May 1, 2009

Dear Valerie

Last night, I got an "out of the blue" email from a blog reader/friend named Valerie.  Her first paragraph was: 
I was going to send you something in the mail and was curious if you would like me to send it to the address listed on the website? It's some vinyl lettering for the walls of your home if you're interested ... I'm not sure how it will stick after going through the mail, but figured it was worth a shot. I have it rolled up and so it will just need to lie flat for a day or two. If you're not interested that's okay too.  
I have some samples here that are looking for a home and I keep thinking of you guys. In looking at what I had on hand I found "Families are Forever" and "Be Still and know that I am God."
So with that as a background, here's the reply I sent to her last night... I hope the "whole story" encourages you as much as it does me.

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Dear Valerie,

A couple of weeks ago, I had a snotty crying meltdown because Jacob bleached one of my "good" towels. This "good" towel is something I bought at Wal-Mart about 4 years ago. It really isn't good at all. But, I brought it over with me to China in January because I wanted to have some "nice towels" in my house. It was all a big misunderstanding, but Jacob's mistake left me blubbering like a baby in my bedroom -- angry that I was so upset over a towel yet unable to just get over it. As you can probably guess, it wasn't just about the towel. It didn't take me long to get to the place where I whispered to God, "I just don't want to give this up."

"This" is my idea of a home. A place that is mine; a place where I've nested. I want a home where all the little touches are ones that I've created and thought up. I don't want extravagance, but I want a home. Since Jacob and I started dating (nearly 10 years ago, even though we've been married only 4), we'd occasionally go to Home Depot and walk through the display kitchens, dreaming about what our home would look like someday. I'm still not sure if I'll eve pick out cabinets at Home Depot. I'd be OK with that, except for the fact that at the moment, I'm not in a place where I can even do many of the little touches that might make my home feel more like a home... MY home -- replacing the landlord's coffee table with one of my own style, getting new curtains, recovering stained chairs. I just don't want to give that up.

This evening Jacob and I had a bit of a tense conversation over our budget. We weren't in disagreement and we weren't fighting with each other; we were just both hit at the same time with the reality that while they do cover our everyday expenses, our current received donations fall significantly short of our budgeted needs, and the stress of it got the best of us. Jacob went to get his hair cut, and I listened to a sermon by my favorite teacher, Greg Boyd.

The next one on my podcast was Boyd preaching on the passage in Luke where Jesus tells the rich young ruler that for those who give up their houses, families, and fields (livelihoods) for Him, they'll receive it back 10-fold in this life and in eternity.  (The "fields" part appears in the parallel passage in one of the other gospels; not the Luke account.)  At the end of the message, Boyd talked about surrender. He encouraged everyone to imagine placing all of their possessions in their hands -- their houses, cars, savings accounts, jobs, etc. -- and handing them over to God. As I was walking through the exercise, the memory of me telling God that I just wasn't ready to give my desire for a home up to Him came rushing back to me. I wasn't exactly in a place of peace about it... I still didn't want to give it up. But it was like God whispered to me in that moment, "Do you not trust me to provide?"

"Do you not trust me to provide for your financial needs?"

"Do you not trust me to provide for your emotional needs?"

"Do you not trust me to provide for your deepest wishes and dreams?"

I wasn't ready to answer that question... so I came in to check my email. (A good diversion for me.) It was 9:05 pm. I saw a new email from you that arrived at 8:59 pm -- right when I was in the middle of avoiding the question of whether or not I trust Him. I opened it, and in it you offer something so simple... a decoration for my home. 

You couldn't have known that I was struggling at that very moment with trusting that God would meet my needs -- even needs as seemingly trivial as a desire for a pretty, warm, and comforting house. 

You couldn't have known that I have long looked at those vinyl decorative letters and thought, "Someday, I'd like something like that in my house." 

You couldn't have known that "Be still and know that I am God" has been one of the most important passages of scripture to me in the last year. 

You couldn't have known that I had been thinking all week about different ways I could put some scripture on the walls of our bedroom so that the first thing we'd see in the morning is a reminder of Who is in charge.

You couldn't have known any of that, but He did. 

I do not believe that it was just chance that caused you to send your email at the exact moment I was wrestling with God about trusting him with our futures, our home, our provision... I don't think you were supposed to ask me about this earlier this week so that it could be sent with Karen; I think you were supposed to ask me about this right now. 

I am so amazed by the ways that God uses each of us to encourage one another. Thank you for allowing Him to use you. You've blessed me more than I think I could fully explain, but I hope this paints a picture and encourages you to keep on following His leading, even if it is scary, seems insignificant, or doesn't make sense.

So, all that to say, I'd love to receive your gift. 

Love,
Carrie

10 comments:

Bryan said...

This is just beautiful. Carrie, every tear will be wiped away, and none of your tears are silly. I love you guys so much.

Bryan

chicknboy said...

wow. only God could have that kind of timing. :)

Tami said...

I've got goosebumps here....God is good....and 'woo hoo' to Valerie for listening to the prompting in her heart.

Mandi said...

What a God thing. I have chills right now after reading this. He definitely knows what we want/need and when to provide.

Hugs,
Mandi

AlyAbox said...

Carrie,

So blessed by your blog! How wonderful our Father is! He knows the secret desires of His children.
Know that we think of you often.
Be blessed!
Alycia

Sharie said...

God does know how to encourage us to keep trusting in him.

Lisa said...

I love it when God shows Himself to be HUGE, even in the small stuff!!!
Thanks for the reminder that he will provide!!!

TanyaLea said...

That was wonderful, Carrie! It's so neat how God blesses and comforts us through the little things, that HE knows are BIG THINGS to us! :) And proof of how we as Christians need to listen to the promptings in our hearts...because God may be using them in a much bigger way than we ourselves can understand. PTL...He is FAITHFUL!! <><

Blessings and Hugs,
Tanya

Holly said...

That's my God! :)
Thanks for sharing Carrie...you are gonna have one heck of a house in Heaven...I KNOW it!

T & T Livesay said...

Have we discussed our mutual love for Boyd? He is coming down in February and we get to host him for dinner ... how cool will that be??? (He is very close with our friends Marcia and Jen and is coming with them.)

I am adding you guys on our blog roll ... we need to meet someday -- I read your stuff and feel love too ... I guess we're very bonded in these heartbreaking and life changing and faith shaking experiences.

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