Tuesday, December 23, 2014
As I think back over my year, I have to say with the song writer, “I Wish I Had Given Him More.” That could easily discourage me. But I won’t let it keep me from trying to do more for Him, be kinder to others, and be more faithful in my responsibilities as mother and friend this coming year.
And now, this is the news you’ve been waiting for, if you have been praying for our 16th Annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet which took place on the evening of November 21. Our dreams went far beyond the “coming true” level. God truly did “exceeding abundantly above all that we” asked or thought.
95 ladies signed our Guest Book, thirty-six for the first time. One of the First Ladies who was saved at age 8 said she had gotten away from the Lord, and rededicated her life during the invitation. In her testimony she said through her tears, “I’m not leaving the way I came in tonight.”
During the meal, I sat at the table of one of the First Ladies who has been attending for about ten years. Each of these special ladies receives a Bible with their name engraved on the front when she attends for the first time. I noticed this lady’s Bible that she received many years ago was lying beside her plate, and was well worn. Thank the Lord that His Word will not return unto Him void.
But I believe the “featured blessing” this year had to have been our very special first-time guests: 11 ladies who occupied the only reserved table, 10 of them policewomen. We handed out countless invitations to women on the police force, and to policemen (for their wives) everywhere we went for several weeks before the Banquet. Besides the policewomen who attended, there were three others ladies who were wives of men on the police force, including the wife of the Chief of Police. Yes, the policewomen filled the description of what you would imagine tough cops to look like. When we called them up on the platform, we heard of hair-raising experiences they had been through. But God and the Holy Spirit tendered their hearts and emotions. I watched them with tears in their eyes, as the little orphans marched out after their presentation. And after an amazing message by Philip entitled “Wars Within Women,” one of those lady cops raised her hand for Salvation. As they left the Banquet each one came up to me and gave me a hug, and most of them with tears in their eyes said they had never been to any event that touched them like that. The 11th lady, police head quarter’s beautiful, feminine secretary, assured me that she had taken down a schedule of our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfasts, and all that could, would attend. Well, your prayers helped to make those dreams come true. Thank you.
On November 15, 1960, the L.H. Ashcraft family (my parents, three little brothers and I) crossed the US border into México as missionaries. It was six years later, after graduating from Teachers’ College in Monterrey that I surrendered to be a missionary. On November 16th, my son in law, Ulises, and Elizabeth and their churches celebrated my 54 years in Mexico with a special Anniversary Thanksgiving service. I was delightfully surprised to see my dear friends, Bro. Dan and Debbie Morris, also missionaries for over thirty years. Ulises invited him to be the guest speaker. Then two days later our church in San Cristóbal had another similar service. How can I be anything but grateful for God’s goodness to me, with people reminding me in such special ways!
I’m writing this the week after Thanksgiving, which always follows the arduous weeks and weeks of Banquet preparations. So my children and I try to get away together for a few days. This year we caravanned 14 hours to the beautiful city of Mérida, Yucatán, and spent three unforgettable days with two missionary families: Bro. Danny and Dodi Ward, and Bro. Jason and Ellen Thomas, incredible hosts to our entourage of 17. Besides the time of sweet fellowship around turkey and all the trimmings, we were invited to attend Resurrection Baptist Church, their “baby” work, which is growing by leaps and bounds. Philip and Ulises preached, and the rest of the family sang. What precious memories we made!
I hope as we go into the Christmas season, we will stop throughout the hectic-ness of our days…maybe while little ones nap, or while grocery shopping, and turn our thoughts to the One who came to earth, Who saved me, and Who made this Thanksgiving report possible. “Thank You, Lord, for You!…and for my friends.”
Monday, November 17, 2014
We have just entered the fall season; and like the seasons of the year, our lives also change seasons. We have seasons of sorrow, and seasons of joy; we experience seasons of draught and seasons of plenty. In whatever season you may find yourself this morning, I pray the Lord will be Near and Dear to you.
Besides the birth of my fortieth grandbaby, Isaac Joel, born on September 5 to Steve and Ruthie Miller, (which was the happiest event of my past two months since I wrote to you,) were the spiritual births I was privileged to witness with the ladies from our Saturday morning soul winning group. We were even able to witness to a group of Muslims while looking for…of all things…Jewish people.
