Well, would you looky here? I promised a Radical Follow-Up post today and SURE ENOUGH! So many times I feel like the dude in the Bible who said he was going to do something and didn’t do it, and Jesus said it’s way better not to say anything at all if you’re not going to follow through. (Boo to being that guy.)

So, my birthday money. Let me say upfront that I’ve already prayed over this post, prayed that my heart is in the right place and that I’m sharing something that I hope will ENCOURAGE you, not toot my own dumb horn in any way.

First of all, WOOHOO for EIGHTY-TWO birthday gifts!! I also got two physical birthday gifts–a Kids Love Ohio book from my friend Jamie and a Vintage Scrabble Jr. game from my friend Ali–and then $85 from three different people who love me. And my mom and dad watched the girls overnight so Gabe and I could have 24 kiddo-free hours together.

I spent $9 on a journal at Target and $3 on (ahem) Scrabble letters at an antique store. Which left $73 and a world of possibilities. I decided to sit on the money in case something really fabulous came up.

And then our van broke down, and whoosh went our Cambodia Fund.

But I still had that delicious $73 in my desk drawer.

And then Panha’s dad’s tuk-tuk got stolen. And as I sent out e-mails and facebook messages imploring people to help, I thought to myself, “This stinks. After that van repair bill, we don’t have a dollar to spare. I wish so badly I had something to give to Panha’s family.”

You do, said a voice. You have your birthday money.

Oh for crying out loud, I thought. My van breaks. My Cambodia Fund is gone. And you want to take the ONE PIECE OF JOY I have left right now? (insert fingers in ears, start loud humming)

Give your birthday money to Panha’s family.

(Big deep sigh.) Please tell me this isn’t your voice I’m hearing, God. It’s just the guilt talking, right? Really? My birthday money??

Give your birthday money to Panha’s family.

Oh my word. Enough of the voices!! Okay, okay, how about 20 bucks? Then I can say I helped, but I’ll still have $53 to spend on something I want.

Give ALL of your birthday money to Panha’s family.

(Stunned silence, stomach churning, not a pretty moment.)

I’m waiting.

And so I cringed and winced and sent $73 via paypal to help buy an $1100 tuk-tuk. For someone who has nothing. While I sit here with virtually everything.

I’ll be honest. IT HURT. I’m ashamed to admit how much it hurt, because come on. If I thought that was painful, what would I do with some real pain? I went up to my bed and begged God to make it not hurt, to turn me into a cheerful giver, to make me into someone who can’t help but give, who wants so desperately to give. Not a stingy birthday-money hoarder.

The hurt didn’t magically disappear. But it did sloooowly fade away. And by the time all the money was raised for the tuk-tuk (and then some), I was so thrilled that I had been able to play a small part in it all. What if I hadn’t given? I wouldn’t have “owned” part of this beautiful story. I can’t even imagine.

And then. THEN. Panha’s dad gave his life to Jesus. And HELLO. Seventy-three stinking dollars is NOTHING to “pay” for someone’s SOUL. There is nothing on earth that would have been worth buying in place of THAT.

And that’s when the true joy came. It came barreling over me and caught me off guard and made me cry. And I realized that God had answered my prayer and made me the cheerful giver I had begged him to make me. It just took a little while.

Fast forward two weeks. Gabe called me from work yesterday with some amazing news. A Christmas bonus. The first one he’s ever gotten in his life. He gave me a chunk of it to put back in the Cambodia Fund, bless his sweet heart. And $40 to go buy a belated birthday gift.

I sit here in awe of the God who loves me very, very much.