Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Beauty for Ashes

In 2016, Michael and Alex went on a mission trip with our church to Dubno, Ukraine.  It was Alex's first mission trip and her heart at the time was pretty hardened to missions.  Imagine how amazed I was when Michael would call home and tell me how wonderful she was doing in ministry and how much she was enjoying the trip!  She called at one point tearfully telling me "This feels like home." For a military brat who feels no roots anywhere we go, that was a huge statement from her.  God had softened her heart because she was simply obedient to His call to "go.

The following year she was super excited to go back to Ukraine, but the church we were with was not going to be returning to that particular location.  Alex was heartbroken as she had promised all the kids and friends she met at the camp that she was definitely going to return the following summer.  Others told her to go to other locations, but she had her heart set on getting back to Dubno, Ukraine. We decided we would go "rogue" and return on our own, but the timing of the trip in 2017 just wasn't working out because Michael had started a new job and he had not accrued vacation time to take off on a mission trip.  We began to prayerfully walk in the direction God had placed on Michael and Alex's heart to return to Dubno.  We decided our whole family would go in 2018 and began working on the language and even gathering a team that Michael would lead.  We felt strongly in our spirit that a return trip was going to happen in 2018.

Then Michael was laid off from his job in December 2017.  We knew if we wanted cheap international plane tickets those would have to be purchased January/February time frame.  But being unemployed, that was simply not an option.  It seemed our world at that time was beginning to implode.  There were other things in our life in which we thought we had totally misunderstood God.  God had moved us away from the church we had been attending for 4 years and put us into a new body of believers; He was building a ministry in our hearts, we had a house we were setting up to use for this ministry, and now we felt we were about to lose our house due to the job loss.  The desire He had placed in Alex's heart that was so strong to return to Ukraine seemed to be in jeopardy.  Our faith was rocked to the core as we thought we were losing our minds!

But God.

In April 2018, a wonderfully generous man hired Michael after he had pursued him for about a month.  Pieces of what started to implode began to fall back into place.  His new boss was perfectly fine with him leaving for 2 weeks in July for a mission trip (and his boss is not even a believer). Being so close to the wire at this point, there was no time to assemble a team for the trip and plane tickets were going to be astronomical, so we just prayed that if it be God's will and if what we felt in our spirits was correct, that it would be God's bill to pay.

Part of Michael's job contract is that he receives a bonus each month if the company meets its financial goals.  The month of May far exceeded its goals, because Michael is so great at his job of detecting and correcting financial loss in companies, and his bonus was just enough to cover 2 plane tickets for Ukraine.  That was God answering the "who" was to go to Ukraine.  Michael and Alex would return and I would take on the task of fundraising.  Alex graduated high school in May and committed all her graduation money to be used for the mission trip.  In my bible study in Exodus, chapter 35 spoke loudly to me about how God stirred in the people's hearts for them to give contributions to the building of the Tabernacle. "Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord's contribution..." Exodus 35:5. So I prayed for God to stir in the hearts of His people to generously contribute to our trip. And He did. God guided every aspect of our fundraising and His people's hearts were stirred.

Isaiah 61:3 "...He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair."

God can bring something out of nothing.  I was reading in Psalm 33:6-9 today, "By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made...for He spoke and it came to be." He created ex nihilo, "out of nothing". Our bank account was empty (and our faith was nearing empty, as well) after our period of unemployment and job loss.  But God created funds for a trip He had fashioned in the hearts of obedient believers. He has fashioned the trip into exactly what He wants it to look like and Michael and Alex are just going along for the ride.   A ride of faith straight to Dubno, Ukraine.  We are excited beyond words for what God is going to do over there!  Faith is restored, hope is secured, blessings abound, our cups runneth over....and over....and over.....

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Spring

We are emerging from a super long winter.  And I'm not necessarily talking about the physical season of winter, but more like a spiritual season of winter.  Those spiritual seasons sometimes coincide with the physical seasons for me.  I struggle with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) where my mood drastically changes with the seasons.  Flowers die, leaves fall and my mood disappears with it; I become more contemplative in the cold months and more introverted and quiet.  Then, as the spring comes I emerge from my slumbering den ready to plant and create and be social again!

