Tag Archives: church

The Church’s Top Priority

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The Church’s Top Priority

I keep hearing and reading church leadership make the statement, “Your health and safety is our top priority.”

Can I just say that makes me want to vomit?

It does. It’s gross.

I understand taking precautions. I understand wanting to be cautious and mindful of risk. I also understand, by God’s grace, what I read in the Scriptures regarding worship of God, fear, and the gathering of the body of Christ.

And this digital church thing isn’t cutting it.

If you think you’re being extra moral, extra virtuous, and extra holy by holeing up in your house to watch sermons in your pjs, I think we’ve come to a detrimental place of prioritizing our own comfort and placating our anxiety, because it’s easier to be scared and stressed than to trust God.

The Church’s top priority is and has always been to glorify God. Period. The church under Nero was encouraged to continue meeting and to endure persecution under threat of death! Why should we think our health and safety is any more valuable than theirs? Why should we think God expects anything less of us in our circumstances? At this point, many churches are CHOOSING to remain shuttered. How do we glorify God? How can we do that with the freedoms and liberties with which He’s blessed us? Within the confines of “social distancing protocols”?

When you meet together, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as you praise the Lord with all your heart. Ephesians 5:19, CEV

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Isaiah 45:20, ESV

Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer. Hebrews 10:25, CEV

Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9, CSB

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it. Matthew 16:25, CSB

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20

Do we have to be gathered in droves for the Holy Spirit to be present with us? No. We could all start having little home churches. But it is less a question of whether we should or shouldn’t and more an issue of will we or won’t we.

Since quarrantine, I’ve noticed views for videos of Bible teaching and preachimg steadily decline. At first we seemed willing to soak up every last bit of Gospel we could and to hold on to that message and persist in our prayers and Bible study. It was important to us, because we were scared. But Church, I think we’ve grown weary. I think we’ve become stressed. I think we’ve allowed ourselves to let other things take the place of the hour or 2 we may have spent in worship due to the fact that we are at home where distractions are prevalent and reasons (or excuses) abound.

We could stay away from our church buildings longer… Say we’re the “scattered underground church”. But personally I find that incredibly obtuse and offensive to the brothers and sisters who are meeting in secret under penalty of death, or walking miles for days in inclimate weather to have the chance to hear the Gospel and sing hymns of worship, or facing ostracism from family for their faith in Christ Jesus, or simply longing to hold a copy of the Holy Bible in their native tongue…

America, this is sad. And I’m frankly disappointed. Do not let your zeal for the Lord be quashed by the duration of the shut down. The viral curve is as flat as it is going to be until there is a vaccine… Which is a topic for another post.

We are the body and bride of Christ. And there is nothing more important than gathering for worship to glorify God, sing HIS praise, and to encourage one another in the faith. What this has shown me is how few healthy people are actually willing to risk their lives for religious freedom to assemble in worship. And how much we cling to health and safety. And how easy it is for us to become accustomed to internet church and forsake the relational aspect of our faith.

I get taking care of yourself. I get wanting to look out for the well-being of others. But are we doing so at the cost of our spiritual vitality? I think our priorities have been a tell as to where our hearts are. And we may need to do some investigative work and sincere prayer in order to get back to the place where we can all say like the Apostle Paul, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21, where we pick up our cross and follow Him regardless of the cost.

Church- if we TRULY believed that, we would lay down our comforts, fears, and uncertainties, and we would gather together, and we would worship our God and King as He has commanded us to do.

And They’ll Know We Are Christians…(2)

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And They’ll Know We Are Christians…(2)

“What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Romans 3:3-4

Yesterday I shared with you my take on how to reconcile the bits and pieces of Christian belief/tradition with the fact that we, as Christians, have received salvation not by anything we physically do, but by faith in Christ alone. Let me add to that statement by referencing 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says that ALL scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction. That means that nothing in the Bible is at all contradictory. The contradiction comes when believers and non-believers alike take scriptures out of context and do a “copy and paste” version of “faith” that will either cater to their comfort zone and lifestyle, or completely turn them against the Gospel. That’s not how the Bible is intended to be read or used.

That being said, I have some more thoughts on the subject of faith and our actions as a result of our afore-mentioned faith. I’ve heard the same story, multiple times throughout my life, of a man (or woman) who believes that God exists. The person has faith that God created the universe, and that His son, Jesus, was sent to die once for the sins of man. This person in question, however, refuses to be baptized, or go to church- in short become a Christian- because the individual is not yet ready to let go of his or her current lifestyle, which he or she does in fact believe to be contrary to the Gospel because of not wanting to be seen as hypocritical.

This story always makes me think hard on my life, and the book of Romans always comes to mind each time I hear it.

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:7-8] Think about that… Think about your best friend for a moment. Think of what that person means to you, and how your life would be poorer if they were no longer a part of it. Now think of all the things that your best friend does to annoy you… think of your arguments… think of the struggles you know they face… think about all the dirt, sin, and failure that surrounds them… Would you still sacrifice your life to save the life of your friend? Would you abandon everything you have- husband, wife, children, career, wealth, success- just to save that person from their own despair? God did. God did that for us before the world ever recognized Jesus as the Messiah. For crying out loud, the Jews denied Jesus as the Messiah! GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE WEREN’T ABLE TO ACCEPT JESUS AS THE FULFILLMENT OF GOD’S PROMISE! It seems hopeless if you think of it that way. If the people who God set apart from the beginning to follow Him failed, how are the rest of us supposed to stand a chance? That is the beauty of the Gospel! “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” [Romans 3:23-24] We aren’t bound by a lifestyle of sin. In fact, sin is not even a valid reason to ignore the call of God to repent and be baptized.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” [Romans 1:18-20]

See? The Bible makes a point of saying that there is no valid excuse for acknowledging God but refusing to follow him. God KNOWS we’re sinners. That’s why he sent Jesus to the world in the first place. He knew that we were a hopeless rabble. The beauty is that although we WILL fall short, we have still been given the gift of salvation. Therefore, we must TRY to be obedient to the word of God and the teachings of Christ. Repentance isn’t code for give up everything you enjoy because the Church wouldn’t like it. It’s about choosing to be close to God instead of marred by sin, which separates us from Him. It’s not an instantaneous thing, but a lifetime process. Being in a relationship with God is about daily deciding- yes, you have the choice to decide- whether you will sin because it feels good for a moment, or whether you will turn from sin and cling to righteousness because it will lead you toward an eternity of joy and salvation.

