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Peace in the Storms; Courage in Crises

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Having to love and support family from afar is never so difficult as when our loved ones are caught up in a time of crises. It is the intensity of such times that they and their families back home are all called upon to perform acts of courage they really did not think they were capable of.

For how does one sort through the myriad of decisions that requires a sound mind to guide one’s family safely through risky and at times even dangerous situations? And for those back home holding their breath as they wait for assurances their loved ones are safe? How do they keep from worrying themselves sick?

I mentioned previously that situations like these bring forth courage. But how does one put aside the fear, worry, and stress long enough to take on courageous? The reality is that in the face of such challenges the temptation to give into the fear, etc. is stronger than we realize.

Personally, I discovered the only way I could reject fear and worry was to tune my hearing to only one voice. When I did the peace that passes all understanding calmed my heart and ruled over my fear. That kind of peace is only accessible from God.

How, can one avoid being overcome with fear and worry during such turmoil? But if I have discovered anything in sending my children off to answer God’s call upon their lives is this. “When we answer God’s bidding to follow Him, He equips us to carry out His plan. And as God called them to go, He just as surely called me to let them go.” And though it is hard, it is doable!

So when His calling places us in difficult and even dangerous situations we have the confidence that He is in control. That He will never leave us or forsake us. That we can have peace in the midst of the storm. And for me, that the safest place on earth for my children is in the center of His will.

But this assurance isn’t just for those who are in full time service to God. It’s for any of us who have Christ as our Savior. It’s not an easy life we should pray for. We should pray for a life that knows how to turn to God and seek His purpose for the crises we find ourselves in. That is true for any Christian; not just those on the foreign field.

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In Times of Crises

A word of encouragement to all who have to love and support from afar!

Being distanced from our loved ones is always difficult but never more so in times of crises.

Recently my family got to experience first hand the power of God to deliver!

The power of God to replace fear with faith!

The power of God to take a bad situation and bring good out of it!

The power of God to teach us how to hear His voice above all the conflicting clamor!

The power of God to draw great numbers of people together in prayer to witness His faithfulness!

In times of crises when we can’t do anything for our children but pray, we have done more than enough! We must not allow the enemy to convince us otherwise. Planting ourselves firmly in God’s word will stabilize us. The weapons Satan will attack us with will fail. God will be glorified and we will be made strong. We will have something valuable to offer others during their times of crises.

We serve a mighty God!

Are you listening, LORD?

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19 However, God has listened;
He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer.
20 May God be praised!
He has not turned away my prayer
or turned His faithful love from me

Psalm 66:19-20  (HCSB)

     I write another blog, http://fierydarts.com, which encompasses a primary weapon Satan uses against us in spiritual warfare. So, today, my hope is to blend some of the concepts of that blog with what we as missionary’s parents are facing in this pandemic.

     Our missionary children are scattered all over the world. Prior to this pandemic, our problems and their problems were uniquely tied to location. However, now we find ourselves facing the common threat of the coronavirus. A worldwide threat that is redefining life as we know it. Should our missionary children come home, or shelter in place right where they are? Oh, it’s a complicated scenario and every family’s response can only be determined by the details of their particular situation. No one plan works for everyone. We are concerned about them and they are concerned about us!

What are we to do?

     My fiery darts blog exposes the foremost weapon Satan uses against us in times like this which is referenced in Ephesians 6:16,

 “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” NKJV

     Here is how it applies to our present dilemma.

     Fear spawned by this Coronavirus threat is a very present reality.   Unchecked fear breeds panic, panic breeds irrational thinking, irrational thinking breeds wrong choices. It goes on and on.

     How we contend with our fears and all its relatives are the fiery darts of Eph. 6:16.  Satan’s intent in this pandemic is to steal, kill, and destroy anything God infuses us with to carry us through this crisis. 

     God, on the other hand, intends to take the fear and use it to direct us to Himself. In that response, we will be helped and God will be glorified. By responding according to God’s plan as we counsel and pray over our children, we will be instruments of God’s will in how to tackle this crisis. 

Keep in mind the following as we pray for our children, wherever they are.

1. Recognize the fear (fiery dart)

2. Reject the fear

3. Replace the fear with God’s Truth thoughts

     As I pray over my children and their families in this crisis, one of the first Truth thoughts God gave me was 2 Timothy 1:7. Every time fear approaches, I call forth this Truth.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind

     God’s word ASSURES us that He is watching over us and our precious ones. We can wholeheartedly trust that God is definitely paying attention to our prayers. Likewise, may we receive and become the instruments of peace of Philippines 4:6-7:

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

(Especially, when the fiery dart of doubt begins its assault)

Apart but still connected!

