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Sweetness in the sacrifices

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   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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Obey and Release!

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   Twelve years ago my son left his homeland to serve God overseas. Since that time he has married, he and his wife have had two boys, and they are now living in their 4thforeign country.

   I began writing this blog when my son and daughter in law first left for Africa. I wrote it for a two-fold reason. As therapy for myself–it helps a lot to put my feelings into words. And to help other mom’s who might be facing the journey I was about to embark upon. I saw myself as a trail blazer for them.

   I am now in the 12thyear of this journey.  And experience has brought many things into it’s proper perspective.  I’ve had to learn how to get my ‘self’ out of the way! Not so easy to do my dear readers. For those first few days were a train wreck in intensity! All I could think about was the vastness of space and time that now separated my son and I. Yet, I remember coming to the realization that my son’s work could be positively or negatively affected by the manner in which I handled this separation. 

   I had to learn how to cooperate with God as He gave me the desire and power to do what pleased Him; not myself. When I did, I avoided the bondage of feeling cheated because I didn’t get to have my son and his family near me to enjoy and make memories with.  

    I have three daughters who up until recently lived in the same state with me. Now, only one daughter and her family live nearby. I have had to draw again and again upon those valuable lessons learned twelve years past as I released two daughters and their families to go and do God’s bidding. 

   It’s hard to do such releasing, but I don’t care to be miserable because my babes are too far away. It’s not easy to lay aside your personal pain. But if we let our pain become our focus, it will destroy us. It will also hamper the work God calls our children to. Instead, we can choose to enjoy the blessings and comforts God is so good to give us when we choose to obey and release!

 

Supplying above and beyond what we ask for!

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   You know sometimes we just need a friend! Someone to come alongside us. Someone to share the workload. Someone who thinks like we do. Someone who could give us a fresh perspective. Someone who could offer encouragement when needed. Oh I could go on, but the following verse pretty much nails it.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

   When my son and daughter in law, and their team mate moved to a new mission field, I began to specifically pray for God to supply friends for them. My prayers covered a broad range of reasons of why I felt they needed friends. 

   Recently, I learned plans are in the making for a family to move to the city where my son is now living. The really cool thing is that their friendship began back in the States. Their friendship has a history. I am confident their history will serve them well in their future. 

  It has been my experience that when we pray for God to supply a need, He characteristically goes above and beyond what we asked for. He certainly has proven that to be true in this case. 

Not Without God!

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   I grew up on a farm, with three other siblings. The cultural way of things was to grow up, earn a living, get married, and raise a family all within the confines of our place of origin. And that’s pretty much the way it played out, until I came along!

   In my early 20’s, God dramatically changed the course of my life. Leaving behind everything that was familiar to me, and stepping out in faith, I moved to a different city and enrolled in college. 

  Then surprisingly about 30 years ago, God lead my husband to pastor a beautiful local church near my parent’s home. During that time our girls headed off to the college my husband and I had attended. My son was preparing to farm (for we now lived on the farm where I had grown up) when he graduated from high school.

   One by one my daughters married and moved away from home. Although, I  released each of my children to serve God wherever He called them to, the release, nevertheless,proved to be painful. Then, as in my life as a young adult, God dramatically changed the course of my son’s life, eventually, leading him to Africa. 

   My spiritual background equipped me to do what my cultural background could not. I knew what it was like to leave the familiar behind to follow God’s call. As I released each of my 4 children, I drew upon those lessons learned in my young adult years. Did those lessons serve to make it easier on me to release my children? Nope, not at all! But the Truth’s of God’s word made it doable.

God gave me permission to hurt and cry out to Him in my pain.

His grace was poured out upon me and I received His peace.

Day by day He carried me until I could, with His strength, stand on my own.

I learned that no matter how hard it was, God would be there giving me strength.

   No matter how proud we may be of our children’s achievements, letting go of them is super hard. Therefore, we need to call upon something other than our own strength and will. I couldn’t have done it without God. I suspect you can’t either!

A Missionary’s Birthday

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This photo of my son and I and the exquisite landscape  of the Isle of Arran, Scotland 

   Today is my son’s birthday. As you may have noticed, his birthday is right before Mother’s Day. God presented me with the most precious Mother’s Day gift ever on 5/10/83!

