Friday, November 22, 2013

A Journey of Miracles, My Grandson's Story

(It’s been almost a year since I’ve made any additions to my blog, and the story you’re about to read will explain the focus of my attention during this period of time.)
Just before delivery and all smiles... not a clue as to what is about to happen.
I had arrived from Kenya on July 22, 2011 to be with our daughter and her family as they waited for the birth of their second son. We had spent a few months wondering if there really was a need for me to make the long trip. After all, our regular furlough time was schedule for later in the year and Stephanie was progressing well with this pregnancy, and there had been no complications with their first baby either.

We all knew that being a foreign missionary sometimes meant missing important family events and the cost for such short international trips was very expensive. In addition to the cost, there was also our own work schedule on the mission field that would be affected. I was in the middle of our school year with teaching the women’s classes in our Bible institute and leaving before the year ended meant doubling our work load to finish the course.

But still, with knowing all of this, the Lord was strongly impressing upon my heart the need for me to be with my daughter and her family for the birth of our second grandson. Whatever reasons we found for me to not make the trip were overshadowed by the Lord’s clear leading and by June my husband had booked my flights and made his decision to join me five months later for our regular furlough time.
It was eight days after my arrival that our grandson, Kacey Guy, was born. He was full-term, born on July 30, 2011 weighing 7 lbs. 9 oz. I was just outside the room when Stephanie delivered and could hear Kacey’s wail-of-a-cry that said everything was alright... but everything wasn’t alright and Kacey was in need of a miracle.

Kacey Guy moments after he was born.  Sedated and on life support.
Our baby boy was born with a heart deformity that would take his life if surgery could not be performed. This deformity of his heart is called Transposition of the Greater Arteries/Vessels (TGA). To understand this deformity, imagine looking at a diagram of the body’s circulatory system, the red and blues indicate the blood flowing to and from the heart and the purpose of this flow is to carry oxygenated blood throughout the body and then return it to the heart and lungs to be refreshed and repeated... now imagine that when the arteries joined the heart that they were switched, connected to the wrong valves. Blood flowing back to the heart was trying to enter through the out-flow valve, and vise versa. Oxygenated blood was being transferred to only his lungs and heart while the rest of his body, including his brain and other vital organs, weren’t getting any oxygen.

Added to this complication was a condition with his lungs known as PPHN (pulmonary hypertension) in which his lungs were not "soaking up" the air he was breathing. Within minutes after his birth, Kacey was put on full life-support, and I began making the phone calls to tell family members of Kacey’s urgent need of prayer... many prayers. Kacey was very much in a moment by moment crisis situation, and we prayed for enough time for doctors to fully evaluate Kacey’s condition and time for them to plan their course of treatment and the eventual surgery that could possible save his precious life. Our baby boy needed a miracle... many miracles. Little did we know but our Kacey had begun his journey of many miracles.

Mommy (Stephanie) with Kacey Guy before he is airlifted to Children's Hospital in OKC.

Three hours after Kacey was born, he was airlifted from the women’s hospital to the children’s hospital. And, as soon as it was possible for Stephanie to move on her own, I was pushing this very weary and worried momma around the children’s hospital trying to find out where her baby was and what was happening to him. Everything had happened so quickly that Stephanie did not have a chance to hold Kacey, or even have time to get a good look at his sweet little face.

The next time we saw Kacey, his face was covered with tubes and tape and he couldn’t be held because of all the IV’s that were insert into various parts of his little newborn body.

A surgical team was called in... they were going to insert a balloon catheter into his heart to punch the hole and make it larger while medications were being given to fool the body into thinking he was still in the womb. All this was done so he could get oxygen throughout his body instead of it recirculating only to his heart and lungs. It was a successful attempt to prolong Kacey’s life but other complications started happening.

Within Kacey’s first week of life (July 30th to August 5th)... his left lung had collapsed and a chest tube was inserted to re-inflate his lung. Kacey had crashed 3 times (meaning his heart had slowed to the point of needing stimulation)..., he started having seizures..., and a blood clot was detected. He was on blood pressure medications to regulate his heart, seizure medication to stop seizures, other medication to sedate and paralyze his little body to keep him still so he wouldn’t fight against the respirator or pull against the IV’s and PICC Line (peripherally inserted central catheter) that were inserted into his little body.

Kacey was on so much medication that his little 7lbs. 9oz. body was now weighing over 11 pounds... this was because of all the medications he was on and the fluid he was retaining. Then, doctors told us Kacey was on all the life support they could give him, and he still wasn’t getting any better. The cardiologist also thought Kacey was not a candidate for corrective heart surgery because TGA with PPHN put Kacey into another category and he was too high a risk for any hope of a successful outcome... they were preparing us for Kacey’s death and we needed a miracle for his life to continue.

A last hope effort was suggested... airlift Kacey to Arkansas Children’s hospital for the lifesaving six-hour heart surgery he needed. Doctors were not sure if Kacey would survive the trip, let alone become stable enough for the surgery. He was air-lifted to Arkansas on the following Saturday (August 6, 2011) and we followed by car.

When we arrived at mid-night, Chad and Stephanie checked on Kacey while I kept his older brother, Kayin, with me. Kacey had survived the three hour helicopter transport but he would have to stabilize before doctors would even consider putting him on their surgical schedule. We had no idea how to plan for our stay in Arkansas and so we thought it would be best to see if we could get a room at the Ronald McDonald house across the street. Monday morning was our first chance to ask about a room and we were told seven families were already on the waiting list. But, by Monday afternoon, we were called by the folks with the McDonald house and told a room was now available for us. We do have family living in Arkansas but no one family member lived close enough to the hospital or had enough room to take in three adults and a 22 month old toddler for an unknown length of time while we waited to see what would happen with Kacey.

Daddy (Chad) holding big brother, Kayin, as they watch over Kacey Guy.
After arriving at the Arkansas Children’s hospital, Kacey was still in a moment by moment crisis situation, it was three days later that he finally started to show signs of stabilizing. Doctors gave him another week before they listed him on their surgical schedule. Finally, we had a surgery date but his date was bumped because of a more time sensitive situation, it was a heart transplant for another baby. Kacey was rescheduled but the same thing happened when another heart became available for another baby. Arkansas Children’s is the best children’s heart hospital in the nation and that means they stay busy giving their attention to the most time sensitive cases. It was good news to us that Kacey was stable enough to wait, but this waiting still put us on edge.

For the third time Kacey was scheduled for surgery and on August 30th the six hour open heart surgery to correct his fatal deformity was successfully performed. Kacey was finally on his journey to recovery... so we thought.

