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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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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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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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Book Review: The Vicar’s Wife

Books!Author Katharine Swartz shows a clear understanding of the issues many women grapple with whenever their lives change in her newest book, The Vicar’s Wife. This book is two stories in one—about two women from different time periods. Both are finding it difficult to adjust to a new life in the same vicarage, about eighty years apart from each other, in a small, coastal village in England.

Jane has just moved into the vicarage with her family. Though her husband was born and raised in England, Jane is a New York City girl. She agreed to move for the sake of her children when her husband insisted they needed a better environment. But life as a stay-at-home mom after life as a successful businesswoman does not appeal to Jane.

As Jane struggles to figure out what to do about this, she discovers a shopping list stuck under a shelf in her pantry, left behind by a former occupant. Curious, she begins searching for clues about the woman who made up the list.

This is where Swartz introduces readers to Alice, a young, vicar’s wife. She struggles not only with moving to a new home but also with community expectations for a vicar’s wife. She compares herself to former wives, trying to please everyone while attempting to find her true place.

Both women face unexpected challenges as the story progresses and they begin to learn what truly makes the vicarage home. I was touched by Swartz’s insights into the problems women like these would most likely face and, though the stories moved slowly at times, I liked the way both ended overall.

I thank Kregel Publications for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my review. If you enjoy stories about issues women deal with—in any century—this book may interest you.

 

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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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Praying for Prior Occupants

Parachute PrayerDo you like my new Parachute Prayer header? New blog—new header for this regular feature. I’m excited about this!

In case you didn’t follow me here from Wildflower Thinking where I first launched Parachute Prayers, let me redefine them for you before I launch into today’s:

The parachute in a Parachute Prayer is like the parachute on a dandelion—the white fluffy thing that carries the seeds far and away, so the dandelion can procreate. Some people call these parachutes Dandelion Dust. And, though the process drives those who are obsessive/compulsive about their perfect lawns crazy, I think dandelion parachutes are a brilliant example of our Creator’s ingenuity. In my opinion, dandelions are wildflowers. They are not weeds.

So, when I see something that prompts me to pray—whether it’s for something general or specific, big, small, near or far—I whisper a prayer, or two or three, just as I’d gently blow the parachutes off a dandelion. Then I trust God to do with it what He will. That is the essence of Parachute Prayer.

Today’s Parachute Prayer prompt is for the prior occupants of our homes. Unless you happen to live in a brand new home, someone else inhabited your current space before you did. (And, even if you’re in a new home, someone, at some time, probably lived on your land, somehow.)

From time to time, you may come across evidence of your home’s prior occupant. For instance, my husband and I know that the man who lived in our home before we did enjoyed woodworking and considered himself to be something of a handy man. He left a beautiful bookcase that he’d built behind for us to enjoy. He also had a tendency to Mickey-Mouse things that needed to be repaired. Mickey-Mousing is a useful skill—until the something you Mickey-Moused has to be repaired again and someone else has to figure out what you did, so they can undo it, then Mickey-Mouse a new repair of their own. Mickey-Mousing reminds us of our homes prior occupant.

Does anybody know why we call it Mickey-Mousing? I’d really hate to think that we’re insulting the world’s favorite mouse.

Back to the Parachute Prayer: when you come across something that reminds you your current home had a previous occupant, pray for that person and his or her family. You may receive a piece of mail to return or find something left behind in the attic or on a high closet shelf. Maybe this person added a unique, yet permanent, personal touch. When you notice these, take a moment to pray.

You may not know the people who once lived in your home, but God does. He also knows their needs. A whispered prayer may make a difference in ways you’ll never know.

Father, I know the man who built my bookshelves has gone on to eternity, yet his family lives on—and they were so proud of him. Help them to follow his example, leaving legacies of their own. And, if any among them don’t know You, please open their eyes and their hearts to You. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays. Visit there to read many devotional thoughts published this weekend.

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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.

