Elizabeth’s story

Luke 1:5-7, 23-25, 57-58

Elizabeth's story is proof that even the most upright in heart will endure suffering… A purpose in the pain

Have you ever stopped to think…If Elizabeth had not been barren, the birth of John would not have been so miraculous. Also, it would not have coincided with the gestating Jesus. Timing is everything with God!

Within herself, she possessed the DNA that could be traced back to the very being of Aaron, the Levitical priest. She no doubt felt the pressure to carry that line and legacy on through her offspring. Elizabeth's suffering through barrenness in the end brought about the "voice crying in the wilderness" to prepare the way of the Lord. It also brought to life the hands that would baptize the Savior.

Elizabeth never quit: she never let her circumstances move her from her continuance in faith.

Upon learning of the pregnancy, Elizabeth was faithful to give all honor and praise to the Lord, stating "[He] has done this for me". There is no record that she questioned or cursed God for finally making her a mother at the age of most grandmothers. Only gratitude and praise flowed from her lips.

God used Elizabeth's body –her jar of clay as in 2 Corinthians 4:7 – as a vessel in order to provide living proof that "nothing is impossible with God."

Elizabeth's faithfulness led not only to her own personal satisfaction and joy in the Lord, but also to that of others. Elizabeth gave renown to the name of the Lord. Luke records that when her neighbors and relatives saw that the Lord had been merciful to her through the birth of John, they shared her joy. Little did those neighbors and relatives know of the great mercy that grew inside of Mary at that very moment. Thank God for these two mothers who willingly endured suffering and shame to bring about (literally) the kingdom of Christ!


While attending an Army formal affair for my husband's battalion where many soldiers and their spouses were in attendance, I was privileged to observe something that captivated me. In keeping with tradition the ceremony included the posting of the colors. As the color guard began their journey, all in attendance immediately jumped to their feet, standing straight and tall. Each eye was fixed on the flag as it made its way through the room. Their gaze was steady yet revered. They seemed to hold their breath, waiting with anticipation until those precious colors had come to rest and silently presided over the evening's events. Such esteem, such respect is seldom observed anymore. Yet on this night it flowed with ease, practiced and rehearsed many times before. Before me each soldier in attendance was dressed in the best they had, looking stunning and decorated. While the drum roll played, I tried imagining them in their field uniforms in the midst of battle, covered with dirt and debris, fatigued and home-sick. While the two sights stood in stark contrast to each other, one thing was constant. The same soldiers who watched unfailingly until the flag was posted at the head of this ballroom would watch unfailingly over it in a time of war as well – making sure that all it stood for was upheld, guarded, preserved, and protected. They had dedicated themselves to those colors and would not rest until they were properly defended and held high world-wide for all to see that this is STILL they land of the free and the home of the brave. America's military, thank you for teaching and reminding us what dedication means, what selflessness is, and what it means to "…more than self [your] country love…".

Thanksgiving '09

Chaplain in Action

Here are a few recent pictures of Tim and various aspects of his job. In the first
2 pictures he is performing the invocation for a Change of Command ceremony for Bravo Company, 319th MI BN. The 3rd picture is Tim with all his field gear as he headed out for 3 nights/4 days. Go Chaplain, Go!

Fleeting flowers

This week at PWOC (my weekly on-post Bible Study) I was blessed with an unexpected gift. Two gifts that is. One I could take with me in my heart and one I could bring home in my hands. This week's devotional was based out of I Peter 1:24. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." Our speaker brought with her a bouquet of gorgeous flowers, an exact replica of one her husband had sent her when he was deployed. The flowers were perfectly in bloom. Each color was vibrant and each bloom succulent. Even the greenery was luscious. As believers in Christ we were reminded how much like that bouquet we are. Collectively we make up a beautiful collection of souls when we gather together, giving off a lovely fragrance to the Lord. Some of us are the grand, colorful lilies and some of us are the sprigs of green that give the bouquet fullness. Others off us are like the damaged and repaired Gerber daisy, which our speaker said broke off on the way to class and had to be repaired with tape! Either way, like cut floral, our existence is short-lived. Our speaker displayed a picture of that same bouquet two weeks later. There was no comparison; what was once teeming with life and vibrancy had become dead and discolored. Then our speaker brought the lesson home by referencing the aforementioned verse. No matter how colorful or tall or fragrant we are, we are here for but a moment. The task is ours to make everyone of our fleeting moments count for Him. Eternal beauty is found only in God and His word. Lord, may my life, no matter how short, bring you honor and glory and bring others to your throne!

Sweetest Baby Girl

Jordan Nataleigh, what a treasure you are! You arrived earlier than expected into our lives, and Mommy had to face one of her biggest fears…leaving the hospital without you. As little as you were (6 pounds, 18.25 inches!) you challenged me, stretched me, and made me grow as a person, as a nurse, as a Mom, and as a woman of faith. What a joyous day when we brought you home! You were already on somewhat of a schedule and quickly adapted to sleeping well at night. You were crazy about your brother almost instantly. He can light up a room with just his smile and you quickly figured out that he was fun and funny! At just a few weeks old you would reach for your Dad's scratchy face when he would hold you close. You and I bonded easily as we spent many, many hours together as a 'nursing couple'. You are sweet and pleasant; you love to smile and can't wait to catch someone's eye so you can flash your cute smile at them. You have the most petite cry! It is more like a squeal than a cry. You like to sleep on your back and you LOVE your swing! You relax so much in your swing that you fall asleep if I don't watch you carefully. You are also a big fan of your vibrator chair. You have great vision and can spot Daddy and me across the room. You sleep fairly well through the night, although you usually can't make it all night long without a feeding…guess you just can't wait 'til morning to see me and be in my arms! You have found your hands and feet, but you are not interested in rolling over…yet. You coo and chuckle and reach for things. You are a doll and everyone who comes within 3 feet of you tells me that you are "such a pretty girl!" Dylan made me a mom, but you have made me a better mom. I love you!

New movie from Sherwood Films (producers of Fireproof)...


