Just Enough {TBT}

Originally posted last May…now edited and shared again because it’s on my heart again…and it’s Thursday. So, I’m doing it.

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He never knows what to get me. I can just picture Mark walking around the Beijing market, vendors calling out to the Meiguo ren showing him their pearls and silk. He sent me an email while I slept one night with the subject line “Found you an awesome prize” and these words: “Really cool and very excited about it! Hope you like it.”

He had ventured a little off the beaten path to an open market where digging for treasure is required. As he dug, he found an old heavy bowl made to look like a basket with characters on each side. It was made to hold grain and sit in the center of your table with the message translated: Every year, we have just enough.

It’s been sitting in our dining room since his trip to China last May, gently reminding my sometimes wayward heart. When he left his full-time career in the finance industry in October last year, our world dramatically changed. He called, we tested it to be sure, He confirmed, we responded with a yes, knowing that there was no place we’d rather be than walking in His will for us even if that meant releasing it all and depending entirely on Him for provision. And, what a paradox that is—feeling utterly weak and dependent and needy while at the very same time feeling utterly safe and certain and sure that every year, we will have just enough. Some days, the joy in that dependence and His provision is overwhelming; other days, it’s a battle to remember what I was so comfortable with only hours before.

We’ve fought a few of those battles lately, days of looking back and forth at the bowl before us and saying, “Really? Really, God?” Just like a good father, He smiled and answered our {sort of} rhetorical question and let us see it first hand.

I’m leading a team 3 weeks from today to an orphanage in Shaanxi. This summer, another team went to a different orphanage in the same area in China, and a young girl named April had committed to being a part of that team.

When God nudged her spirit to go, she responded, not letting her physical limitations due to cerebral palsy get in the way of her walking with power in His will for her. But, I learned that she was over $1000 short of the funds she needed to go, and those funds were needed that day.

Really? Really, God? Would you call and then not provide? Did she not hear you right?

I hesitated for a few seconds, that wayward heart wondering if God’s provision may have a limit. What could I do? We’re raising money too; in fact, we’re totally dependent on the giving of others and struggling to meet budget at that. If I tried to rally people to come alongside, would I be taking grain out of our own bowl to fill another, leaving ours in need of filling? But, what good is trusting God to give us our portion if we then stand guard around it, essentially believing that He may fill it once but that there must be a limit?

I shared her need, and people responded by giving and sharing. Trusting Him to supply a need that can only be filled by His hand is contagious. By that night, several hours after I first heard of her need, several hours after April had resigned that she would not be going to China after all, she was completely funded. Every last dollar. Paid in full. Just like Paul reported how the churches of Macedonia had responded to the needs they were made aware of, people gave according to their means and beyond their means, earnestly asking for the pleasure of taking part in meeting April’s needs so she could go (2 Cor 8:3-4).

My bowl from that market sits before me, forged by hands belonging to someone who likely does not love the author of the message it reads and brought home to me by a husband who knew the truth I need to see day in and day out.
Every year, every day, every moment, He gives us just what we need. And, not only does He meet us at our very point of need and supply it, but He takes great pleasure in doing it. There is no reluctance or hesitation, only a desire to bless us for His glory and our good, a desire with no limit that overflows and pours out into eternity.

My heart is overwhelmed as I consider so many have given according to their means and beyond their means, how they have “begged earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of our needs so that we could do what God has called us to do.” Our bowl has had a steady supply of manna this year. As we complete our first year in this gig in a couple weeks, we are finding ourselves looking at that bowl more often, asking again if He will fill it. To be honest, the current financial situation doesn’t look promising. We have about 55% of the monthly financial support we need.

Really? Really, God? Would you call and then not provide? Did we not hear you right?

But, we did hear Him. And, He’s still calling. In fact, we’re more convinced now than ever before that we’re doing what He wants us to do. And, while it is scary and hard, we are trusting that He will continue to supply even when we don’t see how that is going to happen.

Chinese bowl

He has a special need {advocating}

KangMing10

The boy likes his crackers, and he’s not afraid to make sure you know that by stomping his feet with utter joy at the sight of the package.

KangMing11

He can be a bit of a schmoozer too. Check out that look. Yeah, he knows he’s a bit of a rockstar.

KangMing14

He may or may not be a ladies’ man and can pull off that puffy coat like nobody else.


KangMing5

Though he doesn’t always show it….especially when he can see crackers in another kid’s hands.

He’s pretty darn amazing.

He has a birthmark on his face. That’s really not a special need though.

His special need is that he doesn’t have a family. And, he’s been waiting…

because he’s a boy…and he’s not a teeny baby anymore…

and because his family just hasn’t met him yet.

So, allow me to introduce you to this guy. Maybe today’s the day.

 

Brave New World

She’s living her childhood dream. I can still hear her squeaky little 3-year-old voice saying, “I do! I do! I do!” It’s been her mantra really over the years. And, now, it’s her turn. She’s finally part of the club whose membership card is a backpack. She’s a school girl.

While her brothers and sister are way past the honeymoon phase, she’s still got hearts in her eyes and butterflies of excitement about the new career before her. It’s good. We all know the “Hello Neighbor” song, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is dinner conversation, and the Promethean Board is mind boggling.

While she’s in Mrs. Nowak’s class, her mommy and daddy have been doing their own studying. We’ve been learning a few things ourselves. She still needs us; she still needs me, maybe even more now than just a few weeks ago when kindergarten was still a dream and we were always within reach of each other.

