Prone to give: Rethinking generosity

As I mentioned in my last post, there are countless things I’ve learned and observed and thought about connected to this move to Denver. One that I keep reflecting on is kindness and generosity.

I don’t relish the position of being in need. My fiercely independent, self-reliant, obsessive achiever personality would much rather carry my own burdens with time and effort to spare and share with others. But my meager abilities were no match for the mental, physical, and emotional work of making this move happen.

Thankfully, I have family and friends who helped.

Admittedly, their expressions of generosity might seem trivial to some. But in this stressful season (which I SEVERELY underestimated), they are monumental acts that I am grateful for: a thoroughly thoughtful going away party; carving out time for more good-bye dinners than I can count; coming over to help pack my kitchen or load the trailer; pursuing time with me after literally stepping off of a plane; multiple trips by my parents to help; prayers and words of encouragement throughout the journey; letting me crash in the guest room; notes and cards and gifts and emails and many, many other measures large and small that floor me if I think on them too long.

I’m grateful for friends and family who put love into practice, even by sharing nothing but their time over a meal. For many of them, their kindness wasn’t convenient. We’re all busy people with a mile-long to-do list. Being the only non-family member loading up the trailer isn’t exactly what someone gets excited about doing on a Monday night, particularly when they aren’t all that jazzed about me leaving in the first place. (Thanks again, Jeff!)

All of this has me thinking about generosity and the ways in which I show it to others. I wonder whether I demonstrate acts of generosity that are most convenient for me–not necessarily most beneficial to the one in need. I think true generosity comes at a cost to the giver. It takes a toll. There’s a price to be paid even if it’s small. We pay the price because we want to and because we can and because it’s needed. And I want to be willing to pay that price, because I know what it’s like to be a beneficiary.

Perhaps it takes being in the humble position of needing grace to know what it means to share it.

Photo by Stewardship/CC BY

Prone to go: Welcome to colorful Colorado!

Winter Park, ColoradoToday marks one week that I’ve been in Colorado. It’s an admission that’s both surreal and oddly familiar. Someone asked recently whether it had “hit me” yet that I’m living in Colorado. Honestly, I’m not sure it has, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

There have been so many things that I wanted to write about and share since my last blog post “announcing” this move, but this protracted season of transition has left little time or mental margin to sit down and think some thoughts and write them out. Now that I finally feel like I’m coming up for air after packing, saying good-byes, moving, unpacking, and generally living life like an extrovert for more weeks than I can count, I’m starting to put coherent thoughts together once again. Yay!

As I’ve been unpacking here in Colorado, I’ve found a few thoughtful notes wishing me well (and wishing that I would return) tucked away in boxes from two friends who helped me pack up my kitchen. Jonathan and Lyndsey helped me pack up on one of my last nights at my house. And it’s a good thing, too, since I had severely underestimated the time required to pack my kitchen. I’d likely still be packing were it not for them.

Their notes got me thinking back several weeks to the time I was packing up the boxes that I’m now unloading 1800 miles from home.

It was a surreal experience to see the place I’ve lived for 5 years completely empty. It was the first home that I owned, and I’m incredibly grateful for and proud of that experience. The last day in town, the day before I closed on the sale, I was moving out a few final things and decided to take a little walk around the place.

I walked through the empty rooms, remembering things in each one: the meals shared around the kitchen table, the parties hosted in the living room, the video we filmed, the dogs that stayed there a few times, the roommates in the front bedroom, the friends who helped me paint the office, the ONE TIME I used the fire pit on the patio in the span of 5 years.

When I bought the townhouse, I prayed that if God was blessing me with a home, then it would be a blessing to other people. I hope that’s been true. But more than that, I know it’s been a place that has grown me and shaped me, not because of the structure or the walls or the doors, but because of the people there, the conversations shared, and the memories made over the years.

I wrote a note to the new owner, telling her how excited I was that she had purchased my home, and how much it had meant to me. I told her that it had been a space of laughter and fun, and I hoped the same would be true for her and her family.

Then I turned around, setting sail for new adventures, and left the place that will always and never be home.

Prone to move: “Go west, young man…”

Let’s get right down to business: I’m moving to Denver.
Lookout
Specifically, I’m moving to the northwest Denver suburb of Arvada to help with a church-plant project called Storyline Fellowship. Though this may seem like a sudden change, it’s been in the works for a while.

Sometime late last year, I heard about a new church planting project that my church in Orlando was preparing to sponsor. It sounded like a nice idea at the time, but I honestly didn’t give it a second though. That all changed when Ben and Lynley brought their family to Orlando early this year.

After a few weeks of having them around and hearing more about Storyline Fellowship and my church’s participation with it, a friend challenged me to give it some serious thought and prayer because she thought it could be a great opportunity, and she felt like God was bringing me to mind when she was praying about it.

What she didn’t know at the time was that I was in the early rounds of interviews for what would have likely been a Dream Job in Orlando. I told her that I would think about Denver once I knew what was happening with the Dream Job.

Nothing happened with the Dream Job, as it turns out, and true to my word, a long process of contemplation and prayer about a move to Denver commenced. Over the next several months, I connected with Ben and Lynley and their family and several other friends who were also in the process of figuring this out. I talked with my parents and with friends near and far, and began to think that this could actually be a reality. My emotions were going in two very different directions: growing excitement at the possibility, and growing hesitation about leaving the familiarity of family and friends and community. (Full disclosure: this is still the case.)

