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CMWF Blog

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Welcome to the CMWF Blog! We hope you'll find some encouragement and comfort here through stories of military life and truth from God's Word.


When God Provides Family: On moving, loneliness, and trust
Editor’s Note: We are so excited to welcome another new contributor this month- Brandis Trionfo! Thank you for sharing your heart with us, Brandis. We can’t wait to hear more!

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There’s a framed sign in my living room that says, “Family. A gathering of folks you love, hand chosen by God above.”

I believe that’s true in so many more ways than one. In military families, it’s not just our real family; it’s other families, friends, co-workers, church families, people who are thrown together after a PCS to live life together.

When I first moved to Florida, I was alone with two kids- two and four years old- and I was about 6 months pregnant, by myself. My husband’s training was lasting longer than we’d originally planned and our house had sold, so rather than rent a place, I packed it up and left.

Man, was it lonely. There were days it was more than the unbearable heat that bothered me. I didn’t know a soul, had a hard time finding a church, and in general was too tired to try to go out and meet people. I kept thinking to myself that I just needed to wait until my husband got there, then I’d be able to meet people.

One day after (another) trial of a church that just didn’t feel right, I was done. Once we got home, I broke down crying in my living room, asking God what I should do. I was lonely, tired, scared, afraid of the choice I’d made to move alone--if I couldn’t handle a few months alone while my husband was safely in school, how would I handle a deployment to somewhere unknown?

Somewhere a voice whispered, “You’re not alone.” I thought I imagined it and I looked up from my spot on the couch to see my boys watching Disney Jr., and I heard it again, “You’re not alone.”

Of course! Silly me to think all this time that I was alone. See, in my fear of branching out I forgot to call on the one who is my refuge. I forgot to call on the one who gives me strength.



Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.” (NLT)


I’m safe in the arms of the Lord.

With that comfort, I was able to reach out to our pastor in Wyoming, who was able to recommend a church that was a perfect fit for us. In that church, I found a new family--a family that could help me, guide me, and show me that even with my husband gone, I wasn’t alone.

In the military life we’re alone a lot. We move away from our families and we’re forced to live out of our comfort zone. But take heart, friends. We may feel lonely and scared and wonder what we’re thinking--but our Father is always one step ahead of us. He reaches out to us, calls us by name, and gives us what we need WHEN we need it. It’s not on our time, it’s on His.

Don’t be scared of the lonely. Don’t be scared of leaving.

Once I was able to branch out and give it to God, I gained a new perspective. I was able to help other military wives, who were even newer at this than me, to see that they aren’t alone either.

He is with us.

 

Reflection
How can you allow God to meet you in your lonely times?
What would it look like for you to fully trust God with the season of life you’re in?

Prayer
Father, thank you for showing me that your ways are always right and that you are my fortress. Help me to not be scared. Help me to know that you are with me no matter where my fears take me. Help me to see where you would have me go and to know that you lead the way. I ask that you give me “family” to help comfort me along with your word. I pray in your name, God. Amen.




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. She occasionally blogs but mostly forgets at Anchored in the Air Force Life.


When God Goes With You

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.

 

A little whisper spoke to my heart and practically out of nowhere I found myself asking my husband, “Have you ever thought about the military?” I was completely surprised that this was coming from my mouth. As we began a long discussion about joining the military, I feared how this would affect our marriage and our family. I wanted our children to know their family and I certainly did not want to leave the new family I had gained, or be torn from my own.I was fearful of our future and how this would shape our family, but I felt God reminding me of all the time He had spoken in my life. He was encouraging me to move forward through my fear.

 

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.




Reflection
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?

Prayer
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.



Words, Words, Words

By Mary Parker

 

 

Words. The basis of our language. The focal point of my career as an English teacher and marketing editor. We use them every day. Write. Speak. Post. Text. Tweet. Words are a beautiful gift that can foster communication…or tear relationships apart. But how often do we consider the effect of our words on others, ourselves and our relationship with God?

For me, the answer is not enough. I can usually find the perfectly precise word to punctuate a point, but when my emotions run high, I use hurtful words against others, often in my mind but sometimes aloud. As Jesus demonstrates in Luke 6, words are a direct result of an overflow of emotion. I say things that I don’t mean, often to the people who mean the most to me and are not in the slightest way deserving of such malice. I always regret my thoughts or actions.
My misuse of verbal ammunition has bothered me for a long time. I try to steer away from profanity, but it’s so easy to use and sometimes it just feels cathartic. Although I curb my misuse of words around most people, I save it for the people closest in my life who are bound to forgive me. Sometimes I let inappropriate language slip in a less familiar group of people, and the pangs of guilt nag me into over analysis and self-depreciation.

