Saturday, August 28, 2010

Did you know?

To my surprise, when my family went to my little brother's Basic Combat Training graduation, several people who graduated with him also obtained their American citizenship the night before. So, my curiosity was definitely heightened because I was unsure who would be trying to become an American citizen while also wanting to serve in the U.S. Army. Granted, I was curious and a little uneasy of that feeling. This is probably because my little brother told me several of those were original Iraqi citizens. Once again, what?! The people we are fighting against are also serving alongside our American soldiers.

Well, that is the truth. They are now Americans and American soldiers themselves. Many of those have been serving as interpreters in Iraq and as allies to our armed forces. So obviously what we are doing in Iraq is for the good. And, I think this teaches us an important lesson-sometimes what we are "fighting" against is only an illusion, sometimes the best and most productive way to combat enemies, is to befriend them-maybe they don't necessarily want to be our enemy, we just make them that way.

If you would like to read about an American citizen from Iraq, please go here and look on the current edition of the Ft. Jackson Leader on page 2. It educated me, and I hope it will you too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Waiting for the celebration

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Some days when it becomes just a tad too hard for me to take another step without uttering God's praises, I am reminded of this verse. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in the day to day distractions and fast-paced whirlwind, that I fail to stop and thank God for already planning this day and this moment. Over the past couple of years when the only emotion I could think of was to just cry, God reassured me that He made this day. He planned every little detail and He was carrying me through until the end. Although this verse has comforted me many times before, I started really saying it when my brother was in Iraq. Then I said it when my little brother left for Basic, despite the brokenness that had overtaken me. God gently reminded me He was the One in control. He knew what was going to happen and He had already planned that moment. He knows how to restore your brokenness, and I know He is the Ultimate Healer. I only say this because I have experience it. I guess it wasn't a huge surprise when the K-love verse of the day on Thursday, Aug. 12, was Psalm 118:24. This was also the day of Tim's Basic Training Graduation. Even though there was pain to begin with, God also planned the day for celebration.

Lately, I have been praying for God's strength cause I know my strength is not enough to support me. I know that nothing of me will ever be able to compare to what God can do through me. In a time of uncertainties, excitement, and questions, I will stand on the promise that God created this day to be a part of His plan. Remember you always have to go through this day to get to the next. That doesn't seem profound, but it is a forgotten reminder. Though in life we are scared and fear and are broken, God has planned a day of celebration if we just keep on fighting. He wins, therefore we win.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


"Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so ..."

When my niece, Mia, was born, my grandma changed the words just a tad to say, "Jesus loves Mia this I know..." and well it has always stuck with me. Every time we get the chance we take Mia to church with us and we try to take her to Awana's on Wednesday nights. Awana's is a children's program, for lack of a better word, used to equip children with studying the Bible. The other night Mia was staying the night with us and she ended up sleeping in my room. I think I have figured out why she does this-I let her stay up as late as she wants-but then again I don't mean to digress. We have always read stories to her so it is only natural that she loves reading. But, here lately, she absolutely loves to make up stories-this girl has a great imagination! Sometimes we share "little girl" stories. My dad started this tradition with me and we have used it with her. The thing is she not only likes to hear them, but also tell them herself. However, last night, she had her Bible and wanted to tell me a story. She kept saying it was a pretend story, therefore I absolutely had no idea what I was about to hear.

She started by telling me about Jesus. And, how He is alive. She said He was nailed to a cross in both of His hands and feet and thorns were placed on His head. He was put in a tomb, but the guards were scared of the angel, she said and He is now alive. I am standing back pretty amazed at this point, thinking how did she know any of this! I think the pretend part came when she started flipping through her Bible, looking at the pictures, and relating what she figured them to be. She said God wanted us to share, to help others, to pray, to be nice, to do what your mom and dad says, to take care of the Earth and build community (I later figure this one is from Disney or something cause oh my goodness wow), etc. I think the beauty in this though, is that God really does call us to do these things. Although she was explaining what she thought it to be from a picture, we really are called to do each of those. Later, she asked me my first tough God question-If Jesus is in Heaven, and we can't see Him, how do we really know He is real?

Honestly, don't we all ask that question some time in our lives? We can talk the talk all we want, but when are we actually going to start living like God is alive and He is coming back again? Now, she is 5 years old, so I figure these questions will start coming, and we did talk about believing in Jesus and that He loves her. She knows that, but it is kind of an exciting time, ya know?

A couple of weeks ago, I sit in on her Sunday School class to fill in for the teachers. There was only 3 girls, and as we sit around the table discussing the lesson for the day, eating our pretend play dough goodies, I asked them how we could help others. They were great at coming up with answers, then my precious Mia said, "We are lucky." I don't think she knew the extent to what that meant, but it blew me away. I literally had tears in my eyes. Yes, we are so blessed and lucky. Despite the grief, troubles, and tribulations, we are so blessed beyond our imagination.

