I Came Kicking and Screaming All The Way To Kansas

We were living in Atlanta at the time and marrying a southern man I never expected to live anywhere else but the south until, that infamous phone call came. It was so long ago, telephones hung on your wall.   We call them landlines now, and if you lived back then, you might have had one in several rooms of your home. We had one in the front of the house in the kitchen and another in the back of the house in a bedroom. My parents had two as well in there home where they lived in Kansas.

One day my parents and Jeff and I were having what we would now call a conference call when each of us just got on one of those phones connected to the wall in our home and we all talked to each other.  In the process of the call my parents once again invited us, or maybe it would be better described as begged us to move up to Kansas where they had retired. Being raised an only child and now having the only grandchild, my parents were desperate for us to move closer to them. But I was confident that was never going to happen. I knew our fate was destined to stay in the big city. I was completely okay with that because I had been to Kansas (as my grandparents and extended family lived there) and there was nothing there I wanted.

Once again my parents were asking, but I was convinced that I would, as my parents had, live so far away from my family that we would simply only see each other once or twice a year. Until, Jeff told my parents “Well, I tell you what, if you find me a job up there we will move” I didn’t say anything while we were talking to them on the phone, but as soon as we got off I asked Jeff “You were just pacifying my parents right? We aren’t moving to Kansas, are we? To which Jeff responded ” Yep! We’re moving!” I immediately reminded him that Kansas was in the North and we lived in the South. Because I was certain he had lost his mind for a moment.  In my attempt to bring him back to reality I reminded him of all the reasons why we would need to stay in Atlanta, before moving back to the forgotten world of this place they called Kansas.

Finally, after much aggravation on my part, Jeff just said ” I feel like God wants us to move to Kansas” Well, Now I was confident not only had my husband lost his mind but so had God. Because this was not in my plan and if you looked at our bank account, as I informed my husband, there wasn’t enough money for us to get down the road, let alone move from Atlanta GA to Kansas. Jeff assured me he believed this is what we were supposed to do.  Still, in disbelief, I informed Jeff. Okay, I will go but only if God provides the money and you know it will take at least $2,000 to move. Confident that I would not have to worry about it happening because it was such an outrageous idea,  (now I wish I would have said $10,000) I am certain God was sitting up there saying  “Oh! ye of little faith” because in 2 weeks we were pulling up in a U-haul to my parent’s driveway. Miraculously, in that time God provided the money and we moved. (and that is another story)

See none of that was in my plan, and even after God proved himself by providing the money for us to move, I was still in doubt and confused as to why God was taking us to Kansas. Frankly, I did not want to move here even though it is my birthplace. But God began to uncover His plan for us just 6 weeks later. When my mother, in the middle of the night, called out to us from my parent’s bedroom as we slept in the next room ” Alesa, Jeff come quick your daddy is dying” As Jeff and I raced to my daddy’s side.  I got to experience something I had prayed for. You see many years earlier I had prayed ” God,  Please don’t let me by like my parents and live so far away that when one of them is dying we have to hurry and drive thousands of miles away just praying we get there in time.”

As Jeff and I talked after daddy’s death. He revealed to me that while he was working in Atlanta one day. He was under a house and felt like God had said ” If you want Alesa and Lee to spend any more time with her family, you need to move to Kansas and you need to move to Kansas now ” Jeff said he knew that something was gonna happen and he wanted to make sure I was with my family. There was just something about what he felt God was saying that Jeff knew we had to move. Jeff didn’t know the prayer I had prayed. But God did!

Last week I shared in this article, about how circumstances that come into our lives, might not be what we expect or even want but we can trust the one who brings them to us.  Just like Joseph did as he told his brothers that God used the bad things they did, for good.  (Gen 30) I can look back now and see what God was doing, and how my dream that Jeff and I being the original Chip and Joanna Gains was not in His plan! He had a greater calling for us. Kansas is where our ministry began, Kansas is where the miracle of last 2 children came, and for the past almost 30 years we have loved and lived in Kansas.

Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God said ” I know the plans I have for you” notice that word plan is plural. My daughter reminded me of that the other day. So that means God has multiple plans for us to do. If Jeff hadn’t listened to God or worst yet if he had listened to me and we had stayed in the south. I am not sure what would have happened, but I am confident of one thing, our lives would not be the same,  we would not have been touched by the special people we have met here in Kansas and I hope somehow we have touched peoples lives here as well. I am so glad we can trust God’s plans for us. As we enter into 2018 let us resolve that we will trust His plan even when we don’t understand it and especially when we dislike it!

