Friday, November 3, 2017

November 2017 Operation Christmas Child Prayer and Praises

November 13-20, 2017

Mid-South Praises and Prayer Requests:
  1. Praise God for the many successful Speaker Tour and promotional events which have taken place throughout the states of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
  2. Thanksgiving to God for the solidifying of a logistics network 327 strong, and for the equipping and training which collection network team leader volunteers have received.
  3. Requesting the Lord to call a greater number of leader volunteers for the purpose of ministry multiplication and effectiveness.
  4. Effective training for all our Drop-Off Team Leaders, that attendance will be high and that the cause will be well communicated.
  5. Praying to God for the ultimate “win” of 850,000 “Gospel Opportunities” to be collected from the Mid-South Region this National Collection Week.

OCC NORTHEAST ARKANSAS Praises and Prayer Requests:
  1. Let us all praise God, believing in advance, that He will provide 11,550 Shoebox Gospel Opportunities from the 7 counties in Northeast Arkansas.
  2. Pray that He will do abundantly more than we can ever imagine to touch needy children around the world this season and that hearts are already being prepared with people packing shoeboxes, customs agents in receiving counties, in the TGJ teachers being called up to be trained this season, and all the precious children that will receive these gifts.
  3. Pray God will provide us a Drop-off Location in Clay County in 2018.
  4. Pray God will rise up volunteer leaders as coordinators of our OCC NEA team in 2018 and new team members for OCC NEA.

Baltics, Balkins & Central Europe: International Prayer Requests each country faces:
  • Wisdom to recruit, select, lead, and develop new and/or transitioning volunteer leadership team members.
  • Provision of resources and the person who leads this area so they are able to reach their God-sized goals for the current year.

Country Highlight - Slovakia

There is a woman with two children who has been visiting a small group at church for almost two years. Her husband was never interested in joining us. Just before the shoebox distribution, they realized that they needed new boots for their daughter. When their daughter opened her shoebox gift, she found a beautiful pair of boots that were exactly the size she needed. The father was shocked. He assumed that his wife had told them about their need and that they had added them to the box. When he learned no one had added anything, he was touched to find out that God is omniscient and takes care of us in very specific ways.

WEEK 1: November 1-7: Germany & Austria
  1. Praise God for five Connect conferences in the first half of the year where participants were able to hear and see more of the impact the project is making in children’s lives.
  2. Praise God for more and more Processing Site Leaders to accept the change to Central Processing after many months of casting the vision for volunteers to see and understand the need for change.
  3. Praise God for the great team of volunteers and staff of the Germany speaking world who are eager to reach as many children as possible with the love of God.
  4. Pray for all planning and preparations for our first Central Processing Center where we hope to process between 80,000-100,000 shoeboxes.
  5. Pray for all volunteers to be refreshed before another busy season.

WEEK 2: November 8-14: Poland
  1. Praise God for the first 1,000 children reported to graduate from TGJ and for the TGJ teachers.
  2. Praise God for new places with opened doors for the Gospel in our country.
  3. Praise God for the celebration events in our country with testimonies of God in action and His love.
  4. Pray for 240 Ministry partners to apply for Operation Christmas Child and TGJ during the new season.

WEEK 3: November 15-21: Romania
OCC Romania
  1. Praise God for a newly started Senior Regional Leadership Team in Central Transylvania.
  2. Praise God for thousands of children who completed TGJ and for their teachers.
  3. Pray for the change of National Discipleship Coordinator and strength and wisdom for her to take responsibility over a very big project.
  4. Pray for the further development of the newly started NGO for OCC.

WEEK 4: November 22-31: Slovakia
  1. Praise God for all kids that completed TGJ.
  2. Praise God for all Ministry Partners and TGJ teachers who were able to invite more kids than usual.
  3. Pray for the new season in Slovakia. We need more children and teachers for TGJ.
  4. Pray that God will call more volunteers from MPs to the new regional teams that we want to create.
  5. Pray for unity in all our teams. Pray for finding suitable storage for the new season.

