Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Me?

The consignment sale is officially over, checks have been mailed and Jonathan is doing the final walk through with the leasing company as I type. I'm exhausted. I'm drained. I'm over emotional. I'm thankful to be home with my kids, even though they are already trying my patience :)

I've struggled the last 5 years through the 10, yes 10, consignment sales we have had. We started in March of 2005 simply because God wouldn't leave me alone about starting a consignment sale on the North side of Nashville that offered a clean, heated/cooled environment where the workers were friendly and honest. I wondered if it would be a complete waste of time and a waste of our money as, trust me, starting a consignment sale is not cheap.

Our first sale was held in an empty Family Dollar store in Greenbrier, TN. I am very familiar with this area as this is where I was raised, but most of TN is not that familiar with the location of this first sale. I'd have to pull my paperwork, but I think we had about 45 consignors, less than 10 workers, and lots of sleepless nights. We didn't make a dime, but we did pay ourselves back and I don't think we lost much. There were many times during that first sale where I would ask God, "why me? why did you want ME to do this?" You see, I had a 5 year old and 2 year old twins. I didn't have time to do this, we certainly didn't have the money, and when it's comes to patience, well I'm definitely not the poster child.

It went well enough that we decided to try our hand at the sale again, but this time we moved to a new area, Rivergate, and leased a space next to Chuck E. Cheese. Boy did we grow. The walk in traffic was amazing and we found ourselves selling out of items instantly. Again, we didn't make anything, but we were able to break even and we had a lot of people say how thankful they were to have something like this on our side of town. Most importantly, we were able to donate money and items. We found out about a family who had lost everything and were able to tell them to come shop for free (with us paying for it). We donated all the items at the end of the sale to local charities with an emphasis on charities in dire need of items. We wanted places that would give needy families items, not charge them outrageous amounts for items that we had just given them. We felt God telling us to direct our giving to crisis pregnancy centers, local good samaritan centers and schools. For the first time, I began to see this small seed growing into something bigger and blessing people far beyond what my two hands could reach. In happiness and awe, I asked God "why me?"

I have continued to ask that question to God multiple times over the last four years. Times when consignors were upset with me because we made mistakes and I would cry out "WHY ME?" Times when consignors were upset with me for no fault of our own and again I would say "WHY ME?" Times when a family that Encores North helped came back to us and said "your donation changed our life" and with tears of joy I asked God "why me?"

It was this sale that I got some answers in a way I didn't expect.

I can tell you that this sale was by far the most challenging sale we have had to date. Not only did we grow by over 100 consignors, but our traffic from those shopping the sale was insane. We were never slow, many times I was so exhausted I physically ached and at one point a few days in, I was convinced that if you cut me, I would physically bleed money. You see, my mission for the sale had not changed, but finding a way to accomplish that mission had. I tried to maintain composure as I had various issues pop up along the way. On top of that, I missed my children more than ever, especially knowing my oldest was starting middle school and my youngest daughter would turn 2 during the sale and my sweet baby, Joshua, was only 3 months old and didn't realize why mommy was gone during the sale. All of these together left me again asking God, "why me?" I just want to be at home with my kids, I just want a normal life where I get to sleep a few hours a night, I just want my household back to normal.

And this is what he showed me.

God knew there would be a need for this sale long before I answered the call. He knew that a small little sale that started in a small little town would one day meet the needs of those that were homeless, out of a job, orphans in Ethiopia, and the family nearby who just wanted to save a few bucks on their kid's stroller. He knew that the Brea who started the sale with little money, patience and time would be molded into the Brea who still has little money (hey, we have five kids), lots of learned patience, and that I would learn this reality: Our world is lost. People need God. They need hope, they need fellowship and they need love. I hope our sale provides some of that for those people. I hope people who visit Encores North will find a sea of smiling faces and realize that something is a little different about our crew. Not because our space is clean and big. Not because we have a ton of consignors, but because we truly want to fill a void.

Yes, our sale has issues. We are not perfect and I feel like every sale is another chance for us to get constructive criticism and fix things for the next sale. I am always learning and Lord knows I make enough mistakes to write a book. BUT my mission and my heart remain the same.

