God woke me up early this morning. I decided to take advantage of it and go for a run before the heat becomes unbearable and I'm stuck inside all day. So I packed Landon up, kissed my sleeping husband good-bye and off we went. I like to break up my runs with walking. It's when my world is quietest and I can hear God speak. I've found that I'm least likely to be distracted or interrupted during walks and while in the shower. Well my shower time has changed quite a lot since having Landon, I usually get interrupted now... oh well :)
So I was walking and talking to God. Praying for Ryan, pondering life and love (I'm a ponderer if you haven't realized;) I was thinking about parenting and how I believe God has called me to be a missionary mama. Let me explain...
While growing up, I always thought I would marry a pastor, youth pastor, or missionary. I just knew I wanted to be used by God and I thought I could do that best if I married one of those three options. I can't believe my theology was that messed up, but it's true. God changed my perspective when I met Ryan and I knew that he was who I was supposed to be with. Ryan and I always talked about how we didn't just want a normal life. We had dreams of going to Youth With a Mission in New Zealand, traveling the world, and being missionaries wherever God called us to. After we got married, God didn't seem to be leading us in that direction any time soon, but it was still a dream we had. When we found out that we were going to have a baby. I still believed that God had huge plans for Ryan and I, but it seemed like He was leading us to, what I thought, was a normal life. It's pretty difficult to travel the world with no money, a full time job, and a baby. I was thinking about this early on in my pregnancy when God just spoke to my heart. "Do you really think I need you to travel to use you? I've given you the highest calling and your asking me for something more? You want to do something close to my heart Natalie? Love your husband. Be an example to others of how to be a mother after my heart. What if I want you to be a missionary mama?"I was shocked as I digested what He had just said. The more I thought about it the more I realized how stupid I had been. What was the first institutions God put into place? Marriage and family. What is under attack and being destroyed by the enemy? Marriages and families. God has shown me that Christians are needed more in the home today than anywhere else in the world. I thought about my studies in marriage and family counseling. I remember hearing the astounding statistics that divorce is just as common in Christian homes as it is in non-christian ones. WHAT!! How can this be? Where are the missionaries who will dare to enter those homes and offer them healing and hope. How can we go out and change our worlds for Christ if our families and homes are falling apart?
God has lit a passion in me to be a missionary mama. I'm still learning what that looks like and what it means to have this title. Right now I know it looks like, praying for Landon everyday, it looks like kissing his papa in front of him so he'll grow up knowing that he's safe in our love. It looks like looking to other mothers for wisdom and reaching out to other new mommies. It looks like writing blogs and sharing my heart because God seems to be using that. It looks like stepping out of my comfort zone to teach my child the love of Christ.
These were the things I was pondering as I was running in Sertoma park this morning. I turned the corner and was running through the trees with the sunlight glistening through the leaves and it was so beautiful I had to stop. My heart was overflowing and I began to sing. In the secret, in the quiet place, in the stillness you are there, in the secret in the quiet hour I wait only for You cause I want to know you more. I was still singing when I turned the corner and couldn't help but realize there was someone laying on one of the picnic tables. I starred for a while and the figure never moved. I kept walking and continued to glance over at the figure. It wasn't a very large body and I couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman. I kept walking, but God nudged me and I started thinking what if it's a woman and she's hurt or just needs to know that God loves her. I hesitated, but I turned Landon's stroller around and started walking back toward the body laying limp on the table. I decided I would walk around the play ground, that way I could get a better look at it. As I was walking by the playground I met an older couple. They were walking toward the body. I turned around and watched as they obviously saw it, but kept walking. I turned around and as I got in view of the body again, I realized that it looked to be a man, a skinny man, but a man none the less. I felt like I was off the hook, but as I kept walking the need was still there. I knew that I wouldn't feel good about myself the whole day if I ignored the spirits leading. But God, it's a man. I can't go up to some creepy man by myself... with Landon. Don't you trust me to protect you? Yes, but.... ok... what do you want me to do? Get him breakfast. I knew the matter was settled and I started making my way to Dans supermarket. While I was walking God just kept pouring His love into my heart. I remembered when we were in the hospital and I wrote a blog about how we want to be a family that is familiar with suffering. We want to comfort others with the comfort we have received from God. I thought about this man on the picnic table. I thought about how God knows him. I thought about how last week I was embarrassed and hurt by a rude checkout lady at the grocery store who judged me because I was buying some groceries with the WIC checks we receive because Landon is on medicaid. When I got home, I wrote on my Facebook how rude this lady was to me and how I wanted to tell her that she shouldn't judge people because she doesn't know their story. God convicted me as I realized how I had judged the man on the picnic table. I assumed he was a creeper, murderer, drunk...etc. I don't know his story. I don't know what led him to sleep on a picnic table, but I know that he is made in the image of the almighty God whom I claim that I follow. I know that God loves him the same as he loves me. I know that God wants to deliver him breakfast and he asked me to be His hands and feet this morning. Do I want to be the kind of mom who shields my children from pain and darkness, or am I going to be a missionary mama? I want to teach Landon that Jesus loves the unlovely and shining God's light requires going into the darkness.
