July 14, 2015

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:19 ESV

Sometimes God sees you in your wilderness and does a new thing that you were totally not expecting. Those dreams He placed in your heart as a five year old may still come true after all….

From the time I was a little girl, I dreamed of owning a store. I would set up shop in my bedroom and advertise to the rest of the house. My offerings consisted of pencil sketches, and various knick-knacks. At the same time, I was growing up in a Christian home that was nestled on my grandparents’ farm just outside of Raleigh, NC. 

I grew up loving Jesus and gave my life to Him in a Baptist church at the age of nine. I was sold out for Jesus and would share Him with anyone I knew.  Music was an important part of my life and by the time I was in High School, I played piano and several band instruments. I often dreamed of attending Julliard, but I also dreamed of making big bucks in the corporate world.

I graduated High School 7th in my class of almost 300.  Multiple scholarships for academics and volunteer work sent me to NC State where I majored in Textile Materials Science.  God gifted me with a brain that loved chemistry, physics, and math just as much as I loved literature and music. Perhaps this lethal combination of being technical AND artsy led to me turning away from God….

In 1994 I graduated with a B.S. in Textile Materials Science and entered Graduate School in the same major with minors in Economics and Psychology.  By this time, I was also unfortunately “majoring” in boys, alcohol, and partying.  I was receiving a stipend to go to school, and was also cleaning the men’s department at a local department store at 7 AM every morning. 

And partying…there are literally moments of my life that I don’t remember….I had been given SO much, and I was throwing it all away.

I met my future husband while in graduate school. That is a story in itself. He was not a believer and had barely ever attended church. And obviously, I wasn’t walking with the Lord as I once had.  With only one semester of graduate school left, I dropped out and Chas and I were soon married.

And it was not “happily married” for at least the first 8 years. We did everything we could to destroy our marriage because obviously we had not invited God to be a part of it.  BUT GOD kept us together, kept us from killing each other, and kept us from talking about our problems with others. 

In the eyes of the world, we were both hugely successful in the corporate world. God moved us to Rockingham County where we both found lucrative jobs and moved up the ladder.  I began traveling to companies helping with product development and machine set-ups. 

We had everything but the One thing we needed…

I had lots of time alone in the car to think and to listen. And God was talking. He was telling me to get back to church, and more importantly, to Him.  My upbringing was coming back to me.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

This verse doesn’t say that we will not EVER leave what we have learned. And I was coming back and going to bring my husband with me. We started attending church, Chas got saved, and life started to become different.

Over a period of weeks, I felt God telling me to quit my career. I approached my husband who was in shock. He reminded me of the bills we had to pay and the serious debt we had. So, I prayed and prayed hard.  And Chas’s heart softened. He told me I needed to do what God was telling me.

After eight years of being on the road and working out of my home office, I asked for my first face to face meeting with my boss.  He was a very tough, regimented boss, but a believer. I talked to him for a few minutes about things that concerned me in the company and then I handed him my resignation letter. What happened next totally caught me off guard. He begged me to stay for at least 6 months to help find and train a replacement.  And he offered to continue my pay and let me work just two days a week. This would free me up to start volunteering at church immediately. I prayed about it with my husband over the weekend and took his offer.  And in those 6 months, we got out of debt.

Six months later, my husband walked away from his career and joined me. After a few years of serving on staff at a church, we left and went on the road. We traveled throughout the southeast helping churches with administrative and marketing needs. Out of this, our criminal background screening company was birthed.

Then, God called my husband to plant a church in Greensboro. Calvary Chapel Greensboro is a wonderful place of come-as-you are people, contemporary worship, and verse-by-verse solid teaching. 

That meant I became a pastor’s wife. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Lots of work there including, up fitting a building, counseling, playing piano for worship, leading a ladies’ Bible study, and supporting my husband.

Then I started using my hands and my artsy side. And collecting vintage. I started participating in craft shows and renting spaces in antique malls.

Then one day, I was in the little town of Madison, NC where our “careers” had started. After having a doctor’s appointment, I was looking for a little consignment store in downtown.  The building they had been in for years was full of primitive antiques with a little “for sale by owner” sign in the window. The store had moved across the street and this building was empty. My husband called to see what I was doing and I told him about the store. I had no idea what God was working on…..

We have held investment properties for several years and my husband informs me that this very day, we had gone under contract on an apartment complex. We would need another investment property very soon.  My heart was flooded with emotion. I had tucked that little girl’s dream so far away, but it was still there…..

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4 NKJV

We called the number on the sign and got a voice mail which opened with John 3:16.  When we met with the owner, he dropped the price LOWER than what we were planning to offer. And then we stood in this 95 year old building and prayed. We went under contract and were given a key before we closed so we could start cleaning, measuring, and planning for artists and collectors.  The day we closed on the property, we prayed in the lawyer’s office. How often does that happen??

It took a few weeks to get things ready. We would be in the store late at night and folks would drop by and share their testimonies. We often heard “I have no idea why I’m sharing this,” but I knew. God gave me my dream so He could get the glory.  He reminded me of this through each testimony I heard. 

We opened just before Thanksgiving in 2013. I started a weekly ladies’ Bible study in April of 2014.  Several ladies come each week and one grandmother has given her life to the Lord that had never even opened a Bible.  People come in throughout the week that are beat up and broken. It is an honor to stop whatever I am doing, lay a hand on their shoulder and PRAY. 

While I love to receive compliments on the art and vintage collectibles in the store, the biggest compliment I have received has been from multiple people telling me that Jesus is in this place.  As long as I am here, He is welcome.  And He will get the glory.

He made this all possible. He gave me brains to get an education which gave me a great career and enabled me to get out of debt when He called me. And after all those years of finally realizing that it is all about HIM, He gave me the desire of my heart that I had as a five year old little girl in her bedroom. 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28 NKJV

 And, oh, how I love HIM.

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