Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am THANKFUL for Bratty Kids and The Jones'

The infamous facebook trend continues as my news feed is filled with thankfulness this time of year. November and the spirit of thanksgiving never disappoints and makes us revisit the things we often take for granted the first 10 months of the year. And, we even show our humility in the little things we are thankful for as a society... food on the table, warm homes, the love of family, and time with our children. But I want to take you somewhere else this season. I want to take you down a thankful path that is even less traveled and also opens your eyes to kindness like no other. The intangible. Please hang in this with me as I set the tone for you. I promise it won't disappoint!

Joel and I joined his mom and little brother for a movie on Veteran's day a couple weeks ago. We chose a kid friendly movie and knowing that kids would be out of school, I expected it would be the place to be. Now, let me give you a little background, a little behind the scenes, if you will. For those kids, to be out of a school is a BIG event, but they haven't a clue how big of a deal it is for us. And for Joel to go to the movies with his mom- it is remarkable. He hasn't been to a movie with her in about 7 years. This will also be his first Christmas spent with her in at least 6 years- just because he was not able, so I would say these little things are HUGE things for us. Ok back to the movie-The type A mom, knows that she needs to make plans to be to the theater 15 minutes early to get her tickets, grab some popcorn and kiddie treats, and find a good seat. She's quite close, so it takes her about 10 minutes to get to the theater. She jumps in 30 minutes before the movie and she's out the door. It takes us a little longer. I schedule to get him ready an hour before we have to be on the road. Yes, it takes nearly an hour with no complications to get him out of bed, into his wheelchair, and seated in the van properly.

So, when we get there, we get there right on time. And so do the trillions of kids. We make our way to the door of the room we are about to enter, taking our time to maneuver around the Christmas tree and down the hall. About that time that mom who has taken the carpool of kids and her friend show up and they can barely contain the 8 kids they have with them, and 3 kids cut my husband off in his wheelchair (which he drives with his head- so he can't slow down or speed up). I hold my breath and can only think of the short distance between their tiny toes and his 300+ pound chair. I use my stern attention getting voice, but kindly tell them to watch out. I shake my head and try to shrug it off. Now, let me just say, I'm not the one embarrassed. I'm sure she is. But I AM angry. I'm angry that the parent's are not paying attention. Trust me, he's not easy to miss. I'm angry that they haven't the decency to teach their children to be alert and take care of others (stay with me- you know you'd feel the same way at the time and you may or may not act on this). And I am mad at the fact this is not the first time. I'm angry at the fact that no matter where we go, people do not pay attention. And there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not mad at the kids, because grown adults do this in public everywhere we go. But I hold onto my anger. I just use it to remind myself to teach anyone I know differently.

I am sure I have had my fair share of people I have over looked, doors that have been dropped just in front of someone who needed assistance, or I've just been absent minded when I could have made a difference. I sure I am guilty. But I was also fortunate enough to be a nanny at the age of 15 for a family with 2 special needs children, I had an aunt who worked in a care facility for as long as I knew her on this earth, and I have always had a heart for special needs, so maybe it's just in my nature to assist. So maybe I take for granted that I know how to react when I see someone like my husband whose needs come before my own. And I think we all often take life for granted. Those little things that have proven to be BIG things for us- like going to the movies.

Now let me share an opposing story that warms my heart. Joel and I decided to take a journey that would help us reach our financial goals by making residual income. We traveled to Daytona last week for a conference held by a leader in Texas. When we arrived we parked, and I got Joel out of the car on my own. We followed the flow of people to the ballroom where 500 people began to pack in like sardines. A gentleman (Mr. Jones) that I of know indirectly (but he didn't know me from Adam) chose to escort Joel and I to the very front row, for the best view in the room. He asked if he could get us anything to drink (no one else was getting this kind of service- to my knowledge). The gentleman also made light conversation and made sure we were comfortable. As the meeting was wrapping up we were the furthest away from the door and it would have been impossible to leave with a crowd. We began to get ready to exit and he appeared again. He helped us navigate down the aisle asking those few people along the wall to make way for Joel. He guided us to the door and also asked if we needed assistance getting him in the van. He gave us his card and said to call him anytime.

