Archive for January, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Encouragment from the Word

From Noelle in Kenya:  What Bible verse has strengthened or encouraged you the most during your time as a missionary mom? I have had chronic tummy problems since moving overseas, and am looking for some perspective and encouragement from God’s Word. Thanks!

(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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Tuesday Topic: Food Poisoning

Well, this isn’t a real Tuesday Topic, but probably something a lot of you can relate to! I’m just coming back after being violently ill from what I expect was food poisoning, so I won’t have any time to put posts up this week. Sorry, friends! We’ve had all sorts of more exciting tales involving food poisoning, like me being stuck in a hotel room at a conference with a baby and a toddler puking all over every towel, sheet, and inch of carpet and my husband and everyone else at the conference in a meeting and out of reach by cell phone… but this experience did not have such a thrilling plot. It was just me, horribly sick and sleeping both day an night. Thankfully I’m feeling much improved. Do you have any good battle stories to share?

Conversation Pieces

Even as a missionary, sometimes it is hard for me to figure out the best way to engage people in conversations about the gospel. I find this especially true since currently my primary “ministry,” apart from my family, is in the form of the various friendships and relationships that I have with the women in my community. These women usually aren’t coming to formal ministry events expecting a spiritual program when we spend time together, so sometimes it gets tricky to know exactly how to engage people in gospel conversations without being pushy or culturally awkward.

I am guessing that many of you are more natural evangelists than I am, but perhaps this might be an encouraging idea for those of you who very much desire to be always sharing the good news about Jesus but wish you were more naturally gifted in this way.

One thing that has given me a wide open door to the gospel with nearly every friend who has sat in my kitchen for tea for the past year is a simple project that my daughter and I did to help her memorize John 3:16. I didn’t realize at the time that this little project would end up giving me so many opportunities to share about our God who so loved the world that he gave his only son with those who do not yet believe in him.

I had originally planned to keep the project up for a couple of weeks as we usually do with projects, but after seeing what a great conversation starter it was, I decided that it is here to stay awhile.

I anticipate stumbling upon a new helpful ministry tool for myself when we made this little project, but it got me to thinking about how helpful and it is to have conversation pieces in our homes. These are things that will catch people’s eye as they are welcomed for tea or a meal and will give us an opportunity to share about the love of Christ. Your conversation piece might not be a kid’s art project with a Bible verse on it, but perhaps a more sophisticated piece of art that that can’t help but be noticed. I am sure many of you are more creative than I am and could come up with all sorts of great ideas!  I’d encourage you though, especially if you struggle to find good starting places for spiritual conversations, to make am artistic conversation piece for your home and pray that God will use it to give you more open doors for the gospel.

Do you already have any such conversation pieces in your home? Do you have any creative ideas to share? Do you have any stories about how something in your home has sparked spiritual conversation?

(Post by: Ashley)

Tuesday Topic: Protecting our Children from Pornography

From Becka in Ecuador: How do you protect your children from the cultural acceptance of sin?  In particular, my question is in regards to pornography.  In my country, it is very common to find porno calendars hanging on every shop wall.  Any television, at any given time will have women dancing in ways that would still be unacceptable in the US.  It was far easier for me to protect my young boys (and my daughter) from these images while we were will in the US, but here, it is virtually impossible.

(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!)

Guest post: Serving From the Mess

My little girl crawled behind me as I ran into the kitchen to grab a piece of bread to give her for an improvised breakfast. I wanted to keep running—from my own stench. But I supposed I should return to my surprise guests who caught me finishing up an early morning workout.

My 3-year-old son saw the bread and wanted one, too. So, I excused myself again to get one for him, looking longingly at the bathroom—its promise of cleanliness calling out to me.

I returned, and smiled, though the sweat rings were still wet on my t-shirt, and my hair was plastered all greasy and sweaty on my head. I racked my brain for the polite thing to do in this culture. Excuse myself for 10 minutes so I could shower and just hope the kids don’t cry and pound on the bathroom door like they often do? Excuse myself for five minutes to change into the more appropriate long pants and long-sleeved shirt, and run a comb through my hair? Excuse myself for 30 seconds to go scream my embarrassment in a locked room?

But nothing felt right and they didn’t teach me what to do with 7 a.m. visitors in language school. And so I sat in my smelliness, hoping my guests had stuffed noses.

They must not have minded because they stayed for a couple of hours and we had one of the best conversations I’ve had since moving to Indonesia six years ago. Though we differ in our religions, we talked about beliefs and life and struggles and faith.

To be completely honest, even when I get a shower in, I spend my days here messy. Sweaty from the relentless tropical humidity. Covered in spit-up or sticky granola or flour from making bread. Confused at words I don’t yet know. Annoyed at something that goes wrong, then annoyed that I’m annoyed since I really want to face all this with grace.

