Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Brittany!

I just wanted to say Happy Birthday to my oldest daughter Brittany. Today she turned 22. Actually it was 7:40am to be exact, my first of three little blessings came into the world and my life would never be the same.
Brit, we have had a few ups and downs as all moms and children do but over all the years, you have been more than a daughter, you have been a best friend. You have taken care of your sisters when I had to work late or work more than one job. I will never forget when you got your first job at Once Upon a Child, you spent all of your paychecks on your sisters. They had a great Christmas that year, thanks to you. You have always been, and will always be their second mommy.
You have never given me any trouble as a teenager. And with all the stories you hear about how awful teens are, I was nervous. But you made it a breeze for me.
I am so proud of the wonderful, beautiful daughter you grew into. There are a lot of changes coming up for this family in the next year, and especially you. With Derek joining the Army, who knows where you will be at this time next year. My heart will break and a little piece of me will leave with you but I couldn't be prouder. The two of you have kept strong in your faith and God will guide you and lead you down this new, probably sometimes scary but very exciting path.
I love you more than words can ever say and I hope this birthday is a special one! Happy Birthday baby girl! I love you bunches!

Happy Monday

Hello! Well, it's Monday and I finally have a day of no working, no helping with Habitat for Humanity, no nothin'....and I wake up with a sore throat! God sure has a sense of humor, or He is telling me, "okay lady, today you are going to be under the weather and rest!" Sounds good to me but we will see if that is a reality today.
I worked all last week chipping away at my 100 hours for Habitat for Humanity so that I can be locked-in to getting a home. It's funny, I knew it was a great organization but I started doing these hours to benefit my family and myself. What I didn't realize was that I am the one being blessed by the amazing people that I have met during this short journey. I work at the Habitat office in the mornings and the office staff are so kind and truly love what they do. I see families coming in to sign their Covenant Agreements and I am so excited for them because that is where I was a month ago. These workers are truly doing this because they love helping others and it is such a blessing to see.
Most of my afternoons are spent at the Habitat for Humanity Restore here in Bloomington. I am ashamed to say that prior to having to do my hours, I had never been in the Restore. What a mistake I made! They sell tons of greatused furniture, building materials, tools and so much more. The prices are better than most thrift stores in town and they have a system that the price is dropped 25% each month it is there until it reaches a discount of 75% off! Pretty cool!
And of course my Saturdays are spent at the Habitat for Humanity work site, which is what it is all about. We construct, roof, insulate, paint and everything else that is involved with building a home from the ground up. I say home because you build not only a place to live, but relationships. You work on your neighbors homes and celebrate with them with they receive their keys. And they help build your home and celebrate when you get your keys. Your neighbors are more than neighbors, you have a bond that most neighbors wouldn't have. There is something so special about this that I probably wouldn't have realized until working at the work site. It's a pretty amazing thing to witness. Not to mention just the sheer number of people who volunteer each week, not because they are getting a home, but because they truly care about people and want to help others.
My stomach still does a flip every now and then when I think about this and what the end result will be. I wonder if it will really happen, will I really own a home when this is all said and done. From step one of this process I have prayed and involved God in this. The day I took my application to the office, my daughters and I prayed over the application and asked the Lord to bless it. I have to stop doubting and know that God doesn't make mistakes. He wouldn't have brought us this far to break our hearts. What God begins, He completes. But even if for some reason He brought this whole thing to a screeching halt, I have gained more from this experience than I have ever given and would continue to partner with Habitat for Humanity.
Have a great Monday!

Monday, August 1, 2011

24.5 down...only 75.5 to go!

I is completely unheard of to post here twice in one day, but here I am! I just wanted to give a quick update on the day. Went to the Habitat for Humanity office today and did a lot of data entry, which is right up my alley! I love my job and all but I could sit and do that all day, every day and never get tired of it!
I ended up making some birthday cards for volunteers and Partner Families and it is still sinking in that when I sign somethere there, it says; "The Hall Family, Partner Family". What an honor.
Although I have always felt like a country girl, I didn't realize just how much so until today. Did you know that when you park in downtown Bloomington, you have to move your car to another block every two hours? Who knew! I typically get all excited when I find ONE good parking place one time, let along having to find several parking places every two hours. And of course that means the dreaded parallel parking. When I first started driving my sweet momma always told me I can drive backwards just as good as I could forward. I never knew whether to take that as a compliment or not. But after parallel parking multiple times and squeezing in tight spots multiple times and getting within an inch of the curb and not hitting one car, I'd say that is a compliment! Thanks momma!
It's been a great day but I am beat! Not because of working hard, but because I went to bed at 2am this morning and got up at 7am! What was I thinking!
I can't quit smiling lately. God has been so good and has touched this little family in amazing ways! But I am the first to say, life isn't perfect and there are going to be storms in life. As the song says, we need to praise Him in the storm. Just don't take your eyes off of Him because He is your Life Boat and will save us from the storms of life.
I'll try to post pics soon!

