fast-foward

Fast Forward

Chapter 2

I said goodbye to my friends at Annunciation and started attending both the Wednesday night bible study and the Sunday service. My financial situation got continuously worse. I would find an investor who would be interested in my project and then he would meet with his lawyer, and his lawyer would convince him not to invest as I had no track record or at least wait for zoning approval before discussing an investment. Men open businesses all the time that they know nothing about, but I was not a man.

The zoning meetings were held once a month. People in the community decided to fight the project. The debating of each small detail of the project was financially draining on me as well as the owner of the building who wanted the building off his hands as soon as possible.

My newspaper mailing created to get attention did just that – with mothers who thought that the child care center was someplace they would like to enroll their preschoolers and with the Securities Exchange Commission for soliciting investors without a license. That was another problem to deal with.

I was in a hole so deep that only divine intervention was going to get me out. I had come to the end of myself. Oh, God really loves it when we come to the end of ourselves because that is when we become attentive, teachable. When you are on your boat on a lazy afternoon, it is a “Hey God” as you toast the heavens with a glass of champagne. But when a wave comes and capsizes you, and you are hanging on to a small piece of driftwood, the toast to heaven becomes a shout to heaven and the “Hey God” becomes a “HEY GOD!”

The Ramsey church I was now attending was a small church planted by the larger church in Nutley. Nutley had bible study and worship on Thursdays nights. There were sister churches in Whippany and Bernardsville. If there was a concert or speaker at any of the churches, I was there. I heard and saw things I had never heard or saw before.

The Holy Spirit was talked about way more than I had ever heard the Holy Spirit discussed. God is our Heavenly Father. Jesus is his son sent to redeem us from our sins so that we can go to heaven. The Holy Spirit’s function is to give us wisdom and power in our life’s endeavors.

We had a speaker who talked about receiving the Holy Spirit. I heard these people talking in another language sometimes. I think everyone at first gets a little freaked out about this. It was explained that to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit all you only had to ask for it, want it and believe God would give it to you. Hey, yes to all the above. I went up front with the rest of those who wanted this gift, and the speaker placed his hand on my belly and told me that is where it came from. Just let go and ask for it.

I would be given my own prayer language he explained. What came out of my mouth was not the same as anyone else’s. It wasn’t like speaking French because many people speak French. My language was just for me. Hey, it may sound strange but if you need real power, ask God yourself to give you this gift. The speaker also explained that because we are a spirit with a human body wrapped around it and God is also a spirit, once we can speak in tongues your spirit and God can communicate. So this is the truth, when my mouth just starts speaking in tongues I don’t know what God and my spirit are talking about. The speaker explained that this is similar to when army troops use a code so their messages are not intercepted by the enemy. The devil can’t understand what you and God are talking about when you speak in tongues.

I heard Ed Silvoso speak about the marketplace anointing. He wrote a book called “Anointing for Business, How Christians Can Use Their Influence in the Marketplace to Change the World.” (I saw that he has a great website under the same name. Check it out) He talked about how God was setting up Christians to have their own small businesses to bring Jesus to those who are unchurched. I claimed myself to be a “Marketplace Evangelist” on that day and started in earnest praying over business owners as I continued to sell ads while I worked on this project.

I heard a pastor’s wife talk about her involvement with psychics, spiritual readings, witchcraft, and the such before she came to know Jesus. She explained how so many people who dabble in such things really want to communicate with God and understand His ways more than most people but just go about it in the wrong way. She gave her testimony and specialized in freeing people from demonic forces. Yes, spiritual exorcisms. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had driven their car down this dead end road. She also worked to show psychics the way to Jesus and the correct way to use their gifts, if they were, in fact, true gifts and not a ruse.

Before I continue, God wants to say something to everyone is who making money saying they have a gift from God and can tell the future. Stop now. If you have a true God given gift of prophecy, it needs to come under the spiritual head of a bible preaching pastor and used only for God’s purpose – not as an income. Pray for finances. If you are tempted to visit a psychic or have been doing so, stop. It is a door that you should not open. He will guide you. He will show you how and where to go. The future is His to know. Pray with a pastor or prayer partner. No good can come out of this.

I went to a Friday night, Saturday morning Ladies Conference. There was an awesome speaker. On Saturday morning when she was to resume speaking on the topic she had prepared, she shared with us that late Friday night God began moving in her life. She was given the gift of healing. God told her that because of her mother’s lifelong faithful prayers for her (her mother had just recently died), she was going to have a special calling in this area.

