To Resolute or not to Resolute

Every year around this time you hear the word resolution more than probably Feb through November combined. I wrote about resolutions last year claiming that I wouldn’t make a resolution but rather I would set goals for life change. I still stick by that decision, but resolutions are necessarily bad….they just normally fail.

I got an e-mail from Donald Miller (not a personal one of course) with four reasons why resolutions don’t work, but it also included tips to make 2013 different from years past. Here are his reasons and tips with my questions after:

1. Our Resolutions Weren’t Meaningful.

Want to lose weight? Try participating in a walkathon or tennis tournament for charity. Maybe teach an exercise class at a retirement center. You’d be amazed at how changing your narrative context engages your mind, heart and spirit.

What could we strive to change that would be meaningful?

2. We Failed to Make a Plan.

The counterpart to planning is spontaneous order. And most New Years Resolutions rely, sadly, on spontaneous order. We think a goal is going to pull us through, but it won’t. We need to make a plan. Planning involves considering and organizing activities required to achieve a goal. Without a plan, resolutions most certainly fail.

When do we want to achieve our goal by? What steps will help us reach our goal? Who can we unite with to help us reach our goal?

3. We Forgot.

Seriously, once the car broke down and the baby got sick and the boss demanded we get the assignment in early, we simply forgot we made resolutions at all. We didn’t write the resolutions down in a place we could check from time to time. Posting the stories we want to live in a place where we can see them and review them often will keep us on track well into February and beyond.

Where will you post your resolutions and steps?

4. They Just Weren’t For Us.

So what if being a skinny super model or a fifty-year old jock just isn’t for you? We will never be motivated to fulfill somebody else’s expectations. Sadly, many people’s resolutions fail because they’re trying to become something they aren’t. Instead, what if our resolutions were in line with our own stories, our passions, our desires, our deepest wants? Of course, the key is to better understand what our passions actually are.

Why do we want to make these changes? Is it for us for someone/something else?

Tips from Donald Miller
1. Choose a meaningful ambition.

A meaningful experience is usually relational. So a more meaningful resolution might involve other people. Rather than simply deciding to lose weight, you might try running a half marathon as a family, or climbing a mountain with friends, or riding a bike in a special bike ride that benefits a charity. If it’s a financial goal, decide as a family how much of your debt you want to pay off by this time next year, then post it on the fridge. Do great things together if you’d like to create a more meaningful experience.

2. Create a plan to accomplish your ambition.

Creating a plan to follow through on our resolutions requires sitting down with pen and paper and putting real goals on real dates in a real calendar. Anything else is just wishful thinking. But making a plan also involves following through on major steps. This year, to follow through, we need to sign up for that exercise class or create that savings account or have a garage sale. Stating a vague goal is great, but creating “inciting incidents” is what really gets us moving. The term comes from novelists and screenplay writers and it involves an incident in which their characters are forced into the story. So, when we sign up with friends for an exercise class or go down to the bank and open a savings account, we are taking a step that launches our story. Creating an inciting incident may be the most powerful tool we have in following through on our ambitions.

3. Engage conflict.

Most people avoid conflict and its for good reason. Conflict isn’t any fun. But when we realize no good story is told without conflict, we can redeem it in our minds. While it may still sting, we can also see conflict as meaningful. and when conflict is seen as meaningful, its more bearable and even, to some strange extent, meaningful.

4. Share your story with the world.

While it may not be the world, feel free to add your goals for next year here.

Help me brainstorm possible goals for me and you for the upcoming year. I will post my goals next week sometime, but would love some thoughts from you.

How you can help me get from here to there, updated!

Back in June I wrote a blog about wanting to get to 80% supported before my Alaska trip in July so that I could register for pre-field training in September. That didn’t happen, but what did happen since then is I was able to sign up for the next available training in February. Beyond raising the final 23% pre-field training is the last hurdle that I have to get over. That means with your help I could be moving to Germany in late March after the training is over.

