Along for the Ride: A Tale of (Answered Prayer) in Two Cities


Paul and Maggie were excited about the prospect of being a part of Prop Closet. After their recent purchase of a new vehicle, they felt called to donate their 2006 Toyota Sienna to Journey Church. 

Although they were excited to bless the church with the monetary value behind the gift, Maggie started to feel slightly disappointed that their donation didn't seem to have as impactful of a story behind it as others had. So many gifts came in with testimony of spiritual breakthrough or God-breathed confirmation. Maggie and her husband Paul hoped for the same experience. What they didn't know was that the Lord was aligning the details to surprise them with an extra dose of proof that their gift was indeed His calling.  What happened next was truly a sign that God is the ultimate author and perfector of our faith--the ultimate provider--and the Master of detail. In many ways, we are all along for the ride. 

Soon after they decided to make the donation, Maggie called her insurance agent to register their new car. She told the story of how they were donating the proceeds made off their old car to their church and how they wanted the car to make a difference to someone. They hoped that it could go to someone who really needed it.

Maggie's insurance agent was so moved by the story, she brought it up in conversation with her boss, Calvin, later that day. He, too, was so moved by the story that he determined in his heart to purchase it for someone in need. He remembered the hardship of some friends of the family who lived in El Paso, Texas--an elderly missionary couple with four children. Their van had recently been totaled ... and ... believe it or not ... their vehicle was also a 2006 Toyota Sienna!

Wow, God. What a story. 

This couple, well known for the way they meet the needs of people either through missions or acts of service, had put over 380,000 miles on their old car by driving anywhere and anywhere they could be of help to others. It didn't matter if it was just delivering food to someone in need or doing their frequent missions work in California. They pushed their Toyota Sienna to the limits because it was their only way of transportation to serve others. Their whole world revolved around that car staying on the road. Luckily, the man who drove it had always been able to repair his vehicle, to keep things running smoothly. However, after their Sienna was totalled, he was at a loss for what to do. They didn't have the funds to replace it. The situation was beyond his ability to fix. 

That's where a few precious prayers got answered. The Lord met Paul and Maggie in their request, while meeting the El Paso missionaries in their moment of need, by using the generosity of an insurance agent. It goes to show that tax collectors, insurance agents, all sorts of every day people can make an extraordinary difference. 

Calvin's thoughtfulness enabled the El Paso family to continue to minister. The missionaries were recently flown out to Nashville to fetch the car. They are now back on the road again, ready and equipped to love and care for the people God puts in their path. Journey Church (and the Prop Closet team) pray them to have a safe "journey" home. 

How's that for a touching story, Maggie? Thank you, Jesus! And ... thank you Maggie and Paul for the generous gift to The Prop Closet. 
 

Loyalty to Petrified Opinion Never Broke Any Chains or Freed a Human Soul - Mark Twain

Elizabeth’s father saved many things.  In keeping with his tradition of holding on to items in attempts to hold on to memories, Elizabeth kept this 1918 Uniform Series Mark Twain Library as a way of remembering her dad since his passing twenty-five years ago.  We all have items that represent one thing or another to us personally. When the Prop Closet call came around, Elizabeth found herself ready to let go of these reminders of her father and their impact on heart.

The Mark Twain books were written about a complicated, but hopeful time of change in our nation. They beautifully tell a story about a time of contradictions—where beauty could be found in dire circumstances.

The LIFE magazine from when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, marks another revolutionary period in history marred with conflict and change. Books and magazines were one fundamental way for Elizabeth’s dad to learn about “Life”.  However, for Elizabeth, letting go of these historical literary gifts demonstrates her acceptance of the truth she has learned about LIFE—that we are broken people who walk in the Father's perfect presence and power. All families, and eras throughout history, exist with their own juxtaposition of the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

In that spirit, Elizabeth acknowledges the significance the books once held has faded for her. She hoped The Prop Closet would be able to benefit from the sale of these items while also honoring her father’s legacy. (Item # 2117 and 1054)

 

Taking the Passenger Seat

 

John came to the Prop Closet to tell a story of his only significant memory of hanging out with his dad, just the two of them. He was eight years old when his dad took him to a Nascar race. Seeing John's passion for the sport, his dad scored a race tire for him. It was the most significant gift John would ever receive. But when he was thirteen, his dad left. John's family and his relationship with his father was never the same. 

