August 16, 2009
August 10, 2009
When Hubby and I first got married we decided together that working was not a necessity for me and that it would be preferable if I didn’t work at all. However, the world has a different idea of what a wife should be and do. I began to feel ashamed of myself when others, inside and outside the military, would ask me if I had a job. At first I would sheepishly say that no, I did not work outside of the home. The next question (and a completely different topic for another time), since I didn’t have a job, I must have kids, right? No, kids are not in the plan right now. This would inevitably be followed by a look of disgust or pity and a quick change in the direction of the conversation.
There were a few times when I felt confident enough, or maybe just a little feisty, to proudly say that no, I don't have a full time job. My husband is a Marine and we have moved four times in the two years that we have been married. But sometimes I felt that I should be doing something more purposeful with my life. After all, most people that I talked to seemed to think that my “happy housewife” life was a ridiculous waste of time.
So, right after our move to our current duty station, I became one of the millions looking for a job and was one of the "fortunate" that found one...very easily. I was at work in my 8-5 desk job before the boxes were even unpacked in our new home.
I lasted 3.5 months before I literally couldn't stand another day. I hated wasting the time that Hubby is not deployed with me sitting behind a desk for 40 hours a week. My house was a mess, I heated frozen food for dinner, and I rarely had time to work out (something I LOVE to do). I cried several times while at work and came home in a terrible mood almost every day. Walking out of my office on my last day was one of the happiest days of my life.
God has not called me to be a career woman. I feel confident enough in the role that He has given me…to be married to a truly amazing man who is selflessly serving our country. My job is to be by his side through everything, to encourage him through the difficult times, and to provide a loving household as an escape from the realities of his dangerous job.
This is me fighting back at the world. I will not feel guilty or ashamed any longer at not spending my days the way the world thinks I should. God has called each of us to a special and unique place and season of life. Embrace that calling, don’t be ashamed of it as I was, and be the best ________ you have been called to be!
August 9, 2009
On the one hand, the collection of devotionals brings nothing new to the table. While the message of many of these devotionals are overly simple and some left me thinking, “Huh?”, there are a few rare jewels within the mix that were so honest and personal. It was these jewels that were the true encouragement for me. On the other hand, the themes and encouragement found in this book are a great conglomeration of the other Christian military wife books and would be a perfect introduction of common issues for new military wives.
August 6, 2009
Thank you to those that participated!
Now you're my whole life
Now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it's ever been
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.
From Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
"The invitations of Jesus come to us in many ways. Sometimes they come through a circumstance, an opportunity that opens before us. Sometimes they come through other people who see something in us that we may not yet see, and they invite us to step forth in some way. But God's invitations ultimately are matters of the heart. They come through our passions, those desires set deep within us. What is it you yearn to see happen-how do you long for the world to be a better place? What makes you so angry you nearly see red? What brings you to tears?
You will find that as God restores your heart and sets you free, you will recover long-lost passions, long-forsaken dreams. You'll find yourself drawn to some vision for making the world a better place. Those emerging desires are invitations-not to rush out and attempt them immediately. That also is naive. They are invitations to bring your heart to your Lover (God) and ask him to clarify, to deepen, to speak to you about how and when and with whom."
What is God currently inviting you to do? Will you accept His invitation?
But then it started seeming a little excessive. There were TOO many people outside in our typically quiet neighborhood. The longer we walked the more we saw people on their patios, looking around frantically, cell phones tightly clasped to their heads. Then we came across a friend, who also had a cell phone to her head. She informed us that the power had gone out. GASP!
As we walked closer to home, the mood of the neighborhood seemed to change from "oh my gosh the power went out" to "I'm glad I have an excuse to be outside." It seemed people's worry over the power was quickly shifting into an attitude of gratefulness for being pulled away from the temptations that electricity can taunt us with.
Power outages are fun and can be a good reminder that there is life outside of your home, but power outages can also be a tad inconvenient. Case in point: I was doing laundry when the power went out. (I probably don't need to say more, but of course I will.) Luckily the load in the washer had just finished, but the clothes in the dryer were still soaking wet. If you've ever left wet clothes in the washer or dryer for a while, you know that awful smell that starts coming from your recently cleaned clothes. Hoping to avoid the nightmare of having to rewash clean clothes, we pulled all of the wet clothes out of the washer and dryer and laid them out to air-dry. Our kitchen and patio looked like the washer and dryer had exploded, leaving clothing debris scattered around. Clothes were all over our counters, tables, and chairs. Hubby even rigged up a piece of wood over the tops of the sliding laundry room doors to hang clothes. We literally had clothes hanging from the ceiling!
I wish that we could all have the block party effect of a power outage more often, minus the actual power outage. Because really, that was a pain! But I'll just take it as a gentle reminder that I CAN survive without the conveniences of electricity...even though I would rather not! Didn't you read about my kitchen?? ;)
Sent by "Alexandra the Great"
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.... She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also,
and he praises her.” -Proverbs 31:10, 27-28
From Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
Every song you love, every memory you cherish, every moment that has moved you to holy tears has been given to you from the One who has been pursuing you from your first breath in order to win your heart. God's version of flowers and chocolates and candlelight dinners comes in the form of sunsets and falling stars, moonlight on
lakes and cricket symphonies; warm winds, swaying trees, lush gardens, and
How does God romance YOU?
"Since the early days of the Continental Army, the wives of our servicemen have made unselfish contributions to the spirit and well-being of their fighting men and the general welfare of their
Throughout the years, as the numbers of our married men and women in uniform have grown and as their military missions have become more complex and dispersed, their spouses have made countless personal sacrifices to support the Armed Forces. In many instances, they subordinated their personal and professional aspirations to the greater benefit of the service family. Responding to the call of duty, they frequently endured long periods of separation or left familiar surroundings and friends to reestablish their homes in distant places. And there they became American ambassadors abroad.
As volunteers, military spouses have provided exemplary service and leadership in educational, community, recreational, religious, social and cultural endeavors. And as parents and homemakers, they preserve the cornerstone of our Nation's strength—the American family.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 23, 1984, as Military Spouse Day, in recognition of the profound importance of spouse commitment to the readiness and well-being of service members on active duty and in the National Guard and Reserve, and to the security of our Nation. I invite all the Armed Forces, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, the Departments of Defense and
Transportation, the Governors of the several States, the chief officials of local governments, and the people of the United States to observe this day in an appropriate manner.
In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 17th day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eightyfour, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighth."
To all of the military spouses, thank you! Our servicemembers could not do the incredible job that they do without your loving support!
Only When You Least Expect It...
"So the story goes a little like this. Last night, the misses and I were driving home from church after Good Friday services. As a day of remembrance, Good Friday has always been an occasion where I tend to examine myself on a more deep level in order to come closer to Christ. Well, as many of you might know, our church is located in the "Big City" which is about a 45 minute drive from our humble little town. Leaving church we got onto the narrow, unlit and frightening road that leads from Point A to Point B. Driving home, we were reflecting upon church, having fun by giving names to the small vestibules of civilization that occupied this rather barren and flat land, and figuring out our plans for the upcoming weekend. Focusing on going 65 mph, we were on a great track to get home at a reasonable hour. Things were going great!