Since January 2005, for whatever sovereign reason, the Lord has taken me on a journey of studying suffering in the lives of His saints. Though not actively seeking this path, I have found myself time and time again learning of the purposes for which God has called Christians to suffer. From sermons to studies to self-experiences, I have been drawn to take a deeper look at that which is dreaded but inevitable. Bro. Brent Summerhill, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Cabot, Arkansas, (my home church) is currently preaching through a series on Joseph's life entitled Roots Grow Deep in Winter. This series has put into words that which has been formulating in my heart over the last four years. Maybe you are like me, and grew up with the idea that as a Christian life should be grand. Doing right should equate to the 'good life' and those who were having hard times were getting their 'just deserts'. For the good Christian, life should be 'heaven on earth'! And suffering should be a reality check. What factors led me to this type of thinking? Probably a combination of parental ideals, Sunday school teachings, and my own interpretation of the way things should be. I suppose that was exactly why the Lord decided to challenge my way of thinking by bringing me face to face with ideas like those from Dr. John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life. And face to face with patients who were deeply spiritual and yet still were facing the loss of an unborn infant. I realize my conventional theology was corrupt from the very starting block. Scripture says so. And I believe God is going to work through my life to allow whatever suffering I encounter to bring Him glory and further His kingdom - more than it could be furthered by my "good deeds=easy life" mentality. Let me just say a word about marriage. Perhaps you are a newly married person who is finding him or herself coming down off of the "high" of having fallen in love. You are realizing that love is tough, and marriage is hard, and maybe even that the person you married is not who you thought they were. Reality is striking a knock-out punch. Or perhaps you are through with what you believe is a wasted life-endeavour of marriage to a person who has been nothing but ungrateful and unloving toward you for years. While I haven't experienced all of these emotions, I know there are many, many women who have. In either scenario, you feel cheated and you don't want to suffer another minute. May I challenge you to continue reading? If nothing else, for the sake of the vows you spoke before God and man. It is my prayer that as you take a second look at suffering through the lens of the Scripture, you will see that God can redeem and that he ALWAYS has a plan and a purpose when His children suffer. Remember, Satan had to approach God first before he could get at Job. A marriage that has been through war and back can, with God's help, be matured, beaten, broken and mended and better than it has ever been before. (paraphrase from Sarah Markley) (Of course, if you are in physical danger from your spouse, please get away from him/her and seek help. God cannot work in your relationship if you are dead; and your spouse needs a wake-up call) Let's face it, it only takes a few times around the block of life before the Lord feels distant or (dare I say it?) non-existant. On this earth we can encounter some HORRIBLE times and events, even (and especially) as Christians. In Joseph's story, he was being thrown in prison through no fault of his own and because of something he didn't do. Anyone out there feel like YOU are in a prison? Satan likes to attack us until we feel trapped and alone. Scripture makes one thing clear, though: "But the Lord was with Joseph..." is a phrase repeated in this story in Genesis. In the passages following this one, we can see that not only was God with Joseph, but that he was working through his prison experience to get him back to the palace!! Because of the hurt you are experiencing right now, you may be thinking "Palace? What Palace? There's a palace to be gained from this?" It is not I who say this to you, but the Lord...and his answer is "YES!" Now, allow me to clarify the concept of palace. I do not believe that God has an agenda of wealth, prosperity, and health on the other side of our struggles. But I do believe this: that each one of us who are His sons and daughters have a mansion that awaits us in the coming ages in Heaven. But aside from the next life, I also believe that God wants to use our lives to glorify Him and satisfy ourselves. And those two are not mutually exclusive... Suppose you are in a boat similar to Joseph's at the time of his imprisonment. It can be very hard to lift your mind out of the depths of despair and discouragement that plague us through sufferings. A good place to change your gears of thought could be contemplating how "It could have been worse..." For Joseph, it definitely could have been worse. He could have easily been executed by Potiphar instead of being sentenced to prison. In prison, he could have been killed by inmates or solitarily confined. Instead, it was during this time in prison that God continued developing the masterpiece of Joseph's life. Satan was conniving, but God was creative. How could your situation be/have been worse? Reflection upon such an idea causes us to trace the hand of God even when that which surrounds us is dark and dismal. It sheds light upon His continued mercy and blessings, which are indicative that He is still with us. Joseph's story is a perfect example to us that integrity is no assurance of a life without problems. Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith, suffered immensly - both in His life and on the cross. What more can we expect? Paul's writings are riddled with accounts of suffering for the cause of Christ, all of which he counted as a privelege. We WILL suffer - but not because of the curse of sin that had us bound. What we were once so deserving of, death and hell, has been cancelled for each of God's believers. So to the age-old question of "Why do good things happen to bad people?" we can answer "What is amazing is not the bad things that happen to us, but the good!!" Now our suffering takes on a whole new meaning. Its purpose is to enable us to identify further with Christ's sufferings and so to become more like Him. Whether the cause of our suffering is natural (disease) or man-made (caused by others) is, so to speak, irrelevant. This is how we can reconcile the two facts that Joseph's life exuded integrity yet he was plagued with repeated delimmas. Responding negatively to our trials and sufferings can diminish the potential for joy that exists in our situations. Paul says to "consider it pure joy, fellow believers, when you face trials of any kind". Why joy? Because trials have a way of chiseling at us until we are mature, complete, and more like Christ. THAT kind of joy - more like the Savior! The benefits of what we have gained through knowing Christ and His cross far outweigh anything negative we will face on this earth. Again, Paul said it best in Philippians 3:8, "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." Satan may be the cause of your problem, but he can't be the cause of your unhappiness IF your delight is in the Lord. Remember these words from my former pastor: "The Lord's favor is most clearly seen against the backdrop of suffering."

Words of HOPE

I discovered a book that was released earlier this year entitled "Rain On Me - 40 Day Devotional Book" by Holley Gerth. I have not read the entire book (it's on my Christmas wish list), but I did discover an excerpt available on the author's blog (Heart to Heart With Holley). I don't typically like to quote from other people (I prefer original writings :) but this was too good not to share. For me it summarizes some of my innermost thoughts quite well... I wear two rings. The one on my left hand is a symbol of love for my husband. The ring on my right hand is a small silver band with one word on it…HOPE. This month marks the five-year anniversary of the reason I bought that little ring. My husband and I have been on the journey to starting a family all that time. In a way it feels like forever and in another it seems incredibly short. When we started down that road I thought hope meant believing God would give us a child. As time went on I discovered true hope is believing God is good no matter what He decides to do. Let me tell you, getting to that place is not simple, neat, or easy. But it’s worth it. I used to think hope was a fluffy, faraway feeling—like cotton candy for your heart. I’ve learned real hope is gritty, real, and raw. It’s strong and wild, unpredictable and fierce. I’ve had so many conversations with God along the lines of, “Lord, no more with the hope thing. Just answer the prayers already.” (Haven’t you had those too?) He lovingly responds, “Lean into me, daughter, lean into me.” When I listen and lean rather than resist, I find rest. I have the hope my heart craves. And (dare I say it?) I even discover joy. We tend to think what we need most is whatever we’re asking for in that moment. God knows what we really need is more of Him in every moment. I’m holding my ring up to the light as I finish writing these words. I can see scratches on the surface. The edges are rough in places. It still needs some polishing. But somehow, despite it all, in the center HOPE remains. Next week Tim and I are hosting a Strong Bonds marriage retreat for Tim's battalion. The location is Savannah, GA and we are presenting the material in Dr. Gary Chapman's book Five Love Languages. We are both a bit nervous for things to go well but have placed it in God's hands for Him to take charge of the outcome and bring the increase. Satan must not be pleased already, for we have encountered great difficulty in just giving life to the possibility of this retreat! This is one of the cool things that the Army allows Chaplains to do, and because I went through the training for Strong Bonds during CH-BOLC I am qualified to co-teach with Tim. What a wonderful opportunity to serve alongside my spouse and soldier! Please be in prayer for the couples in attendance, that the Lord will open their eyes within their marriage and that any spiritual needs that arise that weekend will be handled with the Father's grace and love.

My little cowboy

"Snips and snails and puppy dog tails; that's what little boys are made of." I love masculinity...