John Wesley is quoted as having said, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” I see truth in this statement. From the looks of things, the generations before us tolerated confusion and misinterpretation of the Christian faith, because now it is rampant. Somehow over the course of the past 2,000 years, being introduced to someone as a good, Christian individual now has a negative connotation associated with bigotry, hypocrisy, commercialism, judgment, hate, and scorn. WHAT!? What happened to being the body of Christ? What happened to Christianity being synonymous with love, and compassion, forgiveness, mercy, and grace?? I find it absolutely appalling that people feel ashamed to wear the label of Christianity, not for fear of being seen as “Jesus Freaks” but because society has demanded tolerance of sin, and thereby embraced it, creating generations of politically correct hypocrites who don’t know what they believe anymore. The fact that people would honestly cling to the belief that it is better to be seen as a sinner than to be viewed as a Christian simply tells me that Christians have been doing it wrong for generations.

Let me take this time to be completely transparent with you. I drink alcohol. I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying a beer with a few friends over dinner. Drunkenness is not okay in my home, however with moderation, I see no issue in a casual drink. Is it necessary or healthy? No. Science has proven that, but I’m human, and I legitimately enjoy the taste of Yuengling. I also cuss sometimes. You’ve done it, be honest- you clumsily turn the corner and you stub your toe on the table, or the couch, or that bumpy thing that holds the carpet down in the threshold of the doorway to your living room, and you let one slip. We are human! We mess up! We do things that we might not want our preachers to know about. OH- in fact, there is a Women’s Circle at my church that up-front told one of our pastors that they didn’t want her to come to their circle’s meetings because they will occasionally discuss the scriptures over a glass of wine! Now I, personally, find that more messed up than not going to church at all because they feel like they have to pretend they’re better than they are! Paul leveled the playing field for us in Romans chapter two, verse one when he wrote, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” 

There! It’s out! Someone finally said it! WE ARE NOT PERFECT! And that’s okay, because why? Because Jesus WAS perfect. That’s not saying we have a license to sin, because Paul addresses that also in Romans Chapter three, verses seven through nine:

“Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’ Why not say- as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say- ‘Let us do evil that good may result’? Their condemnation is deserved.. What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all!”

Living by faith isn’t about becoming perfect overnight, or magically not being enticed by those things that were a large part of your life before you accepted Christ. Living by faith is acknowledging that you are flawed and that the only thing that can reconcile that flawed nature is a relationship with Jesus Christ, through daily prayer, meditation, and reading of the scripture. Little by little, the things that used to have a hold on you will start to fall away. How? Why? Because when you draw close to God, it is inevitable that your heart will begin a transformation that will make you more and more like Christ as you grow deeper in relationship with him. The closer you get to the Lord, the more your heart will chase after things that are Christ-like, and the more easily you’ll be able to abandon the things that had previously been binding you to sin. It’s so simple, yet so complex at the very same time! The simplicity is that all it takes for us to reconcile ourselves with God is to openly admit that without Him as the leader of our lives, we will fail, over and over again. The challenge comes in choosing something that may seem like abandonment of pleasure at first, but will ultimately lead to the greatest treasure for us; a life of joy lived in perpetual worship with our Savior in Heaven. Amen.

 

In His Time

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“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5

I’ve been exploring God’s timing recently. Let me tell you, for someone like me who likes to know the who, what, when, where, and why of everything, it’s been a challenge to let go of that mentality of what am I going to DO, and grabbing on to the concept of trusting that when God is ready and when he sees that I am ready, ____________ will happen.

I always use words like, “funny,” “ironic,” or “interesting” when I see two pieces of God’s puzzle come together, when it’s not happenstance or chance at all, but rather the fate that God has designed according to his meticulous and masterful plan. So instead, I’ll say it was masterful, in speaking to my father this morning, how he also brought up the subject of God’s perfect timing in the midst of my embracing it, over my timing. Without going in to too much unnecessary detail, Dad is coming to realize that there are things out in this world that may have been right under our noses for years and years, yet we simply never encountered them until God was ready for us to do so; until God knew we were ready to do so.

I believe my struggles to rest in not knowing and having patience and contentment in every situation is directly related to my inability to relax and be comforted in the knowledge that God already knows exactly what I need out of life, and when I will need it. I also believe that God has put people in my life to help drive that point home. A corny way I’ve thought of putting my new-found wisdom is this: It’s not about keeping up with the Jones-es, it’s about keeping up in my relationship with God; constantly seeking His presence and wisdom through His word, and through prayer. THAT is the only thing that is able to satisfy my anxious heart and give rest to my spirit.

The truth is, we make mistakes that sometimes lead to bigger mistakes or disappointments, or heartache, or despair. But God is always present and active in the lives of His children and we need only seek his guidance and presence for them to be found. Every day (now that I look back on the past month, or week) I can see a pattern of God presenting me with situations in which I have a choice in how to react, specifically in reference to His timing and my journey toward a peaceful, gentle, and contented spirit. And every day this week, I have met each instance differently, and inconsistently, to the point that when I stepped back from my situation to make an assessment of my reactions, I was incredibly disappointed to see how often I met them with failure. And here I thought I was doing so well… This only proves that I’m still a work in progress, and that God isn’t giving up on me. I’ll continue to be faced with these challenging and spiritually stressful or frustrating situations until I consistently choose reliance on God’s perfect timing and contentment in whatever situation I may face.

The clarity of my life only comes when I reflect upon it through Christ. So that, if nothing else, is what I would like to communicate to all of you today. Take a moment to really sit down and pray to God about your struggles and ask the Lord to reveal Himself and His plan to you so that you may follow His paths for your life, rather than you own, that you might experience the fullness and joy of a life in which you daily choose Christ. I’ve recently noticed that when I look for, find, and pray a piece of scripture that sort of encapsulates my current life situation, my prayers seem more complete and my spirit feels more fulfilled than when I sit and ramble on and on and on trying to pray something eloquent on my own. Lately, my prayer has been this:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Psalm 139:23-24] Amen.