But then... blue and red flashes appeared in the rear view mirror followed by a terrible scream that belted from the police cruiser. Instantly, my heart began beating and my mind went into overdrive as it often does when I leave the house on vacation. Did I turn off the lights? Lock the doors? Pack my underwear? Well now the thoughts and questions came much quicker as the shot of adrenaline flowed through by body. Speeding? Following too close? Run a stop sign? My mind couldn't stop with the many possibilities of the things I may have done. But in the midst of all the chaotic rambling that my mind created, I continued to try to justify all possibilities on one belief I tend to hold about myself. That belief is that I generally think of myself as a pretty law-abiding citizen. Now the premise of this law-abidingness can vary. Not always is it to just be doing the right thing but many times it's because I think ‘how much is the wrong thing going to cost me?'
With the thought of righteousness in regard to the law in my mind, I cast out all possibilities of this incident having anything to do with me. So as I'm sitting in the car waiting to hear the words stating the heinous crime I committed I kept evaluating myself and what the deputy's interpretation of what I've done wrong could be. After walking up and giving me a pretty good startle, he took my driver's license and insurance and simply let me know that the light on my license plate was missing and that according to Texas law I needed to get it fixed or I could get a ticket. He told me that there was no need to write a ticket or issue a warning. Sweet!!! Off the hook! Of course, a broken light, located at the rear end of the car, tucked up in the trunk, and is only visible at night. Well to be honest, I don't find myself following my own car at night and even if I did, I bet it would take me some time to even realize the magnitude of importance that is associated with this light.
So the remainder of the car ride home I thought to myself. When exactly was the last time I just inspected my car. Something as easy as a broken license plate light was causing me to break the law. Like a sharp stab I felt my law-abiding pride diminish just a little. Regardless of why the light went out, it was still my responsibility to fix it and rejoin the Good side. A quick trip to Wal-Mart and a 10-minute quick fix and things were back to normal.
But isn't this what life is all about and more importantly, what Jesus died for on the cross? I wanted to believe that I'm a righteous person who follows the rules, but I also know that I am not perfect by any means. I know many of my shortcomings and flaws. But we as humans tend to only examine the defects and flaws that we encounter in our day to day lives. The temptations we struggle with and difficulty that is brought about by fighting the good fight. But we as Christians should never fool ourselves into something we are not, perfection. To grow deeper in our relationship with Christ, we need not just look at the surface level imperfections we've grown accustomed to, but we need to truly search ourselves and seek deep in our heart to find out what area in our lives no matter big or small is keeping you from truly experiencing the joy of our Lord.
Given the chance, take a moment and do a full inspection of your heart, and look at those hard-to-reach, hard-to-see places that you never before knew existed. We all have a spiritual light that has extinguished somewhere and it is our responsibility to find that area of darkness and illuminate it with the one and only Light of the world."
How have you made your own life-lemonade?
My morning prayer for the last several weeks has been for God to give me joy as I go through my day. Sometimes it's hard to find joy in days that can be so dreadfully dull.
I thought I'd share with you some of the random thoughts of joy that arose in me yesterday. They are so much greater than the agonizing boredom I sometimes have to endure.
- I get to wake up next to the most perfect husband every day!
- My outfit for today is really cute!
- My puppy is still sound asleep and so cute!
- Hazelnut coffee and a bagel!
- Walking out the door to go to work at the same time as my hubby...so suburban!
- It's not so cold outside!
- Plenty of things to keep me busy at work!
- Nutella sandwich!
- Going home for lunch to enjoy my sunlight-filled living room and a good book!
Found a good parking space after lunch!
- God-inspired, overflowing brainstorming/writing!
- I love this song! ("I know my Redeemer lives...I spoke with Him this morning!")
- It's 5 o'clock!
- The bells from the university clock tower are gorgeous!
- My workouts for the week are over...time for uninterrupted hang-out time with Hubby!
- Leave has been worked out!
- Ahh...quick-cooking and dinner with Hubby!
- Bible study with friends tonight!
- Jesus and all that He has done and is doing is AMAZING!
- Impromptu Office-viewing party tomorrow night!
- Banana bread from Rachel outside our front door...with no bugs in it!
- Michael is also coming for Easter!
- Picasa is the coolest program ever!
- Sleep is excellent!
- God is faithful in helping me find a joyful spirit!
Care to share your random thoughts of joy today?
Me: I thought you weren't going to cut your hair tonight.
Hubby: The little Marine inside my head said, 'Are you really going to walk into work on a Monday morning without a fresh haircut, Marine?!' If I didn't cut it, I would be like all the Navy guys in my class. I wasn't going to be able to concentrate on studying until my hair got cut.
Semper Fi. Always Faithful...even to haircuts.
That can seem like a bit of a daunting task. Remember when you were little having a blank sheet of paper placed in front of you and being asked to color something? For those of us that were not born with artistic abilities, it seemed too big a task to even begin. Can't you narrow it down a little? I always thought.
I think the same goes for prayer. We all want to pray for our husbands, to color on that blank page, but "can't you narrow it down a little?"
Each man has his own specific needs that need to be prayed for. That's like the teacher telling you, why don't you draw a house? Or how about a butterfly? Start praying for those specific needs.
I also think that each man and marriage should have universal things prayed for. I pray for Hubby's specific needs as they arise, but I am also in constant prayer for "broader" issues.
- Pray that any form of temptation would stay away from your marriage. When/if temptation does arise, pray that you would both be strong enough to resist.
- Pray that your love will continue and mature with each waking morning.
- Pray that destructive, negative thoughts (jealousy, temptation, confusion, etc.) will be shielded from his mind.
- Pray for confidence to always be the leader of the family.
- Pray that God will provide Christian friends and mentors for him.
- Pray that he will be able to properly allocate his time between family and work, and that he will be able to focus solely on each in its proper time.
Hopefully praying for your husband will not be a daunting task, and that when the blank page is put before you, you'll be able to fill it with a beautiful creation that you can be sure God has hanging on his refrigerator.
How do you pray for your husband?
Abraham says it to God when he has been called to sacrifice Isaac.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. -Genesis 22:1When Abraham heard God's voice speak his name, he immediately answered the call with "Here I am." He didn't pretend he didn't hear God, he didn't roll his eyes wondering what he would be asked to do, he didn't doubt that he had heard God. He stood (or maybe he fell to his knees in surrender) eager to do whatever special thing God was calling him to do.
In this case, God called Abraham to a test of faith. Would Abraham sacrifice his long-promised son at God's command? Or would he think it a ridiculous request and ignore it? We all know what actually happened. Abraham, in telling God "here I am," agreed to go and do anything for his LORD. I shudder to think what I would do with this specific call. But then again, I am not and never will be commended for my faith as the ancients were (Hebrews 11:2).
Moses says it to God when he is called to lead God's people out of Egypt.
