Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scared of the Unknown

Have you ever had to do something that scared you silly? Maybe you flew in an airplane for the first time or did some rock climbing, or jumped from a plane. I remember asking my husband (then just the guy I was crushing on) out on a date and my palms were sweaty and I could hardly speak. I persevered because the outcome was important enough to me to make the fear worthwhile. I'll tell you that story sometime....

I think accepting Christ into your heart is a little like that. When we are standing on one side of that choice we might have a vague idea of what it will be like, but we are being asked to give our WHOLE selves over to the Lord and the thought of that might be very scary. What's He going to ask us to do and what happens if we don't want to do it? We stand at the door and He is knocking and the big question is...are we going to answer it and walk into freedom or hang back in fear of the unknown?

For me, opening that door and stepping over the threshold of faith has been an incredible experience. It's still BEING an incredible experience because God is not finished with me and I'm being challenged at every turn. I find myself trembling and fearful sometimes, but the life I've found in Christ is beautifully satisfying.

All day long I've been thinking of this because of a video I recently saw. Beagles who had been used for testing had been caged for their entire lives and were now rescued. Their cages were opened and they faced a threshold and a big scary beautiful world....and FREEDOM! Watch the video and cry like I did. Taking that step is a wonderful thing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blue Christmas

"I'll have a blue Christmas without you. I'll be so blue thinking about you. Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree...."

Right about there, my dad asked me to stop singing that song and to never sing it again. He hadn't done that before and since my voice was pretty good, I was a bit surprised. He explained.

Years ago when he was a young Navy Seabee stationed on the island of Guam he had his first Christmas away from home. He was a Blue Ridge Mountain boy and Christmas for him meant family and home and cold weather and all the things he was used to. My grandparents were very poor and presents were not even part of the picture, but Dad missed Christmas. Instead he was building roads, and guarding Japanese prisoners of war on a tropical island thousands of miles away. He told of how the prisoners begged for a weapon in order to kill themselves because of their lost honor at being captured. Hard things for a young man to see and hear.

Fast forward to the 50s and that Elvis song and it tore at my dad's heart and reminded him of those hard days on Guam. Christmas music would make him cry tears for the boys who wouldn't get to come home.

This year the ladies of GLCC are packaging cookies to send to our deployed men and women. They won't be able to be with their families, but they CAN get a little box of goodies that says "home" and might just help take the Christmas blues away...even for a short time.

December 9th from 7-9pm
GLCC gym
5$ admission to cover shipping costs
Finger food to share

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for Heroes

My dad is a retired police officer. He joined the U.S. Park Police in 1959 and retired in 1984. He was also a volunteer firefighter in Silver Spring, Maryland for a time.

He was responsible for commanding a unit of police officers during the riots in Washington, D.C. in 1968. At that time, I was just a young girl. I had no idea how much danger he was in at that time. I just knew that he was a police officer and he was my dad and he was my hero! (And if there were any "box lunches" left from his shift that his officers didn't eat, he brought them home to the family for us to eat! They were actually pretty good!!) Later, as a teen/young adult, I was able to look back and realize the peril that my dad faced each day he worked in his job -- whether during the riots in 1968 or just doing his job -- walking a beat, directing traffic, patrolling the National Mall, etc. Later in his career, he became an instructor, teaching new recruits, which took him out of most of the dangerous aspects of his job.

Although he didn't do a lot of volunteer firefighting after I was born, there is one incident I recall. We had just moved into a new home in Alexandria, Virginia, and the grass was about knee-high in the yard. The builder had the grass mowed before we moved in, but it was just tossed in a pile under the back porch. After moving in, my dad went to remove the pile of grass -- and found that yellow jackets had built a nest in the pile!! He donned his turnout gear -- coat, gloves, helmet and face covering -- and proceeded to clear out all that old grass without fear of being stung!

