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Ann and I are realizing that we may be giving all of you the wrong impression. We have thoroughly presented the glorious side of adventure in our blog posts, but we have not expressed the harder side of living life without a pre-installed safety net. It is so easy to see the glory and not the pain of any adventure. All of the greatest adventures are but unenjoyable struggles of survival. Take, for instance, Christopher Columbus crossing the Atlantic, Sir Edmund Hillary ascending Mount Everest, and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon; these were not comfortable endeavors! These men all went where no man had gone before, and going where no one has gone before is an extremely hazardous notion.
Lewis and Clark were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to venture farther than any civilized man had before. It was their job to find the edge of the continent. From July 4th, 1804 to the fall of 1806 Lewis and Clark set off on one extraordinary expedition. These guys were on a real adventure. And in the end it was unbelievable what they did. They are legends. What a dream to be the first man to cross the continent, to stand at the end of the map and enter the unknown. These men are remembered for their glorious journey and their incomprehensible accomplishments.
Many of us would naively want to be a part of their 40 man team. We are captured by the wondrous journey they took on, but when I read about them in their own published journals I realize just how horrendously difficult that expedition really was. I mean, these guys nearly starved to death. They ate their beloved horses at one point. Nearly every one of them got a bug and were sick for months at a time with fiery diarrhea. They wrote about dark clouds of mosquitoes that descended on them, grizzly bear attacks, and confrontation with hostile indians. They thought that when they crossed the mountains in Montana that it was all downhill from there. They celebrated when they got to the foot of the Rockies, thinking that their journey was half over. But in reality, they had hardly even begun the rugged section of their journey.
Can you imagine how awful Lewis probably felt when he ascended the first mountain pass in waste deep snow, with a team of frost bitten men in the dead of winter, and then saw nothing but more mountains for hundreds of miles yet to cross? The men nearly lost heart and turned back when they realized how dense the Rocky Mountains were.
I am sure that while they were on that adventure, Lewis and Clark wouldn’t have wanted to wish most of their experiences on their worst enemies. And yet, we remember them not for the grueling pain and agony that they endured but rather for their glorious accomplishments. Every painting of Lewis and Clark makes them look like they are accomplished bird watchers standing on a hill. In reality these men were fighting for their lives half the time. They daily had to ward off discouragement and overcome their desire to turn back. I doubt that there were but a few handful of really wonderful moments where Lewis and Clark got up early to run up a mountain just to see the sunrise. But that is how we think of them. That is how they are portrayed in all the artwork.
I think that Thornton Wilder was right, “When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.”
Lewis and Clark’s heroic lives are a metaphor for ours. We publish the few glorious moments making it seem like we are living the dream. It’s like seeing a photo of Lewis and Clark in their sunrise painting and thinking, “What a lovely trip that must have been.” But what you can’t see are the difficult, very stressful, dangerous parts of our lives between our photo ops.
It’s hard to show you on a blog really all that goes into our life, let alone the outings that we boast of. For instance, the beautiful sunrise image up on Wolf’s Head was taken after we, along with two of our friends, shivered all night. We got ourselves stranded thousands of feet up on the wall, miles into the backcountry of Wyoming.
On that particular climb we went off route in the dark, we were out of food and water, and we were exhausted and under dressed against the night time high alpine wind. As we huddled together for warmth each of us would have preferred not to be there. But I smile every time I see this photo and remember the feelings of falling in love with my wife up there. Honestly, all of the pain resulted in about fifteen minutes of sheer wondrous joy for me on the last pitch. I was overcome with awe as I looked across the Cirque of the Towers. The site was a gift from God; He used it to validate the passion that was brewing in my heart. It’s that moment that I remember most. It’s that moment that made the entire epic so worth it. On that trip I found a deep passion to pursue Ann Louise Habicht.