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." -Exodus 3:4When Moses heard God's voice speak his name, he immediately answered the call with "Here I am." Just like Abraham, Moses had a strong desire to serve his LORD. After He called Moses and found an eager servant, God proceeded to tell Moses his mission:
So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. -Exodus 3:10Being a man without a soaring self-esteem, Moses' response was one that I can relate to:
But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" -Exodus 3:11Suddenly he wasn't so sure about being eager to follow God. But God, being ever loving and always providing, gave Moses all the necessary information he would need for his task, as well as a big dose of support and encouragement. God promises Moses that He will be with him and that he will teach him what to say (Exodus 3:12, 4:12).
But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." -Exodus 4:13
God also promises us that He will be with us in whatever we do, and especially when we are doing whatever His special calling is in our lives.
When God calls you to something specific (or if He is waiting on your response right now), humbly fall before him uttering the words of the ancients:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8When we are called, we should strive to have more of Abraham's response--not blindly following orders, but eagerly surrendering. Though Moses also responded to God's call, the eagerness of his original utterance of "hineini" floundered when he heard the task at hand. When God calls our name AND when he sets a task before us, "hineini" should be the shout from our hearts, and, in turn, our lives.
So while I've been bringing home the bacon (or in this case, maybe beef is more appropriate) Hubby is on the tail-end of a month of leave, leaving him at home by himself all day. This has ushered in a temporary domestic role reversal. We are both gaining a new appreciation for the daily challenges that our respective "gender work" brings about.
For just this week, it is Hubby at home trying to play the role of housewife. He is learning what it's like to have to walk the dog 10x a day, make the bed, do the grocery shopping, check the mail, do the dishes (also 10x a day), start dinner, and, when that's all taken care of, how to fill the rest of the empty afternoon until I get home.
For just this week (while he's still on leave), it is me watching him sleep through my 5:45 alarm clock, spending all day at work, coming home exhausted and dealing with whatever issues have popped up during the day.
I know that he's been waiting on me all day to come home. He knows that I rushed out the door as soon as 5:00 came.
It's these different seasons in life that God gives us to allow us to grow in our marriage. It is up to both of us to look for opportunities for growth, including growing in those things we promised to each other on our wedding day--love and respect. Who wants their marriage to stay stagnant?
When I get out of bed at 5:45 tomorrow morning and see Hubby still sleeping peacefully, I will fight through my desire for snuggling and thank God for this new opportunity to grow in respect for my husband.
How is God teaching you to better love and respect your husband?
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Blessed be your glorious name.
You give and take away,
And my heart will choose to say,
Lord, blessed be your name.
This is not new material for those that keep up with this site. It is, after all, the overarching theme of my writing: staying positive.
At each duty station I hear the same tired lines of how much "I hate it here, I can't wait to leave, yada, yada, yada, I am miserable!" Those that actually like, or at least try to like, their current duty station are few and far between, and often times, if you're like me, will become an even bigger pain in the sides of the miserable. Why is that? Why is that those that hate their duty station proudly wear that red badge of misery?
I can think of two reasons, neither of which make it acceptable. #1: it is used as a bonding method between people (especially wives). They try to "one-up" the other with who hates the duty station the most, and in the end wind up in emotionally destructive friendships. #2: those that insist on hating their duty station want the world to know that they think they are better than where the military has sent them.
For reason #1, the simple solution would be to try to bond with others in a more traditional way. Instead of an escalating gripe-fest, try bonding over shared likes-kids, dogs, working out, scrap-booking, whatever. Everyone will have their own individual issues with each duty station, but why air your dirty laundry? Try washing it instead. Then go hang out with your uplifting friends!
Reason #2 truly fascinates me. (Please note: I have been guilty of this at times, but try my darndest to keep this attitude away.) Someone from up north loves to make a fuss about how they hate the South. Read: I think the North is better than the South...and you are silly for liking the South. We can all think of a number of these types of dichotomies-beach vs. desert, small town vs. big city. The thing that is so bothersome about this is the arrogance attached to it. Your home is no better, no more special, than someone else's home. "Home" typically has the same warm-fuzzy connotations from one person to the next. The same is true for duty stations. It's so arrogant to think that you are better than another because you "know better" than to like your current duty station.
I know that all duty stations are not created equal, and that some will definitely be harder than others to try to love, but have some mercy on your hubby and those around you. Laugh at the random places the military sends you, smile because it's only temporary, then get out there and enjoy it!
We awoke the next morning, not very refreshed, but eager to try our hand at Space-A again. Our friend Walt had told us that an airport shuttle or taxi ride to the airport would be too expensive, and recommended renting a car for the short drive to Baltimore. Unfortunately, the rental company on base had zero cars to rent us. Shot down again. Nevertheless, the three of us determined travellers bit the financial bullet, hailed a cab, and (after getting slightly swindled by the sneaky driver), arrived at BWI.
Walt lead the way to the military terminal, and we all got checked in for the flight, being assured by the ticketing agent that everyone for the past month that had tried to fly Space-A had gotten a seat on the plane. Perfect (and it really was)!
Walt then showed us to the USO where we spent the remainder of the day. It was here that we learned that missing our first flight was a true blessing in disguise for several reasons. First, we would be flying on a DC-10 (with flight attendants, movies, and meals!) instead of a freezing cargo plane. Second, while we were sitting in the USO I got a voicemail with a job offer for which I had recently interviewed. Had I been on the first flight, my phone would have been off for a week! And finally, missing our first flight was a blessing because the USO had boxes and boxes of Girl Scout cookies. I am a cookie monster, especially when they come from little Brownies (who seemed to be hiding from us this year). So, it is true...good things come to those who wait!
To wrap up this long travel saga, I will just say that we successfully got on the plane and had a wonderful week touring Austria and Germany!
This article is limited to just our adventures with Space-A, so if you're interested in our actual trip, just e-mail me and I will be happy to tell anyone who will listen more details of our travels...or if you have questions about Space-A. There is so much to learn! The next time we do it (if I don't just cave and completely plan and buy our next trip), I know it will be so much easier and less stressful. Despite the chaos and uncertainties, it was a fantastic adventure that I will always remember fondly!
We moved to our new duty station, got the house completely in order (thanks to our slight OCD, it was finished in 2 days), then sat around waiting for the perfect Space-Available flight opportunity (go here for more information on what this is). Hubby had been stalking the flight schedules for a while, and on Sunday morning found a great chance for us to go to Germany by way of Fort Worth, TX. We discussed this in the car on the way to church that morning and decided to just go for it! We stayed through church and lunch, then drove the hour commute back home, giving ourselves two hours to pack and be out the door. We left for Dallas at 4:00 that afternoon, arriving at 11:00 pm, only to wake up at 4:30 am to drive to Fort Worth for our flight.
We had heard horror stories about Space-A flights being nothing more than a cargo plane. My heart skipped a beat when we walked onto the plane in Fort Worth. The first half of this 737-type plane was, in fact, a cargo plane. Free flight, free flight, free flight, I kept telling myself. Luckily there were normal airplane seats in the back. Other than the momentary fear of having to be military cargo, up to this point everything had gone off without a hitch.