That means that before I go to training I need to get to 90% of my monthly support raised so I can buy my plane ticket. Then i need to be to 100% before I can leave and I am hoping to do that around March 25th.  I am hoping to get to 90% before the end of the year and 100% before I even leave for training. Let me break that down a little. I am currently at 77% so in order to get to 90% of the $5000/month that I need, I have to find partners to provide the $650/month. That means I have 45 days to get the $650 in commitment, about $100/month raised per week. Then between January 1 and February 11 I would need to get commitments covering the last 10% which would be $500 or just under the $100/month raised per week.

What I wanted to do today is explain what it means to support a missionary monthly and give you an idea of how you could help me get to and stay in Germany through your support.

So what does it mean to support any missionary monthly? Well, it means you give a certain amount of money to a missionary on a monthly basis for as long as they are a missionary. At least, theoretically, that is how it works. That doesn’t mean that if you lose a job, have a kid or have some unexpected major expenses that you have to keep supporting the missionary when you can’t afford to feed your kids, but what it does mean is you will do your best to provide the agreed amount for as long as you feel called to give.

On my support me page I go into more detail on how exactly you can start supporting me monthly or with a special gift (both tax-deductible), so I don’t want to go into too much detail about that, but I would like to point out some ways that you could help me reach my goal of 90% and 100% so I could be in Germany by the end of March.

The main to partner with me is to do it monthly. This doesn’t mean that you have to give a huge amount every month. Any amount helps. I have people giving between $5/month and $200/month with some churches doing more. A monthly pledge should be beyond what you give to your church for your tithe and it is whatever you feel called to give. No pledge is too small! Don’t forget whatever you give is also tax-deductible too!

A way I like to think about monthly pledges is by how much it is per paycheck. For instance:

If you are single and give $50/month (1%) then each paycheck you would be giving $25. That’s a dinner at a nice place or two at an average priced place.

If you are a two-paycheck family (four/month) then $50/month would only be $12.50 per paycheck!

A third way is to ask friends/family (that I don’t know or haven’t talked to) if I can contact them personally or inviting them to a dessert/coffee night where I present to a small group. You could also get me connected with your pastor, church or bible study. You could also share this post on facebook/twitter/linkedin or any other social site to get more people to learn about what God has called me to do.

Another way you could help is by giving a special monetary gift. This doesn’t help me get my monthly support level higher, but it does get me closer to completing my launch fund which will get me to Germany and cover the one-time expenses (like buying a kitchen, ask me more about that!).

I will also be having a fundraiser in mid-January (stay tuned for details) and am looking for donations for a silent auction and for lots of people to come. Let me know if you can help!

No matter what though, supporting any missionary should be something you pray about and feel led to partner with them in the ministry they have been called to do. God calls some to go and some to send. He has called me to go so He has called my team to send me! If you feel that you are being called to join my team please let me know by commenting below or e-mailing me at jacob.coon@gemission.org. If you want to learn more about my ministry before making a decision use that contact information and we can set up a time to sit down and talk.

The Humblest Humbling I’ve Ever Humbled

I’m 31 and I live in my mom and step-dad’s house. Not in the way some people live with their parents in the basement or above the garage, no I occupy a bedroom upstairs with pink carpet. Even though this might look like I am whining, I’m really not. I enjoy staying with my mom and step-dad and before that my brother. It’s humbling, not in the “I’m going to prove you wrong and make you look like a fool in front of the cute girl you like” kind of humbling, but more of the “But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” in Matthew 23:12 kind of way.

This past year has been a little strange. I went from having a career and living with people who weren’t related to me and playing kickball on the National Mall in DC to living with my mom and step-dad spending most nights at the house. This blog is not meant to be a pity party kind of thing, because my life is not to be pitied. For the most part I am enjoying whats happening because I know it is what God has called me to do.

I am trying my hardest to put God before myself, to be an example to those around me of what trusting God can really be like. Of course, there are times when it is frustrating, times when I wonder if I did the right thing, times when I think will I ever get to Germany, but then a verse like Proverbs 16:9 comes to mind. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” These may not be my plans, but who am I to think that my plans are better than the One who spoke all of creating into being. I think He’s better qualified to make these plans, so I am learning to humble myself before Him and listen for the next step that I should take. I encourage you to take a few minutes today to listen to Him and see who’s plan you are following.

