I’m a Maine girl. Even though it has literally been decades since I have lived there, I still answer with Maine when asked where I’m from in the states. Growing up my dad always hunted, and when I was really little he ran a trap line and I used to “help” him skin raccoons so he could sell their pelts. At an early age I attended Hunter Safety training and I am a card carrying safe hunter (though I have yet to actually purchase a hunting license). My brother hunted and still does, my grand father and uncles hunted and still do. My precious husband began hunting when he joined our crew and would still hunt if we didn’t currently live in Europe. All this to say, even though I have only ever shot birds, hunting is in my blood, it’s part of me…
This August 22nd marked five years that the hubster and I have lived in Budapest on the mission field. It has been an amazing five years, last year being super awesome as we went from a family of two to a family of three. Most of year number five was spent adjusting to family of threeness and mommyhood, and I learned a whole lot about giving myself grace in all the change. The motherhood part came with obvious joys and hardships and lots of unexpecteds, but the biggest change for me was going from knowing my purpose here on the mission field to relearning and knowing again. I went from full time teaching, doing what God called us here to do…investing in my little flock of littles in the classroom…youth group on Friday nights…teaching the Bible daily, to FULL TIME MAMA STUFF. I’m in NO WAY saying that Mama stuff isn’t important or that motherhood isn’t a high and precious calling, because I truly believe that we are called to our children and families first…however MAMA STUFF can feel mundane and repetitious and hard and not like a high calling at all.
Sometime last winter, in absolute desperation I went to google and searched out Bible studies in English here in the city of Budapest. I was getting in a grove with this mama thing, but I was lonely and wanted more…more fellowship…more of Him…more of His word…more of a challenge spiritually in my life. In wanting to be a better mama I knew I had to expand my small world and get out of the little apartment and the occasional playground. I found a study in English that was meeting at a little cafe in the city and I bravely strapped my baby girl to me in the Mobi wrap and headed out to see what God had in store for us.
We started going to this study weekly with a diverse group of international ladies, and eventually we started meeting some ladies for lunch and prayer once a week as well…and in these meetings with other Christian women God started to speak to my heart about how He was renewing my calling, refreshing my purpose, and asking me to step out in faith afresh as a gatherer!
Remember that Maine girl, hunter, go-getter, get it done, sell everything and move to the mission field to teach girl? She isn’t just a hunter, she is a gatherer too. My husband would tell you that I am a great furniture gatherer and provided furnishings for our home in America mostly from “free” trash piles on the side of the road. Also growing up in Maine, I learned to gather blueberries on my grand father’s blueberry fields. As a teacher over the years I have gathered my share of supplies and prizes and fun activities for my littles…oh it is in there somewhere, the ability to gather as well as hunt to provide!
God’s whisper to me about gathering, wasn’t about gathering food or goods or supplies…it was about gathering people…and I’m so glad it was a whisper at first…I am so glad that He gently nudged me to pray about gathering before speaking and acting. His whispering turned into talking and then eventually it was all I could hear from Him and I dared to act in faith!
My blog posts have become fewer and farther between as mamahood has taken over all parts of my life, so how do I have time to gather? God was so gentle as He led me this past winter and spring into this new season of life and of His new calling for me. He broadened and stretched my capacity
and lengthened some of Agnes’ naps which was helpful little by little as I started to work out what this stirring in my heart was to gather people. First this gathering took place at a distance as I gathered teachers around a table of cookies in their break room at school. Then Daddy started having a standing date with our precious pumpkin one night a week so some women could gather in our home around a video Bible study and a warm meal. Then this Summer, I was asked if I would be interested in leading the ladies study I had been attending in the little cafe in the city, and I prayerfully accepted. Eventually we began opening up our home to the team here at GGIS on Friday nights for fellowship, food, and fun.
Now our schedule is quite packed and that is okay. Yes I have a toddler and yes I am often tired, but also yes I am finally feeling the refreshment that comes when I am acting in God’s calling on my life. Really, just like I have hunting in my genes, gathering has always been there too. All of my parents have always been gatherers as well, with open doors
often mum’s doors are literally open so the dogs can come and go at their leisure and plenty of food on the table, and I hope Agnes says that about her parents one day.
I have found such freedom and encouragement in living out God’s purpose for my life in this season. It is not the same as the season I had as a teacher, and maybe I will one day have another season of teaching, but it is good to be following His leading in my life. When we moved here to Budapest our mission was quite clear, God brought us here to teach and be very active in the school ministering to kids, coaching sports, helping lead youth group…and now as a family of three He is making His mission for us quite clear again, anew, afresh! My precious hubs is still very active at school, and I like to keep my presence known there as well with the occasional activity
and/or baked goods left on the teacher’s break room table (teachers need love too) (the kids LOVE seeing Agnes as well)…but my main mission is first WIFE/MAMA and close second GATHERER!
These times we have had people gathering in our home have been nothing short of precious and dear. Our prayer is that our home is a refuge for tired teacher, a place of encouragement for other ladies or mamas that maybe have times of feeling lonely (like I did last winter), a fun time and place of fellowship. There have been sweet times of prayer here. Our home has been filled with laughter. My mission has changed, but I am so thankful that God still has us here for year six and counting, and that He is still leading us by faith in all that we do, and I am thankful for this season as a gatherer!