Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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Inviting My Children to Experience the Kingdom

This post is part of a series titled Redefining Biblical Womanhood. Check out the other parts of the series here.

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inviting children kingdom now

A few weeks ago, I got a text from some friends that included a photo of their daughters with hands full of cash.

The girls had spent an entire day making bracelets, selling them, and raising extra donations for our work fund here in Asia. They set up the entire little entrepreneurship themselves, and even named their product Pinkston Bands.

I was dying from all the cuteness. And I was of course humbled by the generosity.

But as a mother, being discipled by her more experienced momma friends, I felt there was also a huge lesson to be learned.

The reason MK and NC were so eager to help fund my family’s efforts on the field is because their parents have intentionally invited them into our lives here.

My friends Kelly and Aletha have shared all the news about our work with their children. Their husbands have led their families spiritually by encouraging prayers for us daily.

At Aletha’s house, the kids pray out loud on the way to school, often mentioning each member of our family by name…even down to Baby Pinkston #2.

At Kelly’s house, the girls have marked a globe with our current location and the location of our adoption-in-progress, and they lift up the specific people we have on our hearts in each of these places.

There’s no mistaking that these children understand the importance of the Kingdom, and they are witnessing the magnitude of its power as it is working before their eyes.

The Kingdom is alive in the eyes of kindergarteners in both of these families.

Oh, how I would love to see the perspective of these little ones as they pray to a God who cannot be contained by even their wildest dreams.

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There’s a popular quote by Andy Stanley moving through parenting circles now that reads: Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.

These are beautiful words, and I agree with the sentiment behind them.

Don’t we all want our children to follow a high calling? Don’t we all want to see them walk in the footsteps of Jesus on some grand adventure?

We want God to convict the hearts of our kids, and we want them to answer with an affirmative Yes, Lord to anything He asks of them.

But I fear so many Christian parents are punting Kingdom lifestyle to the next generation instead of living for Jesus in the present.

I hope Mr. Stanley’s words aren’t leading us to simply hope for something good to come from our children in the future. I hope they motivate and challenge us to dig deeper into the role of shepherding our children’s hearts right now.

I can sit at home all day with my children. I can be present. I can love them well. I can pray over them and read them Bible stories and never speak a harsh word.

I can cross my fingers and cross my chest and do a whole lot of wishing that my kids will one day learn to walk with God.

Or, I can allow them to walk beside me as I daily walk with God.
I can be a steadfast model of Kingdom lifestyle for my children.

I take them with me to
visit the lonely,
care for the needy,
pray for the Harvest,
travel to the hurting, and
be a part of the work of the Master.

If the Father has called me to a particular work, then He has also called my children. He called us as a family; we are a package deal.

I don’t want to neglect my children for the sake of my ministry. I also don’t want my children to shoulder an unnecessary burden for my ministry.

But I do want to invite my children to be as much a part of my ministry as they wish. And I want that experience to give them a taste of the sweet Jesus that I love more than life.

My children deserve more than Bible memorization and VBS crafts. They deserve to experience the Kingdom right alongside my husband and me.

So I will take them for a ride of the highs and lows that come with a journey of surrender to the Cross.

I will welcome them to celebrate in the joy of a person receiving faith for the first time. I will allow them to experience the disappointment of a person’s sin reaching far and wide.

I want my kids to know the height and depth of God’s love, not just on a storybook page, but from the indescribable bond that forms between a desperate heart and a Good Word.

I want the Gospel to be alive for my children.

I want them to see it, feel it, and breathe it.

I want my kids to correlate the Gospel with faces—of people who have recovered from addictions, been rescued from slavery, and have redeemed broken relationships.

Heaven forbid I spend the next 18+ years simply hoping my children will be a contribution to the Kingdom.

No, not when they could be a contribution to the Kingdom right now.

After all, when the adults were crowding in, it was the little children Christ wanted on his knee. 

If I’m going to crowd around Jesus, may it be so that my children can see him face-to-face.

Alive and well, bringing Heaven to Earth. Right now.

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For you, Jen Deshler. I love watching you take your precious girl on the ride of her life
through this crazy thing called discipleship.

Jennifer ArgoOctober 6, 2014 - 12:28 pm

Thanks for this post. Sometimes the fear of protecting our children stifles our desire to take them with us into the ministry, and I’ve never been so challenged as when I took mine with me into some dangerous places to do something I knew God wanted me to do. I prayed that He would keep up safe while we were there, that he would protect their precious lives and mine so that I could protect them. He did, and does, and I have to remember that if something happened that compromised our safety, that our Mighty GOD is still with us, and nothing surprises Him! His purposes will be accomplished through his willing servants, no matter what the enemy throws at us. Love you!!!