"Sugar and spice and everything nice; that's what little girls are made of."

My sweet baby girl...

Reflections and projections

Today I took the time to slow down enough to reflect on "this time last year we were..." I like to do that from time to time in order to see how far we've come or how much we've changed, and also to trace the Lord's hand in our lives. This time last year, the final details were coming together for us for the Chaplaincy. Tim was getting ready to quit his "day job" and spend a month at home with Dylan before CH-BOLC started. We were "entertaining" the idea of child #2 (didn't take much entertaining!) and we were spiffing up our house to put it on the market. I can honestly say that the last year has had more changes in it than probably our 10 years together combined. Changing and quitting jobs, entering the military, conceiving a child, selling a home, being apart for 3 months, moving, buying a car, having a child (prematurely)...whoa, head is spinning! Life now is good, but it is very different. My days were once filled with nurse work from 0630 until 1900 and my "off days" were filled with a kiddo and housework. Now, I am a 24-7 nursing mommy :), maid, and cook. Making friends and setting up my "community" has been another task as I prepare for being a "happily married single parent" :) in the near future. I also spend some evenings each month at "coffees" (military wives term for "get-togethers). Soon we will be participating in a marriage retreat for the soldiers and their families in our battalion. My goal is to try to have an active presence in my husband's Chaplaincy ministry, in order to bring glory to God, to be a blessing to the soldiers and families, and use my gifts & talents wisely. Is this what I envisioned? I think so, but the more important question for me is "God, is this what you envisioned?" I have begun asking God that question on a daily basis, "Lord, is this what you envisioned for this day?" Breaking it down like that keeps me from steering off track before I realize it. For the past 3 days Tim has been out in the field doing deployment readiness trainig. He learned alot of important things about traveling in a convoy and had a great time in the process. For me, the past 3 days have been "single mom days". Not awful, but tough. This is my most important ministry roll, to continue on a somewhat normal life for the souls entrusted to me by God. I have a renewed respect for the women surrounding me in my neighborhood who are doing this for 365+ days at a time. It takes grit, guts, determination, but also a tender heart open to the Lord's wisdom and leading...and also it takes someone who sees the burning need for ministry to our troops and is instead willing to change diapers and wash laundry while someone else meets that need. It is not glamerous; there are no medals of honor, no recognition ceremonies. It is tireless and thankless at times. But there is that quiet, gentle voice of the Holy Spirit that so readily reminds us we are all working for the King, no matter what our role.
Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

And a beautiful note to end on, Jordan Nataleigh at 12 weeks. One of those precious souls entrusted to me... :) Lucky me!

The best laid plans...

Today I had 'one of those days'. You know 'em; not alot went right and everything seemed like a struggle. Upon wakening this morning, I had an extensive agenda for this day. A doctor appointment for myself, going to the Wally-Market, house cleaning, laundry, etc. All good things, nothing selfish, just trying to 'get it all done'. But I do believe I can say with confidence that the Lord had other plans for my day. My plans were derailed and I found myself on several detours. My son's coughing and neon green nose necessitated another doctor's appointment (2 appointments in one day, really!?!?) This turned into a 2 1/2 hours visit to the clinic with a sick 3 year old who does not feel his best and a 2 1/2 month old in tow. The funniest part was when they sent us for a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia and the 3 year old exclaimed he needed to potty while the baby exclaimed she needed to eat...yes, at the same time! After fumbling through that, finding out that he didn't have pneumonia, and getting our medicine, we made our way exhaustedly to Wally's Market. As if our day wasn't wrought enough, someone saw fit to give me the cart with this worst wheel-issue ever in the history of shopping carts. So there we went, ka-dunk ka-dunk, through the streets of Wally-World. I'm pretty sure I could sense that God was smiling, or at least chuckling. Having experienced days like this one before, I know they can be handled one of two ways: with frustration or with surrender. Although, even though I've been down this road before, I found myself fighting surrender. As the Rich Mullins wrote, "surrender don't come natural to me". But as our outing came to a close and we headed home to quarantine ourselves, I finally made the connection in my heart that while things today seemed out of control, that were perfectly in God's control. How much more peaceful and at peace I could be if I would graciously bow out and usher in God's agenda and the Holy Spirit's presence in each day! Surrendering does not guarantee me smooth roads (neither did that shopping cart!) or easy passage. But it does put me exactly in the place I need to be of total reliance on God. And when your day is unraveling instead of unfolding, there is no safer place to be.

Family Pumpkin Carving 2009

In what has become a Raburn tradition, Tim spent some time last week carving out our family pumpkin. He really has a knack for this and Dylan and I just sit back and watch in awe (well, I sit back and Dylan circles Tim like a vulture!) With the reality of a scheduled deployment next year will have to find a way to carry on this tradition next fall. Maybe we will carve a Tim face in honor of our soldier. Hooah!

Mothering...and other memories

I recently read an article in a religious magazine about a mother who, much like an employee at a corporation, turned in her 'resignation, effective today' to her family. In the resignation, she detailed how she could no longer 'work under such conditions' and was feeling overwhelmed by the number of constituents under her. While the article was written completely in jest, it got me thinking about this life of motherhood. Mothering (in particular, family-making and the formative years) are quite the challenge. I myself am considering writing a book chronicling the years I am spending raising my God-given gifts called children. I do not have sufficient enough material yet to write said book, but I already have a working title. It will be called, "Outnumbered: raising kids without raising hell". But I digress... In my recent attempts to find the balance (that, I've been told, "will come") in dividing time between 2 kids and housework, I have been employing some new strategies. One of which is "Get up before the kids do and get a few things done". Whether its getting a cup of Joe, reading the Bible, or taking a shower, getting something done before the children awake and begin requesting things has been suggested as helpful. I have discovered that this is not possible. You see, the children either have a "Mommy-Cam" through which they see you when you attempt to rise before them OR they have a string which is tied to your foot, and when you rise it rings a bell like Liberty to awaken them from their slumber in order that they might greet you at your bedroom door before you even come into the hallway. Oh well, it was a nice try. I have found myself amazed in the last 11 weeks at what can be accomplished in one day with my hands and the Lord's favor. Serving up 3 meals a day, to suit everyones tastes and likes. At least 1-2 loads of laundry done, folded, and put away. The perpetually endless cycle of dishes in and out of the dishwasher. Remembering our vitamins. The perpetually endless cycle of diaper changing. Looking for hidden toys that I swear I saw out in plain sight just yesterday. Clamoring to find any bit of time I can to spend with the love of my life. Remembering to brush teeth. Looking for that toy again! Paying bills. Giving lots of hugs and kisses. Reading God's word. Slowing down long enough to play a game or to "watch this, Mommy!" Orchestrating naps. All this and more, while at the same time independently manufacturing my own brand of enough milk to keep a growing baby alive. Whew! Maybe I should change my working title to "Circus Cow: Moo!" Orchestrating naps, an oxymoron if there ever was one. When I was pregnant with my second child, I would often wonder what it was like to have 2 young kids. I dreamed of a magic place, one where the children both napped at the same time. And I thought, "Yes! That is how these Moms make it; they put their children down for naps at the same time." What I now realize is that when my son leans over my baby daughter to give her a kiss, he is also whispering to her about the "kid's code of conduct" which I believe states that one child must be awake at all times while Mom is in the house. My baby girl has willingly complied and my oldest has refused to change his ways. At the end of the day, after all the hugs and kisses have been doled out, after the last nursing session, and after all teeth have been brushed, when it is just me lying next to that love of my life...the circus of nap dilemmas and outnumbered situations give way to a heart of gratitude. The lives entrusted into my care, including my husband's, are priceless. As the mother of 2 wonderful children, I am overwhelmed with sweetness and affection. As the wife of an Army Chaplain, I am overwhelmed with pride for my husband and my country. As the child of the King, I am overwhelmed with His love. Maybe I should change that working title, yet again, to "Overwhelmed: blessed beyond measure".

