Sunday, December 30, 2012

Prayer Letter - December 2012

As I look back over this past year, I can be nothing but thankful for all of God’s blessings, not only in my ministry, and the ministry of the Church here, but in my personal life: the birth of two new grandbabies, and the spiritual birth of three more. The joy of knowing now that 14 of my 36 grandchildren are saved should be reason enough to rejoice. And I do!

I’m going to count my blessings: The radio ministry, “Compassion Radio”, is reaching countless souls with the Gospel, broadcasting 24 hours a day. I could dedicate this entire prayer letter to counting the blessings of this ministry alone. Almost every week we have visitors attend our services, because of listening to the broadcasts.  Just yesterday, Tommy came into my office, and said, “Mom, I want you to come out and meet a couple who traveled two hours because they heard the broadcast. They just got saved!” A trucker who comes within range of the station during his runs, offering to drive someone to his house about 5 hours from here to talk to him and his wife so their marriage can be restored. If you have any part in this ministry, it’s only fair that you know the returns from your sacrifice. And if you don’t have a part already, I challenge you to invest your money and your prayers into something that will not return void.

The first of November it was my joy to travel to California to participate in a Ladies’ Conference at the Coast Hills Baptist Church. Pastor Bud Silva and Sandy are such gracious people, and made me feel like a queen. What a sweet time of fellowship we had, as they drove me the three hours back to Los Angeles the night before for an early flight the next morning. Thank you, Pastor and Mrs. Silva for the precious memories made. A special blessing: my daughter in law, Jolene, was also a speaker, so I spent some special family time with her and David, and my four grandchildren.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support for our 14th Annual Christmas Banquet this year. When my brother, Tommy Ashcraft, gave the invitation, two ladies were saved. One of them was at church the following Sunday morning with her teenage son, and last Sunday they were back with her husband.

I want my Christmas to be special this year, and keep the Lord Jesus as the focus of all the festivities. I want my shopping to take second place to my offerings to my church; as I prepare the dressing for the turkey, I want to sing Christmas carols with a joyful heart; when the feelings of depression threaten to remind me of eight years ago when God took my dear husband, I’ll remember our children he left behind for me to enjoy, and the 22 more grandbabies God has sent down in those 8 years. Although I’ll grieve over those who are not here, I’ll focus on those who surround me, and others far less blessed than I am, because they don’t know the Savior. May you, too have a Special Christmas, and a Blessed New Year!

Billie Sloan                                                                                                                          Nahum 1:7

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Foundations: Fickle or Firm? "

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock:” Matthew 7:25

I remember one time my husband decided to tear down a building he had built. He tore down everything…walls, beams, roof, doors…everything, except the foundation. I can take you to the place where I lived for several years, and we can walk on the foundation, because he couldn’t take that away. It’s still there. There have probably been high winds, and storms, earthquakes, heavy rains. But they haven’t harmed that foundation that my husband built so many years ago.

The passage in Matthew 7:25 comes from the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus preached while He was here on earth. He tells how that one day there are going to be people who think that because they have prophesied in His name, or because they cast out devils, and have performed miracles, this qualifies them to enter Heaven.

And then, as if He wanted to emphasize what He had said, He used this analogy: “Everyone who hears me, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house. But it didn’t fall, because it was built upon a rock.

“But those who don’t hear what I say, and do not heed them, I will liken him to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

I love my house. When my husband went to Heaven, he didn’t leave me any money. But he did leave me our house that we had bought in the early 1980’s. It’s a refuge for me. Of all the material things he could have left me, I don’t think anything else could have brought me more joy. For a woman, her home is who she is. It’s there that she can develop her talents as homemaker, interior decorator, chef, entertainer, and all the other gifts God has given her. Happy is that woman who lives in her dream house, whether it is a mansion, or an old house like mine. Fall in love with your house, and ask God to help you to love it more than any other place on earth.

Do you have a dream house? Can you close your eyes and see your dream house? Maybe you’ve even drawn blueprints and plans for the house you will own someday, a house you have designed. Maybe you’ve hired an architect to professionally design your dream house. And to make you feel like your dream will someday be reality, you decide to invest some money to have professionally drawn plans. One day the architect explains to you that the first thing they are going to do is to dig a foundation. That will take time, money and a lot of hard work. But the only thing you see is that lovely home that you have dreamed of for years. The money you’ve saved, and all the sacrifices you’ve made have not been for something that no one will ever see. And guess what! You decide to dismiss the architect and make your own blueprints.

You’ve always dreamed of having a house at the beach, and since the architect insisted that you should start with a foundation, you soon discover how soft the sand is. This won’t require a lot of work, and it sure will be a lot cheaper.

I’m afraid there a lot of women who dream of having a lovely marriage, obedient children, and a happy home. The Divine Architect tells us how we can have all of that. In His Word He has drawn up the blueprint, how to have a happy marriage, children who honor their parents, and a home that is a little bit of Heaven on earth. Those who follow that plan, when the storms of life come and waves surround their house, (and by the way, they will come…sickness, financial setbacks) it will survive, and because it’s founded on the Rock, it won’t fall. It won’t end in divorce, in the desertion of children.

It may be that God will one day take your husband. For sure one day you are going to die. But if your home was built on the Rock, God will continue to bless it, even though you’re gone.

My desire is that when I’m gone to Heaven, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren will continue to live their lives on the foundation designed by the Divine Architect, God Himself.

Jesus wasn’t talking of a literal house. Do you know what He was referring to? He was referring to lives. I believe we could apply this passage to marriages and homes without changing the meaning, because marriages and homes are made of lives, of people. There are marriages and homes today that are being destroyed because they weren’t founded on the Rock, and that Rock is Jesus Christ Himself.

Is your life founded on the Rock? Or have you built your life on the sand, on fickle foundations? What are these fickle foundations? Basically, the sand refers to human strength. If the Rock refers to God, the sand refers to humanism, human strength.

1. Money. (to have) A lot of people today make their decisions according to monetary gain. Mark 4:19 says, “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”   I Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  And verse 17 says, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”  If you’re building the foundation of your house, your home, your life on money, it won’t hold up under the storms of life.

2. Education. (to know) I’m not against education. I have my teacher’s degree. Three of my daughters have their teacher’s degree. I taught our 8 children to read and write. Perhaps we should call this fickle foundation, careers, although neither am I against careers. My husband was a pediatrician. What’s more, there’s nothing wrong with having riches. The important thing is to use money, to use our career and our education to serve God, to honor Him. It’s when we allow those things to control our lives, when they become the foundation of all our decisions that they become fickle foundations. You should certainly educate your children, but make sure you know their teachers. What are they teaching your children? Do you know what’s in the books that the school uses to teach your children? We never sent our children to a public school. We taught all 8 of them at home. Be very careful, Mom, in the choice of the school where you send your children. Are their teachers’ lives founded on the Rock, on a firm foundation?

3. Power. The ladies in our church, my daughters and daughters in law every year work very hard on the preparations for our annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet that takes place in November. This is for the purpose first of all, to honor the Lord, and to thank Him for sending His Son Jesus Christ to be born in a lowly stable. He was born to die for our sins. We can be nothing less than grateful for our Salvation, and for the sacrifice that He made for us. But the other motive of this event is to honor very special ladies who in some way contribute to the well-being of our town: the mayor’s wife, and the ladies who are part of his family; ladies who in years gone by have formed part of former mayors’ families; the head of the Red Cross; the president of businesswomen; a lady who has a radio and TV program especially for women; a congresswoman; the army general’s wife. We also extend that invitation to “first ladies,” as we call them, of neighboring towns, including the governor’s wife. Every month I meet with a group of ladies for our prayer breakfast for the purpose of praying for all these ladies. I don’t ever want to minimize the influence women have, not only in their homes, but also in their communities, in their state, and in their country. But what I’m talking about is the danger of putting value on people according to their position, their fame. Perhaps the lady who had the greatest influence on my life was my maternal grandmother. Did you know she was a poetess? I notice a lot of characteristics in myself that my grandmother had. I don’t have great talent, but I love writing poetry to my grandchildren on their birthdays. I believe that that small talent that God gave me was inherited from my grandmother. She taught me things about the Lord that I never heard in a message from a great preacher. She taught me to play a little pump organ that worked by moving the pedals up and down. Although I was very small, and my little legs were too short to reach the pedals, she would set me in her lap, and pump the pedals while I played. What an influence…what power she had on my life. However, she never became the first lady of a city or a nation. Even though some of her poetry was published, she never became famous; she never had a high position in government. But the influence of a woman named Rebecca still lives on in my life, and in the lives of my daughters. The Apostle Paul told Timothy,  his son in the faith, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” II Timothy 1:5. There’s nothing wrong with power or high positions in society, as long as they’re used to honor and glorify God. Do you think the mayor’s wife read her Bible before leaving her home this morning? Did she ask God to use everything she did to bring honor and glory to Him? How wonderful if she did. She’s using her position, her power to serve God. Her life, if she knows Jesus as her Savior, is founded on a firm foundation, on the Rock.

