When an Open Door ISN’T from God

We've all heard about how we shouldn't freak out when God closes one door, right? "He'll always open another. Or a window. Just praise Him in the hallway." they'll say. But no one tells you how to determine if that tempting open door is from God...

Most would assume if there's nothing inherently wrong with said open door, then it must be opened by God. But I'm here to say I've seen Wide Open Doors that were very tempting, with their promises of better pay, nicer neighborhoods, closer to family, less stress, ease of transition, and on and on. I've yet to find scriptural evidence that American Dream promises are part of God's will for our lives. Many will listen to your predicaments and try to offer wise counsel but most will still just look for the easy path thinking that must be God's will because things are falling into place.

Don't get me wrong, if we look for it, God's hand will be on and in what He has called us to do. When we seek where He is already at work, we'll easily find a rough path He's already blazed. BUT that path may look like a jungle to those on the outside and not everyone's path will be cut the same.

After chasing Jesus to a new town to plant a church, having our space wiped out by a tornado, and then being portable for three years, to say finding God's will is a little complicated would be an understatement. Although our church plant is now four years old, we are still in infancy stage yet few of the resources of a genuinely new church plant are still available to us. With that being said, my hubs and I still feel God is not done in this city. In the midst of what God is doing in this city, we see our part of it still playing out. We decided to give up our salary in order to afford our new space and to do ministry through the valley.

In our efforts to still give most of our time to ministry, we have been seeking job opportunities that will allow us that flexibility and still bring in enough income to provide for our family. Enter two weeks ago, where I received a message about the opportunity to sell a product I'd been ingredient by for quite a while. I read the message, thought for a while, and talked with my hubs about it. I stared through the open door and saw all the pieces falling into place. I spoke with my friend on the phone and her enthusiasm was contagious. I saw the potential for this business to not only provide for my family but to accomplish the dreams I had for us in the future.

I signed up and started full force. I'm talking, worked my way through the daily start up suggestions, checking off boxes, listening to training's...lots of training's, and feeling good. After the boxes were nearing an end, only a few remained: Share your story. Sell to your friends. Build your team.

The one thing I lacked was -passion- for what was being sold. Don't hear me wrong, the business I signed up with is selling quality products that work, they have a great business model, and it pays well! I respect each women I know who works for them; which is one of the main reasons I chose to work with this business. I just couldn't get past my gut. As I began messaging friend and family, creating posts to publish, and talking about it with my missional community---it all flopped. It flopped not for lack of effort but because of my lack of passion. None of it set right. I started going through how I got started and where I went wrong in order to make me feel this way.

Confession: I didn't pray about it.

What the smack! The door was wide open. I stared straight into it. All the pieces fell into place. It was smooth. It was a wise financial move. It all made sense. And while tempting. It wasn't God's will. It answered so many of my prayers in a nice neat little package. I could even validate it with the potential to attain my honorable dreams for my family. But it still was not God's open door. for me. at this time.

I swallowed my nasty tasting mouthful of pride and quit. Yep. Lets just call it like it is and I Q.U.I.T. Oh, how I love being a flake, not following through with things, disappointing people, and quitting one more stankin' thing. {end sarcasm}

Today, this is me, waving at you from inside a different, slightly cracked, open door my hubs and I chose to walk through together. Sometimes walking in the light isn't as clear as we'd like. Sometimes God's will and provision isn't all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes His open door leads into the middle of town, in a box on wheels, where God can show intentional love in a bizarre way while ideally providing a little income for your family.

Say hello to...The Frozen Eagle shaved ice truck. What What! This new adventure is already proving to be a fun family endeavor that seems to have been opened by God!

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The Mercy House Global Market {GRAND OPENING!}

Several years ago, I started following a blog known by the name, We Are THAT Family. I fell in love with the humble, realist, passionate writer who mentored me via the internet in matters of the heart, marriage, and parenting.

I am excited to say I got to meet her at a bloggers conference a few years ago. She was everything I expected: humble, meek, and oozing Jesus. I got to creep along the sidelines and watch as God took her "YES" and transformed it into what only he could. This past weekend, I got to roadtrip with 3 other friends from Arkansas to Texas to see that God-sized dream expanding once again.

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Mercy House Global Market is an extension of the work that has been happening for a few years now. Without giving a complete history lesson, we'll just jump to where it is currently: a fair trade market place with products created by hand from multiple countries where different groups are all fighting for to restore dignity for working women.

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I was honored to meet these ladies in person and be there to celebrate with them at the Grand Opening!

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Can't make it to Magnolia, TX to shop in person, don't fret. You can shop for most of the items HERE or sign up for a monthly club HERE!
I can personally recommend the earring of the month club to start you out 😉

find classier, high quality pics here

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Adventure Awaits {in a shoebox}

In March of 2013, God launched the valley church here in Vilonia AR. He set us out with a mission to make disciples. We plan live in authentic community, learn biblical teaching, serve here in our area, as well as through go there, where ever that may be across the world to do just that.
Clipping along through the story of the valley and what God's doing, we come to April of 2014 when a crazy tornado swept through our town, destroying many things including the building we were leasing. That allowed us to get creative in how to serve our community during that really hard time. 

