Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two Horses and a Camel

About a month ago Braxton and I were driving our kids to Victory Ranch so he could speak at camp that night. All 3 of my kids were watching a movie, reading, and playing with toys. My children are multi-taskers, just like their momma. Anyway, we were driving through a small town in the middle of nowhere and I look out into this field and in a say in a loud voice, where I draw my kids attention immediately out the window, "look kids a camel!" (I need to preface this by saying my eyesight has been bad since 3rd grade, I cannot see anything without my contacts and apparently not well with them) Well at that very second I realize it is not a camel but two horses, two dark black horses one on top of another. I will stop there, if you need more detail then either you are too young to be reading this blog or too old to be any fun. But nonetheless I had just drawn all 3 of my kids attention to an act of, lets call it nature. Immediately my sweet husband starts laughing uncontrollably as do I, as I realize the mistake I have just made. My husband says, "really, you just thought you saw a camel in Somerville?"(Well, you never know what those out in the country might buy.)

Last night we had dinner with some of our sweet friends, without kiddos, and as we laughed, talked and shared memories, we had some of those stories. Stories that you cannot share with everyone, stories that only you and your friends get. Mainly because you are so close to them that there is no worry for "what they will think" but also because they know you so well that they get you, they get your personality, life, goofiness, quirks etc...(love you C and H, thanks for getting us!)

I was spending some quiet time this morning and it got me to thinking. Our relationship with the Lord should be that way. We should be so close to Him that when things happen in life, funny, sad, scary, good, etc...He should be the first person we go to. We should run to Him first to tell all of our life stories to. We don't have to worry about what He will think, He already knows and we don't have to worry about if He will still love us, that can never change. I also think He laughs with us in the funny stories, He after all created the horses and camels ;)! So whatever happens to you today, whatever story your life writes today, run to the one person who gets you the most!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Productive Day

Well I guess today was our first official day to pack up stuff and move it into storage. We got up this morning and went to rent a storage unit. Once we got all of that squared away we started up in the attic. It was as hot as blue blazes up there (I never really went up there, I just stood at the bottom of the stairs and watched Braxton hand me stuff down but I could tell from the huge sweat rings on his shirt and the dripping brow, bless his heart) but we managed to clean out our entire attic. There is zip, nothing, nada up there. I love the feeling of having things cleaned out and organized but good grief the process of getting there is hard. Very similar to another process of cleaning out but in a spiritual sense. I love the feeling of when I have confessed and repented of sin in my life, cleaned out the attic so to speak but the process is not always fun.
After two trips to the storage unit we picked up our adopted son for the summer. Every summer for the past several years we have adopted a summer staffer from SOS www.sosmemphis.org It has been a huge blessing for us. We enjoy getting to know these college students. It is so encouraging to see their passion for service and for the Lord. This summer our "son" is Tremaine. Tremaine just graduated from High School in Jackson, TN and will go to Union University in the fall and play basketball. He is an amazingly mature young man who we have really enjoyed getting to know. Treamine came over tonight and hung out with the fam. My kids love having him over. I love what Tremaine is teaching them about being in love with Jesus, humility, and service over self.

We are now ending the day watching The Iron Man Race. It is always something so inspiring to watch. Especially while eating a piece of Carmel Cake. I get the same kind of feeling when I am eating a bowl of ice cream watching The Biggest Loser. Someday, I think, someday I will get there, just kidding I don't ever want to run that hard unless something is chasing me. In all seriousness I do seem to get choked up every year watching. Watching these people work so hard for something and then watching some of them succeed and some fail. It makes me cry every year, the commentators, the music, the watching of people cross the finish line with tears in their eyes and fist pumping in the air, I hope to finish the "good race" that way someday.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Switching Over

Okay, so I switched from wordpress to blogspot. It could be due to the fact that I could not figure out wordpress and blogspot is so user friendly, or it could be that I was feeling a little like I was using Cricket phone service when everyone else was using AT&T (no offense to Cricket users but you know what I mean) or it could be that I had lunch with my friend Wendy today and she said I was much cuter than my current font and I could not figure out how to change my font on wordpress. I guess at the deep root of me I am a little vain and everyone that I know uses blogspot and not wordpress. Call it peer pressure or whatever you want, I switched.

