Reasons Why I NEED a Master Bathroom

I found myself cold, wet, wrapped in a towel and crammed into the bathroom closet.

“I NEED a master bathroom!” I yelled out in desperation to God, the universe and anyone who would listen.

How did I end up here, sandwiched between the drawers full of toiletries and the rack of hanging clothes, wishing I could dry off and just GET DRESSED IN PEACE?!!  I made the fatal mistake that many moms make…I unlocked the door.

We live in a house built in 1924.  It is lovely and full of character.  We only have one full bathroom for the 11 of us as well as one half-bath.  The full bath is extremely large for an older home…but it is only ONE bathroom for the 11 of us.  The door only locks with a skeleton key just like all the other doors in the house.  When we moved into the house in 2007, we noticed an entire cabinet built just to hold all the skeleton keys, 55 hooks in all.  There were only a fraction of the keys left, maybe 15.  Now we only have 6, some of which are probably for doors that are no longer hanging.  That leaves 2 skeleton keys left to lock the bathroom, our bedroom, and the attic door.  Therefore the children no longer have access to said Keys.

That day I had taken the Key out of hiding and locked the door.

Ahhhhhh!  Peace!  I turned the worship music on high and enjoyed my alone time as I took a shower.  I was just drying off when my husband knocked on the door.

“Yes?” I asked, trying not to sound annoyed at the intrusion.

“Can I come in?” he asked.

I usually open the door for my husband, so against my better judgement I turned that key in the lock.  The door opened a crack.

“Quick, get into the closet!” my husband said with urgency.  “Calvin really has to go and someone is in the downstairs bathroom.”

“WHAT!”

“Come on!  It will just take him a minute.  Get in the closet,” Chris told me.  Calvin is seven and bathroom needs can be fairly urgent at that age.

So there I was in the closet – cold, wet, and crammed…and wondering what was taking so long.

“Oh, you don’t just have to go pee Calvin?” I heard Chris say.  “Come on, Calvin! Hurry!”

I began to feel panic rising in my throat.  I was stuck in there while Calvin was…you know!

“I should have never unlocked that door!” I yelled out to Chris and to myself and to all the mothers of the world –

“ DON’T UNLOCK THAT DOOR!”

I began that moment to compile a list of reasons why I NEED a master bathroom.

1. My husband and I could use the privacy!

2.I don’t want my toddlers and young children to have access to my rather expensive toiletries.

This is the reason for numbers 2, 3, and 4. Courage was trying to use my Miracle Skin Salve (it is the only thing that will help heal Ashlyn’s outbreaks of psoriasis and costs $30 for a small jar).  He dropped the entire thing in the toilet.  I have resorted to storing that replacement jar among other precious items in the “feminine drawer” in the bathroom closet.  So far, so good.  It remains unmolested.

3.I would like to maintain the integrity of  my medications.

I have a natural throat spray that is a life saver during a bad sore throat. I used it several times before I realized that the taste was really off.  I finally deduced that Courage had poured out most of the throat pray and then had added tap water.  Cadin told me later that Courage had also spit in it.  Why he didn’t think that information was important to tell me immediately, I do not know.  The new throat spray is now stored in the box of nursing pads.  So far so good.

4. I don’t want to “share” my hair products with a three-year-old.

My almost full bottle of Shine Serum  went missing. Weeks later Courage told me that he had poured it all out into the trash.  The new bottle in now being stored in the “feminine drawer”, fingers crossed.

5. I no longer want to unsuccessfully scour the entire house to find important items that should be right where I left them, such as the tweezers, fingernail clippers, hair accessories, and even toilet paper.

6. I don’t want to wonder what has touched my towel during the course of the day.

7. I could offer my children more bathroom time.

I noticed a water bottle in my teenage son’s room. It contained a yellow liquid I found very suspect.  When I asked Cole about it, he replied, “What do you expect me to do when you girls are in the bathroom?”

“Wait!” came my indignant reply.

“Sometimes there is someone in the downstairs bathroom, and I just can’t wait.”

“Well, you can at least empty the bottle!”

