What do you do with family? Just the word family contains a lot: a lot of emotion and a lot of history. Some hopes and dreams and wishes. Probably some fears and a few hurts. For some of you, the word brings up considerably more positive reactions than negative ones. Others of you are simply trying to break years of destructive family cycles and build a better foundation for your children to launch from. God designed us to live and grow in families, so it's no surprise that families also encompass many of our most difficult relationships.
How much do you pray? Okay, before anyone gives up on this post or journies into a guilt trip where I don't intend to lead you, let's all admit that we could all pray more. We could (and probably should) seek God more. But that's not my intent in asking the question. Instead, I want to consider the why behind our actual tendency and discipline. Why don't we pray more?
In my book The Warrior's Bride, I shared quite a bit about the health problems my husband endures. Chronic pain, back issues, migraines, leg cramps, and more are a regular part of our lives. I used to wonder what I was supposed to do with that. Were the physical struggles a test? A character building process? Would God heal him, or lead us to the doctor with the right procedure to make things better? And what does it say about our faith if nothing changes? What does it say about God if things get worse?
Relationships are hard, and trusting the Lord with them is rarely easy. One devastating time in my marriage is crystal clear in my memory. My husband hadn’t slept in two days because of an undiagnosed medical issue and was highly irritable. We fought, and he raced off on his motorcycle. I ran to our room, sat on the edge of the bed, and sobbed. I contemplated divorce, even knowing that wasn’t the answer. I didn't want to stay, but at the same time I didn't want to leave. I felt trapped. Alone. This brief story from my life relates just one time when despair threatened to overwhelm me. When emotions could have determined my choices. When I could have easily followed my heart right out of my marriage. Emotions are funny things. They surge to the surface without effort and can control us if we aren’t careful. Many people advise you to follow your heart, but that's dangerous advice.
Back in early October, I made two big announcements: I was starting my own publishing company. I was reclaiming the rights to my Crossing series. Several of you patiently waited while my assistant and I waded into the publishing waters. We had some battles to win, fights with computers over formatting issues and such. But we won! The ENTIRE Crossing Series is NOW Available!
Thanksgiving will soon be over, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. One holiday almost done, one more to go. This season brings out the worst in you: anger, depression, loneliness, bitterness. Your mind fills with the thoughts of what could have been, what should have been. If only . . . If you are in a fresh crisis, grieve. I want to make it clear that this post is not for those who are in the midst of a crisis. If you are coming out of a fresh loss, if tragedy turned your world upside down this year — give yourself grace. You do not need to have it all together with your happy face firmly planted for all to see this December. Instead, I'm talking to the person who thinks they have nothing to be grateful for. The person who faces a rough life, feels betrayed by a loved one, or stands between a rock and a hard place. The one stuck in a world of negative emotions because life hasn't been good or fair. While I empathize with your hard places and disappointments, I want to lovingly remind you of truth.
To be honest, before I started researching my fiction book Kindling Embers, I didn't give much thought to fire protection. We didn't have a lot of open flames around our house, rarely used candles or the grill, so what was there to worry about? According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the United States responded to a fire every twenty-three seconds in 2015. On average, fire departments reported one civilian injury due to fire every thirty-four minutes, and someone died due to fire every two hours and forty minutes. Maybe, we all have a lot to learn about the fire hazards in our homes.
What's your first thought when God says no? Sour grapes? What you were asking for probably wasn't any good anyway. Temper tantrum? God never really loved you or listened to you in the first place. Quiet acceptance? God knows what is best and wants to bless you with it, so whatever happens is okay with you. Something different? When we moved to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, we were given the choice of two houses ....
When I was a young warrior's bride, I knew little about military life. I was so naive, I didn't know what questions to ask the more experienced brides around me. I couldn't formulate my ignorance into coherent thought to even begin a discussion on what the future might look like. I have learned much over the years, through my experience and through the lives of dear friends. Military life no longer scares me, even though it occasionally troubles me. I don't fear for my active duty friends, although worry sometimes sends me into deeper prayer for them. Here at Fort Bragg, we are in a deployment cycle. To be truthful, because of the units housed here, we are always in a deployment cycle. One-quarter to one-third of the ladies who attend the military group at our church are in the midst of life while their spouse is half a world away. It's normal here. But that doesn't mean we are good about talking through it.
What if God (as in, it was unquestioningly clear that it was God) asked you to pack up and leave your family and friends? What if God asked you to fight for a people who were being devalued and mistreated? Did your heart and mind jump forward, ready to pack your bags? Or did you hesitate? Your heart just revealed your true beliefs to you. Deep in your heart, your are acting on one of these three foundations: 1. God knows everything and what He's asking is for my best, now matter what it looks like. 2. God only knows everything. But He either can't or doesn't care to control everything. 3. God doesn't really know everything. These are tough statements that I tend to wrestle with during those times when my life is interrupted with a problem or God asks me to do something I know I'm not capable of doing on my own. What about you?