Say “Yes” Quickly!

Last spring, a pastor from our church called one day to ask if I would be willing to make a meal once a week for a lady in town who was dying of cancer.

The first thought that popped into my head was this:

“Feed the orphans and widows.”

The next thoughts went along these lines:

How could I get the girls and a hot meal loaded up in the car, get over to the lady’s house, while getting our own supper ready and on the table by the time Ben got home from work at six?

Would she be okay with eating a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet like the rest of us, or would I need to make two different meals on those days?

Had I already booked appointments for those days, and wouldn’t be around for bringing her a meal?

The list of details to figure out went on and on in my head, so finally, I told the lady on the phone that I would think about it, and call back once I figured out if this was something I could fit into our already busy schedule.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I called Ben to talk things out with him. I gave him all my reasons for why I didn’t think it was a great idea, but then I told him, “I still think I’m supposed to do it. God told me to feed the orphans and widows.”

And Ben, in all his wisdom, said to me, “You would have many reasons not to do it, but if God told you to, then you should. I don’t know how you’re going to make it work, but you should do it.”

I hung up the phone, and started praying. I really couldn’t see a way to make it fit into our schedule, but I prayed anyway.

And suddenly, the solution popped into my head. It would take a bit of planning, but it was completely possible. I knew it was what I was supposed to do.

I quickly called our pastor back to give her my answer, but she was out of the office, so I left a message.

The more I thought about the opportunity, the more excited I became. It was as though God was filling my heart with joy for this small way in which I could bless this woman during the short time she had left on earth.

When our pastor returned my call the next day, I was eager to tell her I was ready to commit to helping out, but she surprised me by saying, “Don’t worry about it! I found someone else to do it! I understand that you’re busy, so thanks for being willing to consider it!”

I hung up the phone, and I felt awful. There was a very keen awareness that I had missed out on an opportunity God had plunked down right in front of me.

The woman would still have food to eat.

I could continue on with my busy life.

But I would miss out on the chance to live in obedience to what God had asked me to do.

That made me sad. I missed the blessing.

The lady died two weeks later. It would only have taken two meals for me to care for her in this way.

lunch

I had thought I needed to know exactly how I was going to obey God before I said “yes”, but really, all I needed to know was that He was asking me to do it.

I decided that the next chance I got, I would say yes even before I knew how to make it all work.

Well, wouldn’t you know, I got my chance….

Ben is in charge of finding Sunday School teachers for the adult classes at our church, and one day a few weeks ago, I happened to notice an email he’d received about needing a leader for the prayer class our church is offering this year. As soon as I saw the email, something inside me said, “Lead it!”

And I thought, “No way!”

A few days later, I was sitting in the prophecy class I’m attending with a friend this fall, and suddenly the thought popped into my head: “Lead the prayer class at church!”

And I thought, “Oh boy, I guess this is my chance to obey.” But I conveniently forgot about it.

A few more days passed, and one evening Ben and I were at home. I was checking email, and there was another message about that prayer class. Before I had much of a chance to think about it, I quickly asked Ben, “What are the qualifications for leading that prayer class?”

He said, “Yes. You have them. Do it.”

So I am. And guess what? I’m scared, and I don’t have all the details figured out, and whenever I sit down to try to make a plan so that I’ll feel better, I feel as though the Holy Spirit is saying to me, “Trust me.”

I have no plan.

But I said yes. We start this coming Sunday. Oh, mercy.

The strange thing is that while I occasionally feel like vomiting out of sheer nervousness, I also feel very exhilarated at the same time. I have no idea what will happen. Scary! I have no idea what will happen. Awesome! There will be tons of room for the Holy Spirit to move in and teach me a thing or two.

Should be interesting.

I’ve learned one thing already, so I’m ahead – I said “yes” this time.

What do you need to say “yes” to, before you think yourself out of obeying God?!

35 Days of Favorites: Serving Together as a Family

During the years when Ben was a youth pastor, we often took our youth group to different service opportunities, like sorting potatoes at Winnipeg Harvest, or “Bible-stuffing”, which involved stuffing a pamphlet into Bibles to be given away.

