We are delighted to bring you a guest post this week from Lauren Mau. Lauren and her family are regular attenders at Woodland Hills, and her children have grown up in our ministry. We’re so excited to share her story with you this week!
By Lauren Mau, Guest Blogger
My husband Peter and I have three children. Peter and I have been together since we were seventeen years old. For my twenty-second birthday, Peter got a vasectomy, just a couple months before we got married. Adoption was heavy on our hearts so we decided to make that a permanent decision. Our kiddos – Ephraim, Eli and Esther – are fourteen, twelve and nine. We met each of our kids when they were two weeks old.
Before kids, I was a middle school teacher. I soaked myself into my students’ lives. Before school, during school, after school and summers I would find ways to connect with the youth. They taught me how to cook and dance. I sent them to camps and visited with them at their homes and shelters.
When Peter and I adopted our second child, I made the choice to stay home. Daycare was such a nightmare with my oldest that I could not bear to start the search again. Ephraim had been in six different daycares during the first 9 months of his life. At the first place he never slept. The second I would show up to pick him up only to find all the infants and toddlers strapped to chairs lined up watching Dr. Phil. After finding rubber bands and a game piece in Ephraim’s poop, I decided it was time to move on. The third place called me at work his first day in order to tell me what a naughty boy he was because he bit another child. I left work early, swooped Ephraim up, and he never saw a day two there.
Teaching was missional for me. Everyday I felt empowered to be His love. I felt a responsibility to reflect who He is and humbled when I realized how easy it was for me to lose site of the beauty He created in each and every student.
There was a clinging and dependence Peter and I had on Christ each time we went through the adoption process. It was an intimate, emotional journey filled with overwhelming joy and heartache.
After adopting our third, I began feeling anxious, unsettled. I had been home for three years. Our family was complete. I was growing tired of people abruptly ending our conversation when they found out I stayed home with my kids. Apparently homemaker is not an interesting career choice. I beg to differ. I have been a part of Lochness monster sightings in nearly every lake we have ever driven by. I’ve been followed and confronted by dozens of adults feeling the need to share their judgment on my family as a white mom raising black children, or someone not understanding my son, Eli has autism. I’ve participated in countless episodes of cooking shows that I judge as my kids create culinary masterpieces out of play dough and sand.
I tried to fill that missional feel I thought I lost in staying home with the kids. I started writing a children’s book that would reflect families that looked like ours. I went to seminars learning how to start your own non-profit. I designed a potential mentoring program for kids who were adopted cross-culturally. I searched houses online in my neighborhood and daydreamed with my husband about opening a home for families in need. I started writing a book of short stories of how Christ had soaked me in His gracious, forgiving and passionate love. Instead of finding fulfillment, I grew more agitated as I would start but never see an idea to completion.
Being a stay home mom often felt small, isolating, and unimportant in the daily mundane routine.
Then one evening as I sat with Jesus in my upstairs hallway while my husband and children slept in the room connected to where I sat, I stumbled on Mother Theresa’s words: “Small things with great love”.
Christ blew me away with His clarity that night as I realized while I had worked so hard to try and do something big and great for Christ, I was missing the truth that all the small things of “staying home” are as crucial and missional as the big things when done in great love.
A tattoo on my wrist with the words “small things with great love” reminds me daily to find contentment, purpose and joy in the everyday moments when I see them through the eyes of Christ’s great love.