The tension of the moment: dealing with anger and bitterness

One thing that has always been true about me is that when people get on my nerves, my immediate reaction is to put distance between them and myself.

If you say something that I don’t like, I’ll unfollow, unfriend, block, or avoid you, and I’m good.

If you do something that I don’t like… Bye, Felicia.

Eventually, my relationships with such people fade into the deep recesses of my memory, until I completely forget what caused the tension between us in the first place.

Bad habits become a bad lifestyle

As a single person, this is primarily how I lived my life, so it should come as no surprise that this nasty habit still resurfaces in my marriage. Changing your marital status doesn’t change the fact that you are a jerk. It just makes you more aware of how much of a jerk you are. Painfully aware.

When Ray and I first got married, we stayed in my hometown for a month. I’m not kidding when I say that the honeymoon phase lasted a mere week for us before we entered the “Hey, let’s fight every day” phase. As is in my nature, after most fights I would run away. Whether I angrily left the house and went for a long walk around the block or I went to my best friend’s house for hours at a time, I would cut off the conversation, spin on my heel, and leave Ray choking on my dust.

Moving to Kenya changed that with a quickness. While we were in Nairobi, I used to try to leave the apartment in the middle of a fight, but the howls of stray dogs usually forced me to return home. That removed the walks around the block for me. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t know a single soul outside of Ray’s family, so there was no friend to run to either.

Those dogs did me a solid though, for real. Because of them, I had to learn to deal with my problems.

Making a joint resolution

It was during that season that Ray and I made a commitment to not allow the sun to go down while we’re in the middle of a fight… basically, not to go to bed angry. I’m not going to lie or pretend like that happens every single time, but we generally don’t stay angry with each other for longer than 24 hours. Why? Because he lives with me AND works with me AND does ministry with me. We do almost everything together, and we know that not a single one of our ministries can survive if we don’t deal with the issue of us, since marriage is our first ministry, after all.

This particular trip to the States has definitely been the most trying season of our marriage in a long time. We’ve been living out of suitcases, on the road a lot, still working online and with our video business to make ends meet, trying to raise money for our ministry (which has been pretty slow thus far), and on top of that, we’ve realized that whereas we had gotten into a comfortable groove in Kenya regarding how we work together and communicate, being in the United States as a couple has changed everything.

You see, in Kenya I am dependent on Ray, and in the U.S. he is dependent on me. It took three years for me to be able to accept the fact that I had to rely on someone other than myself (I was nearly 30 when we got married and had been single for all but 9 months of my life), so now that we’re Stateside, I can hear Kelly Clarkson whispering in my ear to become that Miss Independent Woman again, and Ray has been forced to deal with the fallout. I’ve become impatient, rude, and insensitive towards his needs and an overall pain to live with.

I originally intended to write about that whole experience, but as I began drafting this post, I received a phone call that changed my mind…

Old habits die hard

At this moment in my life there is a particular relationship I once had that has gradually declined and bottomed out. It’s a relationship that is supposed to be very important in a human being’s life, yet for this particular human (me) the relationship has gotten so far into bitterness that I feel nothing but hurt, anger, and disappointment.

Maybe someone would say, “Well, now sounds like a good time to apply that sundown policy, eh?”

That would be great, but it’s about ten years too late. There is a root of bitterness so deep in my heart that choosing to refrain from daily anger cannot work anymore. In fact, it’s a lack of doing that in the first place that got me here.

And 800 words later, I finally get to the heart of what I want to talk about.

Red or blue? Choose well.

Whether you’re married or not, you have undoubtedly had those moments of inner tension, when someone has offended or hurt you. Just seconds after the knife has been placed in your back or your gut, your initial reaction will of course be one of pain, but then you have a choice to make…

  1. Do you follow your primal instinct and respond in anger?
  2. Do you give way to the urgent tapping the Holy Spirit is doing on your heart?

We all know that feeling, right? We’ve felt it since we were kids on the verge of doing something we know we shouldn’t. Back then we referred to Him as our conscience, but we all know that there is nothing wholesome and good about our hearts and the way we engage in this world. We need the guidance and direction of someone pure who can teach us what it means to love others. That’s the Holy Spirit.

It is in that moment that we have a very important choice to make… to give in to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and mend things or to allow anger to fester until it becomes a giant, oozing sore of bitterness. All too often, the easiest and most desirous option is bitterness. For some of us there may be an issue that has held us captive for years, and it’s simply because every time we’re given the choice of the red or blue pill, we go for the red one. Every. Time.

I don’t say this to be preachy at all. I’m still in the throes of figuring out how to deal with the deep root of bitterness I have in my own heart. I want desperately for the issue to be resolved and would love to do whatever it takes to make that happen, but here’s the rub. How do you do that when the other person believes that they have done nothing wrong? How do you have a conversation about a problem that the other person cannot see? Trust me, it’s impossible. I’ve tried.

And so I’ve come to this place again where I’ve said, “Bye, Felicia,” and written that person off. I noticed my inclination towards running away once again the other day when said person called me and really pushed on a nerve. As I hung up the phone, I said in my heart, “I’m done. I could care less if I ever see this person again.” And these were more than just words. This is how I legitimately felt in the moment, and it’s how I continued to feel as I sat on the couch for the next twenty minutes chewing on the conversation, regurgitating it, and then chewing on it some more.

Thank God for “yet”

Yet, in the midst of my pity party I felt multiple nudges from the Holy Spirit.

Ray and I have some friends that we spent some time with while we were in Manhattan, and they had talked to us about living “on the other side of the line”, which essentially means to see people and situations as Jesus sees them. That conversation kept coming to my mind.

“Take a moment a check out what I’m seeing,” the Holy Spirit said.

I furrowed my brow and dredged up the most hurtful thing the person had done to me and began to feast on it.

“I know that bitterness tastes so good to you right now, but I can give you something that tastes much better. It’s called freedom.”

When we are in our right minds, we all know what we should do, and yet like me many of us still refuse to change our heart position. Unfortunately, the more that we reject the prodding of the Holy Spirit, the harder our hearts become until we can no longer hear Him, let alone respond to Him. I thank God that my heart is not yet hardened to the point that I can no longer feel those nudges. That would be a truly scary place to be. But even so, I know that if I continue doing what I’ve been doing, that’s where I’m heading. Romans 1, anyone?

So what do we do?

To be honest, I don’t know. I’m still dealing with it myself, so I can’t give you a five-step strategy to overcoming, but I’ve at least got three points that I’ve learned so far.