Cristin McCoyOctober 6, 2014 - 1:34 pm

As we wait for baby McCoy to get here I am constantly soaking up every word of advice from mothers that I hope I am even half of in May. You Lauren Pinkston are one of them! I love your heart and your post inspire me and make me look at things in ways I never dreamed.
“I want the Gospel to be alive for my children.
I want them to see it, feel it, and breathe it.”
Most definitely agreed!! This is something I want to remember to be a Christ-like model for them and for them to know their purpose to minister in everything they do. So I will once again file an amazing post in my advice file. Keep shining your light for Him and remember when you may think no one wants to hear what God has laid on your heart that is the exact thing that someone needs in their life at that very moment. Much Love!

Angie AdkinsOctober 9, 2014 - 2:56 pm

That was very powerful and I pray more families would truly live out the gospel with their children! I praise God my husband and I did. We didn’t even realize it!!! Praise God he works through us when we don’t even know.. thankful for Grace!

Giving Up on the Mommy Wars

Earlier this week, I heard from a young woman—an intelligent, strong young women—who confessed her fear of having children.

The fear wasn’t about labor pains or a loss of freedom. This early-twenties law student referenced the fact that she was afraid of the apparent explosion of the Mommy Wars.

My eyes were opened to the strong influence my peer group of mothers has had on this rising generation, and I can’t get past the feeling that we have painted a pretty nasty picture of the mommy club.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve felt the judgment from other women with babies on their hips.

Plus, there are enough opinions flying around the internet to confuse the hay out of anybody with a brain.

That leaves us ladies taking offense to other peoples’ parenting differences, then seeking out blog posts to defend our own maternal instincts.

Essential oils or Tylenol?
Corporate job or stay at home?
Pick up my kid or let him cry?

OH MY WORD. I’M SO TIRED.

And I’m tired for you, too, Momma.

Have we really not learned from all of the painful mind games? Do we really insist on continuing the cycle of pointing fingers, playing the victim, and teaching our daughters to do the same?

Mothers, are we really going to allow this to be our story? Name-calling, side-choosing, and whistle-blowing? 

Heaven forbid this be my anthem. No, not on my watch.

I want something different for my home. I want something different for my generation.

And there’s something I think we’ve missed in the midst of casting so much blame.

I believe the Mommy Wars are much more in my own head than they are in my interactions with women.

What if the baby-wearer isn’t really looking disapprovingly at my stroller?
What if the home-schooler isn’t really criticizing my desire to work?
What if the granola-maker isn’t really judging my gummy snacks?

What if they’re all worried about what I think about them?

Perhaps the Mommy Wars are really stemming from each of our insecurities and personal comparison.

Who’s to blame, now?

I have a biological fifteen-month-old. I’m adopting an African child. I live in the heart of Southeast Asia. Hey, that’s crazy.

I could insert all of my beliefs about whole foods and TV watching and potty-training, car seat brands and diaper styles and age-appropriate toys.

But read above: I’m crazy. {And I rarely have a strong opinion about car seat brands.}

The bottom line is that my children will grow up. Without a doubt I’ll make mistakes. There’s nothing about my parenting choices that is guaranteed to manufacture perfect mini-adults.

One thing is constant, though, and that’s the love that I have for my kids.

And if you’re a mom who’s reading this, I can be pretty sure that’s a constant in your home, too.

So I don’t want to write a blog post about that mother who raised an eyebrow at my sleep training.  Or the one who huffed at my choice of second-hand clothes. Or the one who rolled her eyes at my homemade food purées.

That’s not encouraging to her. That’s not encouraging to me.

And I’m already good enough at criticizing myself. There’s no room for tacking someone else’s negativity onto my delicate heart.

My ability to mother in the midst of flying words and opinions must come from resting my spirit in the fact that God made me a mother, and His creation is good.

So if another person says, Oh, you’re one of those moms, huh?,
I’ll say, Well, yes. YES I AM. I’m one of those CRAZY AWESOME MOMS.

The kind that loves her babies to pieces. The kind that uses her best instincts to give them what they need. The kind that has confidence in the areas that matter and relies on grace to fill in the gaps.

What if we were a generation of women who took ownership of our motherhood, planted our feet firmly in God’s affirmation, and refused anything less for our sisters?

I don’t want my children to miss out on my strengths because I was comparing my weaknesses to other mothers.

via Unsplash

via Unsplash

And if the Mommy Wars are actually magnified in my head, then I have the power to stop them.

Judgment from other women seems a lot more real if I’m camping out on a poor self-image. And I’m a lot less likely to think about that same judgment if I’m confident in my role as a mom.