The next day I received a text from our team leaders and they were having a get-together with the Jones'. I told Joel, not thinking he would think too much about it. Joel never does anything without a week's notice. And I gave him 4 hours notice. But, he thought for about 30 seconds and jumped at the idea. The Jones' live in Texas, and since we aren't going to Texas anytime soon, and they treated him with the utmost respect and were so kind, we got ready and went to get to know them and our team a little better. That makes 2 days in a row that Joel had gotten out for making a better future. That was also the first visit to a friend's house he had made in 5 years. Man, we are THANKFUL for the Jones'.

That night they poured into us as individuals and a team. Mr. Jones prayed over us before we left, just Joel and me- completely led by the Holy Spirit (as he came running from the house after saying our goodbyes, praying he wouldn't miss us for us already leaving). And just for kicks- the kids at the get-together all surrounded Joel. They were in awe. We are used to the stares and gawks- even from adults. We are used to the weird questions and the even weirder compliments (about sex, kids, what amazing people we are, etc.)- and I am floored that you think such, but we are just two of God's children that are living the life He has called us to out loud. We just love each other like Christ loved us. But the innocence of these kids was pure and real. One of them even asked what happened to him. Not what was WRONG with him. What HAPPENED to him.... the word choice was quite impeccable.

You see, what a perfect picture this paints of Heaven. "Joel was hurt. He was in a wreck and thrown out of a car almost half a football field. Joel died, but God said 'I am not done with you yet.' And he sent him back. Joel has a purpose. He was sent here to tell you that Jesus loves you. Joel will get a new body in Heaven. It will be perfect there. He won't be in a chair. He will be able to talk again. Walk again. He will run and play basketball and beat me- AGAIN. He will eat again. He will be made whole when he sees Jesus. Because Jesus will heal him. But for now, Joel's body is not in pain. It is just for now. It is just so that we can show you how much we love Jesus. It's just so you would ask us what happened. Just so you could see Jesus, if but for a minute." Shoot if God had given me those words when they were asking questions. Well, there's always next time!

That night Joel ate lasagna (blended of course) for the first time in 5 years. I am thankful for the little things. And I didn't know what the little things were until I lived this life. So I am thankful for the bitter and the sweet. The bitter makes the sweet sweeter. You see, him not eating solid food for 5 years, makes him thankful when I make something he can taste again- like blended meatballs or soup, or chewy warm cookies. For me, I am thankful, not often enough for each and every meal that I can cook and I can eat everyday. I am ungrateful too often for the ability to walk and to talk, even when my husband lives his life so flawlessly baring the weight of long suffering that I will never understand- and yet he doesn't even know or think he's suffering. He is thankful for life. We haven't a clue what it's like. I am thankful for the ability to move my fingers as I type while he strains for an hour to get the right grammar across using his eyes on his computer just for a single facebook status. And last night for the first time in 5 years, he found the nerve that moves his right hand watching a basketball game. I smiled and praised God for never ending miracles- the little things. For movement. We have no clue. You might even find your little things are far greater things than you think.

Find something new this season to be thankful for- beyond the tangible. This season is so much more than buying happiness or a gift, it's about loving one another and showing appreciation for the intangible moments. Don't let materialism and selfishness consume you. Be a helping hand. Look for those who you think are less fortunate, whether physically or mentally- I promise you they are far more thankful than those who are less in need. And you might just get a glimpse of the KING. Just look at those children who are happy with a stick and a stone in Africa versus the standard of living here- in America, wanting every toy they can possibly ask for from Santa. Just look at my husband! Lord, I am thankful. Because, we all have so much more to be thankful for than we give praise. It will be a lifelong lesson to be multiplied. So share the gift of gratitude. Give the gift of Jesus. What is the Jesus in you that you can give to someone else in His name?!

I am thankful for the bratty kids at the movies that made our experience with the Jones' that much more gratifying. Glory and honor to the King above for lessons in the little things.

Love and Blessings,
The Mrs.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

And the journey has just begun!


If you didn't read my post last Tuesday, first read it here.

The blessing isn't in just this van which my husband and I have been praying for and working for, it's in the way that it came to us. I drove a Toyota for 8 years. My 4Runner was the only other car I've ever had until 2 years ago when I got my Jetta. Ever since, I have missed my Toyota. I like my Jetta, but the memories, the space, and the reliability just isn't the same. I deeply wanted a Toyota van, but when we began to look I found there was no way to find one in our price range with what we were working with, and to be honest, everything for a handicap accessible van was outrageous.

They typically start at $25,000 for a relatively good one, and $70,000 is what you're looking at for new. Neither of those prices would work for us. But I had hope and kept up the search. I did not have peace just letting it go. I wanted to date my husband, and I would find a way. Our anniversary is next Sunday and in my heart I was hopeful that we would have something by then. I had salesmen all over the country searching for specific things we needed.

