The Process

The Process

Our first day at the children’s home in Samaná was amazing. It was so great to see the kids I’d met last December once again, and also to see how they responded and reacted to Lee. It’s been my experience on previous mission trips to the D.R. that once I start speaking Spanish, natural barriers people tend to put up start coming down. So I was curious as to how the kids at the Advocates of Love home would respond to Lee, a blonde-haired and blue-eyed woman who doesn’t speak an ounce of Spanish.

Needless to say, the loved her. Those kids are so full of joy, they threw themselves at her, wrapping their little arms around her as if they’d known her and loved her all their lives. It was heartwarming and endearing to see the reaction on Lee’s face as she withstood the avalanche of attention and affection from the kids at the home.

Having the kids like you is the easy part, but the real reason we were there was to make sure Pastor Elias and his wife Hellen, both board members of the Dominican NGO that was set up in order to establish the children’s home, deemed us capable and appropriately committed for the role of missionaries to run the children’s home. It was, in essence, an interview so Hellen and Elias could get to know us and understand how we came to be called to this opportunity.

Although having a conversation among four people were only two people are bilingual can be tricky, the overall meeting went very well. We sat in rocking chairs on the porch of Casa Rosa, the new dormitory house for the girls under the care of Advocates of Love, and discussed a wide variety of topics and issues pertaining to the role Lee and I seek to fill. We concluded the two-hour conversation with very positive feelings and increased aspirations of being able to make the transition to full-time mission work as soon as possible.

As with all things, however, there’s a process, and for now the process calls for us to wait. We’ll have to wait until the respective boards (both in the U.S. and the D.R.) can meet, discuss, and decide to select us to be the Directors of the home. As antsy as that makes me, I know that God’s timing is always perfect.

“I hope they let us know soon. I can bearly stand not knowing.”

Financial Dig Dug

Financial Dig Dug

My wife and I make a great team. In many ways, we’re perfect together. But if there’s one thing we’re not, it’s financially savvy. Neither one of us was raised by parents who invested in the market or had that innate sense of entrepreneurship. Rather, we both come from poor, blue/no collar backgrounds where frugality is an art form.

As a result, we did a poor job of staying financially healthy. Even though we were blessed with steady careers that yielded wonderful salaries, our mistakes from the past left us living paycheck to paycheck with little, if any, security net on which to fall.

So it’s no understatement when I say the best thing to happen to me was being laid off. At the time I received the notification, I was left in shock. But less than two weeks later, God revealed part of his plan for Lee and me, and we’ve been moving in a bold, new direction ever since.

Part of this new direction has been the ability to take my severance check from Verizon and use it to pay down and eliminate some of the debt in which we’ve been drowning. The check has been a metaphorical ladder we’ve used to climb out of the hole we dug over the last ten years.

Needless to say, I spent most of this morning going through our accounts and paying off debt after debt after debt. The euphoria of seeing the hefty balance in our checking account was quickly tempered by the realization those dollars would soon be gone.

Look at all this money ….. and it’s gone.

Dave Ramsey reminds us that money is a tool. Although it would leave as quickly as it came in, this severance check was a tool God gifted us so we can be better positioned to transition into mission work. There’s no doubt in my mind had I not lost my job, we’d still be buried in debt in 2019, the date I was originally targeting to leave my career.

They say God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. In the case of this money, it was simply part of the continued qualification God’s putting us through in preparation to do His work. And you can’t put a price tag on that.

Point of No Return

Point of No Return

Today was a busy day.

Last night, Lee’s sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and his fiancé made the drive from Dothan, Alabama, to our house. They wanted to be here early in the morning so we could get started on packing up Patsy’s belongings into a truck and then make the six-hour drive back to ‘Bama. We spent the morning moving boxes, loading furniture, and getting creative with how best to fill the sixteen-foot Penske truck. My hat’s off to Lee’s nephew Hunter who Tetris’d the inside of that vehicle and made it all fit.

We said our goodbye’s at noon and off they went.

After a brief rest, Lee and I went out for a bite. As we sat at the restaurant exhausted, and while recapping the managed chaos that was the morning, the reality of the situation seemed to hit us both at the same time.

“I can’t believe we got it all to fit.”

“Mostly all of it.”

“True, but at least all the essentials are in the truck.”

*pregnant pause as we looked each other in the eyes*

“There’s no turning back now.”

“Nope!”

And there it was, like a ton of bricks on our table. We knew for a month this day would come. We’d been discussing Patsy’s move for several years. Yet it felt almost surreal to be in the conscious understanding of the situation and having a, “Wow! This really happened,” moment.

As I mentioned yesterday, having my mother-in-law live with us was actually quite great. And although we were sad she was gone, the more pressing feeling at that moment was how we’d passed a proverbial point of no return. It was a tangible feeling of commitment to our call to move into full-time mission work.

Whether or not the opportunity in the Dominican Republic works out (we are very confident it will), the fact remains there’s no deviating from our plan to sell the house. Our next step is in ministry, and our next step does not involve our current home.

Oh snap!

 

Yes, it can be a bit intimidating. If you let it, the anxiety can be overwhelming. But Lee and I have been operating from a place of obedience since we prayerfully decided to heed God’s call and go. And acting out of obedience means placing our full faith in God.

Coincidentally, we came across an ad for MyIntent.org, a site from which you can order bracelets and other items with your special, intentional word. For me, that word is Surrender. For Lee, her word is Brave. I think both words perfectly summarize our situation. We have the courage to move into the unknown because we surrender our fears to God.

Why would we ever want to turn back from that?


So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

Mom’s The Word

In many ways, I feel my life story is littered with outlier moments. I was one of the 6% of graduates from my high school who left the confines of Dade County to go to college. Post-divorce, I was able to maintain a great, co-parenting relationship with my ex-wife. And for the past ten years, I’ve shared my household with my mother-in-law … and it’s been great.

I know what you’re thinking: it could not have been all sunshine and rainbows over the last decade with my wife’s mother living under our roof. In all fairness, there were pockets of time when it wasn’t. But overall – for the vast majority of the time – having Patsy live with us was a blessing.

From the small things, like when Lee and I traveled together and we had a built-in pet sitter, to the more complex aspect of watching Lee and her mom make up for lost time due to a staggered past in their lives; being able to have a greater family unit in our house was great.

There were times when Patsy took it upon herself to make dinner for the both of us, and it was rewarding to have the ability to return the favor either using our grill or using our phone (who doesn’t like take-out?). We were never without coffee creamer because Patsy would always pick up some CoffeeMate when we were running low. And our pantry was always full thanks to her almost daily trips to Wal-Mart.

Most importantly, she allowed Lee and me to live our lives and do our marriage without interference. There was never a stereotypical situation with my mother-in-law whereby she would stick her nose in my business and offer incessant opinions and suggestions. On the contrary, it was very rare for Patsy to give us her two-cents about a situation. I value the respect she displayed to her daughter and to me, and in many ways that space allowed my marriage with Lee to grow stronger.

I feel I’ve learned a lot from the time I’ve been able to spend with Patsy, and I hope she feels the same and views her time with Lee and me as a positive experience in her life. I also hope that as God sends us in new, separate directions, she carries with her all the wonderful memories we created and laughter we shared over the years. I will forever carry in my heart the generosity she always showed me, and it’s my prayer I can be a reflection of that generosity with others.


Thank you, Patsy, for allowing us to play this role in your life. I know God will continue to guide and bless you as you move back home. I will miss you greatly.