Tag Archives: marine corps

Friends and Family

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Friends and Family

“The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.”  ~ Adrian Rogers

My mom just got remarried over the weekend! Congratulations, Mom and Jim!

They are stopping by our place on their way back home and like any good daughter, I’ve been scrambling around the house cleaning like Mom always did when we had company 😉 After all, I don’t want them to think we live the way we actually live with clothing thrown over the back of the couch, dog toys scattered throughout the house, and empty water glasses on every visible surface…

Anyway, the separation of my parents and their lives with their new significant others got me thinking about God, and family, and His power to transform a negative situation into a positive one. I think about my childhood and I remember good times I had with my sisters and brother; kickball in the back yard, bike rides around the cull-de-sac, playing in mud and convincing my youngest sister that it was dark chocolate pudding, roller blading around the neighborhood and the wrap around porch… There were some good times. Life wasn’t all bad, although I wasn’t oblivious to the struggles that were present.

I think what I’ve learned most about family is that it’s not just the people whose genetic make-up you share that count as your family. It’s about the little old ladies across the street whose houses smell funny, but they’ll always invite you in for some Schwan’s Ice Cream. It’s about the friends you had, then and now, who call just to see how you’re doing, and will come and sit in your living room and not do much of anything at all, but be content in spending time with you. It’s about the people you meet in the midst of chaos and struggle who choose to stand by you anyway. My friends are my family, and my family make up a great bunch of friends.

This is important; so much more now that I’m grown, married, and live hundreds of miles away from my little sisters. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I were closer to them and my brother. But I’ve seen first-hand how God can take something broken and hurting and use the pieces to build this brand new thing that’s more complex and beautiful than anyone could have imagined it to be. I imagine the fictitious bird, the phoenix, bursting in to flames, and then rising majestically and beautifully from the ashes.

If you think about this transformation in regards to Christianity, you see that the very best things, the only things worth living for come out of death. In marrying my husband, I died to my single self, and became one with him in body and spirit. In the separation of my parents, two new couples emerged with the blessings of step-siblings (and I’m still the oldest 😉 ) From the pain and adversity that came with the divorce came faith the likes of which I have never seen displayed before by my parents. By the death of Jesus Christ came salvation for my short comings and failures; righteousness from the torture and death of an innocent and pure man.

Some times, strong things or people have to take a hit so that a weaker being can survive to be strengthened in the future. In the same way, sometimes, weak things have to die to make way for stronger things to emerge in their place.

I see God working in ways I never really understood but I see now that he had a plan for my family’s mistakes; he had in mind for us all to be stronger, more courageous, and more faithful than we had previously thought possible. And I will praise Him every day for the rest of my life for that.

Left to Right: Mitch, my husband; Step-dad, Jim; Mom, Amy; and me

Stress

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Stress

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

I’m having a difficult time with stress lately. Mitch’s work and my lack there of are sort of converging into what is starting to feel like a giant ball of molten lead sitting in the pit of my stomach and I can’t make it go away.

Fry from Futurama, obviously feeling stressed

I’ve really been leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit for guidance and peace. That’s not to say that my human nature isn’t fighting for the win in keeping me a nervous, anxious wreck…

There are so many things that I thought would be different after a year here at our Permanent duty station, and they’re not at all the way I imagined them to be. That’s life though, right? I feel like I’m in the midst of a “tower of Babel” situation; I had great and lofty plans for myself and none of them seem to be working out the way I wanted them to, leaving me with a sense of defeat and confusion.

I trust that God has something spectacular in mind for me and I just have to buckle up and enjoy the ride that takes me there. In the mean time, I’m praying for the Lord to just destroy my anxious spirit and bring me peace amid the chaos.

It’s strange that the more you try to plan for something the less prepared you feel. I can’t keep thinking of all the worst-case scenarios though, because it’s creating stress over things that don’t even exist! How ridiculous is that?

Imagine being in a construction zone, but without any road signs; that’s my current state. I can’t see where I’m going, but I know that the closer to the Light, the more you can see… so I’m doing my best to remain as close as possible to God in a time when I know I need His guidance most. I feel like that is something I’ve gained- being able to know when I need God- in wisdom in the past year. It wasn’t always so clear to me, although it seems blatantly obvious now.

