My family and I worked as church planters in Northern Ireland for 8 years. In September of 2013, we came back to the States for a 10-month furlough. Our furlough is actually over now, and we have now returned to Northern Ireland. But it might surprise most people that I was NOT excited about returning to the States back in September, and the main reason for my lack of enthusiasm was my children. Probably many of my fears are the same fears that some mothers struggle with if their husband ever surrendered to be a missionary to a foreign field.
My thoughts were:
- this is where my children were born
- I don’t want my children to have to leave their school
- saying goodbye to friends will be too hard
- we will miss all of our church people so much
- I don’t want my kids to face culture shock (in America)
- I feel like our family is being uprooted
- my kids might not like the food in America
- what if we dress differently or talk differently than Americans (people will think we are weird)
- my kids can hardly survive a 2-hour trip in the car, how will they survive travelling all over America
The devil used these thoughts and many more to steal my joy. Ireland had become my home, my comfort zone, and I didn’t think I could be happy anywhere else. And I surely didn’t think my kids could be happy anywhere else. Isn’t it funny (or dangerous, rather) how narrow-minded we can become as mothers? We box our children in to this little vision that we have of them, and forget that God is much bigger than anything we can imagine. Here I am now on the other end of this giant obstacle (from my perspective), and my kids not only survived, but God made them to prosper!
Here are my thoughts now:
- my kids are way more flexible than they used to be
- my kids thrive even when we don’t have a routine
- my kids are way more outgoing than they used to be, they can make a new friend in an instant
- my kids have been exposed to some pretty awesome churches
- my kids have been influenced by tons of godly people
- my kids are learning at an early age to say goodbye for the sake of the gospel
- my kids got to do some pretty cool sightseeing all over America
- my kids can talk intelligently about America now
- my kids love road trips, a 12-hour trip is nothing to them!
- my kids have made amazing memories that will last forever
So, do I have any regrets that God brought us back to America for 10 months? NO WAY!!! Have my kids suffered at all from being uprooted from their normal life? NOT ONE BIT!!! God knew what was best for my kids. He knew they needed this, and that this would be good for them. I know now that this was all in God’s perfect plan, and that He used this time to help my kids in a way that I never could.
In saying all that, my kids still consider Northern Ireland home. They can’t wait to get back. When we land in Northern Ireland in 3 days, we will all be so happy.