So, that's my answer. That's why me. Yes, there are days (like yesterday) that I wished I had never even answered that call, but I also know that is Satan attacking the fire out of me. I am so glad to be back home in my "normal" life and a huge thanks to all the workers, consignors, and shoppers that made our 10th sale our best yet!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Two years ago today, we had been officially home study approved and waiting for 10 days. I was already growing impatient and wondering what in the world God had planned for our family.

4 hours away at midnight, Mary Elizabeth's mom was rushed into the hospital with placenta previa and in full labor. She was only 26 weeks pregnant and within 5 minutes, sweet Mary Elizabeth was born. She weighed only 1 lb. 4 oz. but was able to breath on her own until they got her to a hospital with a NICU. Amazing huh?

Fast forward two months later, to the day I got THE call. "Brea, there's a little girl in a NICU that needs a home" I heard my social worker say. As she listed the mountain of special needs this baby girl would have, I already knew she was our daughter even though I wasn't sure we could handle a child that would bring so many health issues to our family. I'll never forget calling Jonathan and telling him about her, knowing he wouldn't be open to it, but praying God would change his heart. Most importantly, I prayed that God would allow me to be submissive and not be mad at my husband when he said no. Sure enough, God did change his heart and on October 13 we brought our sweet Mary Elizabeth home. She weighed 4 lbs. 10 oz at 2 1/2 months old.

As I sit here today, I can't help but testify to the miracle that has been performed in her little body. Mary Elizabeth had a very severe brain bleed as a baby (very common in micro-preemies). The bleed caused fluid to build up in her brain and they had to do surgery to put in a shunt to drain the fluid. She will have that shunt the rest of her life. Because of the area where the bleed occurred, doctors assured us that M.E. would have have cerebral palsy. She also had a scar in her eye and doctors told us she was blind in that eye. She was at risk for infections and was exposed to many horrible things the first two months of her life in that NICU. Today I am proud to say that if M.E. has CP, it is a VERY MILD case only on her left side. She walks, talks, runs, jumps, dances and loves on her siblings. She is NOT blind in her eye...the scar moved as she grew and although she will probably need glasses at some point, she sees 20/20 right now. We've had one scare with a bug bite about a year ago, but other than that our baby girl is as healthy as a horse. Doctors are amazed that a baby born so early is so perfect in every way.

Her personality is contagious. She loves to tell everyone HI! that she comes into contact with. Her favorite activity is eating and although she is petite (22 lbs., 31 inches) she eats my other children under the table. She gets so excited at meal times that she claps her hands and yells "THANK YOU!" as you bring the food towards her in her high chair. She has the most amazing eyes, eyelashes and smile. Her best friend is her thumb and her blankee. When you ask her how old she is, she proudly says TWO but when I hold up two fingers, she believes that a sign that I want a high five and slaps my hand while saying "OH YEAH!"

If you can't tell, I love this little girl to pieces. She has changed me. She allowed me to let go and truly trust in God. I've watched Mary Elizabeth break down racial barriers, jump through physical hoops, and melt people's hearts. I am a better person because I am her mother.

Happy Birthday Mare Bear!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Clothes for me!!

With all the fuss over the kids' clothing, sometimes I forget about myself. I have found that with 5 children, it is very difficult to shop and spend quality time really putting together outfits. That's why I am so excited about this!

Save the Date!

CAbi Fall '09 Fashion Presentation

Join us at the Encores and More North Consignment Sale site to view the collection of nationally recognized fashion designer, Carol Anderson. You will love the 82 great casual and dress options offered this Fall! We have 7 jeans, 3 belts, 3 scarfs and even a beanie for those of you who love accessories!

Tuesday, August 11th, 6:30pm

Bring a friend and come let Tracy (the consultant) show you how to create the perfect wardrobe for you!! Visit HERE to view the full Fall line before the Trunk Show.

Let me know if you plan to come and again, remember to take some time out to shop for yourself during this crazy back to school season!