Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's my Mission?



Missions trips. Everyone talks about them, and it feels like everywhere you turn you hear about them. I don't know about you, but some times I feel like I'm bombarded with "mission-focused" promptings.

When I walk out to get the mail, there lies a bulk mailer with photos of children living in horrendous conditions on the other side of the world – followed with a plea for help.

When I pull up social media, there are feeds full of various blogs and statuses from ministries around the world updating everyone on the latest and greatest that's taking place within their ministry – followed with a plea for help.

When I go to church, there are multiple missions trip opportunities I hear about, both locally and abroad – followed with a plea for help.

When I turn on the TV, there are commercials about how "Just $1 a day can make a difference..." along with sad imagery of hungry children living in filth – followed with a plea for help.

Let's be honest, it can be overwhelming, thinking about missions trips. And I don't mean in an obnoxious-why-can't-they-stop-asking-for-my-money kind of way. I mean in a deep-yearning-to-help-but-not-knowing-where-to-begin kind of way. That's what I've been struggling with lately.

For years I've had a desire to go on one of the many missions trips our church takes down to Honduras where they've built a relationship with a church there. All the information I've gotten and updates I've heard from teams that've returned has my heart screaming, "I'M SUPPOSED TO BE THERE!". I follow a few different blogs of ministries that are close to my heart and every time I read an update my heart hurts and again, I feel it screaming, "I'M SUPPOSED TO BE THERE!"... then just as suddenly as my heart begins aching and my mind start racing with all the possibilities of ways I could help THERE, I take a quick glance at the clock and remember, "Shoot! That's not REALLY what time it is, is it? I'm supposed to be picking a child up and getting them somewhere, then we have a therapy appointment, and Special Olympics practice, and I need to squeeze in grocery shopping, and...! EEEKK!!!".

Reality hits. How on earth can a self-employed mom {with 2 businesses} who's responsible for getting her daughter with special needs to multiple private therapy appointments each week, plus who helps coordinate and manage the local Special Olympics team's weekly practices, plus who does all the finances, cooking, and house management {including being the one that gets the kids up, ready, and off to school each day — and is the one who arranges my schedule to make sure I'm always home when the kids get home from school} supposed to pick up and make a trip half way around the world for a couple of weeks? I mean, really. How's THAT going to happen? Last time I checked, you couldn't just "rent-a-mom" while you're on a missions trip.

*Sigh* My dreams of traveling to a far, far away country swooping in with the good news and hope of Christ along side weary folks who just need a fresh set of hands to help out and a big fat "AIMEE HUG" have been put on hold...at least for now. And that's been a bit frustrating for me, quite frankly. Growing up, all I ever heard at church and bible camp was, "Just say to God, 'Send me!' and he'll use you for great things - He'll send you where you're supposed to be!". I remember meeting the countless missionaries who came through the doors of the different churches we attended when I was younger, each of them with magnificent stories of how God was doing miraculous things and how they were being used by Him to spread the gospel. Well here I am, enthusiastically jumping up and down with my hand raised like a flamboyant {slightly obnoxious} 6-year-old who knows the answer to the teacher's question at school. But God's not seeing me...or at least that's how I'd felt. Overlooked.

Over the past few months, I've really been praying about where God wants me to focus my time and energy {beyond my day-to-day mama/wife time and energy}. I've stepped back from a few different things {even obligations at church – *gasp!*}, and have really tried to take some time to listen and get a better grasp on what I'm supposed to be doing. This summer was filled with many great weeks/weekends away at our cabin with family and friends. We had many wonderful opportunities to spend time with and talk with our friends and family who came to stay/visit. But more importantly, my husband and I had some time to re-connect and talk through where we are in life. It's amazing how getting away from the busyness of our everyday lives can help reveal things that you may have been overlooking...or were too busy to see in your normal day-to-day craziness.

Through my past couple months of reflection, I've learned something. Actually, I think I have always known it, but was reminded again of this. Serving the Lord doesn't necessarily mean you pack up everything you can fit in a duffle bag and head to a foreign land. For many it does. But for many more, God has a place for you to serve right where you are. He's waiting to use you in so many areas. In your neighborhood. In your kid's schools. In your community. In your workplace. These are ALL mission fields. In fact, if we let HIM lead, each time we step foot outside our homes...we're headed on a missions trip. Think about it.

There's something else I've been reminded of lately. While I inwardly yearn to go on a missions adventure overseas or to another country, there are ways that I can make a difference here...even if I'm not there. God's given us all talents and abilities to do a variety of things. Many people are great with accounting, or event planning, or project managing, or playing an instrument. My gift {the primary one} is creating art. Sounds reeeeeeal holy and "set apart", huh? As I sat and tried to think of how I could use my gifts to make a difference, I began to see areas where I could help. For example, how many non-profit ministries have the funds to hire a graphic designer to design a logo for them so they can look "put together" and professional in their efforts? Or how many have funds to hire a designer to put together t-shirt designs that can be sold as a means to help raise funds? Or to help create thank you cards they can send to people who have supported them financially? Or to create website graphics? Um, I'm guessing not too many. And how many non-profit ministries can afford to purchase wall art for their ministry facilities? Hmmm, probably not too many. But what's that you say? I CAN?!? Oh yeah, that's right. I'm a graphic designer. Looking for ways to help.

So for now, as I wait for that time when life is a little less demanding in the "mommy department", I'll use my gifts on the mission fields here at home...and will help support those in the mission fields far away in whatever way I can, while also looking for opportunities locally to cover others with the contagious love of Christ. With this renewed sense of direction, I'm excited to see where God's going to "send" me. My challenge for you this week is to take a deep breath, reflect on what is truly important in this short life here on earth, and try to see what mission field God wants you to be focusing on – whether it be near or far away. Here I am Lord, send me.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Isaiah 6:8



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