In the world, we all have special talents – some can sing better than others, some can draw better than others – some can do math better than others – well God’s kingdom operates in the same way. That morning she laid hands on people and just about everyone fell to the ground. This is called “being slain in the spirit in Christian circles.” She quite, honestly, was as amazed by it as we all were. “Thanks mom for praying for me and praying for me” she repeated over and over again. She credited everything accomplished through her ministry to the faithful, never ending prayers of her mother.

The Dreaded Conversation

The discussion that I was hoping was never going to happen happened one day. “Carolyn, stop praying for a husband and then doing things your way. If you want me to answer that prayer, you MUST do things MY WAY.” Well, I knew what “my way” meant, but I did not really want to go along with it. I wanted a husband, and I needed God’s favor and blessing. The way I pictured my own situation was that I had jumped off a cliff, was in free fall on my way to the pavement and God’s hand under my butt was the only thing keeping me from going splat. People don’t usually look too good after falling fifty stories.

So I became a “born again” virgin. For all you single people out there saying what the heck is a “born again” virgin, I’ll explain. You might argue that you don’t get to do a do over in that department – you are either a virgin, or you are not. Well, I am here to tell you that God operates under a different set of laws. He is a God of abundant grace. The bigger the screw up you are or have been, the more you can testify to this fact. Give me a stage, hand me a mic I can testify to God’s grace! It is boundless.

You see whether you have had five kids or ten lovers, you can repent of having sex outside of a marriage relationship, ask God to forgive you of your sin and help you keep a vow to Him of not being sexual until you are married, and instantly become a “born again” virgin. He writes it down in his book, and His book is the only one that matters.

So I became a “born again” virgin. I loved to dance and still went out dancing. When a guy would ask me to go out, I would be up front and tell him I was a “born again” virgin and was not going to be with a man in that way again until I was married. “Good luck with that” was the usual response. “You aren’t going to find a guy on the planet who is going to buy a car without taking it for a road test first” I was continuously told. My only the option was hitting the pavement and going splat because of the loss of God’s favor, so I prayed for strength to keep my vow.

A woman speaker shared something I had never heard of or even thought about until a short time after I made my celibacy vow. She said that you get the spiritual stuff on you from everyone you have mixed bodily fluids with. Never heard such a thing being talked about. Forget about the real dangers of aids and syphilis and other communicable diseases, most of us have enough junk on our own souls – who wants someone else’s? You see when you get married, you are made one. You don’t want to be one with someone you are not going to spend the right of your life with.

Are you hearing that all you young people? – or singles of any age. This is serious stuff. I didn’t know it. Ignorance does not give you a “get out of jail free” card. You now knowit . So what can you do about the spiritual junk that doesn’t belong to you that is with you. Pray. I asked that night’s speaker to pray for me, and I was washed clean – was pure as white linen in God’s eyes. Completely dejunked. You know when you have paid $50 to get your car washed, waxed and hand detailed and it looks brand new, you usually don’t want to go out of your way to get it all dirty again. That’s how I felt. I was clean. I was going to stay that way.

At first, it sounds and feels like God is punishing you. Doesn’t want you to have any fun. Wants to make dating – which is already difficult – more difficult. Wants to make finding a mate to marry harder. But the opposite is true. When you save yourself for a married relationship regardless of your age, you don’t give yourself away to someone who never intends to really pledge their love to you for the rest of their life. You don’t get abused and hurt. God really knows what He is doing.

Yes, most guys would make some comment, but many made positive comments. Many said “although I wish could get what I am looking for at the end of the night, I would like to take you to dinner and talk. You see like an interesting person. I would like to hear what you have to say. But in the meantime, let’s dance.” I was a “born again” virgin for four years. God gave me the strength to resist temptation to keep my vow, and He was right. I was able to have fun without the heartbreak. There had already been enough heartbreak to last a lifetime.

So if you are living together without the benefit of marriage, make it legal so that you can live under God’ obedience and receive the fullness of his blessings. If you force the issue with your “roommate” and the answer is “no way do I want to get married” move on and pray for God’s partner for your life and wait. It will be worth it.

