Archive for February, 2011

Visa trip again

There won’t be much going on around here this week as we are away on a visa trip again with a sporadic internet connection. This time we have experienced a minor miracle though. Our daughter’s visa is going to be ready a week EARLY! When does that ever happen?! I’ll try to get a Tuesday Topic up at least and we’ll be back by next week. Have a great week!

~Ashley

 

 

Quiet Times With My Daughter

The other day I came across this in my daughter’s special letter book. It made me smile so much that I thought I’d share it:

This is what it said when she “read” it to me:

Dear God,

I love to read the Bible with you because you are so won-der-ful.  I still love you when you give me disciplines. I love to read books with you because you are the great only God. I want to pick flowers with you to give to you. Thank you for Mommy, and Daddy, and my brother. Thank you for making my hand not hurt anymore. I love you, God. I’ll talk to you later!

~J.

My daughter “wrote” this letter to God almost a year ago. It is an absolute treasure to me because this was the prayer that she wrote during her very first quiet time where we sat down to quietly read the Bible together and pray. I had decided that when she stopped napping, I would invite her to join me for my daily quiet time to  start teaching her how to have her own time with God.

In the afternoon while her younger brother and sister sleep, we get out her Bible, her little Cinderella journal, and I get out my Bible and journal as well, and we each sit with a mug of something warm, me with coffee and her with cocoa or chamomile tea and read our Bibles, pray, and talk about Jesus together. Being that my daughter is only 5 and loves to draw, she often draws pictures for Jesus or of things that she is thankful for.

“J. and Jesus”

I have loved seeing how by simply inviting her to join in this special time, and by making it fun and a privilege, we’ve begun to build in her her own habit of daily setting aside special time for God. The opportunity for discipleship is never so natural as with young children still eager to be just like Mommy and Daddy.

“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

What are some of the ways that have worked for you as you disciple your kids in how to walk with God?

(Post by: Ashley)

Tuesday Topic: The Funniest Thing I’ve Ever Said

Last week at a woman’s outreach I mistakenly replaced the word “marriage” with the word “enemy.” Yikes! Definitely NOT what I was trying to say! Also, this past Christmas I informed a friend of mine that I had decorated a small hedgehog for Christmas (instead of a Christmas tree)! What is the funniest language mistake that you’ve ever made? If you speak English where you are, do you have any other funny cultural mishap stories?

(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!)

Notes from the Trenches

I have been homeschooling my kindergarten daughter for about 4 months (officially) and I by no means an “expert” but I have learned a few things along the way I wanted to share.  Even if you are not homeschooling, these hopefully will help you with balancing your roles as a wife, mother, missionary, etc.

  • Make sure you’re getting time with God!

I recently read “Shopping for Time” by Carolyn Mahaney (and her daughters) and it was a fantastic read. The main point is to make time for God, then everything will fall into place (or you’ll at least be able to cope). She suggests waking earlier than your husband and children, which I’ve been trying to do. It’s hard, but totally rewarding!

     

      • Take a break from book-learning and focus on discipline.

      I can easily get caught up in whether my daughter is learning the “right” thing and is staying “on-track” while ignoring her disobedience. I’ve found it helpful at times to put away the school books and spend time working on her relationship with her sister, obedience to me, and just having fun without the pressure of school.

      • Lower your standards for what is a clean house and gourmet meal (especially during your school year).

      I’m kind of a neat freak (and married to a neat freak). But homeschooling has forced me to let some things go. I have learned to make easy, quick meals instead of gourmet delicacies, let the floor get a little dirty instead of mopping every single day (my baby is a human vacuum cleaner anyway), and figure it’s okay to wear an outfit more than once.

      • Trust that God will fill in where you may lack.

      We are not homeschooling because I want my kids to become the next Einstein or Mozart. We are homeschooling because we feel God has called our family to it in this season. I’m not ready to send my babies off quite yet. I know there are some areas like algebra that I will need to “outsource” but thankfully we’re not there yet (the algebra). God’s got my children covered and for now we are working on the basics, including loving each other and honoring God.

      • Take time for yourself.

      My older two kids (6 and 3) don’t really nap anymore but the baby does, so in the afternoons we do “quiet time” for about an hour. This is my rest time too and it makes me a much better mommy to have a portion of the day to read, pray, exercise, or (gasp!) sleep. In addition my husband has been very helpful in letting me have a break now and then to go running or get a cup a coffee.