Today, on this day before Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the real heroes in our world -- the servicemen and women, police officers and firefighters. All those folks who keep us safe so that we can go about our day-to-day activities with a sense of security. Yes, as a little girl, my dad was my hero. Today, he still is -- but so are all of those people who stand on the front lines to protect us.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Our very own Jen Upmeyer shared these thoughts with us for Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for an untidy house, because that means I have a family that lives in it and feels comfortable enough to make it home.

I am thankful for dirty dishes, because that means we have food in our bellies and family time around the table.
I am thankful for dirty laundry, because that means we have warm clothes on our back today.
I am thankful for constant chatter in the house, because that means God has blessed me with two spirited children that love to play.
I am thankful for the Legos I constantly step on, because that means I have two little boys with creative minds who love to stretch their imagination.
I am thankful that my husband is at work (haha! keep up with me!), because that means he is employed today and able to support his family.
I am thankful for the 7am alarm clock on Sunday morning, because that means I am able to go freely worship God at the church of my choice.
I am thankful for an overly busy schedule, because that means God has blessed me with a beautiful family and an abundance of friends who love me and want to spend time with me.
At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Ephesians 5: 20

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mother and Daughter Duos

This will be my second Thanksgiving without my mother. She passed away in August of 2010 and I thought I was through the worst of missing her, but I thought wrong. For some reason, maybe it's just a holiday thing, I miss her more than ever.

Being in the kitchen together was one of our favorite places. She loved to cook and I love to cook, so it was a natural place for us to chat and catch up on life...the kids, my marriage, my faith, my home....all the things moms care about. We would make the biggest mess (neither of us being the neatest of cooks) and we'd sing and have a grand old time. Those days are gone for me and the house has been sold and Thanksgiving with Mom will only be in my heart.

I realized how tender my emotions were at Walmart of all places. I was doing my pre-Thanksgiving shopping and for some reason, many of the shoppers were mother/daughter duos. Many of the mothers were elderly, in scooters, and the daughters were helping them gather the items they needed to create that special bread pudding or macaroni and cheese. One thing I noticed though, was they were all fussing with each other...mother knowing what she wanted and daughter telling her what she thought and biting words all around. I know that feeling and I've been there with my own mother. I wanted to run to them and tell them to cherish this time, even the Walmart time, to love each other and not fight over what type of butter to get. None of the things they were thinking of as important really mattered at all.

My eyes filled up as I walked away. At that moment I wished more than anything to be able to spend time in my mother's kitchen, in her presence telling her how much I love her. I can't, but perhaps YOU can. This Thanksgiving, if you have the joy of spending it with your mother, tell her you love her, sing and laugh with her, and make sure you give thanks to the Lord for her presence in your life.

Mother, the ribbons of your love are woven around my heart. ~Author Unknown

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where Is My Wallet?

"HONEY....Where's my wallet?" My husband was turning the house upside down looking for the missing wallet and we were under pressure to find it. He had to leave for work and back in the day, there was no such thing as flex time so the clock was ticking. Our house went from moderately destroyed to total destruction in a matter of minutes, but despite our best efforts, we could NOT find the wallet.

I had a sudden brainstorm. There was a young man in our house who loved to hide things and if I was correct, HE knew where the wallet was. The only problem was that this pack rat was a very young toddler and his communication skills were sketchy at best.

Bending down to eye level, I looked at Evan and asked, "Do you know where Daddy's wallet is?" He looked at me, his finger stuck in his mouth, but he said nothing. I KNEW there was a connection, so I tried again but with different words. "Evan, do you know where the brown thing is that folds up? When you unfold it, you see money?" Ding Ding Ding Ding!!! The light of understanding came on in Evan's eyes and his little face brightened. Immediately he ran off and I followed him up to our bedroom. He got down on his knees and reached way back under the dresser and found.....THE WALLET right where he had hidden it the evening before. He was so excited to be able to help and my husband, shaking his head in wonder and exasperation, hopped in the car and zoomed off to work.

