Glory and The Pink Lady

We were asked by a friend, how God gets the glory in our lives and service. This is a friend who is serious about his faith and… very wealthy. He’s a thinker, a debater and has watched us from the beginning of our process but there was always a question from our friend, regarding our motives. He knew of our marriage issues and reconciliation, we shared our parenting woes, as well as the amazing ways that we saw God working in, through and, around us. We recently send out a letter to friends and family asking for support and his question was asked in the context of potentially partnering with us financially.  

Now, this whole fundraising thing is a little foreign to us and we long for our friends to care for us whether they can support us financially or not. However, we’ll admit that, we do have some systemic issues with the perceived manipulative nature of it all. We don’t have any trouble asking for help but struggle with the expected corporate way supporters  are catered to, pulled on and adorned just so they share their wealth.  

For instance, the reason we were able to meet our friends for lunch, was because they were flown in and put up as guests at a lovely conference center for a “Presidents” weekend in Scottsdale, AZ. Apparently, they were scouted out by large ministry, and brought in to be lavished on and ministered to, in hopes that they would feel a connection and give. It sort of reminded me of those deals that the fancy hotels in Vegas send out, for free stay at their casino. They know if they can get you there, that you will probably spend your money on their slot machines. 

We also know of an organization that does research for some of the richest Christians in the country. They look at a ministry and analyze it in a quantifying way, assessing whether or not the ministry is kingdom worthy. I can see a need for this type of research, as most of the ministries that they are looking at are large organizations. However, it all just seems so distant from where God is really moving. And, can you imagine the hoops those ministries have to jump through, to prove they are worthy of those funds. Good grief.

Here’s the thing… about the Glory of the Lord. We know that humility and poverty has something to do with it. 

…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt 20:28

…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Cor 6:10

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!  Phil 2:68

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matt 5:3

And then there is the story of the widow and the copper pennies. We see Jesus make note of what folks were giving and compares the gifts of the those who give out of their abundance. These were people who great wealth, and though they give much, they could easily spare it, and had enough remaining: but she, the widow, in her”penury”, gives all that she had, her whole substance, all that she had in the world; what was to have bought her food, for that day; she left herself nothing, and trusted to providence for immediate supply.

And then we read about the Corinthians who gave out of their poverty to Paul and Timothy. “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.”

And so, we throw our hands up and we say, take our lives that we might really live. Take it all, that we might see you’re glory. 

20131104-124550.jpgWe arrived in Phoenix ten days ago, on our last financial leg, we had zero dollars. Our host, Kineo Community and our family have been gracious in caring for us. When we arrived we made note of things that might be helpful in our service at Kineo church and we put a shout out on our Facebook group ‘Tillers and Travelers” for art supplies, food and building supplies. Within a few days of voicing that request we had art supplies and a large box of fresh veggies show up. And then, yesterday, our friends The Huff family asked us to join them for lunch. 

We met Niqee at Camp Nebowa in Iowa three summers ago. We were in the process of getting our bus and heading out. She stayed in touch and two summers ago she invited us to join her family, Daniel, and two darling children, at an outreach in Shannandoah, IA. And, later at their home in Omaha, NE. we shared in community with this humble family. A few months later we heard that they had sold everything and hit the road, to serve. They travel in a minivan and similar to us, stay with host families and ministries, offering helps, encouragement and healing prayer. We watched them from afar and then two weeks ago they let us know that we were going to be in Phoenix together. We were excited to hear how things were going for them, to love on them and encourage them to keep rolling and serving. Little did we know that they were actually going to be the ones to pour into us. 

We sat at In and Out burger, enjoying our meal and sharing stories of God’s amazing tapestry in putting the body together. Then they pulled out a big yellow envelope and handed it to us. They spoke healing words over us, words of affirmation, letting us know that this gift was an act of obedience for them, that God recognized our faithfulness and wanted to bless us. In the package was a substantial gift for each of us. They wanted our children to know that God see’s how they care for others, and how He wants to care for them.  They wanted us to know that God gave them this blessing to bless us.  Mind you, these are kinfolk who live day to day, aka… in poverty. My eyes filled with tears, as I felt the presence of the Lord wrap his arms around us. 

We had but a moment to sigh and thank them when an elderly woman approached us. She was a tall woman with silver shoulder length hair pulled back into a pony tale. She had on a hot pink tank top and light pink shorts, pink socks and white tennis shoes. She had two bags with her, both pink. Her name was Debby.  She sat down at the table next to our families and said “hi.” A few polite words were shared and then she asked us, with all seriousness, if we had $10 dollars to spare.

Ok, so wait a minute… In a 24 hour period, I was sitting with my friend releasing him from any financial expectations, blessed by a significant gift from the unexpected and then asked for help.

