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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.

Another day, another challenge!

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It was Jan. 31 and as I checked my calendar I saw that I had 41 more days left of my grand missionary adventure.  At that point, I had a lot of mixed emotions, and my negativism was ruling the day.  The fiery darts were overwhelming due in large part to a simple but powerful influence:  I just plain felt bad.  I had no reserves to fight back with because my sickness, along with the context of bush living, had sapped me of every ounce of fight I might have had within me.  The novelty of my great adventure had long since worn off and had left me with no motivation to think positive thoughts.

There were two factors, however, that kept me from despair:  my son & my grandson.

You know how as Christians we are always told that God equips you to do what He calls you to do?  Well, in this case it was how God had equipped my son to live the life He had called him to and how as he shared God’s thoughts with me that inspired me and kept me going.

Then the innocence of my grandson and the sheer delight that was mine to experience in just spending time with him  which directed my focus off of myself and on to him that gave me something to look forward to every day.  No matter how bad I felt, seeing and being with him always lifted my spirits.   Knowing that my time with him was limited, motivated me to take advantage of every moment I had to be with him.

My son and others encouraged me to eat, even if I didn’t feel like it.  This was a hard concept to grasp.  I live in a culture driven by eating for pleasure.  And God had temporarily (thank goodness)  transplanted me into a culture that ate for sustenance. You see, if they didn’t eat whatever had been placed before them, there was no guarantee that there would soon be another meal.  Therefore, when the opportunity came to eat, one MUST eat, for starvation was a constant threat.

Back home when I struggled with sickness, there were a variety of comforts that until my bush experience, I had taken for granted:  a comfortable bed, the nearness of bathroom facilities, comfortable chairs to curl up in, grocery stores and restaurants to get tasty foods and/or medicines, air conditioning and shelter that protected you from the harsh winds and afforded you a safe and comfortable view of the outside challenges.

I got a reprieve when my son took me with him one evening to drive back to their home to get some medicine for one of the children in camp.  Oh my, what a joy it was to walk into their home.  A home fitted with indoor plumbing and electricity.  I gathered some items I had left there (like lotion and wet ones).  You never realize how the skin can dry out when the wind blows hard on it every day and what a relief it is to have a damp cloth to wipe off the grit and dirt.  But the highlight of this excursion was stopping and getting a coke.  It wasn’t cold and I had no ice but it tasted delicious–the best coke I had ever had!

In my quiet time, I came across 2 Corinthians 2:15:

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Now that kinda puts things in perspective, don’t you think?  Someone who is so focused on their own aches and pains may find that they are shutting out the words the Holy Spirit has to give them to help them deal with their difficulties.   I was getting so-o-o-o tired of focusing on myself.  

All this self-focus was interfering with my ability to hear from God.  I yearned to rise above all this and be able to be a productive member of the camp, in spite of my physical limitations.  I knew that I had to learn to be more positive and open to God, whether I felt better or not. And that was proving to be my greatest challenge. 

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