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The Last Shall Be First ...

" ...many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." ~ Mathew 19:30

This week I was reminded that God is ever in control of my life. I think deep down I have always known it, but as I have grown and matured, God has revealed Himself in ever deeper and more meaningful ways. My story today will begin at the end of a journey of self discovery, of awakening to the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ - my life, my strength.

My journey - as most journeys - began with suffering and darkness. When I was a senior in high school I faced the break-up of my family, a dear friend's suicide, the break-up of a loving relationship, and loneliness as I faced college away from home. The only way to survive my loneliness and depression was to study, study, study. A poor comfort for sure. I did not have the comfort of my Savior until after I was through with college .... but I digress.

Over the years I have found the Holy Scriptures to be a constant voice of sanity in my mind; quieting the voices of fear, pain, worry and self-doubt. I have also learned to be humble - accepting help from others. As a perfectionist, over-achiever, this was not always easy. I prefer to be the one giving. I love people and love to show my love by serving them, by giving to them of my time or my resources. At this time of my life, this is more difficult to do. Reading, studying, and internalizing God's Word is the only way I get through each day.

For the past three years my family has been a recipient of the local Byron food pantry. It is hosted by the Byron Methodist Church in partnership with St. Anne's Catholic Church and the Discovery Bay Presbyterian Church. It was not always easy to accept this free food provided by loving Christians. In fact, it was many months after learning about it's existence that I would even go.

My family used to be a lot more comfortable than we are today. My husband and I are college graduates from UC Berkeley. We had good paying jobs, were high achievers and were pursuing the "good life". However, we were dissatisfied with the emptiness it brought us. As we grew in our faith in the Lord Jesus, we began to rethink our life choices. In 2004, I quit my high-paying Civil Engineering job to be mom to four kids and support my husband with his retail pet store.

The retail pet store business is fickle. We found it difficult to compete with online and big chain stores. When a business can sell their products for what you pay for them, it leaves no profit margin for you, no way to pay for operating expenses or even the cost of living. After declaring bankruptcy in 2007 and many "ups" and "downs", we finally closed our store in December, 2011. We lost the business. We lost the house. We lost everything. This is a tough place to be in this world economy.

We moved to Byron in 2012 and are now renting. We have over 2 acres to farm and love living here. It is not always easy, and the income stream has not been as consistent as we would like, but we are making our way.

Today, I went to my local food pantry. I was late, just before 9:00 am, the last recipient to arrive. Usually that means you are the last one to receive food. However, on this day, due to the lottery system they use there, I received number 1! I was the very first one through the line, rejoicing all the way. All the people there were laughing and rejoicing with me, as that does not normally happen. Many of the helpers there know me, know my family, know I have been there every Tuesday for over three years. They were overjoyed for me to be first through the line after all those years. In the midst of my sorrow and pain trying to just get by everyday I was first. And I thanked God for my daily bread again. And, as always, God reminded me how very much He cares for me each and every day, each and every way. Even when I don't see what He is doing, or how He is going to get us through, I am learning to be content that He will do what He has promised.

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