But then we got to Maryland. We flew into an air base there in order to catch another flight that would take us over to Germany. The problems began when the air crew of our first flight didn't know what to do with us when we got off the plane and left us to fend for ourselves. They had no idea where the passenger terminal was, so we made our way into the flight hangar only to find out that we were on the complete opposite side of the flight line than we needed to be. And it's not like an airplane runway has pedestrian crossing zones. We found a nice little Navy guy who got special permission from his CO to take us in the duty van to the correct side of the flight line. The temperature was in the 20's with huge wind gusts ushering in an unseasonable ice storm to the area, so walking anywhere around that huge base was out of the question.
We got to the terminal, checked in for the flight, were pretty sure there would be space available for us, and continued to wait out the entire day on base. We took the base shuttle to the BX to find food and kill time before our late night flight. Unfortunately, the last shuttle of the day was 10 minutes earlier than was scheduled, so we missed our ride back to the terminal. Sure that couldn't possibly be right, we continued to wait outside another few minutes, willing another shuttle to come. I guess all of our shaking and rubbing our hands together did work a little magic, as a nice gentleman and his son (who were waiting on Mom to finish shopping at the commissary) came to our rescue. They invited us into their oh-so-warm car and drove us stranded folk back to the terminal.
Just a few more hours to kill before our scheduled flight, frustrations and nerves doing pretty well, we heard an announcement saying that the flight to Germany was NOT stopping in Maryland. We were naive enough to believe that everything would work out perfectly for us in this (by definition) unstable means of travelling. We were caught off guard and literally did not know what to do.
By that time, it was around 8 or 9 in the evening. Our looks of shock and disgust must have been quite evident, because this sweet retired man named Walt came up to us in the little terminal and asked us if we were also trying to go to Germany. We said that we were and the three of us quickly bonded in our shared complications. This was not the first time that Walt had attempted this trip, as his son and his family were stationed in Germany. He informed us that there was a flight leaving out of Baltimore the next evening if we wanted to try to catch that one. Hubby and I eagerly agreed. But...we still had 24 hours before that flight which would be taking off an hour away from where we were. What to do??
Tune in next time for the conclusion of this exciting adventure!
Today we took advantage of the down time between training schools and went on a day trip to a little bay front town in our area.
After a lovely afternoon exploring the town, we programmed "Home" into our GPS and got back on the highway to head there. Not even five minutes into our journey, our cruising speed was interrupted by the heart-stopping sight of flashing red and blue lights. Fortunately for us, it was not something that we (ok...I) had done. The entire highway was shut down, and our only guess as to why was the giant billows of smoke that were obstructing the perfectly clear day. (We found out later that it was a wild fire.)
We U-turned as we were directed by the police, stopped on the shoulder of the highway, and pulled out our trusty GPS to reroute us home. Our navigator confidently took this change of direction in stride, only pausing for an instant to "recalculate the route." Then our dependable navigator put us right back on track towards home.
As soon as I knew we were safe and headed in the right direction, I began thinking about how poetic the situation actually was. We were headed straight towards a fire at 70 miles per hour. Once our eyes actually saw the huge flames roaring across the highway in front of us, we realized how dangerous this was. We became slightly disoriented and frustrated with all of our attempts to "escape" the fire, finding road blocks all along the way to us trying to get home. It was our little navigator that kept us on course and got us home without once getting lost.
It seems so simple. We are all speeding towards whatever flames are facing us in our lives. There is only destruction there. We need to listen to the little navigator in our car, telling us in precise detail how to turn around and get us home. It will never fail.
"God is fair and just; he corrects the misdirected, sends them in the right direction. He gives the rejects his hand, and leads them step by step. From now on every road you travel will take you to God. Follow the Covenant signs; read the charted directions." -Psalm 25:8-10 (The Message)
My most precious fiance' brought to my attention again this weekend a quote I was familiar with in junior high. For those of you who are DC Talk fans, you will know this quote from the Jesus Freak CD from back in the day.
"The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
Really think about this. Those of us that profess to be Christians, does anybody know it outside of church or Bible study? Nobody is graced with perfection, and hypocrisy follows each like a shadow. However, we are to strive, as Christians, to follow the perfect example that Jesus showed us through His life.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in a Christian company. However, it has also been a scary experience to see how "Christians" act away from a church setting, in the day-in, day-out ordinary lives. I have been accosted by hypocrisy around every corner, myself included.
It is my prayer that those of us who wear the bold title of "Christian" will take it seriously, as it is a matter of life and death. Those whom we meet as Christians that do not know what we know, will watch our every step to see what makes us different than the rest. It could be your own hypocrisy that forever turns a man away from Christ.
Ephesians 5:19-21 says that we must live filled with the Spirit: "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Do not deny Him by your lifestyle.
"This year marks a very special anniversary. Ten years ago in October, I began my courtship with a boy and the United States Marine Corps. I remember the excitement and wonderment as I was thrust into a world like I've never seen before. It was like a child walking into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, with all the oddities and trinkets that adorned the life of the military.
I was only able to get baby sized spoonfuls at this time of life. My beloved was a reservist at the time so I was only subjected to this crazy Chocolate Factory one weekend a month and two weeks a year. The little oompa loompas or "Marines" as they were called in this world wore funny little outfits and spoke in funny little acronyms. They marched and chanted. They even
barked. My child-like gaze could not be broken as I watched them scurry about their business with such determination and efficiency.
As my relationship grew with a man who would become my husband, so did my relationship with the Marine Corps. Once a year, I entered an inner sanctum of sorts, the Marine Corps Ball, and watched as magical things happened throughout the night. I saw how things were made: honor, duty, pride, courage, commitment. I saw it through a history that dated back to around the time of the founding of this country and through men and women who had devoted their lives to a cause greater than themselves.
Then, I was brought into this world in such a way that I was no longer an outsider looking in, but I now had the word wife attached to the word military. The acronyms weren't as funny anymore because they usually meant something that greatly affected the life of my new family. The cause became my cause and the sacrifice was one I equally shared with that of my husband.
Ten years later, I am still that girl who viewed this military life with the eyes of a child walking through a captivating candy factory. Around each corner is something new, something surprising, something magical. Even though this life has progressed with more difficulties and challenges, I can still stop and see the enchantment that exists within our armed forces, their
families, and all the things that life in the military brings.
"Life is what you make it," may be a cliché to most, but to those who live a military life, it is a way of sustaining. With a whole lot of faith, a good portion of patience and a little sense of wonderment, this military existence can evolve from a life you endure to a life you embrace!"
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." -
Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Think about the times in your life that you've seen or experienced the kind of love that "isn't particularly dignified or newsworthy." What do you find?
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8
I began attending my first class, Military Wife Life 101, the second I said “I do” and graduated from Pre-Military Prep School, and have steadily been making my way through the curriculum. The professors change from day to day, and pop quizzes and exams are to be expected on a regular basis, but I think I might be getting the hang of it!
Since Hubby chose my UMS degree in airplanes, (“That’s right, a Naval Aviator.” Top Gun anyone??) my short stint at the University of Military Spousedom has taken Hubby and me to Quantico, VA, Pensacola, FL, and Corpus Christi, TX, with another move in our near future.