4. Emotions. (to feel) God made woman with emotions. He didn’t make us like robots. That’s why we cry at weddings, and at the birth of a baby. A lot of what we plan for our Christmas Banquets is to touch the emotions of the ladies present that night. Laughter and tears are very healthy expressions of our sentiments. A woman who doesn’t feel anything when she sees an abandoned orphan, who has been changed by the love of God, doesn’t know how wonderful the emotion of compassion feels. But I’m going to tell you something that may surprise you. You shouldn’t build your life upon emotions. If you decided to get married because of your emotions alone, your marriage probably didn’t last. We love to feel beautiful and happy. And when we don’t feel that way, we think something must be wrong. A lot of people attend church, and hear the Word of God, and if they’re not moved emotionally, they don’t accept it. Salvation isn’t a feeling. Salvation is a Person. The plan of Salvation is a fact. We are sinners; we deserve to go to hell; our works can’t save us; but Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross, He died in our place; He was buried; the third day He rose from the dead. When I was 8 years old I accepted Jesus as my Savior. Let me tell you something: I was very happy that night, I was very emotional when I realized that my sins were forgiven. I jumped up and down, and cried and laughed when it was time to go to bed that night. But that emotion and excitement didn’t last very long. Since that night things have happened to make me sad; at times I’ve been discouraged; I know what it feels like to be confused. But not one moment have I lost my Salvation, because my Salvation is founded upon the Rock.

What about you, my friend? Is your life founded on the Rock? The firm foundation upon which you should build your life is the Word of God. It’s there that we find in Deuteronomy 32:3 and 4: “…ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect:…” Jesus Christ is the Rock.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Prayer Requests 2012

November 16, 2012
Christmas at Home”
  1. Wisdom and discernment in all the plans and decisions to be made.

  1. Extra strength for the girls and me as we plan and make preparations.

  1. For the wife of our City Mayor to be able to attend, as well as First Ladies of neighboring towns.

  1. For the wives of the former mayors, and military wives to be able to attend. 

  1. For extra finances for the cost of the Banquet, Hotel reservations, and plane reservation for our guest speaker.

  1. Preparation of the special music, and choice of each song.

  1. For our guest speaker, my brother, Tommy Ashcraft, as he prepares his message for the evening, and for liberty as he preaches.                                

  1. For the Hotel staff to be reached with the Gospel.

  1. That the Lord would prepare the hearts of the ladies who will be attending, and for many to be saved, who will be an influence to others.  We have had ladies saved in every banquet for the past eleven years, including four former First Ladies, and two military wives.

Note:  This Banquet is an annual affair, and will be attended by ladies, who for the most part are unsaved, and who either because of religious preferences, or pressures from home, do not attend our Church.  The Lord laid these dear ladies on my heart several years ago, and I am as burdened for them as I am for the ladies in my Sunday School Class.
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Prayer Letter - October 2012

Greetings from the little town of Ixtapa, Chiapas, where my husband and I lived for five years back in the 70’s. I’m spending a few days here with my son in law, Ulises Martínez, and my daughter, Elizabeth and their three children. I was blessed last night, as he took me on a tour of the land just outside of town. We walked through the church building and fellowship hall, and he showed me where their orphanage is already under construction. What big, big plans he has for the future! There are two pastors in training, who will soon take over two of the three churches he started.

What an exciting month August was for me, traveling to El Salvador, and speaking in a ladies’ conference there. Ladies from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala attended this meeting. It goes without saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this special time spent with my niece, Tammie González, and Henry and their four precious children. Three days after my return to Chiapas, I flew to Ukraine. What a wonderful time I had speaking at the Single Ladies’ Conference in Bro. Mark Priem’s church in the city of Odessa! Miss Polly Irvin was the perfect hostess. My son, David and I enjoyed such sweet fellowship with her and missionaries John and Dawn Spillman, and Bro. and Mrs. Christian. And of course, I made precious memories with David and Jolene, and my four grandchildren. In Simferopol, where they work with Bro. Bob and Judy Van Sant, it was my honor to speak at their ladies’ Banquet, where about one-third of the ladies present were deaf. Ever “heard” a ladies’ deaf ensemble sing? Nothing like it!

While I was away, on August 17, which would have been my husband’s 71st birthday, Compassion Radio was dedicated, under the ministry of my son, Tommy. Several pastors from near and far were present. There was preaching, tearful testimonies, and just a sweet time of revival, so I’m told. Their first broadcast took place September 4. Almost every day, Tommy receives text messages from people in remote villages, as well as in neighboring cities, commenting on the programs. Several programs are in the different Indian dialects. Tommy invited me to have a 30-minute ladies’ program every Friday…a little scary at first; but I really look forward now to this new ministry.

On August 31, the day after my return, Emily Ruth was born to Ulises and Elizabeth. What a delight my 36th grandbaby is!

I’m enclosing a prayer request list for our 14th annual Christmas Banquet, and ask that you please take it very seriously as part of your daily prayer time.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"There is a Time"

“To everything there is a season, and a time…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1
(Written August 25, 2012, Ukraine)

There I lay on the bathroom floor. Had I had a cardiac arrest? Had I slipped and fallen and broken my leg? No and no. In a fit of despair, I realized I didn’t have time to do everything involved with leaving home, and traveling across two countries, across the ocean; preparing 11 lessons; and all the other things on my “to do” list. I lay there in utter despair. Nothing comforted me…well; almost nothing, except a 30-hour day would be a good start. I lay there, and looked up at the Lord Who was probably shaking His head and saying, “Billie, Billie!” much the same way He said to Martha.

One of the hardest things that women cope with, at least for this woman, is finding time to do everything on my “to do” list. In fact, I often tell myself, as my daughter in law once told me, “There is no way one human being can accomplish everything you have written down on that list.” And I respond, “That’s true…but it gives me a sense of direction and purpose.” And what is it in human nature that makes us feel so good about crossing off items on a list?

This may not be the most spiritual lesson I’ve ever written, and it probably won’t speak to your heart like I would love my lessons to do. But in the past few weeks I’ve learned a great truth that has changed my life, and even my moods and my attitude. And it’s this:

“There is a perfect time for everything God wants me to do.” And I base that truth on the Word of God in Ecclesiastes 3:1.

A few minutes ago I wrote an article for my blog. I’ve never posted a blog without the aid of my daughter in law, Jolene. Since I’ve been staying in their home, she’s been able to give me some tips that will upgrade my no-technology mind. Yesterday, I took detailed notes (see first paragraph…I’m a list-making addict) as she “walked” me through the process of posting a blog. Since she is very busy this morning, I thought, “Why not? You can do it, Sloan!” I wrote my blog post, but when I went to the web page for blogging, I discovered to my dismay that I could not connect to the Internet.

Remembering my new-found truth, I thought, “This is not the time for posting that blog. God will provide a perfect time.”

So here I am, writing this truth to you, simply because I can’t get online. Some things in life you just learn from the obvious.

Normally, I would have become irritated and annoyed. Have you ever made wrong decisions because you tried to do something that was not in God’s perfect time? I have…silly, silly decisions that cost me lots and lots of money.

