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What’s hard about the holidays?

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   Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas is only a few weeks away. People and stores (Who begin way too early. Ooo, don’t get me started) everywhere are gearing up for the celebration. Ever since my son and his precious family left for the mission field, spending holidays without them continues to present challenges. For I don’t get to see the enchantment of Christmas sparkling in the eyes of my 5 year old and 2 year old grandsons. The physical distance between us prohibits the gathering of family around the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Not to mention all the memories such an occasion inspires.

    Out of 4 children, their spouses, and their children (18 individuals in all) only 5 of them now live nearby (about a 30 min. drive away). That is, since one of my daughters and her family recently moved an 11 hour’s drive away. 

   Honestly, (just being transparent here) it doesn’t get any easier as the years and holiday’s pass by. I wish it did though! But, reality is what it is. Sure, I get more use to it. I find a routine that works and a mindset that obstructs the temptation (the fiery darts) to feel sorry for myself. And knowing those 5 individuals are close by reminds me that I still have much to look forward to.  But that is only part of my defense against such self-focus.

   Recently, I’ve been prompted to include in my prayer time a time of thanksgiving. So, I made a list of things in my prayer notebook that I was thankful for. After opening my prayer time with praise and before I begin my requests, I

Now spend a few moments thanking God that

my problems will not overwhelm me

He brings beauty from the ashes of my life

my problems can become my testimonies

my problems can work together for my good

I have His words to guide me

He is always with me and I can never loose Him

Next I thank God for

Jesus’s sacrifice and the sure hope of heaven

the life Jesus lived and the example He gave

the Holy Spirit’s constant companionship and the guidance, instruction, and encouragement He gives

   Being a missionary’s mom presents challenges that could be overwhelming. Yet I know God equips me with the necessary tools to prevent that from happening. Focusing on what I have to be thankful for is a powerful weapon against the fiery darts fed by self-focus. It corrects my focus and puts it where it needs to be (off myself and onto God). And I find a peace there that sustains me in this ongoing separation from  my beloved’s.

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The First Stateside

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IMG_6797   Our son’s first stateside has come and gone.

   Because he worked on his Master’s, 9 months of that stateside he and his family lived in Edinburgh, Scotland. There was a period of 4 months prior to their leaving for Edinburgh and a couple of months after their return that was spent with family and friends here in the States. That time was divided between Memphis, Tn.; Rome, Ga.; and Andrews, S.C. Yes, it was hectic for them and all involved actually.

   Because we did not have the advantage of experience, it was a learn as you go situation for all concerned. Some of the events planned merited a must do again status. And as expected, there were some things we realized needed to be tweaked a bit to improve the next stateside experience. 

   There were certainly a few bumps and adjustments along the way for all of us. Some were more difficult than others to manage. But by God’s grace we managed them. We learned that some of the advice handed out by more experienced statesiders, proved not to be as applicable for our families. On the other hand, some of that advice proved to be quite practical.

   My recommendation

for the missionary family, therefore, is to consider the advice that is given. At the same time consider all the families involved, and fashion your stateside time accordingly. My son’s family’s next stateside won’t look too much like this first one, for the entirety of their next stateside will likely be spent in the States. Once again, they will consider what was learned their first time around and factor in the advice of more seasoned statesiders. Considering all of that, they will make their plans. And we as their stateside families, will do our part by accommodating those plans. 

   As families in the States, we must be careful to allow our missionaries the freedom to plan out their time home without adding unrealistic expectations on our part. Our desire should be to send them back to the field strengthened and encouraged by the memories made in their homeland. They will have more than enough baggage to transport. Our goal should be not to add to it!

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Just ask God!

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Our first send off!

   Getting use to (all over again) staying in contact via electronic media with my son and his family. With all that got thrown at me over the summer, I am beyond grateful that this was not the first send off for my son & his crew. I imagine it would have been overload for me.(But I’m pretty sure God knew that!)

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Our unwelcomed visitor made a fatal decision the day it decided to crawl around the ceiling of our school room!

