Monday, August 1, 2011

Listening to Missionaries

I've always wanted to be one of those families who brings their kids into the church service with them. I want my girls to sit still, paying attention to the preacher or speaker, maybe drawing a picture of what they are listening too. All followed of course, by insightful conversations in which we share truths that we learned. But the truth is, either I don't have the patience for teaching them to sit still for that long or I don't want to be distracted from my own listening and worshipping.

However, I really want my kids to have a heart for missions. And I do want them to get to the point where they can sit still in church and behave appropriately. This weekend, I found a way to work on both of these goals.

Our church sends many missions teams out each summer and when they come back, they share about their trip during a Sunday evening service. These meetings are more casual and laid back and Bruce and I figured it would be a good time for Charlotte (almost 4) to come and sit with us.

We took in some children's bulletins for her to color and doodle on, as well as a sheet or two of blank paper. She listened to the missionaries share some stories, tuning out when they got kind of long or meandering, and then coming back as the speaker changed. We watched a video of pictures showing what it was like in Guatemala and Brazil, pointing out her Missions Friends teachers or her babysitter as missionaries. In my mind, this helps her see that she knows lots of people who are missionaries and that missions is normal, not something just for extreme Christians.

At one point, we suggested she draw a picture of what she was hearing. Our friend Sean was sharing about building houses in Guatemala, so that is what she drew.

When we got home and while we were enjoying a pre-bedtime snack, I asked her to share 3 things she learned from the meeting. This is what she told me:

  1. You can make people feel better by giving them hugs (from Keilan, who worked with Zoe Church in San Paolo, Brazil during a Free Hugs event)
  2. Being a friend means sharing pictures you draw of people (after the meeting, she gave Sean the picture she drew of him building a house)
  3. Not all babies in the world have enough food to eat (the Guatemala team also worked in a malnutrition center sponsored by the FL Baptist Children's Homes).
Overall, despite the wiggles that seemed to be more prevalent in the second half, I was pretty proud of how Charlotte behaved. It really encouraged me to invite her to be more involved with "big church" now that she is getting more mature and better at obeying her parents. I'm glad I took a chance, stepped out of my box, and hope you will be encouraged to do something similar with your own preschooler (if you don't already).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Grace Is Enough

This post was originally published in September 2010 at my personal blog, Family Musings. I am preparing to go to my 2nd MOPS convention and re-read this post and thought it might be useful to the other moms who struggle with being good enough for their families.

Being a mom on mission doesn't mean being perfect, but instead relying on the one who is.


"Your grace is enough. Your grace is enough for me."

These are lyrics to one of my favorite songs. I've liked this song for a long time. I can really rock to it in the car and feel close to God. But until recently, whenever I belted it out I focused more on the second part of the lyrics I quoted above - "Your grace is enough for me." Because I'm vain, egotistic, and selfish.

Then, I was blessed to go to the MOPs convention in Orlando in August. And I heard this song in a completely different way. Christi Nockels was leading us in worship through this song and as we got to the end, she riffed a little. And prayed a little. And whispered a little.

She whispered into our ears that His grace is enough for our children. And this His grace is enough for our husbands.

And I was stopped in my tracks. You mean, I'm not enough? I thought that was my role, to be enough for them. That I had to fill their needs and be perfect so they could be their best. One little whisper and my mothering world was rocked!

I was free! I no longer had to be everything to everyone. God's grace was enough for them. God's grace fills the gap that exists between my efforts and perfection.

Do you realize how amazing this is? As mothers, we do not have to do everything under the sun to ensure our children grow up to be healthy.

We don't have to ban television.
We don't have to serve salad with dinner every night.
We don't have to nurse them until they are 2 years old (but great if you do!).
We don't have to teach our children to memorize the Lord's prayer by 3 years old.
We don't have to teach them to read by 4 years old.
We don't have to make sure their clothes match every single blessed day or that every hair is in its place. 