As John shared his story about his memories with his dad and his desire for healing in that situation, he said, "This is it. This is all I have," considering what he was about to give up, "so when [Prop Closet] came up, God laid it on my heart."  

John gave this tire as a sacrifice. He shared, "I don’t have a lack of faith that God can redeem me and my dad’s situation. I just don’t know IF it’s going to happen. By me giving this tire away, this is me kind of just saying, OK God, 'I want a relationship with my dad. And I also want to be there for him but, at the same time, I am not going to just hold on to something and not let You do what You want to do in my life."

So, with the gift of a Nascar tire, an artifact of a memory frozen in time between a father and son, John commits to take the passenger seat and trust what God wants to do with the hurt that keeps racing through his mind. (Item #)

Bearing Her Heart

Kyna grew up in a home with a mother that showed her the importance of loving the Lord and walking in relationship with Him daily. Kyna's mom collected and loved Boyd Bears. After her mothers passing, they found a place in her home because she couldn't bear to let them go. Kyna honored her mother by displaying them with a picture of her mom laughing and loving life.

Kyna spent the last 10 years caring for her grandmother. The two of them looked at these bears daily and remembered the woman they both loved.  With her grandmothers recent passing, Kyna knew it was time to let go of the collection and move on. It has been a hard choice, but she knows the time is right to live the life her mother so loving poured into her, but finally feels she no longer needs the bears to remember what they stand for. (Item #1038)

May The Force Be With You

Samuel decided to bring in this Star Wars poster that was a gift from his father. Mounted on wood, this poster is just about as cool as it gets. Samuel knew someone would want to hang it in their room since Star Wars holds a nostalgic importance to many people…and since a continuation of the saga is soon to be released, this time directed by J.J. Abrams.

The George Lucas films depicted a galaxy “far, far away” portraying adventure in the battles between good and evil.  It is no surprise that our Journey family brought all sorts of Star Wars mementos in to the Prop Closet. We all love stories—especially ones filled with adventure and purpose. The Lucas films are rich in themes reminiscent of how our Father in heaven directs our lives as we face the twists and turns of good against evil, learning to trust He will write the ultimate, triumphant happy ending.

What do we say to people who donate Star Wars collectables, just before the release of the next movie? We say, “Thank you,” and “May the FORCE be with you,” of course. (Item # 2023)

 

The Real American Dream

Matthew and Laura gave this gift to Journey, looking back to the season in their life when their American Dream lifestyle was completely dependent upon credit cards.  In retrospect, they realize “charging almost everything” is how they attempted to build their ‘City on a Hill.’

Despite feeling like they had nothing really nice to show for it, Matthew and Laura admit charging their way into $130K of debt—an easier hill to climb than it was to dig out from under.  It wasn’t until after they dedicated themselves to become debt free, that they saw that the real American Dream is living out God’s redemptive story and finding freedom in Him and not in living above their means.   

This item, signed by the band members thirteen years ago, represents to Matthew and Laura all the small but significant steps the couple took in order to finally build their 'City on a Hill,' trusting God’s direction and timing. (Item # 3056)

 

A New Soundtrack

Music has the power to prompt nostalgic memories from the past.  In the case of this collection of CD’s, Mitch held onto them, as a packrat would collect something he considered valuable, even necessary, for the future. However, as time passes, even packrats change. Rather than holding their meaning, these CD’s became a remembrance of darker times—the wilder days of college—and are no longer a reflection of who he is today. By donating this music to Prop Closet, Mitch says, “It’s time to release them back into the world and clear out my closet,” and has freed himself to enjoy a new soundtrack. 

 

Robin's Not Buddha, and Not Jesus Either

Robin's mom, quite the Southern belle, inherited a home from her eccentric, world-travelling brother. Although she loved her brother very much, living in the home of a bona fide Renaissance man, she found herself feeling out of place among his things. It was a challenge for her to find comfort surrounded by the artifacts of other world religions, until one day she broke down and called on her daughter Robin to rescue her.

 “Help! This statue is sucking the Christianity right out of me. Take it out of here!”

 Robin was tickled by the intensity of her mother’s need for the statue to be gone immediately, but she also knew that she didn’t want her mother feeling uncomfortable by the it’s presence, because after all, the statue was not Jesus. Robin still felt it should go to someone who appreciated its heritage since it was more than your everyday garden statue. It had been imported from Japan. Robin knew it would solicit a great deal of value to someone out there, if she could just find that person.   

