Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Summer Flashback

"But don’t just listen to God’s word. YOU MUST DO WHAT IT SAYS.
Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves."  James 1:22

This week's warm weather has me reminiscing about the summer and some of the things God did that I have yet to share.

I actually need to back up to spring - spring break to be exact.  My family and I went to the beach that week.  On the way home, it was raining pretty hard.  As we drove by a hotel, something caught my eye near the bushes along the road.  It was a homeless woman, and she was getting soaked.

My heart was heavy for her.  I wanted to turn around but we were in the midst of thick traffic on the highway.  Stuck.  No way to turn around. Ugghhh! 

God etched that lady in my mind and in my heart. 

Within 12 hours of getting home, God had me take food to the Charlotte Rescue Mission to help with their Easter meal.  *There's a whole God-story behind this too.  Let's just say that God used a news story, a question from my sister-in-law, and a broken computer to prompt me to act. But it all started with seeing the homeless lady at the beach.  WHATEVER  IT TAKES!*

Then, God planted another idea.  He had me gather all of the strap bags I could find at my house and fill them with supplies and food from The Dollar Store for folks who were homeless.  Once packed, I put the bags in my van and waited for God's prompting. 

I prayed over each bag and for the people who would receive them.  I asked God to lead me to the specific people He wanted to have them.  I should add that God had me make one bag specifically for a female too.

With the bags ready, I kept my eyes open for people in need, particularly when I went to Target on South Blvd in Pineville.  Homeless folks often stand at the stop light between The Dollar Store and Chick-fil-a holding a sign. 

On 2 different occasions, I was leaving The Dollar Store and saw someone standing with a sign at the stop light.  As I drove towards them, I asked God to have them wait for me if one of the bags was for them.  Both times, they were GONE!!!  It took me less than 30 seconds to get to them, but there was NO TRACE of them when I got to the light!  Obviously, the bags were not for them.

Faith Wrenn was with me when 3 of the 4 bags were given away.  She spotted all 3 of the people too - long before I did!!!  What a blessing that she got to experience God this way!

Here's Faith Wrenn with the last bag as we waited in traffic to give it to the young man she spotted.  We also gave him a Chick-fil-a coupon, and he made a mad dash to CFA to use it.

Hang on - there's more.  Keep reading to find out the rest of this story and how it relates to the next story :)

For the past 3 summers, I've had the privilege of going to Student Life Camp with our youth group from church.  For the 2nd summer in a row, our camp was held at Lee University in Cleveland TN.  There were over 1600 people at this last camp.  That's a lot of mouths to feed at one time. 

In the cafeteria, there were 4 serving lines, all serving the same thing.  Almost every time I went through the line (no matter which one it was), the same young lady waited on me.  I always spoke to her and asked her how she was doing.  She was a hard worker and moved pretty fast so we never had a chance to have a real conversation. 

The night before we left, I had just finished eating dinner when God hit me up side the head (because I am such a slow learner!!) and said "Umm, have you not noticed that no matter what line you get in, the same young lady waits on you??!!!  Don't you think you should go speak to her NOW & find out her story??!!! Don't forget to tell her that I sent you!"

I barely had 10 minutes before I had to meet my family group (small group) for prayer time.  So, I quickly headed back to the serving area but didn't see her.  I told another worker who I was looking for and asked them to please get her for me.  Within a couple of minutes, she appeared.

Meet Jennifer from NIGERIA!!!  Yes, you heard me right - she is from AFRICA!!!  No wonder God wanted me to go talk to her.  Jennifer came to the U.S. to go to college and become a doctor.  She had just started working in the campus cafeteria a few days before we arrived!  ONLY GOD!!! 

And check out the shirt she has on.....
It's for BREAST CANCER!!! I took that as another indication that God had ordained our meeting.  We exchanged cellphone numbers and e-mail addresses like we had known each other for a while. 

It's been 5 months now since we first met and we talk, text, or e-mail nearly every week.  Jennifer is such a positive person, and she loves the Lord!  Things have been challenging for her this semester, but she continues to trust God and His plans for her - no matter what.  She is a blessing in my life. 

Please pray for her as she works really hard to afford school and will not be able to see her family again for a few years.

Did I mention what a blessing Jennifer is in my life?!!  Out of all the people at Lee University that week at camp, God introduced me to Jennifer from NIGERIA!!!  ONLY GOD!!!

Two days after returning home from camp, Faith Wrenn and I went to Columbia to help my friend Leann move.   We left early Saturday morning and decided to stop for breakfast at Chick-fil-a in Fort Mill on the way.  Right before we turned into CFA, I was thinking about the bag I had in my van that God had me make for the homeless female in need.  I wondered if I would meet her today in Columbia.

