I can't really begin to fully unpack what happened those two weeks in N. Ireland, but I will say that new relationships were formed that would lead to marriages and babies and other ones that would lead to some of the toughest life challenges we've faced to date. As I sit here this morning and think about just what God started, how many seeds were watered and brought to life and how many new seeds were planted there in the land of Narnia, it is a bit mystical. There were hard things about the trip too. Our hearts were pulled out of our chests and walloped on by hearing other people's life stories and they were challenged to love people who are hard to love. The safety of some of our kids was tested those two weeks and my husband celebrated his 40th birthday. Those two weeks were jam-packed with years of treasures and truths that God is still unfolding to us.
To say that He began to water our dry and barren desert is an understatement. It's like we went to sleep to a silent film and woke up to 3-D animation movie showing on the big screen. Jesus jolted us back to life, but it wasn't a new life, it was a clear continuation of a life we'd already lived. He was highlighting dreams and words that we had received years ago, some we had forgotten and He was breathing His life into them. He doesn't forget a thing! He doesn't forget a promise. He is the dream maker and all that we had stored up in our hearts and tucked away on shelves, the ones we had abandoned, God in His amazing memory, hadn't left them. In fact, He was in each and every one of them.
When I was in 8th grade, the kids in my class voted on what everyone would become when they became adults. My mom, who is an artist, created cartoon characters for each student. My class said that I would one day be a preacher. My mom drew me with a Bible in hand and a cleric collar under my punk rocker suit. The fact that God had opened up an invitation for me to share His word twice in one week, somehow felt like the undoing of a shackled, forgotten dream.
We felt like we were drinking out of a fire hose, and God wasn't done.
On our second to last day of our two-week trip, three missionaries whom we had just met, asked us to sit down with them. They started the conversation with something like this, "We've been praying this week and watching your family and we are feeling strongly that God wants us to invest in your house flipping business." Did you get that? Missionaries, whom we'd never met before this trip, were prompted by God to invest in this dream we'd given up on. Not only did they say that, but then they proceeded to speak back to us the prayers we had privately prayed to God for years. They blessed and confirmed prayers we had for this company when we started it but these were dreams Devon and I had kept between ourselves and God.
We named our company Ripristino which means restoration in Italian. We were in Italy twelve years ago when God made it clear we'd be leaving the restaurant business to go into the home remodeling business. The scripture God gave us for our company was,
"Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." NIV
"Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes." NLT
We did not feel like rebuilders and restorers of anything. We couldn't pay our mortgage. We had contracts being canceled. We felt like God had been testing us for years. Would we continue to be obedient to this call He had on our lives, hammering nail after nail in what felt like a coffin that brought nothing but pain and hardship our way? Would we choose obedience over comfort? Would we choose faith over understanding? Would we forgive when we'd be wronged? Would we continue to worship Him when we felt dry? Would we "go" when He said "go" even if it seemed impossible?
We didn't do it well all the time. In fact, there were times I was a complete brat to the Lord, whining and worrying. But, we did continue to choose Him. He knew in the depths of our hearts, we just wanted what He wanted for our lives. Here we were, sitting in another country, with strangers, listening to Jesus speak through them to our hearts and bringing them back to life. We were overwhelmed.
He had not forgotten us.
His Word does not return void.
We headed back to the States. Devon landed an insurance job on our return that had enough profit in the job that we wrote one big check to our mortgage company, then we set out to buy the first investment property with the heavenly investment.
That was 6 houses ago and worshipping with 20 missionaries this week in our latest refurbished house, was a reminder that His ways are not our ways but He is trustworthy for He never changes and His goodness never runs dry.