Archive for October, 2010

Spinning or Trusting? (Part 2)

In the first part of this two part post, I shared a bit of my testimony regarding God’s provision for our family over the last year. What I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit is that I had all of those doubts EVEN after I’d seen God provide and care for us miraculously so many times before, carrying us through difficult and scary medical crises, impossibly hard financial predicaments and even tense and uncertain political atmospheres.

Yes, our family is large.  And yes, more often than not, we have just enough – no extra, no margin… and that is uncomfortable. Yet we see God come through time after time –

  • providing, sometimes sufficiently and other times abundantly, or removing need,
  • giving discernment,
  • showing us needed modifications to our plans and lifestyles, or
  • simply adjusting our expectations.

Our judgment and wisdom has often been questioned:  Are we right to ask churches to provide for our large family on the mission field? What about college and our children’s future? Flying our family one way to or from the field is a huge cost – is that the wisest use of missions’ monies… and what would happen if we needed (for whatever reason) an emergency evacuation?

More than once, we’ve questioned our own judgment and wisdom: Is it wise to bring small children to a place where sometimes, deadly disease is rampant and unpreventable? Should we leave our parents when they are aging and facing physical challenges? How do we provide stability and a good send-off for our children as they move out of the shelter of our home and on to independent living and post-secondary education?

Obviously, we feel that we are exactly where God wants us. He has given each one of our children.  It is His job to provide, and He promises to supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory. Our job, therefore, is:

  • trusting,
  • learning contentment in whatsoever state He sees fit to place us,
  • accounting faithfully to Him, our churches and our mission for our expenditures, and
  • seeking to be Spirit-led, wise stewards, using the time, talents and resources He has given for His honor and His glory first and foremost.

When I’m tempted to stew, to wonder, to fear… to start re-spinning my fragile and insufficient web… I hope I’m learning to pray and quickly think of God’s provision through the sweet lady from our church who delivered baked goods and non-perishables to our home every Wednesday last year. I want to remember all the prayers and words of encouragement from almost every continent when our daughter lay sick on a clinic bed with resistant malaria and dysentery. I’m humbled by my friend and neighbor, who regularly shares with my children, out of her physical and spiritual poverty, tangible gifts of beignets and fari masa she has made to sell alongside the road.

Having a large family on the mission field is exciting because it gives us, as parents, so much opportunity to learn and live these truths… and to disciple our children in them. It is so much better to find our refuge and provision in the Lord rather than trusting in any man, whether that be “self” or a group of churches and supporters back in our home country… all the while realizing that God’s abundance often flows through the generosity of others. God, in His grace, has given us this opportunity to live in faith and trust day by day, every day. If we were any fewer, in any other place or in any other career, we might not have to, and I’m doubtful that on my own I would so choose.

I’m so thankful we are who we are, right where we are, doing what we do.

In what uncomfortable situations has the Lord placed you, and why are you thankful for it? How do you “lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him?”

(Post by: Richelle)

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Tuesday Topic: Finding Your New Niche

From Heidi: Have you found your niche in the ministry God has called you to? Have you ever considered “Where is my place in this culture?” In the States I was a nurse and naturally thrived in anything dealing with efficiency and organization.  In our church in the States I loved to participate and serve in behind-the-scenes ministries that utilized my natural and spiritual gifts. We are now living in a rural third world setting and, although my gifts are utilized daily as I homeschool my children, I find that I struggle to see how I can use these natural gifts in our ministry. Organization and efficiency aren’t part of the culture here at all. Spontaneity is what its all about!

Have you found a way to use your natural and/or spiritual gifts in a satisfying way in your host culture? Was “who you were” in the States similar to “who you are” now? Have you made a conscious effort to develop new ways of serving or has it come naturally over time? Do you have any words of encouragement for those who struggle to find their niche?

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

Spinning or Trusting? (Part 1)


I’ve often heard the comment: “I wish I found it as easy to trust God as you do…” I generally smile and say something along the lines of, “If you see that, it must certainly all come from the Lord and His graciousness, because I certainly don’t feel that way a good portion of the time,” gently – or perhaps nervously – laugh, and then try and direct the conversation away from that particular topic because trusting God isn’t something that comes easily or naturally for me… not at all. The head knowledge is all there. I know He can.  That statement uttered by the three Hebrew boys before they were cast into the fire, “but even if He does not…” is the part that trips me up every time. I know He can, but what if He chooses not to act the way I think is best… or to provide in the way I want?