Last night, God used a Bible study to help me realize two things:
Although I use language inappropriately at times, God does not condemn me for this. I am not lowly or despicable to Him, but a child who keeps foolishly making the same mistake. I accept His tender grace and resolve to do better. Although God loves and forgives me, it is time to deal with this sin issue head on.
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul, arguably one of the Godliest men to ever live, expresses grappling with sin in a similar way: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” (7:15-17).

Ultimately, my abuse of language can negatively affect others and definitely affects me. So why would I continue to pursue such momentary pleasure? Although it may feel good to release emotion in the moment, the sensation is fleeting. Ultimately, if it doesn’t bring joy to my life or glory to God, I don’t believe He wants it for me. I remember that God’s ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9). Because He loves me, He wants good for me and constantly pushes me to make my life better by seeking Him.

With these beliefs in mind, I commit myself, my thoughts and words to glorifying God in all I say and do. Each time I am tempted to speak out in anger or frustration, I will think twice about the impact and purpose of my words, and question whether these articulations benefit my life. Although this will be hard, and I’m certain to stumble along the way, I know that God is reigning grace over me and helping me to pursue Him, happy to see me seeking His strength over my lips.

 

Reflection
Do you have sin habits that secretly bother you? What do you need to do to honestly seek conviction for these actions?
What thoughts, actions or words do you need to commit to God today? What will this process involve?

Prayer

Lord, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness. I fall short in so many ways, and yet, You stil love me. You still choose to work in me and through me. I confess the sin habits in my life, and I ask You to change my heart. Mold me to be more like You through the work of the Holy Spirit. 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.



Philippians 4: Rejoice, Always

By Molly Huggins

 

Greetings to you my friends. I’m sure you’ve noticed our theme this month, and I am humbled to talk to you about Philippians 4. And friends? Please pray for me as I share my heart with you. It is always with much trepidation and a steadfast desire for the Truth that I parse Scripture for you. As always, hold my words up against the Word.

Philippians 4 can be divided into three sections. In verses 1-9, Paul encourages his brethren in the church of Philipi to remain steadfast in Christian duties - unanimity, joy, prayer and thanksgiving, etc. In the second section, verses 10-19, Paul acknowledges their kindness to him while expounding on his own contentment. He closes this portion with a desire to see their own well being, and ends the chapter (v. 20-23) with praise, greetings, and blessings to his friends.

There is much meat here, and some of the better known verses are in our collective memory bank. But I am not going to talk about those. I have limited space and so will highlight what ministers to me on a daily basis.

I mentioned joy- it’s rejoice, in fact. Verses 4-7 tell us this:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Rejoice in the Lord always. Such a simple word, such a monumental command.

Always: every time, each time, at all times, all the time, without fail, consistently, invariably, regularly, habitually, unfailingly.

Always: continually, continuously, constantly, forever, perpetually, incessantly, ceaselessly, unceasingly, endlessly.

Always: forever, for always, for good (and all), forevermore, for ever and ever, until the end of time, eternally, for eternity.

Always: no matter what, in any event, in any case, come what may.

Matthew Henry describes it in this way:

“Observe, It is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice in him always; at all times, in all conditions; even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him. We must not think the worse of him or of his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service. There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstance on earth.”

 

We must rejoice in God when we have nothing else. When what we feel is not we know. This all consuming fire, this God who palms the oceans, He is omnipotent and all powerful and my every breath in, every breath out, is engineered, impeccably designed, to showcase His glory.

Rejoice in the Lord always. And this rejoicing? It breeds peace (v. 7), contentment (v. 11), and continued reliance on a God who moves the mountains, and clothes the lilies (v. 13.)

 

The joy letter, indeed.

 

Reflection
Is rejoicing a daily part of my life right now?
What things hold me back from fully rejoicing in the Lord?
What could I do to share joy with others today?

Prayer
Almighty God, You are the author of life and beauty. Everything holds together in You, and Your creation shouts of Your glory to the ends of the earth. Today I surrender all the things that hold me back from joy- my worries, my busy schedule, my selfish complaints- I lay them all down at Your feet in repentance. Fill my heart with joy today, the joy that only comes from You. I will rejoice in You because You are good, always. 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.




No Perfect People Allowed

By Mary Parker




I’ve been struggling with some serious mixed emotions. My husband is taking off for a six-week TDY next week, and the thought of being without him for that long makes me nervous, sad and honestly, grumpy. I know it could be worse. I know he could be in a dangerous place, deployed somewhere with limited communication. The thought of countless spouses who endure that type of separation spurs me on and makes me so thankful for the nature of our separation. But still I know I will miss him.

Thinking of this love and sorrow makes me imagine how God must feel about us. He created you and me, in our mother’s wombs, and loved us before anyone else. He knows our thoughts, our words, our every move before we even make them. Despite seeing even our wickedest behaviors, He loves us in an immense way that surpasses understanding. He also misses us, and is calling us to Him every day, urging us to find our refuge and shelter in Him.

