Sweet, Sweet Freedom!

“How do you do it?”…”I couldn’t do it!”…”How do you sleep at night?”…”I would never survive that!”

I get this all the time.  Usually, from parents, but sometimes from young people.  You see, my son is an active member of the United States Army.  He is in the infantry.  The proverbial boots on the ground.  Tip of the spear.  All of that.

I got those questions and comments a LOT when he went on his first deployment.  At age 19 and only a few months out of his basic training, he volunteered to spend 9 months in Afghanistan.  Home of the Taliban.  9 months.  Did you hear me say “HE VOLUNTEERED”!!

When he called to tell us the good news, only by God’s grace did we not respond with “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!”.  We were actually proud of him.  Very proud.  He was just beginning his life out of our home, under his own direction.  He didn’t let his fears guide him.  He didn’t call us up and ask what we thought.  He merely shot his hand up when asked if anyone would like to go.  He wanted to serve, to do what he had been trained to do.  To be of use.  Don’t we all?

After 19 years of family traditions and anticipation of the holiday season, we would be short 1 very important human for nearly a year.  I was barely getting used to him being moved out our home and now he was going to fly halfway around the world for 3 seasons!

Then he was gone.                       1546063_10202716691829048_1655594673_n

We started sleeping with our phone ringers on high in case he called during the night (which happened frequently).  There’s nothing like being on a skype call at 2 a.m.! We would check social media first thing in the mornings to see if he had been active.  To see if he had gained access to wifi during our night.  We watched each morning for news stories from the region he was in.  We shifted our focus to our daughter who was entering her senior year in high school.  Now she would be ours for a while without interruption.  We settled back into our daily schedules once he left and stayed focused on what we DID have.  Our faith, our family, our friends, our work.  We had too many blessings in our lives to allow ourselves to focus on anything negative.

“Walking in the Freedom Faith Provides”…why the title?  When we place our faith and trust in God, He brings freedom.  Freedom to choose confidence instead of fear.  Confidence in Him, in His word, not in ourselves.  True story.  And this life we live with our soldier has been a big teaching tool for that principle in my life.

       For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”

Psalm 33:4 NIV

 

  I’m a bit of a word nerd so let’s break this down (just humor me)…According to Merriam-Webster the three key words I see here are defined as follows:

*Right=straight, genuine, real, correct

*True=steadfast, loyal, just, consistent, honest

*Faithful=loyal, conscientious, binding (giving with strong assurance)

So if I put this in my own words Psalm 33:4 might read something like this…

“For the word of the Lord is straight (that’s my favorite), correct AND steadfast, loyal, just (also a favorite); He is loyal, conscientious, staunch (suggesting strong determination) and lends strong assurance in all he does”

This verse is so full of who God is (by the way, that entire chapter in Psalm is awesome, you should go read it).   I think it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around the fact that this is truth.  These are facts.  There is no “but” or “only if you”…His words are right and true and He is faithful…in some things?  No.  In all things.

If I believe the word of God is true, and I do, then, I have to believe that what He says on all of the other 1’000’s of pages of my Bible are true too.  This is where faith walks in.

I take it on faith that if during  my life, God has proven to always be right, true and just in my corner of the world, He is doing so now elsewhere, has always operated that way, and will continue to do so.

So I cling to what He says about my boy.  About his boy.

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

 “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”

                                                                                    Psalm 5:11 NIV

My son is no saint, but he knows who his heavenly father is.  And he knows that these promises are for him.  I see the words prosper, hope, future, joy, protection…As I pray for our son daily, I simply remind the Lord what He has spoken about our boy.

For me, one of my very favorite verses is Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I memorized this many years ago.  My husband and I have used it through the years to calm each other down when we’ve faced uncertain times. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, this is truth. Therein is where the freedom lies…if I choose to take God at His word, He carries my fears and concerns for me.  He is taking care of our boy.  I choose to trust His abilities for He is far more capable than I.  It’s a daily choice.

There are other areas of my life where I’m still working on this.  I’m still learning to take scripture, remind myself what it says, and remind God what He promised.  Don’t hear me say I have no worries.  But, the worries I do have, I generally bring on myself.  He clearly says “Do not worry or be anxious”.  I believe if we could all grasp this concept, this lifestyle, as believers, to really take Him at His word, to trust Him with the outcome, no matter what it is…this is the freedom He desires for us to walk in.  When we are free from worry and anxiety, we are more available to hear Him and to be His hands and feet.

What do you need to hand over to God?  What do you need to trust Him with?  He is trustworthy.  He knows best.  He can handle it.  Let it go.

Do I have moments where I cry a puddle on my lap driving down the road?  Sure I do, I’m human.  Do I ever hang up the phone with my son and just sense he’s not telling me the whole truth?  Yep.  My human reaction is to get emotional, or let my mind wander.   And believe me, that does happen.  But, in the words of the great song writer, Bill Gaither…

“How sweet to hold a newborn baby, 
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Chorus
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!”

Advertisements

Bring it fall!!

Seasons Change

Can you smell that pumpkin flavored latte’ from Starbucks?  That salted caramel scented candle?  Are you digging out your sweats and hoodies in the mornings only to be a hot mess by lunchtime?  By late afternoon, you’re back in flip flops, shorts and tanks!  You’re working up a sweat while you’re cooking dinner, but bring on the sunset!  The temperatures fall, you’re slipping back on your sweats or yoga pants and breathing in those cool breezes that are settling in for the night.  I. Love. It.

I love that the seasons change.  That’s my favorite part each year…the fact that they change.  It seems that they last just long enough.  When I’m over the cold or over the heat, BAM!!  The forecast starts projecting the subtle changes that are the precursor to the next season.  While the seasons change, I am reminded of God’s design of the seasons.  How they come and go as expected.  No surprises.  Just a season, transition, season, transition and so on and so forth. Life can be the same, just not quite as predictable.