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Remembering God Once We’ve Found Home

Finding Home“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” –Judges 17:6

I started reading the book of Judges this week. Though it’s one of the historical books of the Bible, it kind of stands alone, covering a period of Israel’s history that’s otherwise mostly ignored—a between time of sorts. Genesis 12 through the book of Joshua tell of God establishing His people: of the Patriarchs they came from, of their rescue from Egypt, of their wandering in the desert for 40 years, of their finally entering and taking the Promised Land. The next big thing after that is the establishment and fall of their monarchy with David, of course, being their most famous king, the man after God’s own heart whose ancestral line led to our King Jesus.

Judges, however, covers the time between the establishment of God’s people and the events leading up to demand for a human king. The theme of the book is found in Judges 17:6, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”

But here’s the thing: Israel did have a King. The God Who established them as a people and led them to the Promised Land wanted and deserved to be their King. Yet as soon as they arrived at their destination, the people stopped following God. Instead of conquering all the people He told them to conquer and clearing the land of false gods, they cleared just enough to make space for themselves and starting cozying up to their new neighbors, intermarrying with them and worshipping their gods. Instead of being set apart and living in a way that would draw others to the one, true God, they chose to mingle, compromise to fit in, and worship idols. Judges 1 and 2 tell us all about this. Judges 2:20-22 tells us what God did about it:

“Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, ‘Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their ancestors did.’”

When the Israelites stopped doing their part, God stopped doing His—just as He’d warned them He would. He removed His protection and allowed them to interact with the people who would cause them harm. He let them suffer the consequences of their own decisions. When they eventually remembered Him, He was there, appointing judges to help them out of their predicaments. When they forgot Him again, He watched, but left them, by their choice, to suffer on their own.

The lesson for us is clear: when we’re facing a move or going through one (or struggling with some other trial that makes us feel unsettled in our own land), it’s easier for us to remember to lean on God for guidance, wisdom, and strength. Our need for Him is never more clear!

When the dust settles and the boxes are unpacked, however, we have to work a little harder at remembering Who’s our King—and why. We must, though, because the God Who created us and established our families and homes deserves our worship, our loyalty, and our recognition of His place in our lives.

A few ideas:

1. Keep a journal during “wilderness” times. Record your prayers, God’s answers, and Bible verses that speak to you. Once you’re settled, read over these from time to time and thank God for being there for you.

2. Set aside a specific time of day each day to read God’s Word and pray. Talk with Him about everything! Offer praise and thanksgiving. Present your concerns.

3. Train yourself to practice God’s Presence, talking with Him throughout the day whenever something in your life reminds you He is there. You wouldn’t ignore a friend sitting in your living room. Learn to recognize and acknowledge God’s Presence, too!

Father, thank You for establishing us as Your people through Christ. We love You and are so thankful and awed to know You love us, too. Through good times and bad, help us to remember that You are here and You are King. We serve You alone. Amen.

• What do you do to remind yourself of God’s Presence and help yourself walk more closely to Him each day?

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Finding Home

Finding HomeIn honor of my newly released book, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway, I’m launching a regular feature on this blog called Finding Home. Like my book, these posts are primarily for women who are moving, especially those who move often such as military or ministry wives. (Of course, I just happen to be both–a military and a ministry wife. One husband. One adventurous life!)

Since the key to finding home, however, is learning to be content wherever you are, whatever your circumstances–a condition that comes of knowing Christ as Lord of your life–I invite other readers to find encouragement in these posts as well. Sometimes life situations far out of our control can make us feel as if we’ve been kicked out of all that’s familiar. We may not have moved anywhere, yet we still long to find home. If you’ve ever felt this way, these posts are for you, too:

“Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. When you move, I’ll move. I will follow.” -Chris Tomlin, I Will Follow

We sang this song in church yesterday morning and it had quite an effect on me. The powers that be are talking about my husband’s next assignment, and so, we’re praying, again, about my husband’s next assignment. I’m willing to go wherever, but the anticipation of where that’s going to be still has a tendency to rattle me. I just want to know what’s next!

But that’s one of the joys of Army life. You never really know where you’re going until you get there, and even then, the Army can change its mind. This can be perplexing, but the Army sends us where the Army needs us. There’s a bigger picture than what we can see. What perfect training for obedient Christian living! We see this pattern all through the Bible:

God had a plan to create a new nation. This plan required that Abraham and Sarah move. God didn’t even tell them where they were going. He just told them to pack it up and leave.