I share that all so you'll understand the awesomeness of the upcoming date! 

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Since the conception of the valley, part of our attempt to make disciples across the world was to partner with Samaritan's Purse to pack Operation Christmas Child boxes that serve as an amazing, door-opening, tool to share the gospel with children and their families. In the years we've been portable, we still chose to make it a priority to commit to this campaign. 

We have had to let go of a lot of things because it's just too hard to set up and tear down big stuff for just an hour and 1/2 service once a week. This year, I decided to make a BIG display to show the importance of this campaign to our church even if that means a lot of extra work. As a bonus, I think it's helping put a little cheer in our people's already generous hearts.

This week and last week, we collected TOYS! We collect the 5-7 weeks {depending on the year} in preparation for our Operation Christmas Child 2016 shoebox Packing Party.  This year it will be November 13th. Our goal is 60 boxes but I think we May just surpass that quickly...😳 Eeek!

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::Collection Schedule::
10-2&9: toys
10-16: hygiene items
10-23: school supplies
10-30: accessories & boxes
11-06: catch up, bring anything you missed
11-13: PACKING PARTY!!!

The biggest news!? We are shooting for hosting the packing party In. Our. NEW. Building.

This space to worship in and serve from is just one small way God has continually reminded us that He is not done in this city, through us. He has provided *opportunities to build new relation ships,*unique ways to keep serving, *new families to join in our mission, and *faithful ways for us keep making disciples locally and across the globe.

The adventure awaits! You just have to be willing to take part. God's story is so vast and He invites us into it; isn't that inconceivable?! For many children in poverty-stricken parts of the world, their hope of being apart of God's adventure awaits in a simple [Operation Christmas Child] shoebox gift that might just come from us...or you.

Adventure Awaits! How will you respond?

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Back-to-School Supply Shopping Tips {Thoughtful Thursday}

I am often annoyed that Hobby Lobby has fall decor out before 4th of July or that Christmas decor is everywhere in stores before Halloween BUT I might be in the minority when I get gitty when school supplies show up in stores. Eeeek The smell of sharpened pencils, clean new binders, shelves upon shelves of crayola colorfulness!

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I have been preparing my school supply list for the 2-16/17 school year already. Part of my prep included scouring the internet for the best prices on the items on my list. Here's a quick overview of what I've found that might save you some time and money::

  1. Staples price matches 110% of any {even online} sale price. This is #1 because I feel like it could cut down on shopping time by going to a single store. They will not only match a price but give you 10% off on top of that. example: Staples glue $2, Walmart glue $1, Staples glue now $0.90
  2. 7 ways to save with Staples, stack them all!
  3. Walmart's app has a "Savings Catcher".  This means you scan receipt on the app and if competitor advertises lower price, they'll give you the difference.
  4. Target cartwheel app has tons of great coupon deals AND Target Red Car saves you 5% every time you use it and it connects to your checking account, acting just like a debit card. No more forgetting to pay that store credit card you have just for the discounts.
  5. Walmart vs Target cheat sheet to get the best prices {if you don't have a staples to match their prices 110%}.
  6. Tax Free Weekend! Arkansas' will be Aug 6th through Aug 7th. HERE is the list of qualifying items for Arkansas.
  7. Homeschoolers can register your "school" with Office Depot for their 5% cash back. You can have anyone you know use your school name to put their 5% cash back towards. If you don't have a school you use yet, ROTHACHER ACADEMY of Vilonia Arkansas would love your support. 😉
  8. Homeschool moms can register with Staples for teacher discounts.
  9. Christian Books website has a $1 sale right going on right now through Aug 18th. It includes some books that would be great for homeschool.
  10. Deals from several store that you need to grab up This Week!
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All Things Finding Dory {a review}

When I realized they had beyond earned enough money for our entire family to go to the movies {especially if we did the planned matinee}, I sat the down to talk about how cool all of this was. After several conversations about God's goodness and generosity toward us, we tossed around a lot of ideas about what do do with the left over money. We all decided that our youngest siblings wouldn't handle the movie theater very well, we would still have TONS left over, and wanted foster kids, who might not otherwise have the chance to GO to the movies, to have the chance by sharing what God had blessed us with.

After my kids' extreme efforts to find work-ethic and generosity, we went to see Finding Dory last week. Our local theater has matinee movies on Tuesday for $5.50 each. WINNING! We splurged and bought the kids a big bucket of popcorn {not something we normally do} AND ate out for lunch after the movie. While we sat at lunch, we shared about our $33 gift card with a private group of foster families, offering it to the first person to comment. To my surprise, less than 5 minutes later we had a couple commenters and set up a time to deliver it before we even headed home. The kids got to take it in to the foster mom at her work. So Cool!

