How to Encourage a Military Family

I’ve taken a short coffee break from blogging, however, I’m still freelance writing.

My story “Tender Mercies” appeared in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul:Military Families. My story shows the challenges and concerns that I faced when my husband was deployed overseas and we had young kids.

Whether you’re a service member, or the spouse, child, parent, or friend of one, you’ll find inspiration, support, and appreciation in this collection of personal stories about military families.

As Memorial Day approaches, may I encourage you to purchase this book for yourself or someone you know who’s serving in the military.

You’ll also be helping the USO because royalties from this book goes to support the USO which supports military veterans and their families across the globe.

Thanks!

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Patience & Perspective

Love is patient, but I’m not.

Oh, I can patiently wait in a grocery line.
I patiently listen when my son discusses the latest video game.
I’m patient while I hold the door for an elderly person who walks at a snail’s pace.

But I’m not patient with myself when it comes to losing weight.

That’s because if I’m going to “suffer” (the meaning of the Latin word patient) during a diet, I want to see immediate results. And I don’t want to suffer long. So it makes sense that long suffering is another word for patience.
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Last week I had two options: Lose weight or buy bigger pants. Only the thought of counting points, calculating calories, and avoiding certain foods left me nauseous. I decided to try…..

Thin Within which is a grace-based approach to losing/maintaining weight. Don’t eat until you’re truly hungry and then stop eating when you’re satisfied based on a 0-10 scale. Zero is true hunger, five is a satisfied tummy. Ten is stuffed.

I didn’t expect Thin Within to focus on Bible study questions and knowing God’s character. However, if that’s the secret to losing weight, sign me up for the twelve-week ride.

Day One: I patted myself on the back for answering the workbook questions, and waiting for an empty stomach before I ate. I even did leg lifts and sit ups for good measure.

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(No, those aren’t my legs in the photo).

Day Two: I gulped water to appease false hunger pains and chewed my bottom lip instead of consenting to a snack. May I recommend strawberry lip gloss?

Day Three: I bit my white knuckles. “Are we there yet?” Twelve weeks might as well be twelve months.

I also stepped on the scale—although it’s verboten—and groaned. I hadn’t lost an ounce. Doubts crept in. Does Thin Within work? Or is the Bible Study designed to get my mind off the size of my derrière?

I decided to burn calories to make things happen faster. I walked for three miles in the heat of the day. When I stepped on the scale, I’d lost a pound in one hour. Thanks to sweating profusely!

You see, Thin Within isn’t something to try on for size and discard if there aren’t immediate results. It’s a life-long journey that requires patience and a new perspective. That’s because weight loss and toning muscles is a process.

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And that process doesn’t happen overnight any more than spiritual sanctification.

Years ago, I became tired of being a performance-oriented Christian. I wanted to know God more intimately, and ask Him to use every circumstances in my life as an opportunity to transform me into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29)

Suffering succotash! Talk about a slow, painful process.

Thin Within is designed to help people lose weight by renewing the mind with God’s truth. Total makeover.

In less than a week, I’ve had to re-examine my expectations and long-term goals.

Thin Within can be a twelve-week sprint where I arrive breathless, red-faced, and a few pounds lighter.

Or this can be the starting point of a life-long journey where I learn to cope with disappointment and stress without depending on food as my ally. Or having an edible idol that enslaves me.

May sound like a tall order, but if I can be patient—suffer and show self-restraint without getting upset—then I can shed pounds naturally, AND grow more in love with God in the process.

Photos: www.jennywredephotography.com

 

 

 

Who Do You Belong To?

Back in the day,

I raised my right hand and swore allegiance to my country. I also promised to fulfill my responsibilities as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

When the golden bars—defining me as a Second Lieutenant—were pinned on my blue uniform, I relinquished my rights as a private citizen.

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I belonged to Uncle Sam.

My job, where I lived, and what I wore to work was out of my hands. Even the length of my hair was regulated. It couldn’t fall below the bottom of my collar.

At a moment’s notice, I could be uprooted from my family and sent overseas. After all,  “If the military wanted you to have a family, they’d have issued you one.

I knew this when I raised my hand as a single woman. No one forced me to join the military.

Just like no one forced me to profess my faith in Christ and be baptized.

I served in the Air Force for ten years before I resigned my commission to become a stay-at-home mom.

But nothing can separate me from Christ. I am not my own. 

According to the Bible, I’ve been bought by the blood of Christ, adopted into God’s family; sealed by the Holy Spirit.

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Sadly, HOW I LIVE as a soldier of Christ will reflect who I belong to; the depth of my allegiance. Am I willing to… 

  • Surrender my rights
    Accept His will
    Obey at all costs

In his book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers said,

Jesus stresses what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. That’s why our Lord used the word “If” whenever He spoke about discipleship.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” (Luke 9:23)

Sobering words.

Especially If I claim to love Christ, but live “My Way” like Frank Sinatra’s song.

But, what if I didn’t do it my way?

What if I chose to consider and obey the “If” statements of Christ rather than worry about the “what if’s” in life that may or may not happen?

What if I vowed to…

  • Acknowledge Christ as Lord of my life.
    Bow to His supremacy.
    Behave like a bondservant and ambassador of Christ.

What if I followed Jesus…

Not because it’s my Christian duty, but with a heart filled with love for Him who died for me?

Can you imagine an army of Christ that truly belonged to Him?

2 Timothy 2:3

Wanna Pick a Fight?

Whoever said “If looks could kill” must have seen the elderly woman who accused me of cutting in front of her in the post office line.

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For being petite, her voice was like a boom box. “EXCUSE ME!”

I spun around, holding my large package. “I’m sorry. Were you in line?”

“What do you think?”

