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Memories, thoughts, and weapons

Nammy's Camp 2018

   Recently I was thrilled to entertain 8 of my 10 grandchildren at what our family has termed, Nammy Camp. It’s a kid-driven camp. The grans provide the fun ideas. I plan the menus, and provide the venue. There is only one restriction–no electronics!! 

   Instead, my grandchildren spend time outside: swimming in my above ground pool, taking walks on trails in the woods, exploring, trying their hand at cooking, taking rides on a 4-wheeler, eating most of our meals outside on the picnic table, interacting with extended family members at a cookout, using their imaginations to build a brick fort, getting wet in a high spirited game of water balloons, learning a new game called ‘ladder ball toss’; playing chess, organizing a spa day for facials, manicures, and hair do’s; enjoying movie night with popcorn, rising early to watch a sunrise, and chasing fireflies at twilight! 

kathy & kids leaving 2018

   The time they were running around, laughing, and playing proved all too short. Fortunately, I didn’t have to say goodbye all at once. They left in 3 stages. Inevitably though, the final send off arrived. After waving goodbye from the front porch, as our last grandchildren drove off, I could sense the beginnings of a struggle. 

What struggle?

   The struggle to reject the fiery dart thoughts of overwhelming sadness!  For now my house was silent and empty.  I walked around the yard picking up pool toys and trash left behind by my campers. Storing lawn chairs and pool inflatables in the shed kept my mind from dwelling on the obvious. 

   As each moment passed, the temptation to give in to the sadness grew stronger. But before I could be overwhelmed, God offered me a two-fold weapon. One aspect of this weapon was to reject the sad thoughts so that they would not rule my thinking. Thoughts of this nature would influence negative attitudes and actions (p. 93, FD’s 3rd ed). The second aspect was to choose thoughts that would lift my spirits.

   Indeed, I had a hefty supply of memories from the previous days to draw upon. Truth thoughts from Scripture provided a rich source of strength and resolve. 

   As the hours passed, the force of the enemy’s attacks lessened. By filling my mind    with hopeful words from Scripture and happy memories, there was little room for the sad thoughts to plant themselves. By wielding God’s weapons, we can overcome the enemy when he attacks. 

  Remember, the enemy cannot defeat us, if we use the weapons of God’s design. 

 

More on saying goodbye!

Here’s another thought God gave me in my time with Him this morning!

Why is it that we as parents of grown children struggle so with the fiery darts of loneliness and depression when our children and grandchildren (especially those who live a long ways from us) depart after a visit?  I have some thoughts regarding that!

For me, my struggles with these two fiery darts are dramatically diminished as long as I bring the power of Scripture to bear upon them.  Yesterday, God helped me to understand the impact of focusing on His blessings in keeping the temptations of loneliness and depression at bay.  And I am here to tell you, “It works!”

In addition, God gave me another thought this morning that I feel I must share with you.

Part of our problem is that we struggle to accept reality.  The reality is that children grow up and often move away from their parent’s home, town, (and sometimes even country)!  That’s normal, that’s as it should be.  But we think we would be happier if they lived closer and mourn the fact that they don’t!  As long as we think on these little ‘t’ truths, we open the door of our minds to an onslaught of fiery darts.  The results of that?  Read on!

We will become more and more self absorbed!

Our notice of families who live close to each other will be intensified and we will begin to envy them and feel sorry for ourselves.

The distance between ourselves and God will continue to expand.

Our time with God will diminish and become less fruitful.

Mentally and emotionally we will be bummed out, and that will begin to take a toll on us physically!

IT’S A DOWNWARD SPIRAL!

I know that the fiery darts will always nag at my mind!  Such as: I’m getting too old to become adventurous.  How do I know my health won’t play out?  Physically I just can’t manage as much as I use to.  I’m running out of time; it’s just too late to attempt new things.

If I allow myself to think like that then that abundant and prosperous life God has for me in John 10:10b and Jeremiah 29:11 will indeed pass me by.

So perhaps now you understand why it is vital to be deliberate about our thinking!  God has given us some excellent advice in Philippians 4:8 about how we should be directing our thoughts:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (NIV)

And the results of this kind of thinking?

We will begin to realize we have more time to spend with God! (The benefits of that cannot be measured!)

We will become less self absorbed! (Our world won’t be so centered on us!)

Our health will improve b/c we are in a healthier mental and emotional state!

We will begin to enjoy the freedom to pursue things we wouldn’t consider or afford as long as we had the responsibility of caring for our children. (I took a flying lesson recently!)

We begin to respond normally to those difficult goodbye’s.  Sad, of course, b/c we miss them and b/c we enjoy having them around, and we love making those memories with them, but we soon get back on our feet and move on to enjoy the life and benefits of the empty nest God has ordained for us.  Because as God tells us in 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 hope and a future. (NIV)

and John 10:10b,

 I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.(NIV)