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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!

 

     

 

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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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christmas-3735928__340

 

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

Traditions, Keeping Us Close

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Sleepy Hollow dvd

This is the original VHS we watched!

   Celebrating our family traditions gets a bit tricky when distance is factored in.  One in particular, is a tradition I like to celebrate every autumn. Ever since my children were little, come September I would pull out the fall decorations to set the stage for watching The Legend of Sleepy Hollow video. And not just any video by this name! Nope, it had to be the Disney version narrated by Bing Crosby! (pictured above)

   I have a rich store of memories of my four children and I viewing that video! Eventually, grandchildren came along. And as soon as September appeared on my calendar, out came my autumn decorations and out came that video. A cozy time,of eating pumpkin shaped shoppingcandy while listening to Bing’s narration is permanently etched in my memory? 

   Children move away. And you might think they would all be done with this particular autumn revelry. That, I discovered, wasn’t necessarily the case! Even as adults, my children perpetuate this traditional autumn happening in their own homes!

   For example, I fondly remember  delivering my son his own DVD of Sleepy Hollow, after he and his wife moved away to attend college in Texas (photo below). No, they didn’t have children yet. But that didn’t matter. The point was to keep the memories flowing as we continue to observe this tradition. 

bobby & me sleepy hollow

You just don’t ever grow out of some things

disney leg of sleepy hollow

Updated a few years ago to the this DVD

   Perhaps because of the direction God was calling him, my son determined family traditions would keep the vast distances that would separate us from seeming so vast. Thus perpetuating the tradition of watching Sleepy Hollow would serve that purpose.

   Now he is in Africa. Just the other day I pulled out the Sleepy Hollow video. Though no grown up children, or young grandchildren were present, viewing it  brought them close. Remembering  special moments like the photo above,  I snapped a picture and texted it to my son, with the caption you see here. Interestingly, he had just read the story to his sons. Watching the video will soon occur.

watching sleepyhallow

Missing You!

Distance may separate us in miles, but the traditions we carry over will keep us close!

 

 

 

 

It’s All the Same to Me!

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hum n flowers

 

   I just read an article by CHAD BIRD | JULY 26 2018, entitled Let’s Stop Romanticizing Missions.  Basically, I think he is asking us to examine our expectations of God and how He works in our everyday lives as well as life on the mission field. 

   I think the unrealistic expectation of how God works in our lives and our missionaries lives is problematic. If our expectations are flavored too much by our flesh or the world, then we will likely be blind to how God works in our every day lives, as well as life on the mission field. 

   Those of us who are parents & families of missionaries perhaps have a more realistic view of life on the mission field. I suppose the sacrifices we had to make in releasing our loved ones to their calling, has brought reality up close and personal. 

   This realism helps us get a clearer picture about what serving God looks like. Because we have witnessed our children on the mission field dealing with financial problems, relationships problems, health problems, with emotional and spiritual problems (basically the same problems we encounter), we understand that God works the same no matter where we serve. Our context may be different, but how God deals with us is common to all. 

   As parent’s of missionaries, we have a unique responsibility to help others recognize that serving God looks and feels the same no matter where they serve. This should help others be more realistic about recognizing the work of God in their everyday lives and clearer about how God works in the lives of those serving on the mission field. Which, I believe, will enhance our perspective and service in our personal walk with God and how we support our missionaries.

Sweetness in the sacrifices

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IMG_1977   

   I have 10 grandchildren. Eight of them live here in the States. Two of them live out of country. Recently, I was able to gather, from 3 different states, my stateside grandchildren (ages 6 to 13)  for what we have come to call “Nammy Camp.” It’s a time of good old fashioned fun; like swimming in Nammy’s above ground pool, gathering the extended family for a cook out, eating meals outside on Nammy’s picnic table, riding Great Grandma’s Kawasaki Mule vehicle, exploring the woods, taking walks, having a water balloon fight, cooking delicious cakes and brownies, playing chess, rising early to see the sunrise, chasing fireflies at twilight. Basically, spending a lot of fun time using the ole imagination! Missing my two youngest grandchildren the whole time. 

roscoe and shep

   But it’s important to keep it all in perspective. We knew when my son and daughter in law left for Africa life would change. Our son and his family left their stateside family to share the good news about Jesus to people who hadn’t been reached before. In order for them to do that, sacrifices had to be made. 

   Sacrifices like making memories without all the grandchildren present. I won’t sugar coat it and say, “Oh, it’s not so bad!” But honestly, it is. But I’m wise to the fiery darts of negative thinking that would have me focus on my losses. God’s grace and mercy enable me to direct my focus on what I am gaining. Like the blessings of grandchildren no matter where they are. The benefits enjoyed by those who get to hear about Jesus because we all were willing to make the sacrifices. Filling up my mind with these beautiful thoughts, leave little room for negativity. 

   It’s a discipline that I have to practice consistently. But when I do, life is sweeter for the effort. 

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