When You Want To Quit And Go Get A “Real Job”

Friday, May 19, 2017

You’d think 15 years at this would give me a sure footing and firm grip, but Im having one of those weeks Im tempted to throw in the towel.  “Lets just quit and go get a real job“.
It may not have come out of my mouth, but that echo of doubt in my mind is audible.

For a decade and a half, our family, which grows by the year, has lived supported and funded by individuals who believe in the cause we have poured our life into – seeing the nations reached with the message of the Gospel.
Missionaries on foreign fields.
That means our very existence is dependent on others.
Scratch that….its dependent on God.
But our capacity to provide for our family and expand the ministries we have responsibility for is contingent on others rallying around us.  We cannot do this work we do alone.

We’ve seen God provide over the years, but this season is an exceptionally lean and we feel a bit like we are in a blow up boat headed for rapids.  Do we patch the holes that are causing the raft to deflate?  Do we expend our energy rowing against the current?  Do we jump ship and swim to shore? Do we call out for someone to throw us a lifeline?
Im being real here friends.
This is the mental battleground we’re waging war on…

Go Get A Real Job That Pays
In a “real job”, you know the terms.  We all find security in the American Dream – a steady job from which you can build your lifestyle, commute and social activities around.  You know when the paycheck is coming and for how much.  Consistency of income allows you to plan for the future, give to needs around you and budget accordingly.  Work ethic and diligence pay off in the form of a dependable salary.
Living on support means you receive a report from your accountant at the end of the month reflecting whatever donations have come in.  Regardless of what you’ve already spent on travel and ministry expenses, how you’ve “performed” at your job or how much overtime you’ve put in, the “salary” will be whatever it is….which has landed us in the red in recent months.

No One Likes A Schmooze
I hate support raising.
Loathe it!
I hate asking for money.  I hate seeming vulnerable, helpless, needy and dependent.  Its painful to feel our motives are questioned and I worry that our friends will always think we’re looking to “hit them up” for money.  I dont want people feel an obligation to us.  I want to be the one blessing others, giving to them, pouring out.  The verse “it is more blessed to give than to receive” makes sense in a raw way.  Receiving takes a great amount of humility which is genuinely a struggle at times!  We all want to be self sufficient and ‘have it together’.

Cowering Under the Microscope
I struggle daily to live for the “audience of One“.  To be confident and secure in the decisions we are making and not wear the weight of wondering how others may misconstrue or misunderstand our decisions.  Because even if it isn’t said out-loud, I sometimes feel (and have perceived from others), that missionaries should live destitute….or at least more humbly than everyone else they know.

In an effort to help subsidize our income, Ive been doing some writing for a magazine and blog that allows me to visit and review some fun restaurants and spas and to photograph for some cute boutiques.  While I can indeed see this as a beautiful, creative way God is providing for us, there is a twinge of guilt every time I write a post or share a picture.  Every date night or childs birthday or family vacation, I question, “What if people who support us think we’re spending unwisely or dont agree with this decision or feel we are irresponsible with their money“?  But that’s the very point that God keeps gently prompting me with.
Its not their money.
Its not my money.
Its His money and He asks each one of us to steward His resources responsibly!  That obligation is the same for all of us!

We strive, like Paul, to be content in all circumstances – in plenty and in want.  In 15 years, we’ve lived on 3 different continents.  We’ve experienced God’s faithful provision in creative ways.  God provided a home in the states on a lake for a season!  We froze our tushes off in Ukraine and have endured 110 degree heat in Thailand.  We have had incredible family opportunities to see the world because of this lifestyle.  Likewise, we have felt “homeless” on occasion and this nomadic, transient lifestyle has exposed our kids to poverty, need, pain and cultures that are less than hospitable at times.  We’ve experienced monsoons and military coups, civil war and dangerous parasites, been exposed to tuberculosis and hepatitis, waded through seasons of loss, grief and depression alone on the field, dealt with power outages and water shortages and phone lines that don’t work to call home on grandma’s birthday.  We’ve managed with C gone for weeks and weeks at a time.  We’ve vacationed at one of the worlds most beautiful beaches and witnessed devastation of natural disasters.  We’ve ridden elephants and played with wild monkeys.  We’ve experienced creative forms of God’s provision through free piano lessons for our kids, care packages sent from friends, and generous giving by a faithful few.  And while all of these adventures sound dramatic and exotic, it is a precarious perch atop a pedestal!  We aren’t so different you and I. We are a family (like yours,) striving, (like you,) to honor God in our decisions.  To be willing to go when He says go.  To be willing to stay when He says stay.  To grow in trust and dependance on Him.  To steward well the resources others invest in us!

