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Standing When We Don’t Understand

God does listen. Maybe His silence is His way of telling us He is listening to every word, tear, groan and heartache we have.

 

Visiting the Ark, Louisville, KY
The Ark, Williamstown, KY

A baby girl is born, healthy and alert. The mother’s heart fills with joy beyond measure. Three weeks later the baby girl is hospitalized with pneumonia. Her mother begins to doubt and question God.  “Does anyone care?” She cries.  She knows there are friends  and church members praying, but she sits by her daughter’s side and watches as her tiny body lays helpless in the hospital bed. She can do nothing but sit and wait. The baby girl leaves the hospital two days later, after the doctors fail to find a trace of pneumonia in her lungs. Her mother is overjoyed and proclaims her miracle to anyone who will listen.

Our experiences may not be the same as this mother’s, but, most likely, our faith has been tested. Just like the mother, above, we can’t do anything. We find ourselves empty-handed and the only option we have is to pray and trust God. We have heard the Bible stories of how Moses, David, Joseph, Paul and Peter overcame trying times and triumphed through Christ, but we question if God is still for us. We cry out and ask if God can hear us. We want to know what good can come out of this. We ask why me? We are told to stand firm in God’s love. We sing the song, Standing on the Promises, like we mean it, until we have to do it. Then what? Where do we start? Which promises do we stand on? How do we tread forward when everything around us seems to be falling apart?

I can relate. My faith has been tested, and I have battled my own doubt. I have been awakened in the middle of the night by my own anxiety. I have sat in my recliner at 3:00 am with my Bible, pleading and asking God for His help, His insight. I know what it feels like when God is silent. The good news is: God does care! He promises to be with us and to never leave us. Below I have listed five key promises to lean on when you don’t understand your circumstances. Don’t just lean on them, pray them to God and memorize them. Speak them out loud so you can hear them for yourself. God does listen. Maybe His silence is His way of telling us He is listening to every word, tear, groan and heartache we have.

  1. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   John 1:9    Once sin is confessed God forgives and forgets. He has the ability to forget, we don’t. So we must leave our confession with Him and trust Him in this area of our lives. Sin can separate us from God, and we all fall at times, but once we realize we have erred, we need to ask God for His forgiveness.
  2. “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philip 1:6   He will never leave us, and He will complete all He has ordained for us to do. God is not a quitter! He sticks it out with us, through the good and the bad.
  3. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11  This is a tough one because it is often taken out of context. The Israelites were in exile. They found themselves living in another place, not their home. They, just like us,  wanted out of that trial, but God had other plans. He’s not going to take them back to their land immediately.  He tells them it will happen in seventy years, but in the meantime, they are to carry on where they are and God assures them He will always have their best interest in His heart.  His best interest is not the same as our best interest. He wants to mature us through our trials and struggles, so we become more Christ like. He will ultimately take us into eternity to be with Him, but for now, we grow.
  4. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed. Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him.”   Lam 3:22-24   We serve a merciful God and He is filled with compassion as He looks on us. What more could we ask for?  His compassions are new every morning. There are no left overs, no staleness, no spoiled or stagnant compassions to serve us. He meets us afresh every morning.
  5. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.”  Romans 8:26  This verse has always been comforting to me, just to know Jesus understands our pain and our groanings way more than we understand it ourselves. He not only understands, He intercedes for us on our behalf. His work was completed on the cross for our salvation, but He continues to care for us and pray for us.

I hope you will find these verses as encouraging as I have, especially through you trials. Jesus cares and is ready to walk you through whatever lies ahead. God Bless.

Into His Presence I Run

We hear bad news more today than ever. The media is good about bringing negativity into our world. We invite it into our own lives when we watch the news, talk about it at work and then repeat it when we get home. That’s a negative times three. Draining our minds and depleting our emotions is exhausting. I, for one, have grown tired of the cycle.  It can be hard to find a person who is willing to give us a kind word, encourage us, lift us up, be patient with us, respect us…. and the list could go on.

