Sunday, May 26, 2013

3 Lessons from the Potty

While I learn from books, teachings/sermons and conversations, many lessons come from real life events, moments when you experience an event and then realize it has application to a greater truth. One such lesson came for me yesterday.

Potty talk.

We had been talking about potty training for a while but had never really committed to the challenge. On Thursday, Polly finally decided that it was time to commit. After Genevieve's nap, we began the concerted effort to potty train Genevieve. This meant putting her in underwear instead of diapers. For the remainder of Thursday, Genevieve didn't tell us when she needed to use the potty and experienced accident after accident. The whole day Friday brought more of the same. The potty remained unused

Neither Polly nor I were instilled with confidence that Genevieve was going to use the potty any time soon. While we knew that it wouldn't likely happen overnight, we were hoping for progress. It was feeling a little hopeless. Then Saturday came.

Genevieve told us each time she needed to potty when she was wearing her underwear and used the potty each time. What a difference a day made! I know there will be more accidents to come and that we still have a ways to go in this journey, but Saturday brought hope!

The truth is that we knew she would eventually use the potty all by herself. But it took her actually doing it to bring hope. Up to that point, we were simply acting in faith. Here are 3 lessons this taught me:

You need to take that step of faith.

The positive results of Saturday would not have happened unless we finally took a leap of faith and put Genevieve in her underwear. Most things we are wanting and waiting for will not happen until we first step out and take action.

Today's results don't dictate tomorrow's results.

Although things seemed hopeless on Friday, we knew that it was only a day and a half and that the positive results would come. She was going to use the potty eventually. It would have been unreasonable for us to quit based on Friday's results. Tony Palow, pastor at Assembly of God in North Providence, RI had a great quote in his sermon today. He said, "We often give up instead of press in." That's true in many areas. When we're ready to give up, that's the time to press in.

Momentum is important.

There is a lot be said about the power of momentum. Positive results start multiplying quickly. It's exponential in growth. Some call this the snowball effect. What starts as a little snowball gets big rather quickly with a little momentum. And the bigger it gets, the more momentum there is. It's a great cycle.

The application.

We began raising our budget for Costa Rica last April. Over the first 9 months, we raised 17%. It would have been easy to be discouraged. But we knew the results of the first 9 months didn't dictate what would happen in the months to follow. Sure enough, 2013 kicked off with our best month yet. In fact, from January through April, we raised an additional 25%. The snowball was rolling.

Recently, with an eye toward leaving for Costa Rica in August of this year, we kicked off the 100 Days Campaign. We knew that we would need the 100 day period starting May 8 to far surpass our fundraising to that point. With over half our budget to raise, we recognized the need for a big miracle. We took the step of faith and pressed in. Things have started off strongly. After 18 days, we had already raised an additional 11% in new commitments. If we keep up that pace, we will be leaving on our target date.

So, we need to keep pressing in and keep that momentum going. Would you consider helping to keep that snowball rolling? A monthly commitment of any amount will do exactly that. You can set that up at or by clicking the "Partnering with Us" link above.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

100 Days Campaign

"When are you leaving for Costa Rica?"

That is probably the most commonly asked question that Polly and I have experienced over the past year. Unfortunately, it's a question with no simple answer. In fact, I feel as though we can never answer the question without first qualifying the answer. An answer that itself has been a bit fluid during that time. So, I thought it would be helpful to answer that question here on the blog, with qualifiers of course.

One of the factors that makes the question a tricky one to answer is the fact that for a time, we only had a vague answer. When Polly and I responded to God's call on our lives to go to Costa Rica, the timetable for it was one of many unknowns. Pretty early on in the process we narrowed it down in our hearts and thinking to spring or summer of 2013. That was as close to an answer that we could give for a number of months. We usually began that answer with something along the lines of, "Probably..." or "Well, we're thinking maybe..."

We thoroughly enjoyed our experience of spending two weeks in Springfield, MO for Pre-field Orientation last June. Beyond learning and wisdom about missions in general we also became aware of an extremely important piece of specific information. We learned that due to the tourist visa situation in conjunction with the importance of being present for the first day of the semester of language school, there are only three dates during the entire year that a first time missionary to Latin America with Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) can travel to San Jose, Costa Rica. Two of those three dates immediately jumped out to us -- May 8, 2013 and August 28, 2013 -- as those were the two dates that fell within the parameters of us leaving in the spring or summer of 2013. We felt strongly that we would leave on either of those two dates. Our answer had narrowed down a little more. We usually began that answer with something along the lines of, "Either..." or "Depending on how things go..."

