Daring Mothers & Daughters….& Dirty Feet

This article was written by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.

I’ve always had this “thing” for baby feet. I pull off darling shoes, and little newborn socks, and just want to kiss each of those tiny toes! I always ponder where a baby’s precious feet will go, and about God’s destiny and purpose for each new life. But speaking as a mother, what happens when our kids grow up, and God perhaps would call our sons, or our DAUGHTERS, to dangerous places?

Ann & daughter, Christi

Our oldest daughter, Christi, recently climbed a mountain barefoot. She didn’t want to wear out her TOMS, which incidentally are shoes produced by a company to help impoverished kids . . . . who don’t have shoes. These dirty feet (pictured above) actually give a pretty clear glimpse of our daughter.

Christi’s always dreamed of daring things for God. She’s grown up on a steady diet of missionary biographies — Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, Florence Nightingale, Lottie Moon, and Elisabeth Elliot; but she’s done more than merely read about godly self-sacrificing women. Christi’s been living-out her own mission adventure story, as she’s also continually dreaming about the future.

The Bible says, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” - Romans 10:15

I want to be a mom who encourages each of my children to completely fulfill God’s destiny — not by my efforts, but by God’s GRACE!!!

My husband and I know that each of our sons, and our DAUGHTERS, have been entrusted by God into our family to be raised FOR HIM and His mission-minded and eternal purposes. We want each of our kids, including each son and each DAUGHTER, to fully obey God’s call and purpose for his or her life. Sometimes, as a caring and loving mom (who remembers kissing my babies’ feet and tucking away their precious hand-knitted booties for the next generation), that can be challenging and stretching . . . but oh, what a JOY!!!!

Our daughter, Christi

Here are a few pictures of our daughter on a mission outreach in East Africa. Christi was instrumental in helping to establish two orphanages in Uganda, East Africa, currently caring for over 700 children orphaned primarily by AIDS. During her last year at home, Christi worked tirelessly in our ministry office, coordinating child sponsors and sharing needs. She’s traveled the globe to share the Gospel and to help others; but her passion for people who need Jesus is just as fervent here in the United States. She loves to mentor young women, to pray for those who are hurting, and to speak out for world missions!

As mothers in God’s kingdom, we need to raise our daughters to love Jesus AND to realize that multitudes of God’s precious daughters throughout the world desperately need all the motherly-and-sisterly-love we can give, along with our sacrificial prayer and help.

Rescuing one of God’s Girls . . . in Uganda, East Africa

When Christi was 15-years-old, she wrote a powerful orphan essay about the needs of one abused girl, named Jennifer, and this essay was only the beginning of God stirring His compassion in our daughter’s heart.

Here is a picture of this rescued girl today (four years after Christi wrote the article). Jennifer continues to live with our dear friends, Naboth and Alice, and is a vital testimony of God’s hand on these orphan children. The most recent report is so beautiful.

Naboth wrote:

Jennifer is now in primary four. She sleeps and “feeds” at our home, and is very bright and hard working. She “leads praising” in Sunday school. Her hope and happiness is restored, as God has healed her wounds.

Ministering to God’s Girls in Cambodia

As for Christi, she’s now in her final semester at a Christian university, writing her senior paper on the horrible issues surrounding child prostitution, human trafficking and the necessary process of healing after sexual abuse. She’s also preparing to be an assistant team leader for an upcoming two-month summer mission to Cambodia, to minister to young girls (our precious sisters in Jesus) rescued out of the sex trade.

Sometimes, we selectively read God’s word. In Proverbs 31, our Bible studies focus on the “lovely” verses regarding beauty and virtue, but miss the need for godly compassion and justice. As virtuous women, our households are to be “clothed in scarlet” (protected by the blood of Jesus, for perhaps dangerous assignments). We’re to extend our “hand to the needy” and to train our daughters — as a voice for the speechless, the dying, and the lost — to fear the Lord.

Here are my favorite Proverbs 31 verses:

“Open your mouth for the speechless, for the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth and judge righteously, and plead for the cause of the poor and the needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

As a longtime homeschooling mom (finishing my 19th year) I’m aware of accusations concerning homeschooled children who’ve been isolated and sheltered from reality.

