Tomorrow Troy and I leave for a 15-day trip to South Africa (www.ThriveAfrica.org). For me, this is a 20+ year calling, coming full-circle when I least expected it. And though we have planned and prayed like a couple of maniacs, it still feels surreal.

I admit the mom in me struggles with leaving my three boys back at home for so long. They reassure me they’re fine. Often. The problem is I’M NOT. Am I a bad mom for leaving them? Am I being selfish and irresponsible, gallivanting around the world while they pine away at home, required to make their own breakfast?

062908 Cushatt Family Preparing for the separation, we carved out yesterday as a no-interruptions-allowed family day. This means we turned the computers and phones off and refused to entertain guests. We went to the pool, saw The Hulk, grabbed some pizza, made S’mores in our back yard, jumped on the trampoline and ended on the family room floor, a pile of five exhausted and yet blissfully happy Cushatts. It was a good day. And, yet, as I think about leaving tomorrow, one verse keeps coming to mind:

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:37-39

Of course, Jesus didn’t mean we can’t love or be devoted to our families. Remember, this is the same guy who said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) It does mean, however, that we will find what we are looking for when we’re willing to give ourselves away.

Though I am aching on the inside knowing I won’t be able to squeeze my boys for a couple weeks, I have before me the nameless faces of those I will soon meet–people who need reassurance of God’s love and presence, too. Who am I that I would have such a privilege? I can’t help but think this is part of what life is all about.

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