myMISSION

Unconditional

 One big slip.

That’s what I was always waiting for—that one moment when I would slip up and it would be too major for a recovery.

God would look down on me in disdain and walk out the door. 

Deep places within my heart have believed this for years. I always wondered if my tenacious heart would eventually exhaust God and He would call it quits.

I built cadences of work and production into my spirituality in order to prove to God my loyalty and hopefully earn His love.

I knew the gospel. I had heard it my entire life, but it took being transplanted to the Middle East to learn unconditional love.

I had lived my life under the “A student” mentality. Hard work eventually pays off and everything should or at least could receive a grade. 

Rules set before me from a young age became my benchmark for affection. I believed in the pit of my soul that love is only earned.

Until God took me to the end of my effort, to a distant land where I no longer knew the measures of success. He took me out of the realms of a grade to tell me He loved me. 

Unconditionally.

Keep Knocking

It’s easy to pray for wisdom during a test, courage for a job interview, or safety while traveling home. We’re confident that God can answer those prayers. More than that, the answer to the prayer (or the result of the situation) is coming soon. You pass the test, don’t get the job, or arrive safely at home.

However, praying for people can be different, especially people you don’t like or agree with. I’m ashamed to admit that I have thought, “Is it really worth praying for them? They’re never going to change.” Even though I may not feel like praying for someone, I have to realize that I don’t act upon my feelings. I act in obedience to God’s Word.

In Luke 11:5–8, Jesus tells a story about a man whose friend showed up at his house at midnight. The man had no food to offer the traveler, so he ran to another friend, banged on the door, and asked for three loaves of bread. The supposed “friend” answered, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything” (Luke 11:7 NIV).

Loving Her

Most think that just because we are missionaries we must all get along. Somehow when we go under that occupation label, all of our humanness leaves us. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's simply not true.

We simply wouldn't have been real life friends, our personalities didn't mix well; these were actually things we talked about, joked over, and had a few laughs in between. We knew that a deep friendship would have never happened in normal circumstances. However, we found ourselves thousands of miles from our home culture and in a place where few foreigners lived. We were about to spend lots of time together.

Weekly (and hourly if I knew we were about to see each other), I'd pray for common ground. I'd pray for His love to overpower any petty things I felt when spending time with her. I wanted to love her and I wanted her to love me. Slowly, the Lord built a friendship based on Him. He was our common ground. He had given us both a love for this place that we now called home. He had created our personalities, which means He knew how different we were. He knew that we'd be together thousands of miles away from our friends and family. He knew we'd struggle.

Let’s Get Together

Does your myMISSION group ever get together with the other women’s missions groups in your church? How do you feel about younger and older women doing missions projects together and celebrating missions milestones? Is there value to being with women of all ages? Here’s how one young woman feels about this:

“I love intergenerational groups. I think there needs to be understanding on both sides for them to be successful. Younger women have so much to learn from other generations. I know that when I raise children the world around me will be totally different than it was for my parents when they raised my sister and me in the 80s and 90s. However, it was totally different for them than it was for their parents when they were being raised in the 50s and 60s.

“The world around us changes, principles don't. I will still need advice and wisdom on how to pray for my children, teach my children biblical discipline, and how to be a good wife and mom. I want to surround myself with women who I see that have done that well (which, for me, luckily includes my mom).

Brew a Cup of Real Love

Woman holds a cup of coffee

Have you ever tried to make coffee without coffee?

Probably not. The idea is clearly impossible, but I have often wished that I could do such a thing. Take a Monday morning, when you roll out of bed and stumble towards the coffee maker, only to realize that your precious bag of dark-roast coffee is empty. You want to make coffee. You have the equipment to make coffee. But you can’t actually produce a cup of coffee without the coffee itself.

In the same way, we can’t produce unconditional love for others on our own; we have to start with the unconditional love of Christ. First John 4:7–21 is filled with insights about loving God and loving others. Verse 7 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God” (NIV). Love doesn’t come from our desire to please others or even to do the right thing. It comes from God.

