Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Returning & Regrouping

airport family photo, leaving home for four weeks

“How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” So goes the adage which is currently rolling repeatedly around my brain! Scattered thoughts, half-written lists and partially completed tasks of varying degrees of urgency are cluttering my house and mind as we unpack and regroup after four weeks away from home.

One challenge for me as a missionary wife is that ministry is not contained to a neat box. On the contrary, it is woven into the fabric of our lives and days. Because my mind is easily drawn in different directions, I find myself beginning one task only to stumble onto another matter which seems to need my attention. I all too often fall victim to the famous “tyranny of the urgent.”

These are just some of the things on my to-do list this week, in no particular order:

1. Answer e-mails. Some specific examples: Write back to an AWANA clubber with responses to her missionary questions; correspond with a supporting church inquiring about our current state of ministry and requesting a new family photo; provide an affirmative reply to another pastor asking for a 2-3 minute video of our work in Iquique (then add the video to my list. J)

2. Unpack suitcases. Oh, how I hate packing and unpacking! It has been a part of my existence my entire life as a missionary kid and now a missionary wife. But it has never gotten easier. I am sure there must be a lesson to be learned here somewhere!

3. Clean house. We live in the desert. The desert is dusty. We have six children. Children are messy. (And let’s be honest, their parents can’t claim “neat” status either!) We have two pets. Pets are stinky and hairy. But life doesn’t stop just because the house is messy, so even though this is still undone we have hosted people twice with another dinner date on the calendar for tomorrow!

4. Inventory pro-life materials. This is just the tip of the iceberg of so many things pertaining to the FLORECE prenatal and family counseling ministry. We also need to find a location, which is a much bigger task. But, one bite at a time. This is what I can handle on my list right now.

5. Have dinner with two couples interested in learning about FLORECE. We received the phone call yesterday and the engagement is tonight. This was a totally unexpected and unplanned event to add to our calendar, but we felt it was important to accept.

6. Prepare for the new school year. School starts in March, just a few weeks away. We have five children in three different school settings, two of which take place at home and require purposeful parental planning. The one away from home requires shopping! So this item feels pretty urgent, too.

7. Meet with a young lady who asked to talk with me. We were close for many years; I had the privilege of sharing a discipleship study with her, which she then shared with my daughters. Sadly, last year she walked away from the faith and now she seems to be seeking restoration. This conversation will require time and wisdom.

8. Practice a song for our colleague's daughter's wedding on Saturday. This was a last-minute request which I am happy to do. (But now I need to do it!J)

The list could go on and on. (Actually, it does.) Among other things, Pedro and I hope to take some time away as a couple to reconnect, plan and pray for this new year. We want to be intentional not only with ministry but with our children. Today’s devotional reading from Oswald Chambers resonated with my heart as a mother:
“Until others learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus directly, they will have to draw on His life through you. You must literally be their source of supply, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.”
Because ministry also overlaps with motherhood, I often feel torn. Our recent time in Peru with fellow missionaries from Spanish-speaking countries showed me that I am not alone. One afternoon, a group of missionary moms prayed with tears for each other’s MK’s (missionary kids.) Ministry begins at home and our children’s needs are heavy on our hearts.

“Look into no man’s face until you have looked into the face of God.” This was the challenge from our speaker at the conference which continues to convict me. In the midst of the tyranny of the urgent and the ever-growing lists it is far too easy to speed past the one thing that matters: time with my Heavenly Father. It is His presence, His wisdom, His peace that I need in the midst of these crazy days. The priorities I set must be His, but in order to know them I must first know Him!

Help me Lord, to seek first Your kingdom and righteousness and trust You to add all these things in the order they should be.


Deborah said...

Oh, how I love you. <3

Praying with you...

Noella said...

Great reminders and encouragement received through your words. Thank you Stephanie!

Unknown said...

Hey Colleagues and friends,
Your frankness is painfully similar to our situation! Thanks for the close up look!

Dave and Ruth Ann Rogers