Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yes, we're still alive!

It has been a good minute since I've posted on here, partially because we have been incredibly busy and partially because I don't want to bore you with details of our daily lives. 
Since coming home and losing our only source of income, God has worked wonders in our family situation.  He has given us an amazing opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do! 
We are opening our own cupcake and coffee shop in Moore, Oklahoma!!
We are so excited and blessed to be able to do this job we love while still being able to be together as a family and do all the things we love to do together.

So, I'm not telling you this so that you'll run over to the shop and buy some cupcakes - although sure, that'd be great! lol
I'm telling you this to give you an update from our last post which was right after Bryan was let go at his company.  I'm telling you this to show you just how MIGHTY our God is, how merciful and gracious He is.  To testify of his love and provision for his own.

Let's go back in time a bit and join me as I retell the story of how it all came to be....

Just before we left for Ukraine to get Adrian, I was longing for something more for my life.
I wanted to be more of a contributor to our family.
I wanted to help with the financial aspect of our family.

I wanted to be able to do this while still homeschooling our kids - so no day time gig - and while still seeing my hubby - so no night time gig..
hmmm.. how exactly is that going to work you ask?
That's a lot to hope to achieve right??
Well, yes, it is - I didn't have a clue what that would look like, but it was my dream.
God knew exactly how to work it out! 

Before we left, I was praying for such an opportunity, for me to be able to do something I love, while spending more time with my family.

I asked a dear friend to pray for God to reveal what he has just for me to do that will help me do these things.

We left for Ukraine and were there for 7 weeks. 
Little did we know that a week into our stay, employment back home was ending.
We got used to being around eachother 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Let me tell you that was interesting!  ha!
But, we're used to it now and actually like it! 
When we got home, and Bryan was let go, it was a hard hit -
Ok, more like a slap.. no a kick to the face to say hey, yeah, we approved your leave to go overseas for almost 2 months and add children to your family, but... now we've decided we just can't afford to pay you any more.  Oh, yeah, we know you've been without a paycheck this entire time, we know you just came back with an extra mouth to feed, we know you have bills and you are the sole income earner, we know all this.. oh well, not our problem.  Good luck with that - we're real happy for your family! 
Welcome home! Now, go home cause we ain't payin you to be here anymore.
But as quickly as those thoughts entered our minds, God reassured us that HE IS IN CONTROL.

He knew this would happen all along.
He ALLOWED it and he PLANNED for it.
At that very moment, we had to decide would we choose to listen to the voice of truth or look at our situation and be upset and pout and worry.
By God's grace, we were able to chose to trust Him and seek his will for our family.
Because of our time in Ukraine and our time in the States preparing for the adoption, we had learned time and time again to trust God and to rely on him for our every need.
This prepared us for the "tragedy" that would strike when we came home.

So, this was the end of January, fast forward a bit to the beginning of March, our daughter Alexis' birthday.
Lexi was turning 7 and wanted Mommy to make her pretty pink and purple cupcakes - so I obliged of course! 
We made some cupcakes, played with icing colors and designs, got LOTS of sprinkles of course and off they went to her church classes to share with friends and then again for her birthday party at the house.
Several people were asking where we bought the cupcakes.
Uh... I made them..
NO WAY! You made these!?!  Are you going to sell them??
Hmm.. there's a thought..
I'd never really thought about it.  I mean, they are good and it is a big thing right now.
We do need income.
I do love to bake.
People like what I make..
Are you up to something here?
If so, I'm really liking this idea!!

We prayed about it, talked about it, and started looking into what it would take to do this massive feat!
There is a building to find (not as easy as it sounds), recipes to master (this is the fun part), website to design (good thing Bryan likes that stuff), business plan to write up (I was up for the challenge), furniture to fill the place (garage sales galore), equipment for a commercial grade kitchen (yahoo - I love kitchen tools), permits, licensing, tax accounts, business accounts.
But GOD!

