Running for Office or Being a Missionary?

In Martin Luther’s hometown during an exhibit preparing to celebrate the Reformation.  


Watching glimpses of the last campaign–as I watched a candidate get grilled about his past, his positions, pretty much everything I considered to be fairly private and personal. . . I felt myself identifying with him and empathizing.  You see, being a missionary on support is a lot like being in politics.  Here are some of the similarities:

1. Our life is not our own:  We have been questioned about everything from birth control, vacation time, what is an appropriate family size?, budget, finances, free time, further schooling to name a few.  Some of the questions, I would never even ask my best friend, but since we are on support, everyone feels that it is their right to ask.  How should I respond graciously to these questions?  How much should people know?  My problem is that since I want to be transparent, I go into my defensive mode:

  • Yes, we did go to Switzerland on vacation last year. . . 
  • But–it was only 90 minutes away.  And we were offered a free place to stay for doing a bit of ministry.  We did some hiking, but it was just one day.
  •  I feel I need to justify everything that we have done, and this makes me want to stop sharing what we do.

2. There will always be someone who does not agree with what we are doing.

  • Some people think we have too many children, others think we are wrong in not having more.
  • Some think we should be homeschooling (even though it is against the law), others think we should not have our kids at Black Forest Academy.
  • Some think we should only be doing overt aggressive evangelism.  Others think we should be working with solely with missionary kids.
  • Some want Debbie only at home with the children.  Others want Debbie in a part-time ministry role.
  • People wish we would visit the US more often.  Others are upset we spend money on flights back to the US.
  • Some feel our support is too low.  Others feel are budget it too high especially since we have a large family.
  • Some think furlough is an extended vacation.  Others think our furlough (HMA) is too stressful and we should take more vacation time during it.

Living with someone always disappointed or frustrated with you is wearing, and reminds me a bit of growing up as a pastor’s daughter.

3. The MONEY–I LOVE that my kids are learning to depend on God daily for HIS provision.  I HATE feeling “beholden” to  people for what they give us.  It is hard to have an open honest talk with supporters when you are dependent on their support.    Someotimes I find myself being quiet or not engaging them specifically on issues knowing that we would not agree and wanting them to keep believing in me and supporting me.  How can I be myself with others and not “shade” what I say so that they will continue to believe in us?  It is a hard balance to find.

In the end, what encourages me is a quote from former CIU President, Roberston McQuilkin.  “It is easier to go to a consistent extreme than to live in the center of biblical tension.”  We are living “in the middle” of tension.  When people on both sides of the fence are disappointed, then we must be somewhere in the middle and sometimes getting it right.

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”  Gal. 1: 10  NLT

Remembering Puschel

On our way up and back from Sweden, we were privileged to have a few days at the Holmer’s home.  Can you tell by our kids’ faces that they had a great time?  We got to know the Holmer’s through their daughter Puschel (Lydia) who was in our family group in Sweden in 2004-5.  She loved the Lord with her whole heart and we were privileged to know her.  Puschel contracted bone cancer in 2007 and passed away this last February.  Her Dad (in the picture) wrote a precious blog of Puschel’s struggle and of his love for his daughter.  I was blessed every time I read the blog and heard of their trust in the Lord in spite of very difficult circumstances.

We took something of Puschel’s back to Kandern with us–4 chinchillas.  Tyler has assumed responsibility for them and is thrilled for the first time in his life to have his own pets.  We did make quite the sight driving from northern Germany to the very south of Germany with 7 kids, 4 chinchillas, 4 bikes, 9 sleeping bags and pillows and our luggage, and as many treats as possible that we could fit in from Sweden.

But most of all, our family was renewed and encouraged by our brief time with the Holmers.  The last 5 years have been very challenging and stressful with Puschel’s fight against cancer and her home-going this past February.  Yet, I was so blessed to see the Holmer’s acceptance of Puschel’s passing and their continued joy in life.  There was no bitterness or self-pity, but just peace.  This enabled them to simply love our family and our kids.  As we were leaving, our kids begged us to go back again and stay longer. . . Times like this and friends like the Holmers make Germany feel like home for us.  Thank you for a blessed stay.


Back Home (Sweden)

This summer our family had the privilege to go back to Holsby and help out with a German family camp.  We had a wonderful time (in fact, it was really hard to leave).  It was a blessing to connect with so many people and see so many friends.  One letter that I got shortly before we arrived in Holsby said,

“I do pray your time in Sweden will be a time of excitement as you reconnect with friends and remember all the wonderful relationships you have here. Your family has been a lighthouse to so many people in the community for many years. I still have people stop me (when they find out we live in Holsby and speak English) to ask how you all are doing. I’m sure you will be reminded of that while you are here.”

We were so blessed by all the invitations we got and everyone we were able to connect with.  I was surprised at how much I still felt connected and loved by so many.  Our kids were thrilled to be able to do the climbing wall and ropes course at the Torchbearer school where we had worked for many years.  During our trip, we were also able to connect with several friends who are hurting and struggling.  We were thankful that we could be there at this specific time to encourage them.

It was a blessed gift from God that we were able to go and we already look forward to our next visit.  Todd will be teaching at Holsby the beginning of December on Christ in the Old Testament.  He is planning on taking Joya with him.

Go with your gut!

Monday night.  Todd takes up to 7 kids with him to play basketball at BFA.  It’s half court so the kids have one side of the gym to themselves.  Since we live on a very steep hill, this gives them a great chance to run around.  Levi kicked a ball which hit Gracelyn’s wrist perfectly.  She cried just for 3 or 4 minutes (super high pain tolerance), but Todd knew the cry–the broken bone cry.  A sharp squeal, a bit of sweat on the brow. . . yup, that cry.  That night, she bumped her wrist again and gave the same cry.  There  was no swelling or redness, and she was still using her arm. . . but we knew. . . Todd loaded up Gracelyn (and Joya and Ian who insisted on coming to help!) and off they went to the hospital where literally “everybody knows our name.”  (We have spent over 60 days in the hospital since the fall of 2009 and most of the time in this particular one).

The doctor examined Gracelyn who was moving her arm and hand freely and did not even squeal once.  Todd held his ground, looked square at the doctor and said, “She had a different cry.”  The doctor relented and said, “Well, to make you feel better, we will X-ray her.”  With a sheepish look, he came back 10 minutes later with the X-ray.  Sure enough, a small fracture.   Gracelyn got a pink cast, lots of love, and we were in and out in 90 minutes in the ER.

This photo is from another time I listened to my gut and took Gracelyn into the hospital for a second opinion!  She has surgery the next day for an abscess!