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Home is a Person

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Cor. 15:9

Home is a confusing word for me.

I grew up in Denver, Colorado, but moved away when I was 20.  My husband and I both served in the US Navy a total of 30 years, living in at least 18 different homes, on and off base, around the world, and back again.  The only house we ever owned, and that, only recently, is on a little plot in the Appalachian Mountains.  Our three daughters and their families live in as many places on the East Coast. My mom’s in Arizona, and my husband’s family is scattered here and there, including the town where we live.  And, our hearts are deeply knit with friends and fellowship in Ottawa, Ontario.

Each place was/is like home to me!?

Yes.  Upbringing, family, work, life, property, and fellowship; each set the stage for all that home means and feels. 

And no.  Each place leaves me with a sense of wanting.  Isn’t there something more? I feel like that little bird in the Dr. Seuss book who goes around to every living creature asking, “Are you my mother?” Is this my home? Where do I belong? 

Through this search, I’m discovering that home is not so much a place, as it is a Person.  God is my Home.  He is my refuge and shelter, upheld by His arms, carried on His shoulders, healed by His stripes.  He is the only lasting home I have.

I refer to Spurgeon’s devotional quite often in my posts, but that’s because he speaks to me in so many areas of my life.  And to this need for home, belonging and attachment, he speaks clearly:

“You have made the Lord your dwelling place, the Most High, who is my refuge.”  Psalm 91:9

The Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change.  Wherever the pillar of cloud stopped, the tents were pitched; but the next day the morning sun arose, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow mountain passes, up the hillsides, or along the arid wastes of the wilderness. [Sound familiar?]

They never stayed for long in one place.  Even wells and palm trees could not detain them.  They had an abiding home in their God; His cloudy pillar was their roof, and its flame by night their fireplace.  They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle or to say, “now we are secure; we will stay in this place.” [I’ve said that!]

Instead, Moses says, “Though we are always changing, Lord, you have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations.”  Psalm 90:1

The Christian know no change with regard to God.  He may be rich today and poor tomorrow; he may be sick today and well tomorrow; he may be happy today and sad tomorrow–but there’s no change regarding his relationship to God.  If He loved me yesterday, He loves me today.  My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord.  Even when prospects are few and hopes are squashed and joy is waning, I have lost nothing of what I have in God.

He is my refuge to which I continually return.  I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God.  In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet dwelling place.”

 

Teach me Lord, to find my rest in you, to be at home anywhere, and everywhere, because You are there.

You are my Home…now, and forever!

Story of a Song

“For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods!” Psalm 97:9

I EXALT THEE!

Every song has a story, even thousands of stories.  The obvious story is what’s being said through the lyrics.  Then there’s what the writer felt but, perhaps, never verbalized through the words of the song.  And then, there’s a story for each and every listener of the song–the pain or joy they equate with it, or where they first heard it, what they were doing, who they were with, etc. 

We have a story for “I Exalt Thee” which, as Spurgeon says, ‘shows that the goodness of God has been the same to us as the saints of old.”

Flashback:  1977.  Okinawa, Japan.  I was pregnant with our first daughter (Joy).  In the decades before  Amazon.com, UPS, FedEx and other express-mailing days, it was so exciting to get packages overseas.  Every month we ordered a record album through an old-school Columbia House membership.  When Pete Sanchez’s album arrived, it didn’t take long to realize what a treasure we had received!!  All the songs were so worshipful!  John loved them so much that he made a cassette copy for us to use at a home Bible Study that we attended.   Sitting in the small living room of our friends’ military apartment, our feeble voices joined with Sanchez’s to exalt the Lord above all other gods!

Flash a bit forward:  1989-1994.  A time when we were far away from the Lord.  During that time, we’d occasionally find ourselves in church with family, or *accidentally* listening to Christian radio, and “I Exalt Thee” would be sung or played.  I would weep, realizing how far away we were from that humble worship time in Okinawa–how far our hearts were from exalting our Lord above all gods.  How far we had fallen. 

Present:  The video above—singing” I Exalt Thee” with His church and precious believers in Ottawa.   After sixteen long years of God’s wounding and healing, tearing down and building up, rescuing, restoring, and reconciliation, we sang as if we were back in Okinawa.  That could only be the Lord’s doing.

And that is our story of “I Exalt Thee.”  That God is faithful.  He sees beginning to end.  In 1977, when we poured our hearts to Him in worship, He knew there’d be days ahead when we would fall away for a time, just as He knew Peter would deny Him three times.  And what did Jesus say?

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus didn’t let go.  Jesus didn’t quit on us when we quit on Him.  That’s our story–His faithfulness!