Turbulent times send some people into the unfamiliar territory of panic. Panic takes away ones ability to think and process the issues staring him/her in the face. It’s the flight or fight response he or she thinks about in the heat of the moment, and if they aren’t careful, they take the flight path. One may think they have escaped the turmoil, and they most likely have for the moment, but make no mistake about it, it will return at some point and next time he or she may not be able to take the flight. They stand, they fight, but how do they progress? For me, I run, not to take the flight, but to take refuge until I can take action. Where do I go? Into the Father’s presence. There, I find grace, peace, comfort, and even protection when I need it. Do I escape the turmoil there? God doesn’t promise we will be without trouble and disasters won’t reach us. So escape in the sense of fleeing, or breaking loose from confinement, may not be God’s will. However, escape in the sense of failing to remember things as we see them through the world’s eyes, yes.

It is a place for a valuable lesson. We may not always like the lesson, but God’s ways are not our ways and He sees eternity. We see the here and now. He knows where He wants to grow us and take us and He knows what it takes to get us there. He is concerned with our hearts and our spiritual growth; we are concerned with our comfort. He is concerned with setting us free, so our spirit and our attitudes soar above our problems; we want free so we don’t have to deal with our problems.

If we are to grow spiritually, we must understand, life is not about us and it’s not going to always be comfortable. Think about children and how they progress physically, socially, and mentally. We want our children to learn how to walk because it is a normal part of life. We stand them against the wall, move back and ask them to come to us. They take a step or two and then fall. They think the world ended, we know it didn’t, but they feel the pain. We tell them to deal with it, they aren’t really hurt and we try again. We don’t let them get by with crying, or giving up. If we did, we would need to carry them for the rest of their lives.

We want our children to get along with others, so we put them in school, sometimes even daycare so they can be around children their age and learn to work on social skills together. Sometimes they click with one person and are friends for several years, and then that friend’s family moves away. Ouch. Our child is now suffering some emotional turmoil. They don’t understand. Neither do we, but we don’t tell them to never make  friends again because we are afraid the same thing will happen. We help them make new friends because we know it is important for them socially.

Our children attend school. We send them so they can grow mentally. We want them to learn their alphabet, math skills, english skills, about history, music and so much more. I remember when my oldest daughter was learning to read. She would bring home a book with one or maybe two sentences per page. She would count the pages she had to read and then she would have a melt down. She cried and said she would never get finished. It took lots of patience, but she learned to read and she entered the third grade with a high school reading level. She still loves to read today. Suppose I had given up and let her do whatever she wanted. Where would her reading skills be today? She paid a minor discomfort to earn a reward with dividends.

I remember being around three or four years old watching my mother iron clothes. She told me several times, the iron was hot and not to touch it. I shook my head with understanding. She stood the iron on the board and turned around and my fingers went right to it. She didn’t lie. It was hot! My three little fingers burned red and the pain was intense. She ran cold water over them and then applied mustard, because someone told her the mustard would help to draw the heat out. Did she put the iron away and never teach me to iron clothes? No. She did wait until I was older so I could  properly hold the iron,  but she didn’t let me off the hook. She taught me how to properly use the iron without getting burned.

I run into His presence so I might learn to stand. He takes my weakness and gives me His strength. He takes my worries and turns them to passion. He takes my concerns and teaches me His ways.  He fights my battles, once I learn to be still. He takes my knowledge and gives me understanding. I give Him my fears, He gives me His peace. I confess my sins, He gives me His grace. I give Him my insecurities, He gives me hope. I give him my lack of trust, He gives me faith. I give Him my hates, He gives me His love. I long to stay and bask in His glory. He says go and tell others about me.

Crazy Faith that Impacted My Life

Years passed, then my life collided with God’s truth and I saw faith, not just mine, and the impact it has had on my life.

