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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!

 

     

 

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. 

 

Just ask God!

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Our first send off!

   Getting use to (all over again) staying in contact via electronic media with my son and his family. With all that got thrown at me over the summer, I am beyond grateful that this was not the first send off for my son & his crew. I imagine it would have been overload for me.(But I’m pretty sure God knew that!)

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Our unwelcomed visitor made a fatal decision the day it decided to crawl around the ceiling of our school room!

   At present they are caught up in a big training. However, it’s not taking place in the bush (remember those posts of my time in the bush during one of those trainings????? See above picture!) this time. This time the training is taking place in the village where the team’s basecamp is located. Not nearly as rustic and creature comfort deprived. 

Home Sweet Home!

   I share this because as I hear about their training, I can visualize them in their surroundings. I visited there in 2013 and became familiar with the surrounding physical features and quite a few of the locals. Especially the people they worked and lived with.

  God has been faithful to make it possible for me to make visits to where my children are. Years ago I prayed a prayer of release for my children to serve Him wherever He called them. I asked God to make it possible for me to visit them, if that led them far away. And He has done just that! 

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   Financially, it would have been impossible for me to have come up with the finances for these many trips I’ve been able to make to be with my children. (Just returned from a visit with my daughter in San Antonio). Yet God made it happen!

   If your children wind up living quite a distance from you, I hope you will pray about visiting them. The memories made will sustain you when you are apart. For some of you, this will be a matter of traveling for a few hours here in the good ole USA; for others it will require an expensive airline ticket. Either way, it can present  a crisis of faith. The fiery darts of doubt attack and undermine our faith at times like these. But remember,  you have made a great sacrifice in releasing your children to God. Be assured He desires to bless you abundantly for your obedience. 

 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

So, just ask God and (oh yeah, make sure you have a passport ready if your travel demands)

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.

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!

Together & Overwhelmed!

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Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in such a place as this dreamy little cottage in Scotland!

   Back in August, my husband and I joined our son and his family in Scotland. It was the first time we had seen our 5 month old grandson in person and our 2 1/2 year old grandson we had only seen shortly after he was born. Our son is planning on attending a university there next year and needed to wrap up some details; thus the motivation for this trip.

   So for 2 weeks, we laughed together, ate together, talked (a lot) to each other, played together, absorbed the beauty of Scotland and her people and culture together, and enjoyed quiet moments together! The wonder of all that we enjoyed was that we enjoyed it ‘together’! Such bliss!

   The reality that we were together and living out a lifelong dream of mine to go to Scotland at times was more than my mind could take in!  It was as if I was living in a world of fantasy! I was simply and profoundly ‘overwhelmed’!  

Why do I share this?

   Because, if my son had not walked the path of obedience to God and had we not been willing to release him to that path, then none of what I wrote about just now would have ever taken place.

  Releasing our children to go and do God’s bidding is a challenge to our emotional stability but even more so when that bidding takes them far away from our presence. It wasn’t something I expected to happen and I found within my own strength no resources to handle it.

   Yet, here I am 4 years into this journey and I stand as living proof that there is life after releasing a child to do God’s bidding.

   All of us mom’s (and dad’s) who have taken the journey I have taken  know that it is not something that can be done in one’s own strength. 

 But know this!

   It is doable, and there’s sustaining joy and strength that accompanies the heartbreak of release! And on the other side of those painful moments we have the hope of knowing more joy than we could have ever imagined,

IF we,

look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. Ps. 105:4

 

BACK TO THE BUSH: Last Days

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Saying goodbye to my loved ones and friend!

Saying goodbye to my loved ones and friend!

March 15, 2013

   After two days of high fever and malaria meds, my son seemed to be on the mend. Which I was grateful for because of the 13 hour rugged drive that was ahead of him! Sometimes we stayed overnight about half way, but not this time for my plane was to leave on the next day.

   Our troop arrived in the capital city around 7:30 pm at the mission house where we were to stay. The family that rode with us made their way to their rooms and we went to ours. My son did well driving that long distance even though he wasn’t feeling well. 

   The next morning dawned with its typical balmy weather and we set about eating some breakfast while going over plans for the day. We would do some souvenir shopping for my son wanted to add some things for his nieces and nephews to the bundle I was to take home for all the others. We also needed to do some shopping for my daughter in law to restock some of the supplies they were low on.

Our last selfie (for awhile)!

Our last selfie (for awhile)!

   This day was a celebration for me in that I had the luxury of time to spend with my son. We talked about all sorts of subjects–some light hearted, some very serious! With these moments we drew closer and added to our store of memories from which I have drawn on again and again since arriving back home.

   My son took me to this quaint little coffee shop for lunch. He had an blue cheese salad and I had an egg salad sandwich–very American tasting!  I remember our conversation as we enjoyed our food and fellowship and while it was serious mostly, I remember laughing a lot. My son always does that for me; mixing humor with the serious stuff. I came away from those conversations feeling hopeful and not so overwhelmed.

   Our dinner plans were to drive to the city near the airport where colleagues of my son lived. It’s always amazing to me how you can feel so close to people you have only met for a very few times. But then I’ve noticed that’s the way it goes with God’s people! Dinner was delicious and reminded me of meals back home. Our fellowship was rich and sweet but all too soon it came time for me to get ready to go to the airport.

My last hug and snuggle!

My last hug and snuggle!

 

   I dreaded this departure and had prayed for the emotional strength I would need to say good bye to my son. God had given me that strength when I said goodbye to my daughter in law and grandson and that was what I drew from as we parked the truck and walked up to the airport.

   Yes, my heart was heavy, but I couldn’t stop time, so I submitted to God’s will and strength to see me through our goodbye’s! I kept it under control thanks to God’s grace and glancing back for as long as I could, I turned around and walked through security.

One more adventure and then I would be home!

Same location; Different experience!

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   As I was driving down a familiar stretch of road near my home the other day, tears were spilling down my face. I was reminded that three years earlier, at that very same location, I had been shedding tears as I drove. Even though I was at the same location, accenting the event with my tears just as I had before, it was 3 years into the journey and my tears were spilling down my face for a vastly different reason. 
   You see, three years earlier as I steered my truck  along that same section of road, I had been crying out to God that releasing my son to the mission field was more than I could bear. I remember saying, “God, this is too hard, I just can’t do this!” You see, my son had only been gone for about 3 days and I could only cry out to God in pain at that point.

 So why the recent tears?

   As I was driving that day, I began to ponder the journey I had been on and all the promises God had kept.   I began to recall some of the promises with which God had sustained me during those difficult days 3 years earlier, like: 
 1) this will not overwhelm you
 2) my grace will be sufficient
3) I will deliver you from all your fears.  
   I began praising God that I while I had suffered the pain of releasing a most beloved son to obey the call of God upon his life, God had tenderly and lovingly prevented that pain from overwhelming me.. Because of His grace, I lived life free of the bondage that holding on to such pain would have produced. God indeed, had delivered me from all my fears. That moment of praise spilled over into tears for I could not contain the wonderfulness of it all.
O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, Isaiah 25:1

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