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

 

PS.  You can read more about our church service on Saturday nites at  SaulGood  and Andy’s blog, HERE.

55 Christmases

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:11

TMI. That’s what this post probably is. Who wants to know where I’ve spent a lifetime of Christmases?  But the Lord’s faithfulness over my vaporous years simply overwhelms me and I rejoice in His sovereign grace!  These years are like GOOD Christmas gifts, never requested or even dreamed of, all from the heart of a pure, loving, and extravagant Heavenly Father.

So maybe this post is just for me.

Christmases 1 – 22:   Denver, Colorado.  Family and security.
Highlight: My life was secure, I don’t have any awful stories! Praise God!
Low: 1974- First Christmas without my Grandma.

Christmas 23 – 24: Okinawa, Japan.  Navy, Married and New Parents.
Highlight: 1977- Celebrated with our newborn daughter, Joy!
Low:  1976- 6-month military separation from John (as newlyweds!)

Christmas 25:  Denver, Colorado.   Family Visit.
Highlight: Seeing Handel’s Messiah performed at the Air Force Academy

Christmas 26: Sarasota, Florida.   Family Visit.
Highlight: Celebrating our first Christmas with daughter, Hope!

Christmas 27 – 28: Guam, Marianas Islands, US.  Navy, Family, Fellowship!
Highlight: Christmas with our newest bunny, Grace!
AND:  Great Fellowship with lifelong friends!

Christmas 29 -30: Camp Pendleton, California. Illegal Homeschool Mom 🙂
Highlight:  Christmas on Sunday, Praise before presents!

Christmas 31:  North Shore, Hawaii.  Three homes for homeschooling!
Highlight: Living in Hawaii!!

Christmas 32:  Sarasota, FL.  Family Visit.

Christmas 33:  Denver, Colorado.  Enjoy parent’s hospitality. And more homeschooling.
Highlight: My dad gave John his first 35mm Camera.

Christmas 34 – 36:  Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico.  Back in the Navy for Me.
Highlight:  Extended Christmas celebration through Three Kings Day!
Low: Having to work Christmas Day, Eve, etc.

Christmas 37:  Sarasota, Florida.   Family Visit.
Highlight: Our two families celebrated Christmas all together!

Christmas 38 – 40:  Augsburg, Germany.  Navy, Family, Old World Traditions.
Highlight:  Nurnberg Christkindlmarkt, Gluhwein, and all that is German.
Low:  Missed my parents–they never made it over to visit.     

 
 

Nurnberg Christkindlmarkt

Christmas 41 – 42:  Virginia Beach, Virginia. Navy Teacher, Family, the States.
Highlight: My parents visited twice!

Christmas 43:  Blue Ridge Mtns,  Family Visit.

Christmas 44 – 47:  Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Smaller family, Bigger house!
Highlight:  White Christmases always guaranteed!
Low: 1997 – First Christmas with Joy living elsewhere.

Christmas 48 – 51:  Fort Meade, Maryland.  Girls coming and going!
Highlight:  All the girls together again!
Low: 2002-First Christmas Hope stayed in Ukraine. And 1st without my Dad.

Christmas 52 – 54:  Blue Ridge Mtns.

Highlight:  We couldn’t be with our family in December, so we celebrated in January.

Christmas 55: Ottawa, Canada.  We needed a snow and fellowship fix!

Christmas 56:  To be determined.

So, as the song by Steven Curtis Chapman says, “Christmas is all in the heart!” [1]  There were a few quiet Christmases, some leaner ones, and those much more abundant.   Lord, help me remember that, 

 ” in whatever State I am, at Christmas and everyday, therein to be content.  (Philippians 4:11 paraphrased) 

 

[1] Christmas is All in the Heart, Steven Curtis Chapman.  I just uploaded this to the blue Music Box, with a few other Christmas songs.  More to come….

Lest We Forget

 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits!”

God and Soldier Forgotten

 

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God…”  Deuteronomy 8:11-14

 

We have short-term memories as individuals and as nations.  God knew this only too well.  Others too..once upon a time, some insightful wise men noted the dilemma, and decided to dedicate certain days on the calendar as signposts to assist our flailing memories.  There’s Valentine’s Day, to remind us to say I love you to our most beloved.  And Thanksgiving, so we remember to be thankful!  It’s ludicrous that we require such reminders!  Nevertheless….we do.

So on Veteran’s Day, let’s remember with thankful hearts, the veterans of today and yesterday, as we go about enjoying our homes, our food, and freedoms, small and large, which many can only dreamed of. 

