Proclaim His Glory! MINISTRIES
Ordinary Lives Transformed by Extraordinary Experiences with God
It Only Takes a Spark
by Kim Cason
as told to Cindy L. Heflin
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
Breathing in the serenity of the mountainside retreat, I snuggled next to my husband and closed my eyes. Poplar trees rustled in the early morning breeze while chickadees rendered a sunrise serenade. From our lofty deck, we watched the sun slowly rise above the smoky mist, splashing light upon the majestic peaks nearby. Tranquility soothed our frazzled souls; melting away the tension of the world we’d left behind.
Don and I were the typical American couple: two great kids, two-story home, two demanding careers, and two non-stop schedules. Too busy in fact, to enjoy life at all. Briefly free from the pressures of fast-forward living, we welcomed the chance to reconnect as a couple and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Little did we know that our weekend escape to the Great Smoky Mountains would change our lives forever.
The Smokies offered the respite Don and I desperately needed. We hiked sun-dappled trails along sparkling streams, picnicked in the park with a basket of gourmet goodies, and enjoyed breath-taking mountain vistas each evening at sunset. Our getaway soon rekindled our love for the Smokies and our dream of running a motel in the mountains, after retirement—in twenty-five years or so.
While the distant future seemed crystal-clear, our present circumstances caused waves of restless confusion. Pursuing the American dream, Don and I had little time for family, friends, or even each other. Though successful, our careers and business ventures never delivered the satisfaction promised. As our children grew older, work demands increased, placing a strain on us all. I often prayed seeking God’s direction for our family, but His plan was as hazy as the mountain mist.
All too soon, Don loaded our luggage into the minivan and we headed home. Reluctant to return to the rat race, I gazed in the rearview mirror as the tranquil Smoky Mountains faded into the distance.
During the long drive, we prayed for wisdom. After years of living on overload, I knew God was nudging us to adjust our priorities. Curb our commitments. Downscale. But how? Two-years earlier I gave up my management position, only to battle fears over finances. In desperation, we put our custom-built home on the market twice, but never received an offer.
Still, the struggle drew us closer to God. Our spiritual growth accelerated when we joined a couples Bible study fellowship and served as activity directors. Learning to walk by faith through trials and opportunities alike, we allowed God to mold us until our lone desire was to seek His will, whatever it might be.
The morning after returning from our trip, Don dashed into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee before heading to the office. He looked sharp in his power-suit and tie, but his eyes grew narrow and pensive. “Kim?” he asked, thinking out loud.
“Why are we waiting till retirement to open a place in the mountains? Why don’t we do it now?”
What? I stared at Don in disbelief. Could we?
All morning long, I pushed through piles of paperwork and returned phone calls, trying to concentrate. But Don’s words and the lovely Bed and Breakfast I’d visited on a recent business trip kept running through my mind. Lord? I prayed. Could this be the answer for our family?
Suddenly, I was a woman with a mission! By day, I tracked down information available on the Smoky Mountain region and the Bed and Breakfast industry. At night, after tucking in the children, Don and I discussed ideas and prayed for direction. I’ll never forget the sultry evening my family gathered on my parent’s patio. As we shared our dream, they listened with enthusiasm, then prayed for God to bless and guide us.
Several weeks later, we returned to Gatlinburg for a family reunion. While there, we scoured the ads and scouted the area searching for available real estate. Though the list was slim, Don and I began our excursion, eager to discover God’s opportunity for us.
“Needs lots of repair.” Don frowned, driving by one B & B.
We saw another. “Nice. But, too small to generate an income.”
We ventured on…
Winding along scenic mountain roads, Don and I arrived at another property. We pulled up the gravel drive and just beyond a thicket of trees, I saw a hidden treasure nestled on the wooded mountainside—a charming country inn with an inviting wraparound porch! As the sun peeked over the treetops, illuminating the multi-gabled two-story, the inn appeared an unpolished gem, but none-the-less, a jewel. At once, I sensed something strangely familiar, like coming home to a place I’d never been.
We followed the walk to the wide, breezy porch where a cluster of rockers beckoned us to ‘set-a-spell” and savor the beauty of the view. A welcoming entrance invited guests to “Come In!” so I pushed open the door and slipped inside. Pausing at the entry, I gazed about in wonder! Before my eyes, a grand staircase reached heavenward, sunlight saturating the balcony above. A spacious gathering room flanked by duplicate stone fireplaces encircled the stairs. Multiple windows lured the beauty of the outside in. Scattered about the expansive room were many cozy nooks—perfect for reading or moments of intimate conversation. French doors overlooking the porch graced the dining room to the right and accented a grand piano to the left.
