Sunday, November 29, 2015

His Amazing Grace beckons us to show up and Watch HIM.

(I composed this over a month ago, but never revisited it and hit send. So grateful I wrote this down...God tells us to REMEMBER, and without a written record, it's amazing how one can forget...even when the amazing happens.)

It's been forever since I've written. Today, I knew it was time. In fact, I knew if I didn't today, I would've ignored an appointment I had. I have no idea what I'm supposed to write, but I know there's something God has been showing me all summer, so we'll start there and see where He takes this.

It was May 28th. I was finishing up the busiest 3 months I'd had in recent memory. I hadn't stopped going. School was incredibly busy and every weekend had something major going on so I hadn't rested or gathered myself in months.

I was headed into the busiest portion of my summer. In the subsequent 5 weeks, I was taking 3 different groups of 8 students on 3 different trips. I was headed to Boston twice and Philly once...but by July 8th, I'd be finished, I'd be able to finally rest after nearly 5 months of non stop.

My trips don't just entail the 5 days of travel, they included 4 group meetings, so times 3 is 12 group meetings, and one meeting per traveller that is one on one, so that's 24, and then a prayer gathering for each group, and due to busy schedules, a couple of trips required 2 options for that.

So, in conclusion, that's over 40 meetings from February-June...and then we travel and go have the best time in glorious cities.

I was looking forward to the trips because that's when the fun kicks in, the getaway, and the adventure, and due to such a busy spring, I was ready for the adventure.

So on May 28th, when I received a text from my traveling partner and sweet bestie about a home in Boerne, I shrugged it off as just another attempt to get me to do something that was impossible for me at this time in my life.

I'd dreamed of moving into Boerne proper for years. I'd dreamed of either having my dad design me a house or help me redo a little cottage for as long as I could remember. But it was a dream. A dream that I knew wouldn't ever be fulfilled. Ever.

There was no way it could. Barring a marriage where my small teaching salary wasn't the only funds I had to use, it was an impossible dream. And since marriage would have to bring along the provision, I never wanted to truly dream about it because I don't ever want that to be part of my search for someone...I don't want my desire for things to ever be a motivation for me to date someone...and that easily could be. Financial security is a wooing factor in my life.

SO, I didn't ever really dream about it. It was on the list of impossible things that my life wasn't going to include and I had come to the place with that being okay.

My sweet bestie thought differently. For over a year she had sent me listings and I would barely glance at them. There was no point. No way that I could sell my house in a timely manner, make any sort of money to have enough to buy another and redo it, because any home I could afford in Boerne was basically a dump.

I didn't have a desire to take Cade and I to a dump and have to remain in that, so the obstacles were always too great, not to mention the timing. Boerne sells before things even hit the market, much less allow for sales of present homes to buy new ones.

But, for some reason, May 28th was different.

IF there was one thing about God I'd say I knew hardly anything about was grace. I'm too formulaic, black and white, and anxious.

But for the last 7 years, God has had me on a journey teaching me about grace, showing me what it is and what it means and how it works.

I saw it play out in tragedy and hardship. I saw that it was provision and faithfulness, companionship and goodness during grief and heartache and loneliness.

I saw how God walked every step with me and answered countless prayers that only my soul ached for, the kind that rebuild a person's character and mindset. He set my feet on a path that was leading me to things that only He could show me.

I'd seen His overwhelming grace during the hard but I still had no true concept what His grace was like in the good.

I mean, I had a home. Nothing was wrong with it. My life was moving along and besides bouts of loneliness, things were grief, no difficulty, no present ashes that needed His gracious hands to make beautiful.

But on May 28th, His gracious train showed up and I had no idea what I was about to experience and witness, and sitting tonight, I still can't even fathom, yet alone grasp.

B sent me a text, which led to me going to see a home on a whim...2 days before leaving for Boston.

I took my dad, who, to my surprise, was chipper and excited about the house. He saw no major issues and saw great potential. And not that he's a downer about things, but he's realistic, practical, and conservative.

Big dreams get squashed by reality, practicality, which all lead to conservative decisions, not big dream ones per se.

B and I left for Boston and little did I know, the train began to move.

The property was too high for me and included too much.
My home would have to be sold, and I didn't see how I could do this on my own.

Obstacles were everywhere. That's what I saw. Obstacles.

But B kept pushing.

While in Boston, we checked out what my house would get, and by some miracle, a home 2 doors down had sold in 24 hours for a sum of money I could never have dreamed my home would sell for.

