28 November 2014


"I Am Not There, I Am Here"

On this Thanksgiving holiday I am thankful for many things including living and working in Ukraine. I must admit, though, our hearts sometimes ache over being so far from loved ones and family, from our culture and familiarity of it.  I post this from another missionary.  It is encouraging and I hope helps others to understand our being so far. 

I am not there.

          I am here.

The miles are long. Their days are my nights. My days are their nights.

I am not there. I am here.

She looks so beautiful, dressed in white. She walks the aisle, and he meets her at the front. The “I do’s” are said and tears of joy are shed. I do not see it. I only have pictures. I am not there. I am here.

The tree is put up and decorated. The lights glisten and glow. Sipping hot chocolate after a family dinner. Presents exchanged. But I am not there. I am here.

Tears are shed. Flowers fill the chapel. A casket is closed. Hearts are broken. Goodbyes are spoken. Comforting hugs. Reminiscing over happy memories. But I am not there. I am here.

A family hurting. Children crying. Parents aching. And someone leaves. A broken home. Phone calls and emails are all I have. My heart wants to hold them, to cry with them. I want to wipe away the tears. But I am not there. I am here.

Bad news comes. Health is failing. Surgeries. Treatments. Doctor’s appointments. I cannot help. I cannot drive for them or cook a meal or clean. I am not there. I am here.

A beautiful pregnant belly. The gender announced. Before long, the labor starts. The baby’s first cry. Happy parents. But I do not get to hold the baby. I do not hear the cry. I am not there. I am here.

Birthdays come and go. Trials faced. But I am not there…

Sometimes my heart wants to cry out, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first see her wedding. Let me first see the baby born. Let me make sure everyone will be o.k. while I am gone. Let me first… me first…”

              Me first…

I am not the first to think it. I am not the first to feel the pull… the tug.

Luke 9:57-62 “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.  And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Following is not without sacrifice. I don’t want to look back. I want to keep my hand to the plough. I want to plough straight and deep.

My heart wants to cry, “Me first!” So I remind my heart about what belongs first.

Matthew 6:33  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

If I put Him first, He will supply me need… comfort when I ache inside… comfort when I miss family and friends… comfort when the tears flow.

Why am I here when I am missing out on things there?

 I remember why I am here. I remember Who brought me here.

Romans 10:13-15 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

I am not there.

              By God’s grace, I am here.

              So today, I lay “there” on the altar again.

I am here.   (Author unknown, surely a missionary)

26 November 2014


 Some of you may have seen this on Facebook.  Two weeks ago today Jeff fell and had a 2/3rds tear of his Achilles' tendon.  The doctors in Ukraine said he needed surgery within a week to maintain his mobility.  Now as expats 20 years in a foreign country we've come to understand that sometimes doctors are anxious to operate on us for financial gain.  We weren't convinced and we wanted another opinion.  The above picture is the cast we left Ukraine in. We added the duct tape with a wooden block on the heal so he could actually walk in it.  He was on 2 crutches.
Some years ago we had a very good experience with a surgery in England on Jeff.  So off to England to see a ankle specialist.  The long and short of what was quite an ordeal is that Jeff is walking in a boot for 8 weeks, no surgery.  Thank you to you who already are praying for him.  Please continue as he must be very careful not to fully tear this tendon or it WILL be surgery.  The above shows his new boot in the London Underground (the extent of our tourism).  Please also pray for the resolution of two blood clots in the same leg.  They didn't catch that in Ukraine. We are grateful for God's provision and your prayers.

01 November 2014

HOW CAN I KNOW? By Jeff Franks

“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) 

How do I know if my deeds are done in the Spirit or in the flesh? 

Devotional thoughts for Saturday, November 1, 2014 

While still in this life I feel I cannot look back at my PAST deeds and say definitely and reliably that this or that was done in the Spirit. I am often blind to my own pride and the subtle impulses which flow from it, such as saying and doing things to justify myself or avoid guilt. Like, HOW long has Aunt Emmy been in the care facility and I STILL haven’t gone to see her? I mean what will her family think of me? (Just for the record I don’t have an Aunt Emmy, but if I did I might be feeling pretty guilty right now!)

Regarding PRESENT deeds, I have every opportunity (yes this very moment) to confess my sins, be filled with God’s Holy Spirit (a command), wear the full armor of God (also a command), walk in the Spirit, put on the “new man” and put off the old. Yes, even when it comes to visiting dear Aunt Emmy! I know I should, but why not do it in the love of God and in the power of his Holy Spirit?!!

Finally, the FUTURE day will come, when looking back, I WILL KNOW EXACTLY what I did in the power of the Spirit and what I did in the weakness of my sinful flesh. Note:
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) 

Therefore, dear Lord, give me the grace to follow you this day, walking in your Holy Spirit, and building on the only foundation that counts - you alone, Jesus! When that day comes I want to receive gold and silver that will withstand the fire of your holiness, and bring glory, honor and praise, no not to me - never! - but to you alone, forever! 

By Jeff Franks
Photography by Jeff Franks from Coleen's Garden