Monthly Archives: March 2014

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? Part 2

Posted on by
father and son

The blessing involves five key components

 Then he [Esau] said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Gen. 27:36

My heart can’t help but feel sorry for Esau, who was tricked out of the family blessing from his father, Isaac. Not because of sibling rivalry, but more so because it reveals a family as a whole that didn’t always get along.  Not only was there conflict and disunity between the two twin brothers, Esau and Jacob, but also between husband and wife (Isaac and Rebekah). It’s also a story of a mother who favored her younger son and of a father who favored the eldest son. No doubt, this created a troubling struggle in that family. Not much has changed. Favoritism is still a problem in many families today, but what is it about the blessing that created such an uproar in Esau’s family?

 May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone that blesses you! (Genesis 27:28-29 NKJV).

 Before a father passed away, it was customary to perform a ceremony to formally give the blessing to the firstborn son.1 In fact, in Hebrew, “firstborn” is bekorah, whereas “blessing” is berakah. These two similar words, “firstborn” and “blessing” use a play on words to link their meanings together.2 Although Esau was the first born son, and according to the custom of the day was the assumed recipient of the blessing, a father could pass the blessing on to another son if he so chose. However, once the blessing was given, it was irrevocable. This is because in ancient times, a person’s word was binding, especially when it was a formal oath.3 

 The birthright of the first born son (in our story that is Esau) is different than receiving the blessing. Remember, Esau had sold his birthright for a pot of stew (Gen.25:29-33). But the blessing was an extension of the birthright and included some personal and heartfelt words along with a gesture from the father. When I think of the birthright I think mostly of the tangible things passed on to the eldest son. He received a double share of his father’s inheritance.  However, with the blessing it is far more personal and therefore more deeply felt. The blessing includes words from a father conveying worth, unconditional love, and acceptance to his son. Those are life-sustaining words. Like it did in Esau and Jacob’s day, the blessing can propel a child onto the path of God’s will for his or her life. Receiving the blessing can satisfy a deep longing of the heart. You can feel Esau’s pain in his words to his father as he begins to bitterly sob at the realization that his brother, Jacob, took the blessing deceitfully from him. “Not one blessing left for me? O my father, bless me too” (Gen.27:38 TLB).

It was not uncommon for fathers in Esau’s and Jacob’s day to wait until late in life to pronounce the blessing in case the first born son wasn’t deserving of it. This way the father could chose to give it to a more deserving son.4

Isaac did have words for Esau’s future, even though the blessing was not to be his. However, they were words probably hard to take in. Isaac says, “Yours will be no life of ease and luxury, but you shall hew your way with your sword. For a time you will serve your brother, [younger brother] but you will finally shake loose from him and be free” (Gen. 27:39-40 TLB). Being that Esau was Isaac’s favorite, perhaps knowing that he would no longer be struggling against his younger brother brought some comfort.

 It’s also worth noting that God had chosen Jacob over Esau to receive the blessing, however, his mother, Rebekah decided to manipulate the situation and hurry up God’s plan.

Today the blessing is still conveyed, but perhaps with less protocol than in Bible times, but the importance is still no less needed. In a couple of months, my son, Lawrence, will be graduating from high school. My husband, Ray, and I are working on the words we want to convey to him as we mark this milestone in his life.

 In The Blessing, written by John Trent and Gary Smalley, it describes the importance of the blessing: “The family blessing provides that much-needed sense of personal acceptance. The blessing also plays a part in protecting and even freeing people to develop intimate relationships. Perhaps most important, it lays the foundation for a genuine and fulfilling relationship with God that can survive even the rocky teen years, when many young people pull away from faith.”5

John Trent and Gary Smalley describe the five elements of the blessing of which we’ll explore in the next blog article. “The presence or absence of these elements can help us determine whether our home is–or our parents’ home was–a place of blessing.”6 The foundational truth to the blessing is that it is wrapped and sealed in Jesus’ unconditional love. His love is so profound, we can’t even take it all in. We see our flaws, weaknesses, screw-ups and hang-ups, but still, He sees His created children that He chooses to love–without exception.

Giving the blessing, according to John Trent and Gary Smalley is all about choosing–stepping towards someone.

On Thursday we’ll look at the concept of stepping towards our children. Again, if you have a story to share, or this blog article spoke to your heart, please reply in the section below. We grow by sharing.