Our ladies have been putting an emphasis on witnessing “to the Jew first.” This inspiration came when I attended an Israel Conference in Ixtapa, August 16 and 17, where my son in law, Ulises Martínez, invited Bro. Samuel Esquivel to speak. His messages challenged us to focus on witnessing to God’s chosen people, and indeed He has blessed our soul winning efforts since we began “looking for Jews.”
One of my favorite times of the week is Friday mornings. Besides getting to spend special time with my son, Tommy, I enjoy speaking on a live broadcast, focused on the lady listeners. We get in his pickup so he can drive me home, and even before he starts the motor sometimes I get phone calls in response to the broadcast I just made. The day after my last broadcast, while waiting for my ride in front of the post office, I gave a tract to a very well dressed lady. She smiled and said, “I’m a Christian. I have Jesus in my heart.” And then she asked, “Are you the lady who preaches on the radio?” She recognized my voice, and I said, “Well, I teach ladies.” What a unique ministry God gave to my son. We will probably never know all the results this side of eternity. I am thankful to have a very small part in the vision God gave my son several years ago. Compassion Radio just celebrated their second year of broadcasting on August 17.
I hope you are praying for our 16th annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet, which will take place on November 21. It is a blessing to see most of the ladies in our church as they are getting involved in the many projects formed to bring about this special event. Since they are working in teams, it’s exciting to see how creative they are. It’s amazing to discover the many hidden talents in our church…just another aspect of this evangelistic outreach ministry.
I thank you for being a special part of my life and my ministry.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
PRAYER REQUEST LIST FOR OUR 16TH ANNUAL
LADIES’ CHRISTMAS BANQUET
November 21, 2014
1. Wisdom and discernment in all the plans and decisions to be made.
2. Extra strength for the ladies and me as we plan and make preparations.
3. For the wife of our City Mayor to be able to attend, as well as First Ladies of neighboring towns. We refer to ladies who are in positions of prominence as “First Ladies.”
4. For the wives of the former mayors, military wives, wives of men on the police force, and pastors’ wives to be able to attend.
5. For extra finances for the cost of the Banquet.
6. Preparation of the special music, and choice of each song.
7. For our guest speaker, my son, Philip Sloan, as he prepares his message for the evening, and for liberty as he preaches.
8. For the Hotel staff to be reached with the Gospel.
9. 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 thirteen years, including four former First Ladies, three military wives, and two ladies who have prominent positions in our city.
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.
“The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”
If you could follow me around, you would understand why Nahum 1:7 is the verse I have chosen as my life verse. God is Good to me, you would agree. But you would also witness days of trouble and heartache: two inevitable ingredients in everyone’s life. How do people live, then, without the last part of that verse? Well, that’s why I’m here.
Talk about trouble! My children, Ulises y Elizabeth, who live in Ixtapa, were blocked into their little village for ten days, as farmers protested against the government. By the time their request for fertilizer was granted, my children had learned literally to live with very limited food and water, propane gas and money. They trudged up the side of the mountain to go around the road blocks in order to get into town for services. But praise the Lord, when I went for a week’s visit on July 21st, I found the work to have continued to go forward with big plans for the future.
As I do every year, I got to fly to Chicago for the Family Conference in Pastor Elmer Fernández’ church in Bartlett, IN. What an honor it was to have spoken six times to different ladies’ sessions. This was my 8th time to get to be a part of this incredible ministry, and every year I am treated royally. Thank you, Pastor Fernández, and Martha.
Who cares that my connecting flight home was canceled, and I had to look for a hotel in the middle of the night in Mexico City, and schedule another flight home. I found one, there was no earthquake that night, and my arrival was more joyous than if I’d arrived home on schedule.
Life is a sort of bittersweet experience, isn’t it? Home Sweet Home was a bit bitter, when I found out that my son, Tommy, had resigned as pastor of our church during my absence. But he has started another church across town, is going full speed ahead with his radio ministry, which I’m delighted to be a part of every Friday morning; they had a wonderful Vacation Bible School last week; and the Lord has given us a dedicated young man as our new pastor. Please pray for Emilio, whom my husband won to the Lord over fifteen years ago!
At our monthly Prayer Breakfast, on June 25, a young lady was saved. She is a sweetheart, and a blessing to watch, as she grows in grace.
My son, Philip and his wife Liz honored me, by inviting me to speak at their very first Ladies’ Conference in Xalapa, Veracruz, on July 5. Close to sixty ladies attended, and we sat outside under their porch roof/tent, overlooking the breathtaking view of the wooded area where they live.
