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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

bobby & family 2016

   For the past year my son, daughter in law, and two small grandsons have been on stateside assignment. For 9 of those months they lived in Scotland while my son worked on his masters. Not living in a 3rd world country, we have enjoyed the luxury of easy access to them via internet.

   At present they are living with us as they prepare to return to Africa. And once again I’m faced with the painful thought that they will be leaving soon. But something unexpected happened while they were home that complicated the  emotional strain of sending them off.

Rach & family

   My husband and I have four children and two of them live near us. We take a great deal of comfort in knowing two of our daughters are close by. That was until recently! In April we were hit with the news that one of those daughters would likely be moving an 11 hours’ drive away to San Antonio, Texas. (And they did just that on August 18th)

   Therefore, this summer has been one of extreme high’s and extreme lows. There was a constant flow of children and grandchildren in our house all summer. Three of those weeks were especially momentous: Nammy Camp for the 6 granddaughters, a family vacation in East Tennessee for all 20 of us, and Nammy Camp for the 4 grandsons. The month of August our son and his family has been spent here with my husband and I.  My life was filled to overflowing with memory after wonderful memory of times spent together.

   The quote from A Tale of Two Cities (post title), describes my emotional state over this past summer quite succinctly. And predictably with every low moment I was hit with a barrage of fiery darts.

   It would have been my undoing had it not been for God’s instruction which had prepared me to not only identify fiery dart thinking but how to extinguish such thoughts as well.  While the pain persists, I’m learning by His tender mercies, how to manage it. My life moves forward as God tenderly and lovingly leads me. 

One of the most helpful Truth Thoughts I have found is Psalm 34:17:

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How does God deliver me from my present troubles and rescue my crushed spirit?

If I cooperate with God, He will give me the desire that pleases Him (Philip. 2:13) He will remind me that He will fill the void when my children move away. (Philip. 4:19).

His presence will restore my crushed spirit. Every time I began to focus on my loss, He reminds me to direct my focus towards His presence and the love He has for me. (Psalm 16:11)

He reminds me that He will work all this out for my good (Rom 8:28). 

Okay, so I have a choice!

I can pick up my shield of faith and face down the enemy with these Truth Thoughts! 

Or I can continue to focus on my losses and grow more miserable with every day!

My choice is obvious!

 

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Just Resist!

     As some of you may know, I write another blog about being a parent of a foreign missionary, giving a transparent view of what that’s like. This post gives some insight as to what I’ve learned about fiery darts as it applies to being the mom of a missionary. 

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.-

Making Memories!

So, to recap my last two posts on Negative Teasing, the fiery dart is:

It’s okay to make put down statements about someone as long as you are teasing!

 The verse to counter this lie is:

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

 And remember, you can tease someone in a fun way without it being negative.  Just ask yourself this question, “Will what I want to say benefit or  build up the hearer?”  Remember now, just because what you are saying makes them laugh doesn’t mean it’s wholesome talk!

NOW, LET’S EXAMINE “MAKING MEMORIES!”

Memories happen with the living of life obviously, and if you are not careful you will live your whole life overlooking the importance of being deliberate about making memories. Consider this:  fiery darts are subtle lies that on the one hand contain common sense truths, that when examined from a Christian worldview, turn out to be nothing short of a lie.  Therefore, when you think about making memories the fiery darts you may have to deal with may go something like this:

Making memories means taking vacations; something our family just can’t afford!  Besides even if we could afford it we don’t have the time!

Yes, times are hard and vacations figure way down on the priority list when it comes to deciding how to manage our income.  The fiery dart here is that vacations are not a priority.  So we give up the opportunity to spend time together as a family, away from the demands of our daily routines.   Fiery dart thinking in this case is designed to keep hidden from us the value of drawing away from our daily grind to experience the healing and rejuvenation that this venue provides in making memories.

Therefore, time and money, are prime sources to spawn a fiery dart when you are contemplating taking your family on vacation.  It takes a great deal of strength to resist the fiery dart that you don’t have the time to go on vacation. Therefore, it’s vital to the well being of your family to recognize this temptation for the fiery dart that it is.

We have only to examine the life of Jesus to understand the value of drawing apart from the world in order to spend time with those you love.  He did this with his disciples and most importantly with His Father.  We should do no less with our own families.

But realistically, full-blown vacations for some of you are beyond your resources.  So what are you to do about spending time together to add to your store of  memories with the family?

If taking a full blown vacation is out of the question, then get creative and plan inexpensive events with the expressed purpose of spending time focused time together.  You don’t even have to spend money, or at least very little money.  There’s parks nearly everywhere and they are free.  Pack a picnic lunch and a blanket, maybe a ball and bat or frisbee, some good reading material, music cd’s, the kids favorite toys, or bikes  whatever suits your fancy and go enjoy some quality time with your family.  And, oh yeah, make it a practice to do this ever so often.  You’ll be so glad you did, especially when you get together in days to come and discover that you have a large store of memories to draw from.

The previous is just one idea, but I’m sure that if you put your mind to it, you’ll come up with an abundance of ways to spend some special times with your family and make those wonderful memories.  Remember, these events should be designed to not only give your family time to spend with each other, but that time should be focused time.

Hey, I just had a great idea!  Why don’t you send me your creative ideas for family outings.  I’ll post them so we can get ideas from each other! And, of course, share the fiery darts that interfered with your family outing plans.  We all need ideas on how to overcome those menacing temptations.  

Be prepared though for those fiery darts that will mess with your plans.

This isn’t the time to deal with “stuff”. (Stuff should be dealt with, just not  during your making memories time!)

Also, you’ll be tempted to include activities that having nothing to do with your little vacation-like time.  (Remember, your family should have your undivided attention during these times!)

Let’s review the fiery darts of making memories:

  • Making memories means taking vacations and we can’t afford them.  (If that’s how you define making memories then you’ve just been sacked by a fiery dart thought!)

  • We don’t have time to take a family outing. (But you do have time to deal with the issues, conflicts, and stresses that being too busy creates?)

  • I’m not sure my family would think that taking a family outing would be much fun.  (Sure, if this isn’t something you do very often.  But the more you do it and the more careful you are about planning them, then the more fun they’ll become!)

Undeniably, making memories can certainly be enriched by enjoying focused time together either during a vacation or a family outing.  But as we are always fashioning memories by just living life, next post I would like to address a more common aspect of memory making.