It was beautifully built, just needed some polish—a decorator’s touch—inside and out.
“You don’t want a room tonight, do ya?” A gruff voice startled me as a petite gray-haired woman ambled down the stairs.
“Well, we were just interested…” I said, smiling. “We heard the inn was for sale.”
We introduced ourselves to the innkeeper, Ellen. *
“Look around if you want,” she said flatly.
I nearly raced through our self-guided tour. In all, there were nine guest rooms, a lovely bridal suite, a sizable kitchen, and the innkeeper’s quarters on the lower level. By the time we completed our tour, thanked the owner, and said goodbye, one thing was certain—we’d fallen in love with the Eight Gables Inn!
“Can you believe it?” I beamed, climbing into the van.
“It’s perfect…” Don said. “And way out of our price range!”
Though hard to admit, my husband was right. The price tag was nearly double our limit. The odds stacked against us were higher than the Alps, still somehow I felt hopeful.
Lord, I prayed. Give me just one reason to believe!
“…built three years ago.” Don said, listing facts he learned from the owner. “She’s selling, due to health problems. Been on the market awhile, but the realtor’s contract just expired.”
No realtor fees? Thank you, Jesus! My heart swelled with hope.
The next Sunday, we attended church as usual, but there was nothing ordinary about the message Don and I heard. We exchanged glances as our pastor spoke on, “Facing the Future with Faith,” and were stunned by our Bible teacher’s lesson, “Seize the Moment!”
Staggered by God’s omnipotence, we agreed, “This is His timing. His plan!”
Our quest began.
We prayed diligently for wisdom. Don labored for hours each night, developing our business plan. Soon, we were on the road to Gatlinburg again.
Open the way for us, Lord! I silently prayed, as Don and I arrived for an appointment at a local bank. With courage, we shared our plans with the loan officer and submitted an application. For extra measure, we applied at two other local banks. The gentleman in charge at the last institution responded favorably. He gave us hope.
Before leaving town, we visited the public school our children would attend. In one classroom, I spotted an open Bible lying on a bookshelf. My eyes grew misty as I sensed God’s assurance that He and my children were welcome here.
Greatly encouraged by the trip, Don and I used the long drive home productively. While the children kept busy with games and books, we updated our resumes, wrote a newspaper ad for our home, and listed items we’d need to sell before moving—including our dog, Buffy. We brainstormed ideas to create a Christian Bed and Breakfast that would refresh, nurture, and minister to our guests at Eight Gables Inn.
It was closing time when we pulled in at the vet, so the kids and I ran in to pick up Buffy. Posted by the desk was a notice: “If interested in selling your dog, please sign below.” We all loved Buffy, but knew he couldn’t stay with us if we became innkeepers. So, I scribbled down our number as the assistant locked up. A woman called the next day and bought the dog.
Our every concern was under God’s control. He even provided a new home for Buffy. My faith and peace flourished. Our plans were coming together perfectly.
The loan officer of the first bank phoned. “Your loan is denied,” he said. “You have no experience.”
With faith and determination, we forged ahead, certain God was sending us to the mountains for His purpose.
“You have no money,” the second banker laughed. “It takes ten years to be accepted in this town.”
We’ll see about that! We didn’t give up. One bank remained.
“I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?” I prayed, reciting a favorite verse as I cleaned house one dreary morning. “My help comes from the Lord!” Suddenly, I felt an incredible peace, as if Jesus were standing right beside me. A familiar tune came to mind. “It only takes a spark…” were the few lyrics I could recall.
Kim, you may only have a spark of what it takes to make this work, God spoke to my heart. But, I will do the rest!
Autumn leaves tumbled in the afternoon drizzle as I rushed out for an errand. Reaching across the dash, I switched on the radio, amazed to hear the local station playing the same tune! “I’ll shout it from the mountaintops. I want my world to know. I want to pass it on.”
Tears stung my eyes. “O Lord, that’s where Eight Gables is—the mountains!”
Clinging to God’s promise, we waited for the doors to open. The following week they did!
“It’s a go,” said the loan officer of the remaining bank. “Provided you sell your home and secure a loan through the Small Business Administration.”
Our home went up for sale immediately.
Eight days later, Don called the bank. “We sold it!”
“Uh, there’s been a change,” said the banker. “You’ll need an additional ten-percent down.”
What? Our combined assets barely covered the original minimum down payment. Dejected, Don politely finished the call, then left for a lengthy business trip.
“It’s over, Kim!” Don shouted, phoning from the airport. “Another ten-percent? That’s impossible!”