And I confess:

We have protected our children from compromising friends, sinful lifestyles, and wasteful distractions. We have kept our kids “sheltered” in prayer by the powerful blood of Jesus Christ. And we have rejected the reality of low expectations.  However,  through our homeschooling freedom we’ve actually exposed our children — with oversight and spiritual protection — to  horrendous realities in our world. As a result, our older children are now helping to IMPACT the darkness with the light of our wonderful Lord!

Being a godly mother can be a daring assignment.

May we accept our mission in faith, not fear! May God’s goodness flow through us and our family, and through each of son and each DAUGHTER.

May we raise DARING daughters who follow God’s purposes, in complete submission to Him, with fervent love  . . . and perhaps, with dirty feet.

And as moms, may we be DARING too!

For what mission are you raising your children to accomplish today?

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 9 to 23, with 3 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of two orphanages in East Africa (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

41 Responses to Daring Mothers & Daughters….& Dirty Feet

  1. Liliana April 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm #


    Thanks for this wonderful post.

    It was a blessing reading from Ann and Christi.


  2. CassandraMarie14 April 27, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    This story made me happy! I have a missions heart and my family (more my mom and dad) are learning that all that in-tales. In a few days I am off to Africa again and they are not so comfortable with the idea (even when this is trip three). This story was a great encouragement to me…..and I am passing it on to my mom. Thank you so much for the heart you have for your daughter's heart and sharing it with us. <3
    Working for Change in Kenya,
    Casandra Maire

  3. Ann Dunagan April 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    That's awesome to hear that someone directed you here to PASSIONATE HOMEMAKING. There are beautiful people here.

  4. Ann Dunagan April 21, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    AMEN, Brenda!!! I love how you write, “May our lives be all about Jesus.” I'm also praying, for each of our kids, that same “wholehearted” attitude in following Christ.

  5. Ann Dunagan April 21, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    Thank you, Michelle!
    I appreciate you taking the time to be encouraging!!!

  6. SomeGirl April 21, 2010 at 2:04 am #

    BEAUTIFUL post!!! ♥ Michelle

  7. anndunagan April 17, 2010 at 1:32 am #

    Mommahardt, I'm delighted that you are reading this post, and that you commented; and I want to extend special love & welcome to you and your family!!! It's so wonderful to hear of your heart for Lord and for missions, your respect for your husband, and your desire to instill in your children a heart for others. Blessings to you!!! ~Ann

  8. Ann Dunagan April 17, 2010 at 1:28 am #

    Kristi!!!! I was just thinking about your family yesterday (I actually printed out a picture from our homeschool group on the day your come to visit, so I was looking at your girls). How thrilling that God is blessing your family with another baby (and another daughter!!!); may they all grow to be Prov. 31 women (including vs. 8-9). Bless you! ~Ann

  9. Brenda April 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Wonderful article! May our lives be all about Jesus so that our kids may one day follow Christ and serve Him wholeheartedly! :) Thanks for the article! God bless you Ann!

  10. Jen S. April 16, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    God bless you, Morgan. I am lifting you, your sweet daughter, and your entire family up in prayer today. People are going to see CHRIST in you through this journey.

  11. Kristi Knfiong April 16, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Dear Ann, Loved this post! What an inspiration to me and my daughters! Thank you for giving us a real picture of what a daughter is capable of doing for the Kingdom of God! We're one week away from having baby #6 (another daughter to raise!). Miss and love you! Kristi

  12. wendy April 16, 2010 at 4:29 am #

    A dear friend just told me about your blog and I LOVE it. Thank you for your openness and enthusiasm.

  13. Jen S. April 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    Thank you, Ann! Those are wonderful resources and I am so happy to know there are things like that out there even for my little ones.

    God bless you and your family and your ministry! You have given me a fresh vision for raising my kids for Jesus and I'm so thankful.

  14. Susie Phillips April 15, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    “…not by my efforts, but by God's grace”. I love the hope that phrase inspires in me. Thank you Ann!

  15. Ann Dunagan April 15, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    Your comment is so touching. Your heart and love as a mother and as God's daughter, is beautiful.