Kiev Ukraine 2004

Kiev Ukraine 2006

Montana 2009

South Carolina 2012

Thailand 2013

Thailand 2015

We’re reaching out.  We need a lifeline friends!!
Its a pivotal time for our family and we know that changes may be on the horizon.  We are considering how to be faithful to the work God has called us to (global missions) without irresponsibly driving ourselves into debt and want to invite you to be part of this journey with us!
This season of uncertainty is not a fun one.  My faith is being stretched to trust He is our provider no matter what changes take place….that God knows our needs, the needs of our kids, the needs of the projects and people we support.  There is great comfort in the faithfulness of the Lord and the many years and seasons and moves He has seen us through.  Like Samuel, we can say “thus far, the Lord has helped us“.
The Lord will not lead where He has not already gone before and prepared the way.


If God may be prompting you to partner in any way, we extend our humble and heartfelt gratitude!

Mailing List – we’d love to add you to our mailing list and send you regular prayer updates!!  Feel free to comment with your email address.

Support – If you feel compelled to help with our funding, the “donate” button below takes you to a page where you can give a one-time gift or set up a monthly draw.
Can you give $10 or $15 a month?  We need a small and faithful army of $10 givers!!

Share this post – help share the need by reposting on facebook or social media or forwarding this post by email to friends or family, your church group or Sunday school.  We’d be happy to send additional information on our ministry if you’d be willing to advocate for us!

Thank you for loving our family, standing in the gap, and praying for God to move mountains on our behalf!

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Picture This – A Mother’s Day Reminder

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother’s Day circa 2011

We all have a mental image of that beautifully framed, stunning family portrait we’ll one day have hanging over the mantle in our home.  Everyone facing the camera positioned “just so” with heads tilted “just right” and lovely, genuine, relaxed smiles (and no “cheesy” expression from the 5-year-old or baby with a finger in his nose). 

Take a step back and realize that your imagined ideal is a bit “Pleasant-ville” when you think of it.

The truth is, that while the gallery wrap canvas mounted on your wall is beautiful, it may not be reflective of real life….and it’s not the life you’re going to remember 20 years from now when your kids are grown and gone.  Real life is messy and imperfect and beautiful in a unique and unspoiled way.  As a professional photographer, I feel some of my greatest achievements behind the lens have been the times Ive captured the raw, unfiltered, unedited sheer chaos of kids.  The family in hysterics because the son has just slipped and fallen in bird poo.  The giggly tickle wars or daddy playing “airplane” flying their toddler in the air.  The sultry expression of the little imp who is glaring at the camera.  The little angel unaware that Im clicking away while she examines the intricacies of a beautiful flower she’s just picked.  These are the fleeting moments which comprise the minutes, hours, days, season, stages and years of our lives.  Each one beautiful and irreclaimable.  Time stands still for no one.  This stage today, the styles and attitudes and whacky wardrobe choices of your toddler will never be again.

Gracie’s adoption photoshoot 2014

I have clients all the time who tell me they are wanting photos but just want to wait for the “right time” to schedule a session.  Mom’s want their pre-pregnancy body back.  Or they choose to wait until their 2 year old is at a more cooperative stage.  They postpone until they have their summer tan on or until their 8 year old “grows into their new front teeth”.  And then there are the photoshop post-processing requests “can you take 10 lbs off of me?…and airbrush the crows feet by my eyes?”

Momma and her 4th daughter.

Meanwhile, life is blazing by with a thousand undocumented stages that we are missing because things aren’t “perfect”.  But truly “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and beauty is to be found everywhere, every day.  Perfect portraiture is not my forte – but photojournalism finds the beauty in the eyes of the contemplative child.  The grasping hand of a newborn baby.  The admiration in a glance between lovers.  And the belly laughs and snot bubbles and baby-bed-heads.

toddler giggles 2015

After a particularly emotional photoshoot a few years ago, I have a new perspective on the immeasurable value of photos.  I’ve occasionally had the sacred opportunity of photographing a number of precious wee babies whose lives lasted only a few hours or were born sleeping, but left an indelible imprint on the hearts of all who knew them.  The images we captured this day are the only visuals that this grieving couple has of their precious baby boy.  Photos give us something tangible to hold onto.  To remember.  To celebrate a life even when that loved one is gone.