Kacey had been so long on the addictive pain medications that he was having terrible withdrawals as the nurses were working to wean him off. Then, eight days later, Kacey was flown back to Oklahoma for his in-hospital recovery and everything looked well... but it wasn’t long before doctors discovered something else was wrong with our baby boy.
Kacey Guy just after his heart surgery at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Within the first week of his recovery, Kacey was not tolerating stomach feeds well, nothing would stay down and it was determined that another surgery was needed. Kacey had a defect called pyloric stenosis in which a section of flesh between his stomach and intestines was clamped off, not allowing the contents of the stomach to pass on to the intestines. This surgical procedure is typically done on an easy out-patient basis, but with Kacey still recovering from his open heart surgery, and with the blood thinner injections he had already been receiving for blood clots, this easy surgery became complicated. Not wanting to risk any more pressure to the heart with a laparoscopic procedure, another incision was made to correct this defect. The surgery was successful and Kacey began the stomach feeds again.
Only a few decades ago, and even in some parts of the world today, these surgical corrections could not be made due to either a lack of medical knowledge, or the lack of technical equipment and death of the infant was imminent if not corrected soon after birth. With being on the mission field, we know that our grandson would not have had any hope of life if he had been born in Kenya.

Kacey Guy with Papa
After spending 72 days in the hospital, Kacey was finally able to go home on October 10, 2011. It took a journey of miracles for his life to continue and we thank the Lord, not only for Kacey’s life, but the quality of his life.
I do believe science has discovered many medical procedures and techniques, but I do not believe that any scientific knowledge came without God’s intercession. (Proverbs 2:6 "For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." Job 32:12 "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding."; Daniel 2:21, 22 "...He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things...") My grandson’s life is the result of medical knowledge and technical equipment... but my grandson’s quality of life is a miracle given by God.

Kacey will be a year old on July 30, 2012 and he is doing amazingly well. He currently does not need or take any medications. We know that he will always be a heart patient and need regular checkups on his heart. Doctors have also told us that the process of evaluating Kacey’s long term health and well-being will continue for the next few years.
Thank you Lord that our baby Kacey not only lives but has quality of life beyond man’s understanding or expectation.

Kacey Guy

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Points to Ponder ~ Longevity Chart

I found this amazing, and I hope you will too...  “tidbits of information” concerning the life of some of the Genesis patriarchs and how their life-span overlapped with other patriarchs in the Old Testament.

Longevity Chart
Compiled by Nathan M. Meyer and Alice Hoover
1.   Before the flood, the longevity of man did not decline at all.  The average age of the first 10 generations was 912 years.  “And all the days that Adam lived were 930 years: and he died.” ~ Genesis 5:5

2.   After the flood, there was an immediate and drastic drop in the life-span of man.  Shem, the firstborn son of Noah, died at the age of 600 (Genesis 11:10, 11); Abraham at 175 (Genesis 25:7, 8).  The average age of the first 10 patriarchs after the flood was 317 years.

3.   Enoch, 7th from Adam, preached to Adam.  His subject was the coming of the Lord (Jude 14).

4.   When Adam died, his living descendants in the godly line numbered 8 generations.

5.   According to the biblical account, creation took place about 6,000 years ago.

6.   The first 2,100 years of human history are covered by four men whose life-spans overlapped.  It took only one man to stand between Adam and Noah; only two men between Adam and Abraham, Adam told Methuselah who told Noah what God told Adam in the Garden of Eden.

             Methuselah lived 969 yrs. ~ Genesis 5:27
        Adam overlapped Methuselah by 243 yrs.
             Methuselah overlapped Noah by 600 yrs.
        Noah lived 950 yrs. ~ Genesis 9:29
             Noah overlapped Abraham by 58 yrs.
        Abraham lived 175 yrs. ~ Genesis 25:7-8
             Adam lived 930 yrs. ~ Genesis 5:5   

7.   When Noah was born, his living ancestors numbered 6 generations.

8.   God began to number the days of man to 120 years. ~ Genesis 6:1

9.   Noah was 480 yrs. old when he was warned of God, Genesis 6:13-22.  At that time he had no sons.  Noah’s firstborn, Shem, was born 22 years after God told Noah he had 120 yrs. to prepare for the flood.  Noah was 600 years old when the flood waters came, Genesis 7:6.  Noah’s first grandson was born 2 years after the flood, Genesis 11:10.

10.   It is possible Noah and Abraham could have fellowshipped with one another: Noah lived for 58 years after Abraham was born.

11.   Shem, the son of Noah, lived 35 years longer than Abraham.

12.   For a second time, God reduced the years of man to 70 or 80 years. ~ Psalm 90:10

If you are interested in a Longevity Bible Chart, you can go to The Creation Store   There you will find a downloadable version, or a 11" x 17" laminated chart, both look to be about $5.00 in cost.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving List

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving List
~ by Jane Coley
I’m thankful to know affliction... for without it, my spirit would not strive for more.
~ "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes."
Psalm 119:71
I’m thankful to know sorrow... for without it, my heart would not know the depth of joy.
~ "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."
Psalm 126:5
I’m thankful to know the disappointments of friendships... for without it, I would miss the value of a true friend.
~ "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
Proverbs 27:17
I’m thankful to know financial struggles... for without it, I would waste so much.
~ "Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." Proverbs 30:8, 9
I’m thankful to know physical pain... for without it, my attention would not be drawn to the suffering of others.
~ "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
II Corinthians 1:4
I’m thankful to know conviction... for without it, I would not know redemption.
~ "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace"

Ephesians 1:7
I’m thankful to know these things...
I’m thankful these things "visit" me...
I’m thankful they don’t stay long.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Points to Ponder ~ Sarah

I’m starting this new series, Points to Ponder, to share with you some of the things I have pondered while I’ve studied women in the Bible. Perhaps my ponderings will be interesting to you... or perhaps it will stir some ponderings of your own. Either way, I thank you for visiting my blog, and I welcome your comments.
Sarah... was first known as Sarai before God changed her name. This name change for Sarah and Abraham (Abram) commemorated the covenant God had made with them, and initiated the beginning of the Jewish Nation; the Nation of Israel. Sarah and Abraham were the first Jews. (Genesis 17:1-11, 15, 16)

Another point to ponder... Not only were Sarah and Abraham husband and wife, but they were also half brother and sister, having the same father. In today’s society this is a repulsive idea but ancient times recorded this as a normal occurrence. My husband and I were married in 1978 in a state that required both a blood test and a 3-day waiting period. When I asked the reason for the blood test, the answer we were given was... to provided evidence that we were not blood relatives. So it seems that even the recent history of our state still indicated a need for that sort of clarification, before a couple would be granted a marriage license.

Sarah and Abraham’s relationship stands out as a remarkable testimony. There are no other Bible characters more in love, and trusting of each other, than Sarah and Abraham. Though there were reasons for them to play the "blame game", Sarah and Abraham never did. Their commitment to each other was the foundation of their successful spiritual growth. Their spiritual journey presented challenges for them as much as their wilderness wanderings did.

Hebrews 11:8-11 "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised."