A couple of months ago, before I learned this truth, I was at the airport in Mexico City. I had been there for seven hours. My flight for Chicago was a late one, and I knew the lady who picks me up every year would be driving an hour from home, leaving her three small children with her husband. My flight usually arrives in the early evening, but this one would land at 10:00 p.m. Imagine my dismay, when I heard the words every frequent flyer dreads hearing: “Your flight has been delayed,” and she added to this recurring nightmare the words, “indefinitely!” I panicked. I didn’t mind so much waiting, or even arriving late, but my friend, Julie, would be on the freeway alone at midnight in Chicago! I called my son in Chiapas. What on earth could my son in Chiapas do for me? He finally reached the pastor, who was able to get a married couple to pick me up instead of my young friend.

I felt quite proud of myself, until I got off the plane. The pastor had already asked the young couple if they could pick me up instead of Julie, since he knew it would be a late flight. See? I should have just waited on the Lord. I was tired and weary, but another verse that is very, very related to the one in Ecclesiastes is found in Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;”

Have you ever put a…let’s say…stew into the crock pot…too late? It’s dinner time, and your potatoes are still crunchy? So you quickly dump them into a pot and put them on the stove to finish cooking…hurriedly. Doesn’t taste the same, does it? When we don’t do things on time, we must suffer the consequences. While we should never get ahead of God’s timing in our lives, neither should we lag behind.

Have you ever flown to another time zone? If you have ever made an over-seas trip, you know what Jet Lag is. Having experienced this phenomenon 6 times in my life, my personal definition would be: “Being out of synch with your world.” Your body tells you it’s beddy-bye time; but the world around you is up and at ‘em.   I have actually gotten up at 3:00 in the morning while suffering Jet Lag, dressed for the day, made coffee and had finished my devotions by the time the rest of the household got up. BUT at 11:00 that morning, I was looking for anything flat where I could go back to sleep.

Have you ever suffered spiritual Jet Lag?  My definition for spiritual jet lag would be, “Being out of synch with God,” and you don’t know suffering until you’ve experienced that kind of jet lag.

Here are some principles I’ve learned from this truth.

1. When I don’t wait on God’s perfect timing, I don’t have peace. I don’t have joy, and I don’t enjoy life. I’m frustrated, and I don’t feel the Holy Spirit’s presence.

2. When I’m not in synch with God, other people annoy me. They get in my way and interfere with MY timing.

3. I miss golden opportunities when I arrange my timetable. My schedule says “Write for one hour,” but God’s says, “Micah, go pull on your Mimi’s skirt until she stops what she’s doing and plays with you.” If I refuse to be flexible, I’m missing an opportunity I’m afraid will come to haunt me when my grandbaby is thousands of miles away, and my arms ache to hold him.

4. I miss out on experiencing firsthand the all-things-working-for-good truth of Romans 8:28.

5. Doing things in MY time and in MY strength is exhausting. I become a worry wart, and a doubter, and I worry others. How do my children feel when I call them or talk with them about all my fears and doubts?

6. When I do things in God’s time, I’m more effective, and do my work more efficiently. I don’t have to rush or hurry when God Himself has provided the perfect time for a project.

7. I don’t make wrong decisions by trying to force perfect times, which actually aren’t perfect.

8. When I wait for God’s timing, I have His provision, and His guidance.

So ladies, let’s get in synch with the Lord today!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Did I Say 10,000 Miles?

Do you ever go to bed at night, and lie there thinking of all the bad things you did and said during the day? I hate falling asleep like that, don’t you?

Last night, I lay down, and instead of thinking of all my sins, I “re-read”  in my mind Chapter 16 of my book, My Kids and Me that I posted. For some reason, the phrase “10,000 miles” shot through my mind. “Did I say that?” Now if I may justify myself a bit, I got that figure seven years ago, while visiting a park in Kiev that shows the distance from where we were standing to most major cities in the world. I immediately checked how far I was standing from Mexico City, and the figure 10,000 stayed in my mind. But what I forgot to change was kilometers to miles. There are about 1.8 miles in every kilometer. So if your hubby was looking over your shoulder while you were reading my latest chapter and started laughing, it’s because the author should have said “about 5,000 miles,” which I have already corrected in the original.

Another reason for this post? It will be the first one I’ve ever done without Jolene, who either posts them for me, or is here to hold my hand. This is Sunday morning, and I don’t even need to tell you why she doesn’t have time to help me!

You’re probably a busy Mom, and you know, don’t you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chapter 16 - "Leaving Home"

It was 1:30 a.m. In a few hours we would be traveling from southern to northern Mexico to renew our visas. I walked down the long hall leading from my bedroom where my husband was sleeping, past the three bedrooms where our eight children had finally gone to sleep. The ten suitcases lining each side of the hallway were a sure indication that someone would soon be leaving home. Passing my at-last-clean kitchen, I stepped down into our living room, walked around the coffee table, touching my piano for the last time until we returned. Tears flooded my eyes. We were indeed leaving home.
That scene took place many, many years ago…probably even thirty, but I can still feel the emotion welling up inside me…just the thoughts of leaving my comfortable routine, if anything can possibly remotely be described as comfortable with a noisy household of eight children. But home was my comfort zone…MY old washer; MY worn carpet; MY faltering refrigerator.
Thirty years later, I struggle to hide my tears as I hug my children and grandchildren who have come to my house to tell me good bye…again. I had just flown in two days before, had unpacked and packed again, and now I was leaving everything I held dear…my children, my grandchildren, my home, my church.
I hate leaving home. If it weren’t for the fact that I think I might be a blessing to some lady who’s about to quit; a pastor’s wife who needs encouraging; a distraught young mother, I would never leave home.
In the past few days, I’ve carried in my purse four different kinds of currencies from four different countries; I’ve struggled through security, boarded and de-boarded eight different planes; and met an Olympic trainer in London.
Leaving home…even the sound of that phrase conjures up almost depressing emotions for me.
There’s the “did I get everything?” although I make and check meticulous lists; “am I taking too much?” “Will my luggage be overweight?” “Will someone be at the airport to meet me?” “Will I make all my connections?”
What is there about home? For me, it stands for security; comfort; routine; the familiar…everything that leaving home takes away from me.
I sit here this morning, thousands and thousands of miles from my home…another continent, another time zone, another culture. My thoughts have crossed the ocean this morning to what my loved ones are doing near my home. While I begin my day, theirs is ending. While I sleep they work and play and study.
Homesickness to me is a real sickness…one as real as the flu, or chicken pox, and almost as painful…at least emotionally.
My homesickness is cushioned, though. I’m here with my other children and my other grandchildren.
What is there in this story for you? Do I simply want a homesick mother to be able to finally find someone with whom she can identify? I think there’s something more here…something I’ve learned during the past two weeks since leaving home.
1.      I’ve learned to make different comfort zones, a different “normal.” I packed and brought with me certain things that make me feel secure, even though I’m in a different home, on a different continent; in a different culture. Things like my Bible, my prayer book, my journals, my brush and comb; my toothbrush and toothpaste; my pens and note paper…these go in my carry-on, so that if I have a canceled flight, there can still be a certain normal feeling, an area I can still control in my upside-down day. This provides security when I have 11-hour layovers in an airport; and on the plane, I pass the hours reading and writing.
2.      I take my routine with me. Does that sound strange? Maybe you’re leaving home to go on vacation, and you’re looking forward to it. To leave routines and schedules, can be dangerous. While there are times when I do have to leave my normal routines, it is usually because someone else has changed it. For example, in a few days I will be going to the hospital to await the birth of my granddaughter. I will leave my home very early in the morning, and will return late that night. I will be completely out of my routine. I didn’t ask for that change, but I accept it as a healthy change. I have a very comfortable routine for reading my Bible and praying in the morning. Unless I’m willing to get up at 3:00 in the morning the day my granddaughter comes into the world, and because I will be recovering from jet lag, I plan to take my comfortable routine with me, and settle for a quiet place in the corner of a coffee shop later in the day.
3.      Be flexible. I’m sitting at a desk about 10,000 miles away from my office this morning. I’m juggling interruptions, delightful though they be…my toddler grandson loves opening the drawers of his big brother’s desk I’m using these days. So I pull him onto my lap and enjoy a Mimi Moment. After my devotions and housework routine, I settle back down at my desk…at home or abroad…and write for one hour. If within that hour my grandson needs my attention, I must be flexible enough to either say, “Oh, well, there’s always tomorrow.” Or I can add a few minutes onto my hour. My prayer time at home includes a 36-minute walk up and down my hall, no matter how full my bedrooms are with guests. When I’m away from home, that isn’t possible, because my hosts have other routines. So instead of my prayer time being a very structured 36-minute prayer walk, my prayer time includes holding my normally active grandson early in the morning while looking out the window at village life; or waiting in the car while my son runs a 30-minute errand. Who cares that it’s 5:00 in the afternoon, and I’m just now praying for my grandchildren to do well in their studies today? Where they are, their school day is just beginning.
4.      Leaving home can bring an adventure dimension into your life. Don’t resist change. Look at leaving home as a learning experience. Try to maintain a positive attitude. If you’re a young mother, you probably can’t relate to this lesson, because you would leave home in a heartbeat, if it meant leaving the tiring routine of mothering and keeping house. But there are still lessons, little mother, in here that you can glean from what I’m telling you.
But there’s another kind of “leaving home” I’m thinking about this morning. I’m thinking of my husband who “left home” almost eight years ago from our bed in our home. What did it feel like? Was he tied to his earthly home? Was there a struggle to stay? Silly thought here: Is he homesick for his earthly home, for me this morning? Do saints in Heaven relate to a past?
Since leaving home a few weeks ago, a dear friend near my home left his home, and is in Heaven this morning. Was his an abrupt jerking away that took him to his Heavenly Home?
I’m enjoying my “home-away-from-home” feeling this morning, because after a while, you become familiar with your surroundings. Things that seemed strange to you upon your arrival away from home, now seem normal, and are becoming comfortable. In some ways, I will miss this “other home” where I’ve been the past days, when I return to my own home.
Of all the things I do, all the sacrifices I make, “leaving home” is by far the greatest and most painful.
But “This World is Not My Home” must be my theme. This holding on to things, and people, and surroundings must be held very lightly to my heart. Even as I do when preparing to leave home…making plans for that “other home,” I must also while I’m preparing to leave my earthly home for my Heavenly one, “lay up treasures in Heaven.”
Does what I do today have eternal value? Is that what makes dying so painful? Is it the dying that is so painful? Or is the leaving home that hurts so much? The “I’m going to miss you” is what I heard so much when Daddy was leaving home for Heaven. His greatest dread was waiting for Mother once he arrived.
“This world is not my home I'm just passing through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Joshua's Going Home