In the end, I realized that there has to be room in their lives for God's grace to be enough... otherwise we teach them to rely on human efforts instead of supernatural movements.

What has rocked your mothering world lately?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pursuit of Happiness

Today's guest post is from Heather, the mom of two rambunctious, creative and adorable boys who she lets keep a rather large snake named Rocky!

I was at a Classical Conversations 3-day homeschool conference this week and was touched by several women I encountered. They seemed to have such peace, strength, wisdom, and focus. One woman said, "God did not give us children to make us happy, but to make us holy."
Not a new earth shattering concept, I'm sure I've heard it before, but its been on my mind and heart the last couple of days. It's not a concept that is wide spread in our ME CENTERED culture... I mean, everything we do is for our own happiness... we date and marry someone who makes us happy; we pursue a college degree in order to get that certain dream job so that we will be happy; we buy a certain house in a certain neighborhood so that we will be happy; we go to a certain church because it makes us happy, or we don't go to church at all so we can pursue our own happiness through shopping, fishing, sleeping in, getting things accomplished, going and doing anything and everything else that makes us happy...

What if we started to see things in a different light? What if we saw those "wild banshee" children of ours instead as little perfecters of our holiness? (ahheem, might be stepping on my own toes here!!!) Wouldn't it change our view and possibly change the way we handle our children? I know it has mine over the last couple of days!

What if we saw our husband that drives us absolutely insane instead as a perfecter of our holiness? Instead of focusing on not being happy in a marriage, shifting the focus on how this relationship is God's way of refining us. That every struggle in our marriage is another aspect of purifying us.

What if instead of being frustrated about our jobs, we see it in light of how God is using it to produce holiness in our life? Wouldn't that change the way we talk about our boss, our work ethic, the way you interact with our co-workers?

What if we didn't choose our church by the music or the cool programs, but based on God leading us to the church family that God would use to purify and grow us more? Would we have less complaints about the piddly stuff, and more commitment to the church family in which God has placed us?

Focusing on our own happiness will only leave us frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned, resentful... Focusing on God's purpose of sanctifying us will change our perspective entirely and will motivate us toward the ultimate goal. Living for happiness is shortsighted, while living for holiness is keeping the end goal in sight.
Heather got it right. If we are going to lead our own children to live holy lives, then we need to begin by focusing on how our own lives are becoming more holy with each passing day.

What do you do to remind yourselves that mothering is not about pursing your own happiness but allowing God to pursue His holiness in you?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Passport To India

Whether our children go to public, private, or home school, it is our responsibility to make sure they receive a biblical worldview. One way to do that is by avoiding the trap of being American-centric with the lessons we teach them. Earlier this week, Ida shared how she helps her kids love on local children, and now, I want to share with you a way to help them love on children in India, and learn about a whole new culture.

This week, Sonlight introduced My Passport to India. It is a 10 video curriculum designed to virtually experience India as if you were really there. You can work at it at whatever pace your schedule allows. It will help you and your family:
  • Explore India's incredible, diverse culture, people and places
  • Learn more about India with unique educational resources
  • Meet the people God is using to bring the Gospel to India's 400+ million unreached
  • Discover how you can reach boys and girls in India with the love of Jesus by supporting Children's Bible Clubs!
The more I look over My Passport to India, the more excited I get about this. I can see that the whole family, regardless of ages, can learn something from this. The free bonus content includes a family devotional, stories about children who have been to their local Children's Bible Club, and tons more. It might be too much information for most preschoolers, but it is still valuable reading as their parents so that we can learn more. Older children will definitely be able to take more of the information and pictures in. This would also make a good curriculum for a a children's missions program at church, maybe when the regular summer programming is on hiatus.

Not only will your children be able to see how kids in other countries live, they'll also be given an opportunity to raise money to help those kids attend a Children's Bible Club. It only costs $1 to send a child in India to these clubs and any money donated until September 5th will be matched by Sarita Holzman, the President of Sonlight (up to $100,000).

