Month: October 2016

The Crucible: A Marine Mom’s Labor

Typically, I don’t publish a blog on Sunday afternoon, but today is a special day. You see, tonight my baby sister will be in labor and her family could use some prayers.

No, she isn’t pregnant, but she will be in labor, and her labor will begin at 5 a.m. Eastern time, 2 a.m. Pacific time.

When she and her husband go to bed tonight, they probably will not fall asleep right away. I suspect they will pray together and then talk about their son, their one and only son, who is far away from them. They will reminisce about his childhood. They will pray for his endurance and strength. They will try to sleep.

When her alarm sounds at 5, if she is not already awake, my sister will get out of bed and recall all the sleepless nights she had when her son was a newborn. She will think of the times she had to get up in the cold and dark and rock him when he was sick. Her arms will ache with the emptiness that comes when you can’t hug someone you love. She will ask God to wrap her son securely in his arms – he will.

As she laces up her running shoes, she will be reminded of her son’s first steps and of all the times she tied his shoes and sent him out to play. She will smile as she recalls her pride in his accomplishments, both then and now. She will ask God to keep his feet secure and steady over the next three days – he will.

She will pull her jacket on and wonder if her son is too cold, or too warm. She will remember all the zippers she zipped getting him ready for school. She will ask God to protect him wherever he is, whatever the weather – he will.

And then, she will run. She is new to running, but it has become her go-to activity for thinking and praying and breathing deeply. She will look at the stars and she will talk with God. She will cry out to him. She will surrender to him. She will trust him. She will hand over her fears and her worries because she knows that her son, her one and only son, is also at this very minute doing the same thing.

And if she, her husband, and her son are in the very same throne room of God, at the same time, seeking grace and mercy in their time of need, then they are all together. They are not a continent apart, and God is in the midst of them.

Zach begins The Crucible (read about it here), tonight. I imagine that is all he is thinking about today. He will probably be in church as you are reading this. He will most likely spend the afternoon thinking about what is ahead and talking about it with his new friends. He will probably not be thinking about what his mom and dad are going through. He has a lot on his plate.

However, I suspect that Zach is not so much thinking about tomorrow at 2 a.m. As he is about Wednesday. I imagine Zach is prepared for this, and has set his face like flint on finishing. He will do whatever he has to do to drop the label ‘recruit’ and become a Marine.

We can’t do anything to help Zach through the physical and mental aspect of this ordeal, but, like his momma, we can pray. And prayer has power because the God to whom we pray is all-powerful! There is nothing too wonderful for him!

When we pray, we do go directly into the throne room of Almighty God. We are allowed in because of the blood of Jesus, who set his face like flint to endure the cross, focusing on the joy that lay beyond it, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. He kept his eyes focused on the end rather than the process of getting there.

Jesus, God’s one and only Son, accomplished for you and for me the salvation and reconciliation that allows us to come into God’s presence for grace and mercy in our time of need. We are told that we are most like Christ when we intercede for others. I think that is true. Christ continually intercedes for you and for me.

The Marines ask that we turn our porch light on to show support for our recruits during the Crucible. My light will be on, because I will be interceding for Zach.

Will you join us? Will you pray for Zach? Will you pray for all of the young men as they become Marines (the ones who stand between us and evil, the ones who fight to secure our right to vote, to go to church, to kneel during the national anthem), and for Zach’s momma as she labors on behalf of her recruit who is becoming a Marine?

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If you decide to pray for Zach, and for all of our recruits, and if your porch light is on, will you post a picture of your front porch onto social media with  #TheCrucible. You can post to my sister’s FaceBook (here), Zach’s (here)… or mine (here), or share this post and upload your photo along with it.

We Did it! We Voted!

blog230pic1It’s Done! Never have I deliberated, debated, read, studied, and prayed for an election more than I have for this one – and today, Brian and I voted. It is finished.

Who did I vote for? Well, that is between God and me! And, trust me, I surely won’t suggest who you should vote for, but if you will indulge me for a couple of minutes, I will suggest who you should not vote for, and I will tell you why.

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First, please do not vote for a candidate simply because there is a D or an R – or any letter – after their name.

