Anyone who drives understands this law right now. Gas prices have soared and hit budgets in a big way. We studied it in government and economics class. The truth of this can be proven over and over again. The more we have, the lower the price ... the less we have, the higher the price. I have seen this law at work over the past few months and have heard from Chris that it is a frequent topic in the office and plants at work. What are the simple pleasures of life worth?
I have realized the value of a simple hug, a kiss at the end of a day, a hand to hold in a stressful situation. I was shopping for tickets to visit Dubai, UAE for a port call. The tickets were ridiculously priced (say $2000) ... and I actually considered it! Yes, a moment with my hubby was worth $2000 and 48 hours of travel.
So what does it teach me? Am I valuing the life that I have in the here and now? Do I appreciate what God gives each day, or only when it is removed for awhile?
Psalm 13:5-6 "But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD because he hath dealt bountifully with me."
Friday, July 18, 2008
Alright, no introspection and thinking out loud this time. Just a glimpse into a USS Lincoln birthday party and the art of care packages.
Yes, care packages are both a fun and a challenging part of separations. The US Post Office has become a great friend. They now have flat rate boxes and I have gotten up to 15 lbs in the flat rate box saving myself $10-15. Sometimes the packages can travel in a quick 5 days, others have taken up to 4 weeks. Both length of time and the heat of the Gulf add to the challenge. Many prepackaged foods fill each box, but there is nothing like a little bit of home. I have learned to bake sweet breads and cakes in jars which can then be "canned" by putting the lids on while still hot. (The Internet has mixed views on the safety of this - but we have not had trouble, yet) This unique method allows goodies to make it to the ship without mold and still in edible form rather than a stale brick. For those looking for other tips, cookies made with molasses and/or Karo syrup have a better "shelf" life. So off to the ship goes chocolate cake, icing, sprinkles, noise makers, candy, and BUBBLES! (Party in a box). I guess all the boys enjoyed the party and I was glad that my sweetie could have a little celebration.
We have a few holidays and celebrations to commemorate when we are together again. The plan is one nice dinner at The Melting Pot - a fondue restaurant where the meal becomes an event. We will celebrate 2 birthdays, an anniversary, a homecoming, a separation from the Navy, and the start of a new phase of life!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
So often it is the storms of life that teach us the greatest lessons. The Navy has provided us with some of our greatest trials in the past years, but God has used this institution to give us some of our greatest blessings. (Please realize that throughout the post I recognize the US Navy as the path that God chose to use to work in our lives)
Without the Navy - there would be no Chris and Sandra. It was the Navy that led Chris to South Carolina where he saw the plight of lost men headed to Hell without Christ. Through this realization, he surrendered his own life to God's will and accepted Him as Savior. When he arrived in NY with his new faith, his search for a church brought him to Latham where I was teaching. Not coincidence, but the hand of God.
The Navy has taught us to rely on God in a new way. While many get complacent because of the steady paycheck and the "perks" of military life, the separations have shown us how often we seek man for help before turning to God. When our closest human companion is not just a phone call away or in the next room, we run to the One we should have called out to first.
The Navy has taught us to appreciate our marital relationship. It is sad to hear men and women around us speak ill of their spouse. It is said that "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" and perhaps it is true. I am so thankful for the hundreds of letters that have been written that force us to put a voice to our feelings. There is not a day when I don't read a reason why my husband loves me. Not every married couple remembers to state what may seem obvious.
The Navy has provided the means to head to college in the spring. Many people finish college with extreme debt (not a good thing when heading into the ministry). God has provided for 4 years of school bills within the 5 years since we felt the calling to head to Bible school.
The Navy has brought us to the Seattle area and shown us the need for church planting and strong churches even in large cities. We never would have imagined how hard it would be to find a fundamental church in such a heavily populated area.
The Navy has provided Chris with a unique mission field. There are very few places where you are confined with the people you desire to reach for 6-7 months on end. So many times the stress of deployments and the unique difficulties of military life provide the sailors with questions that are a perfect spring board into the salvation message. It has also provided a testing zone - Can you imagine your testimony being under 24 hour surveilance by those you are witnessing to?
The Navy has shown me how to "Be still." Without the busy-ness of teaching, the immediate call of housework, and the closeness of family and friends, there is plenty of time to be still. It is through these times that I can hear Him speak the loudest.
The Navy has "shown us the world." Through the different port calls that Chris has experienced, we realize what a blessing it is to live in America. Through all its faults it is still the greatest nation in the world. Though our liberties are threatened each day, we still have freedoms that few other countries enjoy. I don't think that I will ever again view the "Patriotic Holidays" without realizing that someone is sacrificing their life, their time, their family for my freedoms.
The Navy has shown us the need to reach out. Without family or a large church family and with many deployments over the holidays, we have spent many holidays alone. I imagine that I realized this in college as well, but there are many "family" holidays when individuals need families to be with. It is so easy to include 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 more in our celebrations when we have so much to share - we just have to remember to do it.
The Navy has provided a growing time. The Navy contract is binding and has held us for the past 5 years when we would have wished to head right to Bible school. These days of waiting have provided much time to learn and grow and hopefully to be more ready to absorb what is waiting for us at school. We will have many more practical questions than we might have without these years and experiences.
The Navy has prepared us for college. So often I listen to couples who talk about the difficult days of married life during school. They most disliked the long times apart because of classes and work. I think that in this area even one hour together each day will seem like a treasure compared to DEPLOYMENT!
So I guess I write this to remind myself to look through the clouds, to look at the right side of the cross stitch, to view what God is doing for me and not to me.
Friday, July 11, 2008
One of Chris' favorite verses is II Chronicle 16:9, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." This verse hangs in our home and I love that it is ever before me. The thoughts have grown deeper this month. Why is it so hard to give over everything to the God who has promised and proven His power in our lives each day?
It has been about 2 weeks of extreme introspection and examination (Is that redundant?) I hope that the pain of these days has been that of one who is growing. My thoughts were primarily about things in my life that could hinder someone else's worship and why I hold on to those things. I determined that it is a lack of faith in God to meet my needs. Why do I choose the clothes I do? Why am I slow to ask someone to change their music or turn off a program or movie? Because I value man's opinion more than God's opinion. I don't see how God will meet my needs dispite a possibly negative opinion of someone else. Why do I want that new car? Why do I want a bigger house? Because I want what others have without trusting that God's plan for ME is His best. His plan for me is not the same as the plan for my neighbor.
I have often looked over the qualification to the promise as I read this verse. My lack of faith and my concern with other's opinions can negate the promise. My heart has to be perfect toward HIM! Is that why I lack faith? It may be because I know that my heart is not perfect. He often keeps his promise despite my evil heart, but He is not bound to the promise because I have not kept up my end of the bargain. Isn't God good to teach the tough messages any time?
Do I ramble? Perchance. But I appreciate the teaching that the Lord has given to a wife with much time to "Be Still" over the past 4 years of deployments.