Sunday, April 29, 2018

Filling The Void


Hello there, friends!

I’m sitting here on this Saturday afternoon waiting for my Lemon Bundt cake to bake. I have never made a Lemon Bundt cake before. And I feel rather confident this first attempt won’t turn out so well. First of all, I have not previously zested a lemon and I believe I used too much flour. I probably could have added more buttermilk before I poured the batter into the Bundt pan. Anyways… we will wait and see what happens.


It has been a quiet few days here in my home. I tend to be intentional with filling up my calendar but scheduled plans this past week cancelled so I have had a free calendar since dinner with a dear friend on Tuesday night.

Let me just say the quietness has been hard. It makes me miss my husband a gazillion times more and missing him more often does not seem possible. But apparently it is.

I have plans tonight though. Woot! Woot! This is why I am making the Lemon Bundt cake. Two friends from my younger years (one I have known since Junior High and the other since High School) are coming over tonight. We are making dinner together…Chicken and Dumplings.

Do you recall me telling you I do not cook or bake?

I am not sure if there is a purpose to this post. I sat down to write as my eyes began to water…again. Ya’ll, I’m missing my husband something fierce. I do this and that to fill up my time but evening always comes and the only thing I want is to curl up on our sofa next to him. Instead I curl up with a blanket, a small glass of wine, and partake in whatever Netflix series I am in the midst of.

I have watched in its entirety Jane the Virgin and Rectify so far. Jane was entertaining and Rectify was incredibly moving and well done. I do not know what to watch next. Do you have any suggestions? It must be relatively clean, please.

Before the TV watching happens I attempt to be productive. I choose to engage my mind with good things – helpful things. Can I share a few of those “things” with you?

I am addicted to Emily Freeman. I adore her!! Like very much so!! She speaks to my soul through either her podcast “The Next Right Thing” or her book “Simply Tuesday.” Episode 10 of her podcast, Be Where You Are, has reminded me to slow down.

“God comes to me where I live and loves me where I am. If I am not where I am, God cannot meet me there.”

She reminds us to be where you are instead of rushing ahead to where you think you need to be. That is hard, friends, because I would give anything to rush ahead to my husband’s return home. But I am learning to trust that God is doing something very much needed in and through me right here and now.

****These silly tears… if only I could write why they come. This writing thing…it’s so darn hard. Oh how I wish you could gather with me at my table. I’ve got a Bundt cake!!****


I have been reading and listening much on how to listen well. Because as someone said on some podcast (I honestly can’t remember who or where), “Without intention, listening well will not happen.”

Heather Holleman has inspired me to give living with flair a try.

Could I find a way to make every day joyful and meaningful? Just as a sentence turns into something beautiful with the right verb and punctuation, can I learn to revise my day and punctuate it with flair? Could I record something memorable--some evidence of God at work--every single day?”

Finding evidence of God – oh yes, there is evidence of God to be found, All. The. Time! Writing it down – I’m trying.

Francie Winslow is teaching me needed wisdom on bringing heaven into our home and how “it begins right here in our homes. In our bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens.” She’s all about helping us build our marriage connection. I cannot believe I am going there here, but her words of encouragement on how sex is a holy gift from God that connects two to become one… oh friends, I pray for me to see this rightly and to do this better when my husband returns home. There is so much room for growth here.

Francie and her Facebook group, Heaven In Your Home, introduced me to Java with Julie (aka, Julie Slattery of Authentic Intimacy). Two of her recent podcasts, “Navigating Different Views on Sexuality” and “Listening So People Will Talk” are so worth your listening time. In the second podcast she addresses parents of adult children becoming better listeners -- to give less advice and listen more -- to ask better questions so they will talk more. I tuned in rather intently to that portion.

And for quick inspiration, Lisa Whittle speaks right to my heart with her daily 5 Word Prayers podcast. She has a series that speaks to friendships and covers topics such as jealousy and comparison. I have a big struggle on these two topics with a coworker (I am the one with the jealousy and comparison problem) and I really need to as Lisa says, SQUASH IT!

Lisa ends one of those podcasts by saying, "Jesus is Everything. May He be your everything today." Sounds like a lovely way to end our time together.

