Survivors Are The Strong Heartbeat Of Our Nation

I am a survivor.

I survived childhood trauma, dealt with it and moved on. -Taught me how to be a better parent for my kids.

I survived life with a mentally ill parent. -Taught me the importance of trusting God for who would father my own children.

I survived nearly dying from alcohol poisoning. -Taught me I got a second chance, life is a precious gift, and there are reasons to limit alcohol in-take.

I survived emotional, physical and yes– mental– abuse in my first marriage. -Taught me to appreciate those who treat me as God wants them to treat me.

I survived divorce. -I learned to pay attention to details about who I married next.

I survived date-rape. -I learned to not be so trusting, and eventually how to forgive someone who did something so horrible to me.

I survived remaking my life choices. -I am a better person today.

I survived Basic Military Training– which for some was no problem, but for myself triggered many raw childhood emotional scars. -Taught me I could do whatever tough thing I set my mind to.

I survived moving to another country all by myself. -Taught me I am capable of adapting to new environments and situations.

I survived being deployed to the Middle East with bomb threats, violent threats towards me from a local man–  as the only woman in charge of men who hated me because of my gender and my Christian faith. -I am stronger and more resilient than I even know.

I survived and overcame PTSD. -I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus Who is my strength.

I survived being laughed at because of my gender as I applied for a job I was qualified to do. -I learned to dust myself off and find a job where I was treated with respect.

I’ve survived unfair and inaccurate slander about me and to my face. -Taught me how to know who I can trust.

I’ve survived unforgiveness for mistakes I tried to make up for with relatives. -Taught me to forgive and do my best to make better decisions, not just out of wanting to help.

I’ve survived unfair judgement. -Taught me people may never be fair, but God’s Judgement is always fair.

I survived being fat-shamed. -I can hold my head up even amongst the small-minded.

I survived anorexia. -Taught me I’m not attached to any label– anorexia no longer “owns” me.

I survived losing loved ones to tragic or natural causes. -Taught me that relationships are more valuable than I often realize.

I’m a survivor of Mt. St. Helens. -Taught me about a volcano near where I lived, and what it’s capable of doing when it erupts.

I survived an attack from a “domesticated” mountain lion– have the scars in my scalp to prove it. -Taught me never to trust dangerous wildlife at any age as a pet.

I survived natural childbirth without any drugs– 3 times. -Taught me how to push through and embrace pain, rather than cringe and try to hide from it. Pain actually serves an important purpose.

I survived emergency gall-bladder removal surgery. -Taught me I didn’t need to rely on drugs for pain so I could again nurse. I valued being able to nurse my baby afterwards even more.

I’ve survived several deployments without my husband, while living in a foreign country far away from family. -Each has taught me I can be self-sufficient when necessary, the importance of schedules for my kids, and how much I value my husband being home with us.

As a survivor of so many things, I in turn have sought to help others as I would have wanted help from someone.

I’ve helped 2 guys violently threatening their own lives with knives, one cost me a hospital visit and stitches in my hand.

I’ve counseled many people, and helped those who wanted help, over the past 3 decades, to find their inner strength– GOD– and turn their focus to surviving and thriving, and to walk away from self-destructive behaviors and thoughts.

I no longer see young survivors that seek truth and the betterment of society. That concerns me deeply.

What’s the deal with all these people who are having a meltdown over a Presidential election?

I survived 8 years of Obama blowing off and ignoring everything that seriously concerned me, and I didn’t have an emotional meltdown. I did, however, have a personal time of mourning the future deaths of so many human babies. I have kept my eyes open and myself informed of important things. I have given voice to concerns and passed on information I believe is important for others to be aware of.

I’ve been a part of the healthy vein of our Nation.

The in-Dems-pocket media force has our young adult generation so afraid, and believing outrageous lies like anyone not with the Dems is for racism, or whatever the current slanderous  word-of-the-day is injected into their malleable minds. There are actual outside forces doing everything possible to stoke and stir-up emotions and irrational actions– some are even paid professionals. That’s been proven.

If these are our Nation’s future leaders, our country is in trouble. These aren’t survivors.  These have been programmed and controlled as puppets of a monster political organization that does not care about them in the least, to have a “victim” mentality. Where is their discernment?

I used to also be a controlled-programmed “victim-mentality” puppet of the Dems. Until I woke up.

I hope they all wake up before it’s too late.

I wish they could see they are being played.

Happy Birthday, United States Air Force– What Is There To Even Celebrate Now?

As a veteran and military spouse with 22 years of Air Force experience, what can I say about my beloved branch of service on its 69th birthday?

I was proud the day I stepped out of MEPS with a promised new, exciting yet completely unknown future.

At 24, after a failed marriage to a man who was abusive and mean, I was beginning a new life– one I’d be proud to say I’ve lived.

I think I was a joke to my first recruiter, but I found another recruiter who took me seriously and helped me find my door out of the destructive life going nowhere that I’d made for myself.

To the Air Force, I was a female body filling an empty spot in a predominantly male career field. I had high expectations of learning my job, being trained exceptionally. I trained waitresses before I enlisted, and I expected at least that same level of professionalism and depth. My expectations were not met– it wasn’t even close. I was a female after all– someone to flirt with, try to date, but keep at arms-length in what was, after all, just a man’s job.

I’d faced that challenge my whole life with relatives that mocked my efforts because of my gender, as though I were less than any male.

I rose to the gender challenge in school by taking a car repair class, acing it. I knew my way around a car engine, transmission and a/c– you know, back in the day when things were repaired and replaced, not sent to someone to fix or throw out.

I fought against that whole “weak girl” mentality, and the Air Force decided to throw me into that, once again. I was left at job sites by my supervisor, to figure things out without his help, tools or replacement parts. My 25th birthday was spent alone in my dorm room until my supervisor called me to go on a call at the dorm next to mine. The lighting was nearly non-existent  outside, and as I was walking, I didn’t see a step in the sidewalk, and fell. I got up, and not realizing I had a concussion from the fall, I went to try to stop a broken shower. I had no user’s manual, no training, and no supervisor taking me through the troubleshooting steps to fix it. 45 minutes later my supervisor finally showed up, disappointed that I hadn’t magically solved the problem. I went back to my dorm, finished that birthday by falling asleep. A week later I went to the doctor because my head had been hurting since I fell, and that’s when I learned I had a concussion. God still had plans for me, even if my co-workers thought I was just a waste of space in their career.

I’d love to say there were many high points, but I was constantly held back. One guy even became my supervisor, after being turned down over the phone for a date. I’d never seen him face-to-face, so I didn’t realize who he was until my career was nearly ruined. As soon as I figured it out, I changed supervisors and shops, but he had already said too much negative about me, gave me a bad EPR and convinced me I needed to work on my CDCs rather than drive around to jobs we never had the parts to actually fix. My personal challenge was a ruined opportunity, I’d never make Msgt by 13-14 years. I also no longer cared.

After that, I learned the outdoor part of my job. I had better opportunities at being trained, and hands-on repairs. I learned a lot and I worked hard physically. It was a better fit for me, but my shop boss hated me and I got another low EPR because he didn’t agree with the positive things my new supervisor reported in it. My shop boss never actually went to my job sites and saw how hard I worked, or how good I had become at everything I was given the opportunity to actually do with the right parts, tools, and training.

