Brick by Brick….

Egypt, man I LOVE Egypt. There is something beautiful and romantic about THAT ancient city, maybe it’s the countries refusal to die… I dunno… But I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, to help build it….

AND…. After five weeks in Anaheim I feel like I was given a window into their world… Complete with a Pharaoh… And bricks made with (and without) straw….

If you know me, you may know my story… Kinda… If you know me you may know what Steven and I have gone through. If not its okay, For I am about to tell you… Steve and I tried to start his business in 2005, with big hopes we fell right on our faces… Our nation entered into a recession big time and I feel that it started in California a couple years sooner than the rest of the USA… The heart of the construction industry was sucked out leaving many unemployed… Leaving us unemployed, and when a job came it quickly ended, I never thought God would take us through this season in our lives, I was left wondering what we did so wrong to have calamity brought upon us in this way…. I think my lowest of lows was applying for food stamps, at the welfare office… As a small girl I promised myself I would never let myself be brought back there… I promised that that humiliation would not befall me the way it had my mother… And at 27 here I was, standing in line, clutching my purse, not able to lift my eyes because of shame… I was there, it was bad… like REAL bad… I think one year Steve and I made 16k and that’s it… He was home a solid year, nothing tests your marriage like staring at the whites of the eyes of your spouse whom is unemployed against his will for an entire year…

One time he found work, and while he was employed he had to lay off about 300 men, it got to be where just the foreman and the superintendents were left, he would lay men off and one day he was laid off…. He went from being a plumber to security guard it was so bad… But it was still Good, because God was working in it… Many times the WORD of the Lord came to us through others, you are right where you are supposed to be, you are not early, you are not late…. That was a hard truth to hear ring through your ears in the food stamp lines… God THIS IS YOUR WILL?…

But it WAS and it still IS… But brick by brick He took us apart…He took us through hard things to rid us of ourselves, He took us through ravines so deep and dark so that we would learn to project a brighter light… He showed us what dirty business looked like, He showed us what bad management and ownership looked like, He showed us what poor money managers we had been. And in true Bible fashion the impossible happened, Rivers started to flow from the desert place and the wasteland finally gave up all of its streams it held out on us…. And in Steven and Myself a truer light bore forth from within, a lantern burned bright in our hearts to lead others from the darkest place of their own nights….We walked hard roads so that when night befell others we could shine and say this way… But it was hard, and it hurt, it left me marred… it left US marred…. But we ARE indeed better for it….

One day in my struggle of knowing who I was, I was crying (literally crying) on my knees asking God if He cared for me, and my desires for a home and financial security…. That night I had a dream, I was face to face with God asking my HIM the very same question, what do YOU think about my desire for a home? His response was a heavenly smile as He glowed brightly and took my hands and responded, “What do you think about this home?” And suddenly, He and I were transported to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. We were standing in the White House and as I stood there with God, I encountered a POWERFILLED woman dawning a salmon colored pencil skirt and jacket, she was signing things into being and giving executive orders to those around her, she was called Madam President… That woman was me… I looked at God in that moment speechless and He just smiled… We were suddenly back in my Livingroom again… I awoke and jotted down that dream, wondering what the heck it meant… I had it interpreted and sure enough it was that IF I had the courage to go against the flow (salmon color, they swim upstream to give forth life) I would find myself in a place of power and position that gained respect from others. I had no idea that this was to be placed upon me in a few short years….

When Steven and I were married, I didn’t really like him that much in the beginning, we had gone through a whirl wind of….? Well?… of crap… and I was left feeling exhausted from it all… But I found myself on my knees right before we were to meet at the altar, I was crying out to God for HIS will, and I heard Him say, “Go ahead, marry that boy, you’ll see I’m in it.” So I did… AND in 2002 we did, and I resented him (Steve) for being a bit of a mama’s boy and a stinker…

 Ha-ha, but God, HE was not done… No not in the lease, and one month after our wedding vows a preacher found us in IN & OUT by our home church and he prophesied over Steve (and myself) that God was going to bless our marriage (and my obedience) and He was going to use us hand in hand in ministry together that I would be his perfect help meet, and that we would be equally matched, and a well-oiled machine. AND that he could see love wasn’t really in our relationship right now but it would be there, and there would come a time where we would genuinely love each other with a passion… (I gritted my teeth at the last part, smiled and said, we will see)…