This stumbling block touches all areas of my life missionary wife and mom, including finances. We are your larger than average family. The support allowance our mission requires us to raise stopped growing several children ago.  As children grow, appetites increase, plane tickets inflate and tuition jumps, it becomes more and more difficult to plan how we are going to make ends meet from month to month. For a planner personality, that is difficult. We left the field for home assignment a bit over a year ago at 65% of our recommended support allowance. Scheduled to return to the field in July, 2010, last spring we flipped the calendar from April to May still shy of the 80% mark and had only half of the funds needed to purchase plane tickets. We were wondering…

So my husband sat down and started crunching numbers, looking at our budget, trying to figure it all out.  The numbers never added up. They certainly didn’t look neat and tidy. People frequently asked if we were going back; frankly I would avoid the question with the spiritual sounding answer of “Lord-willing…,” all the while doubting and desperately wondering how in the world it could happen.

At that moment, these words from Job 8 described me well: “…the hope of the godless will perish, whose confidence is fragile and whose trust a spider’s web.”  I was functionally godless. Skeptical that God would provide, in my head and heart I was spinning a web of intricate, delicate and fragile filaments, attempting to construct the needed support, yet knowing such a concoction could not stand the winds and storms of life on the mission field. I think it was Matthew Henry who wrote “…the spider’s web, spun with great skill but easily swept away, represents a man’s pretensions to religion… without the grace of God in his heart.”

Isn’t it interesting that trust is both a noun and a verb? As a noun, it carries the idea of a sure and confident hope as described in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen.” But trust is more than a thing or idea; it is a belief that requires action. Proverbs 3 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” and then continues by showing us just how that verb “trust” looks in action:  “Lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

I’m so thankful for a husband whom God has graced with an incredible ability to gently trust… and to gently encourage me to trust, too. He looked at the same numbers that I did with eyes of faith and said, “We’ll go, Lord… and I can’t wait to see what You will do,” while I was saying “God, just get us to this level. Then I’ll be able to trust. Then I’ll commit to taking my family.” Once my husband committed to a July departure, God opened His storehouses and provided abundantly, lavishly, far above and beyond what we had hoped for…  (to be continued)

Are there areas in your life where you are “functionally godless?” …areas where you say you trust God but instead of waiting confidently on Him, you find you are spinning some sort of web?

(Post by: Richelle)

Tuesday Topic: Tuesday Topics?

Well, the sad day has come where I have run out of Tuesday Topics in my inbox. Thus today’s Tuesday Topic: What questions would you like to see discussed in the coming weeks? Is there any way that you’d benefit from hearing the wisdom and advice that other missionary moms have to share? Feel free to leave you question in the comments, or if you prefer to preserve the element of surprise, feel free to email it to: formissionarymoms@gmail.com . As always, please include your blog address if you’d like to be linked to!

Oh, and please resist the temptation to respond to people’s questions until they are posted as a topic! Thank you!

New! Missionary Moms’ Recipes

 

I have a upcoming feature of Missionary Moms to share with you today! Some of you may remember that awhile back I asked for your suggestions for things that would allow this site to serve you better. Several of you requested to see some posts about overseas-friendly recipes.

I am in the process of adding a new page to this site where we can compile some helpful recipes to bring the taste of “home” to our homes overseas! Do you know how to make yogurt? Grind your own peanut butter? Make brown sugar out of white sugar? Make awesome American soul foods? Granola bars? Doughnuts that taste like the real thing? How about Chinese food? Mexican food? And dare I forget brownies?…

If you have a recipe either for a comfort food from home, for meals that are easy to make with foreign ingredients,  or for a staple ingredient that is often difficult to find overseas, please share it with us! Please email it to me at:  formissionarymoms@gmail.com. I will be collecting recipes to add to our new page that will show up here in the next few weeks. You can continue to send recipes after the page appears as well. Hopefully it will be a useful resource that we can build up together! Thank you in advance for sharing your treasured recipes with us!

