Pressing On Through the Hard Things

MAF missionary Natalie Holsten homeschooling her son“Mom, I just can’t do it!” my son Luke cried out in frustration as he handed me his notebook, Indonesian Bible verses scrawled across the page. His assignment to memorize these verses had overwhelmed him to the point of tears.

I felt his pain. Flashbacks to language school—having to memorize words that made no sense, and maneuvering my mouth around unfamiliar consonant blends—filled me with sympathy for my son. I knew this would be painful for him, for me.

“Well, there’s no getting around it. It’s due tomorrow, and you either memorize it or fail,” Tough Love Mama shoved Sympathetic Mama out of the way.

I attacked those verses, broke them down into manageable chunks, drew silly illustrations for each word.

“Okay, this word takkan kind of sounds like ‘Tarakan’ where we used to live. And membingbing sounds like ‘bling-bling,’ which is funky gold jewelry that some people wear.”

Syllable by syllable, he committed those verses to memory. The next day after school, I was anxious to hear how it went.
“It went fine,” he said. “I even helped other kids study.”

“See, Son, just because something is hard isn’t a reason not to do it.” Oh boy, did I just say that out loud? It was one of those moments when what I’m telling my child is really what I, the mom, need to hear.

Natalie's husband, MAF pilot David Holsten.

Natalie’s husband, MAF pilot David Holsten.

A few weeks ago I had struggled with saying goodbye to my husband, whose role with MAF* takes him away from home for weeks at a time. Before he left, he asked, “Is this still okay? Is this still working for us?”

I shrugged. “It’s hard, but that’s not a reason to stop.”

My own words keep coming back to me, each time I’m faced with a challenge: a drunken man in the road, threatening us as we drive by; the power going off (as it did while I was typing this); discouraging news from family in the U.S. Life is hard, ministry is hard—but it’s not a reason to give up.

The Lord is faithful in hard times, and we press on in His strength—one syllable, one word, one challenge at a time.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9


*Natalie’s husband, David, recently took on a new role as regional director of MAF’s Indonesia programs.


  • Angela says:

    Good encouragement! How often the words we use in parenting are the very words the Lord uses to parent us! 🙂

  • Melissa Richardson says:

    Hey Natalie! This is Melissa from NC. I am friends with Jenny Vancleave. We just got in country and we start language school next week. My son just started his International school and loves it so far
    Thanks for posting this as I know challenges are ahead. I will come back this and be reminded that just because it hard that is not a reason to stop.
    Thanks again!

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