And we did see… in 2005 brick by brick everything tumbled apart and I tried to leave Steven. Angry I scribbled a note… I took the last $ 20.00 that was ours and packed before he got home from work. I placed my ring on the table and told Steven in the note that his drive for success overlooked me and our marriage… He had killed our family and I was done… And I was…. I packed Brenna, she was 3 months old, and I put the 20.00 in the gas tank of my sedan and I told God, I’m leaving him and you’re not stopping me… You were WRONG to tell me it would all become right…For I DESPERATELY LOVE STEVE but he doesn’t give a flying rip about me… Not just tears, but hot tears flowed uninhibited from my eyes… sunglasses help keep the stares at bay…. Especially at a gas station… I was broken, and alone…

WORD OF ADVICE: if you are running from God, don’t keep your radio station on KLOVE or ANY Christian one at that… My first mistake in my flight from Egypt was… KLOVE… For as soon as I turned over my car engine Charles Swindoll came on the radio station… and as I drove HE through Charles ministered to my angry heart… Ol’ Charles asked me, “Friend are you angry right now? (yes, I am), are you about to do something that will ultimately change the course of your life (maybe, what’s it to you) are you about to do something out of unforgiveness and spite that will ultimately change Gods will for your life and for others’ lives as well? IF so my friend I INVITE you to pull over and reconsider what it is you are about to do.” (DANG IT…) God could not have been more clear if He had dropped an angel onto the hood of my car and said, “DON’T GO…”

I cranked that wheel into a hard right… ONE BLOCK… that’s it… that’s how far I got from the gas station… I parked on the side of the road and cried, and cried… and cried, I hit my steering wheel over and over and over again until I was sure it would fight back with an angry airbag as a response to my abuse.. but it didn’t.. and I broke… My fists lay limp on the wheel as sobs poured out of me and I asked God to change my husband and my marriage into something that honored Him….

And dear Reader, do you know what I heard Him say? He NEEDED to CHANGE ME first…. He told me that I had made an Idol out of my husband and an Idol out of what I thought a Christian marriage should look like, that I WAS WRONG, and guilty just as he…it was right then and there brick by brick, I built an altar, and I laid my marriage and Steven upon it… It was right then and there I too climbed upon it and laid me down… and in return I gained the strength to try again…To face Steven…. And so I did. My car pulled up and there was a log in my throat wouldn’t swallow… Steven was home early, and when I walked in he was reading my crappy note. He held my wedding ring in his hand and turned to face me, he said “if you are gone, why are you back?” I mumbled some half poor excuse of “God made me.” and Steve walked over and shoved my ring back on my finger twisting until it fit and said “don’t ever take it off again.” Those next few years were doosies… hard times beget harder times… like I said above, welfare…16K, security work, and all the while God was STILL on HIS THRONE, HE WAS STILL KING… God was taking us apart brick by brick, taking what could be shaken and making it unshakable… I used to tremble when bills were due, I wondered how we would survive the “red” bills… but we did… and now when things are tough I don’t shake, I stand firm knowing that my God is still seated on His throne even when things don’t add up…. And Brick by brick my faith in Him became a fortress of peace…

Life moved on for Steven and I, we dug down deep and forced ourselves to face each other. I stopped resenting him for not being “Christian enough” and realized that his walk with God didn’t (and wouldn’t) look like mine. I learned to accept that. I also learned to accept that he will drop swearwords loudly in church during a sermon as he grasps for his ringing phone and when it does happen it doesn’t affect his salvation, though it does cause a ripple of whispers and shrewd looks, maybe everyone just needs to get over themselves and lucky us get to be the instruments to help them see that (haha… wow, thanks Steven for that gem). I also realized he was a loaded cannon all the time, like a land mine ready to explode with the wisdom of the Lord but he often restrains because he was more private in his walk than mine…but when he talked people listen because if he wasn’t swearing, he is pretty darn profound…

