Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Facts and Questions

When this year of solitary began, I knew it would be a chance for God to reveal things about me which I have avoided simply by being a busy wife and mom. Kids are grown and gone, husband is in Afghanistan for a year, and the in-laws moved into assisted living. I don’t even have a pet to take the focus off me.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that I no longer seek out friends. I can still “work the room” if I have to, but I much prefer hanging back and observing than actively trying to make new friends. I don’t remember being this way as a kid. Yeah…more years ago now than I’d like to admit, but still a valid reference point. There are several possible explanations for this change, but does it even matter? I’ve changed. Period. The real question is whether or not I need to do anything about it.

Here are the facts:

1. Army life means lots of moves and, therefore, lots of opportunities to make new friends.
2. Officers are supposed to look out for the soldiers and families within their unit.
3. I’m not really sure how much of #2 is the responsibility of officer spouses.
4. It makes no difference that I’m a Chaplain’s spouse when it comes to #3. It does make a difference that I’m a Christian who wishes to honor God by being used to touch the lives of people around me.
5. I strongly feel God’s leading in the area of writing. It’s a solitary profession. It encourages you to make friends with the people in your head rather than the ones next door.

Here are the questions:

1. If I wait for others to approach me, will I be missing out on potentially great friends and/or opportunities to minister to others?
2. Will I be failing my duty as an officer’s wife, or more importantly as one called by God to love those around me, if I hang back and wait?
3. Is God okay if I wait for Him to bring people into my life He wishes me to minister to one-on-one rather than actively seeking them? Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Can I do something different simply because it’s my personality?
4. Is the time and energy it would take to work at making friends taking away from the call to write? Is writing the way God wants me to seek out those who are lost?

There are a few months left to this solitary life I’m leading. In that time, my prayers will be for answers to the above questions. And, much as I like you all, I’m not asking for your opinions. This is between God and me. My call is different from yours; my situation unique. You have your own set of facts and questions. I’ll deal with mine. Will you figure out and deal with yours?

Until next time,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Just Because

I usually enter challenges to help me keep up with the cards I need to make, but not this time. My brother-in-law's birthday is coming up, and I got a new toy. they are:

The paper, ribbon and stamp are all from CTMH, although all are discontinued now. I dabbed the center of the camera with liquid glass and used tweezers to dribble just a few speck of glitter in it.

I daubed a bit of New England Ivy and Outdoor Denim on the embossed image to highlight the words.

The sewing concerned me, but I think it ended up not looking to girly for a grown man's card.

This second card was to play with the new spritzers from CTMH. I used watercolor paper, sprayed it with Buttercup and Olive reinkers, let the paper dry, and then embossed my images in white. Again, the stamps are discontinued CTMH ones (are you seeing a pattern here?)

I had to bump up the color a little after the spritzing, but you can still see some of the specks. I just sprayed the paper indiscriminately, then planned my flowers and leaves where there was mostly yellow or mostly green. I'm going to have fun with this!!

Well...that's all from here.

Until next time,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Life

As I prepared my heart for Easter Sunday, God impressed on me what "new life in Christ" can mean.

Of course, it implies that there is an old life which must be dealt with first.  Oh...the implications. Old life where the marriage is falling apart. Old life where bitterness rules. Old life where rebellion against authority leads to chaos. Old life where the soul is dry and barren. Old life where confusion clouds every decision. Old life where bad habits have gained such strength they feel insurmountable. Old life where ________ (fill in your story).

Then comes death. I know, it feels like the saying, "Life sucks, and then you die."  Well...maybe that's the whole point of life being sucky. We do not change course until it hurts too much to stay where we are. There's another saying, "Old habits die hard." But death must come before new life, a truth illustrated to us every Spring.

