Thursday, June 28, 2012

Forget the Map

I like maps. I like them because they help me know where I'm going.

On a recent trip to London to visit a friend, we found ourselves driving to Brighton on the south coast. Before leaving, my husband, who is good at finding his way around, looked at a map to plan our route. Things went beautifully until we were ready to go back. There was a traffic jam on the Motorway. With quick thinking, my husband got off at the next junction to take the "back way." I don't think any of us knew where we were or what direction to go to get back to the hospitality house where we were staying. My husband decided to follow signs... in lieu of a map. I was fine with that until he decided to stop following those signs. How were we going to get back if our route kept changing? I was very frustrated because I had no idea how we were going to get home.

At the end of the day, we got back to where we were staying, but it wasn't the route we planned on taking.
How often do we get frustrated with God when He has a different route for us to get to our destination? "I know He has called me to do thus-and-such, and this is the way I'd like to go to get there" So we set off on our journey. Then God changes our route. We get frustrated, maybe even angry. I've been there. I cry out to God wondering how I'm going to do this thing He's called me to do when He's changed direction on me.

I like to know how I'm going to get to where God wants me. But God doesn't use maps... or at least He doesn't use the map I want Him to use.

As an example in my own life, I knew that God had called me to ministry work... I just had my own ideas for getting there until God had me meet my husband and move to England.

In a Skype call with some friends, my husband and I were telling them where we see ourselves in the future. We were looking for feedback to help us make a decision. She reminded us of this verse:
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)
It's a good reminder that it's okay to make plans, as long as I'm open to God changing them or changing the route to get there.


Do you like to know where you're going? How do you handle it when God changes your route?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Connecting with supporters

Ashley suggested that I take some questions from the comments on this post, so here's one: What are creative ways you use on the field to connect with supporters and let them know you care about them and are praying for them?

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

Friday, June 22, 2012

How did I get here?

(This is a guest post from Danielle in El Salvador.)

How did I get here? The question rings in my mind once again as I stand on the street corner. Cars rush by, music blaring. Horns honk and the exhaust from buses makes clouds around me. The few streetlights bounce light off of the iron gates, and a gunshot fires in the distance. The night is alive. Men are on the prowl, teenage boys dressed as girls gather on the corners, and single moms selling their bodies to feed their children flash empty smiles at passing cars. 

What can I offer? I am miles away from the preschool carpool, minivan, and trips to Target that characterized my former life. Is this a mistake…bringing this suburban girl to the dark streets where gangs strike fear and poverty holds captives? I know I am in over my head, but I dare to try. I have to, because I’m here. In my weakness I speak words of hope into the unflinching darkness, and it seems to move. I build a friendship, share a cup of coffee, and pray for the mother’s child. I put a hand on the sagging shoulder and try to encourage, but I feel inadequate.

Then I remember. I remember why I am here. 

I am here because I get to be here. I am here because I know grace. I know the grace from Him who gives all to me, so undeserving, so weak, and so inadequate. I am here because I know brokenness and loss…but I also know new life. That’s how I got here. I am here by His grace…by His relentless love. I have this to offer, and this is everything. 

And so I can stand in that dark place in my weakness and in my knowledge of the brokenness of my own life that is only restored by my Savior. I can offer hope…that commodity that is in short supply on these streets.  Yes, this suburban mom far from home can speak words of hope. That is how I got here, that is my mission.

Does anyone else feel inadequate? Like you are in over your head? How has God spoken to your heart in that place?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Internet time

Do you plan your internet time in any certain way? At a specific time of day? If you are a blogger, when do you work on that? Any tips on using computer time wisely?

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Mother's Ministry

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me,
for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
I Timothy 1:12

Paul was speaking here about his ministry as an apostle of Jesus Christ, but I believe we can apply it to us as mothers as well.  As a mother my “ministry” is my children.  What an awesome responsibility God has given to me by giving me my children to raise for Him.

God –

-     Enabled me
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that you may be able to bear it.”  I Corinthians 10:13

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6

-    Counted me faithful

-    Put me in the ministry
               “Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”  Psalm 127:3

Being a mom is an honor and a privilege that we shouldn’t take lightly.

Now that I have children, what do I do, what is my (our) main responsibility?

            Proverbs 22:6  We are commanded to train them, teach them.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

            What are we to teach them, you may ask?

                        Deuteronomy 6:5-9 – We are commanded to teach them to love God.

                        Matthew 22:37-38 – Jesus Christ said it is the first commandment.

The first commandment is to love God.  You can’t teach your children to love God if you don’t love Him.  When I first read these verses I wondered can my children look at me and say, “My mom loves God”.  Oh, how I hope so, but some days my actions don't represent my heart.  Our children should be able to see our love for God played out daily in our lives.  We need to look for every opportunity to share God’s love with them.

When I see a rainbow, I remind them of God's promises.  When the birds are singing, I tell them even the birds are singing praises to God.  When it rains, I remind them of God's provisions.  When we are getting groceries, I remind them that God provided the money to be able to buy them.  I want to encourage you today to do the same.  Find every opportunity and share God's love with them.  They deserve it.

