I haven't shared my story with you, until now. Please know that there are some difficult topics throughout it, but know that the purpose in me telling this story is to illustrate just how God has cared for me in every valley and brought me up to every mountaintop. He cares deeply for you too and whichever part of the story you're in with yours, please trust Him to bring you to the next part.
I grew up in a really large family, and by large I mean I was one of six kids and the 48th grandchild. Just picture really loud family gatherings, crowds of us cousins and siblings walking through school together, and built-in best friends all growing up.
My dad fought in World War II and was a pretty tough guy, but when he met my mom, it changed his life. She was filled with faith and a different kind of strength. My parents raised us with ethics, faith, and perseverance. We would need all of those things to make it through all God had in store.
Freshman year of high school my mom was diagnosed with cancer. She got worse monthly, and in my senior year of high school, we were faced with the unthinkable.
We got the call to come to the hospital again, but this time, Mom was not going to make it through the day. I remember going into the room I shared with my sisters and my older sister was sobbing in the closet. She said she just couldn’t get through this, it was unbearable to be losing our mother. She was 20 yrs old and in college. I remember there was such a peace that came over me and God’s voice so loudly and clearly proclaimed to me “Everything will be okay, you will be okay, your Mom is coming home to Me now”. I cannot explain how this came to be - I was only 17 - and standing in the closet hugging my older sister telling her that everything was going to be okay. We would be ok and Mom was going home.
After mom went home, we clung to people around us for comfort. For me, that looked like holding tightly to my high school boyfriend. He had been with me throughout the loss of my mom and that meant something for me, despite the unhealthiness of the relationship.
The next few years were some of the hardest and some of the most joyous of my life. I got married, moved an hour away from my family, struggled to measure up to the standard my husband wanted and started trying for a family.
I knew all I wanted in life was to be a mom and have a family. Having lost my mom, I wanted to have kids and be there for them every step of the way. I was SO very excited when I found out I was pregnant. I told the world and began the planning of how I would stay at home, what the room would look like, started a journal of everyday feelings, shared my joy with everyone I met. And then weeks later, the devastating news our sweet baby had stopped growing and there was no longer a little heartbeat.
Normalcy was now changed and so was my life forever. “What did I do wrong?” “What could I have done better?” “What if…?” I asked myself all the questions. It took me months to go back to gatherings, as I did not want to face my loss and have to talk about it.
I suffered two more miscarriages and loss, and with each one - more of a loss of joy and expectation of being a mom.
There were many who tried to comfort me and tell me all would be okay. But honestly, I was in a state of hopelessness. A place my faith had never allowed me to go before - I was there. Dear God - where are you?
I can’t explain it but looking back in those weakest of weak moments, that’s really where I see now I was carried and delivered through the tough spots. And so, as time does pass and healing comes, we can begin to look again with hope - time heals but so does God. Philippians 4:6-8
This is the part of my story that so deeply connects me to this business; when we are hurting so much, jewelry that we can cling to means so much. It can't take the pain away in the moment, but somehow it just brings comfort. I wish I would've had a piece exactly like our "Always Near" necklace for this chapter.
After three miscarriages, I got pregnant again and my firstborn gift, named Tom, was born. Grateful was an understatement.
I knew God was not done with my story. After yet another miscarriage, my second child, Dave, was born on my birthday and brought us so much joy! I’m so thankful that amidst all the trials, God never ceased to drop beautiful gifts in my lap. He does that so well.
Still married to my high school boyfriend, I found myself not measuring up, not meeting his expectations, and to be honest, often scared. This is hard for me to write out, but here’s a small snapshot.
I remember the times I could go to the grocery store alone and I had to rush through and hide if I saw anyone I knew because I was being timed. If I didn’t make it home in what seemed like a reasonable amount of time to him, then I was drilled about who I was with and what I was doing, what took me so long? Had to give an account of exactly where I went and who I might have seen.
