Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year End Recollections...and More FREE Stuff!!

"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9
(KJV)

I don't know about you, but I cannot comprehend that today is the last day of 2015!
Honestly, I don't know where it went.
Each day sort of seems like a big blur to me now.

It was a hard year for us.
I've mentioned that more than once here,
and you may be a bit weary of hearing it.

There are parts I'd rather not disclose,
and, for months, I have hesitated to talk about the part I am getting ready to share.
Through my hesitation, God has nudged me from time to time, 
that this part is something that needs to be said,
because, perhaps it can bless someone else and give them hope to see how He has tunneled a path through our circumstances.

So, here it is....
Our Identity Crisis


I sat in our back room with Kevin, as he worked one night,
laptop on lap, and I began to file our taxes online.
We have done it this way for years, and we have never experienced any issues,
so I assumed that this year would be no different.

I worked through the amazingly easy process of online tax preparation, and I hit send, like always.

Soon, I heard the little beep alerting me that an email had come through.

And, there it was.
Those dreaded words.
I don't remember the exact wording, but, in a nutshell, this is the gist of what I read,
"The Internal Revenue Service has rejected your tax return.
The reason is that taxes have already been filed in your name and social security number..."
Blah, blah, blah, after that....I didn't care to read the rest.

I felt sick.
My head reeled.
It felt like my blood pressure spiked.

What?!?!

How?????

Aren't we always very careful?
So mindful of our privacy.
Never taking risks.
Putting safe security measures in place.

My "what?" and "how?" questions quickly changed to "WHO????"

Who would do this to us?

I felt so violated.
Our carefully-shielded privacy felt so invaded upon.
My stomach was in knots.

I picked up the phone.

And this small act, my dear friends, was the beginning of one of the most frustrating, aggravating ordeals I can describe to you.

To spare the mundane details, I found it near-impossible to speak with an actual human being.
I so wanted an answer!
That night.
Right there.
The suspense was near-unbearable.
I didn't want to have to wait until morning to hear an explanation of what had truly happened.
Finally, I reached a human voice, who informed me that, based upon the wording of our email from the IRS, our identity had possibly been stolen, but, he couldn't tell me anything for certain.
After realizing I was pretty much wasting my time by trying to get a definite answer, I politely said thank you, good-bye, and hung up.

Early the next morning, I quietly slipped out of our house, without waking my dear husband who had worked all night or Zach, who was still sleeping, and I drove over 60 miles to the closest office of the Internal Revenue Service.
I got my little number, and I sat and waited for a very long time to see a representative.
All the while I waited, I convinced myself that there had been a mistake.
That the rep would tell me this was all a fluke,
that everything was fine,
and our personal identity was safe.

After a few hours, I finally saw my number pop up on the flashing sign,
and I found that I was being called to Cubicle Three, where I was met by a very kind,
quiet sort of guy, who, though he was kind, was very non-committal and professional, to a fault.

I explained my plight, and I waited for him to tell me everything was going to be okay,
that nothing was amiss,
that this was all a bad dream,
and I could wake up to "normal life" now.

Alas!
This was not the case.
He looked at everything I had brought with me,
listened to my sad tale,
pulled up several things on his computer,
and commenced to tell me that it looked like our taxes had already been filed on January 29th,
six days before I tried to file them on February 4th!

But, how, I asked him?
And, by whom?

I don't know if you have ever had dealings with an IRS worker, 
but trying to wrench information out of them is like trying to pull an eye tooth right out of their strictly-business head!
This man, however pleasant he might have been, was NOT budging.
He was not telling me anything.
I pushed the envelope just as far as I dared,
and then I surrendered.
He wasn't telling, so I may as well stop wasting my breath.

All he would truly reveal is that someone had indeed, beat us to the punch, and already filed OUR taxes before we could file them, in hopes that they would get our refund!

He told me to go home, make some very specific phone calls, 
including a call to our local law enforcement to report this crime,
and to bring Kevin back with me as soon as possible.