We remained confused about which date to truly target for quite a few months after narrowing things down to those two. I put both into our calendar. The first I called "Target Date" and the other "Alt Target Date." We were clearly undecided. This actually made things tougher for us. Answering ambiguously with spring or summer of 2013 was easy. Having two dates nearly four months apart was tough. When we were leaving depending on how we were feeling that day. We listed May 8, 2013 in our written materials only because it was the sooner. If we were going to be wrong, we would rather have been wrong being ambitious than being conservative. I figured it would be better to have to wait four more months than rush everything for four more months.

I'll never forget the first time I booked a church service for a date after May 8, 2013. In making that decision, I was acknowledging that I felt that the August 28th date was the one we should target. In fact, Polly and I both felt agreement and peace about this. Of course, this didn't mean that the answer became more definitely. We usually began that answer with something along the lines of, "Hopefully..." or "At the earliest..." Then came the conversation that changed everything for us.

We were Skype-ing with John & Dina one night. We were telling them about our latest campaign we were calling the "Cup of Coffee Campaign" (still ongoing). We got into a conversation about our goal and the need to raise our budget at a quicker pace. I don't remember the exact words that John used, but I remember him saying how there just came a point for them when they had to just pick a date (for themselves to get to Costa Rica) and stick with it. They needed to change their language to express their earnest faith that they were going to leave at the time God put on their hearts to leave. I felt challenged.

Let's be honest, faith can be tough. Since generalizing is not normally a good practice, let me speak for myself here (though I'm sure I'm not alone). It's scary to take the leap of faith. All the doubts start creeping in: "What if I'm wrong and look like an idiot?" "If I don't leave in August people will think that either God doesn't care or that we weren't listening to Him." I dealt with all those questions. In truth, I still deal with them. But I come back to this: I'd rather take the leap of faith and find out that I was wrong than not take the leap at all. The one thing that I am certain of is that God does care and that we will get there at the exact time we should. He's not going to be the one to mess up or make a mistake. If a mistake is made, it will be my mistake. My pride might be a little hurt, but my trust will still be in the Lord. And I'm thankful that God is there with me even through my mistakes.

So, I'm done with the qualifiers. From now on, when people ask when we're leaving, I'm going to answer them that we are leaving in August!

Now, let's discuss a simple reality: We cannot leave until our budget is raised. You know what then, I guess we're just going to have to raise our budget by August then. This is where our latest campaign comes into play: the 100 Days campaign.

It occurred to me on Tuesday, May 7 that the following day was to be the "other date" we had considered for leaving for Costa Rica. After doing a little simple math, it also occurred to me that there were about 100 days from May 8th until the time we would need our budget raised in order to leave for Costa Rica on August 28th. A little more simple math (very simple math) brought to my attention that to raise the additional roughly $2,500 in monthly commitments, we would need to average $25 in new monthly commitments every day over that 100 day period. That's a big need. But it's not bigger than God's ability.

Two days into this 100 Day Campaign, we have received $100 in new monthly commitments from a total of three people (1 at $50/mo, 2 at $25/mo). That's obviously an excellent start. We need to keep that momentum rolling though. Will you considering partnering with us by joining our sending team and making a commitment to give $25 every month so that we can go and serve the people of Costa Rica? You can't do $25/mo? That's okay, can you do $5 or $10 or $20? You can do more than $25/mo? That's okay too. You can choose any amount up to the $2,400/mo we need. We're just looking to reach the average of $25/mo per day. And I have a goal of never being more than three days behind, so that a $100/mo commitment would catch us right back up. Don't wait until tomorrow to set this up...jump on board today!

You can set up a commitment attached to a credit card or set up the commitment without it being attached to a credit card (Acct# 2713097). That's your choice. If you want to know more about what we'll be doing in Costa Rica, please feel free to check out the Engage CR or FAQs pages by clicking the links here or at the top of the page.

As always, you can email us at if you have any further questions.