Timely Words

"My understanding, my feeling, about the importance of the Chaplains Corps is so great that it would be difficult indeed to think of the most important of all of those things for a two or three-minute chat with you this morning. I would like to bring my thoughts right down to the present. "We know that America now must remain strong, by which I mean militarily strong, to sustain in the world the concepts on which our civilization is based, the ideas of the dignity of man, of a government based on religious faith. So it seems to me, as long as we have to do that, as long as our young men must respond cheerfully to their military duty, whether it be in the Reserves or the Regulars, and must do it as a national obligation, your task is especially important. It is to bring home to them, to their fathers and mothers, and indeed to the whole world, how much this is truly a crusade, a crusade for decency, not carried out on a militant basis but on one where we stand firmly behind the great concepts found, indeed, in every great religion but more especially, I suppose, in the Sermon on the Mount, by which this Nation has lived and which underlies its founding. "You bring to the men actually in the Service a sense of doing a wonderful thing-that their sacrifices, the performance of their duty, are important. You give them that sense of feeling, because you bring to them the certainty and the constant reminder that man is a spiritual being. You comfort the United States as it realizes that it has a long period of sacrifice ahead of it and giving of its sons and of its treasure and of its might, doing something that does not of itself advance the cause of human progress and human happiness, defending what we have. "This is a very difficult task, to take all of these complex ideas, these purposes, and put them before all of us in their proper perspective. And I can't conceive of anybody better-more equipped-to do this than the Chaplains Corps, both in its Reserves and active formations, because this is indeed a time of trial, when it tries men's spirits, not merely their pocketbooks. "So I think the one thing I would like to say above all else to you this morning is just simply: Thank you, thank you very much-personally, officially and every way I can speak. Good morning." An Excerpt of Remarks By President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Members of the Military Chaplains National Association May 9, 1956

If you're anything like me, before you got the the end you probably thought this was a speech given as of late. Not surprising, is it, that true words are timeless? They never lose their season and are applicable over and over again throughout time...much like the Bible. My husband shared this with me and I had to post it because it is such an elequently spoken piece of encouragement to our Chaplains and the core of what they do. My favorite line in this piece is :

"You give them that sense of feeling, because you bring to them the certainty and the constant reminder that man is a spiritual being."

This is one of the best ways to briefly state what it is that our Chaplains do. Their presence is a constant reminder to our soldiers that man is a spiritual being. That thought undoubtedly inspires a myriad of other thoughts which put the thinker on the road to deeper questions like "Why do I exist?" and "Is there a God?". It is this type of soul-searching quest that is the heartbeat of the Chaplaincy ministry: revealing hope to the men & women of the U.S. military and enabling them to come to God just as they are, where they are.

What is an Army wife?

The Lord is beginning to make me increasingly aware of those around me who are temporarily living alone while their soldier is defending our country's freedom. In my circle of friends, there are at least 8...and I've only been making friends here since early May. At a post like Ft Bragg, deployment is inevitable and more than half of the post can be deployed at any one time. Now, though, those soldiers who are deployed have names and faces that I recognize, and they have families and spouses that I know and love dearly. Those amazing women who, as the patriotic hymn says, "more than self their country loved" and have made the lofty sacrifices necessary to send the head of their house and love of their lives into harms way. What is an Army wife? She is one who endures obstacle and inconvenience for the sake of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and her husband's calling and career. She can persevere through lengthy absences with nothing but pride for her country and love for her family to spur her on...and the hand of God to guide her. Satisfaction in a job well done comes when she sees her children participating in those things which only happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave. She knows she makes her home with one of those brave...and that she too, is a woman of bravery. She prays for his return, but is glad there are men like hers fighting for our rights and protecting our freedoms. Whether her husband enlisted or was commissioned into the service, she received no schooling, training, or boot camp to prepare her for this life. Yet she finds a way to excel at supporting her soldier and sometimes being Mom and Dad to her children...and cook, maid, launderer, accountant, tutor, friend, nurse, etc. To the Brookes, Lauras, and Katherines of the Army, this has become all to real...yet I've heard none of the whine or complain. I can't help but picture the Father counting their sacrifice as equal to that of their spouse. By ALL means, we owe our love and appreciation to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. But their families who have loved and supported them, and made it possible and more probable for them to do their jobs well, deserve our gratitude as well. "If you can read this thank a teacher. If you're reading this in English thank a soldier." And thank their spouse, as well.

Finding my voice again

It has been quite sometime since I have been in the blogging groove. It is definitely something I miss when I don't do it. I guess the best way to describe my love of blogging is that it gives me a voice. A voice that I wouldn't otherwise have. A voice that allows me to express the inner-workings of my heart, to showcase what God is doing in my life. To flesh out things I am going through and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY that God can take this mess of jumbled words and use it for His glory to help someone else along.

I have discovered about myself that at the times when my blog is stagnant it is because that voice inside me is silent. Life keeps pressing on, things are busy, and there is plenty that I could write about. But sometimes at the same time, for a variety of reasons, my heart does not want to put to the pen what is really going on inside. The past 6 weeks have been such an example. Yes, our little bundle of joy came early and the last 6 weeks have been busy as ever. Some might think I have not had time to blog. But others might think "Why haven't you been writing and posting pics? You have so much to show and talk about!"

My husband is usually one of the first people to say something about my silent blog. He enjoys reading it and looks a couple of times a week for a new post. After several weeks of nothing, he'll say something like "Hey, you haven't posted in a while." At this point, I usually do an inventory of why. Sometimes it's because I've stepped away from the Fountain of Living Water and my inner well is dry. I sense that God has silenced that "voice inside" because I am not closely listening to His voice. Othertimes, the voice is speaking but I just don't take the time to post it to words that I know can bless and benefit others. I detest these times of disobedience because I know I am not using my blog for its full God-potential.

But there are other times when what is going on in my world seems like a whirlwind...no, more like a hurricane. And at those times, putting into words what is happening is a near impossibility. God either has me on a strange journey or is allowing me to endure difficulties; I can hardly process what is happening, much less express it. It is as if all I can do is hold on and wait until the ride slows down or until I find my voice again.

I guess I'd say the last 6 weeks have been a combination of all of these factors. Whether it be because of sleep deprivation or hormones, at times my life seems fragmented. Piecemealed. Unorganized. Things we go through sometimes lack sense and logic. Realizing this, it touched my heart to hear the words to a Matthew West song today.