Blessings,

Lisa

 

 

 

 

Notes

1 Bible Note for Genesis 27:33-37, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Bible Note for Genesis 27:4, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL.: Crossway, 2008).

3 Bible Note for Genesis 27:33, Life Application Bible

4 Bible Note for Genesis 27:33-37, Life Application Bible

5 John Trent and Gary Smalley, The Blessing (Nashville, TN.: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1993), 27.

6 Ibid., 34.

Always Just Out of Reach – Part 1 of Searching for the Blessing Series

Posted on by

Did you get the blessing?

Part 1 – My Story

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

 I didn’t know there was a name for when we are deprived of  our parent’s unconditional love and acceptance until many years later after I was ordered to move out of my stepfather and mother’s home. I hadn’t been a bad daughter, I tried telling myself.  I was on the Dean’s Honor Roll at my high school. I didn’t party, drink, smoke, use foul language, or sleep with boys. I had nice respectable girlfriends and I was involved in my church youth group. I obeyed the rules of my home; in fact, I didn’t even challenge them. So, why didn’t I have the blessing? (as I later learned it is called).

See, my mother found me to be inadequate, useless, and hopeless as her daughter. Unbridled anger was also a problem and this made me terribly uncomfortable and afraid. I tried to do all the right things in an attempt to manipulate my home atmosphere. If my mother wasn’t home when I returned from school,  one of my ploys was to start cleaning the house so when she got home, it would put her in a good mood. On rare occasions it worked. Often it backfired.

 Over the next 20 years I struggled with why she stepped back from me. And decided to subtract from my life. I couldn’t shake the bleak cloud of oppression that hung continuously over my heart. A lot of  hurtful events transpired over the years as my husband and I were in the early years of starting our family. To make a very long story short, I never did receive the blessing. But God has been beside me. I won’t say the sting of not having her blessing went completely away, because it didn’t. And some years were harder than others, like when my children passed through various milestones, of which my mother and stepfather chose to miss completely. However, the resulting painful throb diminished as I got older and my faith took on a fresh strength, direction and meaning.

At some point I decided to grow from this experience rather than to let it hinder me, or worse, make me bitter. As I meandered through life, in the trenches of the military lifestyle, supporting my husband’s military career, PCS moves, ship’s schedules, deployments, returning to school, and raising kids, my faith helped me to get out from under that perpetual dark cloud of a wounded heart. God had shown (and continues to show) me many important insights, revelations, and biblical truths from the book of Isaiah. Besides my own wreckage left behind, there was devastating debris lingering from my mother’s generation with her parents. It is to these ruins I attribute to the absence of the blessing.

Funny thing about ruins, they remain for other generations to see, pick up and use again and again until someone decides to stop the merry-go-round. I decided that person would be me. God provided a fresh perspective on the legacy of ruins left behind with the longing to understand them first and then bury them going forward with my two children. But, deep down God planted a truth in my heart – an anchor, that faith does makes a difference. There came a day when it was time to step towards my children, bury the generational ruins, and focus on my children’s spiritual wellbeing. With a lot of prayer and recommended reading from my pastor, I did that, and my heart began to crawl out of the burial ground of a generational curse. The chains that held my heart captive, dropped. With a lost relationship, it’s not possible to completely forget about ‘what could of been’ but God doesn’t allow us to suffer for no reason. There’s still scar tissue, but I try to picture that as a metaphor of  Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance covering my wounded heart. All these years later, as a daughter of the King, I realize my need for the blessing (unconditional love and approval) must ultimately come from my heavenly father.

Do you have a similar story of missing out on the blessing? Are you also a military wife or spouse? Please share your story in the comment section below, so we can connect. I would love to hear from others who experienced the absence of the blessing. And if need be, you can remain anonymous. (This blog series began with, “Did You Miss the Parental Blessing?”  On Monday, we’ll explore the background of the blessing.

Blessings,

Lisa

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing?

Posted on by
Passing Down the Blessing

Passing Down the Blessing

Have you always felt like you didn’t quite measure up in your parent’s estimation? Did they fail to convey to you that you are valued with a special future? Did you leave home emotionally hurt, dejected, even ostracized? Is there a deep felt need that was never met?If so, then you may not of received the blessing from your parents. The blessing is the unconditional love and acceptance from your parents. Essentially, there are five key components to the blessing. The picture above portrays one of the components.