After being reunited with David and Jolene after almost two years, I think the best news that was waiting for me was checking my e-mail, and finding out that our precious little Joshua Andrew Miller will soon be going home. Just like David and Jolene and their children made so many, many preparations for my welcome arrival, I can only imagine the preparations being made for Joshua by his six siblings. You're all our dreams come true, and our prayers answered. I love you, Baby Joshua!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Prayer Letter - August 2012

Dear Friends and family,

Greetings from the beautiful country of El Salvador, where I just finished speaking at a two-day conference upon the invitation of my niece, Tammie González. She and her husband, Henry, have a thriving work here, and I was very impressed.

I return home on August 7, and three days later, August 10, I fly to Ukraine to speak in a Single Ladies’ Conference, upon the invitation of Miss Polly Irvin. I plan to return home on August 30.

Vacation Bible School was a huge success, in that we saw 16 children, and a lady saved. I love working with children, because of their simplicity. One of the workers who dealt with the children, who raised their hand for salvation, came in before it was time to talk with them. He said, “This little boy said he can’t wait for me to talk to him. He said he needs to get saved now!” Another little 5-year old boy, whose parents are members of our church, came home from Bible School one day, and said, “I accepted Jesus as my Savior today.” His mom asked, “If I tell you something to do in a few minutes, and you disobey me, where will you go?” He said, “To Heaven, because the Bible says I have eternal life.”  “Out of the mouth of babes…”

I was honored once again this year to have attended the annual Spanish Family Conference in Pastor Elmer Fernández’ church in Bartlett, Illinois. I spoke 9 times, including teaching a ladies’ Sunday school class. I also have spoken 6 more times in different ladies’ meetings since I returned home.  On July 8 it was my joy to have led a lady doctor to the Lord, who has attended several of our ladies’ meetings. Her husband, who is also a doctor, is saved and attends our church faithfully. What a blessing to see a home complete, with both husband and wife being saved.

On June 24, my son, Philip preached his last sermon as pastor of the church here, and his brother, Tommy, officially took the pastorate. There has been time since he and Mona arrived on the field last November to have bonded with the people here. Although it was a very sad occasion, and we will miss Philip and Liz, I’m excited about all the things the Lord is already doing. Please pray for Philip and Liz, as they will be starting a new work in the state of Veracruz.

Another blessed event will take place in a few months: Andrés and Anna, my daughter, are expecting their 3rd baby…my 37th grandchild.

On July 21, I received the news that little Joshua Andrew Miller was born to Steve and Ruthie.  He is a little preemie, and weighed 4 pounds 8ounces. At this writing, he is out of the NICU, and improving. Thank the Lord for my 35th grandbaby!

Because of my trip to Ukraine, I will miss two exciting events: the dedication of the radio station, August 17, which would have been my husband’s 71st birthday; and the birth of my 36th grandbaby…Ulises and Elizabeth’s little girl due to arrive August 25. But this trip was planned before I knew about these events, so I know the Lord will give me joy as I do His will. That’s the best place to be, no matter where I am!

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Two weeks!

From my daughter Ruthie:

Here is our miracle baby :) He is doing absolutely wonderfully. The kids really enjoyed singing and praying for their little brother when they visited him. Thank you so much for loving and praying for us! 
 Have a great night, and a wonderful weekend! Love, Ruthie

Steve and Ruthie, we're rejoicing with you over the progress of little Joshua! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pray for Joshua, my 35th grandbaby

Dear Friends and Family,
I am forwarding this e-mail I received yesterday from my son in law, Steve Miller {click highlighted words to view}.  I am doing as he asked me to do, and ask that you pray for God's perfect will to be done in the life of little Joshua. We trust we will be spared the grief and sorrow caused by little Jonathan's death 5 years ago.
Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Over-cooked Kids...", Or "Honey, I Burned the Children"

“And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.”   Exodus 2:3

It’s been many, many years now…all eight of our children were still at home, and it was our custom to go out every Saturday afternoon, as a family, and make visits for the Church.  We would finish this lovely outing with a little tradition:  my husband would drive to a little store and the children would go in and buy sodas and treats.  I don’t know why, but while we were enjoying this little outing that afternoon, I sat straight up in my seat, and asked a question whose answer I feared:  “Did anyone turn off the fire under the beans?”  And the awaited answer started in the form of a little chorus:  “…I didn’t…neither did I…nor I…I didn’t either.”

I’ll never forget the long ten minute drive home.  I expected to see fire trucks in front of our house.  Thankfully, they weren’t there.  But as soon as the boys opened the gate, and even before I jumped out of our truck, I could smell the burned beans.  The first thing I did was exactly what you would have done:  I turned off the fire, and ran outside with the pot of charred beans, because the house was full of smoke.  Curtains, carpets, and couches kept that terrible memory for many, many days.  How embarrassing to have our guests come in our house!  “Is something burning?”  And I would have to reveal my great mistake:  “I left the fire under the beans when we went out.”

I would like to give a little piece of advice to all you Moms: a gentle warning:  TURN OFF THE FIRE!!  Your children are done.

Referring to the Bible passage of the very well-known story in Exodus 2:1-10, we read about the care of a mother for her child.  Jochebed was little Moses’ mother.  Her son’s life was in danger.  Pharaoh had commanded to kill all the male Hebrew babies.  But Jochebed didn’t give up.  She had to do something to save her baby’s life.  So she hid him.

I have no idea how this Hebrew mother was able to hide her little boy from the Egyptian soldiers who passed in front of her house.  But we must believe the Bible when we read that she hid him for three months.

But the Bible also states that the day came when she could no longer hide him.  To keep him at home would mean certain death.  So Jochebed had a plan.  The Word of God says that she took for him an ark of bulrushes.  I’m not familiar with bulrushes, but perhaps she chose those that easily took the form of a little cradle.  Then she “daubed” it with slime and with pitch.  She made it waterproof.  She did absolutely everything she could think of to protect her little treasure.

