How Do You Weather?

5 Minutes for Faith - Daily Devotions for Moms

I took a deep breath and sunk my toes into the sand. Beside me my husband sat with long legs outstretched, one toe tapping to the tunes in his earphones. I closed my eyes and listened to the crashing waves. Knowing my children were happy back at the pool with their grandparents, I let the tension roll down my shoulders and onto the sand where it waited for the wind to carry it away…

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A Doctor for the Journey

“Who needs to be healed?” I half heard the television evangelist as I hunted through the cabinets for a snack.  “I know there is someone in the audience who needs some healing.  There are some of you watching from your homes that are suffering.  Some of you have rheumatoid arthritis.  One soul out there has the shingles.  You, sitting on your couch, I know about your chronic aches and pain.  And there is someone listening to the sound of my voice who is suffering from diabetes.”  My rummaging stopped and chills went down my spine as I cautiously walked back to the TV.


How did he know?  Surely, that was a good guess.  I know about these guys. My twelve-year-old mind was doubtful but curious.  I was diagnosed only a few months before, so I had not fully accepted life with a chronic disease.  I sat on my knees in front of our television.  “Place your hands on the screen and receive healing,” he called to me.  I sat not moving an inch, wondering what ifs.  What if this was for real?  What if I really was healed?  What if I did it, and it didn’t work?  My desire for freedom outweighed my skepticism, and I reached out.  Static crackled on my fingers as I laid my hands flat against the warmth of the set.


I closed my eyes and prayed, God, please take this away from me.  Then I waited with my hands still resting on the screen.  I wondered if I would know when I was cured?  Perhaps I was waiting for a shock, but the only shock I received was when I woke up the next morning the same as the day before. 


…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9


Paul would have understood the desire to have my “thorn” removed.  Credited as being one of the most successful missionaries of all time, he, too, pleaded with the Lord to take away a prickly area of his life. Paul is recognized for being one of the first to bring the message of Christ to the Gentiles, as well as the Jews. A majority of Biblical scholars agree Paul’s thorn was most likely a physical illness.  Didn’t God think His chosen man could be more effective without a thorn in his flesh?  Evidently not.  God didn’t remove my thorn just as He didn’t remove Paul’s. But nestled in the pages of Acts is what our all-powerful God did do. 


In chapter 16 of Acts, the perspective changes.  The author changes from referring to Paul and his traveling companions as they to we.


From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.  On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. Acts 16:11-13 NIV


That author is none other than Luke, a trusted physician and follower of The Way. Scripture tells us Luke joined Paul’s missionary group as they traveled to Macedonia. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Luke united with the missionaries at this time, but I believe he was there to meet the daily needs required of Paul’s physical ailment – a doctor for the journey.



Paul prayed for God to remove his thorn, not just once but three times.  Did God answer?  God did not eliminate Paul’s thorn, but He knew every detail of Paul’s infirmity and set the scenario to have every requirement met.  The Lord equipped His chosen missionary with exactly what he needed for the journey. 


And when we look at Paul’s final days in 2 Timothy, we find him in jail.  He has been beaten; he is cold and in heavy chains.  Paul knows his time is near as he writes his beloved Timothy.  He writes to describe how everyone had deserted him.  Their fear of the emperor Nero was greater than their loyalty.  But these words bring tears to my eyes.  Only Luke is with me. (2 Timothy 4:11 NIV)  Luke, who was along for the journey, was there with him in the end.  I can imagine Dr. Luke did all he could to make Paul as comfortable as possible, which probably wasn’t very much.  But God gave Paul grace through a friend and doctor to be with him until he met Jesus face to face.


When we pray for God to remove undesirable things from our lives, sometimes God chooses to equip us instead.  He provides a way to meet our needs, while using that thorn to show His grace is sufficient. 


So, what about me?  Twenty-three years later, I still have Type 1 diabetes.  Have I continued to pray for God to remove it? Yes, from time to time I do.  But I can look back and see God’s hand.  Through prayer, He led my parents to a wonderful doctor from the start; I am still seeing him after all these years.  And through prayer, God guided me through the birth of two healthy children with no complications.  I have no ill effects from my disease, and even ran my first 10K last year.  God heard my plea, and He has definitely equipped me for the journey.


His grace is sufficient for me.



A Journey to Africa – Part 4

The Ricks Family
This is the final part to my interview with Heather Ricks about her quest to follow God wherever He leads. In Heather’s case, He is leading to Africa. If you haven’t read the first three parts, go back and read them. You don’t want to miss anything.

CAROL:  What advice can you give someone who is interested in serving in missions?  Where should they get started?


HEATHER:  Definitely research the countries they are interested in, then target those organizations who are strong in those areas. For instance, SIM is strong in Africa and South America. Or, for example, if you are interested in aviation, you could hook up with Mission Aviation Fellowship.


But I would definitely get hooked up with a good organization. That makes all the difference in the world. I don’t recommend anyone doing it alone. Your going to need all the support you can get. And, it’s just good to go through an organization for the simple reason that they normally take care of the nitty-gritty tax stuff and all the technical stuff that you don’t need to deal with.