I'm signing my family up to participate. What about you? If you've been through any part of this, please leave a comment letting us know what you or your children thought.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back To School Missions

Today's guest post is from my friend Ida, who blogs when it strikes her fancy or her heart is heavy at Eat, Drink, & Be Jesus.

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Pretty, new school supplies are lining store shelves everywhere and I cannot wait to shop! My daughter’s, ages 4 and 2, are excited, too. Even dad is happy with this mini shopping spree!

We’re not shopping for ourselves or for our own kids. (Well...I’m sure I’ll get suckered into buying some new crayons for my own little ones.) We are all excited to go shopping for someone else!

Back to school sales offer the perfect opportunity for you and your little one’s to get involved in giving to families in need while not breaking your budget.

For as long as we have been married my husband and I have hosted some sort of “back to school bash”, collecting items for students in our community who need the help the most. This has gotten so much more fun since having children of our own!

Every year, with children in tow, we grab one of those “generic” school supply lists in the store of our choice. I let our 4 year old pick which list we are going to shop from, kindergarten, 2nd grade, 5th’s her choice. Once she has decided on a list, we pick out each item and this is where the fun begins for my kids. “8 folders” was on our list this us adults it’s no big deal...we would simply grab 8 folders and carry on but for my 2 girls picking those 8 folders is a fun and exciting time. They get to choose the colors, the design, and they get to brush up on their counting skills and team work! So goes the rest of the list. They have a great time picking binders, crayons, markers, pencils, erasers, etc...

Before we shop, we talk about how Jesus wants us to “love your neighbor as yourself”. We pray and thank God for allowing us to love our neighbors, or the people in our community, through the giving of these supplies and we pray for the sweet kids who will get them. We commit our school supplies to a local ministry that my children are allowed to serve at. This way, we’re not just buying things (although this is just as big as a blessing!) but we are also able to take our kids to play with the other kids they are reaching out to.

This year’s school supply drive is hosted by our home group and the supplies we collect will benefit Carver Village, a local housing community that we have had the great privilege of serving at before. For more information on Carver, visit

My family is certainly not financially rich, especially with my husband recently being laid off from his job, but reaching out together as a family makes us realize that we are in fact very the things that really matter!

For only $11.00 even we, with our extremely tight budget, were able to purchase enough school supplies for a very special 4th grader. I pray my children will always remember these days of shopping, sharing, laughing, and giving.

I'm now inspired to take my girls to the local supply store to get a backpack ready! And I don't think this is just for preschoolers. Older, school aged kids should enjoy this as well as they are picking out their own school supplies. 

If you plan on doing this as well, or already did, leave a comment and let us know about your experience shopping with your kids!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Have A Hard Time Being A Mom

Today I am featuring a post from my friend Karissa about how she was affected by reading another recent article by Rachel Jankovic.

I have a hard time with being a mom… sometimes. I know, I know. It is my “calling.” My identity is supposed to be wrapped up in the little onesies and board books and toy dinosaurs. But it isn’t. Don’t misunderstand me! I love my children and I love being a mother, but sometimes my perspective gets skewed by the daily grind of folding clothes and washing dishes. I take my eyes off of the eternal perspective for one minute and I am blinded by the miniscule stuff that I am wading knee deep through.

My heart longs to visit other lands with my camera in hand and capture exotic places. My arms desire to hold little sick babies abandoned at the hospital and know that I am helping. I ache for the adventure of visiting a never before reached tribe on a remote island and trying to assist the translators in understanding the complicities of this foreign language. Instead, I am stuck in a house in suburbia telling my 2 year old for the up-teenth time today that it is not wise to hurl his remote control car off the coffee table at his 18 month old sister. How is that a calling? Does anyone else see it, because these sinful eyes are blinded by the mundane?

