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Seasons of life: some easier to enjoy than others

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     Come August, my son and his family will be beginning their stateside assignment. This go around, they are preparing to enter a brand new phase of their lives. My son will be teaching at Union Univ. only 1 1/2 hours from our home while serving as their missionary in residence. The anticipation of this is surreal. Union University holds a special place in our hearts. With my son serving there for this year long stateside assignment, that completes the connection all of us now have with Union. Our three daughters graduated from Union, and two of them met their husbands there. My husband also graduated from Union and I attended two years there. Hoping for a grand reunion as we walk the hallowed halls of this blessed institution.

    Having this to look forward to later this summer supplies the energy to keep my head up and move forward. Why, would I make such a statement? Beginning March 2020, I have more or less been secluded in my home. Partly, because of the COVID pandemic. In addition, providing the watch care of my elderly (98 years) mother, I have found it necessary to forgo trips, like visiting my daughters, obviously my son, or fun trips (remember those? I think they are called vacations.)

Why do I share this?

     Being separated from your children and their families is hard enough when God’s calling deems a separation. But COVID has placed an extra strain, keeping those who are close enough to visit from visiting. Now for over a year, I have been in forced isolation. There are days when it gets almost overwhelming. I do get to visit with a couple of friends on a regular basis because we are in a discipleship study. They are often my life line.

     It is my heart’s desire to do what pleases God. The strength of that desire empowers me to look beyond my desire to be with my children and grandchildren. And were it not for that overpowering desire, I would be most miserable. I’m no super Christian, far from it!

     Years ago, when my babes were home with me, and each day was filled with their laughter and pranks, arguing and issues to which I had to intervene and try and settle was a beautiful season of life. And it was in that season, I released my children to God. As hard as it was, I knew that God’s calling on their lives held the potential of them living separated from me.

     It wasn’t until recent years that COVID and caring for my mom began to curb visiting my children or taking trips. Prior to that, though He moved them away, God still allowed me to make some beautiful memories. But now, it’s a lean times for memories. To be honest, I don’t care too much for the season of life, I’m finding myself in.

   

So, it comes down to this for me

     It’s about pleasing God, not myself. Obedience to God, while painful at times, is ALWAYS rewarding. When I ponder my children and their families, and the lives they are living, I can almost hear God saying, “See, I told you you could trust your children with me. All those beautiful memories you made for so many years are sustaining you in this less than desirable season. But keep in mind that you and I have more time together than ever before.”

That thought puts a lot of things right for me!

 

Hope Remains…

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     Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a phenomenal tale to tell in describing the invasion of COVID 2020. In my previous post I described our family’s story. Therefore, I would like to bring you up to date on the end results of our crazy journey.

     My son, daughter in law, and two grandsons, after some necessary quarantining, moved into our upstairs for the unknown duration of their stay. It was like living in limbo! Exit times came and went. Uncertainty clouded their days. 

     During their stay, it was like an emotional roller coaster ride. My daughter in law’s father came down with covid! But after several tense days, he began to recover. 

     During their stay, my son kept a busy schedule traveling to area churches sharing about life in the city where they lived. Hearts were stirred and encouraged as my son narrated the miraculous testimony of a fellow believer there.  His suffering for Christ continues to inspire and increase the church.

     As frustrating as it was to deal with uncertainty on a daily basis, the faith that God always brings good things out of bad situations was sustaining for all. For while speaking at a nearby university our son was offered a Missionary in Residence opportunity when they arrive next August on their stateside assignment. An opportunity that would not have been realized but for the unexpected turn of events due to covid.

     While the pandemic continues to rage, hope also continues to sustain. There’s a profoundly hopeful verse that has carried my family through these trying days.

God is Sovereign and in control-even in the unexpected!

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     Never would I have expected what has transpired in my family’s life recently. All brought on as the world stage was rearranged to set up for the coronavirus. Usually, events in my son and his family’s life are unique to where ever they are located, as are ours. But this global pandemic created scenes where location became irrelevant.

     This is how it played out. My son and 2 grandsons were in one coutry and my daughter in law was finishing up dental appointments in another country. Can you imagine the dilemma of my son and my grandsons and my daughter in law when both countries closed their borders?! The only way they could be reunited was to return to the States. But that proved to be a bit complicated.

     My son and 2 grandsons had to catch an expatriate flight out of the country where they lived. My daughter in law had to do the same in the country where she was. These flights were sporadic and they had to jump through a bunch of hoops to even get on one. Eventually, they both caught a flight but at different times. 

     My son was the first to arrive in the States but the coronavirus demanded he and my young grandsons quarantine for 2 weeks. Boy, did those two weeks drag out! Then a few days later my daughter in law reached home shores, and she began her 2 week quarantine. Each in different states by the way. Then 9 weeks from their initial separation the blessed reunion became a reality. 

