Wednesday, November 25, 2009

thankfulness and generosity

If you want to skip my long blog post and hear the amazing message that inspired me, click here. It is well worth your time.

My heart has been undergoing a lot of change in the past 3 years. Blake and I have been exploring what it really means to follow Jesus and serve Him while on earth. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He replied:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 22:37-39

So simple, yet so profound. We are to love God and we are to love others. The Bible is relentless with verses telling us to take care of others. So in that vein, we have made taking care of others a priority in our family and that has turned into a beautiful changing of our hearts. Now, taking care of others is becoming more and more of who we are. This has led us to Mexico, Guatemala, and Watts.

Our eyes have been opened to so much more than I can fit into a blog post. We have seen extreme poverty. We have seen people with nothing in terms of materialistic possessions. We have been in homes that are one room with a dirt floor, no running water, no kitchen, no furniture, nothing.

{a home in Guatemala}

Seeing extreme poverty messes with you. You have to look at how you're living. You have to reconcile all that you have with the reality that others don't even have clean water or a roof over their head or a safe place to be. This has led Blake and me to two conclusions.

One, we are thankful. If I ever complain about being "poor" or not having enough money for something, I catch myself and remind myself what "poor" really is. Do you know that if you make over $50,000 per year than you are richer than 99% of the world (and if you make over $25,000 you are richer than 90% of the world)? This past year has been very tough on our family financially. I won't get into the details, but the overall picture is that Blake has not had full-time employment for 6 months. Yet we still have a house payment, health insurance to pay out-of-pocket, and food to put on the table for 4 kids. It's been gnarly. But, and this is huge, Blake and I are thankful. Actually, not only are we thankful, but we're peaceful about it.

Friends, I cannot even begin to tell you how sweet it is to know deep in my soul that it is well. Whatever happens, it is well. We are still blessed. We still have more than 99% of the world. I cannot complain and now that I have seen what most of the world has- I do not complain. Honestly, by American standards, we should not be at peace about our situation. We could lose our home, our health insurance, our car, but our peace is not man-made, nor based on circumstances. And frankly, I'll take peace in spite of bad circumstances over peace that we have created by making a ton of money and storing it up for ourselves.

The second thing that Blake and I have realized is that we need to be more generous. We have a responsibility as being in the top 1% of the most wealthy people in the world to take care of the other 99% of people suffering in poverty. We are no longer satisfied spending lots of money making sure that we are comfortable by American standards.
We know that we can no longer drink bottled water when every 15 seconds a child dies from a waterborne illness. We can no longer feast on meal after meal when 800 million people will not eat today. We can no longer be a part of spending $475 billion on Christmas when 1.2 billion people live on 23 cents a day.

The United States constitutes 6% of the world's population, but consumes 40-50% of the world's resources.

It would cost $28 billion for the world's poorest to have basic sanitation, education, water, health, and nutrition. That is the amount that we spend annually on cosmetics and ice cream.

So, are we blessed?


And the blessings that we have received weren't given to us to hoard. Out of God's abundant generosity to us, we should be abundant in our generosity. So, Blake and I have decided to live as simply as we can and give the rest of our money away. We don't have it all figured out yet- we're still wadding through this.

What we do know is that realizing our lives and our money is not ours has been so incredibly freeing. The greatest joy we have received on earth is when we pour our lives and money out for others.

We can't buy into the American Dream anymore. We can no longer hold onto our blessings and be choked. We choose to pass it along. Our eyes have been opened and there is no turning back. We hope that you will continue reading our blog and follow us on our journey. We will make mistakes, we will change things, we will challenge ourselves, and we will explore new ways to give ourselves away.

Our life will look different and we are hopeful that it will bring God glory.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Convicting. So totally convicting. Know that the changes you guys are making are also instigating great changes in those around you.