Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"The Bush" vs. "The White Picket Fence"

I've been thinking a lot lately about balance, not just balance in my life as a mother of two little girls, but balance as I look at third world countries/developing nations through first world eyes at times. When I graduated from college, I never thought I'd be living in the United States, let alone raising children here.  I had always assumed God's plan for me including teaching overseas (either ESL or TCKs) or living in the bush somewhere.  Then I married J and his family's business is here.  He loves his work and I am so thankful to have a husband who has a job that provides well for our family and that he enjoys it at the same time.  But somewhere, we have to find a balance in between those desires.  And we have been striving to do that for our entire marriage (and are getting much better at it).

We just finished going through David Platt's (author  of Radical and Radical Together) study of the book of James in our small group and it has really opened my eyes to how we spend our money, how what I do day in, day out is furthering the kingdom of God and leading others to Christ, etc.  There are days when I would be willing to sell everything (well almost everything, but at least all of the "stuff") and move to "The Bush" somewhere among an African tribal people or deep in the rainforests of South America or Southeast Asia.  Days when I know raising my girls amidst another culture and teaching them to be grateful for all that they have is the deepest desire of my heart.  Days when I want to donate my girls' clothes because who really needs 10+ bins of little girl clothes in their attic?  And then there are the days where I desire to have a new minivan because we just "need" more space.  Days I "need" new living room furniture because the dog has pretty much destroyed our little loveseat and what do people think when they see our sad couch the moment they enter our home?  Days when the dream of owning land and building our dream house overtake the desire to donate large amounts of money to the missionaries who currently have two mortgages.  Days when the urge to repaint my home and have people praise me for what it looks like overtake the desire to send extra money to our sponsored children.  So how does one come to a good middle point of balance with these decisions?  How do you do it (if you struggle with these things)?

We have very close friends of ours who are in the midst of preparing to take their family of four to minister in Papua New Guinea and when I first heard this news, my first reaction (after I stopped sobbing at the thought of "losing" a dear friend and my daughter's best friend to the other side of the world) was to be jealous.  My second reaction was to ask why it wasn't me.  My third reaction was to be thankful I didn't have to make the 20 billion hour (okay...slight exaggeration) flight with 2 children under age 3.  Again, where's the balance?

Last week we decided that it was time to replace said sad loveseat with seating that is attractive, comfortable, not peed on by the dog, and sits more than 3 total people in our living room.  However, when J went to purchase it last night, I couldn't do it.  I couldn't let him spend x amount on a sofa and 2 chairs (that we were getting for a VERY good deal) because my mind was overtaken by the thoughts of starving children, missionaries without sufficient funds, dear friends about to embark on the journey of raising support, and even the thought that that money could go towards plane tickets for us to go (short-term mind you...3 weeks or so) with our little family to minister to missionary friends serving around the world.  Where's the balance?

My sister and J reminded me that I can further the kingdom of God by having a hospitable home environment in which to serve others, have families into my home, minister to other moms, etc.  They reminded me that it's okay to have nice things.  But for me, this summer in particular, it has been a constant battle..."The Bush" vs. "The White Picket Fence."  New sofa vs. extra money to our sponsored children.  New minivan vs. $ for plane tickets to visit/minister to friends serving in other countries.  Where's the balance?

8 comments:

  1. You have such a good heart, which I'm sure is the reason you are so torn. I hope you know that you really DO minister to people every day. Look at all of the new moms who have been blessed with meals because of you and all the work you did with the Missions committee. And when Eddie was traveling you were the ONLY person to think to invite me over for meals so I wouldn't have to worry about cooking in addition to dealing with Nicholas' issues, which were pretty intense at the time.

    We struggle with this too, the guilt of being in a position to build the dream house when so many other people can't. It seems so ridiculous, but we always come to the conclusion that as long as we use what we have been given in service then it is ok to have nice things.

    Someone has to be able to host those missionaries when they are home, be available for the new moms, set an example for the kids who are right here.

    I know that, in my case, sometimes my desire to "serve big" (trips/large events/whatever) is more of an altruistic, selfish desire for attention or adventure than a true, unselfish call to serve. Eddie and I have talked about how cool it would be to travel overseas and he could engineer a water system and I could teach the kids in some third world country, but it tends to have more of a tone of "look what we could bring them, they'd be better off for knowing us" as opposed to feeling a true calling that there is a specific place we need to be.

    So far, my experience has been that God calls you to do things that are out of your comfort zone or that you don't necessarily want to do. Just be careful not to wish away the great gifts you are being given right now because you are wrestling with God for a different calling. (Like a certain mom I know who thought her time would be better used starting a community toy library to serve the community than staying home with her own kids. Oops.)

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    1. Thanks, Steph! And there are days I wish you had your toy library...then I could borrow toys and RETURN them...and donate some of the girls' "stuff" for others to use:)

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  2. Korie, I love that you are being challenged like this, it means you're growing in Christ. It is a balancing act...one that we'll never have completely resolved this side of Glory. I just want you to know that you are a big encouragement to many people and that God is using you right where you are, as Stephanie pointed out. Your energy and enthusiasm for life and serving the Lord through the local Church and in your home (which is the Church in microcosm) is a great example!

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    1. Karen,
      I love the "home is the Church in microcosm." I don't always think of it that way. Thanks!

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  3. Korie,
    Walk in love, walk in faith, and be led by the Holy Spirit. Do these things and everything else will begin to become clear...Don't stress over a new couch unless God is telling you not to get one. He desires good things for His children. After all, the streets of Heaven are paved with gold, and Jesus wears a big gold band around his chest! Let's get together soon- love ya!

    Jen

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Jen! I appreciate it...and we did decide to purchase the sofa, but I really had to think it through! And the thinking it through was good for me!

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  4. This is a thought provoking post. I am glad to have read it.

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    1. Thanks,Jeff! Glad it made you think.

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