Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

If you came back, you wanted to leave again. If you went away, you longed to come back. Wherever you were, you could hear the call of the herdsman's horn far away in the hills. You had one home out there and one over here and yet you were an alien in both places. Your true abiding place was the vision of something very far off, and your soul, like the waves, always restless and forever in motion" Johan Bojer from The Immigrants.

Like Abraham we are looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrws 11:20).

Margraten – Henri Chappell – names that mean little to many Americans, yet every time our family was near either of these two American cemeteries in Holland or Belgium, we stopped for a bit and walked around these memorials, where hosts of Americans are buried who died during the invasion to Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge. The cemeteries and memorials are maintained by the American government, but families in Holland, Belgium and even in Germany adopted grave sites and stand in for American families who can not come and place flowers on their loved one’s graves. The descendants of these first adopters continue the tradition. Today and tomorrow every grave will be visited and honored by the people who live nearby.

Our family visited the American Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg where General Patton is buried. Every cemetery has its stories. I can’t tell you how many times we visited Bastogne, Belgium, where our troops spent several freezing days in December, 1944, including Christmas Day, surrounded by German troops, who demanded their surrender. It seems that every few years my husband, Tom and I would again visit the “Nuts” Museum. When we moved from the Netherlands to York, Nebraska, to begin our work at York College, our backyard neighbor came to welcome us to the neighborhood. He said, “I’ve never visited Holland, but I spent one Christmas in Bastogne.” All we could do at that moment was say, “Thank You.”

We also visited the German grave yard in Bastogne, which at the time was unkempt compared to the American Cemeteries. As I walked from grave to grave, the ages of the soldiers were recorded. So many of the ‘men’ buried there were very young, many only reaching the age of 16.

We visited one of the larger miltary cemeteries in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is a Russian cemetery where bodies where piled up in huge heaps and covered with soil. Around the edges are individual graves of officers. So many heaps, so many dead - more Russians died in World War II than all those who died from all the Allied Forces put together.

When Tom and I attended the first International Conference on Missionary Kids in Manilla, The Philippines in 1984, we visited the American cemetery there. It contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II, a total of 17,201, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines. I cannot enter such a cemetery without tears for the dead, for their families and for the causes of this grief. Yes, I feel patriotic at times like this. I am grateful to be an American and scenes like this move me. There will always be wars and rumors of wars. We honor our dead, but their loss to their families is ongoing. My heart goes out to the families whose grief is so fresh this Memorial Day. I feel sadness for those who have never experienced closure, for those who have no grave to visit, for those families whose loved ones are ‘missing-in-action’ and are presumed dead. Closure is important.

Today the American flag given to me at Tom’s funeral from a grateful government flies along with a hundred others in a cemetery in Sutton, Nebraska; the streets will be lined with American flags and most of the houses will have a flag flying from their front porches. All the cemeteries in the area will be decorated with flowers and by my husband’s grave and all other veterans’ graves, someone will place a smaller American flag. The cemetery will be studded with the stars and stripes of the United States. It is an event that brings a feeling of pride and patriotism to the entire town. Scenes like this pervade our towns and cities in the United States on Memorial Day.

There are times patriotism just wells up in me. I can’t seem to help myself. I remember well returning from Hungary before the wall fell. Soldiers, some with machine guns, boarded the train with the passengers in Budapest and inspected every nook and cranny of every car all the way to the Austrian border. At the border, they inspected the top of the train and underneath the train. The passengers remained quiet and still. When the train was allowed to cross the border and we passed no-man’s land into Austria, the feelings of relief and patriotism overwhelmed me. I found myself in a similar situation in a boat on the Danube headed back to Vienna after an oppressing and very controlled visit to Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. When the boat reached the Austrian border, the passengers broke out in spontaneous applause. Yet, at the same time, I had great sympathy for the citizens of these countries. On both of these occasions I was with a group of people who had smuggled Bibles into these countries. We could not free the people from oppressive governments, but we could offer them freedom in Christ.

