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!

Marital Bonding

Marital Bonding

We are living in the arctic vortex…in a travel trailer. It is an adventure to say the least, but it has also proven to pull us together.

Nomadic military life can bring some great stories and amazing adventures. From standing outside in five degree weather to unfreeze trailer parts to living in such close quarters, we have found that this life sometimes takes us places we never actually planned to go.

The temptation comes sometimes to be frustrated by circumstance and challenged by the unknowns. We can easily fall from the enjoyment of a journey to the sole focus of destination, survival.

Whether dealing with arctic vortexes, deployments, health issues, or family struggles, we inadvertently find ourselves just wanting to get to the end, just surviving, instead of being thankful not necessarily for circumstances but for the God who is with us and grows us through them.

We also forget sometimes that we don’t navigate this road alone. While standing outside with my hubby yesterday trying to feel my fingers and toes, I was reminded again that we are in this adventure together. The craziness of life sometimes can bring out crankiness – maybe not in you, but in me, for sure.

I could try to tell you that we laughed about our circumstances yesterday, but we didn’t.

We did, however, look straight at each other and determine that we would not want to be on this crazy adventure with anyone else. The old song went through my brain, “dance with the one who brought you.” Kyle did not necessarily bring these circumstances to us, but He is the one God gave me to walk with for life – including the crazy situations we never dreamed we would encounter.

Sometimes this marital bonding we call dancing takes some practice. Over the years we have gotten better at this dance, but it is still a work in progress, a  journey we are on together. Just as in the rest of life, marriage is not a destination, but an amazing adventure. God uses our marriages to mold us to be more like Him, but He also uses it to show the world a picture of Him.

These “marital bonding” moments that can challenge us or grow us or both are worth it – and not just because they make great stories for later. They are great chances to learn to dance together, to practice the dance that is our marriage.

So why do we even get stuck in survival mode, when the adventure is far better when we jump right in and enjoy the journey. For today, why don’t we dance with the one God gave us? There is no telling where the adventure will take us!

Have you had some “marital bonding” lately? How have these moments grown you? How have they grown your marriage? Are you learning to dance?

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Spontaneous Joy

Spontaneous Joy

Neighbors are always a question when you move to a new place. Some are awesome, some not-so-much. On our move to Kansas, we had no idea what our neighbors were even like for over a month. We moved in the middle of winter with snow almost a foot deep and two more big snow storms in the first month of our time there. We had no idea who lived in the neighborhood.

Then I met Liz.

With her beautiful blond hair and those flashy red glasses, I knew there was more to her than meets the eye. I am a stick-to-the-schedule, stay-in-the-lines type of chick – Liz is not.

From her junking finds to her mud-covered-boys, she is the epitome of spontaneity and joy. Known for her sense of humor and her awesome sense of style, hanging out with Liz is an adventure for which I am very thankful.

God knew what I needed and He put her two doors down.

I knew her as the mother of four originally from South Carolina. Come to find out she was also a registered nurse and was actually born in Massachusetts. Who knew?

Liz could write a book on how to throw an awesome party on a dime or how to decorate your home for lots of nothing…she is that good. But at the same time, she makes me feel normal and challenges me to step out of my box at times. Because, you know, sometimes it is okay to put all the dirty clothes in the pack’n’play and hide it behind the couch before everyone comes over. After all, we are all just people.

Some of my favorite times with Liz were when we would walk or ride our bikes early in the morning before the hubby’s left for work or those times when she would call mid-morning on a homeschool day to tell me muffins were ready. Sitting on her front porch or back patio watching the kids play were some great times and camping with Liz and her family rocks.

Liz is fun and funny, but she taught me quite a bit.

1. Sometimes it’s okay to not stick to your schedule.

2. Spontaneity can be way fun!

3. God calls us to be friends with many different people on our path, and Liz knows how to love them all.

She loves the adventure of military life (except the finding a new hair dresser every move part), but has learned that it takes her a bit after each move to acclimate again, giving herself some time to create new friendships. Although sometimes hesitant to jump out there, once she is in, she’s in. She sees life with a sense of humor that has served her well and has also learned not to sweat the small stuff – like the collection of lizards in the garage or questionable sounds from the bathroom. She has learned to love life and invest in her children and those around her.

Has she changed me? Yes. God used her for that and I am thankful. She has taught me to live outside the lines a little and enjoy the view sometimes, even when I get overwhelmed with my to-do-list. I would love it if she still lived two doors down, but God has used her to bless others in another place, and no doubt He will continue to do so. Thankful that friends don’t count miles.

Who has God brought into your life to show you the humor and joy in things? To give you a different perspective?

Perseverance

Perseverance

Eight months pregnant and standing at her door on a cold January evening, I had no idea the lady about to open the door would be one of the most wonderful ladies I would ever meet.

I stood there with my husband and a casserole. My husband had called earlier and said we were going to take dinner to a family who had just had their first child. That encounter changed my world – even when I was pretty hesitant to show up on this unknown person’s doorstep (which is exactly why my husband was with me).