I have to admit, I kind of like that I was created that way.  I enjoy my contemplative times in the winter months when I can sit and be still and hang out with God.  I crawl up in His lap next to the fireplace every day and I really enjoy those times.  In the spring and summer months, my time with God is still present, but we are outside creating together and enjoying His creation.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, let me explain.  Michael was laid off from his amazing, well paying job unexpectedly December 1.  There was so much going on in our lives at that time and losing a job was not a welcome experience right then and there.  We kind of hydroplaned through the busy-ness of December bracing for the stillness of the holiday season so that we could plummet into the hard brick wall of a spiritual and emotional winter.  My SAD usually hits around the January time frame and it hit hard this year.  God and I had many talks by the fireplace about what in the world He was doing?!  Had He forgotten we had just purchased a home?  A large home for which to do ministry for Him?  Had He forgotten that Michael just graduated? Had He not looked ahead on our calendar and noticed that we have a senior graduating from high school this year?  There are lots of things to be paid for senior year, God, in case you didn't know that's how we humans do things. AND God decided to move us to another church family in the middle of all this making it really hard for me to stay in my comfortable shell during this most challenging time.  The literal feeling of drowning and suffocation.  Combating the human fear of losing our home, and questioning ALL that you thought God was doing in your life before He brought it all to an abrupt halt.  Do we stay in North Carolina?  Do we look for work elsewhere?  We were 100% certain of the open doors He put in front of us when we moved to this house in March 2017.  What in the world are we to do God?!

Silence. That was His answer.

Understanding faith with your heart is one thing.  It's a sweet, Christian sentiment we listen to in a sermon on Sunday. But actually living out faith with your head is another thing entirely.  It's not something we humans have genetically built into us.  You have to ask for it every day from the Spirit who guides you.  The Spirit is the only thing that helps our unbelief.  We don't just muster it up on our own.  Believe me, I tried.  And I failed.  Miserably.  I was Job's wife to my husband.  I whined and pouted like a whiny child to my Father.  I failed to see His provisions on a daily basis...as I lived in a huge house, by the way.  Let the ugliness of my heart and the coldness of my winter sink in here.  

Then my eyes were opened to see that He was with us fighting our battle, making all things new, providing for us. We never went hungry or without.  My worship became sweeter.  My children's faith became deeper.  Michael was able to minister to friends and his children over breakfasts, lunches, and date nights in his "free time" of waiting. We made the most of it and had friends over for dinner and fellowship.

God's name became to me The Lord of Hosts, God Almighty.  I meditated on Psalm 46 every day, then I found the song "Psalm 46" by Shane and Shane and listened to it a thousand times a day!  "Though oceans roar, You are the Lord of all, the One who calms the wind and waves and makes my heart be still. Though the earth gives way, the mountains move into the sea, the nations rage, I know my God is in control!" I began to see the evidence of His love for me all around in even the mundane things of life.  I listened for His answers to my heart's cry in nature, in His Word, in the words of Christian friends and family, in articles I would read. He is literally everywhere when you seek Him with your whole heart. I finally gave in to whatever He caused to happen and it would be okay.  If we move, okay. If we lose the house, okay. If we stay, okay. If He calls us to do something that makes no sense at all, okay. If He's clear with His directions, great.  If not, He's Sovereign, and it's okay.

Then, after 4 months of rejection emails, one company found Michael and pursued him.  He will start next week as Regional Operations Director of ProSource of Raleigh. He will then branch out with their company in Charlotte and Savannah, GA. He's doing basically the same job he was doing before his layoff for another company.

It's not lost of me that the first day of Spring was last week.  The Lord of Hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth, God Almighty fought our way through the winter for us. One of the studies I did through the winter said this:

"To summarize, the LORD of hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth is the Name of God we find used in Scripture when a man or woman is at the end of their rope so to speak -- Jehovah Sabaoth is the Strong Tower which God has made available for those times when we fail & are powerless, when our resources are inadequate, when there is no other help. And it is especially during those times that one comes to appreciate that God is truly the LORD of the Armies & of all hosts. In short, Jehovah Sabaoth speaks of God's available power in our time of trouble."

