Category Archives: Radical Experiment

Excess

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the distinct difference between how I live and how the other 99% of the world live. The sheer excess that is around me is suffocating. It sometimes feels like I can’t get rid of it fast enough. Here in the US, I can’t imagine ever really living in want. I have access to clean water, shelter, food. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the “first world problem” phenomenon going on right now. If you haven’t, here’s an example: Crap! The DVD player in our new van isn’t working!!! Each time I’ve been irritated at something throughout the day, I can immediately follow with “first world problem.”

I’ve kind of fizzled in my enthusiasm for our Radical Experiment. I’m needing some renewed motivation. We’re studying Amos in my Bible study right now. As is so frequently mentioned in Scripture, the rich are doing a terrible job of caring for the poor and needy. They’re living in excess. There are SO MANY references to our responsiblity to seek justice for the poor, orphans, widows. But, there are also so many references to the rich…and usually not positive. I’m just struggling with what that really looks like. I am living in excess. We all are. Even if I try to be intentional with my money…even if I am purposeful in giving to the poor…I still have a house full of stuff. It just doesn’t sit right with me. We did have a garage sale and cleared out some things. So what?!? I still have WAY more than a huge percentage of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’d love some feedback from you. How do you manage this in your own life?

Here are a couple of ways that I would like to “reignite” my desire to break away from materialism: I’m going to read two books in the next few weeks, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and Jen Hatmaker’s 7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. With my closet pared down, I’d like to only purchase clothing that require sweat shop/child labor free factories AND that fight against poverty or injustice…here’s a great one called Sevenly!

The Lord has reminded me over and over that He did not call me to a life of comfort.

p.s. We are still waiting on our first foster placement. I am shocked that we have not had a call, yet, but I know the Lord is purposeful, especially when it comes to the lives of the fatherless.

God didn’t save my baby

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When I was pregnant with my second baby, I knew from the beginning that something could be wrong. My doctor had doubts about the baby surviving, but the Lord kept reminding me that He was the ultimate physician…why would I fear? The only thing I knew to pray was, “Jesus, save my baby.” I prayed it over and over those few months. I prayed desperately before every ultrasound that the Lord might show growth or some tiny sign of hope. On the way to house church, I was reading the story of Lazarus, the portion we were reviewing that night. The Lord jarred my heart, and it almost knocked the air out of me. It seemed as if He were saying that I just needed to hold on a little bit longer…wait until the doctors said there was no chance of survival. Then, the Lord would swoop in and heal my baby, and everyone would know it was HIM who saved. In that story, the Lord waited three whole days, before going back to see about Lazarus. That way, the people would not be mistaken that it was certainly Him who was responsible for saving Lazarus. I knew what the next ultrasound would show. I was prepared for the miracle that was about to happen. But, guess what? The ultrasound showed exactly what it had shown the previous times. No growth. No hope. I was devastated and couldn’t understand why He had not come through for me. I realized (not then, but later!) that I thought I knew best how God could show His glory! Wouldn’t it be so much greater if the Lord would have come in at the last second and healed my baby? Wouldn’t more people have better understood who He is by that act? Apparently, the Lord didn’t think so.

I found myself thinking that way again over the past month. As I’ve mentioned previously, we are putting money into our “radical” fund that we will eventually give to an individual or organization, most likely to support orphan care or human trafficking. Now that we’re being licensed to foster/adopt, we’re able to put less money in that account. Buying diapers, new outfits for a boy and girl in sizes 0-4T, a crib, car seats, booster seat, etc. has really started to add up. Of course, I know this is what the Lord wants for us right now, but I was really hoping that He would show up and provide these things. That way, we could give a lot more to the “radical” fund. Isn’t the amount of money we give most important, anyway? (sarcasm) Again, I realized that I thought I knew best How God could work in my life.

Yesterday, we had our first-ever garage sale with these clothes. Long story short, I ended up selling ALL the clothes (2 6 ft tables of high stacks) to 3 people, who were from Mexico. They told me that they were taking those clothes back and passing them out at their church. I was able to speak Spanish and felt like the Lord had sent them. I had prayed that the Lord would be able to use this in some way, and I do think this was it. Now, my first thought was, and probably what you all are thinking, is that this is definitely a scam. These people are going to buy my clothes and then resell them. Well, I’m going to stick with the first thing and be thankful that I could take part in something like that.

So, in the past few days, we were able to sell a lot of excess that we had taking up space, buy a really nice van (thanks, Lord!!), and buy and set up a crib. We also had our 3rd homestudy visit, and it went really well. We expect to have our first placement next month!

My pride is the root of this notion that I know more than God, that I know better how He should display His glory. Thank God that His thoughts are not my thoughts. If it were left up to me, I’d be in BAD shape. I’m thankful for this truth.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Leaving on a jetplane

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The final challenge is to spend a portion of your time in another context, specifically 2% of the year. This equals out to about a week, and the focus should be outside of your normal realm of influence. We decided that we would like to serve outside of the U.S. Grant has never been on any type of service or mission trip. I’ve been on several and know what a dramatic impact they can have on your life. I’m SO excited to be able to share this type of experience with my husband!

