Mighty Warrior

Mighty Warrior

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”(Judges 6:11)

Mighty Warrior – it’s what the angel of the Lord called Gideon.

What was Gideon doing at the time?

I asked the same question. So, I went back and looked. I thought for sure he was doing something great and courageous already, maybe a leader of men. It seems, though, that God doesn’t usually call men from such places.

He seems to choose the unlikely, the lowly, the un-expecting.

Think about Mary, David, Joseph, John the Baptist, Deborah. All of them not likely candidates for God to use in mighty and powerful ways, but used nonetheless.

Gideon was much the same.

When the angel of the Lord called him, he was threshing wheat. It was a process for farmers to separate the grain from the straw. Gideon was doing this on his own, not with oxen or other animals to walk over them. He was also doing it in an isolated place because of those Midianites. Here he was in relative obscurity, doing his job, when the angel came to him.

But, the angel called him “Mighty Warrior.” What is up with that?

I see something in that that encourages and strengthens me in my personal walk.

It could, no doubt, be for many reasons, but the reason that jumps out to me is that the Lord saw something in him before it came to be. God knew what he had created Gideon to do from the day he was born to the day he died. This was one of those days.

He saw the mighty warrior in Gideon. He called him to be more because God knew he was made for more.

This I love because if God saw more in Gideon, He sees more in me too. Gods knows what I was made to do. He knows what I can be and He calls me. Through the simple obedience of each day, He is preparing me for more. He knows the longing of my heart to impact the world for the kingdom, far beyond what I can see. I pray that He sees in me what He saw in Gideon.

I want to be a mighty warrior, too.

 

No Regrets

No Regrets

Life is a battle.

Sometimes the battle is more in my mind and heart than in the world where I live.

To do or not to do? Was I wrong or right? Could I have done it differently or better? These are questions I am tempted to ask myself all the time. And if I don’t watch it, I will camp here.

Not a good thing.

Praying and pondering is a good thing. Seeking the Lord’s guidance, well, what could be better? But at some point, we’re required to “do,” to move forward. If you’re like me, I do take action and then replay the entire scenario in my mind, question how I did something, wonder if I could have done better, and then sometimes even ponder forever over whether it was the right thing to do.

In the Army, they have something called an AAR (After Action Report). Following an event or exercise, they go back, make notes, and write feedback. These are helpful because if and when these things are required again they ideally do it better the second time—that is if folks actually read the AAR.

In real life, an AAR is helpful. Even as individuals we really desire to do things better the next time or help keep others from making the same mistakes we do. These are good things. But there is some line in there where it goes from being an AAR to being a list of regrets.

This is not good.

Last time I checked I was pretty human, making mistakes on a regular basis. I have yet to follow the Lord perfectly every time. I know you’re shocked.

Dwelling on those mistakes, replaying them over and over can take me from a life of abundance and grace to a heart of failure and fear. In about two seconds.

Fear then keeps me from wholeheartedly doing what God has called me to do. It’s a cycle none of us desires, but one in which we can easily get stuck.

But how do we go from the AAR to moving forward in faith, skipping the sinkhole of regret?

It comes down to one easy word that we have a hard time getting our brain around. It’s called grace. God extends it so freely to us on a regular basis. We extend it to others pretty regularly as well, but we don’t necessarily extend it to ourselves very well.

Today, let’s do that. Realizing that we are human and desiring to do better the next time than we did the last, let’s step forward in faith and hope, trusting that God can take even our worst day and do something good with it. We have to remember, too, that God is looking at our heart and not necessarily our actions.

King David is a great example of this. Dude messed up. Over and over and over. He didn’t just mess up in little things, he had some zingers! But God saw David’s heart. It tells us just that in Acts 13:22, “And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’”

Even in the midst of all of David’s failures, God took an ordinary life and created an extraordinary legacy.

Can you say Jesus?

If He can do that for David, He can do it for me. I don’t desire to mess up regularly, but I know that I will. Today, I am determined to live a life without regret. I want a life that learns from the past but still has courage and faith to step forward into the future, knowing He has called me to more.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

 

I Deserve It

I Deserve It

I hear these words a lot…in my head. Sometimes I hear it from others, but mostly me.

Sitting in church the other morning, I was graciously reminded that I don’t. I don’t deserve it. Not really.