Secondly, verse 10 shows us that God’s love is unconditional. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (NIV). We were sinners, completely undeserving of God’s love and mercy, but God loved us anyway.

How to Start and Grow a myMISSION Group

Let’s face it. Young women are not lining up to join a missions group. Some may have never even been in a missions group or ever thought about actually joining together with other young women who share their missions passion.

You can change that. Here are some tips for starting a group and keeping it interesting.

My First Love

We had landed. Our new family of three, after flying over 20 hours around the world, had arrived in Madagascar. It was a bit emotional for me looking out the tiny plane window. This was our new home and even from my limited view it appeared very different than I had imagined.

As ridiculous as it may sound, somehow I thought that hundreds of nationals would be standing there to greet us overwhelmed with gratitude that we had come to share the Good News with them. Surprisingly, this was not the case. Within the first 24 hours on the ground, I came to the stark realization that I was not able to communicate enough to purchase water...much less share the gospel presentation.

I recall standing in the bathroom, staring into the mirror, and totally losing it. Seventy-two hours in and I had already completely lost sight of my first Love. I had the innate ability to have somehow made this calling all about me and not about Him in a simple plane ride across the ocean. It was in that moment that I knew I could go no further. This life was not about me; this calling not even possible without Him. My focus had to change.

Are You Keeping Score?

It is safe to say that on any given topic not everyone will agree with you. Even as moms there are plenty of topics that can stir up mixed emotions, but as children of God we should not let these differences cause divisiveness among us. When we allow our flesh and focus to be of the world we can become so obsessed with “fixing it” and “having that person see our side” that before we know it our eyes are off of God and we are in dangerous territory. We are now the one “calling the shots” and essentially telling God, “I’ve got this covered.” I have been guilty of this before and the outcome was “no bueno” (not good).

Not too long ago my heart was deeply saddened and frustrated by another person close to me. At first, I was so focused on the issue I had no room to forgive or extend love to that person. God convicted my heart of this selfish, self-righteous attitude.  He made it very clear to me that He loved that individual and me just the same. Whether or not that person would ever rectify the hurts was not for me to keep track of. What I was called to do involved praying for that person and forgiving her even when she had not asked for forgiveness.

Enemy Feels Like a Strong Word

Love your enemy. A phrase heard so often in the church, yet one producing a wrestling match in our souls.

Who is our enemy?

And maybe we don’t use traditional words, like, “Oh, John Smith, he is my enemy.”

But it slips into our lives more subtly. The people who annoy us, so we dodge them when we pass them in the office hallway. Or the conversations you avoid because you are tired of the same conversation, where the same debate comes up—because you two will never see eye to eye.

Or sometimes it’s deeper. The people who have hurt us. Physically, emotionally, or spiritually. People who to society are justified in receiving our distrust and disengagement.

70 x 7 times. 

He had hurt me.

He had hurt people I loved.

And I felt justified in my anger, hurt, and frustration.

Until God told me it was time to start praying and let this go. It was time to loosen my rights and my view of justice and surrender it to the Almighty. 

Honestly, the prayers started out as “please fix him in this way” kind of prayers. You know the kind I am talking about . . . because you have probably prayed them before too.

Why? When? How Come?

I just love when my children ask me questions that I am required to delicately think of age-appropriate answers for (sense the sarcasm?). Children have no filter so a Mama has to always be on her toes. There have been times when their questions make me smile, like when my five-year-old wanted to know why his athletic shorts did not have a protective cup like his eight-year-old brother’s. He stated he was not going to play baseball without having one himself.

Then there are the more serious questions like when my mother was involved in a serious accident earlier this year and my boys wanted to know if Grandma was going to walk again? I did not have a definite answer to give, but my five-year-old did. He proudly spoke up and said, “If Grandma has to be in a wheelchair then we will get Daddy to build her a ramp so she can get in our house.” His precious heart was so overwhelmed with the circumstances and trying to figure out the future that he was seeking to find a solution.

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