I have made reference before to my utter sinfulness.
I thought now would be a good time to document just a few details of my life and how I've come to the place where I am now, living in Joy.
I was raised by a Christian mother but I was an unhappy child. When I was in High School, an upperclassman invited me to attend a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting. I did so and found that there was much more to faith in God than I had previously realized. I absorbed some of it. I learned a lot, prayed, but had not yet learned to give over my life to God. I understood the salvation message but He still existed in the abstract for me. I didn't know Him as a person as I do now.
When I got to college I foolishly made a conscious choice to make my own decisions and not look to God for guidance. I was at college, I wanted to have fun, and more than anything, I wanted to be a normal person. Christians just are not normal. Sometimes Christian friends can be embarrasing if you are trying to look "cool".
I will, at this point, gloss over a recounting of the depths of my depravity over the next 19 years. It is enough to say that because I knew better than others (who may be ignorant of what the Savior offers), that my sins were much worse than theirs because my sins were done with knowledge of Him.
During this time of shadows, I married and bore two beautiful children, but my life was spiraling downward. I could not find a way to make a happy home for my children. Among many other serious problems, my husband and I had financial difficulties that we could never seem to solve. Our incomes would increase, and the finances would not improve. There were many events and stresses that began to erode and finally to end my marriage, and I did not see a way to prevent it.
During that last year, in the summer of 1995, in the midst of financial chaos, I was at my wits' end. We were behind on all of our bills and I was fielding creditor calls. I sat on my sofa alone and prayed. For the first time in 19 years, I really prayed. I asked God specifically for $900 to meet our immediate need. I didn't really expect an answer, I knew I deserved nothing.
By the next day I promptly forgot about the prayer and went about my life. Four days later I received a check in the mail. From the IRS. Apparently they had been checking their books and found that we had overpaid our taxes once two years previously and they were reimbursing us $905. I was stunned. It could not have been a clearer message. God was telling me "I am here. I have been waiting for you."
My life changed. I turned back to God. I then prayed for my marriage to continue, for the changes that needed to happen, but that prayer was not answered the way I hoped. My husband and I divorced.
But God's provision continued. That year, I had begun working a temporary clerical job making $6.50 an hour. I needed to find someplace for my kids and I and our little dog to live. After cashing out my half of our small retirement account and dividing it and the remaining bills, I was $250 dollars in the hole. My parents offered their basement. They lived an hour north of my job, but you can't beat free rent! We made plans to move in and continued to search for someplace to rent. Just before moving, on a housing search trip with my kids, we saw a beautiful double rainbow from the car window. I had never seen a double rainbow before. I felt sure it was a sign encouraging me to be confident in His provision and shared that assurance with my children. I pictured us being held in God's cupped hand.
I could not find a rental that would allow me to bring our little dog. After separating from their father, I could not bear to separate my children from our dog too. My employer had decided for some reason (Some reason? GOD was the reason!) to increase my pay to $8.50 an hour and my parents broached the preposterous idea that I might be able to buy something instead of rent. Was it possible? I thought I might be able to buy an old farmhouse or a couple of acres out in the country with a mobile home on it. I wasn't picky, I just needed a roof over our heads. I spoke to a banker who said she thought I could look at building instead of buying since there were not a lot of cheap houses available at that time. I wondered just how clearly she had seen my loan application! I proceeded forward, seeing only one step at a time, but always knowing I was in His care.
In the meantime, my employer offered me a permanent clerical job. It was more money, with benefits, and much more secure. I knew I was not well-suited for it and I was confident this was not where God was leading me. I turned them down. My parents were aghast that I would refuse it. I remained an office temp, but my employer later instructed the temp agency to increase my wages to $10.00 an hour, just because. (They didn't know it, but I knew they were an instrument of God, providing for us.)
It is hard to portray the feeling I had all through this time. I made my decisions confidently, feeling securely held in God's hands.
I found some beautiful land to buy (40 acres!) in February 1996 and obtained my loan for it while I was still working as an Office Temporary. In June I was offered another kind of job by the same employer.
I had discovered in the early 1990s that I enjoyed playing with computers and databases and spent personal time learning about them. In my temporary job, this fact had become evident to my employer. I was offered a job (Thank you Kevin R. and Chris B.!!) to do some application programming - to assist in setting up a new lab management system (database). I happily accepted the position. I received a nice wage increase and I really enjoyed my new job. (I had no experience and no training for this type of work, but God arranges things!)
At home in my parents' basement, I was designing my house and finding a builder. And in July 1996 an old love/new love stepped into my life.
The last thing in the world I wanted was a man. Tom, however, wasn't just any man. He and his younger brother, my younger brother and I were friends all through our teen-aged years. He was a farm boy that lived near my parents' cabin and we spent our happiest times there on various adventures, shooting, working, swimming, fishing, and playing card games. I adored him. He was no ordinary boy. He was Honorable and Silly, Gentle and Strong. I was always totally at ease with him. I trusted him completely. I also had a secret passion for him as a teen, but a romance had never occurred to him. I was not the kind of girl to bring up the subject, so we went our separate ways as we grew into adulthood. My passion for him mellowed into a platonic love, which stayed with me through the years.
He never married and I would see him occasionally when we were at the cabin. After my marriage ended I saw him at the cabin and I could tell that now, after all these years, he was interested in romance. We were both now 39 years old. He came by the cabin to visit a few times when we were there, and finally awkwardly asked me for a date. I still loved him, but was not interested in dating anyone. But this was Tom! I accepted. I knew within two dates that I would marry him if given the chance. It took him a full year to decide that he loved me and another six months to ask me to marry him. We married in August 1998.
In the meantime, my new house had been built and finished in May 1997. The first week the kids and I were in the house I looked out my new bedroom window and what did I see? A double rainbow. The second one I'd ever seen. God was reminding me that He was providing for me. All my needs.
At this point I was single with two children and facing house payments that were daunting. Before I made my first payment, my employer, (remember they were headquartered in California) was looking for a Network Administrator in Minnesota. They had been unsuccessful in finding one. Someone suggested to me that I should apply for the job. I laughed. Me?? I knew nothing about networks! I applied anyway, admitted how little I knew, but was willing to learn, and was hired with a substantial pay increase. (Thanks Joe M. and Tim T.!) No one was more surprised than me. My boss Tim later told me they "would have hired a monkey for the job" they were so desperate. (LOL!) Not very flattering to me, but I was happy they found their monkey. I learned how to administer a network "on the job" and three months later they decided I wasn't making enough money, so I got a nice raise, and a few months later got another big one. I never asked for any of it. It was all a gift. God proved Himself over and over to me. I worked there in the IT department for nine more years. It was a great gift.
Businesses were booming in 1999. Especially High-Tech. The company stock options we received began to dramatically increase in value. In 2000, they increased enough that Tom and I were able to cash in enough stock to completely pay off the mortgage on the house I had built. It was a gift to all of my co-workers as well. (I held the secret opinion that they were all benefiting from God's continued provision for me!) Tom and I were thrilled and thankful. We were free from any debt. This was a short three years after the house had been built. This meant we were free.
Because of one small prayer in 1995, God brought me from desperate circumstances to peace and joy. His love carried me through the most traumatic time of my life. There are many other side stories from these years. My children suffered through their parents' divorce because of my sins and their adjustment was not easy. Everything wasn't always rosy. I am still a sinner. But I have learned through those times, and understood clearly and without the slightest doubt that God will care for us. He will always provide what we need.
Luke 12: 22-26
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?