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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Small Offering {1 of 40 Stories}

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By the time I was 12, I thought I knew exactly how my life would turn out. The highlights included:
  • A job as an artist or a writer with a creativity that quickly produced masterpieces with ease.
  • A husband who liked sports, dressed in suits, and walked in the door by 6:00 pm with a loosened tie and a briefcase. (A home cooked meal was waiting on the table.)
  • Two children, a little girl with my curls and a boy with his eyes.
  • An immaculate house.
It's a good thing 12 year old girls don't get to determine the way a life will go. I look at that list and cringe a little. It turns out that I don't like ironing, and I like cleaning even less. I would be miserable ironing suits and keeping an immaculate house!

Those two children turned out to be more than four and although the girls don't have my curls and the boys don't have his eyes, they have so much more.

And I've learned, over the years, that true masterpieces are never quickly produced. It is the time and effort and tears that make a masterpiece. Of all the items on the list, I think I am most grateful that the first one did not hold true.

If you would ask me today how life will turn out, I'd laugh...a laugh that would make you smile, a laugh that can only come from a woman who realizes she is not the one in control. It's taken a while for me to accept this in life. I am not in control.

Said another way: I am not responsible for making a perfect life.

I am, however, responsible for making much of life. Life isn't about what you get, but what you give. And so, it comes down to an offering. What do I have to give?

Story. It seems so meager. I look around the internet and see hundreds of comments, thousands of retweets, hundreds of thousands of friends, and I feel like my story is too small to have an impact. I offer 40 Stories and feel insignificant.

Yet, if I'm going to give everything, not just from my surplus, then this is the offering. Stories of family and faith. Stories of adoption and marriage. Stories of parenting and friendship. If I give everything, not just from my surplus, then this is the offering.

Stories real and raw.

I wonder if this is what it feels like to drop two small coins in an offering plate. Was the widow afraid? Did she wonder if her tiny contribution would not only fail to make a difference, but would also be the end of her? She had little and she gave it all.

My stories come from a small corner of the Midwest. My reality is better than the 12 year old's dream. My husband (an avid sports lover) picks up the kids from school and unties his work boots when he comes home. He starts dinner and homework. We cook together when I get home and he often puts dinner on the table so it's ready when I get back from a run. We have four children who live with us. We are an "American family" to Taija in Finland, Karianne from Norway (who each lived with us for a year as exchange students), and Jose, a Compassion child in Lima, Peru. There were two babies who were almost ours and then the adoptions fell through. I am a full time instructional coach for a school district, a speaker, and a writer. The house is 15 minutes from clean, and I wouldn't be embarrassed if you stopped by. I'd offer you a drink and a warm cookie, and we would spin stories.

These stories might make us laugh and cry and maybe even roll our eyes. But they wouldn't feel insignificant. Story connects us. Story makes much of life. I'm determined to also share the story that makes much of God. So I'm dropping in my offering and pretending you are eating a cookie while you read my 40 Stories.