But before new life can begin, death must be buried in forgiveness. Jesus, while dying on the cross, spoke of forgiveness. It was His way of blessing those who persecuted them. He not only spoke the words, he actively gave up something in order to pour blessing onto those responsible for his pain and suffering. It is the meaning behind the exhortation for us to take up our cross and follow Him. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record this saying in their gospel accounts. I like Luke's version best. It says to take up our cross daily. (Luke 9:23) Take a moment to let that sink in. Every day, we are to look for a way to bless those who cause our pain and suffering, to forgive them not only with words but in deeds. Even if that person is us.

Burying a dying marriage in forgiveness.
Burying bitterness in forgiveness.
Burying rebellion, confusion, selfishness, and bad habits in forgiveness.
Burying things which needed to die, things which sometimes have to be killed daily, in forgiveness.
Burying them by being a blessing.

Because then comes new life. Abundant life. A life exceeding our expectations. Life given by the One who created the earth out of nothingness, who causes rain to fall on the dry places and makes a garden, the only One who can give life after death.


May you be blessed with a Happy Easter. A Happy Resurrection Sunday. A Happy New Life!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Little Bit of This and That

Hello Friends.  I've been off in LaLa Land for the past several weeks, but I'm back to work now and have lots to report.

First: R&R with my hubby was fabulous. We spent an amazing week in the Olympic Peninsula at a lovely cabin in Grapeview. If you are ever in need of a truly magical spot on God's green earth, look up "One Sweet Retreat" on More pictures are posted in an earlier blog, but here's one of our last morning where the fog rolled in and it felt like we were the only two people on earth.

Second: Back to work on my novel. I spent quite a bit of time hashing out plot lines while on vacation, and I finally wrote the first five pages late Wednesday night. I took them to my crit group yesterday, and they passed the test. Woo hoo. Five pages down, 300 to go!

Third: Read a couple books over the past few days which I would like to share with you. "Secrets" by Kristen Heitzman was truly great. Takes you on the full emotional journey except at the very end where it feels like she was bumping up against a word count and needed to conclude. It's the first of a three book set, and I'm anxious to read the other two now. I also read Karen Witemeyer's new release "To Win Her Heart". I stayed up all night reading it. It's a retelling of the Prodigal Son story set in the 1800's in a small town in Texas. I was challenged by the perspective of her "older brother" character, Eden, who must overcome the fear of ruining her reputation by loving people outside her Christian circle. It did not take me on the full emotional journey, though, and I found the reactions of certain characters (Eden's parents in particular) unbelievable. The hero has a speech impediment, and it was quite impressive how he went through the entire book without saying words with the "s" sound except at strategic moments (and one place where the author/editor didn't catch it -- but I won't tell you where -- you'll have to read the story and see if you can find it yourself.)

Fourth: It's been a long time since I entered any challenges. My son-in-law's birthday is coming up. I made this card for him before I remembered he is highly allergic to horses. Oh dear! I think I'd better put it in the pile and make him something else. Still, it works as an entry in the the challenges over at Mojo Monday #187 and Can You Say Addicted to Stamps - Forgotten Friday.

Fifth: Got on the scale after coming home. Yeah. Hmmm. The good news is I've begun a daily food diary and am e-mailing it to a friend for accountability.

Sixth (and final): I have been spending time with God in fits and starts. The task of writing a novel worthy of His calling overwhelms me...and it is driving me to my knees, which is where any Christian endeavor should begin. And end. And spend the in-between time. Years ago, I got over feeling guilty if every day didn't start with a long Bible study and prayer time. Instead, I asked God to give me the desire--out of pure love for Him--to know Him. What an answer to prayer to be called to write (regardless of whether I ever get published or not) and have it send me straight to Him in order to accomplish it. For those of you who pray, I would ask you to remember me, and all authors wanting to honor God, when you pray.

Until next time,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

You're My Favorite

Genesis 43

The famine in the land is severe, so the sons of Jacob/Israel must journey to Egypt because this guy down there has been storing up food for years and years, and it's the only place on earth with grain.  Off they trot, get some grain, meet the head guy who grills them about their family, and then they journey back home with sacks full of grain and some other stuff they have no idea how it got into their sacks.

