Missing in Action
Sandy Willoughby

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Hebrews 12:11

Dear Sisters,

I must start off this letter letting you know that it isn't being written out of desire, rather out of duty. It is a conviction from the Holy Spirit --- one, which demands "onward with it".

My human reaction wants to proclaim: "I shouldn't have to share this when it is my own business to tend... I mean, I'm doing the best I can." The truth is that it isn't a matter of doing the best I can but the question: "Am I doing what God says?". My thoughts fought me... they said: "Come on, God! I TEACH these things... I counsel on these things...I share studies on these very things for goodness sakes. Who will want to follow the example of a fallen leader?" Guess what God says? "They aren't supposed to follow your example but Mine. They desperately NEED to see your humanity and know that those times they've "been" there aren't exclusive to them. They NEED you to be real and be shown that YOU need ME just as much as they do."

Well, ladies of the Lord, I am following His leading and going against my way of self preservation to share with you. I will share my struggles and what I am doing about them with the hope that something in this might minister to you --- if not now, maybe at some point in the future.

I haven't been up early for my quiet times in the morning. For me... early, early mornings are important bec/ my heart is truly still before the Lord. I feel His presence and my spirit is more in tune to what He's saying. This isn't so for everyone but it is the case with me. I have been fitting quiet times in. Because my wake up times have been later than my needed routine, Bible reading and written prayer have been moved to after the kids are taken to school, the morning walk is done, the dog is walked, the shower taken, bathroom tidied, bed made, breakfast dishes done, and floor swept. Because of this --- my 5:00 am time with God has been pushed to 10:30 or 11:00. What happens then? The many tasks in need of being done before the day's end get heavier on my mind and this distracts me so that I am struggling not to hurry through the Bible reading/prayer time. I don't pray as intimately as a result. I don't read/study as deeply. I have been "missing in action" and showing up late, unprepared, and in a hurry with the most important meeting of my day.

What are the resulting consequences?

I haven't been here --- really and fully *been here* --- for my husband, children, home duties and writing ministry.

Times have been very busy and I have been doing, going, writing, reading, driving, and on down the list rolls. A thousand things a day, everyday. What I haven't been doing are the very things I *need* to be doing. The Lord has tried to get my attention on it for quite some time. He has let me see glimpses in the form of twinges of guilt in moments along the way.

Intentions towards change have been just intentions never moved into action. Missing in action.

When I looked up the descriptions for "missing" and "action"... everything came to light that my precious Savior has been nudging me to really *see* in my life! I've been praying and planning on priorities but I wasn't getting far because seeing what God wanted me to see wasn't happening in the whirlwind of activity going on constantly.


"To fail to hit, reach, catch, meet or otherwise make contact with" This was describing me, me, ME! All of the priorities in my life have been scattered so that I wasn't "meeting up with" any of them really.

"To omit; to fail to have or to do." When I didn't have time to take care of a need in any of my areas of priority bec/ that time was being used somewhere else... the need was omitted. I failed to take care of it.

"To fail to perceive, understand or experience." I didn't realize/understand that I wasn't *experiencing* the connections I should have been in tune with. "To discover the absence or omission of; To fail to accomplish, achieve, or attain... Not able to be found... To fail to attend or perform... To let go by; slip. To escape or avoid. To discover the loss of. Lacking; wanting. Not present; absent."

I cannot tell you how much it hurt when I saw myself the way my family has seen me lately. There are no words to describe the deep pain that started at the very core of my being and moved all the way through me. "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 Sisters... my God and my family were getting thrown the scraps of my life while the feast was thrown out in countless directions around me.

My family felt my absence because I haven't been *here* with them. This isn't due to being gone from them in body but in heart and mind. My heart and mind have had other things as their focus. This should not be.

I have let precious, precious and needed memories and moments "go by; slip" and I have done things to escape/avoid responsibilities all the while rationalizing that "I'll finish this up and then do that"...

