Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Southerner and a Jew


What could a dark skinned, curly haired man wearing sandals have in common with a fair skinned, blonde haired gal who says "Y'all"? Not much, or so I would have thought. But the more I learn of Paul in the New Testament the more similarities I see in that analogy.


Paul, or as I should say Saul, was a man steeped in religion and tradition (think "Fiddler on the Roof"). He prided himself on just how many rules he could keep and how methodically he could do things. And all of this was not just some obsessive-compulsive tendency. It was his legacy, his religion, his hope of salvation.


And what about that southern girl? Well, chances are she comes from a long-line of whatever she comes from. She grew up in a home where "It's always done this way" and "saying Grace" were frequently heard. She probably also grew up in church, cutting her teeth on the same pews that her grandparents sat in while her parents got married.


Now in the south, we know how to be nice…or as we say, "nas". We are good girls who don't sass our Mamas and hug our Daddies. We are kind to others and say "Yes Ma'am" and "Yessir". But to what avail? I fear that for many, such a life as this, steeped in tradition and church just as was Saul's, is seen as their legacy, their religion, their hope of going to heaven.


The truth is, all that gets you nowhere except a name in the community and a second helping of dinner. Being good is not good enough with God. Church-going does not equate to heaven-going. Why? Because it is ALL about Jesus. Just as Saul discovered, there is something transforming about the gift of grace that God gave each of us through His son. Now it is no longer about being good or going to church; it is about faith and a relationship with the man who is dying to save your soul. This encounter with Christ is so transforming that even Saul's name, his identifying label, was changed (to Paul). He could no longer be called the same thing anymore; the old had passed away and the new had come.


So how about you? Do you need to break away from your past? Do you need to rethink your religion? Let the transforming power of Christ be yours as you meet Him on your Damascus road.

What it’s like


From time to time, I have become aware that there are those who are following my blog. This is truly a humbling thing that floors me. I write not to have followers, but to journal and capture our journey as it comes and goes. The Lord has called us to this ministry of Chaplaincy and I want to faithfully tell our story. My hope is that those who are considering this lifestyle will find my words helpful, full of hope, and heartfelt. There is a link on my blog site that will allow you to jump back to the beginning of our story …to get the full picture. But, let me attempt to "nutshell" it for those who are considering the Chaplaincy as a career. {I use the male pronouns by default; I understand that there are some female Chaplains in the military}. What is required of an Active Duty Chaplain is a seminary degree and at least 2 years of experience in the ministry, among many other physical requirements. A Chaplain will also have to have an endorsement from his faith group that states he is capable of adhering to the doctrines and principles of his faith group. (Basically, he's a good guy and stands by his stuff). The next step would be getting accepted into the Army as a Chaplain. This involves submitting A LOT of paperwork to the Accessions Board and then waiting…and waiting…and waiting. (If you are at this point, DON'T get discouraged!). Once the Chaplain is accepted (by the way, while there was once a critical shortage amongst Army Chaplains, statistics show that number is nearly back up to necessary levels) the Accessions Board will notify him of his start date for what is called CH-BOLC (Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course). Currently, it is held at Ft Jackson, SC. It will be up to the Chaplain to be sworn in prior to beginning to CH-BOLC, which lasts for 3 months. After completion of CH-BOLC, he will be assigned to a Post and that's when things get real.


Whew!....That is truly a nutshell version and if you are considering Chaplaincy I encourage you to read back through my blog segments for more details. The first year is truly a transitional blur for the Chaplain and his family – just trying to get bearings down and boxes unpacked. We have been in for 1 year now and Tim has been with his Military Intelligence battalion now for nearly 9 months, the first 6 of which were just trying to find which way is up, meeting faces and learning names, and figuring out how to do this "thing" which is the Chaplaincy. For the kids and I, the last 9 months have been about trying to put down deep roots fast. Finding our niche and our routine, all while supporting our Chaplain and his ministry in any way we can. While a Chaplain is in Garrison (i.e., stationed at home), his job duties will include A LOT of counseling and A LOT of meetings, as well as trying to get a plug in for all things spiritual wherever he can. Another unique duty is conducting the Strong Bonds retreats. These are Army funded get-a-ways designed to build and strengthen marriages and families, as well as build and strengthen single soldiers mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and morally. This has been my main connection with Tim's ministry so far, outside of keeping him fed and his clothes clean J


For the kids and I, we have found military life very agreeable. We live in a nice but small house in a great neighborhood. We have good neighbors, many of which we know well and are our same "boat". One good thing about Army life in post is that you always have something in common with your neighbor. Our neighborhood has a nice activity center with a great pool. There are many activities, events, and opportunities that my kids and I are involved in. Currently, the Army is changing things up in our neighborhood and they are going to relocate us into a larger (2000 sq ft!) 2-story house in the near future. What a blessing!!


