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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.


Butterly Patience
Butterly Patience


by MaryLee Heller


When I was in elementary school my dad was still serving in the US Navy. We were stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which was still a hub for fleet training.

One of the more powerful memories that came out of GTMO was a day when I quietly wandered off, at school recess. I've always loved nature and there was plenty of wonder to be found there. On this day I found a butterfly's cocoon that was clear and I could see the butterfly moving inside. It was hatching. I couldn't tear myself away. Soon, friends found me. Most wandered off, bored. A very few stayed.

When recess ended, the teacher found us. In an elegance that I would not understand until much later, we were allowed to remain outside and finish watching the emergence. “But,” she warned, “do not touch or try to help it. It must struggle to become strong enough to live.” The butterfly fought, struggled, and wriggled. Soon it stood, allowing its wings to dry, to open, to expand, to strengthen. It went from a simple, dark, fuzzy creature with hints of wing structure, to a regal monarch butterfly. All too suddenly it flew off.

It seems to me that we all have times in life where people around us are like butterflies fighting their way out of cocoons. My grown sons went through it between the ages of 16 and 18 before they suddenly needed to fly away. My husband is retiring from the Navy now. Pregnant friends wait for babies. Sick friends wait for health. Embattled marriages and other relationships often have one in struggle and another waiting and watching. 

We cannot help them as they struggle to exit their confines. We cannot hurry them as they dry and strengthen their wings. We must do something equally hard: we must be patient.

In the King James Version of the Bible, patience is often translated as "long-suffering." It doesn't say "short inconvenience" or "brief interruption of frustration." It is suffering alongside someone as they struggle or as they perch in a wait. It is witnessing their change, in true awe. It is knowing that we are doing nothing, but much is happening that is beyond our control. Something is happening, even though we are frustrated at our own lack of influence or activity. There is really nothing that we can do to help the butterflies in our life—except watch and wait and celebrate when they begin to soar into life again.

"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant," says 1 Corinthians 13:4. It seems to me that it's not about whether or not we have times of wait—all love has times of wait, according to this verse. It seems to me that it's more about how we wait.

 

Prayer for the wait: 

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.


Patience and Price
Patience and Price


by Mary Parker



Have you ever waited on something with bated breath? A call to ensure a family member arrived home safely. An answer to the job you held out for for months. The orders that held the fate of your next duty station. The call from the doctor letting you know how the test results turned out. 

Often, we don’t actually like to wait very much, and part of living in the 21st century is becoming acclimated to instant, automatic responses via email, phone, and text, often making patience a more difficult virtue to build upon.

Can you imagine how the Israelites felt before the birth of Jesus? Sure, they may not have had the distractions of our technology and accessibility, but there’s no doubt some of the firmest believers struggled with the ability to trust God’s plans and promises when He had been silent for so long. They may even have been desperate in the same ways that we often feel desperate and alone in the face of trying and unforeseen circumstances.

Then, something amazing happened. A miraculous savior, promised to the Israelites hundreds of years prior, came in the form of a tiny baby (Matthew 1). Have you ever reflected on how important it is that Jesus was born to human parents in a dirty cave with barnyard animals? Jesus was sent in the midst of imperfect surroundings to provide perfect salvation for anyone who wanted to follow Him.

This Advent season, as you prepare for Christmas, I encourage you to wait patiently. As much as you possibly can, focus on the person of Jesus and his timely entrance into this world to save us and provide communion with God. Whether your circumstances seem merry and bright, or dim and dark, we all have unrest in our lives, which we occasionally try to solve by our own devices. I encourage you to remember the price for our sins has already been paid, but we sometimes need to wait on God to move through us. 

As you seek God fully this Christmas, remember that Jesus is the most precious gift ever given – the only payment in full for a meaningful relationship with God on which to build the foundation for a better life.

As Jesus illustrates to His disciples in John 14:6-7, 
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him." 

Prayer: 

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.


Grow in Patience, Not Impatience

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.



Reflection

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?

Prayer
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.