Everyone else in line turned around. They stared at me like I was a monster. After all, what kind of person picks on little old ladies?

“I’m…I’m sorry. I thought that woman was the end of the line.”

“And why would I be standing here?”

I waved an imaginary white flag and walked behind her.  “I thought you were waiting in line for that other window.”

I pointed to a window in the lobby.

The woman glared at the window. Then at me. “What’s that window?”

“It’s for people who only need to pick up packages.”

She waved a pink slip in my face. “You mean this?”

I nodded, hoping I’d redeemed myself.

“Well, I’ve been standing here forever! I hope they can help me.”

She stepped out of line and went to the other window to wait. While I snuck out of  the post office…..without mailing my package.

I HATE conflict.

That’s how I’m wired. I’d rather be a peacemaker than a warrior. I don’t want to get injured. I don’t want people to think unkindly of me. And yet—

Does that passive mindset creep into my spiritual walk? Am I afraid to confront Satan? 

My mentor, Loretta, told me, “We need to be willing to fight when it comes to spiritual intimacy with God.”

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  • Fight the Enemy who loves to distract us from spending time with God.
  • Fight spiritual indifference when it creeps into our life and makes us settle for second best instead of God’s best.

When we’re indifferent about our spiritual growth and relationship with the Lord, we tend to neglect the things of God. We lack motivation.

Other times, we make ourselves attend church, read our Bible, and pray. Try as we might, we’re just going through the motions.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God, but pursuing intimacy with Him is our choice.

If our relationship with God is important, we’ll sound the battle cry and:

  • Put on the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • Worship God in song regardless of our feelings.
  • Rebuke Satan with scripture and prayer.
  • Claim God’s promises.

That woman in the post office didn’t need to pick a fight with me. I wasn’t the enemy. A soft word would have sufficed.

And yet, that’s how I want to react when busyness or apathy steals my rightful place near God. I want to look the Enemy in the eye and shout, “Get thee behind me!”

What’s your Excuse?

Easter Sunday, my friend leans over the church pew and says,  “I notice you’re alone. Do you have plans today?”

I shake my head.

“Then come to our home for ham dinner.” Her smile is warm like fresh-baked Hot Cross Buns.

“Thank you for the invite. Very thoughtful of you, but….”

“Come. You don’t need to bring a thing.”

“I’ll think about it.”

But a dozen excuses prevents me from accepting her kind invitation.

No doubt….my loss.

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What excuses did people make when Jesus invited them to,“Follow me.”

  • “Permit me to say goodbye to those at home.” Luke 9:61
  • “He became very sad; for he was extremely rich.” Luke 18:23
  • “This is a diffcult statement; who can listen to it.” John 6:60
  • “They loved the approval of men….” John 12:43
  • “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to him?” John 10:20

Pride, unbelief, lovers of money, other people’s opinion, personal safety.

Are the excuses any different today?

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What about when bad things happen to good people?

Is that a valid excuse to not follow Jesus?

Remember Job? God described Job as a “blameless, upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” And yet, Job suffered the loss of his children, property, health. What made it worse…

God Allowed it

Even so, Job didn’t use his miserable circumstances as an excuse to take his wife’s advice, “Curse God, and die.”

Instead he said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?

Then he later added, “I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25

I know my Redeemer lives.”

Do you know Job’s Redeemer? Do you know this Man, Jesus who was …

  • Delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.
  • Nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put to death.”

Do you know that…

  • God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death.
  • Since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2:23, 24)

Jesus, our Redeemer lives. He’s seated in heaven at the right hand of God.

Some people will hear the Resurrection message on Easter and respond exactly like the men in Athens when they heard Paul declare that God raised Jesus from the dead.  (Acts 17:30-32)

They will sneer!

They will find an excuse to turn down the invitation to believe in the name of Jesus, and follow Him.

But Praise God’s Holy name, there will be others who will hear the same message and say….

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We shall hear you again concerning this.” 

Which person are you?

Where was God?

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Where was God?

Where was the Almighty while twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christian men were murdered by ISIS for professing their faith in Christ?

Joshua 24:15 says, Choose you this day whom you will serve….

And on February 16th, 2015~~

Twenty-one Christians chose the name of Jesus!

This horrific event happened last month, but the image of these martyrs will not be forgotten. Not by me.

What about God? 

Is there any doubt that He saw these men dying for their faith, claiming the name of Jesus?

If so,then why not spare these men?

Why didn’t God step onto planet Earth and perform a miracle that would prove He is real, and turn the world upside down? And thereby show how much God loves His own.

The ones He chose and knows by name.

Actually, God did!

Two thousand year ago, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Jesus, the Son of God, spoke about the Kingdom of God. He performed miracles to prove His deity.

Then God demonstrated His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us“(Romans 5:8).

But in case we forget, Jesus warned His followers: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). “…If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you….” (John 15:20)

Where was God when the twenty-one Christians died?

God was present with each man.

Because His Spirit lives inside every Believer, and the Lord has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:25).

Twenty-one Christians died, but “their blood is the seed of Christianity.”

The words of Tertullian’s (A.D. 160-230) during the early stage of Christianity rings true today:

Proceed in your career of cruelty, but do not suppose that you will thus accomplish your purpose of extinguishing the hard sect (the Christians). We are like the grass, which grows the more luxuriantly the oftener it is mown. The blood of Christians is the seed of Christianity. Your philosophers taught men to despise pain and death by words; but how few their converts compared with those of the Christians, who teach by example! The very obstinacy for which you upbraid us is the great propagator of our doctrines. For who can behold it, and not inquire into the nature of that faith which inspires such supernatural courage? Who can inquire into that faith, and not embrace it, and not desire himself to undergo the same sufferings in order that he may thus secure a participation in the fulness of divine favor?