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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Quote of the Day

" The practice of giving thanks…this is the way we practice the presence of 
God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. 
We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see."
- Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Quote of the Day

"How my eyes see, perspective, is my key to enter His gates.
I can do so only with thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God 
seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything?
And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute
everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness
of joy - and seeing shows the way in. The art of deep seeing makes gratitude
possible. And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible."
- Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts

Friday, November 28, 2014

Because of Him

 This song summarizes my journey of the soul - a journey to discovering grace and many ways in which He loves. As I counted my blessings this Thanksgiving season, I realized that the little things in my life - a star-studded sky, the majestic mountains in the distance - they all stand out a little more because of the One who formed them. Because of the One who loves me!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Quote of the Day

" Remembering is an act of thanksgiving, a way of thanksgiving, this turn of 
the heart over time's shoulder to see all the long way His arms have carried.
Gratitude is not only the memories of our heart; gratitude is a memory of God's
heart and to thank is to remember God."
- Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts Devotional

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Defining Thankfulness

This video says it well:

Thanksgiving isn't just for one day of the year but for the whole year through!
Even better, for a whole lifetime! 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


 As we near Thanksgiving, it is weighing on my mind - the question: do we really know how to be thankful? Ever since our first parents dared to think that God plus something else equals complete satisfaction, human beings have been struggling to be thankful. This dilemma robs us so often of our joy, of our ability to see the beauty of life in the little things. To see the beauty of God. 

 For my sake, and the sake of others, I am grateful that God is all about second chances. He gives us another day, another opportunity to be forgiven, to open up to His grace, to experience a new way of life. We don't have to stay the way we've always been, thanks to the undeserved favor and grace of God. As He enables me to do so, I am learning to make every day a day of thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

More Pleasing

 I sit in church and listen as the pastor speaks. My eyes fall on the page of ancient words in front of me. Worn with use, my Bible lies open on my lap and I read,

" I will praise the name of God with a song, 
and will magnify him with thanksgiving."
(Psalm 69:30)

 The previous verses drip with hopelessness and sorrow and yet the praise, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, is present. The verse below it says that this hard-thanks is more pleasing to God than anything. I run my fingers across the page, and it hits me: It is the thanklessness that kills. It is the ingratitude that destroys. The minute I allow the murmuring, the complaining, to begin, that is when it turns wrong. I step out of the Grace-life. I begin to live the lie first spoken by Eve - "He is not enough." 
  The world is filled with evidences of His love. It moves to the rhythm of His amazing grace. Everywhere I look, it speaks of Him. And yet, I still under-appreciate. At times, I refuse to see it for what it is: His gift. 
  According to many, this is the season of thanksgiving. To me, however, it is a way of life. I need the thankfulness every single day. Because thankfulness brings joy. Thankfulness brings hope. Thankfulness allows me to see and appreciate the grace moments. These are the times when I see God.
  I look out the window of the church. Sunshine is breaking through the morning fog. So, too, in my soul, the Light is chasing away the darkness. The gratitude is bringing me closer to Grace. Closer to God. Not just for a season but for a lifetime. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quote of the Day

" Thanksgiving is always to Someone and when I am grateful,
isn't it always evidence of God - a filling with awe of His great-ness.
For all this world's sureness of the benefit of gratitude, how can we then
deny that there is a Benefactor?"
- Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Are Your "Thousand Little Things?"

 In listening to this song, I was reminded of the importance of counting our blessings…not just seasonally but year-round! It's the little things - what I call "grace moments" - that keep us in a continual state of thankfulness, even in the hard times of life. 
  Today, as I try to do everyday, I make the choice to notice His gifts. To count the ways He loves me. To enjoy His presence through the many blessings I have been given. And so the list begins:
  1. For the gift of God Himself - that He would want me for His own and choose to love me! That He would give me a new opportunity every day to thank and acknowledge Him in all of life!
  2. For the gift of friendship - that life affords us the pleasure of walking its road with the company of others whom we come to love and appreciate. That there are fellow travelers on the journey who encourage, love, comfort, and bless us along the way. 
  3. For the gift of family - how many people in the world have no one to call their family! And yet I have family all over the world - relatives and close friends alike - who grace me with their care and support every day! 
  4. For the beauty of the world and the place I live in…
  And so the blessings continue. The list goes on. What are your blessings? What are your "thousand little things?" Count the ways!