Imagine how you miss your husband every day when you are apart. That longing is how God feels for us when we’re apart. The Bible tells us that sin has separated us from God, but that through everything he is trying to win us back. Although he pursues us, we have to know Jesus before a relationship with God can be restored and nurtured.

This sounds like a lot of work, right? But the truth is, the work was done over 2,000 years ago. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This verse reminds us of the price Jesus paid with his perfect blood so that you and I could be completely redeemed and made righteous for God.

The sacrifice was made out of love! Not guilt. Not love-for-you-only-if-you-are-perfectly-perfect-in-every-way. Jesus died a horrible death for each of us, so that we could be reunited with God and avoid the agonizing suffering of sin. God doesn’t want something from us . He wants something for us, and that’s joy in life through redemption in Jesus. The innocent blood of Jesus was spilled for my sins, and yours, so that we don’t have to bridge an impossible gap to get back to communion with God. Praise the Lord for that!

If you’re feeling far from your husband or family, remember that your creator and redeemer has made Himself 100% accessible to you. All you need to do is recognize the price Jesus paid for you, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior today. If you already have a relationship with Jesus, take today to thank Him for his sacrifice and strive to walk closer with Him, learning his kind, patient, generous ways. Remember, Jesus Christ didn’t die for perfect people-He died for us.


Reflection
Why is it important that Jesus died for us “while we were sinners?”
How is God pursuing me now?
How can I more actively pursue a relationship with Him today?


Prayer
Dear God, Thank you for sending your precious son Jesus to take my sins. I commit my life to serving you and seeking your will, and I thank you for loving me even when I make mistakes. Help me to see through your eyes and show me how to follow you each day. In Jesus’ name, 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.


Mary's Story

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.


I confided in my fiancée and one of our best friends how I was feeling, and we decided to try a church we had heard a lot about. Although I attended church frequently as a child, I always felt the messages were condemning and didn’t really apply to my life. Once I was on my own, friends and priorities like working and partying became my life, so church wasn’t even on my radar. Neither was God. I felt like something was missing in my life, and since I had tried everything to fill the void (work, school, relationships, lifestyle), it seemed like church was worth a shot.

That night I heard the gospel in a way I never had before, laid out in a way that I could understand and even see in my own behavior: God loves me, but due to sin I am separated from God. NO amount of work that I do on my own can ever bridge the gap between us, but God is constantly pursuing me through the love of Jesus, who died so that I might live. “The only way to the Father is through the Son,” Jesus, who lived a perfect life in a horrifically imperfect world, and by acknowledging that he is the “way, the truth and the life” I can return to communion with God.

It sounds so simple now, but it rocked my world. As a child, I legitimately thought the only reason people went to church was so they wouldn’t go to hell. No one had ever told me that the reason Jesus died was because God loves me.

So that night, full of conviction, I walked to the front of the sanctuary, wrote my name on a slip of paper and nailed it to a cross. My husband and dear friend made the same demonstration of faith that night, and our lives began to change forever.

A month later my husband and I were married. Two days after our wedding we were baptized together. We began volunteering at church and in the community. Our relationships were enhanced. We learned daily lessons about following Jesus, especially in ways of patience, mercy and grace, through reading our Bibles and worshipping with fellow believers. I learned that in my past I had been too focused on church to see Jesus shining through.

Following Christ didn’t mean that all our troubles were over, however. When I was in graduate school, we struggled financially, which led to credit card debt and tension in our new marriage. Once we realized this was a “treasure” in our lives that we were coveting and prioritizing more than Jesus, we made the move to surrender our finances to Christ and began tithing. On a household income of less than $40,000, we paid off more than $11,000 in debt in under a year. If I ever needed proof that God wants what is best for me, this was it.

During this same time, it became apparent that something in our lives needed to change. My husband was unfulfilled in his work, and I was daunted by anxiety and responsibility. We prayed and studied our Bibles, but couldn’t figure out a solution. We had always hoped for worldwide travel and adventure, but we felt stuck and stagnant, as though we weren’t in the right place to flourish. That’s when the United States Air Force entered our lives, by glowing recommendation of my husband’s aunt, a retiring Lt. Colonel.

After a lot of discussion and prayer, we became an Air Force family. We had one long hot summer in the west Texas desert, and then we moved to the frozen frontier of Fairbanks, Alaska. We love our home and the adventurous lifestyle we experience everyday in the extreme climate and adventure of Alaska. We still face struggles, big and small, daily.

Though we’ve searched for months and visited several churches, we haven’t found a new church home. We miss our church in South Carolina dearly; it is the community where we received salvation, were baptized and began walking with the Lord. Nothing can replace that, but we are seeking a new community of believers locally to share life with. We’ve also been trying to grow our family for more than a year, and have reasons to believe that we may have more difficulty than the average couple.

Whatever struggles life may bring, we know and are ever thankful for the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. Our God provides, comforts, sheds light on a narrow path, and is always right beside us every step of the 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 her blog, Mary's Mischief.