Diamond Smugglers to the Rescue

One trip south to Kajiji, by the Angolan border, MAF planned to take Dad and his group to a Mennonite mission station there. It was Jean Sakala, Dede Kikavuanga Dongo, Paul and Joseph Tsasa. They needed two thousand dollars minimum for the trip (two return flights to the MAF station for dropoff and pickup). The two brothers seemed to always get sick when flying and by the time they arrived at the station they were green in the face.

They were feeling so sick that they laid out on the ground in the shade of the Cessna’s wings and the pilot hung around a little longer than customary to make sure they were OK. There was a great procession of greeting and singing in good Congolese fashion, choirs singing, children waving and cheering. Eventually the commotion died down and people trickled away when they understood there would be some delay until these boys recovered.

The unusual delay brought just the right window of opportunity for what followed. Two men approached the pilot and group out of breath, exhausted and anxious looking, sweating all over. They were urgently asking the pilot to fly them out of there…it appeared anywhere was fine.

Gallo winery project on the table…then not.

I’ve been under tremendous pressure with Kendra this past year. I don’t know why I’m holding out for freelance leads anymore. I just feel tired of the race. A lot of time has passes by since I met with Crush Creative and I know even more time will pass before anyone will act in response to an introduction like the newsletter I developed. I put a lot of work into that promo piece and will use parts of it on my website but the main person there appears to be far too busy to even look at what I’ve developed, let alone give me feedback. And I’m kind of running out of time, which of course is no fault of anyone. It’s just the reality I’m facing of not having time left to get this new initiative off the ground and actually make myself visible to the creative industry in this area. One or two good leads would make a big difference in my current course and help me get a foot in the door. I actually had a lot of interest from Gallo wines for a rush project through 52 Ltd. (talent agency) but they got stalled in the paperwork on their end and the deadline for their project passed. Aaaach. Working with freelancers is kind of new for 52 Ltd. and the contract details needed a bit of time to sort out. Still don’t know if they got it set up for the future or decided not to proceed.

And working with Lee at USBioplastics has been good as we know each other and there’s lots we could do together. But funding isn’t there yet and I really don’t kow what to expect this time around. Communication has been like go go and then silence…no money, no communication, late on things…then go go again. I really need something dependable right now or I just can’t justify this freelance thing. It’s too hard on Kendra and me and affects the whole family. I am feeling confirmed in my heart that I need to make a change this next month and see what other doors God might open. I have asked God to show me this month if I’m to stay in this freelance direction by bringing a new lead my way. If I don’t see any new connection or solid lead by the end of September I need to start getting the word out to look for a job with a company somewhere. There have been so many promising directions and enquiries this past year that have evaporated or stetched on in timeframes without solidifying. Everything from long term potential partnerships to big projects to small projects. I don’t know how much more disappointment I can handle here without succumbing to depression.

The one thing recently that’s holding my head above water is the generous gift of an oven from Shawn and his encouraging prayer and support. I feel like expressing my discouragement to Kendra would only magnify her own fears and concerns and so I have to find strength and belief that we’ll make it through this. As Paul (pappa) said in a newsletter for prayer support to our friends, we need someone like Joshua to hold up our arms in trusting the Lord with peace in our hearts, not succumbing to discouragement or turning to useless escapes.

God, I need real solid steps I can act on. Everything is so uncertain and nebulous right now I just have no idea even what to pursue that might be marketable. Father, hear my prayer, have compassion on me as I find my way and guide my blind steps with a sure and gentle hand.

Consider the birds, Consider the flowers

God has stepped in again repeatedly these last few days to remind me that He cares, that he is with us, that he will provide. Twice recently he reminded me of the Matthew passage of his provision for the birds and how much more he cares for us. Once yesterday with Kendra reading the kids bible…it stated it so wonderfully, simply, full of God’s tone of tenderness. Again today listening to a message by Andre Rabe on God overturning the ritual of sacrifice he ends on this picture of God’s love, Jesus learning about the love of the father in human form as he observes the birds and flowers around him…he speaks the language of creation, knows it comes from the father and hears the message of love and favor that is intended to come through creation around us. He passes on this lesson he learned through his own experience on earth…not head knowledge that came through teaching but real struggle and dialog with God…listening to his voice through the world around him.