May He be our everything!
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Monday, April 16, 2018

God's Providential Hand


This past Friday, April 13th, my husband messaged me saying, “Today is 8 years complete.”  On April 13, 2010 he enlisted in the Army Reserves.

My response… It has been a crazy 8 years.

Our military life journey began before the April 13th date. Maybe it began with me thinking I could forbid my husband to speak about our son potentially enlisting in the military. I actually stormed out on a dinner date with my younger sister and her husband because my husband had the audacity to bring up the topic yet again.

My standard response to the idea… No!! I will not have it.

I imagine our God has a sense of humor and I think every time I made this declaration He smiled with a hint of laughter for the story He had already written for us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 19:11).”

Here we are 8 years later. I tried to forbid military life for our son and it became a way of life for us as a family. Even after my acceptance to this drastic life change (my husband was 41 at the time he enlisted) never could I have imagined what God had planned for us.




Our present reality is not the focus of this post though. The focus I desire is God’s sovereignty.

Because this I believe… that night when I stormed out of the restaurant and left my husband in the care of family to drive him home, God’s providential hand was at work. It had been at work in and through and over us all along writing our But God story with defining moments that would discipline us to get our attention. That night in the restaurant was one of those defining moments.

Another defining moment came when in a counseling session with our son and a counselor we used for several years for us individually and as a couple. Enlistment in the military came up in the discussion as an option for our son and my son’s response was, “My mom won’t let me.”

My son did not need my consent. He simply wanted my support.

He enlisted for the first time in the U.S. Navy on April 30, 2009 (there’s more to this story which involves a broken collar bone, a cancelled contract and another enlistment).

Another rather significant defining moment came when my husband approached me with his desire to enlist in the Army Reserves. I did not storm out of the restaurant we were in that evening when, dare I say, he bravely told me of this desire. Quite the opposite happened – I looked at him with overflowing admiration.

On September 18, 2010 we celebrated my husband’s departure for Basic Training and our son’s departure to soon follow in January 2011.

Seriously, we were not capable of dreaming up such a story. But God is able to write such a story.

I had every intention of winning in forbidding military life for our family. But God in turn used military life to draw us to Him (read story here). I can now look back and see His providential hand in those defining moments, and all the moments between, bringing us to where we are now.

I see God in all things. I can go back to the day I first told my husband I wanted a divorce. An early morning in bed where I sat up, looked at him convinced a life apart was the best way, and told him, “I can’t do this anymore.”

I see all the ways God put obstacles and storms in our path to redirect us to His way for us. I see all the ways God chased after us… where he was leaving the 99 to go after two.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Reckless Love, Cory Asbury

As our Executive Pastor said in his sermon last Sunday on Jonah, Chapter 1 – “The Love of God chases us. He doesn’t give up on us.”

God was relentless in getting our attention to re-route us to Him with a soul purpose of life transformation – a new life with Him at the center.

The sovereign, providential hand of God did whatever was required to get us where we needed to be – in a relationship with Him - because of His overwhelming, never-ending reckless love for us. May our response to His discipline and love always be, “Lord, have your way with us.” I say this because I’m full aware there is much more work to be done.

But I am confident of this, “he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).”

I have far extended my word count limit, friends. I pray the post to follow this will tell you what I desire to say when someone questions the realness of our God. I pray for boldness to speak of His most excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31). I pray I never tire of giving thanks for HIS providential hand in my (in our) life.


“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).”

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Friday, April 13, 2018

{More} Things I'm Discovering


These things I’m discovering appear to be the easier posts to write. The many other things I want to tell you about – like the wonder and miracles He performs that truly cannot be counted – remain a process of moving thoughts from my head to paper. What I want to express seems to get lost in translation.

Source: Scripture Pictures

If we were to spend any time together face-to-face, you would find me apologizing often for my inability to express myself clearly… convinced what comes out are merely jumbled up thoughts.

You might tell me I’m doing just fine. I would thank you for being kind, and patient.

There really is much I want to tell you. It will come.

