God in my hoping
There in my dreaming
God in my watching
God in my waiting
Just as quickly as I sang the words a thought was deposited in my heart that was such an encouragement to me that I knew I needed to share it with you.
I have shared in the past about crying in my living room as a 5 year old because I wanted orphans to have a home and not be split up from siblings. I have carried that in my heart since, and honestly I have been frustrated with the burden because I have 7 of my own and no ability to physically provide for or take in other children. Once while reading Mary Beth Chapman's book, "Choosing to See", I became so frustrated, I just sobbed and begged God to take this burden away if he wasn't going to give me the ability to follow through. He spoke to my heart and said, "You may not be able to care for their physical needs but there are a lot of spiritual orphans out there who need someone to love and teach them." Wow! That brought so much comfort and peace that I no longer begged God to take away the burden but instead I use it as a reminder to pray for them and kids are always welcomed in our home. My kids have brought friends to our house and we have been a safe place that freely shares Christ. We have even seen some of them give their lives to Christ! There is no way to describe the radiant beauty of a young girl as she announces that she accepted Jesus as her Savior. There is no sweeter sound than the squeals and laughter of joy bubbling over in anticipation of a baptism. When I thought my dreams were impossible and forgotten, the God who excels in the impossible remembered and refined my dreams to match up with His.
As a freshman in a Christian school, I was introduced to Teen Mania. It provided opportunities for teens to go on mission trips. I’d never even thought about such a thing but something inside me was stirred and I wanted to go. I knew we had no money for such things but I was told that you get sponsors and don’t have to come up with all the money on your own. I went home and asked my parents who quickly shot down my plans. There was no way I could earn that much money and they were not about to send their daughter across the ocean. I pressed a little but knew the answer was, “No”, so I dropped it but I never lost the desire. (This would be a good example of a time my parents might not have been perfect but they did what they knew to do. God even works in the midst of times that we don’t get it perfect.) Later, I had the privilege of financially supporting and praying for mission trips including every one of my siblings.
As a young mom taking care of Josh I have to admit I felt a little cheated. My baby sister was in Texas for a one year internship with Teen Mania that included a bunch of mission trips. Changing diapers, making toast and reading the same story 1,000 times felt so unimportant. Then I read Matthew 25, “37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I saw it in a whole new light. Aren't children one of the least? Every day I see my baby hungry and feed him. I see him thirsty and give him something to drink. I dress him and care for him when he’s sick. I am ministering to Jesus even though I have no audience and there is no one to thank me but a sweet, blue-eyed baby whose just learning to say, Dada. I looked at mothering different after that. I saw loving and caring for my children for the treasure it is. So I poured my life into them, holding nothing back. I spoke to them constantly about Jesus in our sitting and as we walked along the road. I may not be a missionary across the ocean but I had little ones under my roof to train in the ways of God. I was a missionary in my home.
Marty & I prayed through many storms, that tried to discourage and defeat us. For starters, I didn't seem to be able to get pregnant. We kept trying but nothing was happening, until one Sunday when Calista came up to me and asked if she could pray for me. I hadn't even told her of the barrenness that seemed to be mine but she prayed. It was awkward for us both since I hadn't asked for prayer and she seemed nervous and uncomfortable as well. When she finished she apologized for being “weird” but said that when she was praying she saw a crust around me that fell off. Neither of us knew what it meant. One week later, Joshua David was conceived. My pregnancy was not carefree and he was nearly born 2 months early. When he was born, after intense travail, he wasn't breathing but praise the Lord he is just fine now.
Much to our surprise it wasn't wasn't very long until we found out Kristin Joy was on her way. Things went more smoothly with her until she was 8 hours old. She made a funny sound then went limp in my arms. A nurse whisked her away and I waited the longest 20 minutes of my life to know if my baby girl was dead or alive. When they brought her back it was only on her way to NICU and I could barely see her a midst all the tubes and masks. Today she is strong with the most adorable crooked smile to remind me of the day God breathed life back into her tiny lungs.
Soon after that we found out that Jared Nathan was coming. He was born and everything seemed fine except that he was an extremely boring baby for the first 3 months. He didn't make eye contact and rarely ever smiled at you. I thought maybe I’d just forgotten how long it takes a baby to interact, until the doctor said to me, “I don’t think he sees anything. Here is the name of a specialist.” My world fell apart and I had no business driving home. I know an angel got our car there because I couldn't see anything through my tears. I tested over and over again and the only time I could get a response out of him is if he heard me or felt my touch. No wonder he never hit at the toys we put in front of him. That Sunday at my Mom’s insistence I took him up for prayer just hoping they wouldn't yell and shout and make a scene. They didn't. I’m not even sure if the pastor really believed anything would happen. There were no visions, no tingles. Just a prayer and an awkward departure. Later that day out of habit I put him on the floor with those same toys he’d ignored his whole life. But this time, he reached for them! I moved them and he followed them with his eyes! I moved them close enough to reach and he hit them, over and over again. The specialist had no idea why I came because Jared’s sight was better than the average baby his age. To this day he does not wear glasses, even though several siblings do.