Fill your heart and mind with Scripture

Put something in your spiritual reservoir for the Holy Spirit to work with. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time you spend in the Word or in prayer and your willingness to respond to the Holy Spirit in the midst of turmoil. The less time I spend with Him in the quiet place listening to Him speak, the less inclined I am to listen to Him when He speaks and all my feels are up in the mix shouting just as loud.

Develop new habits

It only takes a few times of choosing the right thing in order to retrain your heart and mind to begin to do it naturally. You just have to take that first step… then do it again and again until you’re walking, and one day running, in grace and peace.

Repent

This is the most important factor. The other steps keep the wall from getting any higher around your heart, but repentance is what tears the existing wall down. I know of people that have testimonies of God miraculously healing a relationship overnight, and I have actually had that happen in my own life, but what had to happen before that was daily confession and repentance. I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t okay in my heart, that I still felt bitterness towards these people, and that I needed God’s help to forgive. For a particular relationship in my life, after years of running the crazy cycle of getting angry and then confessing my anger to God, He literally healed the relationship in one 20-minute phone conversation. True story. I have not had a single ounce of bitterness towards that person since.

I choose to believe that if He did it for that relationship, He will do it for this one as well. I also believe He’ll do it for you, if there’s a relationship in your life that has left you with a root of bitterness in your heart. God desires nothing more than to see His children walking in freedom. So let’s be free, yeah?


Additional shameless plug because… Well, why not?

Ray and I have one month left in the States. We would love to reach the goal that we have for our ministry, but anything helps. We’re going to hit the ground running as soon as we get back, regardless of whether we hit the goal or not.

You can read more about our goal here: A Place to Call Home.

You can visit our general fundraising page here: Gofundme.

You can make tax-deductible contributions or become a monthly partner through our mission page here: Mission Quest.

And it comes ’round full circle

So as I was taking a shower this morning, I had a thought. I often enjoy standing under scalding hot water for ridiculous amounts of time doing nothing else but thinking, and this time my thoughts revolved around the future of the ministry Ray and I have started (The Joshua Blueprint) and all that has happened to get us to this point. But I wasn’t thinking about it from the perspective of anything I’ve done, but from the perspective of what others have done. Let me explain…

Fulfilling the calling

All of the things that I am doing now, and even some things that I have yet to do, are the culmination of a number of things I have already done. Okay, I fear that either sounds super common-sensical or completely nonsensical. Let me try again… I want to connect some dots as a way of saying thank you to the many people that have influenced the trajectory my life is currently taking. My life is what it is because of what you have done.

Ever since my college days, I’ve been asking people for money. But not in the typical, “Hey, I’m a broke millenial. So… you got a dollar?” fashion. No, I’ve always sought financial help for noble reasons (mission trips, leadership training, ministry projects, etc.). As much as I hate asking people for money – ask my dad, he knows – I’ve maintained this view that anytime people donate towards something I feel called to do, that they are working in partnership with me; they are in essence fulfilling the calling with me.

The journey begins

It all started shortly after my mom passed away. During spring break, a few weeks before she died, I had attended a “Spring Breakthrough” conference in Alabama at The Ramp, and I came away from that meeting with a fire burning deep within my belly, as I had received the gift of tongues and a fresh anointing. When I returned to Salina that summer, I returned with a vision to start a dance ministry. But I needed money. I reached out, people answered, and the Lord enabled us to put together an intercessory worship dance event. It was rough, but the day of small beginnings usually is.

A few years later I felt called to go to South Africa on a short-term mission trip with Global Expeditions (Teen Mania). I had always had a heart for Africa and wanted to take advantage of my youth and singleness to get a feel for ministry on the continent, so I applied. Thankfully, I got accepted. But I needed money. I reached out, people answered, and the Lord enabled me to go to South Africa.

While I was a college student, I helped organize campus-wide prayer vigils and spent a lot of time with friends in houses/chapels/grassy knolls of prayer and worship. It became my passion. Once I moved back to my hometown, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, so I applied for a leadership course at the International House of Prayer with the Luke 18 Project. Though they specialized in training college students to start prayer furnaces on their campuses, they accepted a few young adults. I was one of them. But I needed money. I reached out, people answered, and the Lord enabled me to get in-depth training on building prayer furnaces.

I came back from that intensive with a renewed fire for prayer, found a few people that were willing to keep a furnace with me going for a full year, and then I got invited to Kenya to take part in a youth conference. Now, as many of you know, Ray’s uncle had been coming to stay with us since I was 14 years old. He had told me numerous stories about Kenya and had piqued my interest in visiting, so I was all about this trip. But I needed money. I reached out, people answered, and the Lord enabled me to minister in music and ministry at the youth conference AND to meet my husband.

Aside from dealing with the after effects of a shocking engagement announcement after that trip, I also felt compelled to take some of the music I had written and record a proper album (My Name, Your Seal) to share with friends and family before I moved away to another country. These were personal songs that had resulted from a particular season in my relationship with God, and I wanted a producer I knew from college to help me bring them to life. But I needed money. I reached out, people answered, and the Lord enabled me to create an album that I’m extremely proud of and that stands as a lasting reminder of God’s faithfulness to me.

That brings us back to today

Since then, with our fledgling ministry trying its darndest to get out of the nest, many people have supported us and helped us to get to where we are today. We of course still have a long way to go (the vision is much, much bigger than I think we even realize), but we’re getting somewhere. And that’s because of people like you.

People who partnered with me to put together the dance event, which ultimately prepared the way for what I’m doing with my dance students now. People who partnered with me to get to South Africa, where God stirred a love for this continent deep within me. People who partnered with me to receive valuable training on prayer that we’re implementing in our home and ministry today. People who partnered with me to make the initial trip to Kenya and discover my forever home. People who partnered with me to release songs that had been in my heart for years and who helped me believe that I was good enough.

None of what I have done or what I am doing could have been done without your help. None of it.

As I’ve said to some of you before, this has never been about me doing whatever I want to do and taking money from other people so I can make it happen, but it has always been about joining with people who understand the heart or purpose behind why I’m doing something. When I stand before God one day and give an account of all that I’ve done in these various areas, I will not be alone. You who have supported me in prayer and finances will be there with me receiving your due reward. We’re all in this together, and I for one am so happy to have kingdom-minded friends like you to run this race with.

Thank you.

P.s. This thank you also goes to those that helped us raise money for me to go back to the States last year to see some doctors. It wasn’t ministry related, so I didn’t add it in the post, but I am INCREDIBLY grateful just the same.