Today, the blessing is customarily given by the parents when a child graduates from high school, leaves home, such as going off to college, or securing the long and sought-after job, or getting married. But the blessing components are also communicated on a day to day basis, with special emphasis given when a child meets a special milestone or momentous occasion in their life.

I’m taking courses as part of the certification process for obtaining my credential in Advance Christian Life Coaching through Light University. My first course called, The Blessing, by John Trent and Gary Smalley, immediately spoke to my heart. That’s because I spent years in deep inner turmoil always searching for my mother’s approval. With each life milestone I met, I secretly hoped it would be ‘the one’ that would make her finally accept me. It would never be. As a military wife  raising my own children,  the awareness of her absence was no more keenly felt than when my husband was away on deployments and training missions. But during the time my husband was at sea, my heart was additionally burdened. I was very concerned if my kids were missing out of their father’s blessing.

Because this subject matter of family disunity is prevalent in our culture today,  I’m running a series of blog posts, hopefully with reader input, (that’s you!) around the biblical principles of this topic.

Whether you are a military wife, the military member, or a faithful supporter of our military, and can relate to missing the blessing, I invite you to follow along with me in this series of blog posts. You may even want to buy a copy of The Blessing to go deeper. The emphasis here is to always move forward in Christ, taking what is discovered to enable you and I to bless our children despite the absence of the gift of unconditional love and approval from our own parents.

If you are a parent, who like me, missed out on receiving the blessing, but understand how vital this is to pass on to your own children, please join me weekly here. I would enjoy your company. My hope and goal is to come alongside you-the military wife, mother, father, or military couple, who despertly wants to learn what the blessing is all about, where the idea of the blessing comes from, and how to pass on the blessing to your children.

It doesn’t matter what type of family you and I came from, (military or not) but if you and your spouse are a military family, this is meant for you since my desire this blog is to help strengthen the military family in spiritual readiness. And giving the blessing to your children is part of spiritual wellbeing. To get us going, here is a snippet of my own story.

Unconditional Love and Approval – Always Just Out of Reach

I left home at the age of eighteen without ever getting my mother and step-father’s blessing. On that dreadful day in 1980, there were no hugs, no tender words of, “I believe in you,” “you’re doing great,” or, “my heart swells with joy thinking about the future God has for you,” or simply a long embrace to convey I mattered.  No longer welcomed in my home,  I was ordered to have my things moved out by the end of the weekend when my family would be returning from camping over the 4th of July holiday weekend. I did not know about the blessing when I was eighteen, and I suspect neither did my mother.

Sadly, it has been over 30 years since I last saw my stepfather and 18 years since….

Why was I told to leave home without the blessing? That is my next blog post. So come on back tomorrow when I share the rest of my story and we’ll also jump into where this idea of the “blessing” came from?

Blessings to You!

Lisa

Is an Ungodly Fear Keeping You from Moving Forward?

Posted on by
Man jumping in Sun Rays

What fear did God help you overcome?

“…do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Have you ever been charged with a task that seemed beyond your capabilities? My daughter, Megan, recently began a new job and at first this job seemed a bit over her head, but as the weeks tick off, she is attaining new skills, growth, and confidence in her abilities.

In my last blog post, we read about how Joshua took his anxiety and apprehension over leading two million people into the promise land to God. And God comforted and assured Joshua that He would go with him. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

I wish I had known of Joshua’s story of courage and trust in God when I was at a fork in the road in my own life. It was 1982, and I had just graduated with my two-year degree in elementary education and I would soon transfer to a four year university to complete my coursework. But when it came to do my student teaching, paralysis stopped me in my tracks. This wasn’t a brief moment of anxiety, but a core fear that laid dormant for years until the reality of my fear rose to the surface and I had to confront it. Even though I was a daughter of the Most High King, I certainly didn’t possess or reflect His empowerment to reject this fear and move forward trusting God. I learned later–years later, that this fear was an ungodly fear and it comes from our enemy, the devil.

See, I had left a home filled with a spirit of fear and mired in deep conflict. This home atmosphere dominated my thoughts and became critical, serious, and unforgiving. My daily responsibilities around our country home, and how I did them were under constant scrutiny – and the one mantra I heard over and over was, “You don’t think! You don’t use your head!” Those words reverberated in my head over and over for many years. By the time I was eighteen, I had a dreadful complex of a fear of failing, but I never disclosed the degree to which this fear had a hold on me. Not even to my grandmother, who did pray for me. It was my own exclusive torment.

