DIYtheGoodLife is our family’s ongoing story about our journey toward “the Good Life.”
In John 10:9-10, Jesus says, “ I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture.10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” That’s what we want for ourselves. That’s what we want for others.
Jesus does not promise that life following Him will be easy, or feel safe, or be free from suffering (actually he promises just the opposite Matthew 24:9, John 16:33). The good life is often found in the midst of difficulty, danger and suffering. The thief comes and works to keep us from the pasture, from provision, from the green grass that we need to live. Jesus’ promise is that in the midst of the schemes of the thief, we will find His salvation. He will call us and lead us to pasture. We will find provision, we will find life. In Him.
We want to be part of His work, thwarting the thief and inviting the fold into the good life He has for us. To us, the most beautiful thing is that can look different for everyone of us.
That’s where the DIY (do it yourself) comes in. We each have our own calling, and if we listen very closely, the Shepherd will be sure that we hear it. The ironic truth is that you won’t actually have to do it yourself. He will be with you the whole way, leading you to those green pastures.
But it may look very different from the other sheep in the fold. Don’t worry about what they are doing. You only have to worry about what the Shepherd says to you. His is the only opinion, the only voice, that matters.
As a couple, we have been given so much for which we are grateful. We both have had families that love us, abundant educational opportunities, clean living conditions, financial provision, access to healthcare, the freedom to worship as we choose, and many mentors who have poured into us. Three years ago, we came to a place where we felt that the Shepherd was telling us it was time to use those gifts in a new way.
In 2014, an opportunity opened up to share our abundance with those who have been born into less financial, spiritual and emotional resources. We spent June 2015-February 2017 finding the good life by working with an ngo, the Charis Project, that serves the Burmese migrant community in Mae Sot, Thailand.
Now, we are back in San Diego, transitioning to life here, excited and nervous about what this next season will look like.
Who are we?
We are a family of five, going on 6, that loves to spend time together watching movies, playing games, gardening, reading, going swimming, having impromptu dance parties, and eating yummy food that is sometimes nutritious and sometimes delicious and occasionally both. We are a homeschooling family that does whatever works to instill in our children the value of learning, whether they enjoy it or not. Mostly we enjoy it. Mostly. We are committed to simple living both for sanity purposes and to free up time, energy and money with which we can then be generous to others and to each other.
Professionally, Mike has a background as an R.N., working in one of the busiest Emergency Departments in San Diego. He also studied Computing and the Arts at UCSD and in general has a knack for picking up whatever skills he undertakes, including but not limited to wood-working, plumbing, electrical work, sewing (or more specifically, costume making, especially Marvel costumes), baking, cooking, gardening, painting, computer design, landscaping, and learning new languages. His role with Charis focused on Researching and Developing organic farming practices at the Charis Teaching Farm in order to work with local farmers to improve soil conditions and farm for a better future. Working the land has been a passion of his for several years now and the opportunity to do so in Thailand was one of the most life-giving aspects of our time there. Before leaving our house in the States, he had developed quite an impressive urban garden, which is slowly taking shape once again. He is also now back in the ER, hoping that our time away has deepened his compassion and patience as he cares for people from diverse socio-economic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
Shannon has a B.A. in anthropology from UCSD (why, yes, that is how we met) and a background in early childhood education. She has been a stay-at-home mom now for ten years and a home-schooling mom for the last five. Her heart has been moved by issues of injustice and poverty since getting to spend spring breaks in Mexico with her high school youth group. After learning about human trafficking in college, she started a task force for love146 at her church, doing advocacy and fundraising work. Her role with Charis involved volunteering time whenever homeschooling and sick kids allowed, doing whatever happened to be needed that week. Returning to the US coincided with becoming a mother of four, an adventure which is sure to produce a humorous anecdote or two.
Over the last several years, we have continued to grow and learn… a lot! This blog covers what we do, “whatever it takes”, for us to grab hold of the Good Life and share it with others. We hope this blog serves as an inspiration for all who visit to grab hold of their own good life. One thing we have learned for certain is that the only way you ever fail is if you never try.
~Mike and Shannon McMahon
June 17, 2017
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