This journey began our quest to prove that we are who we really are.
Oh, my word!
I find that in "my words" I have no words...to describe the level of despair one can reach while trying to prove that they are who they really are.

For sake of time and length, I will leave out the gory details,
and I will focus on what this whole ordeal has taught me.

I am Cheryl Smith.
But, Cheryl Smith is not who I really am.
My social security number is what it is.
But, my social security number is a mere series of nine numbers,
doled out to me by the United States of America government when I was a little girl,
and those nine numbers do NOT define me.
The name my parents gave me, at birth,
and the last name I was given the day I stood at the altar in front of a preacher when I gave up my maiden name and took on Kevin's last name, is only a means of "identifying" me, in this life.

If I were to enter some government protection program, or for some other reason I took upon a whole new name, it would have no bearing upon who I really am.

Because who I really am...that person inside of me....that soul that God placed there - the part of me that will return to Him when I die, has nothing whatsoever to do with the first name, Cheryl, or the last name, Smith.

Trying to prove that I am Cheryl Smith was one of the worst nightmares I have walked through.
The grief of being denied the hard-earned tax refund that Kevin labored so hard all year to receive
was beyond telling.
Feeling like we had been violated and that someone else was going to get what was rightfully ours was extremely hard to endure.

But, through it all, God showed me that I am who I am, no matter what.
That He doesn't identify me as Cheryl Smith.
That Cheryl is just a name to identify who I am, in this life.
That this life isn't the life that really matters.
That one day, He will give me a new name in Heaven,
and that is the name that counts.

"Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna.
I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it."
Revelation 2:17

I, at times, have fought a lot of ill feelings towards whomever it was that inflicted these burdens upon us.
They will more than likely never know how much anguish they have caused.
I won't bore you with the ordeals we have endured trying to remove weird things from our credit report and trying to fix the mess they have created.

God showed me, at some point, I can't even remember when,
that I must forgive.
That I must pray for the perpetrator(s), and realize that because of what they did,
my family and I have learned some of the most valuable lessons of our lives.
There was a moment in time, when victory came, my anger subsided, and then turned to gratitude.
To God be the glory.

During the pounding of the storm, and even in the aftermath,
we have learned to lean hard upon God.
To dig deep for who we are....not as defined by this life,
but who we are IN HIM....
who He created us to be.

I want to share some of the highlights of our lessons with you,
in hopes that these facts will comfort you in your own struggles and whatever you may be facing.

Lesson #1:
We will always be who we are in Christ,
regardless of what happens to our "identifying factors" in this life.
No one can steal that, take it away from us, or assume it as their own.
It is ours...our own...our individual inheritance that cannot be touched or destroyed by anything or anyone in this life.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
I Peter 1:3-5
Praise God!
I don't know about you, but that part about "an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you" just thrills my inmost soul!
Our true identity...that person we really are...is "kept by the power of God", 
and bless His holy name, even satan himself cannot pluck us out of His hand!
Jesus said, 
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, 
neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand."
John 10:28

Lesson #2:
There is not much we can count on in this life as being a sure thing,
not even a tax refund that has been duly-earned, fair and square,
but God, Himself, is going to take care of us, no matter what.
God doesn't need.
He doesn't require the government or the most "sure thing" in this life
to fulfill His purpose and to supply our needs.

Lesson #3:
God's friendship is one that is deeper than all others.
He sticks closer to us than even a brother, and the precious Holy Spirit is a Comforter that never fails.

Lesson #4:
God is a jealous God.
"For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God..."
Exodus 34:14
He wants to be our "all in all".
He doesn't want us to depend upon our own safety nets,
whether they be financial, physical, or spiritual.
When we do this, we are leaning to our own understanding,
and we are putting our trust in our own devices,
making them our "gods" and sources of deliverance and sustenance.
The strongest, most dependable of human safety nets and back-up plans can fail.
When we reach the end of our own resources, He hasn't yet begun to unveil His.

Lesson #5:
There are certain situations in this life that are completely beyond human help.
There are circumstances that require a genuine miracle to change,
and nothing short of Divine intervention will do.

