Honoring Veteran’s Day

Let's say a prayer of thanks today for all of the veterans out there and all of their families.

Let’s say a prayer of thanks today for all of the veterans out there and all of their families.

This post first appeared here several years ago, but I found the words still pertinent today and I thought I would repost.

Tomorrow we celebrate Veteran’s Day in the United States. It was first commemorated on November 11, 1919 because an armistice or a cease-fire in World War I occurred in the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, in the eleventh month. World War I was known as the war to end all wars. The day was set aside to honor the soldiers who fought in that war and to honor the day that peace had been secured.

Sadly, in 1939, World War II began and the Korean Conflict occurred after that. World War I was clearly not the war that would end all wars. In 1954, President Eisenhower designated November 11th as Veteran’s Day, where all American veterans of all wars would be honored for their service to our country.

According to the U.S. Census, there are currently 21.2 million veterans living today. That seems like a lot, but it breaks down to only about 13% of U.S. adults. That’s a small amount of people who have done a huge amount of work to guarantee our freedom and safety.

I attended a Veteran’s Day Celebration yesterday at my son’s middle school. I have to say that I was moved to tears as the students called out statistics of those who paid for our freedom with their lives. The band played songs of all of the military branches. The chorus sang patriotic songs. Two students read essays. One of them was an Indian immigrant. He pointed out how safe he feels in America. He said in America, when a hundred people die of swine flu, the U.S. goes on alert. Everyone is upset and they make sure no one else dies. In India, a hundred people dying is no big deal. He believes that we value life in this country and that’s due to the men and women in the military who keep us safe and help allow life to have such a high value here. I never thought about it that way.

The guest speaker was a man named Colonel Robert Guy. He is a retired teacher from the school and beloved. He is a West Point graduate and served two tours in Vietnam among many other accomplishments. When he spoke, it was pin drop silent, which in a middle school gymnasium, is pretty amazing.

He said an 8th grader once asked him what the Army taught him. He said he had to give it some thought, but came up with five of the most important things he learned from the Army.

The first was duty. He said that was nothing more than doing your best work to the best of your ability, every single day, no matter what. What would the world look like if we all lived like that?

The second was concern for others. He said you always had to be willing to do more than your part to keep others from falling into the hands of the enemy. In other words, “It’s not about you.” Those are wise words for sure.

The third was trust. In the military you have to trust others to do their job and they must be able to trust you. In life or death situations, this is a no brainer, but what if we lived our civilian lives in that manner?

The fourth was respect, respect for the flag, respect for superiors and respect for other service members. He said if we all respected one another, there would be no bullying and everyone’s self-worth would be in good shape.

The fifth was be creative. No one in any military situation ever felt like that had enough people or time, but they had to figure out a way to get it done and they did. What if we all took that attitude?

I left the ceremony with many points to ponder. I’m so very thankful that these children got to hear such wise words from a true American hero. I’m thankful this day for all of our veterans. Their sacrifice is something we can never truly repay. Let’s all take a moment and say a prayer of thanks for their service. They are real life heroes.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Holidays | 2 Comments

Leaf Lessons

The fall leaves are a beautiful reminder that God is with us.

As I was traveling down the road yesterday, a little grumpy, because I had to drive all the way to another county to pick up some medication for my dog at the vet, I was delighted to see the leaves changing color. I remember wondering just recently, if we would get any bright fall leaves this year. Had it been too warm? Did we not get enough rain?

Our news has consisted of one horrific story after the other lately, so much so, that my first impulse is to tune out. It’s sometimes hard to find the beauty when there’s just so much wreckage. We sometimes wonder if God is still here.

To add to that, my schedule has been incredibly busy, with too much noise and not enough quiet time.

But, as I drove along on my unplanned and quite frankly, unwelcomed detour, I began to sense that God had called me to a time out. It was just me and Him in the car and I had no busy excuse not to talk to Him or to listen. I had no excuse not to reflect.

Those pretty fall leaves reminded me that God is in control no matter how dark the season may appear. He could have created trees to simply drop their leaves with the seasons, but no, our creative Creator, made trees with leaves that turn all kinds of beautiful and vivid colors.

Why?

Because He enjoys beauty, just like we do and He seeks to share it with us. We only need to be willing to see it.

After the flood, God told Noah, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22

The seasons are changing; just as the Bible said they would. God is still here among the chaos, He’s still in control and He still seeks us. The question for us to consider is, do we actively seek Him?

When we do, we will find Him. Sometimes we simply have to look around. An unplanned drive and some leaves reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Watching for God | Leave a comment

Wearing the Cloak of Peace

“Be still and know that I am God.”