I think I do sometimes. I think I deserve a comfortable home, a new pair of shoes, something to eat, better service – things that I take for granted every day and think I deserve. I even get frustrated when some of those things don’t happen or don’t happen like I think they should.

Truth be told, I really don’t deserve any of it.

Who am I, really? I am a lowly human being who sins on a regular basis – like over and over and over again, doing the same thing. There’s nothing in that to warrant special attention, acclaim, praise, “success,” or even my own way. I don’t rate anything at the end of the day.

What I really deserve is far worse. You may know the verse: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Those “sins,” those times I mess up every single day have one reward and it’s not a good one. What I really rate is death, eternal separation from a God who loves me.

I deserve it.

But thankfully, God doesn’t give me what I deserve.

You can see the second part of the verse. Instead of what I deserve, He gives me the gift of eternal life and He gives me so much more. Truly, He gives me not just life to come, but life today. John 10:10 says, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Life. Abundant, eternal life.

This reminder brings me to a place of humility and gratefulness. Humility and gratefulness lead me to a life of wholehearted obedience. It’s a natural response to such grace.

To love God is my first response and the second response is to love others.

People who are in the same place I am. Stuck in a cycle of sin with the “reward” being one none of us ever want to encounter. The people around me, nice and not-so-nice, struggle with fear, inadequacy, heartbreak, and failure just like I do and some of them have never met Jesus.

This reminder of who I am and what God has done for me spurs me on to love others as well. Realizing we are all in this together, knowing the grace that has been poured out to me, my response should be one of love and grace poured out.

Yet here I sit on any given day frustrated, even angry, because things don’t happen as I think they should. I tell my kids all the time that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Sometimes I should take my own advice.

This is a constant struggle and I am sure it is human nature, but I will continue to pray that I will remember what I really deserve – not to live as a victim, live in depression, or become a doormat, but to receive and extend grace and love by being obedient to the One who loves me.

I don’t get what I deserve. Thank goodness.

Do you ever get in a mode where you feel like you deserve something? How do you keep a mindset of humility and gratefulness?

Am I Willing?

Am I Willing?

We live in Germany these days – certainly a treat with many adventures and beautiful scenery! Truly blessed.

Since being here, I have begun to go back in history a bit. Not thousands of years necessarily, but a bit more recent. I have read stories of atrocity, fear, and anguish mixed with stories of courage, hope, and love beyond what I could imagine. I am in a place where some amazing history has played out from the reformation to World War II. I have gotten an upfront look at people that lived and even died for values and beliefs they could not compromise.

This year here in Germany they celebrate 500 years since the Reformation, started by Martin Luther. Coming to understand that “the righteous live by faith” (Romans 1:17), Luther saw the challenges of the church in that time, the inaccessibility of Scripture to regular folks, the idea of salvation based on works, and a righteous God always ready to punish. Reading and studying for himself, he saw the love and grace of that same God and the righteousness of Christ which covers us.

In recognition of this, Luther wrote down his 95 theses and nailed them to the door, intending to bring debate to the church, but instead leading to his excommunication from the church. He became a wanted man, but he did not back down. Regardless of personal thoughts on all of Luther’s ideas and writings, his boldness in what he came to understand in Scripture impacted the history of the Church, even to translating the Scripture to German for regular people to read and study for themselves.

Courage and boldness – would I be willing?

Am I willing?

In addition to Martin Luther, I have been reading much more about World War I and II history. We could certainly debate the good, the bad, and the ugly of both wars as well the battles and military strategy, but what has intrigued me most is the stories of people. Ordinary, regular people just like me.

They were farm wives, housewives, professors, military wives, business women, school girls, moms. Regular people, just like me, yet they did extraordinary things. From hiding people in their homes to choosing a child to send to a foreign land for safety, these women did the extraordinary. They provided illegal rations cards and physically protected others, sometimes at the cost of their livelihood or even their lives. (Just to note, many men did the same, but I do relate most to the women.)

Knowing what the consequences could be, they chose to do right, to do what was best not just what was good. Walking courageously into unknown territory, literally and figuratively, they fought in their own way for the values and beliefs they could not compromise. I am amazed not only by what they did but also by the price they were willing to pay. They CHOSE to do these things. Whether they had to make a spur of the moment decision or had time to contemplate, they CHOSE to courageously do what they believed was right.

