Exceedingly Abundantly Above

      It's August 22, 2014 and I am no longer in my sweet little brick house in beautiful and perfect Georgia. God has moved us north to Nashville, Tennessee, which I can't much complain about. However, it is a bit different and I am slightly culture-shocked. Nevertheless, we're here. We made it. I say this with a smile of pride in my Jesus and wonder at the Father's mighty hand.
      Three years ago the dream of getting even an inch closer to God's plan for our lives was looking like just that: a dream. . . and nothing more. Three months ago God revealed that our dream wasn't so simple. In fact, it is HIS dream, embedded into our hearts and souls by His loving hand. Three days ago I laid in the bed of our new room in our new house and thought, You made this happen, Lord. Why have you been so gracious to me? Why do You love me the way You do? 
      When God called us to begin this new trek into His perfect plan for our lives, we had no idea how it would ever work. That was our lack of faith shifting into overdrive. Moving is expensive. Nashville's cost of living is much higher than good ole North Georgia. We only know two people in Nashville, both very busy and not directly involved in our lives at the moment. But we pushed our faith in the opposite direction, the way it was supposed to be headed, and trusted God. Just as well, as I said in my last post, we'd stopped looking for a place to live; we waited for God to open the door to our new home so we could walk right into it, just like He said.
      We felt God leading us to pray for certain things in our spirits regarding the home we'd be living in. We were in total agreement about these requests: an extra bedroom for friends and family to stay when they visited, or if someone needed a bed for the night, extra space so we could have worship in our house the way we did in Dalton, safety, and a few other specifics He'd laid on our hearts. With a larger place, we could grow as a family and more importantly, glorify the Father through our ministry and this calling He has placed on our lives, plus the burden we have for His bride within our home. God was constantly reminding us of how He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, of how He's able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. (Psalm 37:4; Ephesians 3:20-21)
      Earlier in July, possibly late June (I don't really remember), my mom called me to tell me she'd been in touch with an old friend she hadn't spoken to in a while. They caught up on the latest news when mom told her friend that we were moving to Nashville. Her friend was eager to tell us of yet another friend, also in the music industry and ministry, who was renting/selling his house. She sent the address directly to me and I almost fell over in the floor. The house was huge: almost 3500 sq. ft. of rooms I couldn't fill with all of the furniture in my own house, but big enough for all we'd prayed for and then some. So Jordan and I prayed again. The owner wanted $1600 a month, which was out of our price range. Just the same, we prayed and felt led to contact the owner directly rather than go through the realtor.
      I had no direct contact information, but the mutual friend suggested I visit the owner's website and email him from there. She had assured me that he would reply to me, especially since he knew Jordan and I were interested in the house. As I sat at my laptop I could only pray. God, we can't afford this house. I know it's not out of Your price range because You're God, but do you want us to live here? Am I wasting my time? You seriously want me to ask if they'll budge on this rent? And my fingers began to type.
      After introducing myself as best as I could over email, I poured out my heart about our ministry, calling, and new journey with Jesus. After that, I was brutally honest about our finances and what we could afford. I wanted so much to be completely transparent with this godly man; the last thing I wanted was for him to think I was some crazed fan, so I was very careful to let the Holy Spirit do His thing through me rather than try to sell myself as if I were an applicant for his home. After looking at homes over and over in Nashville, we'd learned the hard way that some realtors were shopping for buyers/renters instead of buyers/renters shopping for homes. Jordan and I didn't want that. It was important for us to put our faith in front of us, not to use it for any sort of gain, but to allow it to guide us and the people with whom we were dealing. We didn't want to be unequally yoked with any landlord, and for the past 7 and a half years we'd been very blessed to rent from family friends who are some of the godliest of people we know. Honestly, we were looking for that again.
      I ended my email by asking the owner if he could budge at all on the rent price. I told him our ceiling was $1000 a month. I knew he wouldn't come down $600, but it was worth a shot, and quenching the Holy Spirit wasn't on my to-do list. I asked this man to seek God's guidance and came to him as a sister in Christ, not a renter looking for a handout.