Faith Wrenn and I went through the CFA drive-thru and started to pull out onto the road when Faith spotted her - a woman on the other side of the road holding a sign for help.  I immediately pulled over and jumped out of my van to introduce myself and see what I could do to help.  As I got closer, here's what I saw...


Meet Pam.  (She asked that I not show her face so I am honoring her request.)  She and her adult son were living in the woods near CFA in a tent - in the blistering heat of summer.  She shared part of her story with me, and my heart broke for her.  I shared Jesus with her.  Then I gave her "her bag" and she let me say a prayer for her. 

When Faith Wrenn and I got back from Columbia, we tried to find Pam again to give her 4 gallons of water she had asked for.  But we couldn't find her.  I'm not sure what happened to her, but I have no doubt that God ordained our meeting that morning and had me make that bag especially for her!!!  God used her breast cancer hat to confirm that!!!

Doesn't God just blow your mind??!!! 

Within 3 days, He put 2 precious women in my path - BOTH OF THEM WEARING PINK BREAST CANCER ATTIRE!  I know that (the pink) was God's way of giving me a hug from heaven :) 


During this time, I was praying for 2 things: 1) "God, break my heart for what breaks Your heart" and 2) "God, use me.  Use me to be the answer to someone else's prayer/need" - I was inspired by Bruce Wilkinson's book "You Were Born For This".

And GOD ANSWERED!!!  To Him be ALL the praise, ALL the honor, and ALL the glory!  GOD IS SO AMAZING!!!  SO AMAZING!!! 

He (Jesus) told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field."  Luke 10:2 

What about you?  Are you available to God - for His purposes?  For His people?  For His will?  I sure hope so.  Our lost & hurting world needs you.  Your co-workers need you.  Your neighbors need you.  Your family needs you.  Your spouse needs you.  Your children - the next generation - need you. 



Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Broken Hearted

I've written several blog posts in my head this week, but none of them have made it to print yet.  I woke up this morning thinking about this one though, and thought it should be short enough for me to finish before the rest of my house wakes up.  Usually, short & my blog do NOT go together.  We'll see :)

Last Sunday, Shawn and I were given tickets to the Carolina Panthers game.  After church, we got our kids settled and headed Uptown.  During our Sunday afternoon hike stroll from the car to the stadium, a sign caught my eye.

"feed the spirit   nourish the soul" (with a TREE in the middle)

I immediately thought, "There must be a church in that building.  How cool is that!"

But as I got closer, I realized that I was sadly mistaken.

"Bar 10" in the black circle

"Lobby Bar" in the black circle

It was an advertisement for a BAR!!! 


The only thing that truly feeds the spirit and nourishes the soul is JESUS CHRIST and HIS TRUTH!!!  Not alcohol.  Not a bar.

This sign really upset me. 

It was a lie. 

A bold-faced lie. 

A lie from the pit of destruction.  

A lie from the father of all lies who seeks to kill, steal & destroy. 

And yet, as we walked into the stadium, it became apparent (pretty quickly) that many, many people believed this lie to be true.  Alcohol was everywhere!  Honestly, it took a long time to find someone withOUT a beer in their hand.  I was surrounded by alcohol.

When we got to our seats, my sensitivity to alcohol was heightened even more.  I couldn't speak. I could only observe as the words on that sign kept repeating themselves in my head. 

I wondered what the father in front of me was trying to escape from.  What was happening in his life that had him more interested in his next drink than spending time with his young son sitting next to him.  He spent more time on beer runs than he did watching the game with his son.  Was he believing the lie?  Was he expecting alcohol to feed his spirit and nourish his soul?  Or was he just looking for numbness?

Or what about the couple who had to literally lean on each other so they wouldn't fall over (or spill their drinks)?  They were quite intoxicated, and it was just the 1st quarter!  What had such a grip on them that alcohol falsely appeared to loosen it for the moment?

Or what about the young lady carrying all the cups of beer that she could possibly balance to her boyfriend behind us?  Was she searching for his approval?  Or trying to secure his love?  What was she really longing for or trying to prove?

The examples could go on and on.  It was heart breaking to me.  Alcohol was everywhere.  But more important than that, HURTING PEOPLE WERE EVERYWHERE!  Alcohol was merely a mask covering their internal pain.   

I knew from my reaction that this experience was another answer to my prayer - "God, break my heart for what breaks Your heart."   He opened my eyes a little bit wider and touched my heart a little bit deeper for those hurting around me - for those searching to feed their spirit and nourish their soul with alcohol and other false remedies. 

It was pretty intense. 

I was so preoccupied with what God was showing me that I don't remember watching much of the game.  And I'm a huge football fan. 
Ironically, I had to crop empty beer bottles out of this picture!
It grieves God when we turn to things of this world instead of to Him to feed our spirit and nourish our soul.  It breaks His heart when we believe lies! 

