Hebrews 13:1

I sat down to read my Bible a few mornings ago. Coffee, pen and paper, Scripture. 

Hebrews 13 was where I started reading – directed there by another book. I read verse 1 and actually Laughed Out Loud. It would depend on which translation of scripture you read as to whether you might see the humor as clearly as I did. I read TNIV and The Message usually. 

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Hebrew 13:1. 

Isn’t that wonderfully grace-filled? How many brothers and sisters that you know have a squeaky, shiny, perfectly peace-filled relationship? Yeah, I thought so. And do you suppose 2000 years has changed this all that much? Me either. 

I can’t even begin to think about how many times I’ve read 13:1 and pictured all the perfect things about the perfect family that I am constantly measuring myself against. And as a mom how many times I’ve used this to measure how peaceably my children are living together (and what that means about my success or failure as a mom). 

Families, being the smallest microcosm of community, are ultra-messy. There are far fewer places to hide our sinfulness in a small ranch home. We bicker. We quarrel. We raise voices and stomp away. But the bottom line is that we are still in the small, ranch home. Committed. And going to work it out, even in the mess. 

And this is how the church is to love one another. Not with the shininess of June Cleaver, but the messiness of small-spaced, laundry-littered commitment. Just as brothers and sisters do. 

From Sunday

One of the things that I love about where we live is the easy access to this trail network at Colby College. On Sunday, we took our first walk of 2012. When we moved here 7 years ago, I had one on my back, and the other two kids had short little legs. This year it took about fifteen minutes to get to ‘The Bridge” because everyone has grown! Time to expand our hiking experiences. 
As I’ve (casually) studied the Enneagram, I have learned that for my type (9/Peacemaker) it is critical to reconnect with nature. 

I totally agree with the Enneagram (and not just because I am a 9/Peacemaker). My spirit settles and soars at the same time when I am surrounded by nature. It is also the hardest thing for me to prioritize.

So starting in May, instead of swim lessons for our homeschool PE we will be doing some ‘intentional hiking. 

Even though they have grown up they haven’t lost their love of Pooh Sticks – and a million variations on that theme. I LOVE this picture of all three of them.

Married to a Traveller, or Thoughts about Courage

A little while ago, Marc wrote about being married and traveling for work. I responded with a he said/she said blog post. At that time I realized (again) that I have so much to say about being married to a traveller.

One of the most common responses I get from people when they hear that Marc is traveling AGAIN is ‘how haaarrrrd’ that must be for me. There are a number of assumptions that people are making when they say this.

(isn’t he cute?)

The first assumption is that I had no or little input into the decision that Marc would travel. This couldn’t be a further from the truth. If anything, my input weighed more than his desire. In each opportunity, it has been talked through, prayed through, talked through some more. I know that if I sense a ‘no’, a ‘not now’, or a ‘it’s too much’ that that matters a great deal to Marc.

The second assumption is that this is a new habit of his. But in reality – he has been traveling as long as we have been married. I have been doing the married to a traveller thing for 17 years.

The third assumption is that it is helpful and empathetic to tell me how haarrdd that must be. Does that even make sense? What if, when you told me you had to take the kids to the doctor, then take the dog to the vet,  and then had to make supper for you and Great Aunt Louise I turned to you and said ‘That must be so haarrd.’ How would you feel if, when you told me you had to do laundry, finish an article, and get to the gym I turned around and said ‘that must be so haarrrd’.

The reality is, we all do hard things. For some of us, getting out of bed in the morning takes a great act of perseverance and courage. For some of us, we send our kids to school or we homeschool our kids. We write in places where people we don’t know and people we do know are able to read it.

Yes, our lifestyle is hard. It is much harder now that we have three kids that are home schooled. Even when Marc is home, it is hard.

We have made the choice to not be stopped by hard. We have built a history of hard things we did that turned out really well and some not so well. In every hard thing we grew – as individuals, as a couple, as disciples. Even in this hard season, we are holding to the expectation that we are strong and that God is stronger.

The next reality is that we are all strong people. We have learned to sit, crawl, walk, feed ourselves, read, talk, engage. No, we don’t necessarily celebrate all of those things in our daily lives now, but those are our roots of strength and greatness.

Each day we get to choose what courageous thing we will do. Dealing with a client or a 6 year old, having an honest conversation with a loved one, choosing not to have a conversation with another loved one, stopping the endless office work to do something that we love. All acts of courage. And courage builds upon courage builds upon courage.

We Did It.

