Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I am a Crack-ed Pot

unsplash - Igor Ovsyannykov
Spring, 2014, forgetful, numb, messed up, full of crazy thoughts, unable to sleep.  All the signs of post-traumatic stress, that was me... cracked up.

I was trying to fix my family and nothing was working.  Everything was out of my control.  My prayer life consisted of one recurring phrase - Oh, God, please help me.  My daily conversation with my husband was mostly - What are we going to do now?  

We had a rebellious, unmanageable son and seemed to have no hope for resolution.  We'd tried everything we could think of.  Our marriage was a mess.  I was a mess. Our ministry seemed like it might be over.

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not   2 Corinthians 4:1 

Some how I was determined to not faint, to not give up, but how to do that seemed beyond my capabilities.  I felt that God could not use me at this time.   It seemed better to lay low, stay under the radar, and try to keep what was happening quiet, riding out the storm.  If I was a treasure in the Potter's hands, I was chipped and broken.  What use was I?

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost... For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.  2 Corinthians 4:3 & 5

I really wasn't sure, but I was determined to let my light shine - somehow, someway.  I decided to volunteer at the public high school where my boy went to on most days, at least when he wasn't skipping out and sitting at the nearby city park with buds.  I looked for opportunities to minister to my own soul and found a weekly prayer group for mothers that met at the church beside our temporary residence.  I confided in a few choice friends about what was happening in our family.  I fixed food for my wild son's very wild friends and invited them in our door.  I worked harder to care for my other boys' needs.  I wrote down 3 daily gratitudes - any little thing for which I could be thankful.  I subscribed to a daily encouragement email from a parent of prodigals group.  I looked for hope wherever I could.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  verses 6 & 7

I gotta tell you, not a whole lot changed on the homefront.  I was barely keeping afloat.
  
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;  verses 8 & 9

I remember seeing a phrase - "As long as there is life, there is hope."  I looked up verses on a regular basis about hope in the wee hours of the many sleepless nights.  I began to focus all my thoughts on HOPE - hope in God's will, hope for a future, hope for now. 

I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;  Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.  verses 13 & 14

That old facade of a perfect little missionary mama gave way to honest answers about our situation, honest confessions of my own fault in the matter, and honest acceptance that it was not for me to fix it all.  Finally one day I literally "gave it all to Jesus" while conversing with a dear friend.  I asked God to take control.  I stopped trying to make it all right.  I gave things over to God and to my husband.  I stopped worrying about the cracks in my ceramic face.

unsplash - Aimee Vogelsang
 
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory  2 Corinthians 4:15 - 17




Most sites that talk about post-traumatic stress say that with time most people begin to function normally after the trauma is over.   I began to feel better before all the craziness was done as I gave myself over to God to be used in spite of my old cracked pottery body.  God can use messed-up, dirty, old, crack-ed pots... inspite of our shortcomings and problems and because of our problems.   

Byron and I found some many people were in our shoes that needed a words of encouragement.  So many people were impressed that we decided to return to our mission work in spite of all that had happened.  People who would never have given us the time of day before began to open up.  We had changed, our home had changed.  We weren't perfect, but we found that God, the Great Potter, could still use us.

In 2 Corinthians 4  I see my own story.   God delights in using imperfect vessels , broken, messed up crack pots.  When I stopped trying to cover up all the bad stuff that was happening with our family, God began to use me in a new and brighter way.  God began to work when I gave in to being a imperfect, cracked pot.  God can use you, too, when you open up, let down your hair and let Him use even your imperfections, your fears and forgiven sins!  

When Byron and I started opening up and telling our story – we found there were many other parents in the same spot, many with no hope, who thought they were all alone.  Maybe there's someone who needs to hear and see your cracks today so God through His power can shine through the holes in your facade.  

March 2018

Byron and I don't have all the answers about prodigal children.  We are thankful that God Himself worked in our boy's heart and life.  God kept our boy safe during three long years.  Today God shines through in his life and in his family.   And we are so thankful.  We did nothing, God did everything.

Are you a little cracked?  
God can use you and wants to.  
God delights in using unusual pieces of great worth.
Don't be afraid to tell your story.  
Someone right nearby might 
be waiting to hear just what you can tell.

Pastor David Dykes said the following in a sermon series about treasures in earthern vessels - "God didn’t create me and you to be decorations on a shelf, but to contain something valuable.  A pot or a vessel is designed and created to hold something, not to be an object in itself." {Pastor David Dykes, "God Uses Cracked Pots"} 

It doesn't matter if you are a perfect pot.  I'm just an old crack pot myself, covered with all sorts of problems and messes.  But God made me, just like He fashioned Adam from the dust of the earth.  God, the great Potter, is molding and making me through my experiences.  God, the Holy Spirit, is the Light and Power that shines out through my little cracks and repaired holes.  That "something valuable" of which Pastor Dykes speaks is Christ shining forth through me for others to see.

