Friday, May 30, 2014

blessed

Blessed.
It means made holy in one context. Another definition is happy. It brings up thoughts of safety, security, peace, and prosperity. After all, it's easy to be happy when life is wonderful.

What about when things are all going wrong, when t feels like the whole world has turned against you?

Are you blessed then, when everything is crumbling against you?

 As Jesus was traveling throughout Galilee, those were the people being brought to Him: people racked with pain, the sick, the demon-possessed, the paralyzed, those suffering from seizures. They weren't people living the easy life.

Looking out over all the people gathered below Him, Jesus listed those He called blessed:
~the poor in spirit
~those who mourn
~the meek
~those who hunger & thirst for righteousness
~the merciful
~the pure in heart
~the peacemakers
~those who are persecuted because of righteousness
~the people who are insulted, persecuted, and have evil things said against them because of Christ

By the world's standards, these aren't people who are happy. The world would consider these people weak, or at best people to pity, but Jesus thought differently.

He said that the kingdom of Heaven belonged to these people. He said they would be comforted, filled, shown mercy. They will inherit the earth, and they will be called sons of God.

Not only did Jesus call them blessed, he told them to rejoice and to leap for joy.

So when you feel down-trodden, take heart--rest in the assurance that Jesus has seen you, and He calls you blessed.


(See Matthew 5:1-12 or Luke 6:17-26)

”Whitespace
*Linking up with the Faith Barista for #spiritualwhitespace

Monday, May 26, 2014

memorial day: when I don't have words

Memorial Day.

I've thought about what to write for today for quite a while now. I wanted to come up with the perfect words--something profound, something I haven't said before. I wanted to explain just what today means to me as a "Gold Star sister" on a weekend full of barbeques, parties, and swimming.

The things is, I don't have any words.

This is the 10th Memorial Day since my brother was killed while fighting in Najaf, Iraq, and it seems like the words should come easily.

But they don't.

Instead, I have an unintelligible mix of thoughts and emotions floating around in my head and forming an occasional lump in my throat. It's a strange thing for me, the girl who has always been able to use words just how I wanted.
 
Sometimes, though, words just don't seem like enough.

If you want to read my thoughts put into words, you can read them here:
when my world started flipping
remembering
9 years... and still messy

This year, though, I want to leave you with something from my brother:


I Stand

I fail in this fight which embroils me;
I lack the strength to press on.
My spirit is crushed,
My mind full of doubts,
My body rebels,
Yet I stand.

Strength, welling not from within me,
Helps to resist this onslaught.
God lifts me up
From ashes and dust.
He is my Strength
So I stand.

Through the hail of fiery arrows,
Satan's temptations raining down,
God is my Armor,
God is my Shield,
God is my Foundation
And I Stand!

I can't win this battle alone,
But God doesn't require that.
He fights my battles;
He defeats my foes;
He asks just one thing,
That I stand!

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand!" ~Ephesians 6:13

~J. Michael Goins
2 LT, US Army
KIA 15 August 2004
Najaf, Iraq

Monday, May 12, 2014

how did I get here?

Have you ever looked around at your life and wondered, "How in the world did I get here?"

I know I have--please tell me I'm not alone!

I'm a planner and always have been, one of those girls who probably had a 5-year plan in kindergarten. I've made to-do lists and written out my goals (long term and short term, many times) and I've always known that things were supposed to work out just so.

For some reason, though, life has had a funny way of messing up my plans in the last 10 years. When I look around today, there's really not much that looks like the picture I had planned.

I never in my life dreamed of getting my Bachelor's degree in physics.
I didn't see myself still in school the year I turn 30.
I didn't see us living in a rented house 10 years into our marriage.
I didn't see myself working on a Master's in diagnostic medical physics.
I didn't see old furniture (as in, already old when we bought it in 2005).
I didn't see a headstone with my brother's name.
I didn't see missing the birth of my sister's baby girl.
I didn't see miles of student loan debt.
I didn't see us living in Ohio where things are so much different than I'm used to.

I've been knocked for a loop quite a few times by things I would have never seen coming:
a death
a medical diagnosis
a job I thought I would stay in forever but didn't
changes of major
grad school program confusion
the sudden retirement of a respected advisor
financial crashes
a roller coaster marriage
crises of faith

At the same time, though, there are so many good things I would never have dreamed possible:
two blonde-haired, blue eyed babies who are beyond amazing
a close family brought even closer through tragedy
three books published and a fourth on the way
a BS in physics and a MSBS in diagnostic medical physics in progress
a husband who values me more than I deserve
parents who will always put my needs before their own
a foundation of faith that has stayed steady through the crises
adventures and stories from Oregon to Ohio

There have been a lot of storms through the years, ones that had me desperately fighting to keep my head above water as the waves crashed around me. There have been times I've wanted to just give up, to let myself sink down below the waves and just let life overpower me.

When I look back, though, there has been one constant through it all:
all those times when I thought I was treading water and just managing to keep my head above water, it wasn't really me doing it.

All those times, God was holding me up.

It's like a memory I have from when I was little and we went to visit Aunt Brenda in Virginia Beach. She had carried me out into the water and we were watching the waves, jumping over the swells that came in towards the shore. At one point she told me, "Mandy, look! Here comes a big one!" I can remember looking to see a wave towering over us, and before I knew it the water had crashed down on top of us as we stood just off shore. For a moment I was lost under water, not sure which way was up and terrified for that instant that the wave would over power me and I would drown.

But then we came out the other side, my aunt's arms still tightly around me. I was sputtering a bit, but I didn't have anything to worry about--I was safe.

When I see the storms I've weathered in the past 10 years, it's a lot like that. The waves may be crashing over me, but God has me held tightly in His arms. Even when I'm lost under the wave and can't tell which way is up, He's right there--and I'm safe.

Monday, May 5, 2014

what I want my daughter to know

1. You can do anything you put your mind to.

2. Your worth is found only in God.

3. Math & Science aren't just for boys.

4. Never be afraid of the spotlight--or the background.

5. Inner beauty matters more than outer beauty, but in my eyes you will always be beautiful.

6. High heels and cowboy boots both have their places.

7. Guard your heart and your words.

8. Don't hide behind make-up.

9. Eat salads and cheeseburgers and cheesecake, all with equal abandon.

10. Don't let anyone tell you you're "just" a girl.

11. When someone underestimates you, prove them wrong.

12. Dream big!

13. Learn the value of hard work.

14. Earn the reputation you want.

15. Take risks.

16. Don't let anyone dictate your future.

17. Know the value of family.

18. Stand up for what you believe in.

19. Modesty is admirable.

20. I will love you forever.