             “There is a time for everything,
                             and a season for every activity under the heavens”

                                                                    Ecclesiastes 3: 1 (NIV)

Ever felt like you were living in a winter season?  No color.  No new growth.  Alone in your thoughts.  Dormant.  Lethargic (figuratively or literally).  Going through the motions of what is expected of you, but grey inside.

I just emerged from a winter season.  My thought life was like a pin ball machine in constant motion.  But, no one would ever know that from the outside.  Work was taking place under the surface.  In my heart.  In my head.  In my private times of prayer.

Something has been missing in my life.  I’ve felt for a while, I either needed to give something up or add something new.  In my desperation to stay on the path God marked out for me, I begged for months for answers.  A sign.  A dream.  A word from a friend.  ANYTHING!!

Patience…self control…those are things I’m typically good at.   But, God pushed me to the brink on this.  On my own, I can exercise self control.  It’s a skill I’ve mastered well over time.  I can bite my tongue.  I can wait my turn.  I can trust God to avenge my enemies.

I’ve learned that some things will fix themselves if I step back and let time pass.  But this…this winter season…I was losing my mind over it.  Like staring at the ground, waiting for grass to grow in December.  Like the gears on a bicycle that just would not come together correctly.  I was stuck.

Now, I’m old enough that I knew this was just “a season”.  I knew from having walked through a few winters in my past and knowing what God’s word says, this would pass too.  Remember, seasons change.  But to walk through winter alone…I was feeling a little wind burnt.  A little runny nosed.  My eyes were stinging.  I was worn down in my mind.

Enter…spring

Sunflower

Out of nowhere, in a 12 hour period, my sweet Heavenly Father brought the sunshine back into my life.  It began with an early morning thought that just “happened” to pop into my head.  Throughout the course of that day, He used His word, His people and a peace that only He can give to pull this tired mama back together.

He is so sweet.  He is so faithful.  He knows how much we can take.  He knows what it will take for us to respond to Him.  To sit at His feet.  To want to tell others what He has done.  He knows.  We don’t have to.  He asks us to simply trust.

              “Trust in the Lord with all your heart
                          and lean not on your own understanding;
               in all your ways submit to him,
                         and he will make your paths straight.

                                                                           Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

 

I didn’t always do it well, but He knows my heart.  He knew I was trying.

It doesn’t matter what He added or took from me.  What matters is that He has walked me into a new season.  I literally woke up the next morning with a new pep in my step!  My purpose for this new season is now clear.  My focus is sharp again.  The gears are aligned.  I am clicking along!

My patience and self control carried me through most of that winter.  But, I only boast that they were a gift from Him.  He stretched me past those attributes.  I was worn thin the day he brought me to my spring.  He knew it.  He is compassionate.  He knew my every thought during those months.  He saw every tear.  He heard every request I made of Him.

I was weepy for the next few days, so thankful to Him.  His character.  His faithfulness to me.  He is trustworthy.  We can trust Him.

If you are in winter right now, hang tight.  You may not see it, but He is working it out.  Under the hard, cold ground.  He is doing a work.  And whatever “it” is, it will be for His glory, and your good.  Tighten your grip.  Lift up your eyes to Him.  Tell Him you trust Him.  Stay the course.  Spring is coming!  Remember, seasons change.  Springtime is coming.

HERE I AM!!

I’m having fun already and I don’t even know what I’m doing!!  I’m a 45 year old mother of 2 (19 & 22) and wife to Tim for 25 years.  I have been described as having a gentle, quiet spirit, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to say.  What it really means is if I’m in a group setting, I will not interrupt you.  I wait quietly for someone to take a breath so that I can contribute to the conversation.  Do you know what I’ve learned?  Sometimes we love the sound of our own voice don’t we?  Sometimes that person we see as “quiet” is really just a listener.  An observer.  I try, most of the time, to think before I speak.  I think that’s why I love to write.

If I was beginning this blog 20 years ago it would look very different than what it is today.  I may be venting about morning sickness while working full time.  Navigating the terrible 2’s while pregnant.  Desperately needing a date night with my husband, but who can afford a sitter AND dinner, right?  If I were writing this 6 or 7 years ago…my oh my.  I would be talking about raising teenagers in a world that is saturated with social media, secret things in cell phones, and loving (without killing) a very strong willed teenager and a gentle, always smiling, younger child.  We helped one child navigate their decision of what to do with their life and are in the throes of it with another.

I do not have all of the answers to marriage or raising children.  I’ve made mistakes in both.  I don’t know the secret to being the “best friend ever” to anyone.  But I know the One who does.  And I know with every fiber of my being, that we were all created for relationship.  If I can drive just one point home in this first post, it’s that.  As I look back over my adult life (so far) most of the milestones that come to mind involved other people.  Friends have come and gone.  Some by chance, some on purpose.  God has used people to teach me about Him, about mothering, about being a wife.  He has used people to teach me about humility, serving others, blessing others and leaning on people other than myself.  Through it all, I’ve grown closer to Him.  That is what our relationships are for, to draw us closer to Him.  Even the failed ones.

I know that God honors relationships that are authentic.  Genuine.  Raw.  If my life really belongs to Him, then He gets all of it.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  He wants to use ALL of me to draw myself and others to Him.

I’m learning to speak up more. I’m learning to not worry if someone will agree with my opinion.  I’m learning to stop filtering what I say through the sieve of judgment and fear.  It’s a horrible trap that can suck the life out of you.

This place…this blog…will come from my heart.  I  hope we can connect on here.  Lock arms.  Push through. Pray for one another.  Celebrate together.  Share wisdom.  Be real.  Encourage one another in this thing called life.