(Written on Friday, March 9 - Just so you're aware, it's a long one.)
This week, I’ve been on a break with my family while the rest of my training group completes their orientation training sessions. We’re snugly, if not comfortably, ensconced in a tiny cabin in a hilly region of southeast Indiana. It’s absolutely beautiful here. If I don’t look at a map, I can almost convince myself we’re somewhere in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains--my absolute favorite place to be. My only complaint is that it’s been too cold to really enjoy the beauties of nature around us. Too cold and windy to settle with a good book in the adirondack chairs overlooking a serene pond on the upper portion of the property. Too cold and windy to lay in the grass at the edge of the stream that runs along the lower portion of the property, listening to the babbling brook while idly watching the clouds drift by overhead. Too cold to sneak the two horses--Little and Smoke--snacks of apples, carrots, and sugar cubes. (Although, as this sort of thing is actually encouraged by the proprietors, I guess it’s not really “sneaking” them a snack, is it?)
I really anticipated doing a lot more writing than I have been. Last night was the first time I’ve actually opened the file that holds my novel-in-progress. And even then, it was only to re-read what I’d previously written.
Anyway. Before we left for “the country”, I borrowed Joyce’s copy of “Renting Lacy” with every intention of reading it during this week away. But between our physical yesterday, trips to town to run laundry (because I wasn’t paying close enough attention, I didn’t realize that there are not laundry facilities for guests on the property), and helping Troy with school, there hasn’t been much time for writing or homework. Well, okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. Let’s just say I haven’t made the time for writing or homework. Today, Tayler’s 12th birthday, we rushed the kids through a couple subjects each, then took off for town for her birthday lunch and to run another couple loads of laundry. While waiting on the loads, I began reading “Renting Lacy”. I didn’t even get very far in it--not even out of the foreword--before tears were running down my face. (I’m not going to attempt to describe the book other than to say it’s about the child prostitution side of human trafficking--partly told through the perspective of a child “prostitute”. You need to read it. Period.) I just can’t seem to separate my children from these other children. I read about a 12-year-old girl....and immediately think of my now-12-year-old daughter.
Every instinct within me as a mother wants to grab my children, whisk them to a far away “safe” place, and never again let them out of my sight. But I can’t do this. Besides. Where would I go? Where in this world is there any safe place? We may tell ourselves that our towns are safe. You may think of us taking our children to Mexico and shudder....or worse---judge us...for taking our children to such a “dangerous” place. But the truth is, we are deluding ourselves if we think there is any safe place left in this world. My husband confided in me that the enemy has been trying to instill fear into his heart with regard to our children. He’s been telling Troy, “Okay. If you’re going to actively work to set children free, others free, I’m going after your children. I’m going to enslave them.” When he told me this, I confess I nearly lost it. I’m honestly not sure how I was able to remain standing. Especially when everything within me felt like it would crumble. Jesus! Not my children! Satan can’t have my children! We are just going to pray against that!
But here’s the kicker. Are my children more important than any other children? Greater is He who is within me than he who is in the world. This we all know. Hallelujah!! But what if the unthinkable happens and I have to choose? Will I hold onto my children in fear, or will I surrender them to Jesus’ care? I remember hearing a missionary from the remote areas of Bolivia sharing about a similar conversation he had with his wife regarding their children. This missionary family lived near a big river. He used to take his children and the other children of the village on rides down the river on a large raft. There were sometimes rapids on this river, and when the rains came, they swelled the river to many times its usual size. He told his wife that if the worst ever happened and the kids were accidentally swept overboard, he was going to rescue the village kids first....before his own. Even if this meant that his own children died. His own children knew Jesus as their Savior....the village kids didn’t. I remember hearing this story and thinking, despite that fact, that the man was a cold-hearted man. Those village people would certainly understand his desire to save his own children first. That’s what being a parent is about. But how powerful a testimony would that have been if he had "sacrificed" his own children for someone else’s? Didn’t God sacrifice His own Son for me? For you? Thank God the worst never happened, and he and his wife were not called upon to make that choice.
