Tag Archives: missions

3 Things to Value More Than $1M

As the U.S. continuous its decade-long economic improvement, it’s hard for many of the younger folks to remember a time where fear was prevalent and jobs were scarce. While I was much younger in 08 and 09 I remember the feeling and conversation around money during that period.

Not only am I confident that hard times will hit the U.S. economy again, I suspect (based on history) that some sort of crash or drawback isn’t too far away. Simply looking back at the last couple decades of market crashes gives us some picture of how rare the past 10 years have been.

We’ve seen relatively low turmoil in the market, particularly stocks. Except for a few difficult weeks, the U.S. stock markets haven’t experienced a real drawback since the mortgage meltdown. But just 5 or 6 years before that the markets were down in 2002. And just two years before that the markets were down in the technology bubble of 2000.

Consistently throughout history we’ve had market crashes or corrections every six to 10 years. Here we are in 2018, with trade fears on the horizon, wondering if another crash is near. It’s been about a decade.

With all the turmoil, fear, anxiety and uncertainty in the markets, it’s very easy to become focused so much on the world of money that 1) we lose historical perspective on a potential loss, but 2) we lose life perspective on the true importance of money as it relates to our life.

Which matters more, a 50% drop in the Stockmarket (which won’t be a permanent loss unless you panic and sell) or a loss of a close loved one? While most people would value the close relationship above a temporary financial loss, it’s strange that so many of us put more energy worrying about areas of finance we can’t control and less time improving our current relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, money is important. Money has power, both in our life (to buy things and help others we care about) and in politics (to influence people), but there are three big things more important than money we can’t forget:

1) God

2) Close relationships (friends and family)

3) Health (physical and emotional)

Deepening these areas of your life both in depth (deepened commitment and improvement) and in length (time spent improving and investing in) is a great first step in not only improving these three areas but also setting yourself up to improve the 4th area: Money.

Next time you’re planning or prioritizing your life in a way that isn’t consistent with your values, remember in what order your values lie.

How I Drove 2,300 Miles Without My License (And Why You Shouldn’t) Part 1

You might be thinking this is clickbait. Or is that a typo? No, I really did drive 2,300 miles, without my license, by myself, at 18 years old across the country. Now before I tell you how I ended up in the middle of Kansas, at midnight, with no license I need to give you some background.

In the summer of 2017 I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life and what I wanted to become. This was around my 18th birthday in July. As the summer finished and the School year began, I started realizing that I could, if I wanted, take a trip that would give me further knowledge about what was out there.

In December 2017 I decided to follow through. During this time I was working full time as well as doing school full time so there wasn’t a lot of access time for spare planning. But I did manage to put together an incomplete document that would start me on my preparation.

Around Christmas I headed over to Zambia, Africa (I was visiting my family who moved for orphan missions, but more on that in another post). In Zambia I finalized my plans, which were fairly detailed, deciding against the 8,000 mile trip I was originally planning.

My new plan was to head down to Florida, explore, head back up through Louisiana to Texas, explore, and then head home to Michigan. All with a few minor stops along the way. The trip was around the corner. I was so excited!

It was a bittersweet moment for me. My time in Zambia was about over. And, in March 2018, I said goodbye to my family after 3 very special months. This had been a great period to rest, learn, and spend time with the most important people in my world.

I flew back to Lansing by myself, pondering and searching for a single feeling to feel. But there were so many. I felt alone. Even though I was going to live with my Grandma (and what a blessing that is), I was missing the people who had been with me my whole life.

I also felt anxiety. Here I was, 18 years old, with so many life changes like college, work, summer plans, and then my trip, all coming up just around the corner.

But I was also excited. My life had been, for the most part, out of my control up till this moment. And now the pen and paper were finally getting handed to me to write my own story. I thought I was ready.

With these emotions and so many others spreading around in my mind and nervous system, I really was starting to grow up. Not all at once, but slowly.

The plane landed.

I got to Lansing, spent time with friends and Grandma, and after one week it was time to leave. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for had come. Again, I thought I was ready. So, in the first few days of April, I left.

 

The Cost of Not Spending

Often when it comes to money we get the basic financial advice of reducing spending, increasing income, and investing the difference. However there is an extreme that this can be taken to.

