Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Drain it

"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give [to others and to charity]. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditures on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them."  C.S. Lewis

It's a recurring theme over the past few years and telling the specific stories never gets any easier, because no matter how many times I try I can't seem to write about them eloquently.   But I want to tell them again and again, because they all point to God and His faithfulness.  The acts of "charity" to our family have given us the very manna to stay alive and move forward each day.  There are no small acts of love.  Each one has been life altering.  I want to show my gratitude without using the same overused words.  I want to give God ALL the glory, and in my weakness I don't really know how to shine all this on Him.

If you just joined our journey please take some time to go back and read a few of these posts.  There are so many.  I remember the first gift like it was yesterday.  It was April 2010, and we were already drowning in medical bills from the six months of Danica's diagnoses period and her first brain surgery at UH.  We found out her Chiari was even worse, and we needed more opinions about how to move forward.  At the time we had two vehicles and our most dependable car had bad tires.  Dan's company had just cut bonuses.  My dad had been given money for a missions trip to China and the trip was cancelled.  He came over with an envelope and said the people who had given him the money for his trip asked that he pass it on to us.  It was just ENOUGH.  It didn't pay all the bills.  It didn't pay any of the bills.  The money combined with Dan's half bonus bought us tires so we could travel to find help for our girl.  We are still driving on those tires. 

This was before the "donate" button was prayerfully added to this blog or Cookies for a Cause or the Chick-fil-A fundraiser.  It was before the lemonade stand that ended up as an article in The Canton Repository and before the sweet girl from Australia found our blog and began loving us regularly.  The lemonade rippled into Comdoc, Sugardale Credit Union and The Foundation for Community Betterment doing a large work rallying an entire community of giving to help us survive.  There are so many more stories including the recent fundraiser by our faithful friend Christina Adam at Grace Designs Photography which also prompted her friend, Alivia, to do an online fundraiser for us.  There were Tastefully Simple, 31, Willow House and Premier parties whose directors and hostesses donated their profits to us.  We did not have the money for me to travel in October for my initial visit to Dr. Henderson, and these directly provided for the doctor's visits in Maryland, gas, hotels and the trip to Cincinnati for Danica's scan and my second opinion and additional scans.  Again, there was no money left.  It was just ENOUGH.

I often say our story is less about pain and suffering and losing everything we thought was important to us and more about God's faithfulness to care for us in ways we simply could not care for ourselves.  God has given us many more challenges including my bowel surgery early last year, Dan's recurrent kidney surgeries, and most recently my brain surgery and fusion.  There are always the Cincinnati visits and scans for Danica in the mix and travel and copays and prescriptions.  There is no real digging out of this mess in our minds.  I used to try to make a spreadsheet and assign dates or goals for contacting certain companies our medical debt has been "sold" to, but I quickly came to realize you can't promise people to pay what isn't there.  We keep the most important doctors paid so we can continue to be seen and let the rest slip to collections.  We keep hoping and praying I will be well enough to go to work again someday.  Then we will set up the plans to slowly pay them off.  One thing we are sure of.  God will always give us what we need today.  We will always have ENOUGH.

I apologize for the crazy long introduction to a new  story but stay with me.  The week before we headed to Maryland for surgery we had scraped together enough for a fifth of the down payment my surgeon was asking for through my parents and several other gifts.  We had several hundred dollars in our checking account for gas and food while we were gone.  I had this crazy peace God was going to come through for us.  The week wore on, and I began to pack my bags and get a little nervous.  I knew our support system was worn thin from the past couple of years and a woman who always had a headache and could barely walk but looked fine for all intents and purposes was not the most engaging fundraising idea especially compared to Danica's adorable face. 