“Why?  It is not full yet,” Cole said matter-of-factly.

I would wager to say that Cole could benefit from me having a master bathroom, and I could stop becoming slightly nauseated whenever I pass his room.

  1. I could avoid stepping in a pee puddle when using the toilet in the middle of the night.

  2. I could save my daughter from the horror.

    I already told my sweet teenage daughter that if we got a master bathroom, she could use it and escape the jungle that is our current bathroom –the inevitable misses from six boys who like to pee all over the place and also don’t feel the need to flush down ANYTHING!

  3. Most importantly, I don’t ever want to be naked in the closet again while my son goes poop!

Chris has already come up with an ingenious plan to get us that master bathroom.  Our bedroom has a door that leads to an outside porch that already has a roof on it.  He just needs to enclose the porch and bring up the water from the laundry room below.  Of course there will be a million other details to consider and the expense of doing all of that.  So I have decided to start a Go Fund Me Account. If you would like to donate to our very worthy cause, just look up “Pooping in Peace for Every Brandenburg.”

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Found this lovely bathroom on Love of Family and Home , and look!  No pee puddles on the floor.  I am in love!

Just kidding! This article was written for the pure entertainment value….but if you should feel a burden for our family and want to give us a brand new master bathroom….we wouldn’t turn you down.

God is a Strange Kind of Blesser

I have a good man.  One of the best!  We have gone through our share of trials together, and I have watched him weather storm after storm.  I have seen him carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.  I have witnessed him straining under the overwhelming burden of it, trying with all his strength to simply stay afloat.

We have had many struggles during our marriage.  We have had times when we couldn’t pay our bills, we were getting calls from creditors threatening to take our home, and we were expecting that our vehicles would be repossessed.  We have gone through many financial storms such as layoffs and economic downturns.  We have followed trusted leaders into a treacherous sea of financial decisions and then have been abandoned, left to navigate to shore alone.  We have made our share of bad decisions, landing us in overwhelming debt.  We have also lived through the death of one dream after another, dreams that could have rescued us and put us on solid ground again.

 

One night a few years ago, we watched “Cinderella Man” together.  It became one of my favorite movies because it depicted something we had been through.  A young family with children to take care of.  A man wanting to work so badly, but there was no work to be found.  Things went from bad to worse in the middle of the Great Depression. Finally he got a break.  His former boxing trainer had gotten him a fight!  He would most certainly lose, but he would get paid.  He jumped at the chance to provide for his family!  The thought of being pummeled and hit until he was bloody was nothing to him. No suffering could compare to the thought of his children going without food.  Miraculously, he won the fight and eventually was in line to fight for the heavyweight title.  His opponent was a bear of a man who had killed someone in the ring with one knockout punch.  When James J. Braddock was talking to the media about how he had become such an amazing boxer when previously he was only mediocre, this was his answer, “Now I know what I am fighting for…milk.”

At this point Chris made a comment that I will never forget.  He said, “I would submit to a public beating if it would cancel all our debts.”

I almost wept right there!  The heart of a man who stands up and fights for his family against seemingly unbeatable odds!  Is there anything more courageous?  Chris had no opportunity to get into the ring like Jimmy Braddock, but he did work two jobs for four years to get us out of debt.  He worked hard, and he worked well.  He was diligent and did everything with wisdom and integrity.  In the midst of it, he realized that all of these jobs would drain him of his energy and time but never provide what we needed for our every growing family.

When Chris had the opportunity to buy a business, he jumped at it. He knew it would be a lot of work at first, but eventually he would be able to earn more as the owner and boss then he ever could as an employee.  He leaped out of the boat and started to swim into uncharted waters with faith and excitement.  It was true that we had failed many times before, but this time would be different!

It was about four months into owning the new business that we ran out of money.  We knew that God had led us there, but we didn’t know how to move forward.  I felt this amazing peace that everything would be just fine.  I didn’t know how, but I knew that God did, so I could trust Him.