Trust and obey, for there's no other way...

As I was sitting here getting ready to write this, the words to that old faithful hymn came into my mine; "trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey"! Wow, how that sums up the rollercoaster ride God has had this family strapped tight down into the past few months! I don't know where to begin but I will try my hardest to make this not a novel (although I would like to write a book in the near future, I don't think this is the platform, nor does blogspot have the memory to publish my ramblings!)
Back in early spring, I was notified by my Landlord that he was raising the rent by $110 per month. I have know that for the 4 years I have lived there, I was getting a great deal for the location. But being a single mom, there was no way I could afford that. So after some talking with him, he agreed to let us stay with the same, less expensive rent. He told me he would email me the new lease agreement. Well, a couple of weeks went by and no lease agreement. After emailing him, he replies that he is not going to let us stay. This my friends, is when our world changed and will never be the same.
We had to be out of the house by June 1st and when I found out we couldn't stay, it was early May, I believe. We searched and searched. I was looking on Craigslist and in our local newspaper ever couple of hours in hope of something new catching my eye. I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, couldn't concentrate on work, all I could do was think about my children not having a place to live. How devastating for them! This had been their home for 4 years. I would never choose to do something like this to my girls. My heart broke at the fact that I was just turning their lives upside down! I was literally sick about the fact that days were slipping away and I had not found a place for my children to call home.
Well, the end of May was upon us and still, no place to live. I must say, those were some of the darkest days of my life. I let my children down and there no more helpless feeling than that my friends. God put my in charge, He trusted me to take care of these girls and I failed them.
With only a day before June 1st, I didn't have the money to do it, but I rented a storage unit to store all of our belongings. I cleaned out that house best I could without having a truck, shut the door for the last time and left.
We took two mattresses over to my daughter, Brittany and her husband Dereks apartment in Spencer, IN and slept on them that night. I am so thankful to the good Lord that they let us stay and we had a good time, yet the heavy shadow was still there, I had no place to call home.
We awoke the next morning and several other things went wrong that I was not aware of and I just felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Lord, why did you abandon me? My did you bring me to such a dark place in my life? I couldn't help but to think He just didn't hear my prayers. For some reason it hit me, I need to go talk to and pray with my Pastor and friend Jimmy Cain and his wife Anjie. So I gave them a call and like they always do said, "come on down!"
Now this is were the good stuff starts! We know the verse; "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, that you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will eat. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6:25-27, but I am living proof, it is true!
I pull into South Union Christian Church parking lot completely downtrodden, not one iota of hope left and puffy eyes from crying for days, what a sight I was, but it wasn't the first time Jimmy and Anjie has seen me in that state! By the way, I must say these are some of the sweetest, most caring and Godly people I have ever met in my entire life and it was no mistake when the Lord let me to change churches 4 years ago and led me straight into this vast family of believers. And there is no other way to describe this group but my family, I love them dearly. As I am walk back to Jimmy's office I already sense a bit of relief, maybe just to know I am going to get my burdens off my shoulders and have others pray for me. So Jimmy and I sit down and I start stilling my heart out, the tears flow and the ugly cries begin. I explain the entire situation, Dereks job, the electric bill and being practically homeless. As we are talking he says, "wait a minute!", darts out of the room and comes back and tells me someone at Small Group just told him about a home that they would like to rent out that has been vacant for sometime. He calls in others in the church office to pray over me. I am not joking not one little bit, as soon as we finished praying, the church phone rang, Jimmy went out to talk on the phone and came back and said, "you get the keys in an hour!" I still cry as I recall this story and just thinking about the miracle that happened in that office! I walked in homeless and hopeless and walked out the product of a true miracle! Guess I should have went to pray with Jimmy weeks before, apparently he has a direct line to the Boss! ;)
Well, I know that is a great story but it get even great! So as we are moving into a beautiful little home out in the country on a beautiful farm I get another phone call...from Habitat for Humanity. I had put in an application a month or so prior to having to move to see about buying a home through them. I knew it took about a year to complete the process but if it were to be mine, I would just find something temporarily. They do all the credit check stuff and I have rarely passed anything that involved credit since my divorce so I really had no hope. But a friend encouraged me to just turn in it. I hadn't really forgotten about about it but it was definitely on the back burner with all the other events that were taking place. So the phone call I received was Habitat wanting to set up a time to do a home visit. Essentially, what that meant was that I passed the credit check, background check and income verification! What? You mean I was homeless a few days ago, God provided a wonderful place to live and NOW in a year I might OWN a home?? This is crazy! They came to visit a few weeks later, the evaluation they did had to go before the committee and they would let me know in a few weeks.