What have you been looking for this morning? Significance? Love? Security or the need to feel you are precious to someone? We may not, like my little Evan, be able to put it into words, but I know this. You are loved, you are important and you are precious to the Lord. He has His hand on you and with Him you can begin to let go of that "lost" feeling and have the joy of being "found". Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.

Now, if you're looking for your wallet or your car keys...make sure to check under the dresser!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Love, Love Sunday with Family

Most Sundays after worship we gather somewhere as family. This week we met as family to share, food, our week and laughter. There is always something going on at our house on Sunday as the family meets for noon day meal. The house is filled with noise, confusion, laughter and questions like, “Aren’t you going to put the football game on?”

There can be two noon prayers of blessings depending on if the grand children and their friends eat at the adult table (dining room manners)or kitchen table (with school lunch manners).

This Sunday seemed to be no exception except……
After the meal, as the adults were enjoying quiet conversation and the kids were scattered throughout the house, the laughter started. I could hear in the background several feet headed to the upstairs. I never know what will happen next, but the sound of feet returning accompanied by noise indicated that the latest escapade was about to be presented.

As the first grand children were born I began to go the thrift shops to collect clothing for the dress up box. Oh, and by the way, after-Halloween sales are also great. The girls had enjoyed this box for years and sometimes they could convince the younger boys to cooperate with them in this fun fantasy. We are now down to one pre-schooler, so I was about to get rid of said box. But, it was discovered again.

One of the teens and her friend who had joined us for Sunday lunch came down in the best dress-up ever. It was a 1950-60 white strapless formal dress complete with yards of white netting, sequins, etc., and a strapless blue mermaid dress. We had a good laugh at their craziness. The comment was made by one of the girls, “Wow no one could get near you in this!” I guess she had heard some of the lessons on purity in Connect on Sunday morning for teens. Cries of not fair…I want to….led to a promise to the pre-schooler that next time they would find something cool for him to wear - with a sword of course. Then they were off again to……you don’t even want to know!

I love Sunday with family. Eccl. 3:4 a time to weep and a time to laugh…

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tuesday Afternoon Adventure...

“Two are better than one….A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12b

She and I met this past summer. We were in a small group that met for several weeks. Then we all kind of went our separate ways, but I felt a special bond with these women. We had shared personal issues during our discussion times, and I felt I could trust them. I sent them a personal prayer request via email, and she answered right away – “God has shown you to me (and thereby me to you).” And thus, she and I decided to do things together – take day trips, play card games and board games, etc.

Our first “together time” was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. We would drive west on I-66 and take in the beauty of the fall colors in the mountains. When I had told my husband of our planned afternoon drive, he had said, “If you end up near Middletown, stop at the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory and pick up a couple of cases of potato chips.”

So, around 1:30 p.m., she and I headed toward the potato chip factory, chatting and getting to know one another, and taking in the spectacular colors of the leaves as we drove. Arriving in Middletown, we discovered that the factory was no longer there. A local gentleman said that the factory had moved to Woodstock, VA. So, on we drove down Route 11 toward Woodstock. In Woodstock, we were told that the factory was actually in Mt. Jackson, about 10 miles farther south. We were advised to take I-81 because we would be able to see the potato chip factory from the interstate.

We traveled about a mile on I-81 – and heard an awful sound! A tire on her car had blown out!! She pulled over to the shoulder, where we took out the jack and spare tire and flagged down a pickup truck with two older gentlemen in it. They seemed pleased to be able to help us – until they (and we) realized that her tires had wheel locks on them and we could not find the tool necessary to remove the wheel lock. She called her insurance company, through which she has roadside assistance. The men left and we waited (fortunately, only about 20 minutes) for a tow truck.

The young man driving the tow truck tried valiantly to remove that wheel. He finally said, “I’m gonna have to tow the car to our shop. We should have the necessary tools to get it off there.” About half an hour after we arrived at the service station, the old, blown-out tire had been removed and the spare installed. By now, though, it was after 6:00 p.m. We knew the potato chip factory would be closed, so we headed back home – after stopping in Woodstock for a quick bite to eat!