The grain runs out, they have got to make another trip to Egypt or starve, but the head guy told them to bring their younger brother the next time they came.  Jacob is ticked that they told the guy about Benjamin, but he reluctantly agrees to send him along this trip because it's either potentially lose one son or all his sons, grandchildren, livestock...  So off they go.

This time, the head guy invites them in to eat dinner with him.  He has to assure them he doesn't  mean to lop off their heads first because it's not standard practice for the second most important man in the land (behind the Pharaoh himself) to invite strangers and sojourners into his home.  A feast is laid before them, more food then any of them can eat but, before the youngest brother, five times more food is presented.


Benjamin is the youngest son, the one with the least amount of clout, and yet he is given five times more food.  There is nothing in the text to indicate the other brothers were jealous of Benny.  Maybe, after years of scrimping and starving, they were just happy to see real food and lots of it.  Maybe the intimidation factor of dining with a guy they thought might kill them at any moment kept their mouths chewing rather than cussing.  But they must have wondered.

As I'm reading through this, I asked God what the point of showing this favoritism was. And do you know what He said to me?  "You're my favorite."

Imagine that.  Just because He can, and just because He wants to, God gives me more than I need.  He gives me more than I even think to need.  Exceeding abundantly more (Eph. 3:20).  Because I'm His favorite.

You are, too!

Until next time,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nothin' Doin'

I’ve been very busy this last week…doing nothing. My beloved husband is home for his 15 day R&R, so I found a vacation home in Grapeview, WA where we have been hibernating.

As he breathes in the scenery, I see him relaxing. This view could not be more different than Afghanistan (which he says resembles the surface of the moon). He doesn’t even mind the rain, and it’s rained every day since he got here. It’s the price Washingtonians pay for the beautiful green we have year-round.

Big plans for the days have been a trip to the local bakery on Wednesday, the grocery store for more milk on Thursday, two trips to my son’s house on Friday and Saturday to watch the Mariner’s play (which was more about him owning an HDTV than seeing him), Sunday church, breakfast at McDonalds on Monday…you get the idea. Yep, that’s one jam-packed schedule.

Nathan’s only jobs have been “Grill Master” and “Dish Washer.” Well, those and “White Coffee Hunter” which he successfully completed a couple days ago at a local espresso stand in Belfair. The gal asked if we wanted a punch card. We should have said yes. Not that the caffeine makes a difference. The man can have a double shot and take a nap an hour later.

There are bigger plans for this coming week: a gaming conference with his buddies, Christmas in April with our kids, and a Mariner’s game at Safeco Field. Then I drive him back to SeaTac to say goodbye for several more months before his homecoming this summer. Not sure how well that will go.

People often say things like, “I don’t know how you do it. I never could.” My response is always the same. There are two things holding me together. First, this is the job for Nathan. This is the one to which all the others have pointed. This is the one God’s been preparing Nathan to take since he dedicated his life to ministry as a teen. This one. And second, my God is sufficient for all my needs. Not my wants, but my needs. I am surrounded by family—church family—who have loved and cared for me through these months. Men who checked my car before I left on the long drive from Colorado to Washington. Women to share lunches, dinners, and weekend activities to prevent loneliness from taking over. A family who has adopted me. And His dear presence in the middle of the night when missing my Nathan becomes unbearable.

Deployment is not easy. You get into a routine, yes. It gets better, yes. But it’s not a barrel of laughs. Re-deployment (the Army’s very creative word for the soldier’s coming back) will likely not be easy either. All those routines have to change. I have to re-learn to keep my mouth shut when Nathan is driving…without paying attention to the speed limit…or getting in the right lane to turn far enough in advance…or turning off the windshield wipers when the rain stops instead of waiting until they start making horrible squeally noises. Yeah.

But my God will still be sufficient for all my needs. I learned years ago that my husband is not my provider. God is. And while He may use Nathan primarily to fulfill that role, there are many other sets of hands and feet at His disposal.

May you find God sufficient for your needs today.

Until next time,