Again, I don’t know why we are called to wait so long in dependence on the Lord without new direction or leads for work but he seems to be going out of his way to assure me that he is for me, with me, and knows how to provide. My heart is lifted again in this moment. Tomorrow I will likely need this bread again and will trust him to hold my head above water. This evening Paul came by and wanted to pray with me. He started by confessing he should have come weeks earlier when he had the impression but that he puts things off and often waits until things are in crisis before responding. I simply said I was glad he came and really appreciated his prayer for Blessing, peace and favor on us…and protection from discouragement and untruths of the enemy, from depression.

After this big project that was supposed to move ahead with Craig and keep us busy over the next few weeks fell through, I felt peace in the moment…coming home from his office. I even wrote him an email and prayed that God would lift any burden of responsibility off him. Today, the next day, however, I felt discouraged…like my efforts were futile and not going anywhere. I found it hard to think clear, focus on the next thing to do and get something done. I suppose God knows better than I where my breaking point is and I will endeavor to put his encouragement to good effect to fend off despair and continue moving forward in trust and confidence. I long to grow in leaning into God in my weakness and need rather than turning to distraction and escape…which is to pacify my fear that God will not be able to provide what I need or fulfill my dreams and desires. This is my threshing floor and my whole future of walking more fully in His joy and freedom is on the line. it is in the balance.

Get a Job!

It has become clear over this past weekend that all the networking meetings and evening events in town that I’ve been attending in the attempt to connect with the design industry have been taking a high toll on Kendra. All my attention and focus has been on the struggle to wear a business hat. I help put the kids to bed but then feel compelled to work on developing skills, researching, web development, etc. When midnight rolls around I try to wind down or “escape” with an episode of The Fringe. I wake up pretty groggy as usual and start the whole cycle again. At times like this Kendra carries extra and starts to feel taken advantage of, underappreciated. Things can get emotionally charged with both of us and the kids ended up being in the middle of our arguments all Saturday. It started with Kendra riding Tallie really hard about pouting and managing her expectations. I saw Tallie getting quite distressed feeling like Kendra was misunderstanding her (I know the feeling). Eventually I stepped in and told her it was enough, that her point was made and it needed to settle down. Kendra didn’t agree and kept after Tallie until I snapped and yelled at her to stop (as Tallie fled the room). Kendra stubbornly denied that she was doing anything wrong and that I should leave…I threw the wash cloth I had in my hand at her. All my emotions of feeling misunderstood and chastised by Kendra when she gets tired and emotionally charged surfaced as I saw it happening to Tallie. Sure Tallie needed to address her attitude but something in the way it was being handled flet over the top. And yet Kendra never recognizes how she affects people through her emotions or how strongly they register.

We went back and forth several times later that day trying to work things out. Tallie hates it when we argue, even mildly, and sounded distressed. Caleb ended up hiding in the bathroom cabinet to try to get away from it. Both were scared that we were going to get divorced. It is an awful thing to see the suffering of your children and even worse to know that you are the cause. Oh God, give us the grace and the strength of will not to go there again!

As the post title suggests, I feel it is time now to get a job. I have been resisting this eventuality and holding off as long as possible…but the cost now seems to outweigh the reasons to stay freelance.

