The Anchor for Our Souls

“We will not hide them from our children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.”  Psalm 78:4

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I read the email while spaghetti boils over on the stove and garlic bread threatens to burn in the oven. My neck tenses and an ache settles deep within my stomach and heart. We are three months away from our next move with the military, and I’m not ready.

A glitch in our housing arrangement at our next duty station. A longer than expected wait for our home. A list of temporary apartments attached at the bottom of the email. I can’t bare to click it open.

What seems too good to be true ends up being just that.

The dominoes begin to fall. I allow my mind to run alongside them.

A longer wait for housing means our son’s last summer before going away to college will most likely be spent in a hotel or navy lodge.

Our dog will need to be shipped off to stay with a family member.

The thought of living out of a suitcase for an extended period of time exhausts me.

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One email opens a pit of panic so deep, I fall hard and fast.

I throw dinner on the table and retreat to my bedroom for a quick moment to pull myself together.

I am aware that my family’s climate heavily depends upon my attitude and a frazzled and anxious me does not make a peaceful home.

Before I can talk anyone else off the ledge, I need to take a step back and anchor myself to a firm foundation.

I go to the only place I know to go. I don’t have it in me to make it all happen. I need an anchor that can steady this rocking boat and promise safety amidst the strongest of storms.

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I know this anchor. It has proven strong and faithful. This anchor is sure to steady me in the most tumultuous of seas.

Recognizing God’s hand in our past, and confident of His hand in our future, is that anchor.

We are mandated to remember the mighty hand of God in our past.

To recall his mighty deeds in days by gone, and remember his miracles of long ago.

To not only remember what the Lord has done, but also to share His mighty works with the next generation, our children, and our children’s children.

We have a history to remember.

We have a responsibility to etch the handiwork of our God in to the hearts and minds of those who come after us.

Our God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He will not fail us now. Our past has proved it. Our future relies upon it.

This anchor is trustworthy and connects us to hope beyond our circumstances.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only true anchor for our souls. He is the One who knows all things, and He is faithful to walk with us through all things.

We must be deliberate in slowing down, moving toward a posture of trust, reliance and remembrance.

When the anchor is entrenched deep into the sea bed, only then is the ship stable.

This anchor keeps us from floating aimlessly out to sea.

We rely upon its dependability, having full confidence in its ability to protect as we move forward in to the great unknown.

Then and only then can we face these uncertain times with godly certainty.

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“For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” Psalm 117:3

“May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.” Psalm 90:17

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77:11

 

Reaching the End of Yourself and Finding So Much More

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I swing the door wide as my 90 year old grandmother clutches my arm, making her way in to the lobby of her assisted living facility. The rush of my day falls away as I intentionally take smaller steps, listening longer and harder to her stories, pushing away the urge to get things done. Because this world moves fast, and well, she doesn’t. She can no longer see, but her mind is sharp. The memories that made up her younger days are clearer and crisper than of those who visited her yesterday.

As I say my goodbyes, another resident approaches me. She is desperate to talk and has heard that I too am a military spouse. She is determined to share experiences of her 36 years as a Marine Corp spouse. She asks me to come back, and won’t I please bring my husband?

To continue reading, please join me over at Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.

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When The World Says Give Up and God Shows Up

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It was as if I was a toddler hearing the word “no” for the first time. My fists clenched tight, my teeth clamped together and I wanted desperately to cover my ears and block out what I knew was coming.

Because I knew he would say there would be no baby this time around, and most likely never would be again.

My Doctor droned on about secondary infertility statistics and I wondered how I had not heard of this? It was a shock to me, to experience infertility after having had one unplanned, uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy. So why was the doctor describing my next to impossible chances of getting pregnant again? Why was he so adamant in stealing the little bit of hope I desperately clutched tight to my chest?

Today I am honored to share my “giving up….but God” story over at Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood blog. I’d love for you to join me as I share my God story.  

 

 

 

 

One Little Girl and Her Gold Star!!!!

Remember

I see her as I walk my dog. A mere five houses down.

Day after day, alone outside.

An American Flag waves overhead, perched proudly from the side of their home. She is kicking a soccer ball against her garage door. The ball slams in to the door with a loud thump, echoing throughout the neighborhood. She has a sadness about her that is palpable and I wonder what kind of weight a twelve year old girl could possibly carry upon her shoulders?