I received orders, so I moved to another base. I wasn’t hated because of my gender, this time I was too delicate to do my job. I was given jobs like painting, hammering a few nails in, controlling and sitting-in for my commander’s secretary. I volunteered to deploy to the desert, and my leadership nearly had a heart attack! They fought me on it, tried to keep me from going, but no one else was volunteering. So I went. But, not to do my actual job. No. I was an escort for the local nationals. And then, because I couldn’t be alone with the local nationals, because I’m a girl, I was put at the gate for 12-16 hour days, in charge of who was allowed in. Over Muslim men. You can probably guess how good that went over. Besides the fact that I was a girl, I was a girl that drove, told men what to do, and read her Bible openly in front of men. Now, I had no idea women weren’t allowed to read religious stuff, and as a Christian I read my Bible because I needed God’s encouragement and wisdom to handle some difficult people and situations– like bomb threats and air tests, and men who hated me, refusing to follow my instructions without cops threatening to pull out their guns telling them they had to do what I said.

Anyway– that was much of my enlisted experience, though definitely not all.

As a spouse, I’ve endured 18 years of constant changing plans and the results of the spectrum of various leaders my husband has worked for- from awesome to abusive at times. We have been blessed, and most of the time he has had awesome local leadership. Though it often feels like he’s away more than he’s here, we have had it better than many.

His extended leadership has gotten worse, though. Most of the time they’re clueless about what they put their people, and their people’s families, through. They are uninformed, and “yes men”, not professional enough to get needed information or listen to the needs and complaints of the workforce they are near breaking.

It’s not unlike Benghazi, where they are communicating needs, concerns, and asking for more bodies– but being ignored, blown off, and having more work than is even possible dumped on them. I have watched my good-natured husband, who has already put his 20 in, in a much needed career field, be crushed by unrealistic expectations, pushing of regulations, as well as physical and mental exhaustion to the point he falls asleep as soon as he gets home some nights. His schedule is all over the place, he has no time or energy to keep up with the rigid demands of PT because the nature of his job is already far too physically and mentally demanding.

And now, we celebrate the birthday of a force to be reckoned with– by its own people. From leadership that sexually abuses and assaults those lower-ranking than themselves, getting a “pass” from being held accountable, to leadership that has no clue what they are putting their people through– this year, I’m not celebrating the birthday of my beloved Air Force.

This year, I mourn its self-destruction, from the inside-out.

Me, Myself And My Husband– One Flesh

My husband doesn’t do things the way that I do. He doesn’t say things the way I say them. He doesn’t look at things the way I see them.

He doesn’t have the same Political views that I have…

When we married, we were taught through God’s Word that his body is my body, and my body is his body. In some ways that has become a kind of joke for us throughout the years.

“Honey, we have some things to do.” “Do I have to?” “Well, since your body is my body– yes.” Or, the silliness of doing something impossible– like using the restroom, lol.

Since my body is my husband’s, and vice-versa, does that mean his mind is also mine and mine is his?

Could you imagine if this were the case? If I had the ability to get him to think like me, and if I thought as he does, misunderstandings would become nonexistent!

But, the mind is such a complicated thing. The closest we could get to that is doing our best to consistently work at clear communication. Practicing listening. Sharing openly. Discussing differences.

Body ownership has been defined for us in Scripture– we become one-flesh, two halves of a whole. But our minds? As Christians, they should belong to the Lord. They have the unique ability to multi-task. While doing one thing like talking with people, we can pray, remember Scripture, Praise and Worship God at the same time.

The Bible exhorts us to pray without ceasing, because we can. We are able to do that. It takes practice, reminders, and at first a lot of attention and time. But then it becomes a habit. It happens naturally.

Our minds were made to interact with our Creator continuously.

That’s why there is so much competition for it with the world, people, even within ourselves.

We have a choice in who or what we give our minds to.

Everyday I want to choose God. Many times I fail somewhat, some days completely.

Every day is a new chance.

Exposed

I hate my past.

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I hate the parts of my personal story that involve my past. I don’t like who I was, I don’t like what I lived through. I abhor my reactions and choices. I despise where I had no choice or that I had no one to help me, to comfort me, or just talk with.

Yeah, I hate my past.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to get my book written. I hate reliving it. I hate thinking about it. I hate how when I am in a group of people and I just want to fit into the conversation, I feel compelled to share my experiences so I can identify with others. And I hate how vulnerable and

exposed

I often feel when I tell something deeply personal.

Who really wants to hear about the horror experiences of my childhood and teens, and for what reasons do they want to hear about them?

Who cares? About me?

I loathe feeling like other people think I’m competing in storytelling. I hate how it just feels normal to me that I have gone through so many things, and then I see that look of shock on the face of someone I’ve opened up to- then I realize, my life has been anything but normal.

It’s like a thorn in my side.

The parts I don’t hate about my past are when God shines through, as a warm, magnanimous Light, as if He has given my heart the most loving hug.

Healing me, bringing completeness to my injured, abused soul.

Exposure reveals the miracles and even the heart of God throughout my life.

Hating my past has helped me to love and appreciate God. Living my life, I’ve learned there is no one more trustworthy and faithful than God.

9/11: 13 Years Later

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My daughter asked me what today’s date is, and as I glanced at my calendar and told her, the date slapped me across my consciousness. September 11. Wow. So much significance in that date, and yet, this year for the first time, it caught me off my guard.

13 years ago, when our country was attacked by terrorists who have declared a holy war against our nation, I was out of the US. I watched the entire thing unfold, as plane after plane hit, from a long distance, over the news. I did the only thing I could think of doing: logged in to the chat rooms over Yahoo, to see if anyone online was needing someone to talk with, to prayer with or for them, to just be there to keep them from feeling alone. It was shocking to see the chatrooms almost empty. Even the mockers of Christianity were silent, absent from their self-appointed posts.

I waited around online, and eventually someone logged on. They didn’t know about the planes, the fallen towers, the heroes and the many missing and dead. I don’t think they believed me when I told them. Until they turned on the news. Then, they logged out.

For one day time online seemed to stand still. The busyness of the primitive versions of our now sophisticated social media was abandoned, forgotten. I doubt social media will ever again see such abandon and neglect. I prayed for 2 or 3 people on that day (it was night for me). I don’t remember the prayers, or the names/id’s of the people. But, I remember being grateful that I was able to just do something to help anyone. I felt so helpless, being so far away. I cried and prayed a lot that night, all by myself.

I still cry on September 11.

Yet, this year, I didn’t remember to think about the day as the anniversary approached. I let myself get caught up in daily cares and life.

I didn’t forget.

I just didn’t pay attention. I didn’t prepare myself for the flood of memories.

I’m letting the memories start to slip away.

9/11 2012 was another reminder of murderous hatred towards our nation. People died. Regardless of political beliefs and whatnot, no one can dispute that our Ambassador did not deserve to die. So horribly.

The men protecting him did not deserve to die and be abandoned by their own country’s leadership.

I forgot to remind myself to remember.

I’m ashamed, and sad.

