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Learning More Than Earning (Part One)

Updated: Jun 10

(Photo taken by Connor, our four year old)

Life rarely turns out as you so often might imagine. It can be hard to see initially why it made a hard left turn or an abrupt stop. When I am in the middle of a big change, I struggle with articulating with others about it. I need time to process.

What I am about to share is different for me in the sense that it’s still fresh. I don’t feel as though I have much of a conclusion. I am not sure if God has revealed all that He wants to in this. And yet, He is saying to share… That being said, this is a continuation from our Faith Journey Series. To be updated, simply go to that link and read the previous post. :)

In the beginning of February of this year, while my sister and niece were visiting for a few weeks (this is a DIFFERENT set of three weeks from the one I mentioned in "Continuous Faith || Part One."), we received word that the job position that Ralph's friend, Jeremy told him about at the church was open to apply for. We had to hide in our bedroom to have a hard conversation and pray about our situation and whether or not to apply for this job.

The extra income would be helpful, but Ralph was still on the fence about it. He really wanted to make what we had going on work. We agreed that we had enough money saved to be able to try for two more months. We gave ourselves a deadline of the first of May. If things didn’t improve financially by then, we would reassess.

In the same conversation about the job at church, Ralph was talking about his frustration and struggles with stock trading (he talks about this in his writing, "In The Wilderness". If you have not read it yet, go now! ;).

I have a sudden thought.

“Maybe I am supposed to be helping you stock trade, Ralph.” As we often do, we end our time in prayer. It is our way of releasing whatever the situation is to God.

Immediately I sit next to Ralph to watch him stock trade. We can’t know if we should be doing this together unless we try. My sister and niece were around for the rest of the week so they were able to help some with the kids.

At the same time, our close friends, the other Campbells from TN, are in Leesburg, Florida visiting family. We were able to spend the day with them, along with my sister and the Miller's from our Wild and Free group. We all went to Orlando Wetlands together and spotted over 30 gators, but our highlight was a big one very close to the trail (see photos below). Afterwards, they came over to our house for dinner and stayed until late in the night. Our time with them was edifying, merry, and encouraging. We always walk away closer to Jesus than we were before we saw each other. It doesn't get better than that in all of our opinions!

It is never easy to say goodbye to these dear friends of ours, but thankfully we didn't have to say goodbye for long. This is because whenever they are in town, they attend The Fellowship Church which is pastored by a man named David Miller that we both knew. David was the family pastor at The Chapel in Buffalo, which was the church we both married in, met, and served at.

Backtrack with me for a sec. When we first moved down to Florida in 2022, the other Campbell’s visited us almost immediately. We went to David Miller’s church in Leesburg together and had a fun little reunion with him after the service.

Only a handful of weeks later, I met a woman named Sherry Yablonski in the Wild and Free group that I just started going to with the boys. I learned that Sherry had just moved to Leesburg. I immediately told her about David Miller and The Fellowship church in that area. Shortly after our convo, Sherry and her family started attending that church. I love how God works. :)

Fast forward two years and now Sherry’s son and Liam have become buddies during our weekly Wild and Free hikes. Our family drives to Leesburg to meet Sherry’s husband, Tim, and to spend more time getting to know this family. We all click and continue to get together.

So now, three months ago in February, when we hear that the other Campbell’s are coming to town, we know that we will be going to The Fellowship Church in Leesburg again. This year is different though because now the Yablonski’s attend and serve at the church. I have this fun idea to ask Sherry if she would be open to hosting a gathering after church with us, the other Campbell’s, Pastor David Miller, and his wife, Darlene. She delightfully agrees and so does everyone else despite the fact that it was on Super Bowl Sunday.

It is amazing how God intersected our lives that day. We had the coolest conversations. I loved how the past was blending with the present in Leesburg, Florida. It felt surreal bringing up memories of our church in Buffalo, NY with the Campbells, who now live in Tennessee, the Miller’s who were now pastoring The Fellowship Church in Leesburg, Florida, and the Yablonski’s who were regularly attending The Fellowship Church (Were you able to follow that? I had a hard time trying to figure out how to write that out!).

(left to right: David and Darlene Miller, Tim and Sherry Yablonski, myself and Ralph, Lauren and Ben Campbell)

That wasn’t the only cool thing God was doing during that gathering and it’s the main reason for why I am bringing all of this up. Towards the end of our visit, Ralph and I shared with David what was going on in our lives. We gave him a brief summary of the last approximate two years.

David then asked us if we had ever heard of the Core Values Index, to which we responded with, “No.” We learned that it was an online personality test that he uses for his staff members and volunteers at church. It’s used worldwide. According to one website, it is a groundbreaking evaluation that goes beyond personality and actions, uncovering the enduring forces that motivate people and delineate how they are innately designed to make a difference in the world. 