November Devotion: Lay Hold of What is Yours

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3

Our new identity in Christ is the focus of the first three chapters of the book of Ephesians. In these chapters, the Apostle Paul describes in exciting detail all of the amazing power, privileges and promises that are now ours as born-again believers in Jesus. In fact, God’s provision for His children is so thorough that Paul tells us that “God…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” That means that everything we will ever need, God has already provided in Christ and it already has our name on it! Bible commentator Dr. John MacArthur states it this way, “God’s superabundant blessings belong to his children, by faith in Christ, so that what he has is theirs—including his righteousness, resources, privilege, position, and power.”

This passage tells us that these resources and blessings that belong to us are located in “heavenly places” meaning the spiritual realm where the throne of God exists. We access and lay hold of these resources and blessings through prayer. Prayer brings God glory because it shows that we believe He is good, generous and the giver of all good gifts. Prayer also grows us in dependence on God for everything we need. We must remember that one of the great weaknesses of God’s people throughout the Bible was a sinful desire to be independent of God; but, prayer increases our dependence on our generous Heavenly Father. Repeatedly coming to God in prayer to lay hold of the resources and blessings we need also teaches us the joy of abiding in His presence. We were created to enjoy uninterrupted fellowship with God. Time spent in prayer grows our joy in abiding in His presence. Through prayer God gets the glory and we get the good resources and blessings we need day to day.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Operation Christmas Child October 2017 Prayer & Praise

NEA Area Team Praises and Prayer Requests:
  • We are partnering with Chick-fil-A for the first time in Jonesboro October 17th and 24th from 3-6pm 
  • Our team is growing – we have had several people interested in year-round volunteering with OCC! PRAY for TEAM COORDINATORS! 
  • Pray for us to have new church partners so that we may find a new drop-off for Clay Country next season (2018). 
  • Pray for our NEA Goal of 11,500 Gospel Opportunities!!!! 
  • Pray for our upcoming WHOLE NEA TEAM MEETING, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 29TH..
Mid-South Praises and Prayer Requests: 
  • Thankful to God for the productive and inspirational Speaker Tour Events which have already taken place throughout the states of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 
  • Praise the Lord for the establishment of a strong collection network for the 2017 collection season. 
  • Thank God for the selection of new Area Coordinator Jennifer Barnett to lead the Northeast Arkansas Area Team. 
  • For the upcoming Regional Speaker Tours in Kentucky and Tennessee between the 5th and 16th of October. 
  • The Mid-South goal of 850,000 Gospel Opportunities. 
  • For peace and a time of spiritual refreshing for our volunteers amidst the busyness of the season. 
  • For leader volunteers to answer God's Call in developing areas.

South America
International Prayer Requests
General Prayer Requests each country faces:
·            Wisdom to recruit, select, lead, and develop new and/or transitioning volunteer leadership team members.
·            Provision of resources and the person who leads this area so they are able to reach their God-sized goals for the current year.

WEEK 1: October 1-7

·            Pray for God to open a door with customs and government officials so that we can once again import containers into Argentina.
·            Pray for the children and families who will be reached this season through the ministry of Operation Christmas Child.
·            Praise God that even through difficult situations and setbacks, the ministry of Operation Christmas Child has continued, for His glory.
WEEK 2: October 8-14

We praise God for the opportunity to meet with government officials regarding opening up customs.

·            Pray for the regional teams that are serving in the Native Communities, that they can complete The Greatest Journey with these children.
·            Pray for wisdom, grace, and strategy for the National Leadership Team as they look ahead at the work the Lord has placed in their hands.
·            Pray for the new volunteer coordinators in each different region that are joining the Operation Christmas Child family. Pray for strength, teamwork, and a lot of love.
WEEK 3: October 15-21

Praise God because he has allowed us to recruit two new Regional Leadership Teams in Peru, one in Ica, and another in Arequipa.

·            Pray for the Lord to strengthen, guard, and train each volunteer who serves in this ministry.
·            Pray for the spiritual growth of the new children and families that are fruit of this season of ministry.
·            Pray that we can take this ministry to the areas of difficult access.
·            Praise God for each volunteer who serves in this ministry, for their love and gift of service to the Lord.
·            Praise God for his faithfulness and provision, and for the entrusted task.
WEEK 4: October 22-31

Praise God for each child and family that received the gospel through the ministry of Operation Christmas Child this season.

