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Modern Missionary Mamas

Because Christ is our all in all, all over the world.

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Motherhood (is) Ministry

Do you ever want to give your younger self a good slap? I do. Often. But in particular, in the area of homemaking, I had it so wrong. I’m downright ashamed now.

Yes, someone else can make the beds and mop the floors, and for many of us, the people who do this are essential and they’re extremely grateful for the work. But there’s more to homemaking than just cleaning, right? God’s changing my heart on this. Especially overseas, making a space that feels comfortable and feels like home is a full-time job.

Did you catch that? It’s a full-time job. And if you can work outside the home and do two full-time jobs, I applaud you. But I can’t. And I remember the first time I judged a missionary mama who told me she was a homemaker. Man, I judged her so hard I’m amazed she didn’t fly across the room. What a waste; doesn’t she have house helpers?

Like I said, Former Me needed a good slap.

Nobody’s going to love this family like I do. Nobody’s going to drive all over town looking for backpacks for the first day of preschool or leave love notes on his keyboard. Nobody’s going to make pizza I can’t eat every Friday. Nobody else knows their great hates and secret loves and how to bless them in deeply authentic ways like you do, mama. No babysitter, no dishwasher, no chauffeur replaces your care and your influence, the calming effect your very presence can have. (Kids, keep it down, I’m trying to have a calming influence over here.)

Do not undervalue what you do.

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But I get it: this is a hard job. Little children are especially tiring, and lots of days, I’m pretty sure I’m screwing them up so bad they won’t come to visit me in the missionary retirement home when I’m old and shriveled. Because they can’t. Because they haven’t gotten time off for good behavior.

This is when you need a mantra. A catchphrase. An anthem, if you will. Weed out any lies that are playing on repeat and replace it with something true. For a while, mine was “God knows what I am.” God knows what I am, and he still gave me these kids, this husband, this life. He still loves me. He still blesses me. He doesn’t condemn me.

And as goofy as it sounds, I have a playlist for days when I just can’t mother anyone without some stiff encouragement. (Coffee doesn’t do it for me.) So I’m sharing it with you. They’re not particularly special, but they help me get my warm fuzzy feelings back about my family. Except the first one. The first one is just for dancing. (Also, I didn’t watch the videos, I just know the songs. But how weird could they be, right? ….right? You were warned.)

Bulletproof by Citizen Way

John Harrison by The Brilliance

I get to be the one by JJ Heller

The Wine We Drink by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

Boat Song by JJ Heller

You’ll Always be my Girl by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

It’s Not Over Yet by For King and Country

One of my coworkers poured out her heart on her blog this week about this same topic, and I love the conclusion she’s coming to: “After two years of striving and pushing, I’ve come to a place of growth in my journey where I no longer want to strive to prove something; I simply want to be at rest as the woman God made me. I’m choosing to be Mary at rest at our Lord’s feet instead of Martha striving her hardest to win approval unsuccessfully. Later, if God makes it possible to start this ministry outside of me striving to get it done, then to Him be the glory; for now, I am going to rest at His feet and do the most important ministry He has already given me – our home and family.”

Bravo, mama. I’m right behind you.

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Live in tents, build altars 

When we were packing for the field the first time, I took a picture of my keys, because they were so pathetic: one key to my parents’ house. We’d sold our car, moved out of our apartment, and we were so ready to go…but it still felt uprooted, exposed. It made me feel small to be without the traditional trappings of adulthood.

 

The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD. – Genesis 13:14-18

At a chapel for our organization, someone shared a message based on the passage above. You’re going to feel homeless as a missionary…maybe a lot more often than you thought. And God hasn’t promised you a land like he did Abram, but he’s promised eternal life, complete with a room with your name on it. It’s easier to live in tents when you have this in mind, I find. And when you need permanence, as we all do, built an altar.

It sounds easy, right? It probably wasn’t fancy. I don’t know if it took him long. But he did this several times in the preceding chapters. When God spoke, Abram stopped to memorialize it. Later on, he even laid his precious son on one of them.

Anything you do that inspires worship, that lets your light shine before all those other guys, that’s altar-building. It’s more permanent than you could imagine. I think that’s what Christ meant when he said that Mary’s choice to sit at his feet wouldn’t be taken away from her. The object of your life is that what is mortal might be swallowed up by life, and that’s something no one can steal, no circumstance can remove, no moving company can misplace.

So when you feel like you’re folding, like the seams are coming apart on your tent…that’s exactly how it’s supposed to feel. Just remember to stop, take a deep breath, and lean on an altar for a minute…even if you have kids around both ankles.

You’ve got this, mama.

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