Count to ten and start again: mission trip in Pokot

This past weekend my husband and I had the privilege of joining Rick and Mary Strickland in serving the people in the northern region of West Pokot. Based in Olathe, Kansas, the Stricklands have been coming to Kenya for over two decades and have been acquainted with Ray’s family for just as long. Believe me, I’ve heard some interesting stories from them about Ray when he was a kid. 😉

The Pokot tribe is about 700,000 strong, but they’re generally pretty secluded people, so the group we visited was way up in the mountains in little pockets throughout the bush. They’re so hidden, in fact, that years ago Rick initially had to drive through unpaved roads for hours only to hike for hours just to reach them. Some of the roads have been semi paved since then, but it’s still a tough trek to get there. Even once you arrive, the place will look totally secluded until someone starts playing a drum. Once the drums plays, you’ll suddenly find people pouring out of the bush from all directions.

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Bumping right along

Currently, with some of the work they’ve done on the roads, the trip to Kitale from Pokot is 8-9 hours. One hundred and forty kilometers (70ish miles) in 8-9 hours, that is. Our spiritual parents Bill and Patricia Cornell of Vision for Africa Ministries took us along for this trip in their vehicle.

Riding with ma and pa

We drove along some pretty bumpy roads for about four hours, stopped at Rick and Mary’s home, and had a little lunch.

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The home Rick and Mary are building in Kinayu.

The home Rick and Mary are building in Kinayu.

 

The view from Rick and Mary's home.

The view from Rick and Mary’s home.

 

Making sandwiches with Mom Patricia.

Making sandwiches with Mom Patricia.

Then we continued down even worse roads – the kind that force you to duck away from your window to keep from getting whacked in the face by thorny branches and that make you cringe as you hear bushes scraping and breaking against the underside of the vehicle.

The fun has arrived

Thankfully, our vehicle arrived without incident (though the same can’t be said of the trip home), but Rick and Mary’s vehicle had some issues with the carburetor, so they stayed back at the house for the evening. We at least had enough daylight left to set up camp and get the projector in place to show the people pictures Ray took of them when he went for a medical mission trip while I was stateside. A lot of people in the bush don’t really get the opportunity to see what they look like, so they’re very keen about huddling around cars to see their reflection or crowding you when you take pictures because they know they’ll be able to see themselves on screen. I found it quite amusing though how if I was taking video of something, people would scrunch up behind me to look at my screen, then they’d run in front of the camera and run back and try to catch themselves on screen.

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Pokot selfies!

You can imagine then, how excited they were about the slideshow. They laughed and talked throughout the whole thing… until the generator quit after about fifteen minutes.

Sadly, we couldn’t do anything until the morning when Rick arrived with a backup, so we just packed up and went to bed early. Well, we did … throughout the night we could hear singing and drumming and laughing. I’m pretty sure Pokots don’t need to sleep. They sang and prayed in the church all night long and even when we woke in the morning they were still going.

The call to worship

The next morning was Sunday, so it was time for church. Shortly after we had breakfast, the call to worship was sounded via the drum, and people once again came pouring in from nowhere. They sang and jumped and danced and prayed, and even though everything they sang was in Pokot (Ray was just as lost as I was) there was quite a joyful atmosphere in the church service under the trees.

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We spent the afternoon entertaining the kids by doing silly things simply because they would mimic everything we did.

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Ray taught them the electric slide, Bill did some counting games with them, Patricia danced with them, and I taught them some chants/songs about Yesu in mixed English and Kiswahili.

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The funny thing about the kids is that they’re terribly frightened of white people. We’ve been told that there are longstanding rumors that white people are cannibals, so it took a little time for them to warm up to Bill and Patricia. I, however, was able to walk up to them and play some hand games with them, though if I ever made any sudden moves, you better believe they would dart away from me like I had the plague. I wish I recorded the sound they made when they got scared and scattered… “Woooh”. It was really cute.

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In the midst of all the fun, we came across a small girl laying on the ground looking very weak – she could barely open her eyes. We figured she was dehydrated and tried to give her some water. She allowed Ray to pick her up, of course she had no strength to be scared, but she wouldn’t let me give her water. She would cling to Ray’s neck and turn away. Finally we put her down on the ground and the mother came around and helped us give her some water. It was incredible the difference water could make. In no time she was handing her cup back to me for more water and then up and running and playing with the other kids. We didn’t do any “witnessing” during this trip, but we did fulfill the scripture of giving a thirsty child water to drink, so that’s enough for me.

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Rick showed up with the generator and bags of food, and we managed to finish the picture slideshow and play about the first hour of “The Passion”. We got to the very end of Jesus being beaten, and though it was dark outside, you could hear the people weeping openly. I watched the movie in American theaters three times and I heard lots of sniffling, but never anything like that. It was quite moving.

Suddenly the rain came and it never stopped. By the time the people had taken cover in the school house and we had taken down the equipment and packed it up, the thunderstorm had arrived. All we could do was sit in our tents and wait …

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The morning after the storm. Thankfully we were on top of the mountain, so all the water ran down into the river.

We waited until late in the night for the storm to pass, but the rain never let up.

Even in the morning, we woke to rain, but guess what we also heard… singing, drumming, dancing, and praying. Those people never quit, I tell you!

We were supposed to leave Pokot that morning, but because we were so far up the mountain and the rains had been so heavy (I mean we could hear the river below us ferociously rushing all night long and even throughout the day… Imagine, it was just one of the rivers that we were supposed to cross to get out of there… and by cross, I mean without a bridge), we had to wait. Ray and I went into the schoolhouse and recorded some Pokot songs and games – the inspiration behind a future project we hope to film – and spent the morning with the kiddos.

A teachable moment

Now before I get to the bit about our trip back, let me tell you about an incident that was definitely a teachable moment for me.

As I mentioned before, it was raining all morning long. Most of the kids were barefoot and had very little to keep them warm – just lessos (large, thin scarves). One little girl was just in a t-shirt and skirt with no shoes. I had carried my mom’s knitted sweater afghan thing-a-ma-jig (I don’t know what it’s called) with me to keep warm. It was one of the few items that belonged to her that I was able to bring with me to Kenya. I felt bad for the girl, so I took it off and covered her in it so she could keep warm.

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She kept it on for quite a while until we all went back into the school house. The kids were dancing and the rain was beginning to let up, so she took it off and set it on a chair. One of the mama’s took it upon herself to watch my stuff while we were occupied with the kids, so when we went to leave the school house, she made sure that I had all of our equipment and my afghan sweater thing.