We weathered job loss and skinned knees and home school that was "too hard". We faced disobedience and tantrums; sickness and diapers. But eventually all 5 of our children were starting to grow up. I read an article about how families are needed for orphanage missions because the children will treat the orphans like children and give them a sense of freedom to be, instead of being the victim that needs to be felt sorry for. I began to wonder, God could you use my family on the mission field to orphanages? A few days later, I started feeling very sick. I became so sick that everyone at church had to help me with everyday tasks because I was too weak. They still talk about how worried they were about me when I would come to church every Sunday and be so worn I couldn’t even sit up but had to prop myself up on Marty. Noah Martin was a total shock and he put my body through the wringer but today he & I are healthy and strong. A family missions trip was out of the question especially when we found out Elijah Michael was coming to join our family as well.
We lost our home and our van. The storms of life looked as if they were going to win and we would go down in defeat. I wondered how my children would ever recover. I saw the pain in their faces as life got frightening. “Praise You in the Storm” became our song and Marty would play it often. I dared not dream anymore, life hurt too much for that. But as I look back over our lives, I see that God was shaping and molding all 9 of us through every trial. He was preparing us for things beyond our dreams, things we couldn't even imagine. The God who specialized in the impossible did not forget His dreams for us and he knew better than anyone what it would take to prepare us for them, even when we cried out in pain.
I have never gone and I may never go on a mission trip overseas but my prayers and dreams are not left forgotten. They are being refined. So far, Joshua has been to New York & Peru. He has witnessed to countless people in school or wherever he can find people willing to talk. We even had the chance to love and care for one of his friends who didn't have a solid home, planting seeds that we still pray will grow.
Kristin has been to Mexico City but more importantly she has witnessed to everyone who will listen at school. We are even privileged enough to see some of the fruit from that. We, also, had the chance to be a safe haven for several of her friends who needed one.
Jared has been to Wyandotte and he is not shy about his witness at school. He has a passion for people and pours himself into them. He recently told me he is considering a life of helping orphans in India. In the meantime, he is studying and praying about how to start a Bible study at school.
Victoria went to Mexico City and touched many lives there. She loves showering kids with love and wants to go back. She is already trying to figure out ways to raise money so she can take more people with her next time. She is making these choices despite a ton of pressure not to go.
Matthew went to Wyandotte and served there. Now he keeps talking about wanting to go to Kenya this November.
Noah is excelling in Junior Bible Quiz and loves talking to people about what he is learning.
Eli told me recently that he wants to be a pastor. I said that might work since he loves people and he loves to tell stories about Jesus. He grinned really big as he said, “And most importantly, I love Jesus with my whoooooole heart!”
Here’s the thing. I thought my dreams were impossible. I thought God was being cruel to put such a passion in my heart for something that could never be. I went about my daily life making breakfast and snack and lunch and snack and supper and snack and… I folded laundry that seemed like it would touch the ceiling. I swept floors a million times, the whole time wondering why I even fed them since it all ended up on the floor anyway. I felt unappreciated and insignificant. I cleaned up more puke and pee than any one person should ever have to deal with in a lifetime. I have wiped noses that ran like waterfalls and kissed skinned knees on top of skinned knees. I've lost my temper and my keys. I've left children places or tried to pick them up long before they should have been ready. I've spent all night fixing things only to see them undone a few hours later. I've tried to pick up toys like collecting snowflakes in a blizzard. I've celebrated victories and cried in defeat. But God is refining and preparing us for what He has ahead. Not one moment was lost. None of it was for naught. He had a hope and purpose for every single second. I could never have gone into all the places my kids have been. I can’t sit in 7 different classrooms and be a witness to my peers but each one of my kids can. I may never be a missionary outside my own home but I have 7 kids who want to go. They can be 7 times more effective than I alone can ever be.
All of us have dreams that we think are broken and forgotten. All of us have disappointments with the way things have turned out. I am right there with you but that Sunday as I reached out toward my Savior and sang, “God in my hoping
There in my dreaming, God in my watching, God in my waiting” I was comforted. He is God. Stop and think about that for a moment. The Creator of all that we see, God. The one who is so powerful that a simple word could wipe us all out, wants to interact with us. He wants to see our dreams refined into something much greater than we are capable of understanding. None of them are broken or lost. He knows them and while you may think you are just living every mundane day doing what you must, He is working behind the scenes. Even the things we think are awful and going to destroy us, even those things are for our good.
Don’t give up hope! It is not too late.
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Many Blessings, Misty Sunshine