We don't know what the future holds with this company, with our ministry, with our family.  But we are in 100% with whatever God puts out for us to do.  He has shown time and time again that He does not fail, He does not forget us, He provides, He upholds, He is compassionate, He loves deeply, He fights for us. Most importantly, He's WITH US. Through thick and thin. Through winter and spring.





Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Evidences of Grace

Birds.  They are my most favorite thing to decorate with.  They have been my mascot during our seminary years. The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:25-27 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" God always brings birds to remind me that He is near and that all is well.

Our family is in the process of changing churches.  We have been in our current church for the past 4.5 years, but within the past few months we have felt a prompting of the Spirit to join the ministry of another local body of believers.  This has not been an easy task to obey as we love the church in which we have been a part and we love the people there who have become like family during our seminary years.

It has taken much prayer, discussion, and trying to figure out why God would move us out of our support network to join another church at this particular time in our life.  We are still waiting for God to reveal that, although we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are walking the path God has laid out before us.

At our new church, Imago Dei (which simply means Image of God in Greek) each member joins a growth group which is a small group that meets in homes throughout the week.  They provide a list of quite a few growth groups with the notion that you would visit a lot of them until you find one that you most enjoy going to.  I was not looking forward to visiting a ton of groups for the next few months because I just really wanted to find a group quickly and start making friends and feeling connected.  Visiting a ton of groups was causing me quite the amount of anxiety.

Michael has been unemployed since November 30 and adding more anxiety on top of that already anxiety provoking situation seemed so daunting to me.  When we are anxious what are we to do?

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God..." Philippians 4:6 

So, we began to pray for God to direct our steps and lead us into the right group and help us connect...and to take away the anxiety we were feeling about leaving one church for another. So much anxiety...just take it away!

We found a group one Thursday night and decided to check it out.  The people were all super friendly and we enjoyed the way the group was run.  But then God showed me that He had led us to the perfect group.  We were sitting in the group and were asked to talk about "evidences of God's grace" to us during the week.  Each person told of some way that God had blessed them that week, or even told of challenges they were facing and how God was still ever present in those challenges.  (Being a Christian does not fully mean life is rosy 24/7). As people were sharing evidences of God's grace and I was thinking of what I possibly had to share because life is horrible and Michael doesn't have a job and we are having to worry about provisions, and so forth... a gal leaned forward revealing to me a piece of art on canvas hanging on the wall behind her.  It was this picture:


Don't you know I immediately knew God was there.  In my trial, in that house prompting me that this is where we were to be.  Reminding me that He is our provision and that life is NOT horrible because look at all the evidences of My grace that is ALL AROUND YOU!

The following week I spent the whole week focusing on God's daily graces to me and my family and not thinking about the "negative" things.  We had growth group that week at another member's house and lo and behold, she had a picture of a bird in her bathroom. That bathroom then became a holy room to me as I thanked God for showing me His presence and thanking Him for changing my mindset to one that focuses on blessings.

I love ALL the places God shows up. I'm looking forward to spring when birds will be everywhere!  Isn't God good?!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Come and see...

Exactly a year ago, I wrote a blog heralding the amazing thing God had done in giving Michael a fabulous job in an amazing Christian company making a great salary!  A job that came to him without him even looking for it. God fighting for us behind the scenes and giving us exactly what we needed at that moment, all in His sovereignty and timing.  When I posted it for friends to read, I wrote "Come and see what God has done." Because, hey, we all want to see the amazing ways in which God provides, right?

Fast forward a year later to when that job was taken from Michael after new management eliminated his position without any warning. I still want friends to read this and think, "Come and see what God has done."

God leads me to Habakkuk right now. Habakkuk prayed in complaint wanting God to judge the wicked.  Wanting to know why evil abounds and why God allows it? Habakkuk 1:5 gives God's reply, 

"Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." 