Just lift them up to me

All the broken pieces

Give all the broken pieces of your life to me

Lift them up to Me

Let Me carry you

I will take your pieces

And put them back together

I was reminded today that there are many women (and maybe men!) who are stopping by my blog on their journey toward Chaplaincy. Some of you have contacted me and I'm sure there are others who prefer to observe from afar. Let me say right here that the fact that you even read my blog past the header is so HUMBLING. That God would use this "voice inside" to spur others on, help others in their decisions, lift someone up, is so unbelievably HUMBLING. I doubt that today's post is helpful to anyone besides me inside my own head. But I pray that as I continue to be faithful to blog on this journey that others will find help, hope, healing, and Him.

Lord, help me now as I put my life's focus back on you and your Word. May I be reminded each time I open its cover that it is not an object but a living thing...active, breathing, and sharp enough to divide us to our innermost depth. Meet me, God, at the corner of sacrifice and obedience. I pray I will find myself there each day. Worthy is the Lamb!

And I couldn't resist posting this cutest of pictures...

She's here! (well, she's been here for a little while)

5 weeks later, I finally have a moment to post! (Better late than never ;0) Jordan Nataleigh Raburn made an early appearance into this world, but not beyond the knowledge and care of her heavenly Father. She arrived Saturday August 1st, 2009 at 12:39pm. She weighed 6 lbs even, and was 18.25 inches long. Not bad for 35 weeks!! She spent 10 days in the NICU (which I WILL blog about at some point...such an experience) and came home to be forever ours on August 11th. She is a delight and a sweet joy. She nurses like a champ even though she was given bottles for a good while in the NICU. She likes to be held and talked to and cries very little. She is a GREAT sleeper and her big brother can't keep his hands off of her. More to come as time allows...right now we are enjoying the 10 day paternity leave the Army provides :)

Countdown to baby!

I guess infrequent bloggings are my new norm! The summer has been so busy for us. Combine that with my ever-increasing tiredness and you might can see why I haven't spent much time on here. Facebook statuses are about all I've had the energy for! At this point I am just shy of 34 weeks pregnant with this sweet baby girl. Her room is coming together and I feel mostly prepared for her arrival...as prepared as I can, I suppose. We have been praying for her health, safe arrival, and her transition into our family. We are also praying for Dylan's acceptance of her and his 'bound-to-change' behavior...that it will be as mild as the Lord sees fit to allow! I think I am already seeing some of that in him, maybe partly because he senses change and partly because I just cannot keep up!! Just moments ago he was circling me at full speed in our living room/dining room/kitchen area like a buzzard...or like Dash from The Incredibles! He is also in a phase where he does NOT like being left anywhere without me, including Sunday School and mother's-morning-out. But he doesn't mind going over to our neighborhood friend's houses and staying all day. Go figure!! Tim and I hope to make some special memories with him over the next month like taking him to Build-A-Bear to make a special something for Jordan and taking him places like Monkey Joes, our local bounce house. Our big summer adventure included an interesting trip followed by grandparents visiting from both sides. In mid-June, Dylan and I flew to Alabama to spend a few days with my parents. Then Tim drove over with our 2 dogs to pick us up. We left the dogs at my parent's house and headed to the Little Rock/Cabot, AR area (for a very short time!). Then we headed north to Springfield, MO for the annual ABA meeting. Then we did all that again in reverse: back to Cabot, back to Alabama, then finally back home...for Tim and I. I had a doctor's appointment to get back for, so we brought the dogs back to North Carolina with us but Dylan stayed in Alabama a few more days with Grammy and Poppy and rode with them to our house in North Carolina. We celebrated the 4th of July with Mom and Dad by taking a 3-day trip to Wilmington, NC, a local beach spot on the coast. After returning home, Mom and Dad left and then Babu and Nana arrived for a week's stay. Needless to say it was "alot of goings on", but a load of fun and unforgetable for Dylan. That was my "last hurrah" of adventure before settling in to build my next here at home!! :) Life here on post has become a norm for us and this place feels like home. Even the dogs are settling in and not barking quite so much at each and every walker & runner that come by our house! I continue to meet friendly people and their families everyday. Some of these relationships are turning into sweet friendships that I know I will cherish for years to come. Tim and I have settled on which Chapel to attend and we are getting plugged in. There are several other Chaplain families that serve there and the people there are wonderful. The Lord is definitely doing a work at Chapel Next, Linden Oaks. I am surrounded by women who's husbands are dealing with or facing deployment. I have not yet let myself begin to process what that will be like, but my heart and prayers go out to them. They are families just like ours, with children who love their fathers. They are women just like anyone else with struggles and fears. But they are asked to do extraordinary things. With the notice that the Army gives, it is nice to be able to plan ahead for such an adjustment. But at the same time it can grown to become an agonizing and painful anticipation of that coming time. If you are reading this and the Lord pricks your heart, pray for them, their spouses and their families. Pray for grace and mercy, for strength and wisdom, and for courage.

Pictures from our July vacation

Here are recent pics from our vacation and time with grandparents (my parents). Dylan had his first trip to the beach and he thoroughly enjoyed it. He kept referring to the ocean as "the swimming pool at the beach"! The pictures of the picnic are from Tim's battalion organization day.

Powerful Prayer

OPENING PRAYER BY RETIRED NAVY CHAPLAIN JOHN P. SAUNDERS AT THE ABA 2009 MEETING Eternal God, our Father, thou hast been our strength and help for the past 234 years, and You are our hope as a nation for years to come. Thank you Lord for the privilege of living in America. Thy divine providence led our forefathers in building a nation upon the principles or righteousness, justice, liberty and individual responsibility. Your goodness and blessing through the years made us the greatest nation on earth, a nation of free people who delighted in the law of God, believed in the sanctity of human life, and the sacred vows of marriage. From our humble beginning we were known as a Christian Nation because we believed in the teachings of Jesus and worked to insure that Godly men were elected to high positions of government. You continued to bless us and we became the wealthiest nation on earth. As years passed we gradually became apathetic, independent and self-serving, forgetting that faith in God had made us great. We took a wrong turn, and followed the ways of evil men. We allowed ungodly leaders to take prayer out of our schools, God out of government, legalize killing our unborn children, and to legitimize homosexuality and same sex marriage. We cast off moral restraint and replaced it with permissivism. We have replaced individual responsibility with a growing dependence on government welfare. We have traded spiritual faith and courage for complacency and appeasement. We call evil good and have jettisoned the values of our forefathers. We are losing our reputation as a Christian nation, and are undeserving of your blessing and favor. Help us to turn back in repentance and seek your face again. O Lord, we pray for our President and our nation’s leaders. Open their eyes to truth and the ways of God before judgment falls. May they learn the simple truth that “the same principles that made our nation great, will also guarantee our future.” Bless and protect the men and women in uniform that fight for our freedom and way of life against our enemies. Bless our Chaplains as they minister to the troops and their families. We pray that the Prince of Peace and the day of peace may soon come to earth. Lord, we thank you for the privilege to assemble here as members of the Churches of Jesus Christ. Help us exalt You above all and to pursue your kingdoms work of spreading the Gospel to the lost world. Bless our Moderators and officers, our missionaries and your churches. May all we do give honor and glory to You. We pray in the great and mighty name of Jesus. Amen

Life and such

I checked out my own blog today and couldn't believe how long it had been since I had posted! Time is really moving fast these days. It seems that the weekdays just fly and then it is the weekend again. Dylan and I have been enjoying our neighborhood pool since it opened Memorial Day weekend. Tim is making his presence known amongst the troops and has been busy with his Chaplain duties. We are narrowing down our decision on which Chapel to attend for worship. There is a Chapel being held at a community located 20 minutes from here but it is an on-post community. We have to drive off-post and then back on-post again to get there. It is just starting but God is definitely working there.

