When You Go On A Mission Trip And No One “Gets Saved”

We’ve been home from Italy for two weeks! I can hardly believe it.
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As I’ve washed the laundry and put away the luggage, I’ve reflected on our 5 weeks overseas. It was an incredible adventure, not without it’s challenges, but such an opportunity. I’ll never forget the quality time spent as a family learning to do life and ministry in another culture, the amazing team of students and professors who joyfully and faithfully served with us, and the fruitful ministry we had with Italian students.italian students1

I’ve shared these three things with friends and family when they’ve asked, “How was your time in Rome?” and shortly following the “fruitful ministry” part, people tend to say, “That’s so great. Did you see any students trust Christ?”

Totally a valid question. Especially for people who financially invested in our work. I’ve always done ministry in places that were ripe for harvest and I’ve typically been able to report a strong number of conversions. This has made me feel like a rock star missionary and in the past I would have been ashamed to report a goose egg conversion rate as a result of our work.

This time, I find myself saying that even though no one “got saved” the trip was incredibly fruitful.

cathedralSure, we longed to see someone’s life changed by the love of Jesus. Sure there were days when we were feeling like, “what on earth are we doing here??” But as we learned, Christian leaders in Italy have found that on average, it takes a European 2 years of hearing the Gospel and seeing it played out before their own eyes to surrender to Jesus.

Much like a chain with many links, each link represents seeds of truth planted and favorable relationships with Christians. These who are generations removed from the church need multiple exposures to the mind-blowing, life-changing concepts of God’s love, man’s sin, the sacrifice of Christ and how to place your faith in something you can’t see or touch.

While in Rome we initiated over 500 spiritual conversations with students and professors, yet did not meet one person who claimed to love and follow Jesus. But, you know what? The trip was fruitful because Christians were faithful to what God had asked them to do and because we serve a God who seeks to save the lost. 

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

Our team nervously raised the funds necessary to fly to a foreign country, were taught and trained each morning and then walked on campus 3-4 hours each day to strike up conversations with Italians who THANKED them for talking about matters of the soul. These young missionaries articulately and lovingly presented the Gospel to over 300 students, most of whom had never met a person who actually believed what the Bible taught. Though no one “got saved” It was incredibly fruitful in the seed-planting, link-adding department.evangelism

But, here’s the thing. Even if our team had done a crummy job at obeying God’s call for them, God is faithful to Himself and to His redemptive plan from Creation to the fulfillment of times. He will bring His Kingdom and rule to earth because of or in spite of our participation. 

Deuteronomy 7:7-9 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Each semester and every summer we are asked to turn in statistics about the steps of faith we take in ministry. We record things like, how many spiritual conversations we initiate, how many times we are able to fully present the Gospel, how many conversions happen, how many laborers are sent into the workplace or mission field, etc.

As an American missionary, one who is often driven by numbers, crowds, changed lives, heart-warming stories, and progress in general, it’s easy to buy into the American Christian Dream and forget that God asks me to be faithfully surrendered, faithfully holy, faithfully joyful and relentlessly loving. I tend to want results because results glorify me. Yet, God wants faithfulness because faithfulness glorifies Him. The hidden, quiet, devoted acts of obedience are the sweetest gifts we can offer to our King. And, man, I am glad that He is in charge of people’s salvation and not me.337

Next time we think about our own ministry and legacy, support missionaries, or walk away from a church service ready to evaluate the effectiveness of Christian work. Let’s try to pause and reflect on the things God cares about, and I bet we’ll be hopeful and faith-filled knowing that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

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If you’d like to hear more about our Summer Mission to Rome, Italy, you can read about it here: Week 1Week 2Week 3+4Week 5

For further encouragement about faithfulness vs. results: 

Psalms 36:5  Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalms 89:8  O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD,  with your faithfulness all around you?

Psalms 119:90  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it  stands fast.

Lamentations 3:22-23 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Romans 3:3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the  fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and  he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But  the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against  the evil one.

Hebrews 10:23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Psalms 91:4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will  find refuge; his faithfulness is  a shield and buckler.

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Psalms 40:10  I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;  I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;  I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

Proverbs 28:20  A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Luke 16:10  One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

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Week 5: Rome Summer Mission

So many people are beginning to kick off their summers and I feel like we’re wrapping up ours! We have had the most challenging and wonderful adventure here and we are so sad to see it come to a end.