      Matthew 6:33-34 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

      Do any of you other homeschooling moms, new or veteran, have other tips to share that you have found helpful?

      (Post by: Addie)

      Tuesday Topic: Relating, Venting, and Complaining

      I know that between friends we all love to share “battle stories” about life overseas and even life in general for the sake of relating, and of making sure we’re “not the only one,” or even just for a healthy laugh. How do you distinguish relating or venting from sinful complaining? When do you usually end up regretting having said something? How do you effectively process through hard emotions and even frustrations without complaining and feeding discontent?

      (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!)

      Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…

      A couple of months ago, I shared during our staff devotional time at the MK school where I teach. The past few weeks had been crazy busy for me, so I was wanting to share something simple, short and sweet… something that was near to my heart because it was something God had already been teaching… working on in me… something that was “testimony” rather than “teaching,” simply because of my personal convictions regarding devotional times in mixed groups…

      And the Holy Spirit led me back to where I’d started at the beginning of this school year. During our staff orientation time, way back in August, just after we’d returned to Niger, we were given a small chunk of time to get alone with the Lord and meditate on Psalm 23.

      The Lord is my shepherd;

      I shall not want.

      He makes me lie down in green pastures.
      He leads me beside still waters.
      He restores my soul.
      He leads me in paths of righteousness

      for his name’s sake.

      Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil,
      for you are with me;
      your rod and your staff,
      they comfort me.

      You prepare a table before me
      in the presence of my enemies;
      you anoint my head with oil;
      my cup overflows.

      Surely goodness and mercy

      shall follow me
      all the days of my life,
      and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
      forever.

      Psalm 23 (ESV)

      I’ve shared from this Psalm several times recently…  the Lord has spoken to me about shepherding the children He’s given… His Spirit has convicted me regarding the importance of reflecting on and listing our many blessings (and no matter how difficult or hard things seem, we all have more than we can count) which changes our perspective from saying we have just what we need that to recognizing that our cup is overflowing. And as He brought me, over the course of the past few weeks, back once again to these familiar words, the following picture came into focus…

      David begins the Psalm testifying that he is adequately cared for; he begins listing the ways that God, his Shepherd, cares for him, meeting every need. The Lord is the One Who leads, Who provides, Who renews, Who protects, Who limits, Who encourages.  What is striking is that the first instances of this shepherding are all positive – things we humans traditionally appreciate and/or enjoy. But then, David begins listing hard things. God, his shepherd, is the One Who leads him into times of death (which I believe can be figurative, as in dying to self, or literal, as in the death of a loved one or even a brush with our own mortality and unavoidable death), the One Who brings challenging things into his life, the One Who applies the rod when chastening is needed, the One Who puts everything into order while He brings us into places of confrontation with our enemies…

      What I find so striking is what David says right after he lists those hard things: He anoints my head with oil… or He honors me; my cup overflows… or I’m totally overwhelmed by all of these instances of the Lord’s blessing and the unmistakable evidence of His hand caring for me, exquisite and difficult as it might be. That bit about the honoring – it made me think back to something I shared awhile back- a part of Helen Roseveare’s testimony: Can we thank God for entrusting us with those impossibly difficult and hurtful things in our lives? Can we thank Him, counting it a privilege to suffer as He suffered for us and to thus share that experience with Him?

      A few years ago, after a teaching a Bible study on Colossians 3:12-14, the Holy Spirit really impressed upon my heart that He wanted to teach me what it meant to be gentle, as described in those verses, as a part of the fruit of the Spirit. I’d always heard gentleness described as strength carefully controlled. That may be one facet of it; however, I now believe a better synonym for gentleness is teachable-ness – holding my hopes, dreams, desires and goals for today and the future with an open hand so that whatever/whenever/however, I thank the Lord for His orchestration of my life, regardless of whether I define my situation as satisfying or difficult. I think it means not throwing my hands up in despair and crying, “Why, Lord?” when He places challenging, painful, scary, unexpected or otherwise-unpleasant-as-defined-by-me circumstances in the path, refusing to see the multitude of blessings past, present and remember the promise of ones future.

