Over the years many have mentioned how their hearts have been encouraged through our Memorial Box stories and the subsequent book I wrote, appropriately named, The Memorial Box.
As many know, in the early years of my life my “go to” emotion in response to almost anything was always copious amounts of fear. Like many, I could become a wreck in two seconds flat regarding just about anything.
However, God began an incredible work in 1980 when He set me free from fear. Then over 20 years ago we began our Memorial Box and my faith was solidified.
Choosing to consciously look at our Memorial Box and the dozens of trinkets inside banishes the fear – in favor of remembering God’s astounding faithfulness. As I stand staring at our Memorial Box or just remembering it in my mind if I’m not home, God’s peace fills my mind and soul.
Each item in our Memorial Box represents a time God rescued, provided, protected, moved mountains, healed or surprised us. With each story the recurring theme is this: He has been astoundingly faithful. Definitely does not mean life has been easy, but He has proved over and over and over that He is absolutely trustworthy.
I mean, seriously. If our powerful God can reverse the decision of a communist government regarding one of our sons coming home – well, He can do anything! And that’s just one story in our Memorial Box (and it’s in the book)!
So today I want to share another one of our amazing Memorial Box stories of the crazy things God has done for us.
A few years back I wrote this post: And Now Our Lives Will Never be the Same
Anyway, I bring up that post because this story goes along with it. What the Lord had asked us to do after reading Brother Andrew’s biography, and that I refer to in that post would require an enormous amount of money (well over $100,000). And at the moment we said, “YES!” we had none, to be exact. Haha. How would we do it? We wouldn’t. We would obediently do all God called us to do and He would show us just what we were supposed to do each step of the way.
What had He asked us to do that I refer to in that post? He asked us to raise the entire amount of money needed for a very Special Project that we had heard of. It would begin with us selling our home in order to buy something significantly smaller, take the proceed difference and put it toward what we referred to as the Special Project. We would take step one and sell our home but He would have to show us what else we needed to do in order to raise the total amount needed for the “Special Project”.
On a side note regarding that post…interestingly enough, within weeks of Dw, the kids and I saying “YES!” to what we felt God was calling us to do, I ended up in the hospital in complete liver failure. It was definitely a challenging time with nine kids at home and my life in serious jeopardy. The doctors weren’t sure if I would even live or if I would need a liver transplant.
I’ll never forget the day Dw came to the hospital with the papers in hand to sell our home. “Are you sure you want to sell?” All I could think of was Brother Andrew’s life and what God had called us to do and with all the strength I could muster I whispered, “Yes!” And we signed the papers right there and our home was officially sold.
With our home under contract, once I got out of the hospital we had to find another home. That’s another wild Memorial Box story for another day!
We eventually bought a smaller home and moved in. Step one was done – we had the sale proceeds but needed a whole lot more to be able to do what we knew the Lord had asked of us. Once again, I continued praying about God providing the rest of the funds for this Special Project.
Before long Dw received a phone call from a casual friend who knew us. The friend explained that they had intended to move their business to Phoenix and had already set up a home. However, right after setting up the home in Phoenix, they had decided their business would be better suited to Atlanta, so she wondered if we could use the mattresses they had just purchased? I asked Dw what she was going to do with all the furniture from setting up their home in Phoenix? Would she be donating it?
He called her back. Indeed she was going to have a thrift store come pick it all up. Oh my! I asked Dw to ask her since they were donating it all, would they be willing to donate it to our “Special Project”? He explained what exactly we were doing and they eagerly agreed to have Dw and the boys come get it all. Only God.
Before long our garage was literally full to the brim – stacked to the ceiling – with furniture to sell. Slowly I began to research multiple sites to find the appropriate price and piece by piece God sold the furniture. I explained to every single person who came to purchase something what they were helping us do. Everyone was so pleased! Some generous folks even gave more than the asking price! How cool is that? One woman, after buying something from us, came back with things of hers to donate to sell for this Special Project.
Slowly, I tucked every single penny away. And piece by piece the garage emptied and so I prayed for more furniture.
It was crazy! Soon, other close friends were getting rid of furniture and hearing what we were doing asked us if I wanted to sell theirs as well for this Special Project. Another couple who are close friends are snowbirds and decided to sell their home here. They brought us a pile of stuff to sell as well.
Then a couple different neighbors, seeing our pile of kids outside, no longer needed some of their furniture and would stop to see if we needed it. (Phoenix has such precious people – we absolutely love it here!) I would always explain that we were good on furniture but we were raising funds for a Special Project while explaining exactly what the Special Project was. I would then ask if they were donating it anyway, would they allow me to sell it so the proceeds could go toward the Special Project? Each happily agreed. Some even went and brought more things for me to sell! My heart was bursting with joy!