Until such time, it’s apparently a season of discovery so why not continue to share the discoveries with you? Okay? I shall make the assumption you're responding with an okay back to me. ☺

When invited to someone’s home, bring the hostess chocolates (one suggestion) instead of cut flowers. If you have your hearts set on cut flowers, come with a vase and arrange the flowers for your sweet hostess upon your arrival. I support this suggestion knowing if you were to show up at my home with cut flowers it would immediately throw off my “best hostess ever” intentions. While I’m sure your cut flowers would be beautiful, instead of me focused on greeting you as my honored guest I am instead frantically looking for the vase I know I do not own or went into hiding. Point being, lets be mindful of unnecessarily unraveling our sweet hostesses. I totally get not wanting to show up empty handed which is why I appreciated this wisdom.

True humility also includes not thinking less of yourself. My discovery… I need to work on my humbleness. Lord, make me humble.

Jesus commands us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).” And in Romans 1:16 we learn from Paul that we should not be ashamed of the gospel, “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” This isn’t new knowledge, but an awakening in my heart to be obedient to all He commands and a prayer to be more bold and unashamed to share the best news EVER! Lord, please make this especially so with my children.

Speaking of prayer, I have come to realize I need to not only read about living more of a praying life, I need to get on with the business of praying. Like the on my hands and knees kind of praying. Not only is PRAYER my One Word for 2018, but as Priscilla Shirer writes in her book Fervant, “Prayer is the portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth. It is kryptonite to the enemy and to all his ploys against you” and the people you love. Lord, make me a prayer warrior.

Speaking of obedience, this may need to be my new life verse – “love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life (Deuteronomy 30:20).” In summary: love, obey and commit for He is our life. Lord, may I walk in a manner that reflects your reign in my life.

My heart’s desire is for deeper connection with woman but while this is my heart’s desire there can be circumstances when it’s so hard. I attended a party recently where there were brief signs of connection but I left knowing I gave Satan the upper hand (again) and let him steal my opportunity for joy. Lord, may I no longer let comparison be the thief of my joy. Like really, it needs to stop.

Speaking of connection, the lovely Shauna Niequist reminded me of the importance of having a friend who is brave enough to say something difficult to help bring you to the next level of growth. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:6).” We need to tell each other the truth so we can get better. It may hurt but may we have a friend who can be trusted. Lord, thank you for my dear friend, Susan. She speaks truth even when it hurts but she has proven to be a safe place--someone I can trust. And, Lord, make me a safe place for another. Help me point them to You.

For fun… Everyone must have a globe (or many globes) in their home! ❤ I’m discovering most people do. Do you? I’m on the hunt for an antique globe for my oldest son and his wife for their new home.

We will end on that fun note. Truthfully though… go get yourself a globe if you don’t have one. It’s more fun to antique shop for one versus heading out to Hobby Lobby (mind you, their globes are cute and I would totally get wanting to walk out with one).


Thank you for gathering here with me, friend.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Things I'm Discovering {The Harder Things}


In my last post (read here) I shared with you the lighter side of the things I am discovering. Shall we move on to the harder things? What if we kick off with three more lighter things and then share two harder things? Can you tell I'm stalling on sharing the harder things?


The Lighter Things

Hospitality love - I love to extend invitations to family and friends to join me at my table. The unfortunate side of this is my inability to cook for said people. While I am sure a meal isn't a must for hosting, there is a dose of happiness which comes in serving others a meal. I have discovered if I keep it simple, I can scrounge up a decent meal. To date, I have made Sloppy Joe's for neighbors (it was literally the first time I delivered food to someone), an extra-large portion of Sloppy Joe's for our small group, a Pork Roast for my parents, and Turkey Taco Bowls for a church friend. Oh wait, I served up a baked potato bar for our small group once too (that didn't go well... who messes up potatoes???) Progress.

The lost art of a handwritten note love  - I love sending them and I am oh so excited and blessed when I receive one. May this not be lost art anymore.

Turquoise love - It has become my most favorite color. It started with hubs giving me my wished for turquoise picnic table and has now become one of the accent colors in our newly renovated home. By the way, our turquoise table was in the news. You can read the article here. And read about the #FrontYardPeople movement here.



The Harder (darker) Things

Fear is a Liar - This truth is being made more clear to me. Even more so is the truth of who is behind the fear and the lies; Satan. He is the father of lies (John 8:44).

Since listening to Episode 2 of Emily Freeman’s podcast, I have been asking the question she says to ask before every hard decision (Is your decision being led by love or by fear?) even in the simpler day-to-day decisions because I know even in them I allow fear to take the lead.