Chris, on the other hand, had to go into work each day and try to figure out how he was going to buy materials to make signs and how he was going to pay his employees to make the signs.  On and on the troubles went day after day.  The days turned into weeks, and no miraculous provision materialized.  Things went from bad to worse.

I had seen Chris upset and discouraged before, but never like this.  In his mind, he had failed.  He had taken every resource we had and put it into this dream of a better life…and he had lost it all.  The darkness surrounding him was so thick; I could hardly get through it.  I could see that he was so tired of years of fighting and struggling, and his deepest heart’s desire was to just give up…on the business, on trying, on life.  His father had left him before he was old enough to remember.  Chris had vowed to himself that he would never leave his children fatherless.  So he kept fighting although he had lost almost all hope.  He kept going to work day after day, even though he felt it was useless.

He couldn’t see it, but I saw a miracle occurring.  Instead of getting angry and trying to ease his pain with distractions, Chris became humble and quiet.  He leaned into God.  He went to church whenever he could, and I saw him worship God in the midst of his hopelessness!

One night we both went to church because they were offering personal prophecies.  Boy, did we need a word from the Lord.  Any type of encouragement would be a life-preserver!  We sat down in the theater of our church and waited for one of the pastoral staff to come and pray for us.  Anne Stock, a senior pastor, kneeled down to where we were sitting and began to pray.  Her words were the very opposite of what Chris was expecting.  He was feeling like the biggest loser and screw-up there ever was.  Yet her prayer went something like this:

“God is enlarging you, showing you one more side.  You are ready.  He is showing you another dimension.  Don’t be concerned.  It is good.  I pray for Grace to do this different and new thing.  This is happening in your life right now is because He likes you!    HE IS A STRANGE KIND OF BLESSER. You are going to make it through this fire not even smelling like smoke, because there is a 4th man in the fire.  The fire is only burning that which had you bound; only the things that kept you from being free.  Your heart will come out unscathed.  Strength!”

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Chris was blown away.  God actually liked him and was blessing him.  Our struggles were not because he was destined to be a loser for the rest of his life.  It was because God knew he was ready to face this new trial and be enlarged by it.

I watched Chris begin to trust God more like a good Father, the good father that he had never had.  We looked on as God provided dramatic miracles to keep our business going, not just once, but twice!  And we see God doing the small miracles, day by day as we go into our fourth year.  We have lost the concern for our own lives.  Whether we fail or succeed is not so important.  Instead we are living to see the kingdom of God come to our little sphere of influence, however God wants to do it.

God is a strange kind of blesser!  As I look back over my life, the worst of times have always been linked to the very best of times.  When I was depressed or stressed or sick or so tired I couldn’t go on, that is when God met me and shook my world with His amazing words.  Words that have healed me and shaped who I am.  Words that I can offer to others to give them hope and meaning.  God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (PS 34:18). What a blessing it is to have God so close!  Anything that comes into your life, no matter how evil or heartbreaking, can be turned around for good.  God can use absolutely anything to bless you!

If you look over the lives of famous history makers such a Joseph (in the Bible), Squanto, George Washington Carver, Corrie ten Boom, and even contemporaries such as Roland and Heidi Baker, you can see it!  You can see the crushing trials and loss that God used to bring about great blessings, not just for them but for the entire world.  If you are facing hard times, remember, your destiny is so great, so important, that God cannot leave you as you are.  He knows that there is an amazing treasure inside of you.  He knows that this trial will cause your roots to go deep down into His living waters.

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He knows that you are in the process of growing so deep and so wide and so strong, that all the powers of hell and all the forces on earth couldn’t move you from God’s purposes.  And in the midst of it all – His blessings overflow!

You were created for Childbirth!

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My husband and I wrote this to help other couples looking forward to the big day – the day when their new baby will be born!  Our desire is that everyone can have the joyful, peaceful, amazing experience that God has for them on this wondrous day!

 

You were created for Childbirth!

 

Giving birth to eternal children of destiny is God’s gift and a sign of his great honor and favor toward you!  The labor experience is a privilege, NOT a curse!  Here are some tips to help make your labor experience a little (or a lot) easier.