A point to ponder... When they journeyed into strange lands, some take issue with Abraham and consider him a coward for having Sarah say she was his sister. However, it was typical for beautiful women to be "collected" and kept as potential wives by their captors. Esther, for example, was "collected" and went through a purification process that lasted 12 months. (Esther 2:2-9, 12)

Genesis 12:10-13 "And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter Egypt, that he said unto Sarai is wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee."
Genesis 20:12, 13 "And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother."

For her beauty, kings would kill a husband... but they would give gifts to her brother. When Abraham and Sarah agreed together to say, "she is my sister" this half-truth was a strategic plan of wisdom more then it was a cowardly evasion.

This plan allowed the process of time for these "captors of beautiful women" to understand the might of Abraham’s God. Abraham sojourned by God’s command, and it was therefore God’s protection that went before them. The Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues, and again, twenty years later, Abimelech was also witness to the mighty strength of Abraham’s God. (Genesis 12:17; 20:1-7) Never, at any time, did God reprimand Abraham for this.

Genesis 12:3 "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."

Sarah’s Barrenness, A Spiritual Challenge. ~ Even in today’s society, couples struggling with infertility problems face many private heartaches and heartbreaks that many of us, unless infertile ourselves, cannot even fathom. Then, there are the painful remarks made by well-meaning onlookers who neglect to consider that their greatest kindness would be to remain silent on this private topic. Many couples struggling with infertility choose to "weather this storm of life" and face their barrenness together. But, in Sarah’s time, getting a baby was as easy as telling your husband to take another wife, which Sarah did... and which lead to their greatest spiritual challenge.

It was Sarah who made the suggestion for Abraham to take Hagar, her handmaid, and it was Abraham who agreed. Forgoing God and making this impetuous wrong decision together meant they would also face the consequences together.

Their Remarkable Relationship. ~ This couple was supportive of each other and they didn’t waste their time with accusations against one another, even when they made wrong decisions. They chose to "weather the storms of life" and they were "together" in every aspect of the word. You don’t see a domineering overbearing husband, and you don’t see a subdued cowering wife. You see a husband and wife balanced in their relationship with equal submission to one another, very like-minded in their thoughts and actions, not condemning, not blaming... "together".

I Peter 3: 5-7 "For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

When they had disagreements, they talked with each other. And, when it seemed they could not come to terms, they took it to the Lord. 
Genesis 16:5 "And Sarai said unto Abram,... ...the Lord judge between me and thee."
Genesis 21:9-14 (vs. 12) "And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called."
The Balance. ~ Sarah and Abraham exemplified the balance of male leadership with female submission. This was never to be a grievous thing. God’s plan for leadership is that it is to be male. Leadership is responsible for those they lead, and leadership is always accountable to God for the outcome... good, bad, or ugly, male leadership answers for it all. He is not "the boss" as much as he is "the responsible party" and all accountability rests on his shoulders. This is what Sarah was acknowledging when she says, "My wrong be upon thee..." in Genesis 16:5.

Numbers 30:14-16 "But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them. But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity. These are the statues, which the Lord commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her youth in her father’s house."

The imbalance of this teaching has made it a grievous topic for women because they see themselves as having to submit to the wants and wishes of male domination without consideration; it’s his way or it’s not submission, is the lesson women get. The balance of God’s plan is not grievous.

The balance of female submission is male leadership. The truth of Ephesians 5:21-33 is that if more husbands were the right kind of leader, as the example of Christ with the church, wives would be more inclined to submit. Husbands having trouble with their wives might want to examine how they are leading, instead of focusing on how she’s not submitting.
Ephesians 5:25-27 "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

When God’s plan of submission and leadership, for a husband and wife, becomes grievous... it is because there are secrets between the couple. Secrets cause mistrust, and mistrust is the key element that erodes the balance in God’s plan. Submission is easy, when you can trust the one you are submitting to.

When leadership becomes manipulative, it is no longer leadership, it has become a dictatorship. Leadership, to be successful, must lead with loving trust. This is the relationship Sarah and Abraham exemplified. They always lovingly trusted each other and weathered the storms of life together.

(Additional Bible References for Sarah: Genesis 11:27 through to 13:4; chapters 15:1 through to 17:22; chapter 18:1-15; chapters 20:1 through to 21:1-13; chapters 23; 24:36-38, 64-67; 25:7-12; and 49:31; Isaiah 51:2; Romans 4:18-22; and 9:6-9; Hebrews 11:8-19; I Peter 3:1-6)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Points to Ponder ~ Eve

I’m starting this new series, Points to Ponder, to share with you some of the things I have pondered while I’ve studied women in the Bible. Perhaps my ponderings will be interesting to you... or perhaps it will stir some ponderings of your own. Either way, I thank you for visiting my blog, and I welcome your comments.
Eve... some blame her for sin entering the world, after all, she took the first bite of the forbidden fruit. But, did you know, God did not place this condemnation on her shoulders? The blame for sin entering the world is placed, by God, on the shoulders of Adam.
Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" Romans 5:19 "For as by one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Christ) shall many be made righteous.
I Corinthians 15:21, 22 "For since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Eve was not without her part in all this, though. She was "beguiled" (II Corinthians 11:3), "deceived," and that put her "in the transgression" (I Timothy 2:14)... an "accessary to the fact" might be the legal term used today, if her case were to be tried in a court of law. And, for argument’s sake, and in defense of herself, Eve could give evidence that she was not even present when God gave the commandment to Adam to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil... and she wasn’t. God’s commandment to Adam was given in Genesis 2:17, but Eve’s creation did not take place until Genesis 2:22.

From bite... to bite. ~ I’ve imagined the happenings in that brief moment of time between Eve’s first bite of the forbidden fruit, to Adam’s first bite. In that brief moment - from bite to bite - no doubt Eve as enjoying the taste of the fruit. Perhaps she thought about how nothing was happening... no thunderbolt from the sky... no loud voice from heaven condemning her actions... nothing but the pure enjoyment of delicious fruit. But deception creeps in slowly... and it was taking it’s hold on her heart. Convinced that this fruit was a good thing, pleasant in every way, and with the added benefit "to make one wise." Eve was fully enthralled in this adventure of a lifetime... and she felt good. Passing the fruit to Adam, her conscience was clear... watching him reach out to take it from her hand made her excited... waiting to see the enjoyment on his face when he would taste it’s delicious flavor made her giddy with anticipation. Then it happened... I don’t think Adam even had the opportunity to know the flavor of that fruit before he knew the depth of despair. Their eyes were now open... their hearts were now heavy with guilt... and they hid themselves, trying to hide from the shame that overwhelmed them. Still no thunderbolt... no loud condemnation... but there was a Voice calling... "Adam. Where art thou?".