Most have heard the tale, “A Christmas Carol”. In it, Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as an old single bachelor who has been hoarding his money, keeping to himself, and worrying pretty much only about himself. While we’d like to think we’re exempt from this behavior, it can become difficult at times to see that we’ve started to show some of his characteristics.

For example some people think that it’s a smart life choice to not tip. A guy I used to work with told me he “didn’t do tips because they don’t need it.” I understand decreasing the tip for bad service, but doing so for other reasons is being cheap. Understand, that’s how many of those people make their money.

Another area where people often lack clarity is in the area of giving. Some think, that by giving, they’re somehow benefiting themselves. While it’s certainly true that giving all your money away isn’t a smart life choice for pretty much everyone, there are genuine benefits to honest, purposeful giving.

Giving doesn’t have to be financial either. I was quietly reading in the park once, in downtown Lansing, when a homeless dude walked up to me. We talked for a while, and I feel that the encouragement I gave him, as well as the insights and story he gave me, were a mutually beneficial exchange.

Whatever your philosophy on giving, tipping, and sharing, keep in mind that sometimes there’s a non-financial cost to not giving.

Africa?

The beginning is where all of us start. Whether we were born into a rich family or experienced a childhood of poverty, every story is slightly different. Mine is that much more strange.

I was born into a middle class family in Mason Michigan. Growing up I was homeschooled out in a big house in the country. The closest thing I had to classmates were a close group of friends who participated in sports, games, and making movies with us.

I was the oldest. Someone had to be right? I was very close to my brother growing up. We would play in the yard, fight with toy lightsabers, and build forts together. It was a blast. For a homeschool family we had a lot of good friends.

Sometimes when people think of homeschoolers they think of people who sit at home all day, reading, staying in their PJ’s all day, and never really socializing. That wasn’t us. We did sometimes stay in our PJ’s for a lot of the day, but besides that none of those stereo types quite fit our description.

We went to Church each week which is where about half of our friends came from – close friends. We made some great bonds with a few families who would come over regularly. In fact you could say that we were so close to some of those families we were distant relatives.

Each Thursday we would see the Barnes family. They’d come over, we’d play all day, and the mothers would talk and take care of the little ones. As kids we loved it.

As time passed and we entered into our younger teens and high school was just starting. We participated in what’s known as co-ops. On a particular day of the week homeschool families get together at a big building (usually a church) and take classes together that are taught by homeschool moms and a few dads.

We’d go home, do our work at home, and then come back a week later to talk about it or present on it. So in some ways it was a hybrid school between public and homeschool.

We made some great friends here as well. We met every Thursday so instead of seeing Barnes at our houses, we did co-ops with them.

Highschool continued. We made more friends, learned some good stuff. And then a couple years ago, while I was in my junior year, my family started talking about going to Africa.

At first they just prayed about it and talked about it. Then they began talking to other families about it. They really felt God was leading them to go overseas and do mission work – particularly orphan care. When I would hear them talk I’d always think that it was just talk. We’d never really move to Africa would we?

Then the news came. My parents announced they would be heading overseas to Africa to visit. I was 17 but very responsible. My parents put me in charge and had our Grandma watch us as well. They left us in very good hands, making sure we had a meal plan for every day and new where everyone would be going.

It was only like a week and a half. So they left in November of 2016. That was the first trip. They took another one – I believe in early 2017. Over this period of time I was beginning to take classes at a local community college: LCC (Lansing Community College).

Duel-enrolling, I would take half my classes at LCC and half at co-ops. During this time I also got my first job at Cracker Barrel. About halfway through 2017 I looked up and suddenly there was talk of them moving to Africa with the whole family. Now it was getting real. They began making plans for the whole family (minus me) to move over there.

I kept working and that fall was enrolled in four classes. At this point they planned on heading over to Africa with the whole family in November. They had to go to a missionary training thing in Colorado Springs, CO.. That was the first time I had ever been away from my family for a full month. It felt very strange living at my Grandma’s house but I was just starting to get used it it when took a brief trip to Colorado to visit them. I was there like one week.

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I came back and kept working. I was working 40 hours a week with full-time classes – so I didn’t have a lot of time to think about the changes going on. Then they came back from Colorado and we all prepared for the next part of the journey…