Indiegogo results

Some might look at the results to my indiegogo project and think of it as the opposite of a success, but they would be quite wrong. No, my launch fund is not completely funded. No, I didn’t reach the goal I set of $10,000. Yes, I still have to raise more support. Yes, I view it as a success.

If I don’t look at the numbers I can still see God in this project. He has shown me some support from places I had not even thought of. He has shown me how awesome my current ministry partners are and He has helped me see other routes for future fundraisers.

If I look at the numbers I am still encouraged. What the amount I raised is allowing me to do is purchase extra Mudlove bands (pictured below), and extra Jupmode shirts (the front is pictured below) that I can sell to people who want them. Now people can contribute and get a band or t-shirt too. It’s an awesome two-for-one deal! Help the ministry I’m called to and get a gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple weeks back I went to the Levis Commons Fine Art Fair with my mom and we found a tent for a photographer name Tiffany Kimmet and her business Subtle Verse. Tiffany had some awesome pictures and on some of them there were Bible verses over top of the images. My favorite one was a picture of steps leading up to a door with Proverbs 16:9 written on the steps.

Proverbs 16:9 reads “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” I think this is the main lesson God is trying to teach me during my ministry partner development time. I’ve said before that I am a planner so you can see why this verse applies to me. How I am looking at the indiegogo fundraiser is this. I planned on raising a lot of support through the project and it didn’t initially do that, but who am I to say that it won’t still generate a good amount of support through the Mudlove bands and Jupmode t-shirts. You know, I don’t know, but I am learning to let God determine my steps and I will follow His plan as best as my stupid human nature will allow me.

By the way, if you want a Mudlove band or Jupmode shirt send me an e-mail and let me know.

Was that you God, or just me?

One of the things I have struggled the most throughout my life is knowing when the plan that pops in my head is God’s and when it is mine.

I’m the guy who looks for signs to lead me. Not literal sign posts or where everything is a sign, but if something out of the ordinary happens, is God trying to tell me something type of thing.

Let me give you an example. Today I was driving to my mom’s house and saw a bunch or rabbits which isn’t completely normal and then when I got home there was a rabbit in the neighbors yard. This isn’t super unusual, but what pops in my head? Are you trying to tell me something, God? Maybe He is, but I doubt rabbits would be His best plan to get my attention.

I have always said that I would prefer God to whisper something to me and I would understand, but in reality I know that too often I need a holy 2×4 to the head. Maybe if God sent Hacksaw Jim Duggan to my house with his 2×4 then I would know what God is wanting me to do more often.

Then there is the other issue I have where I jump into an idea full-force and then after I have planned it all or maybe even initiated it I pray, asking God to bless the plans. I think I have that backwards. Not everything I do is that way, but sometimes I find myself doing that.

Two things that I am doing right now I am confident God has placed in front of me. One is going to Germany as a missionary and the other is the project I launched on indiegogo. I prayed about them both and asked for prayer for them before doing anything about it. Now I just need that to be the norm instead of the rarity.

Anybody else in the same boat as me?

Don’t forget to check out my indiegogo project, share it and recive my thanks, donate to it and receive a perk!

How I can get from here to there, with your help

In a recent post I talked about my desire to be at 80% of my monthly support raised so I could go to the September training in North Carolina. My plan (and I stress the word my in this phrase because I am submitting myself to God’s plan) was to be at 80% before I go to Alaska July 19th. That gives me 22 days to reach my goal. I am not sure if this is the plan that God has for me, but I am doing all that I can to reach this goal all the while praying for God to work in my heart and others to achieve His plan.

In the next 22 days I need to have an additional 15% of monthly support raised ($750 more per month). That is just under 1% ($50) per day. What I wanted to do today is explain what it means to support a missionary monthly and give you an idea of how you could help me get to and stay in Germany through your support.

