Starting Over

by | May 12, 2014 | Direction, Trust

This past year has become a testing ground beyond any other thus far. We always believed in God’s care and leading….we just never believed WE would be led out into the desert. For years we have successfully owned a small family restaurant (Italian, of course); no matter where we moved, we prospered and took care of our family. We were never rich, but our needs were always covered, even in difficult circumstances from time to time. We ate well, we had shelter, our kids were well cared for, and we shared our blessings with others.

The hurricanes of 2004 sent us back to the stone age with damage to our home and business. It seemed only practical, when the bank offered, that we use our home as collateral to re-group. The livelihood of our children and employees depended on us too, we felt.

Business never quite came back as strongly, but we managed to survive in a new location 2005-2006. We were not prepared for the economical decline that started in 2007, although I had received several dreams beforehand, quite unlike dreams of the regular kind. The Lord seemed to be warning us of depending on the arm of man, but I didn’t quite know what to make of things. We felt it was an answer to prayer when two young men with good financial backing (one had been trained with my husband for 7 years) offered to buy us out. We used the down-payment to pay off all possible debts, help our children, and assist in the immigration expenses for our son-in-law. There were no vacations, nor new vehicles or other extravagancies. In fact, we sold our boat, truck and any other items we felt we didn’t need in our lives.

Within a mere 8 months, our joy over the sale turned into horror. The people we sold to started not showing for work, nor paying invoices, taxes—and there were rumors of drug dealing. This nearly killed my husband who had worked so many years to build a good name. They stopped paying us as well. We acquired an attorney, but by this point, we could not afford a battle at $250 per hour. The party we were in litigation with boasted over $60million and a team of attorneys. We were asked how many years we could afford to fight, and with what money? After anguished prayer and months of depression, we walked away. By this time, our house was in foreclosure, and at the point of no return. While we had paid off most of our other bills, the property payments still loomed over us. Even the bank advised us, at our age, it would be better to walk away and try to start over.

Several months before, after the dreams, we had prayed, “Oh Lord, everything is yours….take what You want and lead us where You will…..” We never actually expected that God would test that out. Next step was bankruptcy–months before we had balked at that… SURELY God did not want such a path for us???? Christians were supposed to pay their bills, and WHAT WOULD PEOPLE SAY???? We were in our 60’s, losing our home, out of money, out of work for the first time in our lives. Where could we turn? It is easy to say you will praise the Lord–when you have a bank account, a home, vehicles, a boat and all you can eat.

I cried to the Lord…what IS this that You are doing with us? I walked in the woods, I cried, I waved my arms I shouted… day after day. It seemed one day, I heard God chuckle…. maybe the voice was not audible…. but it WAS THERE!

“We’re losing everything!”

“You said it was Mine.”

“But where will we go? How can we live with no house?”

“You said you wanted Me to lead you.”

“Yes, but where?”

“Well, that is where the faith and trust come in. You said you wanted Me to increase that too.”

“What will we live on?”

“Remember that thing I said, about “living not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God?” Live on My bread.”

“But our credit is ruined.”

“You said you didn’t WANT credit-cards anymore, so why do you care?–your credit with me is always paid by My Son.”

“What will people say about us? They’ll say all kinds of bad things and that we will look like losers.”

“Worse than they said about My Son?”

“Who will hire us at our ages?”

“I though you said you wanted to work for Me? Let Me handle that.”

I started feeling a strange peace, and was able to share this with my husband. Someone my daughter knew, rented a small flat to us. My husband found a temporary job. I would like to think of myself as a “fine artist”, but people aren’t buying many canvases in this economy. I got a job painting a billboard and some parking lot signs in a town an hour away. I guessed any art was “fine” as long as I was getting paid. Here I was, almost 60, complaining with arthritis, working up on a scaffold in 30 degree weather by a country road. I grumbled a bit. Here came The Voice again.

“It’s cold out here.”

“You specifically said you would like to work outdoors. Freedom from an office, fresh air and all. You said you wanted “anything but Walmart.” Something artistic…”

“Yes, but I didn’t think you would actually put me out here.”

“It is good for you. Builds character. And you are praying and singing a lot more.”

“Yes, but I’m old and my hip hurts.”

“Cast all you cares upon Me. That’s what I’m here for.”

Day after day, people saw me painting. I now have a few other art jobs. Just the other day, I was praying, Lord, I know you hear, but coffers are getting empty… please could you respond soon?. I had spent the morning in prayer for all the people I knew who needed to hear His voice in one form or another. 10 minutes later, the phone rang. An idea I was working on, doing personalized art on funeral urns took off…. a small company for funeral urns is working to build a line featuring my art. One day after prayer, I felt, crazy as it sounded, impressed to call them ( a name out of the phone book) and ask if they would be interested in a line of personalized urns. They didn’t hang up.

“What will other people say, who knew me as a canvas artist?”

“Does it matter?”

“Well, my work…. You said that was Mine too! You said that, since I gave you the talent, I could use it for whatever I willed.”

“They will think it is weird….the work I am doing.”

“It only matters about the Work I Am doing, and that others see My handiwork in your life.”

Each day is like that. My husband’s job will end soon, and he is 63. We own no home, have a rusty old van. We hold no credit cards, or bank accounts, or savings, or stocks, or life insurance, or even health insurance for that matter. We should be terrified. Yet, over the past few months, we have grown. We pray more, we read more, we praise more. We take time to go out and look up at the stars and thank God for the beauty He has created for us. We rejoice over the smallest things that happen….maybe we wouldn’t have noticed when we had so much.

As strange as it sounds, it is almost like–the things we were blessed with before, started to take more and more time. We didn’t pray as much as we should, we had to take care of the property and the business. After a while… it became a stumbling block–a burden. We wondered why we did not seem to “hear from God” quite as much. We believe he will provide new work for my husband. While the job where he is at now (the same small town where I was painting my billboard) will end soon, he was able to witness to many–one man who was ready to commit suicide after losing his wife. My husband gave him a copy of The Shack. There are others as well.

All this to say, The Illustrator, and those who contribute, have helped us through so much of this journey. While I only casually looked at the site before, I began to eagerly look for the new e-mails and rejoice in God’s promises. You are on my prayer list. Please pray for us, as well.

Sunny May 2009

To be continued as life unfolds itself before the eyes of the Lord.

Follow up testimonial can be read at Lazarus Effect


Starting Over