I have been trying to be a visible presence along side Tim as well as I attend different meetings and functions with the Army. I want to be an example for Christ whenever I can and I also want to be known amongst the troops and spouses as someone who is approachable in case they need to talk or are searching for Christ. I want to be more than just a supportive spouse. I don't know what kind of experience these ladies (and men) have had with Chaplain spouses in the past, but I pray that I will be different in a good way in order that they see Christ more clearly. Lord, I pray you will use me in this way!

Dylan had his first "teeth tickling" at the dentist last week and he did great! Even sat still for x-rays! I was so proud of him...and his teeth got a stellar report :) This pregnancy is really progressing...and so is my belly :) We have settled on an official name: Jordan Nataleigh Raburn. Tim has been busy pink-ifying her room! We are resuing alot of Dylan's things but trying to make them a bit more feminine. Pics will follow when the room is complete.

PWOC...Oh, the Army's acronyms

Today one of my new found Chaplain's wife friends and I (and our kids) went to the Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) Bible study this morning and had a great time. Today was called “Tea and Testimony Time”. They sat us at tables and each table had a “hostess” who had brought her own teacups and saucers as well as china pitchers and we each had a different flavor of tea packet in our cups. I was blessed to have a Vanilla Chai packet in my cup (my favorite)! We had a time of worship at the beginning and then several other worship songs were sung throughout. They gave out awards and nice bags to many of the ladies who had served or led Bible studies. This was the last meeting for this semester, so several of the ladies got up and gave a testimony about what PWOC had done for them or meant to them this year. One lady testified that through PWOC, she had come to know Christ and eventually her husband did too. He has now been sober for 9 months through the power of Christ and her life has been totally changed through the relationships she made at PWOC. That one made me cry, just being reminded that God is still powerful enough to change lives. Amen! "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand..." They also had a change of command, so to speak, as the officers (i.e. president, vice-president) for the ’08-’09 year were retired to make way for the officers for the ’09-’10 year. The dynamic of the group is so diverse and multi-cultural. I saw several of the Chaplain’s wives there I had previously met. There are retiree spouses, widows, active duty spouses, and even some non-military spouses. It is pretty much like any other group you might find in a church setting – young, old, hurting, babes in Christ, mature, etc. We just all share a common bond through our spouses (and in some cases friends) who are in the military. I really enjoyed it and the atmosphere was so welcoming. It was a breath of fresh air to be in that kind of setting after being away from our home church so long. In her testimony, one of the ladies spoke about letting go of the facade of control that so many of us moms and wives think we have over our own lives...and give total control to God. Stop worrying about what you can't control and start channeling your energy toward what you can control...which is really only yourself. With the Army, unpredictability is the norm. Unfortunately for me, I am a planner extrordinaire and I know that will be a tough struggle. The lady who spoke said, women outside the military face this too, they just don't have any one thing to blame it on like we do... the Army! :) But despite the way it seems, Jesus still commands my destiny. The Army may look like they give the orders but as the Scripture says "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps" Proverbs 16:9. We are never outside of his control or concern.

The heavens declare

As I sit and write this, I am in the backyard of our new home in North Carolina and it is a gorgeous day in May. It is a perfect 73 degrees outside and there is a gentle breeze. I am rocking in one of the chairs that goes with my new patio furniture set given to me by Tim and Dylan for Mother's Day. I am looking at the lush green grass and trees that surround me. And I am listening to the silence that surrounds me, except for only a few chirping sparrows and cooing doves. The dogs are quietly resting in their pen and Dylan is fast asleep. The house is all clean and I feel better than a pregnant woman should! This is truly a beautiful moment. No, it is not a dream...it is reality. And I am savoring it. After the months of seperation and transition that we endured, this is truly a moment of Heaven on Earth, a blessing from the Lord. I am truly thankful to Him for all he has done to bring us back together as a family, to get Tim off to a good start with his ministry, to give us a healthy baby and pregnancy, and to bless us with a good home and the luxury to be a stay-at-home-mother. My heart is full of gratitude, Lord. I do not know what the next curve in the road holds for us, but for today I'm rejoicing in the serenity that befalls me.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

Psalm 19:1-2
Our days here are slowly turning into a routine. Tim begins each day early with PT and returns home to us for breakfast and a shower. Then it's back to work at 9am and most days it he is home for lunch with us. At the end of the work day, we are back together again for dinner and family time. With the deployments that will come our way with Army life, I am grateful for this time of togetherness. The biggest thing I am grateful for at this point is the light I see in Tim's eyes...the assurance I see in his face as he is partaking in the ministry that the Lord has called him to. There is no shadow of doubt or hint of a question...just confirmation from the Lord. He has spent much of his time getting to know the soldiers in his battalion and making it known that he is an "accessible" Chaplain, with the prayer that when they are in need they know they can turn to him. The Chaplain that he is replacing has been mentoring him but will soon be leaving. In a couple of weeks it will be all Tim (and God!). On Sundays we have been visiting the various Chapels on post to try and find the one that suits Tim for ministry the best and that suits our family's needs. Each Chapel is so different and unique in its makeup. There are some similarities to a civilian church, but it is definitely Army-flavored. I hope once we settle on a Chapel that we can plug ourselves in to minister there. I also hope that we can find a Bible study or Sunday School for Tim and I and an AWANA type ministry for Dylan (and eventually Jordan). One Sunday morning service just isn't enough...I NEED and WANT more in my spiritual diet than that. It is definitely taking some determination on my part to get in personal Bible study time, or else I just run dry spiritually. I think I realize that I was spoiled through all that came my way from the Scriptures at our home church. Last week I attended a Chaplain's wives event, and it was a great experience. Every month or so, the Chaplain's wives get together for a coffee or a dinner in an effort to get to know one another. This month they had a dinner at a nice, historic restaurant in Fayetteville. The food was good but the fellowship was even better. I met so many wonderful women whose husbands serve in the US Army as Chaplains here at Ft Bragg. Undoubtedly I was the newest Chaplain's wife (and maybe the youngest :) but it did not bother me. I am learning to glean from the best and to find wisdom in those who have gone before me down this path. I am thankful that such a community exists and look forward to finding my niche within.