A little boy who was not feeling well, came into the school clinic last week. When our nurse took his temperature, she found that he was running a fairly high fever. His teacher went and retrieved his backpack and his parents were called to pick him up.

The nurse asked him if he wanted to lie down on the clinic cot and if he wanted a blanket. He didn’t miss a beat when he told her he had one in his backpack. Sure, enough he did. He pulled it out and covered up with it and slept peacefully until his daddy arrived.

The nurse had to physically wake him up.

I thought about that little guy long after he went home. I thought about how he had all he needed to be comfortable until his help came. I thought about how he remembered that he had it and how he wasn’t at all dismayed or worried about his circumstances. He had complete faith that all would be well.

I thought about how often we run into all kinds of problems in our lives, things that can steal our peace.

We have financial troubles and physical problems. We have relationship issues and marital problems. We have worries about our kids and problems at work. We sometimes even have troubles at church.

All of these worldly issues can lead to a load of worries if we allow them to. If we focus on those worries long enough, they can lead to physical issues like headaches, stomach problems, depression, anxiety, or even worse.

But, as Christians, we are called to walk a different path. We are called to clothe ourselves in the peace that comes from knowing Christ; just like that little guy’s blanket, from head to toe.

We are called to remember that there is a plan for us, and that we are loved, and that no matter what comes against us, God is with us. His ways are not our ways. He doesn’t simply react to what the world throws at us. He’s already there and planning for our defense, long before the first punch is delivered.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

On this side of eternity, we are constantly bombarded with peace stealers. The key is remembering to stay focused on the Peace Giver. A sick little boy reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character, Trusting God | Leave a comment

Beyond Kindergarten Faith

How mature is your faith?

I work in the front office of an elementary school. The clinic is located right behind my desk, so there’s a fairly steady stream of visitors most days. There’s rarely anything particularly noteworthy, just things like bumps, bruises, sore throats and stomach aches.

But, a week or so ago, a little boy in kindergarten, came in crying. He was yelling, “I throwed up on the playground!” But, he wasn’t sad; he was furious. After he screamed it the third time, I had to turn my head, so he wouldn’t see me chuckle. I mean this child was completely outraged that he had been sick on the playground.

How dare his body treat him in such a way! Our sweet nurse calmed him down in minutes. As soon as he took a breath, he was fine. He was given something to drink. His mama was called and he went home. The next time I saw him, he was completely back to normal.

That little kindergartner’s outrage stayed on my mind long after his clinic visit. I guess it was an outward manifestation of how adults feel when bad things happen to us.

As Christians, when we get bad news or a bad diagnosis, what’s our first impulse? How do we tend to react? Do we immediately go to God in prayer and ask for strength and courage? Do we acknowledge to Him that we know He’s at work in all of our circumstances, not just the good ones? Does knowing He’s in charge give us a sense of peace no matter what we are facing?

Or….do we tend to shake our fists in outrage when when tragedy strikes? Do we question God? Do we ask why? Do we decide we have been abandoned? Do we find ourselves completely indignant that our lives aren’t filled with sunny days and perfection?

Is our faith mature enough to trust in God’s plan for our lives or do we have that kindergarten faith where we believe if we always do our part, bad things will never happen?

The Bible tells us that, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.” Romans 5:3-4

Rejoicing in suffering is a difficult concept to grasp. I must confess that I’m more likely to react like that kindergartner in the face of tragedy.

Grace, gently reminds me that I am called to a deeper trust and obedience. Experience has taught me that God is always with me and His ways and plans are better than my own.

A kindergartner reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character, Trusting God | Leave a comment

Embracing a Season of Thanks

Living with a thankful heart is a choice.

Last night I had the opportunity to open my door to the cutest little trick-or-treaters ever. There’s been a lot of turn over on my street over the past couple of years and some new young families have moved in. It seems like only yesterday when I was trick-or-treating with my own children and I hold those memories very close to my heart.

I have always enjoyed Halloween with the carving of jack o’lanterns, all of the candy, and the dressing up in fun and creative costumes. For me, it represents fall and my community at its best. It’s people opening their doors to complete strangers and sharing whatever unique treat they have.

It’s asking and receiving in its simplest form.

It seems kind of appropriate that when we wake up the next morning, we find ourselves thrust into the season of Thanksgiving followed closely by the Christmas season.

November often signals the beginning of a very hectic and often stressful season for many of us, whether it be dealing with uncomfortable family situations, or dealing with the loss of a loved one, or trying to create the Pinterest perfect home and table.

We tend to focus on the physical realm during the holiday season. What will we serve? What will we eat? What will we purchase? How will we decorate? Who will we invite? I won’t even begin to talk about the comparison games that we can find ourselves playing.