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Choose Thankful.

Take a moment to watch this video:

What a beautiful reminder of the importance of being grateful in all circumstances!
I choose thankful. Do you?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quote of the Day

" Giving thanks to God is what ushers one into the very presence of God.
And this is why He asks us to always give thanks. He comes to those with
the open, grateful hands."
- Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts Devotional

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quote of the Day

" A few years ago, I decided to try to live this giving thanks as I believe Jesus did each day, regardless of His circumstances. And what I found was that in giving thanks for each moment and savoring it as bread from His hand, I'd find sustenance and the grace of God Himself in it…I found myself on a transformative journey that affected every area of my life - including all the broken places. God began to show me the graces, the love gifts, that were right before me, waiting to be noticed, waiting to be received. This easily overlooked stuff, the small - and especially the hard - became for the me the life-giving stream of joy in Him. Even when I am sometimes impatient or unwilling, when I face conflict or heartache, I've begun to accept that even the impossible is a possible opportunity to thank God, to experience the goodness and grace of the Giver of all."
                                      - Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts Devotional

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So Much To Be Thankful For!

 Several years ago, when I first heard this song, I didn't feel as though life had given me much to be grateful for. My father had been battling a series of health issues that nearly took his life; a friend of mine had died while serving in Iraq; another friend had almost been killed in a car accident; my step-grandfather had finally passed away after a slow decline. The losses were adding up too fast. I couldn't seem to get beyond the thought that God wasn't being fair. He didn't care. 
 I remember being in the car one day when I listened to these words:

"Some days, we forget to look around us;
Some days, we can't see the joy that surrounds us;
So caught up inside ourselves, we take when we should give."

 It was a wake-up call for me. And I could feel the tears start to flow. I could feel my heart softening. I had been blind to His many gifts that were right in front of me. I had turned a cold shoulder to His love. It suddenly occurred to me that life isn't meant to be fair. And it isn't fair. But, in the midst of it, He is always good. And I am always loved. This song introduced me to the possibility that "there's so much to be thankful for," even in the hard times of life. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Scars show were you've been. They don't decide where you're going."
-Danny Gokey in Hope In Front of Me

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Quote of the Day

"True success does not come from battles won easy."
- Lt. Travis Manion, USMC

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Travis, Brendan, and the Gift of Friendship

 It began as a simple conversation between two cadets at the the United States Naval Academy. One spring day in 2001, Brendan Looney walked out to football practice and stopped by to compliment another cadet on his guitar playing. After exchanging greetings and a laugh as to whose NFL team was better, they introduced themselves to one another, and an inseparable bond was born. Brendan and Travis were destined to become friends. They knew it. And they loved it.
 For the rest of their college years and beyond, the two of them shared everything with each other: a desire to serve, a sense of duty, a daring courage, and a willingness to sacrifice for what was right. Both chose different paths to accomplish this - Travis went into the Marines and became an officer; Brendan went into the Navy and become one of their elite: a Navy SEAL. Both would serve harrowing deployments in the Middle East and would support one another through their best and worst moments. Even more, they would eventually bring their families together because of their bond. As playful bets on sports teams and care-free bike rides together (as they once shared at Annapolis) turned into conversations about war, as miles now separated the two friends who were once rarely seen apart, they still maintained a friendship that grew deeper with time.

 Several years after their first meeting, Brendan was still in SEAL training; Travis was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. Travis' emails kept family members and close friends, like Brendan, updated on his latest military efforts over there. April 29, 2007 brought a taxing mission for Travis and his fellow Marines. It was a mission that, at the end of the day, would claim the life of one of the Corps' finest - 1LT. Travis Manion. As Travis' family grieved his death, Brendan did the same…right along with them. Brendan's girlfriend, Amy, who had also known Travis, attended the memorial service in place of Brendan, who was still training with the SEALS. Travis was buried in Pennsylvania near his hometown. To honor his life and service, the family, and Brendan, ran the Marine Corps Marathon and also were honored to enjoy a special visit with then-President George W. Bush. The bond between Travis and Brendan still existed…
 Nearly three years later, just days after marrying Amy, Brendan would deploy to Afghanistan for six months. Now on his second tour since Travis' death, Brendan felt as though he was completing what Travis never got to finish. Every time he looked at the bracelet on his wrist that read,