In those simpler decisions, like pressing send on a text to invite a friend to coffee, I first lean toward devaluing who I am by highlighting my weaknesses and viewing myself as less-than. Armed with truth and a fresh perspective of who is behind the fear and the lies, I have come to see how frequent I allow Satan to lead in the simple and hard decisions versus God. How do I not let God (love) lead? His plans for me are for good and not to harm (Jeremiah 29:11); Satan’s plans not so much.

As Zach Williams sings in this song, “Fear, he is a liar. He will take your breath. Stop you in your steps. Fear is a liar. He will rob your rest and steal your happiness.”

But God: “By this I know that You delight in me: my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.” Psalm 41:11

That verse, friends... may we write this truth deep within our hearts. Christ has shouted victory over us.

Envy/Jealousy - On a not so long ago Sunday I had a full blown ugly cry episode with my husband via FaceTime.

A little background... One of the perks of him being stationed in Germany is the opportunity to travel Europe. On this particular Sunday he was in Poland. He had already been to Frankfurt, Germany and Amsterdam, Netherlands. With each trip my envy increased. I was the one who always wanted to travel outside of the US. I wanted what he had. I wanted to experience what he was experiencing with him. The underlying truth being I was jealous that the Army had him instead of me.

In this ugly cry episode with my husband, I was focused on my own selfish desires and with that saying, “I am not satisfied with your plan, God.” And this was causing strife in my marriage.

It just so happened that shortly after the ugly cry episode I landed on the verse Psalm 21:19: “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Ouch

But God: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

God brought me exactly where I needed to be, on my knees, in prayer, at His throne of Grace asking for mercy. And mercy is exactly what I received.

Envy and jealousy remains a struggle (not only in the matter with my husband) but I see God’s grace in bringing the sin to light so that He can set me free from it.

I had intentions of telling you what I’ve discovered about right thinking versus wrong thinking (Romans 12:3-8) but this post has reached my word count limit so we shall save the topic for another time.

As Emily Freeman ends most of her posts, "may grace surprise you kindly today."


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Monday, March 26, 2018

Things I'm Discovering


Hello, sweet friends. It's me again. Waving hello.👋

My go-to conversation starter question when our small group meets is to begin with asking, "What was the highlight of your week?" My hope in asking this question is that everyone will have something to share. Because regardless of the hard circumstances we may be in the midst of, I pray we still see the providential hand of God in our lives... may we still be able to count His graces.

Source: Scripture Pictures

My response to the question (when we met last night) just so happened to be writing again. I praise God for a passion which remains and just maybe the time away from this space was needed to "fan into flame" this gift from God. The fire had never gone out; it only needed to be fed.

Does that make sense? Ya know, I always doubt that I make any sense. Deep sigh.

***

I thought I would take a few minutes (or more) to share a few things I'm discovering. Note... don't be expecting any big revelations... just some light-hearted discoveries. I'm easing my way back into this writing thing.

Here goes.

Podcast love - I had not previously taken the plunge into the podcast world but recently decided to give them a try. Emily Freeman's podcast, "The Next Right Thing," was at the top of my list. Several of you confirmed I made a wise choice. Thank you!! I have discovered two others I love. Here's the thing though, the most ideal way to listen to an episode would be in my car while on the way to work. But... I had a car accident with a steel pole (yes, just me and a steel pole, in my church parking lot, after a prayer meeting) which has the needed function to listen to podcasts not working. Annoying!! I must figure this out.

(Check out The Turquoise Table Podcast with Kristin Schell and The Simple Show with Tsh Oxenreider.)

Tattoo love - People have their opinions on getting tattoos. Is it biblically right or wrong to get one? I'm not expecting you to answer that, by the way. Regardless, I now have a tattoo on my wrist which simply says, "But God." I love all that led to getting this tattoo and everything about when and how it took place, and who I shared the experience with.

Wine and Netflix love - Friends, the evenings are oh so lonely at times without my husband. One glass of wine while watching the Netflix series "Jane the Virgin" makes those lonely evenings more bearable. Seriously, this show is quite entertaining and cute. It holds no comparison to "This is Us," mind you.