God had a plan to spare His new nation. This plan required that Esther move–right into the palace where she had to risk her life to save God’s people from genocide.

God had a plan to encourage that nation in its captivity. This plan required that Daniel be taken captive, too. He moved with the people he served, suffering as they did, too.

God had a plan to redeem the whole world. This plan required that Ruth the Moabite woman follow her mother-in-law and move. Ruth didn’t even know the God she’d come to serve, and yet, He used her in a wondrous way. (She’s part of the lineage of Christ.)

These are just a few examples. There are so many more: Joseph, Moses, the disciples, Paul. In order to make a difference for God, they all had to leave home. None knew how it would turn out. (For more information on any of these people, visit BibleGateway.com.)

When I was a teenager, and even a young adult, a lot of my friends talked about being afraid to follow God for fear that He’d call them to be missionaries in Africa. I wanted to be a missionary, so this just tickled me. The truth is, God doesn’t call too many people to move far away from all that’s familiar, from the people they love. (If you picture yourself helping Jesus pack belongings into big moving boxes whenever you sing, “When you move, I’ll move,” you are one of these few.)

What God does call us all to do is obey Him, to do whatever He calls us to do. When we sing Chris Tomlin’s song, obedience is what we’re all pledging. Some of us just get to follow literally like Ruth, and we trust, like all the movers of the Bible, that God sees and blesses this, too.

Father, where You go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. When you move, I’ll move. I will follow–each day. Thank You for leading. I’ll entrust the outcome to You. Amen.

For more about what people are discovering at church, visit Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday.

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A Place to Nurture Faith and Watch It Grow

Wildflower Collage2It all started in Texas.

I only lived in that state for one year, but that gave me just enough time to discover wildflowers and to learn how to hunt them.

That’s right. I hunt them down and shoot them—with my camera, of course.

The first flowers I noticed were the bright purple tuber vervain, the showy primroses, the bluebonnets, and the Indian blankets. They were everywhere—and so pretty.

One morning, after Mike had left for work and the boys had left for school, I grabbed my little camera and drove to a nearby park where I’d seen some of these flowers blooming. I took all kinds of pictures.

They didn’t come out very good.

But I kept taking pictures. And my husband bought me a better camera. And my son taught me how to use the settings on that camera. And my pictures improved.

My new hobby was born.

It became more than a hobby, though. I started to notice that whenever I would stop to take a picture of one flower, I’d notice others nearby. When I moved to take their pictures, I’d see more—then more. I would think I was stopping to photograph one simple flower, then end up taking pictures of a lot!

I realized that our thoughts about God work like that, too. God is all around us all the time, trying to get our attention, trying to get us to think about Him and to talk with Him, too. Sometimes we’re busy and ignore Him. We carry on right past the thought and miss the message from God.

IMG_3268When something simple from everyday life, though, like a wildflower, catches our attention and draws us to think about God in some new way, His Spirit will bring other thoughts to mind. As we consider these, we’ll remember Bible verses, sermons, and other words we’ve heard or read which reinforce the thought. When we know God’s Word supports the new thought, we’ll realize we’ve learned a new truth. About God. About the way He wants us to live life.

That’s how Wildflower Thinking, my first blog was born.

But this is Wildflower Faith! This is the next step.

You see, thoughts are just thoughts. Thoughts about God and His truths are good. Very good! When we learn to apply them to our daily lives in a practical way, though, that’s faith. That’s growing faith!

Shortly after our family moved to Georgia for the first time, the move that followed our year in Texas, my husband planted a few showy primroses in our front yard for me. He thought I might enjoy raising some wildflowers of my own, and he was right!Primroses

Winter came, though, and the flowers died. They do that in winter, you know.

But then came spring and with it came not just a few little showy primroses, but enough to stretch across the whole front of our house. Those primroses where everywhere!

Wildflower Faith is like that. When hard times come, it may struggle or seem to disappear. If we don’t give up on it, though, it’ll come back. Stronger. And it will bring friends!

I invite you to join me here in this place where, together with God’s Spirit and His Word, we can nurture Wildflower Thoughts into Wildflower Faith

And watch it grow!