Thursday, July 22, 2010

Africa or bust!

Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of living in a hut in the bush of Africa. I would live like the people and tell them of Christ. When I was in middle school my best friend and I mapped out a course over the continent to reach all of the major areas in Africa during what we estimated would be our lifetime. (Go ahead, chuckle, I was in 8th grade.) The dream lived on and when I graduated from high school, I spent a summer in Tanzania. When I went to college, I began as a Linguistics major in order to begin learning how to do Bible translation. After a couple of years I realized that I have a really short attention span and am not really cut our for translation work, so I switched to Biblical Languages, but the goal was still misssions and Africa. I wanted to reach the unreached. I prayed about working with Muslims in northern Africa and prayed about working in the more remote, animistic tribal areas. There was no stopping me... Well, here I am, 5 years after graduating from a Bible school with the intention of doing full time ministry and what am I? A stay at home mommy! To tell the truth, sometimes it makes me cringe. My pride gets in the way and I get embarassed. I didn't hide the fact from ANYONE that I fully intended to be living overseas for the better part of my adult life. I can feel the blood rush to my face when I talk with someone who knew those intentions full well and then asks what I'm up to these days. I look at my amazing girlfriends from college and see how God is using them in ministry and I start to question if I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I don't feel like I'm doing anything too impressive for God. And therein lies the problem. My desire to be involved in Christian ministry over the years has not been wrong, but I do believe on some levels it was rooted in a desire to earn God's love and impress him. I'm a one extreme or another kind of person and so my natural tendency when I began to live my life for the Lord was to do the biggest, best thing I thought a woman could do for the Lord and I was convinced that was becoming a missionary. Surely if I were a missionary God would love me because you HAVE to be a good Christian to be a missionary. They're "super-Christians" and I wanted to be one of them. When I became less Africa-focused and more as-God-leads focused I began to think that perhaps children's ministry whether in the inner-city or the local church might be a good fit if I didn't end up overseas. I did just that for a while in college and for a couple of years after Matt and I moved back to Springfield. Then we began talking family and the possibility of me staying home. At first I panicked. What would people think? What would GOD think? I had never been too keen on the idea and was not sure that changing dirty diapers would fulfill my need to do something over-the-top and absolutely amazing for God. I knew he would not be impressed with my ability to juggle two children while cooking dinner, but he would have been floored by my ability to touch the hearts of unreached people in the bush. That would have blown him away, I'm sure! My fear had been that in doing the mundane, I would be a lesser Christian. So, what's a girl to do? I'm going to be at home for the forseeable future depending on how many children we have. I'm just an "normal" person. (Okay, I suppose that depends on who you ask.) We make enough money to have a home and nice vehicles but not so much that we don't have to pinch and go without the extras sometimes. My boys are both healthy and happy. I like my family (even my in-laws! :)). I have a wonderful marriage with a godly husband. All I need is the white picket fence and I'm set. This is NOT what I imagined for myself. Where's the adventure? Where's the amazing testimony? Where's the stuff that will really impress God? I've been coming to a place of peace for a while, but even more so in the past few months. Instead of half-heartedly parenting my kids all the while looking for some great ministry to be involved in, I've been trying to focus on the task that the Lord has put before me. Showing my family and those I come in contact with the love of Christ and praying that he will use me in their lives. Do I still hope that I can be involved in "official" ministry? Sure. Will I ever end up doing it as my vocation? Who knows. Will I board the first plane to Africa when I "retire"? Maybe. Here's to hoping! But for now, I need to quit mourning the adventures I'm missing abroad when I've got a whole realm of God-honoring adventures awaiting me within these four walls. Lord, grant me the grace to keep this perspective!


  1. Michelle ManweilerJuly 22, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    I am greatly encouraged by this post. Thank-you!

  2. I appreciate you so very much! You encourage and inspire me to be a better mother. Keep it up, girl! You will never regret spending your time and energy loving on, teaching, and just being with those precious boys of yours. They are your full-time ministry and their lives will be greatly impacted by YOU!!!

  3. Michelle, I'm glad you were encouraged. I know I'm going to have to come back to this from time to time to help me regain perspective. I know theologically it is so untrue, but it's so easy for me to fall into the trap of trying to earn God's favor with the types of things I'm involved in rather than doing what God has set before me well.

    Jen, ditto! I'm so glad God has brought you into my life as of late and you are so right! I will not look back someday and feel like this period in my life was a wasted one. I can think of no better way to be investing myself right now! Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Hey Desire! I found your blog through Jen's and am loving reading your posts. I can relate in so many ways to so many things. It's helps sometimes to know your not alone in so many of the "stay at home mom feelings." I love it when you said "I've got a whole realm of God-honoring adventures awaiting me within these four walls. Lord, grant me the grace to keep this perspective!" This is SO true and something I will remember. I do pray that you find peace in where ever God leads you, even if its not what you expected. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." So glad to have met you at the party and look forward to getting to know you better!

  5. Mandie- It IS such an encouragement to find others who understand where you're coming from. I'm glad you found my blog and commented! It is so comforting that God knew what I would do and will do with my life before even time began (and that those plans are even better than the ones I can come up with on my own)! Thanks for the encouragement and we should plan a playdate at one of our houses sometime soon (since we live so close) and invite Jen! :)

  6. Desire, you have just stated what feel so often! Jeff and I both graduated college thinking we would have been on the mission field long before now. I sometimes look at friends all over the world and wonder how they got there and I am stuck here. But then God teaches me a lesson in blessing and contentment and I look around and see 3, almost 4, beautiful little blessings that I know I couldn't live without at this point, and who need the gospel as much as anyone.
    Thanks for the encouragement! Also, loved your Jonah day. We have been planning on starting more family nights with interactive Bible lessons. Heritage builders- Family Nights Tool Chest is a great resource full of ideas for things like that. Their goal is to use things around the house too.
    Have a great day!

  7. Oh my word, Michelle! I just ordered the Heritage builders-Family Nights Tool Chest on Proverbs like 30 min. ago! I'm so glad you like it because I'd never heard of it before, but thought it looked good. I'm so glad to hear that it is good and that I didn't just waste our money! I'm actually planning to adapt it a little and use it for AWANA this semester.
    Also, not that I'm glad that you're not doing what you thought you would be, but it has been such an encouragement to me to hear from you and several others that I'm not the only one in this situation. I'm glad God is helping us to see that there is a 'mission field' in our house and to pour our energies into where he has us now for his glory!