Thursday 24 March 2016

A Broken Dishwasher and Thankful Hearts

Hi friends!

We wanted to give you a quick update on what we've been up to lately, and share a bit of our hearts with you today.

When you last heard from us we were in the process of completing the application forms to become missionaries with The Great Commission Foundation (TGCF), a Canadian missionary-sending organization that promotes Christian ministry and humanitarian aid, contributing to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It is our hope that they'll be the Canadian organization who can process donations for us, issue tax receipts, help us with the complicated tax process that comes with living in another country, and provide us with the appropriate insurance for a Canadian family living abroad.

We're thrilled to report that we submitted our TGCF application forms last weekend! It probably doesn't sound like THAT big a deal, and you're probably wondering why it took us this long to get them completed in the first place (although if you have preschoolers at home like we do, then you probably know exactly why!). The application process was pretty extensive and we were responsible for detailing all our work experience, education, and ministry experience, as well as sharing our testimonies in detail, and creating a detailed ministry budget, along with completing a more "basic" 11-page application form.

In addition to these forms, we were responsible for collecting monthly donor pledges totalling $1000/month or more as a part of our application and we're so thankful to be able to tell you that not only did we meet our first $1000/month goal, we actually surpassed it and have received $1465 in monthly pledges so far!  Thank you to all of you who pledged and to all of you who have let us know you plan to support us either financially or otherwise. We appreciate it more than you know. Our total monthly support goal is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $4000 per month so we've got a way to go yet, but we are so very thankful for what God has done so far and hopeful for what He will continue to do.

Since we began this journey we have had many moments of doubt and there have also been some silent moments when we have felt very alone. It's very hard to be staring at the seemingly impossible numbers of our ministry budget, wondering how on earth we'll ever be able to raise the financial support we'll need to just get by. But we want you to know that it's been in these very moments when we've felt the impossible weighing down on us that we've received a text, an email, or a phone call from one of you offering to support us or help us out in some way. These moments have turned from moments of fear to places in our journey we can look back on and see God's grace and faithfulness to us.

I (Chrissie) recently had the opportunity to read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and it's now on my 'life changing books' list. She writes about our culture's preoccupation with self, with pride and fear, how we live in this constant state of ungratefulness and discontentment, and how that affects our faith. The solution, she says, is a heart-shift toward a state of constant and deep thankfulness to God, naming grace-moments in the everyday with our full attention. And that when we make a practice of naming these God-gifts, we bless Him for them and our faith in Him deepens.

You might be familiar with 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." I memorized this verse many years ago but it wasn't until recently that I began to understand the significance of it in my life. For a long time, the first part of this verse seemed far too idealistic and the second part just seemed obvious. And then I read Ann Voskamp's book.

What if we made a practice of calling out God's grace to us in every moment and naming the ways He extends grace to us, even in difficult or mundane moments? How would that change our perspective during challenging situations? How would it change the way we see God and the ways in which we experience His presence? How would clinging to God's goodness change us?

After finally sending off our application forms last weekend I was expecting to have a great week...or at least one where I felt like a load had been lightened. Instead, this week was a difficult one full of busyness, frustrating moments and not enough sleep (again). Our dishwasher also quit working, and after paying $100 for a technician to tell us that the replacement part would cost us more than a brand new dishwasher would, we felt overcome with a sense of defeat. Buying a new dishwasher would only happen at the expense of what little savings we have that's been earmarked for our travel to Romania. And in the wise words of our new friend Dave Ramsey (I'm paraphrasing here), if you need it and you don't have the money for it, you don't really need it!

So instead of rushing out to buy a new dishwasher with money we don't have I spent more time than I'd like to admit washing all the dishes from the last few days. As I plunged my hands into hot, soapy water for the fifth time today it hit me that I hadn't spent this much extended time meditating on God's word and opening my heart before Him in a long time, and all of a sudden I was overcome with thankfulness for my broken dishwasher. Doing dishes has always been a time of meditation for me - I read framed bible verses and memorize them while I'm scrubbing pots or blast my favourite worship music and sing along while I work. And since reading One Thousand Gifts it's been the time I spend naming God's grace-gifts to me, but my doing-dishes times have always been brief because the dishwasher has done most of the work.

And as I began to choose thankfulness the depth of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 began to sink in again: God wants us to give thanks in all circumstances not just because He is always good, but because acknowledging His goodness to us even in challenging circumstances is what draws us close to Him and changes the state of our heart from discontentment to one in which we're clinging to His goodness. And if there's one thing I've learned over the last few years it's that the state of our hearts before God is the thing that matters most...and that this state of clinging to His goodness and the faith-deepening that results from it is God's will for us who belong to Christ Jesus...the second part of 1 Thessalonians 5:18. And if Jesus could give thanks to the Father on the night he was betrayed, the night before he died for all humanity (1 Corinthians 11:23-24), then surely I can give thanks in spite of a broken dishwasher.

So as we continue to prepare for Romania, we're going to be doing a few more dishes than usual (at least for the next little while) and spending a little more time clinging to His goodness.

If you'd like to stay up to date on our preparations, we'd love it if you would sign up for our email list by CLICKING HERE.