 

Angel Baby “B” – always in our hearts! 2015


Another friend of mine, a mom of four little ones, is in the final stages of cancer.  Still, she takes photos. Every day, she photo documents the gifts around her.  The sweet snuggles with her children in bed with her.  The matching hats she and her son have that cover her bald head.  The hands intertwined of her and her devoted husband who has loved her well through “sickness and in health”.  These precious photos, the lasts smiles and cuddles and memories with her little ones will be treasures her kids will have for a lifetime!

 

Lovely first time momma 2016

My own passion for photography began about 9 years ago with my baby girl who had just undergone invasive surgery to repair her broken heart.  As I leafed through the pictures my mom had taken of my husband and I holding our fragile baby girl, I was keenly aware that these may be the only photos Id ever have.

Rainbow baby on the way after a miscarriage 2017

No one is harder on themselves than we are ladies!  We suffer from photophobia at times.  There are always gonna be wrinkles and muffin-tops, bad hair days and, well…..bad hair seasons.  But there will come a day you’ll look back, and definitely days your kids will look back and wish they had more moments captured on film between the two of you.  Step into those selfies.  Don’t shy away from the shutter but to frame yourself into your children’s memories by being present.  You don’t need expensive lenses and great gear.  You may from time to time opt for a professional family photoshoot, but don’t wait for that perfect time to capture on camera the memories of today!  iPhones leave you excuse-less for not snapping some silly selfies with your toddlers or photobombing your teens! 

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Here’s to Many More – (40 years and counting)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Six weeks before a rather significant birthday, I sent an email out to friends around the world that have worked with C in mission.  There are great men of faith he’s been mentored by, and young men of vision he has invested in!  Over the course of the next few weeks, messages poured in from the furthermost corners of the globe from people whose lives have crossed paths with his.  As I secretly compiled the video messages and worked to piece together chapters of his life to gift him on his birthday, I was struck by a recurring theme that came through clearly message after message….
C has impacted lives for eternity through modeling a life of unwavering faith!

Our 9 year old Evie, (meloncholy-like-her-momma) actually cried when she watched the video.
Happy tears momma“, she said.  “I just cant believe that there are all these people all over the world who love God more because of daddy!”
And this is precisely the point.
His aim has not been to acquire the praise of men, material gain, or even stability, but always, to glorify the Lord and to make Him known!  And in that, I believe, this amazing man has been hugely successful!

The kids see daddy leave.  For weeks at a time they dont get bear-hugs and tickle-monster.  They’ve had birthday calls from dad instead of birthday dates with dad more times than I can count.  He’s had to miss performances and ball games and awards ceremonies.
They miss him.
Bravely.
Yet there are tears at times.
But this ‘wise-beyond-her-years’ glimpse from daughter of why, and the wisdom to discern the gravity of daddy’s impact and influence leaves me humbled.   God is doing a deep work in their childlike hearts as well and giving them an eternal perspective of what really matters!  They are proud of their daddy, and so am I!

There are a great many other things he does well that deserve accolades….
….I frequently acquiesce the kitchen to the preferred parent when it comes to dinner time.  The kids love it when daddy cooks!  Homemade pizzas and grilled fajitas and french onion soup are signature favorites!
…he is handy-man extraordinaire!  There is precious little that he cant fix or rig or improve on his own.  He’s currently out of town for two weeks and Ive already had to call a locksmith and a repair man and a plumber.  Issues that would be resolved unbeknownst to me if my handyman-hubby were in town!
…he views father and husband as a high-calling.  Its rare that he gets a guys-night-out because he chooses to be present in the lives of our kids.  He makes family time a priority and still dates me and pursues my heart.  Instead of golfing on Saturdays, he gets up and fixes made-to-order omelettes (can you tell my love language is food?).
…he leads spiritually by example and has imparted to our kids the importance of quiet time daily with the Lord.
…he is generous!  Even as our own faith is stretched at times provide for our family of 9 while living on support, C’s heart remains sensitive to the needs around him and he responds with generosity to the ever pressing matters that are brought to his attention.  Im constantly humbled by the way he seeks to be stewarding hands through which the Lord can bless others.


May the next 40 years ahead be even more fruitful and may the Lord continue to be glorified through his life and sacrifice and service.  So grateful to be partnered in life with this man who lives with integrity and intentionality!

(its long, but for those who participated and care to see,
here is the 40th birthday video montage)

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