   Even though the ocean separates us, he is only a phone call away, thanks to the internet! It’s comforting to hear the sound of his voice. Funny too, because I could hear the squeals and laughter of his sons! They were attacking him while we were trying to talk. Oh, this mother’s heart is full!

   I want to thank all of the thousands (maybe even millions) of people who pray for our missionaries on their birthdays. May I remind you that even though you may not know my son, the Holy Spirit knows everything there is to know about him.  He knows what his needs are today. He knows what my son’s prayer requests are this day. I am confident that the Holy Spirit will interpret your prayers. 

    And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:27

   This Mother’s heart is comforted by the knowledge and truth of the above verse. Never take for granted the power of your prayers as you intercede for our missionaries on their birthdays. Their mother’s depend on them.

 

Responsibilities of a missionary’s mom

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Stay in contact with whatever means possible

   Thanks to that beautiful satellite that circles the earth, we don’t have to feel so disconnected from our children when they leave to parts unknown. And thankfully communicating via the internet, doesn’t cost us anything! Back in the day, when people traveled across the ocean to answer a call from God, their parents didn’t know if they would ever see them again. In our day, we have been spared that burden. We have much to be grateful for, don’t we.

Pray and share with our children how we are praying

  Praying constantly for our children across the seas, is a given. We don’t have to be told to do this, do we! I suggest finding bible verses that address their particular needs. This would be helpful and encouraging to them.

Stay informed as to  our children’s prayer requests

   We should also ask our children for their prayer requests. And when appropriate, recruit others to pray for those needs. The more people that are praying for our children, the better. But remember:

Keep confidences

   Security levels vary depending on where our children are serving. Seek their permission before sharing their prayer requests. Become informed as to how it should be worded, if it is to be shared. It is not necessary or wise to give too much detail.

 

As a general rule, be vague about using personal and place names

   Many of our children are on Facebook, so check out how they present information there. Follow their lead when you share anything online. Personally, I limit myself when giving out details concerning personal and place names. My children’s service area doesn’t require this, but I prefer to play it safe when I am writing my blogs. And with all that’s going on with Facebook these days, we should be careful about any information we place there. 

Keep them informed of what’s going on back home (the good and the not so good)

   Being so far away, our children loose touch with the daily goings on. Even though they may miss being with family and friends back home, they still want to stay connected. So, keep them informed of the major events and be sensitive about the details you choose to share. Some things are best not to share. Depend on God’s leading in this. 

Make sure our children have no doubt of our support

   Our children have made some radical changes in their lifestyles to follow God’s call upon their lives. They need to know that their families back home not only are praying for them but support them wholeheartedly. They have enough to deal with. We only add to their load if their family back home, for whatever reason, can’t release them to their calling. Let’s keep our focus on what is best for them. We have God’s grace to give us the strength we need to let them go. 

 

Compensations of sacrifice

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   A call from God can present some difficult challenges. So God always equips those He calls. God called my son and my daughter in law to the mission field.  Therefore, they have been and continue to be equipped by God to be able to deal with the challenges of such a life. But just as my son received God’s call to go, I received God’s call as well–to let him go.  

  Since their departure, God has given me opportunities I could never have imagined.   I’ve traveled to Peru where I have walked the ancient stone paths of Machu Picchu. In Africa I experienced the excitement of a safari, floated down the Nile River of Moses fame, and lived in a thatched roof mud hut in the savannah bush. A lifelong dream to go to Scotland was fulfilled not once but 3 times while my son studied for his masters at the University of Edinburgh.

   All of these adventures went a long way in compensating me for the sacrifice God had called upon me to make. But these adventures alone couldn’t have made up for the heartache my son’s exodus brought about.

But the following  has

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

My pain forced me to rely on God

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

In God I found comfort

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

I learned to focus on God, not my pain

  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on You. Isaiah 26:33
  It was good for me to be affected so that I could learn Your statues. Instructions from Your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalm 119:71

I learned that my pain would not overwhelm me

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

I have drawn again and again upon the lessons I’ve learned from my experience as a missionary’s mom. And that is compensation far beyond any sacrifice I could have made.

 

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