Thursday, September 18, 2008

“Thank You” feels like a cliché

I don’t deserve the generosity I’ve received. There have been so many amazing people in my life… so many events that I can recall feeling unworthy of. These things I’m talking about outweigh any amount of thanks or appreciation I can dish, and that makes me concerned that I’ll never be able to totally repay the people who have blessed me. Michelle and I would spend the rest of our lives writing thank you notes, giving hugs, inviting people to dinner, and still wouldn’t come close to expressing our gratitude.

I won’t bore you with some lengthy acceptance speech, but I do need to tell you about a few moments in the last month or so that have taken my breath away.

I won’t use any names… but you know who you are… and you’ve made a difference. Thank you.

First off… we’re moving… everything we have… across the country… somewhere we’ve never been… and it’s going to cost money to do it. I have a job lined up when I get there, but Michelle doesn’t quite yet. Right when concerns for our finances start to arise, we receive a couple of cards from some friends of ours with checks totaling over $1000! We didn’t ask for it… we never would have… but it’s an answered prayer before we got around to praying about it.

Next… Michelle has a great idea and thinks that we can raise a little money and shed a few moving pounds by having a “Kenosha or Bust” moving sale. I'm thankful for the friends that helped us put it all together. It also was great to see so many familiar faces. I’m thinking the max we should see out of this is $500. Michelle says that if we could hit the $1000 mark, it would truly be God behind it, and I agreed. Well, through the generosity of some of our close friends (having donated 95% of the items we sold that day) we ended up counting $2300 at the end of the sale! Let me explain a little further… we sold stuff that DID NOT BELONG TO US! Not only so, but there was a couple we had met just once who heard our story and delivered incredible furniture and items to support our efforts. Generosity… undeserved.

This next one is pretty close to my heart.

Since I started playing guitar, I have always dreamed of the day I would own a Larrivee acoustic guitar. I would watch ebay and wait to see if one would reach a price that I might be able to afford, but that never happened. Once, I took my entire tax refund and found a Larrivee that I could afford, so I drove out to the sellers house to play it. He was reluctant to part with it, so I told him I’d give him some time to think about it. My car broke down right after that and I couldn’t afford it anymore. I hope you’re getting that this is my DREAM guitar… something that is almost unreal to me. So, just this past Sunday, we had a little get together with some friends from church. A friend of mine who I’ve known for less than a year walks in and walks straight up to me. He says “Hey man, you forgot your guitar at church” and puts his Larrivee in my hands. That is… by far… the most amazing gift I have ever received. I’m not saying that simply cuz it was an expensive guitar, it’s so much more than that. What’s more, Great Lakes Church doesn’t own an acoustic guitar and I would need to go find an affordable solution… but now I can start this band off with the right tools. There are over a dozen more ways why this instrument is perfect for my needs right now… so if you wanna geek out with me, ask me the next time you see me. Or, if you’re curious to get inside my head, you can spend 10 minutes to download THIS video from their site, and about 20 minutes watching it. I am still amazed by this gift. Great Lakes is gonna ROCK!

Along with an iPod fully loaded (which we’ll need for Great Lakes services), an inflatable bed (which we were already going to buy for our week on the road), money, prayers, opportunities to work and earn more, stories, time, discounted rent, help, and words of encouragement, I think I finally understand what Michelle means when she says “I am definitely God’s favorite”. There is a point at which we just begin to feel spoiled. We know that God’s resources are unending, it is so humbling to be on the receiving end.

It has been our desire to practice generosity. We often “joke” with our friends when we go to dinner or coffee… “We’ll take care of it, we’re rich. Don’t worry about it!” We joke, but we also have believed it. Not that we earn more money, necessarily, than anyone else we know. But, we have recognized that God is our provider and as we share what we have and bless others, we’ll be fine. At this point, friends, neighbors, strangers… they’ve all out done us. They remind us that God’s people are generous, and more than that, He is generous.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

So, we thank God for you.


George said...

Awesome story! I'm so excited for you guys :) Looking forward to tracking your adventures through this blog.

Darin said...

Wow, simply amazing. God is so good, He always knows our needs even when WE don't know them. I'm so happy for you two - God knows you'll both use these resources for the best. Thanks for sharing, Tony.

Anonymous said...

And again, thank YOU, for writing this, Tony. It seriously brought tears of joy to my eyes & made me even MORE thankful for what God has done, is doing & will do.

i love you guys!!!

Colleen said...

Great post Tony. That bit about the guitar was some awesomesauce:)

Emily Garrison said...

I am going to miss you both more than words can say. (sounds like the beginning to a really cheesy song, but it's true). I am so proud of both of you, and Charles and I will be praying for you, and Great Lakes Church. We love you!!! P.S. Tony - I really liked the "I build Guitars" video.

Anonymous said...

Hello Michelle,
I just love the post your husband left.!!! I do agree, God is good! And you all deserve everything he has given to you. Please keep in touch and good luck with your ministry

Michelle said...

Thank you. (there's that cliche again) I do think my husband is pretty great. There isn't anyone better I could think of going on this adventure with :)

Karen said...

CRAZY cool! That is so incredible that i'm so excited for you!
Love you guys, Karen

Matt said...

Just awesome.

the Butlers said...

You just told all of this "live", but it's great to read again, and again. YOu two have done so much for us...God really used you in calling us out into a whole new ministry. YOu are both going to rock Kenosha's world!! we love you.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you two other than seeing you at church. We have never spoke However, I do feel as though I know you through reading your blogs and following the Kenosha story/adventure through church. You blog here brought me to tears! Thank you for sharing! I am so excited for you guys! Stefanie