The test costs $50 to take, but David generously said that he would be happy to cover the cost for BOTH of us because he believed it would help direct us in our next steps. We were so grateful for how God was using David in such an intense time in our lives. Before he left the gathering at the Yablonski’s, David looked at his wife, Darlene, pointed to Ralph and said, “I bet he’s a banker and she’s a merchant.” We had no idea what that meant, but we were looking forward to finding out!

We wasted no time the next day and took the test. David was right. Ralph was a banker and I was a merchant. We still didn’t understand what any of that meant yet though. We needed to inform David that we had completed the test before he could pay for them and give us access to the area where we would be able to learn more.

The day after we took that test, I was sitting with Ralph again while he was stock trading. He was starting to teach me some of it. When we received word from David that we could read about our core values index results, we immediately signed in and started reading because we were so curious.

(I snapped a photo of us reading about it that night)

What I learned was that the core values index breaks personalities down into four types. There is the banker (knowledge), builder (power), merchant (love), and innovator (wisdom). My highest was merchant with innovator very close behind.  Stay with me while I share about some of this because it is preparing you to better understand what's later in this writing.

I began laughing out loud as I read. I was laughing so much that our boys were coming into the bedroom asking me what was so funny. I had never read an assessment so accurate.

“Your cornerstone core value is love. Building and sustaining relationships is central to your life's strategy. You are constantly working to know and understand the truth about yourself and others…You like to have a good sense of connection between what you are doing today and what you see in your future. You like discovering new possibilities, and you consistently watch for them.”

“Choosing your words carefully works well for you…You like a new charge in your life and you like to be the charge in the lives of others. You like to trust people and to share yourself with them freely. You enjoy lots of different people and activities. Charm and enthusiasm are part of your arsenal for success…You have the ability to help people feel hopeful and courageous…It is important for you to see people and things as they really are.”

(Liam, our eleven year old snapped this one as I was just standing there and he sitting on the bench. He has such a good eye!!)

Ralph’s highest scores were banker (knowledge) and builder (power). He was being enlightened as to how he was hard wired. I read it, too and agreed with much of what it said about him.

“Your cornerstone core value is knowledge, supported by your strong desire to create justice in the world…You like to follow a prescribed course, especially when you are involved with setting the course. Having the right information is important to you. You do what you say you will do. Facts and data are the foundation of your conclusions. Building protection against possible risk comes naturally. You work diligently to gather resources together and save them. You like steady, solid situations with limited change.”

“Life is easier when people and things are reasonably similar. The reliability of your words and actions is critical to your sense of self-respect. Chaos is your enemy. People and situations should measure up to commitments. When things get messy, you may get testy. Once started, you don't give up easily. Knowing the past provides evidence for the future.”

(Unplanned photos of Ralph are my favorite. I snagged this one while we were watching a family of armadillos in the woods)

It made so much sense as we read! Many of our strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies were accurate. Why hadn’t we done something like this thing before?

I was blown away. I loved how God had instructed David Miller to invest in us by paying for the core values index tests for us ONLY DAYS after I had suggested that I start to learn how to stock trade with Ralph. The timing was not coincidental.

Bankers (Ralph) get along quite well with innovators (myself) since innovators have a high level of regard and need for the information which bankers have.” Also, “Business leaders who are predominantly merchants tend to build well-diversified companies…Without a banker sitting on their shoulder to hold them back, they can be reckless. It also helps merchants (myself) to have some builder (Ralph) characteristics and some innovator (myself) problem solving and strategizing…”

For so many years I believed that Ralph and I worked better together than apart. That we needed each other’s qualities to balance us out. Now I had this information to support what I already believed.

“Once a banker (Ralph) is placed into a high-risk situation where resources are limited, his drive to get back into a secure position may cause the banker to rely more heavily on the merchants (myself), innovators (myself) or builders around him.”

For anyone that read Ralph’s writing, “In the Wilderness,” this should also make total sense: “Bankers (Ralph) have the hardest time as entrepreneurs. This is because they are most effective in an environment that needs management of complex, effective systems, and that requires balance and information.” We are in an extremely unknown/risky time so that statement rings very true for how Ralph and I operate.

We were SO grateful to David for seeing this need in our lives and filling it. I began saying to Ralph, “The banker needs the merchant and the merchant needs the banker.” It gave us a much better understanding of how we operate. We always knew each other's tendencies, but now we had names and supported research for it. 

The Core Value Index isn’t something that generates a direct income, but I believe it to be a tool in our arsenal of success that we have been lacking. This wasn’t the only enlightening thing for us. In addition to taking that test, and before we ever even knew it existed, we had been signed up to take a three week class at church about discovering your spiritual gifts. In fact, the first class was happening the week we were at The Fellowship church with David Miller.

