5 Years ago I packed up our few belongings to come to be a “missionary” in Italy. At that point we did not know how long our stay here would be, but I was convinced (as was praying that God would convince Gianluca) that we were called to serve here as full-time missionaries. I didn’t really know what to expect from the adventure which lay before me. Everything was exciting and new.
Our years here have been a roller coaster- filled with lows, moments when you feel everything is dropping out from under you; and highs, moments when you are at the very peak able to see clearly what lies ahead and the beauty that lies all around you. I became a mother (in the sense of becoming pregnant) just 3 months after our arrival here- It was a surprise, but I had wanted to have children at the beginning of our career as missionaries in order to be able to dediate myself fully to the family while they were young and I was still learning and language and culture here. Yet, God has catapulted me onto the roller coaster ride from the first week we arrived. After one week I had already began counseling one young lady and after a couple months God had brought several others onto my path. I have often felt in conflict, knowing that the role of parent is an important one, but desiring to be more directly involved in the ministry as well. The partnership as a ministry team that I desired to have with my husband was difficult once our first child arrived, and nearly impossible after the quick arrival of our second. I saw how God was faithful to provide Gianluca many other resources to encourage and bless him as he saught to carry forward the ministry that God had entrusted us with, and I was thankful and yet it was difficult to not be a part of it.
And then I began to see the ministry that God had given me. So many families here are afraid to become parents, and the ones who have chosen to have kids often shrink away from the responsibility of parenthood. I began to talk with young mothers, and mothers-to-be. They shared with me how I was an example for them and asked advice on how to raise, discipline and educate their children. They began to ask questions about why I do things certain ways and to share how much they admire me for having the courage to have three children. These incidents allowed me to realize the tremendous responsability I have as a mother. I realized that people were observing me and how I relate to and care for my family and they are learning from me!
Yet, this is the least of my responsabilities. The role of parent is so important and not to be underestimated. God is helping me to shape the life of two (soon to be three) young persons. I am teaching them how to interact with other people, how to show respect, how to love each other, others, and their future spouses, how to speak, how to love and obey Jesus, what is the Bible, prayer and worship. When I live my responsibility with impatience and irritation my kids notice. They know if I am joyful to be their parent or if I am tired and would rather be doing something else- And so I began to challenge myself (and not just as a parent, but also as a wife). I challenged myself to do every task, mundane or super-spiritual, as if I was doing it for the Lord.
Philippians 2 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”, Galations 5:13 says, “…rather serve one another in love.” and 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I challenge myself to cook, clean the house, do the dishes, pray for my husband and our ministry, do our accounting and correspondence, iron Gianluca’s shirts, as if I was doing it unto the Lord- with sheer joy and passionate love. Realizing that these tasks contribute to his kingdom- these tasks that seem so mundane to so many people help Gianluca to be able to successfully accomplish all that God has called him to do. I challenge to myself to care for the kids, wash their clothes and their hair, cook their meals, teach them right from wrong, discipline them with love and patience, read them devotions, be silly and laugh with them, cuddle them and hug them, and tell them how much I love them, that they are special and that I am proud of them as if I was serving the Lord himself- with consistent, unwavering patience, and overflowing joy. Because I am doing these things for the Lord. Because how I live my life as a wife and a mother has a direct influence on our ministry here. Because if I am a success as a mother and wife, I am also more of a success in our couples ministry. Because more than all the courses I can prepare and teach to the young people who come to them, if I am not a living example of a devoted and loving wife and mother, than nothing I say will matter much.
It is hard sometimes to do everything we do as if we were doing it unto the Lord (1 Co 10:31). When we are cleaning up our daughter’s poop from the bed rails, blankets, stuffed animals, clothes, hair floor, etc, or when we are tired at 10 o’clock at night and don’t have the energy to cook our husband dinner when he has just walked in the door from a meeting…It is hard when you are a bus driver and all the kids are screaming and throwing things to understand how you can do what you do for HIS glory; it is challenging when you are a parent who is discipling his child for doing wrong to understand how you can handle the situation in a way that brings HIM glory; it is exasperating when you are a wife who is picking up her husbands socks from the floor how the task you are undertaking could be for HIS glory; it is hard to imagine as a youth worker how your endless, seemingly unheard speeches can be making a difference in the life of that adolesence…And yet it is! And yet you are! Your attitude, my behavior, give the Lord glory if we choose for them to. Your patience and love draw your kids to Christ and teach them how to live their lives or repel them away from you and God. Your service to your husband and family allow him to go to work and provide for you family with peace and joy. Your interactions with those around you at work, at school, at home, on the bus, in the store, and everywhere else you go can bring God glory. You are a tool to show God’s love to those who most need it. I am a tool to show God’s love to my family and to the body of Christ and to the lost here in Italy, and around the world who need it.
You are making a difference! . . . . .What kind of difference are you making?