“Start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.” Julie Andrews will forever be Maria, in my mind. One of my dreams is to visit a monkastery (more widely known as a monastery) and sing Maria.
Monastery Dreams and Cozy Cottage Realities
There’s just something about a monkastery (no offense intended, it’s just that I get abbeys, convents and monasteries mixed up and this helps me keep them straight) that whispers my name.
I think it’s about the safety, the silence, the rocks (I love rocks!),
the bread, and yes, the ponderescent (that’s not a word??) brewing.
While I’m waiting for my monkastery dreams to come true, I’m thankful God hears our prayers and comforts our hearts right here at home in cozy cottages.
Anyway, I’m here to talk about beginnings, not monks. Although, before I leave today I may just have to post a video of Gregorian chanting. And yes, there’s a story behind that fascination, too. If you’re interested, I’ll tell. Just let me know.
Anyway, shoeboxes …
We started small. One box per child. That was a huge step of faith.
And we only have two children.
Not only did we pack two boxes via one trip to the Dollar Store, we needed to include the $7 shipping donation. Seven dollars times two boxes, that’s a whole $14. That’s a lot of bread.
We did it that first year, but it was a stretch. It wasn’t so much a financial stretch as an emotional one.
Burned Bread Leaves a Bitter Taste
See, we’d been burned by ministries/ministers in the past. Giving out of our need financed their … well never mind the details, you know what I mean.
That hurt. A lot.
But it wasn’t God’s fault.
But it is God’s problem to deal with – and He will.
So, when we had the opportunity to give to Operation Christmas Child, believe me, I did some checking into it.
I want to help real needs, with real people, in real places.
Tangible Love and a Working Definition of “Gift”
Because of our experiences with challenge, I know that a few simple gifts can make a difference. Put them in a shoebox for easy mass transport, and they can offer a tangible sense of God’s love as well as a working definition of the word, “gift” – this is yours, freely given, no strings attached, no payment due. A thank you is nice (so we can begin a relationship beyond the box), but not necessary.
Test of Willingness to Trust
Yepperoni, that first year was a test of willingness to trust. Did that mean I trusted the ones who betrayed me? No way.
It meant, I found a ministry I could trust until they give me a reason not to.
Speaking of trust, God has never given me a valid reason to not trust Him.
Circumstantially, sometimes it looked like He let me down. But it wasn’t Him doing the down-letting. Ever. Ever.
And if He did seem to let me down, maybe it was I who lifted Him to a place He never promised to be in the first place.
It’s Your Turn
All that to say, begin where you are.
Maybe that’s’ with one shoebox and one tiny bit of trust that seems like a rocky mountain to climb. Hook your belay loop – the strongest point on your harness – to El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One.
God is sufficient to meet our needs – both physical and fearsical.
(What? Fearsical is not a word either?? What is the English language coming to?)
Oh, and the Music I Mentioned
Now I’m torn: Do I share Gregorian chants or Amy Grant’s El Shaddai?
Let’s go with El Shaddai here in-house, with a link to Gregorian chanting for your listening – and resting – pleasure.
(Email subscribers, visit the site for the video.)