yesterday the first snow flurried through shards of sunlight and clusters of golden leaves.
i can’t believe it’s already that time of year: the front end of the 4-month midwest winter season. grey, cloudy, built of short days, and very cold. here we go. thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away, and then we all know how quickly thereafter christmas arrives. it seems to surprise me each year with its coming.
and hazel will be six months old at the start of December. six. months. old. !!. it’s been half a year of loving this little girl and of watching her unfold, and half a year of having my daily rhythms, my body, my heart, and my very identity shift shape.
change is the only constant, someone once said.
it’s not too soon to look ahead to january. in fact, we have already begun. we have begun to look ahead because january will bring with it a shift in tim’s work (and mine, too, to a lesser extent). beginning in january, tim will work twice as many hours in boiler room leadership* and half as many hours with his “normal” job at Hope Network. this won’t change much in terms of the total number of hours each week that he is working, but it shifts a greater percentage of our annual income into the land of faith. see, the truth is that the boiler room doesn’t have any money except for that which is provided from donors and grants and the hand of God. and if the boiler room ever doesn’t have enough money, we don’t get a paycheck (this has almost happened twice this year, but both times, at the eleventh hour, we all got paid after all!). with more of our total hours of work being with the boiler room next year, a higher percentage of our total annual income is not guaranteed.
(though whose is, anyway? in the economy we’re all living in, none of us are on very stable ground, even if we’d like to forget that fact.)
also, we need a new furnace. also, we need to GIVE AWAY MONEY AND RESOURCES because, to our embarrassment, we haven’t been letting these things flow from our hands in the way that someone who understands that nothing they have is their own ought to do. i feel downright congested for lack of giving. so, we’re gearing up to give a bit… give until it makes us a little uncomfortable. between the giving and the furnace and the “health insurance” we finally just signed up for, our cushion is rapidly shrinking. things don’t feel as comfy and secure.
nearly four years ago, when i first stepped out of the normal economy in which one gets a job and earns a paycheck from the business for which he/she works, i would get freaked out about a change like the one we’re about to make. i would get freaked out often, sick to my stomach with worry and dread that a bill would come up that i could not pay, that i was being irresponsible and a burden to others. i would sit over the numbers and crunch and re-crunch them and try to figure ways of scrounging and skimping to get by. that’s called a poverty mentality, folks.
you know what? i’m not freaking out this time. not deeply, and never for long. this time i have a million past experiences to remind me that He will never leave us high and dry, that He has always brought us the funds and resources we needed as we follow Him as best as we know how. always. i rest in that experiential knowing. so in some ways i’m writing this as a small testimony to celebrate how far we’ve come, Papa and i. that poverty mentality has been slowly starving to death in recent years.
actually, i’m a little excited about it, too. i’ve been reading a book (a book that i tried to avoid reading because i knew it would mess with me, and i wasn’t sure i wanted to be messed with) called Kisses From Katie, which is written by a 22 year-old girl who left her entire upper-middle class life to live like Jesus in a Uganda where, by His grace and provision, she has adopted 14 girls and begun a ministry that sends 400 children to school and feeds another 1500 or so. all within 4 years. and as i read her story — even the parts about taking near-dead babies to hospitals, carving jiggers out of the soles of children’s feet, and taking in widows dying of AIDS — i feel a little jealous! jealous because over and over again, on a near-daily basis, she is getting to KNOW the power and the compassion of Jesus! she is getting to experience that grace that is sufficient for her in the midst of her weakness, even and especially when she is in way over her head.
when was the last time i felt in over my head, to the point that i had to cling to Him, needed Him to show up or else the entire operation would absolutely become a disaster? it’s been a while. in fact, i think it was this season, when i first moved into the boiler room as an intern three and a half years ago and had 8-12 recovering addicts living in our houses. (i also felt that way for a couple of months after hazel was born)! but really, it’s been a while. could i live that way again, as a woman who is a wife and a mother?
i don’t think that just having more of our income come from a no-fundraising non-profit’s budget is going to accomplish that sort of radical dependence on and experience of the Living Christ. that is still a very small risk indeed, once you get used to it, and compared to other risks.
but what if i started to say YES, like Katie, to every person who comes my way each day. YES to helping them in whatever small way i can, just for that moment. YES to being present and listening. YES to sharing myself and the gospel. i wonder where that would lead?
what if we opened up our hearts and our home wider than feels logical or comfortable?
*i’ll write more at another time on the particulars and specifics of what tim’s new work with the boiler room will be.