 

How much faith do you have? How much faith do you need? Jesus answers this question in Matthew 17:20. He tells the disciples faith as small as the size of a mustard seed has the power to move mountains, and with it, nothing will be impossible for them.  Skeptical? You are not alone. There was a time in my own life when this verse was brought to my mind and I prayed, but my prayer remained unanswered. I wondered, for many years, how a person acquired more faith, since I failed to have enough. Years passed, then my life collided with God’s truth and I saw faith, not just mine, and the impact it has had on my life.

My mother is a great story-teller and she delights in sharing her life experience with a colicky baby. Yes, that baby was me! She decided to go to work in the mill where my father worked second shift. She always states the obvious….. to get away from me to keep her sanity. She left my brother along with myself in the care of my father’s sister who had two boys at the time. This worked out well, until, my aunt’s third child was due.

My mother found another sitter, but as the story goes, I cried until I made myself sick and the sitter called my mother at work and asked her to come and get me. My mother then asked her neighbor to keep us, since her husband also worked a second shift, the time would work together perfectly. Once again, my mother had to leave work to take me home. She accepted defeat and was ready to quit her job, but then her other neighbor came to her and asked if she could try watching us. My mother said no. This lady was in her sixties and my mother didn’t think she could handle me, especially with my brother. The lady wouldn’t take no for an answer, so my mother agreed to let her try. She was a God send, my mother says. She didn’t know how she did it, but she was able to soothe me. She kept the two of us,  and my mother continued to work.

That lady became a surrogate grandmother to me. My father’s mother passed away before my parents married, and my mother’s mother passed away when I was six years old. I was as close to my Ma Hamby, which is what we called her, as any child could be to their grandmother. She treated me like a little lady from the beginning. She made me sit with her on the couch every night and read the Bible. She made sure I went to vacation Bible School, although she was way past attending herself. She loved me unconditionally. Although I didn’t know it, she paved the path to my own faith. She planted the seed and watered it for sure. What does crazy faith look like? A sixty-five year old woman approaching a mother with a colicky baby and asking to baby sit for her!

I recall a time when I was around nine or ten years old and I was riding my bicycle in Ma Hamby’s driveway, when I heard a soft, gentle voice say to me, God loves you! I didn’t hear it audibly, but I heard it in my heart where it matters most. I believed it! I knew at that moment, I didn’t have to do anything to be big or to impress God. He loved me when I was just being a kid on my bike. What does crazy faith look like? A child being a child and hearing the voice of God and believing in His love.

A pounding on our front door awakened us. I was out of school on Christmas break and my parents were off from work until after the Holidays. I raised my sleepy head, realizing it was early in the morning,  I thought my father had locked himself out of the house. I heard voices and my curiosity caused me to raise my head. I realized it wasn’t my father, but I couldn’t hear what was being said. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but my mother darted in my room and told me to get up and get ready. She informed me, we had to go to the hospital because my father had been in an automobile accident.

That prayer, the one I mentioned earlier regarding faith the size of a mustard seed, the one that wasn’t answered. Well here is where I prayed that prayer. My mother, brother and myself piled into my father’s small pickup truck and turned out of our driveway toward the hospital. That verse came to me! It was the Holy Spirit no doubt. That  nightly Bible reading with Ma Hamby, who was now deceased, planted God’s word in my heart. I don’t even remember learning or memorizing that verse, but there it was dangling out there for me to ignore or to act. I acted of course and prayed to God reminding Him, it only took faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains, to please make my father be okay. That’s it. A simple prayer and then I announced out loud everything was okay. I wasn’t the least bit concerned. Why? Maybe it was because I was only fourteen at the time. Maybe it was because I believed God would answer my prayer. I’m not even sure now, but I know my heart sank once we topped the hill where the accident had taken place and I saw the firetrucks, the ambulances, the state troopers, the flashing of the red and blue lights, and people lined along side the highway. What does crazy faith look like? A young girl prays for her father to be okay.

