I stumbled upon Melissa Seilhan’s blog, For Better or Worse, a couple months ago and immediately started going through several of her posts about her family’s journey to be missionaries! Talk about trusting in God! I knew that I had to feature her and her family!
Fortunately, Melissa agreed to answer some questions and share more about her experiences, faith, and blessings!
1. How did you find out about the Family Missions Company?
Several years ago, a friend gave me a book to read called Go, You Are Sent! by Genie Summers. The book tells the story of her husband’s overnight conversion from Atheist to devout Catholic and how they then sold everything to become missionaries for the Lord. Genie and her husband Frank later founded Family Missions Company to train other lay Catholics to do what they did. I read the book cover to cover in no time and longed for that kind of “blind” faith and simplistic lifestyle. My husband thought it was just plain crazy, but God had planted a seed and would later lead us right to Family Missions Company’s door.
2. What are some of the ways that God has let you and your family know that this journey is His will?
After reading the book, we began cleaning out our lives and began living more simply and more devoutly than before. I began homeschooling our kids a year or so later, and we began to do more corporal works of mercy in our local community and began reading about the lives of the saints. We began to have a missionary heart without knowing what exactly what was happening. That’s when God began sending Family Missions Company into our lives repeatedly. Everywhere we went we’d run into someone with FMC or someone that would tell about us something about this organization. We found out that FMC was the host of a very popular Middle School summer camp called Faith Camp and that they owned the retreat center that would be used for our parish youth retreat.
After my husband made a Cursillo, sitting next to an FMC missionary ALL weekend, we decided to check out their Wednesday night prayer meeting that we had been invited to several times before. After going a few times, our kids begged us to go on a mission trip. We eventually signed up to go on FMC’s Pentecost Trip to Mexico for a week instead of taking a family vacation that year. While there, we all began to feel the call to become full time missionaries.
As we began to pray about it after returning home, God continually confirmed this call through scripture like Luke 18:22 and Matthew 19:2. We’d open the Bible to similar passages over and over again. We’d go to Mass and the homilies we’d hear would confirm exactly what we’d just prayed about. Our daily meditation books and apps would constantly be about “Following Him and Proclaiming the Gospel to All Nations.” Passages that we had read and heard at Mass our whole lives began to jump out at us in a new way. We realized that “selling everything, giving to the poor, and following Him” was not just a suggestion or something for His apostles to do way back then. It was what He was literally calling us to do right now in this age.
Once we knew that we were indeed being called, we began to ask “How?” Then we began to get the scriptures about “trusting God to care for all your needs” in our personal prayer time, in our mediation books and apps, at prayer meetings—just about everywhere. But even though we knew what we were begin asked, we still hestitated and wanted more signs and bigger signs. That’s when someone randomly offered to buy our house and land without it even being for sale. After the initial shock wore off, we chalked it up to “coincidence.” So, He sent several more people the next week to randomly tells us they’d be interested in buying our house if we ever decided to sell it. That’s when we called our pastor!
We spent the next year continuing to pray personally and as a family for God to show us the path we needed to take. We sought spiritual direction from two other priests besides our pastor. The signs and wonders continued to appear and things just kept falling into to place too perfectly to be anything else but God’s work.
3. Last summer, you wrote a personal post on your blog about how using the “pill” nearly destroyed your marriage. That obviously took a lot of courage to share. How did that time in your life influence you and your husband’s decision to become foster parents?(Congratulations on the adoption of your son!)
That was the hardest blog I’ve ever written. It took several months to be able to actually click “Publish.” But I knew it was something that the Holy Spirit had been prompting me to write for a long time. The “pill” and later my husband’s vasectomy caused numerous problems in our marriage. We had both wanted a large family with lots of kids, but listened to the “world” and not our hearts when making several medical decisions when we faced difficult times. Even though we had confessed our sins and received absolution numerous times, we still had not forgiven ourselves even though God had. We constantly prayed for healing and for some way to feel whole again.
Like the recent signs leading us to missions, the Holy Spirit led us to become foster parents with numerous signs—people, books, movies, newspapers, and even a giant billboard. The more we prayed about it, the more signs He sent. But the one thing that kept holding us back from fostering were all the horror stories of these “bad” kids coming into your home and exposing your kids to who knows what. But God never stopped calling us, and we never stopped praying about the call. As we took the foster parent classes, we had to constantly remind ourselves that He knew what we could handle and what our three kids could handle. We just had to trust in Him completely.
4. What advice do you have for others who are trying to discern God’s calling for their life?
Be open! So many times in our lives we miss the opportunities that God puts in our path because we have made our own plans and are so set to follow our plan that we can’t see what he’s laying out in front of us. I used to be a major control freak. I like to have everything planned out and on the calendar ahead of time. I like to know all the details ahead of time before I make my decision. This does not work if you are following the promptings of the Holy Spirit! I have found that what I have planned usually is NOT what He has planned for me. This is very scary for me, but I had to learn to trust and be open to whatever is set before me at the moment.
We need to constantly pray for God’s will in our lives, not for Him to give us what we want or what we think we need. I promise that His plan is always so much better in the end even if it’s a lot harder than your plan. That’s one thing we’ve learned. He never asks us to do anything easy or comfortable. Everything seems hard and nearly impossible at first, but keep praying. And when you pray for His will, ask for signs and wonders. He is always faithful and will send them. You just have to have an open mind and heart to see them. They can be found in the strangest places—a commercial, an ad, social media status, random people. And if you’re stubborn like us, He may even send you a billboard of your very own.
Also, find a spiritual director, preferably a priest/pastor, that you can trust. Go to them, talk to them, have them pray for you, with you, and over you. And pray for them. Ask the Holy Spirit to give them the words that He wants you to hear. Many times our priests gave us the answers before we even asked the questions. If you are truly open to His will, He will not only reveal it to you, but give you what you need to follow it.
5. Do you have a favorite verse, song, or book that you turn to for inspiration and hope?
I have several favorites of each. The verse that really helped us change the way we viewed the world and the way we lived our life, the one that eventually led us to where we are now, is Romans 12:2. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The less we conformed to the world, the better we were able to see His will.
But the verse that we rely on heavily lately is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” We cannot follow His will without His strength, and if He is calling you to something, He will not only give you the strength you need, but everything else you need also.My first “go to” song when life gets tough is “Lay It Down” by Needtobreathe. I’ve cried myself to sleep playing that song over and over at night. I play it softly when I just need some peace about something. And I blare it when I’m excited to be able to give it to God and be done with it! The other song that I go to often is Matt Maher’s “Lord, I Need You.” I could sing that all day and sometimes do.
Thanks, Melissa! You and your family are such an inspiration to all of us! I look forward to seeing how God continues to use you and bless you!
If you are interested in supporting the Seilhan Family’s upcoming two-year mission, you can donate online or you can mail a tax deductible donation to Family Missions Company, 12624 Everglade Road, Abbeville, LA 70510. Write “Seilhan Family” in the memo line.