   At present they are caught up in a big training. However, it’s not taking place in the bush (remember those posts of my time in the bush during one of those trainings????? See above picture!) this time. This time the training is taking place in the village where the team’s basecamp is located. Not nearly as rustic and creature comfort deprived. 

Home Sweet Home!

   I share this because as I hear about their training, I can visualize them in their surroundings. I visited there in 2013 and became familiar with the surrounding physical features and quite a few of the locals. Especially the people they worked and lived with.

  God has been faithful to make it possible for me to make visits to where my children are. Years ago I prayed a prayer of release for my children to serve Him wherever He called them. I asked God to make it possible for me to visit them, if that led them far away. And He has done just that! 

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   Financially, it would have been impossible for me to have come up with the finances for these many trips I’ve been able to make to be with my children. (Just returned from a visit with my daughter in San Antonio). Yet God made it happen!

   If your children wind up living quite a distance from you, I hope you will pray about visiting them. The memories made will sustain you when you are apart. For some of you, this will be a matter of traveling for a few hours here in the good ole USA; for others it will require an expensive airline ticket. Either way, it can present  a crisis of faith. The fiery darts of doubt attack and undermine our faith at times like these. But remember,  you have made a great sacrifice in releasing your children to God. Be assured He desires to bless you abundantly for your obedience. 

 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

So, just ask God and (oh yeah, make sure you have a passport ready if your travel demands)

Here we go again!

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   My son and his family have been here with us since the last of July. On August 31st they will be returning to Africa. During his stay with us, he finished his dissertation! Writing the word ‘finished’ took seconds and in no way reflected the intense scope of the work involved. 

   I will write more about all of this later, for this blog will focus on a surprising bend in the path God has me on at the moment. My youngest daughter along with her husband and two daughters, moved to San Antonio recently. (Aug. 18, as a matter of fact). My son in law is the new Next Gen pastor (abbreviation for Generation) in a church in that city.

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 My daughter first mentioned the possibility of this move way back in April. Emotionally, I was devastated. For 8 years I have savored every moment I had with them. Their firstborn daughter was about 19 months when they moved here from Kentucky. While here, their 2nd born daughter arrived. Those two set about filling my life with joy and laughter. Now all this was coming to a screeching and painful halt!

   Two of my daughters gave birth to girls about 4 months apart. Those little girls formed a friendship from the get go. With a full heart, I have watched their ‘bff’ friendship blossom over the years. I could only imagine how hard this separation would be on them. I hurt for my precious granddaughters as much as I hurt for myself. 

  In an attempt to seek solace, I pulled out the hard copy of my first blog post of Jan. 4, 2012. I spent some time reading over the posts of when I first released my son and daughter in law to the mission field. I was reminded that obedience can be painful but God would not allow it to overwhelm me. 

   I write another blog about the attack of fiery darts or negative thinking. During this summer of extreme highs and lows, I have fought off a barrage of negative thoughts. Past experience kept me grounded in the truth that these attacks would not overwhelm me. Yet, I am battle worn and my strength has been depleted.

However,God in His ever so tender concern (also referred to as grace) has given me the following encouragement.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted, He saves those crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17

That is my anchor these days! 

  For once again, God understands that this is a painful process. He knows that in spite of the pride I feel for my son and daughter and their spouses for their willingness to go where God leads them, this separation from them (and my grandchildren) is a hard thing.

Bringing them home!

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   The plane trip home from Scotland did not involve sad good bye’s this time.  While I had to fly to Scotland by myself, the trip home was something I could look forward to. This trip all 5 of us boarded the plane that would fly us back to the good ole’ USA together. There we would be lovingly welcomed by my husband, my mother, my two daughters who live in the area, along with their families. Our happiness exceeded our expectations.

  Thanks only to God’s provision, I was able to fly over to help out with the packing and preparations in moving out of the flat. I was quite proud of my son and his discipline in completing his assignments. Not an easy task, for sure. But with the support and understanding from his wife and colleagues, he completed his proposal.