Week 5 has definitely been the most full week of all. Our focus was wrapping up on campus and having final appointments with Italian friends. We are still so encouraged by our students’ hard work and faithfulness in ministry. They have gone hard in the paint to the very last day.sharing

It was great to have had Gigi here for our last week on campus so Joel and I could be more free to serve. She was so kind to babysit so we could meet with students and be the extra set of hands we needed.

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We put Gigi on a plane Tuesday and our team took the train to Salerno for our debriefing time. We rested, processed alone and celebrated together all that God has done. Things like…

“Throughout the time of applying and raising support God taught me to trust Him.”

“I have been reminded of the amazing mercy and sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. I had been taking it for granted for far too long.”

“God led us to Italians who wanted to ask questions and were excited to have spiritual conversations.”

“I saw transformation in the way I view reading the Bible and the importance of daily time with God.”

“God gave me joy and peace amidst my fears of being in a different country.”

“Because of this trip I am seeing God in a completely new way. This trip has brought to my attention a side of God that is caring. I am learning to see Him as a Father.”

Tonight is our last team meeting and will work through the challenges of re-entry and have a time of encouraging each team member.

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Tomorrow we board our flight to America and with that come all the emotions.

Sadness because our time is over just as we were really starting to thrive and make progress in ministry. Thankfulness because our team faithfully and joyfully shared the Gospel every day on campus.Hopefulness knowing some plant, others water and God causes growth.Peacefulness knowing that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Oh, and happy because, well, like EG said, “In America, people will speak English and my feet won’t always hurt.” Just saying. 
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Week 3 & 4: Rome Summer Mission

I love fresh new beginnings. Arriving in a city, setting up life, taking in all the interesting sights and sounds. And endings, they bring a satisfying sense of completion. A job well done or at least lessons learned. But the messy, daily-ness of the middle? That’s where the real growth happens.

Weeks 3 & 4 of Rome Summer Mission have been just that, daily-ness filled to the brim.

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At this point in the trip the fun honeymoon phase has worn off. We’ve had to be more intentional about giving grace to each other and seeing the beauty and richness of every day life overseas vs. just being tired and annoyed by say, my children who are still petting all the stray dogs, playing with trash, eating unidentifiable greenery and yes, still licking the handrails.

Beauty of every day life:

167Petting stray dogs:

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The stark contrasts of culture are starting to fade into the background and the new norms are surfacing. “Our” park, “our” bus route, “our” metro stop, “our” Italian friends, etc.

Our team times each morning have become more authentic and our students have bonded beautifully. Not to mention, D and EG literally think the college students are their best friends. We host the team several evenings a week and every Tuesday morning for prayer. (Sometimes snacks for prayer = massive servings of bacon and eggs, because, well, shockingly, after 4 weeks, bacon and eggs sound better than a Nutella stuffed croissant…? It happens.) It’s my kids’ highlight of life to get to be around these sweet students who love them so well.

We all worked together to host an Italian + American Karaoke Night and invited all our new friends to come sing, dance, eat American food (who knew 2 pans of brownies would require 4 hours of labor and 60 EURO?!?) and experience the love of Christ in the context of community. browniesWe invited everyone to the downstairs of our hostel which drew a crowd of students from Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Canada and Utah!

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Nothing says Italian + America Karaoke Party like the theme song from Beauty & The Beast in Italian.

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Or “Let It Go” sung by a pajama-clad 5-yr-old. Looks like we will need to research some performing arts opportunities in Oxford. 382It was so great.

The next day we took a day trip to Tivoli, a small town just outside of Rome, to help the students catch their breath from the busyness of big city life.

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Ends up every country has their version of the Vanderbilts. 
531The greenery was a sight for sore city eyes. It was refreshing to be away from the hustle and bustle, even if just for 8-9 hours.

Oddly enough, as we arrived back in Rome, we all had an interesting sense of “home”. We knew the fruit stand owners and the waitresses at our favorite cafe knew us by name. Having set up daily life in our little corner of the city had made us feel at home in a place so different from our norm. It was a great feeling. 
315We spent Sunday having a “Funday” as a family and explored the “Central Park” of Rome–Villa Burgese.

324 We didn’t stop laughing on our 4-person bike ride.It was one of my favorite days together here. sharingWe went back to life on campus Monday and have spent all this week having second and third appointments with the students we’ve met and shared Christ with. We’ve learned so much about ministering to Italians and it’s grown our hearts for them in huge ways. I think THEY are why Rome has begun to feel like home. And I know God is doing a great work in the hearts of many of these students. Seriously, I love these girls. studentsAnd if Rome didn’t feel like home, you’d better believe seeing some wonderfully dear friends who were traveling and stopped in Rome made us so happy!