*God was merciful to me though. The 2 guys sitting to my right drank their Cokes and talked about church & Scripture!!! They were a refreshing gift from God. A sign of HOPE!

God has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 2:10.)  He created us to have a very close & personal relationship with Him.  He made us for His glory.  Satan on the other hand wants nothing more than to prevent us from fulfilling our God-given destiny.  He will do whatever it takes to derail us, and alcohol is just one of his many, many pawns.

In the midst of blue & black hair, painted faces, and panther costumes, I wanted to stand up and yell - but not for the game!!!  I wanted to tell people the Good News!  I wanted to share the Message of Hope with them!  I wanted to tell them about Jesus, the Satisfier of their soul!!!  I wanted to encourage them to put down their beer and pick up God's Word (which has the answers they are searching for!)  I wanted them to embrace & experience God's love and be as passionate for Him as they are for football!   

I wanted to, but I didn't. 

But isn't it interesting that if I would have stood up and started talking about God, I would have been considered the crazy one!  An unstable weirdo! Mothers would have grabbed their children and ran in the opposite direction!  I'm in the midst of grown men & women wearing blue wigs and panther paint yelling at the top of their lungs at 22 men running around on a field, mind you, but I would have been considered the crazy one! 

HELP ME HERE!  This just doesn't make any sense!!!  We have been blinded and lied to.  It's time to replace the lies with His Truth!!!

So, I've been praying all week for God to show me what He wants me to do with this revelation.  And in response to my prayers, He has shown me some very basic steps to begin taking. 

The first one is to pray for 30 days and seek God's wisdom regarding what specific group or cause He wants me to get involved with.  There are so many needs!  Sometimes, we can become so overwhelmed that we end up doing nothing at all!!!  He's created each of us with talents, gifts, passions & dreams to be used to glorify Him while loving others.  Instead of getting involved in a whole lot of things and stretching myself thin, I feel very strongly that God wants me to get involved with a few things and do them well. 

If you need some motivation, check out Rachel Wheeler's story (PLEASE ignore all of the worldly advertisements surrounding it! It just proves the point of this post!!! I couldn't find a news story that didn't have worldly stuff flashing all around it!!!!! SO UPSETTING!!!) or the story of Katie Davis

The second thing is to reach out to people I know personally who are already hurting - family, friends, neighbors, etc.  It may be as simple as a hug, a text, a card, or a phone call.  Or, it may require more sacrifice.  But the important thing is to be aware of the people around us and to obey God's prompting to help them when needed.

The third thing is to make myself available to God which requires having a flexible schedule instead of one jam packed with activities all the time.  God has given me some opportunities recently to see Him in action when I've been available.  The details of those opportunities will be coming soon in another post.

As believers of Jesus Christ, we are called to action.  To reach out.  To help.  To give.  To get involved.  To forgive.  To share Christ.  To glorify God.  To obey.  Not to complacency.  Not to busyness.  Not to safety.  Not to comfort.  Not to our "To Do" list. 

We are called to LOVE! Not in our own strength, but in the strength & power of God's Holy Spirit - the only Spirit that truly does feed us and nourish our soul.

We have THE answer.  We have what other people are longing for.  We have JESUS.  But, are we sharing Him?  People are starving spiritually all around us.  Are we feeding them?  Their souls are malnourished.  Are we giving them an eternal life line?

As His children, it's our responsibility to "feed His lambs, take care of His sheep, and feed His sheep" based on John 21.  BUT ARE WE? 

Or are we just selfishly feeding ourselves and getting fat while sitting around the table??!!!

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Faith Like a Child

At our house, we love to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.   We have already turned in several boxes through the children's ministry at our church, but my kids wanted to do more.  Faith Wrenn grabbed 11 empty boxes from church last Sunday as a matter of fact.  And this Sunday night, our youth will be filling tons of boxes as they compete by grade level to see who can fill the most.

Last year, Tanner's 8th grade group packed over 500 boxes!!!

It was so much fun that some siblings & some 7th graders joined in too. 
Faith Wrenn and I can't wait to help out again this year.

And God birthed the goal of 500 boxes in the heart
of this sweet young lady, Danielle. 
Look what a difference one person can make
when she chooses to TRUST GOD & OBEY HIM! 

The other night I was on-line making a donation to OCC to cover the cost of our boxes when I saw the option to print out labels with bar codes to track our boxes.  This would allow us to find out what country our boxes went to.

When I mentioned this to Faith Wrenn, she said, "Mom, you know where our boxes are going.  You know."

Me:  "So are you saying we don't need to track our boxes?"

Faith Wrenn:  (Rather matter of factly) "Exactly.  We don't need to track our boxes because we KNOW where they are going." 

She was referring to AFRICA!!!

