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Anchored, Tethered, Rooted, Built Up

Finding Home“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”Colossians 2:6-7

One thing I long for as I move from home to home to home is stability, an anchor of sorts. I’m thinking of a science fiction show I once watched. Can’t quite remember which one, but I do remember that the main character was jumping around in time and needed some kind of tether to keep her attached to her own time. If the tether came undone, she’d never find her way back to her own time. I think I kind of feel like that sometimes. I need for something to remain the same, or I’ll never know when I am “home.”

But there’s a reason why someone once said, “You can’t go home again.” Home as you’ve pictured it changes. Friends you go home to visit move away. Favorite stores close. Nieces and nephews grow up. Grandma changes the way she cooks . . . or relocates . . . to Heaven . . . which inevitably brings changes to all the traditions you once knew. This is how life works, and it happens whether you move a lot or not. But when you’ve been away for a while and come “home” to find all changed, it can feel a little unsettling.

Colossians 2.6-7If we anchor ourselves to these kinds of things, each visit home will be more confusing than the last. We’ll enjoy some of these changes and be disappointed by others, but either way we may still grow to feel increasingly out of place. Attaching ourselves to that which is ever-changing, that is, anything in our physical world, will eventually leave us feeling lost.

Colossians 2:6-7 tells us what we can anchor or tether our moving selves to. Paul uses two different words, though: rooted and built up. Both enhance the idea. If we’re rooted, we’re attached to the ground. As plants gain strength, nutrition, and stability from the ground, we gain the same if the soil we’re rooted in is healthy. Likewise, if we’re built up on a proper foundation, we are standing on something concrete that will support us, keep us level, and enhance our strength when the world around us starts to shake. Of course, Paul was telling his readers to be rooted and built up in Christ. Jesus is our anchor, tether, soil, and foundation wherever we go.

Notice some of the other words Paul uses, though. First he says, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue . . .” Continue is another stable word. Some people think being saved is all that matters, but if we’re to enjoy the benefits of saving faith, we must continue to live our lives in Christ.

Paul tells us how with a few more stabilizing words: “strengthened in the faith as you were taught.” Again, we cling to what’s already established: our faith in Christ. Someone introduced us to Him. Then we learned some more about Him. The relationship grew. The relationship must keep growing wherever we go. We may move to another location, but we must continue to talk with God, read His Word, and let Him teach us about Himself and His Kingdom wherever we are. We continue, we’re rooted, we’re built up, and we’re strengthened just as we were taught.

When we live our lives in Christ, we’ll always be anchored, tethered, rooted, and built up. Jesus is the stability we need.

Father, as the world changes all around me, all the time, I am overflowing with thankfulness for the tether You provide. Help me cling to You . . . forever. Amen.

If you found this helpful in your moving journey, I’ve written a whole book of devotionals to encourage you: Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway. Available at Amazon.com.

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A Delightful Inheritance

Finding Home“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6

As our next move approaches, these verses comfort me. Psalm 16 is a psalm of gratitude and praise from David to his Lord. He is thankful for God Himself (his portion and his cup). He is thankful for his inheritance as king of God’s people, the Israelites. He is also thankful for God’s protection and counsel, guidance, presence and security.

While I am facing all the unknowns of a move from the familiar to the not-so-much, I am thankful that boundary lines wherever God has led us in the past have always fallen in pleasant places. They haven’t always been perfect places or places we would have chosen for ourselves, but we’ve always found something to love, some purpose to fulfill, and joy in knowing we were where God wanted us to be.

Psalm 16 v 5-6For this reason, I am confident that our new home will be a delightful inheritance. God chose it for us—and us for it! And He is already there. It won’t be a perfect place—such doesn’t exist on this earth, but we will find something to love (probably many things to love!), purposes to fulfill, and joy in knowing we are where God wants us to be.

I can’t see the future, but I know my Lord. I trust He is preparing a delightful place for me. For that, I am thankful now.

Father, thank You for being my portion and my cup—wherever I go! You’ve always provided for our family so graciously. I trust You with this new unknown. Prepare me for it and it for me as You always have. For the good of Your Kingdom and the glory of Your name. In Jesus I pray, amen.