Missing --- "Absent from the place where it was expected to be found; lost; wanting; not present when called or looked for". This has been me.

My Father guided me to some beautiful truths in His Word and I *planned* to write on them... reflect on them... and study more into them... later.

My husband needed some time with me. That kind of time that might appear as "doing nothing" but the type that is "being together" and making it something. Did he tell me he needed me? No. He didn't have to. I've known. He's been under a lot of stress and I kept telling myself I needed to go join him on the couch to watch a movie or sit down with coffee and really listen to him talk about anything and nothing at all. Then... this would happen and that would take place and it would be put off until later.

My oldest son has had an attitude lately. He has started showing me disrespect in his tone of voice, words, and "looks". I bought a book on parenting teens, which included study helps at the end of each chapter and kept telling myself to spend a few minutes a day reading this and doing the study. Didn't happen. The next son down in age has been going through a lot at school. He is a lot smaller than he should be at 14 (the doctor thinks it might be 'congenial growth disorder' or something like that, and they say one day he'll shoot right on up there) and he has a lot of teasing at school. He is very cute (white blond hair and bright blue eyes with a gorgeous smile:)) and a gifted student. I have hoped these things would help him overcome the size thing but kids can be merciless at times and teachers too overwhelmed with problem students to see everything going on. I have needed to read up on diets and in my natural health books to research for things that might help with this but ... other things got in the way. My third son asked me to write out some Scriptures and Devotion notes for him to read each morning at 5:00 am (he has still been getting up right on schedule!) because the books he has been using for two years were getting boring to him. I was looking forward to doing this but lots of other things vacuumed up that time, too. My daughter has been coming up to me a lot lately telling me she loves me... drawing little pictures that say "I love you", and trying to talk to me as I'm busy doing --- everything but really listening to her.

She colored me a picture this evening and after she gave it to me and I gave her a quick hug and thanked her --- she came back and told me: "That isn't all I'm giving you for your birthday".

A few hours later... when I had finally answered all my emails and got my inbox in order... my husband asked me if I saw what Lauren had done. I said I hadn't and he told me she had fallen asleep before she could surprise me with the fact that she had secretly gone into her bedroom and cleaned it from top to bottom because she knew how much I wanted it cleaned. "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." Hebrews 2:1

I didn't want to write the things I just shared with you. Honestly, I wanted to "do better" and not mention them to you... or to myself. I wanted to "kick in and get back with it" and go on as if it never happened. I believe I was supposed to for some reason and even though it bothers me to even look at it... the truth is the truth whether we like it or not.

The above is the truth about how I have allowed myself to become... self absorbed, disorganized, and missing in action in my own home.

"And they which heard it, *being convicted by their own conscience*, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst." John 8:9


Action... "Something done or accomplished. Manner of movement. Habitual activity. Behavior or conduct.

I have been missing in the action of "doing" and my family has missed me as I acted. I have no power on my own to change this or redirect myself back where I have been before and back where God wants me but HE has all the power to help me back on track.

Priorities in place "done" and "accomplished." Moving about my Godly duties in a biblical manner. Recreating my activities back into habits. Walking in the "behavior and conduct" God has called me to walk in. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

I don't have yesterday and I cannot take back the mistakes made there. I do have today as God blesses me with them and with each new day I am given millions of miracles for the taking.

"While it is said, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation." Hebrews 3:15

I planned a different ending for this but exhaustion has kicked in:)...

Please learn from my sorrow at letting the important things fall to the bottom of the priority list... I pray this is the case.

I am feeling such peace since my Lord has washed me so clean again and has set me on my way to start over:)

LOVE the LORD your GOD with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.

Love your husband more than yourself and put his needs before your own... Love those children like you've always wanted to... Love your role as a homemaker and rejoice in the fruit of your hands... May all else in store for you happen next...

These are what I plan to do...

I close with love in Christ Jesus...


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