    It's true that we don't understand everything. A godly friend of mine suffered a miscarriage earlier this year; another amazing friend lost a toddler in a car accident; and my sister-in-law prayed for her beloved husband who was fighting a disease . . . even until his death on Christmas morning. In each of these situations, the women involved stayed in FAITH and TRUST, even though the situations were difficult . . . and God was glorified.

    May God give you and your husband GRACE and peace for each day with your little Abby. I do pray for God's healing, and for this brain tumor to shrink and/or to become operable; but even more so, may God be glorified through her life, and through your family. May you release her into God's hands, for His eternal purposes. And may you be at peace to know that God is GOOD, and He is in control . . . and yes, that you can indeed TRUST HIM.

    Thank you so much for commenting, and for sharing your heart.

  16. mommahardt April 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    My children go to public school. I was late to the idea of homeschooling and also would not have full support from my husband. I am however very mission minded and hope that I have done enough to have my children follow in my footsteps. For the most part my focus is in small increments locally but long to be of more use elsewhere in the future. The change of church settings for our family will definately aid not only that possibility but my children following my mission path as well.

  17. morganconner April 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    This article really hit home for me, in a roundabout way. My precious daughter is 4 years old and has a brain tumor. She is doing well but it is large, inoperable, and unshrinkable (by man's standards). I have already witnessed God's mighty hand at work in her life and have had to come to terms with the fact that she is not mine, but His. I pray every night that God will give me the wisdom and knowledge to raise her in awe of His love and mercy and that she will have a passion to tell others about Jesus and about God's mighty hand. I pray that He spares her life so she can change others lives but I know that may not happen. Your article is such an encouragement to me. I struggle daily with truly wanting God's will for my Abby. You reminded me that even if or when she makes it to adulthood, she is still not mine, she is His. And I can trust Him to do the very best for her!

  18. crystal April 15, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    Wow, what an awesomely encouraging article!!! It encourages me not only to homeschool, but also to press in to God for my daughters to lay hold of what Jesus has already laid hold of for them! Thank you so much for sharing! Massive Blessings!

  19. Ann Dunagan April 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

    Precious Country Momma,

    It's awesome to see that God is working in your heart, and helping you to release you much-loved children into His hands. Imagine what Hannah must have felt as she let go of her little Samuel . . . in trust and in faith.

    This article only shares the tip of the iceberg of the “releasing” and trust that God has been working in my heart; and I don't deny that at times it is tough (as a hint, our oldest son is a USMC Lieutenant, commanding a platoon & preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan; our Christi is not only going to Cambodia this summer, but also courting a wonderful young man, who happens to be a longtime missionary kid from Niger – which means she's also going on a 2nd summer mission trip to NIGER to get to know his family (in a country that's incredibly poor, Sahara-desert-dry, hot, and mostly Muslim or unreached); our 4th son is about to graduate from homeschool high school and planning to head across the country for college, and is, at this very moment, on a remote African mission trip with my husband). . .

    But the JOY in my heart in knowing that my kids are helping to bring God's love, mercy, justice on the front-lines, and helping to advance God's kingdom, and especially knowing that they LOVE HIM and FEAR HIM, neutralizes and even obliterates (by God's Holy Spirit and by His faith and love for others) any natural momma fears.

  20. Ann Dunagan April 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    P.S. We can know that God's GRACE will always be there for us to do whatever God calls us to do (at the time we need it, but not BEFORE), and that includes GRACE for us as mommies, knowing that God will help us to encourage our kids to do whatever God calls them to do.

    Yes, God is in control.

    It's true that sometimes our kids may have to endure hard stuff . . . but God will prepare them, and equip them, and help them.

    Blessings to you!

  21. countrymamma April 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Thank you so much for this timely post. I have been struggling with fear over this very thing…..that my children will have to suffer, but I do know that God is in control and this post has very much encouraged me.

  22. Denise April 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    Thank you so much for all of the valuable information!

    Blessings to you as well!

  23. Kristine S. April 15, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    Thank you so much for this post! This came in God's perfect timing and was such an encouragement!

  24. joyintheburbs April 15, 2010 at 2:13 am #

    I heard the barefoot day was going on, but I forgot about it. I love my TOMS shoes. I need another pair. What a beautiful girl. Such an inspiration. I'm going to have my teenage daughter read this.