I'm telling you, he has just lavished upon us!

It all starts out with me finding a decorating kit that I wanted for my birthday - a month early but hey, it's my 30th, so it's okay right? ;)
So, on March 6th, I am looking online at these decorating kits so I can decorate like a pro and they are not cheap!
I asked Bryan if I found a 50% off coupon could I have it for my birthday a month early?
He said sure!
I looked and guess what I found right then??
A 50% off coupon that expired that night in less than 2 hours!
Thanks God!
So, we hopped in the van and headed up to Michaels to pick it up and then off to church.
I was so excited about this kit!!
Now, on top of this at check out I was informed that the cake decorating classes to learn all the fancy flowers and things were also half off and starting that next week!
So, I signed up!

After this, we kept getting one confirmation after another..
People were asking left and right to buy cupcakes!
Adrian's first birthday in America with his family was on March 16th and of course we had to make more cupcakes for that! 
He had his best buddy Erik over to stay the night for his birthday and then we had his party on Saturday with our family.
He thought it was so cool that he was getting all this attention!
It was a special time that was all about him!
He is loving being cared for and pampered a bit. :)
Adrian wanted Spiderman cupcakes so we got to play a bit with the icing and make it funky!
It was great and again, people were flocking, where did you buy those?
You made them!! Can we order from you??

Ok God, this is awesome!
So, we find a place that is what we think is perfect!
We start asking around to find someone who can do the work that has to be done to get this place kitchen ready and my dear friend Cindy's hubby Bill says his cousin does that work for a living!
So, we call Heath and he fills us in on what we need and don't need and then proceeds to tell me everything I need to know about negotiating a commercial lease.
Man, I had no clue about most of it, but he worked with me and I was able to talk it like a pro by the end of our training sessions! LOL

So, we started the negotiations on the place and got to work shopping for furniture to fill the loung areas.
We hit so many garage sales and estate sales, it is not even funny!
We never do either of those so it was definately an experience.
It was fun going when you know what you are looking for and it is more like a treasure hunt!

Here's where God was even more creative in confirming his plan for us and gifting us things along the way.
One of the stops was at a garage sale that had these fabulous antique high back chairs that were in great shape.  She had already sold the leather couches.. bummer.. and she had sold pretty much everything else she had out- it was only Thursday!  These two chairs were all she had left.
She was really busy when we went too so I decided they were priced too high and we'd pass.
I couldn't get these chairs out of my mind!
I asked Bryan to go back so I could make an offer on them, so we did.
We got back and sure enough they were the only things she had left other than a small box of odds and ends.
I told her we were opening a shop and that we wanted the chairs but needed to save some money.
I offered here 2/3 of her asking price and she said they were her dad's and she'd have to call him to see.
She talked and talked and I thought by the tone and the comments she was making that it was a no go..
I was wrong!
She said that he told her, since I was a lady he'd take less for them.
You see someone else had already offered that same price earlier and he'd rejected it!
So, we got the chairs! YAY!

We went on to other sales and exchanged numbers to work out a pick up time - they were not fitting in that van full of kids! HA~

We went on and found another sale that had some amazing things.. things you would never expect to see at a garage sale.
Things that confirmed once again for us that God is in this and has a plan for us!
We had already talked to the health department and found out regulations of soap dispensers and things that we needed in that area and were informed we needed 2 soap dispensers and would need a towel dispenser for the restroom.
Can you guess what we found at this sale??
2 Automatic, foaming anti-bacterial hand soap dispensers WITH 4 REFILLS and.. an automatic towel dispenser that works - and he threw that in!
We got all of this for the price it would have cost us to buy 1 of those items!!

We were also able to find several decor items there as well but that was a great find!
We were just praising God all throughout that sale as we walked around and found more and more that worked perfectly for our store.
And, who has that at a garage sale!?!?
He wasn't even in the restaurant business!!!