And in our Vacation Bible School July 14-18, there were twenty precious children who lifted their hands for Salvation…a few of them too little to understand yet, but whose little hearts are tender enough to know they need a Savior. See what I mean about the Lord being so Good?!
And I end by asking you to pray for our Annual Ladies’ Christmas Banquet, which will be held on November 21. Will you share these prayer requests with your friends?
Thank you for being my friend,
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Dear Friends of México,
I have had the most wonderful two months since the last time I wrote to you. Although traveling can be a challenge, and I miss my home more than words can say, I always come off a trip having received so many blessings. I get to meet new friends, share my woman-heart with other ladies who are also facing their own challenges, and it is my privilege to see works that never cease to amaze me. Let me share those with you:
I got to spend the month of April in Chaparral, NM, where my son, Joel and his wife Margaret and their two daughters have a bi-lingual church: two congregations share the same pastor. This in itself keeps them busy, plus other ministries. I was blessed to get to speak nine times to both the English-speaking, and Spanish-speaking ladies. I don’t know who learned more, them or me.
From the desert, I flew to Guadalajara to participate in the Conference of Bro. Bob Murillo and his wife, Joy. Every year when I return, I see growth, not only in attendance, but also spiritually. The children’s home is so unique, but not free of its challenges. There are about 50 children who live in different homes of church families, ranging in ages from pre-schoolers to teenagers. Thank you, Pastor Bob and Joy, for allowing me to speak seven times, and to enjoy all the challenging messages.
I returned a few days before Mother’s Day, and was invited, along with my daughter, Anna, to speak at the Mother-Daughter Banquet in Ixtapa. The next day we taught the ladies’ Sunday school class. Ulises and Elizabeth are now living on the property where the church and children’s home are located. This is another work that inspires my admiration.
The next weekend I traveled to the city of Iguala, to speak in a two-day Ladies’ Conference, with Pastor Iván Sotelo, and his wife, Eunice. They have two very small children, and have also taken in three little brothers who were abandoned. I spoke five times, including the beautiful banquet that concluded the Conference. I came away so impressed with the vision that this young couple have for the Lord! In only four years since he has pastored there, they have a children’s home, a Christian school, a prison ministry and many more. I know God has many wonderful things in store for them.
Mrs. Sloan and Eunice Sotelo
As I was leaving to return home, my ‘phone rang. The voice on the other end of the line was that of my grandson, 7 year old Stewart Knabb. “Stewart, does your Mommie know you’re on the ‘phone?” “Yes, Mimi, she’s right here.” “Oh, then I think I know why you’re calling.” “Mimi, I got saved today, and Daddy is going to baptize me tonight.” Thank you, Jason and Sarah, for training your children to love the Lord.
Jason and Sarah Knabb with their children
Here on the home front, I was happy to see a young lady baptized last Sunday by my son, Tommy. The radio ministry provides me an opportunity to speak to thousands of ladies, I’m told, every Friday morning. I got to be at our monthly ladies’ prayer breakfast for the first time since I left back in February. Thursday evenings at 5:00 will find me teaching ladies in my living room.
I love my home, and my ministry here occupies so much of my time, but as long as I am invited, and as long as the Lord gives me strength, I will continue to say “Yes,” to pastors and their wives, if they think I can be a blessing to their ladies.
You certainly are a blessing to me.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Greetings from the desert, where I am enjoying spending special time with my son, Joel, and his wife, Margaret and their two beautiful daughters. I just returned from a week’s visit with my son, David and his wife, Jolene, and their five precious children. I got to meet four month-old Mackenzie for the first time. I appreciate the opportunity my children give me to serve in their ministries. In Santa Clara, California, where David and his family serve in North Valley Baptist Church, it was my honor to be able to get to teach in three of David’s college classes. He also interviewed me for a four-part series on his radio program, Focus on Missions.
I know you will rejoice with me over the Salvation of two of my grandchildren during the month of March: Brianna, David and Jolene’s little girl was saved on March 2; and Benjamin Miller was saved on his Mommy’s birthday, March 20. In his words, “I got born again.” I thank the Lord for my children whose training makes my grandchildren’s hearts tender toward the Holy Spirit.
What an honor it was for me to be able to travel to Toronto, Canada, on February 26, and speak four times in a ladies’ conference for Pastor Roberto and Naomi Armendáriz. They have a thriving work among the Hispanics. I was treated like royalty, and even given a tour of Niagara Falls the day before I left.