On our way back, B asked if I could have my house ready to sell in the 48 hours, and I just answered yes with no vision on what that would entail.

I came back from spending 5 non stop days in Boston with 8 middle school students, where our days are from 6 am until after midnight, and I woke up the next day at 6 again and began cleaning my house and getting it ready to go on the market.

It was ready Saturday morning and on Sunday, an offer was made.


The train hadn't just left at this point, it was gaining speed and I was doing my best to hold on.

The offer was great but they wanted to close in 3 weeks.

Say what?!?

B, just kept talking me down from every cliff of impossible I came to.

I had 2 trips in the next 4 weeks.

But, I said yes...I knew this was a train that I had to catch.

On June 7th, I knew that this summer was not going to be what I had planned and I knew this was something God was in control of and I just needed to keep showing up because for some reason, impossible was becoming possible.

I packed, I panicked, friends talked me off cliffs, and I packed some more.

All of my trip preparations, which are incredibly time consuming and at times can be overwhelming, went along without a hitch and somehow I had enough energy to do all of that and pack.

In the meantime, a deal was trying to be put together on the purchase of the house in of the hottest and fastest markets around.

Obstacle after obstacle kept coming and I would panic and get discouraged but B would push me forward. Mountains that had to be moved, I got to watch be moved.

Mountains moved for the purchase of the home.

I was exhausted and weary, not just from the packing and the unknown, but from the previous months of non-stop, from the weight of traveling and busyness of planning and going forth on little sleep and no restorative time between any of it.

But the train was chugging down the track, and I knew I just needed to hold on.

I returned from Philadelphia on the 25th and I was out of my home on the 30th and leaving for Boston on the 4th.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I LOSE everything. I misplace stuff all. the. time. Ask my students. I can't keep a pen, marker, or history book for longer than 5 minutes. I will have taken it and set it down in the most obscure place and have no recollection of doing so.

I leave a trail of crud everywhere I go.

SO, to be packing and moving while having to keep extremely important travel info, journals, and paraphernalia at my finger tips is a MIRACLE in itself.

I returned from Boston homeless, waiting for mountains to move so I could close on my new home in early August.

I think we all have times like this in our lives, where things fall into place and it's a wonder how it happened, but somehow it does.

It's happened to me before, but this time, God was going to show me that grace was not just a charitable heart when things were rough and desperate.

Grace included dreams...the kind of dreams that only a heart dreamed because the mind knew that it could never happen. It was a dream that would never be, so it was never actually thought about because what would be the point.

On May 28th, God was going to show me a grace I still couldn't comprehend and one that had been in motion for years. One that would include extravagant provision, healing, and unbelievable friendship.

Let's start with B. Her tenacity and determination on my behalf can't be explained. It included 2 months
of constant attention and talks of encouragement. She talked me off so many cliffs in such a short amount of time, I'm embarrassed to even recall them all.

But she did it, with a heart of love, compassion and made me feel like a champion at the end of it, not the weary warrior barely making it over the finish line.

Then there's my little peeps who upon the return of my first Boston trip they had completely redone my
front flowerbed, pressure washed my house, cleaned my windows, and more.

I was returning with a new hope of putting my house on the market, and God used the generosity of 8 families and my peeps to bless me with a gift I could never, NEVER do for myself.

Then there's Lacy, Ashley, Tracy, Kelley, the Fitzies, Chris, Bower boys, Egg, Amy, Cindy, Jackson, Bobby, Sammy, Willy, Jim Guy, Katie, Greg, and unknowns that came and packed when I was gone, too busy, or so overwhelmed I could barely see straight.

Not because I was sick or grieving or walking a tragic road...just because I needed help, even "worse" I needed help with something that was just good and fun and a blessing.

This really bothered me. I mean accepting help when it had nothing to do with something bad or wrong...I didn't do that, I couldn't do that.

God reminded me of a conversation I'd had with someone a few months before. I was trying to help him, just trying to be nice and kind and he told me he didn't like accepting help. He did things on his own.

It made me mad when he said that. I was frustrated that he wouldn't let me help him, and I thought how far he needed to go to understand kindness and understand how God worked... that some people just like to help and be kind.

And here I was. Not wanting to accept help, not understanding how to accept help, and blown away at how people would help me in such extravagant ways for something that was good and fun and had nothing to do with cancer or death or divorce.

But, God made this train leave the station during a time in my summer that I couldn't not accept help. What was before me was impossible for me, so God was setting up a scenario that would only be possible for Him to orchestrate.

So I showed up each day, and watched Him work.