And isn’t freedom in Christ the more important value? My heart belongs to many people who are not citizens of the U.S. I care deeply for them. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Someday there will be no middle walls of partition, no borders and no wars to divide us. We will be One in Christ and the banner (flag) over us will be love. Your fellow citizen, your fellow brother or sister will sit with you at the banquet table and will work alongside you and will bow his or her knee with you to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. There will be no cemeteries, no divided loyalties, and no tears. Do you long to be a part of that eternal kingdom? Can you hear the herdsman’s horn far away in the hills, where you have one home out there and one here? Is your true abiding place the vision of something very far off? Is your soul, like the waves, always restless and forever in motion? Do you like Abraham look for a city not made with hands? In that kingdom we celebrate Memorial Day every week. In the future we will just celebrate our presence with God. Do you well up with pride at the thought that you are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven? Do you?

Have a great Memorial Day!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Strange Virtues: Ethics in a Multicultural World
by Bernard T. Adeney – a Book Review

Bernard Adeney is an Adult Missionary Kid or Adult Third Culture Kid. His English father met his American mother in China where they both served as missionaries. Adeney, though born in China, also spent parts of his growing up years in Illinois, Hong Kong, Indiana and Taiwan. His family spent their summers in Africa, India, Europe, Japan and the Philippines. He studied in France, Switzerland, Greece, the United Kingdom and Singapore. As a married man with children, he travelled and conducted research in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Germany and Holland. At present he is a ‘professor at large,’ sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to work in Central Java at Satya Wacana Christian University. Who else could speak as authoritatively to Christians about the challenges of cross-cultural ethical behavior?

Because of my love of all things cross-cultural, I found this book on cross-cultural ethics fascinating. Ethics theory can be relative or absolute. As a Christian I believe there are absolute values, but I also understand that for those of us who work in cross-cultural situations, the obvious existence of cultural values that differ from our own culture leads to a complexity little understood by many Westerners. A study of cross-cultural ethics blatantly demonstrates to us that our own values are culturally conditioned. There is nothing that we believe that can be divorced from who we are – our race, our class, our age, our education or our gender. Faith in Christ does not automatically free us from our culture: read the Poisonwood Bible or Hawaii.

The central theme of the book is that ethics means doing good appropriately at a certain time, in a certain place, with certain people in a real life context of a culture. The end goal of studying ethics is not to be able to expound on all the theories and abstract concepts. Ethics is action or praxis. Other cultures have standards that are drastically different from our own culture. Adeney urges his readers to not too quickly judge different values from our own too harshly, but to look more closely into the patterns of meaning prevalent from culture to culture. Doing the right thing in a variety of circumstances can be quite challenging.

Rahab lied to the authorities at Jericho and God saved her and her family. Phinehas speared a man and woman through in their tent and God counted Phinehas as righteous. David ate the showbread. Why did so many Dutch build false walls into their homes in order to make a space to hide Jews during World War II and then lie to the German authorities? Adeney, from his vast cross-cultural experience, presents many different interpretations of several dilemmas, some of which concern bribery, gender conflicts, social ethics, the meaning of gifts and the giving of gifts, friendship, and the challenge of other religions, specifically Islam. With each of the moral dilemmas he presents, he looks at the unassailable ‘truth’ in each option and the subsequent difficulties of each option. He does not offer answers. He demonstrates that each dilemma cannot be seen as either black or white. He emphasizes that all values are not true to everyone until we look at the context from which the values are practiced.

Following are some of the passages I underlined:

Faith does not free us from culture, because culture is the environment in which what we believe takes shape. “There is no space which is not cultural space.” As a Christian, I have no doubt that there are absolute values, but our understanding of them is always relative. “Now we see in a mirror dimly…Now I know only in part” (I Cor 13:12)

The first step in overcoming ethnocentrism is the recognition that my own values are not necessarily the same as God’s. All Christians hold many values derived from their culture. A second step is to understand that our own interpretation of Scriptures comes from a particular cultural context. A third step is to see God’s values may be “enfleshed” differently in another culture from how they are in my own.

The implication for cross-cultural ethics is that different languages produce different perceptions of the world. Language and culture cannot be separated. Therefore we cannot hope to really see the world through the eyes of another culture without learning the language.