Grayson was in my Bible study for 4 years and her husband was an intern with us at USC.

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David worked at USC and he and his family are dear friends from our time in Columbia. david

Kelsey came to know the Lord through Greek Impact, met and married John and they are on staff with Cru and a church planting organization in Columbia. oneals

Kelly and I have had a special bond since she was a senior in high school. She became a sharp student leader within Greek Impact at USC.kelly

And if those wonderful friends weren’t enough, look who came to visit this week?!?

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I mean, the woman endured 2 canceled flights, sharing a hotel room with a perfect stranger, soaking wet luggage and setting off the security alarm 18 times with the pancake mix we requested her to bring…something about a white powdery substance and customs. I’m not totally sure. All I know is Bisquick-bearing Gigi’s are just what you need by week 4!!!

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So far, we’ve sent Joel to campus and we’ve braved the metro system alone to show her around our favorite eateries and we even rocked the Colosseum, the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and…
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…eaten all the gelato we’ve seen!!!696

Cue all the gelato comas. 699797Alright! We have 10 days left and are expecting God to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or imagine in our lives and in the lives of the students we are working with. Please join us in praying for revival in Rome!

How To Make A Date Night Happen…without hiring a sitter!

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Mr. and Mrs. Hurdle, here. We were attempting to have a “date night in” tonight, but then we called an audible and decided the most loving thing we could do for each other was to put a movie on for the kids and let one parent get an early start on some beauty rest… lame but it’s reality at the moment.

We really want to be consistent and intentional about dating each other, but we struggle on the follow-through. Especially now that we have the kids home for the summer and tend to naturally default to a good ole fashioned family night vs sitters and sleepless nights.

With that said, I love learning from others who do make it work! I hope you enjoy hearing from Bri, a friend whose marriage I’ve admired for years and who is one of my most treasured friends. Enjoy!

How To Make A Date Night Happen…without hiring a sitter!

I am thankful for friends who spur you on in your marriage, Amen? Kitty and I have had many discussions about how to stay connected with our husbands during this critical season of raising little ones. I love when she texts me every so often and asks, “What are you doing today to move toward your husband?” It’s so helpful and so refreshing to keep that kind of discussion going.

After almost ten years of marriage, and two kids, ages 7 and 5, we have found that it is shockingly easy to drift apart for certain seasons. Babysitters are so expensive. Family commitments are becoming more frequent. And husband’s stress at work keeps increasing. But not surprisingly, we find that if we prioritize face to face time with each other, all those other things feel ten times more manageable.

So I am excited to share with you today the single most beneficial way that my husband, Mike, and I have managed to stay connected this past year. It’s a simple thing really…. we have a standing commitment to at-home date nights every Friday night. But we do it a little differently than you might think. We actually take our kids out to dinner with us first! Yep. You read that right. We go out to a restaurant and bring the kids along with us for an early(ish) dinner together.

Why, might you ask, would we include our kids for a portion of date night? The reason is pretty strategic (and somewhat selfish to be honest)… First of all, it gets them all loved and filled up with that critical quality time they desire. And because of this, they are very easy to get to bed later. And secondly, not having to cook and clean up a meal for the entire family makes ME so much more relaxed and able to focus on Mike the rest of the night.

I try to look nice for this dinner by the way. Nothing over the top, but I like to wear something cute and fix my makeup before we go so I feel pretty for my man. And of course, it’s always nice for your kids to hear their father tell their mother that she looks beautiful. We choose a restaurant that Mike and I actually want to go to (ehem, not Friendly’s or Red Robin). And we have a no devices rule when we’re out together. No phones, tablets or games at the table. This has been beneficial for so many reasons. The kids learn how to behave in a restaurant. They learn to read menus and place their own orders with the waitress. And guess what… we talk the whole time!

After dinner, we head home and we put the kids to bed right away. Then Mike and I put on our pajamas (or something more exciting than that, wink wink), grab some snacks and after-dinner drinks, and go to our basement where the nice big flat screen tv is located. I know watching a movie together isn’t super exciting for some people, but Mike and I hardly ever watch tv together so it feels like a treat to us. We are working our way through the 2015 Academy Award nominated films right now. This alone time in the comfort of our own home has been so fantastic. We’re just not in a season where going out on the town all night is very appealing. It’s more the simple joys that fill me up…. no cooking, pajamas, a couch, and my husband. That spells ‘luxury’ to me!