We never made it to the hospital. There was no need. My father died instantly in that wreck. Faith? I thought I didn’t have any. I somehow got the idea because my father died, my faith couldn’t move mountains, it couldn’t even make my father okay! Confused? You bet I was. Angry? Yes, but I turned my anger inward. For the next several years or more, I thought everything was my fault. I still prayed, because I wasn’t angry with God. I thought He must be angry with me. It took me way too many years to understand that fourteen year old girl in that truck that day wasn’t crazy when she prayed. She had crazy faith! My prayer was answered, just not the way I wanted it to be. God wanted me to trust Him during the upcoming turbulent years, and there were many trials and mountains to move from my heart. I see it so clearly now, but I couldn’t see it when God was carrying me.

I hope the readers of this will be encouraged. Many of you may be able to relate if you have ever had unanswered prayers. You may think God has neglected you or is angry with you, but I encourage you to get in God’s word and find out the truth. It is important to grow in your faith, so you can understand God’s word and His love for you. God does not confuse us. He wants us to know He is good and can be trusted with our lives. He desires a relationship with all and loves all of us unconditionally. He answers our prayers, but not always the way we want Him too. Sometimes, it’s no. Other times it’s yes, and sometimes, it’s wait. My prayer for all of you is that you give your life to Jesus Christ by admitting you have sin in your life and you are in need of a savior and then ask Jesus to come into your life, and then tell someone. If you already know Jesus as your savior, then I pray you will get in His word and study it, pray it so your relationship with Christ will grow. I pray you will find your crazy faith and tell us about it. God Bless.

 

The Picture Perfect Day

She hid his promise in her heart with no intentions of letting it go unfulfilled.

Lori clung to her farther’s legs. Tears streamed down her face as she pleaded. “Father, please let me go on vacation with Aunt Beth. I want to see the ocean!

“Not this time.” Her father uttered.

She buried her face in his pants squeezing tightly to muffle her scream. “It ’s not fair!”

Silence invaded the room. Lori wailed, but nothing changed. She knew her father’s decision prevailed over her childish actions.

“One day, sweet pea when you’re older, I’ll take you to see the ocean.” her Father promised.

His promise coated her tears for now, and Lori hid it deep inside her heart with no intent of letting it go unfulfilled. She despised the loneliness born an only child and the youngest in her family brought her.

The gentle bouncing of the car, the slight breeze blowing through the cracked windows and the sound of the roar from the tires against the payment reminded Lori of the lake. She imagined herself lying on a float rocking back and forth with the rhythm of the waves. She closed her eyes and fantasized about the ocean. She listened to the stories her cousins told her, about their trips to the beach, for as long as she cared to remember.

She thought about the blue skies and the sun beaming down on the white sandy beach causing each grain of sand to sparkle like small crystals. She imagined the clear, blue water splashing its waves on the shore pulling the sand from underneath her feet. She envisioned sea shells, by the hundreds, scattered across the shore, the smell of salt in the air, and the breeze constantly blowing through her hair.

She longed to walk on the pier that seemed to stretch a mile into the ocean. Her heart beat rose slightly as she wondered how the sun rising over the ocean appeared to burst from the depths of the water and then slide beneath its surface at sunset. She longed to see the light from the moon glimmer across the blue water breaking into rays of light and then dark again as the waves rolled beneath its sight. Her heart filled with excitement and she felt cold chills sweep across her body  from head to toe. She inhaled a deep breath sighed, closed her eyes and faded off to sleep.

The sound of heavy traffic stunk Lori’s ears waking her out of her sleep. She sat straight up, realizing they must be close to her beloved body of water, she so desired to see.  She wanted to get a peak of it as soon as it surfaced. They turned down one way streets this way and then that way. Lori’s excitement rose each time with hope of a glimpse of the beautiful blue water.

“There it is!” He said.

“Where?” Lori asked, her voice sounding sharp with excitement.