1LT. Travis Manion, USMC
Spartan, Hero, Leader
KIA Iraqi Freedom, 29 APR. '07

he knew what he was doing…who he was doing it for. Now considered a close part of the Manion family, he kept them updated on his efforts, just as Travis once did for him.
 September 21, 2010 dawned like any other day. But it soon turned tragic: LT. Brendan Looney, along with three other sailors, was killed in a helicopter crash in the mountains of Afghanistan. They were just a few weeks prior to coming home. Travis' family mourned once again…this time with the Looneys. The two friends were bonded in life and now death, for both sacrificed the same way. Both died doing their duty.
 When the Manions learned that Brendan was to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, it seemed fitting that the two friends should rest together. Travis' remains were dug up and re-buried next to his friend Brendan. In their absence, both families have continued to bond and have sustained a connection which "Lion" and "Loon-Dog," as they were known.
  This amazing story, as chronicled in the book Brothers Forever by Tom Sileo and Tom Manion, got me thinking about the gift of friendship. How often we fail to acknowledge the special people in our lives who have shared the journey with us. Not the ones who merely pass through. Rather the loyal friends who share our sorrows as their own, who rejoice in our successes as if they were theirs'. Who become a part of us…and we a part of them. Brendan and Travis' deep love for one another and their shared ideals is a model for each of us. To not just be the type of friend who is there in prosperity or, worse yet, is too busy to stop and listen deeply. No…may we be as committed as these fine young men were: to God, to family, to country, and to each other. And may we be blessed enough to be given our own Brendan or Travis who will walk with us to the very end.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quote of the Day

 " As we continue to see so many of our men and women in the armed services come to terms with post-traumatic stress...doctors and counselors are learning that the very trait that often serves them well on the battlefield - their ability to overlook their own pain, trauma, and terror and focus on their responsibilities - also becomes a debilitating barrier to their healing and restoration once the battle is over and they have returned home to their families. The first step is often simply acknowledging that the horrors they have witnessed were indeed…unfathomable and inhumane. The atrocities witnessed and injuries - to body, mind, and soul - must be respected by attempting to give voice to their ineffable impact. Speaking about what happened tends to open the doorway and allow grief to wash through. Frequently, we are so afraid of the memories, the painful, immeasurable weight of our burdens, that we try to lock and bar the door of our souls to such grief. It feels like the grief will drown us, smother us, choke us with its unspeakable immensity. But in fact grief can be like an antiseptic that cleanses and purifies the contamination that has infiltrated the depths of our hearts."
- T.D. Jakes in Let It Go

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Do They Really Need? Part 2

   In today's post, we continue my analysis of veterans' affairs. Here now is part 2:

   I so clearly remember the day I learned a valuable lesson regarding how to relate to those returning home from war, and I will always remember the Navy Corpsman who taught it to me. For several months, I had corresponded with this young Navy medic who was serving with the Marines in Iraq. I had sent him a package, along with a letter saying thanks for all he was endeavoring to accomplish there. I had said he was a hero, and I meant it. To a fifteen-year-old like me, people who did things such as he did deserved some respect! Weeks later, I received a letter back from him. He said thank-you for the package and said he appreciated everything in it. But the rest of his letter addressed my "hero" comment. In it he said,

 "…As for calling us heroes, well thank you, but we're not.
A saying comes to mind from Ulysses S. Grant: 'we men 
are lions; we men are treacherous things.' That is the best
way to put it…Doing what we do doesn't make us heroes,
although we all want to be.We do it more because of hate
or anger caused by the loss of a friend or just a Marine."