The unspoken truth buried deep inside my heart was that I didn’t believe I was capable or good enough to pass the student teaching portion of my schooling. Truth was, any constructive criticism about my student teaching made by seasoned teachers would have crushed me. I knew their purpose was to help me succeed, but I didn’t believe I would succeed. I didn’t possess God’s affirmation of me then.  I couldn’t risk failing and being rejected because it would reveal how unworthy or incompetent I truly believed I was.  Sadly, I bailed from the teaching program altogether.

FEAR–it is a strong motivator either for good or for bad. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my journey of faith in the years since, it’s that when you’ve surrendered to God’s will He never leaves you in your present state. If you’ll allow Him, He’ll take you far from where He found you. His grace sees everything–all our weaknesses, flaws, and hang ups, even hang ups caused by the words and actions of others. One of the first places God began working in me was my sense of worth. It’s ironic because this fear-of-failing theme that evolved into a fear of being rejected surfaced many times in my early 20’s. I noticed this pattern and determined that God wasn’t done with me; He was still chiseling out a new creation.

In growing in Him, I came to learn about the entanglements of harboring ungodly fear. Each time I applied for a certain job or when I finally returned to college and completed my accounting degree, I had to confront those negative messages and pray to God like Joshua did. I soaked up God’s Word about how He’s present in all my fearful situations and that I needed to call on Him to empower me to reject any ungodly fear. He began with these powerful words. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In those times when I did fall short, I was secure in God’s acceptance.

Ungodly fear begins with doubt. When we doubt we become worried and this opens the door to fear. You may be familiar with Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” But have you ever noticed the four short words at the end of verse 5?  The Lord is near. When Paul wrote those words he was sitting in prision and contemplating possible death, but yet he said he was content (Phil.4:11). This is because he knew Jesus was with him there in that prison. And He is also with us in our fearful situations.

Today, I am nothing like that fearful twenty-year-old. I live in the truth that I’m affirmed by Jesus’ sacrifice for me, which proves His love and acceptance. Somewhere in this journey I realized a shift happened. My heart is content in the joy of living in God’s acceptance more than striving after other people’s approval. I do my best, but I try to leave the results to God. As my devotion to Jesus grew, His acceptance of me blotted out my ungodly fear-of-rejection complex. His approval of me is empowering, enabling me to be effective for Him.

If you haven’t shared your story of how fear became a barrier, please do. I would enjoy connecting with you.

Blessing,

Lisa  

What Fear Have You Conquered?

Posted on by

What fear have you conquered?

What fear have you conquered?

Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you” (Deu. 31:6).

 Sometimes to find victory in our lives we have to push forward despite our fears. The Israelites had trouble with this concept when they failed to trust God to allow Moses to lead them into the promise land. Their fear and lack of trust stopped them in their tracks –for 40 years!

  As a result, God allowed them to wander in the wilderness until the older, disobedient generation died. As they waited out the years, the younger generation was taught to obey God’s laws, and by the time they were adults they understood that faith in God and submission to his commands brought victory. But the opposite proved true as well. Disbelief and disobedience brought misfortune and heartbreak.

  When the next generation became adults they were ready to move into the promise land. Moses had died and his successor was Joshua. We know that Joshua had complete trust in God, but even he had fears to confront when he led 2 million people to conquer their enemies and claim a new land.

  Most of us have confronted some kind of fear in our lives. And sometimes this fear is simply the fear of the unknown. This is especially true if we leave God out of our fearful situations. New challenges often bring apprehension; Joshua knew this feeling well. He was overwhelmed by the task God charged him with. After all, he had big shoes to fill. Moses had stood before the Pharaoh of Egypt and requested to free God’s people. Now that was brave and courageous!

 Fear also rises up within us when we harbor doubt about ourselves. It’s possible, Joshua even doubted his abilities to get God’s job done. But, God comforted Joshua. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them…” (Joshua 1:5-6 NKJV). Joshua moved forward, trusting in faith.

  I think it’s still reasonable to still have some degree of fear even when moving in faith. Faith is believing that God will do what He says He will do.  He may not remove all fear, but God will comfort and reassure us, so in our humanity we don’t allow our fear to completely stop us. But faith is taking God at His Word, knowing that if He says He is with us, like He told Joshua, then He is with us, too, in all our fearful situations.

