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I Choose to Rejoice

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Celebrating with memories of when we were together.

     Birthdays are made for celebration! And I will be honest with you; I would rather celebrate my son’s birthday by baking him a cake, buying him a special present, fixing his favorite meal, or taking him to his favorite restaurant. I would love to be able to invite his sisters and their families and take family photos; lots of family photos. 

     But those options are not available! His living in Africa renders these beautiful ideas impossible. Therefore, I must resign myself to celebrating in ways that overcomes the distance that separate us. 

     And thanks to that splendid satellite that circles the earth, I can pick up my cell (smart) phone and delight in spending a few moments of face to face contact. Made possible through the technology of FaceTime. 

     It’s been seven years my son and his precious family have been living in Africa. So, I have had lots of time to figure out ways to celebrate birthdays via long distance. It’s my only option. An option I must accept.  I must open myself up to how God would want to bless us. 

     I know that God will shower His grace upon me, and supply all my needs. He will bless us in ways we can’t even imagine. The key is to be obedient. Cooperate with God as He gives us the desire and power to please Him. 

     My experience has been that I can accept God’s will and rejoice, or reject God’s will and be burdened with sadness.

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I CHOOSE TO REJOICE

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Making memories to share; though far apart!

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Meet Fluflane

 

     Back in March, this woodchuck showed up in our yard. And for some reason, continues to hang around. So far he has been a lone creature. No mate, no kits or cubs, (you can choose) have joined the scene. But everyday, sometime after 5pm he  makes an appearance. As long as we are viewing him from inside our house and through a window we are privileged to get a close up photo. Zoom on my iPhone brings him in even closer. Last weekend, while my two Memphis area granddaughters were visiting, I was hoping he would excite us all by popping out from his burrow but alas, it didn’t happen. Only after I was returning from meeting their mom, did he show up.

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Meet Snuffy

     All was not lost, because you see the little doggy in the photo above? Well, a few days ago he came close to our house looking for food. Apparently, someone just dropped him off in the country (people do that sometime unfortunately) and he has found his way to our place. Problem is he is very skittish. He will run up on the deck, grab a bite of food and run off again as fast as his little legs will carry him. With the coyotes lurking around, this little critter won’t last very long, if we can’t rescue it. It will take time, but every day we put out food and water. It’s our hope that it will come to trust us. Then we will see what happens.

     So, last Saturday, though my granddaughters missed seeing the woodchuck, they did get to see our doggy friend. They even assisted me in laying out some snacks for him to coax him into the house. He did come into the house for the treats but darted out the door before we could close it. He is still a runaway at this point, however. But we will, for his sake, keep trying. 

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     Interesting little fact is this little stray looks just like the pet of my granddaughters who live in Texas. Their dog is what is called a Cheweinnie. Our little stray looks like his twin. I am not in the market for a dog, but apparently a higher power is thinking otherwise.

     The point of this post is that in order to make our missionary grandsons a part of the experience, we gave them the task of naming our new friends. The woodchuck was given the name of Fluflane. The twin to Charlie, is Snuffy. We have taken videos and photos and sent them to all the grandchildren; near and far.

     We have grandchildren in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, and Africa. I have to be deliberate in making memories that we can share. Thanks to technology, this is made possible. 

 

It’s Not About Us; Lighten the load

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The 6 of us

He’s on his way!

“Mom, I have some news for you and it may not be easy for you to take. I feel God is calling me (and my wife, or and my wife and children) to the mission field.” 

     For many parents that’s a bombshell of a newsflash. Depending upon the family status of our child, it may throw us into a chaos of emotions. 

     Perhaps, having undergone such an experience myself, I could offer some advice on what to avoid.

   As parents (and family members), thoughts begin to flood our minds of all that we will have to sacrifice. Yet as soon as the initial storm has subsided (and that time varies for everyone), we must come to terms with its effect.

     Even though their news strikes us at the core, we must be sensitive to the agony our children are experiencing. Remember, this is a calling God has placed upon their lives. Before coming to us with their announcement, our children have spent much time pondering and praying over their decision. 

    For the sake of our children, we must be willing to scrutinize our reaction to their news. Were we more concerned over how this will affect us? Of the sacrifices and the pain that will now color our future? On behalf of our children, we must not be afraid to ask ourselves the following question:

     Have we made this all about us?

     We must not forget that as our children serve on the mission field, they will face difficult days and situations. The difficulty of saying goodbye to their families is only the beginning. If we are in despair over their leaving, we must understand that only adds to the burdens they are already carrying.  