Why I Don’t Hate Chick-fil-a

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Why I Don’t Hate Chick-fil-a

*NOTICE- I REFERENCED WIKIPEDIA IN THE FOLLOWING POST*

Now before I go off spewing my opinions on the recent protest of Chick-fil-a’s stated values concerning same sex marriage, let me first say that while I typically cringe at the thought of Wikipedia.org being a viable source for information, I did find the best summation of two quotes which I would like to share with you. They aren’t properly cited, but I linked to the page on which I found them. They are basically just copied and pasted as follows:

The phrase “[A] hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world” was first used by Baptist theologian Roger Williams, the founder of the colony of Rhode Island, in his 1644 book The Bloody Tenent of Persecution.[13][14] The phrase was later used by Thomas Jefferson as a description of the First Amendment and its restriction on the legislative branch of the federal government, in an 1802 letter[15] to the Danbury Baptists (a religious minority concerned about the dominant position of the Congregationalist church in Connecticut):

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

Jefferson’s letter was in reply to a letter[16] that he had received from the Danbury Baptist Association dated October 7, 1801. In an 1808 letter to Virginia Baptists, Jefferson would use the same theme:

We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries. (Wikipedia, Separation of Church and State…)

Now, what Jefferson clearly stated in the quote from his letter in reply to the Danbury Baptist Association was basically that when you allow people to “profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries,” that the people as a whole experience a peace, known as tolerance.

Tolerance is different from acceptance.

tol·er·ance/ˈtälərəns/: (Noun) 1. The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily accept as his own.: “religious tolerance”

ac·cept·ance/akˈseptəns/: (Noun) 1. The action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.

Do we see the difference? Acceptance means you consent to a particular ideal or behavior. Tolerance is keeping your derogatory comments to yourself out of respect for the feelings of other people, regardless of your own beliefs and opinions; it’s allowing others the freedom to have opinions, ideals, beliefs, and moral values that you may not share with them. For cliché’s sake, If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.

The truth of matter is, the President of Chick-fil-a, Dan Cathy, holds certain beliefs and ideals concerning same-sex marriage which differ greatly from those of much of the liberal community of the United States. The fact that groups would organize and protest this one man’s statement of belief as a blanket belief of the corporation is unfair and is a prime example of the bigotry double standard that is being touted as tolerance today. It’s not tolerance if you only have it for the people to don’t offend you, in fact, that’s kind of the opposite of tolerance.

A lot of you are probably not going to read the rest of this article, but for those who choose to continue reading, let me attempt to clarify and expound upon my point. Under the first amendment, we as Americans are entitled to the freedom of speech. That means, in essence, that you are free to tell me my blog is stupid. And I’m free to tell you that you chose a weak adjective when you said “stupid” and that you may want to be more specific and less rude when leaving comments next time. The point is, with freedom of expression, both positive and negative, the differences in the beliefs of the people are going to become more profound and more openly expressed. When one disagrees with a statement made by another, they have the freedom to express their opposing opinion, although politeness and courtesy are not outlined in the constitution as necessary niceties.

People need to not take every opposing belief and opinion held by others as a personal attack on their character. That makes for one brutally dissatisfied life. I have liberal friends who would shudder if I told them that I believe that same-sex marriage is not biblical, and therefore sinful, and hedonistic in nature. I have conservative friends who would be shocked to learn that when it comes to abortion, I believe that if it comes down to aborting a pregnancy in which the child would die before birth anyway due to lack of physical development, or saving a young mother’s life, I would choose to save the mother’s life, save her from the emotional distress of carrying a deceased child in her womb, and allow her the chance to conceive again and carry a healthy baby to full term. But you’ll notice that I used the word “friend,” meaning these people, despite their opposing beliefs and views are still valuable human beings who are dear to me.

You see, the problem is that government will never be able to adequately legislate morality. Why? For the very same reasons I’m able to hold both conservative and liberal views on the various hot-button subjects: morality is subjective. Government should not (in my OPINION) be allowed to legislate commerce (the establishment of a restaurant in a specific city) based upon the beliefs of the establishment’s president. Instead, let the people decide for themselves where they will or will not choose to give their patronage. Of course, I’m operating on the assumption that the vast majority of individuals have the basic cognitive function of CHOICE, and can so CHOOSE either to walk in to a Chick-fil-a, or to walk past one.

From a Christian standpoint, I believe that if you do not base your beliefs on the Christian faith, and you deny God, (or His existence) you inevitably affirm something else in His place. You may affirm hedonism or the seeking of unadulterated pleasure for its own sake. You may affirm existentialism or the idea that your life experience is what ultimately defines you as a human being. You may choose to affirm any number of other things. I choose to affirm that God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth is the supreme ruler of the earth and of all creation; that His son, Jesus, is the Christ, the Messiah sent to earth in the form of a man to die an innocent death to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, past, present, and future, justifying man’s existence and bridging the gap of sin between man and God, so that we may experience life eternal in the kingdom of heaven; that the Holy Spirit is the very Spirit of God sent to intercede for man, and ultimately convict us of our sins and lead us to the Father through the Son.

I’m free to believe these things. I’m free to tell you I believe these things. You’re free to question my beliefs and my faith and I’m free to offer you a biblical explanation and justification. That is what makes America great; diversity, tolerance.