  Think back to one fearful situation you had. Did your fear prompt your heart to seek God for assurance and affirmation–to ask Him to go with you despite your fear? Without God our new challenges can be frightening, but with God they can lead us into a new journey that leads to victory.

 On Wednesday, I’ll share how fear and a lack of my understanding of God’s nature stopped me from taking the next step in a career path that left me with a season of regret.

Since my website and blog is new, I would really enjoy hearing about a fearful situation you experienced and how you pushed through to victory with God. Below is a from to submit your story ­–and I promise I will reply. Connecting with you is important to me. Thanks! 

  Blessings,

Lisa

Introduction – Psalms of Ascent

Posted on by

Smaller size Bible on top of FlagIn Leviticus 23, God ordained seven national celebrations called “festivals” for the Israelites to observe. His purpose for these festivals was to establish worship and fellowship into Israel’s culture, and He commanded the Israelites to designate a time of coming together for spiritual renewal and thanksgiving for all God had accomplished on their behalf.

There were three festivals that required them to travel to Jerusalem: Passover, Pentecost, and the Festival of Tabernacles. It is here that the Psalms of Ascent come into play. They are a group of fifteen hymns from Psalms 120-134 which the Israelites (also referred to as pilgrims) would sing as they made the difficult journey by foot to Jerusalem. Written by various authors–including king’s Hezekiah, David, and Solomon–each psalm communicates a theme or a concern common in their day. Behind such themes as fear, danger, hostility protection, trust, contentment, joy, sorrow, harassment, and honor are genuine accounts of real people who experienced life in raw form. They’re honest testimonies sung with deep emotion. Centuries old, yet the topics in the Psalms of Ascent are of great concern or interest to military service members and their families today. Tucked within the themes are rich and distinctive metaphors, which expand our understanding of the psalms and amplifies their relevance to the culture and faith of the ancient Israelites. As the pilgrims traveled, they recited the psalms, each one a step in their trek to Jerusalem. The overarching premise of the Psalms of Ascent is that their faith made a difference in the outcome of their lives.

The psalms are timely in light of America’s recent war campaigns. Military families can draw vital spiritual lessons that can contribute to their spiritual readiness levels as they answer the call of their commander-in-chief to support and defend America’s moral values, its Judeo-Christian faith and her freedoms.

The title “Psalms of Ascent” originated from several suggested meanings. The most widely known one is that the fifteen psalms relate to the fifteen steps going from the Court of Women to the Court of Israel in the temple in Jerusalem. (If you have a study Bible, check in the Topical Index for “temple” to see if a temple diagram is provided.) Another suggested view is the relationship between Mount Zion and the location of the temple in Jerusalem. Seemingly, the pilgrims continued to sing these psalms as they ascended Mount Zion to reach the temple. It is also worth noting that because these psalms were sung, they’re also referred to as the “Songs of Ascent” and also as the “Pilgrim’s Songs.”

I’ve also seen the Psalms of Ascent referred to as “Songs of Degrees,” a view presented by John Lightfoot and E. Thirtle.1 This view makes a correlation between King Hezekiah and the degrees on his father’s, King Ahaz’s, sundial. Sundials in this period were sometimes made in the form of miniature staircases so that the shadows moved up and down the steps.2 Second Kings 20 gives the story of Hezekiah’s brush with death. Because he came down ill and wasn’t expected to recover, the prophet Isaiah told him to put his affairs in order. In great distress, Hezekiah prayed to God, calling attention to his faithfulness to God as a king (v. 3). Moved by the king’s prayer, God healed him and gave the king an additional fifteen years of life. Because there was some doubt on the part of the king that God would do as He promised, the king asked for a sign.3 Isaiah told Hezekiah that God would turn the shadow on the steps back by ten degrees. “The prophet Isaiah cried to the Lord; and he brought the shadow back the ten intervals, by which the sun had declined on the dial of Ahaz” (v. 11). Because there are ten Psalms of Ascent in which the authors are not identified, the suggestion is they were written by King Hezekiah matching the ten degrees that the sundial retreated,4 with the remaining five authored by the others already mentioned. In 2 Kings 20:5 is an interesting association. God instructed King Hezekiah, upon his healing to go up to the temple on the third day.5

Some scholars treat the fifteen psalms as the five stages (three psalms each), a believer experiences on his or her journey to maturity in Christ. Others group them according to the tone and intended purposes. For example, Psalm 127 and 128 deal with the home and family and therefore are placed next to each other. In my research, there doesn’t appear to be one exact interpretation of the meaning of each psalm. However, there does seem to be similar interpretations between authors. My presentation of the Psalms of Ascent in this book reflect commonly held views for a practical approach for understanding and applying the spiritual principles of each psalm to experiences common to the military lifestyle.