Pictures of our on-post house

Here are a few pictures I took of the outside of our on-post house. It is a nice, newly refurbished duplex in a GREAT neighborhood and we are happy here. Since I took these pics, the lawn care guys came and trimmed back the tall bushes so they're not quite so bushy!!

Front view of the house

Left front view of the house

Left side view of the houseRight front view of the house

Carport view (the couch is gone!! Sold at the post-wide yard sale!)
The post-wide yard sale went well for us...we were able to rid ourselves of alot of things that we can't use/don't need/don't have space for anymore since moving here from our larger house. And we made a pretty good profit too! We got to know some of our neighbors better and met some new neighbors. All in all it was a great day! God continues to bless us here and we continue to find our joy and satisfaction in His presence.

1 week and hundreds of boxes later...

We have officially been in our on-post house for 1 week now. This week has been chaotic to say the least. I knew how much stuff was in our storage unit, but seeing it get unloaded AGAIN here at our new house overwhelmed me all over again. I have had to constantly remind myself that these 'things' are not just 'stuff' but 'blessings from the Lord'. We basically went from a 1650 sq ft house to a 1320 sq ft house...with most of the same stuff :) It has been a challenge and physically exhausting (for a pregnant girl) to unload all these belongings, sort through them, and find a home for them. Today we had 15 feet of trash lined up at the street for trash day! Praise the Lord for decluttering...it feels SO good! Next time we will declutter BEFORE we move. Thank goodness for the post-wide carport sale this Saturday!! Fortunately, Tim had requested 10 days of "permissive leave" so he has been here every step of the way. I could not have done this with out his help, and the help of my parents who were here for the first couple of days after the move. As of now, we are 95% unpacked (I shall pace myself for the other 5%) and are going to spend the next 3 days of Tim's leave time enjoying ourselves and relaxing. Since I have been given the gift of being a WAHM (work at home mom...very part-time), we can finish up the household later and enjoy our family time now. Fort Bragg is really nice. Our neighborhood is great, really quiet, lots of sidewalks and parks nearby, and a pool just at the end of our street. The people here are very friendly and our neighbors are great. We are surrounded by several Chaplain families, which is so cool! Dylan is very happy to be settled, to have his own room, and to be with his dad again. The Lord has indeed blessed us and taken care of us during this time of transition. He even allowed us to purchase a 2009 GMC Acadia for me to drive, that is paid in full!! We have been visiting a different protestant Chapel each Sunday in an effort to find the one where Tim would best like to serve. So far they have been like Goldilocks and the 3 bears...too hot, too cold, too big, too small, maybe some that are just right but we will keep looking for a couple more weeks...all the while praying for God to show us which one. I was surprised to find that alot of the attendees at these Chapels have been retirees. I am glad, though, because this makes for a nicely well rounded congregation. Both in and out of the Chapels, the people here seem to have purpose. For me, that makes for such a nicer atmosphere. I pray that Tim and the other Chaplains here can help the soldiers see that their deeper purpose is to glorify God and be satisfied in Him.

Dear Jordan,

Your daddy and I are busy deciding on a middle name for you. We haven't quite figured it out for sure, but there are a few things that we DO know for sure. Even as little as you still are inside me, just 20 weeks big, we love you oh-so-very-much! You will come into a world where you are as loved as a little one can be. Your daddy is extremely excited to be having a girl, since he's already got his boy. I think he is looking forward to spoiling you and watching you wrap him around your tiny finger! I can't wait to hold you and smell your sweet skin, and see how much you look like your brother :) Jordan, besides being loved already, the thing your daddy and I hope the most for you in this world is that you (and your brother Dylan) know how wonderful and real God is. We are spending our lives following His voice, not because we are afraid of Him or because we have to. But because we want to and we love Him with all our hearts. We know that He is as real today as He was in the pages of the Old Testament (that's in the Bible; I'll show ya!) and that He is still in the business of loving and saving people. He is someone worth giving up your life and its comforts and conveniences for! Our deepest prayer is that someday you understand and can worship God this way. For now, just know that He loves you so much that He gave up his little baby... Waiting with open arms, Dad & Mom

The first 2 weeks

We are coming to a close on our first two weeks here at Ft Bragg. It hasn't been too far from what I expected, with the exception of the fact that we have been living in a one-bedroom hotel! Tim does PT early each morning with different soldiers from the companies in his battalion and then comes home for breakfast and a shower. Dylan and I get to eat breakfast with him (which is a real treat and different from our former life where we all got up at different times). Tim is also able to come home for lunch since he works so close and his lunch breaks allow plenty of time for that. His day finishes up between 4:30 and 5pm and then he is home for the evening. I'm sure there will busier days and times when he can't come home to see us so much. In fact, I know he will have to be "out there" some lunches and evenings with his soldiers in order to meet them where they are with God's message of hope. But I have so enjoyed having him around and being a family again. Practically speaking, I wish I had done a couple of things different. One of which is to keep my child's shot record handy instead of packing it. If so, I could have enrolled him in part-time day care and taken advantage of the many classes/briefings/meetings that are offered to spouse's. There is not alot to do during the day in a 300 sq ft hotel room, so I wish I could have gotten out and gone to the spouse's orientation and the PWOC (protestant women of the chapel) meeting. Also, since I love to walk and exercise, I could have explored the many beautiful trails here on Ft Bragg. I guess there will be time enough for all that in the future. Also, I wish I'd brought more movies for Dylan to watch (Red Box has been our friend!) and more outdoor toys to play with (i.e. riding toys, balls, etc.) Anyways, live and learn...and the next time we PCS (permanent change of station...restation) I will know better. This morning Tim started his day with a 2-mile ruck march where he toted a 35 pound ruck sack on his back while marching. The past 2 mornings he has run 4 miles before I even got out of bed! His stamina amazes me. After September I will have no excuses not to get super-fit with him. For now, baby Jordan keeps me grounded :) Tim has had alot of time to get to know his Chaplain Assistant as well as a few others C.A.'s this week. This afternoon he is participating in a memorial service for a soldier who was killed stateside over last weekend. Memorial services have to be a Chaplain's least favorite duty, yet it is probably what families of fallen soldiers benefit from the most. I pray that Tim is someday able to lead in this kind of ministry in a way that Supremely comforts the hurting and gives Hope to the grieving. I also pray that his spirit, his light, is not dimmed by the darkness of these events. We will be moving into our house on Monday (3 more days!!) with the help of my parents. It is soooo good to have family who is able to come and help! I will post pics of the house when I get some.

Easter 2009 -- He is risen!!

Here are a few more pictures from our morning. It was cold here at Ft Bragg for our sunrise service.
And here is the first of my "belly shots". This is Jordan and I at 19 weeks. There really wasn't much to photograph until now. The bump is kind of hard to ignore at this point!

Easter festivities

The slide show above is of our family picnic as we gathered just before leaving Columbia. Both sets of Dylan's grandparents were there, as well as Aunt Liz and Uncle Robert.

