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Separation Anxiety and Other Life Concerns

Finding Home

 

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7

 

Janet had a little dog
Whose fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Janet went
That dog was sure to go.

Moving often is hard on dogs, too. In his twelve years of life, our poor, little dog has moved five times, waited through two of my husband’s deployments, and waved good-bye as all three of his boys grew up and moved from home. As a result, he is suffering from a serious case of separation anxiety. It’s true! Seth researched it on-line. The Dog Whisperer and other experts agree, dogs can develop this disorder, too.

The result: Windsor now follows me all over the house all day. Turns out, this reluctant mama to a dog is his sole source of stability. He’s decided he’s not going to let me out of his sight. And when he doesn’t get his way on this matter, he throws himself up against closed doors, whimpers forlornly outside them, and throws temper-tantrums to rival that of any unhappy toddler.

Eighty-four in dog years? I do not think so.

DSC01938eMy husband thinks I should be greatly annoyed by Windsor’s behavior. Sometimes I am. But mostly, I feel sorry for him—especially on days when I move around a lot. He’ll just get comfortable, then I’ll go to another room. He’ll follow, find a corner, and fall asleep, then I’ll get up again. He’ll follow. If I do this enough in a day, he’ll eventually follow, stand in front of me, and look at me as if he’s asking if I plan to stay or not this time because why should he bother to relax if I’m not going to stay put.

I guess it’s the dog who gets greatly annoyed by his own behavior.

I wish I could do something to relieve his anxiety. But we’re still in the military. Windsor needs to get used to this.

Do all the changes of your life ever leave you feeling anxious? If so, 1 Peter 5:7 is a promise for you to claim. God is always with you, wherever you go. He doesn’t close doors or run errands or get tired of you following Him around. So when you feel anxious, take your cares to Him.

Close your eyes and picture yourself standing before Him, tossing your concerns, one at a time, right into His hands. Imagine Him smiling as He catches them, pleased that you are choosing to trust Him with them. Then picture how small they look as He holds them in contrast to how awkward and heavy they felt while gripped in your hands.

God wants to relieve your anxiety. When you feel its burden, stop what you are doing and cast it on Him.

Father, sometimes life’s changes overwhelm us. When this happens, remind us You are here. You love us. And You are big enough to handle anything we throw Your way. In fact, You knew before we did that the change was coming and that we would struggle with it. Therefore, You are prepared. We can trust You with everything! Thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Be Strong and Brave

Finding Home“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:7-9

Joshua 1:9 is one of my favorite Bible verses. I claim its promise that God will be with me wherever I go whenever I move, whenever I take on something new. And as I claim the promise, I often pray, “Lord, please make me strong and courageous as You go with me into this new land.”

As comforting and encouraging as that is, God pointed out something else to me. First, and probably most obvious, “Be strong and courageous” is a command. God gives it first in verse 6 and repeats it in verses 7 and 9. Notice, here He doesn’t say, “Ask me for strength and courage” (though He wants us to, and we most certainly can). He’s saying, “Just do this! Be strong and courageous.” In other words, it’s an instruction to obey, a choice we make. Knowing our all-powerful God is with us, we choose to be strong and brave. We trust.

How do we make this choice—to move forward with confidence? We are careful to obey God’s Word (see verses 7-8). We study it. We meditate on it. We memorize portions of it. We live with it. We live it. We’re careful not to turn to the right or the left, but to do what it says. Then we know we’re doing God’s Will. This gives us the confidence we need to be strong and brave.

When we live obediently, God is with us always. With His Presence, there’s no need to be afraid.

Thank You, Lord! Help us learn Your Word and Your Will that we can walk fearlessly wherever You lead. Walking with You is where we most want to be. We love You, Lord! Amen.

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Standing Firm in Your True Citizenship

Finding Home“But our citizenship is in heaven.”Philippians 3:20

A few days ago, a Facebook friend posted a link to a quiz that I just had to take. The quiz claimed that in ten questions it could tell me just how Californian I am.

I already know that I am 100% Californian. Not only was I born and raised there, but through my mother’s side of the family, I’m a fourth generation Californian. I may be moving all over the world courtesy of the United States Army, but my California roots run deep. No quiz can argue with that.

But this quiz did. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the answers. In fact, I knew just what answers to give in order to get that stereotypical 100% endorsement, but they wouldn’t have been truthful answers either for me or for most of the other Californians I know from all over the state. And so, I only earned a 60% on that silly quiz—possibly made up by someone born and raised in New York State. Judging by the comments left by others who had taken the quiz, I wasn’t the only Californian who disagreed with the ten question assessment of their heritage.

I am okay with that. I know where I come from.