Ray and I joined the other missionaries under the main tent to play games and wait the rest of the rain out. As the sun came out, so did the little girl with her mother. They wanted the whatchamacallit back. Now, I couldn’t understand a single word they said and they couldn’t understand me either, so they just kind of circled the tent and tried to get my attention. I knew what they wanted, but the rain was ending, so I didn’t want to go back out and hand it to her and confuse her into thinking I was giving it to her. Too late… the damage was already done.

The sun came out and it got warm really fast – Pokot is typically really hot, which is why the rain storm was so uncommon – so we decided to start packing up.

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We hoped that after a good three to four hours the road would be dry enough to get across and the rivers would have gone down. The whole time we packed, the girl and her mother hovered around and every once in a while tried to tell me in Pokot that they wanted my do-hickey. I was at a loss; I didn’t know how to communicate that I didn’t mean to give it to them.

Before you start thinking I’m a monster, let me clarify… Some Pokot women can be very aggressive when it comes to getting what they want. If you give something to their kids, they’ll take it from them in a heartbeat and not think twice. The missionaries I was with have even seen the women take candy out of their children’s mouths and pop it into their own. I had given a bag of oranges to one of the kids that sang because Ray and I really took a liking to her, and within minutes, her mom confiscated them and I don’t think the little girl even got one. It was very clear from the way this particular woman was pushing the little girl to keep coming to me that she wanted the sweater for herself. So I wasn’t denying the girl something she needed (Rick and Mary had actually brought hats and jackets for the people, so where there was a need they would have filled it); I was denying the mother something she wanted.

The rest of the afternoon I got some pretty cruel glares from the two of them until I found an interpreter and had him help me explain the situation to them. I really struggled with whether or not I should just give it to them or if I should keep it. I’m not the most sentimental person, I threw gads of personal mementos away when I moved here, but this particular item.. I just couldn’t give up.

Anyway, if there’s one thing I learned from that situation, it’s that I have to be careful about “being nice”, especially when I have no way of communicating my intentions. As far as they were concerned, if I gave it to her to wear, I gave it to her. There was no question in their minds that I was in the wrong for taking the sweater back, and nothing I said or did could change that fact. Ray and I gave away a number of things that we had brought with us, but that didn’t matter. I took a gift back from a kid and proved myself to be dishonest. Honestly, that experience was a little overwhelming emotionally for me because I didn’t mean to cause offense, but what more could I do? Lesson learned.

Until next time

As we drove off from there, we were met with surprisingly mostly dry paths. Pokot gets really hot, so even after all that rain, the moisture was either sucked right out of the ground or ran downhill. That was true of the road for about half an hour until we got to the area where the government has been grading the road. All that was there was miles of mud. Rick had gotten stuck ahead of us and then we got stuck … twice. We came across someone else who was stuck just at the end of a river bed, used the wench to get him out, and then continued on our way until we came across the big river… you know the one I said we heard roaring all night. Coming down from the hill, we saw the water still about 20 meters wide and everyone said, “Uh-oh”.

I for one had horrible visions of our truck floating down the river flashing through my mind, but thankfully another guy was down at the bank and told us that though it looked formidable, it was cross-able. He even had someone walk across it for us and the water that once looked so menacing turned out to only be about calve deep. We easily crossed it and everyone breathed easy again after that.

Because we left so late in the afternoon, we decided to just drive the four hours (30 miles) to Rick’s house and camp there for the night. The road had been washed out in numerous places and the mud proved to be a challenge more than a few times, but we made it.

The next day wasn’t so bad. Just a flat tire, but after all the other stuff that had happened, that was easy peasy. We made it back home just in time to get to Mattaw for classes with our students.

Lessons from Kimmy

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt probably isn’t the purest show to quote, but I must confess that I binge watched the heck out of that show over the course of two evenings while I was in the States. One point Kimmy made in the show that I completely relate to was that when she’s doing tasks that upset or frustrate her (i.e. turning the “mysterious” crank again and again), she just counts to ten and starts again.

In situations like we faced this past weekend, the old me would have been severely impatient, frustrated, and emotional. I can’t imagine the S’ambrosia of two years ago going along with the flow like I was able to on this trip. Of course the grace of God kept me throughout, but I also had to be responsible for the choices I made each second. To that end, I didn’t necessarily count to ten, but I would continually tell myself that soon the rain would stop or soon the problem with the little girl’s mother would be resolved or soon we would get past the bumpy roads to smoother ones, and amazingly, my spirits remained high throughout the trip. What’s even more amazing is I’m totally willing to go back!

This was a crazy trip, but it was a fun adventure for Ray and I, and we’re ready for the next one!

Much love

Life can leave you so bitter

The Apostle James warned us to beware the power of the tongue. Though it’s small, it can set a whole forest ablaze. For the past few weeks, maybe even longer, my tongue has been out of control. Within in the confines of our home Ray has practically been assaulted daily with constant negativity about this person and that person, and even that person’s mother’s brother’s step-baby. I had something to say about everybody.

A bitter revelation

Last night, as an argument Ray and I had about money led to a time of prayer and repentance, I began to feel convicted about my recent behavior, so I confessed and acknowledged that I knew I was doing wrong and asked the Lord for help. Normally I “confess” and “ask for help”, and then get up and go right back to what I was doing before. It’s no wonder that Jesus never felt inclined to share any insight with me about what was happening or how I could change. But this time my confession was accompanied with tears and a broken heart, so in response the Lord gave me one word: bitter.

Unbeknownst to me, bitterness had crept into my heart, and like a silent killer began to spread its influence abroad. My tongue was only a symptom of my sin-sick soul, of course because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Truth is, I have a lot of reasons that I could be bitter, and when God first gave me the word, my mind went straight to those issues, but none of those things seemed to really touch on the root of my problem. Remember the argument I mentioned that led to the revelation? Remember what was it over?

Money.

Let’s begin again

When Ray and I moved to Kenya, we decided to stay out of ministry entirely for the first year of marriage, so we were just hanging out in Nairobi getting better acquainted with each other and learning how to support ourselves. In the beginning we really struggled financially, but we had both agreed to this lifestyle, and in truth, we were happy. At that time there was no bitterness to be seen anywhere near my heart. I honestly felt a little proud of myself for being able to hack it in spite of what people thought or said I could do.

Finally we started a business and literally made over $1,000 a month. For us, especially in the Kenyan economy, that’s a pretty big deal. It was during that season in our life that we decided we always wanted to work for our living. Even once we got into ministry and I could finally claim my long awaited status of missionary, we agreed not to raise support for personal expenses, only for ministry needs. Yes, we want to serve the people here as missionaries, but Kenya is our home. We’re not just here for a season. We will raise our children here, and we want to build our family legacy here from the sweat of our own brows. It’s just a personal conviction we have.

