More for Missionary Moms!

I mentioned in the last post before my break that Phyllis had started a great new sister blog to Missionary Moms called “Missionary Mom’s Companion!” Phyllis just returned from furlough, and along with some wonderful new contributors, she is ready to go with a great new plan for providing all sorts of encouragement, community, and resources.  I hope you will join us all over there as we build this new community! It has already been such a blessing to me, and I trust that you will be blessed there as well!



A New Season and Farewell

Dear Friends, Perhaps you have noticed things here gradually slowing down, but I wanted to share with you today that I am officially putting Missionary Moms on an indefinite hold. I have so very much enjoyed having the opportunity to relate with you amazing women here and have been tremendously blessed and encouraged by your faith and friendship, but God has clearly shown me that now is the time for me to say goodbye to blogging for an extended time. The primary reasons are simply that life right now is very full and I feel like I need to devote the energy that I used to have for writing and hosting this blog to other things for a time, as well as that I just feel God leading me out of a time of sharing so frequently what is on my heart and mind and into a time more of listening and learning.  I felt led by God to start this blog and so enjoyed sharing with you here via this forum, and though it is sad for me, I feel equally as led by Him to step away for now. I hope to restart the blog sometime in the future, but God has not yet revealed to me any details about this. I have a huge heart for all of you dear women all around the world who are living the life that you are for the sake of the gospel, and I wanted to let you know that I will still be praying for you and look forward to visiting your blogs and praying for your families and ministries! (And still feel free to email me if you’d like to talk or pray! The content of this blog will remain online, and you can find links to all of the contributors’ blogs on the “Contributors” page. I will also periodically update our family blog ( if you would like to keep up with me there, but I confess that I am not very good about keeping it current.

Lastly, I have something exciting to share with you! I have been praying that God would call other people to provide more online resources for missionary moms and had even planned a little section in this last post to ask you friends to pray and consider starting a blog/blogs to meet this need.  Guess what?! Even before I had a chance to share this need publicly, Phyllis emailed me to see what I thought about her starting a new place online for missionary moms to gather while this blog is on hold! What an answer to prayer! Also, she is asking for YOU to consider if you might like to contribute posts to the new blog to make it a place where many women can take part in ministering to one another. I just love her vision! Here is the link to her new blog, “Missionary Mom’s Companion.” Please add it to your reader and consider how you might be able to help her build this new place of community! And if anyone else feels compelled to start any other missionary mom blogs either now or in the future, please let me know so I can share your link here! There is very far from an abundance of blogs for missionary moms, and it would be so exciting to see more spring up! May God bless each of you tremendously as you love and serve the Lord and love and serve your beautiful families! Much Love in Christ, Ashley

Dissolved- Part II

(Click here to read Dissolved: Part I )

Time passed; in the intervening months God graciously provided us with a new infrastructure. Most of our supporters did decide to stay with us and some surprising partners have generously provided since monies like future support, funds saved for education and plane tickets, etc., were all lost to us with the dissolution of our organization. Daily, our lives and ministries continue.

Yet in many ways, we are still stuck halfway across that high wire, very much in limbo. We keep things running here, waiting for the human powers that be to decide what will be… while we wait to hear all of the legal ramifications of this process back in the States, while we try and cling to the truth that God is sovereign.

I ‘m reading a book called The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions. One of my friends, hearing of our particular circumstances, wrote me and asked if she could get me this book. I’ve been very thankful for it as I’ve slowly worked my way through it. Today I read:

“At the beginning of the story, Abraham was asked to trust God by letting go of his past—by moving away from his people and his country. Now, near the end of his journey, Abraham is asked to trust God by letting go of his future—releasing his beloved son Isaac through whom the promised blessing is to be fulfilled.”1

Over 12 years ago, when we first left for the field, God asked us to trust Him by letting go of our past, of all that was familiar, moving us far away to where all was new and foreign, family and friends were far behind; normal clothes and cultures and climates seemed another world, one very unreachable and very far away. Just like Abraham, we’d trusted God and let go of our past, moving from our known peoples and country. There were hard, challenging moments, but there were also amazing, mountain top experiences with the Lord and the joy of serving Him in this place that, in hindsight, make those moments of trusting seem a lot more exciting than terrifying. We’ve come to the point where most of the time, we trust God with the past.

