Thursday, January 29, 2009

Technically Challenged....

Because I am technically challenged..............

Part 2 of 'Dropping My Net' is posted under Part 1. Yea.

So, if you are somewhat interested in the rest of the story, please scroll down.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dropping My Net. Part 1

In 2002 I was looking for a house to buy. I had been living with my mom and dad after my husband and I divorced. I wanted to stay close to them, but felt ready to be out on my own.

Behind my folks' house sat a brown and yellow-tudor style-stucco house. There was a great view of the house from my folks' hallway upstairs. There was a little elderly couple that lived there and I always wondered what that house looked like on the inside. I should have been a realtor. I am fascinated by homes and can usually find something charming about every home. No matter how ugly or worn down it appears. However, this house was not ugly and was very charming from the outside. Then, one was for sale!

I couldn't believe it! Are you kidding me? I had only been a Christian for about 4 months and I was convinced that God had arranged this! He wanted me to have this house! I called my realtor and asked to see it. She set up a time and my mom and I met her over there. I was stunned when we entered the home. It was as beautiful inside as it was outside. The woodwork was in great condition, there was a gorgeous sunroom that boasted 10 windows, all of the closets were big, the kitchen was perfect, the basement was finished, the possibilities were endless! I wanted this house! I inquired about how much the sellers were asking and again....I knew this was a gift from God! It was CHEAP! Apparently, the elderly couple went into nursing homes and the kids just wanted out from under the house. Everything was starting to fall into place.....until.......

I work for an insurance company and I am licensed in property and casualty. Which means....I write auto and home insurance. About a week after finding my 'dream home', we received a call from one of our clients. Their daughter and her family were moving to town and buying a home and they needed homeowners insurance. I asked for the address of the house they were buying and when they gave it to me, I could immediately feel the sting as tears welled in my eyes. They were buying my 'dream home'. They had already put in an offer and it had been accepted. I cried a lot over that house, but my new found faith in Jesus kept things in perspective. I knew there was a reason that I wasn't getting that house.

The couple who bought the house were around my age and had a couple of kids who were close in age to my children. We became friends fast and I would always give them a hard time about buying my house. They began attending the same church I attend and soon we were spending lots of time together. By the time I found a house to rent in 2003, our families were very close. I only moved down the street so we still spent weekends and evenings hanging out. In 2004, Dan and Lori felt the Lord calling them to foster children. My daughter, Amber, was one of the children that was placed in their home.

In July of 2005, I had already taken in Amber when my landlords decided to sell the house that we were renting. I was completely bummed! Even though the house was small, it was in a good neighborhood and just down the street from my folks. However, my faith was strong and I knew that God would provide the perfect place for my children and myself.

My folks, the kids and I, and my daughters paternal grandparents went to Disneyland in August of 2005. As we talked one day, I told them about our housing situation. Their response was completely unexpected......they wanted to buy us a house. I couldn't believe it. As soon as we got home I began looking at houses. There were several nice homes on the market, but truthfully none of them measured up to the one home I 'dream house'. I knew Dan and Lori had talked about selling their house, but I also knew they hadn't meant right this minute. However, I decided to approach them anyway. Their response was what I had expected. They weren't quite ready. So, I continued the search. I found a couple that I really liked, but there was always something wrong with them that was going to end up costing me money.

One day, after church service was over, I decided to approach Lori again. I hadn't found anything I loved and time was running out. This was my last ditch effort. I asked, again, if they would pray about selling their home. Immediately, Lori was in tears and I felt awful. Later, I would find out that my offer to buy their home was an answer to their prayers. They agreed to sell.

In November of 2005, I moved into my 'dream home'. A home that God had provided 3 years after I thought it was gone forever. A couple of weeks ago, as I sat in my living room looking around my house, I couldn't help but praise God for allowing me such a beautiful home. I am a single mom with a low paying job. I am living at poverty level. Yet, here I was sitting in a home that is in a good neighborhood, right behind my folks, and has everything I have ever wanted.

I am constantly amazed at how God provides. Even when His provision takes us to places we weren't prepared to go...........

Dropping My Net. Part 2

For the past couple of years I have had the feeling that God is preparing me for a big change. I have been discontent in my job, yearning to stay home with my kids, and extremely passionate about working with teens. However, no matter how strong these desires were or how discontent I have been with my job, I have stayed put. Feet planted. Stubbornly? I don't think so. Fearfully? definitely. Not fearful of change (well, maybe a little;), but more fearful of being out of God's will for my life. I've been there before and I gotta's not pretty! Plus, to be completely honest, I just couldn't figure out how in the world I was going to be able to quit my job and stay home with my children. I thought God had given me the answer in this post, but after everything our family went through with Amber, well, I just couldn't go there again. At least, not right now.