Sounds a lot like "Come and see what God will do"...right?  Sounds like God is going to get them out of this evil mess and make everything happy rainbows again.  Except it wasn't something wonderful and warm and fuzzy that God was going to do that would utterly amaze him.  He was going to bring destruction on His people and judge them using their enemies to enslave them in order to get rid of the wicked.  The things that will "utterly amaze" us are not always things we consider to be "amazing". Sometimes they are painful and confusing to us.  But they are done to bring glory to the matchless name of God and that is always AMAZING...regardless of how it's done.

So we are vulnerably showing you the "utterly amazing" thing God has done in allowing Michael to be laid off of a great job.  We are allowing you to walk with us as we pray to not lose our home, as we wait on God's provisions for a new career, as we walk through happy holidays with a saddened spirit, as we try to live by faith and NOT fear.  We know God will be glorified through this utterly amazing turn of events.  We don't understand it, but we know God promises good for us and He will always be faithful.

Living in the promise of Ephesians 3:20, "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

Come along with us and see what God has done!


Friday, December 1, 2017

Seven

November 30, 2010.  Michael's official last day of work with the US Air Force.

November 30, 2017.  Michael's last day working at Majestic Kitchen and Bath Creations...a job that God lovingly dropped in his lap a year ago when he desperately needed a job.  And a job he thought he would be working at for many years to come.

With a new job and a new income in our path, we purchased a large home with room to expand a hospitality ministry, take in foster children, bring over exchange students, house seminary students, and so forth.  The ideas were endless and still flow through our mind rampantly!  Our new income helped us give generously to family, to those in need, and to different mission trips and ministries where God led us to give.  It helped to fund his last year of seminary, which he graduates from in one week.

We are still unsure why the layoff occurred.  Michael had been doing a great job managing people, giving selflessly to his company, going in after hours to complete tasks to make the company better, giving people raises who needed to better support their families, giving advice to young workers who needed help with budgeting and getting better living situations, building relationships amongst employees to better the work environment.  So, when he was called in and laid off due to company restructuring, it was quite the kick in the gut.  Now, we sit today, still dumbfounded trying to make sense of something that isn't going to make sense.  We are trying to determine if all God has given to us will now disappear or if God will do something miraculous and continue our vision forward.  We are to the point where THE only option is for God to come through.  I have cried to him for 24 hours now and laid my heart bare.  Michael is walking with such faith, that God brought us here and will NOT leave us stranded.  We literally are walking blind with what is next.  I have strong faith, but this...this is scary.

But the dive to the deep definitely makes you press into the arms of the Savior.  Not that we hadn't been in His presence already, but the deep, dark depths somehow make Him even more prevalent and real. And I'm happy to sit in the dark with His arms wrapped around me.  I'm happy to embrace this every time it happens to us.

Seven years ago, when Michael left the Air Force, we were unemployed for 6 months!  Dark, depths for 6 months.  But we never missed a house payment, we never went hungry, it was over Christmas and our kids still had gifts.  God showed up BIG time through the hands of fellow believers.  (If you want to read those AMAZING stories, go back to when I first started my blog in 2010).  Not sure why 7 years later we are here again.  But I know it is for God's glory and for our good.  And that's all that matters to me.  Seven is the biblical number for "completion". Not sure what we've completed, but I can't wait for God to reveal it!

This little story below "showed up" on my newsfeed 7 years ago during the exact same trial.  It was written by comedian Jon Acuff, whom I adore!   And of course, it showed up again today in my memory feed.  So, I wanted to share it today with all the "deja vu" that's going on in our life today!  :)

