Well, we’ve nearly come to the end of our furlough time in the States. Some of you might not even know we’ve even been here. We got to TX on Dec. 19th, and here we are in February! Incredible how time flies. Furlough is always a great time for reflection. It’s a good time to get caught up on my blog reading, too! I’ve been blessed to have a couple of months that were kind of like they aren’t even a part of my real life in Peru, and to be honest, it’s nice. It’s fun to dream about what we’ll do and new goals we have for when we get back to Peru. It’s awesome to have so much time as a family as well. These past nearly 3 weeks have been spent with mostly complete strangers in Colorado, although God is blessing us to be leaving with new friends! I guess we’ve not formally announced this publicly, but the Littleton Church of Christ in Colorado has taken us on as their foreign missionaries! We really could not be any more grateful for that, and it has been amazing to get to know so many new and wonderful people.
When you spend 3 weeks with nearly all new people to you, it can really teach you a lot about who you are, what you care about, and how you handle new situations. Parts of that are nice. Learning some of these things about myself is refreshing. But, I have to say, with that also comes some ugliness that surfaces, and I’m sorry to say that some of that ugliness has affected my kids.
It’s very easy to catch myself barking orders at the kids as we drive up to a new home for dinner. “Do NOT complain about what is served, and you WILL try everything on your plate.” “If you argue EVEN once, there will be an immediate consequence.”…and other reactive (mostly to situations that have happened in the past) statements like these. After all, we’re trying to make a good impression, right? I also sometimes catch myself snapping at them to just hush and listen instead of explaining to me “what really happened” or giving them the chance to share their side of the story. I don’t really have time for long drawn out moments of discipline (aka: kid whines and cries about how the other one hit them first and they didn’t do anything as I’m just trying to diffuse the situation) when there are a couple of people standing and watching me, waiting for me to get back to telling them what it is we do in Peru. I’ve also caught myself apologizing for the fact that my kid is acting “so impatiently” when I know good and well they’ve had a long, exhausting day.
I wish I could say I was describing this other, out of control mother I saw during my time in the States, but that wouldn’t be true. Although, there are times when it’s almost like I am sitting there, outside of my own body, watching myself treat my kids in a less than respectful or kind way and screaming at myself (in my head and heart) to stop. It never feels good to watch THAT mother. And why have I gotten so upset anyway? Why can’t I calmly lead these precious kids toward God instead of overreacting and taking us all to a place that God is probably not all that happy with?
Then, in the quietness of the evening (like now), I am reminded of the grace God has always given me. I am reminded that He sees my heart and my deep desire to do it better the next time. He even sends sweet people that say things like, “DON’T worry! The kids are doing great!” in moments when I am possibly feeling overwhelmed at trying to be a godly mother while also being an informative missionary.
In addition to His mercies, I can’t deny that I also feel that conviction from Him. Those tugs on my heart that God has called me to Love are so strong. I might let Satan trick me into feeling guilty sometimes as well. I can’t deny that. But I know that God’s conviction isn’t one of guilt. It is there to press me forward. It is a conviction that helps me see how I can more glorify Him the next time we’re driving up to a strangers house for dinner and I see a need to review positive behavior with my kids.
I feel renewed energy and strength just thinking of the ways in which I can handle some parenting situations more positively. I get excited about the chance to pick my life back up once we get to Peru with new goals for our family about the ways we interact with one another. I’m thankful that God has given me these moments with strangers to teach me about my fears, insecurities, and areas in which He is working in my heart. On top of all of this, I’ve been blessed as a mother to 3 little ones by the patient and loving people at the Littleton Church of Christ.
Yes, these lessons are hard. I think that’s probably good, though. I need a reminder every now and then that God’s opinion of how I Love my family is really the only one I need to be concerned with, and when that’s my priority, others around me will always have a healthier view of who He is. That’s all I should be concerned about anyway.
1 Corinthians 13
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Way of Love
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, butrejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.