Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kissing Camels and other fundraising metaphors.

When I was in junior high, my family went on this epic road trip. Four Corners. Mount Rushmore. Yellowstone. Jackson Hole. Grand Canyon. Grand Tetons. Not only my family of four, but also my aunt, uncle and two cousins from Japan. Eight of us in a van. Language barriers galore. Two weeks on the road. I'm talking National Lampoon kind of epic, friends. 

During that trip, we visited the Garden of the Gods, near Colorado Springs. I don't think it's a registered National Park, but if Yosemite and Zion had a baby, that baby would be the Garden of the Gods. 
photo credit: here
My dad was the self-appointed tour guide that day, pointing out landmarks and other natural points of interest. 

One such landmark was the Kissing Camels. My dad pointed to a big rock formation and said 'see it there?'. My family "ooh'd and ahh'd" but I didn't see it. I squinted. I changed perspectives. I really tried. Then I just decided maybe it just wasn't that impressive. I snapped my photo and moved on. 

It wasn't until we got home and were reliving our trip via photos when I saw my auntie's Kissing Camel photo. 

photo credit: here
There it was, undeniably, two camels kissing. 
My photo was a bit something like this: 
"Uh, yeah, if you say so."
Here's the full rock formation.
photo credit: here

About a month ago Rob asked me to reflect on my fundraising experience and how I've experienced God's provision throughout it. 

As I did, the Kissing Camels came to mind.

During my 11 years on InterVarsity staff, and thereby 11 years of fundraising, there have been times where I undeniably spotted those Kissing Camels...times where God was clearly and miraculously at work. At other times, despite trying really hard, squinting and changing angels in desperation, I just couldn't see it. (Especially these past 3 years.) Distracted by practical needs, growing deficits, and rising expenses, I'd trek on slightly disappointed and confused. 

Without a doubt, fundraising has been one of the areas in my life that I have felt the most needy and experienced God most clearly. I can't believe I'm going to say this but... I am really, really thankful for the gift of fundraising. 

Even in the midst of economic crashes, pay cuts, creative resourcing of the ministry, a myriad of no's and facing my own fears...I have been transformed. My faith in God has become more clear. My passions stronger, patiently learning to trust in God's timing as I take risks. It's not easy, not even after 11 years of experience, but I wouldn't trade it for a thing...not even for an Ed McMahon oversized check, if it meant being done with this 'fundraising thing'. Because fundraising has led me to the most loving, generous, compassionate, supportive, sacrificial, encouraging, 'blow me away' kind of friends who have walked this epic journey with me. (This year alone, I've moved from an -18k deficit to just 6k short of my goal, thanks to these amazing friends!) 

I've seen too much to go back. And with my fundraising needs still before me, I hope I never forget, that though I may not always see them, those Kissing Camels are always there. 


Eleanor said...

Ly! This is awesome (and the snazzy title definitely brought me to this post, lol). I just got done going over my FD plan with Tim and it was so nice to read this encouragement! You're awesome and worthy to be supported!

Teri said...

Dang, that's beautiful thinking. Still laughing at the contrast between the photos. AND I'm convicted by your photo crediting! I need to be tutored. I was not the photographer for the "road not taken" photo on my post, as if you couldn't have guessed.

Blah Blah Blayla said...

Thanks, Ele...as are you!!!
Thanks, Teri... I, too, was convicted when I read about photo crediting on another photographer blog after doing it a ton. =) I just link the site using the photo caption setting. Your post today got me thinking about trying to memorize my favorite poem, too.

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