How to does one put into words what only the soul can understand? That is the struggle I face as I attempt to put this past weekend into words. There were things that happened that were the exact opposite of what I had thought would happen and there were other things that blew my expectations out of the water. I was introduced to people who, if not for the mission God has put me on, our paths may never have crossed. To say I was blessed this weekend is such a gross understatement. There aren’t words in the English language to adequately describe my feelings and emotions right now.
You may have read my blog post last week about the amazing ways that God moved to pay off our entire mission team’s mission fees. He provided, for my family, about $1,300 from Monday to Thursday of last week which blew us away. Grab a cup of coffee and a blanket (because if it is like it is here – COLD – where you are, you’ll need it) and listen to my testimony about how God cares so deeply about the little things and the big things alike for those who make the decision to follow him.
Friday evening, Mrs. Barbara came over to help me get things wrapped up and packed up for the weekend’s events. Saturday we were scheduled to set up a booth at Old Timer’s Day and Saturday we were to be at Petticoat Junction (by the way, the location is for sale if interested) to speak to a group of 10 ladies and to share my jewelry with them. Both of these events had originally been planned to help pay off our travel expenses (God took care of that earlier in the week) and expenses we would have as a result of the trip such as childcare, clothing and other expenses related to the trip. Anyway, she came over and we had planned to work until 9:00pm or so and then get a good nights rest so we would be ready for the early morning ahead. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out like that. We didn’t finish all of the preparations until nearly 2:00am and only got a few hours of sleep before meeting in my driveway at 7am. We did have great conversations, jokes provided by my husband Josh, and I think even a few tears were shed.
Another thing we talked about was how we had no idea what God had in store for the weekend, but that we intended to glorify God with our action and that whatever happened we were going to accept as his provision. See when I paid for my booth at Old Timer’s Day, the person in charge of everything told me he was going to try to get a booth next to or in close rage of the Grand Stand for me. He wanted to try to get the most exposure and traffic since I was raising money to help with expenses associated with a mission trip. The whole time I was planning my booth, that’s what I had in mind: that we would be front and center, on a certain street, in a certain location. When I got my booth assignment just two days before, my booth assignment couldn’t have been any different than what I thought I would get. To be honest I frustrated and even a little irritated at the fact that I had planned one way only to find out those plans may or may not work. I wouldn’t know until I got there. I made the decision to thank God for the placement he had given to us and told him He would be the one to get all of the glory from the event because there was no way I could play or do to make anything happen since everything I had planned was based on other details.
Fast forward to Saturday morning, October 4th. Oh my goodness, it was COLD! Why is it that the first day of the season that temperatures dipped to the 30’s we had to set up a booth outside and stay there for hours? Brrrr! We could see our breath! The temperatures warmed up slightly but then the wind picked up. We stopped by Burger King and got breakfast on the way to the square. As we pulled up, there was only other woman setting up her Scentsy booth. We got out and introduced ourselves and assisted her with putting her tent up and she returned the favor when we got to that point. All in all she and her sister were very friendly. She even offered me gloves when my fingers failed to cooperate due to the cold. A little while later a man with a truck and trailer pulled up to set his booth up on the other side of us. As he did so, I asked what he was there to sell. He hung his head and said, “I am embarrassed to say: Italian Ice!” We chuckled and then he told us he planned to sell coffee and hot chocolate too, of which I preordered so we could have some sort of warmth! We ended up getting a cup each on him. Then up pulls a man in a truck on the other side of them. They began to talk and phrases like, “Praise God!” “He is so good,” and such started to fly around the air. Apparently they had been placed next to each other at other events and they got to know each other a little bit. Not only that, they were both Christians! How cool.
We finished setting up our booth sometime between 9:30 and 10 that morning.
We had decided once we had gotten everything set out and situated, we would pray together and commit the day to God and ask His will to be done. However, once we finished up, we walked over to see what the people on the other side of the Italian Ice booth brought to sell. Turns out they are actually a mortar and brick business who sets up at craft fairs, too. They were called, “Sanctified” and they offered various Christian themed items. Almost right away, I spotted this sign:
He explained to me that his brother makes them out of old barn wood. They are sanded smooth, then screen printed with bible verses. I was gifted this by a friend and it now rests on my mantel at home. I absolutely love it. I was able to share with him why this was so special to me which lead to more conversation. About that time, the Star Spangled Banner was being sung at the grand stand to signify the start of the parade. Because of the conversation we had, I asked him if he’d like to join us in praying over the event and our day and he agreed. Not only did he agree, the Italian Ice people joined, as well as the Scentsy rep three booths up! So here we are, all six of us, standing there with hands joined, voices raised, asking God to bless the day and for us to have eyes more on people who walk in our tent and their needs, more than the dollars that they’d bring in. We asked for relationships to be strengthened and new ones to be built. It was just a beautiful time of prayer and praise with our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we hadn’t even known just two hours before hand. Isn’t the spirit of God amazing? It joins us and binds us to those who call on His name! It was like we had known these people forever.
I mentioned that it was cold, right? Most of the morning was spent catching our and our neighbor’s tents as they were being hoisted into the air by wind. The term, “holding down the fort,” had a whole new meaning to me after Saturday. At one time, we had 4 people holding our tent down and that’s in addition to the 4 large cinder blocks that were tied to our tent. Miserable doesn’t describe how we felt by the time noon arrived. Thankfully though, there were moments when the sun came out and the wind died down to warm us a little bit. Thankfully, unlike other booths, none of our product blew away. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine named Melissa even comment about how it seemed less windy in our tent than the others. The presence of God?? I will take it!