While having a flat tire and sitting on the shoulder of an interstate for 2 hours was not what we had planned, the time there gave she and I an opportunity to chat and to be grateful: We were grateful that neither of us was alone when the tire blew out, we were grateful for the two kind gentlemen who took pity on us helpless women and tried their best to help us, we were grateful for the nice tow truck driver who assisted us, and we were grateful that the service station was eventually able to get us back on the road. And she was grateful that the entire ordeal only cost $35! Mostly, though we were grateful that God was with us through the whole afternoon! (He is the third strand in the cord that is mentioned in Ecclesiastes!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

E-mail, Texting and Faith.

Recent text….”Auntie, it’s time for Ray to put in requests for next assignment. Will you pray with us for God’s timing and place?”

Sara is my niece and her husband is in the Navy and is currently on assignment in Djibouti, Africa.

Sara and I have been texting and e-mailing for more than five years. She keeps me posted on the good and the not so good in her life. We have lots in common despite the age difference. We not only share our faith but the life of a military wife. (Me retired Army wife)

Let me go back a few months to July as Ray was deploying.

E-mail…all is well here. I feel good, so long as I can keep my “spirit” up everything is a piece of cake. I got a call from Ray at the airport 4 hrs. after we had dropped him off to come pick him up! Sophia and I were ecstatic to say the least, didn’t matter we would be doing the farewells all over again. Ray was home long enough to read Sophia one more bedtime story, hold Elias (2 weeks old) once more, and get a good night’s rest then he would head off again on Monday.”

Ray had previously spent the last 6 months with long hours in training or weeks away from family. So goes the life of a Navy wife.

E-mail ….from Sara (several weeks later) ”Sophia is sick, her little heart is broken each time I so nicely try to tell her she cannot touch or kiss Elias (he is just a month old) right now. I feel so bad for her. She seems a little depressed as she is asking for Ray and wants to see him at work….this is all for a reason that I have no control over. This too shall pass.”

More desperate e-mails and texting…..”Elias is sick…high temperature…spinal tap…he is so little….pray…..overnight at the hospital with Sophia and Elias. Told I can no longer stay with both of them. No one to leave Sophia with…..prayer please….sister Kari will fly in to help out. Thank you Lord for all blessings.”

Text... I ask Sara to tell me what she is thinking about God’s plan for their life and what she does to remain strong in faith.

Sara’s reply“what I do to remain strong in faith: This is especially difficult for me right now as I do not have much of a faith based support network here or a church home. (They had just moved from Washington State to Virginia and then a second move to a different house). But I can improvise and have done so by seeking out friendships that encourage Christian fellowship and who love the Lord. Some friendships are very long standing where I tend to see that person more as a Christian mentor. Some friendships are new. All the friendships however are unique in their own way for me in my faith journey... prayer is another way I am with the Lord and when my heart is with Him I seem to falter less and praise Him more. Lastly, I look all around me. I am reminded everyday with the simple things….like God’s grace and His humorJ Our Lord is awesome in every way so I cannot help but be joyful. My joy for the Lord only reaffirms and encourages my faith.”

I then asked Sara for any favorite scripture…..

Her reply: “all of the Psalms, but let’s go with Psalm 139:13-16. I have interpreted this in many ways depending on the time in my life. All the same though…..I am of and from the Lord. He knows every fiber of my being, where I have been and where I will be. I need to trust in the Lord. Follow His lead.”

“Psalm 91:1,2 this is a daily reminder for me in so many ways that I am with the Lord and He with me, at every moment. I tend to lose track of that and often, with life happenings, schedules and daily routines…..that really are not all that important for eternity. My most important relationship of all, with the Lord is not always made that important. This psalm is posted on our stairway wall so that we can see it every day, right in front of us a simple reminder.”

