The Art of Giving

Hat“Can I donate something to your auction?”

The message came from a stranger, a friend of a friend, who lives hours away from me.  I will likely never meet her nor have any significant interactions with her.  And yet she gives freely and joyfully to an online auction we are running.

This confounds me.

If you had told me a year ago that I would spend much of my free time fundraising, I would have told you that you were crazy.  I don’t ask people for money.  I have worked very hard to be self-sufficient and asking people for help seemed rather absurd.   Besides, no one would want to get on board with something like that anyway.

How wrong I was.

I have learned so much about the character of others through this process.  I never thought I would say this, but fundraising has been one of the most humbling and faith-building processes I have ever been through.

It’s not easy.  It’s not fun to die to yourself and say, “I would like some help to do this thing that is on my heart.”  We are taught as Americans to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, to be independent, to be the strong and silent type.  Couple this with years and years of Christian teaching about serving in secret and not letting your left hand know what the right is doing, and you have a recipe for a heart opposed to asking for help fundraising.

If I had stayed there, I would have missed out on so much.  Instead, I have seen a community of people grow up around me, around Stephanie and Bryan, around other friends who host.

A woman who gives when she does not know me.0217141349

A college student who fully funds a scholarship for Sunshine.

A friend who pulls together a fundraiser on her own because she wants to bless.

An acquaintance from my college days who contacts me with a desire to give financially.

What I would have lost if I had stayed silent.

I have watched as many have given, and something beautiful has happened.  It becomes less and less about me.  These people aren’t giving to ME because I ask them.  They give because they are invested.  They are buying in to this vision.  This is not charity.  It is love.  It is participation.

One of the most beautiful non-monetary expressions of this I have seen came from my online class.  When I decided to host Sunshine at Christmas, I debated about whether I should tell my classes what was going on.  Would they understand?  Would they perceive it as a shirking of my teaching duties?  Would they think I was bragging?  Would they see me as self-inflating?  It was difficult to write to them and tell them what was going to happen over Christmas.

But then something happened.  They engaged.  These students, many of them younger than Sunshine, they got it.  And they wanted to show her love.  They asked me “How?  Please…what can I do?  Tell me more!”  So I updated them with pictures and prayer requests.  I told them that she would have a birthday while she was here and I’m sure she would love a card.

Sunshine received at least 50 cards from complete strangers.  Trinkets they made, hand-drawn pictures, even a beautiful handcrafted card written in Russian.  Packages of all shapes and sizes arrived almost daily.  She didn’t understand.  I didn’t really either.

Why would these wonderful children, many of whom I have never met except through a computer, love her like that?  Why would they love me like that?  A whole class of students, invested.  It was overwhelming and completely unexpected.

And if I had stayed silent, we all would have missed it.  They would have never had this opportunity to bless, to share, to give.  And I wouldn’t have felt their care.

When I started this journey a year ago, I worried about people not understanding.  And certainly that has happened.  There are those who respond with anger or accuse me of seeing myself as great or assume that I am discontent with my “lot in life.”  I’ve also had people go the opposite direction and think that I am doing something that they couldn’t—that I am somehow able to do fantastic things all by myself.

Neither is true.  I often feel so unworthy of the kindnesses of so many people.  I feel like I am the one being blessed, being served.  And who am I?  No one, really.    I’m just some weird girl, a hexagonal peg, simply speaking, simply walking.  To have others join me, often carrying me…it is unimaginable.

Common3I have learned that this whole process of fundraising, it’s not about asking people for things, like cards or money or auction items.

It’s about asking people to join me in my life.  Ironically, the more I do this, the louder I speak, the less I feel like *I* am the focus.  Each little miracle lessens me in my own mind.  I know more and more that this isn’t about me.  It’s about many, many, many hands coming together to serve the One who loves the least of these.

It makes me long for heaven, when all these little secret things I have been collecting from so many of you are on full display for all to see.  When the beautiful tapestry is revealed and we all get to marvel at the way it has been woven together.

And it spurs me on for more.  More grace.  More love.  More patience.  More investment in the things that cannot be stolen or destroyed.  More from the One whose ability to give is limitless.

And so I will keep asking.

If you would like to invest in the next leg of this journey, I have some exciting news!  Just this week, we found out that Sunshine and Sprite are eligible for extended 0217141429hosting!  Instead of being here for five weeks this summer, they will be able to be home with us for eight full weeks!  (I can’t stop using exclamation marks!!!!  I’m fit to burst!!)  Two months with these children of our hearts is more than I could have hoped for.

We are under 100 days until the return!

P1040551But that also means we need to raise our funding much sooner than we were planning.  We need a total of $8000 (half for each family) by May.  We are currently running an auction on Facebook.  It ends MARCH 1ST at 11:59pm, EST.  All the items were donated, so if you do nothing else, go look at it and marvel at the way a community has come together to love us and love these children.  There are over 100 items (some featured here), and almost all of them can be shipped anywhere in the United States.  If you would like to bid, click “join” and comment with your bid.  All payments for winning bids will be collected through Paypal.

Click here to view our auction. 

ENDS MARCH 1ST!!

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