"A few months ago, my five year old, McRae told me, “The biggest number I know of is 26.” At the end of her understanding of numbers was the number 26. In her mind, that was really how big numbers come. If you wanted to describe how far the moon was from earth, probably about 26 miles. Want to say how long it felt to wait for Christmas to get here? It was like 26 minutes! Number of pieces of candy she estimates she got for Halloween? 26. It’s her biggest number. Until that is, I told her about 27. And blew her mind. 
She’s not great at “sizing” things. But that’s OK, she’s 5. She’s pretty sure fairies are real. She’s convinced every dog in the world would like to meet her. The other day at Costco she saw a man with a white beard and proceeded to yell to everyone in the store, “Santa is shopping here today! He. Is. Here. Today!!” That’s OK behavior for her. She’s just a kid. She’s little. 
But oddly enough, she’s not the only one who tends to get sizes all twisted. She’s not the only one who tends to “under size.” In fact, I think lot of us do that, especially when it comes to God. I learned this last year when the Stuff Christians Like community raised money to build a kindergarten in Vietnam. On a random Monday, I asked readers to help me raise $30,000 and that honestly made me nervous. It’s weird to ask for money. It changes your intimacy levels. It’s like actually holding hands during couples skate at Roller Kingdom in Hudson, Massachusetts. Sure, you might skate around in circles with Stacy Valentino listening to Bobby Brown’s “Tender Roni,” but holding hands is a whole nother level. (That example got really specific and 7th gradery.) But it’s true, asking for money is awkward, which is why pastors do the money disclaimer when they preach. They start their sermon by saying, “I never normally preach about money, I never preach about tithing, except today.” And that’s always the Sunday your neighbor or coworker finally agreed to come to church with you. Your friend always comes on the money Sunday or the day the mime group, “Gloves of Love” is there to perform. 
So I was anxious about asking for money. And I honestly thought it would take us 6 weeks to raise $30,000. But if you’ve read this site for a while, you know that was not the case. We raised all $30,000 in a matter of 18 hours. It took us less than a day to complete the entire campaign and I realized I had been like McRae with the number 26. 
Here’s what I essentially said to God before the project started: “God, you are massive. You are huge. You made the universe and created all space and time. You are without end! But, you are slightly less big than $30,000. You’re like a really solid $29,000 God. And that’s awesome. I mean that’s pretty good. I think you’re almost all powerful, you’re just not $30,000 powerful.” 
Have you ever done that? Have you ever been faced with what felt like an insurmountable challenge and in the midst of that, you’ve worshiped a really small God? Have you ever prayed something like: “God, you are gigantic. You rule the universe. You’re just not as big as my college application process. You are slightly too small to handle that.” 
Or “God, I love you. You are massive and supreme. You are huge, except you’re not big enough to handle my divorce. You are smaller than this experience.” 
Or “God, you are like the real He-Man, you are master of the universe! You are so big and so all knowing, except you probably don’t know how to handle my job search. You’re big, you’re just slightly tinier than my unemployment.” 
No one would actually prays those words, but that’s what flows from our heart when we allow doubt to set up shop. That’s how we live when we feel like we’ve got to force things to happen or they never will. That’s what happens when we under size God. The truth is, God is bigger than $30,000. God is bigger than a divorce. God is bigger than unemployment. God is bigger than a teen daughter who swears she doesn’t love you. God is bigger that money problems. God is bigger than our biggest dreams. 
And I thank God that he is. I think sometimes we want him to be pocket-sized and manageable. I’ve heard people say things like, “I want a God who can explain to me why bad things happen to good people.” I understand that frustration, I do, but here’s the thing. I don’t want a God who ever has to fit within my understanding. I don’t want a God who is limited by mind and my experiences. I want a big God. A God that spans generations and space and time. 
I don’t want a God who needs my approval or comprehension to do something big. This holiday season, as the birth of Christ is remembered, let’s celebrate our big God. Let’s honor a huge, wild, unable to be controlled by our small minds God. He’s bigger than that thing you worried about or dreamt about."



Monday, October 2, 2017

All the Way

It is never boring when you follow Christ.  Michael and I have learned this well, but now God is passing those lessons down to our children.  Alex is the recipient of this most recent lesson, and man, is she blessed!

Alex has been at Heritage High School for the past three years and was looking forward to completing her senior year at her beloved school with her friends.  She is a student who is loved by her teachers and other staff members; she is kind and loving to underclassmen even taking some under her wing to mentor them; she thrives in her choral program and is a blessing to her choir teacher keeping her classroom organized and working with younger singers to help teach them; she was about to launch into the theater program and get her feet wet in the world of drama.