“Psalm 24:1 everything is the Lord’s ….we are in a way borrowing it, like my husband, my beautiful children, everything are all His. If I hurt my husband with words, I hurt the Lord. Etc…”

Please keep this family and all military families in your daily prayers. Many, like Ray, have had bounties placed on their heads, to capture or kill them as they serve in foreign countries. Recently he has served 2 tours Iraq and one Afghanistan.
Ray and Sara have been married 12 yrs. and they like many have spent more time apart than together. Missed birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

Thanks to Sara for being so willing to be so transparent and share her faith with you who read the GLCC blog.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Day of Fasting....and a Pot Roast

I'm trying to get a grip on my day and decided to throw a roast in the crock pot while I do some much needed cleaning. It's so nice to have the meal ready and the house smells delicious all day. The smell has reminded me of a funny little story about temptation.

I grew up in a small town, went to a small church, and when we planned to hold a revival and host a visiting preacher, my parents volunteered a room in our house. By that time, the larger rooms at the front of the house were in use by the family, and the guest room was the cozy little hideout at the top of the kitchen stairs. Mom fixed it up as nicely as she could and when the pastor arrived, he was pleased and said so. The location soon proved to be problematic in a way we'd never even imagined.

Preacher Man's practice was to spend the first day of the revival in fasting and prayer and informed my mother that she had no need to prepare anything for him all day long. He'd have some water, but that was it. Mom agreed and thought having guests couldn't get any easier. She did have to feed the rest of us though, so put a roast in the crock pot and went off to work.

Well, the day progressed and the smell began to waft up the stairs from the kitchen, directly into the little room being occupied by Preacher Man. He was on his knees, fervently praying or trying to pray and boy, was he hungry. the form of succulent roasting beef....was literally knocking at his door, but he didn't give in. He later told my parents it was the longest day of his life, and when he finally ate with the family, we all had to chuckle.

In talking to a friend yesterday, we commented how easily we are distracted from the very things we have decided to complete, whether it be cleaning the house, paying the bills, or spending quiet time with the Lord. I'm reminded how Preacher Man had temptation knock yet he ignored it and went on with his work. While my roast scents up my home today, I'm going to do those things I've set out to do and enjoy a meal and completed projects tonight.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Upcoming Events for Women at GLCC

Walking With the Women of GLCC...Part 2. Come join us on November 20th for a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving bag lunch and a walk at Bristoe Battlefield. Close to church, easy hike, finished by a visit to Pam Layton's barn (right by the battlefield) to see the horses and have gingerbread and cider. Good times and good fellowship. Meet after the 2nd service.

Save the date....December 9th....for the Women's Ministry Jingle Mingle. Look for more information coming soon on what promises to be a fun filled night.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blessings in Disguise

"If God brings you to it, he'll bring you through it." This quote is one of the things I have clung through this year. This has been an amazing year of blessings from God in my life. When my husband left, I quickly learned how much I really do on my own. Shortly after this change in our lives, I followed God's call to go on a mission and went to Honduras where I was blessed so much I don't know where to begin. He has brought people in and out of my life. For the few who left, in most cases, I understand why God removed them for now. As for all the wonderful people he has placed in my path, God continues to amaze me with his blessings through them.

I have learned so much this year. Things like how much God wants a relationship with me, what it really means to be a Christian, how to really forgive others and myself, how to trust the holy spirit, and God has shown me repeatedly how He provides.

Now I am not saying God made this year has been easy for me. There have been many events and situations that have been troubling and hard. But the biggest blessing is I have learned how to lean into the Lord and rely on his strength to pull me through.

Another thing I have clung to is the song "Blessings" by Laura Story. It is the song I have chosen to sign for the Deaf Concert this Saturday, November 4th. This song serves as a reminder to me that God knows the big picture and everyone's purpose in it. He is using all the trials and blessings to prepare us for what is to come. So remember, even though it is a tough time, lean into God, He is most likely sending you a blessing in disguise.