Context is central to ethics, because by understanding the social, political, religious, economic and cultural causes of suffering we can learn to effectively love our neighbor.

Cross-cultural ethics forces us to acknowledge that the form of goodness often lies not in an act in itself but in the cultural meaning of the act.
Goodness has two outstanding characteristics. One is that beyond all the significant differences in cultural expressions of goodness lie qualities of character or virtue that shine with clarity across cultures. The other is that all virtues and vices are made real in cultural forms…Most apparent are what Paul call the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against such things.” These virtues transcend culture…the reality of goodness is embodied in recognizable forms in all cultures.

The last chapter is a practical illustration of how two people, Linda and Franklin, who live in West Africa, combined their personal ethics with their social ethics to represent Christ in a difficult situation that concerned the torture of individuals in their neighborhood and beyond. Combining personal ethics with the ethics of any given society can lead to safety issues when the two ways of thinking come into conflict. Pat answers often are not helpful. We cannot ignore that there are clearly right and wrong answers to certain moral dilemmas, however, before acting one should consider not only the theological ramifications, but also the cultural and contextual forces involved. Even Proverbs offers contradictory advice about bribes (Proverbs 15:27; 17:8; 17:23; 21:14; 22:16).

In the appendix, Adeney explains several models of cross cultural ethics and offers his own. His model “focuses on the ethical implications of different value orientations. It differs from all other models in that it not only describes cultural value orientations but also evaluates them. Adeney’s model is descriptive and normative. One category in the model focuses on different ethical priorities that seem to follow from different orientations. The last two categories suggest some moral strengths and weaknesses that may be inherent tendencies in particular orientations. The contrasting strengths and weaknesses reflect Adeney’s assumption that no culture is free of moral weakness or devoid of moral strength. Often strengths and weaknesses or good and evil in a culture are flip sides of each other” (Summary paragraph from the last page of book).

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus (I Thess. 5:16).

Our family landed in Holland on July 6th, our son’s fifth birthday, to begin our lives here. It was cold to us. We had been living in Phoenix for a little over a year and 60 degrees seemed quite cool. Presently on September 8th at 11:30 a.m., it is 59 degrees with light rain showers. Right now it is dry. Dry in Holland means rain is not falling from the sky. We always allowed our children to play out when it was dry.
In my latest sojourn in Holland, the past two days have been pretty blustery with highs around 60 and I’m feeling a bit cool. I’m wearing my turtle necks and at night my flannel PJs. Though it is mid-50s during the night and though the temps can climb into the mid 60s during the day, it is still too warm to begin heating the house. That July after we arrived in Holland for the first time, it was impossible to heat our host’s apartment. Central heating was controlled by others. Heat was turned on in October and turned off in April regardless of the weather conditions. That’s the Dutch way.
My kids tell me it’s been a terrible summer here – cool and constant rain. Last Saturday’s unusual heat seems to have been a gift. The summer we moved to Holland it was cool and rainy through July and August. A week into September the sun came out. We had huge picture windows in our apartment in Amsterdam and wide window sills. Our 18th month old, still clad in his blanket pajamas climbed up on the window sill one morning and pointed toward the East and said, ‘wha’s dat?’ I remember my astonishment and gasped, “That’s the sun! Have you forgotten what the sun looks like?”
There are some things you just can’t change. I learned early on that it’s much easier just to accept your circumstances and move on to what you can influence and change. One of things that goes along with acceptance, is acceptance with grace. What has helped me through the years to accept the dark nights that life, without permission, bestows upon us, is to find something – anything – for which I can be thankful. A Dutch woman, incarcerated at hated Ravensbruck for hiding Jews, Bep ten Boom, asked her sister, Corrie, to thank God for the fleas. Reluctantly, Corrie thanked God for the fleas and, as it turned out, the fleas that kept the guards out of their quarters. They were able to conduct Bible studies and prayer times. Thankfulness defeats the evil-one. (I refuse to grace him with capital letters).
Viktor Frankl, who wrote The Will to Meaning and much more, taught me the importance of finding meaning in life. Sometimes you have to search for it, but like ‘thankfulness,’ finding meaning in an unwanted or even wanted event enriches our lives. I think it also helps to look for beauty. Everything can be taken from us except our thoughts. We need to guard our thoughts well for they determine the bent of our life.
Today – on this dark, blustery, rainy day I am thankful for a granddaughter who will be home in moments for lunch, for the bread and cheese and chocolate that will grace our table, for her health, her intelligence, her beauty, for the person she is becoming and the meaning? Grateful for a daughter who is doing everything she can to promote the things the Dutch Bible Society wants to accomplish and for a son-in-love who volunteers weekly at the home for elderly in the village and keeps the house going while working full time. What a joy it is to see your children parent well – better than I ever did. What a gift to be with them again after so long an absence. What a great gift family is!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