I was scrolling through Craigslist last week two days after as salesman had sold a van from underneath me. I'll be honest, I wasn't happy. But that's their job. I guess. I happened upon a Toyota that was closer to our price range but still too high, but with hopes, I sent an email to the owner asking if it were still available after it had been on there for 16 days. The next morning I had an email and it read,
"Lauren,

My van has not been sold and both middle seats can be taken out.

In His Name,"

No name and I couldn't tell if it was a man or woman, but I knew one thing, that person was a Christian. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to offer $2,000 less than her asking price, even though the price she was asking was remarkable for a van with only 32,000 miles on it! I felt awful asking and knew that there was no way that I could even afford the price I was telling her. But remember, Joel and I just took a leap of faith and started working from home on AdvoCare, to help us get a van! And God delivers.

The conversation continues and she says that she is willing to negotiate. Even though I can't negotiate between her price and mine, I felt something... I felt hope. I just knew she would come down. I didn't know why or what would make her come down, but she asked if Joel, my husband was disabled. That was my door. I gave her a few sentences of our story. Just something brief. And her response was straight from God. It was the answer to our prayers.

"I'd love to be able to help both of you. I just lost the love of my life six months ago. Sept 6 would be our 46th anniversary if he had lived. I was his full time caregiver for the last four years. His health failed slowly from 1990 on so I cared for him over those years. I will sell the van to you for $... ($6,000 less than asking). There is a short in the headlights. You or I can take it to Toyota and I will pay for the repair. If you want me to have it done let me know and I will make an appointment. We had new tires installed July 6, 2013 and a new battery in January 2014. I have the receipt.

In His Name,
Kathy Marielli"
Not only was the van worth more than her asking price, she came down $6,000 off her price. Who does that? Why? Does anyone understand that kind of kindness? That's just crazy... right!? She went down another $4,000 off what I offered to pay her! God does that. He's more than willing to meet our needs. And exceed them. Not only did I get my Toyota, but I got it for $13,000 less than any one I could find. It's less than any deal any one tried to help me find.

I pulled over on the side of the road and wept. I just knew my Jesus was taking care of me and my love. So not only did we invest together in AdvoCare for our anniversary (instead of spending money on each other), but we invested in our future, a place to have him safe and our kids ride with us. We invested in dating one another. And God made this happen. In just a week and a half from taking a step of obedience to starting this amazing journey with our at home business, God has blessed us immensely! 

I hope this blesses you as it has me. If you were needing a little bit of hope, I know you are reading this for a reason. God makes no mistakes. And He is perfect in His timing. 

Oh and I forgot to mention... she offered to bring the van to us from 2 hours away. He had worked out every last detail! Even to the delivery! 

He is good. Oh and did I mention... it's bought and paid for?! That's another story for another day!

Happy Anniversary Babe! 

To many more,
The Jacksons

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Our Life has Changed... It All Started with a Spark!

My life is yet again changing before my eyes. Joel and I moved to Palm Coast, Florida nearly 2 months ago. My first trip out of the house I left to pick up the necessities:  toothpaste, toilet cleaner, and some quick food choices until we got all settled in, but I left with much much more. Checking out I heard the roar of the rain beating down on the roof. With the largest load of groceries and household items I've ever bought, to prepare for our new home, I stood with other shoppers alike under the awning in the pouring rain.

One of them struck up a conversation with me and we began talking about the move, her home staging process, and my photography business. She told me that we should meet up and have lunch sometime. Don't freak out... this stranger felt more like a friend of mine for the last 20 years. Something warm about her radiated from her words. We exchanged business cards, and day after day I would remember to call her at all the wrong times and forget. Nearly 4 weeks had gone by and I finally pulled the card out and found her on facebook. We talked and decided to meet for lunch the next week. And the rest is history. We visited her church, met her adorable family, and most important, we found a godly couple that we could spend our time with. And then, she introduced me to Spark!