I can’t let myself forget to remember, again. Those people did not just die in vain. They do not deserve to be forgotten. My daily life is not more important than the death they experienced in service for my country and essentially my protection.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Sean Smith.

Tyrone Woods.

Glen Doherty.

They deserve to be remembered by name.

Embracing Pain and Fear

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It’s on my heart to share this, and given recent events in the Middle East, I can see that in some respects, it could be a timely message for some.

As an American, I’d say–in our modern American culture, there seems to be a strong growing trend to avoid pain and suffering. We’re a first world nation, we should expect to have comfort and some luxuries, isn’t that the mindset we have all just accepted as normal, healthy living?

We tell ourselves we deserve it.

I think this has, in some ways, weakened some of our resolve and even work ethics.

In today’s America we often expect to be well paid for a job we put minimal effort into doing well. We complain about working, about customers, about our bosses, about not getting paid enough–so little contentment with so much expectation and even an overreaching of an attitude of entitlement of money, healthcare, cell phones or the latest electronic device, of getting everything we want and having every convenience possible, with as little effort as possible.

Us moms, we often give in to the temptation of having a pain-free birth. I gave in with our 4th baby, but I felt like I had somehow cheated. I’m not saying I think that’s wrong, but it seems like it could be a symptom of pain avoidance.

My first 3 births were natural, no pain killers at all. Our second child came so quickly, there was no time to even have an IV put in.

Through childbirth, I learned how to embrace the pain of the contractions, to use that pain to know when to help my baby come out into the world. I bonded with my babies, I struggled and strove to help them. The pain wasn’t something I feared, but something I embraced, I used it to accomplish purpose.

During the labor of my 3rd baby, God spoke to me through the pain.

He told me no one could touch my soul because it’s safe with Him. No matter what happens to my body, my soul can never be touched, harmed, or stolen.

With the recent growing number of killings of Christians, this is something He has reminded me of, to share and have others meditate on.

Pain is fleeting. Salvation is Eternal. Our soul is safe when we give it to God through belief on Christ Jesus. As a result, I know deep within, I Never have to be afraid of any pain. I know that God will avenge me for anyone who hurts me, because I belong to Him.

I know that God will avenge every Christian murdered by those who have set themselves up as enemies of The Most High God. We may not see how He does it, but their souls will never have the comfort, peace, rest or safety that the souls of those they murdered will have for ALL of Eternity.

God’s judgment is coming for those who dare to touch the ones He has claimed as His own.

I have no fear, because I know Who I belong to. And, if I stumble into fearfulness, God reminds me that it’s His perfect love that casts that out. I don’t have to succumb to it, to let it take over my reactions, my emotions or my actions and words. I don’t have to let it take control, I am not helpless because I have Help.

I have read and heard quite a few interpretations of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo–from prosperity encouragements, to commitment, to God’s faithfulness to us. But, what I get out of that account is that no matter what–no matter the pain, no matter if God chose not to intervene or help them–No Matter What, they would remain faithful to God. Because they knew Who they belonged to. No amount of pain, or manipulation, or fear-inducing circumstances could make them turn their backs to God.

He chose to help them. I have no doubt if He hadn’t, they would have died in that furnace still completely faithful to God. Because they knew He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the reasons He does, or does not do things.

Do you know Who you belong to? Do you believe on Him so deeply, that no amount of pain or suffering will manipulate you into relenting and turning away?

We need to pray that those being killed for belonging to Him through Jesus know Who they belong to. We need to pray that God will intervene, that Jesus will return, and that this persecution will be stopped. Only the return of Jesus is going to stop it.

When we obey the command to pray for peace in Jerusalem, we are praying for Jesus to come back and intervene on behalf of those who are suffering because of His Name.

Return, Lord Jesus, return quickly!

When we Christians unite, the power of God is manifest through our agreement in prayer, through our worship of God, and that is what causes fear in our enemies. That is why they kill, because Satan knows and wants to stop God’s power from flowing through His body–The Church, The Bride of Christ.

We are part of something so much greater than we are just in ourselves.

Satan is using people who believe his lies to try to stop God from working through us. He will not succeed, we know that from The Revelation of John.

But, where 2 or 3 are gathered, He is in our midst. When we have faith, we can tell a mountain to move, and it will.

Do we ever challenge our own faith?

Paul had a thorn in his side that God chose not to remove. There is debate of what that thorn was, but what I understand is–Paul chose to continue to faithfully serve God with that thorn unremoved. He didn’t complain. He didn’t yell at God. He didn’t quit. He didn’t rebuke it.

Paul focused on God, not on the thorn.

Our faith and our commitment need to grow up. We need to put off the American part of ourselves and embrace the Eternal, like putting off our old selves to put on the new. Ephesians 4:22-32 Colossians 3:1-4

We can’t, after all, take America with us, and America can’t keep our souls safe Eternally.

Only the One True God can do that.

The Truth About My Mom-In-Law

The strengths of my mother-in-law stand out so clearly for me. She has been a wonderful example of being strong, courageous and faithful.

 

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Sensitive

Traditional

Righteous

Observant

Noteworthy

Gentle

 

Concise

Outspoken

Unrelenting

Respectable

Amazing

Giving

Encouraging

Overjoyed

Unique

Smart

 

Fabulous

Ardent

Intuitive

Thoughtful

Hard-working

Fruitful

Unwavering

Loving

Missed

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I’ve said goodbye to an extraordinary amount of people during my lifetime. So many, I’ve lost count. Different phases, stages, careers and places I’ve moved on from.

This past year I’ve lost 4 people near to my heart, to death: 2 sisters in Christ that I admired deeply, my dad, and my middle school music mentor who helped form the individual I’ve become.

 I don’t remember how the two sisters in Christ that passed on last year dressed. I remember how they demonstrated their love for the Lord by giving Him their lives, their hopes and dreams, in service, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. I remember seeing the reflection of God’s heart as they prayed for me and others. I remember the Hope they lived out and openly shared with people who had no idea they even needed it. I remember when I was young, how my dad made me laugh. I remember how my music mentor encouraged my creativity and helped me form a sincere love for music, how it could be fun, how we could take the notes and put them in different orders to make new melodies. I don’t remember what color shirt he wore, or if he wore sneakers or dress shoes. 

It’s human nature to size people up. We value our opinions more than we value the person our opinions are about. It’s God’s nature to value what’s within each individual, the unique qualities that make us all who we are.

We’re all so much more than our outer packaging. My own life has been full of adventures, twists and turns, comedy, drama, tragedies, trials– easily missed by an outward scan of the eye. 

My heart misses the people who have impacted my life over the years. My eyes miss seeing their smiles or tears of compassion. My ears miss hearing their laughter and voices.

The things we place value on in the here and now are often completely erased– rendered invalid as time passes on.

What do you miss about those you’ve cherished?

Individually One Flesh

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Mark 10:8 “and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (NASB)

Marriage is the most unique relationship between humans. When a man and woman marry, it takes time to learn how to live together.  How to agree and disagree. Whether or not to even have children.

Then, if having kids, how to raise them and discipline them. How to encourage them in the midst of parents coming from 2 different perspectives, backgrounds, and maybe even world  views.

