(Photo credit: Ralph Campbell)
“It’s a seemingly impossible circumstance and looks absurd to most. Yet, I believe that it is possible for God to do the impossible. My faith is that big and it’s sometimes frustrating.
David believed that he could defeat Goliath. When I pause to reflect on this historical moment, it’s crazy for David to believe that. But, through his faith and trust in God, he defeated Goliath. It may very well have been one of the hardest things he had done up until that point.
David believed he could do it because he had already “tested” God with his life. He stepped out in faith enough times before he killed Goliath. That was just one of the many defining moments in his life. I don’t need to read anything about him from the times prior to that to know.
How do I know that it wasn’t David’s first rodeo in trusting God? I’m there, that’s why. One doesn’t just take a huge leap of faith like that before taking smaller ones first.
Little tests for God. Is He really who He says He is? Will He really do what He says He will do? Can I really trust Him with my life?”
It would be so MUCH EASIER for Ralph to go back to a 9-5 job. It would also be so much easier to put our boys in school, but that’s not why we chose to go down this path. We wanted to work from home and have our boys home with us, not in school.
(Photo credit: Liam Campbell)
God has been known on more than one occasion to step in at the very last minute, when all seems hopeless. And you know why He does it? So NO ONE ELSE can get the credit. I long to say to the world, “LOOK at what GOD did!” I want to give Him as many opportunities as possible to step into our circumstances and flip them upside down despite the hopeless direction it appears to be going.
I love you so much, Lord. It seems outrageous for a person to express such love and devotion to something they cannot physically see, but I’ve tested you more times than I can remember and I will continue to do so. Do it, Lord. Blow my mind. Kill Goliath. Part that sea. Call in that angel army. Shut that lions mouth. Resurrect the dead. Do the impossible. And I promise to shout from the rooftops of what you did as long as I have breath in my lungs.”
I was so overwhelmed last week and needed to journal. I poured out my frustrations and tears into five pages. That was only a small portion of it.
(Photo credit: Liam Campbell)
Ralph and I are definitely tired. That comes from one of the facts that we still don’t have much money coming in. We have recently talked through ways to bring more in while we build these businesses. Ideas like going down to one vehicle, selling off valuable items, and other things. I also still have my photography business. I can only do so much, though. My priority still remains my children.
To see the numbers in your bank account going down and to be concerned because you have a family to care for is obviously not a bad thing. It’s just that the things we are doing take time. We need to buy more time so we can build up Simply Campbell and so that Ralph can gain a clearer understanding of trading. He is getting it. It’s just a lot.
We have to stay the course. We have to stay living the way that we are to conserve as much money as we can. To do this while keeping the boys home has been one of our greatest challenges, but it hasn’t been our only one.
We have had to work through some big emotional blocks for quite a few months. We have been greatly refined. We are not who we were a year ago or even four months ago.
(Photo credit: Liam Campbell)
We are still homeschooling despite the very real temptation to remove the boys from the home so we can work more diligently and consistently. Ultimately though, what good would that be? We wanted them home to learn with us. We wanted them home so we had the freedom in the future to travel. We love how they can learn in so many other ways than if they were in school.
We wanted Ralph home, yes, but we wanted that so he was around the boys more. We did not bring Ralph home just so that we could turn around and put the kids in school. That would defeat one of the whole purposes in doing this to begin with.
Remembering our “why” is critical. We forget our “why” when we get too distracted. Being consistent in the word is crucial. The distractions and temptations to do MUCH else are very real. And they are logical distractions. Food, quality time, serve, school, activities with friends. And somehow I have to fit work in the middle of all of that. It sounds impossible and crazy to do and yet we are.
We are taking it day by day, sometimes hour by hour. We are openly communicating with our boys about what’s happening, what we’re trying to do, how we desperately need their help and cooperation if we are to maintain this lifestyle. That the goal is for us to be intentional now with our work so that we can make enough money to be free to live out what we believe God is calling us to do later.
Ralph and I have said sooo many times recently that this is a time where the boys are going to learn gratitude. We have had to say “no” to so much. We are saying “no” to them and ourselves. Yet, we are still enjoying lots of free things in Florida like visiting the Disney grounds, Christmas events, playgrounds, and hikes.