As I’ve read stories of these people, I have come across those who chose differently as well, who chose to do the easy wrong instead of the hard right. Truth be told, I can’t really blame them. I mean the consequences could be serious both for them and their families.

Which brings me to the same question – would I be willing?

AM I willing?

Am I willing to risk my life to do what is right? Am I willing to face severe consequences in order to save another? Am I willing to stand by my beliefs no matter what the cost?

Am I willing?

It’s been the question in my mind for weeks.

Scripture gives us examples as well. I think of Rahab who took a risk. Paul went back to Jerusalem even though his friends warned him not to. The famous folks like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or Abraham and Isaac — all stories of biblical folks who did the hard right instead of the easy wrong, all of them with a happy ending.

Then we read through Hebrews 11 and see that doing the right thing didn’t always turn out like roses this side of heaven. Sometimes the Christian life is hard, and the abundant life we long for isn’t exactly what we planned.

But I would submit to you that it is worth it.

God calls us to obedience – all in obedience – regardless of results, responses, or reactions. So I’ll ask you the same question I have asked myself for weeks now – would you be willing?

Are we willing to do the right thing? Are we willing to be obedient regardless of cost? Are we willing to do what is best instead of just what is good?

Am I willing?

Because He Lives

Because He Lives

Regardless of where and when I sing this hymn, it becomes the anthem of my heart.

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives (Because He Lives)

I have vivid memories of this song, one of them while sitting in the front pew during my mom’s funeral. It was one of her favorite too. While walking through one of the most difficult times of my life, I could remember His faithfulness to me.

Pondering yesterday during Easter, remembering His faithfulness and love again, I had these words in my mind again. The words changed, though, as I thought about them.

In discussions with friends lately, we have been chatting about the difference between words like should, can, and will. I know, it seems silly, but words carry much with them. Because He Lives takes on a bit of a different context for me when the wording changes a bit.

Think about it. What if it said, “Because He lives, I WILL face tomorrow.”

It’s somehow different then.

It’s not just a possibility but a definitive intent to do so.

I will face tomorrow. I will be obedient to Christ. I will glorify Him with my life.

All because He lives.

Easter takes on new meaning and draws me to a courageous obedience – because HE lives.

What is He calling us to do? Are we following with our whole heart?

 

Joining Together

Joining Together

I spent the past week with lots of other folks, people who have dreams like I do of reaching the mission field of the military for Christ. It’s a bold dream.

I love joining together, though. The uniqueness of what God has called each one to do is amazing. Here is a small list of folks who were there:

REBOOT Combat Recovery: REBOOT’s faith-based combat trauma healing course is designed to address the spiritual wounds of war.

STRONGER Movie: Reflective Life Ministries has come together with The Mighty Oaks Foundation and many others to produce a movie titled STRONGER. Our goal is to raise awareness of PTSD and to show the hope found only in Jesus.

CRU Military: We are a caring community passionate about connecting the global military community to Jesus Christ.

Officer’s Christian Fellowship: OCF’s purpose is glorify God by uniting Christian officers for biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society.

Military Missions Network: We are Evangelical Churches, Chaplains and Ministries Collaborating for a Greater Synergy in Outreach and Ministry to Military Worldwide.

Armed Services Ministry: Armed Services Ministry exists to help meet the critical spiritual needs of our nation’s military by providing customized ministry programs and Scripture resources.

Military Community Youth Ministries: Celebrate life with military teens, introduce them to the Life Giver, and help t?hem become more like Him.

Hope for the Warriors: We provide a full cycle of care to restore self, family, and hope to post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen.

Engage Your Destiny: We exist to bring life, hope and healing to our hero’s by giving them a platform to tell their stories.

Stonecroft Military Ministry: Stonecroft Military supports military women where they are, as they are to create community and to strengthen families.

And my favorite:

Planting Roots: Planting Roots is a nonprofit organization encouraging military women to grow in their faith.

Check them out. See how God is using them. Pray about what God may be calling you to do!

What does your mission field look like and are you impacting it where you are?

Hymns – The Songs of My Heart

Hymns – The Songs of My Heart

I love hymns.

I love them most when I can open my hymnal and sing from there.

Standing next to my parents in church or hearing my mother’s voice as she sang coming down the hall are memories I truly love, but hymns are more than memories. Considered old-fashioned these days, those hymns have spoken truth to my heart many times. They have brought comfort to my spirit, reminded me of who God is, reminded me of others who have walked through difficult moments too, and gave me words to the joy of my soul.

