Mommy Missions

{Photo by Business Insider. This is the fifth of twelve in a guest blog series I am hosting through mid March. The series will zero in on a variety of themes from my book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The writers of these posts are people I deeply admire for their wisdom and their constant seeking of Christ’s Kingdom on behalf of their neighbors both near and far. This particular post was written by my sister, Amber VanderVennen. And oh boy, do I love stories like the one she is sharing today. Loving our neighbor is often means doing things that are so much more ordinary that we realize. It means, as Amber demonstrates, asking the Lord the simple questions: How can I bloom where I am planted? Is there some untapped way I can be a blessing to the hurting world around me? }

{Photo by Business InsiderThis is the fifth of twelve in a guest blog series I am hosting through mid March. The series will zero in on a variety of themes from my book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The writers of these posts are people I deeply admire for their wisdom and their constant seeking of Christ’s Kingdom on behalf of their neighbors both near and far.

This particular post was written by my sister, Amber VanderVennen. And oh boy, do I love stories like the one she is sharing today. Loving our neighbor is often means doing things that are so much more ordinary that we realize. It means, as Amber demonstrates, asking the Lord the simple questions: How can I bloom where I am planted? Is there some untapped way I can be a blessing to the hurting world around me? }

Maybe the title is misleading. If I read it, I would think, “Oh, a nice article about how, as Christian mothers, our children are our ‘unreached people groups’ in this world.”

While that’s true and I am very passionate about that actually, I really just love alliterations. Also, I am a mom, and I want to share about my other little mission.

I walked into the grocery store. It wasn't the store I usually go to, the one less than a mile from home where I see at least twenty-five friends and acquaintances each week. It was the one by my daughters' dance academy in a neighborhood where many more cultures, languages, and lifestyles are represented.

Where I’m from, the greeters are sweet little retirees.

Here, the greeter looked more like a bouncer. He was like a white Vin Diesel with a stocking cap, beard, and tatted up as much as I could see. He was looking every customer in the eye, excellently projecting his voice like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, and asking how each person was doing today.

I went about my business and on the way out, of course, received a, “Thanks for coming in today.” I smiled back at him and said, “You’re the best greeter I’ve ever had here.”

He held out his hand to give a firm handshake, and said. “I’m Burt Norman.”

“I’m Amber. Is there any way I can pray for you today?”

And I had that gut knot- the one I almost always get when I ask this question.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been asking it, but I know it’s been years. Long enough for my kids to remind me to ask when we get to the checkout.

You see, I’ve been having babies for over a decade now. My oldest is eleven, my youngest is two and a half, and I have six little cherubs. And I love ministering to and teaching my kids. We homeschool just to capitalize on the amount of time we can have together.

But somewhere along the way, I started longing to reach outside my four walls. Praying prayers like, “Break my heart for what breaks yours.” This is how God answered that prayer.

Clearly, we don’t get out much. I mean, we do, but when we do get out, it’s to run errands, the doctor’s office, a Christian dance academy or church events.

I don’t rub shoulders with too many unbelievers.

But God showed me that just because this was true, didn’t mean that I was somehow in the wrong place, had built my life in a way contrary to His will, or couldn’t be used to impact a hurting world in need of Him.

He laid on my heart that for each person who rings me up at the grocery store or Hobby Lobby, I can offer something in return: I can offer to pray for him or her.

And that’s it. Or is it?

I have gotten the whole spectrum of responses, from people pouring out the toughest pains in their lives, to getting the very strong impression that the person has some sort of demonic influence going on. Of course, there are the 50% or more who respond with an ambivalent, “I’m good.”

I don’t know how this impacts those who aren’t already praying folks. I know it blesses believers when I ask, and it always blesses me to discover that someone is a Christ follower. But, maybe the question will bring them back to a parent or grandparent who they knew had a relationship with the Lord, or perhaps the next time they are experiencing a challenge, it will cross their minds to pray. And that’s what being a Christ follower is all about, right? Having a relationship with our God.

I also think my little area of the world has a larger concentration of believers than much of our country, or even our state.

What if we all reached out in this small way? What if my struggling attendant at the grocery store responded with, “Why, you’re the third person to ask me that today!”

Wouldn’t they feel Jesus’ love?

Back to Burt. I’ve changed his name to protect his identity, because I didn’t ask him if I could share this story. Based on what little I know of him, I think he’d be honored and blessed. Because his response gave me a grin on my face all the way back to pick up my girls.

“I’m a gospel rapper.”

“I love it,” I said.

“And you can pray for my lust.” I breathed a sigh of relief on the inside that I was wearing a long puffer jacket.

“I will do that,” I promised.

As I walked away, he said, “I’m also an alcoholic three years in recovery. And it’s all because of Jesus.”

“Praise God.”

Burt is a gospel rapper. And the best dang greeter his company has ever hired, to God’s glory.

I’m a mom. I’m a grocery shopper. An exciting day for me is getting out to Homegoods or a haircut.

Sometimes that feels small, un-impactful.  

If I’m honest, there are still some dreams I have of ways to serve my God that feel Bigger. But God’s Spirit moves in mysterious ways, and, as I’m learning in the book Ordinary by Michael Horton, we often fail to appreciate the miracles of His work in the simple things of life.

So ask Him: How can I bloom where I am planted? Is there some untapped way I can be a blessing to the hurting world around me?

Lord, Thank you for Burt. Thank you for his joy and commitment to excellence in his work. Thank you that he uses his musical talent to Your honor and glory. Please give him victory over the lust in his heart. Give him the strength to stay sober. Thank you for his testimony.

Make me a channel of your peace. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Amen.

 

Grace and Peace,

Amber

{Bio: Amber Vander Vennen is a homeschool mom to three ladybugs and three squirrels. She enjoys all things domestic, as well as Riesling, lattes, and great conversation. She is thankful foremost for the grace of Jesus, and also belly laughs.}

{Bio: Amber Vander Vennen is a homeschool mom to three ladybugs and three squirrels. She enjoys all things domestic, as well as Riesling, lattes, and great conversation. She is thankful foremost for the grace of Jesus, and also belly laughs.}