And through my yielding, we faced each other… He let go of the past damage that was done by a manipulative mother and learned to trust ME and to SEE ME for who I really was… and that brought us closer to each other… Brick by brick we rebuilt our relationship, we were willing to face each other unrestrained for the first time… it was PAINFUL, and vulnerable… but SO POWERFUL… sharing with each other for the first time somethings and together we healed, together we learned that darkness has NO POWER when light shines through, and that was our marriage, we learned to let God open a flood light within our hearts and change occurred… I found myself hopelessly in love with Steven again and trust backed it up this time around… Steven found himself willing to let his guard down to a woman knowing that she could do harm but chooses not too… She chose love over spite… (Finally)… and we moved on… we grew as a family… we gained steam… and learned to become equally yoked…. A well-oiled machine, we learned to work in tandem to find a harmony between the two… we flowed…

And we like the economy started to recover. So naturally, when Steven told me in 2014 it was time to start up the business again I rebuked Satan from him…I told that DEVIL TO FLEE….

 I was certain Steve was NOT hearing God correctly, how COULD HE take me through that again… But as it turned out… THIS, THIS WAS DIFFERENT… And I submitted to my husband’s deep sense of knowing the seasons for our lives (reservedly) and I watched and waited…And sure enough Brick by Brick we built a business and we thrived, with the rhythm of new ownership in our steps… Steven not only had his bosses blessing, his boss GAVE him our first big client. And on Jan 1st, 2015 we leaped out on our own… We were business owners… And Steven thought it would be funny to make me co-owner…

Without prompting him he gave me a title… President…. He said “you’d make a good President. And besides I want to call you Madam President, and serve you coffee and junk.” I stopped dead in my tracks… My dream just came full circle… The craziest thing is I never told Steven my dream, heck I hardly tell him most of my dreams… but there I was with a title… but what good is a king without a throne or a kingdom… I didn’t sweat the title… it was just that… or was it? Steven made me an email… it started with Madam President… and when we argued about plumbing (which I knew nothing about) I would throw my leverage in and say to him “HEY, EXCUSE ME SIR… I think I know a thing or two about plumbing (I didn’t) for I happen to be the President of a Plumbing company… People just don’t hand these titles out for free!” This would always cause the biggest smile to form on his face in which he would stop what he was doing and grab me and kiss me right then and there, and I would cry sexual harassment in the work force will not be tolerated which only spurred the man on into a game of cat and mouse….

We gained employees, and then well I got tired of the games and fired them… I mean after all I was President right?…. So Steven informed me that since I fired everyone it was now my job to work alongside of him in the field, plumbing… Yes there I was chasing down dreams I didn’t know existed as a plumber (Me and my big mouth)… I turned wrenches, I hated it, I soldered (okay that IS fun), I lugged toilets (JOKE, no I didn’t but it makes my story sound good so I am adding it), and I climbed under houses (okay REALLY…? I mean who am I kidding? I don’t GO under houses… I held the flash light) and we worked for a year in tandem… as a team…

Suddenly all the prophetic was coming true, I was etching out a new level to the term “help meet” Not every woman’s calling is to be a home maker some are called into the field… Side by side…and that was honor to her husband just as much as it was to be at home… Could it be that our life’s ministry was actually our work? I mean not everyone can be a Pastor right? Someone has to work to keep the lights on and the water flowing right? So here we are living in the moment… trying to get up the slippery slope everyone knowns as entrepreneurship… and we were doing it!!!

Little did I know that EVERYTHING that I had learned in plumbing in the past year was preparation for what was to be unleashed upon our lives… Heck little did I know that all my years as a preschool ministry lead was about to be put into full effect as well….So here it comes… The day Egypt entered our lives….

Steven and I were headed up to Anaheim to walk a job, I wore ballet flats and skinny Jeans (you know my usual plumbing attire). More than halfway up there we get a phone call, we were not walking the job, we were DOING the job, it was ours… We scrambled, I mad dashed to get a hard hat and work boots. Steven and I had no idea what was about to befall us… He told the man in charge, I brought my wife along to help… his only response was I hope she is more than arm candy… I fired back with, “Look just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean I cannot plumb…” Steven quickly put his hand over my mouth, laughing he shushed me and kissed me on the cheek… “Cool it, hot head…” In that ONE moment it was on like “Donkey Kong”…. I was about to school the man in workforce etiquette and the powerful persuasion of a woman in the construction field…. He never saw me coming…

