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Some Good News, Some Hard News, Some Not-Giving-Up News

May 31, 2012
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Good news: To date over $2.3 million has been given to thousands of people through Giving Anonymously.

Some hard news: We are having to temporarily suspend all giving through Giving Anonymously as of May 31st, 2012. (Giving to churches, missionaries, and non-profits will be moved to Giving Anonymously Foundation.)

Some not-giving-up news:

We don’t think this is the end of GA, we believe it’s only just begun.You can help us by spreading the word about this — please feel free to share this video and link to http://www.givinganon.org. You can contact us at info@givinganon.org for status updates on what is happening. Please feel free to share the direct link for this video as well: http://youtu.be/yZuIzbROCtg.

An Update from the Thompsons – Seven Years!

March 30, 2012

As of April 1st Giving Anonymously will be celebrating our seventh year as an organization and about $2,160,000 has been given through us during those seven years. It is a great beginning for what we envisioned years ago and what we hope for in the years to come.

As Misha and I continue to volunteer for Giving Anonymously we are constantly asking ourselves why we are committing so much time and effort to this organization without pay. This includes the companies and other volunteers, especially Big Fresh, that have spent tens of thousands in donated time to building our website. So why do we do it? It’s because of what we see happening in people’s lives through GA. Recipient and donor’s stories (click here to see some of these stories) continue to impact us in such a way that we want to keep going. The message of generosity is transforming, and it is transforming even to us.

On the family front, Misha is in the third year of homeschooling our kids and despite saying it’s the most exhausting work she’s ever done, it brings her, and all of us, a great amount of laughter, learning and joy. Recently we have been reading books by J.R.R. Tolkien and George MacDonald and have been having some fascinating family discussions as our kids are forming their world views. Kezia is 10.5 and Luke turns 9 in April. We have a new family member named Emma, our dog, a gift from the grandparents and from the kids’ diligent savings, who is a cute ball of fluff. We’re all kind of crazy about her and we are especially grateful we waited until the kids were older to add another set of muddy feet and a wet nose to our mix.

We didn’t plan for it to fall on this seven year anniversary of GA, but a friend has opened up their little home to us on one of the San Juan islands for us to spend a week of vacation. When we celebrated the New Year every single one of our family members said that their top hope for this year was to be able to have vacation and rest time alone with just the four of us. The kids have spent the last week making lists of all they want to do together for this up coming week – bike riding, hiking, staying up as late as they want reading at night…  Misha and I have been pretty tired and we are looking forward to this rest.

We cannot say enough how grateful we have been to those of you who have prayed for us or given to us in some way during this season. It has been a challenging journey of trust for us and I think both Misha and I would say we have felt both broken and built-up by what we have been learning. It has not been easy. Now two and a half years since I resigned from my job, we can say that God has been faithful and He’s made a way where it didn’t seem probable – or even possible.

We are still dealing with some challenges as a family, and I’ve listed a few of them below. Please do keep praying for us. And if God calls you to partner with us in some way, we would welcome that.

We are falling around $2500 short of meeting our family’s monthly budget.  As a couple we operate with a three-tier budget. The first tier includes our mortgage, food and petrol. The second tier includes our utilities/bills. The third tier includes family needs and savings towards property taxes, etc. Misha handles our family budget and she runs a tight ship doing a lot of our shopping at Goodwill, consigning the kids’ older clothes, etc – and she loves the challenge of finding good deals!  The budgetary needs of our first tier are being met, however, our second tier is often a struggle and is currently short.  In spite of our needs we don’t have much debt aside from our mortgage and are doing our best to keep debt at a minimum.

We are brainstorming solutions including the possibility of Misha working,  I have recently taken on an extra job from 8:00 – 9am on weekdays, etc.  Our biggest felt need is for additional monthly income / support.  For those wanting to financially partner with us they can give through our church, Mosaic (Click here).  Gifts are tax deductible.

For those of you already supporting us we hope you recognize that along with being God’s provision for us as a family that you are also investing in the many lives that are being touched through Giving Anonymously. As a family we recognize this and hope you do as well.

We cherish your encouragement and friendship. Thank you so much for being a part of our lives.

P.S. We Just found out today that I was honoured to be named a fascinating person in our local news (I wonder what my kids would say to that?!) and Giving Anonymously was mentioned in the March issue of Real Simple Magazine (it’s here online) – if you haven’t seen them they are encouraging to check out. 

Thompson family’s financial and giving update.

October 4, 2011

After my last correspondence a few of you asked if I could be more specific about where our family’s finances are.   I want to say beforehand that we feel so honored that many of you continue supporting us for our work with GA.  There are many needs in our respective communities and we are humbled and grateful that you’d choose to help us.

I was recently reading a biography on Amy Carmichael, a renowned missionary to India.  She wrote in her journal, “Is the work for which we want the money God’s chosen work for us, or our chosen work for Him?  If the former, will not He see after the money necessary?  If the latter, then how can we expect anything better than we have?”