On July 12, 2011, Susie from the Habitat office called and said we were accepted! This still has not all sunk in. God was there the whole time, He didn't leave me, He didn't abandon me, He wanted me to learn something from all this. I'm not sure what the lesson was He had in mind but one thing is for sure, I feel His presence and have drawn closer than ever to him through this. I want more than ever to help others who may be in a state of despair in their lives and I want my children to see that miracles to happen.
So my Habitat journey thus far has included going to the job site at the Cedar Chase neighborhood on July 16,2011, which is where I'm praying my home will be. But if not, I have NO doubt God is in control and He will plant me exactly where He wants me. At that time I met a lot of the Habitat staff, some other families that will be getting homes and some amazing volunteers. I also got my binder with my Covenant Agreement in it and all the info about getting a home through Habitat.
I went to the Habitat office on July 19,2011, which was also my baby girl Brittany and her wonderful hubby Dereks 2nd wedding anniversary, to officially sign my Covenant Agreement and pay my $75 down payment. Then on my birthday, July 23, 2011 I officially began working off my 100 "sweat equity" hours so that I can be "locked in" to getting a home. Those hours have to be put in before they allow you to receive a home site, etc. You can basically take as long as necessary to work the hours, but I am determined to just get it taken care of immediately. I just finished working my summer job at Adventure Camp and school begins again August 16th...hmmm...I doubt that timing was an accident. I have scheduled my entire 100 hours in the next two weeks!
On July 30, 2011, I went and worked again. By the way, it has been around 95 degrees both days I have worked and both days, they let us go early due to the heat. But it is an amazing experience and I would recommend anyone come to help this crew. So many nice people braving that heat to give to others and to receive nothing for themselves. That amazes me. Oh...and they feed us great at the work site too! :)
So today is August 1,2011 and I really need to get off of here and get a shower because it is Day 1 of my marathon 2 weeks of getting my hours done. Today I work at the Habitat office doing data entry until around 5:00. I'm always a little nervous about new things but I am so excited about being able to give back a little for what they are doing for me.
After I leave the Habitat office, I get to go see my new friend Zlatka that I met working at the MCCSC Adventure Camp this summer. Pretty excited about that too!
Well, I am going to try to update this daily to keep let you know how God is working in my life and yes, I know He will, He already has preformed miracle after miracle. Ooohh...speaking of, I have to share this, then get a shower, then do errands, oh good grief, I'm never going to get there by 11:00! haha As you know, money for a single parent family can be really tight. I'm trying to do the best with what I have and have put myself on a $20 per day budget. That includes gas for the car and food for the family, not easy in this day and age but that is what I can afford after bills are paid. Well, this week was running short and I didn't know how I was to do it. I had already gotten a payday loan (don't do it, they are trouble!) and paid it off this week which left me even shorter than usual. The lady asked if I wanted another one and I said, "no thank you." But in the back of my mind was wondered if I made the right decision, I mean, how am I going to buy food and gas to volunteer to do my hours and my job had just ended and my other one won't begin for a couple of weeks! But I trusted that it would be okay and came home. Went to the mailbox and usually all their is is bills, a deposit check for $100 from one of the utility companies from the house we moved out of! Yes, God DOES take care of us, always!
I don't know why the things happened as they did the past few months but friends, know that whatever you are going through, God is there, when times are darkest, God is there, when people abandon you, God is there. He is ALWAYS there and remember this verse...
"To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
An a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing.
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away'
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace."
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Dear Lord,
I want to just praise You, praise You for Your perfect timing. Thank you for doing things on Your time and not ours as we are just greedy sinners wanting things our way. Thank you for the trials in our lives because if it weren't for the rain, the rainbows wouldn't seem nearly as beautiful. I just ask that you hold anyone who may take the time out of their day to read this close to You. Comfort them and let them know You have their lives in Your precious hands and you wouldn't drop them for anythings.
Yes, there IS a time for everything, no matter how hard it is, it will get better and GOD IS THERE WITH YOU!