Jan 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Epidemic

This may have nothing to do with reading or reviewing books, but it explains a lot about my life, absence, and joys in the past month. It's taken from my writer's blog and I wanted to share it with you. 

In the past four weeks, I have been in 12 different states, I've taken four different plane flights, driven over 4,400 miles, I've gotten married, survived finals in graduate school, celebrated Christmas, turned 25, celebrated a new year, attended Passion Conference 2012, and moved into a new house. Yet, I am still breathing.

If I were to list all the lessons God has scribbled on my slushy brain in the past month, I'd have to write a novel--but wait! I'm already doing that! Instead of adding to my workload, I'll just touch on the more impacting lesson of generosity and giving.

I never realized how un-generous I was until I got married. When nuptial announcements and invitations invaded the mail mid-October, friends and family came out of the woodwork, exuding generosity and blessings like I've never witnessed (or given) before. Conversations between my husband and me were reduced to endless exchanges of, "We are so blessed." There's no way to comprehend the generosity of others that we've experienced since knowing each other. People willingly handed us their time, traveling 15+ hours to attend our wedding and talk with us for 13 minutes. They blessed us with monetary gifts of all forms and ranges. They scouted our registries like they were on a shopping spree. They gifted us with creativity to enjoy until we lose our eyesight--Julie creating a masterpiece woven with heritage and favorite colors, Kathryn designing and painting a "guest book" platter, Megan making a frame to remind us of God's definition of love, Colin building us a wooden chest, his lovely wife, Dori, making us the most beautiful wedding cake you've ever seen,   Melanie painting our "Just Married" sign for the sleigh...it never ends.

Created and designed by the beautiful Julie Kocher

Designed and painted by Kathryn Finn
Designed and painted by Megan David
Chest designed and made by Colin Hein. "Just Married" painted by Melanie Shea

Cake created by Dori Hein. Photo skillfully captured by Drew Woolery

A professor at Biola University once said to me, "Give until you feel it."
At the time, he was responding to a question regarding tithing. I mentally translated it as, "Give until it hurts." I've applied that statement to my life since then, but eventually encountered no painful limits--it didn't hurt anymore. Instead, it brought me joy
I thought, What now? I can't make it hurt.
After our wedding, the true words of what Dr. Thoennes said to me returned. Give until I feel, not until I hurt. Joy is a feeling. 

"Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:7)

The people in my inspiring family, the people of my valley, the people in Daylen's family, the friends of myself and Daylen, and our parents--from every stage in life--clearly have this verse etched into their hearts. Their joy in giving and celebrating with Daylen and I is still sending ripples a month later throughout this country. My understanding of "generosity" is shattered and re-constructed. To those who blessed and continue to bless Daylen and I with prayers, gifts, thoughts, joy, and smiles:

"You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God." (2 Cor. 9:11-12)

We are overflowing. We are so thankful. We will always cherish and strive to spread this epidemic of God's joy. Thank you for your examples.

Photo skillfully captured by Drew Woolery

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.

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