      Within hours I received a reply. He told me he didn't think he could go that low on rent, and that he was concerned about the distance from where Lilli and I would be attending school, as well as from Jordan's office because the house is in Hendersonville, but he and his wife would pray about it just the same. We were praying for the Holy Spirit to intervene and communicate what He thought was best between both parties.
      I didn't hear back from him and a few days later I found the house for sale online, whereas before it had only advertised as for rent. My heart sank, but I moved on quickly. God knew better, and we trusted His heart over our own. Maybe I'd misunderstood God's plan in contacting the man. I didn't know.
      As I said before, we had stopped looking altogether. On Saturday morning, August 2, Jordan got a wild hair to look for rentals on Craiglist as his anxious flesh took over. There, he found a 1224 sq. ft. condo in Antioch, TN. We called the owner and drove north to view the condo. The owner was nice and had ties as an alumnist of the schools we'd be attending. However, he wanted $1200 a month for this tiny condo; we'd be downsizing in furniture, selling some, and all we prayed for wasn't going to happen. But we were down to the wire and needed to be there by Thursday the 7th at the very latest. Lilli was to start school the following Monday.
      Jordan and I left the condo and drove to a nearby Kroger parking lot where we shook with nerves and wondered if we were making the right decision. We called the owner and said we'd take the condo, but we weren't totally at peace about our decision. God had sown requests and His plans in our hearts that weren't lining up with this condo; renting it would choke all of those growing seeds, but we trusted God and went with it. As we sat in the parking lot on the phone with our new landlord, he explained we'd have to wait until Wednesday when we moved in to sign the lease. With heavy hearts, we went home to Dalton and finished packing the rest of our things, too stressed to be anything but grateful that we'd at least finally found a place.
      The morning of Wednesday, August 6th opened slowly and almost somberly. This was not how I'd expected to be riding off into the sunset of our dreams. Had we made the right choice? Was this what God had in mind? We were a bit confused, but trusted His heart without fail.
      The big moving truck our buddy Chris McDaniel had borrowed for us sat in the driveway awaiting its breakfast of fresh furniture and sealed boxes. I opened my eyes to look around my little green bedroom in the morning light one more time. It was one of the last, if not the last morning I would wake up in that room that carried so many memories. Rolling over to Jordan I sniffed his neck and nuzzled him, then I grabbed my phone and walked to the kitchen for some coffee. My phone alerted me to an email and I opened it sluggishly, not caring what it contained. . . until I read the sender's address. It was from the homeowner in Hendersonville. He and his wife had prayed about our offer of $1000 a month. In return they offered us the house for $1250 a month. My jaw fell open and I dropped the phone onto the dishwasher countertop in front of me.
      "JORDAN." He was in the living room by now checking emails from work.
      "What?" He could tell something was up by the tone of my voice.
      "You might wanna come read this. . .like, now."
      I was completely speechless and this is me we're talking about here. I am never speechless; I have words for everything!
       Jordan stood in the kitchen in nothing but his underwear, his Fraggle Rock hair a mess over his still sleepy eyes that zoomed from side to side across the phone screen. It took a minute for the email to set in for both of us. A smile slowly stretched across his face and his eyes widened as he ran his fingers nervously through his hair. He squeezed his eyes shut and started laughing. "We need to pray."
      After a series of emails between us and the owner and prayer all around from friends and family, we felt the Spirit's blessing as we made the decision to take the house. But we couldn't get in touch with the owner after the first few emails to let him know we'd accepted the offer. I was sitting at the kitchen table dripping wet from sweat partially caused by moving boxes and cleaning, partially caused from the coronary I was sure would momentarily ensue. My mom was sitting with me. Seeing the anxiety on my face she began to pray, "Lord, send a couple of ministering angels to [the owner] and just give him a little prick to call Jordan and Brandi. We're waiting on You, Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen."
      My phone rang and it was the homeowner; this was the first time we would speak via telephone.
      He'd gotten my email but had been super busy at his church that day. His dad was going to the house to leave us the keys and garage door opener and we were all set to move in immediately. When Jordan talked with him he said they'd tried to sell the house and there was no logical reason it shouldn't have sold. The only thing he could figure was that God wanted us to have it. Jordan then called the condo owner and explained all that had taken place; while he was disappointed he was very understanding: we were moving to a home almost 3 times the size of the condo for $50 more a month.
      Some of you may be thinking, "I thought your limit was $1000 a month?" This is true. However, as I wrote about in my last couple of posts, the Nashville housing market is pretty flooded. As we prayed, God has continued to show us time and time again of how He'll take care of us financially. After all, isn't it all His money? We've been walking on water this entire time with our eyes on Jesus. Yes, we've faltered and fallen below the waterline a time or tow; yes, we've questioned and yes, from the very beginning we've looked at each other and said, "How?" But Father's ways and thoughts are higher than ours. So we took another step on the water and said "yes" to the house.
      Within hours we were completely loaded up and headed to Nashville to pick up Rico for unloading. A little after 11pm Nashville time, we pulled into the driveway of our new home.
      It was more than we could have ever imagined. Humbly, we walked in through the garage door of this massive brick house and flicked on the lights as the smell of home wafted into our nostrils. The light, the space, the cleanliness, the blessing. . .  We were overwhelmed by God's monsoon of a gift and the four of us shouted, cried, and jumped around in the wide open space of our future.
      All Jordan and I could think of or say when we looked at one another was, "We were supposed to wait.  This was why God waited until the last minute. It wasn't ready. The [owner] wasn't ready." It was just like the Holy Spirit had communicated through Kat: It's there, it just isn't ready. When it's finished, the door will open and you'll only have to walk through it. His words were all I could think of when we stepped into the house that first night. They're still all I can think of, and I'm still overwhelmed and grateful every day that I pull into our driveway.
      After about an hour or so of walking around this massive gift, we broke out the anointing oil and anointed every window and door, then prayed and dedicated our new home to the glory of God. As we stood in the foyer of the house, Rico joined in with the three of us, we held hands, and Jordan led us in a prayer of thanksgiving and dedication. Now, I don't tell you this to puff myself or my family up; we're far from holy and not even close to perfect. See, through God, all things were made possible. No matter where we would've ended up, we had planned to dedicate our home to God's glory.
      We only asked for a third bedroom, but in this house we have two, technically three extra bedrooms. We even have extra parking! All that we asked for and more was gifted to us by His merciful, gracious hand. It's only by Him and His spirit that we were able to get this house and make it our home. He worked a miracle through the owner. Before any home was put into view, we promised God it would be consecrated to His glory and the furthering of His kingdom. While we may be seeking shelter under this house's roof, our new home will do nothing less than glorify the One who gave it to us.
      We unpacked the truck and moved furniture into rooms, making sure our beds were set up for the night. In my excitement I had left all of the sheets and bedclothes in Dalton, leaving us to sleep on bare mattresses, but we didn't care. We would've slept on the floor of our new home if we would've had to; no mattress can ever take the place of the cloud that cushions the heart when a blessing appears, or the warmth of the hand that cradles us in faith. Either way, I was so excited that first night that I could hardly sleep at all. The second step of God's plan had come to fruition all around us, and I couldn't wait for step three.
      I'm posting a photo of our new house, not to brag on "my big fat house" or to even brag on myself. I can't take any credit at all for this home. I'm posting it to brag on Jesus. This house is a miracle! Friends, we prayed for just a little extra space so we could fulfill our calling in Jesus by having worship at our house. We just wanted a little extra room; nothing more. But God says He's able to do exceedingly and abundantly above what we ask of Him. And He did just that. So often I put God in a little box or keep my requests small because I don't want to be excessive and I don't want God to have to go to too much trouble for me. But through this house we've been shown that God not only wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts, but He has plans that far exceed those desires. He wants us to ask for excess for His glory and the furthering of His kingdom because His desire is to give it to us! Just imagine, what we think is so magnificent is only a drop in the bucket compared to what God has in mind. Our prayer is for the walls of this beautiful house to record our lives, to comfort the lost coming to Jesus, and to hold the praise and worship of His glorious name. We are humbled by His gift and His will to use us for His glory. May it bring honor and glory to Him, further His kingdom, and be a blessing to Him in every way, and may we be able to return the blessing to Him and so many others along the way. To God be the glory, GREAT things HE has done!!!
 
         

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