   At the time, I didn't understand what he meant. Like most civilians, I would've tried to convince him otherwise. But, in time, I began to realize that, to the average soldier or Marine, the real "heroes" are the ones who gave their lives. Most service members will tell you that they just "did their job." To them, it is a very uncomfortable thing to be called "heroes." "For what?" they say,"Doing what we volunteered to do? Doing what was asked of us? Leave the praise to those who gave all. They are the true heroes." I have heard this time and time again and have come to believe it myself. I respect the bravery and courage of service members, but I rarely use the word "hero" anymore. I save that title for the ones who, like my friend Michael, sacrificed their lives. It's been nearly ten years since that Navy medic wrote to me. I would later learn that he penned those words just hours after losing several of his Marines buddies in an IED explosion. Once I heard that, it all made sense to me: soldiers and Marines, who, like him, endure the horrors of war, feel more like monsters than heroes when they return. They have done unforgettable things that terrify them. The have seen their buddies injured or killed in front of their eyes. They don't know who they have become. It takes time for them to work through their feelings and to appreciate their own service. Calling them "heroes" only adds to the chaos of their mixed emotions. While well-meaning, it can hinder the healing process. If we are to communicate to them that we understand, we must strike a balance between showing our appreciation and recognizing their courage. 
   Yet another failing on our part in regards to how to help those returning from combat is our quickness to label them. As the clinical and medical world has delved deeper into the issues surrounding post-trauma, these issues have become a major focal point for those returning home from combat. Soldiers now feel like they must be super-human in order to avoid PTSD's presumed inevitability. Any remote sign of anger, grief, loneliness, etc. is deemed an automatic indication of the "disorder." Soldiers have expressed to me their frustration that, the moment they get back, they're being treated as "broken people," as a "problem needing to be fixed." There is no longer any room for transition. It's almost assumed that you will end up with this "disorder." Poor you. 
A friend of mine, who has endured several deployments, once shared with me that almost as soon as their boots touch U.S. soil, the service members are given papers to fill out so they can be tested for (and usually diagnosed with) PTSD. He told me,
  "How do they expect someone who was just on the front lines a few hours before to 
   now be 'normal' when they get home? Of course they will diagnose you because 
   you haven't even begun to transition home yet…We know what they're 
   going to say, and it's only going to make us feel worse. Let's give it some time
   and see where [we] are at in a few weeks or months. Then we can evaluate 
While I do believe that PTSD is a legitimate issue and that some people will need medical intervention to help them in their struggle, I have also long felt that many who are "diagnosed" with it do not really have a disorder at all. The dictionary describes someone with a disorder as being "deranged, or mentally incapable of functionality." Most of the guys I've known who supposedly have this "disorder" would not qualify under this description. Labeling someone with a disorder means that there is something physically wrong with them, that there is cause for them not to be normal. It often indicates hopelessness, a sense that one will not improve. I do not feel that this is the correct approach in most situations for the hurting and have sought to offer a different solution. 
Over the years, I have talked with soldiers who have successfully transitioned home, and most have said to me that the one thing which aided them the most was authentic, interpersonal communication - a sense of togetherness and genuine understanding from friends and family, not often found in the counseling offices of therapists and doctors. While there is sometimes a role for professionals to play in the healing process, I've had Marines and soldiers tell me that they feel as though they are not being fully heard in these situations or treated as a human being with real needs. They are just a number, another appointment on the calendar. Many suspect this is partly due to the fact that not all counselors or therapists who study PTSD have ever experienced combat or gone through the transition themselves. I can't say I have either and yet, by communicating to them that I genuinely care, that I don't consider them a victim, and that I believe that they can come out of their despair and lead a fulfilling life, I have seen amazing results. By reinforcing good changes in their life as they move forward, by not being discouraged by the set-backs along the way and maintaining an attitude of hope and recovery, these soldiers respond in positive ways. Some have even said to me that I am the first person they have ever met who gave them a reason to believe they could overcome their feelings of hopelessness and despair. One soldier once looked me in the eyes and said, "…You are the first person in six years who has made any sense of what I went through." 
Part of why I think this is true is because I am open to alternatives not found within the medical community. It bothers me to think that, perhaps, we have lost our common sense along the way. Because we know so much in terms of modern medicine, it is becoming harder for us to simply listen, to feel with our heart, to give validation to other things. Music therapy, animal therapy, outdoor experiences, sports, and other methods may be of far greater benefit to someone than counseling and medications alone. I remember reading a story about a young Army captain who struggled greatly upon his return home. For months, he had been trying to make sense of what he had gone through yet continually came up empty. Then one day, while attending a church service, he heard the pastor say the following:

" If you are in a dungeon of darkness, in a place of despair,
understand that a picture comes from a negative. There's 
a darkroom first. There's a negative that develops. From
a negative comes a picture…You can't live your whole  
    life trying to escape your situation…You're going through
dungeons and dark places of despair. Your battles are in 
your mind. You're asking God, 'What is wrong with me?'
Nothing is wrong with you. You're in the darkroom
You're about to be made into a picture!"
(from Two Wars by Nate Self p. 323)

The soldier went on to say that he felt like the pastor was describing him perfectly. He added, 

"I knew that I had been living in a darkroom, but I had only
begun to see that God could use me as a picture to others. 
I walked out of that church with a broken heart…but believing
what [the pastor] had said."   (ibid)

 This brings me to my final observation regarding the needs of our service members. We need to be aware of spiritual emptiness and then attempt to promote a healing of the soul in addition to the mind and body. As is the case with many of us who go through a traumatic situation, soldiers returning from war are left to find answers to their experiences, solutions to the questions which have resulted from the atrocities of combat. For those who possess a strong foundation of faith prior to their wartime experience, these tend to fare better because they have something to hold on to. For them, there is a God to explain what has happened. For those who do not have this, however, the road to healing is even harder. Sometimes there are things in life that, humanly-speaking, are unexplainable. They don't add up. Only God can bring understanding at such a point. For this reason, I believe that the spiritual has to be a central part in the healing process. It certainly has worked for many veterans that I know. As our culture tends to discount this fact, I think it is no surprise that so many feel so lost and hopeless. For them, there is no God of comfort to turn to. He is nonexistent. Only their own strength can save them and, eventually, that fails. If someone is to truly take steps on the road toward healing, they must come to know the only One who can make sense of their emptiness. Better yet…the only One who can fill it and replace it with a "joy unspeakable" and "life abundant." Because, after all, there are times when only God can understand the groanings of the heart.
  In conclusion, we must realize that, for those who leave the battlefield, the war is far from being over - it is really just the beginning of another war - a war at home that no one else can entirely see or comprehend. For them, the echoes are still there. While they may seem alive on the outside, often something has died on the inside. They are still making their way home, even though they may have been back for some time. It is essential that we surround them with unconditional love and support and promote an environment where they have permission to grieve and to heal. It is also crucial that we do not heap false expectations on them but simply meet them emotionally where they are, making sure that they have many opportunities at their disposal with which to positively handle the pain. Most importantly, we must give them the room to transition, while being with them every step of the way. Each of them has given so much on our behalf. It's up to us to learn what they really need and then to be there to provide it for them.

  Here are some helpful links regarding services being provided for our troops and their families:

For spiritual assistance:

For music therapy:

For housing assistance:

For help and information regarding soldiers
and suicide prevention:

For animal therapy:*

*The operation above is run by some dear friends of mine. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What Do They Really Need? Part 1