After three moves in less than a year, I’ve become a quick study at UMS. I am a diligent note taker and wanted to share with everyone some of the course highlights so far.
- Always greet your hubby at the door with a smile and a kiss.
- If he’s late, it’s probably not his fault.
- Learn to enjoy each town/city/country the military sends you to.
- Be friendly to everyone you meet.
- If you ask three different people the same question, you will get three different answers.
- God is in charge of everything, including the military.
- Ignore the people that choose to be negative about everything.
- Be a good steward of the secure financial gifts God has blessed your family with.
- Always be flexible.
- Always be positive.
As a student of UMS, the constant testing can be a little daunting, but they have a strict “open Book” policy. In this one Book, you’ll find every answer you’ll ever need as a student. The book even comes with a personal Tutor and Advisor.
I am loving my time at UMS. It is not for the fainthearted or timid. It takes power, self-discipline, faith, hope, and love (2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Corinthians 13:13).
"'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
This is the verse that people always spout off when what they really mean to say is, "Don't worry about it. It'll all work out." I'm one of those people that hand out this verse like candy to a crying baby. After spending hours with this verse today, it seems there has to be more to it than just words you say to someone at a crossroads in his life. (How many graduation gifts did you receive with this verse on it??)
As I was drawn to this verse again this morning, the word hope suddenly jumped up from the tissue-thin pages of my Bible, begging for attention. So of course, this got me thinking. What new insight should I be getting from this one word?
My first thought was to see how exactly the dictionary defined the word hope: "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust."
My next thought was to research translations of this same verse in order to gain a different perspective on the word. Here's what I found:
- "...to give you hope in your final outcome." -Amplified Bible
- "...to give you the future you hope for." -The Message
- "...to give you an expected end." -King James Version
Jeremiah 29:11 isn't just some string of conciliatory words to throw out when someone is pondering his future. These words are a call to be strong and faithful in our hope of the great and wonderful things to come--God reigning victorious over all (see Revelation 19). That is the end that Christians believe and expect. We know that Christ is the manifestation of this hope that we feel, the hope that keeps us persevering in a sometimes difficult world.
My final thought was to look up the Hebrew meaning of hope. The Hebrew word is mikvah, and I was a little surprised by its meaning. Its literal meaning is "a collection of water," and upon further reading I found that mikvah is a ritual bath to obtain purity; a cleansing. Think baptism. Very interesting. From the original translation and intent of this word choice, having hope, then, is to wash away everything that is impure.
So, boys and girls, with what we've learned here, let's try the old "find and replace" in this verse, shall we?
"'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 [cleansing] and a future.'"
Where does this cleansing come from? From Jesus. Where is our future? In Jesus.
Hope is Jesus. Jesus is hope. No wonder that word was shining brighter than all the others.
I was inadvertently challenged the other day by a deceptively simple question: What's your dream? Though of course I have the concept of dreams and goals for my life floating around in my head, this question caught me off guard. I wasn't exactly sure how to answer, and that bothered me.
Over the past few days I have been praying and thinking a lot about how I would concisely answer this question. One thing really came to mind, something that I've loved for as long as I can remember: writing.
When I was in first grade, each student was given a single sheet of lined manila paper ("vanilla" paper to my 7 year old mind) on which to write a story. When they couldn't quite fill up an entire sheet, all the other kids would raise their hands to ask the teacher if they had written enough. I was raising my hand to ask for more paper.
This world is filled with higher powers of negativity than any but One can combat. As I begin to face this particular dream, I am shocked to see the form that it is taking: me full of fear, self-doubt, ignorance. My plan is to hold my breath and jump into the pool of pessimism, gaining nothing, only leaving behind a positive wake. With the strength of Christ I can take on all things, rendering the seemingly impossible into something within reach.
If I try, there's a good chance that I'll fail on my way to achieving this particular dream. But, "God did not give [me] a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:17).
Here's to defying gravity and pursuing this dream wholeheartedly!
Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown in to the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!" -Luke 12: 25-28
August 5, 2009
I've been carrying that helpless and sometimes hopeless feeling around with me for a few days now, extra baggage during this already stressful limbo period. As I woke up this morning to another day of very little responsibilities, I wondered that question again. How did I get here? With an empty house and a cup of tea, I sat down at the kitchen table with my thoughts. My thoughts carried me all the way back to the days when I was a tiny baby. OK, maybe not actually that far, but to thoughts of seeing pictures of me as a tiny baby...dressed in Texas A&M gear.
Literally my entire family on my mom's and dad's sides have gone to A&M. I was one of the 'few and proud' third generation Aggies on campus (grandparent-parent-me). Thanks to my parents' encouragement and my dad's threat of not paying for any other college (I never knew if he was serious or not, but decided not to test him!) I never seriously dreamed of attending any other college. So, fast forward from my tiny baby days with A&M bows in my barely there hair, to the beginning of my junior year of college at A&M. About a month into school had brought a few old boyfriends trying to get back together (once was enough!), a few new dating prospects, and a feeling of a great change about to happen in my life.
My parents have a little ranch house about 20 minutes away from Texas A&M. One particular Sunday I attended the little country church with them and my baby brother, who was about 8 at the time. During the middle of church, he crawled into my lap, and I put my arms around him and just hugged him while the sermon continued. That very moment is what started those feelings of impending change that would bring about how I got here.
No more old boyfriends, no more casual dating. I wanted something real and lasting. Forever. 2 weeks later I met my future hubby in my first floor dorm room window. Of course I didn't know I would be marrying that shy boy, but I was intrigued by the way he talked to me, the sweet way he looked at me, like he could already see the real me, the way he would always kiss my cheek, and his crooked little smile.
Fast forward through the next few years and you'll see that shy boy from my window receiving his Marine Corps contract and scholarship (Big deal! I thought at the time.), us falling in love, him finding out that he got his flight contract, us being so in love, my graduation, a marriage proposal, a year apart (with only weekend visits) during our engagement, his graduation and commissioning, a wedding, our first move courtesy of the USMC, us falling even more in love every day, a move to Florida, another move to South Texas, and my happy face every time he walks through the door.
It's a beautiful day in Corpus Christi today. Sunny, clear, and an appropriate 40 degrees outside. And I can happily remember and understand how I got here.
My baby takes the morning plane
He flies from time to time and then
He flies another home again
To find me waiting for him!
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." -Isaiah 9:6
But now that selection day is actually in view, I keep reminding myself that no matter what level of tizzy-ness I get myself into, I am not in control. It is not up to me. Thank God! Really...thank you, God for not putting me in charge or paying attention to my tizzy spells.
One of my most favorite men of the Bible would have to be Abraham. He is definitely on that list of people I would have dinner with if I could choose anybody. He had such great faith in God that he was able to drop everything in order to follow God's plan for his (Abraham's) life.
"The Lord said to Abram (Abraham), "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.... So Abram left, as the Lord had told him...." -Genesis 12:1,4What military wife can't relate to this?
"Leave your country, your people and your father's house." Read: Leave your hometown, everything that is familiar to you, all of your friends and family.
