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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.

Not generally speaking!

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   Praying for our missionaries is something I do in earnest now. I grew up in a church that brought the need of praying for our missionaries to my attention. Every church I have served in since childhood has promoted praying for our missionaries as well.  So naturally, I prayed for them, consistently, but in a general way.

   Yet when my own son became a missionary my perspective on praying for our missionaries took on a new more intense facet. I suppose that is to be expected! However, I want to share with you some particulars of how I now pray and even if you won’t feel it to the depth that I do, I hope you will consider these particulars as you faithfully pray for our missionaries.

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Philippians 4:6-7, 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.

There’s lots of reasons why our missionaries might grow anxious (especially today). But as this verse proclaims, in those anxious situations they can focus on being thankful for them.  Because in every situation, God has the power to bring good out of bad situations. That’s the key to the peace this verse claims.

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Isaiah 54:17, no weapon forged against you will prevail.

No weapon of any kind, be it anyone or anything.

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2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a strong mind.

When our missionaries face their days, they must reject fear and grasp the power, love, and strong mind provided to them by God. That needs to rule their thinking; not fear.

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

We need to pray that they will cooperate with God daily as He works out His plans for them.

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Matthew 9:31, But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land.

We must pray that they will be successful in making Christ known to the people they have been called to serve.

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Pray that in their personal problems they will have the vision to know what they must do to experience true resolution and honor God.

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Then finally, remember that because of their calling they must endure separation from their families back home. This is hard because family life back home continues to happen but without them. It’s hard on our missionaries and believe me, it’s hard on their families back home. So, put yourselves in our place and remember to pray for the grace and mercy needed to live our lives separated from the ones we love. 

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