As we’ve followed Him down this path over these 12 years, we’ve learned much about trusting God in the moment… some moments, by His grace, we trust well, totally and confidently. Other times, however, in our strength, we try and bully or bribe our way into an outcome we want. That has been a constant temptation during these high wire months of limbo. Sometimes God whispers… other times He allows circumstances to shout: “Will you let me lead you day… by day… by day. Will you let me take what seems so rancid to you and turn it into something delightfully sweet as you see My hand working in you, on your behalf?”

In this most recent “faith crisis”, God seems to be asking us a new question: “Will you let go of your future? Will you release your plans and dreams? Will you stop struggling to achieve them? Can you gently step aside and allow Me free reign to do what I will do. Will you still choose to trust Me, even in those moments when you don’t understand, see no possibilities… then tenaciously cling to faith even when all man’s wisdom and even your heart says there’s no point and nothing left to cling to?” God asks us to be living sacrifices – our home church pastor has often said that the only problem with a living sacrifice is that it has a tendency to get up and crawl right off that altar!

Our little three year old M&M wanders the house singing almost every day. Invariably, she’ll launch into the Chris Tomlin song, I Will Follow.

Where You go, I’ll go.
Where You stay, I’ll stay.
When you move, I’ll move.
I will follow…

Some days, she sings it word perfect.

Other days, however? She’ll launch into an M&M revised adaptation. Those tsubborn, independent adjustments ring out loud and clear:

When You go, I’ll stay.
When You stay, I’ll go.
When You go, I’ll stay.
When You stay, I’ll go.
(repeat at least 8 times)

Funny – but it is also sobering, because her adaptation is me.

There are days when letting go of past, present and future is the only thing I want to do, recklessly throwing my everything into His hands and His plans. Those days are scary and hard – but also full of joy, triumph and the peace that comes with obedience. What about all those other days, though? The ones where I sing, just like my little one, that I’m heading my own way, doing my own thing, and all of that in my own timing.

As missionaries, people think it is easy for us to let go – following the Great Shepherd is our claim! Occasionally it is. Most often, it isn’t.

Sometimes we need all that we thought secure, every dream we had for the future, to simply dissolve all around us, first melting, then trickling and finally surging far, far away until we are left standing in the desert with no hope for the future… nothing… except God…

I’ve been in that place the last few months. I’m in that place right now.

It is in that place that finally, now, I’m learning… I’m sometimes beginning to expect God.

What does God have to do to get you in a place where all of your expectations rest in Him and Him alone?

1 Manion, Jeff (2010-07-14). The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions (Kindle Locations 433-435). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

(Post by: Richelle)

Tuesday Topic: Staying up on American culture

Do you consider it important to stay up on/connected with what is going on in American culture? Why or why not? If this is an important value of yours, how do you go about keeping up with our home culture? What are some elements of American culture that have popped up and passed you by since you’ve been overseas? (Here are just a few things that I have had to Google to know what my friends are talking about back home: iRobot, Vitamix and green smoothies, Keurig, Zumba, Stroller Strides, Bumbo seat…)

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Dissolved- Part 1

Missionaries… all who follow Christ… are told to count the cost. But what about when something unthinkable happens? How do you prepare for that?

Late at night, on August 24, 2011, we received the following in a letter from our sending organization:

“Following extensive objective assessment and the advice of legal counsel, we are beginning action to dissolve… The organization will be in the process of shutting down over the next week and a half. Funds to continue are not available… final payments of reimbursable expenses will be paid as of August 23rd and health insurance will be paid through September 2011. Thereafter, there will be no disbursement from EBM to anyone other than to protect and complete the above process… On September 2, 2011, the… home office will close its doors… Further, missionaries and sending churches should immediately contact donors and have their donations diverted to the sending church… If help is needed the staff… would be more than happy to assist you with this process until September 2, 2011. On August 31st, [our organization] will be closing its books after which all donations will be returned to the sender.”