Out of respect for the feelings of others who hold beliefs different from mine, I have POLITELY stated my opinions. Out of courtesy toward those who may believe differently from me, I have not demeaned, derided, or disrespected you in the voicing of my views. Like I said before, there is a difference between acceptance and tolerance. While I do not accept the views and beliefs of the gay and lesbian community concerning same-sex marriage as my own, I tolerate their right to live in the way they so choose, and to respect their freedom to choose a lifestyle. I’ve chosen a lifestyle of faith. It is not my place to condemn those who haven’t.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “… religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions…”

My Legacy

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I was reading my devotional today, on Genesis 14:22, and it triggered further reading and thinking… I pondered Genesis chapters 14-37. I thought about Abraham’s incredible story and the many struggles he faced in his life. He went through his life struggling to have faith in God’s power to deliver him from his enemies, to provide for his family, and to fulfill his promises. I started to think about how the faith of our fathers before us affects our walk and relationship with the Lord…

Isaac struggled with trusting the Lord to handle things and he lied to king Abimelech and told him Rebekah was his sister… and Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau… Jacob was constantly pulling away from God and doing things his own way because he didn’t trust that God’s way was better. Then I thought about Joseph and how even through being sold into slavery by his own brothers and later being sent to prison on false charges, Joseph never lost faith that God was taking care of him, and that there was a plan for his life. Joseph kept the faith and accomplished great things! That’s how I want to be remembered. I hope that my obituary goes something like this:

She was a genuinely good woman. She loved and feared the Lord and she was faithful to God and her husband. She faced many obstacles in her life, but she overcame all of them because she trusted God to lead her through. Her husband and her children were strengthened in their faith by her example. She served God in all she did, and He blessed her and her family.

I want people to look back on the life I lived and say, “Yep, she did everything for the glory of God, and you could see Christ through the way she lived her life.” I want my husband to see me as a faithful woman of God, and to have full confidence in me. I want my sisters and my brother to look at my life and see that to live according to God’s will is the ONLY way to live with perpetual joy and happiness. I want my parents to look at my life and be proud of the woman I’ve become. I want my future children to remember me with love, and I want to be the kind of mother that my daughters admire, and model themselves after; knowing that having modesty and a gentle and quiet spirit is far better than conforming to society’s ideals of beauty and femininity. I want my sons to grow up to be respectful gentlemen; men of God like their father. I want them to see how a woman is supposed to treat her husband, and for them not to settle for anything less than a Godly woman. I want to give my children the perfect illustration of marriage between myself and my husband, so that they might see Christ through us every day in our home.

And the more I thought about how I want people in the future to see my past, the more I started to think about the present… (Well, actually I thought about “The Butterfly Effect,” and how you can’t change the past, or you’ll alter the future, and it’s usually not for the best…) I thought that the best time to start writing a past that reflects my passion for Christ is to start living that way in the present. My present will soon become my past, and what better time than now to make sure my past is a reflection of faith? I can’t go back and change the things in my life that have already happened. I can only look back on them with a new-found wisdom, and move forward, growing in faith and spirit to become the woman God intends me to be.

It frequently frightens me to think about the great unknown which is my future. But in looking back on everything that has happened in my past, there has been a reason for everything. Every misstep, every failure, every struggle and every achievement, blessing, and victory have brought me to where I am now. And while I couldn’t see how the story was unfolding then, it makes perfect sense to me now. That’s how I know that I have to walk in the faith. I have to live according to God’s word. I must have faith and trust in the Lord. That’s the only way to get to the place I ultimately want to be. I know it’s going to be difficult, and I’m not so naive as to believe that I won’t stumble and fall. But I have a road map, and I have people surrounding me that are cheering me on toward the goal. I have a husband that loves the Lord, and who is strong enough in his faith to correct me when I drift, and point me back on track. That’s what gives me the courage and the faith to carry on.

From time to time, I get this anxiety that overwhelms me; I feel like I have to make all the right choices and if I don’t, I will have drifted off course from where God wants me to be. I recently re-read a journal entry I made a year ago, and I had written a quote from the pastor, Michael at Cornerstone Church. He said, “Our demands to get the decisions ‘right’ are most often based on pride, not righteousness… Community, unity, and order, are more important that getting all the decisions ‘right’.” I have to remind myself of that when I’m stressing out over what we should or shouldn’t spend our extra money on, or where we should go on vacation, or what I should cook for dinner, because ultimately, none of that matters. What does matter is that in all of those little decisions, God comes first. If it’s a matter of a new outfit or giving to a worthy cause within the church, I hope I think of God first, and choose the church. If it’s a matter of going to Orlando, or to some place decimated by natural disaster to help people rebuild their homes, and help to inspire them in faith, I hope I choose the faith. If it comes down to a nice dinner out with my husband, or a home-cooked meal with some friends who are having a rough time, I would hope I choose to be there for our friends. The choices don’t matter, because as long as God is at the center of all I do, my choices will always be the right ones. And when I need to refocus, I pray that God continues to point out my pride, and my selfish ambition and corrects me, whether it be by epiphanies that come through reading the Bible, or through loving gestures of guidance from family and my husband.

I know my God is able. And that’s what will help me to leave a legacy that my family and friends will be able to one day reflect upon after I’m gone and say, “She truly was a woman of God.”

Homecoming

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Homecoming

“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:2-4

Saturday night, I was as tightly wound as one could possibly be. I couldn’t sleep despite my best efforts, so I did everything from sipping coffee and reading, to watching TV and eating a bowl of Cheerios (which I tend to go through cycles of craving and then wanting nothing to do with them…) I paced around the house with my Clorox wipes, cleaning every possible surface, and sweeping the floors until there was nothing left to be swept. I styled my hair, and put on a cute (but comfy and loungey) outfit, and I waited. Right around midnight, I started getting the texts from my husband, updating me on his travel status; “We just got off the plane.” “We are boarding the bus” “We are waiting for the bus to leave…” “The bus just left…” “We just got back to base.”…

I grabbed my keys and my purse, and my military ID and I headed off to base… I’m not the greatest driver, and I’m aware of that fact… So as I drove in the dark, the anxiety and nerves really put me on edge and I started to ask myself if I still remembered how to get there, or if I was speeding, because every car that showed up behind me was a cop (bizarre, I know, but it was 2:30 in the morning and there wasn’t much traffic)

Me and Mitch, age 17

I couldn’t believe how nervous I was… My husband and I have been together since we were seventeen, and he still gives me butterflies, clammy hands, and irrationally uncontrollable  giggles. I started checking my hair in the rear view mirror, and giggling to myself, because I realized that his standards of appearance were probably really low, considering the past 6 weeks he had spent with a bunch of other sweaty, grimy, smelly marines, and I was thankful that the bar wasn’t set too high… After all, there’s only so much my over-caffeinated brain could process at that hour, and I was lucky to have been awake enough to attempt “cuteness” at all.

