I feel like I'm always saying...

thank you.
But just in case I haven't said it enough this week... thank you.
porter's call

To everyone who bid on Dallas Diva Day or any other item in the Porter's Call artist auction fundraiser! Dallas Diva Day went for $620! Tennessee Christmas with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith went for $6,250! (And no, I did not win the auction. And yes, I am currently praying that I will not have anger or bitterness towards whoever it is that will be sitting fireside with little Michael singing Christmas songs around the fireplace with his very own parents. While they are sitting there enjoying "fellowship" I will be holding my own evening of Smitty's greatest hits reenactment dances in my living room. I'll charge $10 a head to come watch and that way, next time my dreams are up for sale... I will have the money to pay for them).

Most importantly, the auction raised $31,189.90 to help our dear friends at Porter's Call as they minister to the artist community. This blows my mind. Thank you to fans all across the country for placing such incredibly generous bids!

To MacKenzie who decided to help me start off my soul vacation by sending me a half dozen Gigi's Cupcakes!!! Girl, that one totally caught me off guard. Thank you so much! Can you believe I met you when you were just a little squeaker in 10th grade? Wow. Watching you grow up has been a complete joy. Thank you for being so thoughtful. Hopefully I can share these cupcakes with you over a good cup of coffee.
And finally to Kayla Vance! Whoever you are! Wherever you are! Kayla left a bag of goodies on our bus at a recent show in Jefferson City, Missouri. Pond's face wipes (after reading that my butt was bigger than the sink on this bus and how I can't possibly wash my face in that), the cutest scarf ever (girl- I wore it at the Oklahoma State Fair in front of 5,000 people and it was a HUGE hit! So cute!). I mean, a three page sweet letter, best eyeshadow mascara combo I've ever used, cookies, the list goes on and on. Thank you Kayla.
I wanted to meet you so badly so Lauren and I (our nanny extraordinaire) made signs and taped them on the bus window to try and find you! As people left, I sat up front with my PJ's on and I cannot tell you how many people stopped to read our signs :) It made me smile to see how many fake Kayla Vance's there were. Alas, we never met you. But I thought you should know that we tried. And that the guys loved your cookies. And that the gold and charcoal eyeshadow is the greatest ever and if I ever inherit some sort of endowment I will send every girl I know that exact eyeshadow and the Burt's bees lip gloss you sent. Wowie.
I am often overwhelmed with people's kindness to Ryan, Annie, and I.
I start thinking, "Who am I to be loved so well? To be blessed so richly? To be taken care of so beautifully?"
I tinker with guilt. I tinker with shame. I tinker with the thought that everyone in the world must feel sorry for me or worry about me. I sometimes allow myself to believe that I have become a burden. Or that I am a perpetual beggar. Ugh. That's the last thing I want to be known as.
It amazes me how hard it is to simply fall into the kindness of another.
It amazes me how quickly I take a pure gift and taint it with my own guilt or shame or worry.
It amazes me that someone can say, "Here are six cupcakes because I love you," and I start to wonder, "Does she think I'm cracking up? Do people think I'm crazy? They think I need to go to the looney bin don't they? Soul vacation' equals 'we all know she needs to be in a mental institute on a private island somewhere'!!!!!
Argh. My mind runs rampant.
I am given gifts out of love yet somehow I find a way to distort them in my mind. My tendency is to make it an act of sympathy. A hand out. Blood money.
Dirty cupcakes.
It's hard to accept something just because, isn't it? To say thank you? To gladly receive a gift? To believe that I have blessed another person and now they are blessing me and the circle just continues?
Nope. It's much easier to believe you have all started a facebook group together called, "Save Jenny" and have connived to bake cookies and send cupcakes.
What warped thinking.
Blessings are undeserved, to be sure. Gifts are acts of kindness. Most of them are given out of love. The rest of them are bought the day before Christmas from Walgreens. But as we cultivate a life that seeks to give to others, odds are, we are going to be blessed in return. Sometimes cupcakes. Sometimes eye shadow. Sometimes a hug. A letter. Or just a feeling inside of us that what we did that day mattered to someone else.
Al Andrews, our porter at Porter's Call, included this at the end of his "thank you" email yesterday. He says it best I think.
"When thinking of you, I'm reminded of the writings of St. Benedict, from whom we got the name for Porter's Call. When writing about the call of the porter (the welcome he gave to the sojourners at the monastery door), he says that the porter issued two "calls." The first was "Thanks be to God," with gratitude to the God who brought about their meeting. The second call was "Your blessing please" which was the acknowledgement that blessings are always mutual. "If we bless you" says the porter, "you will surely bless us too."
Al has a healthy understanding of the fact that he has used the gifts he's been given to bless us and to pour into our lives. In return, he is now experiencing our blessings. And he acknowledges that that circle will continue.
Blessings are mutual.
Today I am grateful for mutual blessings and I pray that God would protect me from ever warping one by thinking of it as "guilty charity."
May you experience the beauty of blessing others and being blessed in return today.