It seems that so many of us affiliate so strongly with our party, that no matter who the candidate is, we cannot fathom the idea of voting for anyone with the “wrong” letter, but at what cost?

What if our party’s nominee does not support our party’s policies; policies we have embraced for decades that are now being cast aside? Is either party today what it was even a couple of election cycles ago? I don’t think so.

Is it time to look into our hearts and into our party’s historic and current platforms and decide if the D/R – or any other letter – truly identifies us?

If we don’t agree with the direction in which our party affiliation’s policies will take the country, then maybe it’s time to leave the D or the R behind and vote for the policies in which we believe.

Second, please do not vote for a candidate because of the way you feel about him or her.

How can we let something as fleeting and deceptive as our emotions lead us when we cast a ballot that will affect our lives and our country for four years? If we can’t defend our vote with facts, then perhaps we shouldn’t be voting.

We must leave the emotions at home and refrain from voting for someone based on emotion; we must vote based on what we know. This requires understanding the policies our candidates espouse. We must do the research, visit their websites, and turn off the TV!

Third, please don’t vote for the lesser of two evils.

I’ve heard this a lot – about both major candidates – and I have to ask: is there anything good about supporting a lesser evil? If this is our rationale for voting, then we are purposely choosing evil, even a lesser evil, for president. Why? We must think this one through carefully because no one is forcing us to vote for anyone.

Fourth, please don’t vote against a candidate. To vote against a candidate is to vote for another candidate.

When we vote for any candidate, (even as a vote against another candidate) we must be certain that we understand exactly what we are voting for. A vote is a ballot cast for someone – and their policies.

So, here’s our dilemma (OK, my dilemma): if we refrain from letting the D or the R influence us, if we leave our emotions at home, if we choose not to settle, and if we refrain from voting against a candidate– then who do we vote for?

We must look beyond the rhetoric, the hate speech, the lies – yes, lies – and we must do the necessary research in order to understand exactly what/who we are voting for when we check that ballot.

We have to listen to all sides with an open mind, and that means we will have to sift through mountains of disgusting word vomit in order to get to the meager crust of truth.

We must weigh – not just the candidates – but the issues and the policies they represent. We must decide who best aligns with our constitution’s framework for our nation. We must vote for the candidate whom we believe will most effectively accomplish our understanding of how God intends government should work.

That means we must have a copy of our constitution handy and our Bibles open as we make our decision. We must pray. We must seek God’s wisdom. We must let God guide us. And we must be able to say clearly that we voted as we truly believe God would have us vote.

God has a plan for our nation – and those plans will not change on November 8. He knows who will be in the Whitehouse. He knows whether salvation or carnage will come with the next president, and he has a glorious purpose in allowing it.

“be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left”

Deuteronomy 17:15a, 18-20a NIV

We absolutely must vote. However, be sure when you vote that God is with you in the voting booth, and leave the D and the R, the emotions, and the negativity at home.

Are you prepared to vote for a candidate, rather than against anyone else? Will you vote for his or her policies. Will you vote based on the facts?

 

 

Lights On for The Crucible

blog229pic2_edited-1Listen up, Christians, there are some things we need to learn about preparing our children, our leaders, and ourselves for the spiritual battles we will inevitably face and the United States Marine Corps is a really good teacher!

You may recall that I wrote about my sister’s son, Zach, leaving for boot camp last summer. Well, the next big event on his agenda is The Crucible. After watching a WGN video depicting the final events of The Crucible (watch it here) I have to say, I am praying for my nephew, and his parents, like never before!

Behind the dark sleep-deprived eyes of these young Marines one can see continue here

Considering Coloring

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These are my coloring books and crayons. I fear the adult coloring trend is passing me by at a spectacular rate! Or is there still time to jump on board that train? I was at the bookstore on Saturday and was amazed at this display…

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When I look at all the continue here

Heart Surgery

blog227pic I have a friend who recently had her hip replaced, another friend who is facing shoulder reconstruction and my brother just had back surgery. All because of intense chronic pain that limited their ability to fully enjoy life.

Pain is enslaving. It is a continue reading here