Date Night = Great Night

I encourage you to think out of the box when it comes to connecting with your spouse. We know our kids won’t be coming with us to Friday night dinners forever. So it’s an easy modification to include them for this season. Regardless of how connection happens in your marriage, it’s a rhythm of intentionally moving toward each other on a weekly basis that feels so good.

I would love to “meet you” over at my personal blog, Woven, where I like to photojournal our little life in words and photos. Please come say hello!

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Could they be any cuter? I hope this post encourages you to make the most important things happen. Even if it’s creating a standing coffee date with a friend, there’s great delight in making what matters most happen! Happy dating, yall!

 

Week 2: Rome Summer Mission

imageTwo weeks down and three to go! I feel like this photo from our Mid-Project Retreat sums it up perfectly. Magnificent scenery and smiles all around with an occasional torrential downpour and short-fused parents learning to flex and obey.

It has been a great project so far. Joel and the staff are working hard to lead the charge and students are faithfully building friendships and sharing their faith. The kids and I are homeschooling in the mornings, enjoying the park near our apartment, hosting the team for meetings and meals and joining them on campus as we can. image It really is going beautifully, but I WILL say that city life is kicking our tails.

It’s the little things really.

Like waiting on Bus 61 that is supposed to come to our neighborhood every 15 minutes, but that rarely shows up and has now earned the name, Cuss 61. image

Or getting chewed out by grocery store employees for not first weighing our fruit and printing out price tags before we get to the cash register. Cue hot tears of frustration. Forgive my fruit faux pas, guys.I don’t even use the suggested plastic produce baggie in America, so it’s highly unlikely that I will wear the recommended plastic gloves. And HEAVEN HELP US ALL  if I hand the money to them, forgetting that they STRONGLY PREFER for me to put it in the little money dish for them to pick it up from vs. take it from my hand.

Brief episodes of harshness is so culturally fine and they totally move on knowing it’s not at all personal. Meanwhile, my harmony-loving self has spent 3 days not being able to shake getting screamed at (in English–which, mind you, is much, much worse than being screamed at in Italian) by a man who scolded and belittled me for bringing my kids into his restaurant to go potty during a thunderstorm.

Let’s just say it really is wonderful to learn a new culture and enjoy the beauty of new surroundings, but it ain’t all Colosseums and gelato.image imageIt has been really fun to watch the kids embrace city life and learn a few great life skills.

For example, the art of taking a selfie. (Nailed it.)image How to ride the Metro and read a city map. (D is better at directions than me. I consistently rely on him to get me home from our Metro stop.)image How to stick close(ish) in a crowd. (Let’s just say, my children have been described as “free range children”. But they are learning, nonetheless.)image And most importantly, how to find chicken strips and french fries in a land flowing with pasta and pizza. (We may or may not have broken down and gone to Hard Rock Cafe.)      imageSo while we are trying not to cuss at the bus, offend the neighborhood, take things personally or lose sight of the mission, we are asking God to help us learn and grow and depend on the Him.

We are also learning that Nutella-filled croissants cover a multitude of city-life sins. image

 

Mud Stories Podcast

For those of you who are new here, WELCOME! And, for those of you who’ve been here since the beginning, well, bless your heart. You’re very kind to have stuck around.

If you’d like to hear our story from the beginning and some of what God’s been teaching me, my new friend Jacque Watkins interviewed me for her podcast Mud Stories. Click HERE or the image below to listen along!

“Mud Stories is a podcast dedicated to bringing you inspiration in your muddiest moments, hope to make it through your mud, and encouragement for you to know, you are not alone.”

Mud Stories

I’m so thankful to Jacque for hosting me. Here are a few of my other favorite Mud Story episodes.

Hope you are encouraged in the thick of whatever you find yourself in today! 

Week 1: Rome Summer Mission

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Greetings from 7 hours into the future, our first day on campus and my attempt to blog via a cell phone. We shall see how this goes. Ciao, nonetheless!!!

I’m not sure how the passengers around us felt about a full rendition of Frozen, complete with song and dance, but to us, D & EG were rockstar travelers. They were so excited about their first airplane ride that they didn’t complain about  it lasting 8.5 hours. EG’s favorite part was “the blast off” and D was amazed that “God made all this. He’s a smart dude. He’s 100% smart. My Daddy isn’t even that smart!”