There are many outside forces to consider. The husband and wife learn they have to set boundaries for outside forces so they can follow the path together that they set out on when they said, “I do”. There are things to compromise on, things to agree on, and times where tongues may or may not be held, when one does things the other doesn’t like.

I learned a lot from my first marriage that failed. I was rejected by a husband who was far from the image he sold me before we married. I was shoved out of the way to make room for another woman. As I struggled with my hurt, I also learned how to become an individual again. I lost “me” completely within that marriage.

When God brought His choice for me into my life, I remembered my previous marriage experience. How bad things were with a man who would have nothing to do with God or church. I realized it would be best to focus on what is right with my second-chance marriage. I chose to not adopt society’s way of focusing on what I see as being wrong, and telling others about my irritations, getting people to be on my side.

We are one flesh. There are no sides.

What I say reflects back on both of us. It points to my character as much as his character.

But although we are one flesh, we are still both individual people. One of the hardest lessons I have gleaned from is: I can’t take his failures personal. Not everything is about me. Sure, his decisions and actions affect me more than any other person besides him. Sure, I am in it with him, and when he makes bad decisions they affect me like they affect him. I am part of the fall-out. My feelings are entangled with his choices. And, no, he doesn’t often remember to think about that.

God gave him to me. To love me, to provide for me, to protect me.

Sometimes I forget: God also gave me to him.

God gave me to him to be his help mate. He may not want my help. He may not recognize what I am trying to do as being helpful.

But, God has given me a mission as his wife: help him.

How am I supposed to help him? The first thing is to let him be the individual God created him to be.

I have to disengage my feelings when he falls off the pedestal I tend to put him on. He is not immune from making sinful decisions. So, how can I help him look to God more? How can I help him be a man of prayer and response, rather than human reactions? How can I help him make decisions best for the whole family, that please God, rather than just decisions for himself?

I need to remind myself at times that God will work out the details for what He sees as faults.

How can I help him be his best for God? Without being manipulative. Without trying to be his Holy Spirit. Without putting my opinion and expectations in place as the standard I try to push on him. How can I just let him be him, treat him with respect and loving-kindness, regardless of what I see as being wrong?

How can I submit to his leadership, in a sense, without losing my own individuality in the process? How can I help him consider my needs and instincts, while balancing myself against things I recognize as not being God’s best for him, us, or our family?

My husband needs me. Whether he acknowledges it or even recognizes it, or not.

He needs me to be encouraging when he feels overwhelmed. He needs me to pray for him. He needs me to help carry his burdens, when possible, and let him handle them his way when I can’t.

He needs me to love and accept him, unconditionally. He needs me to not harden my heart when he doesn’t do things “perfect”, or even when what he does and says hurts me.

The hardest part of being his helpmate is focusing on my mission from God to respect him and be the helpmate God gave me to him to be. Through prayer, fasting, encouraging, silence, sharing Scripture, and being nonjudgmental when he does not do things the way I would.

Individually, we are one flesh. He does not have anyone else like me in his life.

God has given me an important mission on earth. To help one of His children in ways no other person can, with God’s help through my life.

We are 2 individuals that are also one-flesh. Even when my other half messes up, or strays from God. I still have my purpose given to me from the Divine. That does not get cancelled out. If anything, it becomes a more urgent focus.

My feelings and expectations are not the standard I live by. God’s standard is what I am striving to live by.

I can’t just give up and walk away, even if it ever felt like it was killing me.

Jesus didn’t give up and walk away when it was killing Him.

Bondage Gospel: Good News?

1048428-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Happy-Springy-Man-Running-BarefootMark16:14-15 (NLT)
Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.  “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone…”
Recently in the news, many rejoiced that 3 young women who had been held captive by a man for a decade, were suddenly found and freed. They were alive! Though not unharmed, and changed in ways most of us will never comprehend. They were finally allowed the freedom to return to their loved ones, robbed of a decade of memories and experiences with them.
 I think we can all agree, their new freedom was good news!!! And, it was spread, far and wide.
Also, recently in the news, the government has enforced a new law that is popular with some, and unpopular with others.  For years, many have been shouting the good news about free government healthcare. For others, they recognized a new bondage they have been forced to embrace.
The Gospel can come across that way. When we Christians quote the 10 Commandments of God to the world, many look at it as a new bondage. One that locks them into a box of condemnation and away from the freedom to live as they choose to. Many hear the clanging of gongs whose noise level is deafening, and it makes them run away from what they think of as a type of ancient imprisonment. It makes them strike out in anger at the ones making the noise.
Sadly, we have been ineffective messengers. We’ve caused many to equate the Good News of Jesus conquering eternal death, and being raised up from the grave, as an agreement to surrender to a bondage. One they cannot live up to, and don’t even want to try.
Do we hear how we sound?
Is what we say, and the attitude in which we say it, how we ourselves were drawn to Jesus?
When we say to someone, “You will die a forever death that will keep you eternally separated from the love of God, from the goodness of God, from God Himself”, what reaction does that invoke?
How can we communicate the Gospel message effectively?
Do we even want to communicate effectively?
See, it seems like sometimes we prejudge people and we tailor our message to fit the perception we have created with our opinion. Then, we leave God out of the message. Oh, we talk about Him, we try to thump it into people’s guilt and consciences. God is probably not in that.
Many have come to equate the Gospel message with a message of condemnation and criticism for how they are, who they are, and how they want to live.
When did Jesus ever talk to an unbeliever like that?
How many people actually ask us what they have to do to be Saved? Most often, it’s an unwilling listener who gets a barrage of what a horrible person they are.
When my husband asked me to marry him, if he had told me what a horrible person I was and how he could make me be a better person if I would marry him, I would have never spoken to him again.
That’s what we do when we walk in condemnation of the people God loves and wants to draw near to Him. They aren’t going near God with a 10 foot pole, when we approach them like that.
Are we like Jonah? Deep down inside, do we feel like they don’t deserve our loving God’s arms wrapped around their lives, or His promises fulfilled for them?
Is it really a Gospel of repelling and condemnation we are wanting to pass on, so they will instead reject the wonderful things we have been given in Christ Jesus?
Or, is it a manipulative way we embrace because of how we view our own inadequacies in sharing Jesus with a world full of hostile critics? Is it our own lack of faith in God working through us to draw others to Himself through us?
Are we willing to be vessels filled with His love and grace?
Whatever our definition of love is, I do not believe, most often, it is God’s definition of love. Where is the kindness, the gentleness, the peacefulness that God Himself demonstrates to us constantly? Is God like the slave master who whips us into submission to Him?
NO!
He is gentle, and loving, and Kind, giving us everything we need. Why is it, then, that often we take on a harsh, mean attitude, and shout about Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10 Commandments, and how the unbeliever needs to repent?
Perhaps there is a time and a place for that. But, most often – I think not.
I believe these are some hard questions we need to be asking ourselves. This is a mirror for us to look into, and do a heart and motivation check.
Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 5:9-12 (NASB)
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church

United We Stand

glass broken  heartGod has sure been stirring up a lot of things in my heart and thoughts lately.

