by MaryLee Heller
Father God, please help me to endure the suffering alongside this person who I care so deeply for. Please help me to trust you and what you are doing as I just witness, in faith, what you will do to work this for the good of us who love you. And, help me, please, to wait in the spirit of kindness. Thank you. Amen.
MaryLee is a grown Navy "brat," veteran of the US Navy, and wife to a recent Navy retiree. She home educates two of the four children she shares with her husband of more than twenty years while authoring novels and serving as Director of Christian Military Wives Fellowship. In her copious amounts of free time she pursues her creative, Bible study, and Bible teaching passions.
It is amazing how much God loves us and nourishes our growth each and every day. God formed us “in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). While some good works start outwardly and have an impact on the heart, others begin with heart change reflected in our actions.
God has called me to be more patient. For some people this may not take a lot of work, but that certainly doesn’t describe me, and never really has. The more quiet time I spend with God, the more confident I am that God wants me to focus on enhancing the fruit of the spirit in my life that is most challenging: patience (Galatians 5:22-23).
This morning God challenged me to grow by extending grace to a stranger. I was strolling along down the dairy aisle when a woman in front of me made a sudden, wide U-turn, forcing me to cling to the rack of shredded cheese for dear life. Moments later we encountered one another in the 10 items or less self-checkout lane. As I quickly scanned my three produce items, I could hear her behind me sighing and saying some pretty hurtful things about me. Satan was on my left shoulder telling me to be offended and urging me to confront her in anger.
Instead, I chose to focus my thoughts on Jesus. He challenged me not to judge others because others can’t see God in my actions when I act impatiently. I was convicted to pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23-24). So I scanned quickly, smiled, and wished her a good day.
When we set our eyes on Jesus, we can find the strength to extend patience and gentleness to others under any circumstance. Although a smile in the checkout lane is a small thing, it was given with the patient intention to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”
(2 Corinthians 1:4).
We live by God’s grace each day, and by extending grace towards others, we can do a good work in the lives of others as well as our own hearts.
What situations tempt me to be impatient?
How can I better please God in situations when I choose not to judge others?
What opportunities do I have to pray for others each day?
Father, thank you for always being patient with me, especially when I make mistakes. Thank you for not throwing my mistakes in my face or creating obstacles for me because of them, but welcoming me into your comforting, loving arms so that I might learn. Help me to be more patient with myself, others and my surroundings each and every day so that I may nurture the fruits of the spirit and become closer to you. Help me to be a more godly woman so that others can see your great works and love in my actions. Thank you God for loving me. I love you and worship only you. 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 on her blog, Mary's Mischief.
by Mary Parker
Father, thank you for sending Jesus as a baby who would turn into a perfect man so that He could know my struggles and yet still pay for my sins. Thank you for loving me and forgiving me despite my sins. Grant me the patience to wait for your guidance in all circumstances in my life and help me not go astray. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Questions for Reflection:
1) Are there areas of my life where I need to wait patiently for God’s instructions? How can I make active steps to pursue Him?
2) What does it mean that Jesus is “the” way to God instead of just “a” way?
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 Mary's Mischief.
Whenever we begin to feel distant or miss our family, we reflect on the idea that we are never alone, and God is leading our family with and for a purpose.
We also believe God designed us, as two people, to come together and form a family, as foretold in the Biblical introduction to marriage through the story of Adam and Eve:
“A man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Faith in God’s plan helps fortify us as a team, when it seems difficult to be so far away, or when it stings a bit to be just a team of two on a military installation where it can feel like every couple should have two kids minimum.
Although facing life together continues to become easier as we nestle into marriage and learn more about one another, there are times when being a military family can provide additional challenges: last minute TDYs, late nights on standby duty, missed dates and appointments.
Overall, we have it pretty lucky due to the nature of my husband’s job. Still, sometimes it can be extremely frustrating when it seems like the Air Force has total control of our circumstances. It can be downright discouraging!
But the truth is encouraging – God is in charge, and His word prepares us throughout the entire Bible, especially the New Testament, for circumstances that can rock our lives and families:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
As I strive to persevere and develop spiritual fruit to offset the challenges that come along with the joys of being a military family, I grow in patience and my marriage blossoms. Obviously, this is not a complete picture of marriage, but it is a component. Faith that God has control of the situation and is guiding us with and for a purpose carries us through and helps us as we walk, as straight as possible, the narrow road on the pathway to maturity.
My consummate mantra as a wife, and as we face challenges, is to possess these qualities of the infamous Proverbs 31 wife:
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25).
I encourage you to laugh in faith today!
Questions for Reflection:
*Am I trusting the military, or God, with my family’s future?
*What practical steps can I take to develop perseverance in my life? How can that impact my family as a whole?
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 Mary Parker
On August 29, 2010, things were a little hectic in my life. I had just started graduate school, and was a full-time student working about 20 hours a week. I lived with my future husband, and we were scheduled to be married in just a little over a month. School work, planning the last details of the wedding, and feeling imminent pressure from a number of sources left me drained, sad and alone.
Written by Molly Huggins
I read a quote about military wives recently:
“She plants annuals for herself and perennials for those who come behind her.”
And above all, love the way Christ loves ... “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galations 6:2).
I promise, the soil is rich.
Is there someone around you God has laid on your heart to reach out to?
This week, how can you be intentional in your existing relationships?
What are some ways you can let down your own walls as you reach out to others?
Thank You, Lord, for being God over every season in my life. Through the changes, You are faithful. I praise You for the people You’ve placed in my life for this season, and for all the ones before. Help me to always put on compassion toward others. Let me love people like You do, so that they might see Your face. Give me the strength to be vulnerable in my relationships with others, even when it’s tough. Thank You, Father. Amen.
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.
Great reminder and analogy. Thank you1