95 Days (And Then Some)

95 Days (And Then Some)

On the evening of August 30, 2016, Stephen and I took what we thought was the last big step to launch our family’s transition from Texas to Tennessee. Our house was officially on the market. We braced for a quick sell and looked forward to making plans for our move. The only other time we’d sold a house, we had 4 offers by day 12, and everyone we knew kept telling us that this house would probably sell even faster. We had no reason to think this step would drag out for over 3 months. Nevertheless, day 12 came and went, then month 1, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving. Then, it happened. After 95 . . . NINETY-FIVE . . . days, 4 price drops, and almost 40 showings, WE GOT AN OFFER!

As you know from my previous posts, by this point my brain, heart, and even body are completely exhausted from the toll this one step has taken. It also wasn’t the most cut and dry process to finalize all the contract details. So celebrating didn’t come quite as easily as I thought it would. But still we gave thanks to a great God. We slept a little harder. We recognized that this was the release we had been waiting for, whether it looked the way we thought it would or not. So it should only get easier from here, right? Not so much.

Proverbs 16:9 says, In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Boy, are we learning this lesson in a real way. And yet, I’m proving to still be that stubborn, hardheaded, pouty child I revert back to when things don’t go my way. Every morning for 95 days I prayed for that to be the day we got an offer. We finally get an offer and at the first sign of struggle, I start whining and complaining. “Well that’s just great, all the houses we liked are now gone . . . but we need to be up there before our Texas closing date because Stephen has to start back to work on January 3rd no matter where we are  . .  . blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Nevertheless, we came up with what we thought was a good plan, then the bottom fell out when on day 99 we got the call that every seller dreads. Our buyer’s financing had fallen through so she had to back out of our contract. Well, super!

You can imagine the flood of doubt and questions that came rushing in almost immediately. At this point, any confidence I had developed in our ability to tell the difference between God’s voice and that of our flesh is shot. Is this the enemy trying to wear us down, or is the Lord continuing to build our faith? Is Satan pulling out all the stops to break us, or could this be God trying to tell us that we’ve been mistaken this entire time?

Away In A Manger

This is a guest post by Lauren Sparks who is “a wife, mom, fitness instructor, proud Baylor Bear, and grateful believer in Jesus Christ.” She shares the ups and downs of the faith of a special needs mom at The Sparks Notes and Facebook. If you are interested in writing a post for us, visit our Guest Post page. You can also view other guest posts by clicking here.

Away In A Manger

“No crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.” In my opinion, it’s one of the sweetest Christmas carols. Small children learn and sing it; and it brings to mind the gentle and serene picture of the new family our Savior was born into on a peaceful night (whether or not it really happened that way). But I heard a sermon on heaven at church that made me think about what God’s Son really gave up to be born here on the first Christmas morning. That manger – the feeding trough for horses and cattle – became an altar. To me, now, it’s a symbol of the sacrifices of Christ.

Revelation 21 gives us the vision of heaven given to John. We know from his account that there is no death, mourning, crying or pain there. It is described as brilliant, of pure gold with a wall of jasper adorned with every kind of precious stone. The “glory of God has illumined it”. Philippians 3:21 tells us that Jesus had (and now has again) a glorified body. I long for heaven and love to picture the magnificence of it all. The presence of God is everywhere, with nothing that can hinder communication and fellowship with Him.

The Struggle Is Real

The Struggle Is Real

There’s this wood art piece (art may be stretching it) I made years ago, hanging over our front door that was inspired by a song penned by a man named David Parker. David was my boss at 121 Community Church for 12 years, but will forever be one of my dearest friends and inspirations. He wrote this song called You Are God, You Are Good back in September of 2010. I remember the time so clearly because the second verse of that song, he told me, was greatly influenced by a situation going on in our family at the time. The words to that verse are:

There’s a mountain here,

And I know this mountain must be climbed,

What awaits brings fear,

But I know You will provide,

I know You will provide

David and his wife, Diana (along with other friends and family) were walking with us through a series of evaluations we were having done on Bishop, our oldest son who was 3 years old at the time, to determine if some concerns we had been having were valid. The day had come for Bishop’s screening at the Early Learning Center where the entire trajectory of our family’s life was altered. See, for about a year up to that point, we had been noticing some things that were red flags, but I was trying to find the balance between living in denial and being that alarmist mom who assumes the worst all the time. Nevertheless, here we were at his initial screening for a developmental delay. They took him off to another room to do his screening while I paced the lobby. After about 20 minutes, they brought him back to me, smiling his chubby little head off, completely unaware that the words that were about to come out of his new friend’s mouth would be like a knife to the gut. She proceeded to explain that they did notice a pretty severe language delay (okay, no surprise there, moving on) and that they think he would benefit from their services called P.P.C.D. (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities). Then she said with her sweet, nurturing voice “… and just so you know, we did notice a number of indicators of Autism.” Now what she said immediately after that is a complete blur because the room began to go dark and my head started spinning. My fears had been confirmed. That’s not what was supposed to happen today.

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Back to Basics

Back to Basics

It’s back to basics for me.

When my daughter turned 4 years old, the same age where a lot of my early memories start picking up steam, it prompted a nostalgia-laden look at what life taught me during those early years when a younger me wore Toughskins jeans and carried a Big Red Chief tablet and metal Star Wars lunch pail to school.

There is a book titled, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

I know the sentiment. From age 9 to 11, I thought I learned everything I needed to know about God the Father from the Old Testament, deeming Him a scary, hard-to-please overseer that doled out the 10 Commandments and a book full of Levite rules that made life hard for the Jewish people to live by.

I am not Jewish by blood, however, even as a gentile boy, I had a little taste of Judaic law.

My grandparents’ church, the only church I was familiar with, didn’t believe in the New Testament and didn’t teach it. For me, the Bible stopped at the conclusion of Malachi. Jesus wasn’t talked about. Christmas and Easter weren’t celebrated.

Instead, I remember “celebrating” the Feast of Unleavened bread around Easter, where every single possible crumb of bread was eradicated from the house for a week as a purification ritual. This meant I had to take matzo sandwiches to school for a week. Have you ever tried to keep baloney and cheese together while munching on two sheets of stale Manischewitz matzo crackers?

Radical Holiness

Radical Holiness

Several years ago, Stephen and I had finally reached a place financially where we could afford to use our tax return to do something we wanted, rather than sending it to pay off debt. The first thing on our list was to get rid of our old carpet that was covered in sippy-cup spots (can I get a witness?), vomit stains (thank you stomach flu), and just everyday grossness. I was finally getting new flooring! It was like 10 Christmas mornings put together!

The night before the crew was scheduled to come, we started moving all the furniture out of the living room. The last thing to go was the rug that had been lying in the same place for about 4 ½ years. We rolled that thing up and I was stunned. The carpet it had been covering up for all that time was at least 5 shades lighter than the surrounding carpet. It didn’t even look like the same flooring. It was so clean, while the rest of the carpet was worn, dingy, and disgusting. Why? This 5’x8’ rectangle was stainless and like new because, for the duration of most of its time in our house, it was covered and protected. It wasn’t exposed to the same level of wear and tear that the rest of the room was. It was shielded from the spills, muddy shoes, toddler brawls, and settled in grime. But as we were going about our days, we were oblivious to just how much damage was being done to the surrounding carpet until we saw the difference side by side.

Insert cheesy spiritual analogy . . .

Isn’t it so true though?

If you study the Bible from cover to cover, one of the most consistent themes you will find is the command and reminder to pursue holiness, to be set apart from the rest of the world.