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the kiddos

In our journey to South Sudan we have had a lot of people ask us questions of all sorts - and we love to answer them.  Even those questions that we have answered a thousand times are fun to answer because it means we get to keep talking about the love that we have for the country and the people, and the excitement we feel about going there.  However there has been one question (or comment) people ask that we find ourselves answering in different ways depending on how we are feeling that day.  That has to do with our kids and the implication that we are may not be doing the best thing for them.  This is hard for any of us that are parents, as we question and re-question our actions each day.  I believe God has called us a family and did not give our kids to us by accident.   However, the added factors of going to a third world country still recovering from war, a place in the world that continues to teeter in instability - this "ups the ante".
I have avoided writing this blog because I have not wanted to offend anyone or have to answer other questions it may bring up.  However, I recently decided it was time to write it -with fear and trembling, since we are still working through these things.

I'm not going to lie - I think about it.  They are my kids, for goodness sake.  I would do anything in my power to keep them safe and healthy and loved on.  So how does one reconcile taking them away from home and family, going to a place that has basically only known war and famine, and continuing on in our life that does not include white picket fences and a childhood home where there are decades of memories?  I know God has called us.  I know he has called us at this time, which means he has also called our kids.  But putting my mother's heart to rest about these things is easier said than done.  

I feel like as I have worked through some of these things and prayed about them, God has been formulating answers in my mind and heart.  Yet trying to put those answers in words were about as easy as trying to give a tangible expression about who He is!  The answers he was giving me were more about expressions of peace and feelings of assurance of his love for all of us.  There were thoughts and phrases going around in my mind, but none that I could put into words that made any sense. I read books and blogs about missionary kids and spoke to friends who are missionaries and their kids.  But the truth of it is that God's plan for me and his plan for our family (which includes all four kids right now) is unique and perfect and he is carrying it out.  Within the family structure, he also has a plan for each of us as individuals.  Watching that unfold in my kids life is amazing and terrifying and awesome all in the same breath.

So I started asking myself another question.  What is it that I want for my kids?  Of course I want the things I mentioned above - health, happiness, contentment, love, safety.  But more than that - more than anything - I want them to know God.  REALLY know him.  In this "line of work" I see too many people who settle for less because God is simply a part of their life, and not their whole life.  I want my kids to eat, sleep, and breath the Holy Spirit and his love.  I want passion and intimacy in their relationships with him that makes me jealous for a deeper relationship too.  I want them to truly experience him in fullness.  But that usually does not happen in a "perfect" world.  If I am trying too hard to protect and shelter, I could actually be making it harder for them to see and know God.  Of course I would not do anything overtly stupid or allow them to be hurt intentionally.  But how can they know the real meaning of in our weakness He is made perfect if they don't experience their weaknesses?  How can they experience the closeness of God in that comes in brokenness if they are never broken themselves?  I've been through some brokenness...I know the sweetness of coming through that with Him.  I desire that for them.

And I want my kids to know and understand that they are so, so, so important to me.  They are my priority. I adore them.  But they are not the only people in this world.  I want their eyes open to the fact that if they did not get the birthday gift they wanted, the world does not end and it does not mean they are less loved.  When we were in Africa last time I watched as my kids went from protecting the few toys they had with them (a natural reaction we all have) to giving away the very shoes on their feet (or earrings from her ears!)  They realized that we may be sick of Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but it is nutritious and filling while others are living on rice alone.  Simple, easy things to see that are not so easy to live out.

A book I am reading called, "Parenting Beyond Your Capacity" says this in it:  "The mission of your family is not to ultimately protect your kids but to mobilize them to demonstrate God's love to a broken world."  I desire this more than anything for my kids. For them to know God's love and intimacy and power in their own brokenness and then overflow that into a world that is hurting and needing more than it understands.

So, am I scared?  You bet!  God is not a tame God!  My favorite quote from the Narnia series is by Mr. Beaver, "'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver; 'don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'"  I want my kids to know just how good he is and that they can rest and live in that.   I am also sure of this  - that He who began a good work in John, Anna, Andrew, and RJ will continue it in them until it is complete.  That he has plans for each and every one of them and they are good plans with a purpose and hope.  

Comments

  1. Heather, Thanks so much for writing this post. I often think about something that my husband as said, we may not have the time that we would like with each of our children in the here and now, but we would rather let them go here so we can live with them for eternity. It is what makes it easier to let go. Even when they are apart from me and struggling, I know that they belong to Him and they are in His hand. His arm is not to short to work in them and through them. They belong to Him, I'm just the instrument He chose to bear them and nurture them for His glory and His purposes. He does all things well and He is good! BTW, I love that CS Lewis quote from The Chronicles of Narnia! :)

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