Her heart beat faster as she looked in the direction he was pointing. Her eyes widened as the water came into focus. She remained quiet as they drove down Beach Boulevard to find a parking place. She could hear the roaring of the waves as they walked through the gate to get to the beach.

The cool, wind swept through Lori’s hair sending cold chills across her arms. The gray clouds hid the sun and the blue sky from them. The water looked gray instead of the clear, aqua blue she expected to see. The waves seemed angry as they crashed against the beach splashing water across her legs. The water felt cold. She wore her swim suit underneath her shorts, and tank top. The harsh weather laughed at her choice of clothing; she was sure of it. The sand laid flat and wet on the beach and it appeared the color of rust. Seaweed and half eaten fish lined the beach. Trash clung to the seaweed as if it hoped the waves wouldn’t wash it into the ocean. The air smelled of rotten fish! The stench overpowered the salty air she remembered hearing about.

Two sea gulls glided in the air above them. They squealed and then swooped down and swiped a bite of lunch. They were the prettiest things around. Lori reached in her pocket and retrieved her camera. She gazed through her lens toward them and started snapping pictures. She took pictures of the water and hoped to capture the angry waves.  She took pictures of the beach hoping the trash and half eaten fish wouldn’t be visible in her photos. She was disappointed with the lack of color her photos would add to the photo album she had purchased for the trip.  She had even engraved “My Beach Trip” across the front.

She determined to make the best of the disks she purchased and continued snapping pictures. She finished one disk and put it in her pocket and then slipped the second disk inside her camera. She used all the film and motioned to her mother. There was nothing left to see , she was cold and she was ready to go.

Once they were back in the car, he told Lori this wasn’t a beach tourist flocked to. It was a port where ships docked and unloaded their catch for the day. It also serves as a gateway to the casino boats floating just off shore. Gambling, is what this beach is about.

“Oh and a strong storm came through a couple of days before we arrived,

that’s the culprit for the nasty beach.”  He enlightened her.

Lori shrugged. She slumped in her seat and forced her tears back.  It didn’t really matter at this point. Things didn’t work out the way they were suppose to anyways, so she couldn’t really blame him for the horrible beach he brought them to.  My photo album should read “The Worst Trip Ever” she thought, careful not to say the words out loud. She remained in the backseat for the long drive home.  She wrestled with her emotions.  It seemed life jaded her from the beginning. and things continued on a downward spiral since that horrid day Aunt Beth checked her out of school.

Just before lunch, Aunt Beth came to her school  and checked her out for the day.  Lori tried asking why she took her from school, but all she said was she needed to take her home. Lori’s curiosity piqued when she saw her parent’s vehicles in the driveway and several of their neighbors on the front porch. She ran inside to question her parents and found her mother crying. He didn’t suffer, she was told by someone she didn’t recognize. Lori froze. It occurred to her, someone seemed to be missing.  Her father!

“Who, wait, what?” Lori  muttered.

She placed her hand across her forehead hoping to stop the blood from rushing to her head so fast Her mother put her hand out to touch her’s. Through a broken voice, she said “Honey, your father died today.”

Several pieces of Lori’s  heart died that day too. The parts only a father could fill. The promises he made  shattered without a warning. The special occasions, cancelled! The loneliness she so despised, completely engulfed her.  She was told to be strong, keep moving forward, her father would want her to do just that. Lori wanted the world to stop, if even for a minute, and realize what it had lost in her father’s death! Didn’t they understand, there was loss that punctured a hole in her heart?

The days ahead turned bleak. Joy and laughter,  gone. Lori learned to suppress her feelings to hide her pain. Through damaged emotions, somehow, she trudged on. She was a senior in high school now, and she couldn’t wait to graduate! She hoped for a new season in life. She longed for an opportunity to escape the seemingly bottomless pit of this thing called life! She had grown tired of the loneliness and disappointments she encountered often. There to be something more!

