“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Taking on a 4 Letter Word

I really love when I ponder and thus learn an important lesson through my children. I find it to be most humbling and awesome that they have the ability to teach me as much, if not more, than I teach them. I have had a rough week with Caleb, he has been acting out in anger… and sure I could have explained it away as unresolved feelings from Daddy being deployed, but in guilt I began doing research about child anger and discipline. God at this point very kindly gave me my own swat across my bottom with a firm voice saying, what happened to nightly Bible reading? What happened to the kind of discipline that ensures your children obey you and therefore will obey me? Well, Helllloooo God, that stung, but maybe this behavior by my son is just what I needed to be reminded of my calling to teach my children in your ways.The 4 letter word we are taking on here is OBEY...

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Prov 22:6) 

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Eph 6:1) 

So I might be slow, but I’m not completely senseless.  We picked back up the nightly Bible reading… and on night two Caleb decided he wanted to read Noah out of his “big boy Bible” aka NIV, so I obliged. To be honest, I hadn’t read in the Old Testament—other than Psalms or Proverbs, for a long time. If you take a gander at Genesis 6 (which also half caught me off guard; can you believe humans were able to become so perverse in just 6 chapters of the Bible that God had to wipe us out?!?) you’ll find the story of Noah and God’s call for him. 

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” (Gen 6:11) Awe inspiring that my son had requested the story that told of God’s wrath on people full of violence—and he has been struggling to keep his temper! I mean really God—show off ;) And that gave me a perfect way to talk about obeying God’s rules and therefore obeying his teachers and parents. Wow! And it seemed like he was really taking it all in. He had started to get down and thinking that he had really messed it all up when… in comes God’s SUPER ERASER! That’s why Jesus’ birth was so important (tying in Christmas!) that He came to erase our sins… and as soon as we repent (agree with God that what we’ve done was bad and don’t try to blame someone else for it; taking responsibility) and ask for forgiveness, then the eraser takes it away and God says it never happened anymore. Bright eyed and excited I can see him picturing one of those pink school erasers… but Giant… scrubbing away and then whoa… it’s Gone!

"If you love me, you will obey what I command." John 14:16

"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." John 15:10 

What an important lesson to remind ourselves of this Christmas season...  the Best answer is of course to obey God because that will give us the best life. When "life" happens and our not so Godly instincts get us into sin, we need to agree that we have chosen something less than the best, and ask for forgiveness-- Thank you for Jesus and Christmas! Then let Him erase it-- like magic! Christmas always has been a magic time of year, and rightly so, Jesus is amazing! He takes something ugly and dying and turns it into new life!

Merry Christmas!!

Reflection Question: Where are you still not obeying God and letting Him give you your BEST life? 

by the way... thank you to everyone who reads my blog for pushing it past 3,000 views this month! What an honor to be able to reach people with Christ's message through me! Thanks!! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Down by the River

We spend a lot of time worried about whether or not we are saved. What about when we know that we are saved What then?  

If we cannot earn our salvation or earn even an ounce more of God's love, then what are we striving for? If there's no purpose for our life, then God would just snatch us up to heaven the second we earnestly devoted ourselves to Christ. Obviously THAT didn't happen... so now what? 

If you have a job where you cannot get fired as long as you show up, what are you going to do? Well the simple answer is that you will show up. If we change the stakes slightly and you still only must show up not to get fired, but you also have a chance to earn some favor with the boss by performing well. You don't know what exactly your bonus will be, but you respect your boss and she says that it is certain to be worth your while. Why bother with just showing up? Why not see what the bonus is?!? 

What would you do? Show up or go for more? As a matter of fact, what Are you doing? Jesus gives you this offer. You show up, put your trust in Him and just keep trusting. No problem. You never get fired. But, on the flip side, He offers us eternal blessings based on what we do after we show up. 

Think of it like this: for survival we need shelter, food and water. So I could put up a tent by the river and eat whatever wanders my way and drink the scummy river water.  I would survive. But if I put in a little effort, I can have a house, nutritious food that will give me energy and vitality and treated drinking water without toxins and with fluoride so I can have healthy teeth. Which do you prefer? If you're reading this, my guess is that you have Internet so you don't live in a tent by the river ;) 
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:20, 21 NKJV) 

Truth is, neither answer is inherently wrong. But indecision is a decision in and of itself. God is clear about what he expects from us, but he also gives us a picture of what a "good and faithful servant" looks like; it's not the guy who just shows up! Each of us who is saved will have to account not for our sins-- that price has been paid, not by us, but through uncompromising love by our Savior Jesus,  but we will be judged by what did with the gifts we have been given. Jesus gives us a story about some servants who are given some money "mina" to invest while their master is away in order for us to better understand how we too will be judged according to how we invest...

