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Not Without God!

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   I grew up on a farm, with three other siblings. The cultural way of things was to grow up, earn a living, get married, and raise a family all within the confines of our place of origin. And that’s pretty much the way it played out, until I came along!

   In my early 20’s, God dramatically changed the course of my life. Leaving behind everything that was familiar to me, and stepping out in faith, I moved to a different city and enrolled in college. 

  Then surprisingly about 30 years ago, God lead my husband to pastor a beautiful local church near my parent’s home. During that time our girls headed off to the college my husband and I had attended. My son was preparing to farm (for we now lived on the farm where I had grown up) when he graduated from high school.

   One by one my daughters married and moved away from home. Although, I  released each of my children to serve God wherever He called them to, the release, nevertheless,proved to be painful. Then, as in my life as a young adult, God dramatically changed the course of my son’s life, eventually, leading him to Africa. 

   My spiritual background equipped me to do what my cultural background could not. I knew what it was like to leave the familiar behind to follow God’s call. As I released each of my 4 children, I drew upon those lessons learned in my young adult years. Did those lessons serve to make it easier on me to release my children? Nope, not at all! But the Truth’s of God’s word made it doable.

God gave me permission to hurt and cry out to Him in my pain.

His grace was poured out upon me and I received His peace.

Day by day He carried me until I could, with His strength, stand on my own.

I learned that no matter how hard it was, God would be there giving me strength.

   No matter how proud we may be of our children’s achievements, letting go of them is super hard. Therefore, we need to call upon something other than our own strength and will. I couldn’t have done it without God. I suspect you can’t either!

Together & Overwhelmed!

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DREAMLAND!
Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in such a place as this dreamy little cottage in Scotland!

   Back in August, my husband and I joined our son and his family in Scotland. It was the first time we had seen our 5 month old grandson in person and our 2 1/2 year old grandson we had only seen shortly after he was born. Our son is planning on attending a university there next year and needed to wrap up some details; thus the motivation for this trip.

   So for 2 weeks, we laughed together, ate together, talked (a lot) to each other, played together, absorbed the beauty of Scotland and her people and culture together, and enjoyed quiet moments together! The wonder of all that we enjoyed was that we enjoyed it ‘together’! Such bliss!

   The reality that we were together and living out a lifelong dream of mine to go to Scotland at times was more than my mind could take in!  It was as if I was living in a world of fantasy! I was simply and profoundly ‘overwhelmed’!  

Why do I share this?

   Because, if my son had not walked the path of obedience to God and had we not been willing to release him to that path, then none of what I wrote about just now would have ever taken place.

  Releasing our children to go and do God’s bidding is a challenge to our emotional stability but even more so when that bidding takes them far away from our presence. It wasn’t something I expected to happen and I found within my own strength no resources to handle it.

   Yet, here I am 4 years into this journey and I stand as living proof that there is life after releasing a child to do God’s bidding.

   All of us mom’s (and dad’s) who have taken the journey I have taken  know that it is not something that can be done in one’s own strength. 

 But know this!

   It is doable, and there’s sustaining joy and strength that accompanies the heartbreak of release! And on the other side of those painful moments we have the hope of knowing more joy than we could have ever imagined,

IF we,

look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. Ps. 105:4

 

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!

 

 

Willing to Go; Willing to Release!

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    I write this post for the benefit of the parents of a young couple I know who with their two small children are about to leave home to spend some time in training prior to moving to a foreign land as missionaries. 

     The separation these parents are about to experience is painful! And no amount of pride in their children for what they are about to do can lessen the pain they will encounter. 

HOWEVER,

     Having walked the path these precious parents are about to embark upon, I can assure them that even though the pain will be intense, the pain will not overwhelm them! That truth was my mainstay during those days and kept my heart from shattering. I refer my readers to the post below. (I have already referred it to the parents.)

https://missionarysmom.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/the-journey-begins/

    It’s been almost 3 years since our son and daughter in law left for the mission field (and blessed us with a grandson almost 2 years later). I have discovered some pretty wonderful things about God since that eventful episode of release.

God’s grace is sufficient in all things!

God will never leave me nor forsake me (nor my children)!

My joy can only be described as ‘indescribable”!

I have peace that defies explanation!

I have a new purpose (ministering to other parents of missionaries)!

I have been to places that most people only get to dream about! (and we are making plans to visit yet another dream place) 

     And all of this is ours (my husband and I) to know because our son and daughter in law were willing to go; and we were willing to release them!

Note to parents:

     There have been more truths that God has lovingly revealed to me but I don’t have room left in this post to list them.  So, my dear parents, just suffice it to say, that I wouldn’t change places with anyone after what I have experienced since my son moved to the mission field. You won’t either, I am confident!

 

 

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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