Friday, March 27, 2015

The Flip Side: What Life Looks Like for the SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) Overseas

Just about the same as the SAHM in the US. The End.

Ok, that’s not completely true.  Obviously there are many little differences, like my Wal-Mart sells dried smashed pig faces and yours doesn’t.  (Squash that envy, friends.) And because we are so glamorous we have dozens of people taking our pictures and plaguing us with questions every time we go out.  IT IS SO FUN. (Please pick up on my sarcasm here.)

But other than that, and an extra language in my tool-belt (or half of one, WHATEVER) it really looks a lot the same.  And sometimes I’m disappointed – I was expecting more excitement. (The kind that doesn’t involve bodily fluids.) And sometimes I’m ashamed – that’s not why we were sent here. I could do laundry, homeschool, and be introverted in the US. And sometimes I’m jealous – Brett is all learning an unwritten language and making all sorts of thrilling discoveries (right, babe?) and I’m… cooking dinner. From scratch. Again. Because I’ve finally resigned myself to the fact that families need to eat like  And there’s no frozen pizza on this side of the world. Or packaged tortillas. 

So what does my average day look like? I get up in the morning a little before the kids, or try to, for a few quiet minutes to read the Word with my brain intact and to beg for grace. Then, bam!, the day is my face like a mother whose kid was nearly hit by a motorbike (to give a completely non-personal example.) It’s something like a cross between a dance cardio aerobic routine and a juggling lesson peppered with “teachable moments” where I struggle to move beyond behavior modification to heart attitudes while cleaning the baby’s spit-up and speaking in another language to our helper. 

And at the end of the day I look at my cold, un-drunk cup of coffee and think, “I haven’t even been out of my house all day, my language level is declining rapidly now that I am homeschooling instead of studying, and I haven’t invited my neighbor over in months. What am I doing here??? What should I be doing here?” 

There are so many points that go into the answer to this question, but here’s the one that has been on my mind the last few weeks:  I just need to be faithful in the small things. Most likely we are not called to completely throw out our daily routine. We are still supposed to cook and eat, teach and clean, go to work and get the car washed. We can and should do all of these things for God’s glory, trusting for His grace to supply all of our needs and enjoying His presence in our lives through it all.

 BUT part of doing all these things “for God’s glory” consists in living our normal, daily lives very intentionally “on mission.”  On mission to display and proclaim the gospel to our children, the closest little disciples we will ever have. On mission to train them to obey the commands of God that we teach them.  On mission to open our lives to relationships with the people all around us who need an ambassador to represent Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation to them.  On mission to live transparent and vulnerable lives before them, not holding them at arm’s length, but inviting them into our mess and likewise entering into their struggles and pain.  

This is no different overseas from being “at home” in the US.  I’d wager no one is knocking on your door asking what your hope for eternity is, and neither is anyone doing that on this side of the world. At least not at my house.  And as for intentionally discipling our children, thanks to VPNs we have Facebook as a blessing/distraction over here, too. 

 So… faithfulness in the small things. It means putting Facebook/Instagram/Twitter down and dealing with my son’s reason for falling apart instead of just sending him to time-out or taking away his video.  It means speaking to the insecurity that lurks behind my daughter’s meltdown over math rather than threatening dire consequences if she doesn’t get herself under control “right now” so we can move on with our homeschool. It means studying language while feeding the baby rather than just browsing Pinterest.  It means taking a big gulp and calling my friend up to invite her over to learn to bake the cake she was interested in and then preparing how to explain to her that my faith is more than a set of the “rules” she is so inquisitive about.  Even if it means that I lose some of my precious down time. It means choosing to engage in conversation with the stylist when I get I get my hair cut rather than just zoning out and enjoying a quiet moment. (I know, for some of you that is like breathing, but for an introvert this is BIG STUFF.) 

In other words, moving overseas didn’t make me extroverted, brave, extra energetic, or more patient, and it certainly didn’t make me less busy with daily life so that I find myself with extra time to reach out because I have nothing else to do.  So there you have it – my life looks pretty much like the homeschool mom in the US. Cram packed with survival that can be aimlessly surfed to the end of the day or infused with intentionality so that I am living “on mission.” This is true whether I’m “just” cooking dinner or embarking on an adventure to see my friends in the village or answering my friends’ questions about my faith. 

What about you? What are the little things that comprise “living on mission” in your life currently? Does it mean taking your kids out to play in the front yard instead of in the back behind a fence? Or even going to the park? Does it mean taking a break from Facebook for lent? Inviting the neighbors or a co-worker over for a casual cookout? Or tutoring refugees in English twice a month? 

Maybe whatever it is doesn’t seem “big” enough, but PRAISE GOD that He does not despise the day of small beginnings and that He commends faithfulness in the little things. (Zech. 4:10, Matt. 25:14-28) Whatever our current situation in life, by God’s grace let’s intentionally live it out “on mission!”


  1. Love you! Thank you for the unspoken challenge. I so need to remember every day, every moment to be faithful in the small things. You are a beautiful inspiration. It is so easy to hide behind the reasons we stay at home.

  2. I love how you put that - so easy to hide behind the reasons we stay at home. Yes. But YOU are the inspiration! I am so blessed to have family like you!