Wednesday, May 31, 2017
A long and time honored tradition culminated last week. We celebrated the fifth and final little-girls-6th-birthday-housewarming-party of our family! Turning 6 is a big deal around here. 30 years ago, my grandfather (who is now 97 and watching this tradition carried on to the next generation) started something special that left an indelible memory. A beautiful Victorian Dollhouse was toiled over, constructed, adorned, painted and presented to me on my 6th birthday. My mother jokes that the box they purchased with instructions suggested 40 hours for assembly. Grandpa put in 80!! Using Grandma’s earring studs to create tiny door knobs and and laboring in his tool shed to perfect and improve the design, his masterpiece exceeded the manufacturers labeled photograph and the structure has withstood now three-decades of play. Each of my sisters received the same gift on their 6th birthday developing a little “neighborhood” in the playroom of my childhood home.
C took on the baton and purposed to create the same special memory for each of our girls on their 6th birthday. Abi, Britain, Izzy Evie and now Gigi each have dollhouses that hopefully they’ll get to pass on to their daughters some day! We could have a whole little “village” if all the big sister dollhouses weren’t packed up in a POD back in the USA!! 🙁
I told her she can stop growing now! 6 years old is old enough! Have loved every minute of your little-girlhood my Gigi! Your spunk and sass and sweetness. I love that chocolate still works to bribe you to take a nap with me and that you still love to sneak down in the middle of the night sometimes to snuggle. I love your obsession with hairbows and high-heels and lime drinks and bubble tea. Our coffee mornings when all the big kids are at school and the way your hand fits just right in mine when we walk to pick them up! Your crazy mess of curls and the Fancy Nancy quote you say to me every day that keeps me wrapped around your little finger…..”I adore you….really, I do!”
I adore you too my girl. Happy 6th birthday to our little hot mess!
This sweet little dollhouse cake brought to us by Cupcakelicious U! Yum, yum, yum!! What a masterpiece of its own. Delicious lemon cake and cream cheese frosting under all that fondant amazingness! And the best part – they deliver! Bangkok friends – check them out for your next event!!
Monday, May 22, 2017
Nearly 2 years ago, we promised Tristan a “wilderness adventure” for his 13th birthday. This wild-at-heart-man-child of ours is most at home away from home. This apartment in Bangkok just isnt a natural habitat to his free spirit and we’ve longed to be able to set him loose and see him push his limits and rise to a challenge! That opportunity came in the form of a mountain trecking endeavor with his dad and a team of men that we work with. The team was going to lead a training in Nepal which made it easy to tack on an extra week to summit the Annapurna in the Himalayan mountains!
We’re talking big-boy adventure here! Similar to the Everest base camp climb! ROCK (climbers magazine) names the Annapurna the “deadliest mountain in the world“! Even tho no one is allowed further than the base camp anymore, the climb to ABC was no small feat!! Tristan left a kid and returned a man….because there aint’ no way his momma could have done it and he has earned a badge of honor, the respect of everyone else on the trail, bragging rights and a great sense of accomplishment!
The rugged terrain took their trecking party of 7 up the 4,130 meters of the Annapurna mountain to the base camp, which is now the highest point which climbers are allowed to summit – because it is so dangerous beyond that point and there have been too many deaths! I restrained the urge to google too much information about the treck until I knew they were safely down, but when I did, I came across crazy stories that would have left me with an acute case of insomnia had I known! The guys passed “memorials” on the way honoring climbers who didnt make it back down.
Every day, from the crack of dawn, they hiked for hours through blazing heat, rain and then snow to make it to their destination. Nights were spent in tea houses which were un-heated, but provided water for showering and a hot meal. Daily hurdles included rope bridges to cross, creeks to wade through, altitude sickness, headaches, oxygen deprivation, rocks to climb, cold to press through and mental stamina and true grit!
We didn’t hear from the guys the entire trip aside from a spotty attempted phone call and a couple of text letting his momma know he hadn’t fallen off the mountain. C tells me that Tristan was, by far, the youngest guy on the trail! And can I just say its a good thing his momma wasn’t there!! I for sure would have gotten in the way of him summiting. The guys tell us that the last day, they had to get up at 4am to begin the final hike in order to summit at sunrise. Tristan at this point had an especially acute case of altitude sickness and was not doing well at all. They guys all pushed and prodded, encouraged and antagonized, whatever necessary to keep him putting one foot in front of the other. Apparently he was delirious and kept asking C if he could “just lay down in the snow and sleep for a minute?”
Oh my momma heart!!! Had I been there you can bet that 1) who am I kidding, I would have died the first day and never gotten that far, and 2) I would have been the weakest link in the chain that pulled him up those last miles! Tristan persevered and conquered the Annapurna trail!!
The summit has a helicopter that rescues climbers 4-5 times a day who just pass out and cant make it any further. Im pretty sure Tristan was on the brink of a fast track out of there, but he continued on and made the descent with the guys and bought his Tshirt to wear with pride!
Annapurna checked off the bucket list!! Such a cool father-son adventure! And, we’ve told him that he’s now obligated to do it again with Eden in 13 years…..because Im pretty sure C is gonna be too old by that point to attempt it again with son #2! So insanely proud of these guys!!
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.
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
South Carolina 2012
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!
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Can you give $10 or $15 a month? We need a small and faithful army of $10 givers!!
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Thank you for loving our family, standing in the gap, and praying for God to move mountains on our behalf!