i like giving

From Have-to to Get-to

The other day, I noticed something about how I was talking. cooper

I was on a walk with a friend on the Greenway, and realized that nearly every time I opened my mouth, I was saying something about how I (or we) have to ... fill in the blank.

have to go pick up my dry cleaning. We have to go to dinner with the Miller's tomorrow. I have to go to New York this week. We have to get together and do this again soon. We just have to.

What an innocent little guilty verb. After a little time passed, I stopped myself and said, "Let me rephrase that. I get to go to New York this week. I get to go pick up my dry cleaning today.... I get to finish three deadlines this afternoon."

But from have-to to get-to is no small distance—when it comes to the heart.

I first made the jump from have-to to get-to when it came to giving. In January, I was doing a whole lotta writing for a non-profit called I Like Giving, to help them compile some first-person stories for a book. (It's coming out this fall, so stay tuned for that!) Day after day, I was assigned to talk on the phone with men and women who were either the givers or receivers of some extraordinary generosity. People who had learned that they didn't HAVE TO give, they GET TO.

It was life changing. From that time, Patrick and I started keeping a little cash aside every month for "get to" giving. So when my sister suffered the tragic, groundshaking loss of her 17-week old baby Gabrielle while my mother was visiting Nashville, we had the money set aside to buy my mom a one-way ticket to New York. When a friend mentioned a specific piece of kitchen equipment she needed in order to follow her doctor's prescribed diet, we could actually buy it. Right there. On the spot. Mid conversation. The idea that we get to give revolutionized my perspective on generosity. It sounds like a no brainer. I wish it would have been.

But while I've learned to go from have-to to get-to in giving, I'm still working on in the other aspects of daily life. So... I get to do dishes, huh? Or... I get to make the bed? And how about when you get to re-write 4,000 words because you realize the first 4,000 were just rubbish. Really? Get to?

Yes. Get to.

It's radical.

On how God told me to write a book... and it happened.

Burning Bush MomentHave you ever had a burning bush moment? A moment where heart pounding, feet tingling, you feel the presence of God and sense that what you're hearing is audible and silent and hidden from the world, but apparent to you? I've had one of those moments, and it happened in January, sitting in church, hearing a sermon about Ruth—a message about losing control. The turning point in Ruth comes when she presents herself all gussied up to Boaz, hoping that he might take her as a wife. But then he turns around and basically says, "wait, I need to take care of a few things." Ruth is let waiting, wondering, and completely out of control. She has no power to determine what happens next—it's all in his hands. And behind the scenes, without Ruth's knowledge, Boaz orchestrates everything necessary to redeem her and her husband's land. Though she didn't know it, there were conversations happening outside her earshot that changed her life.

And during that sermon, I felt something stirring in my heart that couldn't be called anything but crazy. TOTALLY CRAZY. It wasn't a voice, it wasn't a literal burning bush. It was this still, quiet thought that entered my heart in the  midst of a song. You need to write a book.

Writing a Book"Sure," I thought, responding to the thought. "I've always wanted to write a book, and I think I will some day." But my best efforts to kick the "book-writing" can down the road were thwarted. The thought kept pestering, breaking through, and finding its way to the pages of my journal where I was keeping notes. It was as if someone was whispering in my veins, Let go right now and be ready to write a bookLike Ruth, forget control and money and your schedule and find out what's been happening behind the scenes on your behalf. 

I've never left church so confused. At the grocery store afterwards, filling our cart with apples and turkey and sausage and orange juice for the week ahead—I told Patrick what I felt I'd heard that morning. He looked dumbfounded. What would I write about? I didn't know. Would I quit everything else and just start writing something? I didn't know. Would it take six years or six days or six months? I had no answers.

A few weeks went by and I tried to forget that I thought that God had called me to write a book. "You are so vain," I told myself. "You just want to write a book so you can be rich and famous. God doesn't call people to write books. People write books because they are conceited and want the world to think they're smart."

Yikes. I stuffed down these self-deprecating thoughts and insults, and smashed down the burning bush moment with them.

Unbeknownst to me, during this time a publisher was making a call to a non-profit in Michigan. Over one phone call, they asked the founder if he thought he could compile a book. Then, that founder called a friend in Nashville and asked if the friend knew any writers. Then that CEO called me.

It had been two weeks since that heart thumping, God-fearing moment in church. My phone vibrated and flashed an unknown number from Michigan. It was Brad Formsma, the founder of I Like Giving. He introduced himself, then asked me a simple question. "Claire, would you be willing to help me write a book?"

I said yes.

I'm telling you this story because I wonder what's happening in your life right now. If God is moving in my life, he's moving in yours. Because he loves me, and he loves you, and he's up to stuff! Perhaps even really big, mountain-moving stuff. And what if we cram it down and ignore it? And what if we label it coincidence instead of calling? We need to tell each other how God is moving. Because telling stories is a beautiful form of praise. We need to hear each others stories—because it reminds us that he is real and good and love. I need your story to keep me believing.

So, will you tell it?