"Go to the land I will show you." Read: Your current and next duty station are not random, but specifically prepared for you and your husband by God. Don't tell your hubby's CO this, but God is actually deciding where to send you next!
"So Abram left, as the Lord had told him." Read: Obey God's calling for your next move without hesitation.
Another verse that refers to Abraham's faith has been a verse that I have clung to ever since I began to feel the anxious pangs of uncertainty in the military, which is to say, from the day I said "I do."
"By faith Abraham, when called to go...obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." -Hebrews 11:8So as the questioning of where we will be living in a few weeks becomes more of a temptation, I have rediscovered this verse. It's one that I really should tattoo backwards on my face. That way, every time I look in the mirror to see if worry lines are emerging on my forehead, I will see this verse instead.
Even though I don't know where we're going in a few weeks, I am inspired by Abraham's prompt obedience to God. Even though he didn't know where he was going, Abraham set out humbly, confidently, and faithfully in the direction that God would show him along the way.
August 3, 2009
If my puppy had a child's voice, I think it would be that of a highly dependent toddler. She constantly follows me around the house, and in my head I can just hear her saying, "What are you doing? Watch me play with my toy! Where are you going? I have to go potty! Can I have a cookie? I want to go outside! MOMMY!"
If our future children are anything like the dog, then I recently got a glimpse of possible future Christmases around our household. Hubby and I were working in our study the other night when we heard the strangest sound. We both looked at each other, shrugged, and continued with our work. The noise continued, so hubby got out of his chair to try to figure out where it was coming from.
"Psst!" he whispered at me, looking around the door frame of the study. "Quietly come look."
I got out of my chair and poked my head outside the door. At the end of the hallway, in our big storage closet, was the doggie, hopping up and down around the box that was "hiding" her Christmas presents. What a snoop!
We hollered at her from the study, and she instantly stopped her hopping, plopped her hiney down on the floor, and again I could almost hear her saying "What??" in that perfectly innocent toddler's voice.
Hubby and I put our heads back inside the study, and within just a few seconds, we again heard the sound of dog toenails on a cardboard box. I got up and ushered the doggie out of the closet, being sure to close the door behind me. Later, while she was outside being the neighborhood nuisance, I took the remainder of her Christmas presents and put them in her stocking so they would be off the floor and not a temptation for her.
But...later that evening, hubby and I were watching TV in the living room when we again heard a very strange sound. We looked around the wall partition and found our little doggie hopping up and down on the wall with the stockings. Yes, that strange sound we heard this time was dog toenails on the wall.
Of course the toys had to come out of the stocking as well. I actually can't remember where I hid them this time, but the doggie hasn't found them yet, so I think I'm in the clear for now, until Christmas day comes and she has no new toys! Serves her right for snooping!
Twas the week before Christmas (leave), and all through the South
Not a creature was comfortable; it felt like a drought.
We were both tired, all snug in our bed, while visions of sipping margaritas under our decorated palm tree danced through our heads.
My Margaritaville ideas of Christmas "at the beach" are now shot. After my day yesterday, the only visions dancing around in my head are of central air conditioning.
Hubby and I were out and about trying to make a dent in our Christmas shopping. I wasn't in a completely festive, Christmasy-mood. Something felt a little off. Then I realized. Oh, yeah! We live in south Texas. It is the middle of December, and it is 85 degrees outside.
To top off our Christmastime-in-south-Texas afternoon, as soon as we got home, I pulled out all of our wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows to wrap all the loot. A few minutes after everything was nestled under our tiny Christmas tree (not a palm), I kept hearing all these tiny popping noises. After inspecting our home, I found the source of the sound: tiny pieces of tape popping off the newly-wrapped gifts. That's right folks. It was so hot and humid yesterday that the tape wouldn't stick to the paper. Utterly ridiculous.
I can't decide if scraping three inches of ice off your windshield (thanks, VA!) or needing to blast my car's A/C (thanks, TX!) is worse. Therefore, I will just choose to stay positive and hope that by Christmas day I will be able to once again channel Jimmy Buffett and enjoy our tropical Christmas.
From Christi and Nathan
These pics show what happens when God puts His paintbrush to the sky after a typical Florida rainstorm....with a few mighty T-34's sharing the limelight. ;-)
The theme song blared through the speakers set up on either end of the stage, causing the audience to become even more excited by what they might witness. Half way through the theme song, which just happened to be the Marine Corps Hymn, the host of the game show, along with his huge, welcoming smile, made his appearance on the stage next to me.
"Good evening! Welcome to...THE WAITING GAME! I am your host, Uncle Sam. Let's begin!"
The next thing I knew, Uncle Sam and the audience that had just been roaring with supportive applause grew so quiet and somber that I could hear the ticking of my wrist watch.
After a few mildly uncomfortable minutes, I began to understand the object of The Waiting Game. The audience's impatient stares and quick checks of their watches did nothing to intimidate me. I stood on the stage, next to Uncle Sam, feeling confident and that I had the stamina to go on waiting for months.
But just when I thought I could outlast the biggest winner of The Waiting Game, my overconfidence got the better of me. Out came the first challenger. It was one of my relatives. She walked right out of the audience and came to stand in front of Uncle Sam and me.
Uncle Sam leaned the microphone toward my relative, and with a small, yet very serious voice she asked, "What will your hubby be doing next?"
I faltered slightly, but said with my sweetest, most patient smile, "We're not sure yet." Just like that.
The next challenger was one of hubby's relatives. "When will you be moving?"
"We're not sure yet," I said with less of a smile.
By the 100th challenger, I was growing weak, frustrated, and impatient.
Then the game just abruptly stopped, and it was announced that I was the winner! Uncle Sam, suddenly all perked up, gladly showed me to another part of the stage that seemed to appear out of nowhere. There were 4 doors, each with a big surprise behind it!
"Drumroll, please...." And behind door #1 is...
In 1789, President Washington issued a proclamation for the first Thanksgiving to be celebrated in the United States. And I bet most people would be surprised to read of a President publicly acknowledging God's sovereignty and asking for (gasp!) a day of prayer. For many, though, Thanksgiving is just another secular holiday. It's sad how God tends to be taken out of everything in our country in the name of being politically correct.
Let this exerpt of the original Thanksgiving proclamation serve as an example of the roots of our great country. God has blessed our nation. It is our patriotic duty to be ever thankful to Him for everything.
"WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for
their safety and happiness:
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be...."
-George Washington, taken from The Massachusetts Centinel, October 14, 1789
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, take the time to count your blessings--really count them.
We finally experienced the "changing of the seasons" in Corpus Christi a few days ago. Maybe I should clarify. The changing of the seasons back to summer. We've had a few days of weather that would only be considered "autumn" by a native Texan. But now we've changed back to summer...85 degrees, 85% humidity.
God bless Texas and its never-ending summers.
Our 2007 autumn experience...real fall foliage, perfectly cool weather, and coats and hats!
Our 2008 autumn experience...tropical flowers re-blooming in our yard, beach days, and sundresses and flip flops!
This is our third city in a year with the military. At each duty station I have found soooo much to do that it seems we begin to run out of time before we've completely discovered all that our area has to offer.
