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Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Good Steward

I have been struggling a lot lately with being a good steward of the things my God has given me. I believe as a Christian that I should be aware of what goes on around me in this world and to do things to help take care of this place God has given me to live, like recycling, etc. I don't believe global warming exists because I believe there is nothing new under the sun, so that's not my reasoning behind wanting to take care of the earth. However recycling is not what I've been struggling with either as it's mandatory in Germany to recycle so no problem there! :)

I have been trying to get my focus back to being God first above everything and lately that's been a real struggle for me. So I started reading through this book "The Pursuit of Holiness" by Jerry Bridges. It's only a seventeen chapter book but so far it's been a good reminder of what my focus should be and how I should go about keeping it pure and such. Well one of the chapters (chapter 11) I read this week was on Holiness in Body and I have HUGE issues with that in my life because I LOVE food! Not only do I love food but I also love a lot of the WRONG foods, junk foods, chips, chocolate, cookies, cake, ice cream, etc. the list could go on for miles!! I was really convicted when reading that chapter because eating and not eating has been a battle in my life for a long time. Now please don't miss understand me, I am not bulimic (any of you that know me, know that I HATE throwing up, eeewww!) or anorexic. But if I had to pick between the two to say which I was closer to becoming at one point in my life it would be anorexic. Thankfully though my body physically won't allow that as I have low blood sugar and my body gets WAY outa wack when I don't eat. So having shared that, food is a struggle for me. I like to eat all the "bad" stuff as well as all the good stuff. The "bad" stuff is just easier to get to, if you know what I mean, as generally you have to prepare the good stuff and the "bad" stuff comes prepackaged!

So over the last few months I've been trying to eat more balanced meals with fruits and veggies, etc. and trying really hard to cut back on my weakness, sweets. I was convicted though because I've not been really good about cutting out my sugar intake, I still kept cookies or ice cream or something sweet in the house for me to have as a late night snack, NOT A GOOD IDEA because I always get hungry at night! God has showed me that I need to be a better steward of what I put into my body because He created me and my body is a temple to Him and I should care for it as such feeding it the right way and working it out to stay healthy.

Unfortunately my reasons for wanting to eat right and stay fit where to keep up with the worlds standards on how I should look to "truly" be beautiful and those are definitely the wrong reasons, so I was convicted there also. It's hard for that not to be my focus as that standard is all around me and when I find myself falling into the trap of "I have to look a certain way" I stop and pray for God to change my attitude behind my actions for wanting to be healthy and look nice. Plus I want to be comfortable in my own body, which I'm SO not right now and by comfortable I literally mean comfortable. I hate wearing shorts or skirts (not just in the summer) because my legs rub together and it HURTS, I can't stand it, it's uncomfortable! Also I just want to look nice for James, I don't know if those are wrong reasons but it is the truth. So I continue to pray about it and lift it up to God and listen for His voice on what I should eat for the day and when to work out and am trying not to worry about the rest, leaving it in His capable hands to shape me how He wants me and to be satisfied with that result. "I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, wonderful are Thy works and my soul knows it very well." (Psalm 139:14) One of my favorite Psalms not just that verse but the whole Psalm!

I do wonder sometimes though if women's struggle with food and body stuff comes from Eve being tempted with food and falling into that temptation....something to think about. I don't really know why I'm sharing any of this, I guess it's just been on my mind lately, it also feels good to get it of my chest, ya know? Anyways, I'll stop rambling now! Cheers!


My dear sister Krissie passed this along to me and I wanted to share it with you all because I have felt the same way this woman has a lot of the time since James left. Granted our situations differ slightly as my husband is a Soldier not a Marine (their deployments are a little less than a year I believe, though they can be longer as it is the military) and we do not have small children in the mix and for that I'm thankful though it does make this journey a bit more lonely. I have and still do struggle with the same things she mentions in her blog post and even though I don't know this woman I was blessed nonetheless by her words which follow. Thank you Krissie for sharing this with me.

I well remember the day I learned my husband--my Marine--would soon be heading to Iraq.

For the first three years of our marriage, he'd been in a unit doing a job that kept him from being deployed, so while we knew that as a Marine he'd most likely be heading to that sandy spot at some point, it remained something we thought of as "sometime in the future." I remember the quick catch in my breath the moment I realized that "the future" had caught up with "the now."

Shortly after our second son was born, we embarked on this, our first deployment. As I watched the buses pull away early that morning, tears streaming down my cheeks as I helped our then twenty-month-old son find Daddy amidst a sea of waving hands, I caught my breath again. What was ahead? What should I even expect? How on earth would we get through these months and months without him?