(Top to bottom: Gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, Skyliner at Disney, First Baptist Church of Orlando's free Christmas event, "Oh What Fun" event in Lake Nona, and hiking trails)
One of our hardest “no’s” have been donating to mission trips and other organizations we have loved giving to for years. We have been dreaming lately together about big donations that we’d like to make again in the future. We haven’t stopped giving, but what we have coming in isn’t enough to cover our mortgage yet so we have had to limit that.
We also didn’t send Christmas cards this year for the first time in 16 years. We didn’t go to Tennessee for Thanksgiving or Buffalo for Christmas. Ralph and I didn’t buy each other anything for Christmas. We didn’t buy gifts for anyone, but our kids. That was so different for us. I don't like it, but I know it's temporary.
The boys are getting two gifts each from us and a little candy in their stocking. Their big gift will be a free cat that’s already been fixed. We never bought cat food or a litter box for our last cat. He hunted and was given our scraps from meals. It will not be a drain on us financially and will bring much joy to our boys.
Also for Christmas, the boys wanted to buy each other gifts. Liam fought to buy one gift for Ralph and I that he wanted to pay for himself. We couldn’t rob them of their desire to want to give to each other and their parents. Giving is something we want them to learn how to do well!
(Our boys wrapping their gifts for each other.)
We have already told the boys in advance that it was not going to be a big Christmas. Devin, our tender hearted seven year old responded with, “it’s because we don’t have as much money to buy presents.” Sad? Maybe to some. I think it’s wonderful that he is able to grasp that concept so well and at such a young age.
We have wanted to go the route of not getting many presents for years anyway. We have slowly been moving towards this idea, but didn’t execute it fully until we were forced to. Like I said, this is a time for learning gratitude. None of us will forget it.
Liam, being eleven years old understands the most. He has even brought up the idea a couple of times for Ralph to go back to work so we can have more money again. We told him that we’re trading Daddy for money. That we are rich in time and relationships. That God was still providing for our needs.
We aren’t under a bridge yet and we are working as best as we can to keep it that way. We know that Ralph could get a job tomorrow. He has had many job offers presented to him in the last ten months since he came home.
Ralph’s thought on that is the same every time. He doesn’t want to go back to a 9-5 job and I don’t want him to either. God would not have opened up the doors that He did, just for Ralph to go back to the same life all because money started to get tight. Stubborn? Maybe. I like to think of it more as having faith.
It's weird when I try to share our situation. I very quickly will say, “don’t feel bad. We chose this.” We ARE choosing this. We are so grateful to have the savings that we have in order to even pursue these ventures.
I found out recently that people making under $50,000 in Florida fall under the "poverty" category. I don’t feel poor. We may joke around and call us that, but I don’t feel it.
Like we remind our kids, we are rich in relationships. We would rather be rich in time and relationships than in money. Teaching that to our kids though is HARD. We live in America for crying out loud. What you want can be on your doorstep within 24 hours. We can go to the store and have it within minutes. Our children have not wanted for much of anything their entire lives. It’s an incredible blessing to have lived in America all of these years.
God is doing something with us, but it’s in His timing. We just NEED to remain faithful in trusting in Him. Abide in Him. Teach our boys to put Him first. May they see this when they are older. That when we weren’t even earning enough money to cover our mortgage, that we still were in the word, praying as a family, and choosing to keep them home. Faith. There’s that word again.
This Christmas, not much is going to be under the tree, but we have each other. We have a roof over our heads. We have our health. We have clothes on our bodies and food in our bellies. We have the hope of Jesus.
We are able to direct our children’s attention even more to why we celebrate Christmas. We’re going through part of the Christmas story with them every day. Four year old Connor is understanding more. While Ralph was reading him The Legend of the Candy Cane, he stopped and said to me, “Mom, Jesus is going to be born on Christmas!” These are the moments we love. This is why we live so simply.
(Connor asks Daddy to read him this book every day)
We are choosing not to live in fear. We are choosing to trust in the Lord for His provisions every day, every week, and every month. When we die, we will be able to say with confidence that we were obedient to what He called us to do to the best of our ability and knowledge. We will not look back and regret that we didn’t take all of the steps of faith that we have been making.
Not many people intentionally choose to put themselves in this position, but I am determined to testify to the world that God is who He says He is and will do what He said He will do. He does provide. He does protect. He does heal. He can be trusted.
Oh the story we are telling. May God get all the glory.
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