For I know the plans I have for you!


   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

Two months into my journey and my heart still beats!

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As you know, my husband and I (along with our 3 daughters and their families) recently sent our son and daughter-in-law off to the foreign mission field.  It’s been about 2 months since they left and surprisingly my heart is still beating!  I don’t say that flippantly for saying goodbye to them was the emotional equal of having my heart ripped from my body.

Back in September my husband and I attended the appointment service for our son and daughter-in-law.  The appointment service was the finale to a series of meetings held for the new missionaries to prepare them for their new life overseas.  As missionary parents, my husband and I, along with our daughter-in-law’s parents attended a meeting as well.  I will never forget the heart cry made by a missionary’s dad as he honestly and courageously spoke the words every parent in the room must have been feeling.  I know I was! This dad’s daughter was about to leave the country and take his grandchildren with her.  He had resigned himself to their leaving but in his words, “this is killing me!”

I’ve heard that it is harder on the missionary parent to send off their children and/or grandchildren than it is for the missionaries who leave.  From what I’ve experienced so far, I would have to agree.  There’s a book entitled, Parents as Partners, that gets ‘real’ close to describing the parent’s pain:

Family members left behind–parents, grandparents and siblings–feel a sense of loss when their loved ones go to a foreign field.  Someone has likened it to a death in the family.  There are often the mixed feelings of gratitude for children obedient to God and the real sense of loss when they leave.  Yes, even those who have prayed for missionaries virtually all of their lives and have asked God to send workers into the harvest still feel the hurt of separation when their own go. (p. 117)

My journey of 2 months as a missionary mom has been both painful and rewarding.  I don’t have room in this blog to describe all that God has done in my life to prepare me for this journey and to supply my every need along the way.  But suffice it to say that though my pain has been intense so has my joy.  God has proven to me over and over again that I need not fret for His grace is sufficient for my every need; not just for me but for my child as well.

So, for those of you who are desperately missing your children and/or grandchildren, I offer this advice, “Stay close to God through prayer and Bible study. For therein lies your greatest and most helpful balm for the pain you are feeling.  Be honest with God about your pain.  Cry out to Him as often as you need to.  Record those verses He uses to sooth your pain. I offer here a few that have sustained me.

Eph 3:20,  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (NIV)

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

2 Corinthians 12:9, But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.(NIV)

Know that His plan is to repay you for your sacrifice AND you can trust Him to give back to you in excess of what you have given up for Him. I leave this poem with you from the aforementioned book, Parents as Partners, for your comfort and encouragement:

Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious,

Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;

Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious,

And all thy spendest Jesus will repay. (p. 7)

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