Eleven years ago on the day Misha and I got married a man came up to us and shared a sense he had from God.  Part of what he said was that we’d see millions coming through our hands none of which would be ours.  When I ask that question Amy Carmichael asked – am I doing my chosen work for God – Or God’s chosen work for me –  I think about what was shared with us eleven years ago and trust that indeed GA was God’s idea all along.

The following is where we stand financially at this time:

Our mortgage and basic living expenses add up to $4400 each month.  Having added a few more hours of bookkeeping / accounting, my paid work is bringing in $2200 and an additional $1690 (average of last four months) is coming in through monthly / one time gifts through our church Mosaic or to us directly.  In summary we are usually short by $500-$600 monthly.  A note on our basic living expenses – this includes bills and food and not savings or medical insurance.  Our medical is currently being covered for us through May 2012.

A number of you who have been supporting us monthly through Mosaic church have had difficulty switching over to their new system (now set up through Giving Anonymously).  The link to give to us through Mosaic (for tax receipts) is as follows:  https://www.givinganon.org/give/step2_widget.php?widget_id=72  If a tax receipt is not necessary you can use our Facebook LMKL link: https://www.givinganon.org/give/step2_widget.php?widget_id=7

Once again Misha and I cannot tell you how grateful we continue to be for your support.  The privilege we feel of being able to help people through Giving Anonymously would not be possible were in not for your continued generosity to us.  From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You!

An incredible story of God taking care of a hurting family

August 3, 2011

My team just put up a podcast of  a beautiful story that came through Giving Anonymously.  I thought I’d share it with those of you reading this blog.

The story is of a mom who received a call from her  18 year old son, his girlfriend and their newborn baby who had just been kicked out of the home where they were staying.  It happened late at night and they were standing in the rain with no where to go.  The son asked his mom if she could come and pick them up and if they could come and stay with her.  The mom was financially stretched, without even enough money to pay for the gas needed to rescue them and then make it to work the next day.  Driving in the car to pick them up she told God, “You are giving me more than I can handle.”   The following day she saw an email from Giving Anonymously that had been sent to her the night before.  She saw that the email had come in exactly 7 minutes after the phone call from her son.    …. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear the rest of the story.

Click Here – (This link will take you to GA’s blog where you can listen to the podcast)

— Lionel

Vision through foggy windows

July 10, 2011

Obstacles often force us to sharpen our perspective on things.  I feel like that is happening with me personally in light of Giving Anon.  The question I’ve been asking is what does one do when external pressures begin confronting ones’ vision (or various elements thereof).   At these times knowing where one is going becomes even more important.

So if you asked me –  Where are we going?  What are we hoping to do?  What is our vision for Giving Anon?  – this is what I’d say…

We want to encourage and facilitate peer to peer generosity around the world.   The response that we’ve received from the $1.5 million we’ve sent out has been really heartfelt.  We know it’s touching lives, drawing people closer together, helping people care for one another, all this and in a deeply meaningful and personal way.  The concept of pure generosity also excites us.  We think part of the unique message is that there’s nothing to gain it’s just pure giving.   We visualize people from around the world getting excited about giving to one another and allowing GA to help them be charities of and in themselves to those around them in need.

We are still waiting to find out what the authorities think of our vision, how they want to monitor us, and what licenses they’ll ask us to get.   As I pray, I sense God reiterating to me this question – “What is my (our collective) vision?”  The obstacles are not overwhelming to God, though they may be to me.  His concern is usually always with where someone is headed, and not with what’s trying to stop them getting there.

Keith Green has a lyric which goes, “Give it your best, pray that it’s blessed, and He will take care of the rest.”   So, we are giving it our best, trying not to be intimidated or to step down from the challenges, and trying to do it all with wisdom.  Thank you to you who are believing with us and praying with us that God will indeed bless and take care of the rest.

—-Lionel

Photo of Mt Baker behind Bellingham by John Scurlock

These Happy Golden Years*

June 30, 2011
From Brene’ Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection, pages 79 – 80:

“Anne Robertson, a Methodist pastor, writer and executive director of the Massachusetts Bible Society, explains how the Greek origins of the happiness and joy hold important meaning for us today. She explains how the Greek word for happiness is Makarios, which was used to describe the freedom of the rich from normal cares and worries, or to describe a person who received some form of good fortune, such as money or health. 

Robertson compares this to the Greek word for joy which is chairo. Chairo was described by the ancient Greeks as the “culmination of being” and the “good mood of the soul.” 

Robertson writes, “Chairo is something, the ancient Greeks tell us, that is found only in God and comes with virtue and wisdom. It isn’t a beginner’s virtue; it comes as the culmination. They say it’s opposite is not sadness, but fear.” 

I have been thinking a lot about how saying thank you is the opposite of self-pity. It’s the opposite of self-anything. Self-focus. My fears, my doubts, my anxiety …. my anything.