I do love them…because:

“There is sunshine in my soul today,
  More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
  For Jesus is my light.”

He is truly God. May we worship Him:

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the *worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the *rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!”

And yet:

“I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.”

Oh what He has done for me:

“Years I spent in vanity and pride,

Caring not my Lord was crucified,

Knowing not it was for me He died

On Calvary.

Mercy there was great, and grace was free;

Pardon there was multiplied to me;

There my burden soul found liberty,

At Calvary.”

So now:

“I’ve found a Friend, who is all to me,
His love is ever true;
I love to tell how He lifted me
And what His grace can do for you.

Saved by His pow’r divine,
Saved to new life sublime!
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete,
For I’m saved, saved, saved!”

Because:

“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,

The emblem of suffering and shame,

And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best

For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,

Till my trophies at last I lay down;

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

And exchange it someday for a crown.”

So that some day:

“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there

When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.”

So while I am on earth:

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

I could go on. Hymns have spoken to my heart and soul for a long time, bringing memories and stories of others who have been faithful to the Calling. I plan to teach them to my children, because they remind me so much of the amazing and holy God we serve.

What are your favorite hymns? Do you still sing them?

I’ll close with this:

“Holy, holy, holy
Lord, God Almighty
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee

Holy, holy, holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons blessed Trinity

Holy, holy, holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.”

 

 

 

Talk to Yourself

Talk to Yourself

Scared and wide-awake, I find myself lying awake in the middle of the night from a bad dream. My heart is pumping a mile a minute and every time I close my eyes the dream starts to repeat itself. I hate that. I really do.

How do you get rid of that feeling and those thoughts?

My mom gave me a great trick when I was younger. Home alone as a teenager, the phone rang. It was a not-so-nice phone call from a man I did not know. Scary, right? Except it was the time before caller ID. So when the phone rang again minutes later, I answered again.

Same guy.

I was really scared now.

I hung up and called my mom. She was miles away and could not be there in person, but her advice gave me more than that. She told me to pull out my Bible and read. She was right.

Scripture changes everything.

That day Scripture changed my heart and turned my fear to peace.

Only God can do that.

As I have grown, I have taken it a step further and challenged my children to do the same. Those moments when I am scared to death, I can read Scripture, yes. But what I find is even more helpful, is to talk to myself.

That’s right – talk out loud.

I read or quote Scripture out loud or sing a hymn (I love the theology of some of them!) and I talk to myself. It sounds crazy at first, but it’s not really. If I do things in my mind, my mind gets distracted and I’m back where I started. If I talk out loud I have to concentrate. Additionally, I think the words or Scripture, I say the words of Scripture, and I hear the words of Scripture.

If I do this enough, it seeps into my heart and soul and Jesus with His Truth brings peace again.

So I challenge you to try it today.

Are you worried about something? Anxious, scared? Try it. I promise. First, Scripture changes things – changes us. Second, we have to remind ourselves of that Truth, especially in times we start to forget.

So – talk to yourself. I dare you.

Ten Years

Ten Years

I never could have imagined I would be here.

In this moment in time, in this place, in these circumstances, I could never have imagined it.

Life can be difficult and challenging and hard. It can feel like a continuous battle more than a victory. A battle fought against my own emotions, fears, and weariness as much as it is against anything else.

Surely you’ve been there.

Yes, it’s a battle. But if I look at it another way, ten years ago I could never have dreamed I would be here. Take a few minutes with me and remember where you were ten years ago. Personally, I was almost three years into a marriage and over halfway through with that first deployment. With a new little one just turning one, we waited patiently in Clarksville, Tennessee for my sweetie to return home, while working full-time for the local municipality.

Where were you?

At a mere thirty three years of age, I had never planned on marrying some Army guy, living through deployments, and parenting solo for a while, yet that’s where I was. Today, ten years later, I sit in an apartment in Germany with two beautiful children and they same amazing Army guy. Having been through multiple deployments and even more PCSs, learning to homeschool my sweet children, and working with a ministry for military women, God has brought me a long way. Most of the adventure and growth from the Lord has nothing to do with geographic locations or deployment statistics, though.

