What we have written here is part of our stories, to welcome you to know where we are at in our lives right now...and where we are going. Our hope is that something in what we share will be something that you can connect with as well. And if you do, we would love to hear from you, and hear your experiences...your wisdom...your "whatever you want to share". Because our lives are books, being written daily -- a collection of stories.
Recently I (Jeff) attended a seminar called “Dream Big Workshop”, hosted by Bob Goff in San Diego, California. At the workshop, I was encouraged to begin the process of using what I have learned - through my studies, work experience, relationships with others and my personal journey of faith - in a new way in my life. Carol (hi, everyone!) is also at a point of seeking to share, through the life experiences she has had. To follow this path in faith and see where it leads.
Our hope is that from our efforts:
...people may heal wounds that have existed between themselves and others.
...people would learn how to live at peace with one another...even if their beliefs are different.
...we who know our strengths, use those strengths to help those who are weaker...and learn from them along the way.
...people would not turn from their hurting neighbor because of fear or helplessness, but might instead turn towards them and be present with them in their pain.
...parents would learn how to love their children the way they need to be loved.
...husbands would learn to love their wives better in action and words, and the same of wives for their husbands.
...partners in life would grow closer and understand one another better.
...teachers would be able to affect change in the lives of all children, regardless of barriers.
...the compassion people feel towards the marginalized in our world would be changed to action for those same people with confidence, love and purpose.
...we might choose to give of ourselves, rather than expect the world and others change to make us comfortable.
...we might see that to truly achieve peace, love and reconciliation with one another, we must live lives where we may need to do exactly the opposite of what the world expects.
As we stated above, it was a “Dream Big” workshop. Sounds like an absurdly big dream, doesn’t it? We know it is too big for us alone, so here is where you come in. If we still have your attention, read on…
A little of Jeff’s story:
At the end of this past year, I (Jeff), felt compelled to donate a kidney after reading a prayer request from an acquaintance at church. God gave me peace that He wanted me to do this for that person.
The further I got into the process, the more I learned. Do you know that after you give a kidney, the remaining kidney will grow by 50% to account for the loss of the other? I remember thinking to myself, “It is like we are designed to give.” That phrase has come back to me time and time again. I have begun to see that we are designed to give in many, if not all, areas of our lives.
In giving, we grow.
My choice to give a kidney to someone else blessed me beyond measure. I am overjoyed by the knowledge that another benefited from my choice, but oh, the growth I have received in return. Now I can see what I was blind to before.
In giving, there is life, reconciliation, and healing.
It all seems so simple once you see the pattern. When we choose to give to those things that break our hearts, as we have been designed to do, we find peace, purpose and blessing.
When we choose to withhold, we are diminished.
We lose part of who we are and who we could become.
People of faith oftentimes talk about a “God-shaped hole”, a place in all of us that only God can fill, and yet many of us who profess to believe still feel that way at times.
Could it be that we are not filled, because we stubbornly hang on to the gifts God has given us...
... as if they were for our own benefit rather than something God wants us to share? What happens to an unused spiritual gift?
A little of Carol's story:
So what have I been doing lately? Well, after spending 20-some years being an at-home mom (which I LOVED), I was feeling like it was time to look for a job, to "stretch out" a bit. Five years and two jobs later, I can say that it's been worth it. I have indeed "stretched" and learned a lot about myself and enjoyed the journey. But what I didn't know five years ago was that I was about to enter into a season of chronic health issues. Health issues that I am still dealing with and possibly always will. The positive side of it all is that I know God has allowed these things in my life so that I can better step into other peoples' pain with them. Not to "know" what they are feeling but to be there. Just be there.
Because we really need to learn to do that better.
So here is where you come in.
If you have read this far, you most likely understand that we are believers in Jesus. But all of us have gifts, no matter what we may believe.
If you have read this far, you are part of this story. This huge, human story that is being written every moment.
If you have read this far, something in our letter has probably resonated with you.
We want to ask you for a story.
This enormous, absurd dream we have needs to be shown through the stories of real-life choices that people make, every day.
If you click on the “Stories” tab at the top of this home page, you will be taken to that page. On it, you'll find a list of words, along with some instructions.
Pick a word from the list and tell us a story:
...of a time you chose to act, to give of yourself, or to give up yourself for someone else. Tell us about the struggle within, the resistance you faced, what led you to act and the outcome of your choice, both on those you gave to and on yourself.
...of a time that you made the wrong choice. You know that now.
...or, pick a word from the list that speaks to you, and write...what you feel led to write.
We want to include your voice in this story.
A story that will help equip people to live a life where they take an active role in changing the world around them for the better.
A story that may be written from big events, but also small, everyday events...because actually, nothing is a small story.
A story that will encourage people to act when it’s easier to not act.
We are designed to give, but we must choose to give.
Please choose to add your story.
Be well, be blessed and share your blessings.
Jeff and Carol