One of the recurring issues I deal with is that I am still missing out on a father figure for my life. I understand that Scripture teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father, and He has never disappointed me.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am 40-something, and I still wish I could just have a normal conversation with my daddy. I have never had that. I have missed that, and struggled not to envy what others have been given.

There are so many people, of all ages, who have not had real, or healthy  relationships with their parents.  Where are the Godly men who will step up, and allow God to use them to replace what has been stolen from so many?

“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing heart-photo-by-Carien-of-sxc.hu_nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:26-27 NASV)

He understood that those relationships are of utmost importance.

We are missing so much with our individualistic approach to Christianity. We are missing out on so much.

Love Is Tough

Judah 031Our American culture has adopted this practice of Tough Love when we see others doing stuff we don’t like.

I can see how this has been helpful in some situations. Some people are hurtful towards others, and destructive forces for themselves and others. Sometimes we need some kind of kick in the pants to wake us up to difficult things.

Judah 034My concern is, it seems like we often call something else “Tough Love”. When people do things that annoy, we turn our back on them. We don’t tell them what the offense is, but we ignore them in a manner that is manipulative, and honestly – mean.

I cannot see Jesus doing that with others. Not this second thing.

The second description is a form of rejection, candy-coated so we can justify our actions. It’s often the result of hearing one side of a situation through gossip. Often the person being rejected or ” Tough Loved” is the most in need of acceptance and actual Love. It is not Biblical.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love endures all things . Love keeps No record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice in evil ( do we rejoice in turning our back on others?). Love is not jealous (does our rejection cause someone to feel jealous of others being treated better by us?). (1Cor 13)

When someone offends us, the Bible instructs us in how to deal with that. It is rare that I see that put into practice! Even by lay leaders. What most often happens is we play this manipulative game of “guess what you did wrong – no you didn’t offend me”.

We need to stop the games.

Let’s practice Tough Love on that manipulative, mean practice we use to elevate ourselves in our minds, as being better than someone else.

Let’s practice compassion by imagining ourselves in other people’s shoes, and demonstrating the very same Grace, Kindness, and Love we would hope we could expect.

I’d like to redefine Tough Love as being resilient, and sincerely loving others even more so when they are the most unloveable.

Let’s really be the Church, and effective ambassadors of Jesus. Starting right now.

Part of “revival” is repenting from Ungodly practices.

When I Say “Food”, You Say…

CutestFood_com_12It’s hard to stop pre-thinking about what I am about to read, as I blog-hop. So, let’s all just take a moment to close our eyes, and clear the thoughts ready to pounce as the words here are read.

I’ve been thinking about food today, and medical problems, and possible connections between them. I’ve had a lot of blood work done lately. So much so, that I now refer to the phlebotomist as the medical vampire. I’ve been questioning whether some of my problems are caused by what I eat.

That got me to wondering: when you think of food, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I wouldn’t be surprised if for the majority of Americans, it’s calories, fat, or weight gain.

I don’t think we have a healthy mindset about food.

We fret, we stress, we avoid, we burn, we ban, we purge, we omit, we decorate, we make scents of it…

But do we really make sense of it?

Our body needs food. That’s the one fact about food none of us can dispute. It’s the fuel our bodies are designed to function from. Do we have a healthy relationship with it?

There are certain foods our bodies have been designed around. No matter what, we need water. We need protein. We need certain salts to keep it in balance. We need minerals and vitamins. We need fiber.

It’s not supposed to be about avoiding, and focusing on counting calories. It’s supposed to be about relaxing and enjoying what the earth produces to nourish us.

Babies draw comfort from their mothers as they are nourished by their mothers. I think, there is nothing wrong with finding some amount of comfort in eating what’s good for us.

There are plenty of examples of celebration feasts in the Bible. God provided the nourishment needed as Jesus fed the 10,000 with the Word of God – Spiritual food, that our bodies have been designed to need to function in a healthy manner.

So. What do you think of when the word food is mentioned?

Being An Enabler Is Good

domestic_violence

Isaiah 57:14 “And it will be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.””

We’ve all heard the phrase and warning, “Don’t be an enabler“. I grew up thinking there is only one definition and only one way to enable: to allow, encourage or make excuses for the wrong or hurtful behavior of another. I became an expert in not fitting that definition. I also became an expert at knowing how to avoid being co-dependent.

Recently I’ve become aware that Merriam-Webster is changing definitions to words. No, not adding new definitions, but erasing/deleting/removing previous definitions, then adding new ones. “Tolerance” is one that has been redefined. I’m going to work hard to help change the mindset about this word “enabling”. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we completely throw out the definition society most often grabs hold of and speaks out against. I am saying, let’s get to the place where that becomes a secondary definition, and the word doesn’t cause such a negative reaction.

DSCF0990

I thought about how using a lawn mower enables us to take care of our lawn.

Recently my husband was asked to play the keys in a band performing that didn’t have someone available to play them. I reacted, rather than responding, with a groan. My husband has so many demands on his time. Often when it’s my turn, he’s so exhausted he’s falling asleep. Things have been busier for both of us, and I was looking forward to just having a day where nothing was scheduled that we could relax at home. Then, he explained the reason for the performance. It was an opportunity for the young lady singing to participate in an open air concert, with a possible opportunity to be able to open for a big named singer in the future. Wow. I didn’t want to stand in the way of that possibility! So, I stopped complaining and dreading his being busy with yet another thing, and I went with him in support. Meeting her and hearing her sing, I realized this was a super big deal. She is good, with a powerful message that made me cry while they were rehearsing.

So, that got me to thinking, and realizing: I’ve been short-changed. There is a whole other positive side to being an enabler, one I think the majority of us would love the chance to embrace. So, here are some ways to enable the people in your life:

1) Always speak to them with words that encourage and build up.

2) Address things that need to be changed or done better, in a positive way. Don’t just allow the negative to continue, but don’t criticize harshly or condemn.

3) Be available to support in the ways they need, not the ways you think they need.

4) If they mess up or fail, be there to support, build up and gently encourage them to not give up.

5) Support them and help them have a balanced attitude when they succeed.

 

Experience The Rainbow

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“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV

When I took these two pictures, I had no idea they would fit together like this.

I have been fascinated with rainbows for as long as I can remember.

As a little girl I sat in my room alone and watched through my window as others played. I saw a rainbow, and felt God speak into my spirit “I love you”. I had learned from the Bible that God made the first rainbow as a promise to never flood the earth again, but instead washed the earth with the rain.

In the past when under duress, a rainbow would take me instantly back to that first moment God spoke into my spirit, and instant peace flooded me.

At 24 when I entered a crossroads in my life, having sought God for the very first time as to what He wanted to do with the life He gave me, I asked Him for a sign to know, so I wouldn’t doubt His answer and direction.

The sign He gave me, twice, as I began to doubt it the first time, was a rainbow over an American flag. It was the military He was leading me into.

184100_10150323851712456_7034223_nI had a tattoo of that sign from Him inked above my right ankle, to remind me of where I had come from, and where my journey with God started. I knew God before, but I often just kind of stumbled into His path for me. The crossroads served as an opportunity to follow His path with purpose, determination, and confidence that I would know His direction. I left everything behind, shed off my old life, and followed closely after Him, clinging to His Word and His Promises.