If you are also getting ready to move, I’ve written a book of devotionals to encourage you through every step of the whole, crazy process: Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway. Available at Amazon.com.

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Book Review: “Citizen”

CitizenCitizen by Rob Peabody wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it was a great book to read. Peabody, founder of the Awaken movement in London, takes the biblical analogy of citizenship and explains every facet, every implication for life. As Christians we are citizens of God’s Kingdom, living here on earth. Jesus died to save us from our sins, but He also saved us for life in His Kingdom—a life that begins right now, not after we die.

In the introduction, Peabody gives his personal testimony and explains how he ended up moving his family from Texas to London to launch a new ministry. That move itself provides many illustrations for this book on being a citizen of one country while living in another. But the Bible is the foundation for all of his ideas. He has taken the teachings of Jesus and clarified for Christians of today.

Personally, I thought the first two chapters dragged just a bit, but I realized as I read them that they were foundational—defining. By the third chapter, I was engrossed. I appreciated Peabody’s easy-to-read, storytelling style. I enjoyed the quotations at the beginning and scattered throughout each chapter. I loved the way he took this simple, yet profound analogy and fleshed it out into a well-written book. This is one I recommend.

I received my copy from Kregel Publications in exchange for this honest review. I thank them for the opportunity to read this book.

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Enjoying a Season of Rest Effectively

Finding Home“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”Psalm 23:2-3

Not too long ago I visited with a seasoned military-wife friend who told me she’d been involved in everything possible at her husband’s last duty station but that she was using this assignment to rest. I understood completely and was thankful to learn that I’m not the only one who has ever found a need to do this.

Ordinarily when we move, we want to plant our pulled-up roots into new soil as quickly as possible by getting to know our new surroundings, making friends, and getting involved in activities as God leads.* If we move often enough, though, God may lead us to rest—especially if our relational roots were wounded or torn in our previous location or if we’re simply so exhausted that the new soil seems too hard to dig into. Transplanting our lives takes time and energy. Sometimes we need a season of rest and renewal.

There are two things we must remember should God lead us to rest, though:

1. This isn’t a time to withdraw into a “kingdom of isolation where it looks like [you’re] the queen.”** Yes. You are protecting your roots so they can heal or grow, but they’ll rest best in God’s Presence (through Bible study, prayer, and church attendance) and growing strong among the permanent people of your life: spouse, children, parents, faithful friends who keep in touch no matter where you live. God created you to interact with Him and with other people. Use your season of rest to build the most important relationships of your life.

2. This season of rest is only for a season. Enter it as God leads. Leave it the same way, whether after just a few months, a year, or a full assignment. If you try, because of false guilt or pressures from within or without, to jump back into too many things too soon, God will let you know that you still need to rest. If you get too comfortable in your resting place, however, God will do whatever it takes to “encourage” you to get involved again. Make this timetable a frequent topic of prayer. Cooperate as God leads.

Father, thank You for the seasons of life, both active and restful. Thank You for leading us into service and fulfilling activity in most of the places where You take us in life. Thank You also for leading us beside quiet waters where You can refresh our souls. Please give us the wisdom to know the difference. Help us to recognize Your guidance and to cooperate fully. We trust that You will give us all we need to serve You well wherever You send us and in whatever You lead us to do. Thank You, Lord. Please find us faithful. Amen.

*To learn more about this, read my book, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway. Available at Amazon.com.

**Quote taken from the song, Let It Go.

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Praying as Things Change

Parachute PrayerAlways with Autumn comes an abundance of seasonal shopping displays: back to school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas . . . One of our local stores got so carried away with this last year that they actually started putting out Valentines before the New Year! I guess they just couldn’t wait to start promoting the next big thing.

Personally, I love the Autumn displays. Except for when I’ve lived in climates where I knew Autumn leaves meant I was about to be buried in snow for months on end, I’ve always appreciated all signs of the end of Summer—including store displays.

When we notice these, let’s let them remind us to pray. Changing displays signal other changes, too: changes in season, changes in activities, changes in temperature, changes in clothing styles, changes in décor. So let’s pray for people we know who are going through some kind of life change. This list could include people who are moving or going to college for the first time, people who are changing jobs or struggling through divorce, and people who are adapting to changes brought on by illness or injury.