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As we made our approach to Rome, we were greeted by reports of a fire in baggage claim and the potential of being reroute to Milan, but thankfully, our plane and luggage arrived safely. Thank you for your prayers! The ease of travel with the children was a direct answer to prayer.

My initial reflections are as follows:

1. I am all of the sudden really good at Spanish which does absolutely nothing for anyone in this country. Also, I am responsible to keep two small humans alive in a city in which I can’t navigate any form of transportation  nor can I communicate anything past “BAMBINO NECISITO POTTY NOWO”…we’re working on this one.

2. Speaking of the potty…we are also working on a few cultural norms.

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3. The child you think will really struggle is having “the best day of his life” every day and the kid who could eat pasta and pizza every meal in America suddenly has an aversion. Also, meltdowns are universal and my children in Rome are the equivalent of Buddy the Elf in NYC. image

4. My Fitbit hasn’t seen this much action since ever. And I wish it could track how many more calories I burn when I’m lugging 9 liters of acqua and trying to convince my children not to pet the stray dogs or pick all the trash up off the street. Bless them.

5. College students are amazinly resilient. But even they have jet lag. The kind that eerily resembles the stupor of a sleepless mother. It made me feel saddistically understood.

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6. Italians don’t smile a lot. (Perhaps they are hangry bc they don’t eat dinner till 9 pm, that’s my best guess.) And we are those strange Southern people showing up for supper promptly at 5, wearing bright clothes and smiling at peoole like we are at Disney or something. But, in all seriousness, I thought it was shocking to see the wear and tear of city life combined with the hopelessness of spiritual depravity, economic struggle, a dying country and a culture of suspicion.

7. Italians use their hands very aggressively in conversation. Which explains why  I got smacked in the face within an hour of being here. Funny how a casual stroll by some fierce “girl talk” can leave you with a busted lip.

8. The darkness and spiritual need here is great. Today, after Italians asked us, “Why are you here?” we were answered with responses such as, “I’m an atheist.” Or “Well, im not perfect.”

9. One must pace themselves on the amount of gelato one enjoys in one day. Regardless of how many badges one’s Fitbit is giving oneself.

10. Did I mention I have to keep two small humans alive? It’s a new found level of dependence and all I can say is “Christ within me, Christ before me, Christ behind me. Kids, HOLD HANDS AND QUIT LICKING THE HANDRAILS!!!”

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Ministry + Motherhood {When It Feels As Awkward As The Hokey Pokey)

Today, I am sharing about one of my favorite yet trickiest parts of life over at ThriveMoms.com,  Here’s an excerpt that I hope blesses you or someone you know!

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Have you ever gone months plowing through diapers and dishes, not even having the perspective or energy to consider how God might involve you in His rescue mission?

Have you ever felt a nagging question mark in your heart when you’re ministering outside the home at the cost of the mission field in your own living room?

It’s no secret that I love my job. I’ve spent ten years meeting with college women and sharing with them the joy of knowing Jesus and it has been 100% amazing. As much as I love the lifestyle of vocational ministry, I’m also a mom and every single week I am trying to figure out how to do the hokey pokey of motherhood + ministry.

Each season is a new dance with steps to learn and discern. What does my husband need? What do my kids need? What does the ministry need? And, what in the world do I need (Besides needing a full-time house keeper, a weekly massage, and an intravenous Red Bull drip…can you relate??)?

There are lots of partial solutions in this sweet season of life, plenty of hunkering down and plenty of swinging open our doors. Lots of trials, and errors, and coming to terms with the fact that if I commit to meeting with students during the precious hours my kids are at school, the scrambled eggs will still be on the kitchen floor come bedtime. If my husband is slated to preach, the social calendar will need to be frozen until further notice. Missional mommas must maintain healthy, holistic, realistic boundaries…(And, it turns out, boundaries are actually more enjoyable than they initially let on to be!).

But, what I’m finding is that this is more than a scheduling issue. For me, this is a heart issue.

Motherhood is ministry, and it’s my fierce passion. But sometimes it’s easier (and more fun) for me to overwork “out there” because there is a clear-cut clock to punch and box to check. It’s measurable and it’s gratifying (Interestingly enough, oftentimes, I’m actually a sweeter, more intentional mom for my kids after I’ve spent time ministering outside the home!). Then again, there are times when I neglect the mission of ministry because it’s far simpler for me to zone out and troll around at home than it is to check in with the soul of another. On both sides of my treasured motherhood + ministry coin there is an issue of fear; and that fear is rooted in a false view of God.

