Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The End of a Soldier's Tour

I lifted my head up fast. Sweat beaded on my forehead and my heart raced yet I had no idea what I had just dreamt...but I knew The Lord had something else to show me. A few deep breaths and I lied back down and awaited, fully awake. I began to watch people of a foreign town walking about. Their eyes squinted as they looked in my direction and their darkened leathery faces shown red as the sun lit upon them. I heard a very loud screeching sound, so loud that I had to shut my eyes. Suddenly, I could see nothing but a couple of puffs of pale blue light flash in front of me. I felt my bones vibrate gently but I could hear and see nothing. I wanted to look around for the people with red sunlit faces but saw nothing other than softness. For a moment I felt others, as if we were bumping into each other and then the most inviting tug lifted me. I could feel the smallest breeze as I moved, yet it didn't seem to caress my body as it had so many times before. There was no air moving around the nape of my neck, or blowing my hair, I just felt it inside me. I was on my way...and I smiled up at my ceiling as the scene faded away as if it were the ending of a great film. I took peace from that, and Trusted that it was just that easy.

I got out of bed after an exhausting weekend and told myself I don't have to cry anymore, but I knew I would. My little cousin has done his fair share of tours overseas after serving 8 years as a United States Marine. We said goodbye to him this Memorial Day weekend as he arrived back to his hometown after contracting to go back into Afghanistan. The Lord decided it would be his last tour of duty there, and here on earth and a suicide bomber ended it. I was very angry at first but after a few days of praying, I know that The Lord knew which families to touch...to make it REAL. These soldiers are willing to risk their lives to train the innocent to stand on their own feet so that one day, men and women can come home to their families safely and hope their own children won't have to do and see the things they've had to.

I had to watch a twelve year old, a four year old and a one year old look at their Daddy's picture next to a delicate flag while Marines saluted them and wonder why can't they just see him again. I watched a beautiful widow hold her head up because she had to, and a mother that only had her child for 33 years wipe tears from her grieving eyes. I watched an amazing little sister on the news speak of her big brother that's always been her hero, as he now he is being recognized throughout the world as our's. Marines spoke highly of this honorable soldier and I listened to a father speak of his stepson in front of a packed funeral home as the biggest Blessing, having been a part of him for most of his life. All I kept thinking was...I need to be a better soldier. One day, my tour here will end as well and I may not see it coming. I may see the baby blue flashes and feel that small jolt in of my bones and feel that inviting tug. I hope that the country Baptist preacher is able to stand and say what a good soldier I've been.

We have many battles while our tour rages onward and with every single day I rely more and more on the shield HE provides. I have all the weapons I need though they can't always be seen. I had to ask myself why can't they? I should walk proudly with all my armour and the sword of Truth but often I fail. There are much bigger battles lying in our paths ahead, unseen by us and there is only one way around them. I have to remind myself all the time that for every Goliath, there is a David.  "...I'm on the battlefield for My Lord, I promised HIM that I...would serve HIM 'til I die now I'm on the battlefield for My Lord."

The exhausting weekend is behind us now. Days ago, we didn't think we'd make it through but He led us here and He led us to the other side. We face mountains not sure if we have the energy to climb but there's always a gentle tug helping us up if we only ask. I am once again Blessed to be HIS child. Rest in Peace Joseph Elrod. You've already made me a better soldier.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Spoonful of Pride

Once again, I offered my hands to write. I looked outside at the damp, at the cold, and knew I had to leave the warmth of my house behind and walk into the rain. The glass storm door slammed behind me as my steps were labored up the slick hill. I stuffed my bare hands into my pockets and thin drops fell from the sky with abundance as I made my way to the porch beneath the old tin roof. I stood listening to the music of the blackberry winter shower, but my body remained warm. I was both thankful and saddened to be out of the rain, because while I was in it, at least I could feel. For a brief moment I wasn't too busy, I wasn't distracted.

I closed my eyes and listened to the singers from yesterday's church service sing "...the battle's not mine, said Little David..." and I saw his hands shaking. The teen held up the piece of paper with the words scripted upon it and I knew he wanted to be back on his pew, but for a moment, he put himself aside, and sang for The Lord, and I smiled at the sweet thought. I could see all the smaller children standing up at the front of the church getting ready to sing their song when I heard her voice growing from behind me. I couldn't see her, but she stood and spoke as all the little children peered at her. I imagined seeing through a pair of those little eyes and watching tears fall from the adult congregation. The piano player also spoke and for a moment I couldn't breathe. Tears fell and a burst of air came into me when I could find none. For a split second, I could feel HIM, I could smell, taste, hear, and see HIM all around me. HE was in the voices that spoke and sang, HE was in the eyes of the children, behind the fire that fueled the preacher, and the seconds slowed down for me to take it all in.