Despite her good intentions in taking the garden stone from her mom’s house right away, Robin soon realized she didn’t really know what to do with it either. “Not Buddha, Not Jesus” (as she began to call him), sat in Robin’s car for months. He sat next to her on road trips and grocery runs. He became that thing on her to do list that brought on a sense of discomfort, not knowing where to begin and not being sure how she felt about selling it. And so set in the procrastination.

The call for props for Prop Closet came at just the right time for Robin. She knew exactly what she was supposed to do. She was supposed to give it away. She wasn’t to place value on it or seek money for it any longer. She was supposed to come forward with her story of how she drove around with a Buddha in her car for months, because she thought it might be worth something.

We asked Robin how to label the garden statue because we didn’t really know where to begin. And truth be told…the Prop Closet volunteers didn’t know what to do with it either. We knew we were supposed to help her tell her story because it’s a good story—one that excited the team at Prop Closet to see the variety and beauty we all bring as a church body when we bring our props.   

"What I do know is that he is NOT Jesus!” Robin laughed. “And … he is heavy enough to permanently damage a car seat if you leave him in the car for any length of time.”

So future owner…beware. Don’t go on a road trip with “Not Buddha, Not Jesus.” And if you do, don't give him a seat. 

The best we can tell from looking it up online, he is a Dharma Chakra Buddha statue—a beautiful reminder of how diverse all of our paths can be before we come to know and love the one true living God. “Not Buddha, Not Jesus” is a very tangible (and interesting) example of how one of our Journey partners responded to Prop Closet with intention—to release that which didn’t belong in her life—to shed a non-essential resource in order to fix her eyes on Jesus and put Christ first. (Item # 3033)

From Here To Eternity: His Way Not "My Way"

Todd worked very hard to build a strong foundation in his career. So when he was able to cash his first bonus check, Todd’s celebratory purchase was this original Frank Sinatra lithocopy of art created and signed by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself.

For a longtime, Todd kept this piece of art hung on the living room wall to serve as a symbol of Gods provision. It was a centerpiece of his life and home—something he was very proud of owning. However, when Journey Church started sharing about Prop Closet and how they hoped people might be willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the church, God began to prompt Todd's heart, asking him to donate it.

Todd leaned in to what the Spirit was calling of him. After searching the Lord on it, Todd felt God speaking to him that yes, He had provided, but Christ is to always be the centerpiece of his life and home. So with a heart of gratitude for how God has blessed him, Todd entrusted this precious work of art to Journey and to Prop Closet because he wants to look back and say, “I did it ‘His’ way.” (Item # 4017)

A Life Well Lived is As Sweet A Sound

Amanda bought a Taylor guitar in high school when she was involved in leading youth worship, mainly because the worship leaders with the most influence in her life owned Taylors. Her idea was that, if she had a Taylor—something just as cool as what they had—then her music would be better and so would her worship.

Soon after Amanda left for college, she began to be exposed to all different kinds of people. That exposure helped her realize that—despite having a cool Taylor guitar—she wasn't really that great of a musician. The Taylor couldn’t make up for a lack of training or maybe even an element of natural gifting that she couldn’t tap into as easily as others.

During this time of self-discovery, Amanda did realize, however, that she was an amazing listener. Her unique gift was related to valuing people and their stories. As a result—even though the Taylor followed her on the journey through many years and changes—when Amanda moved to "Music City," she arrived as a psychologist, not a musician. And...the best part was...her worship of the Lord didn’t suffer for it.

By letting go of the guitar, Amanda is bringing closure to the lie that music and performance were the only way to fully worship and connect with God. Amanda now embraces and daily lives out her unique purpose, which is speaking into the lives of others. Amanda is able to cheerfully give the Taylor guitar because she is confident that she is fully using her God-given talents to serve the Lord by encouraging and helping people she comes in contact with. (Item# 4064)

Money Can't Buy My Love

Brittany grew up in a home that was broken from divorce. Her father was absent and had a lot of struggles in his life that kept him from growing any kind of authentic relationship with his daughter.

Although he tried his best to deal with his struggles, they were and remain, still, the driving force of his life. His way of trying to have relationship with Brittany was to buy her things. Brittany longed for her father's love--not "things"--so the gifts he gave her ultimately became a bitter reminder of the distance and lack of real connection in their relationship.

Brittany knew that, although gift giving was his way to attempt to express love, her dad's presents came at a great cost to other people. Brittany has kept these Swarovski crystals, needing and waiting for a way to let them go. Keeping them simply never felt right.

Allowing the crystals to be sold to benefit the future of her church has washed a redemptive wave over her. Brittany found closure to this chapter of her life by speaking her story and letting the crystals go. (Item #2041-2043)

A Pearl of Wisdom

Sometimes gifts are given out of love. Sometimes they are given out of guilt.

This pearl pendant was given to Journey's Prop Closet as an act of gratitude from one of our "partners" who experienced redemption, grace and forgiveness after a divorce--a divorce that taught a broken heart to know it's worth again. 

She shared, "This pendant is reflective of Christ's beauty in me, of my value in Him, and His lavish love poured out over His children." (Item # 1042)

When Leaving It All Makes Little Cents - A Family Follows God's Lead

For Paige and her family, Houston, Texas was a place rich in community, history, prosperity, and financial security. The people who surrounded them in Houston were of great support and provision to the couple and their five children. By the world’s standards, it made little to no sense to leave the situation they were in.

The family of seven committed to a HUGE adventure when they decided to follow God’s call and leave behind their hometown and relationships that served as a firm security to them and come to Nashville. In a miraculous series of confirmations to a distinct and verifiable call from God, they eventually left everything to follow Him.  He called and they went…

To them, the Rolex watch is a prop that represents a past dependence on riches and wealth instead of complete dependence on God. Now that they understand that Jesus holds it all—that there is no security apart from Him—they understand the things they once depended on were not a true foundation to build a life on. They are emotionally prepared to give generously and freely.

As scripture says in John 12:25--“Anyone who loves their life will lose it”--the family feel’s they finally found their lives once they laid them down. It is out of this contagious abandon, and hunger for the Lord over material gain, that they have experienced freedom as never before—Freedom in Christ and from the lure and bondage of money and possessions. (Item # 4026)

Tea Party Treasures

Mandy's Mom bought this kids soda fountain table and chairs for her when she was 4 years old. So, needless to say, this table has seen a fair share of tea parties--girls in fancy hats, stuffed animals, and dolls who insist on an extra helping of sugar.

After 37 years, Mandy is ready for this table to be the setting for the imagination of another child. So pull up a seat, grab your favorite friend (even if he is stuffed) and enjoy a nice cup of tea. Let the sweet memories continue! (Item # 3038)

Heigh Ho Silver Linings, We Are Giving The Horse Away

After seeing Addie give away her monkey, Theodore, Makena felt inspired to give something of her own. Once she realized the Prop Closet thing wasn’t just for adults and that kids could give too, Makena let her mom and dad know that she wanted to give her Radio Rider Horse to the Prop Closet project.

Her parents had been contemplating what to bring to the Prop Closet anyway, but since they weren’t completely unpacked from a recent move and also since the family had been busy with their involvement in planning the Prop Closet, they hadn’t yet figured out what their best gift should be, aside from their time.

Makena’s surprise gift choice struck an emotional chord with her parents, and so they knew that was the gift they must give. Matt and Jenn had been on a journey to adopt for quite some time, but with no success and a lot of roadblocks and stop signs. So finally, out of a posture of letting the dream go in order to stay grateful and flexible and submit to the possibility that the Lord might have a different plan for them, Makena's mom gave away all of Makena’s baby items while she was planning her best friend’s combination 40th Birthday Party and 3rd Baby Shower. During that purge and release, Jenn truly thought she had let all of the “stuff” (both physical and emotional) related to the dream of having another child go…that is, until Makena brought up the horse.

Makena’s Grammy’s neighbor gave the horse to the family after their children were grown and moved out of the house. It is a vintage horse—nothing Makena’s family would’ve thought to purchase for her—but was a piece in Makena’s playroom that regularly caused Jenn to remember her own childhood dreams of someday having a very large family.

Makena’s insistence that she was now “too big” for the Radio Rider was a tough moment for the couple because it was a realization that, not only was the next baby not coming any time soon, s/he might never come, and their own “baby” was growing so fast that she was stepping into another phase of life and play. 