The closer I got to Dan's the more my excitement grew. I usually don't do things like this, but with every step I took toward answering Gods call the more peace I received. I got to the store, grabbed a basket, and made my way to the cooler. I didn't know if I should get him apple or orange juice so I got him both. Lord, it's supposed to be super hot out today too, I should get him water huh. So I grabbed some water bottles. Then I maneuvered my basket and stroller through the tables with the old men drinking their coffee and headed for the bakery. I'm not a donut eater so I have no idea what's good. I stood there looking at the wall of donuts and wondered what do I get for man on picnic table? I'm Mrs. Indecisive so it was not easy for me to buy donuts for someone I don't know when there was so many to choose from. I tried to pick 4 that were pretty different so that, chances were, he'd like at least one. Don't you hate that feeling, when you open the box and there's none that you like. They all have nuts or are just those boring glazed ones... maybe it's just me, but I wanted to do this right. I wanted to treat him as I would want to be treated. Landon woke up as I was leaving the bakery section. He smiled up at me and I leaned over his stroller and whispered, "we're on a mission from God." I went and got a sharpie and was about to check out when I realized that we didn't get him any napkins. I told myself it wasn't a big deal, but I know that if it was for someone I knew I wouldn't hesitate to go grab him some napkins. That powdered sugar sticks to your lips, I bet he'll wish he had a napkin. So I quickly went and grabbed 4 napkins. I put them in Landon's stroller then went and checked out. Once we were outside I stopped and got out my sharpie. I wrote "Just want you to know that JESUS LOVES YOU! He told us to get you breakfast. Have a great day!" on his box of donuts. I was worried that maybe we took too long in there and he wouldn't be there when we returned, but I told myself that even if that happened I would have no regrets. We were almost to the park when Landon lifted his arm and clenched in his hand was the wad of napkins. I laughed, and accepted the now crumpled napkins from him. My special boy :)
As we were approaching the shelter, where the guy was, I didn't see him, but as we kept walking I began to see the outline of his body. He was still there. I was really going to do this. I figured if he was still sleeping I would just set the box of donuts and bag of drinks by him and leave. I was about to cross the street to go to him when I stopped because a van was entering the parking lot. He drove slowly by the sleeping man. I was waiting to see if he was going to stop and go check on him. He turned his van around and looked like he was going to leave, but he stopped his van right in front of the shelter where the man was laying. His head was out his window and he looked so concerned, but then he drove off. I'm choosing to think that maybe he saw me coming and assumed that I knew the man. I walked over to the shelter. He looked young, just a kid with red skate shoes. I left Landon on the sidewalk outside the shelter and walked inside. He quickly sat up and looked nervous, like he was expecting me to tell him to leave. I told him that we were just walking in the park and God told us to bring him breakfast. He looked like he was in shock but said thank you. I placed the bag on the table and told him I got him some water too cause it's supposed to be another hot one. He said thank you. As I was walking back to Landon, I turned and told him to have a good day. He said thank you. I knew he was watching us as we walked away. My heart broke for him. He was no older than Ryan and I. I told Jesus that I did what he asked now please meet with Him Lord, show Him your love.
One of my new favorite songs says "Let our life be the proof, the proof of Your love." I love that! I want that to be true of our family. I want that to be true of my marriage. How much of a hypocrite would I be if I read my baby boy the story of the good samaritan, and yet ignore the hurt right outside my door? How much of a hypocrite would I have been if I sang about wanting to know God more and then rejected the opportunity he gave me to be used by Him and see His heart. I am ashamed to tell you that before Landon, I would of ran by the man on the table, probably without a second thought. Jesus has used Landon to show me how huge it is when He said that He is near to the broken-hearted. People, if you want Jesus to be present and evident in your life, don't be a stranger to the broken. Don't turn a blind eye to the hurting, to the ugly, or the different.