From Canada, I flew to Querétaro to attend the 10th Anniversary Conference of the church Steve and Ruthie Miller started. I was present in a few of those first services, held in the garage of their house. What a blessing to see the growth of this work, spiritually as well as in attendance.
Three of the ladies from the church there attended our Ladies’ Banquet last year, and they were so challenged, they spoke to Ruthie about starting the same ministry in their church. So on March 17, about ten ladies and I met for coffee, and I held an orientation meeting for them. Excitement was at an all-time high, on their part as well as on mine, as I shared with them the burden I have for these special ladies. Please pray for Ruthie and her ladies as they will be having their first Ladies’ Banquet in November.
Although I’m unable to be at home for all the ladies’ Bible studies around the corner from my house, Dali continues to faithfully open her home every week to these lost ladies. Flor has been attending faithfully with her sister, who was saved a few months ago. And on February 27, Flor was saved.
Our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfasts continue right on schedule, as the ladies in the church cover my responsibilities in my absence. I am receiving wonderful reports of this ministry, which is for the purpose of praying for “women in authority” or wives of men in authority. We also treat military ladies, and wives of military men to a free breakfast, while they hear the Gospel.
I am blessed to be who I am. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else on earth.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
They sit in a room being observed by prospective parents. These children can’t see the couple making the decision, but they know they’re being watched. One of them will soon be chosen for adoption. The others will be left out...outside the family.
Not many things in this life make us feel more unloved than the feeling of being left out…left out of activities, circles of friends, special projects. Whether imagined, or real, outside is a lonely place to be.
These feelings can be formed because of several reasons: age, marital status, culture, beliefs, physical appearance, etc.
What is there in your life right now that is excluding you from things you were once a part of? Is it a job, or a relationship? Maybe it’s a dinner or a wedding where you weren’t invited to participate.
Perhaps others classify you with who you are, or who you aren’t.
Ever been rejected by someone you admired and respected?
It can be devastating…being outside!
It can destroy our feelings of self-esteem. It can harm our efforts to reach our full potential.
It could possibly affect our health, our attitude toward others, especially toward those who have left us outside.
Mindy (not her real name) sat watching the power point presentation of her dear friends…pictures taken years ago when they were children. The music was perfect for stirring up feelings and emotions of love.
She was attending their wedding.
But she had been left out…outside the group of friends who formed the bridal party.
She sat there with tears in her eyes, chiding herself for even caring…for feeling sorry for herself. This was a joyous celebration. But her only feeling had been, “I was left out…outside.”
Laura’s special project had just been taken from her, and given to someone else without an explanation. What was once the highlight of her year, and occupied hours and days and months of planning and preparation, had now been given to someone else…taken from her.
Is jealousy at the root of this snatching on the one part, and losing on the other?
I say, “Yes.”
But regardless of feelings, one was inside, and the other was outside.
The friends at the wedding were on the inside; Mindy was on the outside.
It’s the feeling of inadequacy that they battle.
While I’m not an expert on analyzing emotions and feelings, I would like to attempt to help Mindy and Laura, and any other outsiders who might be reading this.
1. While I sympathize with my friends, we must realize that at the root of all negative feelings, whether brought on by real or imagined reasons, is sin. When we compare ourselves to others, we are saying, “I am as good…young…qualified…as you are; and how dare you leave me out!” The devil puts negative thoughts in the minds of my friends. The sooner they realize who is making them feel worthless, the better. Remember, God accepts you just the way you are. Ephesians 1:6 says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
2. Sometimes our emotions run wild, and pull our imagination along with it. Could it be that Mindy and Laura are imagining things that aren’t true? The author of confusion (see point 1) is also the great accuser. Revelation 12: 9, 10 calls the Devil or Satan “…the accuser of our brethren…”
3. Since Mindy and Laura are Christians, I must remind them that Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible, and applies not only to those who are suffering losses and hardships, but also to those who feel left out. They should remember that all the things that have been happening to them are working for their good.
4. My friends are self-centered, thinking only of themselves. Life is not all about them. They should take their minds off themselves, and focus on others who are suffering tragedies today. But above all, they should keep their focus on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus…” It’s when we take our eyes off Him that we sink, like Peter did when he focused on the negative that surrounded him.
