By Heather Tabers
In what areas of my life am I not choosing joy and gratitude?
Am I taking the time to thank God daily?
How can I trust more deeply in God’s provision for me and my family?
Father God, as we look at the circumstances surrounding us, may we choose to never take our eyes off of You. Give us the strength and the courage to choose life in an environment of death. Help us choose to be lights in a dark world. Help us choose to point others to you. Thank You for giving us this freedom to choose that NO ONE can take away. Amen
By Mary Parker
Do you have areas in which you struggle to give up control?
How do you think giving that control over to God might bring you freedom?
Lord, thank You for being in control over all things in my life. Thank You for the freedom You give when I trust You with everything. Help me to let go of the things I am trying to control. Amen.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects at her blog, Mary's Mischief.
By Molly Huggins
Dear Military Wife,
It’s July, and there is a whole lot of flag waving happening here and everywhere, and being from the south, (and in a military town), we get an extra helping of gratitude for our Soldiers and the job they do. And I am so thankful for that. But not today. I want to talk to you, about what the cost of freedom is to YOU.
Camp followers. Army wives. Household 6 ... and all the other nicknames they’ve assigned us over the years ... some of them not so nice!
The 5 am coffee makers, and the ship waver-offers, and you who slog your way to the post office twice monthly to send him his favorite barbeque sauce and the extra Xbox controllers and a stack of drawings from the seven year old.
The stoic ones and the hot teary messes (THIS GIRL).
Yes, I’m talking to you, the temporary single parent, and the frazzled momma at the grocery store in her yoga pants, who may not have showered in days and just fed her children bologna straight out of the package. (DON’T JUDGE ME!)
Or worse, you who want nothing more than to be a mom but can't seem to get pregnant because it’s impossible to do even just a little bit of life together.
Or you there, who dusts off your resume and starts job hunting again, because we go where he goes, which isn't always where the jobs go ... And my Guard girls (sorry, women;) who are foreigners at home, military wives a long way from a military town.
We don't wear the rank and we didn't slog through the mud in basic training (most of us, anyways) but we sure are putting our families on the line. And you try telling me when my seven year old is sobbing for her daddy that we don't sacrifice for freedom.
And I bet a fair number of us could pack a duffel bag like a professional. We’ve been sending them off to war for a good twelve years now.
I used to demure and say we aren't brave, it's just a life, etc. And still, I won't go shouting from the roof tops, “Look at me!”
But you? That's another story.
You ARE brave, and oh, do you sacrifice. And eyes open or squeezed tight shut, you stand with your Soldier Husband.
“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” ~ Ruth 1:16
Ruth is committing to the family of her husband in this passage, but the idea here, to be a family wherever we land ... well, it fits, it does. I mean, it’s almost like, well, you know, OUR WEDDING VOWS.
And we make a life, and a home in clapboard boxes and dilapidated base housing. We make a life in the suburbs, and in the big city. Year in, year out. And yes, most of my furniture is neutral because you never know what the walls will look like in the next place, and I scratch my decorating itch with a never ending supply of accent pillows. And at the end of the day, month, or year, we made a home ... and next year we will pack it up and do it all over again.
This life, it doesn't define us. We claim citizenship in a heavenly kingdom and hold fast to the power of the gospel and our identity as a new creation in Christ.
But there are camouflage shapes carved out of my heart and it's okay to say that the carving hurt, and we sacrificed to get them.
So you. All of you.
Ecclesiastes tells us, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
One commentary (Gill’s Bible Exposition) breaks it down for us like this ...
“If a family, community, city, or kingdom, are divided against themselves, they cannot stand; but, if united, in all probability nothing can hurt them.”
Be brave. Be proud. Bear one another up. Us camp followers need to stick together.
How can you encourage a fellow military spouse today?
Find a spouse whose soldier is deployed and seek out ways to bless them. We know better than anyone what helps!
Molly Huggins (All The Grace Between) is an Army bride, one-time helicopter pilot, compulsive writer, friend seeker, and lover of color and all things textile. Her current occupation is ringmaster of the Huggins family circus (party of five). She has a B.A. in English from Covenant College and a passion for meeting other women right in the middle of their own messy stories. Pull up a chair at her virtual beat-up kitchen table, listen to her stories, and maybe even tell her yours.