It would even be good to read some missionary biographies. It would give them a glimpse of what life is really like.


Also, be prepared for the ride. Sometimes, things don’t go according to how YOU planned. But, if you’re willing to be open to listening to God, He may have something even better.


Sometimes, things don’t go according to how YOU planned. But, if you’re willing to be open to listening to God, He may have something even better.


You must always remember there will be valleys you’ll have to walk through. Look at these times as learning opportunities. I can’t tell you how much we’ve grown by “living” scripture. We’ve understood (and still learning) what it means to consider it pure joy in hard circumstances, what it means to persevere, what it means to seek first the Kingdom of God. I’m not saying that others don’t do that, but when you go through these valleys, you get to see scripture come alive.         


CAROL:  What special requests for prayer do you have that we can pray for while you are there?



-Pray the boys will make friends and adapt quickly. The long anticipation is killing them.

-Pray for Jason as he teaches his students. He wants to not only be a teacher to them but a learner from them as well.

 -Pray that I find my place in Ghana and am able to be a support to Jason.

-Last but not least, pray for our health and safety.

CAROL:  Wow! Thank you, Heather, for all sharing your heart with us. I’ve been truly inspired by your story. 

HEATHER:  Oh, you’re most welcome!

You can find out more about Heather, Jason, Jeremy, and Jonathan at their personal blog The Ricks Journey.  Click on over to learn more about their trip and even see a countdown to Ghana. If you would be interested in helping to support the Ricks family as they travel to Africa, you can find out all the information there, as well. I know you will join me in prayer for them as they prepare to follow God wherever He leads. 




A Journey to Africa – Part 3

This is the 3rd part to my interview with Heather Ricks. Her family of four is getting ready to follow God’s call to Africa. If you haven’t read the other parts of the interview, please don’t miss them. I don’t know about you, but just reading Heather’s responses gets me excited about missions.

CAROL:  How long will you be spending in Africa?

HEATHER: Initially, we were going to Tanzania for long term (however long it took to get the school up and running and turned over to nationals. Which could be about ten or so years).


When we signed up with SIM (Serving In Mission), we signed up for a two-year term. However, God must’ve had different plans.


After trying to raise support again, we got up to about 49 % before Jason lost his job. (The ministry was hit by the economy and had to let all the office staff go). When this happened, we had a decision to make. SIM was not paying us yet, and Jason again was put in the position of having to make money to provide for his family. It was kind of hard going to an interview saying that we were planning on leaving for Africa whenever we got enough support raised—which we we’re hoping would be less than a year from then. You can’t find too many jobs, making more than unemployment, that way.


We looked at different options to get us to Africa and provide for the family (a difficult thing to juggle). One option was the possibility of Jason getting a Bible teaching job here at a high school, and us going to Africa during the summer to teach. We already had enough money raised for that, but Jason could neither get a teaching job here nor did any of the African countries need someone during the summer at their universities at that time. So, we nixed that idea. The other idea was to see how much money it would cost us to go to Africa for a year. Because they treat one-year people as ‘volunteers’, we were able to get paid differently, thus cutting our costs by over half. When this happened, we had enough to go this summer. All we had to finish raising was our one-time expenses.


So, we are technically going for a year, but we are available for whatever. I’m through trying to figure out what’s going to happen after a year!


CAROL:  Do you have any reservations about leaving?


HEATHER:  Whew, do I ever! It’s always scary leaving the known and going into the unknown. What keeps me going is knowing we’re doing what God has made us to do.


What keeps me going is knowing we’re doing what God has made us to do.


CAROL:  What do your boys think about the move?


HEATHER:  Although we’ve kept our boys involved with the process the whole way, it hasn’t made it any easier for them. They’ve had to say goodbye to friends a lot, especially Jeremy. We were hoping we would be able to make the transition from Wyoming to Africa quickly enough that they would not grow ‘roots’. But, during this two-year waiting period, they’ve made close friends, and it is hard.


On the flip side, they do understand what we are doing. This has given us many opportunities to talk to them about how God has something special planned for them, as well. God didn’t just ‘call’ dad to go and the rest of us have to be dragged along. If I didn’t feel our boys were on board, I would feel this enough reason to abort the move. I don’t want to plow over my family because I feel like we’re doing God’s work. Our family has to be healthy before ministry can be done. We’ve had many conversations about how hard it is to move. Jason and I allow them to cry and grieve.


One thing that has helped is we’ve been in contact with other SIM missionaries that have boys around Jeremy and Jonathan’s age. They’ve been emailing Jeremy and Jonathan, so they are establishing friendships even before they move.  Jason and I have learned that kids are more resilient than they look.

Don’t miss the final part to this interview on Friday! 



Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands

5 Minutes for Faith - Daily Devotions for Moms

“Can I have a canned drink?” my son appeared from nowhere, his face beet red, sweaty hair plastered to his head in the shape of his bicycle helmet. “How about some water,” I said and watched his mouth turn south. I reached down to grab more laundry to sort, and when I looked up he was gone…

Join me today at 5 Minutes for Faith. Click HERE to read the rest of my devotion.