Monday (oops! It is Tuesday already!) Invitations | Your 3rd Day is Coming!

Be still and knowThe beauty of a blog is that you only see what I present – typed up pretty and packaged neatly here on the screen.

My life over the past few weeks has been anything but neat and tidy. More like chaotic, crazy and mothering at warp-speed. As I kept up with end of school year activities, baseball season start-up {I feel like we have taken on a second career with both boys actively playing this year!}, a growing doTERRA business, and the realities of home-life – Yes! my family does indeed like to eat three times a day!, I found myself further and further from Christ – my Rock, my Savior. I must draw near. There is Peace to be found in the shadow of His wings. So, today, finally, here I am to take a few moments to pause and reflect.

I write this today for that one person for whom loneliness has settled in despite the swirling busyness of life around them. That one person sitting in the middle of the crowd, yet wondering if anyone notices them or even cares. That one person who appears to have it all together, appears to have a litany of connections and friends, and yet finds herself lonely, disconnected, and out of touch with who she is and was created to be.

Isn’t it amazing how we can experience loneliness amidst a sea of people? I sense loneliness in others. I have been there. I know. After my brother passed, I would find myself looking around as droves of people went on with the normalcy of their days – errands, lunch out with friends, kids’ activities, etc. Their worlds seemed to move quickly forward, while mine seemed to slow down. I wanted to shout at them, “How can you go on living like normal? How can you be normal when I am feeling so much pain?”.

So, it is for you that I write today. For the one who can barely sit still and just wants to run up to someone, shake them loose, and shout, “Look at me! Can’t you see me! Can’t you see my pain? Can’t you see how lonely I am? Look at me!”.

Journey with me to the book of Luke, chapter 24, verses 13-36.

Two men are walking the road to Emmaeus on the very day of the Jesus’ resurrection, about 7 miles from Jerusalem where Jesus was buried.

Verse 14, “and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

Two days have passed since Jesus’ crucifixion. In their grief and sadness, they are not able to see what is right before them. Could they be asking themselves, Is anyone else suffering like we are? Does anyone else get it? For two days they suffer with the loneliness and reality that Jesus is in fact gone.

Then Jesus says to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?”.

Read their response: “And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?

Can you hear the exasperation in their voices? Have you ever felt this way? Loneliness is a constant companion when we are certain others do not understand our pain. Others may know of the event that led to our suffering, but our deepest desire is to be understood and loved through our suffering.

Jesus asks a question that caused them to stand still and feel pain. How often in our journeys of suffering do others make comments or ask questions that cause us to stand still and feel deep pain? It is sometimes the good intentions of others that yield in us deep feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Jesus remains with them through the evening of the third day following his crucifixion. “When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” (vs. 30,31)

This act, the breaking of bread, serves as a reminder of their last meal with Him prior to his death. This symbolic moment opens their eyes to see Him once again. They now see that they were not alone and never had been. He had been with them the entire time. On the third day, they saw Christ.

For you who is experiencing loneliness right now, who is desperate to see Him in your suffering. Remain where you are. He will find you. He will come alongside you. He will reveal himself to you in a way you will see him.

You are not alone. He sees you. He is here, present with you right now. Forever and always. Your third day is coming. The scales will fall from your eyes and you will see that He was with you the entire time.

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Monday Invitations | Dedicated to those for whom this is NOT a happy Memorial Day

child kissing headstone

Last year, our family lived in Carlisle, PA while my husband attended the Army War College. He is active duty Air Force and had the privilege of being invited to attend this prestigious program with his fellow Army, Navy, and Marine armed service members.

Over the year, we listened to a number of stories of those lost in active duty. We became friends with people whom have served and led on the front lines. I listened as spouses recounted the stress and strain they endured as they waited and wondered if their warrior would return home alive. I listened as they talked of not one, not two, but five year-long deployments that were threatening to tear the families apart. I learned of their friends who had taken their lives in the aftermath of their time in “the desert” – every day reliving the atrocities to which they had born witness. I watched as those who bear the cross on their uniform and the share the Good News of Jesus suffered under the strains of PTSD.

We are an Air Force family. My husband actively serves. He has deployed a number of times, at most for a year. He has flown in enemy air and landed on enemy soil. And, we have sacrificed for our country. But, we have been somewhat shielded from the extreme conditions so many of our fellow Army service members and families have endured. Don’t get me wrong, the Air Force has suffered great loss, too. I can think of friends who have lost loved ones and dear friends both in “the desert” and in the air. We suffer too. We remember those in our ranks who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

But, for whatever reason, our family has served more than one Joint Base assignment. Which means that we have lived and worked among personnel across all branches of the armed forces for 6 of the past 12 years. And, in my opinion, the Army has given and lost the most.

