Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fond Farewells

Well, a small thought began to creep up. I don't really know when it started. It could have even been there for years. But I wondered what my life would be like without daycare. For months I just rationalized, "there is no way we could make it." Without question, we make a lot of money with daycare. Though we still struggle, and can't seem to get out of debt, we are able to pay the bills.

The first part of the problem is the debt. We are not content. We live in a culture that says we should buy what we want. We don't wait for God to provide what we need, and we buy what we want on credit. I am so glad that He is a merciful God, for there are many times when He could have just left us to suffer! I know that we still have debt because we are unable to "cut back" our spending.

So we work extra jobs, and do what we can to try to increase our income. Here is the second problem. No matter how much (or how little) we make, we still end every month the same: paying the minimums and no cash left over.

Quitting daycare certainly wouldn't seem to improve this situation. So why was I considering it? (Well, if you have ever actually been in my home, you might know)

I gave Mitch a call on Monday, from down in the cities, and asked him if he thought I should quit daycare. I was on a "high" from the events at Showcase. We had just heard testimonies from leaders all day speaking of consultants who had used their businesses to make their dreams come true. And we had also heard stories about the customers that they helped--so this is not just a one-sided business. The company exec's had just announced some valuable motivating incentives for the next 5 months. I saw this as an opportunity to dream again, for the first time in 2 years. Like the ball team emerging from a pep rally, I was welled up, "I can DO this!" Mitch reinforced that question by answering in the affirmative: "Sure, you could quit daycare." Of course, he was in the middle of the "low" which would be filling in at daycare for me. =)

I hung up the phone, and was doing a little thinking...well, it would be really nice because _____, but it would be hard because of the loss of income, and CM wouldn't replace that immediately. I felt led to go stand near my friend Tracy and just listen to her for a while. She was manning the Scrapped booth and talking with other consultants. I wanted to listen to her "sell" the movie and learn from her. As I approached from behind, I saw that she was not talking, but listening. A brilliant woman was standing there with her Bible open, and Tracy pulled me into the conversation and introduced me. The woman was Lynn Johnson, a top leader in the company. I was honored (but didn't realize how much until later). She was reading from Deuteronomy chapter 11:

10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. 13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today--to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul-- 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Lynn explained, the land in Egypt was flat and easy to irrigate. They had some control over the amount of water in their vegetable gardens, but the promised land had mountains and valleys and they would not be able to irrigate, but would have to depend on God to water for them. She said in a word picture, sometimes we are happy inside our little gardens with the white picket fences, standing there with our hoses, happily watering our gardens. God calls us out of the gardens, to do His work or into some promised land, and so we will step out of the garden and go as far as our hose will reach. :) He wants us to DROP the hose! We need to trust Him to provide for us.

Wow. Now how about that timing, huh? I allowed myself the priviledge of doing a little dreaming. What would my life look like without daycare? I will only have Zeke and Josh home this fall. I could go to Mom's group at church again. I could volunteer at SCCS. I could pick my kids up from school so that Mitch could work in his classroom. Doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, even meeting a friend, would all re-enter my day to day life. And even more I could *gasp* learn to put my trust in God to water my garden.

Now, do I think that those verses are prompting me to choose a lazy solution? NO. When I think about the loss of income, I have to admit that I begin to panic. But I also remind myself that I could use a little hardship in order to learn contentment. Yep it scares the pants off of me. But I know that the best way to seize the promise is to trust God. The thing is, God has blessed my daycare business. He has held it in His hands from day 1, and I believe I was called to do it. But our financial situation has stayed the same. There must be a different answer.

I once read a biography about Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China. What made me so mad about this guy is he was pretty much starving, and needed money to continue his service in China, but he kept refusing money from people back home. He said he was trusting God to provide for him. I wanted to pull out my hair--wasn't this how God was providing?! But God did have another plan for Hudson, and he provided the money through a different avenue. It was amazing to see the miracle of God's provision in Hudson's life. Lynn told us the story of another man, George Muller, who started an orphanage in England. He refused to ask people for money. Instead he prayed and asked God to tell the people to give him money. They did, and the children never went without. George would travel to the neighbors and churches and tell of the wonderful things that God had provided. He was able to feed thousands of children.

I want to learn to live the kind of life where I am trusting God to meet my needs. I want Him to be the Lord of my life, so that I can experience the deep joy and lasting fulfillment that it brings. I do not want the empty "stuff" that our culture screams we need. I know I'm not always going to get it right. And we might get down right desperate. But I have to try. There is a better life out there, one that includes a deeper walk with Christ. Something that I have been longing for, for years. The answer to the challenges that I have faced and been unable to pass.

Daycare was not the problem, nor is quitting daycare the solution. The only relation is the surrendering of the income. Why would giving up income help me get out of debt? Because if I "drop my hose" and do not have that water source, I just might seek out the living water that Christ offers a little more often. And that can't be a bad thing. It IS the answer to my lack of contentment. John 4 says:

13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

August 25th marks the last day of daycare. If for some reason I have made a mistake, I can always go back. A wise friend counselled me not to say that I feel "burned out," because if I need to go back to daycare in a month or two, how is it that I'm all of a sudden not burned out? And it is true. I'm not burned out, I just want to focus on other things for a while. I want to give my other two businesses a fair shot, since that is where my passion lies currently. And most importantly, I want to be willing to drop the water hose and get some good water!

I beg you to pray for us.

3 comments:

  1. You have such a fabulous gift of writing. You have put my own thoughts on paper for me.

    I pray for you & Mitch as well as Stu & I - that we would be blown away by the way God will grow us in this leap of faith into the promised land. I'm droppin' my hose baby!!
    YOu are much loved and appreciated. Tracy

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  2. Hey Steph :)

    It took me two days to get through the whole post, but I'm done!

    Thanks for sharing your heart with the rest of us, and allowing us to be stretched in our own walks as a result of your experiences.

    Love ya!
    ~kjl

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  3. Steph, I know you have made the right decision in quiting daycare. You are such a talented person that if for some reason the diaper thing does not work out (which for the recored it will), you can do some many things to make money. I love you and thank you for your great show of faith.

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