myMISSION

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.

Antonym of Sorrow

Hope.

In the midst of devastation, people are able to find hope—this is my life’s greatest challenge.

Living in West Africa in the second poorest country in the world for two summers, I observed the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen in the middle of devastating poverty. This joy felt impossible to wrap my head around.

Then I lived in the Middle East for two years, hearing stories of God’s Kingdom expanding throughout the lands. I saw a woman throw her head back in laughter—true joy—in the middle of her homeland being destroyed, when only hours before she recounted story after story to me about how her relatives were brutally murdered in the streets. 

How can this be?

The gospel is powerful. It’s not a story we get to share or we have to share. God has flipped our world’s story of brokenness on its head. When we think all is lost; it’s not.

A Small Me in a Big World

SPOILER ALERT: For anyone who hasn’t heard, the Tooth Fairy is not real. When I was seven years old, I demanded the truth from my can’t-keep-a-secret grandmother. Although I had been suspicious, the Tooth Fairy revelation changed the way I viewed my tiny world. I realized I had not fully understood something, and I needed to shift my perspective.

Fast-forward 13 years, and my perspective on life continues to expand. College makes you realize that you’re a little person in a very big world. You become aware of serious social issues, extreme poverty, and people groups still unreached by the gospel. You come to the sobering realization that you can’t fix all of the world’s problems. However, the real question is not what can’t you do, but what can you do.

1. Educate yourself.

Sometimes it is hard to relate to people who are different from us. As Christians, we can’t write off people groups around the world because they’re from a different culture or background. Instead of ignoring what we don’t understand, we need to dig deeper. The more we understand, the more we can tell them about Jesus.

2. Find your passion.

Why Women Join Groups

I know many of you have thought of this challenge—how do we get younger women involved in missions? Why don’t more women come to the group? Or if you haven’t started a group yet, why is it not on more people’s radar? Maybe you are very passionate about missions, but it doesn’t seem that others share your passion at times.

Studies have been done in the secular and Christian world as to why women join all kinds of groups, but I feel we can apply the research to growing our myMISSION groups. A woman joins a group for these four main reasons:

The Action of Compassion

"Salama!" She looked up, surprised that a foreigner was speaking her heart language. She was a shop keeper, peddling goods to foreigners. No one had ever stopped just to talk with her. It was on that day that she knew there was something different about this foreigner who wanted more than a colorful basket.

Choosing to stay that first time I sat down with her was a big deal. I was nervous, and anything but fluent in her language. However, I knew the Lord was telling me to sit on that rickety wooden bench. Sitting there in the sun, trying to piece together the vocabulary that I recognized, I wondered what I was doing. Surely, this is not what missions looks like.

Looking back, on that day, something changed. She became real to me; not someone I saw in passing or prayed for off a prayer card. I heard stories of her three girls and the school they attended. She talked about her husband and how he had not accepted the Truth in his heart. My heart broke as she told me that she had learned to read but could not afford a Bible. I was introduced to compassion. For the first time it was not just a word, but an emotion that produced an action.

Mom . . . I’m hungry

As a mother I am sure you can relate to the following scenario: Mom enters kitchen to find pantry door wide open, refrigerator door open and standing in the coolness of the fridge a child searching high and low for . . . something to eat. I am fairly certain you have also heard your child say these four famous words, “There’s nothing to eat.” It can be very frustrating to hear these words come out of your child’s mouth when you know there are boys and girls who truly have nothing to eat, let alone have the luxury of being choosy.

It is heartbreaking to see pictures from around the world of hungry children who are not guaranteed to go to bed with a full tummy. The thought of world hunger relief can be very overwhelming. Where do we start? How can we help? I believe before you can go global you need to address local too. We need to ensure that we are aware and engaged in meeting the needs of our own community.

The Cyclone

The email from the embassy should have been our first clue. Rumors of cyclone seasons of past were quickly turning into reality. After watching the weather and talking with other missionaries, we decided to stay put. A little rain in the dry land of Tulear would be nice!

Two days in, as I ran around the house putting buckets under leaks, I wondered if staying was the right choice. Electricity had been cut the moment the rains started and the wind gusts were powerful enough to blow a person down. When it finally stopped, and we stepped outside, I realized how selfish my thoughts had been.

Our home was standing but the Malagasy ones were destroyed. Our lives were inconvenienced but theirs were devastated. I had never seen such destruction in all of my life. Families had lost loved ones in the flash flooding. The small amounts of rice or vegetables they had were gone. The homes that held their few possessions were washed away. My eyes filled with tears, and my heart was flooded with grief. What could we do? How could we help?

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