But all this came to a screeching halt September 18th.  We had moved outside of Heritage's district, which is a highly coveted district in this area.  She was told she could stay for her senior year, but only if we paid tuition.  We were very willing to do so, but the cost would be $4500 and had to be paid in full that week.  Alex's principal and counselors fought for her in front of the school board and superintendent to allow us an extension to pay the exuberant fee, but they denied that request, so she had to leave her beloved school and all her hopes and dreams for her senior year behind.  It was kind of like running full force into a glass wall and hearing the glass shatter around you.  She was absolutely broken.

God, in His infinite wisdom and care for His children, was not caught by surprise at this turn of events.  Remember her last day was on September 18? Well, on September 19th was the mandatory meeting for seniors and their families to graduate with our Christian homeschool association, Lighthouse.  They were so full of grace to allow her in to graduate with them and made her instantly feel a part of their group. Perfect timing!

We have been focusing on all the good things about this transition, even though it wasn't her first choice.  God's ways are higher and better and He wants nothing but GOOD for us!  Even in the times when it doesn't feel so good.  Alex is finally at peace with the situation and knows it is all for God's glory, even though some days are still hard.  We are battling isolation at this point as she feels alone most days because she is a highly social person!  But her choral teacher has allowed her to come visit her frequently at school and is allowing her some benefits of still feeling a part of her choir program.

Through this trial, as He always does, God is drawing Alex closer and closer to Him.  In church a few weeks ago we sang an old hymn modernized by Chris Tomlin, "All the Way My Savior Leads". I watched Alex stand there with tears streaming down her face as she felt the absolute love of her Father in the words of that old hymn written by Fanny Crosby in 1875.  God's love reaches through the generations!

"All the way my savior leads me, what have I to ask beside?
How could I doubt his tender mercy?  Who through life has been my guide.
All the way my savior leads me, and cheers each winding path I tread?
Gives me grace for every trial, feeds me with the living bread.
You lead me.  And keep me from falling.
You carry me close to your heart.
And surely Your goodness and mercy will follow me."  ~Chris Tomlin's version of the hymn

This song comes to mind almost daily as I pray for my daughter and for God to continue to work His goodness in her life.  A sweet friend of mine who frequently checks on Alex (even though she's never even met her) sent me a message today with the words of this hymn and told me to listen to it.
Now if that's not GOODNESS and MERCY then I don't know what is. God is real. God speaks when you open your heart to listen.  He cares about every little detail of our lives.

My daughter won't have the senior year she was anticipating, but God has something so much better in store for her.  I'm so excited that I have ringside seats this year to watch it unfold!  And as my small group leader Bill Lewis said in his teaching of Psalm 23...our sheepdogs, Goodness and Mercy, will be following us all the days of our lives.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Where to begin?!  It's gonna be long, so brace yourselves!

Seven years ago, the Corsar family embarked on a grand adventure. We laid everything down at the feet of Jesus and agreed to follow in obedience wherever He might lead.  Michael got out of the Air Force and God began doing the most amazing things.  Feel free to read blog post after blog post dating back to when it all began if you are not familiar with our journey.  I used to like to write these blogs to shock people and make them surprised at what God is capable of.  Now, it's pretty much just how it is, and it's the coolest thing ever, but I don't use it for shock value anymore.  I use it to glorify the greatness of our God!  Because everything is life is for His glory ALONE!

So you must understand first and foremost, this particular post is not to boast in any way about any Corsar.  It is to boast in the amazing love of a Father who likes to give good gifts to His children and Who blesses those who bless Him.

In 2013, God called Michael to "Go." That particular "go" meant go to seminary.  That was the original calling.  So, we dropped it all when He led us to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.  Of course, our human mindedness pops in and tries to figure out what God must have next for us.  "Well, if we are at seminary, it must mean he is to work in church ministry".  Nope. "Well, we are almost done with seminary, so we must need to start looking for jobs in other places because we are not FROM North Carolina, so surely God will move us closer to our family." Nope. The questions come in droves from everyone with human minds like us wanting to know the next step. "What are you going to do after you graduate?  A Masters of Divinity in Theology, what are you going to do with that?"