Moving to Kitale meant we had to start over, and once again it took us a while to get back on our feet. There would be dry spells and then we’d have a bunch of jobs all at once. Before this week we were in a dry spell… for two months. We already had practice living off of 100 shillings (about $1.50) a day, sometimes less, so it was no big deal really. We were used to it.

The inciting incident

The catalyst behind my downward spiral into negativity came as the result of a plan we made to travel to the States to surprise my niece for her 6th birthday. Though we were on track to making that happen when we lived in Nairobi, Kitale proved to be perfect for ministry purposes, but not so perfect for business. Nevertheless, God took care of us and we never went hungry or without shelter. Ray was able to use his skills to do odd jobs here and there that kept us afloat, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many times again, our spiritual parents here have really covered us. God has used them to make this transition bearable in numerous ways. He has shown us time and time again through them that He’s got our backs.

I’ve written before about how I usually try to be overly optimistic or live a faith-filled life instead of admitting that I have a problem, so even though our savings for plane tickets began dwindling away to cover living expenses, I maintained that I had faith that God would work out all the arrangements. Meanwhile, I watched others travel, shop, eat, and spend like there was no tomorrow, and bitterness began to set in.

I promise you I had no idea I was becoming bitter at first. Every once in while I would comment on how I wish I could live like so and so or how it would be nice to be able to afford to get a new cardigan since mine had holes in it, but that didn’t seem bitter, it just seemed like a normal human response. But you give bitterness an inch and it will rapidly take a mile, so here we are today with me coming to the realization that as content as I thought I was, I really was just bitter.

Time to make a change

Now here’s the thing. I know that the answer isn’t more money. No matter how much money we acquire, I would never be able to rid myself of the greenish film that tints my vision. I would still be a jealous, envious, and bitter person; I’d just be a jealous, envious, and bitter person with a fist full of cash. God knows that better than I do, so I know that He’s revealing this to me now so I don’t crumble under the pressure later. Work is picking up again, some friends have helped us get our plane ticket fund restarted, and we’re coming out of the dry spell, but that alone won’t change my attitude. I have to.

Now more than ever I’m feeling the need to dip myself into the permeating presence of a God who is overflowing with love, joy, and peace. I need to take my eyes off of others and self, and put them back where they’re supposed to be, gazing into the fiery eyes of the King of Glory. My hope is not in wealth, but in God, who richly provides us with everything we need.

A more serious symptom of my sickness was a lack of desire to spend time with God. I can’t say that I was bitter towards Him, but I did feel like escaping our situation through movies and mindless Internet activity was a more appealing option than reading the Bible or praying. I was so wrong. It was the very remedy my soul needed!

I know that bitterness doesn’t just go away overnight. My confession kicked over the table it was feasting on, but it will keep trying to come back for scraps. When I hear stories of opportunity that money has afforded other people, I have to make the choice then and there to say no to bitterness. I have to deny it again and again to the point that it becomes starved and is forced to leave in search of a better host. It’s only by the grace and power of Jesus that I am able to achieve that, so I ask those of you that have it on your hearts to keep us in prayer, that you pray for me in that wise. I’m sure there are plenty of other roots of bitterness or whatever in my heart that need to be dealt with, but this is what God is highlighting to me in this season. I’d sure love your prayer support.

I’d also like to say that though my particular struggle with bitterness is centered around money, I believe this blog post can be applicable to many situations: singleness, marriage, children, material possessions, time, etc. As I search my heart and bring its contents to the Lord for illumination, I pray that this post encourages you to do the same.

Much love,

Something bigger going on

In my early days of attempting to be an artist, whether in dance, music, or singing, I really struggled with actually labeling myself as such.

“Not I,” says I

As a child I discovered a deep love for movement, but because we couldn’t afford dance classes, I just relied on what came out of my own experience as well as intermittent workshops that would come along once or twice a year.

Once I reached college and discovered that modern dance was an open class that I could actually take for credit, I signed up right away. But my excitement quickly faded as I came across fellow students who had dance experience and incredible technique that I so clearly lacked. I continued taking the class and had the option to advance, but because the next level involved a lot of improvisation and my dance vocabulary was so limited, I chose to just repeat the first level.

Again, as a singer and musician, aside from spending my senior year of high school taking drum lessons from a great instructor Dean Kransler, I had no formal training. I just had a desire to lead worship and to do it with the aid of an instrument, so I asked God to help me learn, and He made it happen. Our public library also had a great selection of instrument instructional aids, so I frequently used those as well.

Even so, my knowledge was still basic, so it took a lot of encouragement to get me to be comfortable with playing on stage alone. When you consider yourself an intermediate player, it’s very easy to talk yourself out of putting yourself on display like that, and even if you do get the guts to do it, it’s usually accompanied with a serious case of the shakes and the Big D.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Coming to Kenya, I still carried that baggage of “Am I really a dancer?” “Can I call myself a musician?” and though I was invited to a number of churches to sing, the members of the worship teams intimidated me so much (not on purpose of course) that I typically struggled to play as freely as I could have.

It wasn’t until Ray and I found ourselves in the position of answering a call from God to teach others to use their artistic gifts to glorify Him and bring transformation to Kenyan culture that I realized I no longer had time to question the gifts God had given me. There were kids in my charge that were looking to me for instruction, and all of a sudden I became the expert.

Now I tried to throw a pity party in the beginning and asked God to find someone else to teach so I could just coordinate classes and write curriculum, but He kept persisting that He had been preparing me for this; I just needed to trust Him follow His lead. Sound familiar? Moses and I have much in common.

The hidden revealed

Surprisingly, to me… not so much to God, as I’ve been putting together lessons for classes as well as our overall curriculum, God has really been expanding my abilities and insight. Suddenly music theory is beginning to make sense, and as I grasp a concept, I’m able to package it in a way that the kids can understand, with the help of my husband who helps me tailor it to this specific culture.

Though I now am gaining the confidence to call myself an artist, I think the point of this lesson was to teach me that even before I picked up an instrument or waved my arm or sang a note, I was an artist because that’s who God designed me to be. When He created me He gave me those gifts, and no matter how little or how much time I spent developing the gift, it could never detract from who I was… who I am. The fact that I didn’t have the courage to call myself that didn’t change the fact that it was who God called me, and everything He declares is true and immutable.

Some of my favorite stories are of people who had no experience in a field God called them to, but discovered a talent or a passion that they never knew existed within. It’s those kinds of stories that ensure God gets total credit, you know? He’s the one who raised this person up for such a time, and He’ll be the one to remove the person when their time comes to an end. As long as the person chooses to simply remain a vessel the Lord can use, the possibilities are really limitless.