I learned how to press in, how to worship – not just sing a song but really seek God. As I asked for others to pray over me, I learned how to pray. Not just little “God help” me prayers, but how to pray specifically for want I needed. I especially liked the Thursday evenings at Nutley where there were maybe a hundred people coming up to the space right in front of the altar and reaching out and up.

You’ve seen what I am talking about on television I am sure. There is a rock star, famous singer or actor on stage and everyone presses forward to get close – to see him or her face to face upclose – to maybe touch their outstretched hand. But these people weren’t seeking to touch a mere mortal. They came to literally touch the heart of God.

I continued to work during the day, go to church two or three times a week, take care of Jana and Jeffrey, pray continuously, try to open up the child care center and save our home – not necessarily in that order. I thought I had a breakthrough when I called this mortgage broker’s office referred by a friend. The woman who answered the phone said she might be able to help me. I met with her. I told her that I was praying so hard. She told me she was my answer.

Another lesson learned. Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. I caution you because this woman made my situation one hundred times worse and was a scam artist. I was the perfect prey. I was desperate. Gullible. Stupid would also be a good adjective. But this type of stuff exists – most of Bernie’s Madoff’s victims were pretty educated people.

Case in point, while surfing the internet for some things I wanted to research I came across a website offering prayer. Thought I would just type some stuff in and see what happens. My prayer request would not go through unless I made a minimum contribution of $9.00. The ministry had a post office box, and no physical address. They did have a section where you could mark off your donation amount so that thousands of Christians could pray for your desperate need.

This just doesn’t sit well with my spirit. I got a response back right away asking if my prayer request was being answered and did I want to make another one. I haven’t received an e-mail back from the “Senior Pastor” I sent telling him that if he was legitimate he should trust God for provision for his website prayer center. I don’t know if this is legit, but there are plenty of free prayer lines, don’t send money in to get your prayer heard. Question it.

Worshipping & Crying

No surprise. Foreclosure proceedings were started against my home. I needed to find an investor for the school, so I didn’t lose my home and wind up penniless. So I battled before the Lord. I WORSHIPPED. “God please don’t let me lose my home. Please, I need a miracle. I need an investor. I need you to move on my behalf.” Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I worshipped and cried during most services. Everyone kind of got used to it. Foreclosure is a common occurrence in South Florida these days as it is in a lot of places in the country, but not back then. So I fought and battled and prayed and stalled each Sheriff’s sale notice I received. I asked for adjournments. I prayed for favor as I asked for adjournments.

I remember one Thursday night a couple asked me while I was crying during worship. I told them about the situation with my home. They shared with me how they too had lost their home and everything they owned, but God in his goodness had restored all that they had lost and how they were glad that they walked through that wildness experience. I asked how look restoration took. They told me ten years as they smiled this blissful smile.

“I say no to losing my house. I say no to taking ten years to restore my finances. I say no to ever thinking that losing my home would be a positive experience. God can you hear me.” Yes, that cell phone commercial sums it up perfectly. “Can you hear me now.” But there was no answer. Just maddening silence. I was sure the connection was broken on the other end.

This is called “the lessons of the pit.” Some people are called to teach the Word. God sends them to bible college to train them for this important work. For some God, allows them to drive their Jeep into a ditch – no ravine – so deep that only He owns the tow truck that can get them back on the road.

“How long am I going to be in this pit. I have tried clawing my way out, but it is not working. Come on, just reach your hand down and pull me out. You can do it. Your arm can reach. I know it can. I will do it You way from now on. Believe me. Trust me. I got it. I’m done trying to run things My Way. You’ll see. It is dark here. This is not fun. and so on and so on.” No reply.

Oh yes, the pit is the perfect training ground for prayer warriors. How can you learn to battle if you have never been in a battle? The military gives its troops real combat training before they send them into combat. Once you have learned to battle for your own needs, God knows when you get out of the pit, you will be so thankful for being out of the pit that you will battle for everyone else’s needs but especially for God’s agenda. The only thing is you don’t know that when you are in the pit. You are too consumed with your thoughts of getting out, that you can’t possibly see any good that come out of your stay.

So I am speaking to you. Maybe the pit is someplace I don’t have to describe in too much detail to you because you know that place well. Maybe you have been there. Maybe you are still in there. Maybe you are meant to be a prayer warrior in God’s Special Forces. Think about it. Does it make sense? Stop having a pity party for all that you have lost and start seeing through God’s eyes the ultimate purpose of your combat training.

