He Still Speaks

Two weeks ago I had the privilege (thanks to my amazing husband) of attending a women’s missionary retreat where we spent 5 days studying the book of Matthew.  I must start off by saying that the word “retreat” was a little bit of a misnomer in my book.  I’ve never been to a retreat where relaxation time was put on the back burner.  When I saw the schedule I took a long, deep breath and asked God for the energy to soak it all up and not miss a thing!

This retreat turned out to be more of a spiritual renewal than a dip-your-toes in the ocean and vent kind of affair.  So, once I readjusted my expectations…God showed up!  My main goal for this time away was just that…to get away.  I wanted to shut down my homeschool Mom, phonetics teacher, toddler training and overall family facilitator brain OFF in order to hear my Father speak.  I needed to be still.

After our abrupt and completely unexpected departure from Burkina Faso, Daniel and I have been struggling with the “why” behind this relocation.  I go back and forth between, “God, I trust You and I don’t really need to know why this happened.” and “God, I really need to know what You’re up to!!”  The underlying constant that echoes out of both these heart cries is…”Even if…I trust You!”

With that in mind, I showed up to this retreat confident that God was gonna speak.  Admittedly, I was a little fearful of what I might hear.  But I was determined to lay my desires, fears, and doubts aside and JUST LISTEN.

Wednesday rolled around and with it came a longer personal time of reflection.  I was tired; I was missing my family (believe it or not!) and I was begging God for direction.  I found myself no longer asking Him “why” we had to leave Africa, but instead, “what” does He want from me/from us during this next year and a half here in Brazil.

Once my attitude changed and my focus shifted, God very gently…like He always does…said, “This time in Brazil is less about what you can do for me but what I want to do in your family.  It’s less about ministry and more about MY work in your kids’ lives.”  Wow.  Ok God.  I’m not gonna ask for all the details despite that fact I’d love a syllabus for these next 15 months.  I’m simply gonna be still and listen.  When you say move, I’ll move.  When you say stop, I’ll stop.  When you say, address this area…I’ll obey.  You say lean into me and trust I’m at work, I’ll lean.  When you say, these bad habits have got to go, I’ll steer my family in your direction.

Boy…what a weight lifted!  God has brought us out of a goal-oriented career ministry, in the middle of a stressful living situation in order for us to focus on our family life.  Now, I don’t want you to think that our family is falling apart.  Quite the contrary.  Despite the normal missionary life struggles, we are doing great!  But I believe that my God is omniscient and out of His love and mercy He has brought us to Brazil in order to equip us to better serve down the road wherever He leads.  And for some reason, Micah having to leave boarding school and do 10th grade here in Brazil (in the Fall) with me wasn’t by accident.  God sees down the road and He alone knows what we need to be prepared for.

With that in mind, I felt excited (for the first time in a long time) about having 3 homeschoolers under one roof in the Fall!  I know there will be challenges, but God is encouraging me to focus on their spiritual lives more this year while we’re out of the stress of living in Africa.  We were supposed to be learning a language this year.  Instead, God has us here where our attention is less divided and we can focus on our children and how they’re dealing with all of the change of location and ministry.

That leads me to my prayer requests.  Praise God with me because He is at work in our lives!  He is alive and He is faithful in leading His children!  Pray as I seek to incorporate more spiritual growth in our homeschool curriculum.  Pray for us as parents as we seek to nurture our boys’ relationships with their Savior.  It’s so easy for them to see their parents doing ministry and forget that they have a relationship with Jesus to cultivate.  Pray for us as we seek to encourage them to take part in “our” ministry.  With language barriers it’s easy for our kids to feel left out of ministry.  Pray God would give us creative strategies to get them involved both here and in Africa!  Pray for their hearts as each move and relocation gets harder and harder.  They’ve all expressed a lack of desire to return to Africa.   Micah is probably struggling the most with this transient missionary life.  While these emotions are not unexpected, pray for wisdom in how to deal with each child.  We long for each one of them to know that God is using and will continue to use all of their experiences during this season of life.

Our God is faithful!  We are encouraged and are looking forward to having Micah with us this month while he’s on Easter break!  We thank God for His protection while Micah traveled.  This is a big deal for a 14 year old…who looks 17!  (Please stop growing!)  It was a sweet reunion.  JoJo doesn’t want to leave her big brother’s side for nothing 🙂

 

Thank you all for your faithfulness as you sacrificially pray and give so the Gospel can go out!

In His Grip for His Glory,

Stephanie