It'll take a backstory first. When we first decided to come to China, we sort of just up and came. Quit our jobs. Didn't really do the traditional things people do in "this line of work"... i.e. we didn't do a lot of church circuiting or support raising. Lest you think our motives were pure, it was mostly out of awkwardness, insecurity, and independence. We didn't really know what we would be doing here, so the last thing we wanted to do was try to get other people to do "it" with us. And after several post-college years of financial independence, going around and asking for money sounded like about as much fun as getting wisdom teeth out without a shot of novocain.
So with a few family and friends chipping in to help send us on our way, we used our personal savings to support ourselves for the first year or so we were here. Slowly more people began helping us more regularly, and we were so thankful for each additional supporter. But, it still wasn't enough... it was paying our monthly bills, but not really covering all the expenses of living here. And planners that we are, we were getting more and more nervous. Just thinking about it left us feeling crazy insecure. So after our first year here, we created a budget... what we thought we'd need to make this a long-term life choice. I guess it just sort of clarified things for us. And then we sat on it.
Seriously, we showed no one. We told no one. We just had this particular number floating around in our heads for several months. And lo and behold, when the end of 2009 came around and we did our final financial accounting, we found out that our little "private" budget had been fully met. Almost to the dollar.
Did I mention we had told no one how much we felt we needed? And we had asked no one for help. When people approached us, we'd tell them how they could be involved... but we were never very open or aggressive about it. (Heck, the most you've ever seen on this blog is a How to Help button.)
So when we found out that our every need was met, it blew us away. He really provided. I'm not sure why I'm telling you this story, other than that I've just been thinking about it for a while and feeling like I should tell you that He is always faithful. Maybe it will encourage you, as I know you each face your own private struggles - just like we did. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not all hunky dory about it. This life isn't without its sacrifices, and our "budgeted need" is a far cry from our life in America... and I still sometimes fret about the future and bemoan the "comfortable life" we left behind. But I'm learning to trust that He is always good to us. And whether our finances come from a paycheck we "earned" or the gifts of those around us, it's all from Him.
There's another equally important side to this story... I'll share it later. But one other thing I feel like saying... Lately I've been thinking about the fact that it seems like I used to be a bit more transparent on the blog. I think it was because I thought of it as my private journal for a while... or at least something that only my closest friends read. But now there are more people reading it, and I'll randomly stumble across corners of the web where my blog is mentioned. And it feels weird. A bit too much lime-lightish. So I've withdrawn a bit, in some ways. But then I don't feel as transparent and real, and I miss that. And I think its important, because I don't want to be on a pedestal. (I figure it's easier to get stuck up there when one's not transparent and real.) Anyway, this post is in that spirit... keepin' it real.