Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spiritual Markers

I just finished a book called "Experiencing God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King. It's an amazing study. One of the things that they talk about in the book are our "spiritual markers" which are road signs, if you will, on our journey with God. They are things we have experienced that point us to where God is taking us.

Two days ago, I was on the second to last chapter and God opened my spiritual "eyes" to see what He has been doing in our home, with our children, in our small group, and in His plans for our ministry. It was an experience I definitely would never want to forget. I have a sense today that all the good God would have for us would completely overwhelm us if we could comprehend it. It was only a couple hours of quiet time and I was in awe. Honestly, I thought I would bust. I'm guessing that would sound unbelievable because how could there be too much of God's glory? I pray you find out for yourself!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What A Day

Faith and I went over to Mom's house yesterday to tie up some loose ends for the Hope Chest. We had about 7 boxes of items to be given away that I was planning to inventory and mom had agreed to distribute the items as needs in her community were brought to her attention. I was also going to help her make sure her bookkeeping was up to date. That was pretty much the agenda. We had an awesome day - one I wanted to write down and take note of because I knew it would be a day that changed the trajectory of things to come. August 13, 2010.

On the 2 and a half hour drive to Mom's, I got a call from a woman at Bank of America who says she works in the office of the president. I'd been working with her to try to get an issue resolved that had been going on for a year. When she called to say she believed it was fixed, I knew this wouldn't be an ordinary visit. God was going to do a great work in the two days we'd be there.

We arrived and Mom and I started catching up and Faith played with her favorite toys at Grandma's. We prayed for whatever needs came to mind over about a five hour period. Some situations we could feel a shift in immediately. It was awesome. Mom had to work, so we went with her to Ladysmith and Faith and I played at the park until she was done. The three of us headed to the Rusk County Fair afterwards and stayed there until about 6:45pm when a very menacing storm blew in. We left and went to Wal-Mart to buy a few things and then went back to Mom's house. We left Winter without seeing any thing I would call life changing or earth shattering. I am trusting God that what I sense about this day being a big deal is going to be made known down the line. And if I know God, what was happening in the heavens might just bring me to my knees.

The Story That Must Be Told

Soli Deo gloria ~ Glory to God Alone

In April 2006 we bought the house we live in now and within 2 months we could not make the mortgage payment. We had made the same mistake that many people did in the years around that time and we bought more house than we could afford. Coupled with some extremely poor money management skills, we should've been out of the house a long time ago. That actually wasn't God's plan.

I remember asking God, shortly after we realized we were in the middle of a train wreck, why He had allowed us to buy it. He could have stopped the process. To top it off, we had prayed and prayed over the decision. His answer was that many people would come to Christ in this house. I held onto that through some very, very bumpy years. I didn't know how these people coming to Christ would manifest and I really didn't believe we'd have much to do with it except maybe praying. I figured whoever lived here after us would see it come to pass. I was barely a Christian and we weren't extremely social people. I also didn't believe we'd be here very long.

To avoid foreclosure, the mortgage company gave us a modification which made our payments higher and added onto our debt. And then within a year, they were willing to give us another one. By this time I had learned that adding to our payment was going to hurt us so I said "no way". Dennis and I don't usually make big decisions until we are in agreement. Dennis reminded me that on the 2nd modification he felt God was saying that he wanted us to accept it. My response was "then God is going to have to change my heart" and He did. My aunt, who has only called a couple times in over ten years, called and talked to me about foreclosure. It was the Friday before the Monday that our house was supposed to be sold at a Sheriff's sale. We accepted the 2nd modification, which rose our payment more. Does this make sense to you? It didn't to me. And we still hadn't progressed to the point where we were close to having good money management skills.

Round three, our only working car died. We had to choose between a cheap car and the mortgage payment. Our credit was trashed and actually by this time both of us wanted nothing to do with more credit, even if we could've gotten a loan. So once again we faced foreclosure. This time I was adamant - no way, no how. If (and that was a big "if") we could get a modification, I was not, under any circumstances accepting it unless it lowered our payment. God was a big enough God to meet me where I was at and I thought I was standing firm on His principals. Surely He would not want us to take on more debt. That thought was insane. We had started going to money management classes at our church and had consulted a few different debt counseling agencies. At this point, every person we talked to advised us to file for bankruptcy. Our situation was impossible. If you are a Christ follower, you know that nothing is impossible with God. The Bible says He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and all we have is His. It was about time to start believing that if He wanted us here, he would provide.

By modification #3, we had been through two different money management classes and I had a dollar figure in mind for what our payment should be based on our income. Lots of stuff had changed since we moved in. We had learned a lot, implemented a lot of what we learned, cut expenses, increased our income and could comfortably make some payment. And my husband was getting raises and promotions in the midst of an economic downturn. God was definitely in the middle of it all. About 6 months into this default and 6 months before the modification was signed, God had told me that our situation would be resolved with a 5/1 ARM. If you don't know what an ARM is, it is an adjustable rate mortgage. And a 5/1 ARM means it adjusts one time after 5 years. This totally boggled my mind. With a house that wasn't worth what we owed and cruddy credit, how would we get a new mortgage? And mortgage companies were no longer giving out mortgages like candy, especially ARMs, which were being blamed for the tremendous real estate crisis our country was facing.

After months and months, one day a modification offer showed up on our doorstep. We didn't know it was coming but when I saw the FedEx envelope, I knew what it was. I had just had a conversation with my closest Christian friend before it arrived and we were talking about the possible foreclosure. She and her husband were also going through the process and were on their third modification. God is so good and gracious to us. We were chatting and I said "$1600 is the limit. If we get a modification more than that, I'm not signing." On paper, that's all we could afford and that was my line in the sand. And she said, "If it's a little more, you could get a part-time job or something." That nudged my line and I agreed. The modification came and the new payment amount was $1611.16. It was also a 5/1 ARM. I was overwhelmed with the way God had cared for us and I wept.