Pain is a curse spoken over Eve in Gen.  All curses were broken at the cross.  Break the curse of multiplied pain in Jesus name and don’t let anyone talk you back into it!  Pain in labor is increased because of fear.  Our body’s normal response to pain is to release adrenaline to prepare our bodies for the “fight or flight” response.  Adrenaline stops the production of oxytocin and slows labor down.  We have to practice going against our normal instincts to resist pain and learn to relax in the pain.  With every contraction, find a comfortable position and relax every muscle of your body.  Don’t try to move or talk.  The more relaxed and at peace you are, the less pain you will feel.  Practice this before you are actually in labor. If you want to read more, get the book, Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth.

HUSBANDS AND WIVES;

    1. Pray and seek God about any issues He may want to address before you have a baby.  The closer you are to God, the more peace and forgiveness you have flowing through your life, the easier labor will be!
    2. Ask God for specific scriptures and promises for your labor and new baby.  Speak these out all the time!
    3. Ask God to give you His heart on any issues you might encounter such as an epidural, inducing labor, c-sections, and other interventions.  In the intensity of labor is not the time to develop a philosophy on these subjects.  God is the authority on labor, not your doctor.
    4. Speak to the mommy’s and baby’s bodies and prophecy before and during labor that they will quickly and easily and joyfully go through all of the stages of labor.  “Uterus; you will contract perfectly without multiplied pain!”  “Cervix; you will dilate perfectly and quickly.”  “Baby; you will descend into the birth canal at just the right time and turn in just the right way to be born quickly and easily.”
    5. Speak to the mom’s and baby’s spirits about the labor.  “Mom, you are able to give birth in peace and joy.  You are in God’s hands.  You are His beloved.”  “Baby we love you.  God gave you to us as a precious gift.  Come out and see us at just the right time.  We are so excited to see you!

HUSBANDS

    1. Pray, Pray, Pray!
    2. You are the authority over you wife, not your doctor or midwife.  Ask God about any options that are offered.  Don’t do anything you don’t feel at peace about.
    3. Sometimes you have to make decisions for your wife during labor.  She may not know what to do.  Don’t be afraid to direct the labor time.
    4. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage.  Use your words to help her, not distract her.

“You’re doing great!”  “Relax your muscles and breathe.” “It will be over soon!” Use a peaceful tone.

 

WIVES

  1. During your labor it is your job to RELAX, RELAX, RELAX!  Trust God and trust your husband.  Let them take care of everything and relax!  Enjoy the time between contractions.  Walk around, squat, pelvic tilt.  During contractions relax every muscle and rest!  A warm shower or bath does wonders!
  2. During your pregnancy, exercise often (walking, pregnancy Pilates, squatting, kegels) and eat as healthy as you can.  Eat 60-100 grams of protein a day.  Here is a link for a diet for pregnant and nursing mothers.
  3. Even if things don’t go as you had hoped, God has got you in his hands and He is never letting go!  He is in control!
  4. Don’t worry!  This birth thing was God’s idea and it really does work!

 

Wisdom from other moms

 

“I had two supernatural births without pain.  The difference between my first two and my second two was I had an encounter with the Father’s love to where I was able to completely surrender and trust in His love and protection for me.  I also read Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize and that really encouraged me.  The first two births I prayed in the spirit and the third and fourth Jason laid hands on my belly and prayed in the spirit during each contraction so I was free to completely surrender to it and rest and trust while he did all the work.  I also labored in a Jacuzzi during transition and took honey for energy.”  Cari Cash, mother of four

 

“A wonderful labor experience begins and ends without fear.  Figure out what it is you are afraid of and get the answers you need before labor.  Fear creates pain and makes what should be a wonderful experience terrifying.”   Katie Horst, mother of four

 

If I could only give one piece of advice to a woman going into labor I would say “The only thing you can expect is that it is not going to be as you expected.”

So in the middle of the labor or delivery when it seems you are being thrown off course by some unexpected event.  Ask yourself…”Is this what I expected?”

No… so be encouraged …this means you are right on track. 

