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A Missionary’s Birthday

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This photo of my son and I and the exquisite landscape  of the Isle of Arran, Scotland 

   Today is my son’s birthday. As you may have noticed, his birthday is right before Mother’s Day. God presented me with the most precious Mother’s Day gift ever on 5/10/83!

   Even though the ocean separates us, he is only a phone call away, thanks to the internet! It’s comforting to hear the sound of his voice. Funny too, because I could hear the squeals and laughter of his sons! They were attacking him while we were trying to talk. Oh, this mother’s heart is full!

   I want to thank all of the thousands (maybe even millions) of people who pray for our missionaries on their birthdays. May I remind you that even though you may not know my son, the Holy Spirit knows everything there is to know about him.  He knows what his needs are today. He knows what my son’s prayer requests are this day. I am confident that the Holy Spirit will interpret your prayers. 

    And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:27

   This Mother’s heart is comforted by the knowledge and truth of the above verse. Never take for granted the power of your prayers as you intercede for our missionaries on their birthdays. Their mother’s depend on them.

 

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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.

For I know the plans I have for you!

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   I think one of the most difficult things missionary families have to deal with is separation anxiety and the fact that our day to day lives are lived separately. Not only do we miss out on special event celebrations, but we miss out on those spontaneous moments that make up the bulk of our memories as a family. This is a burden we’ve been called to bear but one God faithfully and lovingly equipped us to bear. 
   But recently it has been brought abruptly home to me that sometimes we must endure times of sickness or heartache, as well, without the comfort of having our long distance family nearby. Recently a precious missionary mom I know was smacked with the dreaded diagnosis of cancer. It has knocked all of us who love this family off our feet. We don’t know what the future holds and that’s troubling. (But we must always remember, this comforting Truth thought: We know God holds our future!)
   Yet, my first thoughts when I heard the news was of her missionary daughter, her son in law, and her two grandsons and of the struggle they would be going through not being able to wrap their physical arms around her in love and comfort. I can only imagine what this news is doing to them. But we must remember, that there is a spiritual battle waging that is just as severe as the diagnosis of cancer.
   While my friend is struggling to find her bearings in the midst of this ruthless storm (and she needs to be allotted that time) there is some warfare for which her family and friends must prepare. Satan’s plan will be to tempt her to loose her focus and forget all the weapons God has prepared for her with which to overcome her enemy. Physical and emotional pain will likely become so intense that she might be tempted to give up under the weight of it all. 
   That’s where we come alongside of her physically and prayerfully standing ready and equipped to do whatever the Holy Spirit prompts us to do. Bringing to her attention those Truth thoughts abundant in Scripture that will lift her above her turmoil. And as we pray, we must consider her missionary kids and what we can do to stand in for them as we also consider their emotional pain.

My friend, posted this verse this morning, the day after she found out she had stage 4 cancer.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20

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