Of course I have stumbled as I’ve learned how to walk on His straight and narrow path, many times. It has been a lonely walk at times, and full of fellowship other times. My vision for my life has not always matched God’s vision for my life, and I’ve had to remind myself to surrender to His purpose, not insist on mine.

As I’ve looked at things not of God that use the rainbow as a symbol, I have found something to be completely ironic.

The Gay Pride flag is a rainbow. I pondered this last night, and wondered if that was done by intent, or completely by accident?

14776366-gay-pride-flag-waving-in-the-wind

If by accident, it could very well serve as a reminder that we are all, ALL, covered by God’s promise to never flood the earth again. But, Biblical history also shows us that at the time God flooded the earth, homosexuality was rampant. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as homosexuality was practiced. I don’t believe, personally, it was homosexuality itself that caused God to destroy those cities. It was the heart condition that serving and elevating self  caused.

 

Was the rainbow chosen to dig at Christians, as a source of irritation? I have heard many gay people say they just want to be accepted, but in action, they very often say hateful things about Christians and Christianity.

It seems to me, the heart of this movement might not be just acceptance and peacefully co-existing. It looks very much like they might be thumbing their noses at Christians and the promise of our God. Regardless their flag serves as a reminder to us all that God honors His promises, even if there are attempts to provoke Him.

“The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.” Numbers 14:18

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

Colossians 3:12:14“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32

What My Mom Helped Me Learn

My mom has helped me learn some things that I now have the opportunity to purposefully make sure my daughter gets from me.

Deborah turning 4 Incidentally, when my mom came o1) Always have her back. Even if I don’t agree with her or she doesn’t handle things the way I would, never make her feel as though she has to deal with things alone.

2) No amount of money or possessions can replace a sense of being cherished or belonging.

3)  I need to be approachable.

4) Listen, even when it drives me crazy to hear about her friends I’ve never met. It’s important to her to be able to share it with me. Also, that keeps me informed and interested. I know who is dating who, who just moved into the neighborhood, who I should be aware of,  and what their ages are.

5) I need to be involved without being controlling.

6) Make time just for her, just because I want to spend time with her. I enjoy her company.

7) Help her find a sense of purpose by telling her what her strengths are, and what I admire about her.

8) Praise her and compliment her; critique things she does without harsh or mean criticism of her.

9) Teach her skills that will help her fit into society in a healthy way.

10) Help her value herself so she will make decisions that will be healthy and beneficial.

11) Don’t say negative things about her behind her back. When I share information out of frustration or as a prayer request, she knows about it and what I have said.

12) Don’t side with someone who calls her a liar. She isn’t always completely truthful with me, but I have never, ever known her to lie to someone, outright. And, even if I thought she did lie, we would deal with that in private and she would apologize to the person face-to-face. I will not take sides against my daughter.

13) Teach her the “why” behind each piece of instruction, guidance or advice.

14) Make sure she knows I separate her from her actions, decisions and mistakes. She is not what she does.

15) Let her wear my shoes and clothes sometimes. There is just something uniquely bonding about this with my daughter.

16) Don’t attack her for, or say harsh, mean things about, what I view as faults. My view is only one perspective, but she gets her cues at self-confidence from me.

17) Make sure she knows beyond any shadow of doubt, every single day, that I love her, cherish her, and my life is better because she’s in it.

18) I am careful to not expose her to things she’s not old enough to be able to process with an informative maturity. Raising children is like growing plants in some ways: I wouldn’t throw a rose-bush out into a blizzard just because I was tired of it being in the house and it’s too expensive to buy it food and soil. The same with my daughter: there will be no cut-off time for her, we won’t force her out of the house by a certain age. My hope is that we will help her become confident and prepared when the time comes for her to begin a new phase of life apart from us. I’m in no rush for that day, but I also won’t hold her back from embracing it.

19) Give her a healthy view of marriage. I think this is one of the best gifts my husband and I can give to our children, especially our daughter. As she sees how her dad treats me, and how I treat him, she will be able to discern the right relationship for herself. It’s so important for her to understand God’s perspective in marriage, because the world’s perspective brings no peace, no comfort, no health, and no longevity.

20) Make sure she has a firm foundation in Christ, while I encourage her in her own relationship with God, but don’t criticize when she doesn’t do things the same as me, or she isn’t passionate about the same things with God and church that I am. She is uniquely formed by God, and I trust Him to lead her in the direction that He has planned for her.

I hope I can pass on things that she will pass on to her own daughter someday, and so on, and so on…

My desire above everything is to bless my daughter. When a mother curses her daughter with negatives and harsh criticism, it affects every relationship and interaction she has, negatively. My hope is in blessing her it will do the exact opposite. I can already see some positive fruit from things people say to me about her, and how she is treated by her peers.

Set-Up To Fail

Have you watched the show “Everybody Loves Raymond“? In the episode where Marie, the mother-in-law, teaches Debra, the daughter-in-law, how to make meatballs, Marie purposely hides the wrong spice behind a label of the correct spice, and they end up tasting horrible. Debra was made to look incompetent. We laugh, but it has a ring of truth to it. We all know someone who has either experienced it, or has done it to us. Maybe we have done that to someone else.

Set-up to fail. The phrase alone packs quite a punch!

It’s something I have become more aware of in many aspects of life and relationships. I see evidence of it within our government, in the media, as well as in various personal relationships.

It feels lousy when I realize someone has done that to me. When I don’t meet certain expectations within a time-frame that just doesn’t work for me. When Grace is not extended if I make a mistake, forget, or can’t get to something. When an expectation is unrealistic.

I fail.

It seems to me that sometimes we think that God does that with us. When something good in our lives is removed, how often do we blame Him? When a promotion falls through, when a career ends, when illness, accident or disaster strikes, sometimes our very first thought is that God set us up to fail. Not in those words maybe, but the idea is the same. He gives good things, allows good things, just so He can take them away when we don’t do good enough… We get angry with God.

Except, He doesn’t do that. He doesn’t withhold good things from us just because we don’t perform well for Him or do enough “works”.

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father …

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Getting Our Attention, and Missed Opportunities

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If you have children, then you understand what I am saying when I tell you my mind is exhausted from the attention grabbing attempts of my kids. I have 4, and they all want my attention, they even compete for it at times. When my dog climbs into my lap, my 2 year old will rush over and try to push him off, climb into my lap for just a minute, then climb back down. He has to let the dog know who owns my lap, already showing 10150407652477456signs of that male conquering spirit, lol.

Each of my kids has their own way of getting my attention, and we have a method we call the “interrupt rule” that they are supposed to follow (put a hand on my shoulder or arm and wait until I can give my full attention), but of course they often forget to follow it. My daughter,  DaBee , will text me questions and pictures she takes with her phone, or come over to where I am and start talking 111940127455about whatever comes to mind. She gets excited and shows me pictures she draws, or things she sews. She is so talented! My oldest boy, “Jonenator Dude” (JD), he waits until I am alone to talk about his different collections. JD can also be competitive  with the others and try to demand I give him my full attention. I am teaching him how important it is to be considerate and patient, some days those aren’t easy lessons to teach. My middle boy, “Little Red” (LR), he often copies his older brother, or tries to get my attention away from JD, in order to show me his latest drawing or tell me about his Lego creation or a game he’s excited about playing. My 2 year old, “Doctor Oo!” (DO),  lately he will stand behind me and put his hands on my cheeks or in my hair. Sometimes he just sits next to me and takes hold of my hand. He loves to be playful and show me his toys by pretending to shoot me with them, or holding them up close in my face, and often I don’t mind at all.