I had two goals for this day, but one goal for the weekend. I wanted to raise $250 to finish up paying for part of our travel expenses. My first goal for Saturday was to earn $125, or half of my weekend goal. My second goal was to raise the whole $250 which I wasn’t sure was possible since I had never been to this event, not even as a patron. All I knew was that God was in control. Part of the way through I counted what I had to that point and I think the total was $175, give or take. Soon after that the crowed died WAY down and I’m not sure we made much after that point. Once everything was packed up at the end of the day, I recounted and to my surprise, I surpassed my first goal, AND MY SECOND GOAL! I even made $17 OVER my second goal! I couldn’t believe it! That meant that our event the next day would be going 100% toward our extra expenses. Since I had met my big goal for the weekend, I really didn’t have a goal for that event. I just prayed that God would provide what he saw fit.
Sunday morning we woke up and Mrs. Barbara was to stay at my house with the boys since my husband would be at work (fireman) and I didn’t have another option other than taking them all with us. Like I said, I didn’t have another option. Petticoat Junction is approximately 30 minutes from my house so I needed to plan enough time for travel as well as set up. At the very last minute, I called a team member and asked her if it would be possible if I had her daughter come over to sit with my two youngest boys if I took the older one with me. I knew it was a long shot, but thought I’d try anyway. Guess what she said? YES! That freed Mrs. Barbara up to come with me! What a blessing because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get it all set up in time and speak and take payments for items. She is my right hand girl, for sure! Seriously her coming with me took away layers of stress for me. Jackson was a help too.
The women were spending the weekend at this cute place because it’s set up to be a scrapbooking retreat location. My friend Michelle, who hosted the trunk show just a week before, invited me to come share my testimony there because there would be women from other towns there. That was SO important because when you live in a little town, it’s easy to exhaust everyone you know where fundraising is concerned. I am normally a nervous wreck when I speak. I just don’t think speaking is my strongest ability. These 10 women listened, asked questions and made me feel so comfortable. As soon as I finished one woman, sitting up front asked if I would consider speaking at a women’s event at her church. EErrrrch! Put on the breaks! I need to explain something really quickly
Just two weeks ago, I asked God how he was planning on getting the word out about LofT218 and the work we plan to do through that non-profit (when they get their certification). Loft218 will be who we set up the children’s home and life skills training center through. They will be our umbrella. Well, in my conversation with God, I told him if he wanted someone to speak to women’s ministry groups or other public speaking type engagements, I’d do it if he went along beside me to do so. I really figured he’d say, “No that’s ok, you aren’t a very eloquent speaker. That’s a good idea though! I will have someone else do that!” Hhahahaha, nope!
When she asked me, the words literally just couldn’t be found. I had just asked God, verbatim, if he wanted me to speak to a women’s group and those were nearly the same words that came out of her mouth when she asked. I was FLOORED! She doesn’t even realize that God used her in that moment (well I guess she does now if she’s reading this!). Tuesday (today) is the day she was supposed to be speaking with the women’s ministry board and telling them about the calling God has given me sooo…. we’ll see! I told her October is booked but that I could do something in November or possibly the first week of December. Outside of that I would need to wait until January or the spring. Please be in prayer for God to make it clear to that board if I am supposed to share with them.
After I answered a few questions, I invited the women to browse the jewelry and shop for Christmas. Things moved so quickly. Several women asked for items to be shortened or changed in some way. Thankfully, since we had spent extra time preparing Friday night, I was able to accommodate their requests. I met one woman by the name of Brenda who has adopted two special needs children, one from China, one from the Ukraine. We had some amazing conversations about orphans and orphanage life. We compared our “God moments” regarding our callings to adopt/missions. Other women had encouraging remarks and warm hugs to give. What God did through each of these women, financially, absolutely astounds me.
I shared with them during my speech that I had approximately $4-500 left to raise for my extra expenses. I also told them that I had that event and three others left this month to pay for that need. I was much to busy to count things up there but once I got home, I pulled out the financial support and couldn’t even cry I was so overwhelmed. Two women gave cash donations, the rest purchased jewelry. That’s 10 women shopping/giving financial contributions. Between those 10 women God provided $720! I am not sure it has sunk in even now, two days later.
Let me be perfectly clear here: in six months I tried my best to raise the whole amount needed for the trip. We have worked our BUTTS off to raise that money. Day in, day out. Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise. And you know what, in all of our efforts, we only accomplished a small sliver of that total. God provided $720 for our initial deposit while we were out of the country on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, $500 from a complete stranger at a tire/lube business and $1,400 through a captain’s dinner and fishing tournament. Yes we did work for the fishing tournament, but I am not sure any believed we would raise THAT much for each of our 8 families. Two weeks ago, he provided $1,300 through others and a trunk show ($395). Then this week, he provided $980 in two days. The way I see it, God provided $3,810 strictly from his hand without effort from me or my husband at all. The remaining amount was his blessing on our exhausting efforts which totaled $1,490. That little amount took us 6 MONTHS to raise. God provided the other portion to us in a total of 8 days if you add them all together. We actually have money in the account good toward our next trip! And three months before we even leave for our first trip!
If I may, let me challenge you. If God is leading you to do something for him and his kingdom, listen and obey. There is NOTHING impossible for God to handle. Don’t let financial issues keep you from doing the Will of God. Rest assured, He won’t let his reputation be tarnished. He will see you through. He will provide. It’s his name on the line, not yours. Step out of your comfort zone. Say, “Yes, Lord. I will follow you where ever you want me to go. I will allow you to take me to where my faith has no borders. I believe you will see me through and take care of all of my needs.” I promise you, it is impossible to come out on the other side of a God encounter like this the same. My family’s faith has grown exponentially. We have seen the hand of God more times in the last year than I ever have in my entire life.
Thank you to all who have prayed for us, supported us emotionally, financially and morally. Every single bit helped more than I can express to you. Thanks for walking this journey with us. Thank you for being confident in us.