Ministry Update

Before I close, I want to share a quick update on our ministry. For those of you that don’t know, we’re working with a ministry called Mattaw Children’s Village here in Kitale. They have about 100 kids that they rescue and bring into a family setting to release them from the title of “orphan”. We work with 30 of their kids training them in music, vocal, dance, and drama.

Our aim is to equip them with artistic skills and mentor them as believers so that they can use their talents in evangelism and worship/prayer settings. Art is a huge component of any culture, and we believe that young people can use this particular sphere to influence many in this nation.

We have a fund raiser going on at the moment that we’d love your support in, whether it be through sharing, praying, or donating. Our fund raising site explains more about what exactly the fund raiser is for, but basically we’re hoping to acquire more instruments for our budding musicians as well as modest outfits for some of the girls that desire to learn contemporary dance.

It’s been crazy fun getting to know these wonderful kids and to see their growth as we walk through this process with them. We greatly appreciate all the of the support that we’ve received from you all, especially in the realm of prayer, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the future as these world changers utilize all that our partnership with you has made possible.

Much love!

This journey is our own

Comparison is a lot like the game Spoons. You can never keep your eyes fixed only on what’s in your hand, and someone always ends up getting hurt (at least when you play Spoons with my family).

Valentine’s Day woes

A few days after Valentine’s Day I posted a blog at She Is Set Apart about the way the lover’s holiday used to cause problems for me as a single person and still does even though I’m now married.

When I was single, using Facebook on Valentine’s Day was difficult because everyone was either posting pictures of their amazing gifts – making me feel bad because I didn’t have any, getting engaged – reminding me that I didn’t have someone to propose to me, or sending me “cheer up, you don’t suck that bad… at least Jesus loves you” posts – which I guess were meant to encourage me as a single woman.

Now that I’m married all I see is competition, oneupmanship. Hundreds of women claiming their husband is the best and sharing all the ways he spoiled her, making hundreds of other women instantaneously lift their expectations of their husband so that when he comes home with a single rose and box of chocolates, she’s looking at him like “That’s it? You hate me, don’t you?”

Long story short, the conclusion I came to on the blog post and in life is that my jealousy is an indicator that my Christian love tank is probably running on low. If I had the love of Christ living inside of me like it should, I should be rejoicing with my sisters and brothers because of the gifts they received. There is no room for jealousy and comparison in love.

Same story, different season

You may be wondering what my point is considering Valentine’s Day was over a month ago. Well, I bringt it up because the comparison struggle has started again but for a totally different reason: babies.

Since we had our miscarriage, just about every single friend that I have back home has announced that they’re pregnant or they’re already pregnant or they recently had a baby. I kid you not, this is true of at least 80% of my close friends.

It can be really hard to think that I was supposed to be on that ship, fell overboard, and now am treading water as the ship sails on. Without me.

As I scroll through my news feed, here we go again with a million baby pictures and birth announcements. It would be so easy for Ray and I to become upset because we had gotten so close to becoming parents, and sometimes I think we both do feel a twinge of envy, but aside from learning how to love others and truly rejoice with them in these wonderful gifts that God is giving them, God has really been giving us a new perspective to tread these murky waters.

Breathing under water

See, at this point in our lives we may not be on our way to parenthood and we don’t know when God will give us the go ahead with that, but with what felt like a tidal wave crashing over us, we’ve discovered that the undercurrent is actually pulling us deeper into our dreams. At this point in our lives we are able to pursue all that God puts on our hearts with total abandonment. The Joshua Blueprint has become our baby.

We’re in a similar position to where I was as a single person. Because I wasn’t in a relationship I was able to get involved in numerous ministries, go on lots of mission trips, and mentor a lot of kids. Now that I’m married I’ve lost some of that freedom, but I’ve discovered new potential in the partnership I have with my husband. Now, as one unit, we can dive into all that God has set before us and accomplish more together than I ever could on my own. The beauty of it all is that we can maintain this perspective through every phase that we’ll go through in life. As we begin to build our family we’ll gain revelation on how we can continue to pursue what God puts on our hearts but in a different way. My friend Kimberly Huffman has a great post about what that looks like as a mother of seven on the mission field. You can check it out here.

That being said, every phase of life looks different. We’re only in the second phase right now and we don’t necessarily plan to be in this phase as long as I stayed in the single phase, but who knows? Maybe God will keep us here for a while so we can spend more time branching out and experiencing new foundational aspects of His vision for us.

Whatever His plan is, our hearts say yes.

2015: a year of rest

Without going into the age old description of how horrible the human race is at keeping new year’s resolutions, I still believe that it’s important to at least set them. I could turn this into a “10 ways to keep your resolutions this year” post, but frankly hundreds of other bloggers are already doing that, and you would probably want to get that kind of advice from someone who has actually kept their resolution longer than a month.

“Not I,” says I.

Hold me accountable, please

But I will say that accountability is probably one of the biggest factors I’ve found to help me stick to my resolutions. Back in my single days, most sessions I had with accountability partners were more like confessionals. Instead of really pushing each other to keep going, we would just gather to confess how we were failing. Thanks to my friend Dana, I realized that that’s not accountability. Accountability is when you ensure that the other person is sticking to what they said they would do. Yes, we should confess our failings, but if that’s all we’re going to do, we’re not helping each other at all.

In that wise, Ray has been a great support for me. Leave it to the person who is around you 24/7 to constantly call you out when you’re “cheating”. We’re big believers in goal setting, so we’ve been practicing this whole resolution keeping thing throughout the year. I’m hoping that this year we can continue to help each other make our resolutions stick.

I will rest in you

Though we’ve created a list of new year’s resolutions related to our family, ministry, and business, we have one overarching resolution to govern them all: rest.

Just to clarify, we’re not talking about the kind of rest that means to take time for yourselves, relax, and temporarily forget about the chaos of life. We’re talking about the kind of rest that is totally aware of the chaos but remains rooted and grounded in faith. The kind of rest that says “Even in the midst of this storm, I know God’s got this so I don’t have to be anxious.” You know, the kind of rest that allowed Jesus to sleep on a boat that was being violently tossed by the sea while his disciples were nearly at the brink of insanity.

This is the kind of rest that we want to live in for the rest of our lives, but especially as we step into this new year.

Here comes the rain again

See, as this year begins so will an increased amount of craziness for the Wasike tribe.

In just a few days from now, our ministry The Joshua Blueprint will officially begin at Mattaw, which means lots of curriculum writing, lesson planning, three day weekly classes, and of course trying to match the energy level of nearly 50 students.