  Now for the next two months, while here in the US, he will be writing his dissertation. That is going to take quite the effort and exercise in discipline to complete. But he has proven he is capable and with the continued support of his wife and family, I am confident he will finish well. Please consider the following as you pray for him:

That he would look to the LORD for his strength and seek his face always as he encounters the challenges, and seeks the discipline to finish his course. (taken from 1 Chronicles 16:11)

   Then early in September they pack back up and return to Africa. First to Uganda, then to Chad. The whole team is relocating and the logistical details are staggering. They will need your prayers. Please consider the following as you pray for them:

That they would look to you LORD and Your strength and seek your face always as they encounter the discouragements, challenges, and trials of the day. (taken from Psalm 105:4)

Show them the right path O LORD: point out the road for them to follow, lead them by Your truth and teach them. . . (taken from Psalm 25:4)

Dreams, God covers the details!

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You Can’t Buy Happines but you can go to Scotland and that’s pretty much the same thing 

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 For many years I had a dream of traveling to Scotland. Can’t really explain why I became intrigued with that  extraordinary country. Maybe it had something to do with her breathtaking scenery

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or those happy clear water streams of the Highlands. Perhaps it was the appeal of quaint and misty isles that allows one to step back in time to a slower paced life. Possibly it is the lure of the castles, and the images they inspire of knights and jousts, lords and ladies, or kings and queens dressed in medieval array.

   I just know when listening to the captivating music of the kilted bagpipers something deep within my innermost being is stirred. I am at a lost to explain it. But bagpipe music and that lyrical Scottish brogue never fails to draw me in. 

   I did explore the possibility of Scottish roots using the DNA test. While it did not reveal a direct Scottish ancestor, my roots could be traced to the area of Ireland/United Kingdom. I felt I had a good reason to hope my roots could be traced to Scotland, albeit more likely Ireland. But I hold on to that small hope.

   But come Friday, I will travel to Scotland for my third time since 2016. My son and his family have lived there for the past 9 months while my son has been working on his master’s degree in linguistics. We will all return together in early June as his term of study is almost up. He will finish his dissertation in the States and return to the mission field in August. 

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   About 13 years ago, my dream led me to establish an e-pal relationship with a precious pastor’s wife, named Ruth, who like me had 4 children. We formed a sweet friendship. So when my son told me that he was considering studying at the University of Edinburgh, the dream of going to Scotland and seeing my friend face to face began to materialize.

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   Alas, a year before Bob and I, along with our son and his family, actually made it to the shores of Scotland, my dear friend passed away. But her legacy to me was two beautiful daughters that opened their home to us for a visit. My friendship with her blossomed into a friendship with her pastor-husband, an older missionary couple, and the family of a church member. 

   These new dear friends welcomed us to Scotland and went above and beyond in helping our son and daughter in law to get settled in Edinburgh. It would have been so much harder on them were it not for the support of these new friends.

   I wonder, did my dream of going to Scotland have more to do with God providing a support group for my missionary son when he arrived in Edinburgh? I think so, and He granted the fulfillment of a life long dream for me in the process. God covers the details!

Making Christ Known to the World by Supporting Our Missionaries

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    For some of my son’s team members, their stateside time is almost over. New team members have come onboard. Some have already made the return trip to Africa. Some are beginning the monster task of sorting through their belongings. They must decide what must be sold, what must be packed, and what just gets left behind with family members. Having to do this once is huge, but having to do this every few years goes beyond what most of us can imagine. But our missionaries take it in stride. Never easy, you understand! They just establish a routine and go with it.                                                                                                                        

  bobby & family 2016 Soon, I will travel to the city where my son is wrapping up his last few weeks of master’s work. I will be going over to help with the preparations in moving back to the States where he will be finishing his dissertation. When that’s completed, he and my daughter in law, along with their two young sons, will be returning to Africa as well. The whole team has had to change course. It will take some time to get resettled and begin a new work there.

   It’s hard to comprehend the upheaval their lives have become accustomed to. But just remember, God equips us for the calling He places on our lives. If you can’t imagine living like our missionaries do, don’t worry about it. You would, if He called you to it.

   I would hope that we understand that if we haven’t been called to be a missionary, we have been called to support them. Our support should be reflected in faithful prayers for them. Also, supporting them financially is another responsibility. We have a vital support role and we must be faithful. This is the part we play in making Christ known to the world.

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