Motherhood is tough. Especially motherhood in the younger years when everyone is in diapers and needs a hand, needs help, and needs Momma! Sometimes (or, let’s face it – all the time!) mothers of toddlers and newborns need direct and special encouragement from the Lord that the work they are doing is significant, does not go unnoticed, and will not be in vain, no matter how many times your two-year-old has thrown himself on the floor today and yelled, “Mine!” I can’t think of a better person to provide that encouragement than Margaret Austin. I met Margaret five years ago when she was pregnant with her firstborn, and it was instant love, connection, and admiration for this dear friend! In the past five years, Margaret and her husband, Thomas, have moved ten times because of Thomas’ career in the NFL, and Margaret birthed three babies in that time period – Adam (4 years old), Isaiah (2 years old), and Hazel (9 weeks old). After watching and admiring Margaret, I’m pretty sure NFL wives are just as tough as their husbands! In the past year and a half, Thomas has transitioned from playing football in the NFL to coaching football at Clemson in South Carolina. Yet through all of the moving, transition, babies, and change, Margaret has remained…Margaret. She is beautiful, bold, never afraid to tell you like it really is, but never afraid, either, to obey the Lord and walk in obedience that path He has for her (even when it hurts). Over the past five years, Margaret has made God more real and beautiful to me, and I know she will do the same for you as she shares encouragement straight from her heart and straight from the trenches of toddlerhood.
Hi friends. Margaret Austin here, friend of Susannah. I got to know Susannah when my husband Thomas played for the Texans from 2011-2012. God placed Susannah and Jason in our lives at a time when we knew no one and desperately needed some friends! They had us over for a meal & we instantly loved them. I guess they loved us too because they let lonely me come over and spend the night quite often when Thomas was playing in away games, and we spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them that year. Susannah was such a dear friend to me, especially as I had our first son while we were living in Houston. She let me tag along on playdates, bible studies, & swim lessons.
Thomas and I got to know Bernie better when we lived in Charlotte, NC as he resides just outside of Charlotte. After we moved to Clemson, South Carolina last year for my husband to coach football, Bernie flew down for lunch with a fellow Seed Company employee. He flew down for lunch again last week.
I’d been texting Susannah just a few days before to pray for my patience as a mother. I felt tired and discouraged and very, very impatient with my 2 active boys, my 7 week old daughter, and mostly impatient with myself. When Thomas drove up with Bernie and Kirk, I was having a rough day. In fact, I didn’t even make lunch for them this year–I was recycling a baby meal that someone brought over the night before! I was feeling weary of motherhood, trapped at home with a nursing infant, envious of my friends who seemed to have more freedom and less baby weight on their bodies. My boys seemed to spend the first half of our lunch disobeying and being disciplined. They finally went inside for naps, and I felt like I could breathe and focus on our lunch guests. I hadn’t had time to say much during lunch besides, “Sit on your bottom. Eat your food. Don’t touch your brother. NO, you can’t have your paci until you eat your vegetables. Stop poking the baby’s nostril.”
But Bernie (and the Holy Spirit) knew just what my tired soul needed. Bernie started talking and he didn’t come up for air for about 15 minutes. He began telling me he admired me?! What on earth would an 84 year old man who spent his life doing important work for the Lord have to admire about a worn out stay at home mom? Bernie told me that he wanted me to know that my work as a mother was important, that I had no idea how God would use my children in the coming years or how my work might come to fruition. He told me that he’d struggled when his family lived in the jungle with whether or not he was doing the right thing for his family, living in such extreme circumstances. He’d wanted a comfortable, 9-5 life at times. But he’d pressed on and continued because this was where he felt God calling him.
This was especially encouraging for me to hear as I often struggle with wishing my husband would be called to a 9-5 job rather than one that requires him to work extremely long hours for parts of the year. Often I question if this job is family friendly, if our kids will turn out alright with daddy gone so much during certain times of the year and they are stuck at home with a frazzled, selfish mommy. But Bernie reminded me that if we have been called by God, He will equip us and our work will be our ministry. “Full time ministry!” he said. “What is full time ministry and who came up with the phrase anyway?! All of life is full time ministry, no matter what God calls you to do professionally.”
By the time Bernie left, I had tears in my eyes and a very grateful heart. My husband was amazed at God’s timing, as he knew I needed a special dose of encouragement that afternoon. Bernie left me with a copy of a letter he’d recently written to his children regarding his wife’s painful illness, outlining what he was learning through it all. In the letter he wrote, “Is this really an ‘opportunity for great joy?’ If so how do we get that joy? The answer is to realize that joy is a choice, an opportunity. This disease wasn’t the opportunity we were looking for but for sure one God has given us. Joy is a choice that we can make…we can choose to surrender all we are and have to Him and trust Him completely. And we can choose joy even in troubled times.”