5. They should not follow their emotions. Pouting, withdrawal, and vengeance are the natural responses of the outsider. Those are immature characteristics of a child. I Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
6. Mindy and Laura should realize that God is allowing these trials to come into their lives in order to conform them to His image. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son…” John 15:18 says, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” Who more than our Master understands what it’s like to be left outside? Do we forget Him? Are we ashamed of Him? Do we share Him with others like we should? Do we include Him in our plans for each day, for our life?
7. There’s something else my friends should do. In fact, the Bible commands us to do it: Forgive those who have left them outside. This is perhaps the hardest step to take for the outsider. There is a burden lifted when we forgive. Sincere forgiveness frees us from bitterness. Colossians 3:13 admonishes us: “…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Right alongside forgiveness is the advice given us in Matthew 5:44 “pray for them which despitefully use you…” Mindy and Laura, pray for those who have left you outside. There is a healing balm in those two exhortations the Bible gives us. Only then will you be free to serve the Lord, while living on the outside. Don’t let bitterness ruin your life, or your service for the Lord.
How many times have we, by our attitudes shut God out? And yet He loves us still; he doesn’t reject us. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
There was no room in the inn the night of His birth. I wonder how Mary felt to be left outside to have her Baby. The very Son of God was left outside to be born in a stable, among the cattle. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11
While outside is a lonely place to be, it can be fatal. The well-known story of Noah and the Ark proves that to be true. Only the 8 people who were inside the ark were safe, while those who refused Noah’s 120-year invitation to join them proved to be their death. We can actually choose to live outside the will of God. He has a perfect plan for our lives. The first part of that plan is Salvation…the Salvation of our souls. We are born sinners, and at the root of our negative feelings, such as rejection, is sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all indeed left outside, we’ve “fallen short.” We live in a world of sin. But Jesus died on the cross for our sin, and when we accept Him as our Substitute, and ask Him to forgive us, our sins no longer condemn us. We are free from sin’s condemnation.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, invites you to come inside the fold. If you reject that invitation, you indeed are outside.
And that could be fatal!
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
You knew this chapter was coming, didn’t you? I thought this would be a good place to put this, since we just celebrated Grandparents’ Day a few days ago.
Even as I start this chapter, I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot, my recliner. It’s in the corner of my cozy living room, and if I look to my left a bit, I can see through the lace drapes, out into my yard. For the last thirty minutes my ears and eyes have been “tuned” to my gate, waiting for the sound and sight of my grandchildren’s arrival. They have the key, so they’ll be on my porch before I can get out of my recliner.
This is a happy day for me, because I haven’t seen these particular “grandkids” (I use that word in keeping with the title of my book, because I don’t usually refer to my children and grandchildren as kids and grandkids, since I’m not a goat, and neither are my daughters and daughters in law) in about a month.
There are some great stories, and so many cute things my grandchildren have said, and so many things we’ve done together:
I have to include this one from one of my own "babies:" My daughter, Ruthie sent me a message while I was at the airport during one of my trips one Mother’s Day. She wished me a Happy Mother's Day, and then she said, "I'm so glad I grabbed you when it was my time to be born."
But I’d like to share the ones which consist of the times I’ve stayed with my grandchildren while their mommies were in the hospital having their little siblings.
I wrote a devotional once called, “Adjust Your Oxygen Mask; or Mimi, I Want My Chocolate Milk!” I actually wrote that lesson while I was keeping Jacque and her 4 siblings, while their Mommie was in the hospital, having her sixth baby. The idea of the lesson was: if you are going to help someone (like on a plane to adjust their oxygen mask) you need to have your act together first, (just like you should adjust your own oxygen mask in case of emergency, before helping a child or someone else.)
Because Sarah had a C-Section, it took her a little longer to recuperate than it did with her other five. So I stayed a few extra days until she was able to get around.
While Sarah was in the hospital, and even after she came home, as soon as Jacque would get up in the morning, she would patter downstairs in her bare feet and gown, go into my room where I was reading my Bible, and say, “Mimi, I want my chocolate milk.” I learned really fast that if I wasn’t prepared for the day before these little ones got up, chances were I wouldn’t have another chance until the next morning.
The lesson I learned from Jacque was: I don’t know what this day holds. Before interruptions come “pattering down the stairs” I’d better “have my oxygen mask adjusted” by spending a quiet time with God, and turning over the events and interruptions of the day to Him.
