I have the privilege to speak at our church this Sunday. Partially for "Compassion Sunday" (more on that later) and partially to share my faith story. As I am preparing for Sunday I've been reflecting on the call God has given me, and how that has looked differently in different seasons of my life. I feel that I am now at the end of one season and the beginning of another.
Since before the kids were born I have had a passion for mothers and babies. This led to working with teen moms in Young Lives. This season of life lasted until Keanan and Kyla were born and Zac had his accident. During that time I focused all my efforts and energy in supporting and caring for our family.
My family has always been, and will always be, my first passion and mission field. Zac and I take very seriously Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Hence, the homeschooling and such. But we do not want to live in a little Christian bubble. We want our kids to be in the world, not of it; to be lights for Jesus, shining His love to this world. So in addition to my family, I believe God has placed other passions and missions on my heart and our hearts together.
When Kyla turned one my passion for mothers and babies led to becoming a doula and then a childbirth educator. I was blessed to attend about 20 births over then next few years. It was an amazing gift, but hard on Zac and the kids at times. Teaching childbirth classes was easier on our schedules and such a joy for me. I love to teach - in public school, my kids, other classes - I am a teacher. Connecting with the Care Net pregnancy center in Olympia was a gift from God. I loved teaching many families there, and sharing God's love in the miracle of birth.
During this time God really clarified His mission for me through many different sources: BSF study of Matthew, all books by Jen Hatmaker, Radical by David Platt, Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth, minimalism books by Joshua Becker, and a crazy mission trip to Mexico. James 1:27 became my theme verse: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. I was also compelled by Matthew 25 where Jesus commands those who love him to care for the sick, poor, hungry, thirsty and imprisoned. This is not a suggestion, this is what is required, this is how we show the love of Jesus to the world. I wrestled with how to live this out while living in Yelm, especially after witnessing how little people lived with in the poor areas of Puerto Vallarta on our mission trip.
When we moved to California about a year ago I had every intention to continue teaching childbirth classes the same way I had been doing in Olympia, but it seems that God has other plans. The population here is VERY different from the population of Thurston county WA. It seems that there just isn't much of a need for the kind of class and frequency of class that I had been teaching. I will continue to be available for teaching classes at the pregnancy center here (Real Options), but it looks like that means only holding a class session twice a year or so. This was my way to serve outside of my family. This was my outlet away from my kids (who I love dearly, but need an occasional break from). Now what was I going to do?
Throughout this time God kept bringing James 1:27 and Matthew 25 to my heart and mind. I began praying about how to live out God's mission in this season of my life. Enter in Compassion International and re-enter Young Lives.
This brings the story back to Compassion Sunday - this Sunday. In my desire to "look after orphans and widows in their distress" I felt God's call to become more involved with Compassion International. I have been sponsoring a child since I was in high school. I was never very good about writing her, but I was faithful in my sponsorship. That first girl aged out of the program and Zac and I have been sponsoring another girl, Eyda, in Guatemala. Last year for Keanan's birthday we started sponsoring a little boy from Bangladesh, Probin. Probin and Keanan have the same birthday - 6/3/08. For Kyla's birthday this year we started sponsoring a little girl from Nicaragua, Maykilin. Maykilin and Kyla have the same birthday - 2/6/10. Earlier this year we also started supporting a Compassion "Child Survival Center" in Indonesia which cares for, educates, and supports pregnant mothers and babies up to age 4. Our family believes in what Compassion is doing - releasing children from poverty, in Jesus' name. They are living Matthew 25. We are even hoping in the future to visit some of our sponsored kids and/or the child survival center as another family mission trip (keep that in your prayers!). So, I am now a child advocate (I have a shirt and name badge!) which means I encourage others to sponsor children in poverty. This Sunday at our church I will tell our story of traveling to Mexico, seeing the need of kids in poverty first hand, and what Compassion is doing about it. I get to set up a table and help other families in our church sponsor kids in other countries. I'm really excited about this and would love for you to pray that all 20 of the precious children that I have sponsorship packets for would receive sponsors!
If you would like to sponsor a child, please check out Compassion's website. You will be blessed!
In the future I will be able to volunteer at other Compassion events that come to our area. It's just a little way I can live out my mission and Proverbs 31:8 - Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
This post has already gotten WAY longer than anticipated, and if you've made it this far - thank you for letting me share my heart. I will save Young Lives for another post in the coming weeks. :)
What is your mission? Are you living in it?