By the way, I didn’t count the money. I just kept praying and tucking it in the pile. I think it’s way more exciting to eventually count it and be shocked! Of course, I did pray that God would multiply that pile as it sat waiting to be counted.
Although it is absolutely 100% NOT in my nature to do this, I felt I needed to ask a wealthy friend if he wanted to help. Only because I felt strongly the Lord was directing me was I able to have the courage to ask. I explained it all and he was excited to help and before long he dropped off a very generous donation.
Another close friend sold a bunch of her stuff and donated the proceeds and with her husband they donated hugely. Really, God just moved on people to help and it kept coming!
Then the Lord gave me the idea of the bulk trash here in Phoenix. People throw out the most amazing stuff! So usually one (at least) of the kids and I would get up in the wee hours and go cruising the streets looking for treasures to sell. I laughingly would ask, “Who wants to go Sidewalk Shopping with mom in the morning?”
One particular day Elizabeth was with me. We went to a neighborhood we hadn’t been to “shop” before. Turning down one street, in the distance I saw what looked like a full-size leather couch out for the bulk trash. I drove by it ever-so-slowly just like any good creeper would. Haha, “What do you think Bethie?” Her response? “Let’s do this!” That beautiful, sweet chica of ours is always up for a challenge!
So she and I moved the van seats as much as we could and by God’s grace she and I lifted that beautiful, in mint-condition (but oh-so-stinkin-heavy) full size leather couch into the van. The van doors didn’t close – not even sorta – so we inched our way home on back streets, laughing the whole way. Who’d have guessed? It still makes me giggle.
As we pulled in, Elijah was out in a flash. He had wanted to go but didn’t wake up in time. I was laughing a ton as I drug him toward the van to see the couch we had found. He realized the van doors couldn’t even close and he was laughing now, saying, “Nooooo, nooooo, no you didn’t!” Such wonderful memories were made while doing what God called our family to do.
The couple who actually came to purchase the leather couch (pictured at the top of this post) commented on how perfectly it would match their other couch. Win/win! I didn’t feel the need to tell them that we had “Sidewalk Shopped” for it and besides, they probably wouldn’t have believed me anyway. Ha!
When it was time to count that pile of money I asked Dw how much he was guessing was in the pile. “Oh about $2,000.” My eyes were twinkling with joy as I handed him all the stacks to count. There was not $2,000 but almost $8,000!!
Even with what we had raised so far with the house proceeds and the friend and the furniture, we still had a long ways to go for the Special Project and I just kept praying. I knew that I knew that somehow God would provide the rest. And just like that we had opportunity to share the need for the Special Project in a most unprecedented way and, in no time, God had provided the tens of thousands still needed.
My eyes kept welling with tears! Only God. The amount needed for the Special Project seemed insurmountable to this mom of many who spends my days carrying for a pile of sweet treasures, however, God had a plan! I’m forever grateful we said, “YES!”
God used Brother Andrew’s biography to stir our hearts to do something radical and enormous for us as a family… beginning with selling our home and moving to something smaller. He then gave us opportunities to continue to raise the necessary funds to complete what He called us to do. Within a couple of years He had provided every single penny. What an incredible blessing it was to the recipients of the Special Project!
There’s no doubt, that what He calls us to do, He will provide for. Always. No exceptions. It was so exciting to see all the avenues He provided through. The Special Project will always be one of my greatest honors – it was such a privilege to be part of it all starting with saying, “YES!”
And so I’m wondering, what might God be calling you to do? If it seems impossible, then I’m pretty sure you’re definitely on the right track! Don’t fear, don’t hesitate, step out in faith and watch and see what God does through your obedience. Don’t miss out on the privilege of serving Him.
PS I need to find a little piece of furniture for our Memorial Box to remind us of all God did to provide for that Special Project. I am in awe! He is God – the provider!
I love this, God is so so amazing. Praise God Omnipotence
Thank you Erika for celebrating with us! It was truly incredible how God provided every penny needed – He is ever faithful.
I had taken to following you on Instagram and didn’t realize you’re back to blogging, so glad to catch up on your stories. Thanks for sharing, Linny.
Since Ruby had a stroke it has been much harder to sit and write. However IF I were able to just think and the words would turn into text- it would be golden. Becuase I write posts in my head off and on all day long. Haha. Welcome back!