A little mourning and uncertainty aside, Matt and Jenn are happy to release the horse to greener pastures. The family yokes their dreams to the Lord, knowing they are honored to have the opportunity to raise Makena and that He is a good Father who will not lead them astray. Makena is God’s gift to Matt and Jenn and a dream (already) come true. ( Item # 3043)

Focusing on the Family by Selling a Photography Business

A few years back, Meghan found that pursuit of her passion—a photography business—and the nuances of being a young mother were not aligning for her very well.  Torn between two loves, she felt enormous weight and frustration. She was unable to just go and shoot and work with models as she once had been able to pick up and do, but she wasn’t willing to sacrifice home time to make herself available.

Meghan’s prop for the closet is a doll she purchased to use with a model with a project design she was formulating. Due to the demands of her life, the project never really worked out or took off.  After a season of time passing her by where she felt caught between two worlds, she finally sold the photography business.

The sale of the business a few short weeks ago helped her to finally break free of the weight she has been carrying and the pressure she has been under for such a long time. Sharing this doll with The Prop Closet is the final step in “letting go” so that she can be fully present on the new road that God is unfolding for her and her family.( Item #3009)

An Old, Faithful Speaker

Thomas purchased this Marshall speaker cabinet in 2003. It was his main cabinet, his only one like it, until 2012. Thomas fondly recalled how, over the years, his speaker has given voice to a lot of music.

From Sunday morning worship at church to the recording of a worship album, this speaker served an important role as part of a story that unfolded in Thomas' life. It has journeyed with him from South Carolina to Tennessee and now its ready to move to a new home, wherever that may be. 

( Item # 4032)

 

Laying Down Our Earthly Crown For a Heavenly One

Competing in pageants has been a big part of Shana’s life for 25 years. After spending a lot of time thinking about her story, Shana began to realize that so much of the striving she did to succeed in pageants came from a deep-rooted desire to make her mother proud. The bitter irony she found during her time of reflection was that the years she spent learning how to present a “confident” woman couldn’t quiet her childhood insecurities that she wasn’t accepted, or even worse, truly loved.

In 2013, Shana competed in her last pageant expecting to feel a sense of accomplishment from learning the art of being confident, posed and polished. Shana secretly believed her mother would find the finality of the occasion worthy to give the praise that had been withheld all along. Shana craved her mother’s open adoration for a job well done. Instead, Shana received a lukewarm response.

As she left that final pageant stage, Shana never found the signs she was looking for. The confident woman she had become so good at presenting started to unravel inside when those expectations for earthly acknowledgment weren’t met. She was under a direct attack from lies of insignificance and, out of that conflict, was forced to finally explore the question of where her security really came from.

Shana's journey with approval seeking and loneliness taught her to seek God first and depend on the love, acceptance and pride of her Heavenly Father, above all else. The gowns she wore and crowns she won now hold less value to Shana, because she finally understands they are not a reflection of how God esteems her. By giving her gowns to Prop Closet, Shana is ready to lay these treasures before the Lord; to rend her heart (as she renders her garments) and find her confidence in Him. Shana knows she is deeply valued by The Lord and feels victorious in knowing the old thought patterns—the lies of fearful thinking—can’t hold her back any more. ( Item # 3016, 3017, 4090, 4091, 4092, 4093)

Forever Following His Beat

This snare drum was a gift to Andrew from his dad. Both of Andrew's parents were music teachers and always supported and encouraged his interest and desire to be a musician. Andrew bought this drum in high school and used it while he was playing in bands with his dad.

A pursuit of music professionally is no longer part of his story, but getting to serve in worship teams fills his passion for music. The main reason he is letting this drum go is because it is a reminder that, while he was caught up in the part of his story where he was trying to find his identity as a drummer and professional musician, he was not focusing on finding his TRUE identity in Christ. As a child of God, who has been lovingly entrusted with musical ability, with this gift he is committing to always use his musical talents for God's Glory and not his own. ( Item # 4094)

Music Brought Us Together

Jared and Lauren are both musicians. Through times of want and times of plenty, through all of the paths their lives have beckoned them to travel, music has always been the one thing that brought them hope and connection.

Jared has been writing songs for most of his life, but he says that until he had a divine encounter with the Holy Spirit, music didn't fully make sense to him. With God's presence and annointing on the music they have experienced with one another, they feel the Lord has used music in such a powerful way in their lives that they wanted to pay it forward. Jared and Lauren both wanted to give someone else the same hope they've been blessed with by sharing this keyboard.

Since music can speak to the heart in so many ways, they hope this keyboard helps connect the next owner to the power and beauty of the Holy Spirit and God's intimate love of His people through art.  ( Item # 3065)