Now I’m sure that all of Jochabed’s actions are not recorded in the Bible.  Holy men of God wrote the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Surely if a woman had written this account, it would read something like this:  “Through her tears Jochebed then took her little Treasure’s softest blankets, she dressed him with the sweater and little cap she had knitted for him before he was born, and with all the tenderness of her mother-heart she lay that little piece of her heart in the ark, and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.”

I hear you:  “How could a mother do such a thing…leave her baby in an ark in the Nile River!”  I’ll tell you how:  by the divine grace of God, and through her faith in Him.

Very little has been said about this woman, Jochebed.  But to my way of thinking she is the ultimate of the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.  What wisdom Jochebed showed!  She was led by God, and she obeyed Him.  She did exactly what God showed her to do.  God in His infinite love used Jochebed, in reality, to lead the great Exodus of the Israelites in years to come.  God used Jochebed, because she allowed Him to.

But it cost her something.  It cost her something that at times you and I as mothers are not willing to sacrifice:  she had to leave Moses in God’s hands.  The day came, according to the Bible, when she had done everything possible to protect her little one.

I would like to tell you something.  If you haven’t yet had a “Nile River” experience, your day is coming.  The day will come when you’ll look at that handsome 18 year-old young man.  You’ll look at those hands, hands that caressed your face while you nursed him.  Little hands that got muddy, and hands that got hurt, and hands that you kissed when he mashed his finger.  And you’ll have to say, “This is it, Son.  I’ve trained you, I’ve cared for you, and I’ve protected you.  Now I’m leaving you at Bible College.  The next time I see you, you won’t be the same.  You’ll be more mature.  You’ll know new things about God from your teachers.  Perhaps the next time I hug you, you will know the perfect will of God for your life.  Or maybe there will be a young lady by your side with whom you have fallen in love, and who will help you carry out the will of God for your life.”

Moses became a great leader, a famous man in history.  Very few people, even though they may be pagans, have not heard the name Moses.  But we would never know a great Moses had there not been a great Jochebed.

Sometimes I ask myself, “Why didn’t the other Hebrew mothers use this plan to save their babies’ lives?”  I don’t know.  But could it be because they weren’t willing to risk the lives of their little ones in exchange for a little ray of hope that perhaps they would escape death while they were hidden in the Nile River?

How many Moses’ are in the world today who missed the perfect plan of God for their lives, simply because there was no Jochebed there for them?

One of my favorite dishes is beans.  Mmmm.  Give me a bowl of beans, a slice of buttered cornbread, and a little pepper sauce!!  Royalty doesn’t know such a delicacy!

But there’s nothing more horrible than that pot of burned beans that came out of my kitchen that afternoon when I returned home.  I had over-cooked them.  They were burned.  They had turned into despicable ashes…good for nothing.  They left an unpleasant odor, and they embarrassed me when my friends came over.

This isn’t the noblest motive you can have, but if it’s the only thing that motivates you to give your children to God when they’re “done,” I would like to ask you a question:  “Don’t you want to be proud of your children?”  Well then let them go when your training session is over.  Give them to the Lord so He can do with them as He wishes.

How to turn off the fire,

1. When they decide to go to college, or other fields of training.  If I had to choose only one word that would stand for the greatest gift you could give to your adult child, it would be the word “freedom.”  Untie your apron strings.  Cut the navel cord, and let them go.  At the risk of sounding like a modern day mother, I beseech you to let your children go once you’re through “cooking” them.  For the seventeen…eighteen years that they live under your roof, you have a perfect right, the obligation to build walls, barriers around your children.  We’ve heard volumes of sermons about the different types of walls we are to put around our children.  But once “your little loaf of bread” comes out of the oven, turn off the fire, and let ‘em go.  If you were faithful in building walls of protection, now you should test those walls, put to the test what you’ve taught them.  Don’t embarrass your children by sending them off to college with their pants or their dress on fire, and smelling of smoke.  TURN OFF THE FIRE WHEN THEY LEAVE FOR COLLEGE.

2. When they decide to serve the Lord in full-time service.  The phrase “full time” when referring to the Lord’s work means that one has decided to have a ministry requiring all his or her time, with no time to do secular work, as the ministry of Pastor, teacher in a Christian School, missionary, etc.  It also means that for the most part…in ugly terms…they will have to sacrifice material things, such as a financial retirement plan…what’s more a full-time worker never retires, so he doesn’t need such a plan.  It also means that he or she isn’t promised yearly vacations, which means that you will have to go a long time without seeing your offspring.  Maybe they won’t have a late model car, or possibly they won’t even have a car.  All of the above comes from the imagination of a mother who still hasn’t turned off the fire under that child that has decided to serve the Lord full time.  And even if all those things were true, a mother who has truly turned off the fire has learned to trust completely in the Lord.  I never tire of hearing the story of Abraham and Isaac.  He had waited all his life until he was an old man for God to give him the promised son, Isaac.  And while Isaac was still a young man, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son on an altar.  Now, Abraham loved his son as much as you love yours.  But he loved God more.  We have all heard sermons about Abraham’s faith in God…how he believed that God would raise his son after he sacrificed him.  Although God stopped him before he could take the life of his son, He saw his obedience, and gave him back his son.

I wonder:  What did Jochebed have in mind that day when she left her baby in the Nile River?  He was a tiny baby.  Surely she still nursed him.  What was her plan for feeding her little one…for changing his diapers…for protecting him when night came?  Just as Abraham had faith in God that He would give him back his son, I believe that Jochebed had faith enough to believe that God would miraculously care for her baby.  What a surprise when the princess arrived, and found the little Jewish baby, and sent his sister, Miriam, to bring a nurse for him!  But we’re not surprised to read that his sister brought Jochebed…and she was given wages to raise her own little boy.  Did you know God can do more with your child than you can?  Trust completely in God when you TURN OFF THE FIRE WHEN YOUR CHILD DECIDES TO SERVE GOD FULL TIME.

3. When they decide to get married.  This is perhaps the most difficult time of a mother’s life.   Especially if she still hasn’t turned off the fire by this time.  What a joy it is to be a mother!  The first years of your baby’s life you are the center of his world.  He depends completely on you.  This forms a sort of bond between you and your child.  If things develop normally, little by little your child will become independent of you…normally.  Unfortunately, those mothers who insist on remaining Number One in the life of her child, to the point of “over-cooking” him, suffer incredibly when they decide to marry.  She’s no longer the Biggie in his or her life.  She must share his attention, his caresses, his words of love, and his confidence.  Those mothers look at their child’s spouse as the competition.  Woe unto that couple that suffers from this kind of a mother.  It is hard for a marriage like this to survive, and sadly they sometimes end in divorce.  Every morning I ask the Lord to help me never to interfere with the marriage of my children or the discipline of my grandchildren.  I thank the Lord that I learned to TURN OFF THE FIRE WHEN MY CHILDREN DECIDED TO GET MARRIED.

Praise the Lord for Jochebed, the woman used by God to save the life of the man who saved His people.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chapter 15 - "Super 8"

I’m writing this from the 7th floor of the Holiday Inn near Chicago.  I’ll be speaking this week at a Family Conference, and one of the blessings of being invited to speak to ladies is the royal treatment I’m given…being chauffeured around, fruit baskets full of my favorite treats (mostly chocolates, little fruit, actually)…AND staying in five-star hotels.

This morning I was doing my prayer walk in my room, and since I have a lovely view, I paused a moment to look out my window. Even though it was only 5:00 a.m., it was daylight! Something caught my eye: right across the lane that runs beside the hotel was a sign, and for some reason it brought tears to my homesick eyes. I’ve been traveling now for over seven years, and I still get miserably homesick for my beautiful mountain valley home. But an emotion even greater than homesickness was the nostalgia, past memories. And that nostalgia prompted me to write this chapter.

And this is what the sign said: Super 8, and it was the name of the chain of hotels, or similar at least to the hotels, where my husband and our 8 children and I used to stay. As I looked down on that hotel, I asked myself, “Am I really happier spending the night in the lap of luxury than I was, sometimes when the manager would let us, staying in the room with all eight of our children? My husband and I would sleep on one bed, and sometimes we’d turn the girls cross-wise, and throw pallets on the floor for the boys. If there was a baby in the bunch, she would sleep in her travel bed.