For the greatest benefit, read the Psalm of Ascent that precedes each chapter and contemplate the significance of its meaning, considering tone and emotion. Also consider what application the psalm would serve for your life and circumstances now. If you’re comfortable with writing in your Bible, consider keeping it next to you when reading each chapter, making notes in the margins.

Have you always wanted to know more about the lives of the ancient Israelites, their culture, faith, trials, triumphs, traditions, and also learn about God’s nature in ways that will lead to a deeper worship experience? It is my hope that as you take this journey with me through the Psalms of Ascent, you will find new aspects of God’s nature and biblical truths and principles to apply to your military marriage, family, and personal journey of faith.

May God bless you from Zion.

Military Parents: Have You Deployed Your Arrows Yet?

Posted on by

“Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).Group of elementary school children

 Have you and your husband deployed your arrows yet? I’m talking about children, that is, not actual arrows released from a bow. However, I love the fact that Psalm 127 uses the metaphor of “arrows” to describe our children. This psalm, written by King Solomon, is a about the building of our homes and the gift of children.  He says, “Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (verse 3). Children are a reward, a blessing. For my sisters in Christ, even though verse 3 refers to sons, daughters are included in this blessing.

 As parents, it’s our responsibility in preparing our children for life outside of our home. This includes skill building for how to manage on their own, but it also includes training them up in God’s Word so they can add godly living to their lives, too. Indeed, God has tasked you and me with the job of aiming our children towards a relationship with Christ. But there’s more to this than simply raising godly children. There’s also a purpose behind this crucial responsibility.  Our children will become the next generation of salt and light dispensers in our dark and warped world. They become Christ’s agents as they live out their lives. While they are still with us in our homes, it’s important to ask ourselves, “Am I aiming my children in the right direction so they will hit their target for God?

 As I write this, my son, Lawrence, is just a couple of months away from his high school graduation. He has his eyes set on enlisting in the U.S. Navy, as his father did. Our influence as parents will never be as strong as it is right now, while he is still home where we can shape his mind with godly principles, desires, goals, and choices. When we release him into the world, to navigate his way through life, will he draw from his faith and relationship with Christ, or slowly mold into the culture of our world? This is where the rubber hits the road for me. As his mother, did I carry out my responsibility to my fullest potential in steering both of my children towards a faith in Jesus? Did I incorporate into their lives good building materials that leads them to develop their own unique relationship with Jesus–a foundation that equips them with a stout faith and of God’s Word? In other words, did my faith make an imprint on their lives to such a degree that I leave them a legacy of faith?

 Fortunately, just because our children will leave the security of our homes doesn’t mean our influence as parents comes to an end. In reality, parenting doesn’t ever end. It just changes. Our daughter, while in college, often called us for our opinions, or our thoughts on something. This was my confirmation that her father and I must of done something right because she values our responses, whether they are spiritual in nature, or just wise in practical living.  Everything else they encounter in life once released from our charge is entrusted into God’s hands and prayed over.

If you have a story or comment about this article, please share! I want to connect with you.

Military Familiy: Changes and Challenges

Posted on by

Military Family with Moving Boxes     The other day while I was organizing my bookshelves in my office, I found my journal from 1993. It was in bad shape. The pages inside had already come apart from the spine and the cover was loosely attached. I flipped it open and there on the inside of the cover was my synopsis of that year. I had written, ‘The Year of Change.’

 I remember that year well. Right out of the gate, the first couple of weeks of the new year our lives were suddenly turned upside down.  My husband, Ray, was newly stationed aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson in Bremerton, Washington. It was finishing up a nearly three year ship overhaul, but was scheduled to return to its homeport in Alameda, California later that year. This meant that we would have to rent out our home we purchased three years earlier and move into base housing in California.

