Surrender…and Vaseline Jeans

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5

 

Hello, friends! I know, I know, it’s been forever since my last post here. So much has been happening in regards to this mission trip and I’m excited to share it with you.

But first, a story.

When I was seven years old, I was shamelessly obsessed with Leather Tuscadero…anyone remember her?….Anyone? Leather Tuscadero was a character on “Happy Days” in the late ’70’s. Cool, brave and tough, she had this awesome, hand-jivey, signature move that I found to be the best thing ever. She also wore leather pants. All the time. Every day. Winter or summer. Leather pants. And I wanted leather pants so badly I was sure I would die from the ache. Because, with leather pants, I would be all those things I thought I wasn’t…cool…brave…tough.

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Now, for reasons still unknown to me, my mother felt that investing in leather pants for a seven-year-old would be…ill-advised? Perhaps. A huge waste of money? Possibly. At any rate, despite my begging and pleading, my mother refused to purchase me the tough-girl pants of my dreams.

One day while we were visiting my grandmother, I was killing time in the bathroom. A favorite hobby of mine involved rummaging through the cabinets of others to see what treasures I could find. Yep, I was that kid. As I looked around, I came across a tub of Vasoline. I looked at the tub then down at the Jordache jeans I was wearing and thought, Huh. I carefully opened the lid, scooped out a small amount of goo and slowly smeared it over the knee of my jeans.

I wish I could tell you where the voice of reason was at this point…that inner Jiminy Cricket who should have piped up said, “Amy, this is a terrible idea.” I did not hear the voice of reason that day. Instead, I heard myself. You know, I thought as I evaluated my work in the bathroom mirror, if you squint your eyes, and turn off the lights, that almost looks like….leather! Ok, it didn’t look exactly like leather…but my jeans were definitely shinier..and leather was shiny. They were also super-slick…just as I imagined Leather Tuscadero’s pants were. And so, full of denial and a very misplaced confidence in my own ingenuity, I scooped out handful after handful of Vasoline and proceeded to coat my jeans from front to back and hips to ankles. And when I was finished, I set the empty jar on the counter, looked at my reflection in the mirror, performed the signature Leather Tuscadero hand-jive and thought, “Awww, yeah…this looks great!”

I wish I could say that seven-year-old me was prepared for the reactions of my mother and grandmother when I finally left the sanctuary of the bathroom. I was not. I was so focused on fixing my problem myself that I’d never even considered checking with my mom…or my grandmother…to see if this idea was as fantastic to others as it was to me.

I just wanted what I wanted.

On my time.

At my convenience.

I believe I might’ve squelched and slid a full foot out of the bathroom doorway before my mother squawked, “AMY KATHLEEN, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?”

To which I replied…

“nothin.”

“WHAT IN THE WORLD IS ALL OVER YOUR PANTS?!?”

“nothin.”

God bless mothers. God bless my mother in particular.

Now, let me jump back to the mission trip. Since coming to the conclusion that I was supposed to be a part of this mission trip, I have known that I would need to raise $5000 to cover its’ cost. Five. Thousand. Dollars. That number has loomed in mind since I agreed to go on this trip. How in the world was I going to raise that money?

Did you catch that? I. How was I going to do it.

And that, my friends, has been my problem. Regardless of how many times I tell myself I’m going to give this trip, its’ organization and its’ funding over to God, I find myself drowning in a sea of chaos…of my own making. Even though I am a small part of an AMAZING team of men and women, even though we planned a ton of fundraisers over the course of 3-4 months, even though I sent out donation letters asking others to consider helping with the funding of this trip, I refused to turn it over to the One who’s been in control all along.

I decided to hedge my bet by taking on every free-lance work assignment that came my way. Need four literary and informational passages in a week? Done! One hundred and fifty social studies items, you say? You’ve come to the right place! Nine sets of English/Language Arts items? Come now, let’s make it an even ten!

I took on so much extra work…for what? In case God was too busy to remember I needed Him? Just to cover the bases on the outside chance He had other, more important things going on? I’m ashamed to admit I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t even had time to mull over the reasoning behind my frantic grasping of any assignment pitched my way. But, as I look back I can see it’s the same issue seven-year-old Amy had that day in the bathroom.

I just wanted what I wanted.

On my time.

At my convenience.

Are you ready for the good news? The great news? The totally confusing but undeniably true news? The good news, my friends, is that God has been watching me these past few months. He’s been here each time I’ve turned to myself rather than to Him. Though I’ve acknowledged it too few times, he has been right here, likely shaking His head as he’s watched me fret…and rush… and worry.

At each fundraiser event we’ve hosted, our church family has shown up in droves…many of them doing so over…and over…and over again…a beautiful, physical representation of God’s love. Our church has given so generously to this mission trip. People have responded to donation letters with mind-boggling, overwhelming generosity. People who I didn’t send letters to have sent donations to me out of the blue and reduced me to a sniffling, humbled puddle of gratitude.

As of today, I have raised enough money to pay for the first installment of the trip, which is due in May.

As for all of the work I took on in order to cover my own expenses…wanna take a guess on how much of my own money I’ve had to use?

You guessed it…

nothin. Not one single dime.

I am so grateful. So grateful that when I am faithless, He is faithful.

That when I put myself on the hamster wheel and run myself ragged, He says, “I’ll wait until you’re too tired and remember to turn to Me.”

That when I work myself up and scatter myself in a hundred different directions, He picks each piece up, gently fashions them back together and says, “You’re tired. Let me carry you for a while.”

Sometimes you have to wear yourself out in order to remember how very nice it feels to be carried.

Be still…

 

 

 

 

 

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