It's really very easy to find all of these little treasures. In my experience, I have bought or checked out books from the library about our new area, picked up every brochure I could find by the entrance to the roadside motels that we've had to stay in, and looked at chamber of commerce websites. By far the best way to really get to know any particular area is by making conversation with the locals by asking them for recommendations on things to do, where to eat, and where to shop. It's from the locals that you get all the good places. When we first moved to Corpus Christi, the lady who was waxing my eyebrows at the spa told me about the best Mexican restaurant and when to go for their cheap margaritas. You can't buy those kinds of recommendations!
So again, embrace where you are and look for things to love!
Things to do in and around Corpus Christi...
- Museum of Science and History (has a replica of Christopher Columbus' ship!)
- Art Museum (free admission on Fridays)
- Heritage Park (cluster of historic homes that you can tour)
- American Bank Center (arena that hosts concerts, the circus, etc.)
- USS Lexington (tour a real aircraft carrier)
- North Beach (beach overlooking the Gulf, downtown, and the Lex)
- Texas State Aquarium (they have a dolphin show!)
- Great night life, especially on Water St. and Chaparral St. (let me know if you want specifics about where to go)
- Take a stroll on the T-Heads (where all the pretty yachts are)
- Botanical Gardens
- Minor league sports teams: Hooks (baseball), Sharks (arena football), Ice Rayz (hockey)
- Pirates of the Gulf (cheesy mini-golf on the Island)
- Dollar theater at the "ghetto" mall (it's actually pretty nice for this kind of theater)
- The beach, of course (North Beach or The Island)
- Bowling on base
- Day trips to: San Antonio, San Marcos Outlets, Downtown Rockport, King Ranch and Kingsville
- The mall, of course. Nothing spectacular.
- Lamar Park (Ann Taylor Loft, Francesca's, Talbot's, Julian Gold, other super cute boutiques!)
- Bleu Frog (HUGE store with lots of home goods, baby clothes, dresses, and fudge!)
- Oh, Gosh! (HUGE stationary/gift store)
As always, there is so much more that Corpus Christi has to offer. South Texas really can be a lot of fun! :)
I sometimes get jealous of these adventure seekers, then realize that I could never convince myself that these types of things would be fun for me. Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Do the far-off countries possibly have a hotel with at least four stars? How can I swim with sharks when I used to wonder as a kid if there were sharks in the deep end of the pool? Isn't The Lion King enough of a safari?
Back in college, I quickly learned that these thrill-seeking adventures were not for me. Wanting so badly to prove what I thought was my adventurous spirit to the world, I, too made a similar list. At the top of my life-list was to learn to fly a plane. I can proudly say that I was able to put a check next to that box. I guess I should also say that I did learn to fly a plane but quit shortly after I soloed, having sufficiently scared myself to death. Did you know that when you get the plane up in the air by yourself, you're the only one that can bring it back down? Rest assured that I did just fine on that flight and all the others, it was simply the adrenaline rush of flying a plane without any safety net that was toxic to me.
I am learning that I define myself more by the person that I am than by the crazy things I might do in life. I am ok if my world seems to be status quo, even if others might find it boring. I know that my life is an adventure of its own proportions. Being a Marine wife, how could it not be? But instead of using my time and resources in order to check some crazy thing off of my life's to-do list, I use them to mature my Christian faith, make my marriage stronger, to cultivate friendships and relationships at our inevitably countless duty stations, to make myself a better person.
These things are what make my heart beat faster. These things keep me on my toes and bring adventure to my life. There might be a place at some point in my life for a good adrenaline rush, but most likely a tiny roller coaster ride will be able to satiate that thirst for thrill.
For instance, take the Israelites (yup, the ones from the Old Testament). Now there are some true complainers! They "grumbled" to their leader (Moses) and to God during their journey through the desert to the Promised Land. Granted, a long walk in the dessert does not sound appealing to me, but consider their circumstances. They were being lead out of slavery and into a land flowing with milk and honey! What's to complain about? Perspective, people!
"The Israelites said to them (Moses and Aaron), ‘If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.'" Did you catch that? The Israelites were actually longing to go back to be slaves for what? To be able to eat meat! Even though God had rescued them from the torture of slavery, the Israelites were so selfish and disillusioned enough to want to go back because they missed the taste of meat. It seems to me that they not only missed meat, they missed the bigger picture.
It's so easy to look at the example of the Israelites and laugh at their ignorance and stubbornness--such silly people! To us, being free is of more value than any delicacy served in captivity. But not so fast. God sent us a redeemer just as He did for the Israelites. Jesus was sent to us to be our Redeemer, to rescue us from the slavery of sin (Romans 7:14). But our response to Him? Complaining just like, if not worse than, the Israelites! We have been rescued from captivity, yet we complain because we don't have enough luxuries, just like those Old Testament people complained about not having meat. Don't be like the Israelites and take for granted the good things that God desires for you. Simply trust Him in whatever situation you are in right now. Just like God was leading the Israelites to the Promised Land, so He is leading us to the Promised Land of Heaven right now!
"Do everything without complaining or arguing." -Philippians 2:14
My quarter-of-a-century birthday started as any usual day-me not wanting to get out of bed, Hubby's flight getting cancelled. You know...the usual. But even though Hubby's flight was cancelled and he was at home, I decided to proceed with my day as planned, not knowing that my birthday would turn into Armageddon.
My first mission of the day was to go to the NEX to pick up a few items. I was accosted by a manager blocking my path to my usual checkout lane, telling me very rudely that I couldn't check out there. I told him how rude he was and then proceeded to the front of the store where I could check out. I began to think that I should have put on a birthday tiara before I walked out the door so people could try to be on their best behavior around the birthday girl.
After that a friend came over to my house and we left in my car to go on our shopping errands. We began talking about anything and everything, including how disgusted we were with animal cruelty. In mid sentence, I spotted a dove, the universal symbol of peace, in the middle of the freeway on-ramp. I had zero time to even think about braking. There was a huge thud, followed by a poof of feathers flying at my windshield. Anyone who really knows me knows how much I hate birds, but I would never wish this, especially for a heavenly dove to have to die such a tragic death.
After a few moments of stunned silence by the two culprits in the car, we repented of our dreadful sin and moved on with life. At our second and final store of our shopping journey, we were met with huge lines at the checkout. All of us in line waited in eager anticipation for the next summoning. A lady behind us in line tried to walk around me to get closer to the front. "Excuse me," I said. "We're next in line." That's when all hell broke lose.
This woman and her Halloween decorations (I'm sure they must have been little demons she was holding) proceeded to yell at me right there in the checkout line. "Which line do you want?! You have to pick one!"
"Does it really matter? I'm the next one in the line. I should be able to go to the next available register."
Not so, according to the demon woman. I hesitantly obliged her and picked a line. After all, I was trying to be the epitome of kindness and graciousness in front of my Bible study friend. But the whole time I was watching the demon woman from the corner of my eye, praying that I would still make it out of the store before her just to prove my point that I was in line first, and I should be the one to check out first. Thankfully, I did finish before her, but I could have sworn I heard the shrieking violins of the horror movies announcing the inevitable knife chase. Fortunately that was all in my head. Goodness, does the Lord still have work to do in me or what?!