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What’s in your Garden?

What’s in your Garden?

Everything we do, Every word we say, is a seed we plant

What’s In Your Garden?

I hate gardening! Oh, don’t get me wrong; I love the harvest, and I love cooking up, canning, and freezing the harvest from the garden! I am more than happy to spend hours in the kitchen, steaming over a pot of hot boiling water as jars are sterilizing, just so we can get the harvest canned before it goes bad, even if that means hours on my feet to make it happen. Shoot, I don’t even mind getting out and planting the seeds at the beginning of the season (even if it does get dirt under my fingernails) and I have actually been known to go out and water the garden a time or two in my life!

 
But you know what I hate about gardening?? The WEEDS!! They are the worst, especially for an amateur gardener like myself. Sometimes I can’t even tell the weeds from the plants!  To avoid having to spend hours in the hot Kansas sun pulling weeds, I have even been known to wait till it rained, and then gone out in my bare feet with the mud squishing between my toes to pull them up while the roots are loose in the soil from the rain. Weeds are the worst, and there is nothing worse than going away for maybe a week on vacation and coming back home and finding that the weeds have taken over your garden!

 
This got me thinking………….
Gardening is a lot like life, you see. It’s like the words we say, the relationships we build, because with each word we speak, every action we take toward someone, whether they live in the same house as we do or it is a casual meeting in the grocery store, it’s like planting a seed and sometimes, when our brains seem to take a vacation from our mouths, it can cause a lot of weeds to grow in our relationship gardens.

 
See…..
We have the power to CAUSE peace in the storms of lives around us, or, we have the power to BE the storm of life in our families and in every relationship we come across. Because everything we do, every word we say is a seed we plant.

 

 Everything We Do, Every Word We Say Is A Seed We Plant!

 
If those words are bitter, then a bitter plant will grow up, like a weed growing in that relationship.

 
Sometimes those words can grow almost instantly! Maybe it’s the sharp words we said to our husband when we were surprised by something he said that caused the spirit of fear to rise up in us simply because he presented an idea that wasn’t in our plan.

 
And other times, it takes a while for those bitter words to grow; like when we repeatedly are short in our response to the child that we have such a hard time relating to. Over time, their constant questions just get on our nerves. When ignored and not dealt with, any of these seeds can grow into weeds and soon take over all the good fruit that is in the garden.

 
But, in the same way, when kind words are spoken and kind actions taken, good things grow in our relationship gardens. The question is; what are you growing in your garden today?
Have you ever noticed how a weed seems to grow twice as fast as the good stuff in the garden? I have a neighbor who lives across the street from me who I have told, more than once; they make the rest of us look bad because they are out in their garden and yard almost daily, weeding it, mowing it, and whatever else you can do to a garden and yard! It never fails; when I look out my front door, one of them (if not both) is on their knees, maintaining what they have.

 
We have to realize that every day is an opportunity for us to make a difference in someone’s life. It is our chance to speak life into someone, especially those closest to us. It might be those who God has called us to do life with and who live under the same roof with us, or maybe it is the people under whose roof we grew up. But God has called us to speak life into those around us and I believe He expects us to not allow any bitter seeds to come out of our mouths. If we are truly followers of Christ, we will love those who live in our own homes. How can the world outside believe that we love them when we don’t even live out that love in our own homes?

 

I want to challenge you today to consider what seeds you are planting in the lives around you. Maybe you have a long history of planting bitter seeds into your relationships, and the weeds have kinda taken over your relationship garden. I want to encourage you to get on your knees and start maintaining your garden with prayer. You need to ask God to let the water of life that flows from Him to come and rain down on your relationship gardens till the soil is so wet, the mud squishes between your toes! Because, I am here to tell you that the rain God wants to pour down on your relationship gardens can restore everything the weeds have tried to come in and destroy.

 
Let’s Pray!
God I thank You that You are the great gardener, and You have a perfect plan for my life. God I just ask today, that You would allow the living water that lives inside of You, to pour down on my relationship garden, restore what the weeds have overtaken and help me to never speak those words of bitterness or anger again in my life. Please help me to see that my self-centeredness and need for control are characteristics that are NOT like You!
Lord, let Your living water flow through my life, so that everywhere I go I bring life, and my life is always pointed toward You.
In Jesus Name, Amen.