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It’s Not About Us; Lighten the load

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The 6 of us

He’s on his way!

“Mom, I have some news for you and it may not be easy for you to take. I feel God is calling me (and my wife, or and my wife and children) to the mission field.” 

     For many parents that’s a bombshell of a newsflash. Depending upon the family status of our child, it may throw us into a chaos of emotions. 

     Perhaps, having undergone such an experience myself, I could offer some advice on what to avoid.

   As parents (and family members), thoughts begin to flood our minds of all that we will have to sacrifice. Yet as soon as the initial storm has subsided (and that time varies for everyone), we must come to terms with its effect.

     Even though their news strikes us at the core, we must be sensitive to the agony our children are experiencing. Remember, this is a calling God has placed upon their lives. Before coming to us with their announcement, our children have spent much time pondering and praying over their decision. 

    For the sake of our children, we must be willing to scrutinize our reaction to their news. Were we more concerned over how this will affect us? Of the sacrifices and the pain that will now color our future? On behalf of our children, we must not be afraid to ask ourselves the following question:

     Have we made this all about us?

     We must not forget that as our children serve on the mission field, they will face difficult days and situations. The difficulty of saying goodbye to their families is only the beginning. If we are in despair over their leaving, we must understand that only adds to the burdens they are already carrying.  

     Yes, we are hurting! There’s no need to pretend we are not. But our children need to know that we are depending upon God (not our child) to carry this burden.

The end result of our resolve will serve to lighten their load.

Because we have chosen NOT to make it all about us.

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Staying the course

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…I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop

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Psalm 102:7b

   The other day, as I was reading my Bible, the verse above captured my thoughts. I thought how aptly these words represent the state of my emotions at present.

   For about a year ago two daughters, with their families, took up residence about an 11 hours drive, in opposite directions, from my home.  Add that to a son and his family living on the other side of the world, and at times loneliness stalks me like  a hungry predator.

   I’m no super Christian! I’m just a mom who dearly loves her children, children in law, and grandchildren, who longs to have them close by. (We have such a store of blessed memories of times spent together when they were.) 

   Yet, I have come to the realization that I am going to have days like these. It’s unavoidable. Knowing that one daughter and her family remain near by, sustains me. And while that is an immeasurable blessing, verses like the following are what helps me stay the course.

   Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

   And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippines 4:19

A Wonderful Life!

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   My husband and I attended a retreat recently for parents whose children live and work in lands far away. You know one of the greatest gifts we have to give loved ones and friends is the gift of understanding. Every attendee of this retreat relished in this shared gift of understanding. No one had to explain themselves when they shed tears as they talked about their children and grandchildren. We all knew that tears were only the expression of a love deeply felt. 

   I have written a book, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, which deals with the power of negative thinking (or what I call fiery dart thinking) and how to overcome it. The enemy is relentless in shooting fiery darts such as anger, fear, doubt, despair, and loneliness, just to name a few, to those of us whose children are separated from us by vast oceans. The good news, however, is that in our obedience and our children’s obedience to the call of God upon our lives, God has equipped us to counter the attack of fiery darts. One of the major ways He does this is to bring to mind Truth Thoughts from His Word that succeeds in causing the fiery dart to miss its mark. 

   For example, when my son and his precious wife left to take up new lives far away from home and family, I thought my heart would break. Here are a few of the fiery darts I encountered (The Journey Begins, 1/4/2012).

      Fiery Darts        

-This is too hard

-I can’t manage this

-I’m not able to do this

                -This will overwhelm me                 

  Truth Thoughts

– I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

– God tells me not to worry about tomorrow, Matthew 6:34

-My grace is sufficient for you, 2 Corinthians 12:9

-Though (you are in pain), you will not be overwhelmed, Psalms 37:24

   This is how God has taught me to manage the pain of separation and now that we have two more precious grandsons, He is once again enabling me to manage successfully from a grandmother’s perspective. 

   Please notice that I use the word ‘manage’ because you never stop feeling the pain! Instead due to God’s promises I am learning how to live with it. I am also learning that obedience brings blessings and opportunities that seem to come out of the blue! (and I wonder, would those blessings and opportunities have happened had I remained focused on my pain?) 

   Yes there are sacrifices and there is pain. But along the way God has been equipping me to manage them as He continually reminds me that it will not overwhelm me. And, honestly, based on what I have experienced thus far, this is a wonderful life! 

BACK TO THE BUSH: An unwelcomed visitor!

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

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

ALLOW ME TO SET THE STAGE!

The mat we had just stretched out on to enjoy a bit of story time!

  The mat we had just stretched out on to enjoy a bit of story time!

MARCH 5, 2013

   Our classroom was open–circular in design. Only a couple of small tables (these were used by the older children) and about 3 mats such as the one you see in the photo above defined our primitive design. I often enjoyed the luxury of a bag chair during my teaching time, but on this particular occasion, I had opted to stretch out on the mat with my preschoolers for story time. An impulsive decision at the time but one that proved beneficial to us all. 

   After choosing our story, I stretched out upon the mat with my students to begin reading. As the ceiling was in the direct line of my view, my vision landed there whenever my eyes wondered from the book in my hands. 

   Just as I began reading, something caught my eye and in looking up, I noticed a snake slowing slinking it’s way between the rafter poles of the ceiling. While keeping a lid on a strong urge to leap up and run, I quietly instructed Shellie, to keep an eye on “that” pointing upward as I spoke.  As I passed by her and headed out the door, I whispered, “it’s a snake!” 

