What I Have to Give

Acts 3:2-3 & 6: Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money…Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

If I had all the money in the world, I would fly to see you.

I’d leave the kids with their grandparents, and come to your house with a bag full of presents and chocolate and wine, and we could wander around your city until we feel a little less lost, a little more found.

If you were closer, I’d invite you over for sub-par coffee: Target brand, I’ll admit…but Fair Trade approved at least. I buy it already ground and run it through an old 12-cup Mr. Coffee instead of a fancy French press…but I’d make you some anyway.

You could sit down at my kitchen table, and you’d have to move the crayons and push Dane’s Halloween costume aside. But I’d close my laptop and we could just sit there and hash it all out. We’d stop only to feed the kids, go for a cold autumn walk, stop at Target, not so much to buy happiness, but at least maybe the $14.99 knit cowl version of it.

Do you ever wake up and feel like you’re so empty and tired that you don’t have anything to offer anyone? It’s like you’re a shell, and whatever used to be alive in you crawled away to find a new home.

In the early morning darkness, when the kids are wakeful, I am so aware of my limitations. The dark great need of the world closes in and it feels so heavy. I stand and hold Liam, swaying side to side, because he cries if I sit down, but God, I’m tired. I feel like my legs might crumble beneath me if I keep at it, this stand…sway…stand…sway.

And I can feel you all, pressing in against my heart. You are hungry, starving. You are dying of preventable disease, dying in childbirth. You are women who have been abused. Wounded. Lied to. Hurt. Or maybe you’re just tired. I want to rent out a spa for an entire day and get you all facials and massages. I want to make you feel precious.

You are adoptive parents and orphaned children, and I’d fund the whole deal if I could. Who knew this whole process could be so gut-wrenchingly long and hard? I’d send a nice fat check, and you could stop waiting and start letting your lives twine into each other in all of those normal, beautiful ways.

You are sad in your own hard, particular way, and if I had more time, I’d sit on the phone with you all day and just let you cry. Not say anything, just be there, at the other end of the line, breathing in and out.

But calling has gotten so difficult, and money is tight and time is so scarce with these children of mine, incessant in their need. Every time I pick up my phone, Liam has a fit because he wants to watch YouTube videos on it instead.

And there’s not just one guy begging at the gate, but all of us. The whole world broken and waiting for something miraculous. And sometimes the healing takes longer than one blinding moment: In the name of Jesus…Walk.


I am relearning to pray.

For a while I stopped believing that my voice mattered. I imagined it bouncing against the heavens and coming back down. I suspect this is a pretty typical swing, a reaction to those on fire days when I prayed day and night for things like REVIVAL and saw no change at all.

And prayer is mysterious, and mysterious things scare me. It doesn’t work like a math equation, where you plug in a name and a need and the answer appears on some cosmic screen…but that doesn’t mean it’s not working. To believe this, even a little bit, is what we mean when we say faith.

And so Andrew suggests that we write down the names of everyone we know, put them on the wall in our upstairs hallway. Remember. Pray. Watch. Wait to see what God does.

Every day I walk by those names, and I remember, and I speak your name out loud to God. And this is what I have to give. Not silver or gold or plane tickets or even a great big bear hug. Not always a listening ear or an afternoon uninterrupted, drinking coffee at the kitchen table. I am so limited, so empty these days. I am a shell. I am an echo.

And Lord knows if I could, I’d fly to you and we’d have a glass of wine and talk all night long. We’d prop each other up like a couple of wounded, tired soldiers limping home.

Instead, I have this. Jesus.

I have this fragile hope that somewhere my voice and His love will collide, and it will be grace and it will be healing.

It will be the beginning of a miracle.

It will help you get your footing, stand up, walk.

28 thoughts on “What I Have to Give

  1. Yes. I went through this a couple of years ago and almost wilted under my lack of ability to be a Saviour until I identified that’s what it was and began to pray. It was so get on my knees humbling. When I started to pray my friends found an affordable apartment, my son contacted me and let me know what was really going on, my family member found a job….it went on and on. And I read this post and realized that somewhere along the way I stopped and started trying to be the Saviour again. Thank you for the reminder of the names on the wall upstairs and the prayers that need to be voiced for them.

    1. I know. I too tend to default toward the “how can I fix this?” or “how can I make this better?” questions. It takes me a while to realize that I can’t really. Thanks for the note Marilyn.

  2. Oh, Addy. This touched a tender spot in me – because I want to get on a plane too! (I so wanted to fly to be with Danielle this week, so much I ached for days with the heaviness of my heart and desire.) I want to invite people around my table smudged with my kid’s fingerprints and last nights dinner. But I light a vigil candle and pray… I let the flickering flame remind me someone is living and needing my prayers and so I remember. I pray.

    I appreciate how you think of adopted families. I want to thank you for seeing the weaving together as natural – some don’t. Your words honor my own adoptive experience (which you’ll see on DF next week, actually). Thanks for that today.

    Love your words today. It’s like we are sitting sharing some Diet Coke together!