Beth is amazing. Since that cold January, I have had two children and she has had two more. Our families PCSd together one time and even shared a hotel and a list of rental houses. My daughter has thrown up on their dining room floor (during Beth’s birthday party), Beth and her family celebrated my child’s third birthday with her while we were at the hospital having the second child, we babysat their motorcycle for a couple of years of an overseas tour, and we have celebrated many holidays together because we have truly become like family.

Military life does that – it takes people who have no relation to you whatsoever and makes you family. Beth and her family are just that to us.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, Beth attended college for Human Resource Management. She graduated with more than a degree, though. She was a brand new 2LT in the U.S. Army. Thinking she would be working with numbers in some big accounting firm in Pittsburgh, God apparently had other plans.

Beth met her wonderful husband while they were both stationed in Korea. They later were able to enjoy a wonderful all-expense-paid trip to Iraq together and then settle down in the comforts of the 101st Airborne Division. This is where I met Beth.

She was still on active duty. But not long after their first child was born, she headed home to be a mom. Beth has always amazed me. The challenges of military life bring out a strength in her that leaves me completely in awe. She perseveres at times I would be wanting to go berserk.

Case in point: They got orders to Korea a few years ago. She was expecting child number three prior to PCSing. The orders were cut and they started the process. She had child #3, but they had to wait for his birth to acquire his passport, which put her leaving behind her husband. They prepped everything and planned to see family on their way to the other side of the world.

Then they got a call – her mother-in-law had some very serious brain issues (possibly stroke), was heading into surgery, and may not make it. Beth, without blinking, planned for her and her hubby to head for the in-laws, let John stay till surgery was done, and then go on ahead while she stayed to help in-laws and wait for a passport. She did so – with amazing grace. About three to four weeks later, Beth flew from Seattle to Seoul with a two-month-old, three-year-old, and five-year-old and arrived there with her sanity and grace intact.

She is amazing. This is just one of her many feats as a military wife. Her husband would attest to such. We have all been through similar things, but I personally have to go berserk at least once or twice in the process. Beth perseveres.

At first though, one might think her active duty time makes her capable of such, but I have personally seen the Jesus that lives in her. HE is who gives her such ability and allows her to use that to encourage and challenge others in their spiritual walk as well. Her heart? to minister to military wives especially those who have a difficult time understanding some things that may be going on with their spouse. Her active-duty time allows her some unique insight and her heart of love allows her to share.

These days she is preparing for a move back to the States – hopefully less eventful. She loves and invests in three beautiful children and still remains the amazing wife to the man she married (he could attest to this). She also knows the importance of meeting and growing your military family – sometimes God uses them in ways we never expected. Beth is a perfect example.

Verses she lives by? two in particular.

Psalm 46:10 “Be STILL and know that I am God.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

Who has amazed and challenged you by their perseverance as they continue to walk the path God has set for them – even on those most difficult days? What have you learned from them?

Camp Follower Series – Learning to Love

Camp Follower Series – Learning to Love

I met Sara the first time at a Chapel service. She saw my Texas flag purse and we were connected for life – it’s a Texas thing.

Over the next year that she and I were in the same place, I started watching her love people. She is so good at it.

She is from Texas, a small town called Stephenville. She grew up in that same town her whole life. With the exception of a semester at Texas A&M, she never lived anywhere else till she married her Soldier-husband. Since they said “I do,” they have had adventures that have taken them from Germany to Kansas, even all the way to Hawaii.

Has she adapted and changed? No doubt. Has God used these adventures to challenge and grow her? She would certainly confess to growing more than she ever might have if God had left her in Texas.

This is one aspect that Sara and I have in common – both of us would have been very comfortable to marry and find a happy little home in Texas in which to live for the next 60 years. God had other plans. He knew exactly what He was doing.

It is this adventure that has allowed us to step out of our comfort zone, and in turn we have, as I like to say, ”a front row seat to God at work.”

Sara has a gift that I have longed for, though. She has an ability to love people. This gift has caused her some challenges to say the least. As she moves from one location to the other, she struggles with the love of those she has left behind. It takes her some time to step out again in the new place because she knows that with meeting new people she will love again.

Amazingly, this attribute that challenges her is also the gift God has given her to bless others. I have watched her and been amazed as she hugs, listens, and cares.

I noticed this again not too long ago. It had been months since I had seen her. I had mentioned something to her the last time I saw her. As soon as she saw me, she asked about that very thing. She remembered. As I shared what had happened in the meantime, she had compassion and love – and there in the middle of the hallway she hugged me because she knew I needed it.

I am not unique in her response to things. She has this ability with everyone she meets. She loves, in the verb sense of the word. Her heart just naturally overflows and pours into the lives of others.

She displays this awesome love when she speaks of her husband, and even more so when she speaks of her Savior. Over the years, she will confess, as we all will, that it is Christ who has sustained us, walked with us, and loved us in many challenging times. Her marriage and her family are a wonderful testimony to the faithfulness of our Lord, and Sara certainly gives credit where credit is due.

She loves Jesus. She loves people. This is the legacy she will leave – the legacy she has left on my life.

Do you have those who have crossed your path and demonstrated this love for you? Those to whom love seems to come more naturally? Love – I am still learning to love in the verb sense of the word, but thankful for those who have demonstrated such things to me.