Motherhood is Missional, A Review

I received a copy of Missional Motherhood, The Bible Study from Lifeway for the purpose of reviewing.  I purchased the book that inspired the study, Missional Motherhood.  This is an honest review of the STUDY, and is in no way influenced by the gifted study.

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I have been a mother for over 17 years.  During that time I have not only been a part of Women’s Ministries that are full of moms, but also MOPS International groups.  One thing I have learned about being a mom, over all of these years, is that I still have room to learn more.  Another thing I have learned is that many of us mothers share a similar feeling, a desire to be more than “just a mom”.

There are some women who were born to be mothers, and what I mean by that is that these are women who desired nothing more than being a mom when they were of age.  They played house, always taking the role of mom.  They loved on other babies, and the news of becoming a big sister was something that excited them beyond measure.  They were babysitters and helped in the church nursery as soon as they were old enough.  In fact, at a very early age they probably knew how many babies they wanted to have and even what their names would be.

Then there are other women, who didn’t have motherhood on their radar as their ultimate calling.  It wasn’t something that they desired from a young age.  When they played with their dolls they took the role of teacher or doctor.  Their life goals were aimed at having a successful career, doing something significant in the world, or even serving as missionaries in a foreign country.  Children may or not have been included in those dreams and goals.

I was in the latter camp.  When I was pregnant with my first child the plan had been that I would return to work & my husband would stay  home those first few years.  At the time, I made more income than he did.  It just made fiscal sense.  Yet, once that tiny little body was place in my arms… the Lord changed my heart.  We decided that I would stay home and we would trust in the Lord’s provision.  He never failed us.

Yet, it was very difficult for me when I would be asked the question:  So, what do you do?

It wasn’t common in our area for women to stay home with their children.  Even members of my own family didn’t understand the decision.  Was I wasting my education, my skills, my talents, and my potential?   It was like I lost my identity and become someone’s wife… someone’s mom.   Over the years, as I have sat with other women … I hear those thoughts echoed.

We desire to be known, to be seen, to have purpose, and to have impact.  Somewhere along the line we lost the view of motherhood as a calling and instead it became something we just “do”.  Our value and worth began to reside in our accomplishments outside of the home, and when that was no longer an option… we felt lost.  Like we were doing nothing important, and yet the Lord had given us a very important calling.

Society’s focus on accomplishments have tainted our view’s of motherhood, and Gloria Furman does a great job at point out our need to reclaim this role.  Utilizing scriptures from the Old and New Testament, we examine how the role of Motherhood fits into God’s plan.   The Bible Study encompasses many of the bible study techniques that we may be familiar with in conjunction with our own personal reflections.  What I also appreciate is Gloria Furman not only talks about the mission of motherhood in regard to the typical American family but explores what this looks like in other cultures and how we interact with other cultures.

Throughout the study we begin to see how our role as mother is part of our Great Commission calling, for every woman.  For the mom who questions her purpose, this study helps her find her identity in Christ and the mission God has called her to fulfill in this season of her life.    We explore how our every day lives fall into the larger story of God’s redemptive plan.

From life giving creation to The Great Commission, our role as mothers is far beyond “just a mom”.  We are disciplers, mentors, teachers, leaders, guides, nurturers, providers, and so much more…. all in the confines of our own homes.  When our identity is rooted in Christ, then the gifts we have been given by the Holy Spirit are put to use in our homes.  This is our mission field, where we serve as a teacher to those in our charge and an example to the world watching us.  We are a family set apart, different… and we can find satisfaction in our purpose.

Whether you are a first time mom, a seasoned mother, or an empty-nester serving as a mentor mom… we all still have a thing or two to learn and share.  This would be a great study for a small group of mothers, MOPS group, or even as a gift to a mom to be.

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Missions Highlight – The Philippines

My friend’s step daughter is embarking on another missions trip, this time to the Philippines with the movement “Beauty For Ashes” that will be partnering with another organization “Wipe Every Tear”.  This trip will be focusing on women who are currently in the sex trade industry in the Philippines.

