Wednesday, January 25, 2012

He Would Say Goodbye

Beautiful rolling hills covered with vineyards framed like a picture by the windows in their living room.   Sitting next to Ryan, Barb looked at us both from across the coffee table and said, “We would rather be renting a small two bedroom house.”  “We want our lives back.”   
And that’s exactly what they did.
Ryan looked out his backyard window one last time.  
It would be the last time he looked upon his house, his pool, his vineyard.  As he gazed out the window, he wasn’t just looking at vines covered in green leaves and plump grapes, he was looking out at his hard work, time, and sweat that he had dedicated to this land, and it looked amazing.  But instead of a tear in his eye, his face gave way to a grin, a grin that spread from ear to ear.  He was ready to say goodbye.  Like a man dropping a heavy weight off his back, Ryan reached out to hand a man something of great significance.  “Here are the keys,” he said as he smiled and dropped them into the hand of the new owner.  “Enjoy it.”  The closing of a chapter in his life.  On to  better things, he was happy to release something many people work their whole life to attain.
And as for better things, well, it was time.
Off to Africa...

to children in need, to dying villages, to wells that were to come.  His heart soared as he entered the airplane.  Another well down, another village with clean flowing water.  High hopes of many coming soon.  He had been released from many affairs that had bound his time and energy.  In letting go, he felt freedom.  He could focus now on what really made his heart beam with significance and purpose.       
Was our brief crossing of lives just a coincidence?  I cannot think so.  
When my grandmother passed away, I was blessed by her with an inheritance.  “I want to give part of it to something, Dan,” I said as I held the check in my hand.  “But to who, to what?”  It was deposited until I felt on my heart where God was leading me to give.  And here sat Ryan and Barb, two people who the world might call saints, but really just two people who listened to God’s calling on their hearts.  “This is it, Lord,” I prayed, “This is where you want me to give.”
“I know where the money should go,” I said to my husband.  And I needn’t say more, “I know, Janna,” he replied with a smile and a slight nod.  “I know.”   
Because of Ryan and Barb's faithfulness, we were able to participate in providing clean water to people in Africa who desperately need it.  

Dirty drinking water images of what the people 
had to drink before getting clean water wells

Smaller versions of these leeches get stuck in people's
 throats and then grow and cause a lot of problems. 

This is a little girl with clean water from one of the wells.

To donate or get involved please visit:

Monday, January 2, 2012

True Treasure

The American dream wasn’t about to slip through their fingers; Ryan and Barb were about to let it go.... 

On purpose.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”  Matthew 13:44 NIV

Ryan and Barb had founded a non-profit called Water Run and had been building water wells in Africa.  Out of everything they had accumulated and created this was one thing that did matter.  One thing they needed to hold on to.  They had found something that mattered more than treasures and success.  But something was wrong.

“We got so caught up in doing something great, something BIG for God, making more money so that we could give more.  What if it matters more that we are faithful with the little we are given?”  Ryan asked. 

What they found is that God doesn’t concern Himself with whether or not we do something absolutely AMAZING for Him.  It pleases Him more when we are faithful with whatever amount we have been given. 

They had found something of greater worth than all of their earthly treasures.

Was he crazy?  Some might think. 

Was this a midlife crisis?  Usually middle aged men who are midlife “crisising” are purchasing expensive convertibles and are leaving their wives for finer, younger, perkier merchandise.  But this guy wanted to get rid of everything so he could live a life of a higher quality with a higher calling.  What in the world?

“I learned that I am to be faithful in giving back to Him the first fruits of my labor,” Ryan shared.

“We would have been able to give more if we had just started there,” Barb added. 

Barb paused and turned her head to look out the window.  “What if we had less so we could give more?” she asked, but it wasn’t a question.  It was a statement, like she had dipped her hand into the fountain of knowledge and this secret had been revealed.  With great humility, she shared, 

“Life is about giving.”

not out of selfish desire,

not for fame,

not for recognition,

but from a heart pouring over with gratitude, for something bigger and better than one’s self.

It made me think of all the times I had started something for God, all the times I did it for Him, to find that in the end, somehow, my to-do list had obscured its purpose. 

I did it for Him; but really?

If He is the most important to me, why would I offer Him what is left over?  

To do with less, so that I could give more.
A lesson I might not have learned until much later in my life.