We’re Moving

Hello, Friends!

A few months ago WordPress blocked me from uploading pictures since I have uploaded the maximum amount of images allowed for a free WordPress blog.  (Whaaaaat?! I  know.)

So…we’re moving to a new website very soon!  I’ve been working on getting things set up, and I’ll be back soon to give you directions to our new home on the web.

Until then, love to all~

Christy

Effortless.

A few years ago I used an exercise DVD with several types of exercise. One of my favorites was a beginner’s ballet routine. I followed it so many times–not that it turned me into a ballet dancer, but it did program some of the instructor’s words in my mind. Sometimes I still hear them.

One of the things she said about ballet was, “So the arms make it appear effortless at the top, while the legs are working hard at the bottom.” The beauty of this has intrigued me quite a lot because ballet is, in fact both very hard work and an elegant art of gentle movement.

Last night was one of those times I heard those hard-effortless words in my mind, but this time it had nothing to do with  ballet. Instead it was a picture of the dance of mothering.

We are in the middle of upheaval right now since we discovered mold in our house.  The boys and I left home and lived in SC for nearly a week and Virginia for a little over two weeks while Steve worked on getting rid of the mold in three rooms in the evenings and weekends after work.

We came home two weeks ago to our main living area crammed with the contents of other rooms waiting to be cleaned and sorted. Most of the living room furniture is in temporary storage and Steve and I are sleeping in the guest room while the master area is torn apart.

We definitely were reacting to the mold that is still in the house and tried to keep those parts of the house closed off as much as possible. Still we didn’t feel feel well at all.

This past weekend we all moved into a hotel for a weekend, so Steve could tackle the next three rooms–a closet and our master area.  Our friends Eric and Linda so generously came up to spend the weekend with us. Eric helped Steve work on the house on Saturday and we got to enjoy time together.

Although the men got a lot of work done on the house, it wasn’t ready for us to move home on Monday like  we had been expecting. We hadn’t taken our school books with us, so I planned a field trip to keep us from losing a school day.  I planned to go to a nature reserve a few miles away, and they even happened to be hosting a  homeschool day.  Then it started raining.

I searched a little more and decided to take the boys to a train museum about a half an hour further north. It turned out to be a great, low key place for us and we all enjoyed our time there.

We killed a little time at a library close by, ate a little food then started toward home. I’d heard about a really great Christmas light display, and thought we could drive through on the way home. At that point I was so t.i.r.e.d., but how hard can a drive through be?

It was fantastically fun, only we ended up needing to get out and walk around.  Finally everyone was packed back into the car and we were driving HOME after a long weekend away. I didn’t know what to expect at home, and besides for the mold there are lots of big things on our minds these days.

The boys were happy and there was Christmas music playing.  Zac was sitting beside me, and his eyes were sparkling. He let out a long happy sigh.  “This has been the best day of my LIFE.”

In that moment I recognized the contrast between my experience and his. And those words from long ago came back, “So the arms make it appear effortless on the top while they legs are working hard on the bottom.” They felt very true to my mothering in that moment.

In a sense mothering had been [working hard]

All day I’d been fighting to find joy while hard things pressed against me.  I had also been thinking about how to make the change in plans work for us, how to incorporate school, how to keep this day happy for the boys even when it felt hard to me. I needed to redirect whining, find snacks, and keep boys safe on the street. I’d been looking out for places to eat that would work for our diets and places to go to fill our time without requiring a lot of energy from me because I wasn’t feeling great.

while also [making it look effortless]

All day we had been sleeping in, eating lots of good food, going to new places, stopping to play at a playground we passed, finding a bridge to run through, hanging out as long as we wanted in the museum’s educational play room, never rushing, visiting a great light display, listening to holiday music, and coming home and drinking hot chocolate.

Of course there’s a little bit of heart between the arms and legs for us, too–the times when they hear me recognize a problem and ask God to help us or when we talk about asking Jesus to help us find happiness or when we take our fears to Him.  But mostly I love that the boys don’t really see the ugliness of life, yet.

Maybe because there’s so much hard stuff in our life I know our children will see and feel sacrifices and brokenness a lot. Obviously we want to engage them in processing it well, but I also want the boys’ childhood to be carefree.  While there is all kinds of turmoil in our world and we’re working our way through it, they can lean back in their seats with stars in their eyes and see it as the best time in their lives. Effortless.

 

I’d love to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment here.

Extreme Giving

So you guys, in my last post I talked about giving sacrificially.  Well, THIS is an inspiring model of giving radically. A story of someone who is giving when logic would say he should be saving every penny he can.  This is an example of someone living in obedience when it is risky, of  trusting that God is good–that He can be trusted even when we humans can’t see a happy next chapter just yet.   (Read more by clicking:  HERE.) Scroll to the bottom for the story

————————–

Did you follow the link? Well, please take two minutes to read the story.  It’s short and worth the read.

This story is extra special special, too, because it’s related to our next step here in Atlanta.  A couple, Dwight and Zonya Gingerich have agreed to move to Atlanta to serve with Steve and I in our community and to start a church together.

