August 29, 2013

#KingdomWoman... Her Joy! (Part II)

I remember walking down the aisle of our church on a Wednesday night. Our pastor asked me to share my testimony. Boy was I nervous! But then I thought about the reality of what I was doing and I asked The Lord to help me remember it wasn't about me, it was about Him and the power of prayer. What He did for my little family was a blessing but the bigger blessing was the testimony to give others hope.

So I got to the front of the church. I was very excited to share the miracle of very specific prayer that had been answered - exceedingly, abundantly, above all that I could ask or think!

When I moved to the DFW area, I prayed for a home for me and my kids. My credit was jacked up after my divorce but somehow, I knew God was gonna work things out if I would step back and allow him to do it. One day in 2000, I was riding in the car with my co-workers after visiting a church member who was sick. As I looked out across the sea of homes, like Babe Ruth, I pointed in the direction of the place I hoped would one day be our home and I said out loud to my co-workers, 'My house is over there somewhere!'  They probably thought I was nuts. Here I was a single mom, four kids in tow, and working on a ministry salary. I was already barely making ends meet and the area I was looking at boasted homes way out of my little budget. But I didn't care. It was a dream and a prayer that I laid at The Lord's feet and I went on my merry way.

Fast forward to 2001!  Remember the roach infested apartment? Well, we did all we could to keep our place clean. We had a nasty neighbor so the bugs just kept coming no matter what we did. My grandmother even made a special mixture to get rid of 'em but they just kept coming. Roaches were checking in and staying for the long haul up in there! But we didn't give up and we stopped complaining. In the midst of 'roach wars', I received news that I'd been approved to be placed on a special housing program. This program would allow me to rent a home in an area that was 75% Caucasian because of a lawsuit that was filed for discrimination. The catch was I had to find the home within two weeks or I'd be removed from the program and back at the end of the list for another year! I had been patiently waiting for this opportunity and when it presented itself, I wasn't ready! I didn't know the first thing to do. I'd only been in Dallas a short time and I only knew a handful of people. However, I knew that a couple at our church had rental properties so I told them the situation and asked them what to do. At first, the husband told me about all the properties he had but that they were all being rented. However, he told me if I found a house I liked in the area I need to, he would purchase it and rent it out to me. Huh? Really? I was dumbfounded. I think my mouth was on the floor! Now, again, I really don't know the area so I really didn't know what to do. 

Here's where I know the Lord was in it. A few days later, as I'm driving my normal route to take my kids to school, there was a house on the corner that I'd never noticed before. For some reason, I took special note of it this day. It had a white piece of paper sticking on the window. I don't remember what prompted me to look in this particular direction. But when I saw the white sheet of paper, I became curious as to what it was. So I called up a friend of mine and he told me that the property was probably being foreclosed on. Now, remember earlier when I said I was like Babe Ruth and pointed out where I wanted to live? This house was in that area. Now, I'm trembling as I dial the phone number of the man who said he would buy a house and rent it for me. I told the gentleman about the property and asked him to check into it and sure enough, it was being foreclosed on. I'm thinking, am I dreaming? Is it really what I think it is? Nah, couldn't be. There was no for sale sign or anything in the yard. Just this TINY sheet of paper in the window... But God!

Now, I don't know the normal process for purchasing and closing a home, but I will tell you this... THIS house was purchased, I was given the information to give to the people over the program, and this thing was a done deal RIGHT ON TIME. I kid you not!  This thing was done in less than two weeks.  I was in a tailspin. And you know what? I knew it was ONLY God who could have pulled that off.  He took ALL the pieces of the puzzle and pulled them together and, like my pastor said, He wrapped it up and put a nice pretty bow on top of it and handed it to me. But I know this whole situation only came to pass after I found joy, unexplainable, deep down in my soul. It was only after I stopped complaining and started praising him, like they say, ANYHOW, that He was able to do all that He had to do to give me my miracle of 2001. It was only after I became content with what He'd already given me. It was after I became a good steward of what He'd already given me. THAT'S when He was able to bless me. But it didn't stop there!

I'm in the front of the church giving my testimony and my pastor stops me. He asked, "If you had to get furniture for any room in the house, which one would it be"?  In my mind, I'm trying to think because as I'm telling the testimony, I'm literally still in a fog remembering the details of what transpired. So I'm literally STILL in shock as I'm telling the story so I can't even think straight!  So, I said, well, it's not the best but I already have living room furniture and the boys had their bunk bed and bedroom set I'd bought a long time ago. But my daughter was still sleeping on a toddler bed with a little chest of drawers. I always wanted to have a canopy bed for my daughter so maybe a bedroom set for her room would be nice. I was thinking, why in the world would he stop me and ask me about some furniture?  He turned to me and said, "Ok. Go pick out whatever you want for her bedroom and I will take care of it".  Ya'll, I don't even remember what my reaction was to that! I don't know if I blacked out, I don't remember if I cried. I don't remember if I screamed, ran up the aisle like a game show contestant... I really don't remember what I did at that moment because that just took me over the top of the feelings I already had during that moment! I know I was overwhelmed and I remember thinking, Lord, why did you do this for ME?

I remember thinking. I'm so unworthy. I'm so undeserving, Lord. What did I do to deserve this? I have NOTHING to give you but thanks, Lord. I think I cried for a week in disbelief that all this was happening. I cried in gratefulness because I was not a perfect person but I was truly humbled by this experience. I was a walking zombie and when I walked into that house for the first time, I was a ball of emotions. It was so big. It was EXACTLY what I'd asked for - spacious, lots of closet space, and a big yard for the kids to play in... and it was in a very nice neighborhood. When I moved in, I had a beautiful bedroom set for my daughter along with gifts from others who heard my testimony - a washer/dryer set, a refrigerator, a lawnmower... My goodness. I'm crying right now remembering it. And we're still in that house.

When I told my husband this story, I said to him, one day, I'm going to be able to do this for another single mom or a family that's down on their luck because I know how it feels to want something so bad for your family. This home gave us the stability we needed to move forward in peace. Being in this home has allowed my children to attend school in a decent school district, walk the streets without having to pass by folks smoking or drinking, or asking them to buy drugs. When we got married, it was a tough decision whether to move into a new house or build upon this one. We prayed about it and decided to stay. So this house has also become a place for my new children to have a second home to visit their father whenever they want to. This house is no ordinary house. This is my miracle home. The miracle of 2001.

The joy of the Lord kept me while I waited patiently on Him to do what He does better than anyone else - show up and show out! And because I experienced Him working on my behalf personally, I don't mind and enjoy telling this testimony to give others hope and encouragement while they wait on Him to come through for whatever they've asked Him for. He's still into working miracles! No matter what your circumstances LOOK like, take joy in knowing that God is still seated on the throne and He's working things out for your good. No one and nothing can steal the joy that The Lord gave you so don't give up and don't give in - Ever!

Having JOY is different than having HAPPINESS... 

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