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Just Keep THAT Door Closed!

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Just keep THAT door closed!

 

     Recently, I received a word from God about something I could do that would guard my heart from the destructive temptation to surrender to the pain of being separated from my son, daughter in law, and grandchildren. 

Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. Proverbs 13:13

    When I think of my grandson who is almost 2, who hardly knows me, and of my grandchild due in March, who will be about 5 months old when I get to hold him/her for the very first time, or when I think of how much of my son’s life and accomplishments I am missing out on because of the vast distance between us, or being denied the pleasure of watching my daughter in law’s expanding frame as my grandchild develops within her. . . Well, honestly it’s a bit overwhelming and it becomes a gigantic struggle to squelch the emotion I feel rising within me.

     That’s when God had me make a mental picture like the one above and imagine that all those emotions reside behind that door. When thoughts enter my mind that would tempt me to open that door, He whispers something like:

“If you open that door and surrender to those emotions just know they will destroy you and create burdens for your son that you would not want him to have to bear. It will be healthier for you to keep that door closed. I had to give up my son, too, so I know of the intense pain you are suffering. Allow my understanding to be your comfort, for my grace will always be enough and sufficient.”

     Just think about it.

     What would be the end result if I allowed those emotions to have sway in my life? I would become a miserable person and likely I would begin to move away from God. Eventually, I might even harbor a growing resentment toward God for taking my son away from me. 

Nope, that’s not for me.

     In Jeremiah 29:11 God reassures me that He has good plans for my life. It is my full intention to revere God’s word and to cooperate with Him as He works out those good plans. I desire to walk this path successfully He has chosen and prepared for me. Proving to all who have reason to notice, that living life according to God’s plan is the very best kind of life to live!

 

    

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.

Isolation and Togetherness; both are beneficial!

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I use these two words of contrast within the context of experiences known to a parent who has just bid farewell to their missionary child. It has been my reality that both isolation and togetherness have worked in tandem to bring me to a quiet state of acceptance and peace of mind with the departure of my only son and his family to the foreign mission field.

Of course, this work wasn’t accomplished overnight but overtime!

After all, it’s put pretty well in Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV),

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.

My time of isolation!

My time of isolation began during the early days after my son’s departure. I poured everything out to God. I spent ALL the grief I felt over loosing the companionship of my son (And I can’t tell you how important this is). I had suffered a genuine loss and not only did I need to acknowledge that, I needed to mourn that loss.

God let me cry for as long as I needed.  He allowed me to say whatever came to mind, for He knew those thoughts and words had to be released and He was the only one I could trust to hear those words. With my Bible in hand and the Holy Spirit’s tender guidance, over time (and the length of that time will vary for each person) God lovingly led me to a time of peace and quiet resolve to accept His will. 

In time, I was able to rejoin the land of the living!

Gradually, I was able to answer questions from those who were concerned about how things were going with me and my son and daughter-in-law (for at that time my grandson was still a precious dream) without my eyes spilling forth with unbidden tears. That, my dear readers, was no small miracle.  

Then came my time of togetherness!

Recently, my husband and I were privileged to join a group of parents who’s children were serving as missionaries within the same mission organization as our son.  As we gathered together, we shared our struggles and experiences, finding understanding companions on every level.  We shared photos and identified with each others stories of our visits (of places most people only dream of) to where our children served. With these parents, I knew the freedom of honest feelings. With them I didn’t have to pretend I had it all together. They knew that as hard as it was to make this sacrifice, when it was all said and done, it was a willing sacrifice.  And being with these missionary parents, I realized a level of joy and happiness unique to that sweet fellowship.  I felt stronger (and happier) and possessed a greater resolve to focus on the abundance of positives I knew as a missionary’s mom. 

* * * *

So you see, we need both isolation and togetherness in times of struggle.  We gain strength to endure by spending appropriate time in both. Don’t stay too long in isolation and by all means don’t go there without God.  From that blessed time of healing, you will find the strength to join together with like-minded parents in coming alongside your missionary child in proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel.  We learn how to focus less on our loss and focus more on what we and our children have gained; not to mention the people they have been called to serve. And my dear readers, that makes all we have gone through entirely worth it! 

Abundant Life Indeed – Even though miles apart!

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As God would have it, I am adjusting to being a long-distance grandmother.  Not saying I like it, just learning how to deal with it.  After the initial punch in the gut that my new grand baby is going to be born in a land far away, God has had mercy on me and is providing me with the grace I desperately need to accept this.

Sending my son off to this far away land is especially hard for me and now adding to an already hard situation is the fact that his sweet wife is expecting their first child.  Why is this so hard?  Well, several reasons. My son and I are close and over recent years, we have shared many memories and many heart-to-hearts.  He is my only son and came along at a time when I had given up on having a boy.  My husband and I had been abundantly blessed with 3 wonderful (in every way) daughters.  So when I realized that my cup was full to overflowing, I was able to release my desire for a son to God and peace reigned in my heart. Shortly, thereafter, we found out a 4th baby was on its way!  Honestly, I thought I was going to have another girl for I felt that was why God had conditioned me to release my desire to have a son!  Sometimes, God’s ways are past finding out! (Romans 11:33)

Raising Bobby has always been an adventure; not just for me, but for his dad and his sisters as well.  An adventure that has been downright challenging but a whole lot of fun at the same time!  When my son was 10 years of age, we moved to the family farm.  So during some very formative years, he had the privilege of growing up in an environment that reinforced a lot of what we were teaching him in our home.