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   It was good to get a FaceTime message this afternoon from my son, daughter in law, and their boys saying, “Happy New Year.” Those of you in my situation know the depth of gratitude we have for the media technology that keeps us connected to our families  even though we are far apart from each other!

   While, missing them is a constant, I know the peace that Philippines 4:6-7  speaks of that surpasses every thought. For if it weren’t for God’s grace and mercy enabling me to live life separated from them, I would not be able to grasp such peace. And the knowledge that my son and his family are happy in this stage of their service to God, goes a long way in fostering such peace!

  While it is never easy to live life separated as we are especially during the holiday season we find that it’s doable.  Focusing on what we have been given is a large part of what makes it doable. 

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   We anticipate a couple of more visits before my son and his family return to their field of service later on in the year. Until then we will make the most of every moment given to us and thank God that even though we are separated by great distances, we can count on Him to keep us connected!

Preserving the blessing!

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DREAMLAND!

DREAMLAND!

    Soon, in about 2 weeks from this writing, my husband and I will be joining our son, daughter in law, and two grandsons for a family vacation in a place I have only known in my dreams. The closer we get to boarding that plane, knowing that in a matter of hours I will be in the physical presence of my loved ones standing right dab in the middle of a land I have dreamed for years to visit, sometimes I wonder if I will be able to contain myself!

   While it has been my experience that with great sacrifice (and any parent of a missionary will attest to the fact that releasing your child is indeed a great sacrifice), God bestows an abundance of blessings. These blessings season the sacrifice with joy!

In blog post 1/26/12, “When your time comes to release your children for the work God calls them to in a land far away, just know that there are comforts built into your obedience.” 

   But in the midst of the anticipation of this indescribable blessing, I read in the world news of  the turmoil that envelopes the land where my loved ones serve. The security of this nation is being threatened because the opposing sides are more concerned with what they want than with meeting the needs of their people. Thus, the state of affairs where my loved ones now call home!

So how do I keep this threatening news from spoiling the abundant blessing He is preparing for my family and I?

   Apart from God’s grace, I couldn’t. Therefore, I camp down on verses like the following:

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Isaiah 26:33, HCSB

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippines 4:6-7 HCSB

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.2 Timothy 1:7 HCSB

Armed with these Truth Thoughts and knowing I have access to almighty God through prayer, I am secure in the following:

My Confidence!
No matter where they are, they are in His shadowed protection!

Just resist!

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     As some of you may know, I write another blog entitled, Fiery Darts.  This blog goes along with my book Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice.  It’s a book about the power of negative thinking or to put it another way, the power of fiery dart thinking.  

 

All 9 of my treasures!

All 9 of my treasures!

     Every time I see a picture of my 20 month old grandson or hear his voice when his daddy calls me, I get blasted with a huge onslaught of fiery darts such as:

-my grandson doesn’t know me  

-the memories I am making with my grandchildren here always exclude him

-he has no memory of our time together (when he was 3 & 4 months) 

-I miss out on the milestones of his development; first steps, crawling, first words, first tooth

-I can’t hug him, or hold him, or play with him, or rock him to sleep

-etc.

How on earth do I find a way to get through my days burdened with these thoughts?

The main thing I do is to RESIST these thoughts.  Yes, they are true but what good does it do to dwell on them?  I don’t particularly enjoy being miserable but if I allow these fiery dart thoughts to rule my thinking then miserable I would be.

What do I do instead?

I recognize them for the fiery darts they are.

I reject them. (I don’t allow myself to dwell on such thoughts)

I replace these thoughts with truth thoughts.

Such as:

-Thanking God for the time I got to visit him where I held him, sang to him, and lavished as much attention on him as I could.  

-Looking forward to future visits with him for he will be 2+ and might even be able to remember me some.

-Resting in the peace that God will give us a special attachment for each other.

-Being content to share in his life though packages from home, and whatever media source God provides.

-Thanking God for the relationship I have with his parents knowing they will be deliberate about making sure my grandson will know me. 

     But the main thing is to accept and be at peace with the call of God on his parent’s life, and giving them all the love and support they deserve. Philippines 4:6-7 is my stabilizing force in all of this:

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.-

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!

 

Keeping my focus! Or I will go into panic mode!

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     Just the other day, while sitting beside the creek running through the Christian camp where my son served for several years, I got a call from him.  During the time I had spent at this camp attending a ladies retreat, he had called so that I could tell him all about what I had been doing and who I had talked with.  This place is like a second home to my son and daughter in law.  