Needless to say, we didn’t sleep much that night. We had lots of questions, and no immediate answers…

  • How in the world are we going to provide for 8 kids and an 18 year old niece… in a foreign land…with no salary?
  • What about school for our children (recognizing that termites ate at least a third of our home schooling curriculum during our last home assignment)?
  • Could we? How would we get home if we had to?
  • What does this mean for now? And in the immediate future?
  • What in the world should we do?
  • How do we explain this to our local colleagues?
  • What exactly is “this”?

I’d really thought I’d heard of and considered all the possible missionary “catastrophe” scenarios: medical emergencies, coup d’états, banditry or break-in, kidnapping and hostage situations, physical violence, in-country massive currency devaluation, drought, necessities unavailable, refugee influx, emergency evacuation… and while I didn’t ever want anything like that to happen to our family, it had, at least at some point, bleeped somewhere on my radar screen that it was a possibility.

The dissolution of our sending organization and as a consequence, of the majority of the infrastructure key to our W. African existence hadn’t… ever… crossed… my mind… Seriously. Not even remotely.

Our home office was closing its doors and from the backside of the desert in W. Africa (otherwise known as the land of frequent power outages, bipolar internet and the lesser known reality that we still cannot direct dial our home area code in the States from this place), we had one week to contact all of our supporters to tell them to stop giving until we could make other arrangements. We needed to find a new organization in the States able and willing to receive and receipt funds, but also one that would be acceptable to our current support team. Any services that our home office had handled before? We now needed to find someone else who could and would assume those responsibilities. And there was the concern that people might just decide to no longer partner with us in this ministry, feeling that our previous organization had been less than transparent… some even felt dishonest.

Our team of missionaries in Niger and Benin at the time of the dissolution

We understood immediately that our situation wasn’t catastrophic. We were all healthy, together, with a roof over our head and in the midst of an amazing missionary community that literally wrapped its arms tightly around us and cared for us, far above and beyond what we would have asked or could have imagined. On the other hand, it fely like calamity stalking… we were walking a high wire far above ground without any sort of safety net… and it wouldn’t take much to send us plummeting down…

I wish I could say that Tim and I immediately fell on our knees and took our worries before the Lord. Tim might have… I didn’t unless you count those “Oh God… what are we going to do?” type utterances as prayers.

Has anything similar every happened to you? Can you even imagine anything like this happening? What would be your first thoughts and worries?

(Post by: Richelle)

Tuesday Topic: Involving Children in Language Learning

From Amie heading to South Sudan: How do you involve your kids in language learning?

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Time is of the Essence

I’ve been reading a wonderful book called A Mother’s Heart, and in it the author shares this sweet poem by Irene Foster that has recently inspired me to savor moments a bit more intentionally with my little ones. I thought you might enjoy it as well…

(My now-four-year old… just two in this picture… discovering the world upside down and backwards)

Time is of the Essence

Now is the time to get things done…
     wade in the water,
     sit in the sun,
     squish my toes
     in the mud by the door,
explore the world in a boy just four.
Now is the time to study books,
     how a cloud looks;
     to ponder “up,”
     where God sleeps nights,
why mosquitoes take such big bites.
Later there’ll be time
     to sew and clean,
     paint the hall
     that soft new green,
     to make new drapes,
     refinish the floor—
Later on… when he’s not just four.

How do you personally find or define balance when deciding how to spend your days as a mother? How do you know when it’s time to play? How do you know when it’s time to work? Are there any personal practices or guidelines that you’ve adopted and might be willing to share that help you savor moments with your kids amidst the busyness, work, fatigue, etc.?

(Post by: Ashley)

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