Saturday, August 27, 2016


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I've been thinking about this little girl lately, and remembering when we first jumped into serving with Safe Families . . .

{REPOST from September 25, 2012}

Imagine two scenarios with me:

A young mother with three children, ages 4, 2 and 6 months. Alone, homeless, scared, and embarrassed to seek out help from family. Needing help but nowhere to turn.

A young missionary family living in Indonesia. Monthly support provides a decent home with plenty of food & necessary provisions. Their aim: to serve the local people and to live a life of love among them, doing what they can to reach out and point to Jesus.

If we were that Indonesian family and Jesus brought that young mother to our door and she needed us to watch the 2-year-old for a few weeks while she could start a new job and get back up on her feet and we had the resources to help her, we would say "Yes! That's what we're here for!"

In truth, I expect the Indonesian missionaries to open their home in such a way and in that situation. And then I ask myself: why is it any different here in Indiana? Do I have the resources, space, time, love, concern, and mission in life? Why do I expect such "sacrifice" and action from the Indonesian missionaries?

This comparison has been burning in my mind and heart over the past few weeks. 

And then Jesus said, "You're not off the hook, Jana. I'm bringing 'mission' right to your door right here in Indiana."

Enter C, a real-life mother here in our city, homeless and with three children. Enter G, her super cute 2-year-old daughter. Enter us, a typical midwest family with busy lives. Enter Safe Families, a ministry that connects the local Church with local hurting families with nowhere to turn.

G came to live with us for a week. My first little girl. 

Justus and G playing together on the kitchen floor.

I was quite suddenly thrown into the busy life of a mother with two children needing constant care and attention. She was so precious--lots of little conversations, potty-training, fish crackers, trying to figure out what she liked to eat, needing comfort when she missed her mommy. Suddenly she was with us (found out Sunday, picked her up on Monday) and suddenly she was taken away (expected her to be with us for at least a month, but she was unexpectedly able to return to her mother after only a week). Such a small "inconvenience" and such an immense blessing to our family.

Justus loved having G. They would snuggle and play together.
Such a priviledge to be her surrogate mother and to love on her for a week.
Such a pleasure to serve her mother in this way.
Such a time of strengthing for our marriage to serve together (an unexpected & wonderful side effect).
Such a small and simple way to express Jesus' love to a hurting family.

Safe Families. It's not for the "super families" among us. We're just trying to live the Jesus-life in our city, loving the poor, the fatherless, the needy. Perhaps a ministry like this is your door to service, or maybe Jesus is starting to nudge your heart toward another aspect of the sacrifical/inconvenient/serving "missionary" life. 

If you ask me about it, I just might be living vicariously as an Indonesian missionary these days. My second little boy arrives in just a few hours.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


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It is hard and (related) I wasn't exactly made for it

There's this odd tension between believing that I was created with special gifting to do what He calls me to do versus simply accepting that He, the Creator and Almighty God, is able to empower me (super gifted or not!) to do whatever it is He asks me to do. I didn't grow up with aspirations to be a foster mom. If you would have talked to me eight years ago, it wouldn't even have been on my radar. And yet, here I am, an ordinary woman, wholeheartedly living this crazy life--by the Spirit's power and enabling.

How many people do we read about in the Bible who were nothing "special" and yet God amazingly equipped them for exactly the task He called them to do? I can think of David, Paul, Peter, Moses, and Jonah, to name a few. And isn't this when God gets the most glory? When we live out of His strength and not our own.

Thank You that You are not looking for ideal people with imposing lists of human qualifications, but that You use people whom the world calls foolish and weak, poor and insignificant. . . . Thank You that I, a common earthenware jug, contain the priceless treasure of Your life and glory, and so my every victory and accomplishment obviously comes from Your all-prevailing power, 
and not from me. Ruth Myers

So, please don't be tempted to think: "oh, she's just made for that" or "I could never do what you do." Those kind of perspectives don't exactly apply when the Spirit of God is involved in a human life. When we are weak and incapable and scared on our own, then He is faithful to show up strong and effective and courageous! When we are weak, He is strong (2 Cor. 12:10)!

Could it be possible we have it wrong? Maybe success isn't in believing I can do anything but in knowing I can do nothing. My limits--those things I wish were different about myself--are perhaps not holding me back but are pointing me forward to pay attention to my small, eight-foot assignment. It seems to me when I finally recognize my inability is when Christ shows up as able within me. But he doesn't equip me to do every job possible, he equips me to do the job meant for me. Emily P. Freeman "Simply Tuesday" (visit her blog here)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


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Motherhood isn't the absence of other desires

Let me preface this by setting the record straight that I do love being a mother and I am so honored to be able to stay home with my children. However, I feel some assume of me that I do this because of a lack of / disinterest in other ambitions and desires. That couldn't be further from the truth! Embracing my current role as a mother and staying home full-time has most certainly involved a laying-down of my own "life plan" (whatever that is/was).

I loved being a career woman. I loved going to the office every day. I loved traveling and dancing and playing music on Sunday mornings. Many of those things I miss very much.

But this season God has asked me to do something different--something hard, something that looks a little more like cross-bearing. These days are for training children and opening our home for Bible studies and singing silly songs in the kitchen and doing endless loads of laundry--all for the glory of God.

Resources that have encouraged me in this season:
"The Ministry of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson
Sarah Parshall Perry on Chris Fabry Live! radio show (author of "Mommy Needs a Raise")

Monday, August 1, 2016


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Mixed up in all these stories

When you welcome a stranger child(ren) into your home, they come with biological parents and case workers and therapists. They come with their own story of heartbreak and struggle (that you must work to piece together best you can). Then you meet the biological parents with their own history of pain. Layer upon layer of heartache and history.

Before you realize what is happening, your heart and your life begin to get tangled up in the midst of all these stories. It is hard and an honor, all at the same time. One day I said to myself: we're just mixed up in so many stories.

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).