I ache today for them. I ache for my chaplain friend who is soon to report to a base where two mass shootings have taken place within one year of another. He suffers from PTSD for time served. I ache for my sweet friend who lost her husband while he was deployed and now uses her grief and faith to come alongside and comfort others who are suffering. I ache for my sweet Army wife friends who feel others don’t understand their suffering and pain, who are beyond weary facing yet another deployment. I ache for the Army as a whole as we read again and again the reality of suicides, homicides, and mass shootings in their midst.

I am tender to all those who have lost a loved one due to war – whether it is on the battlefield or as a result of the fallout. But, for whatever reason and of which I have a very difficult time explaining, my heart is with my Army friends today.

You have suffered too much. You have suffered more than any one group of people should have to suffer. Gather together and love one another in your grief. Bear one another’s burdens and together you can stand. You are not forgotten. I remember the exhaustion on your faces when we met over a year ago. I remember thinking of all you have carried for our country. I remember thinking of the sacrifices your children have given, of all they have been asked to endure. You Army spouses are some of the strongest and most courageous ones out there.

I invite you to consider this today:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15)

“Part of what it means to share in Christ’s suffering is to share in the suffering of those whom Christ loves. You participate in Christ’s sufferings by sharing the pain with those who suffer, not only fellow Christians, but people anywhere in the world who are hurting. You participate in Christ’s suffering when you come alongside the hurting and offer them the blessing of presence. You participate in Christ’s suffering when you weep with those who weep. You participate in Christ’s sufferings when you die to yourself so that you can fully enter into the pain and suffering of another person.

You may never be more Christlike that when you participate in the sufferings and sorrows of a hurting world, wrestling with the pain and providing the comfort of community. Christ set the pattern: death, then rebirth; dying, then living again; suffering, then consolation. As you model the life of Christ in ministry to others, you become Christ to hurting people.

Jesus called his followers to pattern their lives after his, and that pattern includes dignifying pain and suffering. Pain is real, it hurts, and it matters. Rather than minimizing or denying the hurt, Christians are most like Christ when they enter into the pain of those who are suffering – not to be weighted down or consumed by it, but to help bear the burden. Jesus says that when you provide care in his name to the least of his brothers or sisters,  you are having compassion on him (Matthew 25:31-40). So when you care for those in need, you are offering a doubly powerful witness to the presence of Christ in the world – Christ alive in  you and in the one to whom you are offering care.” (Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart: How to Relate to Those Who are Suffering, Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D., pp. 33-34)

I know there are many for whom this Memorial Day is not a happy one. I am so sorry for your loss. I grieve with you today. You are not forgotten.

with love,

jana

This Military Life | What if they find out who I really am?

Children of GodI am aware of something I haven’t felt in a long time. I am worried my underbelly will be exposed. Maybe it is showing already?

I am worried that people will see me for who I really am and not like me anymore. I am worried that I will come to disappoint them or let them down or anger them in some way.

And, then it hits me, we are not moving this summer.

We have either moved or had a deployment every single year since 2009. And for the first time in 5 years, we are not facing a major life transition. In many ways, I am completely relieved and nearly giddy to know that I do not have to pack up a house this summer or say goodbye to my hubby.

But, there is something else that is rearing its ugly head. I am realizing that the longer I stay here, the greater my fear is that the people who like me now may change their mind. As I stay longer in one place, the initial first-impression wears off and I feel the pressure of continually having to prove myself. What if I fail? What if they don’t like what they see anymore? What if I anger someone unknowingly? What if I disappoint them?

It is kind of like those fabulous pair of new shoes that you wear the first couple of times and feel like a million bucks. After the 4th and 5th time of wearing them, they seem to have lost their novelty and charm and begin to blend into the other pairs sitting on your shelf.

What if the novelty of me wears off?

What if I just begin to blend in and people don’t want to know me anymore?

Wow! It is powerful for me to write this all down and get this into words. And, I must admit, I am surprised by my feelings. The fact is, I don’t generally grow self-conscious until someone begins to get too close. Meeting for coffee once or twice feels comfortable, but then during the first long dinner conversation I begin to feel tense and uncomfortable worrying that I am going to to say something that offends or that reveals that I am just as common as everyone else. Do you ever feel this way? Or, am I the only one?

