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Letting Go; Pain with a Purpose

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bobby & me

The Pain

     Recently I had the sweet privilege of meeting a brand new missionary’s mom. A few days after Christmas her daughter, son in law, and one year old granddaughter will leave for the mission field. She is about to embark upon a difficult journey. The same journey that I began January 4, 2012. I have been where she is about to go. And because I was standing there in front of her, living and breathing (and smiling), she has reason to hope!

Flashback

    I remember that Christmas in 2011. We had enjoyed a Christmas for the memory books. All 17 of us (at that time) sharing, laughing, cooking, then snacking and overeating, watching White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticut, Muppet Christmas Carol (that’s just the short list). Oh, we packed as much as was possible into those few days before my son and daughter in law left for the mission field. We had a bulging album of pictures and memories before it was all said and done.

     But the dreaded day came, nevertheless! It’s strange how; yes we can feel pride for our children for answering the call to missions. But honestly, when describing the feelings I felt on that day when we stood on the porch waving our last goodbye, the feeling of pride evaded me.  I kept thinking about how life here was now going to happen without my son and daughter in law.  And their lives were now going to happen without us.

     Yet through it all, I never felt abandoned by God or that all of this was impossible for me to deal with. He was faithful in sending me to verses that addressed my pain. (like Psalm 30:5b, Weeping may be for a night, but joy comes in the morning) Verses like this and so many more empowered me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and breathing in and out consistently.

The Purpose

     My new friend has God’s faithfulness to look forward to (and so does anyone facing a similar situation). God’s grace will enable her to do the difficult things she will be called upon to handle. God’s word will guide her, lift her up, sustain her, comfort her, and bless her with peace that passes understanding.

     The beauty of it all is that by cooperating with God in the letting go process, we are being prepared to serve God more effectively. Our letting go serves a purpose! We are not hurting in vain. For the comfort we receive from God can serve to help others who are hurting as we have. 

 

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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!

 

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!

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. 

 

A Sending Mom!

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One last photo!

It was 6 years ago on January 4, 2012

   when I first said goodbye to my son and daughter in law. They were leaving for their first term on the mission field.
   If you go back and read those first blogs (and if you have just sent off a child to work overseas, I recommend you go back and read them) you might find just the comfort and resolve needed for the journey you find yourself traveling. (search using the dates above)
  My first posts do not shy away from describing the realities of the pain I felt. I knew other mom’s in my boat wouldn’t want me to sugar coat the trauma I was going through. But as my readers will note, I walked this difficult journey with Christ as my guide. Through many a painful experience along the way, I’ve found Jesus to be faithful. He allowed me the freedom to be honest with Him about what I was feeling. Because in describing my feelings, the Holy Spirit would impart verses of Scripture.  Words from God that would bring the strength and healing that I needed. My posts shares those particular verses.
group pic 8-31-17
   Since 2012 my son and his family, (yes, two grandsons have come along) have come home once. That was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Extreme highs and extreme lows intensified by the fact that two of my daughters and their families moved out of state about the time my son and his family returned overseas. (Refer to  my other blog: http://www.fierydarts.com, posted 1-18-18)

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   It’s not been easy. Yet here I sit, posting yet again on my blog as a mom who by God’s grace has survived more separation than I care to mention. And I can honestly say, if it weren’t for God’s guidance, grace, and comfort I would be of all mom’s most miserable. But on the positive side…I can honestly say the joys and blessings I have received through this separation far, far exceeds the pain I endured. 

If you are sending a child to a far away land, turn to God’s Word. It will light your way!

God’s plans can be trusted as He points out in Jeremiah 29:11.

And when you feel too weak to carry on remember 2 Corinthians 12:9, & Isaiah 40:28-29

When you need sustenance , ponder Ps 55:22

Cry out in your pain, God will hear Psalm 34:17

And someday, you too will say, my joy can’t be described with words!

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!

Hello and goodbye!

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The Luxury of Having Them Home!

   As I keep up with my son and his family on Facebook, I am happy to see that they are getting that physical and emotional rest they need to prepare them for their next venture. We got to see them a couple of weeks in May, which could only be described as glorious chaos! Since then they have spent time with my daughter in law’s family and are presently spending time at a place that, for them, is also home. Then a week to debrief with their mission organization. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, I will be traveling there to get in an extra week of time with them. Then in August they will be making their way here to spend their last stateside month with us before they leave the country so my son can work on his master’s degree abroad.

   Being able to pick up a phone and call them, or communicating with them easily via FaceTime, email, etc., I now see as a luxury. For while they were out of the country, our connections weren’t always good and often their internet was down. But not so here in the good ole USA ,and I am grateful beyond words.

   I so look forward to their month long visit in August and, of course, dread the day we will have to say goodbye again. But even then God has given us a lot to look forward to  before they actually have to return to Africa. Visiting them in the country where my son will be studying is definitely something I am making plans for, and my son’s last term is a research semester where they will return home for 3 months to wrap things up. And the fact that they are planning on coming home for Christmas, cheers me up immensely!

The Reality of Saying Goodbye!

   In all this coming and going since my son and daughter in law left home 4 1/2 years ago, God has gently guided me every step of the way! He has empowered me to manage the pain of releasing them to live their lives apart from us without it overwhelming me. I recorded that lesson in a blog I wrote on 10/7/14, Just Keep THAT Door Closed. From that lesson I learned I could choose not to open the door where painful emotions resided. By refusing to open that door, I was choosing to focus on receiving all the grace and mercy God had in store for me as I obediently released my son and his precious family to God’s calling upon their lives. 

   I am discovering that while it still hurts to say goodbye, I know because I’ve experienced it, God has some exciting and extraordinary plans for those of our family who must release, as well as for those who go. And as those plans unfold, we all are blessed beyond what we could have imagined. For when God gives us hard things to do, He faithfully provides rewards along the way that makes the hard thing doable!

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