Forget about courtesy breakfasts in those places. We felt honored to be offered stale coffee after 7:00 a.m. in the lobby.

But there was a coziness about those memories. We would travel all day, no reservations, because we didn’t know where we would be stopping. My husband didn’t go for reservations, because he said it put a restraint on the Holy Spirit. (Sorry, Honey, now that you’re not here, I’m a firm believer in reservations!)  

By the time we would find a hotel meeting my husband’s requirements (looking for a room was like shopping for a house. I often thought it would be nice if we could have been able to travel with a real estate agent.) So by the time we would stop, we were so happy to be out of the van, it looked like the 5 star hotel I used to longingly drool over as we passed them on the freeway on the way to another Super 8.

I learned something this morning as I gazed across the parking lot, at the sign on the other side of the trees: “Lord, help me never to forget where I came from. Help me to remember that I’m not a conference speaker. This is not what I do. I’m Mom and Mimi, that’s who I am. I feel more comfortable in an apron than I do in a suit, and You know that better than I do. But help this…this looking down from where I am to where I was remind me of where I am because of Your grace. The circumstances that brought me up here weren’t fun. There was a molding process that got me on the elevator across the road from where I used to be. There were hardships that taught me lessons that I share with Super 8 ladies today. Those ladies think they will always be stuck with diapers and dishes and homeschooling. Super 8 ladies are up all night, and when the night is over, they have it all to do over again.

Super 8-ers don’t think about wardrobes, and hairdos, and plane reservations. They’re happy to get their hair tied back in a pony tail before the last baby wakes up for the day or the doorbell rings. I know. I’ve been there.

Super 8 Moms look out their windows, up at my seventh story window with longing, wishing with all their hearts that they could spend one single day rushing to the airport, going through security…from one moment being treated like a queen, the next moment like a criminal. But they’d gladly change places with me while I stay with their little ones. Oh, the joy of being baby-free for a whole day, to do adult-talk, and browse in airport shops (who cares if you can’t afford anything), and have lunch at the restaurant of your choosing during your long layovers.

You’d save every bag of the peanuts, and the napkins with the airline logo on it to take back to your little ones, the only souvenirs you can afford.

You’d study the latest styles that parade in front of you while waiting to be boarded at your gate. You’d smile at the stewardess, who asks what Madam would like to drink.

And when you got to your hotel room, escorted by the lady who will be at your beck and call all week, you close the door, double lock, and climb into a bubble bath because, Hey, no babies to knock on your door, no baths to give. Just little ole you and you alone to care for.

But from up here, and believe me, Baby, I’ve come a long way…it ain’t what it looks like from down there. Get your little binoculars and take a close look at my face. I’m tired, and I’m exhausted from smiling, and greeting, and hugging, and signing, and speaking. I don’t get a good night’s rest, not at my age, at least from 12:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

And in the midst of people who literally surround me with their love, and lavish attention on me, and who have sacrificed things I can’t even imagine, I sometimes feel a loneliness I didn’t feel down there where you are. I have almost physical waves of homesickness when I hear, “Mom!” I instinctively do a double-take, and tears come to my eyes when I realize I’m the wrong Mom. I’m thousands of miles away from those who call me Mom.

I remember back in the Super 8 days. I had just spent a few days with my parents and my brothers and their families. Mother gave me a beautiful white suit with lace on the collar, and a pink blouse. Super 8 moms don’t do super white suits. So I treasured that suit. The next day was Sunday, and I wore that suit to church. I imagined my self a conference lady, and I was walking in to the church where I would be speaking. Who cared that there were only 25 in attendance. This was my dream, and no one would steal it from me. Looking back over those thirty years ago, I believe that’s where my dream started, like it was a gift God had given me, a longing, a desire. It was like, “This is what I want to do. This is what I was created for.”

I would be invited to speak at small ladies’ prayer groups, or a baby shower, or a bridal shower, and I’d give it all I had. I was like transformed into another lady…that lady up there on the 7th floor. As I would leave my Super 8 room, up the elevator (figuratively speaking, of course) I was another me. Who cared that I didn’t know beans about anything back then, I pretended I had all the answers, and I spoke with authority. Who cared that I was just repeating things I’d heard from the Hyles’ preaching tapes we used to listen to so many times I had them memorized!

For two whole hours I lived on the 7th floor, speaking to Super 8 ladies, and I’d do it with gusto.

There’s a peace, a routine, a sameness in that little Super 8 room that doesn’t exist on the 7th floor. There’s simplicity, a fun-in-common-things that I enjoyed in my Super 8 room that I miss here on my 7th floor.

I love my life, and if I try real hard, I can imagine it adventuresome and exciting. But there’s a fluff up here that’s not needed down in that little Super 8 room. When it’s over, it’s over. And I’m off to another plane, another city, another country, another challenge, more lessons, and reservations.

Down in ole Super 8, it was always the same, never the fluff, then the work; the queen and then the criminal. It’s steady down there, comfortable, nobody to set deadlines for you, or to scrutinize your words, your advice, and your ideas.

You’re surrounded by people who see you before you brush your teeth, who know the real, real you, and not the you that has been dressed up and anointed with expensive perfumes. You can smile if you feel like it, but if you’re sad or discouraged, you don’t have to smile. You don’t have to act like you’ve got it altogether; your kids love you and listen to your advice, anyway. And besides, they are truly the ones who know you ain’t got altogether, kid, and you never will, even if you live to be 68 years old.

I have 8 children, 8 Super Sinners. But they’re my Super 8, and I like to think that most Super kids come out of little Super 8 rooms. Super 8 kids know things 7th story kids don’t know, because they never had to learn them.

Hey, Super 8, Mom. Put down that binocular, look around you down there. Your little brood doesn’t need a 7th story mom now. You can’t be a 7th story mom to Super 8 kids. You wouldn’t have time, and neither you nor they would be happy.

This is what I told my daughter, Sarah, a few months ago. We had spent a glorious week at a ladies’ conference together, just her, her two sisters, and me. She loves her husband and six children, but she said, “Mom, I feel like I’ve been on a honeymoon with Jesus.” And I tell you, Super 8 mom, what I told her, “Sarah, one morning you’re going to wake up and go downstairs for your coffee. You’ll look at your tidy living room, you’ll go into your kitchen where you left every dish washed last night, and there won’t be one dirty sippy cup in your sink. You’ll relax over your first cup of coffee while you read your Bible, and won’t be listening for your baby to cry for her diaper to be changed. There won’t be any sox on the stairs, or toys in the bathtub as you go in for your shower. That’s how fast it will happen.” Your 7th story day is coming, don’t worry. But there are things down where you are now that I miss.

I miss having to please just one man. I miss that wonderful man making all the decisions in my life, because his desire was God’s will for my life, not to worry!

I miss loads of laundry that marked that feel-good feeling you get from really, really having accomplished something extraordinary. I love memories of, “Mmmm, this is soooo good” from a husband who didn’t compare my fried potatoes with anyone’s Crème Brule.

Luxury to me was crawling between sheets that still smelled of Downy and sunshine from hanging in the sun, all in one glorious fragrance.

Didn’t take much for this Super 8 Mom to feel special and loved. “Mom,” I remember one of my teenage daughters saying to me many years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it because it makes me know I’m me, and can never be anyone else. “You do everything so special. Like you have a certain way you get things ready to make lemonade, you never clean your rice before you clean your kitchen. Even if you’re in the middle of making dinner, everything is organized and clean.” (Musta been a blind Super 8 kid.) No matter, I can still feel the glowy feeling, the Super Mom feeling it gave me. And that came from a little teenager.

Super 8, or 7th story Holiday Inn. I enjoy both of them still, and would certainly be an ingrate for not loving the wonderful life the Lord has given me.

He’s given you one, too.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prayer Letter - June 2012

Click here to view this prayer letter as a PDF file.

Dear Friends and Family:

While most of you are probably trying to stay cool, as we near the summer months, I am sitting in my beautiful office my daughter in law, Mona recently converted from my guest room while I was off on a three-week speaking trip. Although my window is open, I am wearing a sweater. I don’t think any place on earth is as lovely as the town where I live. And I certainly hope you love your corner of the world.

