Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fund Raising Pointers/Truths...

Here are a few free pointers for those of us that find ourselves involved in missionary fund raising...

WAIT - IMPORTANT NOTE:  Before I begin, to those who have given generously and sacrificially to us, we thank you! Your sacrifice sustains us.  Your generous giving is grace to us.  We are at a loss for words to say thank you.

Back to fund raising...  Let me be very honest.  I am NO EXPERT.  I constantly feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.  As we enter into these things together, I want to share the following pointers  that I've found to be helpful to revisit time and time again.

Be Authentic - There is no amount of manipulation that is healthy or helpful.
Trust God - It isn't about you.  Don't get discouraged, seriously, God is at work in you and through you in this process.
Be Truthful - Never deceive.  Never hide.
Dream Big - Don't underestimate what God is going to do.
Embrace Overhead - Many want to shy away from talking about it.  It's a reality of life so embrace it and be honest about it.
Entitlement Warning - NEVER, and I mean NEVER think you deserve anything.  The more success "you" have, the more you will need to resist this entitlement attitude.  The more you sacrifice, the more you start thinking you are owed.  This is disgusting and we see it all too often.  Fight this with everything that you have.  You deserve nothing.  God deserves everything.
Be Faithful - It takes really hard work.  God can choose to drop things in your lap sure with no work on your part, but personally I've found that isn't the norm.  Don't just sit back and wait.  God calls us to be involved in the process.  At the same time, don't ever think your hard work will produce anything outside of his blessing either.  Be aggressive.  Set hard goals.  Don't get lazy.
Be Creative - There are SO MANY ways to raise funds.  Google it.  Consider doing things differently.  Yet, it's important to remember, no amount of cute pretty wrapping paper can manufacture anything.  As an example, a pretty blog is simply a helpful tool, but you can't expect good design to produce magic on it's own.
Ask - Many want to shy away from actually asking.  I think asking is part of being faithful to the task that God has given you.  Many want to share the need, but never actually ask.  We must surely be sensitive in our ask and season our ask with humility and grace, but I have found it to be true that you usually don't receive when you do not ask.
Plan Well - Having a plan is a plan to have.  Think strategically.  Make lists.  Set goals.  Be organized.  Don't stop executing the plan.  Track and analyze your giving history.  Tweak the plan when it's not working, but plan nonetheless.
Be Confident - Your confidence should grounded in God's omnipotence.  If God has called you to this, he will supply your needs.  Hard stop.
Say Thank You - Never get so wrapped up in yourself that you stop saying thank you.
Report Back - Tell stories.  You must communicate.  Help people gain the vision for what and why you are doing what you are doing.  Help them understand why it's a worthy investment to invest in you and what you are doing.
Relationships - People give by relationship and justify by cause.  Good luck if you are missing one or the other!  You can do all you can to explain why they should give, but if they don't have a relationship with you, if they don't trust you, if they don't believe in you, if they don't respect you, if they don't know you, you have a very tall hill to climb.  Of course, this means you must actually have character, be one who is trustworthy, believable, respectable, and knowable.

All to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Last Chemo!

I'm so excited that TODAY is my last day of chemo! 

This is a milestone in my cancer treatment that I have been looking forward to since the beginning of treatment.  I started out in September with a two-drug treatment once every two week for 4 treatments (that took 8 weeks.). That treatment was pretty rough on my system, but not as bad as I anticipated.  I was VERY fatigued for 5-6 days afterward and just didn't feel right.  Thankfully any stomach side effects were very minimal.  My hair started falling out when the doctor told me it would. And so far through my entire treatment, my blood counts have been great and I've had no issues with infection from a compromised immune system. 

When that first treatment was finished, I started a second treatment, one-drug (different than the first two) once a week for 12 weeks. Today is #12 of 12!  This treatment has been much more tolerable. The biggest side effects really came from the Benadryl and steroids I had to have with the chemo the day of treatment.  These last 5 weeks have flown by especially fast.

Chemo is winding down and while I am excited to be done, the next step is radiation.  The medical oncologist will call today to make an appointment for me with the radiation oncologist and I'm told I'll get a consultation quickly to find out when radiation will start.  I'm told to expect that to be 5 days a week for 6 weeks. So my battle isn't finished, but the biggest, most difficult chapter will be finished today!

The kids are having a great school year! They all just brought home great report cards and (praise the Lord!) handed in their big science fair projects today.  All three have recently started playing basketball in the Upward program run by our church.  Braden auditioned for a play with a local production company and is excited that he is going to be a Narnia creature in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in May.  Rehearsals start in a few weeks, so we'll find out more about his small role then. All three kids seem to be embracing this year and new experiences and friendships, but they are always thinking about home and look forward to returning to Haiti this summer, Lord willing.

I know I've been neglectful with updates on the blog.  For that I'm sorry.  I'm hopeful that many of you have kept up with my shorter updates on Facebook. Either way, I know so many have been praying for me and Rob and the kids. We have been blessed beyond measure during this  journey and have felt your prayers in abundance.  Thank you!

~ Becky

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Get 2 Work...