·            Pray for the commitment of the churches and for unity among them each time we gather.
·            Praise God for the season that we had with outreach events, because God provided the resources needed to take the shoebox gifts to secondary delivery sites (hard-to-reach locations). Also, praise him for forming strong prayer teams.
·            Praise God for the schools that were reached in the department of Paraguarí. These schools also completed The Greatest Journey.
·            Praise God for the Vision Casting presentation to the ministry of Association of Evangelical Pastors of Paraguay. It was received well and the pastors and leaders committed to share the vision and missions of Operation Christmas Child to their churches.

Getting Real with David in Prayer
The Holy Spirit has included over two-hundred separate prayers in the Bible.  These prayers are from many different people in many different situations of life and death.  It’s not surprising that the prolific psalmist David has the most prayers recorded in the Scriptures at more than seventy-five. As we read through David’s many prayers, one pattern we notice is that he had no problem getting real with God!  David believed that God knew him thoroughly and that God discerned all of his thoughts and that greatly affected the way he prayed.
David’s prayers are very real and raw as he spills out his heart before the Lord.  Listen to how David describes pouring out his soul to God, “With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before Him; I tell my trouble before Him.” Psalm 142:1-2.  We can feel everything inside of David come rushing out in wave upon wave of emotion, grief, questions, and pleading before the throne of God.  There doesn’t seem to be much filtering or hesitation here but instead the freedom to be transparent with the Lord.  Let’s also notice that even though David is real and raw in his prayers, he never crosses over into flippancy or blasphemy.  Though he asks lots of questions of God he never questions God’s character, and we shouldn’t either.
As we are growing as disciples of Jesus and we are learning more and more about prayer from the Word and Spirit, at times there can be the tendency to slip into “paralysis by analysis” in our daily prayer lives.  We want to make sure we say everything right and in the right order and prayer becomes much more a stiff, religious duty than the delight and freedom of a relationship.  Really good friends can spill their hearts out to one another without worrying about a filter.  This is exactly how our Heavenly Father is inviting and exhorting us to communicate with Him, real and raw.  Remember, He knows us thoroughly and He has called us His friends!
Country Highlight

There was a 12 year old girl who had little resources and didn’t have a father. She lived with her grandparents and her working mother. She told us that she was studying to become a manicurist but that she couldn’t buy the accessories and the nail polish she needed. When she opened her box, she was so excited that she even shed tears because the box had everything she needed. We saw the power of God!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September Week 4 Operation Christmas Child Prayer Requests

1. Pray for our NEA Goal of 11,500 shoeboxes this collection season, that God will bless us with these Gospel Opportunities to reach children around the world for Him! Our mid-south goal is 850,000. 
2. Pray for our area team as we grow! Pray God will send us Ministry Coordinators to fill our vacant areas.  We need God to provide us with a Church Relations Coordinator, Prayer Mobilization Coordinator, Media Relations Coordinator & team members, and a Community Relations Coordinator.  We also hope to have a Student Relations Coordinator and team members next year. Pray for me, as I am no longer  your Prayer Mobilization Coordinator, instead I am now the NEA Area Coordinator. 
3. Pray for our Area Team and our upcoming October team meeting and training (date, time, & location to be announced later – probably toward the end of October). We will be distributing cartons and tape as well as doing some training.  
4. Pray Jonesboro Chick-fil-A will partner with us this year and in years to come…the new owners seemed excited about working with NEA OCC.
5. Pray we secure a drop-off location for Clay county, as it is the only county in our area without a drop-off this year. Alsompray God will send us multiple drop-offs in each county! 

** As a part of the Prayer Mobilization Team: Try to add prayer network partners at: prayer-network. WE ARE AT 87% of our goal for prayer partners for the year. They will get monthly prayer updates but are NOT year-round Volunteers. 