So what does it mean to support any missionary monthly? Well, it means you give a certain amount of money to a missionary on a monthly basis for as long as they are a missionary. At least, theoretically, that is how it works. That doesn’t mean that if you lose a job, have a kid or have some unexpected major expenses that you have to keep supporting the missionary when you can’t afford to feed your kids, but what it does mean is you will do your best to provide the agreed amount for as long as you feel called to give.

On my support me page I go into more detail on how exactly you can start supporting me monthly or with a special gift (both tax-deductible), so I don’t want to go into too much detail about that, but I would like to point out some ways that you could help me reach my goal of 80% and then 100% so I could be in Germany by the end of the year.

One way you could help is by giving a special monetary gift. This doesn’t help me get my monthly support level higher, but it does get me closer to completing my launch fund which will get me to Germany and cover the one-time expenses (like buying a kitchen, ask me more about that!).

Another way is to support me monthly. This doesn’t mean that you have to give a huge amount every month. Any amount helps. I have people giving between $5/month and $200/month with some churches doing more. A monthly pledge should be beyond what you give to your church for your tithe and it is whatever you feel called to give. No pledge is too small.

A way I like to think about monthly pledges is by how much it is per paycheck. For instance:

If you are single and give $50/month (1%) then each paycheck you would be giving $25. That’s a dinner at a nice place or two at an average priced place.

If you are a two-paycheck family (four/month) then $50/month would only be $12.50 per paycheck!

A third way is to ask friends/family (that I don’t know or haven’t talked to) if I can contact them personally or inviting them to a dessert/coffee night where I present to a small group. You could also get me connected with your pastor, church or bible study. You could also share this post on facebook/twitter/linkedin or any other social site to get more people to learn about what God has called me to do.

No matter what though, supporting any missionary should be something you pray about and feel led to partner with them in the ministry they have been called to do. God calls some to go and some to send. He has called me to go so He has called my team to send me! If you feel that you are being called to join my team please let me know by commenting below, e-mailing me at jacob.coon@gemission.org or calling me at 301-848-7353. If you want to learn more about my ministry before making a decision use that contact information and we can set up a time to sit down and talk.

Smacked in the head by a 2×4 part 2

Yesterday I talked about how God has been planning my ministry plan far longer than I even knew and today I am going to talk about the more recent history.

Five years ago (2005) I was deathly sick. Over the course of four months I was given a 50% chance to live, had my gall bladder removed, two gallons of some random fluid removed from my abdomen, had two feet of my small intestine removed, was told that I was a week away from death had I not had the second surgery and then had pre-cancerous polyps removed from my large intestine. All of this at the age of 25. I fully believe that God used my health issues to get me to listen to His calling on my life. Gradually after I returned to normal health I felt like God was leading me to a leadership role in my Bible study.

In 2009 I had reached a milestone in my weight-loss, 150 lbs. To reward myself I was planning on buying a nice, new tv. My friend suggested that instead of buying something material, how about we organize a trip to someplace awesome. So, the two of us and three others planned a trip to, you guessed it Germany, where I fell in love with the culture and the people. I also visited the town that I will be working in without ever having heard of Kandern, Germany before.

Two months later my co-Bible study leader asked me if I had ever considered full-time ministry work (she meant more of in the church) and I quickly said no. She then asked me if I would look up short-term missions trips for our Bible study to consider. While searching I got bored and decided to look up long-term positions and stumbled upon Greater Europe Mission needing an instructional Designer in Germany. I was qualified, but I still wasn’t considering it. After prayer by myself and others I felt God leading me to do this and am certain, now more than ever, that this is His calling.

Something cool since all of that is that through a ministry partner or mine I met someone who is going to be working two floors above me in Kandern. We are both young, her more than me :-), and both exciting about learning more about Europe through travel.

If anyone looks at these things and says that I have not been called to serve Him in Germany then I would be surprised. Being the planner that I am I appreciate God’s plan going back over 20 years.

Thank you God, for smacking me in the head with a 2×4!

Smacked in the head by a 2×4 part 1

I thought I would take a couple posts and share with you all the different things that happened in my life that God planned way in advance to get me to see His plan for me. I have always said that God has to use a 2×4 upside my head to get me to recognize something and I really think He did that….slowly, but He still did it.