     So I filled him in on my activities and then he told me he had some news. Fighting had broken out in the area where he, his family and his team mates serve.  There has been fighting going on in the country for months, but this time it had moved in closer to where they lived.  He told me they were in exit mode while the situation was being monitored.  Their future there is uncertain at present.

     I notified my husband of our son’s news and instead of delivering the sermon he had prepared, he called the church to a season of prayer instead.  All over the sanctuary people were rising to their feet, taking their turn to pray for my son, his family, and their friends who are serving alongside them. When I found out about this, (a friend in the service texted me to tell me what was going on), my mother’s heart was calmed beyond understanding. I camped down on the following verse,

 

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 

     I had my mother’s moment as I shared my son’s news, but God in His loving care, had ordained that I would be sharing this moment with two of my best friends. (They had come along with me to attend the ladies retreat)  Their support and comfort was God’s plan to sustain me during those uncertain moments.  Later in the evening I attended the church that meets at the camp.  They were faithful to ask their members to pray for my son and crew.  

So, why do I share all this with you?

     I want you, my dear readers (especially you mothers of missionaries) to know about God’s faithfulness and loving care to sustain me in this uncertain moment.  Of course, Satan stood ready to shoot those destructive fiery darts which were designed to stir up fear and doubt in my mind concerning my son’s phone call.

 

Read all about fiery darts on my blog:

http://fierydarts.wordpress.com

Or read my book: (you can find it online)

Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice

     Satan tempted me with visualizing scenarios that could have pushed me into panic mode, if I allowed myself to ponder them.  But I was wise to his tactics, therefore, I did what I have been trained to do concerning fiery darts. So I did the following: 

I asked God to help me:

1. Recognize the fiery darts

2.  Resist the fiery darts

3. Replace the fiery dart  

with thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.          (Philippines 4:8)

     I fought those temptations with the weapons God had given me and a blessed peace came over me that passes understanding. (Philippines 4:6-7)

    It’s a little hard to explain the outcome of the work that God had and continues to do in my heart and mind with my son’s present assignment.  It’s like my heart and mind are in a bubble, protected from thoughts that would serve to take my focus off of God and all that I have entrusted to Him. Sure, I would love to know that my son and his family have been removed from the tense situation they live in.  But I think of the people God has called them to serve and of how desperately they need to receive this news.  My son and crew love these people.  The love they have for them motivates them to do all they can to tell them about Jesus.  

    Therefore, as I trust God to care for my son and his crew during these tense times, I also pray for the people they have been called to serve.  Keeping my focus here, protects me from panic and in its place God provides His peace.

 I could want nothing more!

Being Anxious=Crossing Bridges Before You Get to Them!

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My son and daughter-in-law are back in the capital and we are communicating online again.  About every 6 weeks they make this 2-day journey so between those times we get to talk on our cell phones (which works sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t).  I was especially excited b/c their post on the family blog was enhanced by pictures of my beautiful daughter-in-law’s ever expanding baby bump.  My son’s smile in those pictures communicates a new dad who is eager to take on the daddy role!  My daughter-in-law is glowing.  She surely seems to have a grasp of the wonder of becoming a mother.

My days are now filled with the anticipation of my new grandson’s birth and eventually getting on that plane to travel 27 hours so I can hold him in my arms.  Lots of details to work out  b/c we still have to apply for visa’s, get shots, and gather all the Christmas stuff we want to take plus goodies for our grandson and his parents.  (Not sure how much room we will have to take personal items for ourselves! Oh well,)  Daily I pray for God’s help in working out all those details and that we would not overlook any important ones.

Sometimes I feel that I have no idea of how it’s going to be for my husband and I to make this trip, spend glorious time with our loved ones, then have to eventually return home.  I anticipate (more like dread) that parting time.  But I’m learning that trying to cross a bridge before you get to it is pretty foolish.  Not only that, but it spoils the time we have to enjoy in preparing for our journey at present.  But God, understanding the temptation I would have in worrying about tomorrow, gives me the following verses:

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care of itself.”  Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

So how do I not worry about tomorrow?  Please read the following:

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.”  Philippines 4:6-7 (NIV)

Therefore, between now and then, I will do my best at focusing on and being obedient to what God has called me; trusting Him to take care of the future and depending on Him to help me cross those bridges when (and only when) I get to them.

I say to myself–

Okay, Janet, take a deep breath, relax, and keep your focus!  God has always been faithful in your past; He will continue to be faithful in your present, and your future as well.  With God’s help, I can do this thing!

So to anyone preparing or hoping to make a journey to visit your loved ones on their mission field, I think the best advice would be to focus on the above verses.  He really has the hard part, doesn’t He?  But after all, He’s God; I think he can handle this one:)

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