I don’t know if age has anything to do with it, or maybe it’s because I’m a woman, and homemaker at heart, but if I had it my way, I would never, never leave the confines of my home. But I’ll have to admit, when I return from one of those trips, it’s wonderful to be greeted by my children and friends with special treats, and bouquets and banners. I am so loved!

But this is a letter about my ministry, because you and I are concerned about making sure people know how to go to Heaven, and are taught how to love and serve the Lord and others. So, I hope this will make you as happy as it does me:

I got to win a teenage girl, Sophie to the Lord on April 4. Her grandfather was recently saved from a life of alcoholism, and I wish you could see the drastic change from scraggly to clean-shaven and neat; from slurred greetings to clearly spoken “Sister, good morning,” at church. We have seen six baptisms; five were adults from one family!

Youth Camp April 3-6 brought many results, including the salvation of one particular young man, and young lives surrendered to full-time service.

My son, Joel, was here on a brief week-end visit. He and Margaret and their two little girls have a bi-lingual ministry in New Mexico. He preached at the conference of the new church in Nueva Maravilla, and was a blessing also with his beautiful singing.

The attendance in our monthly ladies’ prayer breakfasts has increased, and we are happy to have visitors and first ladies and military wives as our special guests every month.

In the month of May I was honored to speak in the Family Conference, Pastor Bob Murillo and Joy, in Guadalajara, where I was treated like a queen. Pastor Alejandro Ramírez, and his lovely wife, Rosie, gave me royal treatment, as I spoke at their Ladies’ Conference in Cuernavaca. My daughter, Ruthie, joined me there, and also spoke. Then we rode the bus for 6 hours to her home in Querétaro, where her husband Steve had stayed with their six children during her three-day absence. I spent two unforgettable weeks in their home, and spoke at their Mother-Daughter Banquet, and twice to their ladies’ Sunday school class. Their church has tripled in attendance since I was there two years ago! We made precious memories, especially as I accompanied her on the piano and she recorded two CD’s of old hymns…in English and in Spanish.

But life wouldn’t be real if it were all Eden-like climates, and spending time with those we love, would it? It was during one of those times when Ruthie and I were together, that we received the sad news that our friend, Catherine, faithful missionary to Ukraine, went to Heaven, after only two months of being diagnosed with cancer. To Matt Hudson and your children, Daniel, Rachel, and Deborah; and to Bro. and Mrs. Bob Ross, and your daughters, Cynthia, Nancy, and Emily, I extend my deepest sympathy. I’m not sure of the “whys” right now. But then I don’t have to be.

So I’ll just have to accept my questions as God’s answers to His working in mysterious ways, and go on serving Him. And I do joyfully!

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tragedies, part 2

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Even as I write, some of my dearest friends buried their beloved daughter today. The wife of a missionary to Ukraine went to Heaven a few days ago, after only two months of being diagnosed with cancer. A husband and three precious children said farewell to the one who only a few months ago was the joy of their lives. Hundreds of Ukrainians thousands of miles away are grieving in their own way, as the one who told them of Jesus is now seeing Him face to face.

I don’t really know if I’ve ever suffered a real tragedy like the ones my loved ones are suffering today. Oh, I can remember back over my life…things that at the time seemed tragic, like the night I went to bed, and realized I hadn’t felt any movement from the little baby I had carried for six months. He was such an active baby. I mentioned this to my pediatrician husband. “Sometimes when babies get bigger, they tend to be a little slower. I’ll check you in the morning.” As soon as the examination began, I could tell by the look on his face that something was wrong. I don’t know if we just refused to believe that this could be happening to us. I had very normal, happy pregnancies with our other seven healthy babies, and very uneventful, normal deliveries. It was tragic for me to carry our little baby for two weeks before his untimely birth.

I wrote the previous paragraph yesterday. And something I learned, that I would like to teach you is the following: while the tragedies of my life seem small in comparison to what some of my friends are suffering today, at the time I was going through those terrible times, they were as tragic to me, as those are to my friends today. And this is what I’ve learned: with time, past tragedies seem to weave themselves into the fabric of our lives. We learn a new “normal,” and life goes on. At the risk of sounding cold and hard (which I’m not) I know with the passing of days, and weeks and months, and years, the death of my dear missionary friend will eventually become part of her family’s past, and they will be able once again to feel. The numbness of grief will subside, and there will be hope for tomorrow, new dreams, new plans, and new goals to be reached.

I remember sitting on the side of my bed in the home of friends the day following my husband’s funeral. I had lost my sense of direction. For so many, many years he was the center of my life, he was my “ministry.” In many ways, he was my “decision maker.” Then suddenly he was gone. I went in for my 10:00 appointment with my pastor, Dr. Jim Vineyard, and he “set my feet on solid ground,” giving me direction for my life. That was over seven years ago. Today it would seem as strange for my Heavenly sweetheart to be sitting in his rocking chair next to my desk, as it was seven years ago for him to be gone. His absence has become part of my life. Our separation has become my “normal,” and anything else would seem strange. While I miss him, and will love him until the day we meet in Heaven, I’ve come to terms with the fact that God’s plan was to take him to Heaven, and leave me behind. Looking for ways to accuse God of being unjust, blaming others for taking the dearest to my heart from me, going into fits of depression would have been obstacles for the bountiful blessings and for the things I’ve learned through his death. I’ve been able to help other widows, as we cried together, and I told them, “Joy will come in the morning.”

It’s when we lose sight of that fact, that despair sets in. The “Will I ever be happy again?” and “Will life ever make sense again?” must not take control of our thoughts and actions, thus leading to bad decisions, broken relationships, and even to suicide. The death of a child, a child who turns his back on God, the desertion by a spouse, are tragedies, for sure. We will not get out of this life without tragedies to a certain degree. It’s what we do with those tragedies, and how we respond to them that determine our survival, and yes, even God’s blessings and the ability to see “tragedy-turned-blessing.”

Words seem so empty at a time like this. But if you’re standing in a heap of ashes left by tragedy:

1. Trust in the Lord.  He wants to be your Anchor, your Strength, and the only “Constant” in your life. He doesn’t change. He is Worthy of our trust. Put your trust in Him, and in no one else to save you. “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble;” Nahum 1:7

2. Live today as if it were the last day you would spend with your loved one, because it very well could be. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14

3. If you love the Lord, all your tragedies are for your good. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 Those words seemed so empty to me when I was carrying our little dead unborn baby. And honestly, to this day, I see absolutely no “good to me.” Or do I? Come to think of it, I guess I can. I’ve been able to “comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.” II Corinthians 1:4 I have used my tragedy to comfort others who are going through the tragedy of losing a baby. How is it possible that the cruel death of the Son of God could be turned into something good? He rose the third day, and said to His disciples, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 16:7 If the Lord had not died on the cross, we would have had to die for our sins. He was our Substitute. He took our place, and if we choose to accept His sacrifice, we won’t have to suffer the tragedy of eternal death when we die. Because he rose again, I have a Comforter, the blessed Holy Spirit, to go with me through all my tragedies. The death of Jesus, the day when “the sun was darkened,” was changed into victory when on the third day He rose from the dead. Let Him turn all your tragedies into victories.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Prayer Letter - April 2012

 Dear Friends and Family,

If you don’t know the Lord, I don’t know how you cope with the challenges of this life. I’ve been a widow now for over seven years, and I believe because of that, the Lord seems Dearer to me than to some people, and surely Dearer than when my Heavenly sweetheart was here to listen to my woes, and share my burdens. I must several times a day, ask my Father to just give me joy in order to be a blessing to others. And He does.

I want my reports to you to always be uplifting, and on the positive side. But I would be less than honest to make you think the life of a missionary is care-free. I thank the Lord for my Salvation, and for good health to serve Him. I praise Him for my children, all loving and serving the Lord. I thank Him for you, my friends, and for a lovely place to live.

I thank Him for my ministry, where I was able to see several ladies saved these past two months; another gentleman, who was saved from a life of alcoholism; an entire family has been saved, and is faithful in church since I last wrote to you. Our church building is progressing, and one of the men who were saved this past month is giving us a very good price for his labor as a brick mason. What a joy to hear him when he goes past my kitchen door early in the morning on his way out to the property, “Good morning, Sister!”