Family and Friends love - That glass of wine and Jane are often not needed because I have the bestest family and friends. Most evening and weekends I have plans to gather with either one friend or a few, and have recently had the chance to gather with a few family members too. This is truly the desire of my heart... rich and meaningful connections. Let's gather at a table, friends. Pretty please!!

Dove Dark Chocolate love - A chocolate a day brings me one day closer to my husband being in my arms again. Forget the chocolate kisses many use for count downs... I went directly to the good stuff! Yum!!

Dog love - I need God to cultivate within me a deeper love for my dog. Until such time, my dog is driving me crazy! I feel for him. I really do. He misses the man of the house lots and lots. But his missing has resulted in him whining All. The. Time. Lord, help me, please.

Travel blogs love - Why did I think these did not exists? Thank you, travel bloggers, for your wisdom on how best to tackle Prague and Vienna in a few days (future trip with hubs). Thank you awesome travel blogger person for not allowing me to visit Vienna without knowledge of the museum there dedicated to globes. If I discovered this after the fact I would have been heartbroken. Globe love!!!

Grandma love - I may not "officially" be a grandma yet but I know being one will be the best thing EVER! Oh goodness gracious... all the love!!!

I think the next post shall be the harder things I'm discovering... like the things Satan attempts to condemn me for BUT GOD in His grace gently convicts me instead. For example, I have a real issue with jealousy and comparison. Oh, it's ugly and it must stop.

More to come another day. Until then...as we move into this Easter week, may we set our eyes on Jesus and be mindful of His amazing gift.

“I am the resurrection and the life. 
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die."
- John 11:25


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Love or Fear

Source: Scripture Pictures

Hello friends. Remember me? The one who at one time wrote semi-regularly in this place. I am not sure how to jump back in after almost a year since my last post. Much has happened since those All Together Lovely days I last told you about.

Shall I catch you up? Our family was busy in the second half of 2017.


  • Hubs gave me my wished for Turquoise table (May 2017)
  • Hubs and I launched a new small group through our church (July 2017)
  • Our youngest son got married (September 2017)
  • Hubs and I launched a full home remodel project (September 2017)
  • Our oldest son got engaged and then soon after they were married (November 2017)
  • Our youngest son and his wife announced they will welcome their first child (our first grandchild) in June of 2018 ---- it's a girl!
  • Hubs deployed (technically considered a mobilization) to Germany (December 2017)


Those are the highlights. Basically, they are the highlights which appeared on the back of our New Year's card. I made the decision to stop doing Christmas cards a few years ago and instead do New Year's cards. Why? Well, it eliminates an item from my to-do list during that oh so busy time of year and because I find it lovely when one more card appears in your mailbox a couple weeks after all the Christmas cards top arriving so I thought others might think so too.

Shall I catch you up on happenings in the first three months of 2018? The list isn't quite as long as it's only been three months.


  • Hubs is still in Germany (enter sad face)
  • Our new small group is AWESOME. Doing life together with people is challenging but I truly adore them. God uses them to bless me in unending ways.
  • Our eldest son and his wife moved to Nevada (his new duty station) and bought their first home.
  • Our youngest son and his wife bought their first home. They live in Wisconsin.
  • We finished our home remodel project. As many have told me, and I admittedly love to hear, it's Joanna Gaines like. Seriously, it's beautiful!! I can't believe this house is mine.





Shall I end here? Or should I actually tell you why this post is titled, "Love or Fear"? I could likely write a separate blog post on each new happening in 2018 but we will assume those are yet to come (if I actually keep up with this writing thing).

So love or fear? I am often late to the party but this past week I started listening to Emily Freeman's podcast series, "The Next Right Thing." She already has 28 episodes in this series so yes; I am way late to the party.

Anyways... her second podcast is titled, "Do This Before Every Hard Decision." And the "this" she says to do is to ask yourself, is your decision being led by love or by fear?

I'm not completely sure why I have decided to start here after many months of silence. I could start by telling why I chose PRAYER as my One Word for 2018. I could try to tell you why I was quick to say yes to my husband leaving again. Or I could tell you about a recent decision to try to live simpler. Yet, Emily's question struck a chord. Maybe because the question is one I could go back and ask to the different decisions just mentioned.

I have been wrestling with the need to make another decision and my response has leaned towards saying no.