It was clear that God was still at work. It was Ralph who had listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to sign up for that class. Even though he was already serving in a fitting area, he wanted to gain some more insight into what God was trying to do because he was still struggling. I felt as though I was where I should be in leading worship, but I decided to take it too. I am always open to what God wants and not just what I prefer. And, I like to be with Ralph. :)

(Our friend, and campus pastor, Jeremy Schirle)

In the class there is a 161 question test that you take online to help you narrow down what your spiritual gifts are. These gifts, or spiritual super powers, are specifically given to people who possess the Holy Spirit through the salvation they obtained when they surrendered their lives to Jesus. Though Ralph and I have both been in a relationship with Jesus for at least twenty years, we have never taken the time to learn about these, nor have we really been given the opportunity. Our church ( offers this class a few times a year as they see the importance in helping followers of Jesus know how God equipped them. They then help by guiding them in an area of service that is most effective within the body of Christ, but also immensely fulfilling for the person.

Ralph’s highest scores were craftmanship, helps, and discernment. I scored on a bunch, which I’ll explain shortly. As I read more about each of the things we scored high in, it made total sense. I’ll briefly explain what the book we used, “Network Participants Guide” by Bruce Bugbee and Don Cousins said about each of them because, again they tie into some future things in this writing. Plus, if it can help encourage those reading this to figure out theirs, I would be overjoyed!

Ralph’s highest was “craftmanship.” People with this gift can “make things that increase the effectiveness of others’ ministries, enjoy serving with their hands to meet tangible needs, work with different kinds of tools and are skilled with their hands.” They are creative, handy, resourceful, practical, behind the scenes, and helpful.” This is definitely Ralph.

Ralph’s second highest was “helps.” People with this gift “serve behind the scenes wherever needed to support the gifts and ministries of others, seek the tangible and practical things to be done and enjoy doing them, sense God’s purpose and pleasure in meeting everyday responsibilities” and “enjoy knowing that they are freeing up others to do what God has called them to do.” They are available, willing, helpful, reliable, loyal, dependable, and have a whatever it takes attitude. Again, SPOT ON with my man!!

My highest score was a tie between hospitality and faith. People with the gift of hospitality “provide an environment where people feel valued and cared for.” They are friendly, gracious, inviting, trusting, caring, responsive, and warm. This made total sense to me between the intensely strong conviction that I have to homeschool our boys and what other people have said to us over the years after they come over to visit.

Prior to this class, I did NOT know that faith was a spiritual gift. I thought it was just automatic. People with the gift of faith go above and beyond the typical amount of faith that most believers have. When I read it’s description, I was shocked by it’s accuracy. 

In the book it said, “The gift of faith is the divine enablement to act on God’s promises with confidence and unwavering belief in God’s ability to fulfill his purposes (bold mine)." People with this gift “believe the promises of God and inspire others to do the same, act in complete confidence of God’s ability to overcome obstacles, demonstrate an attitude of trust in God’s will and his promises,” and they “ask God for what is needed and trust him for his provision.” People of faith are prayerful, optimistic, trusting, assured, positive, inspiring, and hopeful.

I also had two others that tied and scored only one point under faith and hospitality. Those were creative communication and word of knowledge. People with the gift of creative communication “have the divine enablement to communicate God’s truth through a variety of art forms.” They “develop and use artistic skills such as drama, writing, art, music, etc.” They “use variety and creativity to captivate people and cause them to consider Christ’s message.” They are expressive, imaginative, idea-oriented, artistic, creative, unconventional, and sensitive. This one was of no surprise to me. I LIVE to share Christ through anything I produce.

I'll spare you the rest of what we learned since it doesn't directly tie into this writing. ;)

These spiritual gifts can shift some depending on life circumstances and your spiritual growth. You may grow in one more than another. Other times you might not even realize you have one because you have a misunderstanding of what it is, such as prophecy or healing. What a gift (no pun intended) to better understand how God wired us in order to help us better live into his purposes for our lives. In typical God fashion, the timing of all of this was perfect.

With all of that newfound information we learned about ourselves, our compatibility, and confirmations, Ralph decided to apply for the job at church that was still available. He now had a better idea for how he was wired and could see how this job could be fitting for him. We didn’t know or even care how much it paid. We wanted to remain open to whatever God wanted for us.

We needed to see if God would shut the door on this job. We couldn’t know that unless Ralph applied for it. Even though we both had loved Ralph being home and wanted to maintain that, we agreed that the steady income would be helpful.

While we waited to hear from someone at the church, we continued trekking forward with what we already had going on. Ralph continued teaching me how to stock trade. Not long into this, something that I had been working on quietly and infrequently, began to move to the forefront of my mind. I knew what I needed to do...

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