I Have Too Much Stuff

Where did all this stuff come from? Some of the things I am sorting through I haven’t looked at since we moved them from Ohio. 10 years of sitting in a box collecting dust. Why?

I would guess that most homeschoolers are pack-rats to some degree. And homeschooling for 25 years, I have accumulated plenty of “valuable educational resources.” Well, with only one student left, and him in the 11th grade, how much of this stuff is really necessary? Oh, and how much of his learning is done online, requiring no “stuff” at all?  hmmm.

So I have purged out all the stuff we really won’t need from here on out. Only problem is, Andrew and Christine are homeschooling the grandkids. Surely they could use some of this stuff, right? So in the box it goes. I don’t need it but I’m moving it anyway! I wonder if the truck will be big enough?

And have I mentioned that Josh and Maggie are also moving to Florida? Their stuff will be on the truck too.  Perhaps I need to be more careful about what I am packing.

I did find out something useful. I will admit that when it comes to books, I have a hard time parting with them.  I know, I have a Kindle. I shouldn’t need so many books. But they might be useful and why re-buy them for my Kindle when I already have them?  So I sort. This pile to take. That pile to donate. That pile to throw away because the book is just plain worn out. What I’ve learned is that if I do this sorting and leave the piles alone for a couple of days, when I go back to start actually packing the books I’ve decided to take, I find myself weeding out many more. After I’ve had time to think about it, I realize that I really don’t need all of them after all. Perhaps I need to apply this technique to everything I decide to take! Only problem is that I didn’t figure it out until after I had packed…several…boxes. Oh, well. Nothing I can do about that now.

But seriously, this process has made me stop and think about all the stuff I have.  Some of it is family heirlooms that I want to pass down to my children and grandchildren. Some of it is stuff that I will probably never use but can’t bring myself to just throw away. I am finding it much easier to make the decision to get rid of something if I know that someone else will get some use out of it.

So I keep sorting, keep giving away and slowly my house is beginning to look empty.  Well, except for the mountain of boxes. The hardest part is trying to figure out what things I will need while we’re at Andrews and what should be put into storage. Since we will be with Andrew for an indefinite length of time it’s hard to plan. And it seems ridiculous to keep packing stuff that I KNOW will just be put in storage. Why can’t I just get rid of everything and start over?

The one  good thing about the fact that I have begun packing is that I don’t really have to clean my house. Mostly because I can’t FIND it!

The other significant thing that is happening is that as I sort and purge, I feel a sense of freedom. I am unburdening myself a little more every day. And I find it happening in my spirit as well. As I let go of things that are holding me back, I am free to move forward into what God has next. And I am excited to see what He has in store.

The Sorting, Purging and Packing Has Begun

In August, I went to Florida again, this time with my youngest son, Alex.  At this point we hadn’t made any decision about moving. This trip had been planned back in June because Alex wanted to visit Andrew and see his new home.

Randy and I talked on the phone daily. We were trying to decide if we were to purchase or lease a new vehicle and neither one of us had any real peace about it.  Since we hadn’t decided about the move yet, it seemed premature to be considering a new vehicle even though we’d been putting the equivalent of a car payment into our 2003 van every month since March. At one point I said, “We really can’t make any more plans until we decide if we are moving or not.”

Randy was quiet for a moment and finally said, “Can we just make the decision here and now that we are moving and see where God leads after that?”  So that’s what we did.  We’d prayed for months, and it was time to just take a step in faith. We knew if we were wrong, God would close the doors and we would find no way to make it happen. We were confident that He was leading. It HAD to be God for one very good reason.

For the  past 30 years we had traveled to Florida multiple times to visit my grandfather until his death in 2013. After Grandpa died, Randy said, “You know, I never really liked Florida. I wouldn’t feel bad if we never went there again.”  Now here we were with this unexplainable nudging that wouldn’t quit.  Yes, the grandkids were there, but they were in Ohio and God had not allowed us to make that move which made much more sense in our little brains.   God’s plans were definitely NOT the same as ours!

So during the trip Alex and I took to Florida, Randy and I were planning our future over the phone. We talked at length with Andrew and Christine and were told that they would love to welcome us into their home for however long it took for Randy to either find a job or get his own company to the point where it could support us.  This was a huge blessing.

You must understand that Andrew had just moved in March. He has 6 children under the age of 10 and had already welcomed his brother David into his home in June. Now he was extending that offer to Randy, Alex and I. That would create a household of 12.    Was he crazy? Probably.

So the wheels began moving. We began looking for warehouse space for Randy’s business and began the process of figuring when to make the move. Of course, the biggest challenge would be selling our home in Iowa. When we moved here from Ohio, Randy had to come ahead and was here for 6 weeks while we waited for our home to sell. We were hoping that wouldn’t have to happen this time. Could we just wait to go until after our current home sold? It seemed that would be the hinge pin that would control everything else.