I feel somewhat detached, as if I were watching from above someone else living my life. I typically try to be a source of encouragement in my blogs, but it would appear as if I’m the one currently in need of encouragement. If nothing else, know that whatever struggles you are currently facing, there is always someone else out there who is also fighting a battle. I’m reminded of a passage in Ecclesiastes that says something to the effect that there is nothing now that has not been before, and God will call the past to account. My feelings are nothing new… and God is bigger than anything I go through.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Here’s to faith and trust that when the time is right, I’ll understand, and that I’ll be able to rest in the peace of Christ until then.

Small Group Bible Study

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Small Group Bible Study

“God sets the lonely in families,…” Psalm 68:6

So like I mentioned WAY back, I’ve been feeling led to host a small group Bible study for some time now. And God finally gave me the “Ok, go!” on that venture.

I was reading Rescued by the Cross by Ken Freeman and I got to the chapter about making excuses… there was a quote I’d like to share with you:

“An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.”- Evangelist Billy Sunday (Rescued by the Cross p. 143)

I’ve been making excuses for 7 months now; I don’t know that many people, no one will show up, it might be awkward, I don’t know what material to cover, I’ve never led a group study before… and on and on and on. Well, God showed me it’s time to end my era of excuses and just do it. For all I know, there are people around me who may be truly aching for something like a small group study and they might find a family in that kind of support. “God sets the lonely in families…” I know that had it not been for my church and faith in God, I would have truly struggled to survive emotionally and financially during those periods of time I was alone while Mitch was doing what I like to call, “Marine things.” I was able to thrive because I had support that gave me the strength and wisdom I needed to overcome those temporary emotional obstacles.

I’ve been “spitballing” my idea to a few friends, and I was surprised at the support I was given. Even Mitch is supportive of the idea of a group of our friends invading our house once every week or so to grow together in spirit through our walks of faith. Or at least, he hasn’t said he’s against it, so if he’s not against it, he’s for it! Either way, I believe it will be good for both of us and give us a chance to witness to the people with whom we surround ourselves. God showed me that we (Mitch and I) may be the only family some people in this area know, since most everyone we know is here because of the Marine Corps and are far from family for reasons ranging from dysfunction to geographical distance. I love the thought of being family to my friends. I love the thought of my home being seen as the spiritual save haven outside of church where we can all come together to fellowship and grow in Christian love. I’m getting a little mushy, but I think mushy has its place. And since my marriage would assumedly be failing if not for God showing me how to love, respect and care for my husband in this military circumstance (and all others, for that matter) I think it’s the least I can do to share my experience with married couples we hang out with and to share with them that it’s God’s unfailing love and faithfulness that keeps our marriage together in spite of the odds.

So that’s my big thought of the day. I finally took initiative and responsibility for my faith and made a big step forward. Hopefully, there’s a good response. Again, if I can reach even one person, then I’ll know my efforts weren’t in vain.

My Ponderings

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My Ponderings

“May integrity and uprightness protect me because my hope is in you.” Psalm 25:21

Well, I made a recent discovery that when Dave Matthews Band is playing in the background, I tend to think more deeply profound thoughts. I think it’s the syncopated rhythms and incorporation of violin and saxophone into rock music. Whatever it is, I like it.

Anyway, I was reading my devotional on integrity and an interesting point came up while I was reading 1 Peter 3:13-15:

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? [14] But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened.’ [15] But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.

Peter in essence just said there, that the opposite of fear is faith. Because we have faith in Christ, we are free from fear, which relates to yesterday’s sermon. Pastor Jeanette spoke about Jesus calming the storm while he was on the boat with the disciples. She pointed out that Jesus didn’t tell them not to be afraid- fear is part of human nature; when we don’t understand our circumstances, we fear the end result, or the unknown. Instead, Jesus asked them why they were afraid. Why did the twelve let their fear rule them when Jesus was right there in the boat with them?

I asked myself this question this morning. I was feeling apprehension at the sheer size of the Silently Struggling 5k project finally becoming a reality. I’m afraid of failing in my attempt. I don’t want to make promises or set goals only to fail to attain them. Then I remembered yesterday’s sermon- Jesus is in my boat… so why fear? The answer to that question is simple; I was overwhelmed by the thought of constructing something so much larger than me on my own. But I don’t have to do it on my own. I emailed Pastor Jeanette, and she put me in contact with another woman in the church who was able to give me the right contacts of all the people and places I would need to get the ball rolling.

It’s times like that when I really feel the love of Christ- through other believers willing to reach out to me, and help me strive toward a bigger goal. That’s when Psalm 25:21 spoke to me. Integrity and uprightness will protect me BECAUSE my hope is in the Lord. I don’t have to worry about failure. God will work that out because I trust that he can and will. As long as my hope remains in God, and I continue to pursue Silently Struggling for the right reasons, and out of the proper ambition, then I truly believe that God will help me accomplish something spectacular through it.