All afternoon, since Troy’s admission, this story has been playing in my head over and over again, along with the thought, "please God, I don’t ever want to have to make that choice."
I am reminded again, even now as I write, of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Or how about:
For I know the plans I have for TAYLER, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper her and not to harm her. Plans to give her a hope and a future.
For I know the plans I have for CLAYTON, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper him and not to harm him. Plans to give him a hope and a future.
For I know the plans I have for TORI, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper her and not to harm her. Plans to give her a hope and a future.
For I know the plans I have for CODY, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper him and not to harm him. Plans to give him a hope and a future.
Thank You, Jesus. Amen.
Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world!!!
Thank You, JESUS!!
YOU CAN’T HAVE MY CHILDREN, Satan! No! In Jesus’ name, they are His and His alone! You almost made me despair, didn’t you? But I choose to trust in the plans the Lord has for my children. Plans to prosper them and not to harm them! Plans for a future and a HOPE! There is no hope in despair. I CHOOSE HOPE.
And we won’t let you have the other children, either! In Jesus’ name, we will fight you! Whatever it takes! WE WILL FREE THOSE ENSLAVED IN YOUR BONDAGE!
THANK YOU, JESUS! Amen.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to post this. But I think it’s important for you to know the battle we are waging here. (And for me to remember it later on.) There is so much darkness associated with issue. Darkness that can weigh down our spirits if we’re not careful. And for me, one of the greatest tools my enemy has is fear. Fear of what might happen to me. To my children. Fear that I won’t be good enough. That what I do won’t matter. That I’m only one person in a sea of broken lives. So I’m going to post this. And I want you to read about my spiritual ups and downs today because I desperately need for you to pray for me.
I am reminded of the story in scripture (Exodus 17:9-12) where Aaron and Hur had to literally hold up Moses’ arms for the Israelites to be victorious in battle. When his arms lowered, the tide of the battle turned and their enemy was winning. As long as his arms were raised, the Israelites were victorious. How tired his arms must’ve been. How sore. How achy. How desperately he must’ve wanted to lower them. Even for just a moment’s relief. A moment’s respite. It was in those moments, he completely relied on the strength and support of those literally holding his arms up. Think about it--didn’t their arms get tired? Didn’t they want to put their arms down, too? But they didn’t.
There will be times I’m tired of the battle. Tired of the spiritual and emotional attacks (like today). There will be times I want to quit. It is in these moments I will need to rely, not only on the strength and support of my Father, but the strength, support, and encouragement of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as well.....you, friend. As the men holding up Moses must’ve tired of their task, you might tire of the task as well. I will pray for you as you pray for me. I will do my best to encourage you as you encourage me. And more than ever, we need to rely on Jesus.
He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
Praise the Lord Almighty.
And then this evening, tangible proof that God's plans are to prosper my children, to give them a hope and a future......as well as the answer to a long-standing prayer...
On the way home from Tayler’s birthday supper (in a restaurant that had a statue of Mary), the kids were full of questions about the difference between the Lady of Guadalupe and the Virgin Mary statues we’ve seen in this predominantly Catholic town (there is both a large monastery and a large convent not 10 minutes’ drive from our cabin). At the end of the conversation, Cody makes a statement about “all of us” having Jesus in our hearts. I froze and Troy and I just looked at each other, uncertain for the moment what to say. The problem is that Cody thought he’d accepted Jesus into his heart because he’d heard everyone else talk about doing it. Kind of like, "I live in a Christian family, so that makes me a Christian, too." But it was not a decision he himself had yet made. Troy gently explained this to him and asked if he’d like to accept Jesus into his heart. Cody’s answer was a quick and definite “yes!” He didn’t even want to wait until we’d arrived back at the cabin, but as we were almost there, he did. No sooner did we walk in and divest ourselves of our coats and various belongings, than Troy was leading Cody in the “sinner’s prayer”! So now all of my children have personally accepted Jesus into their hearts.
They are no longer “mine”; they are His. Praise God!