  25. JanaMiller April 14, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    Wonderful post….my son went to class barefoot on Monday for the Toms thing. Ewww-I'm not big on dirty feet. My son is headed off to Wheaton in the fall. I always knew that God had big things in store for this child-he's never really been mine. He is already leaving his footprint on our world by working with youth, traveling abroad on mission trips and being real with his peers. He wants to become a political advisor. We need ethical leaders like Josh. It's been a privilege to raise him.

  26. jennstraz April 14, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    Thanks so much for posting this! I am a young mom with one little girl (11 months). I know that my husband and I are called to go overseas but wrestle with the dangers of this. Prior to marriage and kids, I wasn't too afraid since it was just me. It is encouraging to hear about you letting go of your daughter and trusting her to the Lord!

  27. anndunagan April 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm #


    I'm SO encouraged by your honoring and sweet words. It means a lot to know that The Mission-Minded Family has been a blessing and a challenge to you and your family. YAY!!! (& THANK YOU, JESUS!!!)

  28. anndunagan April 14, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    Hi Jen!

    Thanks for your feedback.
    Here are 3 mission-minded ideas for little children.

    Everybody Ought to Know – 7 mission lessons for preschool children

    From Akebu to Zapotec: A Book About Bibleless People – for young children

    I've Got a Job to Do – Wycliffe – Rhyming Storybook for Ages 3-5

  29. [email protected] April 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    Ann, I recently finished reading “Mission Minded Family” and want to say, “Thank you SO VERY MUCH for letting God use you to instil a greater vision for family ministry into my heart.” I so badly want our girls, and our baby son to grow up to be world-changers for Christ! My husband and I don't want to live a comfortable life; we want to live to further the KINGDOM! So, thank you for this post and thank you for being a godly example as a wife, homeschooling mother, and woman passionatly serving her Savior!

  30. Jen S. April 14, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    Hi Ann!
    Thank you so much for that helpful information! I have just bookmarked/downloaded these resources and I can't wait to get to use them with my kids. My son is 3.5 and my daughter is 18 months, so we are still a very young family. Which of the titles above would you recommend for toddlers/early preschoolers? Are there any others that you (or anyone else!) knows of that are good to use with our tiny ones?

    Thank you for your ministry.

  31. anndunagan April 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    Hello Denise!

    I'm Ann (who wrote this post), and I wanted to let you (and perhaps other who may be interested) know about some FREE mission-minded curriculum we have on our Harvest Ministry site.

    1. There's a FREE full one-year unit-study curriculum called Teaching With God's Heart for the World (to incorporate into your homeschooling for one year, or throughout several years, or you could pull out a few mission unit-studies, to use for a week or two).

    2. There is a FREE Vacation Bible School curriculum called “M.A.P.S. for KIDS! – Missions Adventure Preparation School.” This could be used for a special week of homeschool or for a mission-oriented VBS outreach with your church. Another idea is that perhaps you and your daughter could use ideas from this VBS curriculum to create a special mission-minded assembly or chapel service for a local Christian school, for your church, or for a kids outreach at your home.

    3. We've also designed a FREE 40-Day Mission-Minded FAMILY CHALLENGE – to help families like yours to instill more of a mission-mindset into your home. The vision is “Eight-weeks (Monday through Friday), to becoming more effective . . . for eternity.” Each day of the Mission-Minded Challenge includes a 4-5 minute online video including: a Bible verse to memorize, a famous mission quote, a recommended family mission resource, a quick geography quiz (learning where to find every nation in the world over the 40 days), and a specific daily family challenge. I invite you and your daughter to take a look at this; and if you decide to take the CHALLENGE, but sure to add feedback as you go along, and we'll comment back and continue to encourage you!!!

    My all-time favorite mission book for kids is WINDOW ON THE WORLD (published by Paternoster Press/Authentic), which is the children's version of Operation World. Another suggestion is to begin building a family library of good missionary biographies. I've reviewed all of the major missionary biographies, and my favorite ones (by far!!!) are the CHRISTIAN HEROES THEN & NOW Series, published by YWAM. You could also ask around at your church to see if any family friends have missionary biographies your daughter could begin to borrow. Other recommended mission books to begin with are BRUCHKO, by Bruce Olsen; IS THAT REALLY YOU, GOD?, by Loren Cunningham; and JESUS FREAKS, by DCTAlk & The Voice of the Martyrs.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  32. simpleinfrance April 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    How great is that! I'm glad your daughter is doing something she believes in. I'm sure it can be scary, but not as scary as ignoring your calling.

