Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should



1 Cor 10: 23-24
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Even as adults we test this truth. We think of kids and how they test the limits. Well, we do it too. For us it looks a little different sometimes. We often want something so bad we will do anything to get it when all the while that something was not meant for us.

Last week a house went on the market right down the street from us. We have not been looking to move, though we do look at anything that might peak our interest but after over 3 years of doing real estate, we have stayed put. We are not risk takers. We stay near the safety net and tread in the smooth waters as much as we can. Randall insisted we look at this house Friday night. So, we did. We fell in love with it. We stayed forever in it and talked about what we would do to it, etc. We made a formal offer that night. It was a foreclosure so it was up to the bank and it was a holiday so we had to wait.

Sunday during lunch Randall suggested we drive over to that house and pray inside of it for God's will. We went over and spent an hour in it and fell in love with it even more. We prayed in the doorway, hand in hand. We felt at peace no matter the outcome....but we both really wanted it.
It was a wise investment and nothing like we had ever seen. We were able to do it comfortably and quickly too. We bid over asking price even. We gave it to God but i think we both still had some flesh
in it. We had a wonderful revival at our church a couple weeks ago. The pastor said that just because its better, doesn't mean we need it. It doesn't mean its meant for us. Just because it makes most sense to us doesn't mean it's in God's will. That stuck with us and that is why we prayed in the house Sunday. We didn't go back in it after that, even when our friends wanted to see it, we knew we couldn't open the door to it again unless it was ours.

This morning my friend and fellow agent representing that house called me baffled at the decision the bank had made. They had rejected our offer. Thrown it out, without a reason. It was the highest and best offer. That's not normal. I smiled and said "God didn't want us in that house." she agreed that it had to be God because it made no sense. Someone else will call that house home, and we will stay put where God wants us to be. I share this to say, just because its bigger, shinier, and affordable doesn't always mean its better. Giving God ALL our decisions even when its hard to loose the grasp on them is worth it in the end. God protected us from something in that house. I don't know what it was, but it is not for me to know. That is where my faith comes into play. I had read the above verses last week several times and claimed them for another area in my life. It was fitting for this one though. God is pretty sneaky like that.

I am so glad my husband suggested praying over that house Sunday with me, hand in hand. I would hate to think what might have been if we had made our decision without God's will. Thank you, Jesus! We are both at total peace and not upset. I think those who knew about the offer we made are in a bit of shock at how well we have moved on past it today. It's a total God thing because Randall and I are the most high strung people I know and the bank's decision made no sense. To God be the Glory for the great things he has done and will do for us. How do people go through life without the Holy Spirit guiding them? I don't know and don't want to know.

Abby

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This Is My Story, This Is My Song

We never post anymore because we are full of excuses and no one reads this these days, thanks to the ever updating Facebook and and Instagram. but today while I eat lunch at my computer, why not update it a bit and shake things up on a Wednesday.

I have been convicted this week. I never share Jesus. Really share Jesus. Like as in asking the hard questions to people in my life who I am not certain really know Him. I think one of the reasons I don't feel bold in my faith is because my story is so vanilla. I mean I barely have sprinkles on top and it may even be sugar free vanilla. I can't let that stop me though. Grace wins whether you are saved as a child or as an adult in prison or a young girl in a pregnancy crisis center or an adult going through the motions. Grace is the same and the blood was shed just the same. So, here is my faith story.

I was raised in the buckle of the Bible belt in Fort Smith, Arkansas. God's country. One grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher for over 50 years, the other was a faithful deacon. My grandmothers both served in various roles and one played piano/organ and still serves in her church today in different ministries. My parents were both rooted and watered in Jesus. My sister and I were therefore rooted in that same faith. For that I will be thankful for eternity. i cannot imagine growing up any other way. They lived their faith and spoke of it to us and showed it to us in how they loved us.


When I was nine years old I fell under conviction on a Sunday morning after church. my parents talked with me that afternoon and led me to the Lord. That Sunday night I walked the aisle with my Daddy and gave my life to Jesus. I was baptized the following week. The night I was saved we went to some friends house after church. It was the 1980's and everyone was social and got together with a covered dish and nothing was fancy and time was not moving as fast. I loved that time and wish we could relive it. Anyway, I remember my daddy stopping the car on the street in front of the house and had me look up at the stars and told me today was my new birthday and God's love and plan for me was more vast than those stars. I remember all the feels, the car, the outfit I had on, the stars that night. everything. I was washed in the blood that day. Do you know I have no memory of the date though. I have no idea if it was spring or fall. It was a bit warm and a bit chilly. Whatever the date, it was real and it was transforming.