**also RECRUIT new team members- if you believe someone has a passion for OCC and would be a great year-round volunteer, explain the ministry to them (OCC has an app), then have them apply online: Volunteer-year-round. Click "I'm ready to apply" is at the bottom.  I will get their application and take it from there. Applying does NOT mean they will be selected for our area team, they will then be interviewed by me with the help of our regional manager and have references checked, but all year-round volunteers should try to recruit new team members! We need a new prayer coordinator to send out our updates also! 

International Prayer Requests
General Prayer Requests each country faces:
• Wisdom to recruit, select, and lead new and/or transitioning volunteer leadership team members.
• Provision of resources and the person who leads this area so they are able to reach their God-sized goals for the current year.

WEEK 4: September 22-30
• Praise God we were able to reach ten villages for the first time. We were able to share the Gospel and see many children accept Christ as their savior and be a friend and follower of Jesus. Praise God for safety and good health for coordinators throughout the process.
• Praise God for donors/sponsors helping to transport boxes to hinterland locations, using their boats, vehicles, and finances.
• Pray for favorable weather to complete the outreach in region # 8 where there has been massive flooding and roads became impassable.
Dominican Republic
• We praise God for the 150,000 children discipled in TGJ this season.
• We praise God for the new Strategic Regional Leadership Teams (sRLTs) and Regional Leadership Teams (RLTs) formed in our country.
• We pray to build even more Regional Leadership Teams this year.
• We pray for even greater growth in the number of children we reach in The Greatest Journey.
• We pray for great commitment on the part of all Operation Christmas Child volunteers to the project.

Country Highlight
Abigail, is 6, and attends a lunch program at a church in La Florida, Santiago, where an Operation Christmas Child Event was held. In the middle of the presentation, the children were asked if they understood what the Greatest Gift was, to which the girl responded, the Greatest Gift is Jesus! “Even though she asked for a stuffed kitten for Christmas, it did not matter that she didn’t receive it, because she already has the Best Gift”. Later, when she opened her shoebox, full of emotion, she shouted, “My stuffed kitten!”

Jesus is not only the Best Gift, He also uses people to put a pink plush kitten in a box, and pray for its destiny. He orchestrated that this box would arrive in Santiago de Chile and into the hands of Abigail. Glory to God. Thank you Lord for the details.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Operation Christmas Child Prayer Requests

Southern Africa: International Prayer Requests / General Prayer Requests each country faces:
  • Wisdom to recruit, select, lead, and develop new and/or transitioning volunteer leadership team members.  
  • Provision of resources and the person who leads this area so they are able to reach their God-sized goals for the current year.
NEA Prayer Requests:
  1. Pray God leads us to the perfect Central Drop-Off location this month! 
  2. Pray for all the teachers, students, parents and school employees that are starting back to school this month. 
  3. Pray for our area team by name, as we all have everyday battles. Our Northeast Arkansas Area Team is has 20 team members: Regional Manager: Vicki Pepper, Prayer Mobilization: Jennifer Barnett, Linda Smith, Leiandrea Higgins, Genia Rutherford, and Lisa Jowers. Church Relations: Amber Andrews, Michelle Dement and Shearlene Durham. Community Relations: Hilary Morgan, Judy Cole, Tiffany Lindner and Tysha Wilkinson. Drop-off/Logistics: Carol Queen, Carolyn Scott, Cynthia Sullivan, Hannah Estes, Rebekah Overman, Shellie Gibson and Kevin Barnett. 
  4. Pray for Project Leaders kicking off shoebox collections for this season! 
  5. Pray for our NEA goal of 11,550 Shoebox Gospel Opportunities!
WEEK 1 - AUGUST 1-7:
● Praise God for helping the team fulfill their strategic plan for 2017.
● Pray for the National Leadership Team and volunteer Regional Leadership Team members- that they will continue to serve with integrity and will remain committed to God and OCC.

● Praise God the distributions are going well and that many children are hearing the Gospel through OCC.
● Pray for the upcoming strategic planning meetings in June. Pray for the Lord’s wisdom and direction for OCC.

WEEK 2: AUGUST 8-14:
● Praise God for the smooth logistics process as the gift boxes arrived and the Gospel is being proclaimed to the children at Outreach Events.
● Pray for effective outreach events and that more children will enroll in TGJ. Pray the TGJ teachers will be committed and the children will complete all the lessons this season.