And more importantly (I can say this as a veteran), let’s not forget our Lord and Saviour, Who gives us each breath, directs our daily path, and watches over us as we sleep.   We must not forget the Cross and the sufferings of Jesus, which provide for all who believe, freedom from sin, a guarantee of death swallowed up in victory, and toil that is not in vain! (I Cor.15:57) 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of  His benefits.  Who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;  Who satisfies your years with good things…”  Psalm 103:2-5

Say Thanks Today

There are so many servicemen and women who aren’t “home for the holidays.”  They’re making the best of a difficult situation, as are their families back home.  PLEASE, take time to pray for them, then write a note to one today!  It only takes a minute—seriously!!    Click here:   Xerox-Let’s Say Thanks!

                

Memorial Day

TAPS

This is dedicated to any and all touched by the loss of a servicemember, whether in WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, to losses during “peacetime.” 

Thank you! 

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Tribute to a Fellow and Fallen Sailor

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

Today’s post is written in honour and tribute to a fallen Sailor, Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor, whose service to our country resulted in being awarded the Medal of Honor today–posthumously.  Excerpts from the MSN article is included, along with several links below, if you’d like to know more about this dedicated Sailor.  I make no apologies for my patriotism and support of our troops, their leaders, and their Commander in Chief.

MSNBC:  “….Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor had fast thinking to do when a live grenade came out of nowhere to bounce off his chest: Take the clear path to safety that he had but his comrades didn’t, try to toss it safely away, or throw himself on top of it.   With barely an instant’s hesitation on that Iraqi rooftop, Monsoor took the last course, sacrificing his life to save the men around him. For that, President Bush on Tuesday awarded him the Medal of Honor.

“In an East Room ceremony, Bush presented the nation’s highest military honor to Monsoor’s still-grieving parents, Sally and George Monsoor. About 250 guests, including his sister and two brothers, fellow SEALS, other Medal of Honor winners, many friends and GOP Sen. John McCain and other members of Congress, looked on quietly.

“‘The Medal of Honor is awarded for an act of such courage that no one could rightly be expected to undertake it,’ Bush said. ‘Yet those who knew Michael Monsoor were not surprised when he did.’  …Monsoor is only the third [Medal of Honor recipient] from the Iraq war, and Bush’s lip trembled and tears streamed down his cheeks as the official citation was read with the details of his bravery.   The emotional proceedings at the White House came as the top U.S. general and diplomat in Iraq opened two days of testimony across town on Capitol Hill on the status of the war, which has killed more than 4,020 U.S. military personnel…

“…on Sept. 29, 2006, Monsoor and his two American teammates, plus members of the Iraqi Army, were on a rooftop in a Ramadi residential area known as a stronghold for the Sunni insurgency. They were providing early warning and sniper cover for a mission aimed at trying to clear the neighborhood.   After a long day of back-and-forth engagement and evidence that the enemy was closing them off, Monsoor and the two other SEALS moved to a confined outcropping of the roof for a better lookout position. An unseen insurgent lobbed a grenade, which hit Monsoor in the chest and landed on the floor in front of him. He yelled a warning, but quickly saw that his fellow SEALS, not positioned near the exit like he was, wouldn’t be able to get clear in time. Monsoor fell onto the grenade just as it exploded, absorbing the blast with his body and dying from the injuries about 30 minutes later. Others suffered shrapnel wounds, but no one else was killed.   The Garden Grove, Calif., native, was 25 years old.  ‘Mr. and Mrs. Monsoor: America owes you a debt that can never be repaid,’ Bush said. ‘This nation will always cherish the memory of your son.'”

Quotes from the press release:

“He earned their confidence with his attention to detail and quiet work ethic. One of Mike’s officers remembers an instructor once asking after an intense training session, ‘What’s the deal with the Monsoor guy? He just says, “Roger that,” to everything.’

Perhaps the greatest tribute to Mike’s life is the way different service members all across the world responded to his death. Army soldiers in Ramadi hosted a memorial service for the valiant man who had fought beside them. Iraqi Army scouts — whom Mike helped train — lowered their flag, and sent it to his parents. Nearly every SEAL on the West Coast turned out for Mike’s funeral in California. As the SEALs filed past the casket, they removed their golden tridents from their uniforms, pressed them onto the walls of the coffin. The procession went on nearly half an hour. And when it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten.

White House press release video (approx. 14 mins)

Navy Website Link:  This website gives a full summary of MA2 Monsoor’s actions, his biography, complete citation of his award, and some photos from his military service.

Thank you to MA2 Monsoor and his family for their sacrifice for a grateful nation, as well as for all those who just complain.