Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Confessions of a Desperate Housewife

He's here, our missionary in Guatemala. Of course he doesn't really belong to us, he was busy doing his work there in his home country long before we met and partnered with him.

But we love to claim him because he's taken in 22 children from remote villages where children sleep on floors of dirt without bedding, get wet inside their homes when it rains, and whose tummies are filled with worms instead of supper.

It's not an orphanage, because most of these children have parents who love them and made the sacrifice of parting with them for the sake of their future, so they might have food, education, and be rid of the parasites. They are now sheltered from the elements, but also from being beaten, becoming child brides, and being raped at the hands of family members. Among them are the children of children, being raised as siblings because what else can be done?

Pastor Cristian runs a children's home, lives there with his wife and his own two children. It is not his job; it is his calling, his family's life.  The transformation of these kids is stunning. They have learned Spanish, manners, life skills, and Jesus Christ.

This is our missionary, the one we claim as our own because he's done so well for many kids and for God's glory too. We are proud of him and all his home-work.


He's here, a guest in my home. He's going to see how a family of five lives in America with harried schedules and unmopped floors and spoiled kids. I fear he will see my inadequacy to raise but three, and what goes undone when I work outside the home and try to maintain patience and a godly, if dusty, home.

I fret because he will see the dishes my kids leave in every room although they are permitted to eat only in the kitchen. It is not the only parental expectation my bold American kids defy on a regularly basis because their stretched-too-thin American parents are too tired and distracted to enforce the rules.

In Guatemala, his kids are more than happy to eat in the kitchen. They are happy to make beds and to keep clean rooms because they remember not having any of these things. Kek 'chi children who have been rescued from despair happily comply with his rules.

How do I compete with this? And why am I compelled to do so?

I'd rather keep my door closed to his discovery that this once stay-at-home mom did too much for her kids and not enough with them. She served without teaching them to serve right along side a little more. If I was to teach a cheerful heart and a hearty work ethic, I have failed.

I think these defeated thoughts as I lean my desperate comparisons into the tub's soap scum and try to scrub away the dirty evidence in the bath and in my heart. The descent of an airplane will deliver scrutiny to my door. So I scrutinize myself, but my questions will not be vacuum up like my dingy carpet.

Why am I only now discovering my mothering faults when it's too late to correct them?  Why am I expecting judgment and comparison from a godly man who knows all too well the challenges of raising another generation for God? I fear the cultural and lifestyle differences will not be taken into account. Or worse, that they will. The questions slosh in my head as tawny brown replaces the suds sloshing in my mop bucket.

I scrutinize my home and my children frantic to make the inside match the facade we spend more time maintaining. I want my home to ooze with the same kind of flourishing order and grateful servanthood I see from our Guatemalan counterparts. This desperate housewife would rather claim the work she contributes to in a foreign land than the one behind her own front door.

As I tried to ready my home last night, I prayed that the clean up effort would uncover grace that's been lost in the shuffle of our hurried lives. I'd like to rediscover and dust off that grace, but I realized therein lies my problem. Grace is the cleansing agent, not the forgotten prize for achieving perfection.

{linking with Emily's imperfect prose}


  1. wonderfully raw and honest...don't we all live with that tension in our hearts...I love Grace is the cleansing agent...
    Blessings as you enjoy the fellowship of One Spirit...

  2. Heart-warming, raw, to the point. I visited Guatemala in the late 1980s during the civil war. The indigenous people were oppressed, no, it was more than that, terrorized is a more accurate account. But here's what I learned: in the midst of this terror, they still smiled big and wide and true, still had faith in a better world, still shared whatever they had with those who needed it more. What a gift...

  3. sounds like you are in for a treat in getting to spent time with this man...and you know i think he seems to know enough about grace to give you some as well...

  4. Wow! This really convicted me! I've been there many times! In fact, I remember that feeling explicitly a few weeks ago when we had a wonderful family visiting our home for the first time. :) And many times before then and since then. O, that I would bathe myself in that amazing grace more! Thank you for sharing!

  5. You are honest. I, too, am convicted by your words. I wonder about my own failures but I love the sentence "This desperate housewife would rather claim the work done in foreign lands than the work done behind the door." I think our Father counts both and that cleansing grace doesn't sting at all. "A gracious woman retains honor"...and you will from the one who counts.

  6. Rita, you make a great point. I've NEVER thought of myself on the flip side, as the one someone else was frantic to prepare for and impress. I can tell you your efforts were in vain, only because they were totally unnecessary because I don't need impressing and the real you is already impressive, which would probably be Pastor Cristian's response to me if he only knew my angst.

    Susan, you are so right. Grace doesn't sting, but needing it does sometimes with perfectionist-types like me. How merciful He is and how I want to be that gracious woman who retains honor. And the only way to do that is to stop trying so hard and surrender more often.

    Thanks, girls, for being true friends.

  7. i love the transparency of your heart, friend. and how safe and loved your missionary's wife looks in his arms :)

  8. But Ahh, dear, I did worry about your thoughts. . . My southern Belle cousin. A preacher's wife. Not like the "little" churches we have here. Me the country, poop on our boots, clutter on the porch, interruptions everywhere, complete with chaos Northerner. Would I measure up? Am I saved enough. . .For a brief moment I dwelled there...Until I saw you. . . And then years melted away and we were 5 again with nothing but endless admiration and peace. . .And now you still inspire me beyond words.

  9. I just love them.

    I love them, and I don't know them, but am thrilled we get to meet them through you. And will you share more? If you feel so led to share, I can't wait to read.

    God bless you as you minister to one another. No doubt, you'll be a hospitable and gracious hostess. You've done the "Martha" work, and now I pray, that get to have some "Mary Moments."

  10. Yes, Jennifer. Mary moments is what we are having. He is always a blessing to us when he comes. I think I stressed so much because this is the first time he's come since I am no longer a stay-at-home-mom.

    If you would like to learn more, peruse my Guatemala label. I write of our on-going work there often. And there will undoubtedly be more to come.

    You can pray, come with us sometime, take a group of your own, or contribute financially. There are so many possibilities....

  11. Thank you, Dawn, for the tip to search your Guatemala label. I have caught tidbits of your work there, but am curious to learn more. Thank you for letting me know.

  12. What a beautiful, difficult diversion in my day... spending some time here, reading your heart. I'm a huge mix of emotions right now, thinking about the love you have for your large family (here and abroad)... thinking about my own family and all the many times I've missed the mark as a mother.

    Thank you for your honesty... it helps me somehow. A strong encouragement for my heart.

    PS: I'm thinking of homeschooling next year. It frightens me, exhausts me, and excites me all in the same breath. I've done this in the past with one of my older two boys, but this would be new territory for us. I'd love your take on the matter. Maybe you've written a post somewhere about this?


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