I finally pulled into a parking lot and saw a brightly lit tent and a banner welcoming home all of 1/10. I thought back to the way I felt when he first left… I had braced myself early on for a long and lonely 6 weeks, but honestly, looking back, it hadn’t been as difficult as I had thought it would be. I attribute that to clinging to God’s word, and good friends who kept me busy. I looked around at the groups of marines standing all around, and I spotted him; He had gotten incredibly tan, and if it is even possible, lost weight. I didn’t know what to say to him… I kept trying to think of something profound, or at the very least, sentimental, and all I managed was, “Hey!”

Mitch had all his gear on his back and he signaled for me to unlatch the trunk so he could load it in to the car. I just watched him… (and felt a little like a stalker) I watched the way he moved, the way he interacted with his fellow marines, his impatient gestures, as he waited for the last flight to get in… It was surreal, seeing him so close again. I could have sworn I was dreaming. And as much as I wanted to leap from the car and throw my arms around his neck and never let go, I managed to contain myself until they were finally released to go home.

He decided he wanted to drive home (surprise…not) and I had to laugh at his amazement at how easily the steering wheel of our 2001 Hyundai Accent turned as compared to that of a 7 ton… We talked and caught up the whole way home, and our doggies welcomed him with kisses and puppy hugs.

Now it’s Monday and time to get back to the old grind. He headed in to work today at noon, and as he was getting ready to leave, I asked myself, “Well, he’s home… Now what?” Because the whole time he had been away, I had been studying God’s plan for my marriage, trying to grow in spirit. I had been making daily trips to the gym for workouts, lifting weights to kill some of the anxiety. I had thrown myself full force into cleaning the house and making sure it was immaculate for his return. I had groomed both the doggies and myself, and I had exhausted Netflix… I had reached the summit of the roller coaster… Now what? I honestly felt like I had done all there was to do.

HA! What comes after the first summit of a roller coaster? THE REST OF THE RIDE! I was suddenly hit with the thought that this “work-up” in California had only been the beginning; a test run, if you will… My ride is far from over. I’ve learned a lot about how and how NOT to handle my marriage over the past 40 days. I had uncovered new truth behind the scriptures, and gained new wisdom, but my test hasn’t even been issued yet. Now is the time when I need to hold on to the Lord even tighter as we descend from the “first hill” of our military roller coaster. As challenging as this period was, and as well as I felt I handled it, there is still much more to come. Now is the time I need to really start putting in to practice all the things I’ve gained. I’ve learned how to handle the loneliness, I’ve learned how to cope with the anxiety, and I’ve learned to trust God and pray continually. Which brings me to Psalm 105. Verse 4 says to “seek his face always,” not “seek his face when you feel you may struggle but as soon as things calm down, go back to the way you were before you knew how to trust the Lord…” I’m just beginning. And as a Christian, I feel like an infant who’s just learned how to crawl. I have a long way before I’m walking, and there are many challenges I’ve yet to face, but I have a start. I have the building blocks that it is going to take to get me through the deployment. What I need to do now is not let my focus drift from the Lord. I need to remember that God is ALWAYS my number one, and my first and foremost priority; without Him, everything else is a sham.

I will sing to the Lord. I will give him praise for bringing my husband home safely. I will give him glory, for he has brought me through a trying season, and I am stronger than at the start. My heart rejoices in His holy name because I know I can accomplish all things through Him. I will continue to seek the Lord and his strength because I have no strength of my own. I will seek His face, always… because without him, I am nothing.

Praise be to the God of all creation, who comforts and guides for now, and all eternity. May He never leave my side, nor I His. Amen.

The Fact of the Matter is…

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The Fact of the Matter is…

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:24

In reading this passage for about the hundredth time this morning, more spiritual truth permeated my heart and mind. I understand now that the problem that most women have with this particular passage is that they attempt to apply it to a context outside of marriage, which was not how it was intended, thereby undermining its purpose.

“The point here is that a woman isn’t called to submit herself to the whims of any man simply because he’s a man and she’s a woman. That’s not true biblical submission. In order for submission to retain its true power and beauty, in order for it to remain a reflection of our relationship with Jesus, its proper place needs to be kept straight. It needs to be recognized as something specifically and uniquely reserved for those who have entered into the sacred bond of marriage.” [Active Word Daily Devotional, Day 146]

It’s not a man vs. woman thing; man trying to hold women down, and keep them oppressed. Nor is the desire to outlaw same-sex marriage because Christians like injustice and inequality. It’s not about that, and for the Christians who make it appear that way, remember that we all meet the same fate, and justice awaits us all. [Ecclesiastes 2:12-16] It’s about (and always has been about) serving God; being a worshipful and reverent people, continually giving God the praise and glory he deserves as our savior. And that means keeping his commands, to love one another, and to abide by his word; it means living by His will for our lives, according to scripture. Not oppressing non-believers, but leading them to the truth by our actions. Marriage is the biggest and best illustration of Christ’s love for the church when lived according to scripture. It presents us the opportunity to put on display for the rest of the world the sacrificial love that Christ has for all of mankind by placing the needs of our spouses before ourselves, and by placing the service of God before our spouses.

That’s how it was intended from the beginning, and that’s how it should be now. The mark of sin has warped and twisted mankind’s view on so many things that sometimes it is difficult to determine what is right, what is true… But the thing we all have to remember is that the Bible was written to guide us through the “gray” areas. And to those of you who would say that the Bible is outdated, and contradictory, I have but one word for you- Context. If you read the Bible, cover to cover in its proper context, you see an amazing story about God’s unyielding love and compassion for a sinful world unfold, and the picture of salvation is painted through Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.

I used to have a big problem with Ephesians 5:22-24… That was before I understood that it doesn’t apply to random men who don’t have your best interest and service to the Lord at heart. It is specific to one’s husband. It’s not about catering to your husband’s every desire; it’s about obeying God, and trusting the Lord to lead you through your husband.