Am I worshiping my work, or is my work an extension of my God-directed worship?  How about you?

Worship is an "expression of the heart, mind and soul born out of reverence and admiration that reveals and celebrates greatness".  Reference: Thompson Unabridged Dictionary

Let's not disconnect our work from our mission of worship.  Let's make sure our worship is vertical, not horizontal, and not directed at the interminable pursuit of self.

This admonition applies equally to those in "full time ministry", those "in the business world", stay at home moms and dads, retired, students, teachers, engineers, artists, etc. We all just as easily take our eye off the purpose of our existence.  When we take our eye off the ball, we swing/kick and miss.  We get sidetracked from the mission and spend countless hours in empty pursuits.

As fellow believers, we are all on the same mission.  Let's not allow ourselves to get consumed by the work, let's rather allow ourselves to be consumed in our worship.

Now, let's GET TO WORK...


p.s.  Thanks for reading.  Frankly, I write out of personal process, conviction, learning, and challenge.  If no others read, that's ok, for I have succeeded at recording my own wanderings and wonderings.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fear and Worry...

Confession:  I've struggled with fear and worry my whole life.  I am an expert (tongue in cheek) and can certify that...

Fear/worry steals.
Fear/worry blinds.
Fear/worry kills.
Fear/worry distracts.
Fear/worry deceives.
Fear/worry devours.
Fear/worry binds.
Fear/worry exploits.
Fear/worry ignores truth.
Fear/worry prevents.
Fear/worry consumes.

These 2 destroyers are in cooperation.  Fear fuels worry.  Without fear, worry is dead.

Fear. Where does fear come from? Fear comes from misplaced self oriented earthly desire and concern.  Dousing the fire that fear desires is only possible when we recognize fear and choose to center our will upon God's eternal purposes.  Ignoring and allowing fear to take up residence is not without consequence.  Surrendering to a God who wholly knows us and completely loves us and wants what is best for us frees us from the power of fear.

Worry. Worry is trouble-centered frenetic mental and emotional calisthenics fueled by fear.  Rather, trust is God-centered quiet resolve, anchored and fueled by the knowledge and surrender to God's character and will.

The Truth... "We will not fear though the earth gives way. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Be still and know that I am God. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Fear not. Stand Firm. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent".  (Psalm 46, Psalm 23, Exodus 14, Matthew 6)

Resolution. Today, I choose to not fear and to not worry.  I choose to stand firm in quiet resolution.  I choose to think eternally.  I choose to focus on what God is doing, not on what my flesh thinks he should be doing.  No matter what lies ahead, I will trust and follow.  I am willing to go anywhere, do anything, be anyone in and for Christ because He is greater, higher, bigger and stronger than anything I fear.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

On Being ONE…

one mosaicIf we expect to be one, than there must be uncommon behavior intentionally applied.  Common vision, purpose and goals requires uncommon teachability, eagerness for harmony, admiration of other’s gifts, and meekness.
I am speaking about T.E.A.M.
  • Teachability - “Never be wise in your own sight.” Rom 12:16
  • Eagerness for Harmony – “Live in harmony with one another” Rom 12:16
  • Admiration of Other’s Gifts – “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Rom 12:10
  • Meekness – “Do not be haughty” Rom 12:16
If we expect to be ONE TEAM, one body, one family, we must intentionally act in unnatural uncommon ways.  Sadly, a flesh filled, all-too-common pompous and unyielding inability to listen and learn, lazy acceptance of discord, blindness to the gifting of others, and self righteousness are our pitfalls.  We are quick to speak (teach) and slow to listen (learn) to other perspectives. When don’t understand that unity follows harmony, not the other way around. We compare ourselves to others and tend to focus on our strengths and other’s weaknesses.  We tend to think much too much about ourselves.  We are intransigent.

Let’s listen and learn.  Let’s make sweet music by embracing our differences.  Let’s celebrate one another.  Let’s first consider others before ourselves. These are the characteristics that will drive us and bind us together (convergence).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chemo, Baseball, Haiti... A Family Update...

A few days before my first surgery August 18th, we had my sister-in-law at Ash Aspen Photography take family photos. We are really happy with how they turned out! Below is one of our favorites! Here is the link if you want to check them all out.

How am I feeling?  The last time I updated, the kids were starting school and I had gotten news of needing another surgery and a chemo start date. Since that last update, I had surgery to remove some skin and a port placed for chemo on Sept 2nd. Unfortunately, a non-serious complication developed from that surgery requiring a third surgery 6 days later. Those were a tough 5-6 days for me and to be honest, I was in pain and feeling pretty discouraged. Thankfully, since then, I've been feeling better and better each day, so much so, that I've been doing normal activities for a week now. It's been a blessing just to feel mostly normal. We got the pathology report back from the skin removal and it was cancer-free and we now have clear margins. We have been praising the Lord for that good news!

Tomorrow is the big day: Chemo Start Day. It feels like the beginning of the next big phase in this cancer fight... one that should last 4-5 months. It's hard to think ahead over the next few weeks as I have no idea how I will feel or what life will look like. Please be praying with us for minimal side effects and good tolerance. I'm told to expect to start losing my hair around 2 weeks after the start. I've also been encouraged to mention every little thing to the nurses/doctor. Seems like they have ways to minimize/control many of the side effects. 