I might be alone in this struggle, but I have a feeling there are others of you out there. Oh, how I hope there are more of you out there like me: sinful and in need of God’s grace! It feels wrong to say these things out loud. In a culture that doesn’t value children and values stay-at-home mothers less, it is easy to buy into the notion that my life is meaningless without another job, another calling, another thing that takes center stage. Whenever I read biographies about famous missionaries, I think, “What kind of impact am I having on the world around me when I can’t even make it to the grocery store without a meltdown?”

I guess I should back up a little bit to give this some background, hmm?

My whole life I wanted to be these 3 things (in no particular order): a missionary, a photographer and an actress. I have successfully accomplished the last two, but I can’t figure out how the first dream can be accomplished with a 2 and 1 year old in tow. In college, my major was in missions, with hopes of fulfilling my first dream. That is what I studied to be, a full time missionary. Four years of preparing to impact the world through face-to-face interactions with those who didn’t have the privilege of purchasing a Bible at their local bookstore like I do. After college, I pursued acting professionally and had a couple of paid acting jobs, fulfilling that dream. Then my husband and I applied to be house parents for missionary children in Cameroon, Africa with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Then we got pregnant with our first and decided to stay in the states to have our first child. And you guessed it; we got pregnant again and have never left, but I did become a professional photographer, making that dream come true. I am happy with my life, but this little gnawing discontentment creeps up at times: the discontentment to see tangible ministry happening before my eyes.

Now you are caught up on my life, somewhat, so let’s continue on (can you tell I’m not a writer?)!

It all hit me tonight. I was listening to a Francis Chan sermon about rethinking what we call “radical.” A lot of things touched my heart as I listened, but what struck me the most was Francis’ strong desire to reach the poor. It reminded me of a desire I use to have before the monotony of changing 18 dirty diapers a day and picking up countless toys off the living room floor wore

away my passion. I started to feel confused and disgruntled, almost as if my children were a nascence in comparison to helping the poor (I know that isn’t a rational thought, but our air conditioning has been out for 2 days, so I need a little grace!).

The Lord is so good, because the next article (Motherhood is a Calling) I read said this:

“Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.”

Did that just say I am living out the gospel by being a mom? That my children are my calling? My eyes filled with tears as I read those words. Wiping snot off my 18 month olds face can be a ministry, be it small. It blesses the heart of God to see me teach my children godly principles through living them daily. My mission field, for now, is on the floor in my living room day in and day out. It is my job to defend my innocent children in a corrupt world. I am called to cloth and feed the needy, and they can be found right in my dining room! This doesn’t excuse me from doing my part to be outward focused and help in the world around me, but all of this thinking helped me to gain some perspective about my discontentment.

There might never be a novel written about my missionary journeys into hostile lands, but for now, my work for the Lord is being the best mom I can be, with what I have, by His grace. I won’t be successful all the time, but I am going to plug at it one moment at a time until the Lord sees that I can handle something else. From this perspective of the frazzled mom, I hope they Lord knows I have my plate full! Hehehe!

“Lord, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.

Have you ever had an experience like Karissa's? Feel free to share about it in the comments.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mis Ninas (My Little Girls)

Today, at the end of a two week missions trip to Nicaragua, my husband posted on their trip blog about how Charlotte has dealt with his being gone for so long. It is definitely worth reading. I want you to go over and catch the whole thing, so here is a teaser to peak your interest:
Our youngest daughter, Mary Mitchell (1 year 10 months old), has been missing me. Apparently, she gets up in the morning and points toward my bedroom door calling, "Dada," over and over. But, Charlotte (3 years 11 months old) tells her some variation of this: 
Daddy's not there. He's in Nicaragua being a missionary, telling mean people about Jesus. But, his love is still in your heart, so just hold your hand to your heart, and he'll be there with you. 
And if you know Charlotte, that's how she talks.
Visit Mission: Nagarote for the full post and to see why I'm a little teary eyed tonight as we wait for him to come home to us tomorrow.