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A note from Cynnamon:

Hello, my name is Cynnamon and I am 24 years old. Ever since I can remember I have had a strong passion and desire to do missions work. In July of last year I set out to do an all women’s healing trip with Beauty For Ashes in Guatemala.  Beauty For Ashes is a movement to create a place for women to share their stories with one another as they embark on their journey towards freedom. That trip to Guatemala really restored my worth in Christ and really opened my eyes to the needs of people all over the world. Recently, I have been presented with another opportunity to serve women in the Philippines with the Beauty For Ashes team. We will be working with an organization called Wipe Every Tear and working with women rescued from the sex trade. We will be activities with the women in small settings and groups. Our goal is to help restore their worth and remind them that their value is seen only through the eyes of Christ and nobody else. From now until I leave for the Philippines on July 28th, I will be working diligently to raise the funds for my trip. The total cost of my trip will be $3,000. This trip is unlike anything I have ever done before and I can’t wait to see how God will show up during this time of fundraising. Will you consider joining me on this journey? Your prayers and financial support are very important to me.

Click Here to Donate!

Missions Highlight – Hannah Gatlin

The next missions trip I would like to highlight is one in which my niece will be participating in.

Hannah has had the opportunity participate in several missions trips local and abroad.  What I really like about this current trip, with her home church, is that there is a long term connection, commitment, and growth in the serving of the people in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  This goes beyond physical labor service, and instead focuses on identifying and training local leaders who will have a long lasting impact on the island.  When this relationship began, there were six churches on the island, which has now grown to encompass over twenty churches and still growing!

Our missionary commitment with the Island of Isla Mujeres is to train and develop local leaders who will continue to impact the island. We started with a group of six churches on the island, and that number has grown to over 20 churches and growing. We train leaders in Children’s Ministry, Young Adults Ministry, and Performing Arts & Theater completely free of cost to them.  We also host a Marriage Conference and an Evangelism Explosion workshop.  Last year, we held a concert to culminate our mission’s trip and we held a beautiful wedding ceremony where eight couples joined in matrimony.  

A note from Hannah:

I am so excited to be going to the island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico this summer (June 4th), and I would love to have your support! I will be going with Blueprints Church: a community church I attend, with the mission of connecting people to God’s master plan for their lives. Through a series of workshops, leadership training, and practical bible teaching, we foment the development of individual talents and interests. We believe every person was uniquely designed and our passion is to fulfill God’s intended purpose for their lives.  We are a 501-C3 non-profit organization and all your support will be tax deductible. If you are unable to give financial support, all of your prayers and encouragement are equally needed and appreciated! Please do not feel obligated to give financially.

If you have a heart for the people of Mexico, and want to help The Great Commission work being done on the Isla Mujeres…

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Or, if you are unable to give, please keep Hannah, Blue Prints Church, and the residents of Isla Mujeres in your prayers.  Let a good work be done.

#Write31Days – Post 12 – Offending the Offendable

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It was well over twenty years ago, when I would I would dye my hair bright teal.  For the record, I knew that it would get some judgmental stares.  I fully anticipated it, and I also didn’t care in the least.   A few years later, I would walk into a tattoo shop and walk back out with black ink permanently embedded into my skin.  I knew that some wouldn’t appreciate the art I had etched into my body, but I didn’t care what people thought as a whole.  As of today, I have a few more tattoos.  Even though they have become more mainstream than fringe, I am aware of how others still view them.

I recall sitting in a woman’s home, having coffee, as we talked about the world.  I’m not sure exactly how it happened but the subject of people with tattoos came up.  She was very judgmental of anyone with tattoos, stating that if someone from the utility companies showed up with tattoos all over … well, she wouldn’t let them in the door.  I chuckled to myself as I debated if I wanted to take off my sweater and expose my tattooed arms, or if I would save that expose’ for another day.

