Archives For May 2013

87823077Rain and cold made it a miserable weekend for a garage sale.  But I pressed on anyway with our “Pay what you want” garage sale to raise money for mine and my daughter’s mission trip to Ecuador.  I was a bit worried nobody would show up to shop.  And I was also concerned with how people might respond to paying whatever they desired.  It was entirely possible to empty the garage and only have $10 to show for all my effort.

Throughout the two days of the sale, there was a steady stream of people.  Some paid much less than what some items were worth but most paid more than I would have asked.

Throughout the two days, as I huddled near a space heater, I sat amazed at the generosity.

One family came in and the mom explained to her children they could choose their own price and the money would be going toward a mission trip to Ecuador where little kids would be helped.  Her four children, ranging in ages 4-9, brought their own money to spend.  Choosing small toys, without any prompting from their mom, each gave generously because they wanted to “help the kids in Ecuador.”

One woman came in, looked around, read the sign about the trip, and began talking with me.  She shared she and her husband would soon become missionaries to Papua, New Guinea.  We had a nice visit and at the end of our conversation, she handed me $20.  She bought nothing but simply wanted to support our mission trip.

The sale was surprising on another level also.  Throughout the two days, items I thought would be popular were still on the tables and racks.  Due to friends donating merchandise to the garage sale, there were many cute girls and boys clothes, baby clothes, and shoes for boys and girls, none of which were selling.  It was baffling.

139970264I had so much left when it was time to wind down the garage sale at 1:00 on Saturday, I chose to make all remaining items free.  It was a bit selfish on my part because it would save us from having to cart all of it somewhere to donate.  However, I prayed people would come in that had a need and would be blessed by whatever they took.

An older couple came in and were completely shocked to hear everything was free.  The husband and I visited as the woman filled bags with toys and clothes for their grandchildren.

In talking with this gentleman, I discovered he lost his parents at a young age so he and his brothers grew up in an orphanage.  As we talked, another couple came in.  When I explained everything was free, the woman became extremely excited.  She was like a kid in a candy store, filling bags as fast as possible.

As the woman worked, she shared she was from the Philippines.  She married an American and moved to the States but her family still lived overseas.  She went on to tell how the flooding in the Philippines had taken everything from her family and their entire community.  Many kids run around in their underwear because they have no clothes.  To help, this couple looks for clothes and sends as many packages to the Philippines as possible.  The woman works at a second-hand store because they allow her to take the items that don’t sell so she may send them overseas.

152987306This couple had come to our neighborhood garage sales hoping they could find some good deals on clothes.  I told them their timing was a God-thing.  I explained I had prayed all the items at our garage sale would be a blessing to those receiving them.  I also shared how most of the clothes and shoes had failed to sell and I could not understand it until that moment.  All those items were meant for this couple.

We filled the back of their truck with clothes and shoes that would soon be headed for the Philippines.  They thanked me profusely.  I waved them off telling them they had blessed me way more than I blessed them.  When I walked back in the garage, the man I had been visiting with before looked at me and said, “That was beautiful.  Growing up as an orphan, I can’t tell you how much that scene touched me.  I used to love it when the Lutheran truck would roll into the orphanage because I knew I would be getting some new-to-me clothes.”  He then opened his wallet and gave me what was left, $20.

Two women came in as the man and I talked.  Hearing us discuss the couple sending clothes to the Philippines and about our mission trip to Ecuador, one of the women walked over and handed me $20.

There are some truly wonderful people in this world.  So when world news discourages, criticism crushes, or daily life overwhelms, look past the bad.  You will always find people who are willing to display incredible generosity, astounding kindness, and impressive courage.  They not only encourage us but they make us feel as if everything is going to be okay.

And by the way, our garage sale was a success and brought us within $200 of our mission trip goal.

Does God shop at garage sales?  He may not shop but He certainly shows up.

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

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stk33345binI have very little faith.  My default setting is worry.  It would be reasonable to think I would have unshakable faith after recording pages and pages of answers to prayer in my prayer journal.  However I always seem to wonder if God is going to fail me “this time.”

In a recent post, I wrote about God clearly speaking to me at a retreat where I decided I was no longer going to speak.  Playing bible roulette landed me at a passage meant specifically to say “keep at it.”  The retreat was a success and I left the weekend feeling elated.

As I made the long drive home, my euphoria quickly turned to apprehension as I thought of how much money still needed to be raised for mine and my daughter’s upcoming mission trip with a group from our church to Ecuador.  We still had $2640 out of $3200 to raise.

Although support letters were sent, we didn’t have many people to send them to and most had already contributed.  The only other possibility on the horizon was the garage sale we planned in which all proceeds would go toward our mission trip.  But in all reality, I knew a simple garage sale would not bring in all the funds needed.

