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

 

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A Moment Of Thanks For Those Who May Not Have Heard It Out Loud

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It was a big day of celebration for our family. My husband and his Marine battalion had just returned home from Iraq. With another nine month deployment looming on the horizon, we were determined to make the most of his time at home.

We headed out to our favorite Chinese restaurant and were overwhelmed with gratitude when the elderly gentleman sitting across from us paid our bill as he left, a note of thanks scribbled on our receipt.

Over the years we have received generosity from strangers, given in moments of gratitude for our family’s service to our Country. Discounts at our favorite restaurants and clothing stores, free and discounted admission to Disney World, and head of line priviledge in airport security lines (I know, I’m sorry to all of you we skip in line).

We are reminded today of the gratitude poured out upon our family on day’s that stretch long after Veteran’s Day. As a military family, we are grateful that we live in a Country where Fortune 500 Company’s make great efforts to hire Veteran’s; that we live in a Country that has learned to separate politics from the people that serve.

Because it has not always been that way.

Today I say thank you to those who returned home from foreign wars and were not greeted with welcome home signs lining the streets; today I say thank you to those who did not receive a hero’s welcome with a parade of ticker tape and a marching band; today I say thank you to those who carry memories of fallen brothers lost in long forgotten battles.

Because I do believe we have learned from our past and because of that, our family enjoys the benefits of generations that have gone before us, some unnoticed and unrecognized for their sacrifice.

So today, we want to recognize the previously unrecognized and thank you for your service!!!

Aft Colors

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.  

 

 

 

 

The Great Game Changer

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In many ways it made perfect sense for her to get in that car with him. By all (earthly) standards, her marriage had reached its end.

They had fought the day before he left. Hard and loud and the words they spoke had a finality to them. Their home had become a tunnel of dark tension, and silence hung heavy from its rafters.

Then he boarded that plane with his rifle and his Marine Battalion and they both breathed a sigh of relief.

What do you do when you know your marriage is hanging by a thread and you’re so glad he left?

For six months you live life without him and you think it’s not so bad. Actually it’s a whole lot better than bad. Because a ceasefire has ensued, and the physical distance brings much needed relief. Like a cool compress on a fevered forehead.

After he left, she exhaled, shook off the remnants of a failing marriage, and went in search of a balm to heal her aching heart.

Because how do you grasp hold of hope for change when you have lived in the same mess of a marriage for 15 years?

We sat in that sports bar and I watched as she sized up her options. Because when a woman is cut deep by the words of a man, she thinks the only thing that will heal that wound, is “better” words from another man.

So she went in search of that better man offering, well, better!!!

And I dug deep for words that would make her stay. I searched for words that would send her home alone, with the hope of a new beginning with her husband. I spilled over with words that, I prayed, would make her see the possibility of change in her marriage.

But in the end the only change she really wanted was the change that came with a new man.

Because exhaustion overwhelmed her and cutting her losses seemed like a pretty healthy option.

After all, how do you fight for something you are not sure you really want to keep?

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I stood on the platform watching this train wreck happen before my eyes. I watched as she left emails and letters unanswered from her husband, and spent more and more time with the man that would make it all okay.

But it wasn’t okay.

Because what she went in search of could only come from One source. And that source was most definitely not found in the arms of another Marine.

No one can fill the void in our heart that is meant only for God to fill.

That God shaped hole that exists deep within our souls; that yearning for unconditional acceptance and a love worth dying for; those deep soul desires can only be filled through a relationship with the One true God.

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We may cram and tug and stretch to make people and things fill that void, but in the end it is a puzzle piece that just won’t fit.

Sure, we can puff up a man until he temporarily fills that void. And for a while, he rescues us from that crippled marriage, and promises us the white picket fence and unending love. He bloats with pride at this new role he takes on, but soon he deflates under the weight of it all.

Because that white picket fence eventually buckles under the storms of life, and his love doesn’t seem so pure.

And eventually we are left with the same void that started us on this roller coaster.

No one person truly rescues like the One True Rescuer.

The One who rescues us from this earthly life and promises us eternal life and purpose.

The One who rescues us from ourselves and our misguided choices, and gives Himself in exchange for us.

The One who can change a heart and bring life back to a dying marriage.

The One who fills that void with a love that is pure, unselfish, and never ending.

This One is a game changer. He takes our leftovers; the crumbs of our life tried on our own, and, if we allow, transforms them into the most succulent of feasts.

He is the One who can weave the threads of our marriage into a triple threat, strong and solid; He is the One who can bring change to a marriage that has been stagnant for 15 years; and He is the One who will fill a heart with desire to see this marriage succeed.

Now that is a love that makes perfect sense!

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One Little Girl and Her Gold Star!!!!

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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.”  

 

Do Not Disturb

My day hums along like a well-oiled machine. There have been no significant interruptions as I tackle my to-do list and that is what I call a success of a day. I cross off each item on my list and feel quite proud of myself as I make it on time to pick my kids up from school. I am stress free as I load my kids in to the van and draw them out in conversation. But there is this gnawing feeling I just can’t get rid of. I push it to the back of my mind as my second-half-of-the-day to-do list pops in to my mind. Homework, soccer, dinner, baths and bedtime.

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But in the quiet of night this feeling wiggles it’s way in to my mind once again and I begin to see what I have left stranded in the wake of my day.

I have neglected Community. Fellowship. Time for friends and potential friends.

You see. I am not one to linger.

I am the first to race away from the bus stop the moment it pulls away, already mentally moving on to my next task.

I am the one cleaning up the refreshments from our neighborhood gathering at the precise time the invitation said the party would end. I am a slave to the clock.

But if I am being really honest, it is not just my punctuality and my chronic to-do list that forces me to hang my invisible “do not disturb” sign on my back.

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It is my insecurity.  I could blame this insecurity on our military lifestyle and the fact that more times than not, I am the newbie in the group. But the fact of the matter is, this insecurity sprouted and took root long before the military was part of my life.

I am by nature a shy person and making and keeping friends takes initiative. It takes me stepping out of my comfort zone and asking someone over for coffee. Sure, it takes time and effort but it also takes vulnerability. And in this military life of coming and going, this continual vulnerability and possibility of rejection paralyzes me. So I don’t.

And I sit back and wait and hope and pray someone invites ME! And sometimes they do. But other times they don’t.

A popular saying floating around the military community is: “bloom where you are planted.”  Some days it just takes to much energy to bloom. It takes a lot of hard work to water those seeds, and prune those branches. And I want someone else to do the work.

So I clutch my insecurities tight to my chest and lean in to my laziness.

And then I see it. I look in my rear view mirror and see a whole lot of missed opportunity.

I see the lost opportunity to encourage a young neighbor in her crazy toddler-toting days. I was to busy.

I see the girl that could become a friend, but I was too afraid to ask.

I see the friend drifting away because I have said no to her invitations one to many times.

So I set out tomorrow to live fully engaged.

I take my eyes off of myself and my own insecurities and focus on what the Lord is capable of doing in and through me.

I purposefully look for opportunity to invite one person this week in to a one on one conversation/activity with me.

I am intent on investing in the lives of those around me.

Today, I have proactively removed my “Do not Disturb” sign so that my life can begin to read  “Friends are Welcome Here.”

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Are you racing from day to day, to busy to notice what and who are around you?  What can you do this week to stop, connect and invest?