There came a day when all was cleared, the government finally believed that we are who we are,
and the monies owed to us were released.
They even paid us a little interest!
Oh, how we rejoiced when the storm was over!
There were a lot of tears and there was a lot of praising going on in our house that day,
I can assure you!  

2015 has been mostly uphill, but mingled in the physical ailments,
the identity crisis, the spiritual battles, and other fiery trials, with the accompanying fears and tears,
God has blessed us again and again.
And He has proven Himself faithful to us.
He has absolutely convinced us that He is our all in all.
That if we have Him, we truly have all we need.
That He keeps His promises, and we should keep ours to Him.
Truly, on this last evening of the year, I have never known Him better or loved Him more.

He is...
My Strong Tower.
"For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy."
Psalm 61:3
My Defender.
"Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless...
for their Defender is strong; He will take up their case against you."
Proverbs 23:11
My Rock.
"Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD God is the eternal Rock."
Isaiah 26:4
My Healer.
"I am the LORD that healeth thee."
Exodus 15:26
My Redeemer.
"This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go."
Isaiah 48:17
My Savior.
"...my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..."
Luke 1:47
My Provider.
"And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh. 
As it is said to this day, In the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided."
Genesis 22:14
My All in All.
"And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all."
I Corinthians 15:28
(Emphasis added.)

I close out this year and look forward to the new one ahead with the assurance that God is enough.
He is sufficient.
When all else fails, and when hope is gone, He remains.
Steadfast.
Unmovable.
Unchangeable.
Everlasting.
He is sovereign.
He is God.
He is Lord of all.
He means everything to me.
Praise His name forevermore.

****************************************************************
Now, for the fun stuff....
we came across several more little items to give away!
Hooray!
There are lots more, too....
but, I had better put them on in batches, so I don't overwhelm anyone.:~)
I know you're tired from all of the Christmas shopping, 
but this shopping trip will not weary you, I promise!
No tired feet.
No long lines.
No cranky customers.
No money required!
All you have to do is click your mouse here to be redirected to our 
Here's a quick preview of what you will find available tonight!




Just click on over, pick out some stuff you want,
email and let us know, and Lord willing, it will soon be on its way to your mailbox!!!
What could be easier?
I hope to see you there, and I can't wait to share!

36 comments:

  1. What a terrible ordeal about the loss of identity (identity theft). What a sad and evil world we live in these days. We try our best at home to shred any papers before disposing of them but there's always electronic means that people can get your details. It's so confusing. I'm so glad that at last it was all sorted for you.

    Wishing you and your family a Splendid New Year filled with hope, joy, faith and good health. God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ever so much for your kind words, Victor! OH, my, it has been such an ordeal, but our dear Lord is and has been so faithful to us! I appreciate your encouragement, and I trust that your and yours are blessed with a wonderful New Year, too!

      Delete
  2. Cheryl, please send me your email address to tmmobley@outlook.com. I have a good update on Brody, but can't find your email address here at home. Thanks! Happy New Year and God Bless! Love, Terry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for letting me know the latest on little Brody, Terry!! I just rejoice in all God is doing for this little guy and am expecting much bigger miracles to come his way! I hope you and your family have a wonderful new year, too, filled with God's blessings. Sending you much love, sweet friend. :)

      Delete
  3. Oh, my precious sister, if I was in the same room with you I would give you a big hug. Oh, my, it's a terrible violation when that happens; it has happened to us too so I know the feeling. I like the way you shared with Scriptures all that you learned about our true identity. My favorite was point #4 and I never want to forget that Christ is my only need. He is jealous as you say and wants our full dependency. There is so much you wrote about that is helpful and I applaud your decision to share your story. So thankful it was straightened out, too. I'm paying close attention to all the teaching here and asking God to restore seven times all that was stolen from you. May 2016 more than make up for all your trouble!

