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Sweetness in the sacrifices

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   I have 10 grandchildren. Eight of them live here in the States. Two of them live out of country. Recently, I was able to gather, from 3 different states, my stateside grandchildren (ages 6 to 13)  for what we have come to call “Nammy Camp.” It’s a time of good old fashioned fun; like swimming in Nammy’s above ground pool, gathering the extended family for a cook out, eating meals outside on Nammy’s picnic table, riding Great Grandma’s Kawasaki Mule vehicle, exploring the woods, taking walks, having a water balloon fight, cooking delicious cakes and brownies, playing chess, rising early to see the sunrise, chasing fireflies at twilight. Basically, spending a lot of fun time using the ole imagination! Missing my two youngest grandchildren the whole time. 

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   But it’s important to keep it all in perspective. We knew when my son and daughter in law left for Africa life would change. Our son and his family left their stateside family to share the good news about Jesus to people who hadn’t been reached before. In order for them to do that, sacrifices had to be made. 

   Sacrifices like making memories without all the grandchildren present. I won’t sugar coat it and say, “Oh, it’s not so bad!” But honestly, it is. But I’m wise to the fiery darts of negative thinking that would have me focus on my losses. God’s grace and mercy enable me to direct my focus on what I am gaining. Like the blessings of grandchildren no matter where they are. The benefits enjoyed by those who get to hear about Jesus because we all were willing to make the sacrifices. Filling up my mind with these beautiful thoughts, leave little room for negativity. 

   It’s a discipline that I have to practice consistently. But when I do, life is sweeter for the effort. 

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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. 

 

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)

Dreams, God covers the details!

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You Can’t Buy Happines but you can go to Scotland and that’s pretty much the same thing 

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 For many years I had a dream of traveling to Scotland. Can’t really explain why I became intrigued with that  extraordinary country. Maybe it had something to do with her breathtaking scenery

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or those happy clear water streams of the Highlands. Perhaps it was the appeal of quaint and misty isles that allows one to step back in time to a slower paced life. Possibly it is the lure of the castles, and the images they inspire of knights and jousts, lords and ladies, or kings and queens dressed in medieval array.

   I just know when listening to the captivating music of the kilted bagpipers something deep within my innermost being is stirred. I am at a lost to explain it. But bagpipe music and that lyrical Scottish brogue never fails to draw me in. 

   I did explore the possibility of Scottish roots using the DNA test. While it did not reveal a direct Scottish ancestor, my roots could be traced to the area of Ireland/United Kingdom. I felt I had a good reason to hope my roots could be traced to Scotland, albeit more likely Ireland. But I hold on to that small hope.

   But come Friday, I will travel to Scotland for my third time since 2016. My son and his family have lived there for the past 9 months while my son has been working on his master’s degree in linguistics. We will all return together in early June as his term of study is almost up. He will finish his dissertation in the States and return to the mission field in August. 

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   About 13 years ago, my dream led me to establish an e-pal relationship with a precious pastor’s wife, named Ruth, who like me had 4 children. We formed a sweet friendship. So when my son told me that he was considering studying at the University of Edinburgh, the dream of going to Scotland and seeing my friend face to face began to materialize.

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   Alas, a year before Bob and I, along with our son and his family, actually made it to the shores of Scotland, my dear friend passed away. But her legacy to me was two beautiful daughters that opened their home to us for a visit. My friendship with her blossomed into a friendship with her pastor-husband, an older missionary couple, and the family of a church member. 

   These new dear friends welcomed us to Scotland and went above and beyond in helping our son and daughter in law to get settled in Edinburgh. It would have been so much harder on them were it not for the support of these new friends.

   I wonder, did my dream of going to Scotland have more to do with God providing a support group for my missionary son when he arrived in Edinburgh? I think so, and He granted the fulfillment of a life long dream for me in the process. God covers the details!

Great Faith Through Sacrifice!

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   As I was reading a devotional book this morning, I was reminded that great faith doesn’t come easy. I’m sure that when you think of people you know who have great faith, missionaries come to mind rather quickly. After all, the sacrifices they make wouldn’t be possible without a great faith!

  Their willingness to make such sacrifices never fails to inspire! Yet, there is another group of people whose willingness to sacrifice for the cause of Christ also reveals a great faith albeit from a different perspective. That would be the families who had to give up their loved ones to serve God on the mission field.

   In some ways, their sacrifice might be the hardest. They are the ones left behind. Birthdays, special events, holidays all must be celebrated without their missionary family members. Births are especially hard! Not being able to be physically present to welcome that precious new life and watch him/her grow up requires strength only God can give.

   But God is always faithful and for every sacrifice there is an abundant return! Recently, I heard from a missionary’s mom whose only child was called to the foreign mission field along with her daughter in law and grandchildren.  Because of her great faith, the pain of letting go did not overwhelm her. Though without faith, it would have. She was able to move forward, and by God’s grace did much better than she thought she ever could. Hers is a great faith!

   A great faith isn’t for the casual Christian. But then neither is the extraordinary opportunities to experiences blessings beyond what anyone could imagine. Just ask any parent of a missionary! 

 

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!

Living apart; not desirable but doable!

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   When I think of my beloved son, daughter in law, and 2 young grandsons (one about to become a 3 year old) living on the other side of the world apart from me, I stand amazed at the work of grace in my heart enabling me to manage this. I recall those early days when my son and daughter in law first said goodbye to us and those lonely empty months afterwards. At times I felt such a heaviness I almost couldn’t breathe. But time keeps a steady pace and eventually the darkness of my grief gave way to the light of God’s grace. So, I know what you mom’s are going through when you send your precious treasures, your children, off to a land far away.

 

(If you are fresh into this life experience and you need a lifeline as you travel this painful path [no sugar coating here; it hurts], refer to my initial post, The Journey Begins, 1/4/2012. The the posts thereafter give you a transparent view of how God’s grace and comfort established my bearings. If you are having a hard time and need to communicate further, just send me a comment and I will give you my email address.)

 

   Now here I am 4 years later and in 6 months my beloveds will be returning home for a few months. No more video chats (for awhile) for we will see them face to face. No more mailing packages and wondering if they will ever get them. When we want to give them a gift, we will simply hand it to them. Ahhhh, how I look forward to that! When I want to read my grandsons a story, I will pull them up into my lap and let the enchantment begin. When I want to listen to my son play his banjo, I will simply ask him for a concert. When I want us to have some mother and son time, we will plant ourselves on the front porch swing or take a walk down the mini replica of the Appalachian trail near our house. My daughter in law loves to go grocery shopping and with a Kroger and a Walmart within 10 minutes from our house, we will shop till we drop!

   During those first few months, I couldn’t imagine if I would ever be able to talk about my son and his family without crying. But you know what, I can. Oh, I might still choke up a bit now and then. But after experiencing the constant love and care from my heavenly Father throughout these past 4 years in enabling me to live life separated from my son, I know a peace that passes all understanding. And it’s all a part of God’s plan to give us the kind of joy that causes the pain to subside and become manageable. And while I may not have desired to live so far apart from my son, I am finding that by God’s loving grace it is doable!

 

 

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