Monday, October 30, 2006

All I have to offer

All I have to offer

Today I was stopped by one of our tutoring parents whose daughter started attending a few weeks ago. She asked me if our church provided financial assistance because she and her two girls were about to be evicted. As we talked, I learned that the father of her kids is supposed to give $650 a month in child support, but he has gone into hiding. So she is making due by working 37 hours every two weeks at $6.25 an hour, or $462 a month before taxes . Simple math tells us that, with her rent being $600 per month, she is not making ends meet, and even with child support, her monthly income would be almost 1/3 of what I make.

I was grieved when I came home, knowing that in about 24 hours or so, my month’s salary would “magically” appear in my bank account via direct deposit, and all my bills would be paid for, and soon our “new” minivan would be paid off (yes, I have now entered the Minivan Stage of life). While I didn’t feel guilty for what Diane and I have, the stark contrast between my life, and the life of this family really hit me. Her daughter who attends our program is such a sweet kid, and to think of the transitions that she has endured even in recent months (living in a hotel for four months before moving to this house) makes me cry. How can a child go through that and not shut down their heart? How can a parent who is facing such obstacles greet me at the door with a smile on her face?

I had to tell her that our church can’t help them right now and pointed her to the Greensboro Housing Coalition, and then we prayed on her front porch. It was all I had to offer, and, correct theology aside, I felt that it wasn’t enough. And yet I am thankful to be here, because prayer is what she needs. More than a check. More than a new house. She needs to be reminded that there is a God who cares, who loves her dearly, and who will take care of her and her family. It truly was all I had to offer, and it was all that she needed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


So to continue with my numerical posts (See "80" and "40"), I am continuing to see God's hand at work teaching me through the tutoring ministry. A few weeks ago we only had 40 total tutors (about 20 each day), and I was leaving our time each week exhausted, drained, and unhappy. I thought that the answer was to get more tutors, but God had different plans. My unhappiness led me to talk with a pastor at my church who helped me realize that God has not gifted me in management and administration, but rather I am a visionary and a shepherd. Operating outside of my gift mix was sucking the life out of me, and he said something that gave me pause. "You've taken this ministry as far as you can take it." My first reaction was to think, "What? I can do bettter; who else could do this. If I stepped into a different role, what would I do?" But as we continued to talk, I began to realize that having someone come in to administrate would free me up to love the kids and love the tutors who are helping, and it could allow us to get to a point where more children and volunteers could get involved. I made plans to meet with a woman in our church who is an excellent administrator and business leader, and she is going to help restructure our program.
Within a week of this conversation, our tutor numbers began to go up, and we now have ove 50 (close to 60) tutors helping. Things have settled and I no longer feel overwhelmed. And I praise God that He did not give us 80 tutors right off the bat, because if He had, I most likely would not have gotten overwhelmed to the point of asking for help and seeing my limitations. He needed to show me where this program needed to grow and the ways that I couldn't get it there, and once that was accomplished, He has provided relief.
All this to say, I thought I knew what was best for the ministry and what I needed, but God has a bigger vision and a bigger plan than just survival in the right now. He is a God who builds and looks beyond what we see, and sometimes has to bring us to our knees for us to see that as well.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


From a baby-sitter:
Scott called to tell he didnt need a ride and before I hung up i said "i love you".
Eliza: was that your sweetheart?
Me: yes
Eliza: does he belong to you at your house?
Me: no, he has his own house
Eliza: well is he your husband?
Me: no just a good friend
Eliza: well i never heard of that. now is he a boy or a girl?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Relearning the secret

The past week or so has been a struggle for me. I think that the word that best describes the time would be "discontent." I was discontented with my friendships, longing for more than I was experiencing here in Greensboro. I was discontented with my house - if we could just re-do the bathroom and do some painting here and there and magically create a playroom for the girls, then I would be happy. I was discontented with our family car and the options for what we would buy next based on the money we have saved. I was discontented with my job, not enjoying tutoring or the leadership meetings I attended last week. I was discontented with my fantasy football team (having Daunte Culpepper as your QB in BOTH leagues that you're in will do that). I was discontented with my disc golf scores (despite getting to play on absolutely GORGEOUS days). You name it, I was discontented with it.

This is no surprise given the fact that I had spent very little time with the Lord in that stretch, and had begun to depend on myself and my abilities to make life work (which is no surprise, since if I am not dependent on the Lord, where else can I turn but to myself). I was churning inside, overwhelmed and tired from trying to keep everything together. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit broke through, reminded me of what I needed, and led me to set the alarm to get up early yesterday morning to spend time with my Father. As I poured out my discontent into my journal and read Ephesians 5, the contrast between the truth of God and the lies I was believing became more and more stark. For example, when I believe that it is up to us to save a certain amount of money and scheme to buy the most amazing $6000 car ever, I am not living in the Truth that God, my Father, is my provider. I don't have to provide for myself, nor can I. I am God's son, a child of light, no longer darkness, no longer and orphan or His enemy. I am a dearly loved child of God. Will my God not provide for me in love?

Phillipians 4:13 is a widely-quoted, much loved verse which says, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." But it was only a few years ago that I realized that this verse came in the context of Pauls saying, "11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

The secret is Jesus Christ. Through Him. In Him. When my eyes are on Jesus, contentment is mine because I remember that in Him I have all I need for life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3). It seems so simple, even as I write it out, but I have recently seen again that it is so true. The secret of being content in all things is Christ.