I have yet to meet a caring mother who isn’t doing all she can for her children.

So maybe all of this conflict lies in the fact that we’ve forgotten how good we all are at doing what comes naturally: loving our kids.

Maybe we need to remember that the main thing our children need is simply what flows organically between them and us…all that mushy, sweet, heart thumping goodness.

Our children want us mommas getting cozy in the fact that we were made to mother. They feed off our confidence, and they need our security.

Don’t let guilt and comparison tell you lies about the other women surrounding you.

Maybe they’re not looking down at you after all. They might even be consumed with the areas of their own insecurities.

Let’s all be for each other. Let’s be for ourselves, too, shall we?

Let’s be for children being raised by confident women who mother by the instincts that were given from Above.

Surely there can’t be anything wrong with that.

On Dressing Up {A Culture Metaphor}

My mom wasn’t sleeping last night, so my lunchtime corresponded with her late night and BOOM—Facebook chat to the rescue.

I was telling her all about my week, about how I made her spaghetti and how the smell of bell peppers and onions cooking always took me back to her kitchen.

Blasted nostalgia. There were tears all over my ham sandwich.

I think part of me finds so much joy in bringing memories of my mom and my childhood to Asia with me. I love it every time I can bust out the cookbook she wrote for me, trace my fingers over her perfect handwriting, and find ingredients to semi-construct a taste from home.

There’s another part of me that finds my life abroad exciting. My kitchen here is nothing like my mom’s back home. I have no hot water, I cook with gas from a huge propane tank, and there is no English on my microwave.

I love the thrill of learning, of tackling new experiences and finding a successful way to navigate them. My time overseas has already enriched my life so much.

But it’s changing me.
And my fear is that those I’ve left behind will never understand this woman I’m becoming.

My wardrobe is currently organized into two sides: my Western clothes and my Eastern clothes.

When I’m staying at home all day, or when I just want to be comfortable, I throw on my jeans and a tank or piko tee. My hair goes into a messy bun with a hair wrap of sorts, and I’m happy.

Take me into public, though, and I stick out in more ways than my skin color and my *curvy person* {as I’m so kindly and regularly reminded by the neighbor ladies}. So, I often feel less out of place with a locally made wrap skirt, a nice collared shirt, and the sandals I bought in Thailand.

These conflicting fashion styles are ever so descriptive of the tension in my heart.

I carry an American passport, and have such a high value of productivity, individuality, and efficiency.

But the longer I live in Asia, the more I value community, rest, and simplicity.

The absolutes I once saw so clearly have blurred into a massive sea of gray, and I find myself considering any given situation through the lens of two vastly different viewpoints.

I love how my mind has been opened, but I also fear isolation.

Because when you open your eyes to someone else’s perspective, suddenly your path isn’t so straight and obvious.

a culture metaphor

via Amanda Sandlin

There’s more than one way to raise a child, to get rid of a headache, to throw a party.

And when you’re not 100% iced sweet tea or 100% hot green tea, who will you have to stand in the middle with you?

As I attach more to my host culture, I notice little mannerisms popping up all the time that I never had before. I’m sweating less in this crazy heat {praise Jesus} and I’m actually becoming more quiet and graceful.

Daddy, that last part is actually true. Love, Grace. 

But when you take on the qualities of a particular society, you must shed others. And this is where I recognize the tension.

How will my friends perceive me when they visit me in this place? Who will be unwelcoming of the changes inside me? Will my family and friends still feel as connected with me as they did before?

I long to be understood by people. Shoot, I long to simply understand myself.

So for now, I think the clothes in my wardrobe stand as a good metaphor.

I’m knitting a new garment, with some fibers from my American life and some fibers from this Asian culture.

I have the freedom to pick and choose what I like from each place and fold those textiles into a unique fabric that will clothe my spirit.

But for every thread of this culture that I weave into my soul, there’s another thread of my homeland that must be unraveled.

I’m not always understood in this place, that’s a given. What I’m beginning to recognize is that I’ll likely not be understood when I return home, either.

And that’s ok.

Because there are people in both places who love me through our differences. And love is more powerful than any language or fashion or personality.

However I choose to dress myself up, no matter how strange and mismatched it may appear, it’s only as good as the one Who’s clothed me in righteousness.

It’s that garment of which I’ll boast.

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the
clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness…”

Isaiah 61:10

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I’m linking up with The Grove at Velvet Ashes today. There’s always a community of
expat women ready to support and know you there! If you’re currently or
have ever worked overseas, I think you’ll appreciate the conversation…come join us!