Also, don’t worry if you don’t know if the ingredients for your recipe are available everywhere. I am sure it will be applicable to the people in your corner of the globe at the very least!

(Post by: Ashley)

Generosity and Teachable Moments

We were late for nap and driving toward the store to get the last few ingredients I needed for dinner. My three year old was in the back of the car enjoying a home-made fruit roll-up (a special treat) and singing songs while we waited at the stoplight, and what happened in the next half hour radically changed my spiritual life in regards to finances…

It is almost humorous how the sin of pride creeps up on us when we least expect it. I can all too often recall pridefully reflecting on how money was not our God, after all, how could it be when we’ve had no money to spend? Living month to month and scrounging every penny, it became quite easy to dismiss the myriad of scriptures that warn us what can happen if wealth and finances rule our lives. One day I was praying through Luke, and as I read I was struck in a new way by Luke 16:13, “You cannot serve God and Mammon”. At first I contentedly pondered that we had done a fine job of  “not laying up treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19) as we had no money to  “lay up treasures” with.

Ready to start my busy day, I hurried on to pray when the Holy Spirit spoke firmly and convictingly into my life about what it means to serve God versus money. I began to realize (through the Grace of God) that finances can be our master not only in their abundance but in their lack as well. My sins in this area were that I had allowed my worry about our finances and how we would get by in the short and long term to  overshadow my trust in God as the provider. I was using my finances as an excuse to not give generously and freely as Christ called us to. Martin Luther King said, “There are three conversions necessary, the conversion of the heart, mind and the purse”. It is often easy to think of converting our heart and mind to the things of Christ but truly and intentionally examining our purse and how that can be used in a powerful way when it is given over to God is something that I had never considered before. So practically for our family we began to intentionally “converting our purse” to Christ.

One of the biggest things that I pray through is that of giving. When God calls us to give we ought to give. It is our act of obedience to Him. The Widow gave her last mite (Mark 12:41) in obedience, and if we are called to do so, we must be willing to give it as well. This past year has been one of transformation for me as I try and let go of my “purse” and hold onto the promises of God and obediently give sacrificially.

But to finish my story, we were sitting at a stoplight when my daughter, with her mouth full of her treat, asked about the man on the side of the road who was begging. I explained what his sign said: “hungry vet needs food,” and she immediately removed the fruit roll up from her mouth and asked if she could give it to him. Her favorite treat lay soggy and sticky in her chubby palms, and I sat at the light looking at her longing to give, not just in general, but to give sacrificially and generously her treat to the stranger she had never met. As we drove through the light I realized the importance of allowing her to obey the call of God on her three year old life to give generously to this man in need. We drove to the local store and with our last $10 in grocery money my daughter selected some food for him. We drove back  and she handed him the food out the window. The rest of the week I wondered how we would get by without the food that that $10 was suppose to by, and you know what? GOD PROVIDED FOR THE MAN THAT WAS BEGGING AND FOR OUR FAMILY! Somehow my pantry grew that week and our family continued to eat healthily without a problem.

The way my heart grew by being obedient to the call God had on my daughters’ life was huge, but the lesson that demonstrated to her about listening when we are asked to give generously and sacrificially will help her as she continues to listen to the voice of God in years to come. We now have brown paper bags in our car which we stock with non perishables, toothbrushes and a tract so when we see someone in need we can give when we are called even amongst busy schedules and nap times. My kids love everything in those bags but they still hand them over joyfully when they see someone in need. My 2 year old even offered her favorite toothbrush to the bags the other day (if you knew how much she loved that well worn brush you would agree that her sacrifice was on par with the widow who gave her last mite).

Now it is your turn to chime into this conversation. In what ways do you intentionally give sacrificially to invest in the lives of others and how do you bring your children alongside you in this task? What benefits has your family reaped from generous giving?

(Post by: Amie)

Tuesday Topic: Valuable Lessons Learned

What is one of the most valuable lessons that you’ve learned as a result of living in another culture? It can be from any sphere of life.  What in particular has taught you this lesson?

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


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