Jesus Parable of the Ten Minas (or Talents)

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.  He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.  So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
  “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth.  I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?  Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
“‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” (Luke 19:11-27) 
There is no doubt in My Mind that God is fair and full of justice. The price for our sins HAD to be paid, that is why the Son came to receive the due payment. But also, because He is just, he will repay the Good we do when we get to Heaven. Either he will say "Well done good and faithful son/daughter" OR He will say "Take his away and give it to the one who already has 10". This is my choice and yours to make.

Refection Question: Are you storing up treasures in Heaven or are you wasting your talents? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bondage or Heaven Bound?

I heard a story this week about a mother who went to talk to her pastor about her son. She was concerned because he was not living a "Christian" life. He wasn't attending church... but "she was certain that her son knew Jesus." At that point the pastor stopped the woman, and in the most loving way he could deliver this harsh truth, he informed her that her son could not know Jesus. There is no way for someone to truly Know Christ and not be radically changed by His amazing love. 

"For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (Romans 8:13-14)

That point really resonated with me. Don't we all want to think that OUR loved ones will be in heaven... or even that WE will be with Jesus forever. Are we fooling ourselves? 

"But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." (James 1:22) 

During my Church's Bible Study our pastor was talking about the book of Jeremiah. Sometime during the discussion he mentioned that when his grandfather was dying, his grandmother said to her husband, well I hope I see you on the other side. She really didn't know if she would, and she wasn't about to fool herself into thinking that although his life showed no fruit of the Christian life, that he would go to heaven just because he was family.

I have found that when I hear a theme repeated to me, it's time to write. God must know I have a hearing problem because when He wants to get my attention He doesn't just say something once, it becomes evident in multiple aspects of my life. After hearing this idea of fooling ourselves into thinking we are going to heaven twice within a week, I guess the Holy Spirit was urging to write about this...

It's truly a strange paradox that we spend our lives and literally spend our livelihood on worrying about every tiny detail, except about how that relates to our eternity. We assume the worst, "he doesn't like me" "I'll never find a job" "I'm not smart enough" "will my kids go to college" ...but when it comes to heaven, we all think "yeah, I'm going to heaven". 

We want control over the things we have no control over, but negate the responsibility that we DO have control over. The circumstances of our lives, the opinions of others, the disasters and other issues are God's realm. Give Him control and stop worrying! On the other hand, we have control of our hearts and our decision to turn our hearts and plans toward Him. He gives us that freedom, that freewill, but we just say "God willing". Ohhhh how the Devil is the same today as he always was. The same sin, the same prideful thoughts clouded Adam and Eve's decision. They too had the ability to decide to live life hand-in-hand with the Lord, but the Enemy seduced them into thinking they should have MORE say, more "understanding". 

"That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?" (Matt 6:25)

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34) 

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." (Hebrews 12:2) 

As always, our amazing God has given us the solution! Oh how blessed we are to always have an escape from the bondage that we have tied ourselves in! Ask him to free you from worry and then focus your life on eternity; give your life's issues to the Holy Spirit daily. Make your decisions the way Jesus did and remind yourself that each day matters. Each day has an effect on your eternity and live with the end in mind. Surrender to Him and you shall be Free! ....But Beware... the world will fight you on this! It will tell you that you should have control, that surrender is a dirty word and that this "plan" doesn't make sense... but that's just it, it Doesn't make worldly sense, it makes eternal sense. So anyone focused on the world will never understand the plans of someone focused on eternity.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:12-14) 

Reflection Question: Are you in Bondage to this world or are you focused on being Heaven Bound?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

10 Year Old Girl

On September 12, 2001 a girl was born. Her eyes opened to a country in pain and a world in shock following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. The relatively peaceful world that existed just days earlier had been rocked and shaken. People questioned God's existence on that day. How could He be a loving God and allow something like that to happen? Others spoke of repentance, salvation and the realization that None of us are guaranteed we will live tomorrow. 

In a world of chaos, hate, war, and sin, that girl would have to grow up deciding whether she was in the world or of it. Whether she too would succumb to the hate, the constant state of anger everyone is in, or if she would love the unlovables. 

Even a 10 year old struggles with perception, wondering if she is pretty enough if she is smart enough, if people like her. When she hears people laughing after she's walked by, she wonders if they are laughing at her. This is a cold, unloving world we live in... and she struggles. She is anxious about what the future holds for her, her family and the world. Sometimes times are tense in her house. The money's not what it used to be, the fuses are short and she finds herself yelling back at her family when she knows she shouldn't. 

But she is one of the lucky ones... because she knows Jesus. She has hope for the future, hope for her struggles and even for the world. She knows that when the time is right, Jesus will return and scoop her up and take her away from all of this pain, anxiety, anger, hate, and sin. She can rely on Him daily for strength and love. She knows that He will never ever ever leave her side, no matter what happens. So she smiles, the way a 10 year old does, with enough wisdom from lessons learned to be dangerous, but with enough curiosity left to be Really dangerous. 

The danger she posses will cause the enemy to lay repeated traps, roadblocks and temptations in her way. And who would blame him? No one ever said the devil was stupid. He knows where the danger lies, but so does she. The roadblocks might slow her down in her race toward the prize. The traps might catch her foot and make her fall. She might even be injured for awhile. The temptations might catch her eye and pause her progress, but nothing will bind her up because the Son has set her free.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free....So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:32,36) 

And I am free indeed...

"Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." (John 3:3)
I was "born again" of the Spirit, and this week I turned 10 years old.  I was at the University of Kentucky I had just joined the Army ROTC, when the World Trade Center Towers fell. I knew my world of joining a peace-time Army and just doing a few push ups and running a few miles would no longer be a simple future. I had struggled for many years looking for answers on how to cope with the issues of my life. Knowing that I couldn't do it on my own and that there Had to be something more powerful out there to make the oceans and the mountains. I had been going to church for probably about a year and attending Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings for a couple months with my new friends. What had I been waiting for? To get the "party girl" out of me? Who knows, but the idea that I could have been on a plane or working in a tower... or going to class or crossing the street and my world could end at any moment. I wanted to know that I was saved from eternal hell. I wanted to start living my life for and with my creator. I wanted to live with joy and hope for a beautiful future. So I did. I made my decision then and there. It hasn't all been rainbows and butterflies... ask me about it if you dare ;) but it is my beautiful life and I am working to live one day at a time and enjoy one moment at a time, accepting hardships as a pathway to peace... taking, as Christ did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it and trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will and let go of mine. Knowing that I can be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Reflection Question: Have you begun living your life for and with God? Have you asked Him to come into your heart, to dwell there, forgive your sins (past, present and future), and to make His will your hope for the future? ...the Good news is, you can do that right now if you want :) Please let me or someone else who is a Christ Follower know if you have made that decision!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Life Sentence

When you dwell on injustice or on a situation that has wronged you, you only give it power. It steals your productivity, your creativity… actually, more accurately, you GIVE away your productivity and creativity and energy because no one can take something from you that is not physical. You are the manager of your life. Your life belongs to the creator, but He has given you the “signature authority”. No, we cannot say that we will still have it tomorrow b/c you never know when there might be a natural disaster, car wreck or freak illness that could take our lives, but today, right now, you get to make a choice. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. It seems like our emotions and feelings have control. That is a LIE; a boldface lie of the enemy. Our enemy wants us to think that we don’t have control, but the FACT is, the TRUTH is, we have been given the gift of freewill from our creator. 
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) 
The author and perfecter of our lives gave us the ability to make a choice, to make millions of choices. The reality is that if we are imprisoned by our feelings and emotions, then we have chosen to be there. To escape it is not always as easy as making the decision not to believe the lies, oh how I wish it were. I would be able to free so many of the enemy’s prisoners. We must band together and work to become free of the lies, because it’s Worth it! Because WE are Worth it!
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matt 18:20)
If Jesus decided that YOU are worth dying a horrific death by crucifixion, then you are worth fighting for. Your happiness, your joy your HOPE are worth the time and effort it takes to break free. As I was talking to God this very morning, my brain has been swirling. I feel very fortunate that I get to hear words from God, but today He, very poignantly pointed me back to the Bible. He said, “Your mind is too full of lies for me to speak to you. You need to seek the truth in My word”. And that was it. So… I started in Matthew b/c I have to admit I’ve been bouncing all around the Bible in my readings lately so I thought I should probably refocus and start at the beginning of the New Testament. 
When I came to the end of chapter 6, I stopped and began writing. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt 6:34) I am so busy worrying about the future that I am not living right now. So what can I do today? What does God call me to do today? I know it’s not entirely possible, but if I didn’t have to plan for the future at all, what would I do with myself today? 
I was recently talking to friend of mine, Vickie, who has been struggling. She has struggled with inner turmoil, the kind that makes you feel inadequate and that you’ll never amount to anything worthwhile. She has dealt with garbage within her Church family, the one place that she is supposed to feel safe and loved. Luckily for her (and us) our God is greater than all of our struggles and she recently got a beautiful revelation: “You are sentenced to live with the person you become, however, you have the ability to choose who that person is.” And she CHOSE to be Amazing! Each day is a new day, a new choice, a new opportunity to learn from our past and to be who we want to be in the Present! I too am choosing to BE today and not worry about tomorrow.
Reflection Question: What are you worrying about? Pray to Jesus to lift your burden. How can you be the person you want to be TODAY? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Devil Went Down...

No matter how depressed I get or riled with anxiety, the enemy has lost the war. He might win a battle here or there; I'm sure you too have lived to tell about being temporarily defeated on some occasion or another, but the war has been won. We don't know when or how Jesus will return to triumphantly lay claim to His followers, but we know He will. 

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." (John 14:1-4 NIV) 

I have had a rough couple of weeks struggling with doubt and anxiety. The fear of the unknown future always turns me inside out and this has been a tough one. My best friend is deployed. No matter any struggles we have had, my husband has always, since we've been together, been right there with me through my personal internal battles. Between the lost connections, limited time and time difference, I have had to rely on outside sources to help me through this bout. 

As my pastor quoted a wise women he once knew, "He is a good devil." For certain, the enemy is good at his job. He knows just where to lie in waiting to ambush us. Right where to hit to be affective. I personally seem to be addicted to affirmation. On the surface it doesn't seem so bad; it makes me driven and "good" at what I aspire to. But leave myself open to the "father of lies" and my "strength" can also be my biggest downfall. Pride. 

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2 NIV)

I am addicted to affirmation. I seek it out and without it I become something I do not know. Without being able to pour myself into the Army full time, I am having a hard time placing my identity. 

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

The great thing about investing in other people's spiritual lives is that when you're down, they can always recite your words right back to you. And well, if "I" said them, they must be true.  ;)

I was venting to my mom this week about what I'm struggling with and the most wonderful thing happened. My words of Gods affirmation that have breathed new life into her, came full circle and gave me hope for the future. My mom is no theologian, but in the end, truth is truth. The Bible does not lie and if we turn there, we will always find what we need. 

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

So too bad for you enemy. I might have lost a battle and believed your lies about my unworthiness for a moment, but not for long. 

"The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

Reflection Question: What lies are you believing? Ask God to open the eyes of your heart to His truth. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

As Heavy as The Cross

There are times in my life when I am oh so pleasantly surprised at what God does, in spite of me. I write with passion because the things I write about are the things I live in my life. I’m never writing for someone else, so I am amazed when what I say touches someone. Sure I love when my mom and dad tell me great things about my work… but well, whether or not it’s true, I feel like they have to! But the story I’m about to relay brought tears of gratitude and joy to my eyes because I knew that the Holy Spirit was at work, and someway chose to use insignificant me. After reading “I Have”, one of my most respected retired NCOs relayed this, in his words, “terrible, yet most honorable event”.  

While on call to perform Casualty Notification duties, I was tasked with notifying an eight year old little girl that her Daddy would not be coming home. While I was respectfully honored to perform this duty, I was saddened a great deal. That is a part of me that no one has ever seen.

The little girl was the only person listed on the Soldiers paperwork for notification, insurance and anything else- as regulation has it, I was to notify her and only her. She was not at her home when we arrived; however, her mother was. The mother had asked if we could tell her and allow her to tell her daughter, but as regulation stated, I could not do that. The wait seemed to be the longest I ever had in my 28 year military career, but she finally arrived. When she exited the vehicle my heart jumped into my throat, she had beautiful short blond hair, the biggest, brightest blue eyes I had ever seen, and a big cheerful smile that could capture the heart of the most hardened individual. She was filled with laughter and happiness. As a father and a grandfather, I felt as if I could not be the one, who in just a few short minutes, using a standard script, would destroy her world of innocence and happiness. As history has shown many times over, this little girl was about to see me as the monster who said her Daddy was dead.

Her mom had asked for a minute with her before she was told and we respected her request. When they came out and approached us, I stood straight with courage and confidence and asked the lord to please guide my words and hold me steady. He did. I was able to perform my duty with honor, integrity and respect for her dignity. After I told her, she looked up at her mom who was beginning to cry, and it was at that moment she began to realize what I had just told her. Her beautiful smile was slowly replaced with a sad frown, the happiness in her face and eyes was replaced with tears and contorted cheeks. I asked if she understood; she nodded her head yes, and my duty was done. I executed an about face and walked away without ever looking back. I could hear the crying and the words “not my Daddy” as the Chaplain and the Mother comforted her.

Earlier, as I and the Chaplain had stood in the yard awaiting the arrival of the little girl, I went over in my mind what I was to say and how I was to say it, knowing that she would not understand what was being said, nor why. The Chaplain provided comfort and encouragement with words of scripture and strength.
He reminded me of how Jesus, bore the burden of the cross for us because he knew that it was his duty and responsibility. He told me the story from beginning to end, a story I have heard a million times before- but I felt as if this time was the first time I had actually really listened. If a man who was about to be crucified could go with cheer and words of encouragement, I felt that my job was easy in comparison. As I was told, Jesus had a duty to perform just as I had.

Ma’am, you know that I do not easily display my religious beliefs, and as anyone who has ever heard me go off on a knuckle head would believe that I had none; however, it was my turn to bear the burden, and failure was not an option. Even today, sleep is difficult to come by as my mind often strays back to that fateful day and the eight year little girl whose world was destroyed in a matter of minutes with a few short words.
This haunting event took place about the same time our unit began its rotation back to the states. There were many delays in the departure of aircraft. Each time we received word of ETA of aircraft with a manifest, we were to notify the appropriate families of the flight and time of arrival. Due to sand storms and/or other events within the theater of operations, many flights were delayed from leaving multiple times. We would then have to call all the families again and inform them of this change in flight.
On one such occasion, a particular flight had been delayed numerous times. After about the fourth time notifying the families that the flight had been delayed a call came in from a spouse. She was understandably upset and verbally abusive in her anger. As the senior ranking Soldier in the building she was directed to me, I took her call and listened patiently as she yelled at me with the insinuation that this was our fault. Then she said “how in the hell am I supposed to, tell our eight year old little girl that her Daddy is not coming home?”

At that point, my anger swelled to an unbelievable level and all my years as a hard-ass NCO wanted to take over, cuss her out and hang up; however, the professional NCO took control and I calmly said “Ma’am, two days ago I did have tell an eight year old little girl that her Daddy would not be coming home, and was NOT because his plane had been delayed”. The silence that followed was but about 15 to 20 seconds but it seemed like an eternity. The lady then spoke and said “oh, I am so sorry, thank you for the information” and she hung up. I calmly replaced the receiver, turned to see a half dozen set of eyes on me; no one said a word as they watched me walk down to my office. Once inside, I closed the door, sat down and hung my head in my hands and pondered the event that had just unfolded. I thought of the outcome, and the possible outcome.  It was then that I realized that the burden I had to bear two days prior was now complete. I looked up and thanked the lord for steadying my shoulder and providing me the strength to calmly address the situation.

I now have a two year old granddaughter… she has beautiful blond hair, bright blue eyes, and is full of laughter and smiles. This experience has taught me to love and cherish what I have every day.

Thank you for helping me tell someone about this- maybe tonight, sleep will come just a bit easier.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to tell this story- finally. The more time I have been able to spend with my granddaughter, the more this nightmare has played over and over in my head; however, your most recent tale of Casualty Assistance seemed to be the hand of fate opening the door for me to talk about it. You are the first person to hear an account of this event and I just know that no matter how heavy my burden seemed, it was not as heavy as a cross.

Reflection Question: Is anything you’re dealing with as heavy as a cross? If not, let go bring it to His feet and thank God for bearing the heaviest burden.
Shared with Permission from SFC (Ret) Donnie R. Burnett

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Have

On one hot summer day, I packed up and loaded myself, my rifle and my gear onto a plane for a dusty hot place half a world away. I had given birth just 5 short months before to my second angel baby and my emotions were out of balance to say the least!  I said goodbye to my most prized assets, my family- my husband and our two children, in the name of selfless service to our great nation.  I felt like I had my heart ripped out and torn into little bitty pieces in the slowest most painful way, but I survived.    
I have had this horrific responsibility to tell a handful of wounded Soldiers that one of their best loved comrades was killed in combat. I listened to the cries and shouts of anger from some of the strongest young warriors I have ever met. “How could this be?” “No, not him, anyone but him.” I looked into their eyes and saw a thousand yard stare that I thought was expired with the Vietnam War.Their tear stained faces marred with shock and disbelief still flash into my mind when I hear of another lost.

I have embraced a young mother of a beautiful 18 month old little girl while we wept over her husband’s flag covered coffin.  I didn’t know the Soldier personally, but after dedicating my life for 3 months to the care of his family, I feel like I am part of it now.  I wear his name on my wrist most days as a reminder to never forget the sacrifices that have been made so I can live the life of freedom I so dearly cherish.The ultimate sacrifice is not only given by the one whose life was cut ever too short, but also by the ones whom he loved and will continue to bare the burden of the service he volunteered.

Along-side and intertwined with the mother of a fallen hero, I have told my story of the depths of war to other soon-to-be Casualty Assistants. As I walked up to this Mom we hugged unabashedly and with sincere love in front of four score of battle hardened Army Leaders because I had become part of her family. I helped ensure her baby-boy would get every honor he deserved and went above and beyond what “the book” said I needed to do. I don’t write this because I want glory or recognition; I just did what I would want someone to do for me if the roles were reversed. That day I watched the faces of the Army Leaders twist and twinge at the thought of this hollow duty they could be called to perform while I recounted the days and months surrounding our trip to Arlington Cemetery.  

Now yesterday my husband stands tall in his “super-suit” and boards a plane to a dangerous place. I held my 5 year old son who couldn’t stop crying as he internalized Daddy’s departure and recalled how it felt when just a couple short years ago he lived through Mommy’s deployment.  How do I answer the already posed question, “but what if Daddy dies?” I know what I tell myself to feel better, but what do I tell a 5 year old? Truth be told, I lied. I told him Daddy won’t die—and I sincerely hope I am correct, but I cannot know the future. 
One of my best friends recently sent me a moving story of a child who was complaining to her mother about “everything” that was going wrong in her life. She was failing a class, her best friend was moving away and her boyfriend broke up with her.  Her mother was baking a cake at the time and asked the child if she would like a snack to make her feel better. The child was ecstatic because she loved her mom’s cake!  Mom said, “Okay, darling, here is some cooking oil for a snack.” “Yuck!” said the child. “Well, fine how about some raw eggs or flour?” “No mom, who would eat that?” “I guess no one would purposefully eat them by themselves dear, but when you put these “yucky” things together the right way they make a delicious cake.” 
God works in much the same way. We may not like the taste of what we are put in the middle of, but when we add all of these ingredients together it comes out perfectly and delightful every time. 
This shall be my biggest challenge yet. I did not enjoy living through any of the circumstances mentioned above. No one would. But inevitably I know that only He can get me through, and I’ve read the last chapter of the book—it’s good! When I’m lonesome, He sends me a friend with a hug and I shall continue to lean not on my own understanding and trusting that with Him, this will be a Piece of Cake!  
 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov 3:5-6)
 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13)
 Reflection Question: Are you too busy balking at the individual ingredients to enjoy the piece of cake?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Mind

Listening to the fireworks the week before the 4th of July has always been fun for me. Independence Day means fests, BBQs and time off from work! It’s summer and in my mind 4th of July should be spent on a lake with something cold in your hand to drink.  The past couple years, especially since serving in Iraq, the 4th of July has held a little more meaning for me. Our independence is not something to just celebrate with parties and friends, but to reflect on the cost to give and uphold that freedom.

This year especially, it reminds me of those enormous sacrifices.  Just after fireworks went on sale, I was talking to a church friend of mine at a birthday party. He didn’t look himself; so being me I couldn’t help but ask what was up with him. At the time he didn’t want to talk, but later during the party he opened up. Rick, who suffers from PTSD, was having a tougher time that usual sleeping due to the fireworks – and since the war tours he’s lucky to sleep much at night without the bangs. The exploding sounds bring on flashbacks, anxiety attacks and nightmares that would send you screaming out of the theater if it were a motion picture. Rick’s sacrifice is invisible to the naked eye, but to those of us who have the honor of calling him friend, we can see how real it is for him every single day. His mind is much like a minefield; he doesn’t always know what will set off a mine, but when it does, it’s hard to recover from.

This Independence Day I am celebrating one short. My dear husband is serving with the Army in support of OPERATION NEW DAWN (AKA OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM) and missing out on the freedoms he and I have sworn to defend. It is a daily struggle to be apart, to know he is missing out on his children’s lives and on enjoying time as a family. The physical struggles of being the only one to clean up the house, or make dinner or warm the bed are mere rain drops compared to the hurricane that wreaks havoc on my mind. My best friend isn’t here to comfort me when I’m having a lousy day or cheer with me when I something exciting happens. I cling to the few minutes we get to talk on the phone, and feel so empty again when we have to hang up. It’s like my glass is half empty—and I’m a glass is half full kind of girl!  

The battlefield of the mind is not new, as a matter of fact, it’s as old as time really. Even while God was literally walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Eve was attacked in this ever important battleground, her mind. The enemy fed her half-truths and played on her fragile emotions and now we must all realize the consequences of her losing that fight.

It’s likely that you too are being attacked on the battle ground of your mind in some way. Whether you realize it or not, you hear lies, and half-truths that you need to actively combat. It’s not passive. This is not the place to say, “It’s all in God’s hands.” YES, we know how the story ends, God is victorious and Jesus returns to earth… but right now, in this firefight, this battle, this WAR we are called to serious Action!

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph 6:10-17)

Be, Put on, Stand, Struggle, Take up, Extinguish—these are ACTION Verbs!

If we don’t take action, the way God has called us to, we will lose the battle. The war is already won, but the battle is ours to take. God has given us the tools, the strength and the might, but we have to use them. They don’t use themselves. Just as Joshua had to lead the Israelites to take the Promised Land by force, God has our own promised land ready for us. We must stand up, endure the struggle, and take what is promised us.

For me that means when thoughts of despair, self-loathing or other negative thoughts come into my mind, I know that is my sinful nature or the devil feeding my battlefield with ammunition. My best bet is to put on my Heavenly Armor and fight back! Wield my sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (aka: what my Bible says) and believe God, not the devil.

