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A Sending Mom!

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One last photo!

It was 6 years ago on January 4, 2012

   when I first said goodbye to my son and daughter in law. They were leaving for their first term on the mission field.
   If you go back and read those first blogs (and if you have just sent off a child to work overseas, I recommend you go back and read them) you might find just the comfort and resolve needed for the journey you find yourself traveling. (search using the dates above)
  My first posts do not shy away from describing the realities of the pain I felt. I knew other mom’s in my boat wouldn’t want me to sugar coat the trauma I was going through. But as my readers will note, I walked this difficult journey with Christ as my guide. Through many a painful experience along the way, I’ve found Jesus to be faithful. He allowed me the freedom to be honest with Him about what I was feeling. Because in describing my feelings, the Holy Spirit would impart verses of Scripture.  Words from God that would bring the strength and healing that I needed. My posts shares those particular verses.
group pic 8-31-17
   Since 2012 my son and his family, (yes, two grandsons have come along) have come home once. That was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Extreme highs and extreme lows intensified by the fact that two of my daughters and their families moved out of state about the time my son and his family returned overseas. (Refer to  my other blog: http://www.fierydarts.com, posted 1-18-18)

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   It’s not been easy. Yet here I sit, posting yet again on my blog as a mom who by God’s grace has survived more separation than I care to mention. And I can honestly say, if it weren’t for God’s guidance, grace, and comfort I would be of all mom’s most miserable. But on the positive side…I can honestly say the joys and blessings I have received through this separation far, far exceeds the pain I endured. 

If you are sending a child to a far away land, turn to God’s Word. It will light your way!

God’s plans can be trusted as He points out in Jeremiah 29:11.

And when you feel too weak to carry on remember 2 Corinthians 12:9, & Isaiah 40:28-29

When you need sustenance , ponder Ps 55:22

Cry out in your pain, God will hear Psalm 34:17

And someday, you too will say, my joy can’t be described with words!

A Poem dedicated to retiring missionaries!

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In an open letter to Southern Baptist on 9/4/2015, David Platt, IMB President, made the following statement:

By now many of you may have heard that last week, IMB announced a plan to reduce the total number of our personnel (both here and overseas) by 600-800 people over the next six months…

   Some of the missionaries I have been honored to meet and now think of as friends during my travels to work in a bush camp with my son, have been directly affected by this drastic plan mentioned in the above letter.

   But I do not hear or read words of despair from these who have chosen early retirement. On the contrary, their words are awash with hope and trust in the God they have faithfully served through the years. I look forward to watching how Jeremiah 29:11 unfolds for them.

   My son wrote a poem that encapsulates the essence of what these unexpected retiring missionaries must be feeling about now. As you pray for them, for although their hope and trust will be their most formidable weapon against the fiery darts Satan will select for them, we need to dig deep into our pockets and hearts for ways that we can increase our support for them so that the Good News lacks no voice to proclaim it.

 

a Vintage Faith and Worn Out Clothes

 

Like young bulls eager to be in the throes,

they did not care, and they didn’t know

where they would live or where they would go.

Only a lamp unto their feet the path to show.

So, they took a vocation not a vacation,

to make disciples of every nation.

Bones burning with one proclamation

One vision, one Man–this Christ sensation!

And thus they left fools to the professors,

as they confused all their confessors;

Some were discouragers and others were blessers,

Sent out and away to cry forgiveness to transgressors!

Knowing The Way’s a hard road to travel

with smells of death, dying, and battle,

still they stayed for decades!

Hundreds of visas through Gospel blockades,

over years, weeks, thousands of days.

Now, youth to age and in the gray,

they ask should we go or should we stay?

Where should we, this grace debt pay?

My God come quickly, your children are turning

to the TV while America’s burning.

A melting flesh pot long since churning,

the wages of sin many years earning.

Then I raised my eyes unto the hills,

and into the wound the God that heals

His own bride from the world He steals,

from selfish pride and mortgage bills.

With a vintage faith and worn out clothes,

passion, and sacrifice their life does show,

our 6 to 800 go back into the throes.

These older and stronger mission heroes

for what is coming, you may not know.

They preach like warriors and pray like poets

We never even asked permission,

but now America has become the IMB’s number one field of mission!

God’s continuing faithfulness

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   Being a pastor’s family, getting to meet real live missionaries wasn’t an uncommon thing for us. I was always inspired by their testimonies and was curious about their uncommon lifestyles. But I dared not allow it to go any further.

Why?

   Because I feared what would be required of me if God called any of my children as missionaries.  So, I just lived in the moment, cherishing the time & space that I shared with my precious children, and tried not to think too much about what God might require of them (or me) in the future. 

   But eventually, the day came when God tenderly and lovingly sat me down and had me face this issue. It was a crisis moment for me. But I vividly remember laying it out before the LORD, in this manner.

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Dear LORD, I believe with all my heart that the safest place on earth for my children is in the center of Your will. But You know that I can’t bear the thought that Your plans for them someday might be to transplant them somewhere far from me. (I was sobbing at this point in my praying) Nevertheless, I surrender each one of them to You, and I will raise them to seek to be in the center of Your will. But would you please make it possible for me to go and visit them wherever You might lead them? But if this is not to be, I will trust You to make a way for me to do what I cannot do in my own strength.

