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!

I Pledge Allegiance

I Pledge Allegiance

There’s more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
More that shines in the night
Than just the moon
There’s more than just this fire here
That keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger
Than this room
There’s a loyalty that’s deeper
Than mere sentiment
A music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the giver
Of all good things

(Rich Mullins – If I Stand)

I Pledge Allegiance

The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the give of all good things.

Yes. This.

Distracted, concerned, overwhelmed, or frustrated – I have seen my friends and family experience just these things in recent days. Truth be told, I have been there too.

I look at the world where I live and am appalled by the atrocities of what people can do to each other through word and deed. I hurt for victims that cannot defend themselves. I struggle in the world where I live wondering if I even fit here and what my purpose might be.

It’s the stuff of earth.

Tempted to see only what is in front of me, my allegiance starts to settle on my own abilities, the powers that seem “more right,” ideas like “good always wins,” or a myriad of other crutches I use to hobble along.

Crippled, broken, unqualified – all words I could use to describe myself . . . but for the grace of God.

It’s where we all are without our Savior. My allegiance should be to Him and Him alone.

I pledge allegiance, I make an oath, to pursue Him above all else, to follow Him regardless of where it takes me, to trust Him even when I can’t see the next step, to stand on the hope and the promises He gives. The day I accepted Him as my Savior I promised to do just this. He becomes Lord . . . and so much more.

So today, when I am tempted to get caught up in what I see and falter in my allegiance to the One, I will remember that there’s more that rises in the morning than the sun and shines in the night than the moon. I will choose to stand not on what I see or feel but on the promises of His Word.

I will pledge allegiance to Him alone.

 

Join me:

1. Pursue Him:

“But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

These words from Paul to Timothy are just as challenging to us. Pursue Him above all else. How do we do that daily? Moment by moment? We must build a relationship with Him. Spend time with Him. Are we doing that today?

2. Follow Him:

“Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12)

HE is the light. Follow Him wherever He leads. He has certainly taken me places I could have never dreamed, some more challenging than others. We must learn to follow Him regardless of where He leads.

3. Trust Him:

“Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.”(Psalm 9:10)

We must trust in Him alone. I love this promise that He has not abandoned those who seek Him. How thankful I am that regardless of my circumstance or situation, He is faithful. Trust is an “all in” kind of thing. It is not a half-hearted attempt, but a desire to give ourselves completely to His care.

4. Stand with Him:

“Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received.”(Ephesians 4:1)

Walk worthy, my friends. We serve an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God, may we live like we do.

Regardless of what is going on around me or the feelings I have in my heart. HE is life. HE is truth. I challenge us all today to go back to Him, to pursue, follow, trust, and stand with Him today.

It Changed My Life

It Changed My Life

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture.

When I was young, Bible drills were a part of our life at church. I used to love them – not necessarily because I memorized lots of Scripture. I used to love the competition that came with it. Putting the Bible between my hands with no fingers hanging over the side, they would say a part of a verse or the reference. Once they said go, I had 30 seconds to find the verse I was looking for and step forward.

I got pretty good at it and have a couple of ribbons to show for it. Much as I loved Bible drills, though, it wasn’t the Bible drills that changed my life.

The Bible changed my life.

I have sat under many fabulous teachers of the Word who have great speaking skills, inspirational stories, and fun interaction. They have taught me much, but it wasn’t them that changed my life either.

The Bible changed my life.

I love to read. There are so many books out there by great authors. Reading books on leadership, organizational management, history, personalities, I have learned so much about myself and others. They have made me better as an individual, but they still haven’t changed my life.

The Bible changed my life.

I have worked through Bible studies written by godly men and women, listened to them through their DVD, and had great discussions. But in the end it was not the book, DVD, or discussions that changed my life.

The Bible changed my life.

While all of these things are good things, there is only one BEST thing, only one thing that truly changes the lives and eternities of people. As you enter into your studies in this new year, lead studies, and choose books to read, remember not to forget you time in Word. Read Scripture in your own space at home. Open your Bible with your friends and study groups and read it together. Sit in church not merely listening to what someone has to say, even the most knowledgeable and godly, but opening your copy of Scripture and seeing for yourself what the Lord has for you. Memorize words of Scripture so that God can bring them back to your mind in moments when you need them.