Wisdom Addiction

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“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31: 10

I have a confession to make… I have an addiction. Yes, I have an addiction… to wisdom. I crave philosophy… So much so, that I actually purchased the textbook for my Philosophy 101 class, as well as the additional required reading (Leisure: The Basis of Culture, by Josef Pieper) and for those of you who know my husband and me, you’ll know that actually purchasing a textbook over simply renting or borrowing one is a big deal 🙂

Anyway, that is precisely the reason I love reading from the book of Proverbs so much. The entire basis of the book is wisdom, and that by clinging to wisdom and understanding, you make your paths straight and your life will be satisfying. There are 31 chapters- one for each day of the month- and I read them starting on the first and when I complete them, I cycle my way through them again. Proverbs tends to be my favorite when seeking guidance or wisdom.

So I was reading my daily devotion from youversion.com via my Motorola Droid Bionic (shameless plugs, I know…) and I’m on day 104 of 365 (youversion does cool things like track your progress via percentage complete… I’m at 28.3%/100%) The topical scripture today was Psalm 45:6. With all the engaged persons and newly married couples I know, I found this verse intriguing.

Go ahead and think about your wedding day… Whether it’s past, or future… Who do you see there? Family? Friends? What kind of flowers? What color is the bridal party wearing? Are you in a church? Are you outside? What music is playing?… All of these things are what create the beauty of a traditional wedding ceremony for us in today’s society. The groom standing at the end of the aisle, waiting anxiously to glimpse his bride in her beautiful gown, and take her to be his wife “til death do them part.” The bride at her most beautiful and glamorous in the perfect dress, hair and makeup never having looked more perfect… With that image in mind, your most glamorous of days, your most ideal ceremony, think about how much BETTER it will be when Christ comes to take His bride (the Church) to live with him for eternity…

I was pondering that as I read that Psalm, and then came to the realization that while it was written in old testament times to refer to our version of a wedding, John uses the same verse in Hebrews 1:8 to describe Christ, the husband of the Church. It really is a beautiful image…

Which leads me to today’s reading of Proverbs. Today I read Proverbs 4 (I know, I’m a day ahead) I still had this beautiful imagery of a wedding party and then of Christ coming to claim us as his faithful bride when I read Proverbs 4:8-9:

“Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.”

The “She” and “Her” refers to wisdom, but as I thought about it, this verse also applies to marriage, does it not? Ladies, if your husband were to hold you in high esteem, would you not be more inclined to give him respect? If he came up to you as you were making dinner in the kitchen and embraced you, would you not be apt to show him your honor and reverence to him in a tangible way, let’s say, serving him dinner? My answer is yes. Marriage is a delicate and tricky creature… If you hold it too tightly (the song “Hold on Loosely” is stuck in my head now, btw) you can strangle it; but if you don’t cling to it enough, and show your spouse in tangible ways your love and respect for him or her, they just may turn and run away… There are a number of things that influence a good marriage. I’ve got it broken down to 5 bits of wisdom for now:

1.) Love– If a wife does not feel like her husband loves her, and only her, she is not inclined to respect him as her husband, her spiritual leader, her partner in life, or even as a man. While men seem to thrive on respect more than love, if a husband doesn’t feel loved by his wife, he may seek it- in a physical sense- outside their marriage. A couple should model their love after the definition found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. It’s harder than you may think, but without a doubt worth the effort.

2.)Respect– Respect and love go hand in hand; they’re like two edges of the same sword, or the two cookie parts of the Oreo… The point being, the wife must respect her husband in order for her to let him be her spiritual leader, and head of the household. If a wife does not respect her husband, she’ll begin to question all of his decisions, motives, intentions, and their trust for each other will suffer. He will not feel that she deserves his love and affection, and she will not feel that he deserves her respect. This is a dangerous game to play. I recommend if you find yourself in this situation to really sit down and evaluate not your spouse’s behavior, but your own. Ladies, what can you do to live your life with a more gentle and quiet spirit, allowing your husband to lead you? Gentlemen, what can you do to show your wife affection, and earn her respect? I’ve discovered in my 2 years of marriage (I know, I know, I’m still practically a newlywed…) that if the husband has his wife’s best interest ahead of his own, then he will want what’s best for her. When the wife wants what her husband wants, she’s really wanting what’s best for her, whether it’s what she thinks she needs, or not. It’s a continuous cycle of caring for each other and respecting the needs and wants of your partner; that means even if it isn’t what you want, it may be what you need.

3.)Communication– this is by far the most difficult part of a relationship, marriage or otherwise. Communication is the cream filling between the love and respect cookies. The difficulty comes from the two very different ways in which men and women think. Rather than paraphrase a story I read yesterday, I’ll insert my own grocery store faux pa… My husband and I went to the commissary for groceries… He had come home frustrated to the max that day and was in no mood for shopping, so he was being somewhat cantankerous. I had a list and was on a shopping mission to get everything on it before the store closed… Well, between me trying to maintain a quiet and gentle spirit, and my husband being ornery, my mission to get everything on the list before closing time (15 minutes) was failed. I kept my tongue in check and we walked across the street to the MCX for some of our non-grocery list items. For those of you who don’t know what a “mission shopper” is, it’s someone who absolutely abhors shopping for the sake of shopping, and employs the “get in, get out” method to buying their necessary items without dawdling or lingering. I am a mission shopper. My husband is not. I went to the laundry hamper aisle… Being a woman, I had a specific style of laundry hamper in mind, tall rectangular shaped, with a flip-up lid to conceal the dirty laundry inside… Mitch made the comment as I walked past the plastic Rubbermaid-style hampers, “Sorry plastic ones, apparently you’re not pretty enough…” …that’s my husband ladies, and gentlemen- he knows my thoughts whether I vocalize them or not. I was annoyed at the limited hamper selection, so I made a circle around that isle and eventually came to grips that any laundry hamper would suffice, but as I struggled to unstuck them, I called for Mitch and he was nowhere in sight. I scraped my hand and broke a nail, but I eventually got them separated. I would say that I then went to look for my husband, but I didn’t have to go looking- I knew he was in the electronics…. I found him, and we finished our shopping. But all my frustration and his obstinacy and impatience with my indecision could have been eliminated had I just communicated to him to stay nearby in case I needed his help. Instead, he sensed my frustration and wandered as far away as possible to avoid confrontation. The point being, couples have to communicate whether it’s about something small like a laundry hamper or something more life-changing, like a new job, or home, or children… Letting the little things fester and stew leads to an eruption somewhat like when you stop paying attention to a pressure-cooker: you end up with a big mess that takes forever to clean up. Knowing that men and women have different versions of logical thinking helps you to chill out and see things from his or her perspective before you go criticizing.