"You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also" (I Cor 16:15-18)

I just returned from Mission Resource Network's Missionary Renewal Retreat. We had a total of 18 missionaries attend, plus staff. We held the retreat at the Prothro Center on Lake Texoma. The surroundings were beautiful and the accommodations were comfortable. A young chef did his best to make the food tasty and his presentation of the food was attractive. I think everyone, but one disciplined woman who ate no bread and no desserts, put on a few pounds. We were the only group at the center, which made it nice. The Prothro Staff did what they could to make our week special.

Our group was able to worship at lakeside a couple of times in the early morning hours during the retreat. The center had an iron cross and benches near the beach and it was a perfect place to see the sun rise up over the lake. There were ducks and geese and wild turkeys and other wild life. Basil McClure, former missionary in Brazil and a trained spiritual director, led us in worship the entire week. He is an outstanding worship leader. His wife, Rachel, also has a beautiful voice and aided us women as we sang the female parts. We began each morning before breakfast with worship. We ended each day with worship. Lynn Anderson, Director of Hope Network, led us in study every morning. The afternoons were free until 4:00 p.m. Steve Allison, a Clinical Psychologist from ACU and active in missionary care and I offered counseling/coaching/mentoring/pastoral care sessions during the free time. Debriefing groups met from 4 to 6:00 p.m. We then gathered for our evening meal and afterwards spent time in worship. Evenings after worship were free. Some played games; some just sat around on the veranda and talked.

Lynn Anderson’s messages on Talking Back to God by Praying through the Psalms were excellent. He shared from the depths of his soul and all of us were deeply touched, both by his messages and by God’s messenger. I recommend his book by the same title to all of you.

For the debriefing sessions, I divided the participants into two groups for the men and two groups for the women. Each group was staff led. Bob Waldron, former missionary in Guatemala, and Lynn Anderson led a male group and Basil McClure and Steve Allison (a Clinical Psychologist from ACU) led the other male group. Rachel McClure and Gina Waldron led one female group and Carolynn Anderson and I led the other female group. Each person in the each of the groups got to tell his/her story, with special emphasis on the last three years of their lives. After the story teller told his/her story, the other members of the group wrote down the strengths they saw in that person on sticky notes and they pasted them on the story teller, after which the group prayed for the story teller. Because each group promised confidentiality, the groups became very safe places. There was a deep level of sharing and many tears. By Wednesday there was a growing camaraderie, lots of laughter and hugs and general comfortableness among the missionaries. Some great friendships were forged.

After everyone in each group had told his or her story (including staff), I led a debriefing about the debriefing. I did my best not to lecture, but to draw out the discussion from the missionaries and it turned out well. I worried a lot about this, but just two days before the retreat, I remembered how I used the Kolb model when I taught adults at the university. I used this model to lead the discussion and it helped me fill in the gaps by asking critical questions that led to more discussion. The debriefing of the debriefings, because of the wonderful missionary input, was rich and deep.

Among the missionaries, we had six Adult MKs present. Since there were many questions about how to help children with reentry, we put together an unplanned panel of the adult MKs, Steve Allison and myself and we had a great discussion. Good stuff!!!

Lynn Anderson said that this retreat was one of the best kept secrets in the brotherhood. He has become a real fan. It was evident so many times that God’s presence was among us. I am grateful to my Prayer Team, who labored in prayer for this retreat. They are the best!