So what now? 

     The country where they were serving is still shut down. No idea really, when it will open up again. A few options are being considered but no definite decision has been made. They need your prayers as they wait for guidance.

     The country where they are serving is seeing a marvelous increase in people coming to know Christ. So I know their prayer concern for that country is that the growth and spread of the Gospel will continue. 

     No one could have imagined how our lives could be so upended. Yet even though we weren’t expecting this, our security is in the fact that God is Sovereign and He is in control.

Are you listening, LORD?

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19 However, God has listened;
He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer.
20 May God be praised!
He has not turned away my prayer
or turned His faithful love from me

Psalm 66:19-20  (HCSB)

     I write another blog, http://fierydarts.com, which encompasses a primary weapon Satan uses against us in spiritual warfare. So, today, my hope is to blend some of the concepts of that blog with what we as missionary’s parents are facing in this pandemic.

     Our missionary children are scattered all over the world. Prior to this pandemic, our problems and their problems were uniquely tied to location. However, now we find ourselves facing the common threat of the coronavirus. A worldwide threat that is redefining life as we know it. Should our missionary children come home, or shelter in place right where they are? Oh, it’s a complicated scenario and every family’s response can only be determined by the details of their particular situation. No one plan works for everyone. We are concerned about them and they are concerned about us!

What are we to do?

     My fiery darts blog exposes the foremost weapon Satan uses against us in times like this which is referenced in Ephesians 6:16,

 “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” NKJV

     Here is how it applies to our present dilemma.

     Fear spawned by this Coronavirus threat is a very present reality.   Unchecked fear breeds panic, panic breeds irrational thinking, irrational thinking breeds wrong choices. It goes on and on.

     How we contend with our fears and all its relatives are the fiery darts of Eph. 6:16.  Satan’s intent in this pandemic is to steal, kill, and destroy anything God infuses us with to carry us through this crisis. 

     God, on the other hand, intends to take the fear and use it to direct us to Himself. In that response, we will be helped and God will be glorified. By responding according to God’s plan as we counsel and pray over our children, we will be instruments of God’s will in how to tackle this crisis. 

Keep in mind the following as we pray for our children, wherever they are.

1. Recognize the fear (fiery dart)

2. Reject the fear

3. Replace the fear with God’s Truth thoughts

     As I pray over my children and their families in this crisis, one of the first Truth thoughts God gave me was 2 Timothy 1:7. Every time fear approaches, I call forth this Truth.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind

     God’s word ASSURES us that He is watching over us and our precious ones. We can wholeheartedly trust that God is definitely paying attention to our prayers. Likewise, may we receive and become the instruments of peace of Philippines 4:6-7:

     Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

(Especially, when the fiery dart of doubt begins its assault)

And the Stockings were hung!

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stockings 2019

     As I hung our stockings, all 20 of them, memories of past Christmases spent gathered around this fireplace as our family expanded through the years flooded my mind. The house is quieter than I would like as one by one our children took off on their own. But that is the way of things. Changes happen, no matter how much we would prefer they not. God imparts the strength to make adjustments and accept those not so desirable changes. Staying focused on all that we have to be thankful for keeps life in balance. Enabling us to notice the joys that God has personally designed for each and every one of us. It will depend upon our focus!

 

I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.

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full moon over houston

Full moon, as I was flying over Houston, (the first time to see the full moon from this perspective!)

 

     I can still hear the crickets chirping on a cool summer evening years ago. Their soothing chorus providing the background music to the conversation between me and my dad while we sat at the picnic table in our backyard gazing up at the full moon. That cherished moment has been permanently etched upon my mind.

    With the passing of time, that treasured God-given souvenir from time past intensified in its significance. For as an adult daughter, the sighting of a full moon drew me back to that childhood memory again and again. I took to calling my dad to see if he noticed the full moon-no matter where I happened to be. He grew to expect my call at a full moon sighting and we remained connected in spite of the miles that separated us at times. 

   Now the roles are reversed. I find myself in the position of my father all those years ago.  Other cities, other states, and even other countries have laid claim to my children and their families.  

     There’s nothing easy about being separated from your children and their families. Often I yearn for the sounds of children’s laughter, cozy moments spent sharing thoughts and ideas. Days, weeks, months pass sometimes between visits and I feel our connection waning. Yet, God in his caring concern created a distinctive orb of light for all of us to see and be reminded that love cannot be lessened by distance.

        Whenever the full moon graces the sky, it stirs my heart knowing my children have the same spectacular view as I do. The light from that silent sentinel washes over us all reassuring us of God’s love and our love for each other.  A love that remains steadfast and true regardless of the miles that may separate us. 

 

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

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. 

charlie

     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!

 

     

 

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