It is kind of amazing to have you here with us starting this journey. So many things had to have happened for you to be here, for us to be here, in this moment right now. You know how you got here so I’ll share with you how we got here.
This year has been crazy. We got through two years of a pandemic and in that time our son met the love of his life and our daughter worked on finishing up high school. So this year, two weeks apart from each other, our son gets married and our daughter graduates. Amazingly I didn’t cry through any of it. And I really thought I would – I even had my good friend add fake lashes so that I wouldn’t have mascara run down my face. And of course at both of these huge life milestones, not one tear shed. Why? Because I was filled with so much love, joy, and gratitude.
But of course having two major events like this happen so close together really hit our finances hard. Two months in a row of entertaining family, hosting dinners, a couple of home maintenance high-priced items, and celebrating our children depleted our cash flow, our savings, and maxed out our credit. Now in all honesty we did not have a whole lot of savings – we’ve never been great at finances. So when we have big events happen, especially within such a short amount of time, it takes its toll on the pocketbook.
A few weeks ago we brought our daughter down to southern California for school. She was going to stay with my husband’s aunt for a few weeks while she started her job and worked on finding a room to rent. We had about $200 to our name with two cars driving eight hours while gas prices were at about $5.75 a gallon. This was going to be tough and it was taking its toll on my spirit, a struggle on my heart. I didn’t know how we were going to do this. I was struggling with worry of paying down debts and with the amount of bills that needed to get paid.
Well Aunt Pam (as intuitive as she is) must have seen something on my face, or felt something coming from me. We had just gotten down there after a long day of driving and we were sitting and visiting. God lit a fire in her to talk to us about finances. I don’t know how or why, but she started off by saying, “Everything is God’s. Everything given is God’s.” She started giving us verses, giving us the Word, and it spoke right to me.
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s armies, “I will open the windows of Heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” – Malachi 3:10
Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place. – Proverbs 16:3
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7
If you then, sinful as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him – Matthew 7:11
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers most of which are never even seen – don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. – Matthew 6:30-33
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “You’ll never walk alone.” – Hebrews 13:5
We had a Bible lesson right there in her kitchen and my tears came. My tears came on the drive home as I felt myself letting go of not only my worries about money, but also leaving behind the worries of my daughter being on her own. Everything is God’s.
Just a couple of days after that, I came across a prayer devotional in my daily Bible verse app called Simple Money, Rich Life. I read through the whole thing and found myself spending my last $12.99 on the eBook of the same name written by Bob Lotich. And that opened a whole other door. It was like God was showing me this pathway out of my worries and into the light of hope. So I followed.
I’m not going to go into great deal about how absolutely amazing the book is (I do encourage and recommend that you get the book and find out for yourself), but that book has played a role on getting me here right now with you. In a section of the book, it talks about earning more than just what you earn in a paycheck. “Earn all that you can” also means working and earning for the Kingdom using the gifts God has given to you. As I laid in bed that morning while my husband was still asleep, I started asking myself what does this mean to me? What are my gifts? What does God call me to do?
At my job, or place of employment, my attitude is usually well, it pays the bills. If someone asked me if it was my dream job, I say no. I mean I don’t hate my job; there are many aspects I like about it, but it’s not my dream job. So what is? I guess I’ve never really had one. I mean, I’ve always thought I would be a writer. I used to write all of the time growing up. I’ve had so many journals over the years. I even got my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature (I absolutely loved my courses, professors, and degree), but I didn’t get a job in it. I manage a medical office and work in sleep medicine – which I really find fascinating and enjoy teaching people about it. I also really love working with my husband. He and I have always worked at the same companies together in sleep medicine for the last 17 years. I genuinely love helping people on their path to healing through better quality of sleep.
As I continued to lay there in bed and think about what gifts God has entrusted to me, I started thinking about my contributions to the office. I am good at analyzing a situation in the office, visualizing, and creating a procedure and protocol that makes things go smoother. I’m also good at feeling out people’s personalities to see how they would be able to work well as a team in each of their different roles. I’m also really good at teaching people whether it’s with patients, employees, or just speaking to people about sleep medicine. It’s the day to day stuff like insurance authorizations, orders, scheduling, and dealing with complaints that I don’t love about the job. So am I utilizing all of the gifts God has given me? Am I doing all that God intends for me to do? I still struggle to answer these questions.
So I started to pray on that. I started to ask God what else could I be doing with my gifts to earn all that I can and just when I started to say, “God, why is it such a struggle to hear You,” a small thread of memory popped into my head. A couple of months ago when Aunt Pam was visiting for our daughter’s graduation, she made a small comment that Steve and I should think about writing a book about marriage or get into marriage counseling for others. As I grasped onto that thread of thought, other thoughts began to bombard me.
* I love working with my husband. If I could, I would spend every day with him whether working, cooking, cleaning, or just hanging out. Like I said before we have worked at companies together for the last 17 years and there aren’t a lot of companies that even allow for that. * And what about Steve’s gifts? What are his gifts? I have witnessed just how amazing he is with people. When he coaches the boys soccer team at the high school, they all look up to him. They hang on his word and try to make him proud. The same at the fire department or with our friends. They all just want to be around him and they too look up to him.
* And then I started thinking about a few years ago when we had moved away from our town for a couple of years. We had noted that while we were gone, there was a handful of friends and couples that were no longer together. We had talked about it, about how we felt like when we were with our friends we were an example to those around us. Do we have a perfect marriage? Of course not. No one does (and I’m sorry, but no one does). When we moved back, I remember helping some friends get through some of their struggles just by talking about how we’ve gotten through ours.
I’m starting to see where we might be able to use some of our gifts. Maybe one of our gifts is our love for one another and our ability to navigate our marriage. Maybe it is this gift that we can share to better God’s Kingdom.
I asked Aunt Pam, “What made you think or what inspired you to mention marriage counseling back in June?” And here was her answer: “Longevity. The love Steve has for you is clearly demonstrated and covers a lot of areas. And vice versa. The love you for Steve, it’s the same thing. That doesn’t mean the road was easy. It means that love surpasses everything just how Christ loves the church.”
So that’s a small snippet of how and why we are here with you right now. I don’t know where this journey is headed. I know where we have been. If we keep our compass to God, He will lead us to where we need to be. This is my starting place. We are not marriage counselors. I don’t have any credentials, licenses, degrees in marriage counseling (I do have a BA in English with a minor in Women’s Studies, and Steve and I are both Registered Polysomnography Technologists if you want to know more about sleep). What we do have is a love history spanning almost 25 years (that’s a quarter of a century). We’ve been through our own trials and tribulations to get where we are today. And I think we may have a calling here that we need to explore. If you are up to it, please feel free to come along for the journey.
And if you want to know why #RuffLove226, well that’s who we are. We are the Ruff’s and we have been the Ruff’s since February 26, 1999. It was on February 26th that we decided to leave what was behind and cleave to one another. We made vows to each other that we would always put each other first. It was the first day of our commitment to each other to trust, to entrust our love to one another. #RuffLove226