But, perhaps the wiser path would be to focus on the spiritual aspect of the holiday season. Maybe we could intentionally make November the month that we actually give thanks for the many blessings we have been given. We could even commit to write down at least one each day. We could commit to more thankful prayers and less asking prayers.

Most of us have far more than we need and have a tendency to take a lot for granted. I know I do.

Perhaps we could spend more time thinking about who were serve than what we will serve. That concept alone, should bring some much needed peace and maybe even joy. Who doesn’t need more of both?

Living with a thankful heart is a conscious choice. It’s choosing to prioritize the spiritual over the physical. It’s choosing to see each day as a gift.

The retailers would like for us to forget Thanksgiving altogether. There’s not much money in it for them. But, there’s something beautiful and deeply spiritual about living with a thankful heart.

Perhaps we should all give it a try.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

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A Call to Bloom

This bush looks perfectly acceptable unless you know what its capabilities are.

I have the honor of dog sitting for my parents this week. They have two little fluff balls that require leash walking several times a day. While I was walking them over the weekend, we ended up at a raised bed my hubby made for me. In it, he had planted a hydrangea.

It was a gift from a parent at the end of school year. We were still building our deck at the time and I wasn’t sure where to plant it and so he put it there for the time being. To the casual observer, it looks really good. It’s healthy. It has grown a lot. It came in a tiny cup. It’s green. It survived a very dry late summer.

But, I’m not a casual observer. The wonderful thing about hydrangeas is their huge flowers and this one never bloomed. It could be because it was the first year it was planted. Sometimes it takes a year for a bush to get established before it blooms.

But, I suspect the real reason is that it doesn’t get enough sun in that spot and without enough sun, it simply can’t bloom.

I reflected on that hydrangea long after the little fluff balls were safely back in the house.

I thought about how like that hydrangea, there are times on our faith journey when we don’t bloom. I thought about how sometimes we may be getting established. We may be new to our faith, or we may be in a season of a new calling, or a season of rest where we find ourselves at a crossroads of sorts.

There are times when not producing blooms is certainly expected. God may simply be working something out within us.

But, sometimes we don’t bloom because we are not seeking Jesus. We aren’t actively reading the Bible. We aren’t actively seeking a prayer relationship with God. We aren’t attending church or engaging in Christian community. We may not be getting enough of the Son.

In that case, we need to make some changes. We are called to do more than just get by. We are called to reflect the brilliance of Christ back into the world. We can’t do that if we don’t have a close personal relationship with Him.

We are called to bloom.

A hydrangea bush reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Watching for God | Leave a comment

The Call to Flourish

When we listen to God’s voice, we become unstoppable.

Last spring, someone gave me a hanging basket with several different kinds of plants, planted together. I love growing things and I really appreciated the gift, but I simply didn’t have anywhere to hang it. After thinking about it, I took the basket apart and replanted everything in a raised box in the backyard.

I wasn’t very familiar with the plants and I wasn’t sure how they would do in the spot they were planted. In the back of my mind, I was going to replant each one separately, in its own large pot. But, summer got busy and I forgot.

It rained a lot in June and the little plants took off. They loved their new large space and they thrived right where I planted them. They quadrupled in size. They couldn’t have possibly done that if I had left them confined to their original small pot.

Those plants got me to thinking about what happens when we allow ourselves to be confined. So often, we tend to listen to the voices of people, or the voices of our past, instead of listening to God’s voice.

We let those voices of doubt and fear confine us to a tiny spot, when God has so much more for us. It’s true that we can sometimes do okay being confined, but we cannot flourish.

God wants us to flourish with His plans for us. He wants us to lean in, listen and trust and when He tells us to take that next step or giant leap, He wants us to do it. He might be calling us to simply stick our toe in or He might be calling us to jump off the high dive.

Either way, when we stay in His will and follow His plans, we are in for a beautiful, wild ride.

That ride, that journey, simply can’t happen if we remain paralyzed by things like fear and doubt.

A flourishing group of plants reminded me to carefully listen and then be willing to act. Perhaps you needed reminding too. Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Trusting God | Leave a comment

Everyday Beauty

Yesterday was one of those days when I felt like I ran around in a circle all day long, getting nothing accomplished. I had computer software issues all day and when I finally got them cleared up, the task I was originally asked to do was completed somewhere else.

It wasn’t as if any kind of tragedy struck. In the grand scheme of things, I probably won’t even remember it a year from now, but it was frustrating enough to give me a headache. Maybe you have had days like that?