Thomas Gregory, who was named after his two grandfathers, has two siblings, Andrew and Debbie. Tommy Greg was born here in my town, so I got to stay with Andrew and Debbie. I think my favorite part of having a new grandbaby, is getting to share those special moments right after the birth, with the baby’s siblings. I never cease to be amazed at how fast these little guys bond together, right from the beginning. Actually, I think they’ve already bonded before birth…feeling the baby move; seeing the ultrasounds…things we never shared with our children when I was expecting their siblings. That was sort of taboo back in the 70’s and 80’s, at least around the Sloan house, where we didn’t even use the word “pregnant” in mixed company.
Tommy Greg was born in January, a very cold month here in my mountain home. So after visiting with Mommie and Baby for a while, we left Daddy to take care of Mommie while Andrew and Debbie and I took a taxi home. It was about 5:00 Saturday afternoon. We went down to the corner store, bought some treats (I’m a real party grandma), came home, had supper, and showers.
As soon as they were in their jammies, and the dishes were done, we went into my bedroom; I put a Little House on the Prairie on, turned on my electric blanket, put on my gown, and crawled into the warm bed with my grand-treasures. When Mama Bear and Papa Bear came home from the hospital with Baby Bear, that’s where they found us, eating ice cream! What precious, happy memories.
Mark Allen Ralph decided to make his appearance four years ago, the first day of Vacation Bible School. That was fun, but a special challenge, since I had to juggle getting out the door and head for Bible School, with two little boys in tow. Actually Mark’s arrival was scheduled. Isn’t that funny? I don’t think I’ll ever get over the very well planned births mommies give these days. Isn’t there something missing, a little mystery element when you know what you’re going to have, where, when, almost the hour? Anyway, “planned births” sure make things a lot more organized for everyone involved, I guess.
When my 5th baby was born in 1977, I couldn’t believe my ears when my hospital roommate told me she actually went to K-Mart on February 13 to do some last minute shopping before checking herself into the hospital on Valentine’s Day. She knew what time her baby would be born, and that she would be a girl…and a Valentine Baby.
But I don’t know…there’s a special feeling about a sudden burst of pain…no pain…“It’s a girl!” that is exhilarating! You haven’t had months to prepare yourself for what your baby will be. It all happens in that incredible moment when you know it’s over, and then finding out who he or she is at the same time.
Not all births are like that, of course. Anna’s deliveries were never scheduled, although she knew what her baby would be before he or she arrived.
We’ve all heard stories about babies being born on the way to the hospital. A lady who lives near my house had her baby just as she stepped into the lobby of the hospital…in front of all the people sitting there.
But back to my grandchildren:
Time and space fail me to tell of everything. But perhaps among my many favorites, is the little hand-written note on my bedroom door.
I live alone. But I am blessed to live in the same town with one of my sons, and within a few hours of three of my daughters. So during one of the visits of my daughter, Anna and her family, Debbie wrote me a little note, and put it on my bedroom door: “Shhh…Mimi is getting faith in God.” Let me explain:
I take advantage of the fact that when my children are here, they can answer early morning phone calls, and receive early morning visitors. So I get up, shower, put my gown back on, and crawl under my blankets on my un-made bed, to have my devotions. My grandchildren are very well trained by their mommies to respect my “corner of the world”…whether I’m visiting in their home, or whether I’m at home in my bedroom, especially early in the morning. Hence, the precious little note written from the heart of a 6-year old and her opinion of what it is to have a quiet time with God.
How right you are, Debbie. I lack so much faith this morning. Things are a bit upside-down in my world. So it’s in my little corner of the world, every morning, behind closed doors, that I “get faith in God,” and things come into the right perspective.
There are decisions to be made that perhaps will change my life, and the lives of so many others; legal affairs to get in order; travel arrangements to be made. I really need to “get faith in God.”
How do you get your faith in God? I do it by:
Getting alone with Him early in the mornings in prayer and Bible study.
Remembering how He has brought me through difficult times, and helped me to survive.
Keeping my focus on Him. To me, this simply means going about my daily routine with a positive attitude.
Realizing that negative thoughts are put there by the devil.
Negative thoughts can lead me to doubt.
Doubt is the opposite of faith, and can lead to depression.
“Thank you, Lord, for my precious grand-treasures, and for the lessons You’ve taught me through them. Amen.”