  As I stood at the holiday party, a young soldier, that I would later discover was named Aaron, caught my attention. He seemed lost. Quiet. Alone. I slipped over to where he was standing and began to talk to him. After exchanging some small-talk, the conversation turned deep and personal. He began to open up about his deployment and the heavy heart he had carried since then. I started to ask him a few things:
  "Do you feel alone most of the time?"
  "Yes, ma'am," he replied, "Yes, I do."
  "Do you think that others don't understand your needs or can't help you?" I continued. This question got him talking. He told me about the countless therapy sessions he had been to and the sad truth that,
   "They forget about me as soon as I walk out the door. To them, I'm just a number."
He vented his frustrations regarding the clinical approach to post-trauma:
    "Giving a guy more pills doesn't fix the problem! You never get down to the root of
     what's wrong."
I could tell he was searching for answers, so I began to share with him about my own journey through despair. He began to listen…deeply. As I shared, he finally asked me a profound question:
     "Do you get low much anymore?"
I told him I really don't. I don't because I made the choice to face the darkness, not to run from it. Not to ignore it. Not to medicate it away. I have been given hope because of Who I know - because of Who brought me through. The fog began to lift from his face. After a long pause, he said,
     "That's the first time anyone has told me that."
This conversation with Aaron changed my life because it revealed to me so much of what is wrong with our modern-day approach to helping service members and veterans. While I was fully open to taking him on for additional assistance as I have with other returning soldiers and Marines, military bureaucracy kept me from having this opportunity. I never spoke to him again. The last I heard, his emotional health was in decline. But I have not forgotten him and have reflected often on what he shared with me that day.
  Through conversations like this, and through other research I have done, I have come to notice some things regarding how we treat our bravest:
  First, I have realized that, while we think we know what they need, we really don't. Even though we, as a civilian population, know in theory the atrocities that our service members must endure, we do not, and will not ever, fully comprehend the awfulness of combat. Only those who experience it really know. Because of this, we are in a position of trying to help something we do not truly understand. This is certainly not to say that we should do nothing to assist them in their transition home. We just have to accept the fact that what we think, or what our natural feelings are, could actually be the opposite of what may help a hurting soldier.
  This leads me to my second observation: Every soldier is different, and what they consider to be "help" will vary due to their personality and the severity of their experience. For some, talking about their combat experience will be very good; others will prefer alone time or time spent with their "battle buddies" who understand and suffered with them. Each will find their own way of handling the anxiety, stress, and  emotional pain of post-combat. I have seen some turn to music therapy, others to animal therapy, still others to outdoor adventures like hunting, fishing, hiking, farming, etc. This is why I feel so strongly that telling them to rely exclusively on medical assistance for answers is unrealistic. Each person must be given the room to adjust to being back home…on their own terms. Telling them what is best for them or how they should handle their feelings will only set back the healing process. Letting the soldier find their way home - in mind and body, as well as in soul - is essential. We should be there to support them but not to tell them what to do.
  Another aspect of the post-trauma transition that is sometimes overlooked is the simple fact that: expectations can be dangerous. When we expect our service members to return and go back to being the people they were before they deployed, we are immediately setting ourselves up for disappointment. It is only natural to want to make them forget what they saw - to erase the pain they feel or remove the guilt they carry. That's part of loving someone that makes us feel that way. We can walk the journey with them. We can enter the darkness with them and assure them of our care and support. But the truth is, we can't fix their situation. As I have talked with servicemen who have come back from war, I have noticed that the military-to-civilian barrier seems to come down a bit when I listen more and talk less. When I simply accept them for who they are and where they are at now…not try to fit them into the person they were six months or a year ago. It is a fine balance of helping them bridge the gap between their old self and their new one - helping them to use their combat experiences to build a life that is meaningful, albeit forever different from the one they once had. Deployments change people. As hard as it is, we must learn to change with them.
  For all of us, and especially for those who serve, it can be difficult to give ourselves permission to be vulnerable and to be affected by the things we have seen or done. A military chaplain once told me that "healing happens in a community without judgement." I agree with him completely because nothing gives you a worse feeling than to have someone criticize or degrade you when you're at your lowest. Hurting people don't need the insensitivity of others added onto the pain they already carry. What helps the most isn't always your advice; it's your presence, your love, and your understanding. It's letting them know that it's okay to be weak, to let down their guard for awhile. It's giving them a shoulder to cry on. It's making sure they know that you are listening with your heart and not just your head. Soldiers often have to shove aside their emotions and continue on with the mission. They have to be strong. For many of them, the wave of emotions they may experience upon their return is the first time they have allowed themselves to face the pain. We can help them through this transition by not "protecting" them from it but, instead, allowing them to work through it. They are tough people, but sometimes they have to be told that it's alright to be human. To feel something and to be emotionally impacted. While some may try to cover up the pain and ignore it for awhile, eventually, there will come a time when they must choose how they are going to deal with their haunting memories. By being there for them, and not over-managing or trying to "fix" them, we can help them work through it better, and possibly sooner. Again, changing with them is vital.

Tomorrow's post will continue this topic. Check back then!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Quote of the Day

" I am not sure the average American sees the positives these servicemen 
and women accomplish or even understands the sacrifices of their efforts,
however, whatever course of action our leadership decides upon, there are
those in waiting ready to carry out the mission in support of our country and
in defense of its people and their freedoms."
- Lt. Travis Manion, USMC

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Good Movie

This Veteran's Day, if you have the time to watch this movie, it is well worth your time. "The Pledge" is a very moving story of how a nation ought to honor its veterans and military service members. Here is the trailer for the movie:

I hope you get to see this. You will be touched. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Upcoming Veteran's Day Posts...