Another point to ponder is that God made Adam both responsible and accountable for his watch-care over his wife, Eve. Doesn’t hardly seem fair, does it? That she could do wrong but her husband was to give answer for it. Eve didn’t escape the consequences of her actions, but, going back to the story, it is significant that our omniscient God called first to Adam, and then for Adam to give an answer for what had happened in the Garden of Eden. Eve took the first bite, she was in the transgression, but Adam was answerable to God for what had happened.

From the very beginning, God’s plan has always been for mankind to be responsible and accountable for the protection and provision of womankind. Even to the extent of bearing her iniquity, as it is taught in Numbers chapter 30.
Numbers 30:14, 15, 16 "But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them. But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity. These are the statues, which the Lord commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her your in her father’s house."

This is not only true for the husband and wife relationship, but it is also true for the father and daughter relationship, as well. Which gives an explanation as to why a father "gives away" his daughter, the bride, during the marriage ceremony. The father is symbolically transferring his father’s responsibility to the new husband.

Help Meet. ~ God gave Adam an help meet in his wife, Eve. Contrary to many cultures, this does not mean woman was given to be a work mate, a slave, or a servant to man. Of all that God had created, the only thing God said was not good of His creation, was that Adam was alone. Adam alone meant Adam had needs that only a perfectly matched mate could complement.
Genesis 2:18 "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."

It took Adam a little while before he figured out what this being alone was all about... he gave names to all the animals before it dawned on him.

Genesis 2:20 "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him."

As a point to ponder... Adam’s occupational instructions; to dress and keep the garden of Eden, and to name every living creature, were given to Adam before God had created his wife, Eve. So, it goes without saying (but needs to be said anyway), had woman been created to be a work mate, slave, or servant for man, her creation would have taken place sooner. (Genesis 2:15, 19, 20)

Adam/Man alone meant he had needs; He had no one of like-kind to interact with. He had no matching mate to bear offspring with. He had no matching mate to share his life with. Eve/Woman was perfectly created to be a compatible match for the needs God had designed in Adam/Man.

She was his gift from God that he was to watch over and care for.

(Additional Bible References for Eve: Genesis 2 and 3; 4:1, 2; II Corinthians 11:3; I Timothy 2:13, 14)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Breaking the Cycle of Salvation Doubts

You are not alone when it comes to doubts about your salvation. Many Christians secretly struggle with doubts... too ashamed to seek help, and too confused to settle it on their own. I’ve known those who would be considered "solid Christians" that have doubted their salvation... a church staff member and his wife, a deacon, a pastor, a missionary’s / pastor’s wife, and "the little ones" those who were in church at a very young age and trusted the Lord as their Saviour when they were young children.

The church staff member, and his wife: The wife and I were friends and we often visited by phone. One particular day she called me and asked the question, ‘have you ever had doubts about your salvation?’ I told her I had, on two particular occasions, but I had settle them years ago and I no longer had any doubts or troubling thoughts on the matter. She then told me, that the evening before, she and her husband were having family devotions, and it was during this time that they both admitted to each other struggling with doubts about their salvation. So, they both decided to pray and ask the Lord to save them... again.

I was silent and didn’t quite know what to say, and then I asked, "So, does this mean the two of you will be getting baptized on Sunday?" Her initial response was silence, followed by, "What do you mean?" I went on to summerize what she had just told me, "You weren’t sure of your salvation... so... you both prayed for salvation, and now you are both sure you got saved... last night... right??? Then, getting baptized is the next step because you apparently weren’t really saved the first time. Right???" She said, "I need to talk to my husband about that." and hung up the phone. She called me back a few days later and said, "We talked about it and decided we really did get saved years ago, so we won’t need to be baptized on Sunday. We were just temporarily confused about some things.".

Take heed to this warning... if the doubts you are having are not settle as doubts, the problem will repeat, and the cycle will continue. If you have secretly admitted to yourself, "I have doubts about my salvation," then heed this warning, be very cautions about repeating a "sinner’s prayer" in order to appease your conscience. Repetition, in this case, will only lead to more confusion and later you will find yourself confused as to which prayer was the true moment of your salvation.
Hebrews 6:4-6 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall way, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
II Timothy 2:25, 26 "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth: And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."

The deacon: Soon after his profession of faith and baptism, he brought his family into church. They were always faithful to attend the services, quick to be of help, and he had an inquisitive mind about the Word of God. His actions were a good testimony, and he was later selected to serve as a deacon. But, at a revival meeting, he walked forward for salvation and was baptized... again. This scenario was repeated, on three or more occasions, in the next 10 years. Time revealed that doubt wasn’t his only sin problem, there was also one of immorality.

The pastor: There were times he came to the pulpit and you knew he was troubled about something... it was in his continence... in the way he delivered his message... and yet, you didn’t know what was troubling him. Then, after many years, hidden sin is revealed and a confession was made.

Whether the hidden sin was adultery, homosexuality, pornography, inappropriate behavior with a minor, or other sexual perversions, or whether it was theft or some other dishonesty, the end result is the same... Sins of this magnitude commonly produce salvation doubts.

Take heed to this warning... reasoning that saved people couldn’t possible commit such wicked and vile atrocities of life is false. Saved people sin, and they sin to many depths and degrees, as measured by mankind. But, with God, sin is sin and all sin must be confessed and forsaken.

Hidden sins... our "besetting" sins... and our unbridled lusts, will erode the security of our salvation, and doubts will arise to trouble us when we neglect not only to confess our sin, but also neglect to forsake the sin.

Confession is only the first step, if the sin is not forsaken... repented of... turned away from... restitution made... and/or injustices repaid, then the cycle of doubt continues. This is the "follow-through action" of a repentant heart; a clearing of the conscience, and if this is neglected, emotional harm is done and the cycle of doubt has not been completed. This will "shipwreck" your faith.

I Timothy 1:19 "Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:"
Acts 24:16 "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men."
Romans 9:1 "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,"
I Timothy 3:9 "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."
Numbers 32:23 "...behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out."
Hebrews 3:13 "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
I John 1:8, 9 (written to those who are saved) "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Hebrews 12:1c "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us..."
I Peter 2:11 "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;"
I Peter 4:2 "That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."
James 1:14 "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."

The missionary’s / pastor’s wife: She knew the salvation plan and had even lead others to Christ. She also taught Sunday School and conducted Ladies’ Fellowships. She was an invited guest speaker, and other women often sought her council on a variety of topics. She was the perfect hostess with wonderful meals and thoughtfulness to details. Yet, she silently wrestled with doubts about her salvation, until she finally made another profession of faith.

Take heed to this warning... busy-ness is a poor remedy for doubts and spiritual insecurities. It is not possible to "busy" yourself out of your doubts. You cannot resolve doubt with duty. Increasing your work load of Christian service will wear out your body before your mind and heart are appeased and put at ease.

