Thursday, July 26, 2012

Unbelievable but True: A Trucker's Road to CEO

In Houston, you either live “inside the loop” – a freeway that circles the heart of the city – or you don’t. As a general rule, inner-loopers don’t travel outside the loop. Ever. It’s entirely too far (even if it’s only a few miles). That’s why they live inside the loop – so every urban luxury or necessity they might possibly need is at their fingertips, from their job, to restaurants and the arts, to professional sports and the like.
Our first house was a few blocks outside the loop. While we couldn’t officially claim inner-loop status, we shared the aversion to driving away from the city. When a dear friend and her husband started a church in a suburban town about thirty-five miles north of Houston, I edited a column he wrote for the local newspaper. As I read and revised his drafts, I was drawn the vision God had given him. Late one Saturday night, James and I decided to visit the church. We loaded up the kids the next morning and conquered the forty-five minute road trip to the other side of the world. Driving down a rural, two-lane highway, thick trees hugging both sides of the road (as opposed to concrete and billboards), I elbowed James and joked, “Wouldn’t it be funny if God gave us a couple acres and a house out here?” We laughed it off and went on our merry way.
Several months later, still trekking back and forth to this little town for church Sunday mornings, curiosity drew us to peek around a few neighborhoods, just to see how much houses cost. It became a weekly affair, and before we knew it, we were house hunting. We never would have dreamed of moving out of town. It was too inconvenient! James would have an hour or longer commute with traffic, we would be changing our kids’ schools, moving further from family. Yet we knew God was drawing us to the area. We put that first little house on the market and continued searching for a new abode. Building wasn’t our preference, living so far away. We had no desire at all to tackle that kind of project. But when every resale fell through, it became our only option. God’s hand was clearly shutting and opening doors to lead us to a very specific neighborhood and a very specific builder (remember, we were NOT going to build). But alas, we pre-qualified for a loan, found a plan, and took the plunge.
James developed an almost immediate compulsion to stop at every house he saw at the same stage of construction as ours. It didn’t matter what we were doing, where we were going, what time we had to be there, or who was with us. If we happened upon a new neighborhood with dozens of homes in various stages of construction, we might be there all day! He studied how the houses were being built and the materials used, and then he would research what he saw on the Internet. God opened James’ eyes to an epidemic of cost-saving corner cutting to the detriment and complete ignorance of the customer, and he was determined protect our investment from shady construction practices.
Fast forward to our final walk-through. James was working, so it fell squarely on me to blue tape the house and review the punch list with our superintendent. Standing at the front door, wrapping it up, I asked our superintendent how he got his start in construction. I casually mentioned that I thought James seemed to have a real eye for building, and then completely forgot about it. Never mentioned the conversation to James. Just plowed forward with our move.
That summer, as James delivered freight in the thick of Houston’s July inferno, no air conditioning and extremely long days drained him physically. One day, the Lord spoke to him. Not audibly, but clearly. He told him to build a house, told him exactly how to do it and who to do it with. James called the superintendent who built our house earlier that year, acknowledged that what he had to say might sound crazy, and then proceeded to tell him what the Lord said. The guy’s answer: “I’ve been waiting for you to call!”
Laying in bed that night, we dreamed up a name for our new company: Possibility Custom Homes ( if you want to check it out). Our business plan? Let’s build a house, do it the right way, price it fair, and see if it sells. That was it. We didn’t even write it down. We formed an agreement with our former superintendent to work with us, incorporated, hired a graphic designer to design our logo, signage, and business materials, and bought Quick Books. We found our first piece of property, chose a plan we thought someone might love, secured a second loan (remember, we had only had our new, improved, much larger mortgage for about six months), and construction commenced. We were in business!
Second Corinthians 5:7 tells us, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” That was certainly true for us! James drove a truck for a living. I sold makeup. We didn’t know what would happen. The only experience we had was building our own house. There were no guarantees. What if the house didn’t sell and we couldn’t make the payments on the construction loan? What if James was laid off or my sales dropped? What if our superintendent bailed? What if we lost both houses? When doubts assailed us, God’s peace assured us. We placed our faith in Him and took each next step as He laid it before us.
A month before the house was complete, it sold. Shortly after closing, we started our second spec. A casual conversation with a friend led to an Associated Press newswire story that went nationwide. Area newspapers and our local Fox television station ran the story, telling of a small builder in a little town who was building its houses on the word of God, literally. Starting with our very first house, we buried a Bible in every foundation. Not as a marketing ploy, but as a reminder to us, with every house, that He is the foundation of all we do. As Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” We never advertise it. We simply tell our homeowners right before we do it and invite them to join us as we pray a blessing over their home.
For fifteen months, James drove a truck full time, including overtime. As a sales director, my home-based business required more than forty hours a week, and I was still new to home schooling our oldest daughter. Our superintendent kept his daytime job, as well. We worked all hours weekdays and weekends. It was a crazy time. I thank God for His grace! It is most definitely the only thing sufficient. When it became obvious that James could no longer maintain two pursuits, we faced another huge step of faith. In order to continue growing our new company, James clearly had to give up our only source of guaranteed income and benefits (read security). It was time to place our eggs in the basket God held in His hand. We had only built two houses at the time, but the Lord was beginning to bring us contracts from those homes. He gave us the faith to take the leap, and we never looked back, no matter what others thought.
I am so in awe of God every time I remember and retell this story! It has amazed many, especially those who know where we started: tens of thousands of dollars in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, blending two families, marriage falling apart, miserable. He took us head first into the unknown as He increased our faith to move us forward even when circumstances looked impossible. As we learned obedience and contentment and actively trusted God in all things, HE changed our lives, our marriage, our family, our work, and our lifestyle into something unrecognizable.
Eight years and roughly eighty houses later, I share our story here so you can see God – Who He is and what He is capable of doing. The truth of His word. His power to circumvent the wisdom of this age and the rulers of this age to accomplish His will. His power to transform a truck driver into a CEO, seemingly overnight.
As amazing as the facts of our story may be, they pale in comparison to what I have to share with you Thursday. Lessons He taught us about the indisputable principles that govern our walk with Him.
It is my deepest desire that we walk the Word in every area of our lives. I thank the Lord for His faithfulness to keep each one of His children on a path toward Him as we become more wholly His today.
Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mighty Dollar vs. Mighty God