    Happy New Year!
    Big loving hugs,
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, dear Mary! How your precious words have warmed and encouraged my heart! I CRIED as I read them..they just touched me so deep inside. You are a dear encourager to me, and I cannot thank God enough for you and your steady support. I am SO sorry to know that you went through this awful ordeal, too. May the dear Lord bless you in a special way and grant you and Tom a very happy new year! Much love to you, dear friend. :)

      Delete
  4. Oh Cheryl, I'm so sorry to hear that you've had to go through such a trying time, Love. But I absolutely love your heart and the incredible encouragement and faith that you've shared here as a result of such a terrible circumstance. Thank you for such and incredible and powerful word. Happy New Year and GOD bless you, beautiful friend! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Tai! Your sweet visit has blessed me more than you know! Thank you ever so much for your kind words and loving thoughts. You are a dear blessing to me, and I trust God will abundantly bless you in this new year! Sending you much love and many hugs, sweet friend!

      Delete
  5. What a nightmare! Glad you're on this side of it and with the perspective and wisdom given from our Father. All things will be used by Him to lift others and honor Himself as well as us. Sorry you had to suffer through it, you know I've been praying for you and yours.

    Love the attitude and Godly perspective! Blessings to you and yours in this next year and all the ones our Father grants us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ever so much, Floyd. YES, you surely have been such a faithful support to us in our battles. So many times, it has encouraged me when I would think of the fact that you were praying for us. I am so thankful to have you in our lives and to know that we can be there to encourage one another and pray each other through the trials of this life. God is so faithful to put those in our lives who will be there through thick and thin. I don't have words to thank you enough for all you have done and the many times you have prayed. I can only trust the dear Lord to bless you abundantly for it all. Happy New Year to you and your family...I hope God sends you many blessings this year.

      Delete
  6. I am so sorry that you had to deal with that, but your perspective to hear from Him in such a tough and tiring situation is so truly inspiring. Thanks for reminding us that our identity is in HIM! You are so right <3

    PS you are so generous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, dear Caroline! I so appreciate your sweet visit, and I want you to know I am praying for you and trusting God to send you a great 2016, filled with the special miracle for which we have been praying for so long! Sending you much love and many prayers, sweet friend. :)

      Delete
  7. Oh Cheryl, I read this with my mouth hanging open! I couldn't believe the trouble you've been through!
    I'm so glad that you had God there to bring you through it. God bless you dear lady!
    Laura Lane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bless your dear heart, Laura. Thank you for your kind words and caring heart. Yes, praise Jesus, He brought us safely through. He is so faithful! Thanking Him for friends like you who are such a support and encouragement! :)

      Delete
  8. Thank you for sharing your testimony, dear one. I needed this perspective! May God continue to richly bless you and your precious family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ever so much for your precious support and friendship, Bronda. I am praying for you, sweet friend, and sending you much love. :)

      Delete
  9. Oh my... I've heard that having your identity stolen is a terrible experience, and I'm so sorry you went through this. But you've turned it into such a beautiful testimony here. I was so moved by the reminder that our name does not define us. Our identity is in Christ, now more than ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, dear Lisa! We are who we are in Christ, and nothing can ever change that or His great love for us! I hope all is well with you and Tom and the new little one. :) Thinking of you often and praising God for your miracle!! Thank you for stopping by...it is always a blessing to see that you have been here!

      Delete
  10. I am so sorry to read about this difficulty. I had never thought such a thing was possible. However, I am so glad that we have a Savior who walked this journey with you. You know who you are in Him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean, Amanda. I never dreamed anything like this could happen. I know satan meant it for evil, but God is using it for good by teaching us so many lessons that we would never have learned any other way. Thank you so much for your sweet visit...your encouragement means so much! Happy New Year!