I would occasionally get a reply. “Carolyn, I hear you, but I will decide when you get out. I have you on simmer. It is like making a stew. It takes time to get it just right. I hear you. You are not ready. When you get out, I will get the glory for everything you do from now on. No one is going to be able to say you made it out on your own strength.”

You can try arguing with God. Go ahead give it a whirl. See how far you get. Oh you still are. Knock yourself out. It won’t get you too far, but if you think you can win, go for it. As for me, we have joined forces, and we make a pretty powerful team.

So when the FBI knocked on my door, I found out that my rescuer wasn’t who she claimed to be. Things had gone from hopeful to completely hopeless in a matter of minutes.

But I had one more brilliant idea. Are you beginning to see the reason why God talks about Godly counsel? That means that if it is His Plan – truly His Plan – it will be confirmed. If your Pastor and everyone you pray with is telling you it is not from God, it probably isn’t. It is that simple. My pastor tried to tell me to let the project go, but I couldn’t because that meant losing my home and I could not let that happen.

So anyway, I decided to have an open house even though the project wasn’t funded. I figured when people saw and heard about my ideas, I would have students waiting and investors would be more confident about investing. Maybe I would meet someone whose child also died, and they would help me open the center. A kindred spirit. So I spent money I didn’t have trusting that I would raise it at the event. But no miracle investor showed up.

I gave the tent company a check for $5,000.00 in good faith believing I could cover it the next day. That did not happen. I didn’t have $5 let alone $5,000.00. They were not too happy. The next knock on my door was from a police officer telling me the tent company was pressing charges for giving them a bad check. Apparently, on this earth plane they have all kinds of laws and rules, and they expect everyone – even me – to follow these. His lawyer wouldn’t let him drop the charges, because he would be assured in this way of getting paid.

Yes, I had to go the Sheriff’s Department to be fingerprinted. I really did not look like the other’s waiting on line behind me. “It’s a long story” I told the deputy. “A very long story” I continued. “I have heard plenty of long stories” was all he could say as he continued to do what he was supposed to do.

I got probation and was ordered to make a payment every month until the full balance was paid. How I dreaded sitting there waiting to see my Probation Officer in downtown Hackensack, New Jersey in a room full of people charged with drug dealing, gun possession, assault and battery. Yes, I was learning the meaning of humble. You can read a definition, or you can learn a definition. It took a very long time to pay off the $5,000. I became extremely humble.

I fought and adjourned and wrote letter after letter postponing my Sheriff’s Sale date. It is not like now when you can stay in your home for a few years. Then, you missed three payments, the bank filed a foreclosure proceeding, and you were out. I was going to get a miracle I kept believing. I had to get a miracle. It wasn’t too much of a miracle really. Someone with a couple of million would invest and save my home. I couldn’t let go.

God Has a Mansion for You

And then one day I went to a coffee shop to ask them if they wanted to buy an ad. I didn’t realize when I walked in that this coffee shop was a church on Sundays and held bible studies and prayer meetings during the day and at night. They had just finished a bible study. I walked in looking for the owner so I can make a sales pitch. Everyone got up from their seats and circled me. Kind of like in those western movies where they circle their wagons.

I was taken completely by surprise, because I had not even introduced myself yet. They began praying over me. The leader told me that God wanted me to let go of my house. He had a mansion ready for me in heaven. I needed to trust Him. I needed to surrender it. “I guess I really do, but I don’t want to” was how I felt.

Even though this was not want I wanted I felt at peace, because God had given me His word that while I was not going to be living in this house that I had spent so much time and money decorating, He was with me. I would trust Him that He was aware of my situation. He knew it was difficult. He knew I was scared. Where would I live? How would I move?

When you are in foreclosure, everyone and his brother is contacting you to see if they can get you to sell them your house before a Sheriff’s Sale takes place – at least back then. It is better for your credit. You don’t get what you would have if you had put it on the market and sold it yourself, but I had not done that and I was running out of time. Actually, had run out of time a long time before that but just had not accepted that fact.

I called the two guys who had been interested in buying my home, months before. I told them the Sheriff’s Sale was in two days, and I absolutely could not get it put off again. They told me they only had the funds to purchase one house that week in Sheriff’s Sale, and they had already agreed on which one to bid on. I begged them. They had explained that once the Sheriff’s Sale occurs, a deputy puts a padlock on your door, and you can’t get back in. So if you have not moved out all your possessions, the successful bidder was the owner of everything you used to own. But I was not listening to them. They repeated themselves. But I was still not listening to them.