Lori grabbed her time card and punched the clock. She strode out of the local grocery store, where she worked,  and walked next door to the pharmacy. Filled with excitement, she approached the counter and purchased her photos. She thanked the clerk and told him to have a nice day. She trotted to her car, started the engine and turned on the air. She slid her hand inside the thick envelope and slowly removed the photos. Holding them carefully in her hands, she inhaled deeply and looked down at the first picture which showed the two sea gulls in flight. Hmm, they appear very white and, amazingly,  the sky looks blue.

She shuffled to the next photo, another picture of the sea gulls flying closer to the water. Strange, Lori thought. The water is a beautiful blue and the picture is bright! She moved to the next picture. The sea gulls rested on the beach, the white sandy beach with grains  of sand sparkling like small crystals! The next picture, the ocean, blue, clear water with waves floating across the sandy white beach and the sun so bright , it was almost blinding in the picture. There were no ships or boats in the background.

Lori was beginning to question if the lab put the wrong pictures in her envelope. That is the only explanation I have, she was thinking as she flipped to the next picture. Lori’s hand flew across her chest as if to hold her heart. She gasped at the sight! Her father stood, by himself, on the beach in the white sand with the sun”s rays shinning all around him and the waves of water sweeping across his feet. She stared at the photo for some time admiring her father’s face like she remembered it. He appeared to be laughing. His skin glowed.

Picture after picture Lori saw her father standing or sitting on the beach with the ocean behind him. The sun shining bright against the blue sky above him. His mouth opened wide with laughter. Lori wondered what the laughing was all about. She couldn’t see anything except him. How did her photos take a gray, overcast day and turn it into a picture perfect day? She wondered to herself. She gripped the pictures in her hands not daring to look away. She lingered there in her car flipping through the photos again and again until the air condition started to roar. She put the car in drive and headed toward home.

The sound of her alarm clock interrupted her sound sleep. Lori reached over to her nightstand and slammed her hand against it. She worked the early shift today and she hated mornings. She stretched, yawned and threw the covers back. She glanced toward her dresser and caught a glimpse of her father’s picture. She plopped across her bed and started thinking about the dream. The wonderful dream of photographs she held in her hands of her father on a beautiful beach. Her heart felt as light as a feather. If only the photos were real, she lay thinking to herself. The pictures!

She jumped up and finished dressing. She was so distraught from their trip to the beach she put her camera on a small table in the living room and forgot about the disk. Today, she wanted to send the film to be developed. She grabbed her purse from her door and rushed to the table. There, on top of her camera, lay an empty package. Odd, she thought. She picked the camera up and flipped it over to open the back, and saw the disk was missing. Strange, my camera is right where I left it and the extra package as well, but both are empty.

“Mom!” Lori shouted, so her mother could hear her from the kitchen.

“Yes, dear. What is it?” she asked appearing in the doorway.

“Have you seen my disks?” Lori asked.

“Not since you put them right there on the table.” Her mother replied.

“The camera is here, but the two disks are missing.” She told her mother.

“Are you sure you left the disks there? Could they be in your

purse or your bags?” Her mother suggested she look in those places

before jumping to conclusions. Lori, her mother, and the man her mother married spent the next several days looking for her disk. They never appeared. Lori decided to abandon the search and surrender to what she already knew in her heart. She plopped across her bed and stared at the ceiling. She felt elated, light, and somehow renewed and full of hope.  The heaviness she carried in her heart seemed to have gathered some slight speckles of peace.

“Thank you daddy, she whispered, for keeping your promise to show me the

ocean. Thank you for the pictures you sent to me. I will treasure them in my heart forever.”

“Thank you God, for giving my father a picture perfect day on a beautiful beach and for capturing his laughter in the photographs. I will never feel the need to question your love for me again. It has pierced my heart and given me a peace that cannot be explained.” Lori prayed.

