I post a lot on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Day. Having started a tradition in 2013 of being Alone with the King on Christmas Day and resting in His the loving arms, He reveals much to me during this sacred time of reflection. Then I write an anticipation of the upcoming year. Looking back, I see I was still in exile in Babylon in 2016. I wrote “God won’t let me out quite yet. He allows me to shine light and impact lives even in my prison cell. God allowed bitter disappointments. Or maybe He kept me from making any bigger mistakes. Choosing your focus gives such freedom for a healthy state of mind.”
A Lot of What No One Wants
God has been working on me for the last six years since returning from a dark life in Florida. I have been in a bubble of isolation. On July 30, 2017, friends who are missionaries in Uganda spoke at church. They described God surprising them with a ministry to refugees in the camps, many dying with no access to any medical care, just wanting someone to listen to their story. My heart seized with intense pain as I reflected on having a lot of what nobody wanted. I want to listen to these stories and then write them. I know healing techniques that only require two hands yet no one is interested. I want to share the redeeming power of Christ but no one wants to listen. While the Lord was transforming and growing me during these years, I was disconnected and very alone. I saw it as God protecting me but another sister in Christ saw it as the devil’s spirit of isolation. She prayed it gone and soon after things started to shift.
Cattle, Cowboys and Closed Doors
In July, the Lord allowed a bittersweet trip to Florida to say goodbye to a man who has my heart. A man who introduced me to cattle and cowboys, who taught me the fine art of backing up a trailer. A man who I can finally quit pestering because he finally accepted the Lord and has asked for forgiveness. I see in my journals, I was sure he was going to die every minute of the last two years. The Lord is giving him some extra time to make amends. Here is hoping he will extend the same forgiveness to others that the Lord has extended to him.
I walked away from adult diapers and poop on September 1, 2017. It came as a result of someone watching me post photos on Facebook of my adventures in the community while driving my clients through the hills of Brown County and the Lakes of Bloomington. What I thought was a calling to make a home for adults with disabilities was actually a test of obedience. He blesses us when we show our love by obeying His commands. He provides, protects, guides our steps through trials and He blesses us from Jerusalem to Judea and beyond the Jordan. Nothing can separate us from His love. He heals and redeems even when we are in exile.
Encouraged By Abraham
At 61, I am encouraged because Abraham was 75 when the Lord used him to impact the world. Hopefully I am not going to be having any children, but the thought crossed my mind today to become a pen pal mom to the young people I seem to be collecting from all over the world. People are reaching out from Uganda to Haiti. So maybe my descendants will be many even though I have no children of my own, there are many who would give anything for someone to just listen to their story.
A Bridge to Return Home
Every month since walking away from my job, the Lord has provided financially. The job with the builder called Bridgenorth was just a bridge to return north to where I am supposed to be. In the first month I tried everything in my own strength to make things work. Worry, doubt and anxiety caused many sleepless nights. I failed to stand on God’s word and enlist His mighty power.
Oasis of Tranquility
I wrote a story that I simply loved about a young woman in a wheelchair that God connected me with when I needed some website help. Writing that story was like a cool oasis of tranquility amidst my striving to make things work. It was like being on vacation while writing that story. I thought nothing of it, posted it, got back to striving and then things erupted. I was cheered on by the multitudes just for listening to her story and giving her a chance. As a result, Vanessa Stringer reached out. She is a young woman from Brazil who owns an insurance company with her husband and she wanted to see how she could help me in my business. She had gratitude for me helping her young friend in the wheelchair and sharing her story.
Answer to Prayer
Another connection was made in an effort to get me a job to subsidize my meager employment with the builder. This connection was with Kenton Yohey, the owner of the Christian Phone Book. Unbeknownst to me, he read all my writing and blogs, checked out out everything I had to say on Facebook and without ever talking to me, he put a proposal together to work with me. He would promote my storytelling and I would work with him connecting others to ChristianPhoneBook.com. His proposal met all the criteria I had been praying for. I wanted to work as a partner to an entrepreneurial visionary in a faith-based capacity while writing God stories. Whew!