   However, Shellie had not heard my whispered word and not knowing what ‘that’ was glanced upward toward the ceiling seeing the snake. Her teacher mode took over while she calmly gathered up the children and ushered them through the door.

   Meanwhile, acting on instinct, I ran to the meeting house where the adults were gathered and poked my head in, well aware I was interrupting their studies. (Feeling as soon as they knew the reason for my sudden rudeness, they would be forgiving)  I directed my comments to a young man who had exhibited previous skill in ridding our camp of unwanted varments. As unalarmingly as I could, I said,”Excuse me, but there’a snake in the classroom.” Immediately, he along with 2 or 3 of the men, sprung into action, grabbed a stick and took off towards the classroom. He called out as he hurried past me,”Where is the snake?” I responded, “In the ceiling.” That poor snake never had a chance for sticks and heals pommelled it from 3 or 4 different directions.

   Shellie and I got the Teacher of the Bush award that day for staying calm, keeping our students safe, and securing help in a timely fashion. The snake was dead by the time we found out it was only a non poisonous sand snake. 

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SUCH IS A DAY IN A CLASSROOM IN THE BUSH!

Back to the Bush: School Has Begun

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Our humble classroom!

I taught the preschoolers!

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My friend taught the older children, K-3rd graders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s 2/11/13 and Classes have begun!

     After much preparation, many anxious moments, and what seemed like a million logistics to coordinate, Kelly (not her real name)  and I finally were able to be about the business of teaching our students.  Our school consisted of seven children:  four preschoolers, one kindergartener, a first grader, and a third grader.(Classroom size a teachers dreams of)  I was to teach the preschoolers and Kelly was to teach the older children.  Considering my friend and I were former high school teachers, the adjustments we needed to make were challenging.  (But by God’s grace we did it!)

     My first day with my preschoolers revealed I had too much lesson time and not enough playtime. (I was a former high school teacher, remember)  Therefore, I adjusted and came up with a plan to work on the alphabet in the first part of the morning while interspersing story time.  Snack time (a vital part of any preschooler’s day) happened around 10 a.m. Then after snacks I concentrated on math concepts, mostly about counting, and, of course, interspersed with the reading of stories.

     Parents came to pick up their children for lunch around 12 ish.  After a lunch break, it was back to the school house and we enjoyed play time with our kiddos; not the formal learning as in the morning but learning on a more casual basis. Nature hikes, chalk drawing on the big ole rocks by the camp, singing, playing board games (a favorite was Candy Land), etc. defined our afternoon school day. 

     Reflections!

    My anxious feelings began to subside once I had a grasp of exactly what I would be doing.  And while this did help, I found that those anxious feelings were now being replaced by feelings of inadequacy. (Plain and simple, I didn’t think I knew how to teach preschoolers, for I wanted to do more than just babysit them.)  The fiery darts were working on me with a vengeance.  My son was my greatest source of encouragement. Actually, he kept me going.  We had such inspiring conversations that just when I began to feel overwhelmed God would use him to speak a word to me that would give me incentive to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  

     Somehow in the midst of my feelings of inadequacy, God took my meager efforts and blessed them beyond what I deserved. I learned afresh, the awesome truth of a very familiar phrase to most Christians. I learned that,

 “our availability is more valuable to God than our ability!”  

     Looking back on my time at the training camp, it seems I whined every day to God about issues I was having with others, about the harshness of my surroundings, about feeling on the outside and not truly fitting in.  I whined about having no one my age with which to hang out or have camaraderie with. Yet, in spite of all my whining God used me. Why? Because I was there! Certainly, not because I was this super Christian who brought volumes of wisdom and ability to the experience.  It’s humbling to look back on my time in the training camp. For at first I can’t see anything but failure and inadequacy. But then when the fiery dart thinking is rejected, I hear God affirming me by saying,

“Thank you for making yourself available. That was all I needed from you!”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY SON!

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Celebrating birthdays with thousands of miles between me and my child isn’t one of my favorite things to do.  It takes quite the adjustment to accept this reality, but because it is reality then I must find a way to accept it.  Wishing it wasn’t so, changes nothing and evening makes it harder to deal with.

So, I choose to focus on the positive things about this very special day.  Here are just a few:

I am proud and grateful to have a son that loves the LORD

I am grateful for the abundance of memories I have with him.

I am grateful for the relationship my son has with his sisters and they with him

I am thankful for the great relationship my son has with his dad

I am grateful for my daughter-in-law; for my son needed a woman like her

And, of course, I’m humbled and thankful for the relationship my son and I have

I’m so grateful to know that thousands of people are praying for my son on his birthday

And, oh yeah, thank you God for the technology that keeps my son and I close

That’s only a few of the positive thoughts I have on this very special day.  If you have such a son or daughter as mine, then you have ever as much to rejoice over as I do.  I hope you will continue to pray for me and my family as we make adjustments to this new life God has called us to.  But you know something?  I hope you aren’t feeling sorry for us, in fact there’s much about this life as a missionary’s family that is exciting and appealing.   It’s a matter of focus or perspective, really.  I’m planning on a trip to the country where my son and daughter-in-law live and that’s pretty exciting.  Hopefully, I’ll get to work alongside my son when I do visit and join him as he ministers to those he has been called to. How satisfying it is to be an instrument of God’s will in making Christ known to those who need Him.

So, happy birthday, my son and know I love you, I miss you, and I have tremendous peace that you are where you are, doing what you are doing!  I’ll be there in a few months and the anticipation of that is thrilling…

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