    1. Love the idea of lighting candles to remind you to pray. Beautiful. (And I wish you could have been out here this week drinking Diet Coke with me! But your gifts were so good and beautiful, as were your prayers for Danielle and her family.)

  3. What beautiful words you share here today! So many statements you made felt true of me. Like some days I lose my voice because it doesn’t matter. But that’s because I’m on a crazy deadline and feeling overwhelmed. Tomorrow will be much better, and your words seriously ministered to me today. Blessings!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop here Donna. So glad we were able to connect!

  4. I so wish you were here, friend. You are, in a way, since you’re our common bond, us in this room, we’re talking about you now, actually. Also, why do we keep going to opposite conferences? We really need to plan one TOGETHER next. (I know your post is about more than this, but when you write about getting on a plane and flying to see me, I think mimosas and covert wine bottles opened in hotel rooms and being our truest selves. xo)

    1. Seriously. You guys were on my list of “people-I-want-to-fly-to-see.” Next time we get together, let’s bring a big list of all the writing conferences ever and pick our next one strategically. This is out of control.

    2. We really were talking about you. And we really do all need to be in the same room at the same time as soon as possible, conference or otherwise.

    1. You know, this post took me soooo long to write Brenna. For some reason, the words were just not coming, and I actually considered just not posting a couple of times. It means a lot to know that even in this scarce place, God provided words that meant something to someone. Thanks for your kind encouragement. Next time I’m in Chicago, we’ll have to get that Diet Coke. We definitely did not get to talk enough at Story!

  5. I think for many of us, you play the role of this crippled man’s friends. He couldn’t walk to the place called “Beautiful” on his own. He was put there by people who knew him, who loved him, and who were trying, even in some small way, to help meet his needs. They brought him to someplace he couldn’t get to on his own, and while he was there, he encountered Jesus.

    You carry us to a beautiful place with your words. I think you provide much more than you realize. Somehow during this life stage that is draining you, you find something powerful to give: words of life and splendor and grace.

    “I have this fragile hope that somewhere my voice and His love will collide, and it will be grace and it will be healing.” You need to know this is happening. Absolutely happening. The Spirit is doing something powerful through your words, Addie. Thank you for being faithful to the strenuous work of setting them before us to read.

    1. Stephanie, this is so dead on. Thank you. I can’t say it better, so I’ll just second this and add my own:

      “Thanks, Addie.”

  6. I love how this carried me, and how I went so willingly, even though I didn’t know where you were taking me. That is a gift, and I admire your willingness to be true to it, and share it with us.

  7. Of course you make me want to sit across the table from you. We could just sit. We wouldn’t even have to talk. Like your dad. The strength of presence is enough and sometimes words are too much…any words.
    And I will say “cool and sweet” about the Pray&Watch reference too. You knew I had to. And that amount of faith links me to the fact that in all the invisible places where I can’t see, God and His gospel are bearing fruit, in some cases precisely because I have nothing to add to the mix.

    1. Yes, Neal, we’ve really been thinking a lot about Pray and Watch. It’s such a freeing and beautiful concept. Thank you!

  8. I’ve been reading your blog lately. Actually, I just told a close friend that you were currently my favorite blogger- and so I realized I had to actually comment.

    I don’t know any other online writer who manages, with absolutely everything they write, to grab me and make me want to sit down with the author for hours, talking, listening, and arguing over ten thousand different things springing from any given article.

    This may make no sense, but you remind me of Leo Tolstoy. Even when you write something that I profoundly, deeply, and sharply disagree with, you write with such comprehension, such ability to hold reality inside of your words…
    You write in such a way that even if I don’t like what you write, I can’t dismiss it. I am forced to
    fear it, to respect it, and to work harder myself if I even hope to interact at that level.

    I tip my hat. Take that for what it’s worth.

    1. This is an unbelievably kind comment, Joel. Thank you so much for the encouragement and the high praise. I love what you said about how even when you don’t agree, you can’t just dismiss it.

      I think that says just as much about you as it does about my writing — thanks for being willing to engage and read and interact even when we’re not necessarily on the same page. In a world where we’re all so quick to defend our opinion and argue, people like you are rare. So thank you.

  9. Your comment about adoptive families made me want to weep in gratitude for someone expressing my heart. My husband and I are adopting 3 siblings and have had a trying week. All I want to do is be able to plan fun, simple things with my kids like “normal” families but we have so many issues to deal with. Thank you for praying for adoptive families and understanding a fraction of our struggle. It is a difficult and misunderstood journey.

    1. So sorry you’ve had a hard week and a long road. I can’t possibly understand the entirety of the struggle, but I can imagine a little bit, and I ache with you. Know that I keep all of you tucked in a little part of my imperfectly praying heart.

  10. Friend, I don’t know whether I’m one of the people you had in mind as you wrote this but it doesn’t really matter. Somehow you said just what I needed to hear. I am that shell right now, taking one aching step at a time. My hands are empty. Any forward movement has been a result of the prayers carrying me and my family the last couple of weeks. Thank you for your prayers, Addie. Thank you for your words today. Thank you for who you are.

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