Over lunch that fateful day, she asked if Joel and I had anything we needed prayer for in our lives. I immediately thought of a few things, but at the top of my list was a handicap van for Joel (if you don't know us, Joel was in a car wreck 5 years ago and is paralyzed from the neck down) and I. We left our old van in South Carolina for a local church to use, and the van we have isn't suited for me to drive or transport Joel by myself. I am also gearing up to start my photography business from the ground up here. I have a wonderful portfolio, but getting a new line of business started is very intimidating. So she said she would pray for both. I also mentioned my mother in law's health. She's recently been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Basically, she doesn't develop antibodies or white blood cells. She stays sick the majority of the time and tired and dreary all the time. She has no energy. I know now that Ashley's wheels were turning, but she said she would pray for those things and then I did the same for her and then....

A day later she asked me to tune in for a webinar for the company she works for, so I did. She had mentioned Spark at lunch and how it all began for her and her family. She told me about her recent trip to Texas and the amazing, life changing stories and results that her AdvoCare team were experiencing. People she doesn't even know are posting story after story of their personal testimonies to her facebook wall. And my ears were tuning in.
"AdvoCare is a premier health and wellness company offering world-class energy, weight-loss, nutrition, and sports performance products along with a rewarding business opportunity."
With Drew Brees as their national spokesperson, along with many others, the testimonies were pouring in, and I could tell that something in this direct sales company was different than the companies I had tried before. I have sold directly through two other companies, but I'm no sales person. I'm terrible actually. Another reason that I do not practice interior design any more, nor do I sell jewelry through those companies, I just can't sell you something you don't need. I just can't talk you into buying something that could break your bank. Count me out. However, we do need this. Everyone's health is vital to their well being and their life. Ashley pointed out that this might help us get a van for Joel and I. We would be able to date fore the first time. Not just get dropped off at the movies. We could venture out in life, just the two of us.

But God began to speak to my heart not about the van, but about my husband. AdvoCare makes things simple. It is what you make of it. All sales transactions can be done online by the customer through our site. I began to think "Joel could do this!" I hadn't given it much thought before, because what once was an impossibility- Joel working, would turn into an opportunity in which AdvoCare had a solution. Joel would be able to have his own business. I didn't tell Ashley right away, but I told Joel my thoughts, with some hesitation. But, he ran with it!!! Everyone knows what it means to a man to be able to provide for his wife and family. And this would help alleviate much of the hesitation to have children later on. He would be able to help me make a home for our future. He could feel he had a part in taking care of me. And some of the weight on my shoulders would be lifted. This is something we could do together!

Ashley brought us a Spark- a nutrient based drink made with over 20 vitamins and minerals and amino acids. Spark gives you the beauty of health and a spark of energy that lasts for hours and enhances your alertness with no crash and burn like that of a Redbull or 5 hour energy. And it comes in several tasty flavors. My mother in law, Joel, and I all tried it. What a difference. The day after my mother in law takes her shots (6 injections that run for 2 hours, once a week), she's normally in bed all day with no energy. She was up cleaning at 6AM, washing clothes, cleaning floors, dishes, completely rearranged a room all before I got out of bed for the day. She had a short 30 minute nap in the day and the rest of day she was full of energy. I knew this was life changing for her! She begged me for the extra Spark Ashley had left for the next day.

We also have The 24-Day Challenge™ on the way for our family ... "a comprehensive supplementation and nutrition program. It gives your body the jumpstart it needs to help you reach your goals. There’s something for everyone: weight management, energy, overall body composition or overall wellness. Thousands of people have experienced success on the 24-Day Challenge™" Inches lost, weight dropped, implementing clean eating, and adding all the vitamins and nutrients we miss in our daily diets.

We signed up. For $79, we purchased our investment and our future. Our customers can choose to become wholesale customers and purchase for the same cost we did starting out or buy at retail cost. Or, they can distribute and become part of our team. No large investments, no internet fees, no quotas, or inventory. Ashley and her husband started 2 years ago and are making $4,000/month and are set to make $8,000/month by the end of the year. They spend a few hours a week on it, but live the AdvoCare lifestyle. That's it. They just tell people they love and trust about the product that sells itself. $4,000/month could change my life in 2 years. So, let's go!

We cannot wait to see what this wonderful opportunity is going to do for our family. We are stoked to begin this journey with such an inspiring team.

If you're interested in knowing more about this incredible opportunity, how to become debt free or make a little extra cash, please email or call us (864.940.3623)! Or if you would like to purchase product from us please visit our website to help us build on our future and make a healthier lifestyle for your family!

We would love to hear from you!

As for my husband... I am so so proud of you and your motivation to take care of me. Thank you for your love and support and choosing to do this for me and us and our future children! You are amazing!

Love and Prayers,
The Jacksons