I guess, when it all comes down to it, I like being the new person in the crowd. It’s a fresh start. A chance to make a new first impression. No one knows my history or who I was before or whether or not people liked me. They get to garner their own impression of me. And, hey, my fears of those first impressions go out the window knowing that usually it is often the new person that gets the biggest welcome! (I am speaking from my own personal experience here, your experience may be completely different.) My novelty wears off after we have been around for a while.

And yet, I am a child of God. None of that should matter! What I am to be has not yet been made known! There is more to come. I am promised that I shall become like him!

 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And, that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But, we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:1,2

God sees my underbelly. He sees my ugly, my dirty, my messy, my out-of-control. He sees me in the darkest of moments, the moment when I am most raw and vulnerable. The moments when I have made, just maybe, the biggest mistake of my life! The moments I am too ashamed to talk about, and too weak to admit even to myself.

But, I am a child of God! He loves me anyway! Can I accept that? Can I truly accept His gift of grace?

I belong to His family. He is saving me a place in His mansion! He has created a room just for me!

My sweet 8-year-old and I just had a conversation recently about heaven. I am going to try my best to get it right, but seriously, I just melt at my sweet boy’s voice, dimples, and sheer enthusiasm for everything eternal, so I may not be able to capture it fully.

“Mommy, did you know that when we go to heaven we get to do whatever we want!” “Oh really? Well what would you do?” “I would play video games all the time!” “Well do you think God will allow video games in heaven?” “No, probably not.” “Yeah, I think you are right. It says in the Bible that we are going to worship and sing and prasie His name alongside the angels. Won’t that be amazing? We will be too busy spending time with God to play video games.” “Yeah! And I am going to ride on a Peregrine Falcon!”

Even my 8-year-old gets it! Eternity means no video games and taking flight on a Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine Falcon is his favorite bird. He can tell you everything about it and even spot them miles up into the sky. He knows that God is saving a place just for him where he can worship His Creator and ride a Peregrine Falcon high in the sky.

May I have the faith of a child. May I believe today in the deepest parts of me that I am loved just as I am, and that I am a child of God. That even though first impressions wear off, and underbellies are exposed, He will still hold me close and call me His beloved. Amen

With Love,

jana

Monday Invitations |Why we MUST pray for our children.

Sit upon the throne of their heartsI have been neglectful in my prayer life, specifically when it comes to my boys. I am ashamed to say that I have not been tapping into the power of prayer. I have felt convicted for some time about this and am committing to regular prayer for my boys.

I want to be intentional in prayer for them. I want more than the quick “good-night” prayer, where under my breath, I am really just asking God to make them fall off to sleep quickly! I want to pray for their hearts, souls and minds. I want to pray protection over them as I see the influence of this world having greater and greater weight on them. I want to invite God into their lives to mold them and shape them into men of God.

I have selected morning time after I get back from the school drop-off. I am praying from Stormie Omartian’s book, The Power of a Praying Parent. I enter their rooms, sit on their beds, place my hand on their pillows, and read a prayer from Stormie’s book. I then say a prayer of my own and remain in silence for a moment imagining them at school with their friends and teachers. I imagine the Spirit of God filling their heart, mind and souls.

I am confident that I play an important role as I stand in the gap for my children and invite God to come into their lives.

Let the little children come to me, he says. Jesus invites them. Matthew 19:14

 My boys have each invited Jesus into their hearts. They believe earnestly and passionately. And, for that I am eternally grateful. But, I am aware that there is something more that I can do on their behalf as their mother by praying for them – in their room, in their space, meditating on their day. I believe there is power beyond what I can possibly comprehend in this daily habit. I am confident that I am doing God’s work and potentially changing the course of their eternal history by inviting God to reside in their rooms, in their lives, and fill them anew every day.

Come, my Light, and illumine their darkness. Come, my Life, and revive them from death. Come, my Physician, and heal their wounds. Come, Flame of Divine Love, and burn up the thorns of their sins, kindling their hearts with the flame of thy love. Come, my King, sit upon the throne of their hearts and reign there. For thou alone art their King and their Lord. Amen – St. Dimitrii of Rostov

I invite you today to re-consider the power you hold – the power given to us by our heavenly Father to pray over our children. To stand in the gap for them. We must take our role seriously. We must take time to diligently and earnestly pray for their hearts, minds and souls.

With Love,

jana

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

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