You can then continue in strength and peace.

As Bill Johnson says – You only have authority over a storm when you have peace.

Anne Stock, former homebirth attendant and mother of two

 

 

 

 

 

Our Love Story is My Favorite!

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The first time I met my husband, I was in a church gym surrounded by cheap lunch meat and the overpowering smell of raw onions.  My “boyfriend” Jesse had invited me to a sub-making fundraiser for the youth group of his church.  I must qualify the term “boyfriend” by saying that we were in junior high, and our “serious boyfriend/ girlfriend” relationship meant that we had each acknowledged that we liked each other, and on rare occasions our parents would drive us to see a movie together.  This time, my parents had driven me to Jesse’s church.

It was there that Jesse introduced me to his best friend who had just coasted into the gym on a skateboard.

“Anne, this is my friend, Chris.”

And that was the first time I met him, the man of my dreams.  Of course, at the time he was still an awkward teenager who simply said, “Hi,” and then skated off again.

I became very involved in Jesse’s church until it became my church as well.  I went to every Wednesday night, every Sunday morning, and every special event.  Chris and his brother and mother stopped going to church, so I never saw him.  Jesse and I broke up, but stayed really good friends.

About two years later Chris showed up for the annual youth group retreat. During that retreat, I realized that Chris had been an integral part of my circle of church friends before they had become my circle of friends.  He easily became part of the gang again. We all had a lot of fun.

love story

We were all together again at Jesse’s birthday party when Jesse blurted out, “Chris, you should take Anne to your prom!”

This seemed like a totally bizarre outburst on Jesse’s part, but Chris answered as though he had been already thinking about it.

“Yeah, do you wanna go?”

love story 2

“I guess so,” I replied.  I never thought it would happen.  He was a senior, I was a junior.  We went to different schools.  We didn’t know each other that well.  The prom was three months away.  He would most certainly have a girlfriend by then.

Chris started calling my house a few nights a week.  Then he asked me to accompany him to pick out a tux.  It was on that little date that he asked if I was his girlfriend.

I sat in stunned silence for what seemed like five full minutes.  I thought that in order to be his girlfriend, he had to ask me to be his girlfriend.  Perhaps I had missed something very important during our interactions the past few months.

“I don’t think I am,” I replied.

“Well, do you want to be?”

Again, silence.  I hadn’t thought about it.  I just didn’t know what to say.

“Could I think about it and let you know?”

We got together the following weekend to discuss our relationship.  I told him that I wasn’t ready to be in a serious relationship, and when I did get into one, I wanted to be sure that it was what God wanted.  Chris agreed and didn’t seem too discouraged.

Our friendship grew and deepened, and we did go to the prom together.

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We spent my entire senior year just “being friends”, although everyone else knew that we were more that just friends.  We would go on marathon dates that would consist of wandering around the city for 10 hours or more. We became youth leaders and had fun and wild times at church functions.

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We would pray, teach, preach, and put on crazy skits.  I played a party animal and heavy drinker in one skit, though in real life I had never had a drop of beer.  Chris dressed up as a nerdy scientist for another drama.  His entrance into the youth room was supposed to be especially dramatic as flash pots exploded behind him.  Unfortunately the flash pots were poorly timed and went off right in Chris’ face.  His eyes were sprayed with part of the explosion, and they were watering profusely for the entire skit.  Chris didn’t miss a beat and continued to act his part perfectly.

Once, the youth group went white water rafting.  It was great, except there was no white water.  We were floating lazily down the river.  This was ideal for Jesse and me, but Chris required more excitement.  He proposed taking the bailing buckets that our raft was equipped with and using them to douse a nearby raft with water.  Jesse and I insisted that such behavior would be rude and uncalled for and would ruin the peaceful boat trip we were enjoying.  Chris proceeded to fill up the bucket and dump the entire load of water on my head.  As I was dripping and gasping in utter disbelief of the horrendous treatment I had just endured, Chris leaned in to my soggy ear and whispered, “I love you!”

When time came for me to graduate, I had decided to spend a year doing missions with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) rather than go straight to college.