After the shopping errands and a tear-jerker movie with some friends, I rushed home to the safety of my house and my husband. I cried (yes, I do this a lot) for all the day's events...the rude manager, the dove, the demon woman, and the movie. As I was letting lose my flood of emotion, Puppy began barking at something outside. I looked in our backyard and saw the entirety of our white picket fence covered in black ravens. I couldn't help but think that they had been sent from the other side to avenge the death of their little dove friend.
The ravens were the last of my birthday from hell, and the evening quickly turned into a heavenly respite. The day went from mean people and scary birds to a wonderful evening with my husband, soccer practice with the cutest little kids ever, walking our little baby, and of course a presidential debate! *Sigh of contentment!*
If my birthday is any indication of what my 25th year will bring, all I can say is I'm glad it will end with a big smile on my face. :)
Now, before you get the wrong idea, I am talking about activities and busyness. When we first moved to Corpus Christi, I knew absolutely nobody. Coming from a place where I had a ton of other wives around to provide all varieties of fellowship and entertainment, this was quite a bit different.
So my first decision in Corpus Christi was to get involved. I came across a great organization on base and began volunteering about 10 hours each week. By that time I had made a few Christian friends, and we decided to get together for a weekly Bible study and prayer group. Then came the launch of this website. Next came a request from a dear friend from our previous duty station asking me to help contribute to a Christian military spouse website that she is developing. During this time, I joined two book clubs. The next day Hubby came home from work announcing that he had signed us up to be soccer coaches for the youth league on base. After that, I returned from my "I-can't-move-states-again-and-continue-this-work-at-home-job" sabbatical, working about 10-20 hours each week. Then came a request from our church pastor asking if I would help teach the 4 year olds at church on Wednesday evenings. Mix in a few dinners, outings with friends, and of course the military, and that has been my life in a nutshell for the past several months.
I about had a meltdown last week. I was literally drowning in my involvement and activities. I had run out of time to do anything other than the ten activities and commitments on my list.
I had convinced myself that I was doing all of this for the advancement of God's kingdom. Even the "non-Christian" activities I still felt were an important means to reach out to those that don't know the love of Christ.
"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' ‘Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her'" (Luke 10:38-42).
Jesus is right in front of me, and instead of basking in His glory, I am too distracted by the amount of tasks on my list. Mary had the right idea...drop everything, sit at our Lord's feet, and listen to what He has to say to us. I, too, will choose what is better.
In the midst of my meltdown, my godly husband asked me when the last time was that I had sat down to a personal quiet time, just me and God. I couldn't remember, and therein is the problem. I was not spending time alone with my God. What good am I to declare God's love for the world if I am not even embracing it?
My hubby helped me to make a list of my involvement, to rank their priority in my life, and begin to cut back on activities based on my list. Only with his help was I able to separate the things I had reluctantly said "yes" to from those that I am truly passionate about.
This will be my first week with my reduced work load. Honestly, my pride is still suffering from admitting that I really can't do it all, but I am so looking forward to being back in communion with my Holy Father.
Remember, "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Choose to be a Mary, and choose to fall at the feet of Jesus.
I, too, love to plan and thrive on routine. I love having every day mapped out, knowing exactly what each hour block will hold...0800-0900: coffee and e-mails, 1100-1300: watch Hubby study, 1600-1700: relax, 2100-2200: get ready for bed, etc.
But along came the military, which absolutely prohibits planning for the future. I have tried to manipulate the system in order to plan for something, but have inevitably ended up sleeping on the floor of an empty apartment for ten days, having a romantic dinner alone, or moving on our first anniversary. All I can do is laugh at my thinking that I could conquer this feisty beast!
I am reluctantly learning that I can't plan for the future...even a day in advance. My hubby's flight schedule for the next day is not posted until about 1800 the night before. After months of this, it is still almost sinful to me. But I have finally grasped that our new routine is a lack of any routine.
It has opened me up to a word that was once vulgar to me-"spontaneity." Who would have thought that I would begin to enjoy such an obscenity? It has allowed for impromptu beach days, breakfast dates, lunch dates, dinner dates, weekend trips, midday movies and shopping.
While the military lifestyle does not let you plan for anything too far in the future, it does allow for speed planning for those of us that are obsessive planners. Case in point: PCSing. In our experience, it's almost impossible to know when the orders will arrive, announcing the impending move. But when the orders do come, it's like someone has fired the gun in the air and you hop off of those starting blocks, sprinting full speed ahead making calls to the moving company, to the base housing office and realtors, making arrangements for a final farewell with friends, organizing your house into "pack" and "don't pack," cleaning your house to try to get your full deposit back. The list goes on forever.
So while you might not be able to plan on a daily basis, you make up for it in the times of marathon planning. This should satisfy us Type A's. While I may be forced into a planning fast most days, it makes up for it at the end when I can feast!
I love absolutely love fall, especially that first day where there is a slight chill in the air. In Texas, this day usually comes when it is almost winter, but last week we experienced the very temporary, heavenly feeling of the changing of the "seasons" (I use this word very loosely for the Texas climate). It's this first string of cooler days where suddenly my senses are on full alert, and everything seems more real and joyful. Even the obnoxious cawing of the seagulls in our street have become a welcome sound.
In celebration of this cooler weather, last week I went in search of my autumnal ornament-a pumpkin. I became almost giddy when I saw the large display of pumpkins in front of the grocery store. I immediately grabbed the biggest, orangest gourd I could find. As I was checking out at the store, the checker saw the pumpkin in my basket and started laughing at me. She couldn't believe the store was already selling pumpkins or that anyone would be buying one. I gave a slight smile that I hope was interpreted as "do you realize that you are making fun of me?!" She made me feel slightly ashamed for buying a pumpkin in the summer. But really. When I already have a fetish for anything fall-ish, the stores are just feeding my addiction by putting the stuff out weeks, sometimes months early.
After unloading and putting away all of the groceries at home, I was left with that giant pumpkin on my kitchen counter. "I'll just leave it there so Hubby can see it when he gets home," I thought. When he did get home later that evening, he stopped in mid-sentence as he walked into the kitchen and spotted the pumpkin on the counter. He then proceeded to laugh just like the grocery checker.
I gave the same polite smile and very sweetly reminded him that this was quite an improvement from a year ago when I had our entire apartment decorated and scented for the fall by the end of August. Hubby had spent a week out in the field in 100 degree weather, only to come home to a homemade wreath bedecked with mini-pumpkins, pumpkin spice scented candles, and our dining room table set with leaf-shaped plates with a pumpkin centerpiece. I argued that he could not possibly think I was ridiculous this year. It was only one pumpkin, and only three days early this time. He should be proud of my self-restraint.
Of course, now that Corpus Christi is back to having a heat index in the 90's, I might feel a bit silly having my pumpkin proudly displayed outside our front door. I just think of it as my pumpkin of dreams...if I have it, the cool weather will come, hopefully before I get my Christmas tree out next month.