But today I saw another quiz on Facebook that promised to tell me how Southern I am. Being a displaced Californian who has lived in the South for six years now, seven if Texas counts, I decided to try that quiz. (Yes. I am a sucker for silly quizzes.) Again, I answered truthfully despite knowing the correct answers to most of the questions. (I’m still not sure what pig pickin’ is; I don’t think I want to, come to think of it. And I never drink sweet tea unless it’s artificially sweetened. I am a Californian, after all. Would you believe diet cokes weren’t even given as options on this quiz?! Note: diet coke is intentionally lower case. My fellow Californians know why.)

In any case, it turns out, according to that quiz, that I am 63% Southern.

I am so confused!

How does one score a 63% on a ten question quiz? Did they give partial credit for some of the answers?

More disturbing: how is it that I am now 123% of a person?

And how will things add up if I take quizzes for Maine, New York, or the Netherlands? I think the math alone disproves the validity of the quizzes. Percentages of a whole must always add up to 100%.

I think I’ll just stop taking those Facebook quizzes (until the next one comes along) and rejoice in the fact that my true citizenship isn’t really in any of those places. My citizenship is in Heaven with Jesus, my Lord. I hope that yours is, too!

There’s only one question we have to answer correctly in order to know that this is 100% true:

  • Have you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of Your life for all eternity?

If you have, we’re fellow citizens in God’s Kingdom! If you haven’t, you’re only one prayer away. Click here to learn more!

Jesus, thank You for making it possible for us to join your Kingdom. Please help us to appreciate and celebrate our citizenship every day! And, if anyone is reading this who hasn’t yet trusted in You, please open their hearts and minds. Draw them in Lord. Invite them to know You and bask in Your forever love. For the glory of Your name and the good of all. Amen.

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Facing Our Biggest Vulnerability

DSC01459e“The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. ‘He saved others,’ they scoffed, ‘but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!”Matthew 27:41-42, NLT

When Christians serve God faithfully, they often expect to be surrounded by loving supporters who will encourage and praise their efforts. They think that because they are doing what God has called them to do, the path will be easy, they’ll find all the resources and assistance they need, and everyone will be pleased with them.

It doesn’t always work this way.

In fact, if you’re doing what God wants you to do, serving Him faithfully and drawing people to the Lord, Satan is going to throw all the resistance in your path that he can. If he can, he may even use those closest to you against you. (They are your biggest vulnerability, after all. Satan knows this well.) The way may get surprisingly difficult.

It comforts me to know that even Jesus encountered this. When He told the disciples that He was going to die, Peter said, “Never Lord!” Jesus rebuked him. In fact, he said:

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (See Matthew 16:22-23.)

On the cross, Jesus had to endure scoffing from priests, teachers of religious law, and elders. They told Him that if He’d do what they expected from Him and come down off the cross, they’d believe.

How often are we tempted to change our strategy or choose different activities to meet the expectations of people around us? We know what God wants us to do, but others tell us that our ministry will be more effective or we’ll be please them more if we do something else. (This can be especially true if you’re called to move often and rarely live near home.)

DSC01478eI wonder if even Jesus wrestled with this as he suffered such excruciating pain. When he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46, NLT), was He wondering if perhaps He had made a mistake? Or was He surprised at the intensity of His suffering? Had He expected God to make His mission easier for Him, knowing that His own Father could have shielded Him from some of the pain? I can’t begin to fathom how lost and abandoned He must have felt!

In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When our path becomes lonely, dark, and full of obstacles, (and sometimes, it will), we must cling to God’s Word and continue to do whatever we know God has called us to do. This doesn’t mean we can’t ask God if perhaps we’ve made a wrong turn. If there’s any chance of that, we should explore the possibility. This just means we must walk as closely to God as we can, believing in His Presence, knowing He’s faithfully watching over us—whether we sense Him or not.

In Luke 14:26-27, Jesus said:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus doesn’t really want us to hate anyone. What He means, as I understand this, is that when those closest to us attempt to stand in our way, to keep us from doing God’s Will, we must continue to go God’s Way. We tell Satan to get behind us and move on.

This can hurt. Both us and any loved ones who tell us to choose another path. If they don’t share our sense of purpose, they will be confused.

We may think, “If I do things their way, they’ll be happier and my life will be easier.” Perhaps, like the religious leaders mocking Jesus, they’ll even say, “If you do things my way, I’ll believe,” and tempt us to change our course for their soul’s sake. But, if it’s not God’s Way, it’s not for their sake. We must hold our ground and trust God to lead them to believe in His time and in His way.