When you get in a car on a first date, and your date has to move Amway training tapes out of your way, you have a decision to make. Get out and run. Go on the date and never return another call. Or pay attention to all that caused you to say yes to the first date, and see if there is something to learn.

17 years ago, I decided on the last option. This intelligent man who loved (loves) God passionately and seemed (seems) crazy about me and is thoroughly committed to living life to it’s fullest – he was also committed to the Amway business. What I thought that meant at first was that he sold soap – like Vern the old man who used to peddle at my parent’s house. What I found out was that it really meant I was falling in love with an entrepreneur – someone who at age 16 committed to having multiple income streams and working for himself.

I could write an entire post on how our marriage (a few months later) was fully blessed and grew so much because of our years committed to our Amway business – maybe I will sometime – but this isn’t what I’m here to share today. But you need to understand that when I married Marc, I knew this about him – and knew that it would have an impact on all of our Life Together.

Fast forward 15 years. 3 kids, many moves, several jobs. Marc was approached to run a political campaign for someone we felt passionate enough about to support – in an intense way. It was a crossroads at a perfect time. Marc had been building thefundraisingcoach.com since 2003. There was insurance for our family, so we went for it. It was a risk, a calculated risk, a big risk. But when I married my Amway tape toting man, I knew that there would be times when we had to take a risk (I’m NOT a risk taker, not like that anyway). As much as Marc had stayed in life-sucking, demeaning jobs to serve my need for stability, I knew it was my turn to serve and trust him to make this jump.

The political campaign ended that June – badly and sadly and sooner than we expected. Marc did the cleanup, and we spent the next few months making the best decisions we could. Marc put out feelers to employers, and went to work in earnest at thefundraisingcoach. Each month there was enough. Sometimes just enough. But enough.

That fall we faced some business upsets and some painful learning experiences with a home renovation. We lost a lot of money – or poorly spent a lot of money depending on how you look at it. Money that wasn’t ours to mess with.

As things came to a head last December and I cried to my husband that I just needed to know we weren’t going to lose the house, I also became aware of how split we were. We were looking for a job AND building thefundraisingcoach.

Prayer, crying, and maybe some foolishness led to “Let’s give it a year”. If the business isn’t growing and supporting us  by next December 18, then we will earnestly look for employment, and close this chapter.

We cleared our mental desks of any other options and we have worked hard – Marc making cold calls, writing, speaking, traveling, cold calls, coaching, writing, speaking, traveling, cold calls, consulting, traveling; and my doing whatever I could do to support this business, with ours kid (you know we homeschool, right), stepping into new roles, taking on more than I thought I could.

Guess what.

It’s December 18. We did it. I’m tired. I’m proud of Marc, myself, our kids. And I’m so, so, so glad that we are an entrepreneurial, self-employed family.

Thank you Hatch’s, Hankey-Sugden’s, and Pat Michaud for cheering for us, crying with you, checking in with us. Thank you parents for not telling us how crazy you might have thought we were. Many other folks were online and real-life support – thank you.

Thank you God for loving us so recklessly and trusting us with so much.

Congratulations, Fundraising Coach. I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to see where in the world the next 12 months will take us.

Fundraising Coach Kids – you rock. You have no idea how much you motivated and gave to the business this past year. And someday you will be faced with similar decisions – I pray we have walked our path in a  way that inspires you to make courageous (scary, crazy) choices.

(Check out Marc’s thoughts as we celebrate our December Independence Day at http://marcpitman.com/2011/12/18/one-year-ago-today/.)

Wishing Well

I drive Caleb to school for band every day. It’s a short, very ordinary drive. 5 turns, 2ish stoplights, usually done in about 7 minutes. It’s pretty easy to NOT notice anything about the trip after making it hundreds of times.

This week I happened to notice, behind one of the houses we pass, one of those wishing well lawn decorations. The thing that was noticeable about this wishing well was that it was all covered in plastic securely held by rope or plastic.

On the first day I saw this, I thought about how smart the owners were to protect it from the coming Maine winter.

On the second day I thought about how it was kind of ugly.

On the third day I saw it I thought about how sad it was to have to cover up something the owners were clearly fond of in such an ugly way.

Today, I saw it as a Wishing Well Covered, and began to think philosophically about it.

How often do we do the same thing with our wishes and hopes and dreams? They are our my special hopes and dreams. And I certainly don’t want to risk the atmospheric challenges that might come from just  putting them out there, do I? How many ways do I cover them up in a protective stance?

So, now I guess I can plan on viewing this Wishing Well icon on my way to the junior high for the rest of the winter. What will I do with my wishes?