Written by Laura Moore
There are certainly times in our lives we forget all that God has given us and we need to be reminded. At least that’s true for me. It’s easy to forget the gifts while we are concentrating on the many things that seem to be going wrong. Sadly, we’ll find there are always things wrong in this world and in our lives.
As military spouses we are placed in situations that can be hard to thank God for. How do we give thanks when a spouse misses another birthday, when our best friend down the road moves across the country, and we feel utterly alone?
I’m not saying it’s not going to be easy. But I want you to know that peace does come to the woman who kneels before God and starts thanking Him and acknowledging His hand over her life.
Throughout scripture we’re instructed to give thanks. Thankfulness should be the language a Christian speaks best, for we have so much to be grateful for! Our attitude matters in this choice to give thanks or keep on talking about everything going wrong. I’m kind of an expert at pointing out problems, but it reflects after awhile and I get tired of my own complaining! We are always given a choice, and lately I’ve been trying hard to see where God has shown His love. It makes me a much happier person to focus on Christ rather than my circumstances.
Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our God not only calls us into a relationship but He also pours out blessings through the simple things all around us. Whether it’s the sun peeking through the curtains, a view of golden and red leaves spread across the trees, or even a warm hug from a friend- these are blessings God pours out for us, His children.
Here is my challenge for you during this season where everyone is encouraging us to give thanks: Grab a pen and paper and jot down some of the little things you see where God is working in your heart, or showing how much He cares for you. Begin to open your eyes today to the small gifts around you, and thank God for them.
I will start by letting you know how grateful I am for you--that you have landed on this article and that we get to walk through this military spouse role together as we both figure it out.
In what areas of my life do I struggle to give thanks?
What holds me back from living a life of thanksgiving?
What are three blessings I can thank God for this morning?
Lord, thank You for all of Your blessings in my life. Even when I can’t see them- or choose not to- Your steady hand continues to provide for me. I pray that You would change my heart today toward a posture of thanks. Open my eyes to see the beauty You’ve placed all around me, so that I might give thanks to You. Amen.
by Chantal Graupmann
Editor's Note: This month we are welcoming two new members to our blogging team here at CMWF. Today's post is Chantal's first one with us. Welcome, Chantal! We're so glad to have you sharing your story with us!
As followers of Christ we all have defining moments in our faith where God asks us to follow Him.
Choosing to let Him guide our family as we joined the military was one of those moments for me.
When my husband and I got married, the military was not a thought in my mind. We planned to stay in our home state of Minnesota, where almost all our family resides, and raise our future children. We never discussed other options. But two years into our marriage the economy took a downhill turn, and what I thought would never affect us, did. My new husband lost his job, and we were faced with the same difficult situation of unemployment that many Americans were facing. Young and newly married, we were completely unprepared for the difficulties that lay ahead.
During the following year and a half, finding work was tough. I was earning my Bachelors degree and working part time, while my husband painstakingly searched for suitable work to keep us afloat. With little hope in sight, we turned our ears all the more to Jesus in desperation. Jesus, what do you have in store for us?
Never before had we been so open to listening to the Lord.
God began to deal with my lingering fears as my husband left for basic training. He led me to the first chapter in Joshua, specifically verse 9:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Those words spoke so strongly to my heart during the time my husband was away. They were a source of great comfort. He was encouraging me to trust in His plan like never before and I knew He would form our family into what it should be.
A little over three years have passed since I was encouraged with that passage in Joshua. As I look back, I can see how God has used the military to shape our extended and immediate family. He has kept His promises to me, and no matter where we are, He has provided us with support in the form of family and great friends. Our family is stronger and healthier than it was before the military because distance has forced us to communicate better. God has placed others in our lives at each duty station to fill a specific role where family would traditionally serve, which has created lasting friendships.
This passage of scripture continues to encourage me on the days I feel like military life is an impossible feat. It reminds me that He has chosen our family for this task, and no matter where the military may take us or how it will separate our family, He will be there to provide for our needs and to strengthen us.
What fears are lingering in your heart today?
Where are you struggling to trust in God’s provision?
Who is one person you can come alongside of today to encourage with the message of God’s faithfulness?
Lord, thank you for your constant presence in my life. Thank you for your promise to be with me wherever I may go. Your plan for my family is perfect and as you continue to lead me, I hold onto your promises for the difficult and sometimes lonely days that military life holds. I pray that you continue to go with us all our days.
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.
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 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.
“Too much to do.” How many times have you heard that internal voice repeat itself in anxiety and guilt on any given day? Yesterday I found myself sitting in an urgent care waiting room for nearly four hours, frantically wanting to be at home. Even though I knew I was where I needed to be, I rebelled against the way the day led me and tried to hold onto my plans in anger and resentment.
My husband and I survived, even though not every task on my itemized list was checked off. We didn’t eat a meal made from scratch. I didn’t make it to the gym (I’m sure you can tell how that broke my heart). Work took a backseat, and the infernal baseboard dusting was ignored yet again. But we lived, and if only I had surrendered to God’s plan for my day sooner instead of the vision that I stubbornly stuck to despite all the arrows pointing me in another direction, I could have been more obedient and enjoyed the gift of every moment, rather than grumbling and letting time slip ungratefully through my hands.
Letting go of the illusion of control over our lives is tough. In the military we are reminded incessantly that we don’t have control – over where we live, our husbands’ work hours, how long we can be employed or keep our kids in the same school. But we can take comfort that God has control. He has a plan that is always greater and better for us than the ones we devise.
As we try to make plans for our day or our future, we have to remember this truth:
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
We have to ask God to show us His will in every day, and we must be aware enough of His loving, gentle presence to recognize it and be obedient.
It is incredibly comforting to remember that as we go through this process of surrendering to God’s plans, we are never alone, regardless of what the enemy tells us (Hebrews 13:5). Not only has God promised us that we will never be alone, but He also tells us that He is working for the good of those who love Him (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28). God knows our plans are inferior and tentative, compared to His eternal and glorious blueprints. By trusting in God and His plans completely, we can throw off the shackles of anxiety and rejoice in each moment God has provided. We can look toward the future with hope, a gift we could never provide for ourselves.
What areas of my life am I struggling to surrender to God’s control?
What fears do I have about giving my plans over to God?
Am I choosing to live today in obedience and joy, or am I acting in resentment?
Father, thank You for the gift of today. I know that You are working for my good and Your glory. I praise You for Your sovereignty, for always being in control. Thank You for Your awesome plans that are so much better than mine could ever be. Help me to trust You today. Give me eyes to see Your plan, and a humble heart to submit to it throughout the day so that I can live joyfully in each moment. I choose to lay my plans down at Your feet, accepting whatever You have prepared for me today. 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.