SOCIAL MEDIA

18 June 2017

Ridiculous Generosity and Modcloth Dresses

Just warning you, I might get a bit emotional while writing this blog post. Don't mind the tearstains on the screen, because I have to tell you this story.

Those who have been reading this blog for some time know our background. You know what this blog used to consist of. Once upon a time Angel was a nurse in a Burn ICU and getting his Master's Degree to be a Nurse Practitioner and I was a cosmetology student with a big, bizarre, and colorful wardrobe who loved DIY projects and craft supplies and fashion design and quirky hair colors. We lived in a cute farmhouse on several acres in the country and hosted creative parties and spent our free time dating and going on adventures that I wrote about.






And then our life got turned upside down.

I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that moving to Malaysia was the right choice. I did not know the challenges that the following years would hold, both the wearying life experiences and world-shaking loss we'd had to face together, but also just (this one is far more shallow): learning to live on less than 1/3rd of our former income.

Going back to America was emotional in many ways, but one thing that surprised us was how much we could see the difference between the Angel and Rachel of the past--with their comfortable couch, overflowing closet, and well-stocked craft room--to Angel and Rachel currently.

But just when I found myself being tempted to think that I've sacrificed too much and to feel sorry that I don't own such fun things anymore...ridiculous generosity comes in and pushes me to my knees. Every bit of our trip to the USA was made possible by generosity--from relatives allowing us to stay in their homes to people feeding us more than we could eat and giving us things from their homes to take back that they knew would be useful for our lifestyle here--sometimes even the watch off their wrist.

Many people were incredibly giving to us in the USA, and that's why our whirlwind trip was so encouraging, but let me tell you just one story of ridiculous giving. My little sister. My younger sister, someone I should be taking care of and spoiling, by rights, because I'm older, because I'm her "Mommy Rachel." She takes me out for breakfast. And she takes me to Hobby Lobby because I want to buy myself some colored pencils with my birthday money and she sneakily buys the pencils for me--along with a coloring book AND a planner AND a pineapple-covered notebook just because pineapples are our 'thing.'

Nobody needs colored pencils or planners or coloring books, and they definitely don't need notebooks covered in pineapples. They're extravagant luxuries.

But somehow she knows what a gift like that might mean to me. And then, another day, we're looking at some t-shirts that are funny and cute and she grabs the "Live Fearless" tee I like the best and buys us twin t-shirts.

And then, when I'm packing up to leave and go home, things are taken to the next level. She's already given me more than is reasonable--her excuses of being away for my birthday and for Christmas are getting thinner by the moment. And there's something you should know: I've never bought any clothing from Modcloth. Like any girl who loves quirky fashion, I've browsed their site and checked sales and oohed-and-aahed over various new arrivals. But I've never actually spent the money and purchased anything from them.

I've never owned a Modcloth dress. And then, as I'm packing my suitcase, Anna says "Wait!"

And she runs to her closet and starts pulling dresses out. It's like she's doing a commercial.

"Look at the colors of this one!"

"This one has food all over it--and yeah, it's burgers and fries, so it's not the tastiest food--but can you believe it, a food dress!"

"I love these stripes! And this one has pockets!"

"Oh, and this one! I bought this one because you sent me the link to it."

"I know you like this skirt because you commented on the photo of me wearing it how cute it was."

"And this skirt is so pretty and elegant, I can just picture you wearing it!"

Each dress she picks is precisely something I would have chosen myself--somehow, she knows my affinity for bizarre prints and my love for bright colors and polka-dots and flared skirts. And as she's grabbing these dresses and taking them off the hanger and holding them up and extolling their virtues, she's piling them in my arms. I say, "Baby, you can't give me your clothes. What will you wear?"

"I have lots of clothes," she dismisses my response with a wave. And the tears are running down my cheeks. She even gets a maxi dress out of her dresser drawer with the tags still on and says, "Look at the sleeves on this one, aren't they amazing!! I haven't had an event to wear it to yet, but you better take it now." I won't let her do it, I gotta draw the line somewhere. Giving away clothes you've had for a while is one thing, but giving away something you never got to wear is something else.