If you missed this years retreat, God willing the retreat will be held this time next year and furloughing, returned and returned missionaries are invited. Allow us to be Stephanus, Fortunatus and Achaichus to you and refresh your spirits.


Friday, May 06, 2011

Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:2).

Mother's Day for Missionary Moms is a difficult day. The sermon for the assembly of the gathered saints is focused on Moms and Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers. Often moms are asked to stand and be recognized by the congregation. After corporate worship children take their moms out to eat, but not you. Your children and grandchildren seem a million miles away. Oh, if they know it is Mother's Day in the States, they will call you or Skype you if they can. They may have already sent an email and email card, but you dread the inevitability of the day. It's another tough reminder that your children are missionaries - not that a day goes by that you don't remember.

Mother's Day is the day children are to spoil their mothers. Images of breakfast in bed or the gift of flowers and chocolates play across tv screens. It is subtley intimated that the number of gifts and cards a mom receives, equals how much she is loved. If you are also taken out to eat, you are really loved.

Mother's Day could become a miserable day for you. I don't know if this will help you or not, but this is a way I cope with special days I can no longer celebrate. My anniversary comes up every year, but I am a widow. My son's birthday, like clock work shows up every February, but he has been with the Lord longer than he lived. What do I do with those days? I celebrate them. I invite a friend out for dinner and I pay the bill. On those days, I even order dessert. Those days are very special days and instead of mourning, I rejoice that I was married for 43 years to a wonderful guy who loved me back and that I was allowed to be the Mom to a special son for 21 years. On Father's Day I will see that my son-in-laws get special cards and I will celebrate. My suggestion is that you celebrate this Mother's Day and rejoice that you are a Mom. Invite another Mom who will be alone also and go out to lunch together. Wear a special dress. Give yourself permission to have fun. Look for the people in your congregation who will be alone and be sure you hug everyone of them. Choose not to mope. Look and list things you are thankful for and remember, on the last day, someone may come up and hug you because your son or daughter lived Jesus before them and so they listened to their words about Him. They will thank you for your sacrifice.

It is far better to know that you will spend eternity with your missionary son or daughter than to have them home for Mother's Day this year.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Philippians 3:13-14
No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. (NLT)

Twenty two years ago today, December 30, surgeons removed a cancerous kidney from my husband’s body. We lived more purposely after that surgery. While he still felt well enough, he continued to teach at York College. Students voted him Teacher of the Year or First or Second Runner Up, 13 times out of his 20 years as a faculty member. During the school year, we had about 30 young people come to our home each week. We would feed them and then, with the rest of the MAP Committee, we would train these students in all things pertaining to missions. These were Master’s Apprentice Students. We often took mission trips in the summer to different places. I was often the cook, sometimes cooking for 40 or 50 people from a closet known as a kitchen. We loved camping. We camped all across Canada – from one end to the other. We camped in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Rockies, the Cascades, on the coast of California and the coast of Maine and Massachusetts and in all the states in between. We also gardened and cut wood together for our wood-burning stove. We cared for my husband’s aging parents, took care of the farm business matters when they couldn’t, moved them into town, and were there with them in their last moments.

We had a good life together. We worked on our marriage all our married life and were about as happy as any two people could be. We often taught the young married class at church so we could share some of what we had learned. Every year we spoke at an engagement seminar for students called “Fit to be Tied.” We had our hard times, too. As a missionary family we went through culture shock and ongoing culture stress together, then reentry shock and ongoing reentry stress. Our son was killed crossing a neighborhood street in Lincoln, Nebraska, by a young truant teen who was drinking, smoking pot and driving way too fast. Then when York College went through its troubles, we struggled mightily. Such things can destroy a marriage. We determined they would not.

My husband was a good Dad. We camped with our kids all over Europe the 15 years we lived there. He played kick-ball and hide and seek and soccer and catch and drank imaginary tea from plastic tea sets. He read to the kids at night and had a weekly bible study with them – all geared to their age. At night in their pj’s he would romp on the floor with them and carry them upstairs to bed. He taught each one of them to drive a car, a tractor and a riding mower. That man had patience.