One of my favorite books is Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress (Oliver Hunkin, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1985). The cover illustration of Christian as he trudges toward Celestial City perfectly depicts James’ and my life when we were first married (see for image). By grace, through faith, the penalty for our sin was paid. We no longer carried that burden, yet the consequences of our sin remained strapped to our backs. As God began to instruct us in His ways, He gave us understanding that His guidelines are for our own good, to put us in a place to receive all He has for us. He moved on our hearts to desire Him and His ways and opened our eyes to the individual boulders nestled in the net.

The heftiest weight? Tens of thousands of dollars of debt. We both worked sixty to seventy hours a week outside the home. We lived paycheck to paycheck, making no forward progress. I desperately wanted to stay home with our children, but our debts demanded my income. We were slaves of our own poor choices.

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”
(Proverbs 22:7).

Because our commitments exceeded our income, we didn’t tithe. While I had been trained by my parents to give ten percent of everything, and would do so while charging other expenses on credit cards, James, as a new believer, had a harder time with giving money to the church when we owed so much to creditors. I feel a future blog stirring on this topic, so I won’t go into detail about giving today. I am also not making any theological claims with my story. Only sharing the conviction of the Holy Spirit on our hearts, and the incredible blessings we experienced as He empowered us to obey. We prayed about our debt and withholding our tithe, and we felt the Lord was leading us to deal with both at once. It was time to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one
and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

We enrolled with Consumer Credit Counseling for debt consolidation services, and we cut up every credit card we owned. If we couldn’t pay cash for it, we didn’t buy it. Period. We paid a hefty monthly debt payment, and started giving two percent as a tithe to the Lord. Every time we paid a credit card off, we took the amount of that monthly payment and divided it between increasing our tithe and increasing our payment to the next lowest credit card balance.

God changed our mindset. He broke the bonds of borrowing for instant gratification, and obeying Him became more important than the things we thought we had to have or do. The satisfaction of living free of the affliction of sin was greater than the temporary pleasures of that sin.

