My 2019 Journey with Generosity

Brett + Shailey Vow Renewal

Photographer: Charis Sims

Each year, the Lord gives me a word to meditate on and learn about.  It always comes paired with a scripture to discover too.  In 2019, my word for the year was Generosity and the accompanying scripture was “Give away your life; you’ll find given back, but not merely given back- given back with bonus and blessing.  Giving, not getting, is the way.  Generosity begets generosity.” (Luke 6:38 MSG).  The Lord asked me focus the year on being generous with everything, including my finances, time, giftings, kindness, and prayer.

To be honest, I wasn’t super excited about this word initially because we were due to have a baby in 2019 and I wanted it to be a year to pour into me and my baby, not others.  Also, we had incurred debt again for the first time in a while and I was a little bitter about it.  Knowing Jehovah Sneaky was probably up to something grand, I decided to set my heart on partnering with the word that felt like the exact opposite of what I wanted to be focused on.

The testimonies of breakthrough I saw throughout the year are far too numerous to fully list, but I figured sharing a few was worth the encouragement to others.  I started the year by looking for ways to be generous.  Everything from beginning to send cards to family again to spending a little more time talking with other people were my small beginnings.  Every time we received money unexpectedly (like a reimbursement or gift) I’d look for someone to give a portion of it too.  When I heard that a friend was hurting, I’d go out of my way to meet up with them, call, or show up with food.  I began to pray more for other’s needs than my own.  At one point, I started realizing that being a blessing to others was becoming so fun that the intentionality behind it went from obedience-driven to joy-driven.  

Then came a harder one.  Some of our dearest friends got engaged and asked Brett and me to officiate their wedding.  Because of venue availability, the wedding was set for five weeks after Emilia’s due date.  Historically, the four to six week postpartum stretch is my hardest.  With my other three births, that was the window where the sleep deprivation collided with unbalanced hormones and I tended to be a barely walking, sobbing, zombie.  I felt major fear about committing to something in that time frame.  I wanted to bless our friends but I was genuinely afraid the cost was too great for me personally and didn’t know if I could pull it off.  I knew it was completely reasonable for me to say, “No, that is too soon after having my fourth baby.  We will pass.” but I also knew I was getting that gentle, loving nudge from the Lord to say yes and trust Him for the grace.

After a lot of prayer, we said yes, with the condition that if it came to the day and I just couldn’t handle it, Brett could officiate solo.  As the date arrived, I was faced with so many insecurities of getting up in front of people both at the rehearsal and the wedding itself in my very postpartum body and mind, while trying to juggle my four children, and meet the needs of my five week old.  Those wedding commitments took a lot of choosing grace for myself and constant dependence of the Lord for the details.  It was hard, but we pulled it off and it was worth it!

Then, in August, Brett and I celebrated our ten year anniversary of sobriety and giving our marriage and family to Jesus.  We had the idea of getting friends together for a potluck backyard meal and started asking around.  Long story short, the potluck turned into a vow renewal that was, in earnest, a full scale wedding complete with a stunning venue, professional caterer, floral, DJ, photographer, dancing, wedding cake, ice cream truck, etc..  In three short weeks, our entire community came together to create an outrageous event that we paid next to nothing for, and was far beyond what we’ve ever dreamt or imagined.  The whole experience was gifted to us, including so many people’s time and talents donated to setting it up, pulling it off, and tearing it down.  We were beyond blown away.

After everything died down, I was journaling with the Lord, thanking Him for the miracle vow renewal blessing we’d received.  Oh so gently, He reminded me of when I trusted Him for the provisions to bless my friends for their wedding and whispered, “You sow into the wind, but you reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7).  In that moment, I burst into tears of gratitude.  In taking my eyes off of myself and pouring out generously, I was then positioned to wholeheartedly receive unexpected blessings myself.  By the end of 2019, Brett and I had gifted more money than we ever have to others, and yet we also somehow paid off our own debt.  It’s the first time I was truly able to take my eyes off myself, my needs, and my self pity/doubt and instead fix my eyes on Jesus, obeying His gentle nudges to be a blessing to those around me.  

I finished 2019 more full of joy and gratitude than I can remember having in a long time.  Meditating on the word Generosity was so fun and freeing, I was hoping it could be my word for 2020 too.  But then the Lord reminded me that this is a life style I can continue to walk out all the days of my life.  The lessons I learned this year are that while boundaries and a healthy “no” are important, so is a hearty “yes” and trusting in the Lord for the grace and ability to stretch myself.  I realized that sacrificial love looks like something, and usually includes us giving up something we fear we cannot do without or handle ourselves.  But it is in that moment of complete dependence on Him that we are made more beautiful as His power and goodness shines through our weakness.


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