Unshaken, I set my resolve, determined not to give up. With our home and almost all our furniture sold, I proceeded as though nothing had changed, knowing “He who has promised is faithful.” Putting my faith into action, I continued preparing for the move. I continued planning menus for the B&B. I continued purchasing Christmas decor for the open house we’d agreed to host to promote the Inn.
In Don’s mind, the deal was dead.
Frost glistened on our front porch pumpkins before my husband returned from his trip. Imagine his surprise when he pulled into our driveway.
“Honey?” I asked. “Could you please help Bill load this furniture into his truck? He just bought the bedroom suite.”
God was still in control!
So, Don began dialing for dollars. Night after night, he contacted friends and family, offering them an opportunity to invest in Eight Gables and help us meet our down payment. Progress was slow. The closing on our home inching ever closer, our goal was still beyond reach.
My hope, once so strong, began ebbing away. My spark of faith was nearly extinguished. Unaware of our predicament, a few friends planned a going away party. As the evening approached, I felt sick with dread. How can I ever face them? I wondered. My home and all our furniture have been sold—but I’m not going anywhere!
When the party was only hours away, my friend phoned. Torn between guilt and anxiety, I came clean. “Sorry, I just can’t come.” I confessed. “I’m not moving!”
“Kim,” she said. “God’s brought you this far—you can’t give up now!”
Mustering every ounce of courage within me, I pasted on a beauty pageant smile and rang the doorbell. Surprised by a houseful of friends, I played along, no one the wiser to my secret. An evening of fun and laughter lifted my spirits.
Two days later, a Fed-Ex package from the Small Business Association arrived at Don’s office. In the secretary’s absence, his boss picked up the urgent-looking envelope.
“What’s this?” he asked, handing Don the delivery.
Noticing the return address, Don rushed to his office, closed the door, and politely phoned our SBA representative. “Please, don’t ever send personal mail to my office,” he said, holding his anger.
“I’m so sorry,” she apologized. “I thought that was your home address.”
“Say,” Don asked. “Is it possible to request an additional amount on the loan?”
“We usually don’t, but the committee meets tomorrow. How much do you need?”
“Ask for ten-percent, and I’ll be happy if they agree to five.”
The next afternoon, the conversation long forgotten, Don’s phone rang.
“Your additional ten-percent has been approved,” said the woman from the SBA.
“Thank You!” Don shouted. “Thank you so much!”
“It’s the least I could do after my mistake.”
His eyes stung. Amazed by God’s power, he thanked the Lord for this huge miracle!
We finalized our moving plans. Two weeks later, my father, a private pilot, flew us to Lexington, Kentucky, for our closing with the SBA. The meeting proceeded smoothly.
After dinner with my parents, we boarded the single engine Cessna and flew home. It was a cold and windy January night. Several inches of snow covered the ground. Tossed by the wind as it touched down, our plane skidded off the runway, hit a snow bank, and flipped upside down!
By God’s omnipotent hand of protection, everyone walked away from the crash. While Mom, Don, and I waited in the car for police and paramedics to arrive, Dad ambled back to the wreckage to retrieve some belongings. The briefcase with our financial documents was battered, its locks torn off from the impact. But everything inside was undisturbed. Everyone was whisked away to the emergency room, treated, and released.
We woke the next morning sore and bruised, but alive. Battling doubts, Don turned to me.
“Maybe God doesn’t want us to move.”
“No. God had many chances to change our situation. We’re alive to share this story.”
And that’s exactly what we did…
Two weeks later, Don and I walked into the perfectly appointed conference room for our closing at the bank. Gathered around a massive table, the finely attired loan officials listened intently as we shared our miracle—how God enabled us to purchase Eight Gables Inn. The stunned expression on the gentlemen’s faces reflected an awe for Almighty God that their hearts could not deny.
With Him, a spark of faith can move mountains!
O Sovereign LORD! You have made the heavens and earth by your great power. Nothing is too hard for you! Jeremiah 32:17 NLT
Almighty God, I bow in humble adoration and marvel at Your mighty power! You direct my path by the same omnipotent hand that placed the earth in motion and spread the stars like a sparkling blanket across the midnight sky. You crush mountains under my feet with the very outstretched arm that pushes ocean waves upon the shore. With confidence, I anchor my trust in the Lord Most High! I will proclaim Your praise forever! Amen.
Excerpt from Experiencing the Great I Am, by Bryant & Cindy Heflin, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Copyright © 2005, Bryant & Cindy Heflin, All rights reserved.
This article may NOT be reprinted without written permission from the author. For reprint rights or comments/questions about this article, please contact the author.
COPYRIGHT © 2011 PROCLAIM HIS GLORY! MINISTRIES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED