This Military Life | A Shout-Out to all of my Fellow Military Spouses

YOU ROCK!! That is what I would say to you if you were standing in front of me. I would look you in the eye,  put my hand on your arm or shoulder  and tell you that YOU ROCK!!

Military Spouse Appreciation 2014

 

You are truly one of the most amazing group of people I know. You say yes, when you really want to say no. You boldly step up and help families who are in need of love and attention. You bravely say goodbye to your warrior, then welcome them home with open arms. You guide, direct, and teach your children to love their military parent and to be proud of the sacrifices they are making for our country, even when your child is making deep sacrifices of their own.

You stand tall and proud of our country and our men and women in uniform. You bravely embark on new challenges – moves, deployments, changes in routines and schools for our kids.

You mentor other spouses when you can, and with deep courage and humility ask for help when you need it.

We, military spouses, have learned that bearing one another’s burdens is what is required at times. We lean on others when we need to. We let others lean on us when they have to. We move in response to change like the gentle sway of a wheat field in the wind. We are not fickle, or aloof, or naive. We don’t blindly bend with the winds of change. No! Just like swaying wheat, our roots are strong and deep.

We know ourselves. We know what we stand for. We know what we believe in. We understand the greater purpose for which we serve. And, we do it with grace, honor, respect, dignity, and humility.

The Military Spouse is like none other. They are changing the world as they move from place to place.

I have a friend who will be in her location for a total of two years. Yet, she is investing her time in radically transforming the way our community perceives and addresses the needs of the kids in our foster system. She is rallying churches, families, community members, and city and state government to change the course of history for these kids. She is leading with her heart, mind, and spirit with a fire and passion that makes me proud to call her a friend.

I have another who is learning to love her children, her husband and herself in new and profound ways. Three of her children were born while her husband was deployed. Their first and now their set of twins. She is shifting her thoughts, perspective and prayer life in order to embrace her life’s challenges with grace and love. Currently amidst a second deployment in the past 8 months, she is courageously reaching out when she needs support, yet at the same time stepping up to help other families when she can. She is a testament of the military spouse’s sure will and commitment to be an example of resilience not only for her family, but also for those who are watching.

I have another friend who is blogging her way through her husband’s deployment. While she is painfully missing him, she bears her soul for us all to see that we are not alone in our sadness. All the while, she is providing for others a safe online home where they can admit when they are down and allow others to hold them until they have the power to stand on their own.

Let me say it again, YOU ROCK!!

I am in deep awe, and humbly grateful to be a part of your ranks. I am proud to be a Military Spouse! It has transformed me in ways I have not yet fully grasped. My life as a military spouse has led me to seek out my Maker with perseverance, and to run this race He has given me boldly and with a determination to finish my race well.

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day. I love you all!!

jana

Monday Invitations |

let all rejoice

A wave of exhaustion settles in. I am tired. Weary of relationships that do not seem to work…sometimes. Weary of protecting some and avoiding offense to others. Tired of being less of myself and more of what others want from me. Weary of pretending that words do not hurt my confidence, sense of self or shake me at the core of who I am.

I run to the Psalms hoping I can find comfort in David’s words.

Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord;you cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:1-8, 11, 12)

We can seek and will find refuge in our Lord God. He will cover us with his protection. His favor will cover us as a shield. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. These promises are true and breathe new life into those who cling to them. To God be the Glory.

Praying you find refuge in His words today.

jana

Monday Invitations | Have you Chosen to See Christ?

Arise Shine

 

There are those of you for whom Easter Sunday was not a celebration. You sat through the service. Listened to the Choir sing the celebratory anthem. Sang the familiar hymns. Recited the familiar scripture. And, heard the resurrection story. Yet, you did not feel joy or celebration of any sort. You may have wondered what was wrong with you. Or, wondered why you didn’t feel what others seem to be experiencing.

Let me ask you a question…

Have you Chosen to See Christ? 

In John 20:1-19 it says this,

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was a gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Mary Magdalene, a devout follower of Christ, was a woman whom Jesus had healed from 7 demons. (Luke 8:2)  Her devotion was a result of his love and care for her. He saw beyond her demons; He saw her for who she truly was in Christ. Upon his resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. She was the one to deliver the news of Jesus’ resurrection to the Disciples – in fact Jesus instructed her to.

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news:“I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:17, 18)

Jesus calls her by name, “Mary”. She fully recognizes her Savior. She knows his voice. Her despair at finding an empty tomb turns to utter joy and inexpressible peace at the sound of His Voice.

He rescued her from 7 demons, and she chose to see him, to trust him with her life. Mary Magdalene’s life story is an Easter Story of Resurrection – a broken life made new.

For those of you who struggle at Easter to partake in the celebration, know that you are not alone. I have struggled, too. I have sat in church year after year wondering why I didn’t feel anything, why my heart was empty of joy and passion. Christ was patient with me. I learned to listen for his voice. He called my name, and I chose to see Him.

Be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to seek healing from the Great Healer and you will find it. Jesus came to clear the clutter from our lives so that we can find our way home to Him. All for the purpose of having a new life in Christ. You must believe that this can and will happen for you. The joy on Easter morning that you long for, will follow belief. Practice belief and the feelings will follow. I promise.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Draw  near to Christ through the study of Scripture, prayer, and fellowship with other followers of Christ. Spend time in relationship with Him so that when He calls you by name, you will know his voice.

You, too, can be an Easter Story of Resurrection, a life made whole in Christ.

Choose to see Christ. 

Peace,

jana

 

Monday Invitations | Grace Our Lives that We May Learn to Love Others by Giving Ourselves to Them

I invite you to consider this prayer today. It is a prayer of thanksgiving, one that follows Holy Communion.

We thank you for giving us this meal, shared in the Spirit, through which we have encountered the Real Presence of God once more. Grace our lives that we may learn to love others by giving ourselves to them and at the last come to share in the heavenly banquet of your kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

love others - white rose

Grace our lives that we may learn – With this statement, we invite Christ to enter our mind, body and soul, to grace our lives with His presence. God is patient, kind, and gentle. He offers us His love, but doesn’t force it on us. We must open our hearts to receive Him.

We give part of ourselves, in order to learn to love others. Think of the mother and her child. Think of the newly married couple. Think of the adult caring for their aging parent. Or the family with a newly adopted child. These are new relationships requiring each to learn to love the other. Self-sacrifice is required of us all when we earnestly seek to love another as Christ has loved us.

Think of that person in your life right now that you find difficult to love. We can all name at least one. It is in the giving of ourselves that we will learn to love them. Take a moment to embrace that truth.

Will it be hard? Yes. Will you want to quit? Yes. Is it worth it? YES!

We can and should learn to love another. What might we sacrifice in order to learn to love someone? A portion of our time? A portion of our energy? Effort? Sleep? Creativity? Money?

Harry Beckwith in “What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business” says this, Sacrifices tell people that you care, which makes them care more in return. Your sacrifice transforms the relationship. Now you no longer are a service. You are their service. While this is a book intended for business building, it aptly captures our role as disciples of Christ. We are in the business of building the Kingdom of God in the name of Jesus Christ!

Did you know that in learning to truly love someone else, you are being transformed more greatly into the image of Christ? Knowing this will flip all personal entitlement, “me-centered” thinking on its head.

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

While we were and are still sinning, he died for us. It’s all grace. His love for us is freely given, no strings attached. Unconditional, pure love for you and me. We should be able to love others with the same unconditional love, but, it comes at a cost.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

Are you willing to sacrifice for another? He will grace you with his presence and show you how. Ask Him in. Ask Him to join you and help you to learn to love someone else by giving of yourself. You won’t regret it.

And, what is it all for? What is the point? Look above – it says it in the prayer: 

“at the last come to share in the heavenly banquet of your kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”

That is the entire point! It is why we love sacrificially. We give ourselves to others in love because it brings us both closer to our final destination – eternal life in Christ.

I assure you it is worth the cost, the sacrifice, the yielding of our time, money, energy, and even sleep. (I am thinking of you sleep deprived mommas out there.)

This prayer may seem simple, but it will penetrate to your deepest most selfish parts. I invite you to ponder and sit with it for a while.

Happy Monday,

jana

Lent | Are we idolizing the “giving-up” or the Giver of Life?

Rick WarrenThe 40-days of Lent began a week ago today. I realize I am late with this post. My calendar has been jammed packed with lots of good things. I was hoping to get this out last Wednesday, and was disappointed I had missed my personal goal. However, I believe there is a reason for everything and this post might be timely after all.

We are a week into trying to follow through on our commitment to “give-up” {fill in the blank}. How is it going? Is it getting harder to commit? Have you been tempted? Have others given you a hard time for your diligence? 

It is usually about a week in when I struggle. I crave the chocolate and can’t stand it anymore thinking a little bite won’t hurt. No one will know.

Facebook was very active last week with my friends stating what they planned to give up. Some warned us that they were not going to be on Facebook for the 40-days, and that if we wanted to reach them, we would have to use actual email instead of Messenger. Oh, how times have changed!

I have prayed in preparation for this Lenten Season asking God to show me how I should observe this time. It often becomes a time of silence and reflection, a drawing in and a drawing closer to Christ.

Up until Ash Wednesday, I had been puzzled as to what I should yield In His Name, an emptying of “me” so that I can more fully be filled with Him. Nothing I have seems right. Nothing I crave seems right. Nothing can possibly be enough. He did so much for me. How can I possibly do enough for Him?

But, then I remember. It isn’t about doing anything. He hasn’t asked me to do anything for Him. He has offered me a Gift of His Love and asks me to take His gift with hands extended, knees bowed, and with a repentant heart, mind and spirit.

According to the Scriptures, the 40-days Jesus spent in the desert preceded his 3 years of ministry on Earth. He spent 40-days fasting, praying and intimately connecting with His Father, all the while being tempted to sin by Satan. Jesus had been led to the desert by the Holy Spirit in order to prepare for what was to come.

Ultimately, Jesus knew that his life would end on a cross – denied by those who professed to love him, humiliated and mocked, beaten and spat on. Jesus knew what was coming. Death. His body on a cross for us. For you. For me.

How can my “giving-up” something even compare?

But, you see, we are being asked to give up something not because it can somehow compare to what he gave for us. We are being asked to give up something as a reminder of how the state our hearts, minds and souls should be when we commit to a life in Christ.

Imagine with me for a second the posture you take when giving up something. I see open hands, a leaning into the other person. a letting go, a yielding and acceptance that this thing, person, idea whatever it is, is no longer your own. You have come to a place of acceptance and humility where you can freely give it away.

Are you there? Are you feeling free in your “giving-up” here in this season of Lent? Or, are you begrudging the practice and dreading that moment when you will crave chocolate?

If you are begrudging this time, or gloating about what you are “giving-up” to your friends, then, folks, you are missing the entire point! We are not to gloat about the “sacrifice” we are making. We dishonor Him and the entire purpose of this season when we do this. These 4o days are between you and Him. And, forgive me for saying this, but I do not agree with using Lent as a time to cut out some tempting food in hopes that you will lose some weight.

Let us not dishonor Christ by misusing this time. Giving up a food item, or TV or FB can be very worthwhile, if, when you feel the temptation, you go to the Lord in prayer with a spirit of humility and repentance. We can use those hunger pains as a reminder to draw close to him.

This step, drawing close to Christ in prayer and communion, is crucial and without it we are dishonoring him and idolizing the “giving-up” and not the Giver of Life.

Ask the Lord to lead you to a place of true repentance. Imagine yourself kneeling at His feet, head bowed, hands open and ask Him, “Lord, what do you want me to give up so that I can draw closer to You?”

You might be surprised by His answer!

You see, just like Jesus in the desert, we can utilize this time of Lent to prepare our hearts, minds and souls for what is to come in our own lives. He is calling us to God-sized dreams. He is calling us to use our time, talents, and gifts to serve Him. In order for His light to shine through us, we must become empty of our “selves” and be filled with His Spirit.

I know many of you are being called to do something for Christ that is totally out of your comfort zone. I know, because I am experiencing it and I am talking to many who are right there with me.

If you need encouragement to follow Him and pursue the “God-sized dream” that He is calling you to, you need to go no further than Jennie Allen’s book “Restless”. I am reading it now.

Why not use this season to idolize the Giver or Life, the Giver of God-sized Dreams? Let us be careful that the efforts we put forth to give up something, whatever it is, not become our idol. I would be very easy to focus our attention on the discipline it takes to give something up rather than on the One who gave up everything for us. The practice of giving-up something is a good one if we are diligent in the using it the way it was intended.

May your Lenten season be filled with peace, silent moments with God the Father, and maybe even a few surprises along the way.

With love,

jana

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