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Mission work, like any other work, often follows a routine; like my weekly Bible study, mainly for lost ladies; and my Friday morning ladies’ radio program. But sometimes, right in the middle of routine and normal life, God drops a special, unexpected blessing. Yesterday, while shopping for groceries, I received a call from my daughter, Sarah. She and Jason are missionaries in Jáltipan, Veracruz, about four and a half hours from my home in San Cristóbal. She called to let me know that two of their six children, Kenny and Jacque, were saved that morning. What a blessing to know that sixteen of my grandchildren have trusted Jesus as their Savior.
For over two years now, I have been praying, along with Sarah, for her to be able to have a Pastors’ Wives’ Conference. The Lord laid this desire on her heart to be a blessing and an encouragement to the ladies in her surrounding area. On January 24, God allowed her to see that dream come true. She rented a “palapa”…a tabernacle of sorts…in a beautiful garden setting. It was so well organized. She also invited her sister, Anna, to speak. I was so proud of my two daughters: Sarah is an excellent organizer, and as a mother of six, has been gifted with the virtue of patience. I watched as she calmly drove several van loads of ladies from her home to the nearby conference area, through the pouring rain. Jason entertained almost as many fathers and children as Sarah did wives and mothers. He prepared a delicious spaghetti dinner, complete with salad, French bread, and dessert, for the ladies and their families. Between sessions, the men brought in fresh coffee and sweet bread. There were 53 ladies who attended this first conference, nine of them wives of pastors orfull-time workers, and members of their churches. This was the first conference Sarah had ever hosted. Everything was so lovely. The ladies sat like eager little birds, wrapped in shawls anxious to learn what Anna and I taught.
I saw a talent I didn’t know Anna possessed. She is an excellent speaker, and was able to hold the attention of the ladies.
I love visiting my children’s works. I always try to be a blessing and an encouragement to them, but I always leave feeling like I am the one who was challenged and encouraged. Please pray for Jason and Sarah, and the vision he has for this very unusual work. It’s “off the beaten path,” in a rather obscure area of México. But God has given him and Sarah a burden and love for those precious people.
And this afternoon finds me in Ixtapa, in the home of my daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Ulises. Even as I write, he is spending time with the men he is training to carry on the work he started three years ago, and is extending the work my husband left over thirty years ago.
Last month ended with our monthly Ladies’ Prayer Breakfast on January 29, where I challenged ladies to balance their lives. To the lost ladies, I spoke about the futility of balancing our sins with good works. Only Jesus can step in that side of the scale.
I’m afraid my mother-grandmother heart was revealed in this letter. You moms will agree with me, that our first and most important ministry is our home.
“Set a watch, oh Lord, before my mouth;
keep the door of my lips.”
I’m writing this at the beginning of the New Year, and I have just gone through my very favorite time of the year: Christmas.During that jolly season, my house was full of my children and their families: 24, to be exact. When I’d go into my bedroom and close my door, I would feel something akin to what the captain of an army must feel when he takes possession of a city. I would get this feeling of control over the situation. While I’m in my bedroom, alone, I can relax. This is my space. I can control everything in sight. It’s here that no one makes me angry; here I offend no one. I’m alone; at least while my door is closed. I can take a delicious nap, and while my door is closed, no one bothers me, because all the Mommies have warned my grandchildren: “Mimi is taking a nap. While her door is closed, don’t bother her.”
I’m inside my room, with my door closed. And I just expressed my feelings to you.
But what about my little ones? How must they feel when they get to their Mimi’s door, and see it closed? They know that sooner or later that barrier that separates us will be opened, and their Mimi will come out, and they can go in. But in the meantime, they must feel isolated from me, and I from them.
There are other doors in our lives that are invisible. Just like the ones we can see, they can be opened or closed; and we can find ourselves inside, or outside.