Woo Hoo

Huge answered prayer!! The tree on the lot on Allison affectionately referred to as the “beast” is coming down by the city!!! We are so grateful! Thanks to those of you that hit your knees to pray about that. It was going to be a huge expense out of our pocket if the city would not remove it. There were 3 major power lines running through the tree so it was a burden for them as well. There is a picture of the tree in a previous blog. It is massive and a shame that it was not in the backyard instead of the front, it could have been a great tree house tree!

New Adventure

About 6 or 7 months ago we started to talk and pray about our next steps. We love our home and as you know it is such a huge part of our story/faith journey (especially with the full court ;) ) but we started rapidly running out of room. Preston now stands at 5 feet tall and is only getting bigger; Bennett and Emma are growing like weeds as well. So we thought we would have to do one of two things. We could add on to our existing home or we would have to sale this home and build another house a little bit bigger. So we meet with a couple of contractors and talked to some people about what our best options were. We came to the conclusion that truly our best bet would be to sale the house on Hopkins and build again. In late May we met with Robert Montague, director of the BDC, and discussed where we could go. He told us about some available lots on Allison, just about 4 streets up from where we live now. We spent the next few days praying about what God would want us to do.

After praying and talking to some close friends we decided Allison was where we felt God moving us. We committed to Robert to purchasing one of the available lots. In this was also a blessing in that The Parkinson family (Ben is one of the pastors at our church) and The Crenshaw family (great friends that live on Hopkins with us now) are moving on Allison as well. We then started to pray about selling our current home. I really did not think it would happen fast at all. In my head I was thinking we would be here for about another year before we could move or start building. But God always is surprising me! We sold our house within about 2 weeks of talking to the BDC and making plans of where our new house would be. (Thank you Soup Campbell!) Is that affirmation or what??

The last 2 weeks have been filled with meeting with bankers, builders, architects, tree people (we have a huge tree that we refer to as “the beast”) that has to come down on our new lot. New prayer request, we are hoping that the city will take this tree down for free, otherwise it is going to cost us big!!!! It has been a whirlwind roller coaster ride for sure. But isn’t that the best way? I was having lunch with a friend on Friday and was telling her this story and I started saying, when you give your life over to Christ and die to yourself, you are not made any promises about what the future will be here on this earth. So there are times when it is smooth and straight, fast and downhill, slow and uphill, sometimes you are laughing your head off and sometimes you are scared to death but here is the best part, I know who runs my roller coaster and I trust Him. And at the very end of this ride two thing will be for sure, it will not have been boring and I will end the ride spending eternity with my King.

People are always asking us, “What do you do in Binghamton?” And the answer is simply this; we don’t “do” anything other than live out the gospel. We love Jesus, each other, disciple our children, take care of our home and family, love our neighbors, and give God the glory for all he has done. We hope by just “living” and not necessarily “doing” people can see Jesus in us and want to know what is different. All we know is that he has called us to live in Binghamton and regardless if that is because of something he is going to do in our lives or someone in the neighborhood we are going to be obedient to His call.

Our entire family is so excited about our move, okay so Emma has not a clue but the rest of us are super excited! We have loved being a part of this community and truly could not imagine living anywhere else. We believe God is doing a new thing in Binghampton and in Memphis and we are thrilled that he would allow us to be a tiny part of it. We don’t feel like we Have to live in Binghampton we feel like we Get to live in Binghampton. We pray that our kids will learn they are blessed to be a blessing here and that everyone deserves a loving neighbor-Mark 12:30-31.

We would ask that you pray for us in these ways:
1. That everything with the selling of this house would go smoothly and we would close and be able to transition without any roadblocks. (My mom has graciously offered for us to move in with her until our home is built.)
2. Pray for my mom as she gains 5 new roommates :) Peace, patience would be just a few things I could think of for her -Love you mom!
3. Pray for our new home on Allison
4. Pray for our builder and that everything would run smoothly in the building process
5. Pray for that “Beast” of a tree to be taken down by the city
6. Pray for our new neighbors on Allison (I will let you know names as I learn them) some of them…are Chris, Taurus, Jackie and Phil, The Parkinson family (Ben, Aimee, Abigail, Anna, and Allie), The Crenshaw family ( Brian, Erin, Austin, Olivia, and Eliana)
7. Pray for our neighbors that we are leaving and for Marcus who is purchasing our home. Pray that it will be as much of a blessing to him as it has been to us!

What the World Values

We had the appraisal on the house we are selling a couple of days ago. I spent all day cleaning like a mad woman, dusting, sweeping, picking up and lighting every candle known to man. I thought if the appraiser walked in and saw a clean house and it smelled good then it would definitely raise the value, right? I even imagined him in my head going back to work and saying to his co-workers, “you are never going to believe the house I just went in, it was SOOO clean and it smelled of cinnamon and freshly baked cookies.” I was so proud of myself! My poor children only had a few toys they were aloud to drag out all day. Well the time came and the man came in and I don’t think he even noticed my candles, he pulled out his tape measure, zipped through my house in no time and then was gone. He did however in a round about way ask why I lived where I live. I was able to share with him the short version of our story. After he left I started looking out my window and noticing some of the houses around me. I started thinking about how the world we live in places value on the way things appear. Any “normal” person coming into our neighborhood would not see value in the run down house around the corner, they would not see value in the dirty 9 year old in my backyard that probably has not had a clean shirt in weeks, they would not see value in the 75 year old woman next door who lives on a fixed income, doesn’t have central heat and air and still hangs her clothes out back to dry. But there is someone that places great value on those people. There is someone that looked down on humanity when we did not look so pretty, cleaned up and definitely did not smell good and saw value in us. So much so that he sent his only son to die for us that we might live! I am so glad that I serve a God who does not place value in what the world values.

The Beast at the End of the Hall

We took Preston for his eleventh birthday on a trip to Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. We left Emma with my mom and just took the boys. We had a great time! The boys loved it. I think we rode every roller coaster and water ride (I truly hate these, there is nothing worse than being cold, wet and walking around in full clothes) known to man. I would like to personally thank the person that invented the “family dryer” for a low low price of $5(I am being sarcastic) you can fit your whole family inside of this contraption and it blows warm air on you for 3 minutes. Does not dry you at all but you feel a little less inappropriate walking around. Preston and I rode the Beast, which was the funniest thing ever, well the ride wasn’t funny but the picture they took of us riding was well worth the price of admission. Preston is eyes wide open, grinning from ear to ear and loving it, I on the other hand have my eyes glued shut, mouth wide open and look like something at the beginning of a horror movie. Shortly after we rode they shut down the ride for “mechanical issues” see, so my face just knew something the rest of the people did not…the ride was apparently breaking, NICE! I should have paid the $12.99 for that picture in case The Beast never re-opens. All in all it was a great trip. I am so glad I am married to a man that is anything but passive. He is so incredibly intentional with our children, not wasting one minute of precious time with them. There were signs all over that park of passivity in men. Several teenage boys were walking around with multiple piercings, tattoos and shirts that said things that would make you blush and I wanted to walk up to every one of them and say, tell me about your home life, tell me about the role of your father in your home? I would venture to guess that the answer would be the same, absent. It breaks my heart and makes me so thankful for a husband that is not absent.

We stopped at the Creation Museum on the way home. I would like to give it a rating of somewhere between cheesy and pretty good. If you drew a line straight down the middle of those two that is where this museum would be. We were greatly encouraged to buy a seasonal pass and for the life of me I could not figure out why someone would want to do that. Seriously, once is plenty.

We arrived home late last night and mom had kept Emma up to see us. She looked a little confused and excited all rolled into one. Like, hey, where have you people been? It took us forever to get her in the bed, I think she was afraid we would leave again. I have to go now there is a beast at the end of my hall called laundry and for some reason I don’t think they will shut this one down…ever.

From the Beginning

I realized a few days ago that I just started this blog willy nilly without really starting from the beginning. Some of you know the story others of you may have lived part of the story with us but for the sake of documenting and for the few of you that don’t know I will now “tell the rest of the story…”

It all started in early 2004, okay truthfully it started way before then but trust me you don’t want to know the WHOLE story. So it was 2004 and Braxton was on the missions committee at Christ Methodist. We had some close friends that had moved into the neighborhood and I pretty much thought they were ridiculous but I also knew that they did not have kids yet and the minute they did they would not want to live there anymore. Why in the world would anyone want to raise kids in the hood. So he comes home from one of his meetings and says, “I really feel like God is calling our family to move into Binghampton.” I said, “Yes sweet husband, you lead and I will follow.” (That is what I should have said) Okay, here is the truth… Insert bug eyes here…WHAT?!?!?! You have lost your mind, we have two young children and we cannot do something like that, please pray about that some more because if you go you go alone. Insert me putting my foot down. (I was so wrong for this!)

I thought that was that, surely he would listen to reason. Reason being his wife that would constantly bring up all the bad stuff that was happening in Binghampton and then put in front of him his two beautiful angelic sons.

About 3 months after he dropped that little bomb shell we signed up to do a missions blitz with our Sunday School class. We volunteered with the BDC, Binghampton Development Corporation. We met on a blazing hot Saturday in August in the front yard of another set of our radical and crazy friends who had moved into the neighborhood. Brian Crenshaw who at the time was working for the BDC welcomed us and said, “thanks for coming today. we are going to walk across the street to this yellow house and do some work on it. The BDC has purchased the home and we are trying to fix it up to move in an intentional family. Before we begin let’s pray.” Well as we started to pray I had one of those moments that I will never forget, in fact it still gives me chill bumps to this day. The Holy Spirit in a still small quiet way said in my heart, “that is your family.” Well, we finished praying and I was hoping to heaven that my husband had not heard the same thing, I was pretty sure I had just made that up in my head. So no sense telling anyone, right? We proceeded to walk across the street and work on the house. The minute we walked in I felt sick, no way I could ever live there. It was incredibly small, dirty, messed up floors, ceilings, etc..

Fast forward to October 31st, Braxton and I have been looking around at houses. We are preparing to buy a home finally, it took us 4 years to sale our house in Ripley. We found a home that I simply loved. It was so cute, in a great area and had a screened in back porch with a swing. Those of you that know me well know that I LOVE a swing. So, we were going to sign a contract on the house the next day. Well that night I could not sleep at all, tossed and turned, had bad dreams, the whole nine yards. I woke up the next morning and was in the worst mood. I went to work without even really speaking to Braxton. It was at about 2:00 that day that Braxton calls and says, “I have not been able to get a hold of the mortgage guy or the real estate agent all day.” At this point I burst into tears and say, I know why, we are supposed to live in Binghampton, I just don’t want to. He sits there in silence for a few minutes and then says, “I know, I have known that all day, I just did not know how to tell you.”

We talk for a few more minutes and then I tell him I am going up to talk to Robert Montague, director of the BDC. I walk into Robert’s office and begin to sob again. I am pretty sure he thought at first I had gotten lost on my way to the counseling office, but once I was able to complete a sentence I told him Braxton and I wanted to live in Binghampton.

We talked for awhile and in the next few weeks we rode around the neighborhood looking at lots and talking about options. In the meantime, I still had not told a soul about what the holy spirit had placed on my heart back in August. Also, we had decided not to tell anyone about us moving to the neighborhood until we knew for sure where that would be and what it would look like. We knew it was going to be a shock for our families. It was right before Thanksgiving and I was on the phone with my sweet friend Erin Crenshaw, Brian’s wife, and she said, “Oh, I meant to tell you, you know that house that your Sunday School class worked on? Well they are going to tear it down and build another house. It needs too much work to fix it up.” I about freaked out!! I had heard right, this was the place where the Lord was leading our family. I immediately called Braxton and told him. We then called the BDC and told them we wanted to build on that lot.

So after much prayer, paperwork, telling our families, etc… we started to build in June 2005. We moved into our home on December 18,2005. It has been a journey and one that I am so glad I did not miss out on. I will tell you now that by maturity in the Lord if my husband comes home tomorrow and tells me we are moving to China I will follow without hesitation, maybe with medication but without hesitation ;)