Debby begins to explain her story about needing rent money. I tell her she doesn’t have to justify it to us, we’re happy to give. Craig pulls out $10 dollars, then Daniel follows. She is now holding twenty dollars. There is a small tear in her eye as she begins to share how that just impacted her. She tells us of a life that is filled with violence, poor health and constant rebuke from those with whom she asks for help. Daniel asks her if she would like us to pray for her. She says absolutely. We move to her table. He begins to talk with her about her heart, and God’s longing for her to move towards him. That God wants more of her. She is in agreement. We pray, Niqee puts a gift card in her hand and Debby whispers, “how much?” Niqee answers “$50 and to get whatever she desires with it.” Debby begins to weep and we all hug her. 

We say our goodbyes to Debby and to each other.

My heart is overwhelmed…. Love, Mercy, and Grace flowing from above. 

And so, to answer my friends original question: God gets the glory because he knows our every need and he uses unexpected means to care for us, and in caring for us, we are able to care for others. The glory is his because he orchestras it.   

 

 

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Bus Conversion – celu’haven Update

We fly to Australia on Monday, March 7, 2012. Before we go, we thought we’d leave you with a little glimpse of our current living conditions.

We purchased the bus in early September 2011 and with the efforts of over 50 helping hands, we now have our living space nearly finished. Our table collapses and turns into a guest bed. The kitchen is nearly functional. With a refrigerator that hold just what we need and stays cool up to eight hours as we drive. Our propane stove is a new addition and allows for us to host many delicious gatherings in celu’haven. Floors and upper cabinets are the last projects for that area. The bedrooms are also quite livable. The kids each have a bunk with storage for clothing and personal items. They have a closet for homeschool materials and desk to work from. The master bedroom is 7×7 and holds our queen size bed, closet, under bed storage and a side table. The bathroom is our last space to finish but it currently works as a storage space and emergency toilet thanks to our friends at www.altrec.com.

The installation of the electrical system has revolutionised our experience, allowing us to plug-in the school computers, refrigerator and of course the tea kettle. We also have three electric heaters and can sleep comfortably in 20 degrees or more.

The under cab storage is like our basement with a bay of electrical, building supplies, tools and musical equipment. We also have a bay of tubs with items waiting for a place to go on the bus.

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Next on the agenda, plumbing for our kitchen and bathroom.

Behind Door Number Two

Making decisions is becoming increasingly difficult. We are enjoying our time in Sisters, OR but understand it is almost time to leave this precious nest. Can we really fly on our own? And where are we going?

We have a brilliant and exciting plan. Leaving Feb 1, touring 30 days down the west coast, across to AZ, NM and then to CO. Park the bus and fly to Australia for two months of performance, serving and visiting family (it’s been 5 years since our last visit home) In April, fly back to CO, pick up the bus and begin to make our way back to the midwest.

With half our dates booked and people expecting us, it seems like a sure thing. However, after review of our finances and with only four more weeks left to prepare, the uncertainty is rising.

Imagine, you have $1 in you pocket. Behind door number one you have a dollar’s worth of debt. Behind door number two you have the opportunity to go serve overseas but it will cost you that $1. Behind door number three is a finished bus/home, that’ll also cost you $1. Which do you pick?

We made the hard choice of paying off our debt. And, once again our faith is being put to the test. The reality of our physical needs are frustrating and distracting. Yet, there is no question about it, we need help. We cling to these wise words, “The end of the matter is better than the beginning, and patience is better than pride.”

We recognize that we are only a piece of the puzzle and we invite you to partner with us. If you have a few dollars to spare or if you would like to become a monthly sponsor by committing to support us along the way, you can do so by clicking the GIVE button.

These are the items that your gift would go towards:
Air Tickets to Australia and transportation while we are there.
WVO Conversion which will allow us to move about the country without the concern of gas prices, making us more available to serve.
Electrical/Plumbing system. Although, we can survive without them, they would be a delight to have and share.
Immediate needs: Eye doctor/Glasses for Banjo.

The Good, The Bad and The Deer In The Headlights

Last weekend we hosted a major event. It was major in a few ways. One, it was a full day extravaganza, 8am-8pm, of bus tours, conversations and explanations about our endeavors, sale of all of our possessions, setting up and tearing down, potluck and concert with The Unfortunate.  Then there were the intense emotions leading up to this event and all that came with saying goodbye to stuff. Thank God for our dear friends, for we wouldn’t have been able to pull it off without them.

Days before our fundraiser, my friend, Paula came over and helped me get everything out the door, load after load, mourning and rejoicing at the same time.  Susan and the Van Fossen’s donated some of their stuff to the event and Tara took care of the detail of making signs for the front yard.

During the event people came and saw the awesome design work by Marc Brummel and got a chance to walk through the bus. We shared our desire to serve and encourage community using our gifts of music and building. With no set pricing for our possessions, we asked people to donate what they felt they had to offer towards our mission. The responses we got varied, a true testament of human character.

We saw greed and we saw charity. And then we saw people who struggled with the donation idea because they though we had some hidden expectation of what we wanted but weren’t telling them and they didn’t want to get the answer wrong. Then there were those who listened and turned around and walked away with a deer in the headlights look. All in all though, we saw charity, great charity. And, with the help of neighbors and friends we were able to raise enough funds to pay for our sheet metal, windows and heating system!