II Peter 3:17-18 "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
Galatians 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"

"The little ones": Were you a child when you prayed and ask God to save you? And now, years later, are you having doubts about your salvation? This is probably the largest group of doubting Christians. The faith of your childhood is often called into question when faced with the challenges of adulthood. This can be especially unsettling to young Bible college students, many will question their childhood conversion and struggle with doubts about their salvation.

Take heed to this warning... feeling saved is not evidence of salvation, it is only evidence of being emotional. The emotions of ‘relief from doubts’ and ‘joy of salvation’ are difficult to discern between because they both are a comfort to the distress of your soul. Salvation is based on facts, not feelings.

Matthew 18:1-6 "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Mark 10:14 "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."
Mark 9:24 "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
I Timothy 6:19 "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
II Timothy 2:19 "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
Ephesians 3:16-19 "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
Colossians 1:23 "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven..."
Colossians 2:6-8 "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Building on the FACTS of your salvation is fundamental to Breaking the Cycle of Salvation Doubts.     
II Peter 1:5-9 "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."

It is my hope that this post will help you to sort out your doubts. God bless. ~ Jane Coley

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#4 Lessons from the Empty Nest ~ "Train up a child in the way..."

I found this "collection of thoughts" circulating around the social media called facebook. These are not verses of scripture from the Bible but they are lines of reflection from the heart of an unknown mother/author.

I’ve chosen to post this as Part 4 of my "Empty Nest" series to address a heart-cry of some Christian parents, but first, enjoy this heart-felt collection of thoughts and see if you agree.


"Reflection of a Mother"

I gave you life, but cannot live it for you.

I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.

I can give you directions, but I cannot be there to lead you.

I can allow you freedom, but I cannot account for it.

I can take you to church, but I cannot make you believe.

I can teach you right from wrong, but I cannot always decide for you.

I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I cannot make you beautiful inside.

I can offer you advice, but I cannot accept it for you.

I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.

I can teach you to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.

I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honor.

I can advise you about friends, but cannot choose them for you.

I can advise you about sex, but I cannot keep you pure.

I can tell you the facts of life, but I can’t build your reputation.

I can tell you about drink, but I can’t say "no" for you.

I can warn you about drugs, but I can’t prevent you from using them.

I can tell you about lofty goals, but I can’t achieve them for you.

I can teach you about kindness, but I can’t force you to be gracious.

I can warn you about sins, but I cannot make you moral.

I can love you as a child, but I cannot place you in God’s family.

I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.

I can teach you about Jesus, but I cannot make Jesus your Lord.

I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you eternal life.

I can love you with unconditional love all of my life…and I will!

(Author Unknown)

~ * ~ * ~

As a devout Fundamental Independent Baptist missionary woman, wife, mother, and nana there is a point I would like to reflect on that I think it is also the heart-cry of many Christian parents... How to resolve the scripture admonition to... "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) with the reality that not all children raised in godly homes have followed, or will follow suit.

Christian parents have said:
"We took our children to church every time the doors were open, and many times we were the first to arrive and the last to leave. We made the commitment and took on the financial struggle of sending our children to a private Christian school (and/or home schooled) in an effort to keep them from the influence of secular education and indoctrination. We guarded the music we/they listened to, and the television programs we/they watched. We encouraged them (and set an example before them) in Christian service to work on a bus route, help with a Sunday School class, participation in teen/church visitation, and to join Christian oriented clubs and programs (such as Patch the Pirate, King’s Kids, Awana, etc.). We did our best to scrutinize their circle of friends and encouraged their friendships with those we believed to have a godly influence on our children. We even encouraged adult friendships with our/their pastor and his wife, youth pastor and family, and other adult Christians. They went off to Bible colleges. We prayed for them. We loved them. So, after all these efforts, why did our children "depart from it"?"

If you were the parents of the biblical Samson, I’m guessing you would also want an answer to that question.
Samson’s parents were childless until an angel told them a son would be born to them and he would be a Nazarite from his birth; commissioned by God for a particular purpose. Samson was empowered with a physical strength that made others tremble in his presence, yet he did not live a life dedicated to God and neglected all his training to indulge in his own lusts. (Judges chapters 13 thru 16)

Added to the wonderment of Samson’s parents, we can also submit this list of other godly fathers, in the Bible, that might also have been asking that same question, "Why did my child depart from that which they were taught?"

1.) Esau, son of Isaac, sold his birthright. - Genesis 25:27-34 2.) Nadab and Adihu sons of Aaron, offered strange fire on the altar of incense. - Leviticus 10:1-4 3.) Abimelech, son of Gideon, murdered his 70 brothers. - Judges chapter 9 and Judges 6:32 4.) Hophni and Phinehas, sons of Eli, were immoral and dishonest priests. - I Samuel 2:12-25 5.) Joel and Abijah, sons of Samuel, took bribes and perverted justice. - I Samuel 8:1-3 6.) Amnon, son of David, raped his half sister. - II Samuel 13:1-19 7.) Absalom, son of David, led a rebellion against his father. - II Samuel chapters 15-18 8.) Adonijah, son of David, attempted to steal Solomon’s throne. - I Kings chapter 1 9.) Rehoboam, son of Solomon, caused a tragic civil war. - I Kings chapter 12

10.) Joram, son of Jehoshaphat, murdered his six brothers. - II Kings 8:16-24

11.) Ahaz, son of Jotham, sacrificed his own children to idols. - II Kings 16:1-20

12.) Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, was Judah’s worst king. - II Kings 21:1-18

13.) Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, did evil in the sight of God. - II Kings 23:31-33

14.) Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, burned the scroll from Jeremiah. - Jeremiah 36:20-26

15.) Zedekiah, son of Josiah, persecuted Jeremiah. - II Kings 24:17-25:30; Jeremiah 37:1-21
(Source: "Book of Bible Lists" by H.L. Willmington; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Wheaton, Illinois; 1987)

In addition, Abraham was a godly, fatherly example to Lot, but Lot "vexed his righteous soul" through his own personal decisions, not because of any lack on Abraham’s part. (Genesis 12:4; 13:1, 5-18; 2 Peter 2:7, 8)

There are also these verses (among others) which express the anguish of the Lord with the Children of Israel:

Isaiah 1:2 "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me."
Jeremiah 2:7 "And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination."

So... Why did these sons fall short of the instructions of their godly fathers? Why did these children of godly parents stray so far away from the path that was set before them? Why did the Nation of Israel rebel against God after all the Lord had done for them? Wasn’t the promise "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." a sufficient plan for rearing their children... for rearing our children?

~ * ~ * ~
Here are some reflections from this mother’s heart:

1.) I thought Proverbs 22:6 was a promise. ~ It’s not. It is a proverb which means it’s a wise saying. Words of wisdom are to be heeded, but wisdom is not a promise. Wisdom is a diligent endeavor to know the truth and to apply the understanding of that truth to every aspect of our lives.