And as wonderful as it was to raise my children on a farm, it sort of had an adverse affect on me eventually.  For you see, Bobby, for years, felt God was preparing him to become a farmer and that made perfect sense to me.  It gave me such peace in my heart to think that I would not have to worry about him moving off someday, but would have the joy and comfort of him being always nearby.  But that was not to be.  For when Bobby was a senior in high school, about to take up the responsibilities of farming, it was made clear to me that he was not to have that opportunity.  I had to break the news to him and he took it in stride.  His acceptance to this turn of events was my model to trust God to keep Bobby in the center of His will; even though events weren’t working out as we had expected.

After that time in my son’s life, God set him on a completely different course–working for a local industry while being heavily involved in youth work at our church filled up my son’s life.  Then while taking classes at a local community college he met and became friends with a family who would prove to be major figures in his future (his future wife’s family).  This relationship introduced him to an out of state Christian camp where he eventually went to work and live.

After that initial move, life for us became a series of goings and comings.  From camp, to hiking the Appalachain Trail, to 2 years in South America, then marriage, followed by graduation from college for both of them, leading them to replant their lives in Africa. All along the way, God empowered and enabled me to release my son to His care and keeping.  No easy task, let me tell you, but a task that by God’s grace was doable.

I think that one of the reasons I have found the strength to release my son has to do with God allowing 2 of my daughters and their 5 children to live only a few minutes drive from my home.  While my other daughter lives way off in Florida, I have had the privilege to visit her several times.  Unlike my son, we are able to email and video chat often which makes up for a lot.

So when I’m asked if I find it hard to deal with my son, daughter-in-law, and now grand baby being so far away, I have to say, “Yes.”  And for all of the reasons which I have shared with you in this post.  But like my son learned several years ago, I have learned to take things like this in stride.  When God calls your child to serve Him on the foreign mission field know that is going to require sacrifice.  But also know that when God places that calling on your life then He will equip you to be able to make those sacrifices.  Oh, it won’t be easy.  In fact, my adjustment has been characterized by a flood of tears, accompanied by an ache in my heart that I have found a way to live with, but a willingness to do what God has called me to do.  My heart is full of peace and as God continues to amaze me in how He provides ways to maintain that close connection I have with my son, I find that I can praise Him for the calling He has placed on my son and daughter-in-law’s lives.  They and we,their families, have an abundant life indeed!

Sacrifice brings glory?

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Maridith's washing machine!

A few days ago Bobby & Maridith posted this picture.  They had been visiting the people who are living in the house they hope to be moving into in a few weeks.  Maridith is preparing the washing machine they will be using for 4 adults and 3 small children.

A sweet lady at my church, after seeing this picture made the following comment, “I now have a whole new appreciation for my electric washing machine and dryer, and for the sacrifices Bobby & Maridith are making.”  This lady loves Bobby & Maridith and supports them in prayer and various other ways, so I knew that God was doing a work in her about sacrifice.

Her statement prompted a thought of my own.  Sacrifice is something we are all called to.  What it looks like for others may be different than what it looks like for us, but we can’t live for Jesus as we should if we aren’t willing to make sacrifices.

AND THEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM!

The issue of sacrifice is completely foreign to most Americans, given the luxuries that are ours in abundance.  For those of us who are Christians, this abundance makes it difficult to keep the concept of sacrifice in balance.  Here in America materialism makes sacrifice an unattractive concept.

And for some of us it’s not so much the material things we would have to give up but giving up our children and grandchildren to answer a call that would lead them to a far away place becomes the greater challenge.

But does anything of great worth in this life come without sacrifice?  I think not.  My mind ponders the gripping pain of contractions that brings the birth of a child.  You ask any mother if the sacrifices her body endured during her pregnancy was worth it and you’ll hear a resounding yes!  Great sacrifice brings great rewards.

And, of course, the most powerful of all sacrifices was made by Jesus when He paid the price for our sins on the cross.  The Bible gives irrefutable evidence that Jesus thought His sacrifice was worth it!  Your own salvation says as much!

Here’s the deal.  It’s all about perspective.  A mother willing makes sacrifices during her pregnancy because her focus is on the baby that will be born. Jesus was able to make His sacrifice because He looked beyond the cross.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – (Hebrews 12:2)

So when we are called upon to make sacrifices (like giving up your children to go live in a foreign land and having to become a long distance grandmother when those babies start coming), we have to avoid focusing on the sacrifice and instead focus on the glory.  Just think of the souls that will be introduced to Jesus because your child was willing to make sacrifices so those souls could hear the Good News. (When you get to heaven, that’s going to be a really big deal!)  Just think of the adventure and experiences they will have and don’t be surprised if God includes you in some of those along the way.  If we can get ourselves out of the way and start focusing on how our children’s lives will be blessed and benefited, (and ours too) because they answered God’s call upon their lives and we were willing to give them up, then the sacrifices made begins to dim and the glory we and they will experience  grows brighter.

Now, take a look at this picture:

How would you like to wake up to this view every morning?

 Bobby wrote the following words after being inspired by such a view,

….I have found a new peace here. A peace that comes not from the serenity that surrounds me, nature can be deceiving, but from my God, the One who brought me here. What is it that You have brought me here to do? Am I ready? Will I be strong enough? God help me to trust in You for all of this. It is You who brought me here, it is You who will keep me.

The God that created the beauty surrounding them, will tenderly and lovingly provide for my son and daughter-in-law’s every need.  They are willing to trust Him and follow Him.  I will do no less!  Was their sacrifice and mine worth it?  Already, I can give a resounding, YES!

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