Danielle WheelerOctober 3, 2014 - 7:48 am

This is beautiful, Lauren. And so good to be evaluating the weaving and unraveling process. The hardest part is when the changes happen subconsciously, where your values shift and unintentionally end up hurting those that haven’t gone through that shift with you. (I may be speaking from experience here…) But in the end, it’s exactly what you say, that love is more powerful.

So glad to be able to journey with you.

Adoption is Just Flat Messy

At any given time, there are about as many tabs open in my brain as are open on my laptop.

My Safari app presently has nine alone, with five more files open in Microsoft Word.

My current screen shot is this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 12.38.38 PM

Side-by-side documents full of instructions on how to adopt from Uganda and Lesotho, information on filing I-600a and I-800a forms, and a new document to try and organize my thoughts into some coherent structure.

All I can think is this:

Adoption is just flat messy.

We started the process almost a year ago, knowing that we’d be transitioning overseas and needed to have our ducks in a row if we wanted to bring another child into our family when Eliza turned two.

We honestly expected about a two-year process from start to finish. That was mistake number one.

No matter how organized we were or how many documents we prepared before the move, so much of this journey has been unpredictable.

We welcomed a case worker from China soon after renting a home here in SE Asia. We knew we would need to update our home study with our current residence, so no problem. This was completed in April.

That’s when we learned we needed to have a background check from our new local government as well. In the United States, this involves taking five minutes to make an online appointment, driving to the office, taking another five minutes to scan each of your fingers on a screen, and driving through Starbucks on the way home to celebrate a successful criminal history report.

Not the same here.

We hunted through our dictionary for the words adopted child, letter, background check, and criminal history. Some were there, some were not.

We asked around for where to go to have such a thing completed.

Ministry of Public Security.
Ok, easy enough.

We got all psyched up, put Eliza in a cute outfit, tried to look like a nice family, and drove across town to find the building. Three loops around the block later, we finally guessed on where to park and walked into two different buildings before being told that the Ministry of Public Security wasn’t the right place to have a background check completed.

Ministry of Justice.
Ok, we could do that.

So we drove to where we thought we had been given directions, walked in, allowed everyone to oooh and aaah over the falang baby, and finally got to the point. We were escorted upstairs, asked to wait for a few minutes, and then were brought into some important woman’s office. We made our case, and then thirty minutes later were told that we were not actually in the Ministry of Justice office.

Ministry of Justice.
Hey, let’s go there this time.

We found the right building, another couple of blocks up, and used all the words again to tell the people what we needed. There, we were told to write a letter in English saying that we had no criminal history here, and then the officers would translate it and stamp it. Easy peasy.

The next week, we took the letter that had been requested, things were going great, and we were about to pay for the translation and stamp when the officer decided (duh) that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have someone write their own letter saying he’s not a criminal. Turns out he couldn’t help us, but someone else could.

The National Supreme Court.
Back to square one.

Seriously, I can’t make this up. Two buildings later, we finally got an official-looking form to fill out requesting all of our information. After we both completed the forms, we took it back to the window, but were told that we must have a picture to attach.

Photography shop.
This will only take a minute, right?

We got our nice passport pictures, and were only minimally photoshop-ed to have bleachy white skin. Same day, one hour later.

National Supreme Court.
Now we could submit our paperwork.

Except not yet because everyone was on lunch break.
For two hours.

That day I drove back across town to turn in our forms only to learn that they had to first be signed off by our local village office. At the local village office I was told that they couldn’t sign our form until we had a letter of employment. At our place of employment we were told that they couldn’t write a letter until a Memorandum of Understanding was signed, officially giving us a job.

All we wanted was a background check.
The dominoes weren’t falling at all.

So, we waited for five months to have the last document needed to complete our home study. But now, it’s in our hands! Thanks to some good friends from our host culture, we are on the move.

The criminal history says that I am the daughter of Devid and Sam Goudman from the Umited States of America, but who the freak cares.

We got a red stamp, y’all!

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That leads us to our current state, and that is the question of where to send all of this paperwork.

If you’ve been following our story, you know that we’ve had our hearts set on Lesotho. Our agency had just opened a program there a year ago and was very optimistic about the matches that would come quickly.

Twelve months later, there are now forty families ahead of us and none of them have yet been able to welcome children into their homes. Things are moving, but moving very slowly.

We spent last week on video calls with our agency, researching other program options, and learning about the process for Hague vs. non-Hague countries. Our brains are swimming and our hearts are a tad weary.

But in the next few days, we hope to have a peace in our spirits about the country from which the Lord wants to grow our family. We are eager to welcome Baby #2, and we are ready to hit the ground running and jumping through the hoops that remain between us and that child.