For the next year I was training in Texas and then went on outreaches to Belize, Central America and many places in the US.  I would write Chris long, chatty letters almost everyday.  Chris would write maybe once a month.  There were no cell phones and no land lines in the girls’ dorm where I was staying.  Chris and I would plan via letter weeks in advance to talk on the phone on a specific day and time.  I would take my quarters and go to the pay phone in the cafeteria, praying that there was not a line.

Both of us had to answer the question our hearts kept asking, “Is this the person I will marry?”

In my training classes, there was a teaching about laying everything important in our lives on the altar before God.  Being a Christian didn’t just mean believing in God.  It also meant giving Him everything!  I spent a good prayer time with God giving Him my dreams, ambitions, and Chris.  I wasn’t sure that God would give him back.

I knew that I loved Chris.  I loved his sense of humor, his incredible work ethic, and his high morals.  I loved that he always respected his mom.  I loved that he loved God.  I loved his dark brown eyes and his single dimple that would show itself when he smiled.  I truly felt that he was the most handsome man I had ever met.    But perhaps he wasn’t THE ONE. Maybe God’s perfect plan for my life didn’t include marrying Chris.  I was willing to do anything He told me to do.

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I was talking a walk around the lake in the beautiful countryside of the rural mission base when I felt God speak to me so clearly.

Do you think I blessed your relationship with Chris just to take it from you now?”

From that moment on, I never doubted that he would be my husband.  It took Chris a little longer.  He was talking classes at a community college, renting a room from a gentleman at church, working as a waiter, taking impromptu road trips with his crazy guy friends, driving fast in his sporty CRX, using his limited spending money on CDs instead of food, sporting a new bleached blond hairdo, and turning down offers from interested pretty young women.  I was a bit worried about him.

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He decided to fly out to Texas to visit me in May, even though he was basically a starving student.  He must have gotten his answer during that trip.  As soon as he returned home, he drove straight from the airport to the jewelry store to pick out an engagement ring.  I had no clue.  In my slow-moving fashion, I thought marriage would be years away, perhaps after college.  I did have a small scholarship to Eastern College that I was planning on using to study Elementary Education.  Yet I thought God might have other plans.

When my training school with YWAM was coming to an end, all the students were encouraged to ask God for our next step.  I was determined to hear His voice.  There were so many opportunities to be a missionary in any country in the world with YWAM.  I really thought that God would tell me to take everything I owned in a backpack and go to some exotic place.  His answer surprised me.

Go Home.”

I was home only a month when I decided to plan a special picnic dinner for Chris’ birthday.  I wanted it to be a special surprise.  My best friend, Autumn, was over, and she helped me prepare four courses and pack them carefully into a picnic basket.  When my mom heard of my plans, she offered the good china and a special table-cloth.

As I laid out the feast for Chris at our favorite date place (Negley Park), he seemed distracted and hardly ate anything.  After the meal, we sat together on the swings that overlooked the Harrisburg skyline as the sun set and the lights made the city sparkle.

Chris got up and then went down on one knee.

“I had a long talk with your parents….”

He took out a tiny box and I knew what he was going to say!  I gave him a huge hug and again, I was speechless!  I was overjoyed to become his wife, yet I was so surprised, I could not respond.

“Is that a yes?” he asked.

I nodded.

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love story 9Eleven months later, we became Mr. and Mrs. Brandenburg!  That was 18 years ago today.  So many volumes I could fill with all the adventures we have had, all the mountain tops and all the valleys, all the joys and all the sorrows, all the faith and all the doubt…but mostly all the love!  Perhaps that story is being written here on this blog, one precious chapter at a time.  It is my favorite story!