“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
Philippians 2:13

He taught us that what we had was enough, and then He met every one of our needs, every time, even when we couldn’t see any possible way. We learned that God’s way of meeting needs is always abundant, always right on time, and always just what we need, but we had to be willing for God to do it His way. Like a boss who let me bring my newborn to work with me the first eight and a half months of her life, allowing me to be with her full time and nurse her. Or when a mom would call and offer garbage bags full of used clothes for our kids, and sometimes for me. Other times, my dad and his wife would visit, and she would take me shopping for a “happy” – new clothes for work, just because. A garage sale became a gold mine. Grandparents would buy clothes and supplies at the beginning of the new school year. God even provided with unexpected bonuses, extra overtime pay, and even a surprise check from the estate of a precious elderly neighbor who had been a foster grandmother to my sister and I growing up. In the midst of paying off our debts, when no mortgage lender would touch us because we were active with Consumer Credit Counseling, God opened doors for us to buy our first home. He made a way when there was no other way.

At the end of three and a half years, all glory to God, all our consumer debt was paid, including our cars. We were giving our goal of ten percent of our gross income, and that included every gift we received, every bonus, every penny that came into our household. We continued to live frugally, buying only what we could afford with cash, and we saved. We were financially free.

"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:30

Slowly, even though the numbers never made sense on paper, God opened doors for me to cut my hours to half time, and my employer agreed to let me work from home, an unusual arrangement at the time. We knew it was God’s desire that I be home with our kids, and He gave us the faith to trust Him. Shortly after that, I started a home-based business on the side that eventually replaced the income from my job. I was finally able to stay home with my kids – the desire of my heart met by an almighty, all-powerful God who can cause anything to happen.

Lining our finances up with the word of God can be one of our most faith-challenging areas of obedience. God shows us what to do, and He gives us the power to do it, but it falls squarely on our shoulders to take the action. We have to do the obeying. God’s deliverance came through the complete submission of our finances to Him. We had to stop the sinful behavior – no more charging. We had to pay those we owed. We had to do what His word says and give our firstfruits to Him.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask
or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory
in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

That first house – an impossible possession made possible by a mighty God – four years later in a declining market, sold for $65,000 more than what we paid, enabling us to build a custom home in a small town outside the Houston area. If we could have concocted the most incredible scenario possible based on our wildest dreams at the time, we never could have come close to the unbelievable plans God had for us starting with that house. Plans to turn a truck driver into a CEO. That story next Thursday.

Lord, money can be such a stronghold and stumbling block for us. Move in our hearts to obey you in all ways with our finances as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rescued, Redeemed, Real (Part Two)

In the early months of my marriage to James, I finally and completely surrendered to God right where I was. The Lord by His grace turned my heart to Him, and I began to learn how to have a relationship with Jesus. Not religion. Not to-do lists. Not performance or works. Not rules and regulations. A relationship. I am so thankful that the Lord turned James’ heart to Him at the same time. We had a lot to learn, but as God showed us the reality of His perfect design, as we yielded to Him in obedience to His word in how we treated each other, He healed the things that were tearing us apart. We learned to put each other’s needs first, even when our needs weren’t being me. Even when the other person didn’t deserve special treatment. We didn’t do it for each other. We did it as an act of worship to our Lord (meaning the one who had the right to demand from us that which we didn’t see as fair). As we did, He changed our hearts toward each other. And He performed His promises in our lives.

“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves,
but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

I’d love to say the transformation was immediate and overnight. That the angels sang and all was suddenly perfect. It was not. The first three years of our marriage was extremely difficult, even as we took baby steps toward better. God mercifully kept our toes pointed toward the cross. We joined a church and got involved in a home group. We surrounded ourselves with people who had relationships with Jesus and marriages like we wanted. We were completely broken, unable to maintain a façade. Desperate, we let others see the reality of our private life. We found love. Acceptance. Help. They listened, spoke the truth of God’s word, and remained by our sides as we learned new ways of living every aspect of our lives – from relating to each other, to parenting, to our finances, our friendships, our jobs. At some point, we started believing what God said. If the Bible said to do something, we had the faith to do it. We stopped doing things our way and did things His way.

“Let us draw near in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

Together, in spite of hick ups, setbacks, explosive arguments, hurtful words, deep disappointments, and hard times, we plowed forward in Christ, and the Lord did a mighty work in us, in our marriage, and in our family. We are living proof of God’s word. No matter where you are, no matter what you’ve done, you can be too.

“For the wages of sin is death 
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

"I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

There is only one way.

“Jesus said to him, ’I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

You, too, can taste and see that the Lord is good.

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart  
that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

As He promises in Philippians 1:6, He who began a good work in us is completing it. I could never do God justice in attempting to recount every way He has shown Himself mighty in our lives. There are, however, a few monumental, life-changing experiences the Lord has used sanctify me, satisfy my deepest desires, strengthen my faith, and demonstrate the certainty of His principles and promises.

God is faithful. He is no respecter of persons. In the next few weeks, as you read a few specific accounts of God’s amazing goodness and power in our life, I pray He uses what He’s done to speak directly to your heart and your circumstances. Or maybe the message is for someone you know. Either way, don’t miss next Thursday’s post.

Revelation 12:11 tells us the devil and his angels are overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” I pray we overcome the same way – by the blood of the Lamb and the testimonies we share with each other of the greatness of God in our lives – as we become more wholly His.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Necessary Interruption

Perfection. Impossible for us; inherent in the Lord. In His ways. In the principles and laws by which doing one thing results in another. Marriage is one of those things He set up to work a certain way – the man is head of the wife, accountable to the Lord and responsible to love her as Christ loves the church: whole-heartedly and sacrificially. The wife is to respect and submit to her husband, finding a perfect covering in him. When both do as God sets forth, it truly is a beautiful thing.
James has the most uncanny ability to know what’s going on with me before I do and to know the answer I need before I even ask the question. Floundering a bit to find my bearings in my summer schedule (yes, still!) and feeling a bit overwhelmed, I attempted last week to explain what I was feeling to James. After listening for a bit, he very tenderly responded: “Maybe you should pray about cutting back to once a week for your blog.” Followed by, “I think once a week is all you can expect people to read, anyways.”
“Wouldn’t that be failure? Admitting defeat that I couldn’t keep up with my self-imposed blogging schedule???” I thought momentarily. Then the Lord confirmed with peace: this was wisdom from above delivered by the lips of the man I love. The man whose help I need to keep balance in my life. The man who sees the train wreck of over-commitment coming way before I do. He has no problem saying “no” when obligations begin to pile up, regardless of the worthiness of the activity. I am so thankful when he says “no” for me!
Knowing the godliness of his counsel, I gladly submit to his wisdom. I know the limits of my ability to think reasonably for myself and will honor his suggestion.
I will now post once a week on Thursdays, starting with part two of my story this Thursday, July 12.
I pray we all experience the benefits of doing things God’s way as we become more wholly His today.
Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rescued, Redeemed, Real: The Girl Behind the Blog (Part One)

Countless mornings I sit with my coffee and a deadline, unsure of where God wants me to go with a particular post. I pray. The words follow. I hit publish in my blogging program with a quick, “Lord, I hope this speaks to someone because I don’t know if it even made sense to me!” Inevitably, those are the days someone emails and says it was just what they needed. I’m not at all sure what I’m doing or why. I’m not an expert at anything except learning the hard way. And I love experiencing the reality of God’s word through the most vulnerable, uncomfortable moments of living life. Even more, I love finding out that someone else is or has done, thought, felt, and said the same things that make me feel like a failure at times. It gives me hope. Lets me know I’m not alone as I fumble, stumble, mumble, grumble, and find myself more and more humble. So I write this blog out of obedience, hoping my lessons, transparently shared, will help someone else in their journey to be more wholly His. These glimpses into my life are mostly current. Today, I want to share my testimony – the chronicle of how a patient and merciful God pursued and saved me, then compelled and empowered me to live in such a way as to experience His fullness, faithfulness, and abundance. This is my story. The girl behind the blog (in case you ever wondered).

