As I mentioned yesterday, Rebekah and I are going to Ethiopia in November. We're going with a group from Children's Hope Chest, an organization Jim and I hooked up with when we were in Ethiopia to bring Y and MJ home. We were compelled by the work they were doing to help not only orphans, but families. Families with children who might otherwise been placed in orphanages had they not received much needed help and support.
I'll be explaining more about Children's Hope Chest, and about our trip, over the next weeks, but meanwhile we were given a wonderful opportunity yesterday to share our passion and to raise money to help the children we'll be visiting in November. Our church family has been a tremendous blessing to us over the last year since we joined, and the women's ministry agreed to host a fundraising breakfast for us. Actually, to say that they agreed is an understatement. Months ago I e-mailed the two ladies who lead the women's ministry to ask if they might be willing to help, and they enthusiastically RAN with it. I was overwhelmed. We decided to have a One Purse breakfast, asking each lady who attended to bring a "gently used" purse. We would eat breakfast, R and I would share our presentation for Children's Hope Chest, and then everyone could "shop" for a new purse. The suggested donation to "purchase" a purse was $10. We expected between 30 and 40 women to attend, so I was hopeful that we might raise $300 or so. Oh ye of little faith (okay, oh ME of little faith). Through those ladies, God provided $903 for the children at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts, the Children's Hope Chest Carepoints we'll be visiting. I could hardly believe it. I had to count it three times.
Here's the kicker. I had been preparing for that presentation for weeks. Yet I felt completely unprepared. I like to talk. I talk too much. I'm a verbal processer, and I sometimes need to hear myself talk just to complete a thought (I'm not kidding...ask my husband). I can certainly be eloquent at times, but there are plenty of times when I cannot put two sensible words together. I'm much the same when I write. Sometimes my heart just flows out through my words, and I can feel it. But often when I try to write I just can't get it to flow, and I'm sure I couldn't write a convincing ad for a yard sale. The night before the breakfast, after weeks of preparing, I was trying to write a final outline for my talk. I couldn't get it out. I tried to share with Jim what I planned to share the next morning, and it was awful. A-W-F-U-L. I was a bit panicked. This was really important to me, and I had felt that God was leading me to do this, but I didn't know if I could.
I'm sure someone out there knows just where I'm going with this. I was right. I couldn't do it. I think that God was just clearing the path. I got up the next morning (well, I didn't actually sleep, but I'll explain that in a minute), drove to the church with R and NG, went in, and started setting up. I had no idea what was going to happen, or exactly how I could pull it off. But I do know that HE wanted me to know that nothing that happened that morning would be because of me. He wanted me to know that my words were not needed. That if there was anything that any of those ladies needed to hear about adoption, or orphans, or families in Ethiopia, or about Himself, it would come from Him, not me. And it did. I'm thankful, so thankful, that I didn't walk into that church confidant that I had it all together. Calmly assured that I had a great, convicting speech planned. I had nothing to offer, and I knew it. But the girls and I had prayed all the way there that if God had anything to say, He would say it. That any agenda set forth would be His, not mine. Truly, He chooses the weak to show Himself strong. He just wanted me to stand up and open my mouth. More of You, Lord, and less of me. I'm crying a bit now as I write this, because as dear as those children and families we'll be serving in Ethiopia are to me, they are infinitely more precious to Him. And He is teaching me more and more that I am precious to Him, too.
I have to add that the two weeks prior to the breakfast were horrible. Every day some new catastrophe seemed to happen. The dog had a tumor, which required surgery. MJ broke her collarbone. My back went out. A had a fever of almost 105 degrees for three days. The bathroom flooded, I ran a red light (at an intersection with a red-light camera) rushing home between a myriad of doctor's appointments, and we found out that R needs a root canal. There was more, but really...need I go on? Jim was convinced that we were under attack because I was preparing for this presentation at church, but I wasn't so convinced. I was thinking small. The night before the breakfast (remember, the night I was flustered because I couldn't even explain to Jim what I would say the next morning), I was up literally all night coughing. Perfectly healthy all day the day before, no cough at all. I swigged cough syrup through the night, got up and went to church with no sleep. (Okay, I admit it...I stopped at Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte in a moment of exhausted weakness). I never coughed once during my talk, or felt sick at all. By the time I got home, I had no voice, and was in bed and miserably sick for the rest of the day. Here's the thing...I do believe that God preserved my voice and health so that I could go to that breakfast. So that I could have the chance to see Him show up and show ME that He is all I need and more. He could've just kept me from getting sick at all. He could've kept me from coughing all night so I'd have been rested. He could have kept me from getting sick and losing my voice afterward. But I don't wish He would've done it that way. I would've missed the chance to see Him prove Himself to me (again). He doesn't have to...He does it because He knows I'm weak, that my faith is often so small. And He loves me anyway.
Anyway, if you prayed for the breakfast, thanks. And if you were there, well...thanks is a small word. I was blessed.
Tomorrow I'll try to post the video we made for the breakfast. :)