Parents Of Missionary Kids

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It’s Hard To Let Them Go

For most of my life, I have been a missionary.  That means my Mom and Dad were parents of a missionary kid.  I’m still a missionary kid who also happens to be a father of two great sons.  Both of them are launched out into life, but that does not mean that I don’t still worry for both of them and commit them and all their ways to God.

I read an excellent book recently by Will Hathaway called “What If God Is Like This?”  In this book, Hathaway presents some intriguing ideas and insights into what God might really be like, if we would take the time to really get to know Him.  Many times in the book, he states that he has such a better grasp of how great God is and how much He loves us, because now he is a father too.

    

There is just something that is very special that can exist between a parent and a child.  I do realize that not every parent is a good parent, but nevertheless, even the toughest and meanest person can have their hearts broken when they sense their child is in danger or just simply needs love and approval.

Back to the thought of me being a missionary kid, I’d have to admit that there have been many times in my life when I headed overseas (even as young as 16 years old) when all I could see was the adventure and the challenge that lay ahead.  It had to be hard on my parents to let me go at times (even when I was grown and had a family).

Then recently, I read a newsletter written by a colleague of mine that helped to remind me (and anyone who has read their newsletter) just how tough it can be to be a parent of a missionary kid.  It reminded me to be thankful for parents who worried about me, but still were okay with letting me go.  I pray that this letter below will help you too to appreciate your parents, even if you might not be a missionary kid.

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“My dad asked me jokingly the other day if he could take us to court to prevent us from taking his grandkids to Africa. I told him that if the judge were a grandfather, he would probably side with dad against us. We both spoke in jest, but we knew that the feelings involved in taking our family overseas are very real.

Most people know that packing up their children and moving to Africa involves some sacrifice. But what about the sacrifice of those we leave behind? We get all kinds of accolades for what we are doing. We get to go through the line first at church potlucks. People bring us up in front of crowds of kids and tell them to make us their role models.

One might say we have received our reward in full. But there are no awards for being the parent of a missionary. Yet what they give up to allow us to follow God’s calling are some of life’s most treasured moments – birthday parties, ball games, heart-to-heart chats, Sundays around the dinner table, and thousands of precious hugs.

    

They had little say in our decision, but just as with so many things over which one has no control, they got to decide how they would respond to it. Our parents would have had every right to be angry with us, to obsess over the perceived dangers we are exposing ourselves to and discourage us at every step, or to refuse to do anything to move us closer to our goal.

But they also have the option to offer us up as sacrifices willingly, to embrace and make the most of their position as long-distance grandparents, and to encourage us like no one else can when we face difficulties. What a blessing it is to us to have parents like that!

Our families have given of their time, their finances, and their talents to help us every step of the way. They have made plans for how to stay connected with us and our kids once we leave. They have said they would like to make the long trip across the Atlantic to visit us if they have the chance. And, perhaps most difficult of all, when faced with the opportunity to remind us of what we are asking of them and saddle us with guilt, they have refrained.

    

I hope that someday, if our children tell me that God is asking them to go to some place where I can’t follow, where I can’t keep them safe or get to hug and kiss them every day, that I will have the faith to give them my blessing and help them on their way. Our children are the most precious of God’s gifts, and nothing is more natural and right than to hold them close.

But at the same time we have to remember that they belong to God first of all. We have to raise them to be the kind of people who will love Him with their whole being and follow Him anywhere. And when they follow Him far away from us, we have to pray and give and speed them on their way, even when it breaks our hearts.

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I want to thank my colleague for the honesty shown in writing this message that should be a challenge to us all.  Let us all be thankful for our parents, and let us in turn do all we can to be the best parents possible to our own children.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

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A Miracle Child

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Who Am I?  Part 1

“Hi, I’m Craig!”

“Wait a minute, I thought you were Norman?”

“Yes, that’s true, but that’s a story for another day.”

Okay so what’s going on here. Well, apparently, I am a man of many names, and each name has an interesting story behind it.  A couple of names are given names, a few names are nick names given to me, and many names that I have are simply descriptive names which reflect accomplishments or activities I have been involved with over the years.

They say you can know a lot about a person just by knowing their name, and I think there is truth in that.  Over the months ahead, I want to publish a number of articles that will deal with the question of “Who Am I?”  Each story will try to capture just a brief glimpse into my life and help my readers get to know me a little better.  But more important than getting to know me, I want my readers to get to know my God who created me the way I am, and who has had the most significant influence upon my life.  Many of my so-called “names” will show how God has had His hand on me throughout my life.

The best place to start a story is of course at the very beginning.  So….go back 50 years, and you would hear about my mother and father having a healthy baby boy.  I won’t go into those details, but rather, let’s go farther back, to tell you how I came to be my mother’s “miracle” baby.  Not to say that my other siblings were not “special” too, but there is one very important detail about my birth that is definitely noteworthy.

In the 50′, it was quite common for families to have many children.  My parents were no exception.  But by the time it was 1960, my mother had already birthed three children, and had two miscarriages.  After talking things over, my parents had decided that it was time to make sure they had no more children.  So my mom set up the appointment to see her doctor to have her tubes tied to prevent any more pregnancies.

It turned out though, that mom’s regular doctor was on holiday.  So mom saw the other doctor covering the clinic that day.  When she asked for the surgery to be done, this second doctor said that for personal and religious reasons, that he could not do it.  She would have to wait till her regular doctor came back.

So mom had to wait for a few weeks to see her usual doctor and again went in to ask to have the surgery.  But as the two of them were talking about it, mom revealed to her doctor that she had noticed little signs that made her suspect that she might be pregnant.  That’s fine, said the doctor, and she ordered a pregnancy test.  Well….Lo and Behold!  Mom was pregnant.  And that settled the whole matter.  The Weatherhead clan was going to add one more member to it.

It is at this point that I want to be careful not to overspiritualize this, but I do look back and consider just how close it came for me not to be born at all.  And yet, as a Christian, I do take a strong stand that from the moment we are conceived, we are a child created by God, and in my case, I believe that He was looking out over me.  Psalm 22:10 says:

From birth, I was cast upon you;

From my mother’s womb, you have been my God.

This has been a special verse to me, as I believe that God knew all along that my mother was pregnant with me, probably even before the first visit to the doctor.  It could easily have been overlooked in those days, and I could have become an infant death without them even knowing.  That would be God’s hand of protection.

Or, if mom had gotten pregnant between the two doctor visits, then that too would be a minor miracle.  First, that it happened in this short interval period at all.  Second, that mom sensed it and had it checked out. And then thirdly, with already having had two miscarriages, what was to stop it from mom having another one.  Again, only God’s hand of provision and protection made it possible for me to be carried and born.  In either case, mom has often called me her “miracle” child.

Oh yes, you are probably still wondering about my name confusion at the beginning of this story.  Well, both of my parents were happy with the two names they had chosen, but apparently they did not completely agree with the order of the name.  They liked giving me the name “Norman” which was my mother’s father’s name.  (And that will be another story to come.)  But they also wanted to call me as my primary given name “Craig”, which sounded strong.

Now the remainder of the story is still a bit fuzzy.  The name written down on the form was to be “Craig Norman Weatherhead”, which makes sense.  You use your first name in public, and you treasure your middle name-sake given to you.  But somehow, during the discharge paperwork, it seems that my names were reversed and I officially become “Norman Craig Weatherhead”.  Years later, when I asked about this, I was told that the latter arrangement had a kind of “nice lilt” to it.   Hmmm….and let me see….my mother was musically inclined, and my father was not so much.  So…I wonder how that paperwork got all mixed up?  Oh Mom….I have a question for you.   : )