● Praise God the containers have cleared customs and are now on their way to the distribution locations.
● Pray for team building and growth for the leadership teams, Ministry Partners, and TGJ teachers. Pray everyone involved with OCC will fully understand their role in order to make a greater Kingdom impact.

WEEK 3: AUGUST 15-21:
● Praise God for an amazing time together at Global Connect and for the safe return of the team members.
● Pray for the National Leadership Team as they prepare for the national Connect conference and launch TGJ 2.0 with the other teams.

● Praise God the National Leadership Team members received their visas to attend Global Connect.
● Pray for the upcoming vision trip as the team will be hosting visitors from the UK.

WEEK 4: AUGUST 22-31
South Africa
● Praise God for the gathering of many nations, tribes, and tongues at Global Connect. Praise Him the team was equipped, refreshed, and encouraged.
● Pray for the teams as they are in the midst of distributing shoeboxes. Pray many children will come to know Jesus and attend TGJ.

● Praise God for unity among the teams.
● Pray for this year's strategic planning meetings and the results would glorify God by expanding his kingdom in Swaziland.

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 2017 Operation Christmas Child Prayer Requests

Mid-South Prayer Focus July Praises:
  • Praise God for the successful relocation of the Mid-South Regional Office from Nashville to Murfreesboro, TN
  • Regional Director Todd Edwards is thankful to God for the uneventful move of his family from Ohio to Tennessee
  • Thank God for the efficacious support provided by staff to volunteers and volunteers to ministry partners
Mid-South Prayer Requests:
  • Hasty Martin as she prepares to step down from her role as Regional Manager for Kentucky
  • New Regional Manager for Kentucky
  • Upcoming Project Leader Workshops in our region
  • Health for our volunteers, for healing, wisdom for doctors treating them and for family members
  • Our Mid-South goal of 850,000 shoebox gifts
  • New Drop off locations
NEA Prayer Requests:
  • New Central Drop off Leader
  • New Area Coordinator
  • Pray for each other on our area team as we all have such busy summers
  • NEA Shoebox Goal for 2017 – 11,550 Gospel Opportunities!!!

East Asia - International Prayer Requests General Prayer Requests each country faces:
  • Wisdom to recruit, select, lead, and develop new and/or transitioning volunteer leadership team members.
  • Provision of resources and the person who leads this area so they are able to reach their God-sized goals for the current year.
Week one of July please pray for Indonesia and Malaysia.  
Indonesia's Requests:
  • Praise God for the successful appeal for tax exemption for all 16 sea containers filled with over 125,000shoebox gifts.
  • Pray the seed sown into the hearts of the children who heard the Gospel at the outreach events will produce much fruit.
  • Pray the oppression Christians are facing in more sensitive areas will not affect the ministry of Operation Christmas Child in the future.
Malaysia's Requests:
  • Praise God for His faithfulness in providing free storage and logistic support for the ministry partners in east Malaysia.
  • Pray God will send more ministry partners who will be good stewards of the shoebox gifts, capable of effectively sharing the Gospel, and faithful in discipling a new generation.
  • Pray for the family of the Church Mobilization Coordinator who recently passed away. Pray for comfort and peace for his wife, their children, and their extended family. 
July 8-14th pray for Myanmar: 
Myanmar's Requests:
  • Praise God for the opportunity for the entire volunteer National Leadership Team to participate in the Global Connect Conference in Orlando, FL.
  • Pray for the new areas where God is going to allow the formation of new volunteer regional leadership teams. 
July 15-21st pray for the Philippines:
Philippines's Prayer Requests:
  • Praise God for the 8,000 ministry partners who participated in outré ach events this season.
  • Pray every position on the volunteer leadership team will be filled; pray more teams will be formed to reach the far-flung areas of the Philippines.
    Philippines OCC Shoebox Recipient
July 22-31 Pray for Thailand:
Thailand's Requests:
  • Praise God for the new direction of Operation Christmas Child Thailand and its transition to Operation Christmas Child’s International Headquarters’ East Asia leadership team.
  • Pray for the development of new volunteer teams who will be mobilizing prayer and reaching out to ministry partners who will be faithful in sharing the Gospel with the children. 
    OCC Thailand
    OCC Thailand