 

My Adventurous Husband with the Crazy, Impossible Dreams Might Just Be Right

 

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My husband, Chris, is very different from me.  In fact, he is quite the opposite.  He is spontaneous and impatient, prone to making rash and risky decisions.  He is also very driven.  When he has a certain goal in mind, all else fades to the background as he plows through valleys and climbs over mountains to reach that goal.  When he gets an idea in his head, it seems like an obsession to me.  I am a steady and reliable creature of habit.  I like to dwell, remain, and stay in my comfort zone.  I feel no need to go trailblazing into unknown and possibly scary territory.  To change my course is like trying to alter the flow of a river.  I have found that trying to deter Chris from a goal is like trying to stop a freight train once it is barreling down the tracks.  It is much easier to jump aboard and enjoy the ride!

We faced our first major financial decision as newlyweds.  Our apartment had washer and dryer hookups, but we had no washer and dryer.  We would spend hours at the Laundromat.  Chris reasoned that if we could put our Laundromat money towards payments on our own washer and dryer, we would be much better off.  I agreed, but when I saw the large price tag, I was terrified.  We ended up in our car in the Sears parking discussing the pros and cons. The worry of making a bad decision brought me to tears.  We ended up buying the brand-new, super-capacity Kenmore beauties, despite my abiding nervousness.  Eighteen years, 6 moves, and eight children later, they are still washing 2-3 loads a day!  Chris was totally right!

In 2006 we were renting a nice house on Market St where I found my Little Piece of Heaven.  Sure, I wanted to move eventually, but I figured that God would bring that opportunity right to us at the proper time.  But Chris was obsessed.  He was unsatisfied with our living conditions and upset that our rent money was going into someone else’s pocket instead of building up equity for us.  He talked to realtors.  He got lists of homes sent to him every week on the internet.  He kept finding houses that he wanted me to look at. The available four bedroom homes priced around $100,000 were not at all what I would call attractive or comfortable!  I didn’t want to look at these homes, not to mention consider living in them.  But I did it, because Chris asked me to.  We even put offers on two of them.  They had been on the market for a long time.  We thought we could get a good deal, fix them up and then sell them for more…all in an effort to get closer to our real dream house.  Both houses were snatched up right before our offers came in.

Chris didn’t give up, however.  He talked to other realtors, looked at other houses, and kept viewing homes on the internet.  None of the homes interested me at all.  Basically, I had given up on owning a home.  One day Chris came across a picture of an older home, shrouded in dark awnings and overgrown shrubbery.  He set up a time to see it.  He walked in the front door, took one look at the high ceilings and beautiful woodwork and thought, “This is it!”

There was just one mountain of a problem.  It was more than twice what we could afford.  He set up a second time to view the house and wanted me to come along.  I so desperately wanted to refuse him, and I almost did.  I didn’t want to go see another ugly house.  I definitely didn’t want to go see a beautiful house, fall in love with it, and then have to face the reality that we could never afford it.  But I did it, because Chris asked me to.

The house was built in 1924 and was in a beautiful neighborhood with tree lined streets.  I toured the gorgeous home, loving every detail of it! I tried NOT to love it…but I couldn’t help it.  I took a paper containing the specs of the home that included a tiny black and white picture of the exterior.  In my mind, that dreary picture was a picture of my dream home.  I placed the paper on top of my filing cabinet.  Every time I passed by and caught a glimpse of that paper, I would pray that God would do a miracle and give us that house!  Every time we passed the exit on the highway that would take us to the house, longing would fill my heart that someday that exit would lead to my home!  Every night before bed, the children would pray and ask God to give them that house!  Chris’ obsession had become a family obsession!

The realtor went to the owners with a crazy idea.  Even though the house had only been on the market for two weeks, he urged them to consider a sellers agreement, where we would make payments to them directly and take over the mortgage in a few years. It seemed like an eternity before they responded…THAT THEY WOULD!  Amazing miracle number one! Yet our soaring spirits sank a bit as we heard the terms.  The monthly payment was way too much, and we had to come up with $10,000 upfront.  Chris countered with $300 less per month.  They accepted! Amazing miracle number two!