But she won't let me leave. She runs to her impressively stocked bookshelf and starts grabbing novels.

"This one made me so happy, it's just a really happy read!"

"This one is educational, it's good to have."

"This one is cute. This one is interesting--let me know what you think of it."

Again, she tries to give me a book she hasn't even read yet. "This is a book about teaching techniques that was recommended to me, but  you should take it because you're teaching now." I make her keep that one. She still has two years left in her education degree. I think she'll have time to read it.

I'm crying and I'm humbled, so humbled. At that moment when I was tempted toward the "I've been asked to give too much" trail of thinking, this little girl, this baby that I remember from the very first days of her life, is giving me gifts I couldn't give myself. Gifts beyond imagination. She knows me so well that she knows what Modcloth dresses and books and colored pencils and planners and pineapple notebooks mean. And in that moment she's a picture of God's perfect love to me--He loves so perfectly and so knowingly--and He provides what we couldn't provide for ourselves, no matter how hard we try. He loves to an extent that we know we could never deserve. In this moment she's a gentle rebuke and reminder from Him: "You think you can ever give more than Me?"

The answer is no, not a chance, not even the remotest possibility. I'm so, so sorry for imagining that I could.

So when we're tempted to think, sometimes, that we've given too much, that our generosity has passed the point of reasonableness...that maybe we should start making choices that are more focused on ourselves...we might just find that, in that moment of temptation, unexpectedly, we are shown once again a generosity so ridiculous and a love so extraordinary that we are reminded: there's simply no such thing as giving too much. Reason should have nothing to do with the way we give. You can't out-give God. And you can't predict how His love will be shown in the different circumstances of your life. Hang in there. Stay the course. Press on.


Sometimes he'll use a baby sister with a closet full of Modcloth dresses. Silly? Yeah.

Breathtaking? Absolutely.

42 comments :

  1. <3 That is the sweetest. You and your sister are both amazing people! <3 I've definitely had moments throughout med school where I questioned what I was doing and whether or not it was the right choice, but for me, it was also in those moments of meeting some of the kindest, most giving and loving people I'll ever know, that I knew I'd made the right choice and that the sacrifices were worth it. Sending you lots of love, and I'm so glad you had the chance to see and spend time with your family again! <3

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  2. He is SO generous. Yes, we can't outgive Him. <3

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  3. <3 What a blessing to have your sister be so loving and generous! You're right that it's a perfect example of who God is! <3

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  4. Rachel, it sounds like you have a very special relationship with your sister. How wonderful that you have each other!

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  5. Aww, this is the sweetest story! I can't imagine what a bond between sisters would be like(I only have brothers). If I had a sister, I would love to have this kind of relationship.

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  6. This isn't silly at all. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I love the way our Daddy God loves on us in ways that are as unique as He made us. Thank you for sharing this!

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  7. Oh I love how you have put the two prints together so effortlessly! Looking cute

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  8. How sweet! It's the best when the youngest ones grow up and have already learned the joy of generosity. You're so right, it's humbling and the best kind of reminder to go and do likewise.

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  9. Oh goodness what an absolute gem your sister is! This was so sweet to read, I love the love you must share together!
    Beth
    http://www.thebethnextdoor.com

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  10. so SWEET!! and love this so beautiful, you are blessed.

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  11. Ahhh - this just feeds into my jealousy of all things sisters. I want one so bad.
    I love the outfit. Such a fun vintage look.

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  12. I love this post. Sisters are the best, aren't they? Parting from them is sad but the reunion is oh so sweet and fun

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  13. WHat a touching story and I love the relationship with your sister! And Modcloth dresses are so unique and pretty :)

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  14. such a cute photo!!

    xx
    Charlene
    www.cupsofcouture.com

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  15. My sister is always giving me stuff! I am so thankful for her generous spirit and I hope to be as free hearted as her!