Oh, to have faith like a child!

We actually ended up doing 12 boxes instead of 11. 
This way, we were able to do 2 boxes for each age group & gender.
There's still time for YOU to do shoeboxes too.  Just click here to find a drop-off location near you. What a great way to share the love of Jesus with children all over the world. 

Remember, one person can make a difference in the lives of others when she/he chooses to trust God & obey Him.

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Is What Motivates Me To Pray

After my friend Sheri moved into her new ranch style house, she gave me her fire escape ladder since our bedrooms are upstairs.  I put it on the floor in my bedroom until I could figure out the best place to store it.

One morning, Faith Wrenn comes into my room and spots the box.

Faith Wrenn: "What's this, Mom?"

Me:  "It's a fire escape ladder that attaches to your window sill so you can climb down to the ground in case of a fire."

Faith Wrenn picks the box up, puts it on my bed, and opens it.  As she's taking the ladder out, she says, "This thing is loud."

Me:  "If there's a fire and you have to use it, no one's going to notice how loud it is."

Faith Wrenn:  "Yeah, but how I am supposed to sneak out??!!!"

OH. MY.  She's not even a teenager yet!  SHE IS ONLY TEN!!! 

Now, you know why I pray ALL the time!!!

Obviously I won't be storing the ladder in her room :)

"Pray without ceasing!"  1 Thessalonians 5:17

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just Call Me Jonah

It all started 2 weeks ago when Tanner had an orthodontist appointment at 3:40 p.m. in Fort Mill.  The problem - no students are allowed to be released from his school between 3:00 - 3:30 p.m. and the carpool line is slower than molasses.  Not to mention that Tanner's last class of the day is a core class that he does not need to miss.

With that being said, Tanner & I came up with a plan to make a quick get away from school at exactly 3:30 p.m.  But as I sat in my van waiting for Tanner, I watched at least 6 students be released early between 3:00 - 3:30 p.m.!!!  I was a little upset.  Then when the carpool line flubbed up our get away plan, I was a little more upset.  Of course, we caught every single red light on the way to the orthodontist and finally arrived 20 minutes late. 


Instead of apologizing to the ladies at the front desk for being late, I chose to share my frustration with them.  Not good.  One of them felt my pain and apologized to me!  But the other one wasn't amused - at all.  The phone rang so she was able to politely remove herself from the conversation.  I'm sure she was relieved.

I was just so aggravated!  Fortunately, they were able to still see Tanner.  He had separators (spacers) put in to make room for an appliance that was to be put in later to reposition his jaw.  While sitting in the waiting room, I knew I owed those ladies an apology, but I didn't do it.  I was too wound up, and my pride got in the way.

So, God allowed one of the spacers to fall out that night while Tanner was sleeping.  I called the orthodontist office the next morning & was given an 8:00 a.m. appointment in Rock Hill on Tuesday 11/1 to have the spacer put back in.  At that appointment, I talked myself out of apologizing again. 

Then, Tanner had an appointment on 11/2 in Rock Hill to have the appliance put in.  When we got there, the one lady I really needed to apologize to (the unamused lady) wasn't at the desk.  So, I decided to do my Bible study while I waited for Tanner.  Guess what Scripture my Bible just happened to open up to as I was looking for 2 Samuel??!!!

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.  Jonah 3:1-3

Why is this so significant you ask.  Well, notice in the first part of the verse that it says the word of the LORD came to Jonah a SECOND time.  God had already told Jonah to go to Nineveh once, but Jonah did not obey Him.  Instead, he ran from God and ended up being swallowed by a big fish for 3 days.  Once the fish spit Jonah out, Jonah's heart had changed but God's word for Jonah had NOT changed.  It was still the same - go to Nineveh. 

Good ole Jonah!

I knew God was telling me to apologize for a "SECOND" time (I was actually on my 3rd time at this point) and no matter what, He was NOT going to change His mind.  (How funny is God....I was in Rock Hill and Rock Hill is my Nineveh!)

Then, the "unamused" lady appeared.  She walked through the waiting room on her way out to lunch.  It was the perfect opportunity for me to be obedient and apologize.  We were the only 2 people in the waiting room.  I had God's Word on my lap as a reminder too.  But, I did NOT do it!!!  At the last second, I didn't do it.  


No excuses.  I just didn't do it.

But don't think God let me off the hook that easy.  When they went to put Tanner's appliance in, it did not fit.  They had to schedule another appointment for 11/10 to try again.  I just laughed.  I couldn't get upset about having to come to the orthodontist 4 times in 2 weeks because I knew it was God giving me yet another chance to apologize.  If I would have done it the first time, I feel certain none of this would have happened! 