As the New Year began I made a promise to God. Not a resolution that was meant to be broke, but a promise that.......I would follow wherever He leads. I would give up anything He asked me to. I would 'drop my net' so to speak and follow Jesus. I knew 3 things for sure: 1) I was to quit my job 2) I was to stay home with my children 3) I am to work with the youth. I couldn't imagine how this was going to happen. However, God did whisper a few words of encouragement.....something along the lines of......."Nothing is going to happen if you never step out and trust me." Ahem. OK. Sooooooo....maybe He had a point.

I set May as my deadline for quitting my job. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew that I couldn't do anything else while working 40 hours a week. I planned to get a part time job in May, but I have to be honest....I just couldn't figure out how it would work. I am struggling to make it right now, working full time. I decided not to worry about it and handed that part over to the One it belongs to. God has been extremely faithful in providing for our family. I knew He would make this happen. I also filled out a FAFSA (student grant/loan) application so I could begin online classes in June. Then, I layed everything in His hands. I didn't know when and I couldn't have imagined how, but I knew He would provide.

Last Monday I received a phone call from my daughters paternal grandparents. Their business' have not been doing well and they called to tell me that they would have to sell my house. I was devastated. The tears began to flow as I thought about the memories we have built in that home. Where are we going to live? What are we going to do? I called my folks and told them and sent out a prayer request to my small group. We had to be out of the house by March 31st. That gave me right around 2 months to find a place and the worst part of winter.

As I began to wallow in self pity, I received an email from my mom. She gently, lovingly reminded me of the prayers I had been praying to God. She told me that her and my dad had been talking and that they had a plan to make room for the kiddo's and I to stay with them. Since I would have no bills, this would allow me to quit my job, stay home with my kiddo's, and go to school. The tears began to flow again. This time, in awe of my God Who had been patiently waiting for me to drop my net and truly follow Him.

The other day, a friend from church stopped by the office. She wanted to get auto insurance for her son. As we chatted, I told her that I planned on leaving the insurance company in May. Turns out that she is in need of a personal assistant.....starting in May. The work will be part time and the biggest majority of it.....I will be able to do from home. I gave my notice to my boss a couple of days ago and plan on April 30th being my last day.

I am still sad about losing the house that I have loved for so long. However, the joy of being able to fulfill God's will for my life is far outweighing the sadness. He is teaching me to let go of the temporary things of this world and to run after the things that will last. With every step I take He confirms that His hand is over me and that I am making the right choice. He is so intimate.

I love you, Lord. I Thank You for all You have given, but I praise You for all You have taken. You are so good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear President Obama.....

I am always proud to be an American, but I stand a little taller today knowing that my children are witnessing our first African American President being sworn into office. 54 years ago Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. Right now, at this very minute, a black man is taking an oath to be the leader of the most powerful country on earth. How amazing is that? I can't imagine the sense of victory you must feel right now. I join you in celebrating the history that is being made this day.

You have rallied this nation in an unprecedented way. You wooed the people with words we needed to hear. You promised us a future of change and hope and in return, America elevated you to celebrity status before the votes were even counted. You became the hope for not only this nation, but countries around the world. You were charming, charismatic, and you never backed down from a challenge. You fought hard and victory became inevitable.

It is because of all those wonderful qualities that you possess that I am so sorry I couldn't vote for you. I wanted to. I wanted to jump on the bandwagon with the rest of the country. I wanted to be completely convinced that you were the hope of the future. Unfortunately, there was one little problem. See, I already have a Savior. There is no hope you can offer me that Jesus hasn't already offered. I trust Him completely and I trust that what He says is true. When He says murder is wrong, I believe Him. When God says that He knit me together in my mothers womb, I believe Him. I choose to err on the side of life because I know that my Savior is life giving. Of course that is not the only reason I couldn't vote for you, but that's not what this post is about.

Today is your day, Mr. President! Enjoy every minute of it, because here is where the hard work begins. Starting today, you must live up to be the President that you, and a majority of Americans, have created in their minds. You must be the hope for millions of people; their 'savior', if you will. You have a tough job ahead of you and................

I will be praying for you every day. I may not agree with a lot of your views, but you are now my President, too. I am praying that you are successful in bringing our country out of this economic slump. I pray that your heart will align with God's on moral issues such as abortion. I pray that you never take one single day for granted and that you fully realize that you are leading this nation only because God has allowed you to! I pray that even though you are going to be a very busy man, you find time every day to be in God's Word and that you will seek His wisdom daily and not rely on your own. I pray that you remember that while change is good and it is certainly what brought you to where you are today, some things should never the fact that America is a Christian nation founded on God's Word.

God bless and protect you, Mr. President!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You're Not One Of Us.