My kids are sometimes fussy, or rude, or just shy. And I am sometimes fussy, and rude or just shy. And though some cultural stress eases as the years pass, I have managed to counter balance that with extra challenges of having kids, and therefore, multiplying all that mess.

And yet… when I learn to serve out of the messiness and receive the grace I wish I always gave, I live the Gospel Truth in its purest essence. When I open my home up to others, even when dinner is boiling over on the stove, I am demonstrating the importance of relationship over works. When I share my struggles, my own heartbreaks with those whose own souls hurt daily, I show the need we all have for a Heart Healer. When I act from my own sin, then return, humbly seeking forgiveness, I seek what I want to offer others—a second chance…and a third one and a fourth.

And I pray that His aroma overcomes my own stench; His grace shows through my need; and His plan is made perfect despite, and maybe just maybe, through all my messiness.

What does messiness look like in your life? What has it looked like for you to strive to continue to serve from the mess?

Rebecca Hopkins lives in Indonesia with her handsome Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot hubby and two cute kids. She blogs about Living for More in a World of Less at www.borneowife.blogspot.com .

An Encouraging Series: Daughters of Hope

This week I’ve been listening to a radio series on Revive our Hearts called “Daughters of Hope” with guest Michelle Rickett, the author of a book by the same title. I found it so eye opening and encouraging, and was so greatly moved to pray for our sisters in Christ around the world facing persecution that I thought I’d post it here. Each part of the series is only 25 minutes long and there are 4 parts. Likely a number of you friends are working with women in very similar circumstances as those mentioned in these messages.  Here is the description from Revive our Hearts:

Many of your sisters around the world are suffering persecution. They are denied freedom because they are women and because they profess faith in Christ. Hearing their stories will increase your perseverance and inspire your faith.

Let’s be praying for these dear women who are facing so much suffering for their faith!

(Post by: Ashley)

Pharisee Mom

The problem with the pharisees was that they found their righteousness in outward appearances and measurable works. The esteemed themselves with those works and measured themselves by their appearances and the perceptions of onlookers. They did everything extravagantly, noticeably, with such skill and seeming perfection that it earned envy and accolades of the society around.  To be a pharisee was to have reached the pinnacle of righteousness according to that culture. But what Jesus saw was dead, ugly, mis-focused hearts in the center of those extravagant shells, and he rebuked them harshly seeing no true love for God.

I don’t know about you, but I find it very tempting at times to be a pharisee mom. If I really put my mind to it, I can do a lot to make myself look like a really great mom. I can do the right crafts. I can take my kids on awesome outings. I can teach my kids to excel academically and memorize the right answer to Bible trivia. I can slave all day to clean my house before guests come over so that it finds itself in a state of order never before seen by my own family and only to be destroyed within 10 minutes of the guests’ arrival. But first impressions are everything, right? I can do a lot, and sometimes with good motives as of course teaching, and outings, and crafts, and house work etc., are in and of themselves just great.  But I also can find myself tempted and to seek after those accolades and to care more about the external appearances of my motherhood rather than the true state of my heart and the actual impact on my children.

Do any of you struggle with this? It is so much easier and more instantly gratifying to do the things that I can snap photos of and post on a blog than it is to do the things that will eternally impact the hearts of my children. What good is it if I take my kids on some historical outing in St. Petersburg if I am a frustrated and grumpy from the exertion, causing everyone to have a terrible time? I know that what does shine through to them is when I humble myself and agree to read the same beloved Dora the Explorer book (Gasp! Now THAT is NOT quality children’s literature!) for the hundredth time.  Or it is when we just hang out and play ponies or legos instead of making the house look all nice and tidy, or when we talk for a long time about nothing theological or intellectual enough to make a good facebook status, but that still makes my kids feel like I am truly interested in them, etc.  It is also in the times when I admit openly before my kids my own sin and apologize to them, showing them my own weakness, and when I admit to them my own desperate need for God’s transformation in my own life.

I love the internet and all of the amazing and edifying things that we can read on all of the great sites and blogs (Ahem, I blog myself, so hopefully I see the value in it! =) ), but as women, naturally predisposed to comparison, I think we all (speaking to myself here) need to be careful that we don’t go from being encouraged and edified and challenged, to becoming competitive and desirous of looking like the an amazing mom rather than actually being the type of mom that our children and husbands most value and need.

I have found many times that when I do what it takes to look like a “best mom” competitor, I often really am doing it for my own pride, negating it all. When I feel, before God, like I am receiving his approval the most, it is often when I am doing the humble and unnoticeable things that look like nothing special to the world around but yet communicate love, attention, and security to my family.

What does your pharisee mom mode look like? When do you most feel the quiet affirmation from the Lord about your mothering?

(Post by: Ashley)


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