All those questions made us think we really needed to be "doing" something.  After God closed the door of church ministry on us, we still prayed for what was next.  That was when God led Michael to lead a company called Majestic Marble and Glass where he is literally thriving and using his God given gifts in the most amazing way!  He has found his ministry.

It was at this point we decided this must be where God is choosing to plant us for now. Making extra money, we figured we would move out of our tiny rent house and see what we could purchase.  I really didn't want to start looking at real estate because it really wears you out as there are SO many houses to choose from in this area.  Michael would look online every night and see if he could find any homes that stuck out to him. We had a budget of what we could afford, but he sometimes likes to look at what else is out there. So, before we got really serious into this home process, we prayed that if this was out of God's will, to immediately slam the doors shut in our face. And we meant hard...slam it hard...don't keep us wondering.

So, even though we had a budget, there was a super amazing house that caught Michael's eye and he called up our realtor and just asked if we could go look at it.  It was a custom built home with top of the line EVERYTHING in it.  It was valued at $500,000.  Totally out of our budget, but we thought it would just be fun to look at.

Now time for a side note: God has given us a strong desire for some sort of a "hospitality ministry". The details of that are not yet clear, but it would entail hosting students from Ukraine where Alex and Michael have a strong passion to serve, hosting missionaries on furlough from the mission field, hosting Seminary students who need a bed for a weekend class...the possibilities are endless.

As we were looking at this half a million dollar home, God flooded our minds with hospitality ideas. The basement is perfect, once finished, to make those ideas a reality. There was the most amazing peace while we literally drooled over the intricacies of this home. Alex and Evan immediately claimed their rooms, started talking about where they would put things, and from that point forward called it "our house". This was before Christmas and we were in NO rush to find a house through the holidays.

After Christmas, our realtor said the seller's realtor had been calling wanting to gauge our interest as we were the only people who had come to see the house that had been on the market for 60 days. At that point, we realized this was a possible open door, so we prayed heavily for God to slam it, and proceeded to walk through it.

A set of custom homes by an amazing builder had been built on a golf course. After about 14 of those homes were built, the builder pulled out and a "not-as-amazing builder" came in and bought the subdivision building homes that were non comparable. Due to this unfortunate practice, the prices of the custom homes were not able to hold their value.  Therefore, this $500,000 home was being sold for $400,000. Well, unfortunately $400,000 is still out of our price range, so we considered this a closed door.  Our realtor encouraged us to offer what we could and see if they would take it. So we prayerfully offered our absolute top dollar of $350,000.





And guess what?!  They accepted it!

They accepted it, y'all!!  If I could post a picture of our absolute STUNNED faces, I would. 

God has since placed a retired carpenter in our paths who is dying to help us finish the basement so our ministry can begin! If that doesn't tell you God is good, then I don't know what would get through to you.

Now...God is not good because He gave us a $500,000 home for a fraction of the cost.  God is good simply because He is good.  His Goodness comes in many ways! He has been good to us even when we couldn't afford to put food on the table. He has been good to us when our power got shut off a few years ago.  He has been good when my husband with a Masters degree was washing windows and selling mattresses to support his family. He has been good in putting Michael in the career path He had chosen for him before we even knew we would come to NC. He has been good even when we were doing what we thought He wanted us to do. We are living in the blessings of obedience. My small home was a blessing and will still be a blessing, but now my larger home can help us to bless others as well!

Michael, Becky, Alex and Evan have done NOTHING to deserve this blessing.  This is NOTHING of us. We are simply following orders and walking on the path God has set before us.

I told you it would be long, but that's about it. We started our journey, which has been a trial period, in February 2010. Seven years later (a number of completion) on March 1, 2017, we truly feel redeemed.  We feel we've "passed" and maybe have reached the Summit. There is even a crazy rain storm headed this way which symbolizes renewal and rebirth, according to my literature loving daughter. The lesson has been the journey, but now we are super excited to see where this particular path will lead!

Thanks for traveling with us!