This morning we spent some time exploring the post. We drove around and looked for street signs and landmarks -- only getting lost a couple of times! :) After lunch and a nap we took Dylan to what was listed in the paper as an "Easter Egg Hunt" at the local youth center on post. We decided to skip the beforehand festivities (who schedules a kid's event to start at 2pm? It's like the universal nap hour!!) and just to go for the Hunt. We arrived a couple of minutes before the Hunt was to begin. The best way to describe it is PANDEMONIUM! There were about 300 kids jockeying for position as workers threw thousands of pieces of candy on the lawn of the youth center. At the blowing of the whistle the kids took off and scooped and foraged the candy. Not exactly the representation of the meaning of Easter we want our kids to grasp! :) So pint-sized Dylan managed to get about 4 pieces -- and then it was ALL gone. In less than one minute that lawn was completely clean! Anyways, Dylan had a good time but was a little overwhelmed with the whole situation. Here are a few precious pictures.

After feeling a little "let down", we came back to our hotel-home and dyed Easter eggs. I guess we didn't take the time to properly explain what to do with the little color pellets because as soon as we gave one to Dylan to put in the vinegar he put it straight in his mouth!! It was the blue pellet, now less! Thank the Lord they are made of food grade, non-toxic dye! Here are a few pictures of the finished product.

Tomorrow we plan to attend a sunrise service on post to celebrate our risen savior. Tim is going to visit various Chapels until he finds one he feels he and we fit in with and then plug into the ministries there. Happy Easter, everyone!

A day of fasting and praying

Today the Chaplain's at Fort Bragg (and possibly other posts) are Fasting and Praying for suicide prevention. Last year the army saw its highest suicide rate in 3 decades. Please pray that these men and women serving God in the military are able to reach the hurting where they are and keep precious lives from being lost outside of the warzones.

Trusting in God

The past 2 days my mind has been continually meditating on Psalm 91:1-2:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust".

The Lord has been taking care of us in amazing ways, but this transition has been rough. The 3 of us are basically staying in a hotel room that has 2 double beds and a mini fridge, freezer, and microwave. There is one kitchen with a stove and sink for the whole building, and it is downstairs. Oh yeah, and no elevator...and I'm 19 weeks pregnant :) Now I know that's not exactly what some would call "suffering for Jesus" but it has been stressful trying to figure out how the 3 of us who have not been together much will now survive in a 300 sq ft space for 15 days. It is SO good that we can be together and I have missed our "family". But I am definitely longing for our house (should be ours by the 20th) and some space!
My mind has definitely been focused on our surroundings, and so this verse couldn't have been more timely for me. I am not dwelling in a small hotel room, but in the shelter of the Most High God. I am not sleeping on a double bed (with my husband and my growing, pregnant belly!); I am resting in the shadow of the Almighty. The hotel we are in is called the Leal Guest House. As I was showering yesterday morning, the spirit prompted me to look up the meaning of the word "leal". So after I showered and dressed, I looked up "leal" and found that it means "faithful, loyal, true". That's when I got goosebumps. The last part of this verse says that God is a refuge, a fortress, and someone we can TRUST! As random as this room assignment seemed to be, God used it to show me that I am in the Leal House, His house, His place of trust.
Sunday was a tough day. Reality hit and I had a hard time dealing with it all. I found myself not in a place of doubting what we were doing but feeling somewhat overwhelmed. Part of it was just the situation we are in and part of it I feel certain was Satan up to his never-ended scheme of making us take our eyes off of the author and finisher of our faith. There wasn't much we could do about our situation, but we could do something about the way this room looked! After a major overhaul, alot of organization, and a home cooked meal things were looking up! My motto has been and still is "One day at a time."
Dylan, who is 3, has been doing WONDERFULLY through it all. He has nothing but excitement for all that is going on and told me this morning "I like this cool place, Mom!" Wow, I wish my attitude could be that positive :) As he and I walked hand in hand today through the post hospital he randomly told me "Mom, you're so beautiful!" What did I do to deserve that? So flattering, and yet so humbling. God, help me to live in a way that is worthy of the blessings you have already bestowed on me.
Not wanting to leave out Tim, let me say what is going on with him. So far, it has just been paperwork, or what the military calls in-processing. Lots of information, little excitement. But Tim loves just being in this environment. He hopes to meet his battalion (the group of soldiers he'll be directly responsible for) on Thursday. If you are following our Journey, I pray it is a blessing to you as you. And please pray for us and the men and women of our military.

Transition so far...

Saturday, April 4th, 3pm

Since returning from the retreat at Kanuga, I have been in classes at Ft Jackson with other Chaplain’s spouses. The FRG (family readiness group) at Ft Jackson has begun providing a 3-day class designed to prepare the spouses of Chaplain’s for the world they are about to enter. The information we were provided was wonderful and necessary but overwhelming. It is a lot to take in. We basically went over in 3 days some of what took weeks for our spouse’s to cover in their classes. However, I now feel prepared…armed, if you will, for meeting the task that is to come.

Hearing the stories of the panel of wives during the seminar to me was priceless. Each one of their precious faces told me the same story, “You can do this. You can make it. It IS possible.” This will not be an easy life; it will not be a passive life. It will be what I, what we, make it to be. If we expect “great” and work toward it, that is what we will see. If we expect less, we will not be disappointed. One of the Chaplain instructors spoke to us the first morning of the seminar and he gave us a visual picture of what the majority of our ministry role will be. Exodus 17:8-13 says:

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. (ESV)

I treasure this analogy, because it reminds me of so many things. It reminds me that we are in 2 wars, physical (fighting terror) and spiritual (fighting Satan). Also, it reminds me that God has called my husband to this fight. It helps me remember that he WILL grow weary…just expect it. And when he does, put a stone under him, allow him to sit, and help hold up his hands. I know that is my duty and I pray that I am sensitive to those things and I perform them well.

To see Tim graduate from Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course (CH-BOLC) was almost a surreal thing. It was one of those moments in life that you anticipate for so long (longer than just these 3 months), and when it comes you think “I can’t believe it’s happening!” I don’t know when I’ve been more proud of him. As I write this, we are on our way to Ft Bragg to “settle in”. Although we won’t officially settle into our home until the 20th of April, we are going to begin our life there today as we check into hotel-like accommodations. I know there is so much to do, with moving, unpacking and Tim beginning a new job. But my mind is easy and my heart is calm. I know that each step will be orchestrated by God and that his strength and grace will be given me to meet each challenge. My pregnant body has definitely had trouble keeping up with the fast pace of the past week and a half (make that 3 months!) but I am still standing, and this baby is still kicking!

My mind is mostly consumed with thoughts for Tim and what is about to commence in his life. Today we should meet one of his head Chaplains and Monday Tim should meet his Chaplain Assistant. This assistant is an 18-year old Private Second Class whose job is to help Tim carry out his tasks and to defend him whenever there is a need for it. You see, Chaplains are weaponless at all times, even war. I am praying already that this PV2 is a good aim and shot, and that his heart is in the Lord’s hand. If you are following our Journey, please pray for us over the next month. It may be a difficult time for us as we adjust and transition. For God and Country…

From Drowning in Disappointments to Upheld by Hope

It’s not supposed to be this way... I chose to revisit one of my favorite books yesterday.  (Love Lysa’s story!) And my whole heart resonat...