 Since Tuesday is Veteran's Day here in the United States, I am taking the opportunity to discuss on my blog this week some issues facing military personnel and their families. I hope that you, or someone you know, might benefit from what I will be posting in the next few days. To start things off, enjoy watching this touching video of a Marine who came home and surprised his sister on her wedding day:

 May God bless all those who serve! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes we don't discover our purpose until the darkest moments
strip us of everything and all we are left with is brokenness and heartache.
It is in these moments, ironically, when hope becomes our strength and carries
us until we can see again that hope is always in front of us. The dark moments
will come. The pain will consume you. The brokenness you feel inside will tempt
you to believe that any remnant of hope has been torn to pieces. This is how we know
we are human; this is what it means to be truly alive. The challenge of life is not that 
we must endure pain; rather, it's that we hang on long enough to get to the other side
of our pain."
- Danny Gokey in Hope In Front of Me

Friday, November 7, 2014

Remembering Ben

 In loving memory of Army Capt. Benjamin Tiffner, who died November 7th, 2007
while serving in Iraq. His story has been featured on this blog several times, in part
because his mom contributed a beautiful guest post a few months ago. Thank 
you Ben for serving your country and for loving God and people the way you did. 
You are dearly missed…

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Nothing has happened in your past and nothing will happen in your
future that God won't give you the grace to walk through. If we never
felt pain, we couldn't fully understand joy. If we never experienced grief,
we couldn't explain comfort. If we never lost anything, we couldn't know 
what it means to be found."
- Danny Gokey in Hope In Front of Me 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Quote of the Day

"O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee:
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be."
- George Matheson

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Heart-beating Grace

  I remember those days well - the ones where I sat in tears and wondered how life could ever begin again. After such losses, how could I ever love people and life once more? The pain ran so deep. The hurt seemed to cut right through me. Lost in the darkness, hope no longer seemed to be real to me. As I stared at the broken pieces of my once-intact life, I questioned God. Oh, how I questioned Him. 
  And yet, a glimmer of light appeared into the shattered places. A voice spoke peace, saying. "Because of Me, you can start over. I will make the broken beautiful. I will restore. I will renew. I will give life." Over time, I started to believe it. I began to realize that the more I became open to Grace, the more the pain was redeemed. The more I became open to God, the more His love filled in the cracks which the hurt had left gaping wide. The wounds turned into scars. The hands which created the world touched what was broken inside of me and offered the promise of hope. 
  I still have those days. But now, I see the Light shining brightly through. I see the Love that has allowed me to love others and to love life. Although I once thought it never would, Grace has restored and made my heart beat once again. It can do the same for you. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Quote of the Day

" Murmuring thanks doesn't deny that an event is a tragedy and neither
does it deny that there's a cracking fissure straight across the heart. 
Giving thanks is only this: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone
to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God."
- Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts Devotional

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Remembering Michael

 In memory of Marine Cpl. Michael Lasky, who died on November 2, 2006 while serving in Iraq. I miss you Michael and am thankful to have had the honor of meeting you. Thank you for sacrificing your life so that others may live in freedom. You are always in my heart and will be remembered fondly. Semper Fi…

Michael meeting his baby daughter Liberty
at his homecoming in 2005. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Always Light

 I stare at the moon as it looms large over the ridge behind my house. The nights are darker now, and I see it better. Closer.
 Immediately, I am transported into yet another moment of grace, another moment of sight: perhaps this is true of most of life. You cannot fully see the light until you've felt the darkness, cannot know or appreciate the alive until you've experienced the dead. Like the sun in the day or the moon at night, the light is always present. But perhaps in the chilling the moments when the black hangs heavy...perhaps this is when we come to see. Perhaps this is when we start to believe. Because we suddenly find that we cannot trust ourselves. We cannot navigate our own way. We must rely on the light to guide us. Maybe more than ever before, we become thankful that it exists. That He exists. His light is with us always. It illuminates our darkness, penetrates our despair, offers us hope within the shadows. 
 The moon hangs there in the radiant beauty. Placed in the sky by the creative hands of the Maker who also made me. Its beams seem to shine right through me. I take in its light, and I thank - I smile - because the Light is always around. It is forever. And I see that, in every darkness, He will shine the brighter.