I'll admit I'm a very slow learner!  And very "stiff-necked!"   But by the grace of God through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, I am a forgiven and redeemed child of God! I am so grateful that God is "a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love." (Jonah 4:2)

This morning, I was ready though.  I begged God to let the "unamused" lady be at the desk when we got there - and she was!  I walked right up and apologized (after saying a prayer outside before we walked in so I wouldn't lose my nerve again :)  The ladies at the desk graciously accepted my apology too.  A weight I had been carrying around UNNECESSARILY for 2 weeks was finally lifted off my shoulders - and off my heart.

As an added bonus, Tanner (unintentionally) heard the whole thing.  How humbling. 

I am so glad that God is a God of second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. chances!  Aren't you? 

Even when we find ourselves in a deep pit of sin and the shovel is in our own hands, God is there.  Waiting.  Waiting to pull us out.  Waiting to help us through our circumstances & consequences.  Waiting to forgive us.  Waiting to use us for His glory.

 I waited patiently for the LORD;
   He turned to me and heard my cry.
  He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD. 
Psalm 40:1-3

What an AMAZING GOD we serve! 

Oh yeah, after 4 orthodontist appointments in 2 weeks, Tanner still does not have his appliance!  As a matter of fact, he will not be getting it any time soon!  His orthodontist said there has been some changes in the growth & movement of his jaw, and the appliance is not the answer right now! 

Ha Ha Ha!  ONLY GOD! 

God loves me so much that He will do whatever it takes to teach me, mold me, and change me into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ.  And for that, I am forever grateful.

God loves you that much too!  You can NEVER out sin God.  There is nothing in your past, present or future that the blood of Jesus Christ can't (and doesn't) cover.  NOTHING.  

All you have to do is accept His forgiveness & love and let Him transform your life.  His hand is reaching out to you.  He wants to pull you out of your pit.  Will you drop your shovel and take hold?  He's waiting.  For you.       

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,
Nancy Jonah

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God at Work

On Tuesday mornings, I attend a ladies Bible study at my church.  Yesterday, I sat at a table with this beautiful young lady...

Her name is Emily.

During the course of our conversation, Emily asked me about my upcoming trip to Africa.  She asked which countries we were going to and if we would be going to an orphanage.

I told her we were going to lots of orphanages to love on lots of children in 2 different countries.

She said that God had laid Africa on her heart.  She knew she couldn't go to Africa any time soon because she has a 2 year old and a 9 month old, but she definitely felt led to be involved there.

Then she shared that while she was making pillow case dresses for her Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, she sensed that God wanted her to make some dresses for Africa too.  She asked me if I would be interested in taking the dresses with me to Africa.

With my mouth wide open and tears welling up in my eyes, I almost fell out of my chair!  I couldn't believe my ears!

You see, when we went camping 2 weekends ago Robert, one of our camping buddies who recently returned from his 2nd trip to Africa, shared some of his mission trip stories & pictures with me and my husband. 

He told us about the ladies on his team making (& recruiting other people to make) pillow case dresses for the girls they ministered to in Africa.  When I saw the pictures of the girls receiving their dresses & how excited they were, I looked at my husband and said "I wish I could sew!"  The expression on the girls' faces (when they got their dresses) was priceless!

Now, here was Emily telling me that God had her making pillow case dresses for Africa!!! 

She made 5 dresses Monday - before she even knew how the dresses were going to get to Africa!  And yesterday she made several more while her kids were napping!  Check out these dresses...

Are they not just absolutely adorable??!!!

Then when I told Emily we were going to Uganda & Kenya, her face LIT UP!  Kenya is the country God has laid on her heart!  W.O.W. 


She can SEW and I can GO!  That my friends is how our Almighty God works!!!

He is the Father to the fatherless!  And He is having new dresses made for his precious girls in Kenya!

When God prompts you to do something, DO IT!  Especially when it doesn't make sense or you don't have all of the details.  TRUST HIM and DO IT! 

Here are a few side notes:

1)  Emily has been searching for a way to use the gifts & talents that God has given her.  She wants to share His love with others and fulfill His plans & purposes.  During this season of her life as a young wife & mom, making pillow case dresses is something she can do to have an impact for Christ!  She is making herself available to God!  She is following His prompting!  She is glorifying Him!      

2)  I couldn't wait to tell Robert & his wife Stephanie about the pillow case dresses!  I figured I would have to hunt them down on Facebook or get their contact info from a mutual friend.  Wrong!  When I got home & checked my e-mail, there in my inbox was an e-mail from Robert's wife Stephanie!!!  God brought her to me!