Last year I read a story about Walter Cronkite that he tells in one of his books. This story has had me thinking (off and on) for a year. Do you ever read or hear something that just strikes a chord within you, but you can't figure out exactly why? Well, that is what happened with this story:

Covering World War II, a bunch of wire reporters, Cronkite included, decided to have dinner at a fancy restaurant in Paris. When the bill came, they all started pointing fingers at one another, because it was so expensive that no one there could afford to pay it. It was then that Ernest Hemingway, who was listening in at another table, walked over to pick up the tab. But before he did, he left the table of reporters with a little sage advice:

“Just because you are here with us, doesn’t mean that you are one of us.”

These words, uttered by Ernest Hemingway, speak volumes. My first thought was that these words relate to Christians being in the world. Just because we are here, with the world, doesn't mean we are part of the world. As the Bible clearly tells us we are set apart. However, as I meditated further on these words, I began to see them differently. God showed me something His church me.

I am blessed to attend a church that is filled with messy people from all different walks of
life. Our church is home to a variety of people. Everybody from doctors and professionals to drug addicts and alcoholics. That is one of the reasons I love our church so much. There are also some things I dislike about our church. One of them are the 'cliques' that have seemed to form. There's not a lot of them, but one is too many in the body of Christ. What troubles me more is that I may 'act' as though I am a part of these 'cliques' sometimes. I am worried that my attitude may say to someone:

"Just because you are here with us, doesn't mean that you are one of us."

I have attended my church for 7 years and have become friends with quite a few people. I always look forward to greeting time as it gives me the opportunity to chat with my friends for a bit. I'm pretty social (when I am in my comfort zone) and flit around like a bee buzzing from one person to the next. But I wonder how many people dread greeting time because nobody comes up to them? I wonder what they think about people like me who walk right by them without even noticing them and hug the person directly behind them? What does that say about our church? More importantly.....what does that say about our Jesus? Does it say......

"Just because you are here with us, doesn't mean you are one of us."

I am challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone this Sunday!

Monday, January 12, 2009

She's Out To Get Me. Seriously.

You may recall this post. You know, the one where I was weepy cuz my little girl got her drivers license? Yea. Well, weepy has ended cuz said little girl is determined to ruin my vehicle! Seriously!

Sam, on most days, is an excellent driver. She is careful, watches her speed, doesn't talk on her cell while driving, and seems to have a good grasp of the responsibility that goes along with owning a drivers license. Until................she gets in or around my vehicle.

On Christmas Eve, I decided to drive to my moms so we could bring all of the gifts at one time. My folks only live right behind us, but there was a lot of snow on the ground and a lot of packages. Driving seemed the best option. As I was getting stuff together, Sam asked if she could back my vehicle out of the driveway. I said 'Sure'.

The side of my house runs along an alley that runs between 4 houses. My driveway runs off the alley and is a little tricky getting into sometimes as it is very narrow. Since the alley is a public street, I have to make sure my vehicle is not sticking out too far as to keep other vehicles from coming through. However, on the other side of the vehicle is a drop off into our backyard. There are railroad ties stacked upon each other that serve as a make-shift retaining wall.

I was running around the house trying to get everything together to go to my folks when I heard Sam come in and say she was stuck. Since there was a lot of snow, I assumed she was stuck in the driveway and couldn't get the vehicle backed out. However, as the story progressed, it was becoming more clear. She wasn't stuck in the snow, the vehicle was stuck on the railroad ties. Well, to be more accurate, the railroad tie was under the axle and the tire was 'free floating'. Let me just say that the words tire and free floating shouldn't be used in the same sentence. Ever. Of course I handled this dilemma in the most loving, Christian way...."Sam! How could you do this? Weren't you watching what you were doing?, etc." Yea. Cuz she didn't feel bad enough. I had to do some serious apologizing later!

So, I began calling every place I could think of that might have the capabilities of towing a vehicle. Surprise! Everything is closed at 7pm on Christmas Eve. So, I left a message on the cell phone of a guy who owns a local gas station (thank God for small towns). He called back and said he would be at my house at 9am to get it 'unstuck'. I shuddered as I hung up the phone and began to calculate how much this little 'tow' was going to cost me on Christmas Day. Thankfully, God has blessed me with amazing friends! A good friend of the family came by, with his tractor, on Christmas Day, and within a few minutes had me completely unstuck!

Yesterday, Sam and I drove to church separately because my youngest daughter and I were attending Girls for God after Sunday School. Sam came in the room to let me know she was going to pick up some lunch and then go to Worship Team practice. I was thirsty, so I asked her to bring me back a pop. When she came back into the room to give me my drink, she looked a little pale. I asked her what she was doing and she said "Preparing for my funeral." Of course, I asked why..... to which she replied "I would rather not tell you here." UH-OH!

Seems that as she was backing out of the parking space at church she 'grazed' my vehicle! Is it just me or are you sensing a pattern here between backing out and my vehicle? I went and inspected it and it's a little more than a graze, but I did handle it in a loving, Christian way this time. I am thankful for these minor fender benders and pray they are the worst accidents she ever has. However, if she could give my vehicle a break.......that would be great;)