My husband and I love to travel and as our family has grown in numbers, we have found that traveling is even more enjoyable. It has its hardships, that’s for sure, but they mostly are trumped by thrill and joy in the name of adventure.
While we were still a family of three, through a small series of providential events, we decided to go to Thailand to visit some longtime friends who live, love, and do business and ministry there along the Burmese border. Because they were in the midst of opening a creative arts center, my husband, Dustin, knew right off the bat that he could offer his expertise in building out a music studio. Our daughter was just one-year-old at the time and so I knew the services I could offer would be quite limited in comparison to his. Maybe you could call it insecurity or maybe you could call it realistic thinking, but either way, the deeper issue was that I didn’t see much value to what I could offer and so I simply conceded to the notion that I would be along for the ride. But our friends didn’t see it as just that and said to bring what I could to the table and they’d be so happy for that.
It seems a little random, but at that time in my life, my creative outlet was making handmade rag dolls that I would give to all the Little Ones in my life. I mentioned it to my friends and right away they saw an opportunity. They asked me to gather the materials that I could, and bring them along on our trip. I wasn’t so sure how effective it would be, but I obliged nonetheless.
When we arrived, Dustin went straight to work alongside our friend, Ray. I tended to our daughter and figured I would help where I could. I still doubted what I could offer and didn’t see my skills as super valuable, but thankfully God had other plans. I was taken to the children’s refugee home where I unloaded all of my supplies and through a translator, I began to teach the girls how to make the dolls. We sat around for hours, hand sewing rag dolls and eating snacks. It was a beautiful time of fellowship with these young girls, communicating through time given and a skill taught rather than through spoken language. I may never know what that time together truly meant to those girls, but it did not come up short for me, as God used it profoundly as He taught me about offering my whole body up to Him as a sacrifice. Not my literal body (though my literal body was part of the equation), but my whole being, everything I am and everything I have to offer. In that season, my presence, my craft, my finances, and my mothering nature were what I was able to bring to the table.
If I had fully given into doubts of what I had to offer (though they were still present), I would not have come in as a willing and sacrificial vessel for God to work through to accomplish what He wanted to do on that trip. It’s an experience I thank God for leading me into, and on top of that, I’m grateful for the friends in my life at the time that had the wisdom to know God has something for each of us to do in every season and facet of life.
It’s the idea of bringing Shalom (peace) to the world around us. God offers us the opportunity to be part of this restoration process of bringing peace in the world. To borrow from my eldest sister’s travels to Israel… she came back with a greater understanding of this notion that God offers us the invitation to partner with Him in bringing peace in all circumstances. And it is such a beautiful reminder to me as I sit at home tending to my two daughters now. When I’m bored and think, How could I possibly go another hour listening to my voice yet again instructing my 4-year-old on the reasons why we must be kind to others? Or, Am I really changing another stinky diaper this afternoon? Or, Oh my gosh, I have to read another chapter of my investing homework today. Or... go ahead and fill in the blank to what you may or may not find ordinary or mundane.
Because we live in a world that eagerly displays all our achievements (which I do believe should be celebrated in the responsible and appropriate settings), it is ever increasingly easy to slip into the mindset that what we offer is not valuable. But when we allow God to flip the switch in our mindset and we begin to offer our whole being as a living sacrifice to be used how He, the all knowing map builder, sees best, we begin to see how every season in our life and even every little seemingly mundane thing can and will be used for His greater good. Seriously, how much pressure does that take off of our shoulders!
That 48th time that I teach my daughter about the importance of eating veggies may be just the right amount of repetition God knew it would take for something in her to click and unlock the door to a lifelong journey of healthy living. It’s crazy for me to think that one day she will then train her children up in the ways of healthy living which could in turn reverse some of our generation’s mistakes and habits. It’s all so complex and yet so simple, and if we can just let go of our expectations and our agendas, God can allow His to rise up and take their rightful place in our lives. This is where we can see real, tangible change. His invitation is not just some pretty sounding lines in the Bible, although it is that as well—it is an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than we ever imagined for our lives. The mundane becomes not so mundane in light of this. It becomes life changing. It becomes world changing. And greatest of all, it is an act of worship to the one true God who loves every single facet of His creation: you and I!
Mary Kate is farm girl from Pennsylvania who found herself living in Australia and Colorado before settling down in Nashville with her husband, Dustin. In addition to parenting a spirited toddler, they run Plaid Owl Creative. mK is a family girl at heart - she loves to adventure with her family and invest in the lives of families of Creatives. When she's not traveling or hosting, you can find mK curled up in front of a movie with chocolate & popcorn!