I encourage you to visit the Silently Struggling blog at the link above. Please watch the video, “And Then They Came Home.” And let it break your heart like it broke mine. We can make a difference. The only thing separating success and failure is action.

Integrity

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“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9

in·teg·ri·ty/inˈtegritē/

Noun:
  1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
  2. The state of being whole and undivided: “territorial integrity”.
I’ve been wrestling with the word “integrity” recently; what does it really mean? How is it reflected in my life? What does integrity look like? Well, that’s the definition above. While I initially thought that I was looking for the word’s first definition, I’m now leaning more toward definition number two- “The state of being whole and undivided…” Applying that definition to my faith, am I whole and undivided? I would like to think so, but I know that there are times when I am not. There are things in my life that distract or deter me from my walk of faith on a daily basis: TV, Facebook, menial tasks, school, physical fitness… the list goes on and on. None of those things are innately evil, but it’s when I let them come before Christian service, or scriptural study, or even just listening and being there for my friends and family that they start to pull me away from my focus.
Over and over again, I’m reminded of something I heard Ravi Zacharias say on one of his recorded segments, because it really resonated with me. I’ll paraphrase the last three thoughts he left with his audience:
1.) Pleasure for pleasure’s sake will leave you empty.
2.) There is a place for legitimate pleasure.
3.) Worship brings complete pleasure.
For some reason or another, I periodically forget those three points and I start to feel distanced from God, and it usually takes myself or my husband snapping me out of a funk to make me realize I’m the one who caused the separation by neglecting to put God first. It’s a choice. Not a one time choice, but a daily choice to make God the Lord of my life. And I struggle with that. I get distracted by paying bills, doing laundry, cleaning the house, taking care of the dogs, making sure my husband has everything he needs, keeping in touch with family, spending time with friends, exercise (I know it sounds weird, but it is a legitimate obstacle for me at times), and when I let all those things build up, I get a depression/slothfulness attack and then it takes a “Ka-boom!” moment to snap me back to reality.
The point of this blog isn’t to preach to my readers. It’s not to make me look like I have it all together, or that I have all the answers, because I don’t. I struggle just as much as anyone else. The point of this blog is to put myself out there; to make known my struggles, as well as my successes and to make myself accountable. That is what integrity looks like to me. I desire to be a woman of integrity; to be whole and undivided, and to be a woman of my word… which is why I’m about to burn 16 copies of a hand bell performance, regardless of my lack of knowledge concerning how to accomplish said task… It’s why in the past couple days, I’ve made over-due apologies to family and friends I realized I may have insulted or hurt…
 It’s also why I’m in the works of getting information on how to set up a race, here in my own town to raise awareness for PTSD. Right now, all I have are ideas, but I know it’ll get there. When I set my mind to do something, I do it well, to the best of my ability, and I do it whole-heartedly. So I realize that organizing a race will probably take over a year to accomplish, I’m making it known now, and asking for your support, advice, or information to help me support a cause that is very real, being the wife of a United States Marine who works with those who have PTSD, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, and seeing the devastating effects of PTSD.

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.

Crunch Time

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It’s the final count down ladies, and gents. Now’s the time when I start doing all the cleaning things I’ve been putting off for a month… like the ever-growing mountain of laundry… I honestly haven’t figured out how that happens with only one person…

Mysteries aside, I’m preparing myself for the re-acclimation to living with my man… I’m preparing to see shoes under every piece of furniture, empty glasses on every table top, military gear strewn about, and a dirty, grimy, stinky-marine car… I CAN’T WAIT!!! 🙂 That’s the beauty of spending so much time away from your spouse- you grow to appreciate their little quirks because those are the nuances that are missing from your everyday life when they’re gone.

I’m ready for chocolate chip pancakes, video games, not having to adjust recipes for one, and the, “I don’t know, what do you want to do today?” “I don’t care, what do YOU want to do today??” game… *Sigh* oh the joys of married life. All kidding aside, I really do have quite a bit of work to do what with getting the house completely cleaned and organized. Here’s my to-do list:

1.) Finish and FOLD and PUT AWAY all the laundry

2.) Vacuum the carpets

3.) Put away and organize the sewing table/materials

4.) Finish de-cluttering

5.) Groom the doggies (always easier said than done)

Now I know you don’t believe that I could possibly have any clutter of which to rid my house, but I definitely do. And I will post before and after pictures to prove it! Here’s to making the house a home!