Freely give, freely receive

In June, we came home to a house full of furniture, food, prepared homeschool room, new towels, etc.  Family, friends, and people we don’t even know came together to welcome us back by giving, cleaning, preparing and making our empty house a home.  We were so thankful and honored to receive this blessings.

This summer was then a journey of asking for help, borrowing cars, qualifying for government health care and food assistance, and finding ourselves almost ashamed to have to ask for so much.  Submerged back into a culture of many expectations and responsibilities with dwindling income, no car, and no health care made us feel irresponsible, free-loading, folks who just got back from “vacation”.  Honestly, I don’t recall anyone actually calling us any of these things to our faces or even feeling these attitudes from individuals, but being in need in a place of plenty becomes draining which can allow the enemy to sneak in and speak lies.

Our pride continues to be peeled away as our “new” car (1987 Volkswagen Vanagon) bucks down the freeway causing our entire family to be heaved back and forth as we head to church.  The Wolf  (yes, that is what we call her) has left us stranded a few times already, leaving us to rely on neighbors and/or co-workers to give us rides or let us borrow their cars.  Andy and others have spent hours already working on the van, forced to become mechanics at the drop of a hat.  It has been a frustrating inconvenience but also gives us good belly laughs.  Imagining a family of six being jolted back and forth on the freeway only brings a smile to my face.

We are constantly reminded that this is our choice.  We chose  for Andy to work only half days as a teacher.  We chose to buy an older car in an attempt to stay within our small budget.  We choose to stay within our means rather than buying on credit and building up a debt that consumes us.  But as we choose to live this way, it forces the people around us to become involved in our lives.  It has been hard to ask others to become involved, and in our culture and society it is a peculiar way to live – relying on others for help.  We are the weirdos on the street who are building something in their garage, homeschooling, stocking up food, and always asking for help.  But we hope to be the weirdos that our neighborhood can rely on and feel welcomed and loved when they are around us.

As of now we are here.  God saved our house for us and continues to provide mortgage, food, a car, insurance, health care, cell phones, internet, etc.  He does not always provide in ways we would like Him to.  It would be lovely if He poured money into one of our drawers every morning.  It would be much easier if we didn’t have to ask for help, especially when it is not a regular practice among family, friends, and culture.  But God calls us to be a Light.  A light is exposed and vulnerable, willing to shine in any circumstances.   We choose to be Light which calls us to ask for help when we know we don’t have much to give back.  Often we have been tempted to hide this vulnerability under a bushel or let Satan blow it out and steal our joy.  Jesus was a person who shared everything that He had and received everything that was given.  Love will not continue if we are not willing to receive it as well.

We have had to let the Holy Spirit work on us, remind us, and show us how much we DO have.  He shows us downtown when we visit our friends who live under the bridges, or high school kids who have just lost their father.  He reminds us of the random people (now friends) who He sends from Michigan to help us with the food pantry.  He drops large pieces of wood in the street to help with shelving for the food pantry.  He shows us all of our friends and neighbors who are constantly stopping to sacrifice time, money, cars, childcare, to help our family.  He reminds us of the beautiful gifts given to Luci before she was born.  And through all of this it has created relationships that cannot be stolen.

We have learned many of these things through mistakes we have made.  Andy and I are still learning the importance of community and loving freely.  We are learning how to throw off the shame of owing people and replacing it with the joy of being available to help and give what we have.  The spirit of Joy frees people to ask without shame and give without expectations. Joy confuses the enemy and throws his plans back at him.  Satan wants us to have expectations and agendas in every relationship.

Love gives and receives joyfully.

God gives and receives joyfully.

If we believe this, then we must take courage and step out in faith.  We must risk vulnerability to allow the Kingdom that Jesus promised us to come.  We must experience some of the shame that Jesus took on for us so that we can then put it back on Him.  Little glimpses of darkness make Him real to me, especially when I know that He can take that darkness and turn it into Light.

I love the King of kings because He saved me from the darkness that I often try to take on myself.  I love Him because He gives me the gift of Life that I do not deserve.  I love Him because He joyfully and freely gives me this gift every day.  I love Him because He does not stop loving us if we don’t know what we have, nor does He frown upon us when we choose to hide it.  I love Him because He loves me.  And the only way I can truly love others is if I know of His true love for me.

As we celebrate His birthday this month and know His love personally, we have quite a gift.   This gift has been freely given to us, let us be those weirdos who freely give back.

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8 Responses

  1. LOVE this post. such a great reminder for me, and i love hearing how God is moving in your life. thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Amen sister. Love you.

  3. Well said Serenity, beautifully and from the heart and the spirit, well said.

    Lori

  4. I can across your posting and understand your experience with the Vanagon. I am a Salvation Army Officer (pastor) in Flint Michigan and our ministries seem to have some things in common. Anyway, I bought a 1984 VW Vanagon Camper in May 2009. I too an becoming a VW mechanic (both great stress relieve and stress inducer). I also had the bucking problem and after much internet researching I found the fix. If you are interested let me know. It cost under $10 and requires soldering a capacitor in the AFM. It’s easy to do and other than burning my hand on the soldiering iron, it has made an amazing difference. Let me know and may God richly bless you as you serve Him in the place of His calling.

  5. All I can say is amen. Chuck (the AFC van) has given us problems as well, through it all you have to laugh. Jesus had no place to rest His head, yet the Father gave Him all He needed. It is a hard lesson for me as well. As we learn, we find joy. remember what joy stands for

    J-esus
    O-thers
    Y-ou

    You guys are in our prayers!

  6. Sometimes Serenity I see so much of Jesus in what you write from your heart that I actually find myself forgetting that it is your words that I am reading and not literally His. Bless your heart, my friend, as you pour out the love of Jesus to others who witness His goodness in you. Thanking God for His touch through you this morning. Love you – Shelly

  7. Once again, my friend, you reach into your heart and pour out all you have to give so that we might walk one step closer to our Savior. How I love you for that!!

    That weirdo feeling can sure bring out alot in a person but I’m so glad you’re “weird” and that you choose to encourage the rest of us to continue to “up” our weirdness factor 🙂

    I love you so and wish you all of Christ’s peace this season…
    blessings, Laura

  8. I have tears in my eyes as I finish reading this post. Thank you so much, I needed to hear this tonight.

    If you are weirdos, then so are we. Thank God for that!

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