God Gives us Tires

God was good to us yesterday. I went out to find some used tires in Woodburn on a recommendation. I was referred to Benavidez Tires by a mechanic I called. They told me on the phone they had two matching tires I could have for $80 each, balanced and installed. When I got there the guy also suggested I could reverse the direction of my back tires to get a month or two more out of them…an extra $10 for that. While they were beginning to work on it the guy in charge came to where I was waiting and told me he actually had 4 tires he could sell me for $200. Turned out one of the original two they were going to sell me had a bump in one part that made it asymmetrical…the owner’s father had just brought in a new batch earlier that day and had 4 Michelins for me that look great. He didn’t even charge me the $10 for disposal because it was my first visit. I came home feeling so blessed by a God that orchestrates details to meet our needs…such impeccable timing.  Thank you my Lord and my God.

prayer of inclusion

Father, do not pass me by. Though I am weak, timid and a storehouse of fear, I do yet have love to give. Do not exclude me from your purposes. Include me in your Kingdom plans and write me into your story. Open my eyes to see your daily invitation and give me boldness and courage to step into your work of restoration.

prayer of inclusion

Father, do not pass me by. Though I am weak, timid and a storehouse of fear, I do yet have love to give. Do not exclude me from your purposes. Include me in your Kingdom plans and write me into your story. Open my eyes to see your daily invitation and give me boldness and courage to step into your work of restoration.

God confronts my image of him

After posting to the blog about the stoning of the sabbath breaker my computer tore this part of the page and I felt God speaking to me through it.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Teeth of Wisdom

I hope this doesn’t prove to be a sign of senility to come but I had my last 2 remaining upper wisdom teeth removed yesterday. The good news was that they got all the root tips out after them breaking off on the right tooth. the bad news was that they broke off in the first place after an interminably long tug of war with that tooth. It didn’t want to give up and leave. They said it was a fascinating tooth in the end…that it had an unusual 4th root with the two center roots twisted around each other like a candy cane. Must have been where all my creative ideas come from. Well that other tooth saw what a big fight his buddy put up to no avail and decided to let go without much fuss…came out whole and clean. Now I’ve just got to heal and deal with this foul taste in my mouth. Tastes like death and decay.

Very glad to have this done. One of those things that hangs over me to check off the list. Thank you God for being with me through the small victories and for such a sympathetic wife who cares for me so well. She wouldn’t let me drive myself home and I think it was wise…even though we all had to endure a ride with a tired Karina screaming in distress over some bereft toy. It’s been a peaceful day today and so appreciated.

The simple things that make God proud

Revelation of God’s character and the nature of His relationship to us strike me at the most unexpected times and in the most peculiar way. I was having a tender moment with Caitlyn while watching her Sunday morning (Kendra took the other three to Imago for service). Caity has been potty training of her own accord and has taken to removing her diaper and lower clothing, perhaps to make it easier to jump on the potty whenever the urge hits her…or whenever the fancy takes her which seems more the case lately.

So, she hollered out “I go poopie” and grabbed my hand to help her. We head into the bathroom, plunk her down on the big potty and wait. She takes her time, just happy to be there like the “big” people in her life. She holds on to my leg with both arms and just looks up at me with her tiny face and big eyes and just gives me one of those “I love you Daddy” looks with her eyes and smile. A little more pushing and patient waiting and she proudly announces, “see Daddy? I poopie!” She looks behind her to confirm that her two little nuggets are indeed there…and then back at me with such a happy smile.

You know what? I couldn’t have been more proud of or delighted in her than at that moment. The fact that she was sharing her proud moment with me and the love in her heart with which she included me made it all precious. perhaps even more memorable than the onstage production of the front room dance routines…although those are a great delight that send us running for our cameras. These bathroom times are more private moments held in trust but very precious.

I imagine in this experience how the simplest things we might do can bring great joy to God’s heart. It is all about the joy in our hearts as we do the little things with love for God that delight him. The big accomplishments for “His kingdom” don’t impress Him in the least if they haven’t been done out of loyal devotion to Him. Conversely, cleaning diapers can be a trophy of honor in God’s showcase of good deeds if done out of humble devotion to Him. Our passion and love for Him must infuse all of our service to Him if it is to be useful for his purposes both in us and in the world. Anything less is unworthy of being brought before him as it must be a “love” offering that we lay at his feet, not simply a gift of our talents and resources.