We have a few ideas as to where we would go. We would love any suggestions, though, so feel free to comment! I’m always ready to return to Mexico, as that’s where my heart is. My good friend, Kate, her husband, and their 7 kids are in the Dominican Republic right now, so that’s another option. Check out their blog! http://blogs.mcc.us/grayfamily/

Going on a week long trip is going to be difficult, as we have to take vacation days from work, find childcare, etc. I hope to still be breastfeeding, so that’s another issue. Being away from the girls for that long will be tough.  Regardless of all the reasons I can come up with for not being able to go, I know the Lord can work it all out. We’re praying He presents us with an opportunity that coincides with where He wants us to give our money.

Why we’re selling our tv

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We have a beautiful tv. If you think that sounds completely superficial, then you obviously have not watched my Kentucky Wildcats dominate on this amazing screen. That is why it’s difficult to know that any second our tv could be gone. It’s posted on Craigslist right now. If you want to buy it, rest assured the money will go to a worthy cause!    http://dayton.craigslist.org/ele/2852013449.html

Grant and I read Radical independently then would discuss.  While the book did not tell us to sell our tv, we both knew it was necessary for our family. First, we can use 100% of the profit to fund something that matters. Second, we’ve instantly freed up our entire evening. We are purposeful about planning for our evenings now and no longer feel like we never get anything done.

Will we buy another tv in a year? Maybe. But, I’m sure I won’t regret not having been able to watch Modern Family or Parks & Rec. Not being able to see every Cats game? That’s going to hurt. I think this quote from the book sums it up perfectly:

When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream. We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of this world. Instead we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.

Show me the money!

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The fourth and most difficult challenge for us: Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.  Grant and I have been reading so many stats about American wealth compared to the rest of the world. (Do you make $34K or more? CNN says you’re in the world’s richest 1%) It’s disgusting. We look at the amount of STUFF we have in our house and the amount of money we spend on crap that doesn’t matter.

About a year and a half ago, we paid off our last debt (not including our house) and drove to Dave Ramsey’s office to scream, “WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!” The 17 months leading up to that were hard. We cut our budget until we were miserable, and Grant worked as a server in the evenings after teaching all day in the classroom. Fast-forward to now. We’re supposed to cut our budget again?!? That sounds awful! When we started to talk about WHY we had become debt free, though, it was clear. This was it! We could finally give, give, give. We had enjoyed having freed up money to give after we became debt free. But, it certainly wasn’t sacrificial giving. We still did all the things we wanted to do.

Radical does not tell you to sell all your possessions.  But, it does force you to carefully look at what you have, how you spend your money, what you depend on. What this challenge looks like for our family: We cut our budget until it hurt. We stood in each room of our house and thought of everything that we could sell that we don’t NEED (which is basically everything in our house, right?!?). We have a separate account, where we will stock up as much money as possible…any extra money above our  budget, anything that we sell, etc. We are praying that the Lord will present us with a family, organization, cause, etc. to whom we can give the money.

I fully anticipate something going wrong this year-a car breaks down and needs serious repairs, our furnace stops working, anything that would cost a fortunte. BUT, I’m praying that somehow the Lord will provide, and we will not have to touch that money in the account. Jehovah-jireh.

The Ragamuffin Keys

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I planned to explain in greater detail each “challenge” of the Radical Experiment and should have posted something about the 4th today. However, I instead want to share something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Also, it’s my blog, so I can write in any order I want.

 I recently became a twit tweeting on Twitter, as Dave Ramsey says. (Follow me!) I’m following several awesome people, whom the Lord has used in HUGE ways-John Piper, Louie Giglio, etc.  They always write such thought-provoking, spiritual statements that I wish I could come up with…so, I just retweet. I think about how cool it must be to be used in that way, reaching and impacting so many for the Kingdom. I believe the lie that God only uses certain kinds of people  for big things. He only sends certain kinds of Christians to live in huts in the jungle or build orphanages or  adopt a dozen kids or give thousands of dollars to the poor. When I think about what makes those people similar, though, it’s got to be obedience. Maybe some of them always knew they wanted to live radically and go all out for God. But, maybe some finally understood that they just needed to obey Him, no matter what that meant. Fully surrender everything…dreams, goals, career, money. Maybe there was a turning point for some of them. I think this year is our turning point.

We’re tired of saying, “someday.” Someday, we’ll adopt, after we’re done having our own. Someday, we’ll give lots of money. Someday, we’ll really get serious about being in the Word every day. Someday, we’ll be ready to do what God wants. What if all we had to do was to tell God that we’re ready NOW. Let’s do it. Let’s start living radically!

Today is the anniversary of Jim Elliot’s death (missionary to Ecuador). He said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 8 days in, this lifestyle change we’ve made isn’t too difficult. I’m sure it will get harder, but what a great refrain as we  battle through breaking our dependence on materialism and the American dream. I have no idea what the Lord has in store for us in 2012. We’re ready, though. Move to Nashville and work for Dave Ramsey?!? YES! 🙂  Go to Mexico and teach? Sure! Adopt, foster? Right on. Today, I will remind myself of the truth that the Keyses can do mighty things for the Lord. Certainly not because of how awesome we are. We’re a ragamuffin, sinful, not much to offer group. Good thing He is in control!