 Small God = Big Problems

My workaholic heart fails to believe that God is big enough and strong enough to do all the things needed to sustain “my” family and “my” ministry; and instead, believes He is clearly dependent upon “my quality performance.” Meanwhile, my disengaged heart fears that my casual comfort is far greater (and safer, tidier, and more relaxing) than the place God is calling.

Neither place of unbelief produces the Spirit-led ability to work heartily as unto the Lord while being still and knowing that He is God. Neither side truly believes that He will be exalted among the nations through the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do.

READ MORE OVER AT THRIVEMOMS.COM

 

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Getting Ready To Rome

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The Girl Scout in me had big plans to have mastered the language and be fully prepared, but ready or not, in 4 short days, our family and team of students, professors and Cru staff will board a 15-hour flight to take the love of Jesus to college students overseas!

We would love for you to partner with us in this adventure.

Rome, Italy is home to 240,000 college students; most of which have never read the Bible, never been in a Bible study, and never begun a relationship with Christ. Around 90% of Italian students are atheists or agnostic. Spiritually, the college campus in Rome is a dark place. In all of Italy, there are only approximately 100 Evangelical Christians trying to reach the 1 MILLION college students! 

We believe that Rome is strategic because of the spiritual darkness of Western Europe.  Our prayer is that Italians, with their enthusiasm and influence on culture (fashion, food, soccer, etc.), could be used by God to reach Western Europe for Christ.

The focus of our summer missions project is evangelism.  We will train and lead Ole Miss students in relationship building and evangelism with Italians on campus. Several prestigious professors will be doing presentations about their faith and their field of work. The long-term team will be helping follow-up with the new Christians and these national Italians will plug into local churches.

As exciting as this opportunity sounds, it won’t be possible without your help.  The cost of this missions trip for our family of four includes the international plane tickets, lodging, in-country travel, food, ministry expenses, and international emergency medical coverage, among other expenses.  It is also important to consider that Rome, much like New York City, is an expensive place to live even when you are looking to stay in an apartment appropriate for missionaries.  In light of all those factors for our family, we still need to raise $2,500.

We understand this is a significant amount of money.

If someone were to tell you that they could go into a very difficult country to rescue slaves and they could try to rescue a person, and it would cost this amount, you would think, that’s amazing.   It’s really not that expensive for the sake of those people caught in slavery.  We believe that is the case spiritually in Rome.  Italy is home to the leading centers of Satanism in the world, Turin.  Rome too is a place where you can feel the spiritual oppression.  That’s where we are being asked to go to share the light.

It is possible that we are on the forefront of a spiritual revolution in Italy.  We believe it is worth a great investment of time and treasure and we invite you to partner with us to reach Italians. Would you prayerfully consider investing in this outreach to Italian students by praying and giving financially?

Any amount the Lord would lead you to give toward this need would be appreciated. It’s also important as well, that you would join us in praying for this need to be met. Click HERE to visit our giving website. As always, we are so grateful for your encouragement, prayers, and faithful support of our ministry to college students!

This 2 minute video helps explain more about the spiritual darkness in Italy. Use the password: staffagape

Year 2 With #TwoPigtailsandaCowlick

Dearest Little Ones,

I know it’s a bit hazy to you now, but two years ago, Daddy and I stood before a judge, raised our right hands and promised to love and keep you forever. We said “yes” without a doubt in our minds. You were ours from the first time we met.leavingcola 017

It still blows my mind to think that God so perfectly picked the two of you and the two of us to be together as a family. D, you with your brilliant mind and your tender heart. EG, you with your charming ways and vibrant love of life. God’s gift of you was more than we could have asked or imagined.

It feels like 5 minutes ago that we met you for the first time, yet it seems like you’ve always been a part of us. It’s taken time to get to know your hearts and your hurts and it’s taken time for you to learn to trust our love. I can’t wait to see all the progress and growth and bonds that continue to form as we continue this ordained adventure together.

Thank you for the grace you so freely give, the laughter you infectiously create and for finally starting to sleep through the night.

All My Love & His,

Mommy

P.S. Your Aunt Heather made you this fabulous video :)

Year 1 Video

Hurdle, Party of 4 Video