Time came to sign the paperwork, and we still had no money to put down. Chris continued to plow ahead, scaling that mountain and signing away!  I was terrified and thought back to the washer and dryer purchase so long ago.  How small that decision seemed compared to this one was!  I sat with the realtor, the paperwork, and a kitchen timer in front of me.  I was timing contractions that had been coming every twenty minutes for baby number six.  I was about to have a baby, and here I was, facing one of the biggest decisions of my life!  I wanted to call it all off, or have a conference like we did in our car in the Sears parking lot.  I wanted to cry my heart out and beg Chris to back out of the whole thing!

Quietly a peace descended upon me, and my emotions stilled.  My contractions stopped.  I saw the hand of God moving heaven and earth.  I saw that it was He who had put that obsession into my husband’s heart.  I signed the paperwork and believed that God would work out the rest.  Amazing miracle number three!

I didn’t have any more contractions for almost a week.  My grandmother joyfully offered to give us the money we needed and a bit more!  Amazing miracle number four! Chris’ mom flew in from Colorado in anticipation of the new baby’s arrival.  That night my water broke, but there were no contractions.  In the morning, we thought we would pass the hours by showing my mother-in-law our new home!  It was a hot and humid day in August. I walked around my home, and I began to get contractions.  They increased as I showed off my four large bedrooms and gigantic bathroom on the second floor.  They increased even more as I went down to view my spacious and clean basement with shelves and shelves of storage space.  Finally, we all gathered outside to return to our rental house.  I leaned on the truck with one intense contraction.  It was hard to escape the pain with heat emanating from the sun above and rising from the blacktop below.  I thought, “What have I done, coming here while in labor?  I need to get home!”

We arrived home in plenty of time to fill the baby pool in our bedroom and call the midwife.  Our little Cooper was born a few hours later, healthy and happy!  Some weeks after that, we began to move into our new home.

june 2014 229We are still in this home, paying the mortgage (our mortgage!) eight years later.  That is the real miracle!  We have weathered job losses, economic downturns, and debt reduction programs.  We were close to foreclosure during the hard times, yet we are still here!

Three years ago Chris became obsessed with another goal, to become a business owner.  He talked to a business broker and received emails about local businesses for sale.  He read books about entrepreneurs and conversed with friends who were business owners.

“Oh brother,” I thought. “Here we go again!”

He inquired about a Signarama shop just blocks from our house.  He went to visit with the owner and saw the shop.  He was convinced that this was it.  He wanted me to see it all and tell him what I thought.  I really didn’t want to!  But I did, because he asked me to.

When I saw the shop I thought, “This is definitely NOT it!”  A sign shop, full of vinyl to make signs?  How boring!  I never had any interest in being a business owner, nor ever thought about making signs.  Chris began the slow process of turning my course.

We talked with the regional VP of Signarama to learn more about the franchise.  What emotions surfaced when I thought about this proposition; spending all we had plus going into debt to acquire a business?  Terror!  Pure fear!  Fear of not having enough to pay our bills.  Fear of heading towards foreclosure again!  Fear of making a big whopper mess-up of a decision!  Quietly peace descended upon me, and I heard the voice of God.

“Do not fear making mistakes.  Mistakes aren’t as powerful as you think they are.  You see them as huge giants that can rob you of your destiny.  That is not true.  Your mistakes cannot negate my promises or my power or my faithfulness in your life.  I can cause all your mistakes to prosper and use them for good.  In fact, your mistakes are your servants.  Use them to learn about me, yourself, and your destiny.  Use them to draw near to me.  Do not fear making mistakes.  Make all decisions in confidence and faith.  I AM able to lead you and keep you in my perfect will.  I AM faithful!”

So we took the plunge into business ownership.  It has been harder than we had ever imagined.  Some of my fears have come to pass, but I realized that they weren’t so bad after all.  God is in control, and He is bringing us through this into the abundant prosperity that He has promised!  Chris is learning to slow down his freight train to prayerfully consider my wisdom.  I am learning that my adventurous husband with his crazy obsessions might just be tapping into the very heart of God!

chris

“The moment you are in is pregnant with possibility.  DON’T kill it with fear.” – Bill Johnson

            I won’t kill it with fear!  I will move forward with faith and confidence!

I WILL ENJOY THE RIDE!

           hershey park