3)  My cellphone doesn't work in a lot of areas around town.  I had it sitting on my lap last night & noticed that I had missed a call.  It apparently went straight to voice mail due to my location because it never rang.  Anyway, I listened to the message while sitting in the driveway of one of the 9th grade girls I was picking up for Tuesday night small group.  The message was from Nancy, a dear lady at church who I've been in several Bible studies with over the years.  Guess what?  Emily is her daughter!  I had NO idea!!!  I never connected the dots.  After listening to Nancy's message, I apparently made a comment out loud because one of the girls in my van asked me what was going on.  Ahhh, the perfect opportunity to share this God story with the next generation!!!

Don't you just love how God works!!!  

Loving HIM with all  my heart & soul,

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Garage Sale Chronicles - Part 4

The Final Chapter (sort of!)

Well, it's only taken 4 posts and 3 weeks to share everything God did through the garage sale for Africa!!!  I'll warn you in advance, this post is quite long.  I make no apologies for that though.  Our God is very detailed and so is this post about His garage sale.  He is so incredibly amazing! 

I'll just pick up where I left off from Part 3.  It's now Friday October 14, the day before our sale.  Honestly, I was dragging a little after prepping for 12+ hours on Thursday.  But, I did manage to make it to Sheri's around lunch time.  As soon as I got there, I opened up the passenger door of my van to get a bag out and look what God did for me.....

He sent me a rainbow* to remind me that He was with me and that I was doing exactly what He wanted me to do for the orphans in Africa.  His presence was overpowering!!! I of course responded in tears!  And in praise!  W.O.W.  Only God!!!

*In case you are new to my blog, God uses rainbows as a visual reminder to me.  Rainbows are His way of telling me that He is with me & loves me, He is faithful & will keep ALL of His promises, and He is trustworthy.  God started using them during a very difficult time in my life about 7 years ago when my world turned upside down, and my family & I had to move back to York County. My friend Leann left me a voice mail message one day saying she was praying for me to see rainbows so I would remember that God loves me and was with me.  At the exact moment that I was listening to her message, the sunlight came through the glass on our front door and made rainbows all over our living room floor!!!  ONLY GOD!!!   

Then that same week, I had a couple of job interviews.  I was exhausted & overwhelmed due to our circumstances, but I had to re-enter the workforce.  So, I asked God to let me see a rainbow at the place He wanted me to work.  I went on my 1st interview and was given a grand tour of the entire place - but never saw a rainbow.  At my 2nd interview, I did not see a rainbow either.  But just as I was about to leave, the school principal decided to introduce me to someone that I would work with if I took the job.  This person just happened to be working with Mrs. Prange's 2nd grade class at the time.  When I walked through the door of that classroom, RAINBOWS WERE EVERYWHERE!!!  GOD IS SO AMAZING!!!  Needless to say, I took that job!*

Sorry about that!  We went camping recently with some of our "old friends" from Chapin and I guess I'm still in "reminiscing mode."  But, God does tell us to remember what He has done for us :)  Okay,  okay.  Back to the garage sale. 

After I saw the rainbow on the bag, I was re-energized! So, I unpacked & priced some more items until it was time for my children to get out of school.

As I was getting ready to leave, I just looked at all of the stuff and thought this is merely "our excess,"  "our outgrown,"  "our get rid of it to make room for more."  If the truth be told, giving this stuff away to be sold in a garage sale was not a sacrifice for the majority of us.  It was probably a relief. 

If you've ever been exposed to severe poverty, especially in a 3rd world country, your view of "stuff" has most likely been radically changed.  Honestly at times, I am repulsed by it ("stuff.")  We have so much in this country compared to the rest of the world, and yet we want MORE!!!  Our pursuit of more stuff is a crafty tool satan uses to keep our focus off of God & what's really important.  And the sad part is, we fall for it hook, line, & sinker over and over again.   Okay - I'm getting off my soapbox now.....

FYI: the bag with the rainbow on it contained another one of Tina's pearls of garage sale wisdom - empty bags.  You need to make sure you have lots & lots of shopping bags and empty boxes for your garage sale customers to put their purchases in.

After dinner, I kidnapped picked up Heidi for the night and headed back to Sheri's house.   Sheri was hosting a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) game night at her house!!!  Crazy, huh?  Packing, moving, garage sale stuff takeover in the garage, MOPS takeover in the bonus room & kitchen!  THANKS SHERI!  You are a brave woman :)

Once at Sheri's, Heidi & I jumped right into organzing and moving stuff around in the garage while listening to lots of laughter coming from the bonus room directly above us.  Then, I got a text from my friend Kathy asking for Saturday morning details.  She also wanted to know if we were going to wear matching or the same color shirts.  Well, I had not thought about that.  When I mentioned it to Heidi, she suggested I call my friend Mia and ask about borrowing Victory Sports shirts for everyone to wear. 

So, around 9:00 p.m. on Friday night, I called Mia about shirts.  She graciously agreed (without any hesitation) and told me how to get them.  THANK YOU MIA!!!