Ya'll, I probably need to back track here as before landing on Emily's podcast I began reading a book on prayer (because it's my One Word). The first strategic prayer the author addresses is praying for our passion. My passion? It is stolen from Bible Study Fellowship... "To magnify God and mature His people as they cultivate a deeper relationship with Him."

In my own words, my passion is to lead women in growing in His word and in a relationship with Him. Oh how fear can lead me to not pursue this passion though.

But our passions are a gift from God. He has given me this desire and He is the one who fans it into flame inside of me. And the whole "fan into flame" has stuck a chord with me too.

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." 2 Timothy 1:6

Am I a bit all over the place with this post? It would be so much easier to sit across the table from you to share my heart on all these things. You and me at a table with a cup of coffee would be altogether lovely. Can we, please?

All this to say, on the decision I need to make... love is beginning to take more of the lead. All the fears which had me leaning towards no are valid fears (in my opinion) yet, "perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)."

I need to mention I often fear misusing a scripture verse. There is so much I leave left unsaid or undone out of fear. So here I am letting go of fear and trusting God by attempting to pursue another passion He has given me and just maybe He is asking me to "fan into flame."

Writing...

I shall end here, friends. It was lovely to visit with you again. I have missed you.


 

Friday, May 19, 2017

All Together Lovely


We welcomed home our son from his second seven-month deployment this week. I will not even try to describe the emotions with words for words are not needed – our first hug, captured by a photographer, says it all.


At the first sighting of his ship the tears began pouring out. Then there was a somewhat long pause in the tears as we waited for his ship to actually dock and for them to debark.  It’s a slow process, friends.

Once we spotted him walking toward us, the tears poured out again.


They were tears of relief.
They were tears of pure happiness.
They were tears of praise.

Another deployment is behind us – four deployments are now behind us. Praise God neither my husband nor our son has another deployment looming before them.

For the first time since June 2016, our family would spend two full days together.

Of course, throughout our son’s deployment we prayed for his (their) safe return. As the months became weeks and the weeks became days, I found myself praying more earnestly for God to fill me with courage to speak His truth to our boys once we were finally together.

Truthfully, I prayed not only for that but for a “perfect” two days together.

I prayed for us to be a light – to point our boys and the women in their lives to Him. I prayed for our words to be praiseworthy and uplifting. I prayed for our conversations to be filled with love and joy.
I prayed for our conversations to reflect patience, kindness, and gentleness. I prayed for those conversations to be open and to simply overflow with goodness. I prayed for everything to be perfect!

I am sure it will not surprise you to hear our time together fell short of perfection. Go figure, right?

That is not to say we were not a light, or our words were not praiseworthy and uplifting. And certainly there were many moments where the fruits of the Spirit were displayed. At least I hope so.

But when I climbed into bed those two nights, I wrestled with questions like: What could I have done better? What could I have said differently? What should I have said that I didn’t say? What should I have done that I didn’t do? In what way(s) did I contribute to our time together being less than perfect?

After almost twenty-seven years of parenting our boys, I am still a work in progress on parenting and loving them well. I know we will never arrive at a state of perfection this side of heaven. Regardless of this knowledge, there’s a continual plea to God to help me parent and love them better.

Please, don’t let me (or us) be the one(s) to cause them to stumble.

Oh how I pray for God to help me to love them so well they would see and experience His love.

I know I can often be too hard on myself. I am frequently guilty of believing the “you messed up again” lies from the enemy. I know our children are aware of how much they are loved by us, whether or not we parent and love well all the time. But the deepest desire of my heart is for them to know how much they are loved by God.

Therefore, I will never stop praying for the things I pray. I think I shall stop praying for perfection though.

Instead, I will trust our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness, everlasting, ever-present and never-failing God (Isaiah 9:6-7) to carry out His work in me to completion.

And I will praise Him for the grace upon grace He pours out on me every single day when I don’t do this parenting and loving thing well because there surely are plenty of days when I do not.

Most of all, I will keep looking to Jesus and I will love Him most so I will love our children best.

****

By the way, the two days our family spent together were in so many ways all together lovely.





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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

God's Perfect Timing


I cannot get this clip from the movie “Independence Day” out of my mind as I begin this post. Click for Video: (I initially embedded the video but it would be an odd opening look for a new post after almost a year of not writing.)