Our life overall since we got married, though exhilarating, is a lot like that first trip. Right now we are in the thick of it. It seems like it is all struggle. Ann’s blog on bickering is a real symptom of our heartache. Here are a few of the areas that we are struggling through as we build our businesses and our ministries. We need your prayers. Partner with us by just praying for Ann and I as we proverbially cross the Rocky Mountains and head for the Oregon coast.
These last few weeks have been 80 hour work weeks for the both of us. There have been some weeks where Ann and I are so busy that we don’t even have time to talk until we get into bed. Ann and I crave a life of much more freedom than we have. I would prefer a 40 hour work week. But for now we have to work hard and then play hard. Owning your own business is an incredible amount of work on the front end, and we struggle to maintain the vision when we are so tired.
Three online businesses, a non-profit, and a wild love story all add up. It’s important to us that we make and invest more than we spend so that we can sustain our story with more freedom in the future. This means that we work really, really hard and live really, really cheap. Constantly traveling and being ultra cheap are not easy to maintain. In the summer we lived on a $3 per meal budget. It’s hard to get a meal at Mac Donald’s anymore for that. But if you do the math $3 per person per meal means we spend $540 a month on food alone. Most people spend about $9 per person per meal so by cutting down our costs we are able to invest an extra $1080 in our businesses each month. And other than food we pretty much don’t spend money on ourselves for anything else. We often have to make choices between spending our discretionary income on eating out or skydiving. This is hard, especially when we crave both. I think you can imagine which one we choose. I don’t like being cheap, but it’s a reality that we must face to build a sustainable future. Someday, we will be free to have more skydiving in our story.
We use a great deal of our time to develop and raise money for our ministries like our Save the Stork project |View our Project Website|. This next week we will have finished our first Stork Bus. It will bring all of the resources and counseling of a local pregnancy center via a mobile medical center right to the door of an abortion clinic. We have already seen women decide to keep their babies, and they are now our life long friends. Right now we are living in Dallas, sleeping on a sofa pull out, trying to make this all happen. Though we do not profit from this project at all some folks have speculated that we are using Stork money for ourselves, but this is not the case. Building a non-profit pro-life ministry is nothing but struggle. We have to create money in our own businesses so that we can afford the time to build the non-profit. Both of us would prefer to be in Colorado right now instead of Texas, but God has us here performing a glorious mission.
Ann and I are trying hard to be original and not get boxed into a nine to five job. You would think this would inspire others to get out there and live their lives. We want to be an encouragement to everyone to follow God and aspire to accomplish the dreams He put in their hearts. Some of you who read our blog appreciate us but most people are very critical. We hear rumors circulate even from our own families about what others think. It sometimes feels like people are looking at us under a microscope, searching for a reason to discredit us. We pretend that the comments of others don’t hurt us but they do. We often have to just ignore the thoughts of others, pray for them, and retreat into each other.
We are pioneering both in our businesses and our ministries. A lot of what we are doing is off the map of what has been done before. This means that there is always a steep learning curve and a very small margin for error. We could get wiped out quick. Neither of us have safe jobs to fall back on. Since we rejected job security we are exposed to the forces of bad economic times. Our investments, our time, and our money must be very strategic. Lately the markets have hammered us.
Ann and I are not just on a mission to have a great love story. We want the people that we meet to know and love God like we do. We want to see women love and cherish their children instead of kill them. We do believe that there is a spiritual enemy that wants to disrupt our actions and corrupt our love story. We feel the weight of demonic attacks that stir trouble in our marriage. We are being apposed by spiritual forces. Just like Paul wrote in Ephesians that he does not wrestle against flesh and blood but against powers of a dark world, so do we. The warfare is sustained, ruthless, and brutal. This subject could be its own blog.
Ann and I are living out our dreams, but really it’s more painful and difficult than glorious. I am sure that we will continue to post our highlights, but please don’t think we’ve figured out how to pioneer the wild west without fighting off grizzlies and grueling through mud.
None of us can even imagine how exhilarating it felt when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark saw the Oregon coast for the first time. So will it be for Ann and I. Again, pray we make it. We wouldn’t ask for prayer if we didn’t need it.