    Also, her climbing barefoot reminds me of my stay in Madagascar. I was carrying my things up a hill with another American women, 2 Malagasy men and one, pregnant and barefoot woman. I was already shocked she was headed up the huge hill pregnant and barefoot, when one of the men suggested that I or my American companion hand her our bags to carry. Obviously, we said, “no way!”
    So one of the men gave her his stuff. Apparently she was low on the social order. Some people live very, very hard lives and I'm always glad when I hear that people are helping out.

  33. Melanie April 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Denise, I am sure you have looked into Sonlight at this point. And yes, it is a little pricey. I have decided for our family it is certainly worth selling and earning whatever I must to have it! I love the opportunities that arise as a result of Sonlight's curriculum for my children. However, if nothing else, I would suggest looking into at least some of the books Sonlight uses and see if your local library carries them, or if you can find them second hand. I have seen the names of most of the woman missionaries Ann mentioned in her article (Gladys Aylward, Florence Nightingale, Amy Carmichael, etc…) from the books we use in Sonlight. Even if you don't use it in a formal curriculum, the books can expose your daughter to such great women who she can choose to study further should you decide. My personal suggestion would be to request a free copy of Sonlight's catalog and then use it as a reference for some book titles to find, just simply to read and expose your daughter to amazing women. The books have been amazing conversation builders for me and my children. Hope that is a least a little helpful!

  34. Gabreial April 14, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    Wow, Amen! What a beautiful and wonderful post. Keep sharing your faith, preach the the gospel. It is truly amazing how “the truth” can set you and your family free. The word of God is not mush, it is tough stuff, but real and full of hope. I loved and needed this post today.

    May God Bless You and Keep You.

  35. Sandi @A Mother's Musings April 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. So blessed by this mom and her daughters passion for the gospel. I spent several years on the mission field as a single and though I know the dangers first hand I would love to see my children there as well. I loved a quote on Ann Dunagan's site.

    Author and international minister Dr. David Shibley says, “The normal Christian life is anything but balanced, as popularly defined . . . The normal Christian life is high risk and high joy. The normal Christian life releases the temporal to embrace the eternal . . . God is not calling us to win the world and, in the process, lose our families. But I have known those who so enshrined family life and were so protective of “quality time” that the children never saw the kind of consuming love that made their parents’ faith attractive to them. Some have lost their children, not because they weren’t at their soccer games or didn’t take family vacations, but because they never transmitted a loyalty to Jesus that went deep enough to interrupt personal preferences.”

    I so struggle with this very thing. Trying to fight for time in our busy culture to give to others and not just shelter and have quality time with my kids. Though these things are important (all consuming when they are little) there is more to it to translate a passion for the lost. My daughters turns ten today and this very thing has so been on my mind.
    Not sure if I articulated all this very well but thanks for this post…very encouraging and helpful.

    God please interrupt my personal preferences for the sake of the gospel!

  36. dmoms April 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    what a beautiful post and great reminder of our mission as moms.

  37. Jen S. April 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    THANK YOU! I was so refreshed and encouraged to read this article today! God bless you and your family! I am going to print this out and read it again as my daughter grows.

  38. Denise April 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    This is a beautiful post! This is my first year homeschooling with my sixth grade daughter and I am struggling with finding great curriculum that I can afford. Do you have any suggestions for mission minded curriculum, as my daughter seems to have a heart for missions. Thank you so much!

  39. Christa Schoolfield April 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    What great encouragment for those of us in the mist of doing this very thing!!! Thanks=)

  40. mamamandy April 14, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    Great post! I can only pray that my children become as daring! I hope to homeschool my 2 year olds and 6 month old throughout early childhood (my degree) and maybe further depending on where we are in life at that point. It's exciting to think about how much those tiny feet may do for the kingdom of God!! =)