I wrote this post awhile back, but the sentiment still rings true.
Enjoy my thoughts from three years ago:
Two seemingly unrelated things happened this week:
Pre-school called to say that Ruby needed to be picked up and taken to the ER.
Also, I spent a LOT of money on six tickets for international flights.
Lemme' connect the dots for you.
I'm at the very tail end of a 6 year part-time teaching stint.
It has brought such balance to our lives to have me home in the afternoons.
I've really loved it, but I've committed to coming back on staff full time at the middle school next year, so I've been especially mindful of how precious these afternoons at home are as the school year comes to a close. I was cherishing one of these afternoons, reading stories to Simon and prepping food for supper, when pre-school called to say that Ruby had a block stuck on her finger. They'd tried everything they could think of and she was starting to lose circulation. They thought she needed to be seen at the ER.
I abruptly ended the Big Guy's nap, dropped him off with a friend (I don't need TWO screaming kids at the ER. One's enough, thanks.) and high-tailed it to school.
She was a champ until I got there. Fear gave way to relief upon seeing me and she lost all composure. I got her checked in and she made me promise dozens of times that I wouldn't let them cut her finger off. The doctor took a look and discovered that this thing was not budging. Our options were to use a surgical saw to cut the block, (which would have required sedating poor Ruby at this point) or KY Jelly.
You think I'm joking? I'm so serious.
We chose the latter and he gently, methodically, patiently, painstakingly massaged in front and behind the block until it moved the tiniest fraction of a centimeter to the left. Five minutes later, he had worked it just a smidge to the right. It went on like this for 30 minutes until he had it over her knuckle, the tip of her finger turning completely white. Five more minutes of maneuvering and he had it off.
We mentioned that it was pre.school graduation day and he discharged us quick as a wink so we could make it back for the celebration and return that rascal block to its bin in Ruby's classroom.
A few days later I found some flights to the Dominican. I bought six. We're headed back to our beloved orphanage in March. Both events had me thinking about back when we used to feel "stuck". We wanted to do big things with our family, but we didn't have the time, finances or energy. Or at least that's what we told ourselves. Then we started asking ourselves. Are we really STUCK? Or are we just choosing to settle for good things instead of the BEST things? Can we live without cable?
Will my heart keep beating if I don’t buy the trendy new purse that I really want?
Can we survive on a lower Data Plan for our phones? Can we call our bank and get a savings account set up? Can we put $100/paycheck into that savings account? Are we able to navigate the internet?
Will we wake up tomorrow morning if I say no to the stuffed animals with the big glittery eyes at the checkout in our local grocery store?
Will the world keep spinning on its axis if we put the $150 for dandelion removal into a savings account and opt out of a carpet-manicured lawn?
The answer to all these things was: Yes, yes we can and yes we will. We are resourced. We are intelligent. We are breathing.
We can do big things because they are just a bunch of small choices.
The only reason we weren’t doing big things is because it was more comfortable to do what we'd always done and then complain about not having enough time, money and energy to pursue the big stuff. That's silly. The TRUTH is: We do have enough. We always have.
We live in America and we have the internet.
Couple that with some self discipline and you’re 90% of the way there. We haven't always managed our abundance in a way that allows us to live up to our dreams. We've chosen dozens of smaller things, sacrificing the few big ones that really matter to us. However, our mindset has shifted over the past few years.
Here's the breakdown of our finances: mortgage (a lot) daycare (an equal LOT) groceries (don't get me started on the fact that these people insist on eating 3 times a day!) kid activities adult activities utilities gas phones You get the point. If we're not careful, we're gonna' come up short at the end of the month. BUT... We write our first check of the month to Church. The next $100 goes a non-profit horse therapy ranch we love.
We divide the rest up between a homeless shelter in Minneapolis, and an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. Then we pay the mortgage, utilities and daycare.
The rest of the month we FIGURE OUT with WHAT IS LEFT.
With this method, we've never, not ONE TIME, come up short.
This does not take a degree or special training or rare talent. It takes discipline. I'm gonna' tell you something straight up. It makes no sense that we've been able to support four kids and two adults on one and a half teacher salaries for the past six years. It is not fathomable that we have been able to put our kids in every activity they have asked to join. It makes less sense that we were able to buy a new, bigger home during that time. It is crazier, still, that we've been able to give a car to someone who needed it, take our kids on multiple trips and have left the country numerous times. It's the upside down way of the Kingdom of God. We give, and He gives back, a good measure, pressed down, overflowing into our laps. We are never as stuck as we like to dramatize. We just have to ask ourselves, what is more important, exposing our kids to the world or unlimited access to our favorite shows? Which do we want more, a golf membership or an opportunity to serve a bunch of awesome kids who live way out on the margin?
We figure out what we need and we give that exact resource away. When we need money, we donate. When we need time, we serve. When we need a friend, we look for opportunities to be one.
And the theory holds one hundred percent of the time:
You can’t out-give God. He already owns it all.
When we tell people that we're taking our kids to paint and sweat and serve an orphanage over next year's spring break, many will misunderstand it. We've been there before. For goodness sake, they flogged and crucified Jesus, so who are we to think that we will escape scrutiny? Hey, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to offer KY Jelly to a pre-schooler, either. But sometimes you gotta' just figure it out. Here's to creative solutions and to getting unstuck.