By Heather Tabers
When I study instructional passages of Scripture, I love to look at these three concepts: What, Why, and How. Let’s use these concepts to look at Philippians Chapter 2.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
I love that in the first two verses of this chapter, Paul opens up a sermon on unity with one simple if/then statement. IF there is any encouragement (help, exhortation, counsel) in Christ, IF there is any fellowship (partnership) of the Spirit, IF any affection (the Greek’s strongest word for compassionate love) and compassion, THEN we are to be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. IF we are blessed with encouragement, help, exhortation, counsel, fellowship, partnership, affection, compassion, and love, THEN we need to be united.
To break it down, IF God is compassionate towards you, THEN you need to share that same compassion with your brothers and sisters.
Paul offers no exception to this rule, only further encouragement to strengthen the bond among Christians. In one sentence, he gives us the What of the passage: Be united. Now, the Why- Why is it so important for Christians to be united? Why is it so important that we be of one mind, one love, one spirit, one purpose?
Because God chose to be united with us.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
God, in all His perfection and righteousness and holiness, came to earth in the form of a lowly man through His Son, Jesus. Despite being sinless, He obeyed the Father and allowed Himself to be crucified horrifically in our place. The most compassionate love ever displayed was bestowed from a perfect Creator to a sinful creation, all for the sake of being united. Sin no longer separates me from God. He bridged that gap on the cross so that I can be His for all of eternity. That’s the Why-because Christ chose to be united with us.
But how we can be of one mind, one love, one spirit, and one purpose with all Christians? We’re so different!
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Putting others before ourselves does not usually come naturally, this is why Paul breaks it down for us. To be united in the body of Christ as one, we need to put away our selfish habits and conceited ways. We need to stop thinking that our needs and wants are more important than someone else’s. We need to look for opportunities to bless others- not just the others we want to bless, but all others. That’s the How in this lesson- choosing to humble ourselves in unity with one another, just as Christ did for us.
Who in my life do I lack unity with?
How can I humble myself and seek to put that person’s needs before mine?
What would this world be like if Jesus had put His needs before ours?
Lord Jesus, thank You for the humility and sacrifice You demonstrated on the cross. You put Your glory aside and chose to die for me, because of Your deep love for me, even when I was far from You. Thank You, Jesus. In light of Your love and Your sacrifice, I choose to surrender my pride and my wants, my needs. I choose to love others above myself. I know I can’t do it on my own, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Open my eyes to the people around me who need to be loved and served today. Amen.
Heather Tabers is the wife of a wounded warrior and the mother of five children. She is also currently a full time student, a specialty cake baker, and a volunteer with the VA Public Relations office. She writes about her life and her faith to encourage other women on her blog, Wives of War.
When I was a little girl, I was surrounded by family and friends that loved me very much. However, I was also surrounded by family that were less than pleased with my existence. In many ways, I was a disappointment. An inconvenience. A mistake. A burden. An embarrassment. As I grew older, I grew more aware of these opinions and carried their weight around in my heart. I was told that I should have been aborted. I was told that my life ruined the lives of others. I grew up bearing the weight of misplaced condemnation.
The definition of condemnation is “the expression of very strong disapproval” or “the action of condemning someone to punishment”. I understood this definition all too well as a child. That’s why Romans 8:1-4 is such a passage to me. Romans 8:1 begins, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” For a little girl who was raised in condemnation, this was such good news! Who I am in the world is nothing compared to who I am in Christ. I was not planned or wanted in this world, but the God who knew me since the beginning of time had a special plan for my life. Why? Verse 2 says, “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s great for you, Heather. You were an innocent little girl. Your circumstances were not your fault. But you don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve messed up. People don’t like me because I’ve done some bad things.” There’s good news for you, too, dear sister. The rest of this passage reads, “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Did you catch that? God sent his Son, Jesus to the world to bear our punishment. That condemnation that you and I have both felt is not ours to bear any longer! It doesn’t matter if we deserve the guilt, shame, and punishment or not- Jesus took it! When we are daughters of the King, we are liberated to live a new life free of the things that used to weigh us down.
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “I know I’m a child of God. I even teach Sunday School. But I’m still a sinner. I keep messing up. Why can’t I just let go of this sin in my life?” These verses have good news for you, too, sweet sister. God’s boundless, limitless, matchless love and mercy flow over us every morning. Each day that you wake up is a new day to live in the Father’s freedom. Were you a gossiper yesterday? His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. Were you a crabby mom yesterday? His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. Were you an adulterous wife yesterday? Whoa. Adultery? That’s serious stuff. Are you condemned for that? No. His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. When you GIVE GOD your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Not just the little stuff. Not just the stuff that isn’t really your fault. He forgives us from ALL of our unrighteousness.