Joshua Blueprint Dance

We’ve also started a photography and videography business in Kitale that specializes in documentaries for missionaries (among other things), so we will spend most weekends and our off days from Mattaw working on things for the business.

Wasike Creations Interview

On top of all of that we’re planning a trip to the States in August, saving up for a vehicle, and trying again at some point for a baby.

But praise God for that blessed assurance

This would normally be the point where ordinarily my right eye would begin to twitch involuntarily, but that’s where the resolution comes in:

If no one hires us for the next three months, we will choose to live in rest.

If we find ourselves working more than sleeping, we will choose to live in rest.

If the classes turn out differently than expected, we will choose to live in rest.

If our trip to the States is delayed or denied, we will choose to live in rest.

If the conception of a baby occurs in the middle of it all, we will choose to live in rest.

Though we pray that God brings us times of refreshing when we can take breaks and allow our hearts to be rejuvenated, our greatest prayer is that as we keep our minds on Christ and our trust in him, he will keep us in perfect peace. Thankfully, because he’s already promised in his word that he will do just that, all that is left for us to do is rest.

Empowering youth with a knitting needle and loom

Video

Once again the blog has gone dark for a few weeks (we still haven’t even gotten around to sitting down to write the one year challenges and triumphs blog), but it’s for good reason.

Aside from packing up our meager possessions for the move to Kitale (we leave tomorrow!), we’ve been working on a short documentary for a project a friend is starting here in Nairobi. This is our third short doc and we truly feel it’s our best yet, so we’re so excited to share this with you guys. If you’re into knitting or the empowerment of youth, this is should really be a good watch with good feels for you.

Enjoy and consider getting involved!

Reflections on teaching and why I sought a new platform

“You’re a bad teacher!”

The moment those words were spit in my face, I knew that my days in formal education were coming to a close.

She’s got high apple pie in the sky hopes

I used to be one of those kids that asked my grade school teachers for extra worksheets before summer break so that I could force my younger relatives to come to my bedroom turned classroom for play school. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would eagerly blurt out “Teacher!” before they even finished the question.

It didn’t take a spiritual gifts test for me to realize that my gift was teaching.

Even when I reached college, while everyone was changing their majors and reinventing their life missions at least thrice, I stuck with teaching. I may have bounced between interests in kinesiology, sociology, cultural anthropology, and English, but my goal was always to teach.

Finally, I settled on English (though I was more interesting in writing than reading). It seemed like a good fit.

During my courses in the college of education, I was the student that skipped to the board and stood in the splits when I taught my peer reviewed lessons and was described by the instructor as being “loosey goosey”. Making lesson plans was exhilarating and being able to construct lessons that students actually liked was a fun challenge for me.

Here, there, and back again

Then student teaching happened.

I was placed in a school with teachers that had been there a long time and didn’t really have an interest in being there much longer. Of course because of that, they had very jaded attitudes and no qualms about passing their negative opinions onto all of us student teachers. I tried to ignore it and focus on the students (I ended up making lots of great connections with the kids, some that have lasted to this day), but nevertheless, I became very disillusioned. By the time I graduated, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a teacher anymore.

It took less than five months in that atmosphere for my hopes of being a teacher to wither away.

Still, I had to make money once I moved back home, so I figured I’d substitute teach. One sub job in particular turned into a part-time position, which soon became a full-time gig. Slowly but surely, working in this new setting brought me out of my funk, and I began to love teaching again. For four years I came to know and love so many students, and I put lot of effort into building relationships with them. Incoming seventh grade girls were invited to my house for facials or craft parties, I took the majority of my female students out for lunch on the weekends (until I couldn’t afford it anymore, then I just had them come to my classroom for lunch), and I ensured my classroom activities were student-centered rather than teacher-centered. I had so much fun with those kids, so much that during one teacher evaluation the principal told me I acted more like a youth pastor than a teacher.

I didn’t think that was a bad thing.

I loved teaching and I’d like to think that my students enjoyed being in my classroom.

Some of my favorite people in the entire world.

Some of my favorite people in the entire world.

The turning of the tides

Even so, I didn’t feel as though I was “called” to stay there for a long time or to be a teacher in that kind of setting once I left. I just wasn’t sure when the change would happen or what I would do afterwards. An altercation with a student’s parent, based on a total misunderstanding, was a crippling blow to my self-worth and really became the catalyst in confirming the notion that maybe being a school teacher just wasn’t for me. So much good had come out of my experience at the school and leaving my kiddos was hard (their school pictures are part of our living room decor here), but by the end, I was tired.

It was fun while it lasted.

When we first moved to Kenya, Ray suggested that I apply for teaching jobs here, and I refused to the point of tears and accusations that he didn’t really love me. My teaching experience hadn’t ended extremely well, so I had no desire to go back into that field, especially in a new setting where teachers are supposed to be strict disciplinarians (they still cane here). I’ve never been great at being professional or maintaining a strict teacher-student distance in the academic setting in the States, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to cut it here. I told him my days of teaching were over and that I wanted to find something else to do with my life.

Finding a new sense of purpose

When God gives you a gift, I don’t believe it ever dies. (Tweet this)

You may be able to sit on it for a while, but sooner or later it will come out in some form or fashion. Through all my experiences, good and bad, I’ve learned that just because I have the calling to be a teacher doesn’t mean that I’m called to be in the academic setting.

I use my gift when I write, I use it when I lead Bible studies, I use it in conversations, and I’m most definitely going to use it when it comes to The Joshua Blueprint, our fledgling organization that will be partnering with children’s homes to provide access to arts and media training. We’re currently in the process of building curriculum, which I’m actually really digging, and then once we get started, I’ll be able to engage with kiddos in a classroom setting once again.

That’s my heart.

I love the thought of being my own boss when it comes to this organization and being able to engage freely with the kids without someone telling me I’m not being professional enough. Yes, I can be professional when it comes to leading board meetings and whatnot, but I can also teach while dancing across the classroom and let students learn the way they like to learn, because JB is all about creativity and letting creatives be creative, which generally can get messy. The best part is that the Head of our ministry enjoys the crazy creative process we go through to create personal expressions of worship, and He is more eager to engage with the kids in the process than I am.

I can’t wait to get back into the classroom and watch my students create.

It feels so good to have my heart for teaching feel alive again. It’s been quite a journey getting here, but I finally feel like I’m where I belong.

If you haven’t already, be sure to “like” our Facebook page to stay updated on what we’re doing with JB. You can also read my post on our first scouting trip to Kitale to get some more background information.

