Friday, July 31, 2009

Little travels with a little baby

Gus took his first flight last weekend for a trip to Washington, D.C. (See the little airplane on his outfit :) He is our youngest flyer so far at 2 1/2 months but was a piece of cake on the plane. He slept the whole way on both flights. I even brought a book on the plane . . . and read it. I don't remember the last time I did that!

We were in Washington for a meeting that Rhett's mom was chairing for families of POW/MIAs from Vietnam. We got to spend time with Rhett's family and since Rhett was feeling under the weather we spent some nice quiet time in our room with a nice quiet baby who looked like this most of the time . . .
We had so much fun hanging out with Gus alone for the first time since he was about 3 days old. We even took in a few sights. We had heard about the new Capitol Visitor Center which cost $$,$$$,$$$ so we thought we'd like to see where our tax dollars are going.

The visitor center was very nice. I'm not sure worth the pricetag but nice just the same. Gus was seemingly unimpressed with the whole deal . . .
But he was a lovely travel companion and we had a great trip. Oh I almost forgot! We saw the President! We went to see the military parade at the Marine Barracks and the President was the guest of honor. I was standing about 15 feet from him and Michelle (although there were several secret service and a few Marines between us) as he left the Barracks. It was interesting to see the whole Secret Service scene with snipers and the whole nine yards. Of course none of us had our cameras for the Presidential sighting. Oh well. I'm not a fan of him or his politics but it is still exciting to see the President!
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Monday, July 20, 2009


The days are laid out before us. We leave for Kenya on November 5. There is certainly a lot that is going to happen between now and then. I'm trying to live each day and not get too caught up in all of the things that I could (and some would argue should) be worried about. Our house is still for sale, we have several things left to sell and a few more to buy. We are preparing in several different ways for our "new life" in Kenya but don't know exactly what that new life entails. This is right about the area where the rubber meets the road.

We are taking God at his word and trusting in Him. Some might think we are taking this whole "trusting God" thing a bit too far. After all isn't that just a Sunday schoolish term you use when referring to how you are waiting for God to conform to your plans? You don't actually pack up your life and move to Africa. You certainly have to be willing to move to Africa but you never actually have to go. Well, we are following and trusting and being upheld by His promises for those who do.

One strange thing about his whole "missionary" thing (a term that is kind of loaded and I haven't quite come to terms with yet. I don't feel like I need a label - I'm just me - going to share the love of Christ with those who do not know Him. I guess missionary is easier to throw around a conversation than that so I'll go with it for now) is money. I find it all very awkward. In order for us to be able to do what we are going to do (move to Africa to provide medical care for suffering people and evangelism to those who are not in a relationship with God) we have to walk away from our paying job here in the States and depend on others to support us. Let me clarify that first, we are depending on God to support us through others. It seems as though the modern Church has come to see it as I first described it: as people supporting us and not God himself. Hence the big campaigns and fund raisers and other means of drumming up funds that look no different than any other charitable organization out there except for perhaps some prayer and churchy language inserted here and there. It just seems so awkward to see people who are going to fulfill the great commission going around begging, petioning and otherwise asking people for money. This whole process of "raising support" has always kind of pricked my heart in an odd way but just recently am I understanding why. It all started when Rhett read George Mueller's biography about a year ago and encouraged me to read it too. For those who have not read it I also recommend it to you. It changed everything for Rhett. He was so inspired by Mueller's life and his total dependency on God for his every need. God was so faithful - just as He promises to be.

The problem seems to be that we rarely need God. Especially related to finances and especially in America. We have Plan A and Plan B and often several more letters than that! We have nest eggs and emergency accounts, college savings for our children, rainy day funds, vacation accounts, 401(k)s and IRAs. We have everything handled. It's as if we are saying "Thanks God. I've got this one. I'll call on you when someone gets sick or if I really want something that I haven't already planned for". I think that the picture of New Testament Christianity is radically different from this. The picture we see there is one of complete surrender and Lordship of Christ in our life. Everything.

Somehow this whole idea of self-perservation which is so contrary to Jesus' teaching is accepted and even celebrated in most Christian circles. We've decided to go another direction with our finances especially related to our overseas missionary work. We are not asking for "donations" or "financial support" from anyone. We are taking our requests to God, we are praying - a lot - and trusting that He will provide for us. I am excited about testifying to how He does that in this blog.

Several people have asked questions about this so here is a quick (or maybe not so quick!) expanation of our situation and how we are handling it. We knew about 2 years ago that we wanted to go and serve but didn't know exactly how that would work or how we could make that happen. We were so thankful to find World Medical Mission - whose purpose was exactly that - to help physicians straight out of training transition directly to the mission field. One of the main ways they accomplish that is with finanical assistance. They are providing us with some monthly financial support and with some upfront expenses related to going (plane ticket for Rhett, needed vaccinations for Rhett, etc.). You may have noticed I mentioned the expenses covered for Rhett but not for the other 4 of us. WMM provides assistance directly related to the physician but if they were to fully support each family going (there are a lot of us and we have a lot of children!) they could probably send about 3 families. All that to say that our expenses exceed our WMM support. By how much? Who knows. What are our additional needs? I dunno. But the neat part is that God most certainly does. And for that we are thankful.

So when people ask what they can do for us or how they can help us it is difficult for us to say. We don't feel right raising X amount of dollars when we don't know if that is what we need. So our respose to people who ask to help is "We definitely have needs but we don't know exactly what they are. If you'd like to pray for us and feel led to give to our ministry this is how you can do that". In the mean time we aren't going around asking people for money or sending support letters to everyone we've ever known since kindergarten. We can spend our time and effort telling people about God and this amazing gospel He has given us and less time talking about us and what we need.