2.) I thought Proverbs 22:6 was for parents. ~ And it is, but it’s not exclusively for parents. A child is "trained" by many people; school teachers, Bible teachers, pastors, even their peers are contributing to their training.

3.) I thought Proverbs 22:6 was a designated path. A path I was to set my children on and, by carefully designing that path, there would be little they could do but follow its course. ~ Actually, it’s not a path, but more a realization of who our children uniquely are.

4.) I misinterpreted what Proverbs 22:6 was encouraging us, as parents, to accomplish with each individual child. ~ This is what one commentator had to say about this verse:
"Train; Initiate, and so, educate. The way he should go Or, according to the tenor of his way, i.e., the path especially belonging to, especially fitted for, the individual’s character. The proverb enjoins the closest possible study of each child’s temperament and the adaptation of ‘his way of life’ to that." (Albert Barnes; Commentary of the Bible; electronic edition)

~ * ~ * ~
 As parents, we are to study the heart of each child to the depth of feeling it’s every beat. Where did we ever get the idea that our children came to us as "blank-slate" material and we could "write" on them the path we had chosen for them? 
The reality is that our children have a unique temperament already developed before their birth. Just as physical features are inherited (daddy’s eyes, mom’s nose, grandpa’s chin, etc.) so too is our emotional core a result of genetic inheritance (grandma’s temper, uncle’s timidness, etc.). A brief visit with parents of identical twins, or Mr. and Mrs. Duggar (parents of 19+ children) will verify that each child is born with his own unique temperament inherited from the genetic pool of their family line.

Temperament is the emotional core of who we are and is the determining factor of who we will become. Why? Because everything we learn and everything we are exposed to in life is first filtered through our individual temperament before we come to our own personal conclusions about life.
Understanding temperament is the key to discovering the reasons why we are the way we are. As parents, it is wise for us to discover that unique temperament trait of each child, and then work with that core temperament to prayerfully develop the character of our children. It’s not enough to know that little Johnny is the quiet soul, who requires little discipline while Jim-Bob is stubborn and only constant discipline keeps him inline. "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." (Proverbs 20:11) is the biblical admonition to get to know your child for the individual he/she already is.

Temperament is not a word you will find in the Bible but the examples of different temperament traits are very much revealed in scripture. Take for example Mary and Martha, who were sisters, their interaction with Christ revealed their different temperaments.
In John 11:17-45 notice that both sisters make the exact same statement to Christ, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." (John 11:21 and 32) but notice their different interactions with the Lord. Martha is almost confrontational with the Lord while Mary humbly falls at His feet. Martha responds with head-knowledge and "recites" what she has heard while Mary’s response is weeping and silence, she doesn’t speak another word.

Then there is the temperament example of Jacob and Esau, twin brothers born to Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25:21-23).
These twins were as different spiritually as they were physically and God reveled to Rebekah that "two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people" was the prophecy the Lord God had given to Rebekah concerning her unborn sons. The difference in the brothers was not brought on by the favoritism of the parents, they were already different, and they were already known by God (Psalm 139:13-17).

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Recognizing that this verse is speaking about temperament opens the realization that we’ve got more to do in exploring the emotional depths of our children. 
They have emotional strengths and weaknesses that need to be balanced. They have spiritual struggles that need guidance. It’s not enough to put them on the right path, or expose them to the right people, their journey requires Dad and Mom not only to discipline their minds, but to disciple their hearts.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

#3 Lessons from the Empty Nest ~ When Missionary Parents Leave Their Children Behind

~*~ Experiencing the Deep ~*~

I think I was 6 years old when we went on a family vacation with two other families. Our parents had rented cabins for what seemed like a two or three night stay at a vacation spot with a wooded area and places for swimming, fishing, and boating. I had a "new" hand-me-down bathing suit, a one-piece that had the cute little ruffled-skirt, and I felt like a ballerina when I put it on. It would be my first time in water deeper than my bathtub and I was excited. I was going swimming... real swimming, not just bathtub swimming.

This one lady friend with us didn’t have children. I don’t know if their children had grown and gone or if they never had children, but, either way, this lady took a liking to me and wanted to teach me how to swim. She gave me a few basic instructions, and then she took me a little further into the lake.

The lake had a designated swimming area that had been boxed-in on three sides with a dock, and we were in the middle. Kids were playing all around us, and they were loud. The lady held me close and started gently bouncing me in the water until she knew I wasn’t afraid. With my excitement and lack of fear, her bounces got bigger and deeper, and I was enjoying this wonderful first-time fun in the water. Funny how playing in the water always works-up an appetite, and we were soon ready for lunch. We left the water with promises of more water-play later in the day.

After lunch, I walked the backside of the swimming dock and watched the other kids playing in the deep water. They were jumping off right next to me. I watched as they sank under the water, popped back up, and grabbed hold of their inner-tube or the side of the dock. Then they would climb back up the dock and jump off again. I remember thinking, "I can do that"... and I did.

I jumped in, sank under the water, popped back up... and sank again. I didn’t have an inner-tube, and I wasn’t close enough to the dock to grab hold. I remember thinking I would wave my arms and call for help when I popped back up... but the only thing I had time for was another quick breath, and I went under again. This time I opened my eyes under the water, and I could see kids all around me playing and kicking. Some were close enough and bumped me in the water, but noone was close enough for me to grab and hold on to... I was sinking. I tried "climbing" the water wishing it was thick enough to hold on to and support me so I could get another breath, but I kept sinking.

While everyone else around me was having so much fun, I felt alone in my world of danger. I tipped my head back wishing I could stretch my neck to get more air; but I was too deep, and I felt the end of my life was going to happen. Then I was grabbed... pulled to the surface of the water gasping for air, arms held me up while I coughed, wheezed, and rubbed my eyes... it was my lady friend, and her voice was gently telling me I was alright now.

A little later, I went with my friends to play in the woods... but I felt sick and sat down on a log... my body began to shake uncontrollably, but I wasn’t cold. I looked at my friends and they told me my face was white and that I should go back to see my mom. I told them I had almost drown.

Years have passed, but jumping off into the deep is a horror to my soul that I will never forget. I’m not afraid of water, but I am cautious about it’s depth and aware of my limitations. I remember the feeling of being alone while surrounded by people... I remember being in extreme danger without the person nearest to me even aware of my struggles... I remember feeling all my efforts exhausted me and only sank me deeper.

Jumping off into ‘the deep’ is not just about water... there are moments in life that are just like ‘the deep’.

The day came when, for the first time, we were going to leave two of our five children behind while we returned to our mission field in Kenya, East Africa. I remembered watching from the bleachers of the gym as our son and daughter were making their way around to the different tables signing up for their college classes. The gym was crowed and loud, and the place was filled with anticipation of what the year would mean to so many.