Then the unexpected happened. It would be the first of a series of very surprising developments. Our son Jared called me one evening while I was still in Florida with Alex. His question was, “how serious are you and Dad about moving to Florida?” I answered that we were pretty serious. Then he said, “I would like to rent your house.”

Things seemed to be falling together without any manipulating on our part at all. Perhaps we had heard from God after all. Perhaps the adventure was for real!

The next thing we did was go to Home Depot and buy boxes. The sorting, purging and packing has begun!

Jonah is Alive and Well

I can identify so well with Jonah. I frequently find myself making the same choice that Jonah made. He heard instructions from God and he chose to go the other way.  I sometimes find myself making the choice to put off what God is directing me to do. I may not use the same method as Jonah. I don’t physically run away. But it’s avoidance just the same.

My methods are more subtle. Procrastination, excuses as to why I must have misunderstood God’s direction or even telling myself it wasn’t really God speaking to me in the first place. I’ve run from confrontation. I’ve run from communication. I’ve run from responsibility.

All is not lost though. I usually come around. And when I finally feel exhausted from running and I finally obey God I am still like Jonah.  I find it easy to get frustrated if the outcome of my obedience isn’t what I expected it to be.  God, I finally submitted and did what you asked and THIS is the outcome? Shouldn’t it have turned out differently?

I wish I could say that when I sense the Lord leading me to do something I always obey quickly without question. But, there is so much Jonah alive and well in me. If only I could trust the results to God.

The story of Jonah doesn’t end with Jonah’s disappointment about the outcome of Nineveh. In the book of Matthew Jesus speaks of Jonah.

Matthew 12:41 “the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”

When Jonah finally obeyed God, God caused the city to be saved. The reason those men of Nineveh can stand in judgment is that they are with God because Jonah preached to them and they repented. There is still hope for us modern day Jonahs. God can still use us if we are willing to submit to His guidance. He also wants us to be willing to accept the outcome and know that His ways don’t always measure up to our expectations.

The truth is, God will far exceed our expectations if we let Him have His way in our lives. And we won’t have to spend time in the belly of a fish.

 

How this Adventure Began

I’m sure someone is asking the question, “Why move from Iowa to Florida?”  In a word—grandchildren.

But actually that’s only one piece of the puzzle. A couple of years  ago we were considering a move back to Ohio because all eight of our grandchildren were there. We had two opportunities appear to be opening up to us but when we followed up with them both doors were closed. We decided it just wasn’t meant to be so we remained content to stay in Iowa.

Then last year, my husband Randy began to feel like a job change was definitely in  our future. After much prayer we made the decision to start our own company again. We’d had a business for about 15 years in Ohio and felt God directing us to start another company. We officially formed Cherry Ridge Creative Concepts in March of this year. We believed that by year’s end Randy would no longer be at the  job that had moved us to Iowa 10 years ago. We explored many options to get this new business off the ground but didn’t really have any clear direction. One difficulty was that Randy’s workshop isn’t heated and he loses several months each year to the cold Iowa winters.

Then we went to Florida to visit our oldest son, Andrew and his family. They had moved to Clearwater, Florida from Ohio in March. When we visited in May we would sit on his patio in the early morning and talk about our future. One morning we were enjoying the breeze and listening to the birds. Randy said,” You know, I think I could get  used to this.” For the first time, we looked at each other and knew that we were to begin to pray about another cross-country move.

We had all the pros and cons of such a move on our minds from morning till night every day of our 2 week visit. We talked with Andrew and Christine about all the details that would need to be addressed and went home with much to consider and pray about.

For the next 3 months we prayed and researched our options. In June our son David left home to move to Florida and just a day later, Aaron left home to move back to Ohio. We now had only one child still living at home.

I wasn’t prepared for my nest to be emptying so quickly! I was struggling with all the changes and at the same time feeling like this was just the beginning. There were many more changes coming! Change is never easy for me. My family teases me about how I can’t even rearrange my furniture. It’s fine the way it is, why change things?

But I know I can’t grow if I’m unwilling to change. I must decide if I trust God with my life or not. If I do, then I have to allow Him to direct the changes that will cause the growth. So at this point I am trying to trust and trying to look at the future with anticipation. I will never be the same….and that’s a good thing.

 

The Next Chapter for the Maxey Family

We bought our first house in 1982. It was a cute, story and an half bungalow built in the early 1900s. It had character and we loved it. My husband and I spent many hours on big and small projects, working together to make it a home. I was content with my little home and my growing family. At one point I remember a conversation with our neighbor about the project we were doing. He mentioned that certain kinds of projects helped increase the value of the home for resale. My response to him was something that makes me laugh now. I said I wasn’t very concerned about adding value since I didn’t see myself moving. In fact, I went even further and said I envisioned my grandkids coming to visit me in that house. Little did I know that God had other plans.