1.The door of indifference. As wives, mothers, and grandmothers, and every other relationship a woman can have, at times we have the attitude, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me what you think, or what you need, or what you want.” Sometimes being left outside invisible doors is more painful than it is for my grandchildren to be outside my bedroom door. We put barriers between us and those we love most. Our marriages and our homes have turned to ashes because of indifference. We all have problems. We need someone who will listen to us. But more than that…someone who cares about what is causing our pain, our fear, or our grief. Sometimes we simply need someone with whom we can share our joys and victories; our dreams and plans. Put yourself on the other side of the door of indifference that you have closed. What do you feel? Reproach? Rejection? Worthlessness? This is what others feel to whom you have shown indifference. We’re busy women, with pressures that our grandmothers, or even our mothers didn’t have. We don’t have time to sit down with our husband over a cup of coffee, and listen to his plans and his challenges. Our children scream at us: “LISTEN TO ME!” And indifference slams the door in their faces. I believe with all my heart that there are young people who take drugs, because when they came to Mom, wanting to talk and share their fears, they found the door shut in their faces. Mom didn’t care about the relationship with her daughter, because the potatoes were not done, and it was almost dinner time. She was more concerned about folding the laundry, than she was about her son who was silently crying, “Mom, I think I’ve gotten into trouble with some bad friends.” Open the door to your husband; invite your child to come into your space. Slam the door in the face of your appointments, and your weekly lunch with the girls, and keep the door open to your daughter.
2.The door of self-centeredness. Perhaps this door is the most difficult to recognize, because it is decorated with flowers and ribbons. Self-centeredness is sly. At times it takes on the form of heroism. But this door is thick; sometimes it’s made of iron. It may even have bars of protection. Inside this door lives the great “Me.” This door even has our name written on the outside, so that everyone can tell who’s inside. Pride and haughtiness reign insidethis door. The one who lives here separates herself from those who are not inside her own circle. Did you know there are other people in this world who do not belong to your family, or to your group of friends, or to your Church?Every week, someone appears at my door, usually a salesman selling things I will never buy; or asking for help I don’t have time to give. And because MY family and MYchildren don’t have a need, I turn them away. Ever have a boy rush up to your car while you’re stopped at a red light, offering to wash your windshield for a dime? They really bother me. They’re annoying. The best remedy for your self-centered closed door? Put yourself in the place of the person outside that door. Better still; put yourself in the place of the mother of that young man who rings your doorbell, wanting to sell you something you don’t need.Did you know he doesn’t really want to sell you something you need? He doesn’t care if you have Internet service or not; or that not one more skillet will fit in your cabinet. He has a need, and the only thing you can think about isYOUR need, and those inside YOUR door.
3.The door of self-sufficiency. This door, when it is closed, says to those outside, “I don’t need you. I can do everything.” Let me tell you something that I’ve learned in the 70 years that I’ve lived on this earth: I need people. I will never have too many friends. Every person that God puts in my path can be a blessing to me. Why are we that way? Why do we reject the help of others? By the way, teach your daughters while they’re young to let their brothers help them with the door, or to put on their coats, etc. This is the attitude that prevails today: I can do everything by myself, and I don’t need anyone. How many blessings have we missed because we refused the help and support of others? Just like the door of self-centeredness, inside this door reign self-sufficiency, pride, and haughtiness. We refuse to humble ourselves to the point where we must say, “I can’t do this alone. I need your help.” Did you know that’s the reason a lot of people reject Christ? Jesus died for our sins. He gave His life on the cross in our place, but you’ve closed the door…the door of self-sufficiency, and you’ve said, “No, thank You. I can be good enough to go to Heaven. Or one of these days I’m going to fix my relationship with God so that He will take me to Heaven when I die. I don’t need the blood of Christ to cover my sins, because I am self-sufficient, and I don’t need a Savior.” Jesus said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,…” In another passage in Revelation 3:20 the Lord says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Since I’m writing this during the New Year, my personal prayer for myself this year is that I may learn and know more about God than I did last year. The lovely thing is that God also desires that more than I do. He’s ready. What’s more, He’s at the door, and He’s knocking.My Spanish Bible uses the word, “calling.” What do you think He’s calling out? I imagine He’s saying my name. He’s calling out your name. Do you hear His voice? He will never force open the door. He calls out, but He won’t enter unless you invite Him to come in. And when you do, He’ll have dinner with you, and you’ll have dinner with Him.That means we’ll fellowship with Him. One of the most wonderful ways to get to know someone, and to visit with others is during a meal. Imagine having an invitation from the Lord to go out to dinner! How do we accept that invitation? We accept it by opening the door of our heart to Him; by laying aside our pride, our self-sufficiency, and our self-centeredness. Let me share a secret with you: when you and I open the door to Christ, whether to be saved, or to have fellowship with Him, He helps us to open other doors to our husband, to our children, and to those whom we love most, and who need us. Have you closed the door to someone? Is someone you love, and who loves you outside that door? What about the Lord Jesus? Have you closed the door of your heart?