Like many military families, we decided to make the move early in the year in order to get our name on the housing waiting list. Suddenly, we went into a frenzy pulling up our shallow roots and initiating moving plans. We had to advertise our home for rent, interview prospective tenants, finish the painting project we had started, and the worst chore of all – the packing. However, as soon as we made the decision to do a DITY (Do It Yourself) move, the challenges began.

While packing one day, I got a call from my mother. My grandfather had passed away. He was my last grandparent, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to fly back to Kansas to attend his funeral. We had found tenants for our home and we had to be out the following week. I felt trapped – between what my heart wanted to do and what my military life required of me. To make matters worse, the morning we picked up our moving truck the whole western part of Washington State had been hit by a bad wind and rain storm during the night. We woke up with no power. Trying to make the best of it, we packed as fast as we could while we had the winter daylight, and used candles and a flashlight when darkness fell.

As luck would have it, that same night my husband remembered something. He missed taking the Chief’s exam that morning. Thanks to the wicked storm the night before and how it had complicated our efforts to pack and get our long list of “to-do’s”  done,  it escaped both our minds. To top it off, while he was supposed to be taking the Chief’s exam, I was to head down to Seattle for my last doctor’s appointment with my infertility specialist. That didn’t happen either. Nothing about this move had gone well.

 My frustration quickly melted into a heavy cloud of discouragement. See, 1993 was the start of our third year of infertility treatments. And since my husband had to return to the ship back in Washington State after moving us to California, we were looking at six to eight months of living apart. This was in addition to the eighteen months we had already been living apart since the ship was on the other side of the Puget Sound from where our home was located. Driving the four hour daily commute around the Sound wasn’t reasonable. In those days, there wasn’t a commuter van nor did the military reimburse us for ferry tickets. To cut costs, Ray stayed on the ship and only came home every other weekend. In my mind, 1993 was written off as another lost year for any hope of becoming pregnant. Everything about our life was either on hold or was suddenly changing for the worse.

 It’s a good thing that we don’t know how our lives will unfold ahead of time. If we did, there would be little need to trust God. Like me, you may have experienced a lingering spirit of discouragement while living out the military lifestyle. As military spouses, we have to be both a mother and a father, cope with sudden changes, and unexpected decisions made by military leaders we don’t even know. We must be able to handle emergencies, move around the world, give up good jobs, and have super-human patience. Above all else, we must be selfless, but at the same time swell with pride, endure the ache and loneliness of long separations, keep going when weary, but all the while say, ‘I still love you’ even when at times we question our love for the military life.

 After three more years of constant infertility treatments, carefully scheduled around the ship’s calendar, we decided to call it quits. We grew weary from the monthly emotional rollercoaster and the cocktail of infertility treatments over the years. The stress had taken its toll on our marriage by dictating every part of our lives. However, quitting didn’t mean that my heart was ok with our decision, nor did it mean that I was giving up. It meant that it was time for a different strategy. Even though my emotions were fragile and my spirit was broken, my heart conceded in giving the infertility battle up to God. Giving it really meant that I was giving it to the Lord to manage. 

It was a day by day decision. I still cried and I continued to pray for the blessing of a second child, but with God’s timing.

 As it turned out, it ended up being a total of seven years before giving birth to our son, Lawrence. And it only happened after we threw up the white surrender flag and giving up the battle to God.

 When circumstances seem to be going against us, it’s tempting to conclude that God is doing the same. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. When discouragement befalls us we need to watch out for our Adversary, Satan. He wants us to remain discouraged. To win that battle, run to God and soak in His Word. His Word has sustaining power and is life to our hearts and bodies. His Word is medicine to our souls. “It will be healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body” (Proverbs 3:8).

It’s true, the military life can let us down, creating roadblocks to seeing our hopes and dreams to fruition. We should remember that God has not abandoned us. He is for us. Psalm 3:3 says, “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, …and the one who lifts up my head.” God is on the side of those who pursue Him. By focusing our thoughts on God instead of our disheartening circumstances, He rebuilds our trust and faith in him. This is the lifting of our heads Psalm 3:3 describes.

Remember, there is nothing you and I can experience that first hasn’t passed through God’s hands. He always has a reason for why He allows a season of challenges to touch us. No matter what our situation is, His priority is to build our faith. By acknowledging God’s presence in our lives, we are encouraged to be attentive to God’s guiding hand. “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master…so our eyes look to the Lord our God…” (Psalm 123:2). Keep praying, but allow God the time to work.