With her broken promise fulfilled, a piece of her heart mended. She tucked the moment deep inside it and cherished the fact it could never be taken from her. She understood what her father’s laughter was all about. She was absolutely convinced she was allowed to see a small glimpse of heaven through her father’s expression in those photographs. Heaven and laughter go together. Her father’s face reflected what she could not see behind the photos.  She treasured the experience and someday, she thought to herself, my eyes will behold that which was reflected on my father’s face and we will stroll through heaven together. Until then,  my heart will forever treasure the glimpses I saw through the photographs in my dream.

The Journey to Finding Our Business

The one thing we knew in our hearts, the wish to own a business deepened.  

The journey to finding our business started many years ago. When we launched the search for a business, we pursued those linked to grocery retail because we already knew the ins and outs of the grocery business. Our journey turned into weeks, months and then years. It opened our eyes to skills we never knew we possessed. It forced us to look beyond our narrow minds and embrace new ideas. It plummeted us from the familiar and forced us into unfamiliar territory.

First, we identified the reason for wanting our own business. Darrell’s lifelong dream included owning a business. However, our first priority triumphed any dreams of his.  We lacked quality time to spend with our family. Darrell worked as store manager of a local grocery chain. He worked long hours including every holiday (except Christmas Day), and most weekends. Before our children were born, I worked in the office of the same grocery chain.  Our only experience consisted of  grocery retail. We surveyed three stores and cooperated with banks to complete  the necessary paperwork. Three times our plans unraveled. Discouraged? You bet, but we continued to press forward.

We prayed.  We questioned why God allowed  us to go through this process and disappointment. No answers surfaced. God remained silent. The one thing we knew in our hearts, the wish to own a business deepened.  We discussed our reasons for pursuing a business and aligned them with our priorities. We realized, if we bought a grocery store, our family time would decrease. We opened our minds and explored all of our experiences.  We let go of previous thoughts and watched our true personalities surface. We acknowledged the gifts and talents we developed over the years. It was astonishing to realize we possessed more experience than previously thought.

Second, we refused to limit ourselves to our prior, professional experiences.  We thought the only possibilities available to must be linked to our grocery retail experiences. It made logical sense. However, this theory failed. We then sat down together and poured over our likes and dislikes including our strengths and weaknesses. We listed each other’s gifts, talents and abilities. The possibilities proved limitless. The revelation of this new knowledge grew our opportunities and expanded our boundaries.

Third, we kept an open mind. In the beginning, we possessed one goal, and that was to purchase a grocery store. With our new knowledge, we observed all businesses in our desired location, and discerned which ones best fit our priorities, personalities, strengths and abilities. These skills are important, because a business becomes your livelihood. Once it is yours, it requires attention. Absentee management destroys a business before it grows a chance to prove its  success.  Keeping an open mind presented opportunities we never gave a second thought.  We contacted owners and scheduled  times to meet with him/her. We asked questions and recorded notes. To our surprise, we purchased a business we never would have detected with our closed minds.

Someone informed my husband of a business for sale and provided him with the contact name and number. My husband lacked interest at first, but he decided to call the owner. His excitement soared with the information he received including the cost of the business. It margined well within our budget.  We met with the owner and became educated with the operations of the business. It proved doable with our abilities. We then made an offer and he accepted. Next, we entered the bank and spoke with a loan officer. He listened to us, and then disappeared for a few minutes. He returned with a check in his hand and wished us the best. My husband and I gazed at one other for a moment, and then decided we better deposit the money before he changed his mind. We couldn’t believe how easy it was to obtain the money.  After many times of failing to look good on paper, this banker just handed over the money, no questions asked!

We began our journey looking for a grocery store, and we purchased a concrete precasting company. In a nutshell, my husband makes septic tanks and storm shelters. He also sells the pipe and other items needed to install the tanks. How did this come about? We identified our reason for wanting a business. We refused to limit ourselves to prior experiences, and we kept an open mind to explore all possibilities.