Here’s the thing, when I choose to do something that is outside the norm, that is considered edgy or fringe, or that is socially disapproved… I am not only choosing to do what ever that thing is.  I am also choosing to live the consequences of that choice, including how others perceive me.  I will never scoff at their remarks or stares because, that’s their problem not mine.  I am not exactly sure where we got the notion that the world has to tolerate our idiosyncrasies.  Certainly I am not going to advocate for rudeness, discrimination, et’al … it is NOT OK.  I’m simply suggesting that one can’t go against the grain and expect zero negative response at worst… or curiosity at least.

I was watching a television show on people who are “fringe” and what was interesting is that so many of the people who had tattoos spoke of an unwritten rule that we don’t ask about each others tattoos.  Not only was I unfamiliar with this rule, I didn’t get it either.  I see every tattoo as a piece of art, it has meaning and purpose for me.  So please, ask me about it.  I’ll happily share what it means to me, or answer your questions (even the absurd ones).

Questions Like:  Did it hurt a lot?  (Um, yes.)  What does it mean?  (Glad you asked…) What if your weight changes? (Kind of personal, but I considered it…)  How are you going to feel about that when you are 80?  (If I make it to 80, pretty sure my tattoos will be the least of my worries…)   Or, the big question:  Doesn’t the Bible forbid tattoos?  (Let’s sit down and talk about that one… )

There are a lot of things that any person (Christian or not) could do that is considered against the grain.  And, when we make such decisions we should expect that someone is going to question us about it.  We should expect that we are going to get stares, and that not everyone is going to understand our decision.

Have a large family? Or a family of blended races?  That’s unusual for many areas.  Expect the questions.

Decide to dress ultra conservative?  Someone might ask you why you are wearing a long sleeve turtleneck, in Florida, in July.

Choose to wear a headscarf at church, or in your every day life?  Expect someone is going to talk to you about that.

Make a major switch in your life (in one direction, or another) and people will notice.  Anticipate they are going to be curious as to why you made that decision.

Decide to sell off everything you own and follow Jesus into full time missions?  You better believe that someone is going to think you are crazy!

Where I have noticed a growing trend is that when people make these “fringe” decisions, that make them stand out against the norm, they get offended when anyone questions them about it.  You can’t be IN the world but not OF the world, and go unnoticed.  In fact, the whole point of it is TO BE NOTICED.  That our lives become a living testimony to the changes that God has done in our lives, our families, etc.  They see us as different, they want to know why.  This not the same as putting on an act of righteousness, boasting,  and showing off how holy we are.  I’m talking about real, genuine, every day living the life that God called me to, type of different.   Where we are not putting on a show for others, but just living out our every day in a different way.

The questions that we are being offended by, and offering a slew of snarky retorts in response to … are INVITATIONS TO SHARE.

Yes, these children are all mine.  Yes, some are adopted.  Yes, we are fostering a sibling group.  Why did we make this choice?  Because, the Lord pressed upon our hearts that we had enough love in our home to share.  There are so many kids in our foster system just looking for someone to love them, a place to call home.

Yes, I do have a few tattoos.  Sure, you can see it.   Yes, getting one does hurt, some areas more than others.  What does it mean?  Well, this anchor represents the fact that I am anchored by my faith, the compass reminds me of where I have been & where I am going, and the dove represents the hope I have in Christ.

Yes, we are moving to another country.  It is hard to leave our home, but we realized it was just a building.  Our hearts are not here… they are a long plane ride away.  No, not everyone is called to do this.  We prayerfully considered it and brought others in to the fold to pray along with us.  God continually affirmed the calling with his provisions, blessings, and divine appointments.

We could be offended by everything, or we can look at it is an opportunity to share.

I can be offended.

~ OR ~

I can be inviting.

Consider… if a person can’t ask you a simple question… about the size of your family, the way you dress, or about the ink on your skin…

What can they safely ask you?

