Straight From My Heart 6/30/2010

Tonight I write as a mom – one whose heart is full of excitement, joy, anticipation and gratitude.  As I write, and as you log on to read this post, my youngest son Blake is winging his way home from China.  He flew out of Shanghai at 10 p.m. on Tuesday evening, and will arrive in Detroit – good Lord willing – at noon on Wednesday.  Depending on how long it takes to get through customs, he will be landing in Pellston, MI at either 3 p.m. or 4:50 p.m.  Either way, Ted and I will be at the Pellston airport as that door opens into the waiting area, and Blake walks through it. 

I remember precisely the moment when Blake told me he wanted to go to China.  He was a senior at Berry College in Rome, GA, and instead of calling to say he had a job already nailed down after graduation, he wanted to talk to me about going to China for a year to teach English.  An organization in California sends Christian young men and women to China each year to teach and, through their lives, be ambassadors for our Lord. 

I did not go easy into my immediate response to Blake.  In fact, I broke down and cried my heart out.  CHINA!  Throughout that conversation and many more to come, I begged and pleaded and tried to persuade him not to go.  “Anywhere but China!” I would say.  “Why China?” I would question. 

Then the other shoe fell.  Not only was he going to China, but he wasn’t going to be paid to go.  He had to raise the money himself for the entire trip and his living expenses for a year through contributions.  Finally, I felt a wave of relief!  He would never be able to come up with all that money!  But he did, and in August – after graduating from college in May – he flew to Los Angeles for two weeks of training, then on to China for a year of teaching.  I went into mourning.  I cried, I prayed, I worried, I spent sleepless nights wide-eyed and restless.  I tried to be supportive when I talked to Blake on the phone, but I know my every emotion showed through my shallow words.  I wanted my boy home – or at least on this side of the world.  I was miserable.

It had been my plan to read through the Bible that year, and in January I half-heartedly began.  My new Bible had a section explaining how to do that – with chapter and verse marked for each day.  And so I started, rapidly becoming more dedicated to completing the task than most anything I had ever promised myself to do before.  I would begin each day with a prayer that went basically like this: “Please Lord, show me something in Your book today that will give me peace about Blake being in China.” 

I cannot tell you that it was a specific verse that helped me get to the point of peace.  What it was, I think, was losing myself in the Old Testament and studying how God has a plan for each of us.  We can choose to ignore that plan and be miserable, or we can follow that plan and find peace.  What I had to learn was that God’s plan for Blake was for him to go to China, and His plan for me was to be a supportive mother.  I do remember specifically the moment it was laid on my heart that a supportive mother is what I would be.  It happened as I prayed in my car on the way to work on a cold March morning in south Georgia.  I pulled to a stop before I turned off our dirt road onto the paved highway, and I thanked God for allowing me to see what I should have been doing since “China” was first mentioned.  I asked to be forgiven for being so non-supportive and negative.  Immediately – the peace.  The next time Blake and I talked, I asked his forgiveness as well.

When Blake came home that June, he immediately began seminary in Orlando, Florida.  His first year in China had taught him there was so much need there, and there was such an openness in the people of China to accept what they tried to “teach”.  He also learned that he clearly needed a different kind of education in order to complete the plan.  Three years later, he graduated from seminary with a Masters in Theology.  That fall he began a four-year commitment to China – spending two years in Beijing in language school, then the last two years teaching in a Chinese university and spreading the Good News wherever possible.  All of that time has been supported by contributions from friends, family and churches, and from many individuals who don’t even know Blake, but have wanted to support what he was doing.  God is indeed good.

After four years, each “teacher” is given an opportunity for a one-year furlough.  Blake is choosing to be home for at least two years.  He wants to connect back to his country, his family, his friends, and his supporters.  He will be actively seeking employment as soon as he arrives back in the states. 

Please pray with me for his safe travels back and for God to once again open doors.  I certainly will never again be anything but supportive in whatever God asks from my children.  After all, and this was the hardest thing to accept, they are not really mine.  They are just on loan from God.  And God makes no mistakes.

Note 1:  Header is from Blake’s visit to Mackinac Island last summer.

