I am thirty something years old with four children of my own, and, to this day, knowing my parents are proud of me is still a big deal! Pleasing God first, of course, is my ultimate goal. I was blessed with parents who love Him above all and taught me to walk in His ways. I am where I am today because of their influence. I would love to be half the mother my mother is. Here are some of my mom, Carol Land’s thoughts on being Mom of a missionary.
There is nothing like the feel of your newborn babe in your arms, a feeling that you sometimes wish would last forever. I used to sit and rock my firstborn at night, praying for God to guide his life. I would say, “Lord, if he is not going to get saved or live his life for you, take him now.” Now, no parent wants to lose their child, but my heart’s desire was for my children to live for the Lord. If my son started coughing the next day, I would beg God, “Lord, not today!” That’s how we mothers are. We pray for God’s will for our children, but we don’t always really want to let them go.
I soon had three young children fairly close in age, and I prayed the same prayer for all of them. Even though I had a college degree, my husband and I made the choice to do whatever was necessary so that I could be a stay-at-home mom. I understand that not all moms make the same choice, but the Lord impressed upon my heart that this was the right decision for our family. Condescending friends thought I sat at home doing nothing all day. Looking back, I don’t regret the decision I made, even though it meant our family went without a few things. Once, when I forgot about my worth as a mom, my own mother sensed my stress and pulled out a picture I had drawn in first grade. On the back, I had written the words, “When I grow up, I want to be a mother.”
I kept the picture and pulled it out from time to time as a reminder that God had given me my heart’s desire. I was not a perfect mother, but I did my best to keep communication lines open and a strong bond with my children. I disciplined them according to Biblical principles, which was not always easy. To this day, I do not claim to have all of the answers. Every child is an individual with different needs, and what works with one may not work with another.
My babies didn’t stay babies for very long. As they grew, I prayed for the Lord to direct their paths, and to help ME accept that path. After church camp one year, my teenage daughter, Rebecca, told me she thought the Lord wanted her to be a missionary. I told her that I wanted her to follow the Lord. In my mind, however, she and her brothers were going to be my “little” children forever. I couldn’t imagine them ever growing up.
It wasn’t long and my girl was grown up and considering serving in Peru after a missions trip there. I thought I could handle that. Then, she met what she called, a “tall, handsome, godly man” headed to Africa of all places. How could we let her go far across the ocean to AFRICA? “I would rather her be in God’s perfect will in Africa, than teaching or sitting behind a desk in America out of God’s will,” my husband would say.
My daughter has been serving on the mission field for many years, but it is still not easy to completely let go. I will always be the same mother who rocked her to sleep and wants her to be safe. I know, however, that God has mighty plans for her life, family and ministry. Here are a few ways that we parents can “let go;” yet still “hold on” as we keep our loved ones in our heart and life.
Don’t try to keep them from God’s will thinking we know better than God or their husbands. In myself, I couldn’t let my daughter follow her husband to a new country in West Africa at seven months pregnant with her first child, but in Him I could “do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13) I could have questioned God’s timing, but He was in control, not Mama
Rely on God. How could ANY parent let their children go out into this would without trusting in God to take care of them?
Remember what you raised them for. I raised my children to live for the Lord so why should I complain when that means His path leads them far from me? I should rejoice that they are in His will.
Communicate. It is so much easier than it used to be when we made those rare expensive phone calls. My daughter knows she can call me at any moment with a question about a recipe or a serious prayer request. (It paid to keep those communication lines open when she was little and through those teenage years!)
Visit the mission field. It helped me see their burden first hand. My first trip was a REAL culture shock, but by the 6th and 7th trip, I understand better. Yes, it’s an extra expense to go, but how could we not? (After all that’s what grandparents do! ) A bird’s eye view helps you pray better and more specifically. Meeting church members, new Christians, and other missionaries puts names and faces together so that we can understand who we are talking or emailing about. Verbal explanations alone give no indication of what my daughter’s home looks like or what the villages they travel to are like. I have walked away from trips with a greater appreciation for their work. The experiences you are able to share with them while visiting are wonderful. Having an elephant in the wild chasing the car while the grands are shouting with glee, is something I’ll never forget.
Share their burdens. Pray for them, but try not to fret TOO much (at least not to their faces.) Yes, they are your family, but they are in God’s hands. If they have a burden they need to know that a strong prayer warrior is holding the ropes for them at home.
Do not make them feel guilty for following HIM away from YOU. We can be their greatest source of encouragement or their greatest source of discouragement, whichever we chose.
Help them and bond with them when they are home. In the past, I have been able to help my daughter’s family set up a furlough home when they arrive and pack it up when they leave. I spend as much time with the grandchildren as I can, making memories to last for the next few years that they are away. I have taken special trips with my daughter. I take care of the children so she can get away. I do my best to be tuned in to her needs during that time while understanding that they still need to travel to meetings in churches all over the country.
Be excited for them. At the end of the last furlough, the grandchildren were excited about going back and/or the plane trip itself. How could I cry when they were so excited? I had to be happy for them and save my tears for the ride home. They know I miss them, but they know I am excited about what they are doing.
I send packages and get as much into a flat rate box as I can. I think that helps the grandkids to know that GG may be living in “GG’s world” but she knows where they are, too. I love sending unique things they can’t find on the field.
Thank you, readers, for letting my mom share a few thoughts with you, and thank you, Mom, for your love and support. May every mom’s ultimate goal be to encourage our children to follow the Lord’s will no matter where that path may take them.