June/July 2019 - Vol. 104

Dunkirk evacuation May 1940

Moms on Mission
by Amy Hughes

The idea for this particular collective - The Lois Project - took shape in a movie theater last summer. It had been growing inside me, this idea, for several months before it had a name and substance in my mind. And somehow, something about this movie scene connected the thoughts buzzing around in my head. It seems fitting to share it here as we launch our second year of stories and testimonies.

My husband had convinced me to see Dunkirk, and I agreed even though I don’t like war movies. After cowering through much of the beginning, I found myself transfixed by a scene where a fleet of little boats heads into war-torn waters. What is striking is that they are not military boats at all but rather beautiful yachts, oiled to a shine and decked with colorful banners and flags. As British and French soldiers wait stranded and helpless on the beaches of northern France, these little  boats are commissioned by the British government to go on a rescue mission through enemy fire– to go where the large military boats cannot (or will not) go. It is breathtakingly beautiful to see these pleasure boats become a means of salvation as they somehow seem to fulfill a destiny so much greater than perhaps originally intended.

I identified with the little boats. I’m just a mom with young kids - and I’m barely keeping it together as it is. The things that I’m good at don’t always seem helpful. I don’t have a lot of time or energy right now. What can I offer to God’s kingdom? How can I join in the fight?

Maybe you too, feel like a little boat (or a capsized boat, on the bad days). But maybe you, with your particular talents and gifts can go where others can’t or don’t go. Maybe you can reach out and connect with someone that others could not. And maybe the things that seem frivolous, decorative, or  just-for-pleasure in your life can become more than that, little boats launched in faith upon the waves.

Just being in a caregiving position gives you special access to the lives of those you care for. As you take care of their needs you model Christ to them in humble, tangible, daily ways. When your kids or grandkids see you react patiently, it puts weight behind your verbal pleas for them to act patiently with one another. When your students or those under your care see you demonstrate mercy, they have a better idea of what the mercy of Jesus is like.

Besides facing the daily tasks of motherhood or spiritual motherhood with grace, perhaps you have been gifted in other ways. I have a friend who finds joy in hosting beautiful parties and dinners. She loves opening her home and showering people with beauty. Who knows how many have been touched by her hospitality for the kingdom? Another friend has a gift for deep conversation and stirring hearts. Another writes poems so beautiful they make you cry. I love to make things, and sometimes I use my crafts as a way to reach out to other moms with similar interests. I also love to write, which was part of the motivation behind this blog. Little gifts? Yes - they are little gifts that bring joy, but I argue that they can be of more than a little value when given over to God. Little warboats used on a rescue mission for His kingdom.
Little gifts can be of more than a little value when given over to God.
There is a mother in the old testament of the Bible who is asked to offer a small and precious gift out of the little that she has - to scrounge up a simple cake for a visitor during a drought time when she and her son are desperately starving and low on provisions. Perhaps you know her story - the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings. Elijah, a traveling prophet, says to her: “Don’t be afraid… First make a small cake for me from what you have and bring it to me, then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says; ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry…’” (1 Kings 17:13-14). She ends up trusting this promise and baking the precious cake with the last of her provisions. And to her amazement, the promise holds true! She and her household do not run out of flour and oil for themselves until the drought ended and they could once more find food. Moreover, when her son later falls ill and dies, Elijah cries out to God and God restores him back to life. Her choice to trust God, to “make a cake” out of what she has, has ripple effects and ends up vitally blessing her family.

I hope you don’t think this is some kind of guilt trip about doing fewer things for yourself or adding more to your to-do list. It is in fact, the opposite. It is an upward call -  not a call to do more or be more, but a call to see more opportunities in the things that you already do, in the gifts that you already have. To be open to the possibility that you, in this season where you might feel tired or limited, may have special access to the mission field - in your own family and in the larger world.  A call to see motherhood, mentorship, caregiving, or teaching as a time of special grace, even when it doesn’t feel like it. If you, like me, have in your life a collection of little boats or precious cakes – little talents or opportunities that could be used to reveal Christ - My prayer for you, my prayer for myself is not to underestimate them, and not to hold them back out of fear. Here’s what I have Lord. How would you have me use it? What unique ways would you use me this season? And I pray that in giving them over to his use, you would experience his miraculous provision for you and your family - that what little energy you have would not run out.
It is a call... not to do more or be more, but to see more opportunities in the things that you already do, in the gifts that you already have.

There are plenty of books and blogs and articles out there that can help you feel better as a mom after you’ve had a hard day.  But I’ve found often, in the midst of a hard race that what I need – even more than the voices of comfort and comic relief from the sidelines – are the exhortations of fellow runners - women who are running the same race, towards the same goal: Jesus Christ himself.  Exhortations and stories from women like you that say You can do it! You are strong!  Those are the stories we seek to share on the Lois Project: stories of everyday courage in the little things of life. Stories of women unafraid to pour themselves out for others, because they know the one who renews all things will give them strength.

Moms and mentors, this is how I want to kick off this year with you: with an echo of the words of Elijah to that other overwhelmed mom: Do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid to love Him with all you have. Do not be afraid for your family or yourself when you come up to the end of your strength or face major change or run into discouragement. Do not be afraid that you have nothing to give.

Your beauty is not frivolous; your gifts are not too small for Him to use. Your lack of energy or time is not what He sees. He sees your little bit of flour and oil and says “Bake a cake for me”. He sees your small, colorful boat and says “Go on a rescue mission for me”. He sees all our limitations as merely a stage to better display his greatness. So in a very real way, we weak, frazzled moms and caregivers can be a powerful force in the hands of our God. And as we press on and encourage each other as fellow runners, we can know that we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who is calling us graciously, to wholeness and holiness – that is, to himself.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

This article  (c) by Amy Hughes was first published in The Lois Project

Amy was inspired to start The Lois Project as a way to combine her love of writing and deep discussion with her desire to strengthen connections between Christian moms. She has a degree in French Education and English and taught high school French before becoming a stay-at-home mom with her three children. Amy and her husband John are part of the Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor. She loves anything and everything to do with France, has read the Harry Potter books way too many times and has a mild addiction to baby girl hair accessories (and two daughters to wear them!)

The Lois Project is a group of Christian women from various cities, countries, and church backgrounds who feel a common call to be disciples on mission in all seasons of life. Most of us find ourselves in a season of care-giving as mothers, grandmothers, mentors, or teachers.

Many of our writers are part of an international, ecumenical Christian community called The Sword of the Spirit. Although we come from Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant traditions we seek to foster unity among these groups and work together.

Instagram: @theloisproject

Top photo of evacuation of British troops at Dunkirk by a fleet of small civilian boats in May 1940
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