The Burma Chronicle

Life among the pagodas

To Lena: All you have to do is be my daughter (Or, My child is not a missionary)

Posted on 04 Oct 2016 in Compositions, Life Overseas, Motherhood | 9 comments


To Lena, as you grow up

You get to be our child, and that is all you have to be. Yes, your childhood is set to be quite different from that of your North American peers, your challenges different. When well meaning people say things about being a “little missionary,” don’t take it to your heart, my dear. In North America, an accountant’s daughter is not expected to be concerned with tax code, a fireman’s child is not expected to respond to emergency calls in the dead of night, and no one is asking a trucker’s child to obtain a commercial license and know all the best routes to drive in winter weather. In the same way, you are not expected to be an evangelist, a linguist, a relief worker or any of the other hats we are wont to wear. We do not expect you to be anything but a kid, and we will do all we can to make sure that your childhood is filled with good friendships and time spent soaking in the good and beautiful things that fill this world. (In the words of a wise mother, you aren’t here to introduce people to Jesus, your job is to be a kid.)

Our love for you is not contingent on your choices and accomplishments. Your worth has nothing to do with what you “do” or who you become; our home will not be a meritocracy. You are free to doubt, to disagree, to be angry, to be sad, to miss all the places and people who will inevitably wind their way into your little people-loving heart. You are free to be you, and if you choose one day to walk a path that is quite different from the one in which you started, none of this will change our love for you.

We know life everywhere has its hardships. No matter where we are, there are always dear people and things elsewhere, and we are bound to miss them. A choice is a limitation, and for those of us who have the luxury of choice, we all have to choose a life somewhere, and that inevitably means missing a different life somewhere else. Our hope is that you will one day look back and cherish the childhood you are now being given, and that you will see God’s hand in your life despite having imperfect parents and growing up in a broken world. We hope most of all that you will grow up to cherish the sweet love of your Maker.

But whether or not our hopes come to fruition, know this: all you ought to be is Magdalena Lily. And you already are.

“I want to help you to grow as beautiful as God meant you to be when He thought of you first.” – George MacDonald


img_5784Dear friends who become family; how can we even begin to express our gratitude for the wonderful people God places in our lives?


  1. Julie / October 4th, 2016 7:53

    Love this. All of it. And that last (George MacDonald) quote? Definitely for all of us with children 😀


  2. Mark / October 4th, 2016 9:36

    *choke* *sniff*

    Words fail me.


  3. Jan / October 4th, 2016 10:40

    I loved it a lot!


  4. Vicki / October 4th, 2016 11:23

    She is such a sweet little person with such a big personality. Enjoy your blessing. !


  5. Kay / October 4th, 2016 16:05

    That is completely RIGHT ON! How could you have such wisdom right up front? (I know!) Good thing that child gets to be with you! Kay


  6. Nancy Felmley / October 4th, 2016 18:28

    Your beautiful Mama’s heart beats with truth, strength and courage… your words are a gift!! Hugs, Nancy~


  7. Mark Walker / October 11th, 2016 4:46

    Thank you for those insights, Breanna! (And thank you both for those photos, too.)


  8. Mark Walker / October 13th, 2016 12:26

    (Actually, it was me, Barbara, who sent you this, our most recent post.)


  9. Joel Wilcoxj / November 1st, 2016 15:35

    I love this. I hated (HATED) being a “little missionary” when I was a kid. I hated being put on stage and having to sing songs in Indonesian or demonstrate my knowledge of language. I’m glad you won’t be letting Lena be a display child–good for you!


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