Tomorrow is a new day, sister. Lay those sins at the foot of the cross tonight and wake up free tomorrow morning.
What sins do I need to lay at the foot of the cross?
Who do I need to forgive in my life?
Freedom from condemnation is not just a gift for me. Who do I know that needs to be set free?
Father God, You are mighty to save! You love the unlovable. You forgive the unforgivable. You bring new life to the dead. Bring new life in me today, Father. I lay my sin, my guilt, and my shame at the foot of Your cross. You bore my sins so that I would not have to carry the weight of condemnation any longer. Thank You for loving me, forgiving me, and creating new life within me. Amen.
by Brandis Trionfo
It takes about a week before, well, life takes over.
This year I was challenged by the leader of my community group to come up with one word. Just ONE word for the entire year for us to focus on.
How hard can it be to choose one word? Harder than I expected. I consulted my Bible, my best friend, and tried to come up with something clever. I kept coming back to the word intentional. It's not a fancy word and I'm not sure it's even the right word, but I can't stop thinking about it.
My best friend messaged me on New Year's Day and asked me about my resolutions. I told her rather than come up with a list of things I'd never accomplish, my goal was to be more intentional at diving into God's Word. I wanted to yell less and love more with my kiddos. And in general, I wanted to be more joyful in all I do.
Intentional is defined as "done on purpose, deliberate." I want to DO life ON PURPOSE. I want to dive into the Word of God. I want to giggle and tickle and give my kids the mom they deserve rather than the tired, stressed one they're so used to. I want to live life for God's purpose, not mine.
Proverbs 19:21 says, "You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail."
So my goal is to be intentional in all I do. I want to speak life into people I meet, I want to bring joy to myself and my children by living through God's Word, and ultimately I want to have a year that is lived FOR the Lord.
Tell me, friends, what's one word that you can use this year to bring yourself closer to God?
Questions for Reflection:
*What is one word you can use to motivate yourself for the new year?
*How can you be more intentional at being in God's Word?
Happy New Year, friends. I hope this year is wonderful for you and I hope at the end I can bring the good news of how intentional I was this year. :)
Brandis is a former Sailor turned Air Force wife, a stay at home mom to 3 kids, and a lover of rustic country decor. She misses the Navy almost daily but is so very thankful for the time she gets with her family, dogs, & friends living near the beach.
by Chantal Graupmann
Thankfulness is on my mind as the calendar month changes from October to November. As the holiday rush begins, it is easy to lack true gratitude while we go about our merry way of checking off items on our to-do list. Our lives become so cluttered and busy it can be a challenge to stop and remember God’s plan and all he has done and continues to do in our lives.
In the midst of military life, we are often dealt circumstances that (if we allow) can rob us of our thankfulness. It is not always easy to be thankful for God’s many blessings when a loved one is away for the holidays or we are in a new place without familiar comforts, family, and friends.
True feelings of gratitude stem from our deliberate perspective on thankfulness. Psalm 24:1 reminds me that I need to put God at the forefront of my thoughts:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
If my mind is not focused on God and his blessings, I will be thankless. As I look toward the busyness of the holiday season I wonder how I can foster a right perspective.
How can I be sure to be full of thanks when it is so easy to choose otherwise?
1. Spend time with the Lord
This is always the easiest way to correct our thoughts and perspective. God has given us the gift of prayer and supplication for a reason! This tool is always available to us, yet we often do not use it as we should. Ask the Lord to help you in this area; He will show you exactly where you should be placing your focus.
2. Meditate on Scripture
There are many passages in scripture that can help us to understand gratitude on a deeper level. Psalm 24:1 is helpful for me, but another scripture may be better suited to you. A simple word search can help you find these passages.
3. Keep a journal
Write a daily list of things you are thankful for. The ability to look back and recall reasons to be thankful can be a helpful reminder on the hard days when gratitude is lacking.
I pray that each of us takes the time to remember the true gifts and blessings we have been given by our Creator. As the hustle and bustle of the season gets underway, take time to seek Jesus. A deliberate perspective of thankfulness will make the season all the more rich and full.
Chantal Graupmann is an Air Force wife and mother to two children. She is striving to serve women in the midst of motherhood and military life, and is passionate about building community. She loves finding time for DIY projects, experimental cooking, and travel.