By Amy Toman
Today we will continue our series on Fundraising with the family. We have covered why we take our family, tools we use to entertain them and how we expect our kids to behave. Today we will be tackling the most difficult topic of all: preparing myself before and during our fundraising trips.
For those of you who don’t know me well, I am a planner and I plan for every situation possible. I am great at organizing and having an idea of what should happen and how to make that happen. I’m not someone who tends to ponder and think a lot about myself, just how everyone else should be acting and my part to achieve that. Preparing mentally and spiritually for a fundraising trip is very difficult for me; I don’t like to sit still, I don’t like silence and I don’t like to listen, all of which are required for preparation. I am very lucky that God gave me Jacob as my husband who has spent years teaching me some tips for preparing myself for such trips.
Now you might be wondering: why would I have to prepare myself? Well, when I say I need to prepare myself, I mean not just plan, but be mentally ready for any situation. I need to know how I am going to respond if the kids do x, y, or z, and how I will respond if plans change at the last minute (which they tend to do). It’s more about how I respond emotionally and whether I let a small change affect our entire day. After almost 4 years of fundraising trips, I like to think that I have made some progress by following these few tips.
1. Have some Quiet Time with God! This one is very important and one that I struggle with on a daily basis, let alone when we are traveling and all sharing 1 room. Spending time with God before our trip is a great reminder that this trip is about worshipping him and sharing what he has done in our lives. I try to carve out time the night before our trip when everyone is sleeping and everything is packed to spend time reading a Psalm and in prayer.
2. Take a Break! Having a plan for when I need a break is also important. Traveling to different places can be really tough on you mentally. A lot of the time you are the solo parents during the trip and are required to keep an eye on children 24/7, unless you are lucky to be in a child-friendly environment. Jacob and I carve out a time each day that allows me to have some quiet time with the Lord and alone time without anyone else. Now, I admit that for a while I thought this wasn’t required since I’m an extrovert and love being around people, but trust me it is. Sometimes this quiet time to recoup, pray and just close my eyes occurs in the middle of the day, sometimes at the end. A lot of the time it occurs in the car while Jacob and the kids play at a park or go into the hotel. I have learned that I cannot give to Jacob, my kids or others if I am not taking this short time for myself.
3. Listen. For me, to listen means listening to praise music, a podcast or past sermon while we are traveling to our location. Again, this reinforces in my mind that this is not a vacation but a trip to share what God has been doing in our lives and those who we mission to. It helps settle my brain and focus on the Lord instead of all the things that could go wrong, or all the things I can do while we are there. I prefer to listen to a Christian radio station, or Jacob’s passed sermons that I haven’t heard yet.
4. Communicate! This tip is more for you as a couple, but is very important. During a fundraising trip all routines are off and time to talk to my spouse is decreased from what I am use to. We have to make a deliberate effort to talk to one another about what’s going on, what we expect to happen, to debrief how something went and what we need from each other. Our most successful trips are when we remember to communicate with each other and not just do our separate things.
Taking our family on a fundraising trip may be difficult, but it is also so much joy! We wouldn’t change it for the world. I love that we can share not only the work God has called us to with our kids, but also allow them to meet many other Christians who are supporting that work. I love being able to meet believers all over the country and know that there are others praying for us and our family. It is so sweet when we leave a church and Alethea tells us about how much fun she had and instantly ask if we get to go back and visit again. Seeing the love that our community of supporters has for Gospel and Gaming and our family is amazing and such an encouragement. We are so thankful to have the supporters that we do and the opportunity to share God’s love with gamers.