It was a dark and stormy night… just kidding, it was actually a beautiful summer day and I was sitting in a hospital in late August having just given birth to my fifth baby in five years (at the age of 37!). I didn’t even know that was possible, but somehow, I did it. I was exhausted and overwhelmed, I hadn’t slept through the night in almost six years, I was hormonal and emotion having just lost my hormone factory (placenta) and having a somewhat traumatic birth, and now here I sat with a very jaundice newborn, wondering if my life would ever be more than doctors appointments, baby drool, and dirty diapers. Somehow our blood had mixed in utero and since the types weren’t the same he was battling very high bilirubin numbers. They had kept us for five days under the bili lights, and now we were driving a half hour each way into the hospital every day to keep an eye on the bili levels. I was sitting in the chapel of the hospital trying to find somewhere quiet where I could try to nurse this newborn, who was still not sure how to nurse (but nursing is a whole other story!), and since nobody really visits the chapel, I figured that was a safe spot to whip out a breast and wrangle this sweet baby onto a nipple that was very exposed while he screamed and I cried because he was hungry but struggled with getting a good latch.
But this isn’t where the story starts, it starts a few years back, when I was 27 years old. I was divorced and approaching 30 and felt like my life was over, and we all know 30 is too told to start life over and have kids, so I was convinced I was an old maid and nothing good could be made of my life, I’d just grow old quietly in my parents basement while the rest of the happy world went on without me.
Little did I know, God had another plan for my life. I had a wonderful encounter with the Lord where He radically crashed into my circumstances, and I surrendered my life to him. I was so transformed by that experience, and I found an incredible new hope and joy, that I wanted everyone in the whole world to experience this same amazing love that now filled me with life, light, hope, and joy. So, I set off for the mission field. I went on 14 short-term mission trips in 24 months. I was a real estate agent at the time, and I had purchased my own home and was renting that out for income. I would come home from a trip, sell another house, and leave again. It was working out perfectly. I went to India, Tanzania (Africa), Costa Rica, and multiple times into Mexico. I was free as a bird and living a life filled with adventure. Nothing could tie me down, or hold me back… until…
I met a very handsome, God loving, praying, world-changing man when I was 30. We were going to go to the mission field together and do great exploits for Jesus all around the world! We got married very shortly thereafter and two months into marriage, I was pregnant. I gave birth to my first baby in Nov. of 2007, then another baby in Jan. of 2009 (14 months later) and then another baby in Feb. of 2010 (just 13 months later!,) then I figured out how babies were made, and we slowed it down a little and didn’t have another baby until Sept. of 2011 (a full 19 months later), and then we thought we were done, but we changed our mind and squeezed in one more in Aug. of 2013, a whopping 23 months later. That made my oldest child 5 years old by the time I had my 5th baby. And all those years, I was nursing babies, or pregnant, wiping snotty noses, cleaning dirty tushies, changing a bazillion diapers, and doing all the things moms with little kids do. And I NEVER left the house, because that was way too scary with so many little children!! Needless to say, I was a bit of a frazzled, exhausted, just surviving mama. If we made it to the end of the day with no injury, it was a success. My house was a disaster zone. My life was messy! (This wasn’t what I thought my life would look like!
So back to that day in the hospital trying to nurse my newborn while waiting for bilirubin numbers. There I sat, honestly very underwhelmed with where my life was at that age. I had wanted to travel the world, and tell everyone about the life and hope I’d found in Jesus, and instead, here I was having barely left my home in the past six years, with no hope or vision for actually going out to do anything world-changing for Jesus. This was something I really struggled with almost daily, feeling like the world was passing me by while I sat locked up at home, almost as if I was in prison, with all these little angels who needed me 24/7. I wasn’t accomplishing anything for Jesus or the kingdom, or so I thought.
I had finally gotten little Ezra settled into nursing, and I looked up at the chapel wall where they had many beautiful stained-glass windows. And I read these words… “Feed the hungry” and there was a nice picture with it, and “Clothe the naked” and “Give water to the Thirsty” and as I read, Feed the Hungry, I felt the weight of the Presence of the Lord, and He whispered so gently, “Everyday you feed the hungry, you give water to the thirsty, and you clothe the naked.” Then I argued with him that I TRIED to clothe the naked, but man, keeping them toddlers dressed was a CHORE! They don’t like clothes sometimes. And He said, “You are changing the world, every single day, by loving this child in front of you. When you do it for them, you’ve done it for me.” And I realized that I needed to change my perspective of what “Ministry” really is. It’s not always flying to exotic destinations to share the good news of Jesus, sometimes, the most powerful ministry, is wiping a snotty nose.
So Mama, I know you have so many plans and dreams and hopes in your heart for your life and what it should look like and all that you want to accomplish, and trust me, you will get there, but today, and in this season, know that the most powerful way you will change the world and leave your mark on the world, will be through the lives of your kids. Every dish and load of laundry you wash is ministry unto God. Every meal you cook, every tear you wipe, every homework assignment you coach them through, every hug, every tickle, every snuggle, it pleases God’s heart. You will have time again to do all that is in your heart, but kids are young for such a short time, and you only get to keep them in your arms and home for a short season, so soak it up and enjoy it. I promise you, the world will still be there when your kids are grown.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Math. 25:34-40