So, we go to another sale and they have GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!
Thin mints to be exact!
What does that have to do with this story?
Well, I'll tell you..
We were going inside to look at some furniture this lady had at her house and in the garage as we went inside, there was a stack of tile.  ITALIAN. PORCELAIN. TILE!
Now get this, the kitchen area was 96 sq feet...
can  you guess how much tile they had??
96 sq feet!
And they only wanted a fraction of the cost!
And they threw in the cookies :) see, important stuff!

We had deals happen like this over and over again!
We became a bit obsessed with turning at every garage sale sign we saw..
and maybe a few open house signs by accident... ha!

Now we are going back to the house with the high back chairs to pick them up and my new friend, Kathy, who sold them to us wants to know more about this "shop" that her dad's chairs are going into.
I tell her that we are opening a cupcake shop called "The Cupcake Lounge" and we are looking for antique furniture that we can redo and make fresh and new.  She literally jumps up and down and is so excited at the news I've just told her.
We are talking about what all has to be done to get things ready and she asks, so you need one of those big industrial type refridgerators and stuff right?
I say, yeah, we are working on all of that still.
She says, you want one?
Uhhh ..
You know where I can get one??
Yes, in my shop!
I JUST met this lady and she is giving me a commercial refrigerator for FREE!?!

Now, since this has all happened, we have been able to get the majority of our furniture and equipment at prices so low it is jaw dropping!

We found a refrigerated display case for the front of the shop that was $2500 used.  They are $5000 new.
Bryan was checking out online at garage sales and things and guess what he found?
Someone had a refrigerated display case .. that works.. for get this...
But, we got it for $450!!

I'm tellin you- God is all over this thing!

Now, not everything has been EASY by any means! 
We've already had several hurdles to overcome but with God we have overcome them!

Our location we thought was perfect..
turned out to be...
 not so much!

They came back with an estimate for minimal construction work to be done of over $35,000. 
Yes you read that right..

Are you KIDDING ME!?!?

Now, let me tell you though that after WEEKS of working with them on negotiations and nothing really moving at all, I was at my ladies bible study class that Tues morning and we prayed over the situation.
We prayed that God would make it abundantly clear what we were to do regarding shop locations so that we could get in a shop quickly so we could start supporting our family and get back on track with our adoption process with Anastasia.

I got home from Bible study to see that message.
Bryan says, well, that is a big red sign to me that God says this is not the place for us.
I was heartbroken.
I wanted it to work.
It was "perfect" - perfect location, perfect shopping center.. perfect...

hmmm.. what my little eyes think of as perfect..
I must remember that my God is much bigger than that!~

So, we are devastated with this news but we pull up our boot straps and get back on the hunt for another location.
We find several that could work but are not really ready.
We make an offer on one that is ready but is much smaller than we'd hoped but it was almost move in ready..
They declined our offer.

Ok, God, what is happening here??
We have lost our place, now another we liked is a no go, and we like these others but it just isn't looking like any of them are going to work...
You told us this is what you wanted us to do.
You've confirmed it time and time again..
and now this!!?


So, Wednesday night of this week we are in church and really upset about all of this and really trying to figure out what God is up to.
He just wanted us to trust and obey...
We wanted to do it NOW and where WE wanted it and how WE wanted it..
Ohhh but this is GOD'S plan!
Not gonna work like that Horner's.. not gonna work...

So, God got us by the reigns and sent a sweet soul, our Pastor's wife, Mrs. Cherie Clarkson to ours side Wednesday night to pray with us as we do every week but this week was different.
She told us she wanted to pray with us before she left and she prayed for God to give us the place he has for us. For it to be released and for the scales to be peeled off our eyes to see the place that God has for us.  She told us that she believed it would be bigger and better than anything we had hoped for.  She told us she felt like she needed to share with us their experience with prayer and fasting and that she believes that some things can only be answered through a fervent prayer and fasting time.

