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Becoming Missionaries: Two Unexpected Temptations of Missionary Life

Two half-truths are going through my mind right away as we are becoming missionaries…

# 1  S P E N D  L E S S

# 2  D O  M O R E


#1  S P E N D  L E S S

The first time I walked through Target with only donations from our supporters sitting in our bank account, it was a whole new experience. I went to the clearance rack to get an alarm clock for my daughter. There was a pretty gold-colored alarm clock one on sale for $6.98.

Here is what went through my head: “If someone sees me with this clock in my shopping cart, they will think, ‘This is where her support money is going to??’ Because they won’t know that my daughter needs it and that it’s on sale for $6.98. They will think I’m just on a shopping spree at Target with our support money.”

$6.98 … Still too expensive.

I didn’t really need it. I could walk in her room and wake her up myself. So I took it out of my cart.

It was a big deal to me to purchase anything I didn’t really need with the Lord’s money.


“Did you not tell them that they were the Lord’s chips?” –Senor Ramon, Nacho Libre


Isn’t all of our paycheck the Lord’s money? Wasn’t Andy’s youth pastor paycheck just as much the Lord’s money before we became missionaries?

Somehow I felt entitled to spend our money before. But now I feel this whole new responsibility for every penny spent.

Why is this income different? Because it is gifted from my friends and family. Their hard-earned money was gifted to our mission at Gleanings for the Hungry, so we can help feed the hungry! Not so I can go on my usual Target run!

Only the essentials are important enough to go in the shopping cart … right? This is what goes through the head of a new missionary.

I desperately want to use our money wisely. I see this as a very positive change in my mindset, once I get a good balance in my heart and mind about what is necessary to buy.

In addition to this positive change, I also notice a great guilt whenever I spend any money at all.

For example, our daughter’s birthday. Whoo hoo!

But … should I spend money on a party? Should I buy her just a few small gifts? What do missionaries do for their kids’ birthdays?

You didn’t earn that, Chelsea. You don’t need that. Your daughter doesn’t need that.

And I have to discern where this guilt is coming from. Does God want to show me that I need more discernment with money? Or is the life of a missionary really just a strange thing that I have to get used to? Or do I really need to do everything I can to earn my sense of “I served the Lord and I earned this support money?”

Will I be living in a constant state of guilt for everything I buy? Should I really not be buying anything other than missionary essentials?


“These are my recreation clothes.”

“They look expensive.”

“Thank you.” —Nacho Libre


Should I be making clothes for my family in the sewing room instead of buying clothes? Should we only wear donated hats and shoes?

The thing is — there is nothing wrong with using all donated or homemade items. People all over the world do that.

What do you think the Lord is trying to teach me?


“Beneath the clothes, we find a man … and beneath the man, we find his … nucleus.” —Nacho Libre


# 2  D O  M O R E

Another thing I keep hearing in my own head is, “You aren’t doing enough,” and, “Other people think you aren’t doing enough.”

I am here at Gleanings and I am doing the same thing that I was doing at home in Burbank: homeschooling and raising my kids, and serving in small ways in the ministry here. Maybe that’s not enough?

I should be pulling my weight contributing more to the community. I should add more to my schedule. I should should should.

Listening to all the shoulds is emotionally exhausting. And I think emotional exhaustion is a sign that these “shoulds” are not from the Lord.


C O N C L U S I O N S . . .

I wonder if other missionaries hear a lot of shoulds?

I wonder if other missionaries feel like they aren’t doing enough? Because, really, who is the judge of that?

I wonder if other missionaries tend to abstain from all kinds of luxuries in an attempt to be righteous enough to deserve the support money they have raised?

Really, if I make any decision at all based on support or money, am I not worshipping money?

If I add more to my schedule to try to impress or please someone else other than the Lord, am I not trying to please man instead of pleasing God?


“Those eggs were a lie, Esqueleto! A LIE! They give me no eagle powers! They give me no nutrients!” —Nacho Libre


What will please the Lord? That’s all that matters.

How I spend my money will not stop the money from coming in. The Lord determines what money comes in for our family. We will always have what we need. That is the Lord’s promise. And that has been my prayer since the beginning of this adventure at Gleanings for the Hungry: Give us this day our daily bread.

How much I accomplish as a mom and a missionary cannot be measured by anyone but the Lord, just as the hairs on my head cannot be counted by anyone but him.

Thank you for letting me share this with you. What are your thoughts? Please share your insights!

Find out more about our family’s choice to move to Gleanings for the Hungry here: 



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Are You Carrying a Heavy Burden?

sn-fall-orchard-roadMy sweet husband Andy has a quote as the signature of his email that states, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden” –Ian MacLaren (Pastor John Watson).

