As I prepare for a a 3 week trip that will find me in 3 African countries in August, I have been more than a little stressed out. I have been working looong days attacking my to-do list and yet it feels like the things I said, “I have to get done,” remain undone as I drive home at 8pm. Being an achievement focused person, this drives me a little bonkers but I’m learning that I have a few options to respond to the ever present avalanche of to-do’s that is the Christian life:
- Work myself within an inch of my life-Checking things off a list is like crack to me. I love productivity. I am kind of giddy when left alone to just get stuff done. Unfortunately, the joy often gets depleted when I push myself too far, crash in exhaustion and realize that, once again, I have forgotten to live a life–not just a mission.
- Passionately procrastinate-This is when I have a deadline but instead decide I must clean my room. The stress of the to-do list remains, but I easily accomplish other “tasks” and get my momentary high. Obviously, this is just dumb.
- Humble myself, trust God and ask for help-As hard as this is to admit, I am not changing the lives of orphans in Africa. God is. And when I get nuts over my inability to create the world’s greatest video or report or Bible study on poverty, I am actually creeping into to the G.O.D. headquarters and trying my hat at a job that was never meant for me. It’s like a chipmunk running for the Presidency. Cute for a moment. Then a little sad. Potentially terrifying if ever elected.What I should be doing is admitting that I am a chipmunk and ask for help from God and those around me. Then I need to truly and honestly trust that God actually has things under control. And he doesn’t give two hoots about my list because he has this beautiful and perfect plan with lots of complicated color coding for all the wonderful ways that he weaves people and passion and parties into so many moments. All he asks is that I pause and notice what lovely things he has done this week and appreciate his on-going piece of art that is the real Christian life.
So, let me pause and just share a few moments–and photos–from my “unaccomplished” week.
- Show me your underwear – My parents kicked off our AOET underwear drive with 40 pairs of underpants and their cute grins. Then I got emails from all over that people have some underwear for us. Rob & Cherie Rainwater ended the week with 60 pairs! In our first week collecting, we have almost 300 pair of underwear. That’s almost half way to the goal for this trip and something that will truly delight the kids in Uganda & Kenya.
- Saying goodbye to 1999 – We also have collected 6 computers to use for technology for our staff in Africa. Some working, some not but all will some how find their way into supporting the lean infrastructure in Uganda. One couple even donated the funds to purchase a new system! Honestly, folks response to this has blown me away and I get tingles when I think about delivering these to our staff!
- You say it’s your birthday – We planned a birthday bash for AOET families months ago. Little did we know that food shortages would plague eastern Africa and what we had planned as a morale booster would actually be a vital need. We hope to raise $5000 for food and basic necessities but donations had seemingly plateaued at $2000. This stressed me out until God convicted me in my car ride to work that he had the resources to provide and my stress showed what little faith I had. So I asked God to forgive me and turned my prayers to trust and thanksgiving that he truly has victorious power and will meet the needs of all of the AOET families. And just to show off, God brought in $750 more dollars towards food on Friday alone. Wow.
As I think about it, literally hundreds of people have signed Birthday cards (including a whole VBS group at River West Church!) for kids in the program, I had lunch with a great friend, I cuddled with my cat and went to a great concert of cuban music with a dear friend and her two lovely daughters. And the sun is finally shining in Portland.
This pretty much been a rock star week–even though I never got that spreadsheet done. I guess I’ll just see how God plans to wow me with that one…