This is a hard post to write. It needs to strike just the right balance. I don't want to sound preachy or pious or defensive. I suspect I'll read it later and cringe. But I need to put it out there, so here's my best shot:
I bet people are wondering where the money comes from for this crazy project. Either that, or they're making assumptions about that, and/or about us, that may or may not be true. So I figured I'd set the record straight. Where does the money come from? I could say it comes from God. And I could say, "I don't know." Both are true.
There's no question that we are a wealthy, privileged family. I don't want to pretend we're not. Compared to the vast majority of the rest of the world, we have a ridiculous amount of money at our disposal. We come from backgrounds that include home ownership, travel, sports, camps and gifts at Christmas and birthdays. We are well educated and have good jobs. That makes us rich.
Having said that, wealth and poverty are also relative to one's immediate context. Amongst our family, friends, neighbours and associates, we have more wealth than some and less than others. We are in an expensive season of our lives, with four busy kids. Giving away $250 a week is a lot for us. The money isn't sitting in a savings account waiting for a cheque to be written. As a self-employed consultant working part-time, at the moment I don't have any guaranteed work past the end of February -- but it'll come.
Our experience has been that the cliche "you can never outgive God" is absolutely true. When we have been generous, He has been moreso. When we loosen our grip on our stuff, life is more joyful. And we want to acknowledge that every good gift comes from Him. Whether money comes via our jobs, an inheritance, investments, items bought on sale, an unexpected winfall -- it's all gift. We don't deserve it, any more than someone born into poverty deserves that.
We've been gifted with resources, but also with the willingness to share them. I truly see the willingness as a gift too -- particularly that my guy and I have always been on the same page about that. Not something we can take credit for.
Jesus refers to some people as being of 'little faith' and others as being of 'great faith.' I want to fall into the latter category, and I want to model that for our kids, but I have very vague ideas about how that looks in my real life. Living in a context of provision and plenty, I am figuring out what it means to live with faith and without fear. This blog will be part of that journey. It makes me nervous, but excited too. I hope to include stories of provision along the way.
Even many 'secular folk' would agree with the premise that being generous is a good thing. When Catherine Newman did her research for an article on giving in the December 2010 issue of Whole Living, she asked various people how much they needed to give away in order to gain the benefits that generosity brings. 'More than might seem reasonable' was the answer she heard time and again. (Check out the article if you can -- it's inspiring!)
I'm also aware that talking this openly about money makes lots of people uncomfortable. It's an affront -- not 'appropriate' somehow. ("Maybe you'll be taken advantage of." Yep, maybe.) I hope people don't get too caught up in the amount, as that's not the point. I honestly don't want to be 'showy' about this -- pride can creep in so easily -- but I think that it's hard to generate conversation and learning and inspiration around a topic that is often shrouded in secrecy if we're not willing to be transparent about it. I realize I'm probably taking that a bit far.
A note on where the money for this project isn't coming from. We consider it important to tithe to our local church. We won't be short changing that commitment in order to fulfill this one.
In case you were wondering.