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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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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. 

 

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.

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.

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