All Roads Lead to Collaborate 317 and Hope Center
One of my first paid stories was on Brickhouse Coffee. In that interview I was told about this place called Collaborate 317 which benefits the Hope Center. When Vanessa and I finally met she wanted to meet at her new office at Collaborate 317. She advised me to attend all the networking events that Collaborate 317 offered. In my first networking meeting, I met one of the founders of Collaborate 317. When I told him I was a story teller and Vanessa said to come here, he got a big smile and said “Oh I know who you are. I read that story you wrote and it was wonderful.” Whoa…I did not think anyone ever read my stories. They gave me an office and said I could write stories to pay my rent!
God the Master Networker
The first networking meeting was on making connections on LinkedIn. They connected me with Cathy Padgett. She is one of Indy’s top connectors of people and she created the Indiana Small Business Expo and was now connecting people of faith in the marketplace with Marketplace Leaders Alliance.
In another networking meeting I briefly met Dawn Evans-Casey. From one meeting and one mention of selling advertising for ChristianPhoneBook.com, she reached out to me to inquire. At a wedding in October where I was the only white person in attendance, I met Vickie Peterson and her selfie stick. I took a chance and reached out to both of these women about connecting and uniting our cultures. They were all in.
And in an instant, all of these people God introduced me to in the blink of an eye are uniting for Kingdom purposes. I am meeting with people who are highly sought after. They don’t know me from Adam, but when God orchestrates a meeting, everyone is eagerly available.
Awe in the Reflection
As I reflect upon that day in church where I felt that burning desire in my heart to listen to other people’s stories, my journals detail the timeline. In short order, all the doors closed that needed to close and in the blink of an eye, I began walking through all the open doors which presented themselves. I surely see the hand of God at work. Every month for four months, my income equaled my expenses and I don’t have a job. I am selling stories and I am being paid in $100 increments for a variety of administrative duties.
All those surrounding me feel this fever pitch. People are connecting and collaborations are happening in such a way that it can only be God. I see people barely holding on, wondering how long the trials and the uncertainty and the difficulty will prevail. Thankfully I am not the only writer in the group and one of my collaborators Bruce Ford wrote this “even as tough as it has been, God has been faithful, providing for us every step of the way. Surround yourself with those who aspire to make the world a better place. Positive people who understand that a life with purpose is of more value than a life of materialistic possessions or temporary stature. Be with those who understand character is more important than false reputation and worldly desires.”
Edify Each Other
Change your focus. Listen to edifying words. Listen to what Godly friends say about you or a situation. I reached back in my journal to a year ago when Hillebrand’s gave me the most beautiful gift I had ever received. Husband and wife prayed for me and asked for a word from the Lord. Sherri said “you are a diamond in a treasure chest with your words carrying the sounds of heaven.” Bob said “you carry value with you wherever you go, and you spread value as you see the best in others as you guard other people’s value.” They said we see you as a mighty force advancing the Kingdom of God on Earth. Whoa. God said that about me?
When I look at the photo I used for this post, I see chubby cheeks and a turkey neck. My friend Cambridge said “the photo reflects a radiance shining from the love of Christ.” I am surrounded by all these people who hear directly from God. Today as I was exchanging words of encouragement with another Godly friend, she said she received a word from the Lord for me. She said “I heard the Lord say you will be prophesying to the four corners of the Earth and you will bring together God’s people.”
I am simply overcome. It took me fifty years just to meet Jesus. What if I believe what God says through His word and His people? What if I believe I serve a Kingdom purpose. What if I refused to believe all those doubts and “what ifs” and “that is impossible.” What if I believe that following all God’s commands is in my absolute best interest. Why don’t we look to each other to be built up and encouraged. Don’t suffer alone, don’t let the enemy slip in and ensnare you with false beliefs. Join arms with other believers and let your light shine. Make your new year greeting to others “How may I edify you today? Let me tell you what you mean to me.” I bet we could change the world in 2018.