Those kinds of opportunities often make me feel dread ahead of time – like I’m going to hate doing it, but they always turn out to be amazing. It’s as though Satan tries to keep us away from the very thing we should be doing, and tries to convince us that it will be awful, but if we overcome, and do it anyway, it turns out awesome.

It had been a long time since Ben and I had sorted potatoes or stuffed Bibles, so this last winter, when we had the opportunity to go to Winnipeg Harvest to help out as a family, we were excited about the idea of doing it together with our girls.

We really want to be that kind of family. But actually going out and volunteering, and truly being that kind of family is another thing.

The old feeling of dread and not really wanting to go came back nice and strong, even though there was a part of me that truly wanted to go and help out.

I wrestled through it, we went to Winnipeg Harvest, and it was awesome, in so many different ways. I loved doing that kind of thing with our girls. I loved seeing how much even Kaylia could help out. I loved the idea of our girls getting used to serving in different kinds of ways, at a young age.

Potatoes!

A few months later, we had the chance to go help out at a soup kitchen downtown. And guess what? Even though helping at Winnipeg Harvest had been amazing, I was still dreading the soup kitchen! The night before, I wanted to cancel in the worst way. I knew we couldn’t, but I really, really wanted to.

But we went, and….guess what?! It was amazing!

We all had a great time. Kaylia and I made spaghetti and meat sauce for 60 people. I didn’t know I could do that. There was someone there to tell me what to do when, just to get the timing right, and there was another family working with us, so everybody else was busy with making garlic bread, getting the food onto plates, serving coffee, and talking with people.

It was out of my comfort zone, but it was good. I want to do it again.

But I don’t.

But I do.

And we will. Because this conflict within me will only go away if we keep doing this kind of thing. And I’m curious – if we do it as a family often enough, will our girls grow up so used to it that they don’t feel this same dread inside of them when they’re older?

Right now, they’re excited, up for anything, and feed off of my emotions a lot. If I act excited, they get excited.

So the other day, I saw this picture on Facebook of an empty shelf at Winnipeg Harvest:

Winnipeg Harvest

I called Anika over to show it to her, and she was horrified. We followed the link to the list of suggested food items to donate, and she got out a piece of paper to copy it all down for the next time we went shopping.

I want her to care about that kind of thing. I want her to learn to act on it, because it’s so easy to think, “That’s a great idea! Let’s do something!” And then not do anything. I do that all the time.

So we are practicing doing something about it. We’re writing letters to our sponsor child, and we’re memorizing items on the food list so we know what to grab when we go to the store. We’ll go back to the soup kitchen in fall.

The selfish, lazy part of me doesn’t always want to make time for these things, but that part is getting quieter all the time.

Lots of people ask me where we find these opportunities. It’s easier for us, because we’re part of homeschool groups that organize these things for anyone who’s interested. Our schedule is really flexible, because we can go during the day, when other kids are in school, and that’s when a lot of the opportunities happen.

But if you want to help out with your family, make it happen! Find out what you can do. Anyone can get a sponsor child, or go to the store to buy some extra food. Pack up the baby clothes and equipment you’re storing up in your basement, and let me know if you’d like to donate everything to a new ministry I’m starting to get involved with called “Baby Blessings”.

There are so, so many ways to help. Sometimes it’s hard to choose. I used to sit around waiting for some kind of miraculous sign, some great passion for a specific opportunity.

But then my friend Sarah came to me and said, “Want to help with Baby Blessings?”

At first I said no, because I was too busy, and I just didn’t feel passionate about it. But finally, I agreed to help her out over this summer, and I went on my first delivery a few weeks ago. We drove around downtown, bringing bags of clothes, diapers, toys and a crib to three different women who were expecting or already had a new baby.

Same old dread, totally didn’t want to do it, but it was fantastic! And as we were driving around, the verse stuck in my head was from James – “Care for orphans and widows.”

Not because you have a specific passion for it. Not because you have certain gifts and abilities. Just because we’re all commanded to.

And if you find yourself not really wanting to, just do it anyway! And if you can do it together with your family, even better!

Any opportunities you’ve had to serve together with your family, or some other group of people? Do you find it difficult to know where to start? Anyone else dread it beforehand, and then have an amazing experience?