Monday, May 23, 2011

The Refiner's Fire

I felt it was time to start sharing with you some of the things the Lord has taken my family and I through over the last 3 ½ years since I realized that some of the posts that I have written to you lately have just given you bits and pieces of our lives.  

In the fall of 2007 my husband and I started a new ministry and along with creating that organization we took on the responsibility of discipling a group of teenagers during the course of the school year.  (I share this bit of our lives with you to remind you that we are in a spiritual battle.)  As we stepped out in faith to serve the Lord and minister to others, Satan was seeking to destroy every bit of our efforts. 

My husband has been self-employed since he was 18.  He has been in real estate for the last 15 years.  As soon as we stepped out in faith in these areas of ministry we experienced one trial after another.  
I would remind Eric to let God be his Advocate.
  • ·       The first one was a four year lawsuit.  It was real estate related, and the suit was filed by the buyer of a property, against my husband and the sellers of the property.  The sellers did not tell the buyers, or my husband, about special restrictions on the property, although they stated in writing that there were not any restrictions, (they lied in writing).  By the way, the sellers were Believers and it was their lie that caused the action.  What made matters worse, the seller’s attorney told my husband that he found no fault in my husband’s actions but they had to file a cross claim on him any way so he could protect his clients.  After the buyers had purchased the home, and after they found out about the restrictions, they fraudulently refinanced the home twice to spend large amounts of money on personal items and wanted my husband to foot the bill.  All of this did not sit to well with my husband and I but what could we do?  Anyway, we paid an attorney our last $5,000 to represent us in this case.  That money lasted about 3 weeks.  From that point on my husband had to learn how to legally represent himself for the remainder of the case without the legal knowledge needed to do so.  
  • ·    Within a 45 day period, the real estate industry and the equity that sellers had (the clients my husband dealt with) came to a screeching halt, DEAD!
  • ·       About a month or two after the lawsuit was in full swing, we received notice from the IRS of an audit for a preceding year.  The focus of the audit was the amount of our deducted ‘contributions’ (tithes) for that year.  The IRS said they were too high and thus, they investigated us.
  • ·       At this time, the “Do Not Call” telephone policy was in effect.  My husband had followed up with a property inquiry from a lady from four months earlier, and promptly received a letter from the Federal Trade Commission threatening to fine him $11,000.  Even though she contacted him first, the law says that he cannot contact her any later than 90 days.  This now means that he cannot contact any past clients, contacts, leads, etc. if they had not contacted him first within the last 90 days.  On top of the market woes, this completely shut down the way he had made a living for the past 11 years.
  • ·     Finances were strained, so cutting business costs were the natural next step.  He proceeded to reduce the number of phone lines he had to lower his business expenses.  The phone company said that only for $8,000 they would let him change his contract and reduce the number of lines.  He didn’t have the money.  He couldn’t afford the high business phone bill as it was, so he lost his business telephone number.  This was the number that all of his past clients knew for the past 11 years.  Now, he can’t call them, and they can’t call him…it was tough to do business that way!

I can’t tell you how many times I wondered about what was going to happen to our family based on our current situation.  We were never late on a mortgage payment and at the time our credit scores were high, but soon, that all changed and our property went into default.  I did not understand why this was all happening to us.  We tried to live an obedient, God-fearing life, yet, I felt like the Lord had forsaken us in ALL these situations.  

My husband would often say to me he felt like a failure and my heart would break for him.  There wasn't anything I could do for him financially because we had made the choice when we were engaged to have our roles as husband and wife line up with the Word of God, i.e., the husband was to toil the field (work) and the wife was to raise the kids and keep the home.  

We had family and friends encourage me to get a job so we could save our home.  To myself, I would laugh at that thought!  In essence, it was as if they were saying it was more important for us to save our physical house which was built with wood, hay, and stubble, rather than keep our family unit, the relationships that our Maker designed for us, in tact. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21  I would remind them I already had a full-time job which was helping my husband, raising and homeschooling my children and keeping our home.  The last thing I wanted to do in the midst of this raging, tsunami of a storm, was go out and leave my family.  My husband needed my encouragement and support.  He needed me standing by him no matter what happened to us financially.  He didn't need me to come home with a paycheck to make him feel like he was some loser who couldn't provide for his own family.  "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."  Proverbs 14:1  I was placed by his side to lift him up, not tear him down. 

So, that is what I tried to do.  I would pray for him and talk with him and listen to his hurts and frustrations.  As I would spend time daily reading the Word, there were times that the Lord would prompt me to read those verses to my husband as well.  Reading the Scriptures to him soon became an on-going way of life for many months to come.  My husband knew by me taking the time out of my day to pour into him spiritually I was telling him that I believed in him, I loved him, I respected him and I would always be by his side no matter what trial came our way.

We often had discussions about what would happen if we lost our home and where would we go if we had no money.  We had said that if it ever got so bad for us financially, the boys and I would go live at a homeless shelter for women and children and my husband would sleep in his truck parked outside of the shelter so he could still be with us.  We were determined to live our lives built on the Word of God no matter how uncomfortable it would be for us and no matter what those in the world had to say about it!  We did not care what others thought, we cared about what God thought.  According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 1 Corinthians 3:10-14.

The story has not ended, there is more fire to come and you can read more about here:  Lord, Why on Earth Would You Allow This? (The Refiner's Fire Part 2)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the trials that your family has experienced in the last few years. Often times we walk around our church so big, many faces familiar yet unknown, then there are those faces known, and only a handful that we can really call friends. We smile, we hug, and from the outside all seems well. Yet, many of us like Job, go thru numerous trials often only shared in our prayer closets. When others are vulerable enough to share, it is beautiful. I look forward to reading on and learning of God's faithfulness in your trials. I pray that God has and will have victory in all of this and will use it for his glory in your home and the lives of others who are blessed enough to read and follow what you will share.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. ...
This is one of the hardest scriptures to handle as the storms of life surround us and we are in the eye of the storm, and yet Gods promises are just that, and we can know he will be faithful through it all.

God Bless you and your family and know that you are in my prayers,
God Bless, Leah

Jolene Engle said...

@Anonymous Oh Leah, your comment so blessed my heart!