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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.

BACK TO THE BUSH: The Healing Power of Thankfulness

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Bush Camp, Home of some rather extraordinary memories!

Bush Camp, Home of some rather extraordinary memories!

BUSH CAMP – February 23, 2013

Something from my journal on this date:

Self-pity (the kind I experienced while living at bush camp) is referred to in Jesus Calling as a pit or demonic trap. The author’s advice on staying away from the pit is to stay close to Jesus as you praise and thank Him.

   When I wrote this paragraph in my journal, my mind was recalling the discouragement that almost overwhelmed me during my bout of illness shortly after arriving at bush camp. (Sickness, 9/26/2013). I hovered around that pit of self-pity almost daily. There would be moments when I felt the pull of the pit lessened, especially after an uplifting conversation with my son, reading something encouraging from Jesus Calling or my Bible, or having the Holy Spirit remind me of a precious promise from God. But in spite of all that, I struggled with self-pity, in my opinion, way too long.

Another journal moment:

I realize (from that experience) that sickness is the greatest of discouragements. It was so hard to pull myself out of the pit as long as I felt so sick. Ever been there? 

The following scriptures,

1 Thessalonians 5:18  KJV in every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Philippines 4:6-7 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

offered the BEST of advice on how to handle difficult situations, but being physically ill had drained me of my ability to maintain an attitude of thankfulness when I went to God in prayer. I am sorry to say that most of my prayers during, those days of a challenging sickness, were me having a pity party and complaining to God.

   And I am sure that it comes as no surprise that I endured, on top of my physical illness, major fiery dart (http://fierydarts.wordpress.com) attacks because I wasn’t able to be the obedient Christian that I should be and thank God in the face of my difficulties. That’s condemnation, folks, not conviction.

   Fortunately, I knew the difference (thanks to the book God had me write about that, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice) and as I persisted in prayer, I became more cooperative with God as He continued working on His plans for me in that situation.

   You know, I would love to be able to tell you that I gloriously, and speedily rose above the self-pity and discouragement brought on by my illness, but I can’t really say that. However,  as I prayed and read my Bible and as I listened to others share about God in their lives, I found myself focusing on God more and less on my suffering. Eventually, my discouragement and self pity gave way to the healing power of thankfulness. 

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