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6a).
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

I have very little memory of my formative years. When I look back on that time of my life, I see darkness. My family didn’t go to church. God had no part in our lives. When a crisis threatened to tear our family apart, my mom started going to church. My sister and I went along, and one Sunday morning, I wanted Jesus to be my Savior.  I walked the aisle, repeated a prayer, and was baptized. Within months, we had all given our lives to the Lord. He restored and renewed our home, and light entered my world. We were faithful, active members of the church. I was in the choir, attended Sunday and Wednesday night activities, went to weekend retreats and summer camps. On the outside, I was living the Christian life with my family. On the inside, though, I saw everything ugly about me and couldn’t see how God could truly love and forgive me. When I tried to get perfect for God so I would be acceptable, I failed. Repeatedly.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

Eventually I gave up and turned away. I sought acceptance from all the wrong people by doing all the wrong things. Gripped by eating disorders and addictions, I sank deeper into despair. On the outside, you would never know. The front I presented to others was one of perfection and success. I was happy! On the inside, however, I hated myself for my failures. My sins. I knew I was living wrong. Remorse was my constant companion. The more I sought satisfaction from the world, the greater my hopelessness.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ).
“The LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b ).

Several years after graduating from college and mere months after marrying my first husband, I could no longer stand living in my own skin. I was determined to change my lifestyle, and another family crisis stirred in me a deep longing for legitimate, meaningful faith. The kind I saw in others that had only served to exaggerate the desperation of my empty existence. I was done. It was time to genuinely seek the Lord. It took a while for desire to become action, but misery is a powerful motivator.

My first marriage failed, and I found myself living alone for the first time in my life. I still didn’t have the power to make good decisions and started going to church again. But religion failed me once again (or I failed it). No amount of checking the right Christian habits off my daily to-do list saved me.  I had no idea how to live in relationship with the one true God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ

(by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together,

and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace

in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;

it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:4-8).

My husband and absolute love of my life, James, and I started dating two months later. We married three months after that. To say it was a disaster would be putting it mildly. I would not recommend the path we chose, but I do recommend the answer we found: Jesus.

“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.

I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’

and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

In the words of Paul Harvey, tune in Monday for “the rest of the story.”

Sharing His goodness as we become more wholly His,

Shauna Wallace

Holy His

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wings that Cover, Wings that Carry

I fear for our country. I know I am not alone. I listen to talk radio and my blood boils. I watch gas prices mysteriously fall before the election and shake my head, wondering how people don’t see what’s really going on. I hear about Fast and Furious and an executive branch seemingly untouchable by any constitution or law. The Supreme Court offers one concession to states with its ruling on the Arizona immigration law, yet there will be no enforcement should an illegal immigrant be detained, so really, the states got nothing but stripped. The healthcare law is called constitutional. Has anyone in government read the constitution lately? With each executive order and legislative strong-arm, individual liberty takes a blow. Government expands in size and power. The concessions offered the American public come with a price. The agenda of the few dictate the freedoms of the many.

Things don’t look good.

Then I read Psalm 91, and God reminds me that I always have a safe place: Him.

No matter what happens with the election or with our country – the economy, healthcare, immigration, debt, jobs, terrorism, military strength (or lack thereof), religious freedom, etc. – His word…His report…does not change. Our only source of salvation individually and as a nation always has been and always will be Jesus Christ. And when we dwell in Him – in the secret place of the Most High – His word is our truth.

If you are His, Psalm 91 is yours:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, on evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
“Because he has set his love on Me, therefore, I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long live I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

Protection. Hope. Peace. All things government can’t deliver, but God can. And when He saves us by grace through faith, we have but one simple task: to abide in His presence. To remain there. To make our home in His shelter. And to never leave. To hide under His covering.

It is there we will find:


a net and stronghold

One we can trust

rescue from snares, calamities, and those who inflict them

a shield of truth


a force field

a place in the audience

immunity to evil and plague

a personal angelic special ops team


an untouchable elevation


the companionship of the Father




Why would we seek security anywhere else, most especially from government?

Lord, may your children seek peace and safekeeping in Christ alone as we become more wholly Yours.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His