Before they left Orlando, Ben and Lynley and I picked out a weekend in June for a visit. Leading up to it, I tried not to put too much pressure on this one weekend as any sort of confirmation, but by Sunday night during the trip, sitting on the deck looking over the Denver skyline, I knew that a move to Arvada was my next step.

I listed my house for sale the day before I left for Colorado in late June. After 13 days on the market, I had an offer. It’s now under contract, and as of this writing, the plan is to move shortly after closing in mid-September.

There are still plenty of unknowns, namely where I’ll live and what I’ll do for a living. But God has been apparent and faithful in this so far, and I have no reason to think that will change.

I’m excited about the road ahead. I have no doubt there will be plenty of other blog posts leading up to and after the move. But for now, I’ve got a growing list of things to do for a cross-country move and a shrinking amount of time.

Let the adventure begin!

Prone to swerve: Avoiding the curves

My parents are a few weeks into a seven-week RV trip across the country. Talking with them before they left, it was clear that my dad was more excited about this excursion than my mom. Though there were several reasons for my moms reluctance, with varying levels of legitimacy, one concern she shared before departing was driving (or more accurately, being driven) through mountains in a 33′ recreational vehicle.

This was our brief text exchange after they made it over the continental divide on their way through Wyoming.

This got me thinking: on some level, aren’t we all a little nervous about the curves that life throws us? Sure, it’s much easier to stay on the known, familiar, straight routes that we’ve constructed. But how often does that result in any measurable growth? Adventure? Or even fulfillment? In the case of my parents, the straight, FLAT Florida roads of familiarity certainly don’t lead to beautiful vistas of mountains and lakes they’re getting to enjoy.

Admittedly, not all of life’s curves or changes to plans are enjoyable or sought out. I’m guessing that few people initially see a cancer diagnosis as their next great adventure. Rarely do we relish the curves and detours, and I’m certainly not implying that we should in those moments. But if we have the luxury of looking back, of seeing where the road has taken us, may we always be people who see and learn and grow from those experiences.

On a spiritual level, the curves are where our faith is tested and, hopefully, strengthened, though that process is rarely a bucket-o-fun while you’re navigating it. Jonah was swallowed by a whale when he wouldn’t first go where God told him. Zacchaeus had an unannounced dinner guest. And the disciples were happily enjoying their lives as fishermen before Christ met them. In each of these cases, I have to think that the outcome after the shift in plans was better than what it would have been otherwise. But that path wasn’t always easy.

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As I’m working through my own “curve in the road” ahead, I’m wondering what lies on the other side of it. What adventure awaits? What growth will come of this? I didn’t see this one coming a year ago, but now that I know it’s here, I’m bracing myself for the good–and the bad–that may await.

I may not be one to seek out curves in the course all the time, but I want to be a person willing to take them when they come. What about you? How do you handle them? Are you a thrill seeker willing to make your own curves and plow ahead? Or somewhere on the other extreme, avoiding the curves at all costs?

Stay safe, friends, but take the curves when you can.

Prone to share: Getting to know you

There’s so much I still have to learn about this blogging thing (like staying consistent with content delivery, for starters!). Until my friend, Karin, tagged me last week, I didn’t even know what a “blog hop” was. I’m sure it has some noble origins, but for me, it was a much-needed prompt to write. It’s a pretty simple concept: answer four questions about your self. So here we go…

  1. What am I writing or working on? Funny you should ask! I’m actually working on one of the biggest “projects” of my life, but I’m not quite ready to spill the beans here on the interwebs. When I am, you can bet I’ll be writing about it…
  2. How does my work differ from others in this genre? See, this question is proof that the person who started this little Blog Hop charade likely meant it for real bloggers, as opposed to random people with questionable grammar and no particular genre. Truth is, I don’t even know what my genre is (though I do know that my color season is “autumn”). I like to think that I provide commentary on life, which is why you should all be thankful that I rarely blog at airports. Those places are like the Super Bowl of people-watching.
  3. Why do I write what I do? Hmmm. Methinks an honest answer of this question would require that I actually write on some minimal frequency. I write about events around me that make me think. I write about conversations. I write about things that have impacted me because I sometimes have a hunch they might impact others, as well.
  4. How does my writing process work? In this particular case, I didn’t have a choice. Though I have schedules and outlines and plans a’plenty, those rarely materialize like I intend them to. Sometimes I mull over a blog post for a few days, maybe even bouncing the idea off someone. Other times, the shame of inactivity drives me to the keyboard and I plow through a string of somewhat coherent thoughts. Then there are the rare occasions that I go all Hemingway, down a fifth of Jack Daniels and let the chips fall where they may! (Totally joking on this last one, mostly.)
In case you haven’t met her, you should hop on over to Karin’s blog. I met her through a mutual friend at work (who has YET to finish her Blog Hop assignment), and our collective adventures have included a day trip up to St. Augustine and a hangry stroll around Disney’s Boardwalk.
And for the next Blog Hop victims, let me introduce you to
Tag, you’re it.