      Delete
  11. I'm so sorry to hear of the ordeal that you have been through over the past year Cheryl, but I just wanted to let you know that your faith and perseverance are an example and an encouragement to me. Happy New Year :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Praise the Lord to know that He is encouraging you through this, Gwen! To God be all glory, and I trust He will bless you and your family with a Happy New Year! Thank you ever so much for stopping by and leaving kind words behind. :)

      Delete
  12. A truly beautiful post, Cheryl. I knew of this crisis in your life, but reading about it again just made me cringe. I cannot imagine the initial shock, the ensuing fears and frustration, the total sense of no control. Such a terribly difficult journey. But oh, what God taught you through it! Each one of your wise lessons was truly an inspiration - good things to remember each and every day. And, this whole identity thing made me think of these verses:

    "See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49:16, NLT)

    "But now...listen to the LORD who created you...the one who formed you says, 'Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.'" (Isaiah 43:1, NLT)

    Yes, the One who calls the stars out every night, by name, also knows our name. He knows how wonderfully complex we are, for He is the One who knit us together before we were born. He knows we are fragile, He knows we are weak. But He has won for us the victory of LIFE!! A secure future, a confident hope, and a blessed assurance...

    "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says...'To the one who conquers I will give...a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'" (Revelation 2:17, ESV)

    Is that not a precious picture?!

    Our Lord, in intimate conversation, handing us the treasure of HIS name for us, forever?!?!

    Oh, be still my heart...

    GOD BLESS!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ever so much for your dear, faithful prayers, Sharon, and for the wonderful Scripture verses you shared here. God bless you in this new year, my friend. :)

      Delete
  13. What a horrible thing to deal with! That is something that would stress you to your limit, I'm sure. I love your forgiving, kind heart. So blessed by your testimony :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my, Jo! You have no idea! I really can't put it all into words, but God is faithful, this I know and can talk about. Praise His holy name! Thank you ever so much for your kind words and sweet visit. It was such a blessing to me! I hope you are feeling better by now. Have a happy new year, sweet friend. :)

      Delete
  14. I'm so sorry. This happened to our daughter's friend, too. Praying that 2016 is filled with many reasons to rejoice. God's blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ever so much, Deb! I so appreciated your visit and encouragement. God bless you with a happy new year!

      Delete
  15. Thank you, thank you for sharing these wonderful and truth-telling lessons through this terrible mess. I am so sorry that you have endured this. So very sorry. God has shown you so very much and that you have willingly shared God's love for you to us us beautiful.
    May His peace carry you always.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, how your words have blessed and encouraged my heart! I can't thank you enough for your sweet visit. May the dear Lord bless you abundantly in the new year. :)

      Delete
  16. Oh, dearest Cheryl...how my heart aches for you that you and your dear family had to walk through such a scary, horrible, challenging trial... Oh, but I am so encouraged by your strong example of faith in our Lord! The lessons you learnt, although I am certain were terribly painful and stressful, praise Him that you have come through this ordeal stronger in Jesus and closer as a family... May He continue to uphold you!
    All my love always...thank you for your sweet friendship and loving example...I am truly grateful for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear, sweet Kelly-Anne! How I appreciate your precious words and visit! God has been right there in the fire with us, and we have proven His faithfulness time after time! I am so very grateful for you, too, and you are a dear blessing to me. God bless you abundantly, in return, sweet friend!

      Delete
  17. How wonderful to know that we don't have to prove ourselves to our God. He knows us. He created us. We're not just a number to Him, we're so much more. Cheryl, I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that, so much heartache, but what wonders God was able to show you through all of that, that will in turn touch many lives. God Bless. #ThoughtProvokingThursday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and amen, Crystal! Thank you ever so much for your sweet visit and kind words. They truly meant so much to me! God bless you abundantly, and come back anytime. :)

      Delete
  18. What an amazing story and I loved your illustrations of who we really are !!! We have had our credit card number stolen but fortunately the Credit Card company called us because the purchases were suspicious, and we were not charged. Another time, our bank closed and most of our funds were in that bank. Fortunately our Daughter had not made our business deposit and we were able to open with another bank and continue doing business. Our funds were made good after many months, but God was good to keep us in business. Thank you for sharing this harrowing experience with us here at Tell me a Story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, dear Hazel! And, oh, my! I am so sorry to hear of what you went through, but thankful how God rebuked the devourer for you and allowed all to end well. Sending you much love and many hugs!

      Delete