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What’s hard about the holidays?

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   Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas is only a few weeks away. People and stores (Who begin way too early. Ooo, don’t get me started) everywhere are gearing up for the celebration. Ever since my son and his precious family left for the mission field, spending holidays without them continues to present challenges. For I don’t get to see the enchantment of Christmas sparkling in the eyes of my 5 year old and 2 year old grandsons. The physical distance between us prohibits the gathering of family around the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Not to mention all the memories such an occasion inspires.

    Out of 4 children, their spouses, and their children (18 individuals in all) only 5 of them now live nearby (about a 30 min. drive away). That is, since one of my daughters and her family recently moved an 11 hour’s drive away. 

   Honestly, (just being transparent here) it doesn’t get any easier as the years and holiday’s pass by. I wish it did though! But, reality is what it is. Sure, I get more use to it. I find a routine that works and a mindset that obstructs the temptation (the fiery darts) to feel sorry for myself. And knowing those 5 individuals are close by reminds me that I still have much to look forward to.  But that is only part of my defense against such self-focus.

   Recently, I’ve been prompted to include in my prayer time a time of thanksgiving. So, I made a list of things in my prayer notebook that I was thankful for. After opening my prayer time with praise and before I begin my requests, I

Now spend a few moments thanking God that

my problems will not overwhelm me

He brings beauty from the ashes of my life

my problems can become my testimonies

my problems can work together for my good

I have His words to guide me

He is always with me and I can never loose Him

Next I thank God for

Jesus’s sacrifice and the sure hope of heaven

the life Jesus lived and the example He gave

the Holy Spirit’s constant companionship and the guidance, instruction, and encouragement He gives

   Being a missionary’s mom presents challenges that could be overwhelming. Yet I know God equips me with the necessary tools to prevent that from happening. Focusing on what I have to be thankful for is a powerful weapon against the fiery darts fed by self-focus. It corrects my focus and puts it where it needs to be (off myself and onto God). And I find a peace there that sustains me in this ongoing separation from  my beloved’s.

Saying Goodbye Yet Again? It’s Doable!

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Jeremiadoss Family Back to Africa

   The time has come for my son’s team member’s family to return to their ‘home’, as their children call it, back in Africa. Stateside is a blissful experience in a lot of ways. (Not without it’s stresses, for sure) But one is always comparing life here with life there. Life in Africa with it’s vastly different climate and culture is a far cry from life in the United States.

   But, you know, that’s not what makes it hard to say goodbye to each other. For the missionaries have come to love and value their life where they serve. As is evident in this quote from the article above.

Africa has a way of never leaving you the same-once you go, the beautiful, perseverant people have a way of intertwining with your soul and leaving you with a heartsick ache. It is with great excitement that we return to Africa

   And for us as their family who must bid them farewell, yet again, knowing they feel this way about where they serve, is a blessed comfort. 

   At those moments when the farewells must be said, it’s the  fact that our lives must move forward in separate directions that hurts. Now our memories won’t include each other as they did during stateside. This is and never will be easy! That’s the fact, the reality of their calling (to go) and our calling (to release) is something that can’t be taken lightly! 

   But we are not without comfort! God built those comforts into our obedience! Personally, I don’t expect these farewells ever to be easy. Though by experience I have come to realize they are doable. And as God promises,

I can do all things through Him who strengths me.Phillipines 4:13 NKJV

Keeping Christmas Wonderful!

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Christmas is a wonderful time of the year!

  That wonderfulness could be somewhat diminished this year, however, since my son and his family won’t be able to come home, yet again. They are on stateside and we all thought, “Oh boy, we get to celebrate together this year!” And initially it seemed possible, even though they would have to fly home from abroad where my son is studying for his master’s. However, after relocating and getting established in their new life there, expenses proved to be greater than originally thought. Sadly, the much anticipated Christmas visit had to be cancelled. 

 

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  This is the part of missionary life that proves to be quite a challenge. Especially when I hung each family member’s stocking on the mantel. I know that when we (our daughter’s and their families) take down their stockings full of Christmas surprises, it will just plain hurt to see 4 stockings hanging empty and undisturbed on the mantle.

Yet that’s our reality!

   But there’s another reality that demands my focus. While my son and his family were home during their stateside over the spring and summer, we stored up an abundance of memories of time spent and enjoyed together. The memories we made as a family and with many friends grow all the sweeter as we ponder them over Christmas. 

   And next summer we will come together for one more visit before my son and his family return to their mission assignment. Many more memories will be made and added to the store we built up while they were stateside. 

But there’s the main focus!

   What we focus on will determine whether or not we have a wonderful Christmas. So, I’ll focus on the gift of time we were given and that will bring much comfort. But there’s another focus that is paramount to all others.  Focusing on the extraordinary event of the birth of the Christ child and the fact that we as a family acknowledge and celebrate that whether we are together or not is the necessary focus to making Christmas wonderful!