     Yes, we are hurting! There’s no need to pretend we are not. But our children need to know that we are depending upon God (not our child) to carry this burden.

The end result of our resolve will serve to lighten their load.

Because we have chosen NOT to make it all about us.

Accepting Reality

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   Now and then the separation gets to us. Just being honest here. Having moved well on down the path of this missionary parent journey, I have been empowered by God’s grace and mercy to accomplish the letting go process. “Yes, I can do this!” 

     But I’m learning that while I CAN DO this, it’s a process that is ongoing. It’s not a one time experience. Having to let go of my son and his family, did help me when the time came to also let go of two of his sister’s and their families. I had done it before, and I drew on the strength I was given then so I could do it again. 

     Yet time and time again the pain of missing my children and their families keeps reoccurring. Confession time, “I’m not a super Christian.” I see other families who live close to each other and sometimes I envy them. Yep, I do!

     However, what I keep coming back to is, “This is MY reality!” This is what God has chosen for me. My children have made their choices to leave, based on what God has called them to. 

     He has called them, therefore I MUST continue in letting them go! Not letting go will result in problems for them and for me. My unwillingness to release them, places me and them in bondage to my disobedience. 

     Not going to do that folks! Most days, I can accept my reality. But on those days when I am not so successful, I focus my thinking on God’s gifts. Gifts of children who love and obey God are at the top my list. I make a huge mistake when I compare my gift to the ones He has given others. Their gifts are not mine. My gifts are custom designed just for me. It’s important to remember that!

 

     

 

Letting Go; Pain with a Purpose

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bobby & me

The Pain

     Recently I had the sweet privilege of meeting a brand new missionary’s mom. A few days after Christmas her daughter, son in law, and one year old granddaughter will leave for the mission field. She is about to embark upon a difficult journey. The same journey that I began January 4, 2012. I have been where she is about to go. And because I was standing there in front of her, living and breathing (and smiling), she has reason to hope!

Flashback

    I remember that Christmas in 2011. We had enjoyed a Christmas for the memory books. All 17 of us (at that time) sharing, laughing, cooking, then snacking and overeating, watching White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticut, Muppet Christmas Carol (that’s just the short list). Oh, we packed as much as was possible into those few days before my son and daughter in law left for the mission field. We had a bulging album of pictures and memories before it was all said and done.

     But the dreaded day came, nevertheless! It’s strange how; yes we can feel pride for our children for answering the call to missions. But honestly, when describing the feelings I felt on that day when we stood on the porch waving our last goodbye, the feeling of pride evaded me.  I kept thinking about how life here was now going to happen without my son and daughter in law.  And their lives were now going to happen without us.

     Yet through it all, I never felt abandoned by God or that all of this was impossible for me to deal with. He was faithful in sending me to verses that addressed my pain. (like Psalm 30:5b, Weeping may be for a night, but joy comes in the morning) Verses like this and so many more empowered me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and breathing in and out consistently.

The Purpose

     My new friend has God’s faithfulness to look forward to (and so does anyone facing a similar situation). God’s grace will enable her to do the difficult things she will be called upon to handle. God’s word will guide her, lift her up, sustain her, comfort her, and bless her with peace that passes understanding.

     The beauty of it all is that by cooperating with God in the letting go process, we are being prepared to serve God more effectively. Our letting go serves a purpose! We are not hurting in vain. For the comfort we receive from God can serve to help others who are hurting as we have. 

 

WHAT IF WE GAVE . . .

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As I was writing the above questions, my mind formed this additional question.

 

“Isn’t that the effect of giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.”

 

Staying the course

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…I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop

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Psalm 102:7b

   The other day, as I was reading my Bible, the verse above captured my thoughts. I thought how aptly these words represent the state of my emotions at present.

   For about a year ago two daughters, with their families, took up residence about an 11 hours drive, in opposite directions, from my home.  Add that to a son and his family living on the other side of the world, and at times loneliness stalks me like  a hungry predator.

   I’m no super Christian! I’m just a mom who dearly loves her children, children in law, and grandchildren, who longs to have them close by. (We have such a store of blessed memories of times spent together when they were.) 

   Yet, I have come to the realization that I am going to have days like these. It’s unavoidable. Knowing that one daughter and her family remain near by, sustains me. And while that is an immeasurable blessing, verses like the following are what helps me stay the course.

   Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

   And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippines 4:19

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