I firmly believe that if we love God that everything else will fall into place.  Because we love God we will want to serve Him and please Him.  The same can be applied to our children. 

Being a mom is a full time job, and it’s not always rewarding, it’s not always glamorous, it’s not always fun, it’s not always easy, but we must remember I Corinthians 15:58 – your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

What a blessing – Proverbs 31:28

Today I want to encourage you to be thankful that God has called you into your ministry, the ministry of having children and raising them for His glory.  Honor God by teaching them to love Him.

What are some ways you teach your child that loving God is our top priority as a Christian?

Written by Jen Bauer, missionary mum in the Northern Territory of Australia.  She also blogs at Be Thou Exalted and Baptist Missionary Women.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Marriage purpose statement

This week's topic isn't directly related to missionary life, but we're mostly married moms, so it fits: I recently read a book (What's It Like to Be Married to Me? by Linda Dillow, highly recommended!) where the author suggests writing a "marriage purpose statement." If you were to write a purpose statement for your marriage, what would it be? Please share it with us, if you don't mind.

A quote to get you going:
A Marriage Purpose Statement is your conscious creation of who you want to become. It outlines your goals as a wife--the things you can do to become the wife you want to be. Like the rudder on a ship, it steers your marriage boat, so that you know where you are heading. Your personal Marriage Purpose Statement can be a letter to yourself, a prayer, a poem, a verse, or a passage of Scripture. It can be anything that declares your goals for your marriage. It is a statement about what is really important to you as a wife.
--What's It Like to Be Married to Me? by Linda Dillow, pages 34-35

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

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Well hello there!  This is Liz.  How fun that we all have a new place to hang out and share the nitty gritty of missionary life, huh?  When I stumbled across Missionary Mom's about two years ago I was thrilled.  I lived in a very little town in Northern Michigan and we were in the process of raising our support to move to Latin America.  The community around us had no understanding of cross cultural living, but as we say in Costa Rica "Gracias a Dios" for the internet!

And now, we have this new place, Missionary Moms' Companion.  I am so excited and a bit humbled by the fact I get to hang out here, write some and get to know you all better.  We've only been overseas for about a year and currently we are in the States, getting ready for the birth of our third baby (ekkk! Yeah, in like two and a half weeks!)

Here's something else you should know about me. I am a looser.  There, I said it. I am not always the sort of mom I want to be for my kids.  I am not always the sort of wife my husband needs either.  And there are days when I am a lousy friend, daughter, sister, and worker.  And I am sure that I offended countless people this last year as I adapted to Costa Rica, trying to muddle my way through Spanish.

That's the simple truth of it.  And when I pretend differently, it puts me in a really bad place.  Because then I work harder to try and hid the fact that I am a loser.  And the fact of the matter is, we are all losers.  We all fall short in every sort of way everyday.  That is a given.  And if I am resting on what others think of me and my spotless house, and perfect kids and amazing cross cultural  skills, then I am going to be a constant ball of mess and anxiety, because at some point, that facade is going to come crashing down.  No matter how hard I work at it.  And that facade might just crumble at a family photo shoot you were given for being a great mom.  Oh you guys, I have never been so embarrassed!  Sometime I have to show you the photos!

But, if instead, I freely admit that I can't do it all and that the only good I have is what has come from God, well, then, there is freedom in that.  That was the case when Christ loved me enough to die for me. He is patient and kind towards me and my mess of a life.  And He sees me as I will be someday, grown up into the woman that He created me to be.

If I am constantly trying to hide the messy parts of my life and think "well, if I just work harder at this, I would be better,"  that doesn't leave room for the Holy Spirit in my life.  But if instead I cooperate with the Holy Spirit's work in my life, He will change me.  After all, it's the Fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of Liz that is important.

So.  Sometimes I say the wrong thing culturally (like the time I said a bit too loudly, "I just want to go to bed!" when the doorbell rang.  And yes, the visitors spoke English!)  And sometimes my floors need some attention (like everyday during dry season), and sometimes my kids need more attention than I give them.  And every single day I fall short of the mark.  But God is working on me every single day too.   He loves me now, and He loves me enough to grow me into the woman He made me to be. Who probably will still have messy floors in this life, but who will hopefully be more like her Savior too.

Now, please tell me I am not the only one!  How do you work through the being "on display" as a missionary?  What keeps you close to the Truth about what God says about us, that yes, we fall short of the mark, but He loves us and grows us into what we already are?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Prayer requests

I think this is my favorite question, when Ashley has asked it in the past: How can we pray for you right now?

I'm writing this in advance and scheduling it to post, but I know what you can be praying for us right now. This is the day we're due to arrive in the states, after four years away. Please pray for us to recover from the travel and adjust quickly, and that we won't get sick. Thanks!