Now mind you, most of you reading are likely girls (women is probably more true), nor am I ready to declare “I’m back.”  

Yet, I’m back for at least today. We will wait to see what God has planned for the days to come.

I wrote my last post in July 2016. Shortly after my husband returned home for what we are unable to claim as home on a permanent basis (he’s still a soldier) but we are hopeful he will remain stateside for an extended period of time. Home for a minimum of two years is my prayer.

Our Navy son will soon receive a homecoming celebration with his second 7-month deployment close to the end. I realized recently this is the first time in four years (4 deployments in 4 years) I have one coming home and the other is not already scheduled to leave. Would you join me in a shout-out of praise before we move on?

Praise the Lord! He is good ALWAYS.

Thanks for that.




What has been up with the whole writing thing for me? Oh, I don’t know. There were many reasons why I needed to step away. One, my husband was home… need I say more?

It took me by surprise to watch a writing break move to more of a personal declaration that I am no longer a writer. I changed my blog site to private. I did the same with my blog Facebook page. And I used the Facebook “On This Day” feature to delete any blog related memory. Delete. Delete. Delete. That season is over.

I use the “On This Day” feature to eliminate another season from my timeline too. We will save this story for another time, maybe.

Truth be told, I had no issues with the season of writing coming to an end. Gradually, I stopped writing blog posts in my head. Do others find that exhausting? Oh, how my brain needed a rest.

Quick side note: I keep trying to avoid the word “that” because it’s considered a weak, overused and frequently not needed word but (another word claimed to be used too often) trying to avoid that word gets exhausting too. Not sure why I shared THAT with you. Moving on…

Can I switch gears and share something lovely with you? Would you read this blog post first?


Last month I had my first official gathering of women around our Old Oak Table. It was so much more than I dreamed it would be. The gathering was done in God’s timing, in God’s way and with God’s courage and strength. I cooked too. If you know me well you know I do NOT cook. I made turkey tacos which I say counts as cooking. It doesn’t need to be complicated to be called cooking.

I have no adequate words to describe the awesomeness and perfect timing of the evening.

Friends, I think THAT is all I have to say for now.

I got work to do, our youngest son to move (he will only be slightly over an hour away from us but geez the change will be hard) and our eldest son to welcome home. Life keeps moving. God keeps stretching and growing me (and us). There are many stories I could share with you of Him showing His faithfulness over and over again.  And maybe I will, in time.

In the last post I wrote (all the way back on July 1, 2016) I shared with you a new go-to quote (new way back in July 2016):

“May I forget less and remember more that God will show Himself faithful.”

I am remembering more. For that I say, thank you, Lord.

If you are reading this, thank you! If you are one of the sweet writing friends I have made along the way, I have no right to expect you to read for I feel as though I have deserted our friendship along the way. I am sorry. You remain a blessing to me from God no matter where our relationship stands.
  
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Friday, July 1, 2016

Forget Less; Remember More



I have a long sleeve shirt I purchased early on in our new to military life way of living. I do not recall where I purchased the shirt other than to say it was an online military faith-based site.

On the front of the shirt it reads, "Not even the military can mess with God’s plans."

The shirt has hardly been worn (maybe once or twice) but I threw it on one Thursday evening shortly before my husband returned home for a long weekend (Memorial Day Weekend). Because he tends to be rather observant, it did not take him long to ask about the shirt.

“Is that really in the Bible?”

Confused by his question, I looked down at the front of my shirt to read the quote again. I then noticed a scripture reference under the quote… Jeremiah 29:11

I, of course, went to the Bible to compare the quote to the verse it referenced. While not in those exact words, the Bible does indeed say not even the military can mess with God's plans. Nothing can mess with His plans.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

The smile on my face became more profound as I chuckled over God connecting the quote and verse for I have been guilty of frustration with God over the change in plans to my husband's second deployment. I have referred to the change as the no plan, plan.

As much as the nine months apart from my husband for his first deployment made me weary, God used the time apart to grow us both spiritually and as a couple. While I did not expect the second deployment to be completely similar to the first, deep down I had a longing for God to do the same work in us again.




New growth quickly revealed itself the second time around.