I'm excited for a couple opportunities this upcoming year. 1) To work with the bed babies in the nursery during sunday school. 2) To help with AWANA's on Wednesday nights. Both of these have to do with children, and I think it is important to start mentoring as soon as you can. Yes, babies are a little difficult, but you can be the smiling, comforting face to the parents when they come in too. I asked myself a question earlier on about how did Mia know this stuff? Well, it is because children soak up a lot of information. They are a sponge. And, they love to tell what they have learned. To have faith like a child is a wondrous thing...maybe we should all revisit our childhood sometime.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Army Strong

"...For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

About five years ago, my older brother enlisted in the U.S. Army. No one in my family was 100 percent certain of what was to come, but after we got through the first little bit of him going to Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT), it seemed OK because we had him back again since he only joined the Reserves.

However, it was right around two years ago, I learned he would be going to Iraq for a year. Yes, I have always supported the troops, but this year that he was gone, I learned a little about what it meant to be "Army Strong." Although I do not want to be considered in the same bracket as those actually serving, I also recognize that friends and families of soldiers can be classified under this umbrella of being "Army Strong." Often when things were difficult or I just felt like I couldn't take it anymore, I thought of my brother across seas. Here I was complaining about my day, when even now I still do not know what he went through. Perhaps it was the excessive heat, therefore, Bryan would get to work before the sun came up and didn't leave until the sun went down, and maybe skipped lunch because it was just too hot to go outside in fatigues. Or, maybe it was the dust storms that you can't even see in front of you. Or, it could have been doing your job only to see your fellow American soldier lying dead in a building too close for comfort. These are just a few of the stories, and I honestly don't know much more because Bryan's Army world is much of a "don't ask, don't tell" philosophy. But, possibly the most incredible part of this is that even with these things above and more, he never complained about what he was going through. In fact, if it wouldn't have been for Tim's and my senior years, he wanted to go to Afghanistan. Simply thinking upon what my brother might be enduring in the day, gave me some sort of strength to make it through my days while he was gone. I figured my little things failed in comparison to what he was facing-and he wasn't even grumbling!

Since then, although he is back, I still think about our armed forces serving here at home and overseas. They will never know it, but they give me strength. Likewise, even though I have many uncertainties and am a little emotionally drained, I think upon my little brother back in South Carolina. Every day is a different day with a different task until he starts his AIT, which he doesn't know when that will happen. That means, once he starts AIT, he has 10 weeks of that, then he gets to come home for a couple weeks. This means since he hasn't started, he is uncertain of when he will see his family again, and the same goes for us. He too, is giving me strength that he will never know.

I can't end this post without writing about my ultimate source of strength-Jesus Christ. He settles me down and gently asks me, "What is your finish line?" These giants that seem to be in my way at times (and now) are only going to be here for a little time, although it may seem like they are stationary. If Christ is my finish line, He has already defeated those giants.

By the way, I just ordered an "Army Strong" wristband. Our strength alone is not sufficient..

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Yes, I am blogging at work...whew, now that is off my shoulders, here we go.

Most of us have been told for many years, it is all about a relationship. I am not talking about love relationships, but more of the type you possess in a work situation. My philosophy has always been if you work hard to form those relationships, then the other person will in turn reciprocate those same type of characteristics you possess. Some of these could be as simple as listening to the mundane aspects of your personal life, doing what is asked of you and get it to them on time, being polite, being punctual, being willing to do what no one will do and maybe even when no one asks you to, etc. I feel like there are several more, but you get what I am saying (mostly because you have heard these too). Perhaps, this philosophy does work 73.2 percent of the time, but something is lacking to achieve the full 100 percent.

However, in this dog-eat-dog world, we are focused on what is in it for us. How unfortunate! In one action, all of the "trust" you have built up in this "relationship" can be torn away. It can come from one person or it can be association with one or many people. I live in a constant struggle of wanting to maintain the peace with everyone around me and wanting to let people know what they did is not right and call them out on their wrongdoings.

Polite honesty seems to be the underlying theme in all of these. Although I believe I am honest, maybe not honest enough. I probably don't do that just because I don't want you to hate me. But, are we really serving any justice by sweeping it all under the rug? I will be supervising two students in about two weeks. I can't imagine it being unbearable, but I am going to try this honesty thing-not sure if they will like it, but it will be better than me keeping it all inside and be frustrated at the end of the day if something is not done that needs to be done. When you are honest, you do not have to be rude. I feel like when you are honest, people know they can go to you and receive the truth and confide in you, therefore they trust you. You are building a relationship, and maybe we need a little more polite honesty in our lives to reach that 100 percent.