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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. 

 

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.

The face of courageous excitement!

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   Recently, my husband and I were honored to open our home to a family who were soon to become the newest members of the Echelon team. (The team which our son and daughter in law serve with) A young couple with 3 young children. 

   There was a time when I would simply not be able to fathom why a young family such as they would be willing to give up all the comforts of life in the US to go live in a seemingly God forsaken place as a 3rd world country. Why break those tender ties with family and friends and sell most of your worldly possessions? Why break their parent’s hearts by taking their grandchildren away for years at a time? There was a time when I thought, “This is just too hard!”

However, not any more. 

Now I get it! Now I understand!

  In 2008, I released my son (my only son) to serve God in Peru in the Amazon jungle. It was what he felt God called him to do. I couldn’t argue with that. I had to let him go. There was no talking him out of it! 

   Then my son got married two years later and two years after that he and my daughter in law left for Africa! Knowing that their children would likely be born there, I summoned up all the strength God gave me and released them. (Sure enough, they now have two boys)

   Not one thing about being the mom of a missionary is easy. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. It’s a hurt like nothing else! But the wonder of it is that it’s doable!

   When God calls us to missions, either to go or to release, then He equips us to fulfill that calling. He gives us what we need to carry out our mission. He didn’t take away the pain, He lovingly helped me manage it. It did not overwhelm me! God was so faithful!

   I’ve learned that it’s not about what we have to give up or the sacrifices we must make to be obedient to God’s will. No! As I looked into the faces of this new missionary family, I saw courageous excitement for the journey ahead. I see this in the faces of my son and daughter in law. I have seen this in the faces of the many missionary families I have met since my son joined the Echelon team. 

   Our God doesn’t call us to something that is going to make us, and all concerned, miserable. No indeed! Although, the fiery darts (negative thoughts) may tempt us into thinking so. A life lived in obedience to whatever it is that God has called us to may take courage but never doubt, it will be exciting!

BIRTHDAY HUGS AND KISSES ACROSS THE MILES. . .

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Happy Birthday my little man!
Happy Birthday my little man!

My grandson turns two today.

My trial in all this is not being able to be with him on this happy day.

 My blessing is that I got to video chat with him this morning,

  and without being prompted he called me by my grandmother’s name. We gave each other hugs and kisses, played peek a boo, and he even tried to feed me some of the cereal he was eating–all thanks to this wonderful invention called Facetime!

   All along I have prayed that God would make up for the distance between us by blessing our relationship with a closeness that would transcend the distance. Happy moments like we enjoyed today, inspire me to believe that is indeed God’s plan!

   So I will resist, by God’s grace, the temptation (fiery dart*) to feel sorry for myself at being so far away from my little guy on his birthday!

(What good would that do anyway? It’s a fiery dart meant to make me miserable and create a burden for my son and his family. Nope, that’s just not going to happen!).

   Instead, I will reject such thoughts and replace it with the ‘Truth thought’ of rejoicing that his parents love God and are willing to be obedient to His call upon their lives and make the most of every bit of communication that God blesses us with.

My heart is full of joy and there’s simply no room for anything else! 

*For more on fiery darts check out my blog:

http://fierydarts.wordpress.com

or my book entitled:

Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice.

You can order it from my fiery dart blog. Blessings!

Safe from Fear!

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     In light of the horrors inflicted upon innocent Christians, Jews, and now US citizens in hotspots across our globe, it seems safe havens are in high demand. Those in dangerous areas are seeking places of safety and security, uprooting their families and enduring hardships beyond imagination to find it. Yes, the temptation for me to fear for the safety of my loved ones and friends living in these foreign lands weighs heavily upon me.

 

A dear lady came to me yesterday in church and asked me, “Wouldn’t you rather they just come home?” 

Whoa! good question but consider the following?

 

     God began teaching me how to deal with fear as my first born daughter  (9 years of age at the time) was home recovering after being hit by a car. I became afraid to let any of my 4 children leave my sight. Fear debilitated me until God got through to me with the realization that I simply couldn’t live in a state of fear! He reminded me, He had a better plan. (Jeremiah 29:11) 

     Then again, as my son through-hiked the Appalachian Trail, He gave me fresh insight on how to trust my child’s well being to Him and built again upon the lessons that released me from the suffocating grip of fear. (Isaiah 41:10)

     Now, God has added new instruction on how to resist the debilitating force of fear. First, He helped me to RECOGNIZE that fear is a fiery dart, a weapon of the evil one to undermine my faith. Second, He empowered me to RESIST it. Third, He supplied me with a Truth thought to REPLACE the thoughts of fear seeking to manipulate me.

 

The Truth Thought that extinguishes the fiery dart of fear?