Heidi decided to stay & work while I went to pick up the shirts.  Since I needed a flashlight, I decided to swing by my house to get one and to take Faith Wrenn with me for a little adventure.  

We headed over to the equipment building in the dark and started hunting for shirts.  Faith Wrenn held the flashlight for me, but I was still straining to see the sizes in each shirt.  About 5 minutes into this adventure, Faith Wrenn said, "Mom, why don't we just turn the light on??!!!"  And she flipped the switch!  I knew there was a reason I brought that girl with me!  THANK YOU FAITH!!!
Faith also talked me into throwing the frisbee and passing the soccer ball for a few minutes too.

By the time I got back to Sheri's, all of the MOPS ladies had finished shopping and Sheri's daughter Tori had a handful of cash!!! 
We were off to a great start!  THANKS MOPS LADIES!!!

Now, back to work.  Heidi took charge & started moved tables around.  Our biggest challenge was the clothes - the boxes & boxes of clothes!!!
Thankfully, Tori had a plan for organizing the clothes,
especially since they kept multiplying!!!

At times, I would start to feel ovewhelmed and want to run and hide!  We were working hard but barely making a dent.  That's when I would find something that reminded me of why we were doing all of this.  Like this shirt...


Heidi, Tori & I ended up staying up all night long!  And Tori had already worked on Friday and had to work again on Saturday afternoon! 

 As it turned out, Tori and I spent at least 5 hours on the clothes while Heidi tackled organizing the tables in the garage.
The three of us laughed so hard, especially when our lack of sleep kicked in!  At one point, my back was really hurting so Tori & I stretched out on the concrete driveway to star gaze to give my aching back some relief!  We really did have a great time staying up all night!  It was my favorite part of the garage sale process.  THANKS HEIDI & TORI!!!

Then, around 3:30 a.m. Heidi decided we needed something to eat.  So, she and Tori headed to McDonald's (that was closed) but ended up at Wal-Mart.  Meanwhile, I'm outside in a strange, dark neighborhood all by myself sorting clothes!!!  I think every sound around me was magnified too!  So, I started praying and devising a safety plan in case the need should arise - my criminal justice college degree in action.  But at just the right moment, look at the shirt I pulled out of the box of clothes...
it had RAINBOW stripes on it!!!  ONLY GOD!!!  He reminded me once again that I was not alone - He was with me even outside in the dark at 3:30 a.m.!  Oh, HE IS SO FAITHFUL!!!

I must say that preparing for a garage sale is so much more fun with friends!!! I was so glad when Heidi & Tori got back.  At that point, we took a break & went inside to eat our subs from the deli at Wal-Mart.  That's when the laughter really started!!!  We laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more while trying not to wake up Bradd and Sheri  - which made us laugh enough more!!!

Sheri's alarm went off and Tina showed up.  It was 5:00 a.m.  Time to get back to work.  I tried to convince them that it was time for 3rd shift to go to bed now that 1st shift had arrived.  But, they didn't buy it.  Sleep was my sacrifice for this part of the sale. 

Now, the real fun began!!!

Tina hit the ground running and soon had everyone working up a sweat setting everything out.  Another one of Tina's pearls of garage sale wisdom is to have everything in place early because people will show up early.

Here's Heidi, Sheri, Tori and Bradd working on things in the garage.

After a team meeting and a time of prayer, we were open for business!

Here is Cindy (Sheri's neighbor) and Annette wearing their pink boas
in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.  THANK YOU SO MUCH LADIES!!!

Our first customers did indeed show up early.  It was still dark, but they brought flashlights to help them see!  I think they've done this a time or two.

You can see a few shoppers here at the crack of dawn.

Here is Dave looking for a good deal bright & early.  His wife Susan is the pretty blonde in the background talking.  Thank you both for coming out so early to support orphans in Africa.  May God bless you and your family as you adopt your daughter from India.

Now this just made God smile from ear to ear!!!  Ryan (left) and Brandon (right) along with their parents Teresa and Gordon sold sausage biscuits, coffee & hot chocolate for donations for the orphans in Africa!!!  W.O.W.  The money they raised will be used to buy things that the orphans need like formula, diapers, food, clothes, etc. 

This is Kathy and Annette working hard at check out.
Thank you for breakfast Kathy!

Look at Heidi.  She is still standing after working all night without any sleep. 
I cannot say enough about Heidi and all of her selfless help. 
I could not have done this without you, Heidi!  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

My friend Gail came over and helped with the sale too.  THANK YOU GAIL!!!

I was exhausted but I really wanted to talk with the customers.
So, I hung out at the checkout table and mainly bagged for folks.
And do you see what God did at the checkout area??!!!

 He brought RAINBOWS!!! 
I took this picture of a man while he was checking out. 
I saw the rainbow on his shirt & scared the poor man to death! 
I'm sure he thought I was looney - bless him.  But I had to take a picture!