4.)Patience– This isn’t necessarily something you think of immediately concerning marriage… or at least I didn’t, and woah, buddy was that a misstep on my part. Patience is huge. Spouses need to realize that their significant other, however perfect he or she may seem, is a flawed individual in need of the same salvation you are. That was an epiphany of mine a few months ago. I cannot place the expectation of perfection on my husband, because he is not perfect and he will fail. Instead I need to be patient and encouraging to him. The same goes for husbands to their wives- She’s not perfect, guys… One of these days, she’s going to wake up and clear her throat exactly like her mother, and then start nagging you about what you’re doing and why you aren’t helping her with __________ chores… You will be tempted to let your frustration take over and set her straight, but don’t. You mustn’t raise your voice at her. And if you’re half as good with words as my husband has become, you’ll find a way to express your feelings in a way that doesn’t sound like, “Woman, you’re exactly like your mother- stop it!” I’ve been on both ends of the patience thing, and trust me, the golden rule has never been more applicable. You will want patience from your spouse when it’s your turn.

5.) Compromise– again, another huge aspect of marriage that I initially overlooked. For those of you who are unsure, compromise isn’t just trying to sway your spouse to your own opinion so you get what you want. That’s manipulation, and that’s no good. Compromise is taking the best of both sides of a dispute, and putting them into place as the solution. For example, my husband and I frequently dispute how to spend our weekends. I would prefer to either spend it outside, playing with the dogs, working in the yard or going out and spending time with friends. My husband is a total introvert. You wouldn’t think that if you’d spent quality time with him because once he feels comfortable in social situations, he lets his true colors show and just gets “Mitchy”- that’s the term we’ve coined to describe his vibrant, and unique personality. That being said, my husband is shy by nature, and would prefer to spend his weekends vegged out in front of the TV playing video games or watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (don’t knock it ladies, it has a good storyline.) It’s taken us the better part of 5 years to figure out how to compromise these two opposing ideals… What usually happens is that we get alternating weekends of our choice. Last weekend, we were hermits and I don’t think we spoke more than 6 whole sentences to each other, and we both had a relaxing, satisfying weekend. The Saturday before that, we participated in a walk for MS and strolled 5 miles through a beautiful park and then went to a friend’s house for a Scentsy open house and just to hang out. See? It can be done. The challenge is to not complain while you’re compromising. Which brings me back to patience, and respect. Have the respect to give a little in your relationship rather than taking all the time. Be patient with you spouse, and it will be returned. Show your love in tangible ways, like NOT nagging or complaining when you do something that your spouse wants to do.

This is not to mention God, which is an intrinsic property to any successful marriage. Set your focus on God, and he will order your loves appropriately. I’ll expound more on this later… But for now, take it as a given that God must be at the center of your marriage.

I know I’ve used this expression before, but I’m going to use it again: I submit that a happy wife doesn’t necessarily make a happy life, but that spouses who compromise and give to each other over themselves make each other happy. A happy husband makes a happy wife, which in turn makes a happy marriage. And that’s my nugget of wisdom for today.

Of God and Country

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“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

I’m not sure how many of you haven’t heard, but last night President Obama signed a strategic agreement with the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. He then addressed the nation and explained exactly what he signed. Please see video below for his full speech.

Obama Signs Pact in Kabul

There were overnight attacks in Kabul; the Taliban say it was in response to the signing of the strategic agreement. (MSNBC News)

Obama Hails the Future of ‘A New Kind of Relationship’ With Afghanistan

I’m sitting here thinking, So, what next? The troops continue to be drawn out of Afghanistan as our combat role changes to the  supportive role… But will it “take,” so to speak?

The truth is, as a military wife and a follower of Christ, I get to experience a closeness to God and Country that civilians don’t necessarily see. I see every day how my prayers for my husband and his unit directly affect the course of his day. Yesterday I forgot to pray for Mitch at work and he had a terrible day and came home grumpy after mountains and mountains of paperwork. Now I’m not saying that his pleasant work days are solely because of my morning prayers, but that I can see a difference between the days I pray and the days I don’t. Just imagine the power of your prayers for this country and the remaining war efforts in Afghanistan…

In Psalm 91: God’s Shield of Protection, Military Edition, a story is told about the Miracle of Seadrift, Texas. To summarize, the church had a prayer board for all their deployed soldiers in WWII displaying the soldiers’ pictures and names so that the church congregation could pray for their success in combat and their safe return. Well, all of the soldiers on that board made it home safely. Fast forward to the war in Iraq: Sgt. Leslie King was the grandson of one of those Seadrift soldiers. He called his mother and told her that something didn’t feel right; that he didn’t feel the shield of protection over him and his men anymore. Come to find out, the military pictures had been taken down because the “war” was considered to be over. Over a three-week period that the photos were down, Sgt. King’s unit experienced difficulty in combat and even deaths. The photos were put back up, giving the congregation visual contact as they prayed for each deployed soldier and King wrote back to his mother to tell her that the peace had returned. (Ruth-Schum, p. 142)

This isn’t coincidence people. This is God at work, answering the prayers of the faithful. We have the power to influence the direction this war takes by the power of our prayers. That being said, I ask you to pray for increased stability in Afghanistan. I ask you to pray for a successful withdrawal of our troops. I ask you to pray for the military men and women you may know, and pray that God makes their burden of service light. I ask that you pray for their safe return to their families and friends here in the States.