I don't say all that to make light of the challenges that exist. We have NOT been through a deployment yet and do not know what that is like. I can only imagine the hardships that lie within those 12+ months of separation. But I have chosen to believe with all my heart that God has a plan and a purpose for my existence during the months of deployment that lie ahead of us. Just as God has purposed Tim's steps as a Chaplain and has great things in store for his time in Afghanistan, so He has for me on this side of the world. I also have to believe that God is going to give me the tools and resources I need to face each challenge that he ordains to come my way while Tim is deployed. I pray I can look for the 'help' he will bring me through each difficulty and use that as an opportunity to trace His hand in my life. God will not be watching from afar saying, "Well, you're husband is gone now. Let's see how you'll handle this!" Believing His words are true, I am trusting that He hasn't and will never leave or forsake me.


I would love to speak write/to any of you who may have questions/concerns about the Chaplaincy. I welcome your comments through my blog or my e-mail.

Monday, January 11, 2010

TwentyTen

2009 has definitely come to a close and 2010 is beginning to feel more like a new friend than a distant relative. Our Christmas was a busy one as we logged 2900 miles in our Acadia while away from home. We left on December 18th for Arkansas by way of Alabama. As we headed on our trek we got news that Chaplain's grandfather, affectionately titled "Pawpaw", was in his last days. Dementia and other systemic health problems had taken its toll on Pawpaw and his time on earth was coming to a close. After a night's stay at my parent's and dropping off the pups, we made our way to Little Rock. On the 21st two days after we arrived we got word that Pawpaw had headed to heaven to have an early Christmas. So the next day we made the journey back to Alabama for the viewing and funeral. On Christmas Eve, we back-tracked to Arkansas and enjoyed Christmas with Chaplain's family, including his sister, brother-in-law, and D's and J's cousins. It was a great Christmas with lots of surprises and it was even cold enough to use the fireplace! When headed back home, we went by Mom and Dad's again (to get the dogs of course) and enjoyed a little more time with them. D and J took all the traveling and strange sleeping arrangements in style and handled it all so well. D enjoyed having family around all the time and was thoroughly bored when we returned home. We made it back to bragg on the 30th and enjoyed several days together just the 4 of us before Chaplain returned back to work.

It was so special having a baby around this Christmas. We reflected on the fact that it was this time last year that we found out J was on the way! Having her in our arms and seeing her coo and smile made every light brighter and each song more joyful. J, you are such a precious jewel. Your father and I cannot believe how beautiful you are...from your blue eyes to your smile, we marvel each day at how lovely God made you. You have an open-mouth smile, almost like you are trying to laugh each time you grin. You are in LOVE with your brother; when he comes into the room your eyes lock on him and you watch his every move. He tries to make you laugh every chance he gets, and I have heard you chuckle a few times. Right now you are into rolling over and propping up on your forearms. You love your exersaucer, too. I have begun finding you asleep on your tummy more and more recently. You are somewhere between 13 and 14 pounds and I am so proud that every ounce of that is "homegrown". On January 9th, at 5 months and 1 week, I started giving you rice cereal, twice a day, and you absolutely loved it. It seemed as if you couldn't get enough with each spoonful, like you were wanting a continuous flow of the stuff! You get so messy but like to "eat" at the table with the rest of the family. You take 3 naps a day and, for the most part, sleep about 11-12 hours at night. Mommy is enjoying the gift that Daddy and God have blessed her with in that she has been able to stay home with you and your brother. It has made the past 5 months go by not quite so fast! Daddy doesn't get to spend as much time with you as Mommy, but he sure did enjoy being with you more over his extended Christmas break. The three of us are so grateful that God gave you to our family!

I bought a 12 month wall calendar today for my fridge. I like to keep one in the kitchen so I can track the families appointments and such. As I opened the calendar, it fell open to June. It struck me then that for approximately half of the duration of this calendar, I will be a "single parent, happily married" as Chaplain deploys sometime this summer for Afghanistan. We know it's coming, but seeing it in black and white can sometimes be startling. It is a necessary deployment, I get that with all my heart. Chaplain and I both believe that God calls us to serve Him in the hard things as much as in anything. For me the question isn't "Why, God?" but "Why not me, God?" Or, in this case, "Why not us, God?" So with willing (yet sometimes fearfully reluctant, Thomas-doubting) hearts, we say "Here am I; send me". The Bible says in Romans 10:14 "How can they hear without a someone preaching to them?" My prayer is that they WILL hear the message of hope and salvation as Chaplain faithfully preaches the word and counsels with his soldiers regarding their needs and times of crisis.