Tuesday, March 22, 2016

He Loves Perfectly

Several posts ago, the one on twirling, I mentioned I had attended an IF:LOCAL gathering. Then I briefly told you of a long-time desire to gather women around my table. I told you I intended to stop talking and instead “trust God and move.” I also said if you did not see a post on this gathering by the end of March it meant I needed encouragement in the bravery department.

It is almost the end of March…

I gave deep thought to what to call this gathering of women (a catchy name is a must), and who to invite. A part of me loved the idea of posting an open invitation on Facebook to local friends. Typical to my nature, I questioned the idea. Various discussion ideas played out in my head. Mainly, I knew I had to trust God with the details by letting go of control and any expectations I had for this gathering.

Truth be told, I lost bravery quickly and did nothing.

Then a dear friend who had joined me at the IF:LOCAL sent me a text to tell me of the step of faith she had taken. In her text she included a copy of the invitation she would soon send to those invited to gather at her table.

My initial reaction: JEALOUSY!

My next reaction (because let us not park long on jealousy.): Be brave, Beth. If God has placed this desire on your heart He also asks you to step out in faith.

So I got brave and designed an invitation with the help of Paperless Post.

The catchy name was going to be "A Table of Hope Builders"

Then I lost bravery again when it came time to add the names of those on my heart to invite. The enemy gained a foothold on my thoughts.

What makes you think anyone wants to gather around your table?
No one will show up.
Don't press that send button, Beth. 

Enter, deep sigh.

I had not fully given up on the idea. I have been in God's Word long enough to know lies versus truth. And I so want to be finished with believing lies.

It sure felt like God was closing the door on this gathering though.

A whirlwind of changes began when my husband returned to the states much sooner than planned due to medical issues. Rightfully so, all other plans came to a halt. The gathering of women around my table would need to wait, or maybe my heart's desire (my prayer) was to go unanswered.

On the other hand, God often answers our prayers differently from what we specifically pray for, giving us the opportunity to see Him in a new way

 "God takes something little--a small request--and replaces it with a much bigger answer." ~ Kelly O'Dell Stanley, Praying Upside Down

This past Saturday, the Saturday I had intended to gather women around my table, without an official invite extended, two ladies at two different times joined me at my table. As I hugged and said good-bye to the second lady I had a moment of sudden realization. God had answered my prayer.

Maybe He did not answer with what we might call a much bigger answer, but the right answer. Because God’s ways are always right; they are abundantly above all that can we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

God answered another prayer too.

Since the day my husband departed for his second deployment I had asked God to make our time apart go quickly. Please God, make this time of separation not feel like forever for there are days when it feels like forever until I will see him again.

He replaced my small request with a much bigger answer. I may not fully understand why He answered this way but as I have said previously, the why does not matter. And God did not cause my husband's injury to bring him home sooner; He allowed and used a circumstance to accomplish what He had always intended… an earlier reunion for two people who obediently said yes to His calling (another deployment) but also longed to be together again.

As I navigate a season of change and uncertainty, God reminded me of a truth I desperately need to cling to: God can be trusted to love perfectly. “God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true” (Psalm 18:30).

So in the midst of this somewhat difficult season, I will praise Him. For when we belong to Him we will always find Him to be Faithful and True (BSF notes). He alone gives us joy today and forever.

It is well with my soul…

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Monday, March 14, 2016

A Blessed Reunion

My husband's first homecoming, after a nine month deployment, came with much pomp and circumstance. {Preview here}

This homecoming came with a quiet, thankfully uneventful, seven hour drive to Kentucky, a big ol' smile directed to the security guard (because I was rather joyful over my arrival) as I crossed through the military base gate, a last minute "oh my goodness" moment when I realized I had no makeup on (even though hubs could care less about makeup) and then a look out the front window of the car to see my husband walk toward me.

There was no fanfare; there was just the two of us.

He warned me ahead of time not to jump on him. You see, the different kind of homecoming came because he returned home early due to medical issues that arose while deployed.

I ran to him with a squeal of excitement. Per his request not to jump on him, I instead hugged him gently. He still squirmed from bursts of pain. Then we walked hand and hand, smile to smile, to pack him up for our weekend retreat.

He may look fine in pictures and to passer-byers, yet this warrior of mine is not fine. Several herniated discs in his neck have him in constant discomfort. I saw the level of discomfort rather quickly during our hour drive to Shelter Point Retreat on Kentucky Lake in Murray, Kentucky. Oh my poor husband. He couldn't get out of the car quick enough.

But here at this lovely home of a dear friend through blogging, we celebrated our reunion. 