But only the Lord knew the horror I felt in my soul and what I anticipated the years ahead would mean for my children. There my children were, surrounded by people, but noone knew them... struggles for them were going to happen, and yet I wondered if those nearest to them would know. It exhausted me to think I would be an ocean away, knowing even an emergency departure to reach them would take 3 days of planning just for one of us to make the trip. I took some deep breaths and managed a smile for them. I was there to support them, not to spoil their excitement.

We knew these days would eventually come... the days when our children would leave to make their own way in this world. After all, it’s natural for our children to leave ‘the nest’. But in all my thoughts for the future my children would have, I always imagined we would be near enough for them to bring college friends home for the holidays, and I anticipated keeping their room and beds ready for when they came home for the summer breaks, too. But instead of our children leaving ‘the nest’ we, as missionaries to a foreign field, packed-up ‘the nest’ and left them. I felt like they were in ‘the deep,’ and I was walking away... leaving them to either sink or swim on their own.

This is part of the missionary’s life... to experience ‘the deep’. Because we live in foreign lands, we’re halfway around the world from our loved ones. When it comes to the natural occurrences of life, such as our kids leaving home... their first loves... courtships and weddings... funerals and family gatherings... missionaries miss-out on a lot. Our kids never brought friends home for the holidays, there is no home in the states... we missed our daughter’s wedding... we missed my brother’s last days and funeral... I wasn’t there to help Mom when Dad was dying. To be absent from my loved ones, in these times of great need, felt like ‘the deep’ to me. I felt like I had left them to sink or swim on their own.

This absence from my family has always been my greatest struggle with this part of our missionary life, but I take great consolation in knowing we are where we are supposed to be, on the mission field.

Monday, June 3, 2013

#2 Lessons from the Empty Nest ~ Perception

Have you ever revisited a place you only knew as a child? Isn’t it amazing to realize how small everything looks, now that you’re grown? The huge kitchen cabinets that had to be climbed in order to reach the cookie jar on the top shelf now seem so small. Obviously the kitchen cabinets didn’t change, but our perception of them sure did. In like manner, have you ever wondered why one particular event can be witnessed by different people and later, when they’re asked to recall the event, it’s as if they’re telling different stories?

It all has to do with perception. Perception is why investigators taking the statements of eye-witness accounts, concerning an accident or crime, must keep their focus on the common details of their stories in order to uncover the facts of the incident.

"Perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory information. As we move throughout our lives, we create an internal model of how the world works.

This model maps sensations, such as sight of an accident, to certain preconceptions contained within our unique model. Our model is also constantly evolving, as new information is acquired.

Because our backgrounds and physiology are all different, we experience the interpretation of sensory information in different ways.

Thus... different stories about the same event."
(Copied; Unknown) 

 Years ago, through my relationship with my siblings, I learned something that has been helpful to me as a parent with adult children. The lesson I learned had to do with individual perceptions. It is a fact that memories are attached to strong emotions, such as love, hate and fear, and then those memories are filtered through our individual temperaments. What happens then is that our own unique perception of an event is created and a memory is established. But could that memory be wrong? Could it be biased in some way?

Our mom had her hands full with four kids under 5 years of age. Our ages put me as the middle child with a big brother 2 years older and a baby sister 2 years younger and our little brother was only 11 months older then the baby. With this age spread, we shared a lot of the same family events and we made memories together. Later in life, when our younger brother started reminiscing about those family times, I realized he carried away a lot of emotional pain. Having heard my brother repeatedly talk about his emotional pain from those shared events, I finally said to him, "I was there... we were all there... none of us can say we liked what happened, but the rest of us aren’t letting it eat us up like you are. Mom and Dad are not responsible for your perception of what happened in the past, you are. You need to let it go. You need to get over it... it’s burning a hole in your heart."

I know my words were harsh, especially to the ears of a soul that was already hurting, but nothing I said could compare to the anguish my brother had already put himself through. An anguish he constructed through his own perception of what he emotionally felt. We were all there... each of us walking away with our individual, emotional perception of what took place, but it was our younger brother who allowed his perception to lead him into a self-inflicted emotional trauma. An emotional trauma experienced by one... made through the thoughts and mind of one.

As his sister, I had taken the liberty of being harsh with my brother on purpose. No doubt he didn’t like what he heard, but he needed to hear it, and after hearing it, he needed to process it. It was a few years after this that my brother finally desired to trust the Lord as his Saviour. I lead him to the Lord and his story is posted on my blog entitled "After 33 Years".

However, as a parent, harsh statements like that to our own children could be devastating to them. Funny how it works, but even when you children are adults a sibling still has more liberty to address delicate issues than a parent. Let a parent say something harsh to their adult child and they still can be plummeted into an emotional depth of despair, the intimidation and rejection of your words will further alienate your child from you. That’s not parental tough-love, that’s just callousness.

Our perceptions are our responsibility. And it is our responsibility to figure it out, not our parents, they’re not to blame for what we choose to carry as our emotional baggage (nor is anyone else, for that matter). Occasionally, parents need to be willing to "walk down memory lane" through the eyes of their children... and that could be a painful walk, but parents need to be willing to hear the heartache of what was experienced through the memories and perceptions of their child. Looking through old family pictures together is one way to revisit the past with each person having an opportunity to recall the event depicted through their own perceptions. Memories tend to be one-sided so parents need to softly interject the other side of the story, correcting any misinformation that there might be. Did you know that memories are a lot like overhearing one-side of a phone conversation? Until you’re able to put together what you heard with what you didn’t hear, of the phone conversation, all your information could be nothing but misinformation.

If you were to interview our 5 adult children, they would most likely reminisce about shared family events, but I also have no doubt you would get 5 different perceptions of what it was like growing up in the Coley household, as it is also true for my siblings and I. Perceptions are relative to our emotional health.

I read a book by Dave Pelzer entitled A Child Called It, his own story of abuse.
"This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played torturous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it."" (Amazon review)

In his book, Mr. Pelzer wrote: "I believe it is important for people to know that no matter what lies in their past, they can overcome the dark side and press on to a brighter world. It is perhaps a paradox that without the abuse of my past, I might not be what I am today. Because of the darkness in my childhood, I have a deep appreciation for life. I was fortunate enough to turn tragedy into triumph." (page 166; A Child Called "It", by Dave Pelzer, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, Florida, 1995)

Painful events do happen, but the power of those memories is always our choice. We choose to let the memories either make us, or break us.

~ * ~ * ~

This article reminds me of the Old Testament prophet, Elijah. The Bible says of Elijah that he was "subject to like passions as we are..." - James 5:17. Elijah was subject to his own perceptions of events, and even he struggled with his emotions.

