Both Mary and Elizabeth were refreshed and encouraged by the special time they shared together. Their bellies were growing and so were the hopes for the child each would bear. These boys would grow up as cousins. Picture Mary so young and not even married and then Elizabeth so old that her husband Zechariah doubted the angel when he was told that a son would be born to him. Perhaps Elizabeth embraced Mary again as she looked deep in her eyes and said, “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” This blessing was linked to belief, belief in the faithfulness of God. How blessed we are indeed when we believe the Lord.
It did not make logical sense to me that God would call us back to Asia within a year of leaving Thailand. This was some of my reasoning: Our China team was well prepared to go forward with the ministry and we were excitedly engaged in new ministry opportunities in England. With Hannah, our oldest daughter in her first semester of college in Texas, my heart was thankful that we lived in London, just one plane ride away, rather than halfway around the globe. Sophie and Isaiah were thriving with new challenges, stretched with their college-like classes, contributing to their British football teams, and interacting with peers from very diverse backgrounds. And besides, I really liked being able to interact in English! To me, returning to Asia seemed like going backwards. But we believed it was God calling us, so we followed God’s guidance.
In the summer of 2009 we said our good-byes to new friends in England, sold and gave away what we owned and moved to Thailand for the third time, this time in an extended leadership role. It was during this two-year assignment that as I read through the Bible, the word “bless” popped out more and more as I reflected on God’s ongoing blessings in history. I also began to see the many ways He blessed us in our obedience to follow Him, even when it did not initially make sense to move from London.
I sensed He was prompting me to write a book, to proclaim His many blessings throughout His Story. My desire is that through God this blessing book will be accomplished. I pray that He will be honored with it, and we would live on in His blessings, being blessed and blessing others. My hope is that belief in the Lord will grow which would lead to thankfulness in the lives of His children. Lord, this book of blessings is a bit ambitious; please keep giving me Your wisdom as we build it page by page. You are so good to continue to bless me as I write; please bless all of us as we read. Amen.
P.S. In the early spring of 2015, Russell was given a gift of a week at a timeshare in Arkansas for presiding over the marriage of a delightful couple. We enjoyed the change in scenery and the remote setting was a great place to re-read The Blessing Book and prayerfully jot down Action Options for the new editions. I love that what began in a notebook so many years ago continues to grow and grow me!