My husband connected to a church and a men's Bible study once arriving at what would be his home for nine months. He was in God’s word. These were answers to long awaited prayer requests. And our conversations via Skype were some of the best we've had.

Thank you, God. I can do this again if you will do your thing again.

Then plans abruptly changed.

Certainly I had much joy and peace in my heart to have my husband stateside; however I perceived the changes as God taking away answers to prayer.

My husband was no longer attending a weekly church service.
He was no longer connected to a men’s Bible study.
He was no longer spending time in God’s word.
Skype connections were not good which left us both frustrated.

Why, God? You asked him to go and we obeyed. Where is the blessing for our obedience?

But God, His ways are not our ways. His plans are always perfect and they come to fruition in His perfect timing.

I have created my own new go-to quote: "May I forget less and remember more that God will show Himself faithful."

Friends, like those Israelites, I forgot and I did my fair share of grumbling for things not going the way we planned for them to go. Let's consider for a moment if plans had gone the way we had planned, or let's say the way the military had led us to plan for...

This picture I now have of my family together again (together for an outdoor church service too!) would not exist for we would still be waiting for my husband to return home.


My husband eventually connected with a church too. And I know I can trust God with the other things. Thankfully, my husband is now home and we don’t need to fret about Skype connections!

I prayed for God to do again what He did in us and through us during my husband's first deployment. I thought my prayer went unanswered.

But God did answer. The ways He did it again may look different, yet the end result is the same... all praise and glory to our God. For all we've been given, all the together moments, all the growth, is only because of Him.

"I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever." Psalm 86:12

Yes, friends, not even the military can mess with God’s plans! Praise God! He is good ALWAYS!

May we forgot less and remember more that He will show Himself faithful.


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Sharing with AWN’s Monthly Recon Rendezvous Link-Up PartyJennifer Dukes Lee for her Tell His Story Link-Up and the Let Us Walk Worthy Link-Up.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Bible: Real Places, People and Time


I have heard people say the stories in the Bible are not real stories. The stories have been referred to as either mythological or a collection of fables. Jesus walked on this earth and did tremendous things but is He really the Son of God? Was He really raised from the dead? And what about the stories in the Old Testament? Are they all just stories?


Years ago I had a conversation with a pastor about the parting of the Red Sea. I told him of my struggle to make sense of it. The pastor responded to my doubts saying, "Beth, it's only a story." Maybe I misunderstood his response. One thing I can say for certain though, the conversation led me to believe God’s parting of the Red Sea was nothing more than a story; He did not really part the Red Sea.



It has been over fifteen years since the conversation with the pastor. I now know every word in the Bible is God-breathed. Every word is truth. Every story in the Bible, Old and New Testament, is about real places, real people and real time.

Every story is a real story. The parting of the Red Sea... God did just that.

When the conversation with the pastor took place I was in the midst of the hardest time in my life. I had left my husband. I barely stood at the weight of somewhere between 90-100 pounds. If I had more bravery I would have chosen death over life. Friends, choosing life is brave. Depression and an eating disorder, which in itself could have taken my life, were my Red Sea.

What if I had been told God really did part the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites? What if I had been told the Bible is all Scripture breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). What if I had been told the truth of the Gospel right there and then?

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)

I needed to believe in God. I needed to believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died for my sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day. I needed to believe God could part my Red Sea and bring me safely over to the other side.


How would have knowing this truth fifteen years ago changed my life?

Let me be clear, I believe I came to know Jesus Christ and His saving grace in the exact way and time He intended. I might not understand why it happened the way it did but when we choose to follow Jesus it's not for logic or reason. Most of the time the call to follow Him will not make sense. He asks us to put our trust in Him and follow despite lack of logic or reason.

Here’s the truth, we are not saved by simply believing Jesus walked on this earth. We are saved when we believe in who He said He was (the Son of God) and what He claimed He would do and did (save the world). We are saved through faith in Him.

This faith includes believing every word in the Bible comes from the mouth of God. And every word gives us life and life to the fullest (John 10:10)

I no longer question the truth of His word. The question on my heart is who, Lord, in my life stands at their Red Sea wondering if You could really fight for them like You really did fight for Moses and the Israelites? Like You fought for me?

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” Exodus 14:14.

If I want God more than anything else this must include wanting others to know Him and the truth of His Word more than anything else.



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