 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7

 

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     It is a scary thing at times to place your children in the center of God’s will!  The fiery dart of fear will attempt to convince you to do otherwise. But I have learned repeatedly throughout my parenting life that being in the center of God’s will is the safest place on earth for them. I have tried God in this and He has proven over and over that He’s got their well being foremost in His plans. 

     Yes, I am tempted to fear and plead with God to bring my son and his family safely home, but knowing they would have to step outside of God’s will to do that would be asking God to remove His protective hand.

No, I am not willing to ask God to do such a thing. 

It’s a matter of obedience!

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Me & my boy! It's a mom thing!

Me & my boy! It’s a mom thing!

     I don’t know if you have noticed or not  that while my blog never plays down the struggles of living so-o-o-o far apart from my child, I always make it clear that God’s love, grace, and mercy champions me in those struggles.  Since releasing my son to the call of missions on his life, joy and peace have been my constant companions and have made what would have been an impossibility in my own strength a glorious possibility in His. (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13)

     I write this blog to encourage other parents who find themselves on a journey such as mine. I want to assure you that releasing your child to missions or whatever God has called them to is not something to fear. (Remember, the safest place on earth is in the center of God’s will!)

     Recently, a grandmother of a brand-new missionary shared with me that she had expressed to  her grandchild her heartfelt wish that she wasn’t going so far away. Her missionary grandchild responded with, “Granma, would you want me to disobey God so I could be near you?”  That grandmother began to understand with greater clarity the priority of obedience. 

     My dear parent, releasing your child to do the work God has called them to is hard, I know! But the pain of releasing your child should not be your focus. Instead, the obedience to release your child should be.  As you obediently release your child, God’s grace, peace, and mercy will wash over you as a soothing balm. Your heart will be comforted; joy and peace will be your constant companions as you make this journey. It’s a blessed life and you will be just as grateful as I am to be living it!

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It’s a process, so hang in there!

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The Original Six

The Original Six

     The above picture was taken only a few hours before our son and his sweet wife left to head toward a new land and a new life far, far away from us and all that was familiar to them.  You can’t tell by the smiles on our faces that our (especially mine) hearts were breaking. 
     Just a few months later, we welcomed a baby girl into our family as our youngest daughter was pregnant when her brother left. Oh the blessed distraction this little girl was during those struggling days. That was three years ago and since then a new grandchild has been born. But this time we didn’t get to jump into our car and travel to a nearby hospital. Instead, my husband and I jumped aboard a big ole’ jet and flew hours and hours to where our baby grandson, who was a little over a month, lived to hold him and rejoice with his mom and dad. That was a little over a year ago! 
     I compare my life of emails, phone calls, sparse video chats, and a singular visit with my son and his family now, to my life when my son and his wife left to live so very far away. You know, those first days (weeks, no months) there were times when I thought I just can’t do this–it’s just way too hard and it just hurts too bad. But here I am today, 3 years later and my heart has slowly grown stronger. Oh, it’s still painful. I see my little grandson growing up and knowing he has no idea of who I am or that I exist, yes that’s hard but God has equipped me to deal with that so that it doesn’t overwhelm me. 
     The peace that is constant and has been ever since my son first told me he was leaving is with me today, was with me then.  I think of dear young people I know who are heading off to distant lands to serve God and of the families that are having to release them.  Let me remind you, dear people, you can’t do this alone. You MUST hold on to God every minute because without His grace & mercy, the pain will overwhelm you.  Remember, the safest place on earth is in the center of God’s will, and that’s where you and your children must be firmly set. As you and they abide with God in the center of His will, you will be supplied with ALL that you need to see you through the initial goodbye’s and life to be lived apart.
     It’s a process but I speak from experience, it is worth every moment! If you are fresh to this process, I recommend that you go back and read my first blogs after my son left. I hope it will encourage you and give you hope, that your pain won’t always be so constant and will become more manageable. Camp down on the following verse:

Philippians 4:6-7New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Back to the Bush: Learning to Teach!

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The roof of our circular classroom is being raised.

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   My trial by fire was wrapping up!

(My first two weeks at base camp, remember?)

     Finally, my body had begun to make  adjustments to the harsh and unfamiliar environment. Spiritually and emotionally, I was beginning to find my way. (Thanks to God’s Word, the counsel of my son, all those share times I had with my teaching partner, and various members of the trainee group.) It’s a good thing, too, for now it was time to begin the job I had been brought here to do.

Our humble classroom!

My precious preschoolers!

      After some rather successful planning meetings, my vision of the task I had been called upon to do, became clearer.  I (a former middle school and high school teacher) would be teaching preschoolers.  (Talk about making a transition!)