I have a friend who has five (almost) grown kids – she has told me several times that the ages our kids are at now are such special ones. These are the years where everything is possibility, she’s said, where everything is an option and full of hope.

I am seeing what she means. My kids are old enough to reason and young enough to be un-self-conscious. The first six years, if I look back, were all about teaching survival skills. (To my self,  as much as to them!) How to stay alive, eat, drink, sleep and exist safely.

Around six and seven years old I really loved the joy of seeing my kids’ uniqueness unfold. I got to celebrate their differences, their own perspectives and the surprises that came out in how they see the world through their own eyes. I loved that and I still do.

And now, now it’s all about relationship.

I am consciously, intentionally storing away for (what could be) the turbulence of individuating ahead. I am laying a foundation every day of relationship. I’d be foolish to think it may not get tricky with hormones and the heavy-lifting that growing up will ask of them. But I have these years and I am daily helping them build relationship with themselves, with family, with friends, with their own faith… with the way their minds and bodies work and how to relate to that.

Most of how I do this is with time. It’s focus, it’s eye contact and answering impossible questions with attention, it’s listening, it’s reading, it’s touch, it’s doing everything we can together – it’s investing, investing, investing. It’s golden moments that flitter by so fast that sometimes even the legitimate robs the essential.

In the past this investment has often come from fear. From a sense of scarcity or panic of the unknown (or even precedent) – from a place of focus on me and my worries and my fears. But slowly I am learning to make the investment from a surplus of joy instead. From a place of gratitude.

As they practice growing up, I am practicing my place of thanks. Thanks not built on guarantees but on God.

These last two years have been a scary season for me as a mother. To see all of our needs as a family met through unusual means has stretched me and continues to stretch me – sometimes to a breaking point. I am daily learning to see the gifts in our lives as the opposite of seeing lack, and instead choosing to see plenty.  To see the beauty of who I worship show Himself in the abundance of goodness and kindness and simple routines of our days.

These are some golden moments from this week. They aren’t reflections of perfection or  even what I always think we need. But these are the ones I clicked on a camera button for, because this was my way of saying: I see this gift, God, and I thank you.

for my husband
for these golden years with her
for their friendship
for reading me pooh bear
for a rainbow garden
(thanks to our friend sara)
for a quiet home
(after the cacophony of celebrating that school’s out)
for collecting dinner for daddy
for enjoyment
for daddy being home
for their relationship
for beauty and joy
for baby-sitting a little buddy and seeing my kids play with him
{*with apologies to Laura Ingalls Wilder}

The Vacuum Cleaner

June 24, 2011

Tuesday night the kids and I celebrated the first day of summer by taking our first jump of the season into this lake which is only a few minutes drive from our home.  It’s one of our most favorite places to be during the Bellingham summer months. ———

I have a memory of Kezia, when she was around one, of her getting cornered by the vacuum cleaner.  She was terrified of our vacuum in general and on this particular occasion it so happened that she was standing in the last spot needing to be vacuumed.  Sensitive dad that I am I didn’t think of the option of turning it off and letting her past.  So there we were: me, the vacuum and the spot of carpet on which was my terrified daughter.  Over the noise of the vacuum the following words sprang from my mouth, “Kezia! You don’t need to be afraid of something dad is in control of!”

The moment the words left my mouth I heard God repeat them back to me.  “Lionel! You don’t need to be afraid of anything that I am in control of!”

There are many vacuum cleaners in my life that make lots of noise and it’s sometimes hard to see God when pursued by the loud machine of life.  But He is there.  And He is in control.  I don’t always understand why He has to vacuum the spot on which I’m standing but I’ve learned that He’s safe and trustworthy.

——–Here’s a little update from our family:

I’m excited by what is happening at Giving Anonymously.  We still have a few challenges to wade through with the state but we are feeling optimistic.  Due to the complications and uniqueness of our case it’s taking time for the state to figure out how to place us.  The time delay has turned into a blessing for us as we’ve been able to take a breather and catch up financially as an organization.  We have a new website coming out shortly that we are also thrilled about.

Misha and I have been going through a few health issues that are concerning.  Frequent migraines for her and stomach burning/a possible ulcer for me.  We are working on getting a few things in place such as decent medical insurance to investigate these symptoms further.  Initial thoughts are that they could be stress related.  I’d appreciate your prayers for us for health especially if there’s some other root cause which we cannot see – and just prayers for health in general – I feel like we really need that at this time especially.

Some of you may have heard that I was trying to go back to school to finish the 8 courses left in my MBA (an evening course for working people.)  I found out four hours before my class was supposed to start on Tuesday  that I received permission to waive the course which I was enrolled for this summer (based on work experience.)  I get the credits but don’t need to take the course.  This was a huge relief to Misha and I and a gift to us for the summer.

Thank you for your prayers and friendship.

————Lionel

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