Rob is going to Haiti for 5 days Next Week.  Please be praying for him as he travels and for the rest of us here at home.  We will have help if we need it, but it will be hard for him to be gone.  Rob is excited about seeing the team in Haiti.  The visit will be packed with lots of reunions and planning meetings.

Last week, I enjoyed participating in a class the American Cancer Society offers called "Look Good, Feel Better." I was one of six ladies with cancer participating, and I was by far the youngest one! It was a lot of fun learning make-up tips and tricks as well as understanding skin care during chemo. We also explored hats and scarves and some of the ladies tried on and picked out wigs. (You won't see me in a wig, it's just not me). We went home with a goody bag of free products. It was fun.

The kids have adjusted very well to school and we are starting to fall into a routine. In fact, we are already at the point where it is hard to get two of them out of bed in the morning. Somehow that makes everything feel normal!

Drew has been playing fall baseball, a dream come true for him. He is loving every minute and really learning a lot and improving. He's had two games so far and his team has won both of them. It's been fun to go to his games on Saturdays and cheer his team on. He's had his first strikeout, hit, walk and groundout and has played a few different positions in the field. 

Many of you have asked how you can help or have said to let you know if we need something. Please, keep praying! And the words of encouragement mean more than you'll ever know. We know there are SO MANY of you lifting us up. It is such a testimony of God's love, goodness and faithfulness. After surgery, a friend set up a meal sign-up and it has been a huge blessing to our family. Since chemo is starting, she has extended it into October. If you are in South Jersey and want to help out in that way, here is the link to sign up.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

We Missed Our Flight Home...

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

When we left Haiti on June 1, we had big plans for the summer. We had prayed through these plans and felt they were God-directed. Even looking back at how some plans weren't quite coming together before we left makes me realize that they were God-directed. He knew what we were going to find out on June 23rd. 

My cancer diagnosis sure threw us for a loop, as it would anybody, but on top of that we were faced with so many questions and decisions to make: where to go for treatment, choosing the treatment option best for us, where to live, where to send the kids to school, etc. We were faced with so many changes for how we thought our summer was going to look and even bigger how the next year is going to look. Through July we were able to still do many of the fun things we had planned, but once August rolled around we had to put off our plans so we could instead make new plans to start treatment. At this point, all the changes suddenly seemed more real than ever. Now we weren't just talking about cancer treatment, I was starting treatment. Now we weren't talking about where to live, we were moving into a house. Now we weren't getting the kids ready to go back to school in Haiti, but registering them for school in the US.

Yesterday, August 30, was the date we were were supposed to fly home to Haiti. Many of the other missionaries have already returned or return in the next few days and the kids' school for the last 5 years starts on Monday. Yet we aren't home. We weren't "supposed to" still be in the States on this date (at least according to our plans.) More and more we are realizing that life and ministry in Haiti is going on without us.

Yet I am embracing this place we are calling home for the next year or so. Embracing the experiences our kids will have at a new school and living in the US. I'm not sure I am embracing cancer treatment, but I'm doing my best to "roll with it" and so far, recovery from surgery has gone much better than I anticipated. This new path is all so much more "real" than ever. My "assignment" for the next year is not what it has been the past few years (missionary, bookkeeping, menu/team planning, teaching, etc) but rather receiving treatment to rid my body of cancer. This means being still and waiting, which is not easy for me! My prayer as I go through each step of this journey, is to take each step relying not on my own strength, but on the strength of my Heavenly Father, to carry our family through this trial and bring us all into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.

The kids started school today! Here they are ready to go:

Drew ,6th grade, Tessa, 5th grade, and Braden 3rd grade.

Treatment Update...

We got some disappointing news last week from the pathology reports after surgery. The primary tumor was closer to the skin than they could see in films and scans. What that means is they weren't able to say they got a "clear margin." To be sure there was no spread to the skin, I will go back in this Friday, Sept. 2nd, for a small surgical procedure to remove about a quarter-sized area of skin. At the same time I will have a port placed for chemo. Both of these things are same-day, out-patient surgery.

We met with the medical oncologist yesterday and now have a chemo plan. Chemo will start Tuesday, September 20th. I will receive two drugs once every two weeks times 4. When that is finished, I will receive another drug once every week times 8. If all goes according to plan, chemo will take about 4 months.

Prayer Requests...
  • Pray for a smooth surgery and port placement on Friday, September 2nd. Pray for the surgeon and for a positive report of "clear margins" after the skin is removed (meaning all detectable cancer has been removed plus a good cancer-free margin around the site.)
  • Pray for the kids as they adjust to a new school, as well as school in the US. Pray they will make friends and quickly feel like they are a part of the class. Pray for them as they adjust to a longer school day and get back into the homework routine. Pray for a good adjustment to new curriculum.
  • Pray in advance as we anticipate the start of chemo on Sept 20th.
Thank you and we love you all.