"...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom
for such a time as this?"
There are too many things that have been perfectly orchestrated in our lives, that can only point to a loving God who has a plan. God had a plan in Esther's life and used each circumstance from losing her family, being taken away to the king's house, up to being ready to stand up and deliver her people. He took hard times and pain and used them in her life ...for such a time as this. I can only look at where God has taken us and brought us, to clearly see a plan. It's as if God wasn't really bringing us here just for the bookstore, although He used it our lives and in many other's as well, but for something more as well. As I sit here, I feel like there's so much more going on. I'm not sure what it's all about, but when I think that we could have moved up here a year earlier, we could have closed the store a year earlier, (both were discussed as possibilities at the time), we could have moved away to work somewhere else when the store closed (did have people asking), but God made it very clear to us that we are right where we need to be. If we would have moved away from Florida a year earlier, the bookstore would not have been available. If we would have closed the store a year earlier when we thought we should, we would have never seen the hand of God provide for us in such a miraculous way that year when a customer handed me a $10,000 check! Plus, I probably would have gotten a job; I almost got one last fall. God closed those doors. He made it so that the last week of the store was also my last monthly cycle. I complained about His timing on that, but 2 weeks later, I became pregnant. God closed one huge part of our lives to set us up for a completely different path to go on.
God obviously wants us to have Cayla, but had to close the store first. There is no way I'd be able to run the store and be all the places I've had to be. It would've never worked. God knew. (I love that phrase.) There is no way I could be working at a different job and not be fired by now, with all the appointments and "stuff" going on. I am not 25 anymore and truly am amazed at what I was able to do while pregnant then. Anyways, God's timing on everything is impeccable. :o)
The other major thing going on timing-wise was Lowell's job. He had been working at Radio Shack "full-time". It was rarely 40 hours, usually around 32-38 hours, sometimes more. He was mostly working evenings until 9pm and had to work weekends too, including Sundays. It was great that God provided that job while we had the store to help supplement, but it was not a salary a family could live on by any means. Lowell knew we were going to close the store last summer and was looking for more of a full-time, non mall hours, kind of a 9-5 job. He actually applied at Ken Forging back in April when he'd noticed an ad in the paper. He went through a couple of interviews back in May, and I think it came down to 2 people and they picked the other guy. So, I just kept praying and so did many others that Lowell would find the right job. This one seemed so perfect for us with great benefits and profit-sharing and all, but God closed the door. For some reason, every time we'd pass Griggs Road, I'd pray that either the guy they hired wouldn't work out and they'd call Lowell in or that another position would open up. I truly kept praying and felt somehow that we weren't done with Ken Forging. BUT, God's timing is perfect! If he would have got that job back in May or June working 9-5, that would've left me to close the store by myself. God knew that wouldn't have worked. I so badly needed him for so many things during that last month or so, I honestly could not have done it without him there when he was. He was able to be at the store most mornings and then would leave around noon to 2pm to go to work till 9pm. It was long days for him, but we'd set July 30th as our last day, so the end was in sight. He was still looking for another job, but nothing came up. We were able to close without a hitch and had great help that last Saturday we were open. Even though we were open that day and I was still behind the counter selling stuff most of the day, we still managed to pack everything up, clear out all merchandise, load fixtures that people bought, load fixtures we kept, make a trip with everyone's vehicles to our house and back to the store, and had the store completely cleaned and locked up by 4:30pm! What a day and what a blessing to have just the right amount of people from church and others come to help!!! It was to me a miracle how it could have happened so smoothly despite people shopping out of boxes as it was being packed. I doubted we could pull it off, but Lowell had been moving our personal things home all week long and all that was left was merchandise. I still think about it and am amazed! God ran that day for us, for His glory!
We still had no idea what God was doing, but had to wait and rest in Him and His timing. It was the end of August when Lowell got another phone call from Ken Forging to come back in for another interview! :o) God's timing is perfect! I'm going to keep repeating that phrase. He then got the job in September and started October 3rd. Their insurance is so amazing compared to what we had. With closing the store, we have been in "a bit" of a financial situation. God's provision of a good job like this AFTER we closed the store is just like Him, perfect! His insurance through Medical Mutual has been a life-saver financially. Since his insurance started January 3rd, we have to only pay 20% up to $2,500 max and then they pay 100%. We've easily passed that mark already and haven't even had all the surgeries. There will be possibly 3 before the end of the year... all under one deductible! God's timing is perfect! You can't deny it or get around it any way. :o) He has a plan for us!