Here’s an excerpt from my journal… “I have spent the last 2 hours in the bathroom as I am afraid to go out. I am hoping he has calmed down as I do not hear him any longer. I know the boys are still asleep but are they? Are they hearing their father who they love and adore scream at their mother? Did they see him shove me in here and hold me down so I couldn’t get up? Where are you, God? Why is this happening to me? Where did I go wrong? What have I done to deserve this? Am I paying the price for some past sin? What sin is worth this price? When does this end? And how do I get out? This is not my life and this is not where I ever dreamed I would be - God please help me, please, I am begging. All I ever wanted was a family, to be a Mom, to be loved and to love. How did I get here? And most importantly, how do I get out?”
I didn’t know how to ask for help, I didn’t know how to get out or what was the right thing to do.
For the sake of my children and their privacy, I won’t go into all of the details. But please, if you are in an abusive relationship make the first call and tell someone you need help. Make the first call. Take a step.
After all the hardships, I trusted more than ever that God knew what He was doing. I knew that he was going to use my life, even if I wasn't sure what was coming next.
While I was pregnant, my Dad was diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer. We only had 9 more months with him and when Dave was only 2 months old, Dad died. To say that the loss of my father rocked me would be an understatement. I had lost mom and now dad. He was absolutely my rock and my best friend really. We were very close and I adored my father.
Every day for many years (and still often now) I had to repeat affirmations to myself:
The loss of my dad affected our marriage, as my husband at the time really respected my dad. If it wasn’t downhill before, it went downhill then. I feared for my safety and the safety of our children, so I called my brother for help.
After several years, I was re-introduced to this guy I had met years before. I remembered him being great and ambitious as they come. I had known him from different events and gatherings. We dated for 1.5 yrs and then married - we had become great friends and even worked together so well. Mark is such a gift!
We knew we wanted children together and along came not one, but two! We were blessed with our beautiful baby twins - preemies born at 27 weeks, but healthy. We felt truly blessed after so much heartache. Having the twins and watching the boys love them and help them as they grew brought so much joy to my life and still does.
Did you think that this would be the end of the crazy part of this story? Think again.
We were both in the financial industry when the big housing crisis hit - hard. Our business went south quickly and we struggled to stay afloat. After going through savings, we were faced with many challenges.
Financial hardship is altogether different from other worries. It tears at your gut and just brings you to your knees. Okay, yes everyone was healthy, but when you literally have to figure out how you are going to eat that week - or do we buy food or pay the doctor visit. Without family, we would have been homeless and living on food from programs. Have you ever had the humbling experience of accepting necessary ‘gifts’ that you could not survive without? You remember that giving for the rest of your life.
We sold many possessions to get $ to get by - we were stripped down - wedding rings, cars, paintings, jet ski, motorcycle, jewelry/watches - all the “things” accumulated that really aren’t necessary to live - what a cleansing that was.
It was only by the Grace of God and Him carrying me that I persevered.
Here’s a piece from my journal…
“I’ve been stagnant and closed for so long. I see it as opening up an old abandoned store. Everything is dusty, dirty and some things are broken. What to do? Throw out what’s garbage first…clear out the clutter so I can move freely around to clean. After that, get some water in a bucket, add some cleaner and start cleaning, wiping, and bringing the store back to a shine. This is what I am going to do with my life. It needs to be rebuilt & I need to clear out the clutter and cobwebs. Part of that clutter is letting go of the past hurts, disappointments, fears. As I create anew, I will listen and be led. Lord give me what I need for today and HOPE for tomorrow.”
I still trusted Him. I trusted God with my husband, finances, health, and my children. My kids aren’t my own, I don’t have control over our health diagnoses, and I can’t ensure that more issues and troubles won't come. But I have never regretted trusting God with this story.
The end of the story is not written yet, it continues and we’ll have many more parts I am sure. But there is one constant through all and that was God’s loving arms wrapped around our family and protecting us, guiding us to fulfill our destiny He had planned for us.
This is why I'm here at SHINElife. I have seen the goodness of God. I have seen prayers produce miracles. I have felt the arms of God as they carried me through. I can't help build my entire life around sharing what I have seen.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."- Philippians 4:6-7
Thank you for making this a safe place to share my story. I can't wait to hear yours.
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