The Bible is the one most powerful manuscript in the history of the world, available to us in multiple formats and translations.

Praying we use it to its full capacity and allow it to change us. In doing so, we become “complete, equipped for every good work.”

What are you reading in Scripture right now and what is God teaching you through it?

 

 

Joining in on the #MondayminutewithGod over at Planting Roots this week! Click on the graphic to join us!

Faithful

Faithful

The one thing I want the Lord to see in me. The one thing I am so grateful for today.

HE is faithful. Always.

It’s been a year of testing and questions and new adventures and finishing deployments and…well, let’s just say it’s been a year. A beautiful, challenging, stretching, learning, growing year. Through it all, there has been one constant thread – HE has been faithful. Every. Single. Day.

I pray the Lord sees the same thing in me. Every moment, every day is there a thread that is constant in my life as well? I long for the words from Jesus, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). I want to live a life of faithfulness to the Lord.

But looking at my life as a whole can be somewhat overwhelming – I mean, it is a WHOLE life. That’s a lot on my plate.

The Lord has reminded me lately though that I am not responsible for my whole life today. I am simply responsible for today.

Obedience – it’s what He has called me to today. Obedience in the little things from words with a neighbor to time with the Lord are what I should be focused on. Knowing that stringing together days of obedience leads to a legacy of faith and a trail of Jesus. If I keep taking steps in the right direction, I end up exactly where I am supposed to be.

So today I am determined to follow Him, one step at a time, one act of obedience at a time. Trusting that if I do that every day I end up leaving the legacy I desire. Knowing I will mess up along the way, I am also thankful for His grace.

For it is His grace that looks through my mistakes and sees a heart that truly does long to serve Him.

He is faithful, my friends. Praying that we are as well.

What has He called you to do today?

 

Do We Believe?

Do We Believe?

I call myself a believer, but do I really believe?

When my friend calls from across the ocean and says her mom has cancer, I tell her I’ll pray. When my sister messages me to let me know that this season of life has been hard and today harder still, I tell her I will pray. When someone I love is hurting physically and some Advil doesn’t fix it, I tell them I’ll pray. I tell lots of people I will pray.

Then I follow it up with, “If there is anything more I can do, please let me know.”

I end the conversation feeling like I should do something more, maybe if I was just there in person I could actually help. Is that what believers do?

A “Believer” is “a person who believes.” Now that’s profound, right?

So what does “believe” mean? Believe means to “to have confidence or faith in the truth.”

Truth. Now that is a Word.

Jesus talked about Truth in Scripture. In John 17:17 in a prayer for the disciples, He said, Your word is truth.” Not long before in a conversation with Thomas in John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus said the word was truth and that He was the truth – so which is it? This question is answered in John 1:1-3, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

Jesus is the Living Word, so both the written Word of God and the Living Word of God are truth.

Do I believe? Do I have confidence in the Truth? If I ,in fact, believe, then I know and trust that when I pray, when I truly lay these burdens at the foot of my Savior that this is the greatest work. Being there, physically doing something, is nice, but if I think that is the “real help” then I am missing the point.

he-hears

To believe is to have trust and in confidence in the truth. Truth says, “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. 17 Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:16-17) This and in many other instances, Scripture reminds us that the Lord hears.

If He hears us, the next question arises. Will He actually do anything about it?

The Bible reminds us many times how much God loves us, not just that one moment He sacrificed His Son to save us. But in so many other instances and actions, His love is repeated over and over again. In Romans 8:38-39, Paul testifies to just this fact when he says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If He really loves us and it is within His power (because He is, after all, all-powerful) to help us, why wouldn’t He? He does.

So today, as we sit distant from people we love and care for, as we long to be there and actually “do something,” be reminded that we have been given a greater task.

Our job, our privilege, is to take those requests, needs, burdens to the foot of the cross to a God who loves, hears and answers.

greater-work

It is truly the greatest work.

We must believe in who He is and the promises He’s made then trust Him with the outcome.

Believe that prayer is the greater work.

 

What are you praying for today? How can I pray for you?

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