But, I have learned from past mistakes. Those times when I have been too busy to look up and listen, or when distracted and frustrated, I pushed them away… I can’t get those opportunities back. I lost out.

72083967455As God’s child, I don’t feel I have to try to get His attention. But, I’ve been thinking about how I become aware of God trying to get my attention. How many times have I missed Him during my distracted daily activities, or when I’m frustrated by something or someone? When do I become aware, then give Him my full attention?

Sometimes, I have a song or a verse on my mind that woos my attention to Him. Sometimes I have a sudden urge to pray about something specific, or for someone specific. At times a subject comes to mind with a sadness that overwhelms my spirit and I can’t help but pray and seek God on behalf of what He places on my heart.

I am desperate to not miss Him, to not miss an opportunity to pray or speak into someone’s life, or just be available in the way He impresses on my heart. Except when I’m distracted by the cares of this life. Then I miss Him.

But, because I am distracted, I don’t miss that I miss Him.

That makes my heart sad, when I take the time to let myself think deep on that.

Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” (NASB)

How Have You Grown?

I was inspired to write this by this blog:
http://thingstoadore.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/and-before-you-know-it/

There is nothing like becoming a mom and being responsible for the lives of our little ones who are so vulnerable and completely dependent on us, to make us both grow, and grow up.

I became a mom at 29. I had almost 3 decades to learn how to be selfish and think about “mememe”. My transition to momhood was ugly. My life before marrying a Godly man was all about my survival, my being independent and responsible, my working hard. I can count on one hand the number of people who sincerely had my back or even cared whether I survived. Transferring that mindset into taking care of a baby, especially after not being around babies much at all, I was a huge mess. I didn’t have family nearby to help me, and I didn’t have the benefit or experience from a healthy relationship with my own parents. I did have my Grandma to confide in, and I had an amazing husband that God provided for me, who supported me, believed in me, and continually shows me kindness I often feel undeserving of.

The first 2 weeks of my first baby’s life were the hardest and scariest of my entire life, and believe me, that is saying a lot. She lost a full pound after being born a month early, and I was trying to learn how to breastfeed her. Thankfully I had encouragement from people at church to not give up breastfeeding. I am so very glad I pushed through. She finally started gaining weight at 2 weeks, and we had some rough times, like clumsily trying to feed her in public and getting a yeast infection in my milk ducts. She is 13 now, and she’s one of the best accomplishments of my life, and a reminder of how much God changed my life when she was born. When she was born, the “mom” me was born. As a mom, she and I are both 13, and trust me, we both have some seriously real “adolescent” days.

Over the past almost 15 years of marriage, God has used His Word to instruct me to not be anxious for anything, to cast all of my cares on Him, and that no matter what, I can lean on Him and He will make all of my pathways clear. He has never failed, He has never given up on me, and I know there is nothing I can’t trust Him with. I have grown as a Believer.

I have grown as a wife. When we first married, I had all sorts of expectations of what I believed a Christian marriage would/should be. I was previously married to a nonbeliever. It was a disaster, and I know it was because of God’s protection over me, in my ignorance and desperation to just have someone who would love me, that I’m alive today. He delivered me from that marriage that I clung to when my ex decided one day he wanted a divorce, but I wouldn’t grant him one. Until I read Scripture, and I heard God in my spirit tell me it was ok to let him go. So, I joined my new husband 6 years later, with God’s permission to remarry, with hopes, plans and expectations. All of those either died out or were changed by God. I learned to relax when things feel out of control, spinning ahead of what I feel ready for, because God knows everything, and I can just lean back on Him, rest, and trust. Being married to a Christian has both defied and soared beyond my expectations.  We don’t pray together about everything, we don’t sing and play praise and worship songs together all the time, we don’t always have it all together with perfect smiles on our faces and lots of Christian friends who adore us, we don’t have popular Bible studies and prayer meetings in our home every week, and we have never gone on mission trips as a family like my heart still longs to do. Yeah, my picture guess was way off from our reality, lol. I’m not “Suzy Homemaker”. I’m a military spouse who has almost no control over any area of decisions or plans, the military takes care of all of that for both of us. I have learned to be content during some pretty intense times, but I’m still learning, and I fail at “content” pretty much every day in one way or another.

I have grown as a daughter. I have a new lens on my “hindsight” indicator. I no longer look through it as a daughter, but I look through it as one who has a daughter. There are things my mom did that I have made sure not to do. There are things I cringe every time I do or say. There are things I am careful to do, and I’m sure there are things I wish I had done, though I can’t think of any off-hand. I learned a lot from my Grandma that I didn’t learn from my own mom. There have also been times when anger or tears pop in because of things I missed out on or was robbed of in my own relationship with my parents. I have had much forgiving to do, needed much grace to apply, and tempered with love much disappointment and frustration. God has helped me to be a better mom to my children than I ever could have been without His compassion and help.

It’s amazing to me when I look back over all of the events of the past decade and a half, just how much “growing” God has accomplished in me while I was distracted by my life’s moments. I still have a lot of growing to do, but wow: God sure has been busy in me!

In what ways have you grown?

Husband Versus Wife, Wife Versus Husband

The more I listen and watch people, the more I see a frustration in marriages that just doesn’t need to be there at all.

Maybe I see it because I’ve been in a unique position most of my life. Maybe it’s so apparent because it’s just so different from my own marriage. Whatever the reason, it honestly makes me sad to see what could be an amazing experience, end up being a hurtful competition or a neglectful, negative situation.

Recently my husband had an interaction on a social network with someone who said it is awful for Christians to live the Biblical description of marriage where “…wives submit to your husbands…” *gasp!**howoldfashionedancientandbackwards!*

Ok, at face value, that taken out of context description of a wife’s “role” does seem a bit antiquated or third world-ish. So, I guess I want to take just a moment to address that specifically.

In what ways do I personally “submit” to my own husband? Do I ever resent “having” to be submissive? Does that mean he “rules” over me and our children? Am I afraid to be independent, or modern, with a “healthy” perspective on my own self-esteem and self-reliance? The answer to this last question is, No, I am not afraid to be any of those. In fact, there is no fear at all in my marriage. He doesn’t keep me ” in check”, or “barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen”.

I practice “submission” by not hiding things from him. I do that because I don’t want hindrances in our relationship, or stumbling blocks. I can’t think of anything I haven’t told him about my past, or things I’ve done since he and I married. I am open and honest with him. I don’t resent living a submissive life with him, because he also reciprocates. He doesn’t hide things from me.

This is actually what got me thinking about this subject: I see a lot of women get hurt because of things their husband’s or boyfriend’s have hidden from them. I see so many marriages break down because of this lack of communication, and a rise of this competitive “spirit” that often sets them up as each other’s enemy.