Note 2For the rest of the week (through the 4th of July), I won’t be posting a blog daily, but please check here to see if I’ve written anything or posted pictures.  I know from past experience that it will take Blake three days to get through jet lag and have his inner clock set once again to American time (China is 12 hours ahead of us).  He will be with us for 10 days before flying to Atlanta to begin his job search, and I plan to enjoy every moment!  God bless you all.


18 thoughts on “Straight From My Heart 6/30/2010

  1. Dear God, I pray that you will bring Blake safely home to his family, his friends, and his country. And I also pray that you will use Blake as an inspiration for us all to follow your word and to do your will. God bless you Brenda and Ted and family.

  2. I also pray that God will see Blake safely back home today and that you will all have a wonderful time of reconnecting and fellowship.
    Happy Wednesday!!

  3. My prayers are with all of you, Blake, Brenda and Ted. Enjoy the heck out of Blake while he is on the island, as I know you will, and write when you can. I know how excited you must be just waiting for his arrival and fully understand wanting to spend as much time as possible with him. I wish you all the most wonderful time together!

    (P.S. HI BLAKE!! Welcome home!)

  4. Dear Lord,
    Keep Blake safe as he travels and give him rest and peace on his furlough. Keep Bree calm and relaxed as she enjoys his and Your presence daily. Thank you for teaching us that you always know best–whether we like it or not. 🙂

  5. God has blessed your family greatly and He will continue to be at your side. I am sending your post to my girl friend that has just gone through exactly what you expressed. Her daughters husband was just “sent” to Shanghai for the next two years. They are wonderful bible college trained kids going to the mission field with a well paying job. They made the decision to take the whole family, 4 little toe heads, and move lock stock and barrel. Mary has been crying for months but as I see the opportunity Cassandra and Adam have it lifts my heart and it will hers also. Thank you for being honest,my friend, and bearing a mothers heart. I will call you to see if you want to meet up on this side of the ferry. God bless you,my friend.

  6. What a journey, Bree! And the awesome miracle here is how God changed your fearful mother’s heart from holding too tight, to seeing Blake through His eyes, and letting go. What a contrast Blake will experience, from China to Mackinac Island! I can think of no better place for your family to reconnect. Enjoy every fleeting minute!

  7. Oh, what joy! My thoughts and prayers are with you, too, for a safe and loving family time.

    The island knows something about missionaries to China. Ask Trish Martin or her Mother about Bishop Root. His grave, along with other family members, is in the island cemetery. It truly is a small world!

  8. Praise the Lord for your testimony of how God works in our hearts when we truly give it all to Him to work out for us!! Awesome Brenda!! We (hubby and I) have been to India for short term mission trips 4 times in the past few years and each time we come back home we leave a bit of our heart we will be praying for Blake and for his reconnecting back here in the USA…Enjoy your 10 days with him…my mom’s heart is so excited for you!! Be blessed…big time!!

  9. Enjoy your time with your amazing son. Prayers sent for safe return and for him to find his perfect job. He sounds like he has a lot to offer. I’m sure you Dad is as happy as can be “seeing” his grandson do such wonderful work around the world.
    Will miss you Bree but look forward to so many stories of your time with your son.
    Bless you!

  10. Thoughts and prayers are with Blake on his long trip back to you and Ted. May you have an enjoyable time while he visits you on the Island.

  11. Bree, as I read this wondrously blessed mother’s account, I hear the pop song “let me tell you straight from the heart” blasting in my ears and I don’t have an ipod!

    No doubt, doors will continue to open — the world needs to be blessed with all of us who listen and then do what we feel God’s plan is for us to do.

    How blessed the earth is with you and Blake (and of course Ted!)

    Enjoy Blake’s presence to the fullest.

  12. Hi Bree! Thanks for all of the info about Blake and China. I often wondered what he did there. How beautiful of him to follow his heart. I hope he makes it safely to the island and you have a wonderful time together. I will be praying that he also finds a job in Atlanta. Have lots of fun!

  13. Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us. It’s a lesson we all need to hear often, that God is in control and we must place our trust in Him. In this crazy world, it’s often easy for that to slip our minds, and I pray that you have planted the seed of faith through your words that will grow in those who read them. May God bless your long-anticipated reunion with your son, and best wishes to Blake as he looks for a job.

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