Then one day, in the shade of that Magnolia, I notice the gold star*** hanging in that front window. It steals my breath away, because how many times have I walked past that house and never noticed the star? And I wonder when that Blue Star turned to Gold? Had I missed it completely, or was this wound deep and long and scarred over?

***The gold star represents a military family member was killed in action. For families who've made the ultimate sacrifice, displaying the banners year-round is a solemn way to honor and pay tribute to their loved one(s).

***The gold star represents a military family member was killed in action. For families who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice, displaying the banners year-round is a solemn way to honor and pay tribute to their loved one(s).

The reality of that girl’s childhood hits me. I imagine that final day when she clung to her daddy’s leg, begging him not to go. But he did. And they counted and waited, as we all do through drawn out deployments. And I imagine paper chains and jars of Hershey kisses, counting down to a day that would never come.

And after the Chaplain and men in their crispest uniforms leave her mom’s side, and they are left to pick up the pieces of a life shattered wide open, they hang that gold star. A reminder for us. To never forget the sacrifice made by that girl’s father. To remember all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and the families that still feel the void every day!

The American Flag that waves from the side of their home is much more than decoration, or a patriotic gesture. That flag holds more meaning and sacrifice than a piece of cloth could possibly hold.

Because she gave her father for that flag. And for that, no words can capture the deep gratitude of a Nation bowed in remembrance.

The Service flag is an official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families who have members serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities the United States may be engaged in for the duration of such hostilities.

The Service flag is an official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families who have members serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities the United States may be engaged in for the duration of such hostilities.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  

 

A Beautiful Mess

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The day I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn, I cried. There is nothing like realizing you are completely responsible for another human being for the next 18 plus years to send one into an all out panic attack.

My crying was not because I didn’t want children, but because this was not the way I had carefully mapped out my future mothering days. My husband was going to Seminary full-time and working part-time, while I worked full-time to put food on the table and heat our 500 square foot home.

They say ignorance is bliss but let me tell you, I (thought I) knew exactly what I had gotten myself in to. My ice cream addiction and gas money for trips to the mall was funded by many (MANY) hours of babysitting. I knew exactly what lay ahead of me. Hence the crying.

Forget carefully selecting colors for the nursery and attending childbirth classes, my pregnancy was spent mapping out the nearest bathroom and locating emergency pull-offs on the interstate between my house and my place of employment. Because this little guy was already proclaiming who was boss and set my feet a training for a nine month vomiting marathon!!!

Before my son’s birth, I had visions of resting in my private hospital room while the wonderful, experienced nurses took care of my newborn. So you can see why I sported a look of utter confusion when they brought that little bassinet in to my room and then left!!!?

Hello? Now what??? I was only twelve hours into motherhood and already it was not going as planned.

Mothering these little people, with their own unique ideas about fashion and whether or not the chicken nugget is to soggy to eat, can drive a sane woman to the brink of insanity!!!!

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Once you board this carnival ride, it doesn’t take long to realize parenting rarely works out the way we thought and it certainly doesn’t look like it does on facebook or pintrest.

Being a mom is hard work. It is constant, and it is messy. There are no pay raises and no vacations (unless you call a field trip to the Alligator Farm, where you and another mom schlep the class cooler around all day, a vacation).

But it is also a beautiful image of Jesus’ relationship with us.

How He parents us out of the deep reserve of love He has for each one of us.

How He sets limits in our life to protect us from what we don’t yet see.

How He gives us better gifts than we know to ask for.

How He engages us without the distraction of texts, phone calls, or facebook getting in the way.

Nothing about parenting is a surprise to Jesus.

He knew exactly what He was getting in to when He took our place on the cross.

He knew we would get distracted and forget to say thank you.

He knew we would look at that boundary he set before us, and blatantly look Him in the eye as we crossed it.

He knew how much we needed Him, before we ever acknowledged this need ourselves.

Let’s be intentional in looking for the beauty in the mess of this thing we call motherhood.

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In the month of May, please join me as my new friend begins a series, The Messy and Majestic of Motherhood. Each Monday in May there will be a guest post (my post is set to run May 26th). Join in as we celebrate what it means to be a mother!!!

And watch for Jennifer’s e-book coming out in time for Mother’s Day!!!

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Overcoming the Quiet in Me

A year ago this month, I gave in to the nudging’s I had been ignoring for years. This nudging from the Lord to share my God story in this small corner of social media.

