Out of reach

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I’ve been walking with some other mamas through tough roads lately. There’s always seasons of that, but this has been a particularly long one, and from every side, or so it feels. And there’s one thread that’s connected all these situations…

“I NEED X for my kid/nephew/sister…and it’s out of reach.”

Why isn’t God moving? Why am I being stymied at every turn? Why does it seem like the opposite of my prayers is happening; why does it feel like I’m only going backwards?

It’s hard to sing those songs about how God never lets us down in those seasons, isn’t it, without feeling like a hypocrite? Like a fake? Maybe you do feel let down, even if history will prove otherwise.

All I could say to comfort them was this:

“Someday, you will have a testimony, a story to share with this child. Someday, you will be able to tell him that you literally walked through hell to prove your love for him. And God gave you the grace and strength to do it, even if you didn’t to it perfectly.”

Valleys have their place. Walking through them sucks, but I urge you to find physical ways to remember that even when what you need is out of reach, your faith is not out of reach. I know, it’s stretched thin, but it’s there, and even paper-thin, it has an Author and a Finisher, and you can trust Him.

After all, He walked through hell for you, too, and came out the other side a High Priest who could empathize with any struggle. Talk to Him, mama. He hears you, I promise he does. The strongest women I know have figured out how to keep doing what God wants them to do, even when He’s not doing what they want Him to do. And you will, too.

You’ve got this.

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Wednesday Wisdom

I’m reading through John 2 as part of this month’s Inscribe the Word study from A Symphony of Praise. (Yes, I’ve already started August…not because I’m ahead, but because if I don’t get a head start, I won’t even finish half of it. #momlife) And I was struck how we don’t find out exactly when the water turns into wine…is it when they draw it from the jars? When they take it to him? When he goes to put the cup to his lips? We don’t know. And that’s the thing about faith, right? Sometimes it doesn’t “work” like we want it to. But long obedience in the right direction showed God’s power and goodness based on the strength of their faith.

And it will for you, too. Don’t lose heart.

Also. God likes good wine, so if you do too, that may count as godliness. Do yourself a favor and be godly tonight once the kids are in bed. You totally deserve it.

You’ve got this, mamas.

The best kind of fool

I remember quite clearly the first time I felt foolish for being a missionary. I was driving back to Chicago from Wisconsin after our fall break from college. I didn’t know my co-passenger well; she was a friend of my aunt’s, and we were passing the time getting to know each other when the conversation rolled around to my boyfriend, David.

“So he’s going to Moody? What’s he studying?”

“He’s studying missionary aviation,” I gushed. “If we get married, we’re going to live overseas!”

There was a pause. A long pause. “Is there much money in that?”

“Well, no.” At this point, I have to admit: I actually hadn’t thought much about that before. No one had ever been anything but excited for me up until this point. I tried to follow up. “But we’ll be helping people. A lot of people.”

“I see.” There was a lot more silence after that, which gave me a lot of time to think about the houses I wouldn’t be owning and the cars I wouldn’t be driving and the corporate ladders I wouldn’t be climbing. That was the first time, but certainly not the last time, that I was made to feel like what I do is ridiculous.

And you know what? I get it. It’s not normal. But for some reason, I thought that I would feel less ridiculous once I’d been doing this for a while.

But I really don’t.

For instance, I’m home on furlough, and I’ve been readingĀ Slow Kingdom ComingĀ by Kent Annan. It’s good, really good. It’s speaking to some of the hurt and confusion I’ve felt on the mission field. And then I participated in a panel for Mission Connexion, and one of my fellow panel-ees (panelers? panel…authorities?) talked about how he became a missionary largely due to interacting with a missionary. One of the things I care about is helping missionaries succeed on the field, and I felt God nudging me toward starting a group for pre-missionaries at my church–and I was pumped about it.

No one has signed up.

And I don’t know exactly why I’m telling you this, except to say that if your ministry isn’t evangelizing in record numbers, or if you can’t get your clinic idea off the ground, or the kids just aren’t getting the homeschool material this year, or no one showed up to your Bible study…you’re not alone. (Well, maybe you are if it’s the Bible study thing…) Following God is going to look stupid from the outside, a lot of the time. In my opinion, that’s entirely normal.

6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” 7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” – 1 Samuel 14:6-7

Our pastor spoke on this verse in church today, and it just so spoke to the anxiety I’m feeling now. I thought God wanted to use me–and today, I needed the reminder that God can work through just one person. So if you’re out on a limb, sharing God’s love, and you think it’s not going great, leave the results with him. It’s okay to look ridiculous, to feel foolish, in this crazy life God’s called you to–it doesn’t mean you are. Choose what matters most, despite your feelings or the apparent circumstances. Keep choosing it. Be the best kind of fool: one who’s choosing to love God with all her heart, even when it gets broken and kicked around. If it’s in your heart, even if it’s not prayer-letter-worthy, even if you can’t get anyone else on board as a leader, just do it.

_If you think you're too small to make a difference, you haven't spent the night with a mosquito._ African proverb

Also, that mosquito thing is for real, am I right?

You’ve got this, mamas.

P.S. Here’s the link for the group I started in case you live near Portland and haven’t heard about it and actually do want to come.