“The Greater the trial, the sweeter the victory.” George Muller
“What are you doing?” This question came out of a brown-eyed handsome fella that made my head swoon. I was sitting in the back seat of my Mazda finishing up my homework before my shift started at Target. He was also wearing red and khaki, my first clue that he was also an employee.
“My algebra homework.” He must need to know the time or how to clock in. His sticker name tag meant he was a new team member. Boys never talked to me.
“Oh, yeah? What college do you go to?”
“I don’t. I go to high school…” Was he actually interested in me?
“Oh! How old are you?” He asked surprised and smiling.
“Sixteen.” I think he IS interested in me.
“You should’ve lied.” He spun on his heels and walked away just as quickly as he walked up. I wasn’t surprised that he walked away but I still thought he was a punk. He couldn’t have been that much older than me and he was good-looking!
Little did I know then what the Lord had planned for us.
Twenty years later, I sit in awe as I reflect on the beautiful life the Lord has given us. People are always telling me how blessed and fortunate I am to have found love at such a young age; often telling me how they’d change lives with me in a heartbeat. He was my real kiss and my only love. They are right. I am blessed. I am loved. I wonder if they knew our whole story if they’d run faster from it than speeding bullet. Probably so. That’s what makes my life so beautiful; it took me a long time to be able to see the beauty in the midst of ashes. Trust me. I’ve wanted to run into the mountains and hide from the world several dozen times; the one thing that always stopped me was the love and support from family and friends that always encouraged and reminded me to keep my faith no matter what the circumstances. It didn’t matter how dark times got, I always had my faith; it may have been as small as a mustard seed, but I had it.
I’ve learned that these trials are given to us because they are meant to develop our walk with God and so that we can learn how to comfort others in the same way the Lord has comforted us. One of my most favorite books in the Bible is the book of James. It starts off with a letter to the twelve tribes and right off the bat James’s message hit home. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it would be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:2-6
This verse got me through my darkest hours and became a reminder that with God, anything is possible.
I completed a Beth Moore bible study a while back and learned things about my life and myself that I never thought possible. The study was called “Believing God”. It taught me how to see beyond the naked eye and into the great magnificent, supernatural power of God. Beth Moore says, “I have become utterly convinced that we see so little primarily because we believe Him so little.” How true is that? For me and my life, it is very true. When my life was much easier and uncomplicated, all I had to do was hang on to the coat tails of my parents faith. I thank God for that. Without the foundation of my parents and grandparents faith, I probably would have given up and hid in those mountains.
Everything started coming together for me when Beth talked about believing God to get us to our Gilgal. The name Gilgal means circle. Gilgal was the first stop in the Promised Land where the twelve stones of remembrance were set up. When the children of Israel reached it they had come full circle. God had removed their shame and condemnation and they could finally move forward.
I learned that God does the same for all of us. We have all been through trying times, struggled with our faith, lost some or maybe never even had it in the first place. Sometimes it’s the tragedy we are facing in life that actually teaches to have faith. If we are willing to learn about our Father, develop a relationship with Him and learn how to develop and use our faith, He will definitely bring us full circle. It may take years for us to fully understand the reason God took us through the times He did, other times we’ll never understand ‘til we meet Him at the Golden gates of heaven. God promises, my friends, if He brings you to it, then He’ll bring you through it.
Tears well up in my eyes when I see how awesome He has been to me. Often times, people will ask me, “If God is so great, then why did that happen in the first place?” I wish I had a short answer and easy explanation; the truth is, I don’t. I don’t understand why babies die, why children are killed by drunk drivers, why marriages come to an end, sexual and physical abuse or why we experience financial turmoil. I don’t understand every personal struggle that I have experienced yet, but I am excited to find out, even if it means waiting until I meet Him face to face. I do understand that every detail of our lives is known by God and in ALL things God works for the good for those who love Him.