Two weeks ago they found a charming house that is such a great fit for their family and is located within walking distance of our house. They were ready to make an offer, but there were a few logistical complications with the loan process. Some just-for-fun brainstorming online and lots of unexpected support led to the hatching of plan unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Um, what? Well, Dwight and Zonya are getting their loan by the collaborative effort of an incredibly generous network of friends, acquaintances and fellow believers.  That’s right, people are currently pledging a loan amount of their choice (currently ranging in amounts from $75-$5,000). Their goal is $80,000 and in just a few days they have raised nearly half of that amount which certainly speaks of their reputable character.

They could use your help. If you are interested in being a part of the body of Christ coming together to support each other through financial giving in an admittedly unconventional way, read Dwight’s blog post (HERE) where he describes in detail the story, the plan, and the legal considerations.

Here’s the Cliffs Christy’s Notes version:  Pledge to loan any amount. ($250 and $500 are two popular amounts.)  After at least 60K has been pledged, you will receive information for where to send a check. Dwight and Zonya will then make an offer on the house and will repay the lenders the amount loaned + 10% interest at random within 15 years. If you would choose to loan them, say $300, sometime within fifteen years you will have the fun of receiving a surprise $330 in your mailbox.

As you can imagine, they are on a faith journey as they wait for God to provide funding for the house. Even if you aren’t able to pledge a gift or loan, please pray that God would give them peace and courage as they wait and that He would provide for their housing needs.  We have confidence in Him.

 

How Trust Frees us to Give

If you’ve attended The Mission Church at City of Refuge more than a few times, there’s a pretty good chance you have heard Pastor Bruce speak these words

You can never out-give God

The group who gathers at The Mission Church is a mix of demographics with people living in large, two-story homes; in a nursing home; in a homeless shelter; and in an apartment plagued by gang activity–yet the message is the same: Give Generously. 

We are not only challenged to give when we have plenty, but to give when we don’t have enough. 

14 Nov-9749-2

There’s this story Pastor Bruce tells about a time when they had a few thousand dollars in their bank account and a big bill coming up.  He was speaking at a fundraiser for a fledgling mission start-up. Even though the City of Refuge’s funds would hardly cover the bill he needed to pay, he felt God was asking Him to offer to match the amount of funds  raised that night at the event.  He was expecting them to raise a few hundred dollars. In a surprising turn of events, the tiny group raised $2,500–more than what was left in the mission’s bank account and definitely more than he had been expecting to match.

Still, it was God who had inspired him to make the offer and it was also God who had always provided in the past. He had faith that if he followed through on the offer he made, God would provide the funds they were needing, too.

The following week he was giving a tour of COR to a local businessman.  At the end of the tour, the guy said he would like to make a donation and promptly wrote a check so large it covered the pledge and the bill with some money to spare.

This is not a one time story, but simply a pattern of giving Bruce lives through his family and through the mission. In the past few years, we have been inspired to give more, and to give even when it doesn’t always feel like the safest thing to do.

When finances are tight (and most of us feel like we just hardly have enough, am I right?), it’s easy to think we don’t have extra money to give beyond the obligatory 10%. I’m being challenged, though, to think less about how much I need and to focus more on how much I can give.

You know being good stewards of our money is a good thing, but we can also become so focused on saving money that we start to grip all the things we love, all the things we want, all the things we need so tightly it is hard to open our little fists to give. That was me.

I’m finding that is not the obvious lack of dollars in our bank account that stifles generosity in my heart, but a lack of trust in God’s provision. 

As we lived in a place of need, of literally not having enough money to cover our cost of living, we learned such important lessons of trust.  We watched God provide for our specific needs of groceries, size 5 clothing, or money for vehicle repairs. Even when I couldn’t see any way for our needs to be met, I started believing that God would provide–because He always did.

14 Nov-9649-2

Over and over again, He would provide–sometimes in the most unexpected ways. The last year has been a little easier for us financially. It has been so much fun to be able to give more, too. But last week was again one of those times when there was not enough money to cover all the bills. It wasn’t the best news considering that we would be leaving for a week-long vacation in a few days.

However, after five years of watching God provide for our needs I didn’t have any feelings of anxiety, but simply told Him, “I know you will provide for us.”

Three days later there was a package on our doorstep with a note from friends and a check that was more than enough to cover the remaining bill! Knowing that they had no idea we were facing a financial pinch reminded me again that God sees our needs and takes care of them with such creative flourish. We can trust Him.

I also felt a tinge of guilt. A few days before we got the package, Steve had been given a gift of $100 and wanted to give it to someone else. But I was like, “Well, we kind of need that $100 right now.” It might have been true that we needed it, but I see in retrospect that if we had passed along the gift, we still would have been covered.  Because we can’t out-give God.

Trusting that God will provide takes the scary out of giving.  (Obviously something I’m still learning.) Pastor Bruce has inspired me in this way as have so many other people who model sacrificial giving. I want to keep growing in trusting His provision and, in the context of obedience, giving recklessly.

As I have learned to trust His provision, I’ve noticed my fingers, the same fingers that once held onto security, are loosening their grip on things and money. I’m beginning to see them less as things we have earned because they are gifts–all of them.  When we walk in the freedom of trusting God’s provision, it is a joy to give to others. When we follow His voice in giving we can also rest in knowing He will take care of our needs.

An Atlanta family's story: learning to love God and others

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 925 other followers