It clearly says in 2 Chronicles that the remedy to the pains of a nation, is simply to cling to God’s truth; to pray and humbly ask for his forgiveness of our sins and for his protection and sustenance of our nation. It also tells us quite clearly what will happen if we don’t:

“But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land which I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name.” 2 Chronicles 2:19-20

God said that though the temple that Solomon built was imposing, all who passed by it (in Israel’s disobedience to God) would see the evident disaster; they would see it forsaken. This is the time we need to most trust our God. This period of uncertainty and instability is the point at which we should all be praying that God take over; that he heal and restore our land; spiritually, governmentally, politically, and economically.

I love that the Bible is consistent throughout. In James 4:7-8, we are told the same thing.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

God is consistent in his requirements of us. He calls us to turn away from wrong and sin and to embrace his loving grace through Christ Jesus. All we are to do is be faithful to what is right and true and God will shower us with blessings of peace. Again in 1 Peter 5:6-10! We are told again and again throughout the Bible that in order to experience grace, we MUST humble ourselves. We must admit our fault “…that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)

As the next election approaches, people keep asking what must be done to restore our economy, to restore peace, to restore the gleam and pride of America… The answers are right here people, in black and white. It comes down to whether we as a nation are too proud to listen to them, and heed their direction.

The problem isn’t just our economy. It isn’t just our governmental officials. It isn’t just our foreign policy. It isn’t just this, or just that… The problem is us. Are we going to continue to try to slap band aids on a broken nation, bleeding money and resources, and more importantly, the lives of our military service men and women? Or are we going to address the real issue, and seek the solution that WILL heal?

We’ll see…

Abby Normal

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“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.” Proverbs 31:13

I’ve been feeling lately that I only tend to see God’s work in my life when I’m rushing to him to solve my problems. In a way, that’s a great blessing for me, because it means that I’ve learned to trust the Lord in my darkest of situations and I don’t let Satan bring me down when things get tough. It is also an awful thing that I don’t spend time blessing and praising God for all the good things he’s doing in my life. So here goes a sincere effort to praise the Lord for all that he has blessed me with:

I praised God this morning for giving me the motivation and encouragement I needed to pound out my daily tasks today. Missions mostly accomplished. Things are beginning to feel a lot more normal around the house, and less abnormally chaotic.

The bed is fully made with clean sheets, the Dirty Laundry Mountain is nonexistent, the cable-burying contractors and the VA appraisal guy have all come and gone after successfully completing their tasks, I successfully assembled the new lawn mower and mowed the front lawn (I had to wait for the contractors to get done before I could tackle the back yard, TBC) and the inside of the house looks more like a home than tornado aftermath. And I say it again, praise God.

Okay, okay, my tasks don’t seem super impressive, I know, until you factor in the debilitating migraine that kicked my butt last night. Every so often, I get these crazy headaches. I’ve found that caffeine consumption typically makes them less intense, but I was ill prepared last night. I had just eaten a healthy dinner, when I noticed my neck and shoulders getting a little tense. Rather than take that as my prompt to take some Excedrin, I brushed it off. That, ladies and gentlemen was a mistake. The pain gradually got worse and traveled up my neck to my head until I felt like my eyeballs just might explode. I got so dizzy that when I stood up, I had only seconds to make it to the bathroom before my insides became my outsides. That colorful description aside, I am feeling better today, with only residual dizziness when I stand or sit too fast.

That being said, my To-Done list is no small accomplishment.

Praise #2, although a much bigger praise than praise number 1, a couple of our good friends back home, JW and Amber are engaged and getting married! I’m so happy for them both and wish I could be there with them to celebrate. We will definitely be there for the wedding!

Praise #3 sort of goes along with praise #2, Another couple of our good friends, Patrick and Randa have just become homeowners! Congratulations! Their new home is beautiful and I know God will bless them in it.

With my husband in the field, I feel much more pressure to be the “man of the house” and “hold down the fort.” I’m turning that potentially sad and lonely situation into a praise by using it as motivation to get the house in order so it is nice when he comes home this weekend. That way we can spend less time arguing over who put what where, and more time enjoying each other’s company in our beautiful new home.

It’s been a crazy year so far, full of change and unexpected twists that have all lead us to where we are. The remainder of this year, I know, will continue to grow more challenging as Mitch prepares to deploy to Okinawa in the fall. And as much as I’m in denial that he’ll be leaving for 5 months shy of a year, I’m fully confident that God will bring us both through it and we’ll be able to pick up right where we leave off.

That’s sort of the funny thing about military life… The world around you doesn’t stop simply because your spouse deploys. It keeps right on moving, ticking away, and responsibilities continue. The biggest blessing as well as challenge of it is being able to seamlessly integrate each partner’s separate life-experiences back into one “civilian life” when he or she returns. It’s not just them coming home from a lifestyle spent with other marines, or being thrown back into the “head of the household” role; the spouse at home has had to learn how to cope with his or her spouse’s absence, and in so doing, has most likely become more closed off and independent. I know that was the case when I was finally able to move down here to be with Mitch. We had been so dependent on the internet for entertainment, that for the first few months back together, we often learned things about each other via Facebook updates… You may be giggling, but I swear it’s true. We had to re-learn to communicate, and honestly, we’re still not back to where we were before he enlisted. But I think part of that is simply growing in marital maturity; we don’t feel the need to voice every concern or opinion, mostly because at this point in our relationship, a lot of them are understood and go without saying. However, we still have room to grow and a lifetime of learning. Hopefully, we will build on our past experiences and this time won’t be nearly as difficult as it was when he was away for basic training and all of his schooling (cumulatively 8 months, so woo! Japan is a shorter time frame!)

In the mean time, I’m surrounded by a great church family, and wonderful new friends added to the ones back home, whom I dearly love and miss. And I get a month of “practice” while Mitch is in California, either next month and part of June or maybe just June. That’s another thing I’ve learned; there is nothing concrete in the military, so I better get used to uncertainties. Rather than view them as something to be feared, I’m going to view them as things I don’t even have to think about until I know them for sure. In that mindset, along with knowing that God’s got it all under control, all I have to do is eat, sleep, and pay taxes. 😉

I pray that God is working in your lives as visibly as he is in mine, and that you remember that “…in your light, we see light.” (Psalm 36:9)  May he bless you in all you do!