My husband is not my enemy, he’s my very best friend. In fact, most of our marriage he has been my only real, true friend. He knows me better than anyone else, except our Creator.

My husband treats me with dignity, kindness, respect, generosity, equality, and love. Why does he do that? Because that’s how our God has taught him to treat me. I choose to submit things to him because he sees things from a different perspective than I do. I choose to be submissive because he is fair, honest, and he’s accountable to our God for me and our children. I choose to submit to him because we are equals, and he chooses to submit himself to me. We share our lives, our burdens, our concerns, with each other. We don’t consult with friends outside of our marriage, we don’t gossip with our complaints about one another. We don’t hold value of a friendship above each other, we are each other’s best friend.

That’s exactly what I see missing in the marriages that end in divorce and hatred. They forget to be friends.

Who Controls Your Time?

This is painfully honest, but it’s “real”.

There are some days when I have a heightened sense of awareness concerning how very little control and input I have in my daily life’s circumstances. I am writing this as I sit in our one vehicle waiting for my husband to finish something he’s volunteered to do for our church. I have no issues with his having volunteered. What I am continually frustrated about are my lack choices in my own life. Some days it’s apparent that nothing about my life is about me.

As a Christian, I remind myself that that’s the way my life is supposed to go. Putting others before myself. This is the “season” I am in, and the lesson of learning to be content in all things, it’s a doozy some days.

As a military spouse and veteran, I remind myself that serving our country is an honor. Supporting my husband as he serves, is some days a more difficult sacrifice than my own military service was. He has people telling him what to do and where to be pretty much every minute of his work day. He’s scheduled for meetings without any communication with him about it, and he has no say, nor does he even get to take real vacation time. There is often little to no consideration or concern for how his work affects his home life, by his leadership. He wasn’t issued a family, so his family isn’t important to them. I do my best to keep things under control at home, but I have reached a near breaking point a few times since we moved to this assignment 1 year ago. Service before self, that’s what is expected, even from military families. When he gets orders just days before he’s sent away, I just have to go through the motions of having it all together. If I’m sick or stressed, it doesn’t matter, his duty comes before my life, in every way possible. That’s just the way it is. When he flies, I drop him off so I won’t be without the car if he gets stuck somewhere over night, or for several days. Everything revolves around his schedule, and truth be told: I don’t often feel much like running errands just because his work schedule makes our car available for me to actually go somewhere.
I cannot plan anything. When he comes home from work, he tries not to bring his frustration home too, and he plays with the kids when he can. Sometimes he lays down and falls asleep. Ok, lots of times he does that. I get the leftover exhaustion that’s a result of all the junk he deals with, or exhaustion from his flying 6-10 hours a day.

As a home educating mom, I remind myself that my kids educational needs are priority. They have to learn, we have to stick to a schedule to fit in the State mandated number of hours required, even though the school system certainly doesn’t follow that guideline very strictly. The school system gives kids 5 days off over Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day, alone. My kids can’t take that amount of time off without having to make up time over a weekend or extra long schooldays. Even though they will beg me to go play with their friends, they have to do schoolwork, because of those mandated hours I signed my name before a Notary Republic agreeing to enforce. Normally I enjoy the kids staying home to learn, but I honestly despise that box of “time” everyday that this state has inflicted on us. I have consistently been strict concerning their education from day 1 of their schooling, that mandate is unnecessary, and it’s too restricting.

I have no one to talk to that really understands where I’m coming from. There is nothing that is about “me”, at all right now. When people ask what I like to do, I’m at a loss. I don’t even know anymore. I try to write, but I’m only motivated by getting stuff off of my chest, encouraging others one-on-one, or politics. I play my violin for church sometimes, but that’s another part of my life that is scheduled for me, which isn’t a big deal in and of itself, but when I look at the whole picture, I just get overwhelmed by how lost I am in everyone’s scheduling that affects me but isn’t ever about me. I very much want to play my violin and bless others, just some days I feel crushed by “overwhelm”. Thankfully God never lets it really crush me, and He gives me the strength to get out from under it, and rise above it. I am no good at anything without God’s help.

Nothing about my life is my own right now. I sometimes stay up too late just to get peace and quiet time to myself, but that comes with a price, too. I cannot ever get away from responsibility, or everything being planned for me while not including me in the planning.

I just follow the schedule.

America the Great

Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness. The American Dream. This is how America was described to me as I was growing up.

I was taught to love and appreciate the country I was blessed to be born into. I was taught to be a giver, and to fight the need to be given to. I was taught to have a sense of pride, and even a touch of arrogance, about being an American, because I live in the greatest country in the world. I was told to love my neighbor as myself.

The definition of neighbor seems to vary among individuals.

Neighbor, to some, means the people in our neighborhoods. To some, it means friends. For some, it includes people at work, school, church, or those we interact with as we enjoy our hobbies and our lives. For some, they also include other nations as our neighbors.

For me, the title of neighbor has grown to include the homeless, the person standing alone at a gathering, the child whose parents would rather they go play than stay home, and the person across the world being persecuted for what they believe, or rather, what they have rejected to take on as a belief.

American Pride often keeps us looking at the things we value, that look good on the surface, but rarely does it acknowledge those within our nation that are the least desirables. At best, we touch those subjects with a few glancing words giving a shallow appearance of compassion, while moving on to a more comfortable subject like football, or how many medals we won in the Olympics this year. American Pride give homage to what looks pretty on the outside, while skirting issues that don’t reflect pride or even the pretty. For example, the way our war heroes are treated, often neglected, if they don’t find the successful path that ends up in a house with the white picket fence and the 2.5 children, that have become entwined with our definition of “American Exceptionalism”.

Years ago, when I was placed in another country, I went with my American Pride and touch of arrogance. I had been taught being an American meant I was the best, that I was better than other people. I learned pretty fast, that I had been taught wrong. I learned that even though we have this great respect for ourselves, other people in the world, well honestly, they hate us. They don’t think we are great, they don’t rejoice with us that we were born in the greatest country in the world. No, they don’t respect us, they don’t even like us.

I learned that people are people no matter what country they live in, and when we attempt to define them by their country of origin, we are missing the big picture. I learned to appreciate what those in my host country of Japan, the Okinawan people, placed value on, not trying to Americanize them, but embracing their culture and learning to interact with them, even in a limited way, in their own language.

I found that people want you to meet them where they are, and find things in common with them that they love, that honor them. I realized that putting people above America was more important than trying to get them to be more like an American. I learned that something as simple as saying, “Thank you.” in their language meant more to them than just about anything I could do or even give them.

I came to love the people of another country, and even respect them as much, sometimes even more, than those in my own country. I grew to appreciate and sincerely value the true humility I saw in them and in their everyday lives. I gathered as much knowledge and information as I could about the area I lived in, so I could understand them better, and so I could be effective when I prayed for them, from my heart.

I gained a new perspective and clearer sight. My neighbor is everyone, no matter what their station in life, or what their nationality or belief. And, I learned how to love them as myself, even more than myself.

America is an amazing country, full of opportunities, hope, and generosity. I love my country, my heritage and my life. But now I also love people everywhere far above my love for my country.