 

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Finding thankfulness in separation

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   The Thanksgiving holidays typically presents a challenge for me and my family! While this year we celebrated in full by traveling to the Smokey Mountains with our 3 daughters and their families to our favorite resort that boast of an indoor (which our grandchildren stormed) waterpark, it was never far from our minds that 4 of our members were missing–our son, his wife and their two sons.

   However, my son, by the grace of God, was able to connect with all of us via a phone call, catching up with us at the restaurant where we met for breakfast after checking out of our hotel. Yet I found myself feeling guilty as I began describing what a wonderful time we were having, as if we had no right to be enjoying ourselves so much when he and his family couldn’t be there to join in.  It’s kind of a tricky emotional balance to celebrate Thanksgiving enjoying the presence of my daughters and their families while grieving the absence of their brother and his family.

   While sitting out on the balcony of our room one morning, I contemplated the blessing of celebrating Thanksgiving with my 3 daughters, 3 sons in law, and 8 grandchildren as close as an arm’s reach from me! But how could I be thankful that thousands of miles separated me from my son, daughter in law, and 2 of my grandsons.

Then God brought this to my mind.

   “Consider the love your son has for Me. It is deep and consuming. It is the kind of love that motivates and empowers him to make the sacrifices and live the life to which I have called him. Likewise, it is the kind of love for Me shared by all of you, that enables you to release him to his calling and make the sacrifices required during this particular time of the year.”  

   For sure, I wrestled on and off with the temptation (I call them fiery darts) to focus more on the reasons I had to be downcast than on the reasons I had to be thankful. Remember the account in the Bible where Peter, one of the 12 disciples, almost drowned during a storm at sea when he took his eyes off Jesus and began focusing on the storm (Matthew 14:22-33)?

   So for me it was a matter of where I placed my focus. My family’s love for God and their willingness to be sacrificially obedient to Him was the focus I needed if I was to celebrate Thanksgiving with a ‘thankful’ heart. It wasn’t a focus that ignored the sadness that I felt in being separated from my son but one that comforted and strengthened me in that sadness without diminishing the joy I felt as I celebrated Thanksgiving with those around me. 

My final adventure – flying home!

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March 17, 2013

   Sitting at Gate B5 waiting on my plan to Newark. The path here led me to go through security. Wasn’t quite sure about that but when I finally got to GB5 they said I was at the right place. Got my Brussel boarding passes to United.

Our last selfie (for awhile)!

Our last selfie (for awhile)!

   In Newark I will have to get my bags and check in at customs. I will have about 4 hours, so that should be enough time. I ask more questions now but still a bit hesitant. But I’m following a friend’s advice and trying to look as if I’m relaxed and confident. I’m not afraid as long as no crises come up. I am trusting God to guide my steps, however!

   Went to a vending machine and though I didn’t have proper coins to get a Belgium waffle, I at least saw them this time? Saw a coffee place, but I’m waiting to get to the U.S. for my coffee. Want to wait until I am in familiar territory and can use my card or U.S. money.  

   Also tried to get on wifi here but no go. When I’m in Newark I’ll get online there and use my phone to message everyone. I know that some of my grans will not be there to meet me and that is disappointing. But excited to see the ones that will be there. My husband, my mom, my daughter, and two granddaughters were standing there waiting to greet me. I could hardly contain myself when I laid my eyes upon them.

Back on good ole American soil.

Back on good ole American soil.

One of the first things I wanted to do was to go to Cracker Barrel and sit by the fireplace while enjoying some good ole American food. My husband and I went the next day. A crackling fire in the fireplace, sitting where I could feel the coziness of it as I feasted on turkey and dressing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, biscuits and cornbread, and oh yeah, a traditional Southern favorite, sweet iced tea–yep, I was home! Traveling alone was not scary but it was boring. God hovered over me every step of the way. 

Summing it all up!

   Going to Africa was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I disappointed myself quite often, especially when I got sick while living in the bush. Those were unpleasant and difficult memories but as God is always faithful to prove the truth of His word, it all worked together for my good. I grew so much spiritually but again it came from enduring the difficulties. I was inspired again and again by the commitment of my son and daughter in law to making Christ known to these new people God had led them to. 
   Would I go back? In a heart beat! For now I’ve a better idea of what to expect and that is huge in my book in handling those rough spots and uncertainties. My heart’s desire is to go to the home where my son and his family now live. I want to walk around the place they live,  see where my grandsons play, meet their adopted family, and experience the work they are doing for our LORD.

   Will just have to wait on the LORD for that and trust Him to do whatever He desires to do! I am willing, if He presents the opportunity!

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