Early in my life I heard people say definitive things about their lives and then get "surprises" later. It caused me to try hard to not say definitive things that might cause me to eat my words later. For example, my Aunt Billie who always speaks with conviction and charisma, announced when she was young that she would not be a family woman with a station wagon. My dad always liked reminding her of her definitive words because she ended up driving not only a station wagon but later a large air-porter van to tote around her 23 children.
Recently I got a humble phone call from my "we're-definitely-done-having-kids" little brother saying he and his wife are expecting their third baby in the spring.
I tend to hold things fairly open handedly and have learned that my plans usually get rocked anyway. However, there was a moment when I said "I will never". It was a few years ago when we were visiting close friends from college. We were talking about non-profit evangelical organizations. They were asking if we would ever want to do something full-time a little unconventionally.
I answered, "We will never have a job where we have to ask friends for money or fundraise a salary." Then (gulp), "What are we? High school graduates who want to go to YWAM? We have a family to support and I don't want to be one more thing for people to feel guilted into donating to. I don't want to think every time I buy a coffee, 'is this really how I should spend Joel's money'? How awkward is that?!"
I didn't realize that I was about to get a dose of humble pie...until the friends we had that conversation with a few years ago were the first people to donate a monthly check to Big Oak.
As Big Oak has begun, we have not asked friends to donate. S. has mostly met with business people or others who have expressed interest in donating straight to the ministry. Yet voluntarily we have had dear friends send monetary support along with prayers. Big Oak's Open House was last week and I found myself in tears when I realized how many people (most of whom don't have extra money hanging around) gave something to propel the ministry. We watched a community come forward to help us network, give ideas or resources, bring cookies, and on and on. Every time I think all my pride must certainly be stripped...
S. and I have been able to do little aside from laugh when we walk into our kitchen this week. Someone wonderful made a trip to Costco for us last week and brought many of our favorite things. Two different people came with vegetables. (Looks like I'll have enough zucchini for bread until next summer!) I have nowhere to put some of this manna- and can I just say how thankful I am that this is not real manna? Really, zucchini, a Costco loaf of cheese, garden fresh onions, beef, pork... we're hardly eating drab bread every day!
My sister and I went down to Hillsboro for one day over the weekend to help our cousin pack up her house. The trip was intended to bless my cousin by working our tails off. However, she was emptying her pantry, loading us up with clothes for our 2 year old boys, and filling the back of my van with other things she didn't want to haul or store. On the way home Jasmine commented, "I think we made money on this trip. So much for being the ones going above and beyond."
I realized that in the past 2 months each of my kids has received hand-me-downs from unexpected friends. Someone snuck Safeway gift certificates into S.'s car (see...there is a good reason to leave doors unlocked!) When S. preached at MVCTK last weekend we were blessed with people praying over us, encouraging us, slipping a couple checks into S.'s pockets, and stockpiling our car with vegetables.
My Aunt Julie made a comment to me about how we as people always want to look for provision to come from the hand of man; a salary, benefits, a contract. Isn't it interesting that we believe that to be more secure than daily receiving from the hand of the Living God?
I'll chew on that...along with my zucchini and humble pie for dinner tonight.