People packed, lifted heavy furniture, opened up their barns, stayed late, came early, washed clothes, talked to me when I was overwhelmed or seemingly ungrateful because I was afraid or worried or exhausted.

They prayed, lent trucks, cleaned, and encouraged, and they got me out of my house and everything into storage and put me on a plane to Boston.

God had orchestrated my trips to fall at just the right times, so the first few days of being homeless, I was traveling the streets of Boston and watching the most incredible firework show with 9 incredible people, including Cade.

Then, He had provided me with housesitting gigs the remainder of July, in fact, He provided them to go until August 3rd, right when I was to move into my new home.

His timing had included my entire summer schedule to be planned out in January, so when it came to May 28th, His train could move, according to His schedule, his timing, and His grace.

My mind couldn't even dream it, my heart couldn't even imagine it, but His grace was orchestrating it.

And if all of those mountains moving and provisions weren't enough, the train was just picking up speed.

My house sold in 48 hours, for more money than I could have dreamed, and I had paid off more than I thought.

B was so tenacious that she helped me witness mountains move in a market where only those with enormous money and no timing restrictions find deals, and then she stuck with me as I wanted to quit every other day.

But then...just when I thought I had seen what grace was, God was just getting started.

It wasn't just in the form of people showing up once more, because they did. Gretchen and Dan, Janyce and Brittany, Stacey and Tracy, Julio, and Bobby, ERIC AND KAREN, Heather, and Ashley, Adi and Dawson, Madeline and Brittan, Carsen and Cole, Greg and Summer, Papa and Carolyn, Amy and Egg, Chris and Jessica, Ronnie and Angela, and the list could go on...

They did for me, at times what I could never do for myself. I was stuck without them. I couldn't fix a fan or hang a shower head. I couldn't lift that or hang this. I was getting sick from scraping ceilings and staying up passed midnight. I couldn't paint a house or finish assembling my cabinets.

I couldn't. It was impossible. But I continued to watch the impossible happen.

But it wasn't just that. It was the overflowing, outpouring of extreme generosity that blew me away...that sealed the summer of 2015 as a moment in time I watched God work in wondrous, overwhelming, and abundant ways to show me how His grace has no limits. That it isn't about only rescuing and comforting...

it's about delighting in, blessing, and lavishing love upon you.

Even now, typing that sounds so foreign, even corny to me. How dreams come to life, is taking me aback, making walls that were so set inside of me get torn down and rearranged, and my heart is having to start grasping that life includes a joy that is delightful and fun.

I didn't really know that. That not everything has strings or consequences or hardship. Sometimes, life is just good and sweet and full of amazing grace.

In July I received a text telling me this person had an envelope for me. Cade and I drove to pick it up. Cade ran in to grab it, but the man walked out too and told me he was supposed to watch me open it. The envelope was a typical greeting card one but it was fat, like something was in it.

My heart began beating fast as I opened it and watched $100 bills fall into my lap. A stack of them fell and the card had an incredibly sweet note inside.

I was stunned. Completely and totally stunned.

Who does this? Who gives someone a stack of money?

Tears welled up and Cade and I couldn't believe what had just happened.

The man gave me a hug and told me he had just been instructed to watch me open it and see my reaction.

My reaction was one of disbelief in how God works.

As amazing as that is, what no one knew was that the night before I sat in the shower crying, telling God how lonely and overwhelmed I felt in this process, that it was too big, too great for me to making such big changes with so many unknowns, and even though I had so many people rallying around me, at the end of the day, it was me...just me, and I was in charge of Cade and I didn't know if I could do this big thing.

I sat crying to God at how I felt alone.

Then, the very next day, the most tangible, overwhelming gift of grace occurred., in a way I could not have fathomed.

Yes, the money was unbelievable, unforgettable, and a sign of immeasurable anonymous generosity, but what those people had done, had been used to do, was to allow God to tell my heart (and allow my 12 year old son to witness!) that He was here with me, that this was His train, and I was to just keep showing up...I was NOT ALONE.

After that day, I never worried much anymore.

I had seen grace in such a new way, that the impossible for man, was possible with God.

I'd just stood on "the cliff" and watched the waters part, the mountains move, and I knew to my very core, that God was taking me somewhere, I just needed to follow Him.

One of my mom's favorite verses had come to life,

"Now to Him who is able to do far more than we could ever think or imagine, to Him be the glory forever and ever."

So, dream, Dream big...or if you're like me and a little too afraid to dream, believe in a God that says, show up, and watch ME.

This season, let's show up and watch HIM.

In Him,