After we closed the store, we went camping, canoeing/kayaking, and ended out our summer with some pretty fun times that we'd not been able to do since coming to Ohio. School started for Samuel, and he and I got up at 6 every morning to walk/run for 30-45 minutes. That was something I hadn't done in years, but felt great doing it. I started applying for jobs, went to Infinity to see if they could help me find a job. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing. Lowell got his job with Ken Forging, but what was I needing to do? I was wondering if I was supposed to get a job and put Samuel somehow in the only Christian high school in the county which was challenging since it's so far and we only had one car. I was confused and it didn't seem like God was directing. I got called in for some sub work in September as a secretary at a local steel company and enjoyed that. I do remember trying to get through each day there without falling asleep. I was so tired every afternoon and they didn't always have a ton of work for me to do if the phones weren't busy. I had no idea I was pregnant then. They said that I was a great fit with all the employees there and wondered if they could call me back when they needed me. I said sure, since I didn't have anything else going on. They never called back. God knew. We do have friends, the Russells, that also use Connections Academy like Samuel does and had offered to have him work at their house if I did get a job. That was a big relief to know Samuel could continue the online school he was doing since we really did not have money to send him to South Ridge. I came close to getting a job at a local bank, but God closed that door. I was actually relieved since I didn't particularly care for how the final interview went with the people I'd be working with. God knew. I was disappointed for about 10 seconds thinking that I was just rejected, and then I realized how relieved I was that they said no. For the amount of money I'd make there and what they were trying to convince me I'd have to do, and get me to convince them I could do it, I could make the same amount or more as a cashier in a grocery store and not have to deal with all that drama. I knew I could totally do the job, but felt like I was defending myself the whole time to these 2 ladies who were both trying to convince me I couldn't do it. Blah. Once again, God knew. I didn't, but God did.
I have to say too, that since God has Cayla's life in our future, He brought us up here to the #1 cardiac hospital in the nation! Cayla is in great hands. I can't say for sure that that's why we're here having Cayla instead of anywhere else, but who knows. It could be part of it. I just like going down all these paths of how God is directing every step.
I still don't know what God has planned for our future and where He's leading us on this journey with Cayla, but I'm willing to trust Him and what He's so obviously doing. I don't know what ministry I'll have, but am willing and waiting and trying to be used in the meantime. When we lived in Northern Virginia, my main ministry was teaching 6th graders in inner-city D.C. and working with the music at Barcroft Bible Church. Loved teaching in D.C. with a passion that could only have come from God. When we moved to Pensacola, I was staying home with Samuel and loved being a mom and homeschool teacher. Samuel did go to the Academy for 2nd-6th grade, so I didn't homeschool the whole time we were there. God also gave me a ministry there with the Juvenile Detention Center. I had just joined the choir at church there when I was presented with the opportunity to teach Sunday School at the Juvenile Jail. It was making me choose between my 2 ministries I'd had back in Virginia. Choir was during Sunday School. I really wanted to be involved with music, but I knew when they said that they needed help during Sunday School at the jail that my ministry was there. I don't think people down at PCC really understood me and my love and passion for music, but it was a season of virtually no music ministry at all while I was there and that was hard. I knew the college had so many people with all the music majors and faculty that I really wasn't needed in that ministry, but I truly missed it. I jumped into the jail ministry with my whole heart and felt like I was back working with the same kids I'd been teaching in D.C. Kids that just want someone to love them and listen to them. I can still see so many faces of those teens that just broke your heart for their situations they've had to grow up in. God even allowed a ministry with the guards who would ask if they could talk to me when I had a minute. We got to pray with them too and see some get saved as well. Ok, yes, I miss it, I miss Kari Birchler, I miss Tracy Glockle and others that so willingly gave of themselves all those years. I hated having to leave there after 8 or 9 years of being there every week.
Moving up to Ohio, my ministry completely changed to the store, the customers that came in just to talk and to have someone pray for them, Samuel and homeschooling again, and... I got to have my music ministry back at Bible Baptist Church after 9 years. It's been a wonderful 4 and 1/2 years here and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. There are plenty of things we all can find to complain about in Ashtabula County, but it's a breath of fresh air to me. Jefferson, where our store was, was really the fist time I'd ever lived in "small-town" America. I loved it. Loved the sense of community. We're in Saybrook right now, and I love driving around these beautiful country roads, the Amish farms, the beautiful Ohio scenery and am so thankful God has brought us here at this moment ...for such a time as this.
I know that even with this pregnancy, God has already given me opportunities to witness and share His amazing love and forgiveness to others. I feel that with all the struggles and pain so, so many people are going through these days, God is preparing us for a future where we will need to be strong in the Lord. There are going to be tough times ahead for Christians in America. I want everything in my life, good and bad, to be used to make me more like Him and ready for the future and whatever it may hold... for such a time as this.
"...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom
for such a time as this?"