      The people to whom we seek to minister have an expression that essentially means “As God wills, so be it.” At first I struggled with how this was… but wasn’t… an accurate reflection of the Lord, my Shepherd. That confusion, however, has finally cleared. Our friends here? They toss around this phrase, but WITHOUT the confident expectation that their god is looking out for their absolute best and his perfect will… because he is capricious and so far removed from the nitty-gritty of his followers’ lives. They CANNOT trust that all their god does, even the hard things, he does ONLY because he loves intimately and infinitely, and that they too are evidence of grace.

      Followers of the Great Shepherd, the One and Only I AM, can rest in that knowledge. I can be confident that the Almighty is arranging all for my absolute best, His perfect will AND His never-ending glory. He does so, continually, for every soul He has ever created. I can trust Him implicitly because He loves me intimately and infinitely. And so, I want to become one of His children who (because I’m not grasping and clutching to whatever it might be that I’ve decided I value) proclaims… testifies… whispers… or even cries… “As God wills, and I will thank and praise Him for it and for His amazing, overflowing grace manifested to me through each and every situation!” because the only One to which I cling is God alone.

      (Post by: Richelle)

      Mission to the Missionary

      Sometimes I wonder why God would ever choose me to be a missionary. I am certainly not the most qualified, or most spiritual, or most sacrificial,  or most well suited for all of the challenges of the missionary life, or most anything really.  I am convinced of the fact that God calling me to be a part of His work in this way is exactly what He was talking about in 1 Corinthians 1 where he talks about choosing the weak things of this world to bring glory to Himself.

      Another thing I’ve been thinking about lately is about God’s plan to bless us and give us abundant life in Christ, and how that relates to the specific life that God has chosen to give me, and to you too as missionary moms.

      We’ve been called to share the gospel and serve others. We lead ministries and movements. We help others and show hospitality. We endure hardship so that others may hear. And what wonder we should experience as we stop and turn the lens around to see what  God is doing in our own souls as a result of His calling on our lives to serve others as missionaries.

      I was thinking of those first little moments of hope as we trudge new ground in ministry. You arrive in a new place or try to begin a new ministry from the ground up and there is so much prayer, planning, and labor before there is any ounce of visible fruit. Of course progress is being made forward for the sake of the souls of others, but there is also so much progress that takes place in our own souls as we are forced to exercise pure faith, void of any tangible result to prop up our confidence, and to trust in the Lord to accomplish His will .

      There is the move to a foreign place with the hopes of serving and loving others. We arrive in our new and very unfamiliar home most likely know not a single soul in the community. Perhaps we know our team somewhat, but we doubtfully know any of those who will become dear to us and whom we hope to reach with our ministries. We are total foreigners. Everyone is a stranger. Those first gestures of kindness and first offers of friendship are such powerful balm to the soul. A few kind words or an offer of help lift one’s spirits for days. To feel the love of God as expressed through the people that He has created brings unexplainable hope, cool water to the soul.

      Then there are the privilege of getting to share the gospel. We sit and talk and share of what God has done for us with passion and hope that the those that we share with will receive this eternity-altering news for themselves. All the while we are reminded of what God has done and is doing for us.  We’re reminded how He has brought us to this place where all of the hardships and sacrifices that we temporarily endure would be well worth it so that others might here this Message and be spared from an eternity far worse. The power of the gospel is not only for the new hearer, but daily and just as powerfully for us as well.

      And then there is discipling and encouraging believers and seeing them grow in faith. We pour out and build into others, yet all along God encourages us and fills us in new ways as we sit and watch the power of the Holy Spirit transforming souls before our very eyes.

      And what about serving, often behind the scenes and without thanks? Here we are given the chance to love and to bless and to partake in God’s work without the promise of any accolade to carry us on.  We confront our prideful desire to be praised and come closer to an understanding of what it is to serve the Lord humbly and selflessly rather than to serve ourselves.

      Feelings of homesickness and a sense of longing and loss invade our emotions as months and years pass by and we are far from family and loved ones and the place that we once called home. Our hearts can only turn heavenward for hope and comfort, and we are reminded that God’s perfect provision for this sacrifice is a perfect and permanent home with Him.

      We could go on through every aspect of the work that we do for the sake of the souls of others and see glimpses of how the very mission that we are called to is also so very much God’s plan to grow and bless our very own souls. He loves us dearly, and this life, though certainly a vital part of His plan for the salvation of others, is also His perfect plan to bless us personally as His very own loved children. Praise be to God!

      What is one way that God has ministered to your soul as you have served Him lately?

      (Post by: Ashley)


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