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Now that my frugal-self got the excitement out of the way about the price, let me just give my one sentence review of Finding Dory:

The adventure of Finding Dory is as adorable as Finding her buddy Nemo years ago with lots of laughs, great animation {of course}, attention-grabbing story line that stands alone but weaves in well with the original, and heart-warming teachable moments that you and your littles will LOVE so I think it was totally worth the theater pricing, great conversations after we left, and will likely purchase the DVD to add to our collection when it comes out to watch over and over again.

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Now, for the longer review:

Let's start with the possible negative aspects of finding Dory.

Dory's mentions often that she feels her disability, short-term-memory-loss, is THE reason she lost her family. For Dory, this is very much sad but very true. She struggles with being a part of a mixed family and longs to know her "real family." Dory discusses what "home" means, deciding home is where they're from. Nemo and [mainly] Marlin struggle with Dory's need to know about, find, and be a part of her "real family."

If you have a child with a disability of any kind {they may see being special as a bad thing}, are part of a blended family, are trudging through a divorce {their misplaced guilt may be amplified}, or have children in your family as a result of foster-care/adoption {they may have false or unhealthy hopes of reunification}, you may need to make a personal decision to

  1. prescreen the movie without children to know IF your child(ren) should see it
  2. choose not to see this movie if your children already struggles with feeling "responsible" for hardships in your family
  3. see it as a family and plan to use this Discussion Guide to wade through and redirect some of those tough issues

Dory does find herself in a couple fairly scary scenes. One where she is [of course] lost. If your child has separation anxiety or has experienced being lost before, this may be even more intense. There is also a great chase scene similar to the shark one in Finding Nemo but this guy is a bit more savage and doesn't leave with redeeming qualities. At one point, my eldest daughter was so caught up in the movie, a disappointing scene had her leaning into me saying, "Mamma, I really hope this is the middle of the movie and not the end!".

Let's end with why I think this movie is stankin' adorable!

Baby Dory- OMFruitcake she's the best. Giant eyes, sweet dispossession, and that voice! Dory has flashbacks throughout the movie, triggered by all kinds of thing, giving us the chance to find out why Dory is so awesome as a grown-fish.

Dory's parents are those roll-your-eyes, wanna-be-them, amazing parents who are crazy patient, creative, and gentle. Nemo and Marlin have a smaller roll but are just as great with their funny banter and silly predicaments. You get a glimpse at some of the old characters and the new friends you meet along the way are quality as well.

There's fun suspense and ends well; just the way I like movies- all wrapped up with a pretty bow.

If you have a child with a disability of any kind, are part of a blended family, are trudging through a divorce, or have children in your family as a result of foster-care/adoption, you may need to make a personal decision to use this movie for teachable moments like when

  1. Dory remembers the great parts of her history but is able to "just keep swimming" in her new found life
  2. Dory takes responsibility for things, owning it and learning to healthy ways to compensate but is able to see how her entire family [new and original] don't blame her for anything and still love her unconditionally all the while agreeing that we aren't made to do things alone- we need one another's abilities to make it
  3. Dory learns that family is something you build with those you love and love you back

I can't express how much I love Oh Amanda's Family Discussion Guide and review. I am a firm believer that we are meant to "find truth in the secular." Hope you love the movie as much as we did. Tell me you favorite parts!

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Finding Dory teaches us all lots of great lessons if we're looking for them.

Truth in the secular to look for:

  • How to better love those who have disabilities, have lost family, and who long to be apart of family.
  • How clues from our past can shape our future; that's the point of learning history, to learn form the past.
  • How limitations are not a bad thing. It's just one more way God shows us we are supposed to be living in community, giving and taking to form One Body that gives a glimpse at the vastness of our creator.
  • How forgiving and forgetting isn't just a nice thought; it's the idealistic goal to live a healthy life: while Dory's "no memories; no problems"  theory isn't a possibility for most of us, it does show us how letting go of a grudge should feel.
  • How confidence brings JOY and in turn interaction with others becomes fluid; insecurity keeps us from healthy community.
  • How "just keep swimming" is a biblical idea; run the race before you, don't fall asleep, through Christ- all things are possible.
  • How "our hope is that every [foster child] we care for will be ___ and return home.
  • How family is not just a pet-store where we "just pick one" that fits into our American dream or picture perfect family portrait.
  • How God is capable of using "lost ones" not just the already-Christ-followers, and most of the time they have the most to offer; as American Christians if someone doesn't have "christian" morality stamped on them, we don't think they have anything to offer us {as if we have it all together}- Hello!? God used a donkey; get over yourself.

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For more good articles on Finding Dory, check these out:

Exceptional Kids
Animal Safety
Autism & Dory

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