And the results of such a prayer?

   While that prayer of release drained me, at the same time it set me free. The fiery dart of fear that had held sway over my mother’s heart, no longer held me in its suffocating grip. For God kept reminding me that His love for my children was far greater than I could imagine. He had wonderful plans for them (Jeremiah 29:11) and my job was to encourage my children to seek God’s best. God’s grace empowered me to do this (Philippines 4:13) and His grace (in my weakness) has always proven sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

   Now, here I am, 3 daughters married to ministers, and a son, living with his family in a far off land as a missionary (with 2 of my grandchildren, I might add). And while it’s not easy to live life separated from my son, the fact that 2 of my daughters (and 5 of my grandchildren) now live less than an hours drive and the other daughter (and 3 of my grandchildren) live less than 5 hours drive, is my sustaining comfort.

  God has indeed been faithful in providing the way and means for me to visit each of my daughters when they lived in other states. And only God could have provided for me to fly half way across the globe to be with my son. (Philippines 4:19)

   To this very day, God’s faithfulness continues!

 

 

Not generally speaking!

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   Praying for our missionaries is something I do in earnest now. I grew up in a church that brought the need of praying for our missionaries to my attention. Every church I have served in since childhood has promoted praying for our missionaries as well.  So naturally, I prayed for them, consistently, but in a general way.

   Yet when my own son became a missionary my perspective on praying for our missionaries took on a new more intense facet. I suppose that is to be expected! However, I want to share with you some particulars of how I now pray and even if you won’t feel it to the depth that I do, I hope you will consider these particulars as you faithfully pray for our missionaries.

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Philippians 4:6-7, 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.

There’s lots of reasons why our missionaries might grow anxious (especially today). But as this verse proclaims, in those anxious situations they can focus on being thankful for them.  Because in every situation, God has the power to bring good out of bad situations. That’s the key to the peace this verse claims.

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Isaiah 54:17, no weapon forged against you will prevail.

No weapon of any kind, be it anyone or anything.

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2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a strong mind.

When our missionaries face their days, they must reject fear and grasp the power, love, and strong mind provided to them by God. That needs to rule their thinking; not fear.

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Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We need to pray that they will cooperate with God daily as He works out His plans for them.

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Matthew 9:31, But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land.

We must pray that they will be successful in making Christ known to the people they have been called to serve.

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Pray that in their personal problems they will have the vision to know what they must do to experience true resolution and honor God.

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Then finally, remember that because of their calling they must endure separation from their families back home. This is hard because family life back home continues to happen but without them. It’s hard on our missionaries and believe me, it’s hard on their families back home. So, put yourselves in our place and remember to pray for the grace and mercy needed to live our lives separated from the ones we love. 

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!

 

    

BACK TO THE BUSH – Base Camp Moments

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It’s 2-18-13,

 

and I just got word that we were not returning to bush camp that day as planned.  A decision was made to wait until the next day.  In my journal I made the following comment:

(Thank Goodness!)

     Unfortunately, I hadn’t made as much progress as I would like to claim in moving out of the selfish perspective that shadowed my every thought.  (Not proud of this, but I’m trying to be honest here and it is what it is! or should I say ‘was‘).

 

Remember that verse I mentioned previously, Philippines 4:6-7?

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

     Well, folks, I was struggling with that one.  It just wasn’t happening for me.  I was like a duck out of water.  I am a country gal who thrives on lush green grass, green trees of various types minus the thorns,  (the only tree with thorns around my home is locust, but it redeems itself with luscious smelling blossoms in the spring!) and four defined seasons.  I had left all of that and this new place I had come to, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired.

     After lunch that day, God ordained that I would have a talk with my son’s boss who was visiting us and would be joining us at bush camp the following day.  He was closer to my own age (it’s not much fun being the only old person around and having no one to relate to on that level) and I think that made it easier for me to talk with him.  We talked about the seriousness of the problem back in the USA of falling short of our goals for the various mission offerings our missionaries and programs depend upon. Fewer missionaries are being sent to the mission fields in large part due to a lack of funds.  Now I know that doesn’t thwart God’s plans but the sad part of that is what it does to the morale of our missionaries. Not to mention, how it deprives those of us who are to be giving to these mission offerings of the joy we could have in spending our money as God would desire and not so much on fulfilling our own desires. (Coming down off my soapbox now!)

     May I preface the above paragraph with a comment (rather humorous now but at the time I wasn’t laughing-much) that exposes more of my self-centeredness than I care to admit.  Nevertheless, here goes.

     I feel God got me to that particular mission field on false pretenses. (I may not have mentioned this before, but God does have a sense of humor at times)  For the sake of holding my newborn grandson, spending time with him, his dad, and his mom, I was willing to do whatever I had to do to accomplish that.  (Did you know that my husband, returned after 3 weeks without me? This meant I would be traveling home and changing planes 3 times from across that vast ocean all by myself.  And I highly dislike traveling alone

But God had a plan for me and it was just beginning to unfold.

This was a welcomed respite!

If I only knew then what I know now!

 

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