I prayed half-heartedly and wondered how in the world God could come through.  Two days later, I received a call from the church secretary.  She informed me a check came in for our trip.  It was from a couple we are friends with but haven’t seen in 2 years.  They have 3 young children.  When I inquired how much it was for, she nonchalantly said, $2000.  I was stunned speechless.

I asked her to repeat herself and then immediately began arguing it must be a mistake.  To convince me, the secretary sent a picture of the check to my phone.  It took about 10 minutes for the reality to sink in and then I just melted to the floor.

So many emotions were warring within me.  Deeply moved by our friend’s generosity, I felt shame that I’m not that giving.  I was also feeling serious regret for doubting God.  At the same time, I was incredibly relieved at the weight taken off my shoulders.  All these emotions became so overwhelming I ended up bawling.  And once I started crying I could not stop.  I cried all day long.

Before the week was over, another donation came in bringing our need down to $615.  I no longer doubted the rest of the money would be raised for our trip.

Blessings always follow obedience.

Psalm 24:4-5, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.  He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

Is there an area where you are fearful God will fail you?  Allow us to encourage you by sharing in the comments below.

Stay tuned when I share the story of our amazing garage sale tomorrow.

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Taco Casserole

May 14, 2013 — 3 Comments

100_5034and1From my friend, Mary Holman, who knows a thing or two about feeding a big family.  This has become one of my kids favorites!

Ingredients:

1 package crescent rolls            1 (16 oz.) sour cream

1 1/2 pounds ground beef          1 package (2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese

1 package taco seasoning        1 package (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese

1 (8 oz.) jar taco sauce                 Taco chips (13 oz), crushed

Directions:

1.  Line the bottom of 9×13 pan with crescent rolls.

2.  Brown the ground beef and drain.

3.  Add taco seasoning and taco sauce to meat.  Mix well.

4.  Spread meat over crescent rolls.

5.  Spread sour cream over top.

6.  Sprinkle cheeses over sour cream.

7.  Then spread crushed chips on top.

8.  Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Note:  May need to cover with foil during last 5-10 minutes so chips won’t burn.

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

But I Don’t Wanna!

May 13, 2013 — 3 Comments

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I’m a Christian Women’s Speaker.  God called me to this profession 17 years ago but I argued with Him for 14 years before agreeing.  I tried to appease Him by teaching Sunday school, bible study, kid’s clubs, and emceeing events but it wasn’t exactly what God had in mind.  So I finally threw up my hands and said, “Fine!”

Desiring to be “real” I share much that makes me extremely vulnerable.  Opening up and sharing personal stories can be scary and sometimes gets the best of my emotions, making me nervous.

So was the case when I spoke recently.  After speaking the first night of a retreat, I became so nervous about speaking again the next day, I made myself sick.  So I did what I always do when I’m scared.  I called my husband, Craig.

I informed Craig that I had no idea why I was doing this speaking thing and I must have heard God wrong.  After all, He wouldn’t call me to do something I hated so much.  And I just wasn’t going to do it anymore after this weekend.  My emotions were obviously in overdrive.  Although I felt the need to share my feelings with Craig, I think he got the idea from the shaky inflections, short and breathless words, and just general panic in my voice.  Continuing on, I filled him in on my plan of calling and cancelling all speaking engagements on my calendar and removing my speaking information from my blog.

Craig’s response?  A very flat, “Uh huh.  Whatever you think God is telling you.”  He’s obviously heard this many times before and doesn’t realize just how serious I am.  This time!

After saying goodbye to Craig, I picked up my bible hoping God would calm my heart enough to be able to sleep.  I just opened my bible and it fell to Psalm 40:8-10;

“I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart.’  I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, you yourself know.  I have not hidden your righteousness within my heart; I have declared your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your loving-kindness and your truth from the great assembly.”

105643580Seriously???  This bible roulette thing wasn’t working out too well.  I was tempted to let it fall open again.  However, I knew God had already said what I was supposed to hear.  He really knows how to rain on my parade and my plans.

I texted Craig the verses I read.  He wrote back, “So I guess you won’t be cancelling any speaking engagements then?”   My response?  A very succinct, “Well, duh!”

By the end of the weekend retreat, I left extremely blessed meeting so many wonderful women, hearing their stories and what phrases touched them, and filling my car with the gifts of chocolate (there are definitely some benefits to this speaking thing).

So I continue to speak.  Unfortunately, I’m sure I will quit many more times in the future but these verses are ingrained in my brain now.  God is in the business of stretching us.  And although I may threaten my husband with quitting, he will not listen, God will continue to speak, and I will continue to obey.

Am I alone?  Are you scared to do something because it will stretch you out of your comfort zone?  I would love to hear about it if you’re willing to share in the comments below.

Blessings always follow obedience.  Be sure to visit on Thursday when I share the unmistakable blessing that followed this particular time of obedience.

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson