Tiny pink discs resembling poker chips blossomed into jumbo, puffy prawn crackers after I dropped them in hot oil. The taste? Somewhere between Funyuns and prawn. If you were a kid in the 1980’s like me, you may have pressed Funyuns to your tongue to feel the bubbles pop. Same thing happens with prawn crackers.
My friends’ favorite snack. A groups of ladies and I were working through a Bible study for new believers in Jesus. Preparing for everyone to arrive at my flat, I was a little lethargic and sad. My husband was working in some remote villages for the second week in a row. For seven years we dreamed of these moments together and now we were experiencing them apart.
“I feel called to motherhood and to the work here. Why do the two feel at odds?”
Ponderings of a young, first time mother.
Even though I knew it wasn’t, I was feeling that my role was unimportant to our family’s work. Surely trekking was significant to “the cause” and dropping “poker chips” into hot oil was mundane. Daniel was investing in believers who wanted to impact the unreached people groups we were praying for. An integral part of our calling and passion.
And I was… deep frying things.
Also feeling joyful, I smiled contentedly because standing there cooking, I couldn’t see my feet past my round belly. That meant our daughter was healthy. We didn’t know if a baby would be possible and now I was carrying her. I was exactly where I should be. So many blessings, but with new feelings of frustration at experiencing significant moments apart from Daniel for the first time. We’d always worked together.
What I was about to learn may seem obvious, but when you’re deep in a new cross cultural living situation, things can get confusing. Actually when you’re in any new life situation for the first time, things can get confusing no matter where in the world you live. Relearning life in a new context comes with blessings and challenges.
I was investing in ladies God placed in my life and growing as I learned from them. They could reach women and families I could not. The unreached groups we prayed for lived in my friends’ home villages and they visited multiple times a year. Each woman represented a different people group of the wonderful country we lived in. Everything I had ever wanted. Except the feelings of discontentment.
Hot milk tea, water, and prawn crackers were arranged on the coffee table so we could gather around on the floor as usual. Shoes off, all of us reclining on pillows with Bibles in laps. We would pray, study, and talk the afternoon away while babies took naps on little blankets beside us. Small electric space heaters kept us warm when there was power and a pile of blankets did when there was not. (these memories are making me tear up)
That’s what always happened and I expected this week’s time to be the same. I rested on the couch to look over the material again and pray for our group. I loved sharing God’s Word and fellowship with my sisters in a South Asian language, but couldn’t quiet the feeling God was using Daniel to fulfill His calling for our family more than me. Manicured, smooth feet under a pregnant belly seemed less exciting than climbing muddy hillsides in a pair of Merrells.
The joy of connecting with a new culture as an expectant mother and the frustration of not “participating in ministry” with Daniel dominated my thoughts until an unexpected visitor walked into my living room. An elderly woman in tribal dress. Wanting to purchase supplies and attend the study with her daughter, she’d been on a long trip to the capital. A believer who was eager to learn and share with others in her village.
A reminder that God’s plan for unreached people groups in our country was much bigger than my desire to go trekking. It was bigger than my momentary joy and frustration. His plan for our family was happening in ways I could not perceive with my tiny human brain. Motherhood, something I had longed for, was not preventing me from helping believers work among unreached groups. It was fulfilling that very desire, but I needed to understand it would happen in different ways than I imagined. We were in the first steps of learning to live in the new life circumstances He had placed us in.
I was connecting with ladies who were encouraging and teaching me as I carried my daughter. They were growing in their faith and sharing stories of God impacting their families and villages with His Word. Daniel was changing and growing in his new role of expectant father and disciple maker in South Asia. The men he was in relationship with were capable of impacting the western regions God put in our hearts. He was using each of us within our spheres of influence to accomplish His work.
What I learned from my loving sisters in South Asia— life is not divided into compartments. Motherhood and my family’s calling are not separate things. They mingle like ingredients to make a delicious cake. I had definitely been enjoying motherhood and “my calling”, but didn’t understand they weren’t separate things.
Motherhood was new for me after seven years of marriage and I didn’t understand how to go forward from that point; especially in the first two years of being in a new culture. But God taught me how through the wonderful life I shared with my sisters.
A surface frustration (I wish I could go trekking with my husband!) became a lesson addressing a deeper need: understanding what a gift every single part of my life is. Life isn’t divided into secular and sacred. Everything is important and useful to God.
As our daughter grew, we accompanied Daniel on some trips and I learned what a blessing it is for God to use us as a family. I’m thankful. He gave me what I longed for in His timing and in a better way than I could have imagined before.
I’m grateful for the gift of motherhood; not only because it’s such a deep disciple-making experience, but for it’s role in God conforming me to the image of His Son. It’s humbling and the most challenging work I’ve ever been a part of.
Our family has become a beautiful and sacred gift I get to cultivate and enjoy. How God will use us to accomplish His plans…I’m learning to find joy in leaving that up to Him.
©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
– I love her perspective on motherhood:
– I’m working on some ideas about how a family can engage a community/neighborhood with the gospel. I’ll post it in a few weeks.
– My husband couldn’t get past the first paragraph without watching something about Funyuns. He really wanted me to add this. So here it is 🙂