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

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Calm My Anxious Heart

First, blog news: I am so excited to see how this is coming together! We have Tuesday Topics ready for the next six weeks and scheduled to post automatically. The writing team is filling up nicely. There's at least a general schedule for a post from a different woman each week while I'm gone. We still might need lots of patience from you as we figure this out, but it's coming together. If you send in an offer to help now, I will be very grateful, but I probably won't get back to you about it for a month or so; please accept my apologies in advance! Later, at the end of July or in August, we'll discuss and organize more. After that, I think we'll pick up the pace with posting, maybe start some interesting series, new features, and whatever else God leads us to.

And then, on a slightly more personal note, when Ashley wrote her goodbye, she said that she she felt God leading her out of a time of sharing, into more listening and learning. Amazingly, I believe God is leading me similarly, but in the opposite direction, if that makes sense. I am naturally one who would be happy just to quietly listen and learn for my whole life, and now God is telling me that I should try to write more often. I sense that He wants me to move out of my quiet comfort zone and share some of my thoughts. Also, because I'm in a pretty isolated situation, He's been leading me to internet ministry for right now. To explain that last bit some more: I'm not truly physically isolated--although we do live "out in the middle of nowhere"--but I just haven't built up or found much of a real-life mom community here. I do see other people, of course, but I find that it's hard to settle in for real relationship and conversation when I'm so busy with my little ones and the people around me are not. So, I really do ask for your prayers over me and the ministry of this blog. Thank you!


And now, the meat of this post....
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Philippians 4:11-13 
Most of us have probably struggled with worry and discontent. I honestly don't think of myself as a big worrier, but there have certainly been times when worry was my besetting sin. When we first moved to Moscow, I really should have been enjoying life. I was newly married and finally living in the country I had always dreamed of. And yet, discontent and worry seemed like a black cloud over everything. It was at that time that my mother-in-law gave me a book God used to change my life, Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow. I devoured it, read it all down in one gulp, then started over more slowly. I did the Bible study in the back of it on my own, and later with a group (in Russian! It is available in Russian!) I really dwelt on the Bible truths presented in this book for a season, until I felt that I could say with Paul, "I have be content. I can do all things through Christ!"

Then, fast forward to now. Of course, over the years, I have had times of worry and times of peace. But now, this trip we have coming up was just driving me to distraction. I was not resting in the Lord. Finally, just last week, I got my old favorite book back out, dusted it off, and started in on the first chapter. I'd like to share it here with you. I wish I could just type the whole first chapter out, but that's not reasonable or allowed by copyright laws. (You should go look at Amazon, though. There's a pretty good sample.)

Here are some of the things that stood out to me this time around, things that I'm learning or relearning right now:
  • About a week ago I bumped into an acquaintance who is miserable about everything. Her attitude that day reminded me of the "Meredith" that Linda Dillow starts off with. Hearing the Meredith in my life was a good reminder of what my own attitude should be and what I want others to hear when I speak.
  • Linda Dillow quotes from the old diary of a missionary to Africa: "Never allow yourself to complain about anything--not even the weather...." Not related to the trip that was bothering me, but I have a big problem with this. I don't like the summer heat here, and I complain about it. (Shame, shame on me, when I think of someone in African heat!)
  • This quote:
    When I told a friend about my fears, she observed, "Linda, you like control, and there are too many 'uncontrollables' in your life." At the time, I didn't understand what she meant. After all, I trusted God. I was a missionary--I was paid to trust God. What did she mean, "You like control"?

    Looking back, I realize that I did desire to trust God, but sometimes He was very slow. When He was moving at what I thought was a snail's pace, I unconsciously decided that He needed my help....  It's our "helping God out" that leads to an anxious heart. When we take over and try to control what happens, we take our focus off the One who is in control and put our eyes on our circumstances. 
  • This is something I had never heard before the first time I read this book: 1 Timothy 6:15 in a certain version of the Bible reads, "God... is the blessed controller of all things." Wow. God is the controller. (Of course.) But, had I really accepted that? And, not only is He the controller, He is good, the blessed controller. This verse is also incredible in NASB.
  • She also tells a story of two monks who planted trees. The first one planted his and asked God for rain. God sent rain. Then he asked for sun, which God also gave. Next he asked for a little cold to strengthen the tree. God sent that, too, but the tree froze and died. The second monk planted a tree, and his grew beautifully. He said, "I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what needs than a man like me. I laid no condition. I fixed not ways or means. 'Lord, send what it needs,' I prayed, 'storm or sunshine, wind, rain or frost. Thou has made it and Thou dost know.'" The author talks about being a "first-monk woman" or a "second-monk woman." Oh, how I want to be a second-monk woman! Especially when it comes to this trip that I had been worrying about so much.
  • It wasn't until after I laid my worries about this trip down that I found out that one of the big things I had been worrying about was now taken care of. That was like a special gift from Him. I told the Lord that yes, I had been worried, but that I was going to turn now from that sin, with His help. And then He took care of the problem I had been worrying about.

Have you read Calm My Anxious Heart? What had God used in your life to teach you contentment?