That’s the purpose of my blog. I’m praying that people will come to the Lord, in the very least investigate, question and read about Him. I don’t have all of the answers, never will. What I do have is faith and a story where it is very clear that God has brought me to my Gilgal’s. Circles have been completed and it is very clear that without the tragedies and sorrow in my life I would have never been able to experience the pure joy and power of God’s love. I’ll also be able to show you how everything was used for my good, how He put the perfect people in my life at the perfect time, further proving that God keeps His promises. I encourage you to read the very first entries of my blog to fully understand where I’m coming from.
Below, is a timeline starting from my birth. On the top you’ll see the positive and on the bottom you’ll see the trial. As you read along, you’ll see the top line would never have been possible without the bottom.
Interesting fact: My dad came with two children, a girl named Dani and a son named Chris. She was seven and he was five. My mom also came into the marriage with a daughter named Kim. She was six. Instantly, they became a family of five.
1978: From my perspective, I’d have to say that this was one of the most turbulent years for my parents. I was born on March 10 and three weeks later, my paternal Grandpa Duane, passed away on April 1st. A few months after that my brother and sister, Chris and Dani, vanished and my parents never found them. The heartache and distress had to be unbearable.
“When the righteous cry for help, The Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
1989: At eleven years old, I made the public decision to accept Jesus Christ as my savior and was baptized in a little Southern Baptist Church. I believe the examples of both of my grandmother’s faith along with my parents made it an easy decision at such an early age.
“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”
1998: This is the year I had to learn about faith, sorrow, grief and how to say good-bye. Our sweet baby girl, Machaela went to be in heaven and a realization was made. Having to let her go forced me to live a similar grief that my parents did; one that could only understood by experiencing it yourself. I think it must have been even worse for them because they had no idea what happened to Chris or Dani. This was my first prompting to get up and do something about it.
*Note: it took twenty years for my parent’s grief to come full circle with mine before I fully understood the depths of it.
“…so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
2 Corinthians 1:4
1999: Jim had his off-road accident and suffered severe injuries to his right arm. He went through multiple surgeries and over a year of physical therapy. The clinic that he rehabbed at was hiring and I was looking for a new job. I was hired on the spot by my new boss, Alan.
I was still dealing with grief and was given a book from mother in law called, Angel Unaware. The author was Dale Evans. It spoke to me in a way that helped me to understand children and death. I wrote Dale Evan’s a letter thanking her. I never expected a phone call, autographed book and the reminder from her that God is good, all the time.
This year two significant people were placed in my life this year: Dale Evans and Alan Vogel
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
2000: We started experiencing the burdens of medical debt, job loss and tons of stress. I went back to school.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4: 8-10
2002: My beautiful Sophia Averie was born; I finished my certification and got my licensing. When my maternity leave was over in early January, I would be ready to be an independent contractor.
“And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…”
2003: This is the year the Lord brought me to my Gilgal. There were a lot of little circles throughout my first twenty-five years of life that weaved and overlapped each other, but this was when it all started to make sense.
There were three significant events that happened this year; becoming an independent contractor for Cal Rehab, finding Chris and Dani and playing on Family Feud.
- It seems odd that the Lord would give my parents a new baby (me) at the same time they were experiencing the loss of my dad’s two oldest children. Even odder, without my birth he may never have seen them again.
- My declaration of faith is what kept me believing that anything is possible, even when it seemed impossible. I thank my grandmother’s for their example.
- My daughter had to die for me to understand what my parents had gone through.
- Jim’s off road accident had to happen in order for me to become an employee at Cal Rehab.
- My employment at Cal rehab had to happen in order for me to become an Independent contractor for them.
- I had to become an Independent Contractor in order to have my own patient load.
- I had to have my own patient load to meet my very first patient, who happened to be Chris and Dani’s maternal uncle.
- I had to find my brother and sister in order for my dad’s heart to begin healing and so that he too, could come to his Gilgal. God is good all the time.
This is just a piece of my story. It continues on. As I sit here at my computer and reflect on the last decade of my life, I realize it is even more amazing. I absolutely can’t wait to share it. I want to scream it from every mountain top that God designed. I want everyone to know the God loves you! He has a purpose for your life…if you’ll believe! I know God uses everyday normal people like me to share our stories to humble us, to make us dependent on Him and to astonish us with His unbelievable, supernatural, indescribable power. Are you ready to find out yours?
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18