My daughter in law, Mona, has started a ladies’ Bible class in her home every Thursday evening after ladies’ soul winning, and she is doing a magnificent job holding the attention of both lost ladies, and the ladies and teenage girls in our church.

Things are really coming together for the opening of Compassion Radio station that Tommy feels God would have him start. He has done a splendid job taking over the work while Philip and Liz have been away. We look forward to their return in a few days. The mission in San Lucas that Tommy started is progressing, as well as the new church in Nueva Maravilla, with souls being saved. Another young man in the church feels like God would have him start a work in La Concordia.

On a personal side, in September I look forward to the arrival of two new grandbabies. Please pray for my daughters, Ruthie and Elizabeth, and for the safety of these precious little ones…grandbabies #35 and#36!

My son, David, and his wife, Jolene, and their four children recently moved to Israel, where God has opened incredible doors of service for them. He is serving as tour guide at the Garden Tomb, leading Spanish and Russian speaking groups. Please pray for their safety. While they miss their beloved Ukraine and the people miss them, they are excited to be in this land where Jesus lived.

Your friend,
Billie Sloan
Nahum 1:7    

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tragedies, part 1

“And the sun was darkened,…” 
Luke 23:45 

In the last few weeks I have received news that has darkened my spirit: a young girl in our church was raped; the death of another little girl whose parents are missionaries; news of some huge changes in the lives of people whom I love more than my life; a near fatal accident of my friend; and the news of serious illness of a lady whom I admire.

At least for me, these are tragedies…some I share with dear friends, others in the lives of those I don’t know; and still other tragedies that make me cry every day.

Tragedies…disasters…it doesn’t matter what you call them. They leave us with a feeling of something that has come to an end, whether it’s the purity of a godly young girl; the death of another little girl; or the ministry of others.

Tragedy almost always marks the end of something that up until then brought happiness and joy. Tragedy gives way to mourning, sadness and as our Scripture says, “the sun was darkened,” when just a few seconds before, it was shining. Tragedy always brings changes, and most of the time, permanent changes.

I don’t know how Mary felt the day of the death of her Son on the cross. For sure, she knew even before His birth that He would be born to die. Sometimes I think sudden tragedy is far more painful than those we expected.

I remember the day I received the phone call from my brother that my Daddy had cancer. His death was tragic, but I didn’t feel the same sadness the day of his death on March 11, 1990, as I did the day of that phone call. What a shock! In my mind, and in my heart, I thought Daddy would live forever. At least for me, the months following the day I heard he had cancer were much harder than those following his death. I had time to be alone with him; I told him everything that was in my heart, and we did everything we wanted to do, we went to all the places where we wanted to go.

But when my husband went to Heaven it was sudden. We weren’t expecting it. My children and I weren’t prepared. Although he had been sick for years, I never thought about his dying. For me, the day of his death was a tragedy.

In the past few weeks, I’ve received news of “tragedies” that I wasn’t prepared for. Just like the day my husband went to Heaven, I’ve wanted to go back and “undo” some of the things I’ve done, take back some things I’ve said, but I can’t. There’s no time.

How wonderful that Mary had time to say to her Son all the things she wanted to tell Him, to do with Him all the things she wanted to do while He was with her! She was prepared for that “tragedy” of His crucifixion. Although she suffered as only a mother can, she was prepared, because His death was prophesied.

But what about those tragedies that don’t warn us before their arrival?

I don’t really know what people who don’t know the Lord do in times of sudden tragedies. And although I’ve never suffered some of the disasters that my friends are going through today, with complete confidence, using my personal experiences, observing the lives of others, but above all, using the Word of God, I’m going to offer some words of comfort. If you’ve never suffered a tragedy, one day, sooner or later, tragedy will knock at your door. I hope you will take to heart what I’m going to tell you when it does.

Have you ever gone to bed, and didn’t want to ever wake up? I have. A darkness that I’ve never felt overwhelmed me. Many years ago, my Daddy and I were traveling alone. We visited Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. As our guide directed us, he warned us that he was going to turn off all the lights. There in the depth of those caves, I remember “feeling” darkness that I had never experienced…you could feel it, as though you could reach out and touch it.

That was the same darkness I felt the day of my tragedy.

Divorce is one of the greatest tragedies a person can experience. Although, by the grace of God, I’ve never felt the effects of that disaster, I had the same reaction a few weeks ago, as a child has when he discovers his parents are no longer going to live together, and that is guilt. How many times have we heard little children say, “It’s my fault my parents don’t want to live together any more.”?

That was my reaction a few weeks ago over some pretty devastating news: “Is this my fault?”

Too late we want to fix broken things. We wish we hadn’t said things we have spoken. But once words are spoken, they’re like eggs: once they’re broken, it’s impossible to return them to their shell. 

We regret lost opportunities which we will never again have. There is finality in some tragedies. Even the sound of the word “tragedy” sounds like the end, the endless “nevers.” What existed a few seconds before is suddenly gone forever.

Besides guilt feelings, and lost opportunities, there is always the question, “Why?” “Why MY daughter,” “Why MY job,” “Why HIS health?”

Tragedy always brings changes, it takes away a certain sense of security, and life is never again the same. Surely the disciples felt forsaken when their Master died. So many people loved the Lord, and they were going to miss Him.

If you’re standing in a heap of ashes left by tragedy:

1. Trust in the Lord. He wants to be your Anchor, your Strength, and the only “Constant” in your life. He doesn’t change. He is Worthy of our trust. Put your trust in Him, and in no one else to save you. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” Nahum 1:7 

2. Live today as if it were the last day you would spend with your loved one, because it very well could be. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14 

3. If you love the Lord, all your tragedies are for your good. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 How is it possible that the cruel death of the Son of God could be turned into something good? He arose the third day, and said to His disciples, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 16:7 If the Lord had not died on the cross, we would have had to die for our sins. He was our Substitute. He took our place, and if we choose to accept His sacrifice, we won’t have to suffer the tragedy of eternal death when we die. The death of Jesus, the day when “the sun was darkened,” was changed into victory when on the third day He rose from the dead.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prayer Letter - February 2012

Does it seem to you like the first month of this year just flew by? I’m constantly reminded of how precious the gift of time is. I want to use every second of my waking hours for the Lord.

The months of December and January have been loaded to the brim with excitement. The auditorium we rented was packed out the nights of the conference December 13-15. Visiting pastors did a magnificent job preaching the Word, and challenging Christians. How thrilling it was to see the unsaved wife of one of our members attending every night. She also attends our ladies’ monthly prayer breakfasts. I have faith that some day she will be saved.

My son, Tommy, is doing a great job taking care of the work while his brother, Philip is in the USA on a short furlough. Even as I write, preparations are being made to have a three-day campaign in a village about an hour from San Cristóbal. Thousands of flyers have been passed out not only in that village, but in neighboring villages as well.

On January 7, I received a happy phone call from my granddaughter, Debbie. “Mimi, I’m saved!” Tommy received the same call, “Uncle Tommy, I’m saved, and I want to get baptized,” and he baptized her the next day.

There were two new ladies present at our ladies’ prayer breakfast January 25, both military wives. Thank you for your prayers for these special ladies.

Bro. Rodolfo and his son, Wilber, the young man who hosts the children’s Saturday Bible club in his home, feel that the Lord would have them start a church in the same neighborhood. The children’s ministry has been a great tool in reaching the parents of these children. Back in December, Wilber and Jessica hosted a Christmas party, and invited the parents of these children. I was delighted to have led two little boys to the Lord that afternoon. Pray for this father-son team as they start this new work.

People are being saved and baptized, and the church is growing. I led a young lady to the Lord on January 8. She was convicted that she should “get her life straightened out,” in her words.

My plans for this year include traveling to speak at ladies’ conferences: the states of Veracruz, Morelos and Querétaro in the country of México; the states of Illinois and California in the USA; and the countries of El Salvador, and Ukraine. Pray for strength, wisdom, and finances as I gladly carry out my mission here on earth.

Your friend,

Billie Sloan