Thursday, October 22, 2015

start with generosity

This is one of those pieces of my life that I haven't quite known how to share on the internet. The two months Brian and I spent in Iraq in early 2009, they are some of the moments I treasure most in my life. What a privilege. What a crazy thing to do. I can't look at that photo, can't write these words without a giant lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, because the people and the memories are still so, so sacred to me.

I think that's why I've never written about in on my blog, never shared it on the world wide webs - it feels so sacred. And I feel so humbled. I recognize that this isn't the most typical story, that it's not what most would expect from this tiny American housewife who doesn't like to drive on the freeway. I SO want this story to be about Jesus, and not about something great I did once. And in light of the recent horror that's been happening in Iraq with ISIS, my words feel small. There's a bigger story going on than just what I learned from a 2-month visit. So all of those feelings - not wanting to exploit the incredible people of Iraq in order to gain accolades for myself, not wanting to tout something "brave" I did  - those things have led me to hold this story close.

Until a few months ago - when I got the opportunity to write a piece for a multi-author book on generosity. The book poses the question "What does it look like to live a life full of purpose? How do we live a meaningful life?" and answers with, "Generosity. Living a life where you're generous with your actions, your words, your tender compassion, your resources, your time." And so 27 other authors and I shared our take on this idea.

It was a lightning-bolt-to-the-chest kind of moment, when I heard the book's prompt; I just knew this was the time to share a bit of this story. I felt this was the right way to share what God showed me about fear, obedience, and following His passionate love - even when it requires us to do something really, really scary. I've never been an adventurous type of gal, and yet somehow I boarded a plane to Iraq, sat in the homes of the most amazing people, heard their stories, played soccer with their sons and daughters, and had my worldview shifted and changed FOREVER.

Through my time in Iraq, I began to learn the joy of being generous with my "yes." To say yes to Jesus, to obey Him, even when I'm incredibly scared at what that "yes" requires - all because His passionate love trumped my fear. Because I knew that the people, their stories, and sharing Jesus with them, was worth every possible unknown.

Today I'm still learning to follow God's love, instead of following my fear. Being generous with my "yes" isn't about going to a war-torn country; it's about letting God's love move your feet, instead of obeying your fear. So today, if you're a mom, or a student, or a neighbor - you can be generous with your yes. In your home, in your neighborhood.

Thanks for letting me share a bit of my story.

You can find the book and download it for free here: Start with Generosity.

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