We purchased our business January 1st, 2000,  and we still own it today. It continues to bless our family financially, but most importantly it blesses us with quality family time. We now enjoy weekends off as well as major holidays.  God answered our prayers, but not before teaching us these valuable lessons He reminded us, He is in control and in His perfect timing, He takes the impossible and makes it possible.

Echoes in My Heart——My Father’s Wisdom

Echoes in My Heart, written to honor my father on Father’s Day. I knew him briefly,  but his character and wisdom still impact my life. My father died in an automobile accident. Fourteen years old and heartbroken, I suppressed my emotions that I might survive. Grief eluded me back then. Years passed and I wondered into adulthood wounded and depressed. Thankfully, God’s grace intervened when parenthood arrived. My wounded heart healed and the sweet memories of my father flooded my mind. His wisdom impacted my life and my children reap the rewards. Echoes in My Heart portrays one way my father impacted my life. I hope you enjoy reading my story.

 

Echoes in My Heart

 I stomped to the truck and slammed my glove into the floorboard.  Tears streamed down my face. My father slid in the driver’s seat and gently spoke.  “I know you’re disappointed, but the coach never met you before today.” He said.

“I know, but I catch fly balls better than those girls.” I cried. “I wanted to pitch anyways, and play outfield.” “Kimberly, those girls know Mr. Terry  and they appear older and experienced. You catch fly balls without fear, you throw the ball infield quickly and you hit the ball almost every time, but you’ve never played on a team. I believe the catcher position suits you perfectly.” My father informed.

Catcher! One practice and because I seemed small, I received the crummiest position on the team. My brother played baseball and he pitched and played outfield. I dreamed of playing softball since I started school. My father and brother taught me to catch and hit the ball. I knew the game well and I enjoyed my competitive nature. It seemed natural to me. This year I arrived at the magic age of twelve, old enough to sign up for softball tryouts. My excitement turned to heartache once I learned our school terminated the softball program!  My father rescued my broken heart. He learned of a recreation team hosting tryouts a few miles away.  I knew no one, including the coach! I braved the awkwardness of the new girl  and tried out. I earned the catcher position. I was disappointed and embarrassed, but I agreed to play.

Game day arrived. I trotted to my position. I geared up, or down. Which is exactly how I felt, weighted down. No one could see me with all this stuff on. I seemed covered and hidden from the world. The chest guard felt heavy on my shoulders. The mask smothered me. The umpire hovered over me. The batter swung her bat inches over my head. The umpire yelled in my ears. I wanted out! I needed to stand and breathe. The experience overwhelmed me. I felt trapped, pushed down as if to be held there forever. Apparently the experience effected the way I played the game. I hadn’t realized it until my father appeared at the fence and motioned me to him. He informed me of several pop-ups I  missed. I listened not sure what to say. He told me to get up as soon as the ball was hit. If I could catch them behind the plate, catch them, otherwise be ready and keep my mind in the game. “Kimberly, I know you wanted another position, but this is the position your coach assigned you. Your responsibility is to play it just like you would play, if, you were playing the position you desired.” He explained.

I was young, but his words penetrated my heart. I did exactly what he told me. I caught the pop-ups. I got up as soon as the bat hit the ball. I stayed alert. Not many games after I received my words of wisdom, I heard Coach Terry tell my father, I was the best catcher he ever had on his team. My heart smiled. I swelled with pride. I glowed with delight when I made the all-stars team that year. Yes, I kept my catcher’s position.

The following  year my school reintroduced the softball program. I tried out for pitcher and earned the position. I played pitcher and outfield  for the next two years, but I never received another invitation for  the all-stars team. Funny thing, my father’s words never left my heart and I played those positions just as hard as I played catcher, but without a reward. Coach Terry and my father knew something I neglected to embrace. The catcher position suited me well. My father’s words echo in my heart today. His wisdom serves me well in times of need. I share this story often and my heart smiles every time.