Sunday, June 4, 2017

June 2017 - Pray with Operation Christmas Child

NEA OCC Requests:
  1. Our local Northeast-Arkansas Team as we are seeking God’s direction in an Area Coordinator, Logistics Coordinator, Central Drop-off and seeking the right person to be our Local Drop-off leader for one of our current locations, also we are trying to add more prayer mobilization team members.
  2. Forty-five (45) new Prayer Network Partners from our area team which could translate to 4 to 5 children per minute coming to Jesus through The Greatest Journey! Your role is so pivotal in making disciples across the globe. PNP are not year around volunteers, but they are vital prayer warriors! Who should you ask to be a Prayer Network Partner--Fellow believers, Prayer warriors, Family, Friends, Co-workers, Church prayer groups, Christian organizations, Organized prayer groups, Denominational groups, Anyone who will pray over these request they receive! They can sign up to be a Prayer Network Partner at:
  3. Pray for Matthew Barnett (Kevin & Jennifer’s son) as he will be on a Mission Trip to Kazakhstan June 8-28th.
OCC Mid-South Prayer Request:
  1. Praise God for those Connect Volunteers who have recommitted for 2017 and for 61 new volunteers! 
  2. Praise for an amazing vision trip to Rwanda and for all that God is doing in that country. 
  3. Mid-South goal of 850,000 Gospel Opportunities.
  4. Pray for new churches to partner with us as Central Drop-off and Drop-off locations. 
  5. Pray for God to call leader volunteers. 
  6. Pray for volunteers in our region who are experiencing health issues. 
East Africa International Prayer Requests - General Prayer Requests each country faces:
  1. Wisdom to recruit, select, lead, and develop new and/or transitioning volunteer leadership team members.
  2. Provision of resources and the person who leads this area so they are able to reach their God-sized goals for the current year.
WEEK 1: June 1-7 
  1. Praise God for the current peace and stability in the country, which gives Operation Christmas Child an opportunity to reach more children and to import the shoeboxes without any issues. 
  2. Pray for the teachers all over Burundi who are currently leading The Greatest Journey classes. Pray the children will be able to understand the lessons and will learn more about the Lord Jesus.
  1. Praise God the shoeboxes were released from customs even in the midst of challenges with government. 
  2. Pray for a peaceful election this year, by the grace of God, that the work of Operation Christmas Child would not be hindered.
WEEK 2: June 8-14

  1. Praise God for the opportunities to host the 2017 Harvest Vision Trip (for Year-Round Area Coordinator Volunteers) and to reach over 152,000 children with the Gospel in Rwanda. 
  2. Pray for the children going through The Greatest Journey right now in Rwanda that God will lead and speak to their souls. Pray God would allow every teacher and child to complete their discipleship class.
South Sudan: Praise God all the containers safely arrived in Juba and now the shoeboxes are making their journey to the regions and the refugee camps.

WEEK 3: June 15-21

  1. Praise God for the new Senior Regional Leadership Team members who have been trained, understand the vision of Operation Christmas Child, and are now leading trainings in their regions. 
  2. Pray for the changes in the government’s importation policies that are making it very difficult to obtain the tax exoneration.
WEEK 4: June 22-30

  1. Praise God for the opportunity to have the volunteer National Leadership Team and a few strategic regional volunteer members attend the Global Connect Conference in Orlando this past April. 
  2. Pray for Operation Christmas Child’s ministry in Uganda as it is becoming more challenging to import the shoeboxes without paying taxes; pray the LORD will change the hearts of the government leaders so they will grant the tax exoneration.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD | Build a Shoebox Online | Disciple a Child

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Solitude... "absence make the heart grow fonder" or is it "out of sight out of mind"?