I have always loved this quote. But I loved it because it reminded me to be patient, kind and understanding; other people struggle with serious issues. Other people are hurting, and that is sad for them. I need to be kind to the stranger, even if she is rude to my kids at Trader Joe’s. I need to be patient with the old woman driving like a maniac in front of me. These people are probably carrying heavy burdens.

This week, it struck me that I am now the one carrying a heavy burden. I hear the quote differently now. It’s like a quiet request to please be patient with me. Please be gentle with me. Please try to understand. Please reach out in kindness.

It’s different when you are on the other side of the quote, the burden side. It sounds more like this:

“Be kind to me, for I am carrying a heavy burden.”

I have a story to tell. I might tell you in a book one day under a pen name, or I might write a screen play. I have to tell my story because God has called me to do it. But for now, I post this as a reminder that truly everyone is carrying a heavy burden, whether it is from today, last week, or years ago.

For those of you who also carry heavy burdens, let’s try our best to bring them to Jesus. He promises to carry them for us. But in order to let him carry it, we have to be willing to hand them over and let go of the intense desire to be in control.

This expanded quote by John Watson made me tear up today:

John Watson in 1903. Section titled “Courtesy”:

This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.

He words it so well!

Wounds from the past that have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched.

Does this resonate with any of you?

If you are going through a hard time, I recommend finding a friend to talk to today. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out.

It’s OK to be the weak one sometimes, the one with the burden.

One day your friend will need you to be there too.

And if you have a friend who is going through a hard time, ask them how they are doing. Take them to tea and listen, ask questions, give them a hug, say a prayer for them.

God’s gracious hand be over you and your house today.

I hear God telling me to act now, for time is short. To write.

“So you write it down. You write it down.”



And thank you God for the tears that can finally fall from my eyes. I held them in too long.

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What is Heaven Like?

My idea of heaven has changed many times.

Just the other day, my daughter told me that she thinks heaven will be all puffy white clouds. When we are children, we think of heaven as flying, jumping, and sleeping on clouds. Heaven is the sky on a beautiful, perfect day, right?


Then as we get older, we insist that heaven must be a place where our pets will be, since we lost our best animal friend, and our only hope to see them again is in heaven. Heaven must be a place where my Siamese cat Shashi is waiting to greet me again.


As a teen, I feared that heaven would be an endless church service, a long religious song for all of eternity. We will be forced to sing and sing forever and ever, caught somewhere between the feathers and eyeballs of cherubim and seraphim. I remember my best friend and I admitting that if that’s what heaven was like, we didn’t really want to go.

Then, in college, I decided that in heaven I would be a professional ice skater.


After I settled down with Andy, matured a bit more, and studied the Bible, I realized that there is a mansion involved, and it will be humongous. It will be the best, most perfect house ever. And God’s people will be like a bride for the groom, just elated. Heaven will be better than anything I could ever imagine, which is why my former ideas of heaven as clouds, a lost pet retrieval, and endless hymn singing were so wrong.


Then we had kids, and when we held our sleeping babies, we said, “This is what heaven is like.” And when our babies were up at night, screaming inconsolably at 3:00 in the morning, we said, “God, just take me to heaven now.”

Sometime in the past few years, my idea of heaven changed again. I read through the whole Bible, and my idea of heaven became more like a new earth but without sin; more like life now, as we know it, but a perfect life. Every single creature will live in harmony, and the weather and terrain will resemble paradise … like Hawaii.  Just remove all evil, sickness, disaster, and death from the world, and that will be heaven.

Then, as I was cleaning the bathroom one day, I thought to myself, “I would take the job of scrubbing behind all the toilets in the Lord’s house if it meant I could live with God.” Then suddenly, that became my urgent prayer. “Lord, please let me live with you in heaven. I will be the one to clean behind all the toilets.”

Finally, a week or two ago, a new prayer came to me. “Lord, every day since I’ve known you has been like heaven. Because I remember the days before I met you. I felt alone, terrified, weak, without hope, without a voice, without anyone to help me. But when you entered my heart and my life, you promised me you would never leave me. You have protected me ever since that day with your supernatural presence, and I’ve been free from fear and loneliness. I have known true love and I have experienced complete healing and restoration from everything that tried to destroy me. With you, Jesus, every day has been like heaven.”




. . .

Heavenly Here With You, the sequel to the novel Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, is coming soon.

. . .

What is your idea of heaven? Serious, funny, or bizarre comments are welcome, as always.

Thank you for reading!

*Photos courtesy of Shannon Renee Photography and Andy Rotunno

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