So we talked about it and decided to include this information for the blogosphere, too. That is why you will see new information in the margin about how to support us financially. This isn't a petition just a portal for those people who read about what we are doing and want to be a part of it. We will also we using this blog to ask for specific prayer needs as we prepare to go and while in Kenya. For those of you reading that we know personally you will soon be receiving a prayer card in the mail from us. It has our family picture and quick info about where we are serving in addition to three prayer requests: 1. For our Faith 2. For those people we are going to serve and 3. God's daily provision. We humbly ask you to pray those things for us as often as you can. Stick that card on your fridge, in your Bible, in your car, on your washing machine - where ever you will see it and pray for us.

In addition I can't wait to tell you about the amazing ways that God will be providing for us, financially and otherwise, starting now. HUGE praise! One thing standing between us and Kenya was 3 plane tickets (Gus gets to fly in our lap for a nominal fee and WMM is picking up the tab for Rhett). These tickets usually run around $1800 a piece so we were talking about a lot of money to get us there. Until someone is our small group stepped forward with a lot of Sky Miles and got us to Kenya. Done. Wow.

Next . . . we had only told a few family members and close friends who had asked about our ministry account at WMM. We were somehow overlooked on getting our monthly statement since January so we were so surprised when we saw that someone had commited to monthly support starting in January and someone else had given us a very big gift that will cover most of our "out going" expenses. This was such an encouragement to see God providing for us in this way. It is affirmation that we are in His will and encourages us to press on. I feel like He is meeting me where I am - often doubting - and saying "Trust me".

So there are some other things we definitely are still praying about and waiting on. Our house is the main thing. For Sale. Pray that God will show Himself in a mighty way in the sale of our house. This may make you start thinking things I've been thinking. What if the house doesn't sell? What if God doesn't provide for us? It is often that thouse thoughts creep in but I know that the adversary wants me to doubt and wants me to come up with a contingency plan so I don't need God. I trust Him and I'm laying it all out there. No matter what happens it will be good and part of His perfect plan.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Farm

I realize it is mid-July but I am backing up a few weeks to our 4th celebration. We drove to "South Georgia" to the farm where Rhett's grandmother aka Gamma grew up to visit with family and celebrate the 4th of July! Let's just say that getting a picture of my three at these ages is tough. This was the best I could do. As you can see Gus is growing well and most of his weight has settled into those kissalicious cheeks! He was a great trooper on his first road trip. His brother and sister were too. Are we the only people in America who do not have a DVD player in our car? I've never really thought about it until recently. We just all sing and talk and sleep and do all the same things I used to do in the car when I was little. We did go through each Kindermusik and Praise Baby CD several times on this trip and Ford continuously requests "Uppabubba" (Twinkle, Twinkle) from the back seat but after one stop at Mickey D's to feed the littlest guy, let the bigger ones play on the playground and for 4/5 of us to enjoy an oreo McFlurry we were good to go. And so we arrived in the what some people call "God's country" and what others refer to as a place where "people cling to their guns and religion". Either way there is a particular charm there and I like it.

This is our best attempt at a Shirley family photo ever. It will most likely be appearing on a Christmas card this year I'm sure.

I realized we haven't had a photo of just the three of us since the delivery room so we snapped this one . . .

When I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she looks at me quizzically and says "A Mommy" as if wondering what else she could possibly want to be. I think it is a pretty high calling myself and I know already that she will be a wonderful mother. She has a mother's heart. Here she is loving on her cousin Graham . . .

It had been a long trip down and once we got settled in our hotel the night before Claire and Ford acted like they were at a slumber party - laughing, giggling and staying up really late - so the price was to be payed the next day. May I introduce you to the Hornet . . .

I borrowed this nickname from another blogger, Darby who has a fiesty little boy. It fits tired Ford quite well and has become a part of our vocabulary around here. Claire can be heard saying "Oh no, Ford is the Hornet again" or "Ford, are you the Hornet?". Well the Hornet showed up at the farm due to the lack of sleep but luckily he crashed - quite literally - on the floor with his beloved Hippo and of course Paci (or na-na as he calls it) while Rhett set up his packnplay for a much needed nap. After we put him down we headed straigh for LUNCH . . .

This is the way we do lunch in the south. This is not even the dessert table and those burners on the stove are full too mind you. Yum. I love me a covered dish luncheon.

The kids spent most of their day on this old tire swing in the yard. They swang and ran and played and swang some more.

This is Ford trying to convince the big kids to let him back on the swing after he fell off. He thinks he is all grown up. I have to remind him and myself that he is ONE! He is up for anything and loves to laugh and have a good time.

Tish got some little baby love since her baby, Graham, is growing by leaps and bounds and is, well, a chunk! I can't believe this time last year we didn't even know Graham yet. My how the time if flying by . . .

By this point in our journey I was pretty well worn out so I put my camera aside but our adventures did not cease. We headed over to Cordele to visit some old friends from medical school that we had not seen in the 5 years since graduation. It was funny to think that the last time we were together we were just two couples and now we have SIX children between the two of us! We had a wonderful time visiting with them and getting to know their precious little girls and darling new baby boy. We had a yummy dinner and some good laughs before we headed back to our hotel. We drove down a hilly country highway with the Lake Blackshear fireworks ahead of us for many miles. I looked behind me to see three sleeping tired children in the back seat, ahead to see a wonderful fireworks show and beside me to see my wonderful man and smiled - my heart feeling really full after a wonderful day of family, good friends and sweet memories.