I’m going to do this chronologically, because that just makes sense in my head to do it that way. In this post I’ll cover everything up until the recent past (past 5 years-ish).

In elementary school i was in the gifted program where we studied a new language every year. One year we took Spanish and my mom had me speak a little to her friend who new Spanish pretty well. The friend said I was good and encouraged me to keep studying Spanish.

In junior high they offered an after-school German language class for two days a week in 7th grade and then three days a week in 8th grade. It would allow anyone who completed it to move straight to German 2 in high school. I was apparently a big enough dork that I decided to forget my mom’s friend’s advice and i stayed after school to learn German which at the time had no real applicable use for me.

Throughout high school I finish 4 years of German and the desire to visit grew within me. My brother never quite understood why, but nonetheless the desire was there.

In my first couple years of teaching I was looking at Master’s programs, but had no real plan. I was talking to one of my co-workers who was also my Pastor’s wife at the time. She knew that I like technology and was somewhat knowledgeable so she suggested I get my Master’s degree in educational technology. I had no idea that was even a possibility, but sure enough it was.

I ended up getting my degree online through the University of Florida and the program they used to design their courses is a program called Moodle which is the same program I will be using to create courses while in Germany.

These events are just the beginning. Within the last five years so much more happened in my life that God planned to use to get me to see where He wanted me. Come back tomorrow to find out what He did.

New ministry timeframe

I thought I would take a few minutes and share with you my new ministry goal. There are several goals I have for when I get over to Germany but right now my priority is to get there as soon as possible. So what does that mean? Well, in order to get to Germany I have to be 100% financially supported of which I am about 65% of the way there. In addition to that I have to attend a training in either Colorado or North Carolina for five weeks. I need to be at 80% supported in order to register for the training. Here is what I am praying will happen and I hope that you will join me in this prayer.

Training:

September 16- October 26th in Union Mills, NC

Final Visits: All of these times below are estimates since I really don’t know when I will get to 100% funded, but my goal is to be completely funded by the time I am going to the training.

October 27th-November 10th – Toledo area

November 11th-November 18th – DC area

November 19th(ish) – depart for Germany

 

Originally I had hoped to be in Germany much sooner, but I am living every day in God’s plan. I am working towards the goal and am waiting for those people He has called to join my ministry partner team. Please join me in prayer for my current and future ministry partners.

Let’s Catch Up! Oh, it’s been 9 years? Awkward!

 

“Let’s catch up!” I said, not completely realizing what that would entail. I didn’t realize that the two people I had said this to, would take me up on the offer and then catching up meant covering the last 9 or 10 years. Yeah, that’s the kind of friend I am and yeah, that’s the kind of humor God is using during this time of ministry partner development.

I am pretty darn horrible at keep up with friends. It’s not because I don’t care, it’s mostly because I just forget to call people or e-mail people, or hand write a letter to people, or carrier pigeon people or even smoke signal people. Ok, now I see the problem, I suck, plain and simple, but that is not the point.

The point is that while planning my current MPD (ministry partner development AKA support raising) trip I was not sure who I could meet with on my circuitous route. I felt God impress on me that I should reach out to people that I hadn’t thought about reaching out to before because it had been “too long.” I started to look at facebook and checked to see who lived somewhere near my route. I found nine different people, all of which I had not talked to in at least 3 years with the majority being 9 or 10 years and a few being since I graduated high school 13 years ago (Yikes!).

Here comes the awesome part! I contacted a bunch of people to see if we could catch up and/or if they wanted to start receiving my newsletter. A few got back and said they would love the newsletter and a few said they would love to meet with me and catch up. Last Friday I met with a girl I went to college with and hadn’t talk to her in 9 years and we had a great time catching up. The other girl I only knew through volunteering for a month at a Young Life camp 10 years ago next month. I met with her and her husband and it was amazing!

God was definitely in both of those meetings. I don’t know what the results of those meetings are quite yet as far as support goes, but I do know that I have a new found appreciation for catching up with people and being more intentional about my relationships with other people.

Thanks God, I needed that!