Bernie told me that he had been watching me over the years of our wild ride with football, and that he admired how my faith had fueled my works, and that my works would be in vain if not for Christ. Well Bernie, right back atcha. I pray I am faithfully staying the course if the Lord allows me to live until I am 84. Until then, I will leave you with the words of this song Bernie shared with me:
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We’re tossed and driven on, no human help in sight;
But there is one in heav’n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem – just go to Him in pray’r.
Life’s day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past,
We’ll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
We’ll share the joys of heav’n – a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.
When We See Christ, by Esther Kerr Rusthoi
Can I share something with you? Let you in on a secret?
I have a very small story.
I have a husband who is a godly man, who loves me and our girls sacrificially and selflessly.
I have three beautiful daughters whose lives continually reflect to me the astonishing miracle of grace that I am the one who gets to be their mom.
But my story is very small.
I wake up, I sip on a cup of coffee, sometimes two, I spend time in God’s Word, I wake up my girls, I make breakfast, I make lunches, I fix more heads of hair than I can count, I take people to school, I do dishes, I clean the house, I pay bills or answer emails or sometimes sneak an hour or two away alone once or twice a week, I run errands, I drive carpool, I take people places like swimming or piano or ballet, I help with homework, I fix dinner, I do dishes again, I put people in pajamas, brush more heads of hair than I can count, I put people to bed, I read a page or two in a book before falling asleep myself, and then I wake up the next morning and do the whole thing over again.
But can I tell you something else?
I serve a very big God who is telling a Great Story.
And because of His mercy, He lets me be a part of that Story.
Jason and I went to a conference last weekend to listen and learn about the Bibleless peoples of the world and what the Spirit of God is doing all over the face of the earth to draw men, women, children, and entire people groups to Himself. Drawing them from darkness to light. From suffering, sickness, and sadness into mercy, joy, and hope. From having no language with which to know and be known by God to learning that God does, indeed, speak their language.
And He invites us to be a part of that Story through our giving, through our going, through our praying, and through our speaking on behalf of those 2000 people groups who have yet to have one word of the Only Word that saves.
This story of the Great Commission has been going on for the past 2000 years since Paul took up the baton by taking the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles, yet our generation is the first generation in the history of the world to be able to stand and see the finish line in sight. In the next ten years, ministries from all over the world are coming together to see that those last 2000 people groups have God’s Word in their heart language and hear the message of the Gospel – the message that Jesus is the Only One who Saves.
The culmination of this Story will be when a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people group, and tongue stands before the throne of God and the Lamb and cries out with a loud voice, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10). But until that day, we are to run hard with the Hope of the Gospel in our hearts and our earthly treasure in our hands, ready to give it to the building of the church of King Jesus here on the earth and to those who have yet to hear that He came, He died, He rose, and He waits to come again…until every last people group has heard.
Learning about that Story and our very small part in that Story lifted my head above the smallness of carpool, the smallness of my own story, and given me eternal perspective. Eternal Purpose. It put a weight of glory in my soul that far outweighs the trivial trip-ups and irritations of every day life.
I came back on Sunday night…content. All of a sudden, the size of my house, or the ugly brown carpet, or the lack of landscaping, or the gaps in my wardrobe, or the stresses of end of year scheduling, or the imperfections in my children, my family, and myself did not matter anymore.
God is doing awesome things all over the face of the world that no other generation in the history of the world has ever had the privilege of seeing or being a part of…and I am worried about carpool??
I don’t know where your stresses lie this week: maybe they are financial in nature, or relational. Maybe you feel that God has been sloughed off in a corner and you are not sure where to find Him, or your heart is consumed with the cares and worries of this world, and, like me, you need a good shot in the arm of the reality of eternity. But my encouragement to you is the same to me:
“Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient door,
That the King of Glory may come in!
Who is this King of Glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of Glory may come in!
Who is this King of Glory?
The Lord of Hosts,
He is the King of Glory.”
Lift up your heads from carpool, from a full schedule, a full life, from a sink full of dishes and a house full of little ones, from a desk full of papers and an inbox full of emails, from a life full of stresses, from a heart full of sickness and pain, from a past full of darkness and a present full of despair…and let the King of Glory in!
He stands at the door and knocks, He stands at the gate and pounds, He stands at the highest point of the city and calls…to be let IN.
And I can promise you this: you might still have a small story. But you will be LOST in the JOY of knowing a Great God who takes every story, especially the small ones, and weaves them into a great and glorious Story that spans the ages, spans continents and cultures, and culminates with all peoples before His throne worshipping Him.
Invite this King of Glory into your story. The pages of your life will never look the same.
(One more thing, if you want to learn more about the Bibleless peoples of the world and how you can be part of the Story of helping them to know Christ and be known, click here – www.theseedcompany.org – and check out what The Seed Company is doing in Bible translation all over the world.)