I know very well what I used to be, don’t you? I also know where the Lord has brought me over that time. Through His grace, love, and patience, He has taught me, blessed me, strengthened me, and grown me more than I could ever have imagined. The longer I am a Christian, the more I can see what the Lord has done in me. I love it, because the longer journey gives a bigger picture of how has worked and continues to work in my life – and I am so very thankful.

Are my eyes on Him? Is my focus on what He is doing and teaching? Do I remember His faithfulness to me and am I reminding myself to continue to trust in His faithfulness? Is my life about Him or am I getting distracted by circumstances or personal feelings?

The Bible tells us, “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.” (Ephesians 6:12)

What’s crazy is that I think sometimes this battle rages in my heart just as much as it does in the world. When I don’t feel like enough, when I remember my failures more than my successes, when I start comparing myself to those around me, I get caught up in the battle. You’ll notice that this battle is fiercest when my focus is on me. That’s where the challenge lies.

Life is about Him.

Whenever we take our focus off of Him, we get caught in the mess. I have zero desire to get caught in the mess. So I am determined, with the Lord’s help, to do this less and less. It’s a matter of relationship, time with the Lord, and the continual sanctification He does in my life. It’s about Him.

This week, my prayer is that I will remember what He has already done, trust that He is still doing it today, and walk in hope and victory because life is about Him….and He wins every time.

So, where were you ten years ago? What has He done in you since that time? How are you being intentional about walking with Him today?

 

 

 

 

This post is part of the Monday Minute Linkup at Planting Roots.

 

 

Learning to Hug

Learning to Hug

Hugging is not my strong point. I’m not really that good at it and I rarely initiate, but I have come to cherish them.

I am learning to let people into the bubble where I live.

I am independent as many military women are, sure we can stand on our own because we have been asked to do so many times. Moving our families, recreating homes, building unity and stability, all things we have done because we feel it is necessary.

Yet, I believe God has a different plan.

Community is hard to build, especially when your life is nomadic. Trusting other people with your things, with your family and with your heart is not an easy thing to do. We get better at it, I believe or maybe not. Investing in other people, getting attached, and then either they leave or you do – it gets a bit old after a while. It makes you wonder if it’s worth it to do it again.

It does me. But it’s also what God has called me to do.

Through my time in this military world, God has blessed me over and over with people I need in my life at just the time I need them. Some are extroverted and excited, some servant-hearted and loving, some rescuers by nature, and some that possess a tough love that challenges me to seek the One with my whole heart again. All of them love me in different ways for different seasons and all brought to my world at the right time for what the Lord was doing in me. He uses them to teach me more about Him.

But I have to actually let them into my world.

Example:

My husband was deployed, his grandfather passed away, and I took the kids to be with his family. Deployments are never fun, but times like this make them “less fun.” It was a long week as we celebrated the life of my husband’s grandfather and worked through lots of details. The kids and I headed home.

When we got to our house and walked in the door, my house was clean. It was straightened when I left. But when we came home, the bathrooms were clean, the laundry was done, clean sheets were on the bed, and the floors were all vacuumed, swept and mopped. I know, it shocked me too.

My friend, one I had let in my world, had been there while we were gone. It was a blessing I will not forget, but also one the Lord used. I was tired of “letting people in” to start all over again a couple of years down the road. I bravely stepped out and God taught me to trust Him. He was once again using people to teach me about His love and provision in my life.

But she would never have come in if I had not given her a key.

Keys to my house and keys to my heart, I had to give her both. I had to be vulnerable and open, much like when people want to hug me. I had to take the chance of hurting. If I hadn’t, I would have missed many blessings along the way. God knew what I needed and this nomadic life is not a surprise to Him. He has used it to cross my path with some of these most amazing people, those who have poured into me, making me more like Jesus tomorrow than I am today.

I need those people, and ideally they need me too.

I am pretty sure I have been blessed far more than I have blessed others. Each move, each new location, I go looking now. Not for a band of groupies or a huge gang of folks to hang out with, but those people God intentionally puts in my path for a season or for a lifetime. He has them planned out long before I show up.

He also has folks that He would have me to impact as well.

So today, I challenge you to go looking, be vulnerable.

Who has God put in your path for this season? Who continues to impact you and how can you pour into others?

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

 

 

 

 

**This post is part of the #MondayminutewithGod over at Planting Roots!