Will you pray with us? We need clarity and perseverance.

And some cash flow. {I hate this part.}

Over half of our income is still devoted to Gavin’s student loan debt from medical school. We have a $720 check to write within the next week, and I’ll be perfectly honest in saying it’s a toss-up as to where that money will come from.

Here’s a shameless plug for our Pure Charity page, our Amazon Affiliates link, and our Just Love coffee roasters storefront. All the links are also in the side bar. –>

Gosh, you guys are good. You’ve just read 1086 words about this hectic journey, and you still believe in God’s redemptive power in uniting a child with his forever family.

A forever family with the last name of Pinkston.

We are beyond blessed. You love us so well. I can’t wait to see how you wrap your arms around our next little love and show him or her what it feels like to have people all over the world who are cheering you on.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Bless each of you, too.

God Loves Single Women, Too

When I started the series on Redefining Biblical Womanhood, I heard from a reader who I knew had a story to tell. 

Kim McNamara hails from Toronto, Ontario, and is a teacher by profession. She has a deep passion to speak  into the lives of young women around the world, longing to see others walk into the freedom that only Christ can provide. She is currently living in Nairobi Kenya, and loves living this adventure of a life to its fullest. She spills her heart about life and ministry on her blog Heart for Him. In this season, she is soaking up all she can, while also anticipating her involvement in the Kingdom Journeys  – Beauty for Ashes movement, where she will have the opportunity to live, love and learn with women around the world. 

kim mcnamara

I asked Kim to write about her perspective of Biblical womanhood as a single lady in her thirties, including how that perspective has affected her ministry. I’m so excited to share her heart with you today.

Single women, be encouraged! God has a perfect place for you.

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Because I Love You So

I believe our lives are made up moments…moments of strength and moments of weakness. Moments of broken and moments of whole. As one moment flows into the next, a beautiful picture is created. As I think about pursuing God as a single woman in my early thirties…I think about letting Him meet me and fill me.

And then I ask Him, “How, Lord?”

Sometimes the Holy Spirit floors me with conviction…leaving me no choice but to be broken and changed in the span of a breath.

Other times…it’s a slow simmer. Heat is added, and increased, things start to move and bubble I can’t help but want more of Him.

This has been a slow simmer kind of season.

He is whispering in my heart…

Listen, daughter…and pay close attention. Forget your people and your father’s house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honour Him for He is your Lord. (Psalm 45:10-11)

I read the verse about two months ago…but only now is He unravelling its truth in my heart.

Through it, he is whispering…daughter…I give you permission. I give you permission to look in the mirror and wonder if your singleness is because of the image you see staring back at you. But I invite you, daughter, to return your eyes to me…and know that I am enthralled by your beauty.

I give you permission my daughter, to acknowledge your past and the damage that has been done…but I invite you. Let me place my hands upon you and heal you…let me show you that you are a new creation, and that though your sins have been as red as scarlet, you are as white as snow. Let me show you that not one is worthy, but still, I choose you. I do not think you unworthy of a husband. But it’s up to you to walk in that truth.  One step my child, one step.

I give you permission, daughter, to fight me. To try and perform for me…to try and put your life together in a way that will earn you what you think you need and deserve. But I invite you child, to know and trust the truth that I am, and always will be enough.

I will allow you, daughter, to become distracted by the world…to focus your efforts on becoming “holy” in order to attract a man. You are well intentioned my child…but you are missing the point. Honor me, my child, for I am Your Lord.

My sweet child, I know you feel pressure to fill your time with ministry…to dull the pain or to convince yourself and others that you are worthy. I invite you child…to more. I ask you to be vulnerable with your wounds…allow me to change them into scars, and I will use your life to build my kingdom.

You have a vital role to play.

My darling , I know that you have moments of doubt…I saw the smile you placed upon your lips as you held that baby in your arms… that child that is not yours. I know about the tears that rolled down your face as you lay your head down that night. It is okay; I know pain too. Let me into those hopes, dreams and prayers. But my child, I may not show you the answer right away. Still, I will give you all you need…

But I will ask you to trust.

Trust that I know you and I love you. That I see you and hear you.

Trust that I believe you have an irreplaceable role to play in the story of My Kingdom.

That I have chosen you, and set you apart for a purpose.

That I died for you. FOR YOU.

 Trust that that will be true…regardless of your earthly relationship status, now and forever.

And know that when you trust me, you are brave, so very brave.

I hope you do, because I love you so. 

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Do you have a story to tell about how God has transformed your understanding of Biblical womanhood? I’d love to hear it! Contact me to email your story directly, and I may even choose to feature it on this space.
Stories are meant to be told, my friend. Tell yours here.