When our "vessels" are perfect all the light just goes straight up.  When we allow God to use us in spite of the mess, through our holes and wounds, that light goes straight out - out to those around us.  May I suggest to you that even the fissures of past forgiven sins can be used of God.

1 Corinthians 1:27 
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;"   

WHY?  Why does God use imperfect people?  
For His Glory and not our own! 

BTW:  I'm proud to be the mother of three great young men.


The quote from Pastor David O. Dykes can be found @

Our Graduate


This Friday evening the youngest of our clan will finish up high school and move on to the next stage of his life - summer!  Oh, and then college and what not.

It's been an incredible eighteen years...


Greyson was always a cutie-pie with his blonde hair and blue eyes in a country where that was a rarity.  Word is that when he was around five or six years old on the island camp people would ask to take photos with him and that he would oblige for a small fee.  Cute and knew it?


For the most part he's been a joy, even though he doesn't comb his hair very often and making his bed doesn't come easy.  Perhaps his musical right sided brain could never deal with the structure of making a bed each day?  I'm hoping he'll learn at college!


As the last in the nest, Greyson enjoyed a few years of being an only child.  Byron and I got to take a long awaited road trip around southern Brazil with Greyson in tow.  We made some great memories and enjoy some sweet bonding moments...


We are definitely going to miss our little blondie.  But we are thankful for him and grateful to God for our boy!  



Greyson is heading to Bob Jones University this fall to study music education.  He hopes to use this degree to help churches promote quality sacred music perhaps in Brazil.  


We love you, buddy.
And by the way, you look good in red!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ugh, the Grief Bug Bit

Easter evening, 2018
Easter, the mission house on Triangle Drive was filled with grandbabies, in-laws, a few out-laws, grandparents, and invited guests.  There may have been 18 or 20.  It was great, but somewhere along the line I realized I had taken no photos and forgotten to give Papa and Greyson their chocolate bunnies early that morning.  So, I felt sort of let down.  And a wave of "missionary grief" began to rise.

last week

Fast forward to  Monday afternoon:  William, our oldest, who'd been "home" over the holiday weekend rushed to get his things together to go back to college.  He'd decided to ride the newly fixed by Papa motorcyle back to school.  It was so nice to think of him going back to school, just like a normal American family.  We haven't been around to "see" the college thing.  As he rode off into the sunset and waved good-bye, it felt good and sad all at the same time.

at our house

Move along to Monday evening: we were invited to have supper at our newly married son's home.  It would be our first visit.  I felt anxious to see where my grandbabies live and eat and play and sleep.   I cried all the way there, thinking how blessed we were to finally have this moment.  We had a great time, ate a wonderful meal, got to spend some time together.  Got back in the car and yeah, I cried all the way home, thinking how little time we have left of our furlough to come back and do this again.  And dumb old me, ruminated most of the night.

Sometimes the "grief bug" hits when you least expect it.  Sometimes it seems we turn on the bug light and call it to come on in.  But once we see the swarm buzzing around, that's when dear missionary mamas have to look for the fly swatter and take back control.  

Missionary mamas grieve before things ever take place anticipating the future loss of connection with loved ones.  They grieve for things on the mission field while on furlough and grieve for things at "home" while on the field.  But knowing that while on furlough time is short, I have to push aside that Oh No Furlough is Almost Over feeling in order to enjoy the time at hand.  

This morning I read over 2 Corinthians 4...

v.1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart...
v.16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

May God remind me that since we have a ministry, I can rest in God's great mercy to give me the strength to push forward for a far more grand glory in the here and now and the future.

Wednesday, I ran around town with Byron for some errands.  Needed to send off a box with UPS.  It wouldn't fit in the drop off box at the hospital where we had been told there was one.  Hmm, there went a UPS truck down the road.  Next stop, another brown truck breezed by.  Last stop on the list, a brown truck pulled up right beside us in the parking lot!  I jumped out with my box feeling like God had sent that truck to me!  Ha, ha, ha!  Little gratitudes.  Thank you, God, for a small blessing and a smile!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Beautiful Babes

Sarah Griffith Photography
My mother really wanted some good photos of the little grandbabies, and honestly, so did I.  But a good photographer doesn't come cheap in Brazil or the USA.  Luckily we found one who is really good and not too expensive.  The results were divine...


 


We are joyfully caring for brother and sister two days a week while Mommy takes some classes at the community college.  It's investment time.  Investment in their futures!  I want them to know who I am, remember me, and know about my God and Savior.

So with each stinky diaper and whiny day, I pray and hug and kiss and invest...
 
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