It was two days before the sale, and I had finally accepted God’s plea to let it go, and there was no time to move three floors of furniture out. I didn’t have any place to go anyway. I told them they would have to successful bid on my home and then give me some time to find another place to live and get out. They tried to explain how risky this was. They tried to explain this several more times. I didn’t hear them.

The next day they told me they had agreed they would bid on my home and try to help me. I told them God was with me. “Whatever” was their response. They bid on houses at Sheriff’s sale every week – they never had seen God show up to rescue the day. I told them they would see Him show up tomorrow.

The Sheriff’s Sale

So the strategy was in place. The house could sell for $800,000 on the market. They would bid not a dollar more than $740,000. Not one penny more. No matter what. Not one penny more. If they were successful, they would give me a month or two or find a new home and sell what I could sell and move the rest. They liked me, they felt bad for me, but they were not running a charity. This they repeated to me several times.

I was to sit next to a young guy from their office. They would bid and he would bid, but they were on the same team so no matter which bidder won, they had won and so had I. There was a ruthless team that was bidding against them. My guys knew this group wanted my house as well. They were cut throat. They would not allow me to take anything out if they won the bid. They were all about dollars and sense. My personal situation did not matter to them. It was just business.

After listening to their strategy, I shared mine. I am going to pray that God will stop the bidding at $740,000. “And you really think He will?” they all chimed in in unison. “I know He will” I replied. “Carolyn, you are crazy. But that is probably how you got yourself in this pickle in the first place.”

Have you ever heard an auctioneer? They talk fast. Faster than even motor mouths like me. They started with the first house – they went from like $300,000 to $600,000 in what seemed like ten seconds. If God didn’t show up today, it was all over for me. I said I trusted Him. I saw how He had provided for me even though my mess was of my own creation. I was going to put my head knowledge to the test.

The bidding started on my home. I started praying in tongues under my breath. No one heard me but my spirit and God were having a gab fest. I squeezed the young guy’s hand as I heard them start with $400,000 and in about 20 seconds they were up to $740,000. And at $740,000 there was silence. The furious bidding stopped. Ended. Like the pause button had been hit on the VCR. God showed up. They were amazed. They were speechless as they gave $740,000 to the Sheriff’s Clerk. God said I could trust Him. He does not lie. He is not capable of lying.

I was asked to leave the Ramsey church. I was asked to leave all the Abundant Life Churches. “Mom, who gets kicked out of church?” my son asked. I was banned for life. “We all think you should find another church to worship at as you don’t seem to be able to under the concept of accepting authority” was the decree. But, ultimately I would come to understand the important reason why God moved me to another church. God transfers His people sometimes. Like companies. When He does it – it is for a good reason and a divine purpose. When we do it on our way, it is usually not for the right reasons and causes division. I will tell you soon why my move to another church was of extreme importance.

I started looking for a home to rent. Jana was in college in South Carolina, and my son was going into his senior year at Ridgewood High School. Apartments don’t rent to people with wrecked credit, and my son’s only request was that we take the pool table with us. So that kind of limited our options, but I trusted God. Jeffrey and I were not too hopeful as we began to look at what was available in Ridgewood and Glen Rock, the next town. As he lived with his dad half the time, either town would work. We prayed together and the next house we saw was perfect. It was bought by someone who had added on to it and wanted to sell it in a year or less. The pool table would fit perfectly into the new first floor family room that had been recently added.

I began the process of selling all my beautiful cherry furniture that would not fit into the rental home. So much stuff had to be sold. I wasn’t as sad as I thought I would be. We packed. We moved. We got regrouped. The day care center business idea was done and over. We had a nice roof over our heads, and each day we had what we needed. Not one dollar more. Not one dollar less.

I had to trust God each day for provision. I needed someone to sign the lease for the rental, and someone did. I was learning to depend totally on God. I got to see God in action. I got to understand the power of Jesus. I got to see the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Not read about them. To see the totality of the Holy Trinity in action, moving on my behalf despite the fact that the mess I was in was of my own doing. It is hard to fathom. But grace is the only word that begin to describe what is extended to those who are willing to receive it.