Detach 300 vanities, center them and reattach them in the right place… Easy right?… No not… The copper pipes were plumbed in the wrong spots and we had to solder it into the right place without burning down the hotel or scorching the wall paper… “Hey girl, you sweatin’ dem pipes?” “Ya, man… I do…” I was on prefab… I built for Steven and another plumber the extension of the arm that was too short, over and over and over again… and I heard every time I turned on the torch, “WARNING… a fire has been detected in the building. Please go to the nearest exit, do NOT use the elevator…. WARNING….” To the point that my prefab became an outside thing where there were no alarms to set off…. Steven and I were suddenly working in tandem… all was becoming fulfilled as promised… minus the mini fires set by yours truly…

Then the game changed again and we met the Pharaoh… He was Indian, and a Patel… He owns half of Anaheim… it’s what he does… HE is not a flashy man, but humble and powerful, with a streak about him that demands respect… He stopped and asked Steven one day.. What do you think of my Hotel? Steve mentioned something that he saw that would cause a catastrophic flood…The man said, thanks I’ll take that into consideration, not three hours later after we left the fourth floor all the way down to the first had flooded… exactly like Steven predicted, he now had the pharaoh’s ear and his favor…. We were asked to stay…

The man that saw me as “arm candy”, quickly saw my value, ate humble pie and was using me to run teams of men around the job… and here I was back in my preschool position managing large crowds of people making sure everything and everyone was in their place, making sure all the men had their “goldfish”, their “licorice” and their “water”. I was told to be job superintendent, and to not work but to supervise, and to be the eyes and ears of a multimillion dollar company. I need Nichol STAT he would scream and I would reply “If you ask nicely…” He would then say please… and I would comply…

I could tell I unnerved some men, and I could tell others tried to figure me out, whom I belonged to… At one point when the service elevator was up and running I needed to cart our stuff up a floor and the elevator was packed full of men, I wasn’t going to fit but they insisted they make room for me. I squeezed with them. They were 8 including the elevator operator, one guy asked, “Yous a plumber?” I said something like that… The elevator guy told on me, he had been talking to Steven… he said, “No she’s not just a plumber, she’s is the President of a plumbing company.” Almost in unison all the men looked amazed and stepped back to give me even MORE room and bowed low… I laughed (and blushed) the door dinged, it was my floor the elevator operator raised his Hard hat and said your floor Madam President… I giggled and backed out of the elevator… “Thanks boys, it’s been real.” I think about that moment, it was a fun one… God really has fun with me at times… I still giggle about that one…

So in Anaheim, 5 weeks passed, and the Hotel was built (and restored)…And we have been asked by the Pharaoh to go to San Francisco and to Colorado to do it again… and we may… and we may not for we known how politics go…

In the end who knows where life will take Steven and myself… back to poverty, or deeper into prosperity, neither frighten me… both I will embrace… But NO MATTER where I go I know one thing is for certain, God holds me firmly in the grip of His hand… He holds me, and my marriage… He holds Steven… and just as He cares for me and Steve God care for you too… and ALL of your dreams are there because God puts them there, He WANTS to give you the desires of your hearts… He wants to give you every dream you did (or did not) dare to dream, he wants to unleash what is hidden within, but YOU… You must be willing to let HIM do a good work within yourself… You must be willing to be vulnerable enough with your spouse, with God, and a few trusted friends to become undone… and when you become undone, you may just find the YOU, you were always meant to be….

Now this Dear Reader is where I leave you not with a salutations no, but with a great wonder and an awakening to your spirit for more, to become more… to stand in a new identity, or point of view whether it be your marriage or place of position… let go and live fully… I promise you, you truly CAN DO all things in Christ our Lord…. Just look at us…Oh and Dear reader… remember… swearwords do happen… just roll with it… I do.

With love, Nichol

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2 thoughts on “Brick by Brick….

  1. I usually save stuff like this for “when I have time” but I started reading a couple lines and just couldn’t stop! haha. Guess I had time after all. So encouraging my friend!!

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    • Haha… Thanks Kim this was inspired by you and your need for realness in marriage, I felt it was time to share what we went through and how we were blessed by toughing out the hard times…

      Like

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