doors of shelters because there is not enough room to hold them. Charity funds are running low because people are afraid to give. There was one story of a man who has sent out more than 40resumes weekly and still has not found work. He has to live out of his car when he cannot find occupancy in the shelters. There are stories like these all over the country, but Arizona is one of the hardest hit states in the country.

I pray now that someone will stumble across this blog and find hope. I do not share this to bring doom and gloom to the hearts of ones reading it. I have asked God to get this blog to the people who He wants to read it. I have heard from people all over. There was even one woman from Australia who just happened upon it. So to whomever the Lord leads to this blog my heart is to let you know that God is with you and He will help you and bring you through your hardship. He never said you would not suffer tragedy and trial. He never said He would save you from bad things happening. But He does promise to bring you through and out of your despair and adversity. However, we do have to ask Him to help us.

As I think of the bible verse, "Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.", I have to chuckle. Since living in Arizona for the last few months, my feet are far from beautiful. They are crusty and calloused from the dry weather here. There does not seem to be enough lotion available to keep them soft. However, maybe my blogging feet will bring some good news and tidings to at least one heavy heart.

Two weeks before Christmas of 2007, my husband came home from work with the news that he had been fired. His boss, who was a life long friend had let him go with no severance other than one month of insurance benefits. Just a couple of months before this, John was moved to another department in the company. It was a position he was never trained to lead. Oddly enough, he was put in charge of this area of operation.

During the time, my husband John worked hard. He was putting in 70 to 80 hours a week as well as having to work hours at home. During Thanksgiving holiday something happened in his area. We were out of town during that time. There was a mistake made that cost the company a mega amount of money. Because John was the "person in charge", he was unjustly let go. His boss who was supposed to be his friend and a brother in the Lord, never said another word to my husband who was one of his most faithful and hardest working employees. It ended up being a blessing in the end because John was never home. He also was stuck in Atlanta traffic every day for at least an hour and a half.

After John lost his job, he put his resume on the Internet and kept his eyes open for job opportunities that would fit his experience. For over 8 months everything was quiet. John tried doing some things on his own to keep us going. Those things helped some. However, it takes a good chunk of income to provide for 9 children. I have to admit at times during those 8 months we became very afraid. And there were weeks where we did not know if we would even have food. We had no savings and no severance pay from the former job. We did not even have anything worth enough to even sell.

Toward the end of those 9 months, we really did not know how we would eat. I had been volunteering as a mentor at a local food pantry. One day the director asked me if I was okay. I broke down in tears and shared our situation with her. She put her arms around me, began to pray, and then told me to take any of the food I needed for my family. She helped us for several weeks until we had a breakthrough.

I have to admit it was pretty humiliating to have to get food from a food pantry for my family. But the Lord provided for us in this very lean time. We had a couple of friends who were so sensitive to our need in this season. One couple even gave up their stimulus check so we could pay our rent. Also an old friend from my school days gave us gifts to help us. We had a family member that gave us money to help us pay our utilities for a couple of months. I cannot tell you how it feels to be grateful yet humbled at the same time. We never once asked these sweet souls for help, but we asked the Lord and He gave to us through others who were sensitive and willing. I will never forget the unconditional love and grace these people bestowed on us. Their reward is great because these were people who really did not have it to give, but they gave anyway.

On the other hand we had people who seemed to criticize rather than ask if there was anything they could do to help.It is hard not to become bitter during times like these. However, the Lord helped us to stay soft hearted toward others and our situation. We cried a lot of tears and we cried out to God everyday.

We had been through a lot of financial hardship before this even happened. I cannot even explain how we looked to some people. But you know God is our vindicator and He is vindicating us today. To the glory of God, John received a new job just 5 months ago as a manager in a very prosperous armor company. He is finally respected and valued as a man of knowledge, wisdom and character. His coworkers do not mock him for being a father of many children as this was something he faced everyday at his former job. He was offered the job on the spot at the interview and was granted the salary he requested. He received a huge Christmas bonus because the company is doing so well. This company is one of the leading providers for military armor for our servicemen. Most of their projects are in high demand. Many of them are so top secret that unidentified government agents attend the presentations they give within the company. The last meeting they had, my dear John was the overseer of the entire presentation.

I may sound like I am bragging. But you know what? It is not prideful to brag about God and His grace. And that is what this story is all about. I also want to brag on my husband. He is a faithful man. He has been accused of many things. He has been put down and made fun of for being a father of nine children. He even had an elder in a church jokingly tell John's boss that they needed to call child protective services on our family for having too many children.

I have watched John graciously deal with unkind treatment in the work place. I believe God has rewarded him. Just the other day I read about a father who killed his wife and 5 children because he lost his job. How can people become so hopeless? If you have lost your job or you feel no hope for the future, please hear me. My family knows how that feels. It hurts. Sometimes you cry out and feel that God is ignoring you. Dear one, He hears you. He is mighty to save. He will help you. He will come through and you will get to the other side. Do not give up. Cast your care upon Him for He cares for you. The depths of trouble we encounter is merely a stage God is clearing out to work a miracle. He is into showing up. Sometimes when things are going really well, there is no place for the Lord to show Himself. So he anchors His stage of glory on the choppy waves of troubled waters.

Morning Bagel: The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them. He delivers them from all their troubles.The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. He protects all his bones. Not one of them will be broken. Psalms 34:17-20

Daily Hug: A dear friend of mine who lives in Michigan is a mother of 2 young children. Sami's husband Jason is a full time student. They are living by faith and God is providing for their family at a time when finances are lean. She loves the Lord and sings praises to Him in new songs He gives to her. Here are some verses that she shared with me,

"Take my hand and I will lead you to the promised land,
The road may not always be easy but I will be with you.

I will take Your hand as You lead me to the promise land,
I know the road may not be easy but I have faith in you."

This is a beautiful exchange of love and faith. The faith of a daughter in her heavenly father and the faith of the Father in His daughter whose face is turned upward in hope and expectation toward Him.

Lord, I pray now for anyone reading this who has lost hope. Put Your strong and gentle arms around them and whisper to their heart, " I will never leave you. I will never betray or forsake you. My name is faithful and I am faithful to you." Father I pray in this season of such instability of our times, that You will invade places where the hopeless ones sit in defeat with their heads hanging low. Straighten the backs of ones hunched over in despair. Lift the heads of ones who slumber in shame. Where You are God, there is freedom. There is hope. There is joy. There is victory. Save the life of anyone who feels there is no reason to go on. Lift them Lord. You are the almighty man lifter! Thank you for showing up and just for being our Dad. In Jesus Name. Amen.

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