When you have been snarky and responded to their questions with contempt, disgust, or curtly…   Do you really think they want to talk to you about the big stuff? Raising children?  Adoption?  Abortion?  Gay Marriage?  God and salvation through Jesus Christ?

Your quick off the cuff retorts are not inviting them into conversation.  Instead you are pushing them away, you are letting them know you are not a safe person to talk to.

And if that is how you are responding…. What kind of light are you shining in this dark world?

Ask me anything.  I won’t be offended.  I will answer your questions.  Sometimes a question is just a question, a curiosity.  Sometimes a question is an attempt to understand a person, situation, or belief better.  BUT… sometimes… a question is an invitation into a bigger and better conversation.

Giving Back: Family Christian, Una Esperanza and Me

As a blogger, occasionally I get asked to review a book, movie or even music… and I love to do it.  I am an avid reader to begin with, as a trained actress… I LOVE movies… and frankly who doesn’t enjoy music?  So, it’s not as if anyone is twisting my arm to participate.  I generally look through the opportunities and only pick the ones I was planning to read any way, or that sparked my attention.

Recently, Family Christian presented an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.  They were looking for bloggers interested in participating in their #GivingBack campaign.  Everyone interested was asked a simple question: If you were given $50 to spend on someone else; what would you do with the money, who would it go to, and why?

A family from my town has been called into full time missions in rural areas of Nicaragua, and immediately I thought of helping them.   In the transition process to the mission field they are heading back to Nicaragua this summer for a month, working with organizations on the ground.  This won’t be their first trip, and I had a bit of knowledge of their agenda for while they are there.  Their kids were already working on a few supply drives.  Their daughters:  collecting dresses.  Girls in Nicaragua need to dresses to attend school.   Their boys:  collecting flip flops.  Shoes are a definitely blessing and flip flops travel easy.  In the US we are blessed to have them in abundance during the summer and in many places for just $1 a pair!

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I knew they were raising money for their clean water project, and mission soccer balls to leave with the kids (they have Bible verses printed on them, HOW COOL!).   I pondered for a bit, and remembered that on their last trip they brought Bibles to leave with families, and I knew that was a great way to spend $50.

I hunted through Family Christian and found these great New Testament Spanish Bibles for under $2 a piece!

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I presented my idea, amongst a LOT of really good ones I might add.  And….

I was one of the bloggers selected!

I played with the shopping cart a bit to make sure I could hit max capacity on number of bibles, and paid the shipping myself… so I could add a couple more.  And then I waited for the box to arrive.

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 Opening boxes that come from UPS and FedEx have always been fun for me, but this was definitely one of the best feelings ever!  It was a box of blessings.

I was blessed by Family Christian to be chosen.

Una Esperanza was going to be blessed by me.

People in Nicaragua are going to be blessed by Una Esperanza.

I never stop standing in awe of how God dishes out blessings.  TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

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I packed up the box, made contact with the family to arrange a day to drop off a surprise…. and off I went with my mystery box!

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It was a joy and a privilege to drop off the bibles to this family, who is following the Lord’s call to serve the families, churches and many more in the rural areas of Nicaragua.  Please join me in praying for their endeavors, God’s provision, their travels, God’s direction on the ground, their safety and that through them lives will be changed on earth and toward HEAVEN! 

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A HUGE Thank You to Family Christian for making this possible!

On behalf of myself and the Huttula Family

…. and the many people of Nicaragua that will be blessed by your decision to give back to our communities here and abroad.

Keep up the good work, run the good race, faithful servants.

If you would like more information or to donate to their Mission, check out Una Esperanza (One Hope)

Or follow them on facebook  to see how you can help, or stay up to date on current and future missions projects in Nicaragua.

Una Esperanza is a recognized 501c3, Non-Profit Organization founded by The Huttulas.

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 #FCblogger #GivingBack