As we recognize changes in familiar store displays, let’s remember that lives all around us are ever-changing, too. Let’s ask God to help the people we love to adjust.

Father, change is inevitable. Some changes are welcome, but others bring pain. When we notice the subtle changes all around us, please remind us to pray for those who are struggling. Thank You, Lord, for caring. Please make us aware, so we’ll learn to be caring, too. Amen.

Note: If you struggle to find contentment whenever life begins to change, my book, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway, is full of devotionals I wrote to encourage you. I wrote most specifically about the change that comes with a move, but I’ve discovered that these lessons are relevant to other life changes, too. Click here to purchase your own copy at Amazon.

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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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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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How to Thank Authors for the Books You Love

Books!I’ve been reviewing books for authors and publishing companies for several years now. I started doing this back in 2008 when Thomas Nelson Publishers launched their Booksneeze program for bloggers. They send me a free new book; I read it, then I review it on one of my blogs and a consumer website. I’ve been on their top five list since August 2010.

I enjoy reading. I love free books! And I like writing reviews in order to match up friends and readers with books I hope they’ll really love.

I should’ve been a librarian.

The reviews I’ve been most excited about, though, weren’t the ones I wrote because I promised to in order to get a free book. My favorites were the ones I wrote just because I loved the book, saw value in it, and wanted to share its message. These reviews thank the author for saying something that touched my heart.

Home Is Where God Sends YouNow that I’ve written a book of my own, I understand how much this kind of thanksgiving means. Many authors write because they are passionate about the message they have to share. They want to get that message into as many hands as possible. I wrote Home Is Where God Sends You because I desperately want to encourage women who move often to let God use this circumstance to help them and their families draw closer to Him each day. I want to help them discover Paul’s secret for being content anywhere (Philippians 4:11-12).

Yet books, the vessel that carries an author’s message, cost money. In fact, I’ve noticed that Amazon’s prices for paperback books have risen in the past few months. Books that used to average about $10 now cost $12 and $13. For this reason, people hesitate to buy a book unless they know something about it. They depend on good reviews from people who aren’t the author or publisher or a publicist. They want to know if readers like themselves found the books they are interested in worth their time and money.

When you write such a review, you give the author a great gift! You encourage other people to read the message of their book.

When I write book reviews for my blog, I usually aim for at least 200 words. This is the minimum requirement for Booksneeze, so I’ve made it my standard. But Amazon only requires 20 words! This means you don’t have to write a full blog post in order to recommend a book; just click on a star to give the book a rating from 1 to 5, then tell why you recommend it for others to read. (Unless I’ve made a commitment to review a book in exchange for a free one, I only review books that I can rate with a 4 or 5. On the other hand, if I really like a book I’ve accepted in exchange for review, I’ll publish the review on several sites, not just the minimum I agreed to.)

I don’t know if you’ve read Home Is Where God Sends You, but if you have and if you liked it, please consider reviewing it on Amazon, BN.com (Barnes and Noble), and/or Goodreads. If other books have blessed you, consider reviewing them for their authors, too. Your voice makes a difference, and the authors appreciate it. Make it a fun practice! Whenever you finish reading a book you’ve enjoyed, take just a few minutes to bless its author with a review.

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Book Review: A Christmas Gift for Rose

I would classify A Christmas Gift for Rose as an Amish historical fiction romance with an emphasis on the historical romance. Set near the end of World War II, this story opens with the main character, Rose, feeling both heart-broken and perplexed. Her ex-fiancé has just returned from an overseas tour of duty as a medic. His choice was controversial and suspect because the Amish are pacifists. His people expected this man to go to jail for refusing to serve rather than volunteer before even being drafted. Rose has heard all of their worries, complaints, and judgments and feels she must stand firm in her decision not to marry after all. She hasn’t heard his side of the story, though.

And Rose’s life is about to change with unexpected news about her own, shaky standing among her people. Rose will have to come to terms with who she is and to whom she belongs as everything she believes is hers will seem to be taken away.

I enjoyed reading this story and appreciated how author Tricia Goyer handled such subjects as military service, post-traumatic stress, poverty, and adoption. Readers who favor historical fiction with an enduring message will want to read this book.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary eCopy for this honest review.