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  16. Oh, this is just too sweet <3 What a thoughtful, kind sister you have, and I love that she knows you so well, she can pick out all the items she knows you will cherish. That's so lovely <3 Thank you for sharing this. I'm sure that being apart can't be easy, but moments like these... you'll remember forever :)

    XOXO

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  17. This is such a cute outfit! Love these pics! And love your purple streak!

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  18. Your story is so sweet and really touched me! what a sweet little sister. your pictures are so pretty and love the outfit on you! thank you for sharing such a sweet story.

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  19. Oh I really like the skirt. And the background is so colorful and gorgeous! A really cute outfit! xx corinne

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  20. What a gorgeous dress and that building is divine!

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  21. What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Oh this is such a wonderful story and example of His love. Your sister sounds like such a blessing.

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  23. Such a beautiful post! And I love the dress in this post! It is truly incredible how God uses the generosity of others to teach us about himself.

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  24. You two are very lucky to have one another! And I just adore that dress!

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  25. Oh, this warms my heart. Generosity and kindness and thoughtfulness like this is simply wonderful. Glad that you have her in your life!!

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  26. I have felt the same conflict when traveling and returning home as well. It's difficult to appreciate what you have and the excess you have until you travel abroad. I was lucky enough to work for a South American company and my coworkers were living in the US, but from Argentina and Mexico. It was interesting hearing comments from them about the American way (especially portion sizes).

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  27. ALL THE *HEART EYES* :)

    Isn't it awesome to have a sister?!

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  28. Wow, this is such a beautiful testament to how we all should love. Your sister is awesome. Thank you for sharing this story!

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  29. What a generous sister you have!

    Funny enough...I own that very same skirt : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  30. this dress is just adorable, i love Modcloth!
    http://www.layersofchic.com

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  31. I love this so much, Rachel! This might be my favorite post of yours that I've read. God uses the craziest things sometimes. Actually, when I was trying to decide whether to stay in private school or go to public school when I was going into my junior year of high school, part of what He used was a High School Musical 2 song! He is so creative and peculiar in the best ways!

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  32. Sisters are amazing. It sounds like her love language is definitely gifts :) and how awesome to know that she is acting in the image of her Father whose generosity is so immense we can't comprehend it. I just love these glimpses of God we get through others!

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  33. I love the relationship you have with your sister. It reminds me of my sisters. And I LOVE ModCloth dresses!

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  34. First of all, these photos are beautiful and that dress is so perfect for you. Thank you for sharing with us. I am encouraged by your faith and by how much you value and love your family and friends.

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  35. Oh my goodness. This is so touching. My eyes watered up. You have such an amazing relationship with your family, especially your younger sister. This is absolutely incredible and it makes me so happy to see that so many people have written such kind comments in regards to it. I know right now, these little luxuries are something I take for granted--like a pineapple print notebook--aren't going to be something I can always buy... hell, the other day I bought two new placemats and a candle I definitely didn't "need" but enjoyed with the little extra comfort money I get per month. I'm sure there will be a point in my life when I can't do those things. I know there will.

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  36. Everyone needs colored pencils and inside jokes, and books and sisters. I'm glad y'all have each other.

    Lorna

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  37. It's overwhelming, isn't it? "exceeding abundantly above all that we could ask of think..." "pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing" As Isaac Watts wrote, "Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all." And Annie Johnson Flint wrote, "When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father's full giving is only begun."

    Thanks for sharing this story of how God poured out His giving on you. It brought a lot of great thoughts to mind.

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  38. These colours are so fun for Summer!!

    Lauren
    http://www.basicbabelauren.com

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  39. Oh my goodness. This is the sweetest thing ever! That sister of yours sure is special!

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  40. Oh this is just so sweet! What a precious sister! I'm excited to see all of these sweet dresses on you!

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  41. This is one of the sweetest things I've ever read! Those pictures are gorgeous and so you. Some of my favorite clothes have come from Modcloth, so I can fully appreciate that gift. We've had some humbling moments of generosity during our difficult last few years as well, so all of this hits home. I am so happy for you! What an amazing sister.

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