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And the Stockings were hung!

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     As I hung our stockings, all 20 of them, memories of past Christmases spent gathered around this fireplace as our family expanded through the years flooded my mind. The house is quieter than I would like as one by one our children took off on their own. But that is the way of things. Changes happen, no matter how much we would prefer they not. God imparts the strength to make adjustments and accept those not so desirable changes. Staying focused on all that we have to be thankful for keeps life in balance. Enabling us to notice the joys that God has personally designed for each and every one of us. It will depend upon our focus!

 

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.

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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BACK TO THE BUSH: Last Days

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Saying goodbye to my loved ones and friend!

Saying goodbye to my loved ones and friend!

March 15, 2013

   After two days of high fever and malaria meds, my son seemed to be on the mend. Which I was grateful for because of the 13 hour rugged drive that was ahead of him! Sometimes we stayed overnight about half way, but not this time for my plane was to leave on the next day.

   Our troop arrived in the capital city around 7:30 pm at the mission house where we were to stay. The family that rode with us made their way to their rooms and we went to ours. My son did well driving that long distance even though he wasn’t feeling well. 

   The next morning dawned with its typical balmy weather and we set about eating some breakfast while going over plans for the day. We would do some souvenir shopping for my son wanted to add some things for his nieces and nephews to the bundle I was to take home for all the others. We also needed to do some shopping for my daughter in law to restock some of the supplies they were low on.

Our last selfie (for awhile)!

Our last selfie (for awhile)!

   This day was a celebration for me in that I had the luxury of time to spend with my son. We talked about all sorts of subjects–some light hearted, some very serious! With these moments we drew closer and added to our store of memories from which I have drawn on again and again since arriving back home.

   My son took me to this quaint little coffee shop for lunch. He had an blue cheese salad and I had an egg salad sandwich–very American tasting!  I remember our conversation as we enjoyed our food and fellowship and while it was serious mostly, I remember laughing a lot. My son always does that for me; mixing humor with the serious stuff. I came away from those conversations feeling hopeful and not so overwhelmed.

   Our dinner plans were to drive to the city near the airport where colleagues of my son lived. It’s always amazing to me how you can feel so close to people you have only met for a very few times. But then I’ve noticed that’s the way it goes with God’s people! Dinner was delicious and reminded me of meals back home. Our fellowship was rich and sweet but all too soon it came time for me to get ready to go to the airport.

My last hug and snuggle!

My last hug and snuggle!

 

   I dreaded this departure and had prayed for the emotional strength I would need to say good bye to my son. God had given me that strength when I said goodbye to my daughter in law and grandson and that was what I drew from as we parked the truck and walked up to the airport.

   Yes, my heart was heavy, but I couldn’t stop time, so I submitted to God’s will and strength to see me through our goodbye’s! I kept it under control thanks to God’s grace and glancing back for as long as I could, I turned around and walked through security.

One more adventure and then I would be home!

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