I was laying in bed in my oh so dark bedroom curled up in a ball with the weight of the world crushing my brain, head and neck.  I wondered if I would even make it to my surgery date.  This sounds dramatic unless you really understand how dangerous my situation was.  My dad opened the door at the top of the stairs and threw down a letter.  It was from a girl who lives in Virginia who I used to work with.  I had only met her twice face to face because I telecommuted states away.  Over the past months she had begun to faithfully pray for me and encourage me through facebook and email.  I opened the card and a check folded in half fell out.  I read the note first.  I don't have it here to copy directly so I am going to paraphrase the best I can.  She said she couldn't sleep and was praying about how she could help us.  She said in the night she heard God tell her clearly to "DRAIN IT."  She obeyed.  I looked at the check.  It was a strange number.  I found out later it was every penny this family had in their checking account.  It was just shy of what we needed to pay the entire deposit.  I was shaking.  How in the world could someone give like this?  This family is not wealthy.  This friend works from home with two small children just to make ends meet.  I immediately knew God was completely behind this surgery.  He had funded it through the most unlikely of places.  Oh, I wish you could understand the way it feels to be given something like this.  It is so humbling, and so completely heart changing.  Once again I was back to the God of just ENOUGH. 

It took me awhile before I could finally find a few words to call this friend.  I was even more blessed by her backstory to the giving.  She shared of her own fear of not having enough and God's work in her life to put her treasure where she said her heart belongs.  She talked about how she had called her husband the morning after her prayer, and he too had to commit this huge gift to the Lord before the check she had already written could go in the mail.  (Ladies, can you imagine calling your husband and telling him God told you in the night to empty your checking account?)  She told me how over the last two quarters of 2011 they had paid all their credit card debt off by careful spending and holding back some tithe.  When the card balances were at zero they didn't up their tithe.  She later realized what they sent us was almost exactly the amount they had kept back.  God already had this provision planned long before either of us knew we would be part of it. 

Later that day I received an email of a paypal donation from my cousin who is a missionary in the jungles of Peru.  I couldn't stop crying.  She only has what God gives her in support.  She knows more than anyone how money is not really a currency in the Kingdom of God.  She too had been one of my most valiant encouragers through email and facebook.  She too gave way more than she should.  Here was the money for the plane ticket I didn't even know I was going to need to get home, the hundreds of dollars for the prescriptions Dan picked up when I went from the hospital to the hotel and the money for my dad and I's tickets back out to Maryland in a few weeks.  The next day I received a letter from the mother of a childhood friend.  It was a long, handwritten letter about faith whether healing comes or not.  She has lived this for the past twenty-four years.  She has been sick and searching for so long and yes, continually surrendering to our God who formed our bodies perfectly and writes our stories.  I put her letter in my purse.  I knew I would need it to read many times over.  Inside there was a check.  Money I still have for my trip in two weeks and our Cincinnati trip at the end of Febraury for Danica and I.  Our deductibles are at zero again.  It doesn't matter who we see now, in network and out of network, we owe it all.  In the hospital my dear Angie gave me an envelope with money passed on secretly from someone we do not know but who is praying.  A few more paypal donations from strangers.  More than ENOUGH.  Christmas was given to us through gifts from friends and family and the Jr. High group at church and a "loaves and fishes" plea from a family at Delaney's school.  We were able to regift money to a family we know who is in great need because of these gifts to us.  (A family I hope you will pray for especially in the coming weeks as God is asking them to do more hards things too.  You can read Melinda's blog here.) 

I didn't want this post to be a litany of givers.  He gives ENOUGH.  More than ENOUGH.  Isn't it amazing?  It doesn't matter how many times I tell these stories I still cry.  I can't begin to give enough glory to God.  He says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 

One of Dan and I's increased prayers is there will come a time when restoration will come to us financially, and we will be able to live out loud all this amazing love to others who are in need.  If this never happens in this life it is okay.  We have learned you can lose it all and still own the only thing that really matters in the end.  Christ has gone to prepare a home for us in Heaven even if we never own one here.  He has paid all our debts to the Great creditor.  He has made a way to sure healing with new bodies and no more pain.  We have a spiritual retirement account that will never go bankrupt.  This is the future and the plan He has for us.  Until the Promised Land we will continue to go out each morning and know the manna will be there. 

Soli Deo gloria. 

1 comment:

  1. Tears of Joy and understanding!!!! God is faithful and I am simply amazed by this each day!!! So thankful how he provides!!! So much love dear friend!!!