I spent the first few days feeling a bit numb. I was unsure what to do with myself, even in the near-chaos of having two very little children. I soon found that going to bed early, hoping to sleep away some of the evening time loneliness, only brought hours of tossing and turning. I began sleeping diagonally across our bed to take up empty space. I searched through my recipe box for meals that could be pared down to feed only me and a toddler. Still, fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, and burritos filled our dinner plates far too often those first few weeks. Though typically outgoing, I found I was suddenly unsure of myself in groups of friends. When I headed to church for the first time alone, I had to laugh all the way from the car to the building-I made quite the spectacle trying to juggle an infant seat, two diaper bags, my purse, my Bible, a plate of muffins, all while holding my toddler's hand through the parking lot. A few minutes later I was ferociously blinking back tears as I looked for a single seat in the auditorium--a fresh reminder I was on my own now.

It didn't take long to realize I'd harbored a whole slew of misconceptions regarding deployment over the past several years.

I'd assumed that while the first month or two was so hard, the loneliness would subside a bit as we all got used to being apart. A friend whose husband was also deployed told me not to expect it to get any better. She was right.

It's been a little over six months now since that day my husband headed to the other side of the globe. I miss him more now than I did the day after he left. Yes, I've stopped expecting to hear the door open in the evening and I'm used to cutting recipe ingredients in half, but the loneliness isn't one bit less intense.

Thankfully, staying in contact at this point isn't nearly as complicated as it was when the war started. We're able to hear from my husband frequently on the phone and we've even seen him via video feed twice. The boys color him pictures and he sends them "Daddy movies."

I think most military wives would agree that the evenings are the hardest. Once the little ones are asleep, and the busyness of the day has come to a close, there are still several hours to fill. Silence--when it's the only choice there is--doesn't always make the best company.

That first day my husband learned he'd be heading into the war zone, I felt my heart sink. The emotions I experienced were raw and intense, and I looked ahead, anticipating what I imagined I'd feel when he really did leave. By the time we actually reached his departure, I had a myriad of ideas and expectations for what was ahead.

And then it happened. He left. And it was nothing like I'd imagined.

In my mind's eye I'd seen ahead to the nights when both children would be awake at the same time and there is only one parent here to get both back to sleep. I'd known both boys would have a hard time without a daddy home. I knew I would too.

And yet, when I'd looked ahead, I hadn't seen Jesus there waiting for me. I wasn't experiencing His grace while just imagining what was to come. When our two-year-old cries in the night for his daddy and my heart is breaking, I feel my Lord's arms wrap around both of us, holding us close. When I wake up in the morning, unsure how to face another day and the loneliness is eating away at me, God gives grace like I'd never imagined. When my husband calls and listens over the phone to the boys playing, I know we've been given a blessing simply through technology. When I watch the news--which is purposely not often--and hear of a bombing in Iraq, the way God's peace replaces the initial fear is nothing short of miraculous.

He's also shown me His love through the wonderful people around me. People who have told me they were praying for me--and they really do. The friends and family who called and kept us busy while we made the initial transition. People who still take time to ask how we're doing, call, email or send notes of encouragement.

The most helpful thing of all has been when friends or family have simply called and informed me that they're going to help. I don't always know exactly what I need, and yet through many different people, God has provided what I'm not even sure of myself. People like the mother and daughter who have set aside one day a month to give me a day "off." Friends who call and say, "Hey, I'm at Starbucks. What would you like?" When we're sick--which has been, strangely, quite often this year--I've been surrounded by friends and family who come to my rescue, with medicine, diapers, food, or coming to stay with us when I've been too sick to get off the couch. I've even had blogging buddies send boxes to my husband's unit. I am unbelievably thankful for these people. God prompted them to do something... and they just did it.

Sadly, there are military spouses all over the place without a support system like the one I've been blessed with. Some are the families of reservists, some are stationed at military bases far from home. It makes me realize how many times I just assumed someone had help and didn't offer it myself, or forgot to hug a wife whose husband just left. I've been guilty of being "too busy," or imagining that a phone call wouldn't mean much. Of course nothing can take the place of a deployed spouse, but reminding the family at home that they aren't entirely alone can make all the difference in the world.

We're now getting closer and closer to the homecoming of our Marine. It will mean a whole new transition as we get used to having him around again. I've become accustomed to having things be my way around here! Our two-year-old has been missing his daddy more than usual lately and will be thrilled to see him. I just have a feeling he's not going to be as sure about the whole listening to Daddy thing. And the baby? He gets to actually find out just who this daddy-person is we keep telling him about.

To say we're excited would be the understatement of the century