Now, let me tell you, this did not sound like a great idea to me .. I. WAS. STARVING!
Ok, not literally, but it had been a long day, and I'd only eaten a small meal all day and I had planned on going home right after church and eating and eating and eating.

Bryan and I sat and talked with her for a bit about this idea of praying and fasting to seek answers from God and she shared with us stories of their own lives that it had worked as well as in the Bible with Nehamiah. 
By the end of the conversation, I was sold.
I mean, nothing else is working, why not give it a shot?
Now, the key was that it wasn't just to fast, it was to use the hunger pains as a signal to pray to God about our situation and ask for his will to be revealed and to fervently seek his face.

I woke up Thursday morning so hungry!
I got up and was baking away for some friends and every time I opened that fridge, there was my chicken ceasar salad I had purchased the day before for my lunch on Thursday.. staring at me.. taunting me.. you're so hungry... eat me!! Don't I look YUMMY!?!

I prayed and asked God to help me to do this!
I wanted to seek his face and seek his answers and his will for our lives and our business at every second of the day.  I prayed and prayed and prayed.
I can't tell you how fulfilling it was to literally starve my human self to feed my spiritual self.  It was as though every hunger pain was a signal and it felt as though my inmost parts were just pouring out and crying out to God to save us - help us - deliver us and show us what to do next!

Thursday turned out to be a busy day full of talking to leasing agents about this place and that place, meeting plumbers here and there and NOTHING was working out.

Ok, God, we're doing what you asked and we are still struggling here!!

We were on our way home from driving by a place that was to be coming up for lease soon and stumbled upon a place that had a
"Restaurant for Lease" sign out front..
This place was HUGE!
I picked up the phone, dialed the number and asked all the questions I could about size and rent.
I was told I needed to talk to her hubby and was given his name and number.
I called and it went straight to voicemail.
You can imagine my disappointment.
We peeked through the windows and were just in awe of how big this place was and that the rent was affordable!

So, I left a message for the man and called back his wife to verify the number since it didn't have a name or anything just a number and it went straight to voicemail.  She assured me it was the correct number and that she would pass along my info too.

Waiting. Again.
Not. Something. I. Like.

A couple of hours later I decided to try just one more time and see if I'd get an answer..
The man answered the phone and was so excited to hear from me!
He said, I can meet you there now!
We walked in and this place was unbelievably HUGE for the price they were asking.
The kitchen area was 4 times the size of anything I'd ever even dreamed of.
The seating area is massive and has plenty of space to seperate our furniture into the stuff we can't recover just yet and the updated shabby chic stuff!
I just could not believe my eyes and ears!
I told him we wanted the place and he said it was ours!
We get our keys on Monday and will work on getting equipment and furnishings in then and Tues and then pray that all our inspections get done and approved by the weekend so we can be open for Easter orders!

We are so blessed!

This has been an amazing journey and I'm positive it will continue to be.

I just wanted to share with you what great things can and will happen when you are abiding in God and trusting him for your EVERY need.

If you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal savior, I strongly urge you to take that first step of faith in trusting him!
There's no magic words or phrases, just trust and believe that he is the Son of God, know that he died on the cross for yours and my sins, he rose again on the 3rd day and confess with your heart and mind that Jesus is Lord and the Bible says YOU WILL BE SAVED!

You too could have a miraculous story like this to share.
IF YOU take that first step, admit you are a sinner - we all are- believe that Jesus is God's son and he died on the cross for your sins and Confess Jesus as your savior and your Lord forever more!!

If you've prayed and asked the Lord to be the Lord of your life, I'd love to hear from you!  I would love to help you in finding a church family that will love and support you and urge you along in your personal relationship with OUR heavenly Father!

Trust me, out of all the decisions I've made in my life, giving my life to Jesus was THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION I've EVER made!
Don't make the mistake to just brush off this invitation to YOU.
He died on a cross for YOU!
Now it's our turn to make a difference for others by showing them the love of Jesus!