When I got home, I got a cup of tea and grabbed my writing journal. I always keep it close by and I jot down all sorts of things in it, from ideas for posts to Bible quotes, to quotes from Pinterest, and sometimes when I’ve had a tough day, I read back through it.

It’s a road map to the places I have been and there are recurring themes that remind me where I’m going and why I’m here. As I read through it, I felt myself begin to relax. I read line after line about God being light and my day slowly slid back into perspective.

But, then I came across a quote that made me stop, because I had the perfect visual to go with it.

Sometimes it’s almost impossible not to see God.

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing something beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The temperatures have cooled and the leaves have begun to fall, and that quote made that photo immediately pop into my mind. There is beauty in the everyday because God is always with us everyday. Sometimes it’s easier to see Him than others.

Sometimes I need reminding. Today that reminder came from something I wrote down over a year ago, something that God knew even then, that I would need today. Isn’t that amazing?

Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Choosing to See the Bright Side, Watching for God | 2 Comments

The Wisdom in Looking Back

Sometimes the best reassurance about going forward, comes from looking back.

I picked up my cell phone and saw I had a message. I smiled because it was from the daughter of a dear friend of mine from high school. I had messaged her on Facebook with some questions about off campus living because she went to the same college my daughter is attending.

When I read her message, it struck me what a gift true friendship is. Her mama and I are getting ready to celebrate our thirty year class reunion next fall. It sometimes takes my breath away when I stand at a crossroads and I look back and see how God was busy at work in ways that I couldn’t possibly comprehend at the time.

This isn’t the first time she has answered my questions, this sweet adult daughter of my friend. When I think back to our high school years and all the things we used to talk about while floating on a raft in my parents’ pool, the idea of us having adult daughters never even came to mind, but God knew.

God knew way back in our teen years that her daughter would help mine. I stand both amazed and humbled at the reality of it all.

I recently ran into an old college friend while out shopping. She was with her daughter and they were getting ready to visit the college campus my daughter is attending. I told her to feel free to text her and ask to see her dorm. A week later, she texted me to get her number.

Keep in mind we haven’t had a sit down conversation in years, but she’s always been one of those, “if you need me I’m here,” friends. I was happy to offer and she was comfortable asking.

When I look back at my college years and she and I were young and just getting to know each other, our adult daughters would have never entered my mind. But, God knew.

We sometimes find ourselves in uncharted territory and we sometimes forget that for God, there is no uncharted territory. He knows where we’re going even when we don’t and He calls on us to trust Him and His plan.

Sometimes the best way to do that is to look back. When we look back on the path we have traveled, He was always there, intervening and working in ways we couldn’t have possibly seen or understood. Looking back at His grace and mercy can remind us and reassure us, He’s at work now too.

A Facebook message reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Trusting God | Leave a comment

Blinking Cursor Inspiration

“Be still and know that I am God.”

There are times when I can’t wait to sit down at my keyboard and string together the words that will tell the story of how God has shown Himself to me in one particular way or another. There are times when I can’t write down post ideas fast enough, in the journal that I always keep close by.

Those are the times when I feel absolutely certain that I am doing the work that God has called me to do.

There are times in my life that have been the same, those times when I’ve prayed for a long time about something and waited patiently on Him and then suddenly the pieces fall so perfectly into place in a jigsaw-like puzzle that could only have been created by God.

It’s those times I know that I have made the right decisions and choices and I know I am where I am meant to be.

But, then there are times that I sit at my keyboard and the cursor blinks. I sit and I say a prayer and I can think of nothing super inspirational to share. I can think of no mountaintop experience from my day and I wonder if I’m doing what I’m supposed to. Did I hear Him right?

I have had those times in my life as well. The relationship gets hard. The job gets difficult or boring. The new dog becomes a lot of work. The kids are struggling in the places that I know God directed them to. And again, I question myself; did I hear God right?

It’s tempting to believe that if we decide to walk with Jesus, that the path should always be smooth and exciting. If we are doing God’s will, shouldn’t we always hear His voice directing us onward and patting us on the head?

If that were true, how would we ever grow our faith?

When we prayerfully seek His guidance and will in our lives and He shows it to us and we listen and go, sometimes He steps back to see if we are willing to proceed in faith. His silence can sometimes make us feel frightened, unsure, or even downright frustrated.

But, the key is to never confuse His silence with absence. He’s always close by. He’s always listening. Sometimes He’s waiting, waiting for us to take that next step in faith, and sometimes it’s that next small step that proves to be a breakthrough that changes everything.

Sometimes it’s that step that brings on the very highest mountaintop moment yet. A blinking cursor reminded me to keep walking, praying, and trusting. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy 🙂

Categories: Building Christian Character, Trusting God, Watching for God | 1 Comment