If Jesus had given in while on the cross, no one could have come to believe. Not even the religious leaders who told Him that they would. Like Jesus, we must entrust those who give us opposition to God’s care and continue to do what God leads us to do.

When we follow God, sometimes our path is difficult. When this is so, we seek His assurance and continue to walk His way. He will lead us in paths of righteousness—for His name’s sake—even when it’s through times of trouble and pain.

Thank You for leading us, Lord. Help us to follow only You, wherever the path leads, even if it’s through pain. For Your name’s sake, we’ll continue to obey You, entrusting the opposition to Your care. Amen.

I’m sharing this post with others at these devotional blogs: The Weekend Brew, Spiritual Sundays, and The Sunday Community.

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A Single Seed

Red Wildflowers“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”John 12:24

When life doesn’t go the way we plan, it’s only human to ask God why. As Christians, however, we must ask God to take us beyond the human response. It’s okay to ask why and wait for the answer that may or may not come. But we can’t stop there. We can’t stubbornly dig our heels in the ground as God urges us forward. We can’t look up into His face with determination and say, “I’m not moving one more step until You tell me what this is all about!” God reveals some information on a need-to-know-only basis (for our own good, no less). When we don’t understand, we must choose to trust.

Moving forward in trust means leaving the question of why in God’s hands, while asking the more important, more relevant questions of the moment: “How do You want me to respond to this?” and “What do You want me to do now?” These questions show that we are ready to move forward, to obey regardless of circumstance.

On this Good Friday, let’s reflect on the fact that Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross (see Matthew 26:39). Jesus knew, though, that God’s ultimate plan for the salvation of mankind hinged on His willingness to obey. He gave His life–freely, by His own choice. At this time, we may not know what hinges on our obedience, but we owe a servant’s heart to Jesus Christ just the same.

Father, my life is a seed in Your kingdom. Plant it where You will. Amen.

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Moving According to God’s Kingdom Purposes

Finding Home“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'”James 4:15, NIV

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) Bible study class is currently studying the Book of James. We’re using Greg Gilbert’s book, James, a 12-Week Study. This week I’ve been doing my homework for Week 9, and our class will meet later today. But I just had to share one insight with you now.

On page 69, Gilbert asks this question regarding James 4:15:

Do you think you should actually say the phrase “if the Lord wills’ when you talk about the future? Even if it’s not necessary to say it every time, how can you work to cultivate that kind of dependence on God in your own life and thinking?”

The first time I read that, I laughed right out loud. I startled the dog, who was lying by my feet. He looked up, annoyed, then went back to sleep.

Why does that question tickle my funny bone so? Because I live the analogy that answers the question! I am an Army wife!

Every two or three years, my husband gets a new assignment. Up to a year out, the Army-powers-that-be start discussing where my husband will go. We fill out a dream sheet, stating where we hope to go. We tell family members, “We’d like to go here next. We think this is where God wants us. We feel really good about it. If the Army agrees (as God directs it–something we firmly believe He does as far as assignments for Christians go), we’ll be moving to this place next year.”

(In the early years of our military ministry, family members took this statement very seriously. So much so that they ignored the whole “if the Army agrees” bit and became confused whenever all plans changed. Now they just raise one eyebrow and say that they’ll believe us when the movers unload the truck.)

A few months or so later, we’ll get official word from someone in the know about where Mike’s next assignment will be. We tell family members, “The Army is planning to send us here. If all goes as planned, we’ll be moving to this place next year.” (Notice, we don’t say, “If the Army agrees” or “If the Lord wills.” At this point, that is clearly understood. Our families skeptically wait for news of Plan C.)

After this we eventually get an RFO (Request for Orders) which makes the new assignment mostly official. When the actual orders come, we start to get excited about our next move. Even then, however, we know–and our families know–the needs of the Army may change. If so, Mike’s assignment will change. We go where the Army most needs us and, as servants of God called to military ministry, know this is where God wants us to be.

DSC01439eSo to answer Gilbert’s questions:

No. We don’t always have to say, “If it is the Lord’s Will,” so long as we and the people to whom we are talking all understand that we know God is the one who is ultimately in control. We make plans according to His leading, yet keep our hearts prepared for last-minute change. Personally, I rarely state plans in definite terms. I guess I’ve gotten used to everything changing; my language naturally reflects this.

We cultivate this attitude by living in close communion with God every day. We talk with Him often. We rely on Him for every little thing. We remember where we stand before Him: we are His children, His heirs, invested in the good of His Kingdom. Just as Mike and I go where the Army most needs us, Christians do whatever God calls them to–for the good of His Kingdom, for the glory of His name. When we’re aware of our place and our purpose while enjoying a close relationship with God, uncertain plans and last-minute changes in plans won’t rattle us so much. We live on-call and ready to serve, wherever God’s Will leads.