I grew up very active in church and it was the core of my youth basically. Most of my childhood and teenage memories revolve around church and our ministry opportunities and all the fun we had together. We were given so many opportunities to grow our faith and for that I am forever grateful. I lived in a bubble and I'm grateful for it because what was about to hit me later in my youth could have rocked me off my foundation. 

As a college student my cookie cutter Christian private liberal arts university attending life took a turn that rocked me to the core. My parents divorced after 25 years of marriage and it hit like a wrecking ball one afternoon. It was something I don't like remembering. All those feels are not good feels to recap, so I will spare us all the "remembry" of that (as Mrs. Kay says on Duck Dynasty).
I stuffed it all in because I had no other option and became a helper and put my parents needs before my own. My sister sort of made me. She took on a new role with me then. She lived 5 hours away, worked full time and had a  husband and a toddler (Sam). We all had to become new players in our family dynamic. I am so glad I learned to help and I saw all the ugly tears and fears. It made me who I am today. At the time I thought I would never make it out whole but now I smile at that girl working long hours at a bank while her friends were at college living it up and that girl who knew what she was missing because she had just been there with them. I admire that girl who moved her mama and her daddy on in life in those next few years while she was moving herself on and had no idea how to do it other than lean on Jesus. I learned to be a giver and not a taker. God molded me into who he wanted me to be for Him through that dark, sad time.  My family is "refurbished" and though it is not like it was, it moves on and we all forge ahead and thank God for restoring things exactly as He saw fit. We may have been crushed by bad choices at that time but God helped me remember Whose I was and what steps to take out of it. We are a family who leans on humor to work through tough times. I am so thankful for laughter and that those two souls who claim us as their girls were rooted deep in the beginning and in turn taught us to lean in hard, laugh and never stop living for Jesus.

I took the higher road out of that situation and finished college after a 9 month stay working full time at home to get myself off in the world again. I got married shortly after college and here I am. I am married to a man who also came from a broken home yet his was broken as a small child. Our stories are so different yet that split is the same feel. Our family dynamics are totally different though. Like I could write a book and you would totally read it too...but that would not be very Christian of me (i love sayin that!). We forge ahead and try to beat the odds for Henry. We are watering the roots for him hoping he will flourish in his faith also. This is my faith story. It's vanilla compared to so many but its mine. Thank you, Jesus. He saves no matter what you have done or where you came from. He's Jesus to all of us, not just some of us. He died for everyone and no one is more righteous than He is. He has healed my damaged emotions and  I am thankful for His hand on my life. 

Do you know Him?

Abby


Monday, February 22, 2016

An Extra Day!

It's an election year, do you know what that means? It's Leap Year! An extra day has been given to us so let's do something special with it. 

It's a special gift, even though it's a Monday this year. Let's do something special with the day. Here are some ideas for how to spend our extra day, February 29! 

1. Fold clothes for a foster family. 
2. Donate $29 (for the 29th) to your local pregnancy resource center. 
3. Volunteer at a local elementary school. 
4. Pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru line. 
5. Take a dessert to your local Fire Department. 
6. Write letters to soldiers overseas. 
7. Volunteer at an animal shelter
8. Pick up trash at a park. 
9. Leave quarters on washing machines at a laundromat. 
10. Donate $29 to your church's missionary orginazation (IMB, NAMB)
11. Provide dinner for a foster family. 
12. Leave an extra tip for your waiter/waitress at lunch/dinner. 
13. Have a special dinner just for your family, no electronics allowed.  
14. Send your child's teacher, counselor, principal, school secretary a note & gift. 
15. If you know someone that has a birthday on the 29th, take them a cake, a balloon, or a gift! It's a       once-every-29 years-day. 
16. Take a sweet treat to the police department. 
17. Invite a neighbor over for dinner. 
18. Stick a $5 bill and a nice note in a Redbox movie you're returning. 
19. Send cute cards to patients at a children's hospital. 
 20.  If it's your garbage day, leave a sweet treat or a canned Coke for your garbage guys. 
21. Leave a nice card, or a sweet treat for your mailman. 
22. Visit an elderly person that doesn't have family nearby. 
24. Send a giftcard to your pastor. 
25. Have family game night. 
26. Take a sweet treat to a neighbor.  
27. Volunteer at a food pantry. 
28. Smile at everyone you see. 
29. Pray and read your Bible for 29 minutes longer than you normally do. 

Let me know how you spend your extra day this year!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Tale of Football, Baseball, and Redemption

God works in our lives in ways we can't imagine or see at the time it's happening. I've wished so many times to be able to look ahead and see how everything works out in a particular situation. I know so many times the outcome is never what I would have imagined in the onset.  This story is no different. The fact that I'm able to look back on the last eleven years and see God work is a gift from Him. I challenge you to look back on your life, your circumstances and see how God worked in your life. 

