My story…

Many have asked “How did you go from being on staff at Chapel Hill to doing interior design in Cambodia???” While it is a long and lovely story, it’s not really that far-fetched.  Some things you may not know about me that will help to put this in context:

  • I was raised by two enterprising, over-the-top entrepreneurial parents who each successfully founded and operated their own businesses and ALWAYS thought I’d missed my calling by not starting a business of my own…it’s in my blood!
  • I have a BA degree in Interior Design from WSU (‘77), worked in the field for several years out of college and have had many opportunities to use those skills in the two decades of mission/ministry related roles I’ve filled.
  • Hal and I together with a small team of folks from University Presbyterian Church in Seattle sponsored and befriended dozens of Cambodian refugees in the 80’s.  Many of those friendships endure to today and I have a deep heart connection with the people and culture of Cambodia, with much of my early compassion and cross-cultural sensitivity aroused by the stories of their suffering and traumatic history.
  • Hal and I lived in Southeast Asia for six years in the 90’s, adapting readily to the heat and humidity, lifestyle, culture, food and loving the adventure of living abroad.  We adopted both our daughters while we lived in the region.

All that said, I believe that this is an opportunity provided by God that integrates several of my life experiences, satisfies my love of adventure, allows me to grow in my new relationship of dependence on Him as my Provider and serves His kingdom plans in the beloved, yet beleaguered land of Cambodia.

So how did this come about?  For several years I have pondered starting a fair trade furniture business, but it never seemed like a feasible idea.  Early last year I shared that dream with a small group of bold dreamers and they persistently challenged me to take the first step in exploring the dream.  I picked Cambodia as the place I would want to start in, so the first step seemed to be visiting there and checking it out.  The next thing I knew I was on my way, along with a lovely and persistent dream coach whose sole purpose was to make sure I didn’t slack off on my exploration or leave one stone unturned. One of the many experiences we had was to meet a friend-of-a-friend who had an interior design business in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.  It was fascinating, and of all we encountered, in retrospect, seemed the most vital and promising.  But the overall trip convinced me that starting a fair trade furniture business in Cambodia was indeed NOT feasible.

In the following months more travel, more healing, more reflection and sorting and clearness began to emerge in me.  Clarity born of a new reliance on God, an overcoming of the fear of being alone, a reemergence of energy and eagerness to live my life fully abandoned and responsive to the Spirits leading.  That resulted in yet another trip to Cambodia in August, this time with a specific intent to observe what God was doing there and to simply appreciate it.  In His creative providence, I ended up working for two full weeks with the interior design business and that resulted in an offer to return in January 2012 as the General Manager of the business.  I am delighted with the prospect and believe that it is an offer from the Lord that is just too good to refuse!

Of course the decision to accept has considerable cost and was not made easily.  Being separated from my young adult daughters, extended family, and community of friends is almost more than I can bear to think of.  It is another layer of loss requiring yet more grief, just when I was getting back on my feet.  And yet I am convinced that this is my path and I want to walk it.  I trust that as God has so faithfully provided for me, he will do so for those I love and leave behind. My initial commitment is for one year, but I will not be surprised if I extend my time there.  I have much to learn and sense that this is somewhat like graduate school, preparing me for a new kind of vocation.

While I do not need to raise funds in order to be sent, I do want to be sent by my community, believing that this is every bit a call from God to go in His name, as an act of fulfilling the great commission.  Will you please pray for me in the following ways?

  • That I will continue to cling to God, obediently abiding in Him, looking to Him alone for my strength, joy, salvation and sustenance.
  • That I will trust Him to care for my daughters, and other loved ones that will suffer from my absence and I from theirs.
  • That I will be a blessing in my work place, community and church in Phnom Penh, representing Him in a way that draws others to Him and bears eternal fruit for the Kingdom.

Thank you for reading this!  That you even care enough to be curious is a profound blessing to me and part of what makes going no small sacrifice.  I have been so well cared for, especially in the aftermath of Hal’s death, that I am compelled to want to get out of the ‘green house’ and bloom, proving useful and fruitful in the world.  Thank you for all the ways you supported and nurtured me and participated in my healing.  May God be truly glorified in all we do.

You can stay connected to me by reading my blog:  Sheilabeyond.wordpress  If you want an email alert when a new post appears, you can sign up for that by going to the blog space now.

13 thoughts on “My story…

  1. Love you so much friend! I can not wait to see where this journey leads you. Know you will be prayed for every step of the way…

  2. Once again, I am deeply moved by your deep and abiding faith, my friend. Your courage and committment in the face of so much life-changes, leaves me humbled. I thank God for our life-long friendship and look forward to your every word. May God continue to bless you in every endeavor, to His great glory!

  3. Dearest Sheila,

    I am so happy to pray for you, Anna and Rachel as you embark on this new adventure.

    Please know that I am here for the girls, and will offer Anna Sunday night dinner at the Barker’s whenever her schedule will permit. And, whenever Rachel is in town from school, she is welcome to stay with at the Barker Chalet!

    I admire your braveness dear friend and I know that God will continue to bless you and lead you on your journey.

    Love, Helen, Bob and the boys . . .

  4. Completely blown away by this new adventure!

    It is like reading a virtural novel. I look forward to many stories to come.

    What I have learned today among many things is the strength of your faith. Amazing!

    Second to this, I learned that you are a Coug. Oh dear I wish I had known this while Hal was around – I am quite sure he did not tell me for good reason!

    Be safe! Edward

  5. Great to see your blog up an running. Had a great time with you at Marrow. I saw your bookmarks with my morning group today, and thought I would drop you a line. Love you and praying for you, Anna, and Rachel. God is good, all of the time.

  6. Dear Sheila,
    I am so looking forward to following you on your ‘adventure’. You are an amazing woman and an inspiration.
    Thinking of you! Hugs, Suzanne

  7. Hi Sheila,
    Yes, it is moi! after months of wondering why I could not reach you anywhere , by accident I happened upon your blog and voila! contact. I am so glad. And so happy to see pictures of Anna and you and the shop. You must be having a ball, more power ( HIS power:-) to you. If you ever read this know that I have been praying for you and the girls, would love to see you in person. Compared to what I read of your life now, Independence is a bit blah but God’s work goes on.
    Hope to see more, blogs? I am almost illiterate about blogs and such, and do not nor want to, in the other whatevers :-))
    Lots of love,

  8. It has been some time since i read your story, rest assured you and your daughters are in my prayers. You, your story have given me inspiration. Be well my dear friend, edward esparza

  9. Hi Sheila (my God Mother)
    I am very happy to find your blog and hope that you remember me, a Vietnamese refugee girl Kim Thoa at Sungei Besi in 1988. I tried to find you and my God Father(Hal Mishcke) for many years. I miss you both so much and I cried when I found out that my God Father passed away in 2010 , 7 years ago. I am regreted that I did not have a chance to see him and told him that how much I have missed him . Please let me know when you get this message.

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