  • What other occupations lead people to live an analogy of James 4:15?
  • What life events have helped you understand the truth of this verse?

Father, we live for you. Thank You for giving us dreams and for allowing us to make plans, but thank You also for guiding us elsewhere in light of Kingdom needs. We know that, ultimately, what’s best for Your Kingdom is best for us, too, and so we gladly live in submission to You. Amen.

Note: If this devotional spoke to you, you might enjoy my book, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway, a daily devotional written to encourage women throughout the process of moving. Click here to purchase it at Amazon.com.

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Untouched by Trouble

Finding Home“The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”Proverbs 19:23

In a sense, no one lives untouched by trouble. Jesus himself promised, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Each of us has problems to deal with and challenges to face. We will be misjudged, disappointed, and treated unfairly. Hardship hits those who live in palaces as well as those who live in hovels. Life is often tough to bear.

But having trouble as Jesus mentions and being touched by trouble as King Solomon describes are two different things. You’ve probably met people who’ve been touched by trouble. These people are bitter, resentful, angry, suspicious, tired, pitiful, and full of complaints. You can see the frustration on their faces before they even open their mouths. “Woe is me. Life has mistreated me and worn me down” is their motto–a banner written across the growing creases in their foreheads.

Those who fear the Lord, however, have true life. Please understand that Solomon didn’t mean fear as in dread or anticipation of punishment. He meant to respect or hold in awe. God is our Father! He gives us all we need, including discipline. He uses life’s hardships to accomplish His purposes on Earth and to prepare His children for Heaven. As He reigns over our lives, allowing in both good and bad, we’re wise to follow Jesus’ lead by praying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus was touched by trouble; we see this in the scars in His hands, feet, and side. But He didn’t become bitter. He persevered; He forgave. (See Luke 23:34.) He was content to serve the Father. Someday He will welcome us Home!

Father, Teach me to fear You as I should that I may rest content in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Free Today through Saturday: Home Is Where God Sends You

Dear friends:

I’m giving the Kindle version of my book away on Amazon for the next few days! Won’t you help me spread the word? (After you claim your FREE copy, of course!)

About the Book

The Kindle version of Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway costs $0.00 at Amazon, right now through March 8th. A daily devotional for women who are changing locations, Home Is Where God Sends You contains six months’ worth of messages to encourage readers and cheer them on all the way through their move.

I hope you’ll enjoy the book! And please tell others: it’s FREE!

This post is linked to: A Little R & R

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Anticipating the Light

Finding Home

I’m guest blogging today at Wives of Faith! Click here to read my post there.

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Anticipating God’s Goodness Ahead

Finding Home“Rather, the land you will soon take over is a land of hills and valleys with plenty of rain—a land that the LORD your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year!” –Deuteronomy 11:11-12, NLT

If you read the verses preceding these in Deuteronomy, you’ll read God’s reminder to His people the Israelites. First He reminds them that He’s the God Who rescued them from slavery in Egypt—a hopeless situation for them until He intervened. Next He reminds them of how He led them safely through the wilderness to the edge of the Promised Land. He led them through harsh circumstances, providing food and keeping their shoes from wearing out and protecting them from all enemies. Now, at last, He’s ready to lead them into their long-awaited home.

Yet the Israelites have a habit of looking back forgetfully. Though they’d begged for help getting out of Egypt, they didn’t hesitate to consider going back when the desert turned out to be dry. When they reached the edge of the Promised Land the first time, they forgot all about the power of the God Who’d led them there. God’s words in Deuteronomy 11:11-12 encourage them to move forward this time with a better attitude. These verses are a gift! The gift of anticipation. We can benefit from their message, too.

Whether we’re moving from a place we love and hate to leave or a place we’ve pleaded for deliverance from, we can move forward in anticipation of whatever God has for us there. Wherever we’re going, it’s a land that God cares for. He created the place and the people who live there. He’s already watching over our new home, wherever it is, through each season of the year.

This doesn’t mean that all will be sunshine and daffodils and happy smiling faces all the time. Pain exists in every place. Sometimes God leads us to endure. Yet He lives there with us, using whatever circumstances we face to help us grow into people who are more like Him each day. That gives us reason to anticipate God’s blessing regardless of what we may face.

As we leave one home to move into another, we can determine to not look back with longing, but to look forward with joyful expectation of goodness ahead in the place God’s prepared for us next. No matter our current situation, God has something even better for us in our new home.

Father, help us to move forward in anticipation of Your good gifts in our lives ahead. We know that the land we’ll soon move into is one You already care for. Thank You for watching over it and us. Amen.