Many years ago Stephen and I made the decision that our children wouldn't play sports on Sunday. (Stephen made the decision and I agreed with it) It was an easy decision to make with him being a pastor and an obligation to be at our church on Sunday.  It was also an easy decision because the opportunity of playing on Sunday had never presented itself to us, however we saw the popularity of travel baseball teams on the rise and knew the subject would come up sooner, rather than later. 

When Samuel was 7, he made the all-star baseball team for the league he played in. We were very proud of his success in the field. It felt like he was ready to play in the major leagues! This was the first year we were brought face to face with the decision we had made. The bracket was made up so that we played a Sunday afternoon game. We explained to Samuel that he wasn't going to play that game and he was at peace with the decision.  The next three years were the same way. Our team played on Sunday without Samuel at first base. The fourth year, when Samuel was 10, our team was really good. Really good. We were playing in a town two hours away and if we won on Saturday night we would play Sunday at 11:00. We won. And we drove home, while everyone else stayed. We would drive back on Monday if they won Sunday without us there. I cried all the way home. It was dark, no one saw my tears but I was devastated for Samuel. He handled the situation with grace that belied a 10 year old boy. I wish I could have. I fussed, and screamed at God for this decision that "we" had made and let Him know of my disappointment for the whole two hours. We returned to the tournament Monday, Samuel sat in the dugout the whole game with his glove on ready to play and never got the opportunity. It was the price he had to pay for his parents decision. 

We pulled all of our children out of baseball when Samuel was 13. The league we were playing in was changing the way it had been organized for years and not playing on Sunday's was becoming a bigger complication than we cared to handle, for ourselves, our children, and the teams they were on. 

Now baseball is Samuel's first love. He was playing baseball by himself in our yard when he was 3, throwing a ball up, hitting it and running the bases. He loved the sport, and not allowing him to play broke his heart a little, but once again he handled with such grace. 

To add to the story, we homeschool. Which meant in Arkansas he couldn't play any school sports. That wasn't a big deal because he never wanted to play basketball or football and they didn't have baseball until 10th grade. The closer we got to 10th grade, it became a bigger deal! 

As I look back on what happened next I can see God working in our lives and in our circumstances. We had moved to a new city when Samuel was in the eighth grade. It was a bigger city, with bigger schools and we only knew very few people. The summer before his 10th grade year the organization that oversees all athletic activities for the state decided that homeschool students could play sports if they took one academic class. It was a prayer answered! I needed someone to teach him geometry and he could play baseball. 

I took him to school on the first day, met the coach, and left him for his first practice. His first high school practice and his first practice in 3 years. He made the team after a rough start, and he loved it! He loved the coaches and the sport. 

The summer before his junior year the football coach ran into Stephen and asked if Samuel could kick. Stephen said probably and he would send him to practice. He made the team as the kicker.  He made All-Conference in baseball and football his junior year while still being homeschooled except for a math class that he took at the public school. 

His senior year he made All-State in football and was recruited by 3 colleges. Our minds were blown. He signed with a Division 1 college to be a kicker! It's unbelievable. But when I look back at how God worked through everything I'm more in awe of Him than ever before. God redeemed the tears I cried on that Saturday night drive home from a 10 year old's baseball tournament. 

A decision we made as parents, ( that Stephen made as a proactive, God-honoring father), was redeemed with a full scholarship to play football in college. Now football was never a dream of Samuel's. Strangely, it was my dream. I love football, and the opening kickoff is my favorite part of the game, that my son would play is pretty perfect in my world. (And next year we'll have one playing high school football and one playing college football) Football is however, a sport with a ball, competition, and a team, all things Samuel loves with his whole heart. 

I truly believe that making and honoring a vow we made to God to honor His Sabbath day, brought all of this to fruition. We moved to a new city under some pretty distressing circumstances, the athletic director of the school district we just happened to live in, is a faithful Christian man, the football coach was a man that had umpired Samuel's baseball games and someone we had known for over five years. Lastly, Samuel is a man after God's heart. I don't write that lightly. He has never once waivered from his devotion, love, or commitment to Christ. He has stood firm with his teammates, friends, coaches and even us about his convictions and commitment to living a God-honoring life. Don't get me wrong. Please! He has made mistakes. But all in all he has stayed out of trouble and has a good reputation. 

We are so thankful to the Lord, our God. Thank you for Your watchful eye, for Your guiding hand, for Your wisdom and grace. We love you Lord, and want to do what honors and pleases You. 

Ps. I am in no way saying that Samuel received a scholarship because of the decision we made. This isn't a story of a prosperity gospel, it's a story of God working in our lives. God would still be as awesome as He is today if Samuel had not been invited to play any college sport or if he had not lettered. We praise and love the Lord no matter our circumstances.