Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Day in Our Life

A friend recently asked if we had a regular daily schedule for our ministry here in Costa Rica. The easy answer, no. While some days' schedules mostly repeat on a weekly basis, that is far from a hard rule. Sometimes things come up which change plans for that week. And sometimes they change as the day goes along. There is no "typical day" in Costa Rica for us. They vary quite a bit.

But I decided to write a blog following a random day in our life anyway. Knowing we had a number of items on the agenda for yesterday, I figured it would be a good day to follow. So I told Polly of my plan. Little did I know that yesterday was going to serve to prove my point of our daily inconsistency and flexibility I mentioned above. I almost decided against even going through with the blog, but I think it's a fair representation so I decided to go through with it anyway. Some days are calm and dare I say relaxing. Others are...well, you'll see.

Normal Wednesday

A "normal" Wednesday would consist of:
  • We have breakfast as a family
  • I go to Linda Vista for Chicos from 9a-3p while Polly stays home with the kids
  • I come home and play with the kids
  • We have dinner together as a family
As you can see, our Wednesday schedule is sort of like a normal work day.

Yesterday's Planned Schedule

With the need to work on our residency and a Children's ministry meeting planned, yesterday already wasn't supposed to be a normal Wednesday. Here's what we had planned:
  • Have breakfast together as a family
  • My meeting at the Caja to find out how much social security tax I will "voluntarily" pay Costa Rica to be a resident at 9:45
  • Polly's meeting at the Caja at 10:45
  • Drop Polly and the kids off at home and go to Linda Vista for the 2nd group of Chicos
  • After Chicos, come home and pick up the family and go to the Children's Ministry meeting
  • Let Genevieve play at the park with the other MKs
  • Return home and have dinner together as a family
So, yesterday was supposed to be a little more hectic and crazy than usual. But we would get a lot accomplished, both with our residency and our ministry.

Yesterday's Actual Schedule

Here's how yesterday really went:
  • We had breakfast together as a family
  • We left at 9:20a for my 9:45 meeting at the Caja
  • I went in for the meeting around 10:20
  • While in the meeting, they also called Polly back for her meeting
  • We discovered that we were supposed to make 3 separate payments to the government
  • They told us to make those payments and then come back next Tuesday when we would have to wait until they had an opening to fit us in
  • I asked if I could go and make the payment right away and return to finish things up yesterday; they agreed
  • Polly and Jonah stayed around the Caja while Genevieve and I went home to get some money, went to the ATM to take out more money, went into the bank to make the 3 payments for each Polly and me, and then returned to the Caja; all this took about an hour
  • When I went to the woman who had been helping me, she told me that it was really busy and that we should return after 2p. It was about noon, so we left and grabbed lunch nearby
  • While in Subway, it started pouring; we realized we didn't have umbrellas; of course we didn't have umbrellas
  • When the rain let up, we left and returned to the Caja
  • Finally, a little after 2:00, they took as back; everything went well
  • We got in our car at about 3:15, about 6 hours from when we had left the house earlier in the morning; the kids were amazing all things considered, but clearly had enough at that point; so did Polly and I
  • We swung by Piedad for the end of the Children's Ministry meeting; we got caught up on the OneHope project I've been working on
  • It was still rainy and wet so no park play time with other MKs for Genevieve
  • We had dinner together as a family
That's life here for us in a nutshell. Some days are calm, some crazy. Some weeks are extra calm, some are extra crazy. All are worth it in the end. We wouldn't trade any of this.

Thanks for spending a day in our life. And thanks for your prayers. They keep us sane in the moments of insanity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Start - Finish. The dash matters too!

We've all heard, "It's not how you start, but how you finish the race." While I understand its point I think it's a bit simplistic. How we start can have a huge impact on how we finish. And from start - finish, I believe the dash matters too.

Strong Start
When running a race, a good start can be critical. Especially for sprints. This is why runners start on the blocks and this is why false starts occur. Beyond that, there is a mental component to starting well. When I run a race, I want to start well. It puts me in a good mindset moving forward through the race.
Strong Finish
Our place in a race is defined by how we finish. There was one point late in this year's Boston Marathon when Americans were leading both the men's and women's races. Both were eventually passed by other runners. They ran a solid race. Yet who received all the attention? The winners. How you finish is incredibly important.
So which is more important: the start or the finish? I would pick finishing well over starting well...if I had to choose. But we shouldn't have to choose. We should seek both.

I believe that we usually spend so much time focusing on talking about the beginning and the end that we forget the biggest portion of the race - the middle. What happens in between the start and the finish matters too.

Strong Middle
This is where I think the real battle often lies. This is when you really need perseverance and mental fortitude and focus. Let's face it, it's easy to start well because you're body is releasing so much adrenaline and you're fresh and ready to go. You're usually surrounded by many other runners and fans. And it's easy to end well because you can clearly see the finish line and generally there are so many people cheering you on, giving you the extra motivation. I have run two marathons. The start and the finish of each were relatively easy. What I found most difficult was the middle.
What happens when the initial adrenaline wears off? What happens when the pains kicks in and you realize uphill the battle is? What happens when nobody is standing around and cheering you on? This is where you really need to bear down and fight. The finish may be the most important part but you can never make it to the finish if you don't fight through the middle. The start might be important to build momentum and a positive attitude, but it's irrelevant if you allow yourself to lose the momentum you've built when you hit a rough patch in the middle.
It's easy to focus at the beginning and at the end. The difficulty lies in the middle.
My friend Matt and I are about to start Chicos on a weekly basis. We're fired up and excited to get going. We've planned and prepped. Tomorrow (May 12) will be the first day. I have no doubt it will go well. But we feel that the biggest key will be maintaining our focus and not losing that excitement as the weeks go on. We don't want to get lazy in the middle. We want to treat every week with the same intention and intensity as we do the first.

So, please pray for a great start, middle and end to Chicos this school year.