Before then, there was always a reason for my response to be No. I had babies and toddlers and a husband deployed. I had moved Overseas and a new Country to explore.

But when I was brave and I sat down to write, this pouring out of words and vulnerability scared me back in to my cocoon of safety.

Photo compliments of Sheryl Lee

Photo compliments of Sheryl Lee

This comfortable nest I had created was noticeably cracking and if I wasn’t careful, these words of mine could fracture and crush the image I worked so hard to craft.

See, I’m quiet by nature, and a people pleaser by default. And the last thing a people pleaser wants to do is lay before the world her deepest regrets, largest fears, and unspoken doubts.

And the quiet in me was far from desiring an online megaphone to share my story.

But this nudging was persistent.

As I stepped up in faith and poured out words, He began to get larger, and I, smaller.

And I stopped asking myself “what will people think of me” and instead asked, “what would God think of me?”

And so I toil away at this little plot of land the Lord has given me here on the internet. I till and I plant; I water and I grow. And many times I get it right. But sometimes I’m sure I get it wrong.

But there is something in the act of surrendering that makes one brave. And you realize the thing you feared most, isn’t really that scary of a thing.

What is God nudging you toward today?  What platform has He entrusted to you in order share your God story???

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded;  and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  Luke 12:48b 

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Who is your Lifeguard?

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Panic sneaks up on me in the dead of night. I turn over and gaze sleepily at the clock. 4am.

All is quiet in the house except for my heart, which has stirred my mind and body awake in a furry.

The runaway thoughts of a mother wanting desperately to protect her children.

Ah, yes!!! Worry. Panic. Fear. The tri-fecta threatening my peace and effectiveness as a follower of Christ.

Fear cripples and overwhelms. It stops us in our tracks and makes us second guess our better judgment. And I’m swallowed up by it.

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The next day my 12 year old son will board a plane and jet away from our home in Singapore to spend five days with a missions team in Hong Kong.

I reluctantly loosen my grip on my son’s life and the world seems to spin on its axis a bit faster. Control is slipping through my fingers and I feel let loose.

A boat floating at sea with no anchor!

A peeling away happens over the next five days….a peeling away of the façade that I am my children’s protector; that I hold my children’s safety in my hands.

I am a prayer warrior these five days without my son. I am committed. I am on my knees and reading the Word. I am clinging to the only true protection my son has….the protection offered by our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word is my life vest. Christ, my lifeguard. My son’s lifeguard. And I cling closer to shore those five days and always keep my life vest in reach.

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And then……

I write these very words December 14th, 2012 as a gunman breaks through the front doors of Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 first graders and 6 adults.

And the world’s foundation seems to shatter. Families crumble and we all try to make sense of the senseless.

We mourn with those families and ask why and we hug our very own first graders a bit tighter that night.

Some things are not meant to be understood this side of heaven. Some things will just never make sense.

And we’ve all heard the clichéd expression “God won’t give us anything we can’t handle.”

I assure you those parents at Sandy Hook Elementary were indeed given more that day than any one person can bear alone.

So can I clear up this misconception…..no where does the Word of God state that we will not face things in this life that we can’t handle (The verse often misquoted (1 Corinthians 10:13) refers to temptation, rather than suffering.)  If we watch the news for more than a few minutes, we will see life overflowing with circumstances that could drown us in despair.

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And why would we need to make room for the Lord in our hearts if we could handle everything on our own strength and resolve?

Even Jesus cried out to his Father the night before his death, “My soul is overwhelmed with suffering to the point of death.”   Jesus did not face the darkness of night alone, or the suffering he knew would come with day’s light. He reached for His, and our, Father in heaven.

Our Savior knows of suffering. Who better to comfort us in our suffering, than the one who took all of life’s suffering upon himself?

When we acknowledge this life does indeed hand us more than we can handle on our own, we then find God’s promises. His promise to be faithful to meet us in the midst of the senseless and the why’s of life. His promise to carry the load of this life when we can’t manage the weight.

We have a God who cares. A God who carries!!

“cast all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

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Evil exists. There is no escaping it here on earth. But our God ultimately wins this war!!! Evil will one day be smothered, snuffed out and forever restrained.

And so I anchor my soul to the Lifeguard who is stronger than the biggest wave. I tether myself to the Life vest that is truly unsinkable. And I race toward that Lighthouse that shines light in the most violent of storms, and rest in the shadow of our Almighty God.

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Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.