The why did it happen this way and what happens next did not matter. God perfectly designed our reunion in His perfect timing.


I have noticed my ability to compare. I compare myself to others way more than I would like to admit and I also compare my own experiences to each other. I have done much comparing of this homecoming to the last one. Both types of comparisons can steal your joy.

Maybe the comparison of homecomings happens because I believe a service member’s homecoming should be what my husband received when he returned home from his first deployment. That homecoming lived up to my expectations; it exceeded my expectations.

And maybe, more so likely, God seeks to teach what I should already know: it's not about us and our expectations... it's about Him.

It's always about Him.

God determined when and how my husband would return home from his first deployment and his second deployment. He determined one would have fanfare and one would be more intimate. Both equally appropriate and beautiful because God had returned my husband to U.S soil, into my arms and then gave us precious moments together. “To God be the glory forever and ever! Amen.”

As I reflect on the last few days with the man I love, there is no place for comparison. I only have room for gratitude.

Gratitude to God for my husband’s safe return home.

Gratitude to God for the time we had together.

Gratitude to God for the special lady He placed in my life who gave us a most wonderful gift: A warm and loving place of shelter. A place of shelter which ultimately pointed me back to the One who is our shelter and provides everything we need.

The name Shelter Point Retreat is a rather appropriate name for her gem of a home on the lake.

If you are in need of a getaway, I highly recommend you check out my friend's place. Visit the VRBO listing here and the Facebook page here. Kristin also writes about her retreat home here. It's more lovely than I could describe or show through photos.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Unchanging One

I must admit, I remain unsure of God's desire for me when it comes to writing. It stays low on my priority list. Maybe I expect the process and results to be similar to what it once was. Maybe God seeks to teach me to simply trust in Him.

So I write when I sense He's prompting me to write. If time between posts become days, weeks or months, all will be well. If readership plummets from inconsistency (or the other things which can positively impact readership) all will be well. If grammar and punctuation are downright awful, all will be well. It needs to be because I'm done with the fight to be something or someone I am not.

Just write and trust Me. Honestly, the writing part can be harder than the trust part. I do not know where to begin with the writing. I know Him, at least better than I once did, and I know He can be trusted.

Now, if we sat together over coffee I would likely ramble on and on. Our time together might come to an end with me wondering if I allowed adequate time for you to spill your guts out too. I dislike the thought that I may have made it all about me. I want to hear from you too… I really do. Please God, whatever I said, may it have pointed to You.

I have much to tell you. God continues to transform me in mighty ways. Discover could be my one word for 2016, if I were to choose a word. I discover new truths about myself and also about God. The truths about me are not easy to accept yet necessary.

The truths about God... Oh may we not be done uncovering more truths about God until the day He brings us home and reveals all the mysteries.

I see God in all things. I hope I point to God in all things. Like when I admit to a heart struggle, I hope you know my faith remains grounded in who He is and His promises. There are admittedly days when I am shaken. But when those days come, I know where to go: Gods Word, prayer and godly friends.

I wrote the first part of this post several weeks ago and I now chuckle over the title I chose. Only God could know how much the truth of how He's unchanging would be needed right now. Because truthfully, friends, I struggle lately with change. And I struggle with good change, which seems so crazy.

For reasons, I have said little about my husband's deployment in this space. However, if we are friends on Facebook you may have caught wind of news that my husband is back in the states. This happened much sooner than planned. I obviously prefer his boots be planted on U.S. soil rather than foreign, unsafe soil.

But this is a change from laid out plans and I often do not handle change well.

The previous plan: I would see him again September-ish. I did not love this plan but I had accepted it and fallen into somewhat of a routine.

The new plan: there is no plan. He's not home and I don't know when he will be home. He's back due to medical issues (not life threatening but significant enough for the mission to end early for him.) and we do not have answers on how the medical issues will be addressed.

He's been back for several days and now resides only 7 hours away from me (we are actually in the same time zone) but we wait for our chance to see each other. I'd love for it to be easy to pack up and go, but it's not.

[Thankfully we now have a plan in place to see each other soon.]

His unplanned return impacts other plans too. Please don't hear me wrong, this is not a complaint; just truth.

Bottom line: the changes, the unknown and the waiting have shaken me some.

The truths I cling to are:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 (NIV)

"The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever." Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)

"The Lord's plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken." Psalm 33:11 (NLT)

It is well with my soul, friends. It really, really is. But it is well with my soul only because of who He is and because I am His. No matter the changes, unknowns or time of waiting, that truth is enough for me.

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