Reflection Question: Have you packed up your Sword of the Spirit? Or are you using your sword to defend your Promised Land from God?

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I love the times in my life when I feel God, when I hear Him and when I can specifically convey His message to those around me! That is exciting, fulfilling and awe inspiring. Watching someone take something I’ve written and apply it to their life the way God intended is one of the coolest experiences!

I have heard from some of my greatest and some of my most surprising readers that they truly appreciate my transparency and real world perspective on the “God stuff”. That is what I want to be: notably honest about who I am, who God has made me and how I see eternity. Most of the time, I can see so much eternity in ever day life, I can’t help but write it down. Without even trying, I see God’s hand at work through the Holy Spirit opening my spiritual eyes. That part is so easy and natural for me. Just type or write out what the Eyes of My Heart are seeing. It has got to be really funny to see me hard at work when I don’t have my netbook handy, pecking  out an entry on my iPhone that I just can’t help but get down and saved.

In the silent times, the valleys, the trough of the roller-coaster, so to speak, it’s much harder to be excited, to trust God and to listen. Everything else makes so much noise and pulls my attention elsewhere. It’s in these times though, that I learn the most about my character. From my perspective I have a looooong way to go.

“[We] have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:4b-5)

When I don’t have to work at it very much, I listen to God and bask in the enjoyment of His craft. I am less likely to sin: gossip, unholy thoughts, profane language, etc. while I’m enjoying the spiritual peaks. During those valleys, the Devil likes to coax his way in to my life, slowly as not to be noticed. Sneaky sneaky like, he puts thoughts of entitlement, dereliction of duty,  depression, anxiety, anger, rage, and disappointment into my head, like they are always there… like they Should be there. These can become strongholds for the Devil in my life, and this is where capturing EVERY thought and matching it up to The Living Word of truth is so very important.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)

“[The Devil] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

My relationship with God doesn’t suffer when I don’t hear from Him, it suffers when He doesn’t hear from me! He sets eternity in each of our hearts; it is up to me to seek Him out. It’s not about a feeling I get or motivation or even inspiration. IT is about my relationship with the Holy Trinity, and the devotion I commit to that no matter the season of my life. Having this kind of relationship should not be the “top of your priority list”. It should be a part of Every aspect of that list; vitally integrated into every facet of our lives from the mundane to the once in a lifetime.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matt 6:33)

“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” (Isaiah 55:6)

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  (Luke 12:31)

Reflection Question: Is your relationship with God on your priority list? Is it the top? Or is He part of every priority?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dog Gone It!

I'm a dog person. I just can't help asking to pet the sweet looking dog that is walking its owner down the street. I like boxers and mostly playful bigger dogs, but maybe you prefer little dogs or even cats. There is just something wonderful about coming home and having your dog be so visibly excited that YOU are home!

I'm dog sitting this week for the sweetest dog. He reminds me of my own "baby" Trevor, whom we had to put down, but I still think of often. The first day we had him I wasn't gone more than 45 minutes to pick up the boys from school, but sure enough when I opened the door he was there to greet us so excitedly; you'd think we left him for days!

The way this friend greets me makes me think of the prodigal son. He runs with complete abandon for the one(s) he's been missing. And unabashedly shows the joy he has for your return.

This too is how God thinks of us. When we turn to Him, no matter how long we've been gone, He is purposeful about greeting us with Joy!

"So he got up and went to his father.   But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." "For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate." (Luke 15:20; 24 )

God loves us without us meriting anything. He just chooses to love. All we have to do is decide to receive it. And then we will have more than we could ever want.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Eph 3:20)

Reflection question: Will you choose to receive His gift?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spit the Truth

My two preschool aged boys (3 & 5) have a habit of lying when they know they have done something wrong. They don't want the discipline that is due to them for the choice they have made. So they try to lie. The truth is they get in significantly more trouble for lying than for the actual act itself.

I'm not sure where youngsters come up with the idea to lie, maybe it's our sinful nature, maybe self-preservation, or maybe it's a learned behavior from the other kids they're around. Regardless of the reason, as their Mom it is my job to teach them about truthfulness and also about discipline. It's my job to ensure they mature into honorable young men.

How much more then is it Jesus' job to teach us to mature into righteousness? He teaches us to love the way he loves. Thus to live harmoniously together with others He teaches us to abide in Truth and Grace.

Sadly most people, and most Christians for that matter, do not understand this imperative teaching of Christ about how to relate to one another. So we go on surviving our lives stressed, burnt out, bitter and angry. We perpetuate gossip and hold grudges that produce nothing worth sustaining.