My past five months have been that of solitude. As defined by Merriam-Webster solitude is the quality or state of being alone or remote from society: seclusion; a lonely place (such as a desert).  While I was not alone or in seclusion or in solitary confinement...I was without my best friend, my true love.  My boys were with me, but due to the calling on our life Kevin was an hour away. Our family unit was not as it was supposed to be. We knew it wouldn't be fun or easy but it was necessary so he could pastor the the church to which our family had been called. At first it was like we were dating again with lots of excitement to just say hi or see each other for a few minutes, but after almost 23 years of marriage only seeing each other about 3 nights a week was hard. It wasn't fun, especially since my love language is "quality time" as defined by Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts - it is a great book, read it sometime! (To Discover Your Love Language Click Here) We knew it was going to be over in a few months so I thought I would make the best of it. I had great plans of all the things I could get done while he was at the other out closets cabinets, drawers...but I found myself just wanting to go home, not cook supper, take a bath and go to bed. Twenty years ago (before kids) we lived 2 hours apart for 2 year while married and attending college; we had done this before, 5 months should be a piece of cake compared to 2 years, right!?! Well, I guess I am older and set in my ways, I did not like it! It was even hard to talk on the phone because his was either ringing all the time or I couldn't talk very well. About two months ago I finally went to the doctor for my voice - I had been hoarse since September and it was getting worse! I ENJOY TALKING A LOT and I like to talk LOUD!!! I was told I had a vocal cord granuloma caused by coughing and talking too much, talking too loud, and general overuse...imagine that!!! I was told to not sing for two months (I didn't know I enjoyed singing until I was told to stop), to try to not cough, and to talk just above a whisper (almost impossible but I done it some...with the help of my kids and Kev telling me "SHHHHH!") FINALLY, my voice is coming back!!! Praise the Lord!  For a few weeks Kevin and I had to text more than talk because of my voice. His life was busy, there were weeks that a glance across the room was a "hello" or " bye" as we would head back to Lake City. Does "absence make the heart grow fonder" or is it "out of sight out of mind"? It depends on what you put into the relationship. Do you want it to grow stronger or fade away? Do what God called you to do as a spouse or friend, then things will align and keep the relationship strong. Put effort into it. Relationships take work. Being apart takes work. A text can light up your face, or an unanswered phone call can break your heart.  Satan attacks when you are weak and lonely. You have to learn to be intentional and purposeful with the time you have, make the most of the time, treasure the moments, minutes, or any time you have, no matter how short or how many interruptions. When you want to succeed you will. What this experience has taught me is to have a much greater compassion for those who have no choice in this lifestyle - for those forced to be apart while their child is being born because they are active military defending our country; or are missing their families while protecting us, for those who live across the world from family because they are called to be missionaries; for those who are lonely because they have forever lost the love of their life on this earth. My solitude ends TONIGHT...we are all back under one roof again, we are our family again, we are HOME! Excuse me, if a have a glow the next few is back to as it should be for us and that makes me happy, happy, happy! I see patients every day who live daily as we did for 5 months, this is their everyday normal.  When  you see people in these situations, I challenge you to love on them, love them big...a listening ear, a hug or a smile of understanding could turn their day around. It could put a smile on their face and in their heart! Let others know you love and appreciate them. Walk a mile in their shoes with them. We are told to love one another so others will see that we are Jesus' disciples in John 13:34-35. Are we being the salt and light as much as we should?
Treasure your moments! Love deeply! While I am super excited my journey is ending, this solitude may be just beginning for many others in this world. Our two sons may be being a form of solitude also.  Matthew graduated last week, so as my Daddy says, "Welcome to the grown-up world!". Today our youngest, Michael, walks the halls of Bay High School for the last time. He has to say "until I see you again" to friends and teachers - he really does like them! His new world is really just beginning. Our oldest, Matthew, leaves for E-team Kazakhstan  June 8-28th, just when the boys are starting to get close and like hanging out as brothers. Then Matthew will move off to Nashville to attend Welch College in August as Michael makes a transition into a new school in Pocahontas. I will never forget the day my sister got married and moved was horrible. There are people all around us going through some sort of solitude. Look for them, reach out to them. Try to figure out their love language and express it the best way you can as a friend, as a follower of Christ. Love others! Give THANKS because HIS LOVE endures FOREVER!