Elijah struggled with:

1. Doubts and questions God. - I Kings 17:20

2. Fears for his life at the hands of Jezebel. - I Kings 19:3

3. In despair and wants to die. - I Kings 19:4

4. Depression sets in and he hides in a cave. - I Kings 19:9 & 13

5. Full of self-pity he feels alone; isolated. - I Kings 19:10 & 14

6. Elisha ministered unto Elijah and encourages him. - I Kings 19:21

7. Still fearful and is told "be not afraid" by an angel. - II Kings 1:15

And yet, with power from on high, Elijah was able to:

1. Stopped the dew and rain for 3 ½ yrs. - I Kings 17:1

2. Restore the life of the widow’s son. - I Kings 17:22

3. Defeated the false prophets on Mount Carmel. - I Kings 18:21-40

4. At his word caused it to rain again. - I Kings 18:41

5. Called down fire from heaven. - II Kings 1:10-12

6. Parted the waters of river Jordan to cross on dry land. - II Kings 2:8

7. Did not die, was taken up into heaven by a whirlwind. - II Kings 2:11

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lessons From The Empty Nest ~ The Biggest Struggle

 The biggest struggle in parenting adult children has little to do with the kids but a great deal to do with the parents. In our family, my husband and I are the blessed parents of 5 adult children, ages 24 to 33, who were all naturally born to us during our 34+ years of marriage. In addition to our one son and four daughters, we also have one son-in-law and two grandsons. (In this day-and-age, with the family under so much attack, it seemed necessary for me to clarify what I meant when I said "our family".)

My biggest struggle with our all-adult family has been to remember that my position has changed... I'm not parenting any more, I'm counseling. That means, as difficult as it sometimes is, I should act like a counselor and wait to be asked for my help or advise. Then, when I am asked, I need to answer with respect, keeping it short, sweet and to the point. If the particular topic has a painfully difficult response, I must present it in an unassertive way, being careful not to take the "I told you so" attitude either. I have to back-off and let them pick themselves up... dig themselves out... intervention is not always the right thing.

These are things I have to work at because the momma in me wants to protect and defend my children through all their difficulties, even the self-inflicted ones. This I have learned... I cannot protect my children from their choices... I am not responsible for their adult decisions.

I have to admit, it is an ego thing to want my children to do well so that I’m viewed as having been a great parent. What parent doesn’t enjoy the praise of others telling them, "you did a good job in raising your kids, you are to be commended". But when it comes to parenting, there are two sides and an individual’s free-will (freedom to choose) is a huge factor in the outcome of this parenting equation... sometimes, the result is... what is taught is not always caught.

As Christian parents, we have the God-given command and responsibility to tell, and to show by example, the right path our children are to follow, but God only holds us accountable to teach our children right, and after that, God holds them accountable for their choices. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 4:9, Proverbs 3:1-3; 4:1-13, 20-23; 34:13, 14; Hebrews 2:1)

God gave to each of us a free-will; freedom to choose. With our adult children, their choices are their own, and God does not make us responsible for what they choose. It is not our failure when our adult children choose a path contrary to what they were taught, it is their choice. By example, God did not fail in parenting the Children of Israel because of their wicked choices. Sad is the story of how God showed Himself wonderful and mighty by sending the ten plagues of Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to "let my people go" only to have His people worship a golden calf. (Exodus chapters 5 through 12 and 32) God did not fail as a Parent because of the free-will choices of His children, nor did He intervene when their choices were wrong. God allowed the consequences of their choices to render their judgment thereby teaching them accountability and responsibility.

When intervention takes place, it means that the free-will of an individual has been subverted by someone else. This may be an appropriate response of parents with young children, but with an adult, it means their freedom has been taken away. And, when freedom has been taken away, we are the prisoners of another person’s will instead of our own. God has omniscient power to intervene, but God’s intervention would then mean God was removing from us our freedom to choose, and without free-will we cannot love because love is the ultimate freedom of choice.

One day, our adult children will return to us by one of three ways:
1.) They will return with thanks: "Mom and Dad, you raised me right, and I listened, and I’m thankful that I did."
2.) The will return with no thanks: "Mom and Dad, you raised me right, but I decided I didn’t want to walk that path...".
3.) They return reproach: "Mom and Dad, you knew the right way and you never told me...".

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baggage Check

As American missionaries living in East Africa, my husband and I do a lot of traveling and there is one thing I can tell you... I know baggage! I’m not talking about the luggage that carries the baggage... I’m talking about the stuff in the luggage that we carry as baggage. Know what I mean?

Through my experience of carrying all that luggage, loaded with baggage, to and through the airports of the world (well, at least some of them)... organizing it onto the trolley carts, lifting it onto the conveyor belts, having it x-rayed and screened, lugging it over to the check-in desk for weigh-in, then being told one piece is too heavy and enduring the embarrassing moment of shuffling my personal baggage around to get the luggage in compliance with the weight limit for each individual piece... whew... I can tell you, I know baggage. Maybe it was the pulled muscles from all that lifting, or maybe it was having my private stuff on public display, but something forced me to take another look at what I was lugging around in all those bags and a serious re-evaluation process had to be conducted before I ruptured a spleen, or something else.

Now there is a spiritual side to all this talk about luggage and baggage... I’ve discovered that I do the same sort of thing with emotional baggage I’m lugging around. And, just like I needed to re-evaluate the luggage I was carrying from airport to airport, I also need to re-evaluate the emotional baggage I was carrying from relationship to relationship. To start off with... I carry way too much... I need to stop being so critical and hyper-sensitive, making one relationship own-up for the failures of another. Know what I mean?

I pack my own luggage... I decide what stuff gets lugged around on our trips together. So, when the load gets too tiresome and encumbering to bear, I’ve got no one to blame but myself. In comparison, I also pack my own emotional baggage. So, what I carry around emotionally has nothing to do with anybody else, but me. After all, I’m the one who decides what goes into those bags, nobody else does that for me. Sure, it’s easy to say I was hurt by a particular person but when it comes to packing my emotional baggage, it’s totally up to me what I carry. I decide what gets packed, I decide what gets lugged around and I’ve got no one to blame but myself for the encumbering emotional burden that I bear. Nobody else is suffering because of my luggage... I mean, they’re not lugging it around, I am. Emotional baggage is all about me... myself... I packed the bags, I decided what was to be kept and what was to be left behind.

The purging process isn’t easy but it is necessary. Letting it go and getting over it is easier said then done, but it’s do-able. We really are able to let things go... we really can get over it. I remember what it was like to fly before 9-11 changed the world. Airline passengers could walk to their departure gate without going through a security check and friends and family could accompany them to wish them a farewell. Then, when the world changed, security restrictions imposed on passengers became a nightmare. I’m convinced that one of these days, we’ll be issued disposable clothing to wear during our flight and personal items will have to be purchased upon arrival at our destination. I really am joking about that, but on a serious note, whatever the restrictions were, we adjusted, and whatever the restrictions will be, we will adjust. Actually, it was the restrictions the airlines imposed on it’s passengers that created this thought of what was really necessary in my emotional baggage as well. If I can physically adjust, I can emotional adjust, too. It’s do-able. Know what I mean?