All kids have questions before their first day of school. But, her questions weren’t about snack time, recess, or homework.

Mommy, are you going to miss me when I’m in school?

Oh, yes, my dear. I’m going to miss you so so much.

Are you going to cry a thousand tears?

I might just cry a thousand tears until you come home then I’ll be so happy again.

She giggled, content with the thought of leaving me brokenhearted without her. And, I’m okay with that because she should know she’s worth that, that she’s so special, so significant, so desirable and so beloved that she’s worth crying a thousand tears just because she’s not in my sight and by my side.

Everyday I stand at the busy stop and wait with her with my China Starbucks mug in hand. We chat while we wait about the old man wearing pajama pants walking down the street with a newspaper every morning, the ladybug she spotted on the ground, or the truck passing by whose engine is too loud. My feet stay planted on that corner until the bus full of little people barely tall enough to see out the windows is out of sight. She watches me watching her and waves back with a quiet confidence in her eyes as she leaves me rather than the other way around.

When her day is over and that bus brings her back, there I stand, waiting, as if that’s all I’ve done since she left me hours earlier. And, then she welcomes me into her new world, telling me all about her friends and her teacher with a sense of pride over her new independence, an independence she wants me to share. I make listening noises and ask follow-up questions, explaining how I wish I could have seen that video or that new book and how I can’t wait to meet that new friend maybe one day. I take the open door and enter in.

When she’s all done (at least for now), she takes a deep breath as if her next move will be loosening her neck tie after a long hard day of work. And then she comes back into our world, the world where she doesn’t need to know what sound W makes, where she can be dependent again, where I’m her mommy and she’s my baby, where she can drink out of a bottle without any judgment and act the age she feels instead of the age she is. We worked hard to give her that world and keep her close, knowing that it was the best way to love her for now and love her forward, the best way to prepare her for her forever. For now, we’ll just live right where we are, in two worlds where little girls can be babies and backpack-carrying school girls with mommies who wait at a bus stop all day long with tissues to dry tears…and Starbucks in hand.

bottle on the first day

We are together called

We crashed at midnight. Registration for Together Called opened at 9pm and the next hour or so looked pretty much like this.

TC registration

We’re such tools. Look at us looking so intense and Apple crazy. Looks like we got so serious we even threw our mouse out of the way as if it wasn’t fast enough for us.

I was still abuzz this morning as we readied the crew for school, going over the names of the couples who registered, thinking about all we need to do, calls that need to be made, people I need to follow up with.

Running off to the kindergarten bus stop this morning with all the ideas still circling, I saw a little girl I had not noticed before. She stood with a group of children who are in daycare before school who wait for the bus under the supervision of one of the daycare staff. And, she was crying. She wasn’t just crying; she was struggling to catch her breath, her cheeks streaked with tears with no one beside her as if no one even noticed…but I did.

Oh, baby, we have tears this morning!

to which the woman watching the children replied…

We have tears everyday. She just got here from Guatemala, and she cries all the time. If we try to do anything, she just cries more.

The bus pulled up as the lady was speaking, and this sweet little girl did what she was supposed to do without hesitation and climbed those big stairs and found the first open seat, sobbing all the while.

I may or may not have gone slightly overboard intentionally speaking my heart aloud as we watched the bus pull away.

Oh, poor baby. It must be so hard for her, leaving all she knows and not understanding the language. She must be so scared. No wonder she’s so sad. My heart just breaks for her.

I walked home with images of her round tear-filled eyes swirling in my head, joining the Together Called images that were there already.

As I walked through the park home, I passed a man sitting on a bench beside a cart filled with bags. His hair was long and unkept and he wore several layers of clothing despite the sunny morning. I said good morning with a smile to which he responded in kind. And, I kept walking, thinking about the little girl and Together Called and the quiet time I was about to have in Titus…about 30 more feet…and turned around to head back. Could I really be heading home to read my Bible and not turn around?

Would you like something to eat?

…yeah…I would.

scrambled or fried?

scrambled.

you got it. I’ll be back in a few.

As I scrambled up those eggs and packed him a lunch for later, God fed me.

With spatula in hand, truth penetrated my heart. This is why we are doing what we are doing. Together Called is not about homeless men or struggling immigrant children, true. But, It is about knowing, really knowing and feeling, that this world has a lot of broken in it and knowing that He’s not called us to simply notice it but to gaze upon it and then enter in. He’s called us to put our own stuff down and be willing to have messy hearts and messy hands as we serve those He’s put before us—because that’s what He is all about, that’s who He is. As we’re there and saying, “What in the world am I doing?” He hears us and answers: “you’re here because I’m here. You’re joining me.”

We’re calling Bear Creek this morning to ask if we can get a few more spots so that we don’t have to move to a waiting list just yet and we can squeeze a few more couples into Together Called. We don’t want to turn anyone away. There is a long list of logistical tasks before me as we run with all the preparations that go into this retreat and serving those 100+ couples who are servants themselves. But, all those programming ideas and thoughts that were swirling in my head earlier as I was all a-flutter still from registration last night, God just settled them all down and quieted me.

I delivered a paper plate with breakfast and a full paper bagged lunch for later. The man smiled and said to me,

Will you sit with me for a little while before you disappear?

I did. And, that’s what I’m doing with Him too. It’s not all about filling spots and securing incredible worship leaders and choosing the right meal options and getting sponsors. It’s about being mentored by the best retreat planner in the universe who counts every tear and provides every need and knows how to give rest. I’ll just sit with him for a little while because He’s got this.

park bench

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