Just four years later we sold that house and bought another story and a half home on two acres in the country, fifteen miles from our first home. It had two bedrooms and one bathroom. To say that it was fixer-upper would be an understatement.

Over the years we steadily added boys to our family until we had five who all shared one bedroom. We’d dreamed for years about adding on more space and it seemed it was time to take action. We spent the next two years building an addition on our home that was larger than the original house. During the building, we added another son to our gang. At last the final inspection was complete and we moved into our new space just in time to welcome our seventh son in 1999. We spent five years making some incredible memories in that home. Again I had expected to have grandchildren visit me in that house and we almost made it.

In the Summer of 2005 we make the decision to move once again. This time it was much more than fifteen miles. We sold our large dream home , packed up six of our boys, a dog and two cats and moved almost 700 miles from the home we’d lived in for 20 years.  Two days before the moving truck left our driveway we learned that our first grandchild was on the way. To read more about that move read Monkey Bars.

We’ve had ten wonderful years in our home in Iowa. We’ve watched our boys grow into responsible, caring young men. Three are married now and three are young adults. The youngest will finish his homeschool journey in 2017.  When we moved to Iowa in 2005 I though sure it would be our last move. I guess I never learn!  God again has a different plan.

I believe at this point, God’s desire is that I begin to share our journey. We will be moving once again but unlike our last cross-country move when we had a job and no home, this time began with a home and no job.

I would like to invite you along for the journey. You can keep up with the adventures of the Maxey’s move from Iowa to Florida here on my blog. I welcome you to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Let the adventure begin!

 

 

Jesus is Always Out of Reach

Jesus is always out of reach? What? Is that a misprint?  No, it isn’t a misprint. It is actually true.

There is a catch though. I believe Jesus IS always out of reach…if we stay where we are. If you can picture Jesus standing in front of you with a hand outstretched toward you, I believe you will never reach him if you refuse to move.

All he requires is that you take just one step toward Him.  Just one step to let Him know you truly want Him. And stretching as far as you can reach without really moving an inch from where you stand doesn’t count. He will still be out of reach. I believe we can pretend we want Jesus and lean forward, stretching as far as we can. But the truth is, if we are unwilling to move toward him how serious are we, really?

The good news is that as soon as you take that step, He quickly closes the gap and draws you into an embrace like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 

 

God’s Way is Best

There’s a story in Jeremiah chapter 38 where Jeremiah is thrown into a cistern. It says he sank into the mud at the bottom of the cistern, where I’m sure he prayed for God to rescue him. Have you ever felt like you were in a pit and sinking fast?  Have you ever cried out to God to do a miracle and rescue you?

This story reminds me of an old illustration I heard many years ago.  The story went something like this…

A man was caught in a flood and climbed to the very peak of his roof where he sat down and prayed to God to rescue him. As he waited, a rescue boat came by but he waved them on saying that God would rescue him.  This happened again a few hours later when two men in a row boat came by but the man again waved them on saying that God was going to rescue him.  Hours later, the water was still rising and a helicopter came by but the man once again waved it on saying God would rescue him. Night fell and the water continued to rise eventually sweeping the man away to his death.  When the man was given audience with God in heaven, he said “Lord, I served you all my live.  Why didn’t you rescue me?”  God said to the man, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter!”

Sometimes God does amazing miracles that cannot be explained but other times He uses people to work in one another’s lives.

Two questions come to mind when I ponder this statement.

  1. Is my pride keeping me from allowing God to use others in my life?
  2. Am I so busy with my own agenda that I miss the guy sitting on the roof that God may have sent me to rescue?

Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “ For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

We must be willing to allow God to do things His way. We already know that His way is the best way.

 

Which Will You Choose?

“Ignorance is bliss.” I’m sure everyone is familiar with this phrase. Or, how about “what you don’t know can’t hurt you?”

I think most of us at times, would like to think that we can hide behind ignorance. If we don’t know about it then we don’t have to worry about it and we aren’t responsible to do anything about it either. But God has a different view of ignorance.

In Ezekiel 45:20 the priest is told to atone for the sins committed in ignorance. It was still sin even though the sinner was unaware that he was sinning.  And in Ephesians 4:20 Paul says that the Gentiles had been “excluded for the life of God because of their ignorance.” That doesn’t sound like bliss to me.

So, if ignorance is not a good thing, what other options do we have? I can see only two.

We can rebel and turn away from what we know or we can be obedient to act in the way God’s Word directs us.

1 Peter 1:14 says “as obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance but like the Holy One who called you, be holy in all your behavior.”

In order to step out of ignorance, we must make the decision to become informed. We have to learn what God’s word says, and then we must choose to do it.

Deuteronomy 28 is an entire chapter outlining the blessings the Lord had for Israel if they chose obedience. It also outlines the consequences of choosing rebellion instead.

It’s really very simple. We have three options; ignorance, obedience or rebellion. Only one allows us to receive the blessings God has stored up for us.

Which will you choose?