God is Funny

God sure does have a good sense of humor. I finished writing the post about baby Katie Beth on Wednesday afternoon, but decided to hold off on publishing it because I couldn’t think of a good title. Well, less than four hours later, I fell off a curb and rolled my ankle, slammed my knee on the concrete, and messed up my toe. We went to the ER, and I am now wearing a boot and using crutches. Sean used up his sick leave the week before because we got the flu, and my mother-in-law who usually helps with Caleb flew out on Wednesday (Wednesday!!) to Illinois to visit family for eight days. Best part is I have a highly active 10-month-old boy who is getting into absolutely everything he shouldn’t be right now, and requires constant chasing. Oh also, did I mention I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding on Saturday? Is it just me, or does anyone else find this absurdly ironic??

As we were driving to the ER, I kept thinking about the blog post I had just written. I really don’t think it was a coincidence. I mean, how many times have I fallen off a curb (a curb, really??) in my lifetime…hmmm maybe once. I don’t think God caused this to happen, but I truly believe he allowed it as a test of my heart. Did I really mean the words I had written just a few hours earlier and my prayers for an “ever-increasing heart of gratitude,” regardless of circumstances?

Honestly, as I sit here reflecting, I love that God allowed that to happen last Wednesday night. I certainly don’t think God is taking joy in it (nor am I), but I am glad He loves me enough to allow me to endure things like this in order to refine me and bring me closer to Him. It’s just the thing a loving Father would do who wants His children to grow and mature.

I fully realize this event pales in comparison to what the Schlichter’s are enduring, but I thought it was the perfect situation to put into practice what God had been teaching me. Rather than becoming upset and frustrated (a natural response), I fought those feelings and intentionally chose to pray and thank God for everything that came to mind. Thank you Lord that my ankle isn’t broken. Thank you it only took 45 minutes in the ER, which is completely unheard of. Thank you that I wasn’t holding Caleb. Thank you I have health insurance that completely covered the injury. Thank you for the sweet nurses and doctor who took care of me. Thank you for Sean’s dad who stayed with Caleb so we could go to the ER. And most importantly, thank you for pain killers 😉

72% and 5 Things We’ve Learned While Raising Support

Since many of you reading this are supporters of our ministry, I am sure you are interested to hear about our progress towards our goal of getting onto campus! We are currently at 72% of our monthly goal…SO close to 3/4 of the way there!!! We are definitely in the tail-end of support raising and are praying and hoping to be finished with our financial support by the summer. Right now our biggest obstacle to finishing is finding additional people to talk to about our ministry.

Many lessons have been learned by us in the process of raising support and here are 5 highlights:

1. God is in control and joining staff with Campus Crusade is clearly what He has called us to. I wish I had the space to tell all the specific stories, but let’s just say we’ve come to expect the unexpected. Although we’ve definitely put in our share of hard work, it is clear that it is God who is ultimately working in people’s hearts to join our ministry team. Every time we’ve been frustrated or discouraged, God does something really cool that really encourages us and lifts our spirits, confirming that we are right where we’re supposed to be. Also the fact that He has raised our support much faster than expected is testimony to His call on our lives.

2. Raising support is like sharing the Gospel. You have to take initiative, confront fears, get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and be willing to constantly meet new people. We once heard it said that “if you can’t ask people to support you financially, how can you ask people to completely surrender their lives to God?” This has certainly been training grounds for where we will go next and is pushing our limits of what comes to us naturally.

3. We took many aspects of “normal” jobs for granted. Where do I even begin on this one? Having steady (better) paychecks, only working 40-50 hours a week, working a set schedule each day, minimal travel, occasional periods of psychological rest…and the list goes on. Honestly, leaving these things behind was one of our biggest obstacles to choosing  vocational ministry. The “security” and luxuries we had before, we no longer have.

4. God requires everything…yes, everything. We are learning to let go of the “securities” and comforts I talked about in #3. Nothing can be put as a greater priority than God…when you are stripped of the things you were so heavily relying on, you become painfully aware of the ways you were not depending on God. Halfway into support raising, I did an honest evaluation on my level of trust in God…and found it to be about a 3 on a scale of 1-10. That’s because we had been so “self-sufficient” and independent that I didn’t feel like I desperately needed Him. That’s scary…but I think it’s been changing (maybe slowly…but surely). Mark Gauthier once said that “faith is predicated on insecurity. You should live your life so that if God doesn’t pull through for you – you’re toast!”

5. Happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness is fleeting and depends on your circumstances, but joy is much deeper and transcends circumstances. I think it’s safe to say that support raising does not make us happy. It’s not fun, enjoyable, or easy. Our current circumstances (apart from support raising itself) are less than ideal as well…traveling often, living as a married couple in your parents home, living far away from most of our friends…you get the picture. However, I think it’s also safe to say that we have experienced more joy in the last 9 months than ever before. We’ve learned so much about ourselves and the authentic life (of love and sacrifice) that God calls all Christians to live – there’s no such thing as a “mediocre Christian life”…it’s an oxymoron. We’ve been so close to God during this time and have experienced Him and the awesomeness of being sure we are in His will. Despite the frustrations of support raising and the things we gave up in #3, I don’t think we’d give up this experience for anything.We didn’t choose to do vocational ministry because we lacked other options or because it was going to be an easy path…far, FAR from it. We chose it because we know that God radically transforms lives (I am a testimony to that) and it is so amazing to experience and be a part of that.

We are learning what Paul said in Philippians 3:7-11 – “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”