     Once again, I had to throw myself on God’s mercy and plead with Him to help me overcome my fears of inadequacy and ignorance (fiery dart thoughts, you see).  And I am happy to say that is just what He did. He reminded me that children of that age need lots of play intermingled with their learning. (I learned that the hard way after a first day of a too rigid schedule)

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      My teaching partner, who was a middle school teacher as well, took charge of the K-2nd graders. (One child for each grade level) She also had the blessing of homeschool curriculum, plus one of the trainees prepared a two week study for her students about the people group with which we were working. God always comes through, just when we need Him to.

 

     Therefore,

after my teaching partner and I learned how to readjust our approach to teaching, (guided by God’s grace and mercy) our bush school was off to a promising start.  

 

 

 

 

 

BACK TO THE BUSH – Base Camp Moments

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It’s 2-18-13,

 

and I just got word that we were not returning to bush camp that day as planned.  A decision was made to wait until the next day.  In my journal I made the following comment:

(Thank Goodness!)

     Unfortunately, I hadn’t made as much progress as I would like to claim in moving out of the selfish perspective that shadowed my every thought.  (Not proud of this, but I’m trying to be honest here and it is what it is! or should I say ‘was‘).

 

Remember that verse I mentioned previously, Philippines 4:6-7?

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

     Well, folks, I was struggling with that one.  It just wasn’t happening for me.  I was like a duck out of water.  I am a country gal who thrives on lush green grass, green trees of various types minus the thorns,  (the only tree with thorns around my home is locust, but it redeems itself with luscious smelling blossoms in the spring!) and four defined seasons.  I had left all of that and this new place I had come to, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired.

     After lunch that day, God ordained that I would have a talk with my son’s boss who was visiting us and would be joining us at bush camp the following day.  He was closer to my own age (it’s not much fun being the only old person around and having no one to relate to on that level) and I think that made it easier for me to talk with him.  We talked about the seriousness of the problem back in the USA of falling short of our goals for the various mission offerings our missionaries and programs depend upon. Fewer missionaries are being sent to the mission fields in large part due to a lack of funds.  Now I know that doesn’t thwart God’s plans but the sad part of that is what it does to the morale of our missionaries. Not to mention, how it deprives those of us who are to be giving to these mission offerings of the joy we could have in spending our money as God would desire and not so much on fulfilling our own desires. (Coming down off my soapbox now!)

     May I preface the above paragraph with a comment (rather humorous now but at the time I wasn’t laughing-much) that exposes more of my self-centeredness than I care to admit.  Nevertheless, here goes.

     I feel God got me to that particular mission field on false pretenses. (I may not have mentioned this before, but God does have a sense of humor at times)  For the sake of holding my newborn grandson, spending time with him, his dad, and his mom, I was willing to do whatever I had to do to accomplish that.  (Did you know that my husband, returned after 3 weeks without me? This meant I would be traveling home and changing planes 3 times from across that vast ocean all by myself.  And I highly dislike traveling alone

But God had a plan for me and it was just beginning to unfold.

This was a welcomed respite!

If I only knew then what I know now!

 

Today, I am weary!

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I got a phone call from my son while I was in Sunday School this morning and while his voice sounded upbeat (I suspect being infused with anticipation of their upcoming month long break) the pressures of life there are still ongoing.  My grandson is recovering yet again from a bout of illness.  This time a virus with all the trimmings; you know, throwing up, fever, etc.  I wonder if their thoughts are ever plagued with, “Will it never end?”

My son shared with me that he had lately had a dream.  It was a comforting dream, fill with scenes of singing and playing his bluegrass instruments in our church and taking a drive through the rural countryside around home.  His dream was a blessing and I believe a gift from God.  Yet I wonder if the dream was a reflection of his need for relief from the stress and strain of life in this new land?

When I hung up the phone, a wave of weariness washed over me.  I am tired for them. I am tired of the circumstances characteristic of their life style–armed guards surrounding them 24/7, sweltering heat pounding them constantly (their solar panels are having to be replaced for the present ones are insufficient to support air conditioning units; and that’s a sweat and wait scenario), a child whose little body has had to work overtime in conditioning itself to this environment into which he has been born with lots of bumps along the way in the process; not to mention the regular stresses of learning a new language, a new culture, a challenging and hot climate.  Living without access to medical facilities and having to handle most emergencies on their own–yes, my son stitched up his team mate a few days ago when he cut a big gash in his back—is a sobering reality where they live.   I think my son and daughter in law do better than most in adapting to living in a foreign 3rd world country; but honestly, I wonder just how much more they can take!

So today, I am weary and my praying reflects my weariness; so does my writing! I thank God they have this month long break to which they can look forward.  Knowing they have that keeps me from going under for them.

All of you who read my blog, would you just intensify your prayers for my son, daughter in law, and grandson? Pray for peace in the land to which they have been called and that the challenges they must face will ease up some for them.  Mainly, just to keep their focus on Jesus and not the storm!

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