The principle of Truth and Grace is the Answer to the squabbles and bad relationships we endure. To live in Truth and Grace means to be truthful (I wish we all learned this as a child, but we didn't), and then give unmerited forgiveness (aka Grace) to others and ourselves. In theory it is an incredibly simple, incredibly potent way to live. In practice it is much harder to break old habits.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17; emphasis mine)

Some of the keys are:
Not gossiping - if you have an issue with someone you bring it to whomever you have the problem with. And you don't talk it over with your 5 best friends first! You don't bring someone with you to "back you up" because then you're ganging up on that other person.

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (Matt 18:15)
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (Prov 11:13) 
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;  they go down to the inmost parts. (Prov 26:22)

Then after you’ve talked with the person, you forgive completely…even if they don’t apologize. Take the sin that has been committed against you and lay it at the feet of Jesus. Ask Him to heal you where you've been hurt and then let go. Holding on to a grudge against someone does not hurt them; it only brings agony to you. Revenge should not be a word in our vocabulary, always love.

“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!" (Matt 18-21-22) 
'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matt 18:32-35)
“Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.” (Prov 20:22)

Reflection Question: Where do you need to let go (gossip, grudge, anger, bitterness, etc) in order to start living your life in Truth and Grace?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Don't Have

I got an award for my 5 years in the Army and the first thing I thought was "I deserved more than this". Why do I do that? Because I know how much I have sacrificed, and I had expected something significant for that, and I didn’t get what I thought I deserve.

Frances Chan says "we are programed to focus on what we don't have... We forget that we already have everything we need in Him" (Crazy Love 30).

I have been fairly anxious lately about my future and whether I'm making the right decision. In so many ways this solidifies my plan for the future. People, like my leadership in the Army, will always leave me wanting more, but God is more than enough.

When I think about the lessons I learned, the skills I gained and the people’s lives I touched during my time in the Army, I realize how much more those things are worth than a piece of metal and ribbon on my uniform. I don’t do the things I do, for awards, I do them to glorify Christ. 
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matt 6:1)
I do not want to forfeit my reward in heaven for a few “Atta boys” here on earth. Jesus loves me who I am and where I am in my life right now! He will Justify me by His blood and perfect me through the circumstances I am placed in each day.  
Reflection Question: Are you looking for accolades here on earth, or are you storing up your rewards in Heaven?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Easter Sunday. The Devil hates days like this. Churches are packed, people are embracing, children are laughing and playing. It is a blessing to our Lord. But I can almost see the devil throwing a temper tantrum. As a matter of fact, I think I could hear the tantrum Sunday. Lightening flashed and the thunder crashed around our humble aluminum Church building. People were hearing the good news and Satan was MAD. At one point in the busiest service the power went out leaving the Pastor trying to compete with the sound of the heavy rain in the dark.

Time to throw up your hands? Say "I give up." "this is too hard" or "This is supposed to be fun." That is the Devil's goal, to take the wind from your sail (or the power from your microphone). The one thing he doesn't want You to know is: It Is Finished! Jesus has Won.

"Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."  (John 19:30)

Each of us who has professed Jesus as our savior, are Winning every single day because He already paid the price. So if the Devil is attacking you with one of his temper tantrums, tell him to go back where he came from ;) ha ha ha

"Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’"(Matt 4:10)

Reflection Question: How are you irritating Satan this week?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


On my way to Colorado, the man across the aisle was so tall with such long legs he was literally crammed into the seat. His knees were uncomfortably smashed against the chair in front of him. It seemed like every few minutes he would rustle and twitch in his seat to try to "fit" better, but no matter what position he tried to contort, there was no way to fit into that small space. 

Don't we do that with God? We try to cram Him into what our little minds can handle, so we can think we understand.

In our human dullness, God didn’t even have words to explain who He fully is to Moses. All He could explain is that He is the one who always was, and is, and is to come… by saying I am who I am.

“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)

“Day and night [the angels] never stop saying:
   “‘Holy, holy, holy
   is the Lord God Almighty,’
   who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever.” (Rev 4:8-9)

I don't think I want to serve a God I can fully understand. God is mystical. I barely made it through the first level of college calculus. If God is relegated to the likes of what I can understand, we are in bigger trouble than I thought. Those people who cruise right through math may never be able to explain a Shakespearian sonnet. The truth is, we are made in the likeness of God, but none other than Jesus can claim to be or understand God. Even Jesus did not think he could understand God. He did, however know that The Father's plan was best.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Phil 3:5-7)

In Gethsemane Jesus prayed: “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

This will not stop me from following Jesus or from trying to liken my life to His. As a matter of fact, serving God who is so much more than I could ever imagine has me seeking after Him that much more!

Reflection Question: Have you crammed God into something you can understand? Or do you serve the I AM?