My husband prepared me to live independently. When we were courting, he told me that I might be a widow for a long time because of our age difference. I didn’t really believe that then. All I wanted was to be his wife. He encouraged me to study. Even when we lived in the Netherlands, he would make it a point to stay home one evening every week with the children so I could go to continuing education classes. I studied in Dutch and wrote papers in Dutch. I studied the arts and music and literature and history. I took German, French and Castilian Spanish. When we returned to the states I finished my degrees and when I began my doctorate, he joined me and we were in stat and research classes together at the University. We wrote our dissertations at the same time and did our research together. It made for great conversations. My husband encouraged me professionally - to branch out into areas I wouldn’t have ventured without his encouragement. He was my cheerleader. And he was my advocate.

Before I met my beloved, I prayed often that God would give me a husband who loved Him more than He would love me and who would allow me to love God more than him. God answered that prayer and as it turned out, loving God first increased our love for each other. God was wrapped up in everything we did. What I miss more than anything are our talks about scripture, the word studies, finding the meaning of some passages. When I was really stressed, I would take my bible to him and lay my head in his lap and he would read to me until I was calm again.

George Eliot said, it best: “What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life? To strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent , unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting.” Tom died 11 years ago on January 1, 2000. It was a day filled with sacred moments, which I have written about elsewhere in this blog. I am very thankful I was blessed by God with a good man and a great marriage.

"No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven" Phillipians 3:13,14 (NLT).


Thursday, December 16, 2010

With the Christmas holidays and the New Year upon us I am reminded of my Mother-in-Law’s words: “time moves whether we do or not,” which in turn reminds me of words my husband often said, “buy up the time while you still can.” At the end of every year I wonder where the year has gone and 2010 is no exception. With this year-end letter, I will try to summarize how I “bought up some of the time” God gave me.

In 2010, I
Conducted & helped conduct different workshops for Mission Teams and their stewarding churches; conducted Reentry Debriefings for returning missionaries; advised stewarding churches and their mission committees concerning missionary reentry; networked and found resources for stewarding churches and missionaries; conducted fact-finding clinical interviews; conducted mental health check-ups for furloughing missionaries; intervened for missionaries with their stewarding churches; assisted InterMission with their camp, Global Reunion, for third culture kids and their parents; I wrote about the camp experience for Resources, an MRN publication; travelled with Duane & Debbie Jenks to Qingdao and Beijing, China; served as a Counselor and Connection Group Leader in Brazil for Continent of Great Cities’ Continent Care Connections renewal for women; served as a Group Leader, Counselor for MRN’s Missionary Spiritual Renewal for furloughing, returning and returned missionaries; advised, encouraged, mentored and counseled missionaries and mission committees via Skype, email, telephone and Facebook; conducted one-on-one sessions with missionary candidates, furloughing, returned, and returning missionaries; worked with a number of adult missionary kids; offered hospitality to missionaries at different times throughout the year; mentored professional member care professionals and prospective missionary care professionals; and mentored missionaries in preparation for The Hills.
All my children are doing well. The poor economy has affected every one of them, of course, as it has affected so many of you. My eldest son took on an additional job that carried him through and just as my son-in-law’s hours were cut, my daughter, after months of unemployment was offered a job with the Dutch Bible Society. God provided. My oldest granddaughter graduates from ACU this spring with a degree in Social Work. My grandson graduates from Dallas Academy and is looking at colleges. My youngest grand-child learned to swim and to ice skate this last year. She is in second grade. My brother, though often in pain, has been granted his deepest wish for now – to remain independent and self-sufficient.

The holiday season makes me feel cheerful and thankful. I continue to be grateful to be a part of The Hills Church that exists to serve those not yet bought with the blood of Christ and I am thankful I am able to engage in meaningful work with Missions Resource Network. Both have a vision that only God can accomplish. Both surround me with godly colleagues who encourage me and love me. This is also a sad time of year for me. I will have been a widow for 11 years on January 1st. I miss my husband in so many ways, BUT I am grateful for the life God has given me (Eph. 2:10). I feel sooooooo blessed. I hope you feel equally blessed. What an awesome God we serve.