Working together for a great cause

All has been quiet on the blogging front for some time now, but for good reason. Ray and I were back in western province the last few weeks to spend some time working on a project with his grandparents in Bungoma, and to do our first short documentary for some missionaries in Kitale.

We worked our first real job together and lived to tell the story.

Is this really happening?

When Ray and I first got married, I never even suspected that this would be a career we’d pursue as a couple, but here we are starting our own little Wasike Creations business, and we’ve not only successfully completed our first job, but we’ve already got another big job lined up! God has really taken us into an area where neither of us feel totally qualified, but the whole process has literally been thrilling. So often throughout the recording and editing sessions, it was all we could do to just cling to one another and ask, “Is this really happening?”

Prior to all of this, Ray especially had a fear of moving to Kitale because he knew that with the work we want to do, we would be around each other 24/7. We tried that once when we lived in the States, and it was disastrous. We fought all the way to counseling and back, and it scared the bejebus out of my dear husband. He honestly couldn’t see how we could possibly stay married if we ended up in a position where we were working together all the time. Looking back, I have to agree with his logic. We weren’t mature enough or ready for it then, but our season in Nairobi has really helped us build an appropriate foundation for the work we need to do in Kitale and for being together all the time, so now we have no excuse.

Divine connections and strategic orders

The last time we were in Kitale we got connected with Bill and Patricia Cornell, the founders of Vision for Africa Ministries. They’re missionaries that have been serving the people of Kenya since 2001, and over the past few months they have become dear friends and incredible spiritual mentors to us. Whenever we leave their home we feel challenged and inspired to pray and love harder. While we were visiting with them the first time, they shared tons of stories about their ministry and told us that with the quick expansion of their reach, they needed to raise funds so they could serve their students better. Our offering to help was the beginning of everything.

They had $100 left in their pockets and they gave it to us to plant a seed towards the work we would do for them. No amount of self-doubt in our own abilities could keep us from working on their project at that point. They knew God connected us for a reason and were willing to invest the last amount of money they had in us. Of course God always rewards acts of faithfulness like that, because the next day they received an unexpectedly large donation, and we got our bicycle, equipped with brand new training wheels, pushed into the beginning of a new life assignment. When we got home we began dreaming and scripting and planning, all the while feeling twinges of excitement at what lay ahead.

Step by step, day by day

Ironically enough, Bill and Patricia live and work together 24/7, so they were great people to work with on this first project, because they gave us great insight on how to work together whenever we would hit rough spots. Here are a few things that they either shared with us or that we gleaned from the experience:

  • Clearly define your roles. This is one of the most important things to do before you begin working together. Ray films and directs, and I interview and edit. For the most part, knowing what each person is responsible for takes a lot of pressure to micromanage off of our shoulders. To allow him to do his own thing with his role shows that I trust him and I believe in his talent, which really emboldens him to do his best. There may be times when we switch hats and he’ll ask me to direct and I’ll ask him to edit something, but it’s imperative that you wait for the person to ask so you don’t step on his toes and squash his creativity.
Documentary Interview

Interviewing Bill and Patricia.

  • Recognize when you need help and ask for it. Even though each person needs some autonomy, you have to be careful of compartmentalizing too much. Just like in marriage, you’ll find in work that you each have certain strengths and weaknesses. Most likely your talents combined help to balance those weaknesses out, so why not utilize that? Yes, I’m the editor, but Ray understands Adobe Premiere much better than I do, so if I try to be a lone island, I’m going to be the one everyone points to when the ships sinks.
future photographers

Some local kids wanted to see what Ray was seeing while we shot.

  • Be willing to receive correction from your spouse. There will be times when your spouse reviews your work and he won’t think you did as great of a job as you think you did. Don’t argue about who is right, just let him show you what he thinks would be better and then decide from there. Sometimes I would suggest a change to something Ray did, so he would change it, we would see that it wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be, and we would go back to his idea. Sometimes you just have to give the other option a chance before you discuss so you are both in a better position to decide what works best. Just be sure when you’re correcting your spouse to speak with all manners of gentleness and love. Don’t let your titles or workspace cause you to treat your spouse like an underling.
Forcing a smile at the end of a recording session.

Forcing a smile at the end of a recording session.

  • Know when it’s time to take a break. Ray and I would shoot all day and then go into the office and work on editing late into the night. Around 2am we would find ourselves arguing over stupid stuff quite a bit, at which point I would promptly send Ray to bed while I kept working. By the end of the week we had worked out a schedule where he worked until 4:30am while I slept, and I worked through the rest of the morning while he slept. Surprise, surprise… no more fights. If you feel the tension between you rising, don’t force it, just take a break.
  • Pray together before, during, and after. This is something the Cornells told us. We had talked to them about fighting while working, and they came into the office and encouraged us to pray with each other. There’s always something calming about praying together as a couple. It also helps you focus on the bigger picture, what God wants from you and what He wants to do with you, as opposed to the problem at hand.

 

Bill helping Ray with sound.

Bill helping Ray with sound.

  • Let work be work and home be home. We were staying with the Cornells the entire week that we were in Kitale working on this project, so we practically lived in Bill’s office and basically only came out whenever Patricia called us to eat.  Once we left the office, we didn’t really talk about the project, we just focused on building relationship with them and enjoying one another. Bringing the stress of work into your personal life really adds some serious strain on your relationship and you don’t want that thing looming over your head as you try to live your life. Leave it alone, go do what you need to do, and you’ll be surprised that your perspective will have changed by the time you come back to work.
  • Have fun. Though making these videos was tough work, Ray and I made a point to have fun. While we were shooting Pastor Raphael, we took a minute to be all kissey kissey in the road, and a guy on a motor bike came by and was like, “Get off the road! This is not the place for romance!” (insert childish giggles). While we were exporting the first promo, we went outside and did a photo shoot in the very first African dress Ray got for me. I normally hate it when he wants to do photo shoots, but this time it was a welcome break. We even stopped once and I grabbed a guitar while we sang worship songs loudly and badly to let off some steam. After twenty minutes of that, we were refreshed, happy, and ready to get back to work.

African dress

snuggle buddies

This was only our first job, so we’re by no means experts on this topic, but because things ultimately went so smoothly for us and because I’m a writer, I was taking notes of everything we did. So this isn’t just a self-help list for you, but it’s a reminder for us of how to work together once things really get going. Hope it helps you as much as it helped us!

Remember, “teamwork makes the dream work”.

#teamjesus

The promo for VFA’s YouCaring fundraiser (please check it out and help them get the word out by sharing)

The full 15-minute documentary