Look at the rainbow in Kathy's hair!!!
Rainbows appeared on all of our customers for the next 20 to 30 minutes! 

God's sweet reminder of His presence & His faithfulness!

Ryan got caught with his hand in the donation jar! 
I'm sure he was just making change :)

These were the best pictures I could get of my friend Mandy.  She was trying to stay away from the camera.  But here she is helping out at the sale after working all night!  She stayed for several hours, carried heavy loads for people, doctored up a little fella who fell, and made us laugh. 

Check out our youngest shopper getting herself some beads. 

Isn't she beautiful?
She got her beads and now she's ready to go.

We even had a personal shopper for our customers! 
Check out Janet carrying a box full of things for this customer!
And Janet, thank you also for getting up while it was still dark
and coming to help us!!!

My friend Kathy (left) worked the garage sale all day. 
On the right is my friend Melanie who also spent her Saturday helping out. 

I am sooo blessed to have such incredible friends!  Here's a few more of them...

Tina (left) & Heidi (right) - without them, this garage sale would not have happened.  THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH LADIES!!!

As things started to wind down, here's Debbie, her daughter Darragh, Melanie & Kathy boxing up some of the clothes.

Not only did Teresa (left) help her boys sell sausage biscuits and coffee/hot chocolate but she also made us delicious sub sandwiches for lunch - with lots of love! 
They were so good!

We even had a few left over and were able to give them to a family. 
They were so grateful!

This garage sale was God's idea.  He is for the orphan.  He is the father to the fatherless and the defender of the weak, poor & needy. 
Because of God's character, I knew this sale was not just about raising money. 
It was about making the most of every opportunity to share the love & grace of Jesus Christ with the people who came to the sale.

In John 21:15-19, Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved Him.  Peter answered yes and after each time, Jesus told him to 1) "Feed My lambs" v.15;  2) "Take care of My sheep" v. 16; and 3) "Feed My sheep" v.17

These verses became the theme of the sale. 
So, when we had an opportunity to literally feed people, we took it! 

We were able to feed people spiritually as well.  Several customers shared that they had battled cancer, usually breast cancer, and now it was back.  Or they shared another challenge they were facing.  We were able to encourage them and pray with one of them.

God also gave us opportunities to take care of His sheep.  For example, later in the day, a family came by who was struggling financially.  God laid it on my heart to just give them some things from the sale, including a few big ticket items.  Then He allowed me to share the Gospel with them as I explained the reason for these "gifts."  Since the sale, I have spoken to the mom several times & even went to their house last week.  ONLY GOD!

Sheri's husband Bradd used his truck to deliver a couch to another customer's house!  Talk about customer service!  WOW! THANKS BRADD!

I can't tell you how many times my friends working the garage sale went out of their way to help our shoppers by carrying things to their cars, assisting with their children, and helping them find what they were looking for.  

And I know there are a lot of other stories I have yet to hear. 

God also let me meet some people who have connections to Africa already & we were able to exchange contact information.

This sale was all for God's glory! 

Here's my friend Faye shopping to help orphans.  THANKS FAYE!

Monique (whose picture I swiped from fb) came to shop after work.  She also donated things for the sale and was responsible for getting lots of tables for us. 

Check out Bradd carrying a chair on his head.  I told you our customer service was top notch!  In addition to using his strength (& back) and delivering couches, Bradd was also the garage sale CFO.  THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH BRADD! 

As the sale came to an end, we had some things left over.  So Sheri called this sweet lady (right) and her daughter (left) who were able to fill the back of their truck with things for the thrift store they plan to open soon.  Their goal is to bring awareness to soldiers suffering from PTSD pre-911. 

Then, Kyle came by and picked up the rest of the things.  He and his wife were having a garage sale the next Saturday to raise money for their Christian school.

And just like that...
everything was gone by 4:00pm and

Bradd had his garage back! 

No sign of a garage sale in sight!

I was exhausted but overjoyed.  I praised God all the way home, especially for the people who helped with the garage sale in any way, shape or form. 
Now that was A LOT of praising!!!


When I got home, no one was there.  Shawn was still at work and Tanner & Faith Wrenn had gone to my niece's birthday party in Greenville with grandparents.  I checked the mail and look what God delivered...
a letter from the little boy we sponsor through World Vision.  He lives in AFRICA!!!  This was the first time he wrote a letter himself instead of his mom (because of his young age.)  He also drew us a picture.  I was overwhelmed!!  I was drowning in tears & emotion.  This was so like God to have a letter from Africa waiting for me right after the garage sale!


And just in case you are a numbers person,
was the total amount raised at our God sale for orphans in Africa!!!



The garage sale may be finished, but its impact is far from over.

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,