I reluctantly opened my eyes and I was still standing in the cold but still felt warm. The rain drops were now thick and fell in slow motion. They landed with a profound thud as water rippled the shallow puddles I wondered what HE was going to have me write this day. I knew I had to go back into the rain. There was no desire of the flesh to walk out of the comfort but I knew I must.

My feet trotted through sandy mud and I could hear it crunch beneath the soles of my shoes. Still looking for HIS words to write I traveled until I felt the cold. I walked back inside and sat down to write, unsure of the message. There was an overwhelming desire to read The Bible, instead of write. I think I ran through the house searching for the first Bible I could find, having no idea what I needed to read. I looked blankly at the tabs reading over words, Titus, Acts, Ephesians, and felt no desire to open it. I saw a crooked tab which read Obadiah, and I knew that was it. I opened The Book slowly and read the small book of only one chapter.

What I understood it to speak of in the beginning was pride. "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle....thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD." I studied the book and I read of how we must not take advantage of the misfortunes of others, the distress of others, the calamity of others. I understood it to go on and say that "all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down..." I wondered what all I would have to drink and swallow down when it came time for my judgement...and I felt sick.

I put down The Book and was confused. I wondered how all this would apply to me, what did HE want me to write, what did HE want me to say? I stood at the back door not wanting go back into the cold rain. I knew there would be nothing on the other side of that door, but my feet moved anyway. I again felt the rain hitting my flesh and this time I could feel the cold immediately. I kept asking HIM, what are you trying to tell me?

In that very moment a loud noise came over the mountain top. The clouds were so thick I couldn't see a thing but I knew it was a low flying military helicopter. It flew right over me but I saw nothing. I could feel it move over as the ground shook beneath me. I had no reason to question its existence, its sound, its path.

I had to swallow a big spoonful of pride and realize that it's not always about me, for me, or to me...but I can't question the message. I don't always need to write out of obligation, out of desire or even, at times, pride. There is a reason I needed this, whether I can see it all yet or not. I can spend all day in the rain and within myself, not figure out everything...but I trust in HIM, and HE will give me what I need, when I need it.

There are things given to us sometimes because someone else needs it. There are hardships given to us, because someone needs to watch us go through them. We can't question the path, the way it looks or sounds or feels as we travel just because we don't see all the curves or see what we'll encounter along the way but as long as HE leads, we'll find our way HOME. Thankful that I can feel, even if it seems like a lot to swallow.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

For Such a Small Bird

My knees bent and my back crooked over them as I placed my hands flat down. My head found rest upon the carpet and my tears spilled into the rug as I shamefully confessed how undeserving I am. I have a calendar filled to the max with events of the flesh but I've not made time for my Lord. Rushed prayers and a handful of leftovers is all I've offered in the past several days and chaos has consumed me.

He forgave me, yet again. and I lifted my head to do better. I walked towards the old cabin's porch and I waited for HIS words. I expected calm so I took a deep breath in and waited. Chill bumps filled my arms as a cooling breeze swept through and I could hear the creaking of the old wooden rocking chair. A bird landed right in front of me with a huge grub worm held tightly between his beak. I thought to myself what a great feast for such a small bird. I heard a dog barking in the distance and he sounded very angry, but I knew I would never know why. I know people that bark all the time and I know they are angry and hurt but sometimes it is not our place to quieten their bark, it's our place to listen to it.

The dog continued and I closed my eyes looking for quiet, looking for calm but it wasn't there. Everything got louder. Birds were flying rapidly and in every direction and my heart began to beat faster. Even though I wanted nothing more than to get up and walk away, I trusted HIM. I sat in the middle of the chaos until I felt compelled to get up and walk toward the barking dog. It could have been a mile away through the woods but I knew I was supposed to walk away from that porch, so I did.

As I walked through my yard, the dog stopped barking. I stood there waiting for it to begin again, but it never did. It just stopped. I looked behind me and I saw color. Flowers were filling the meadow and blooms filled my yard yet I had walked right past it all, unaware because of a little noise. I looked over at the field of deception, the field full of weeds which the farmer had treated a couple of weeks earlier. The field was left almost barren but now that the weeds were gone, it was green, healthy, and productive. I had almost missed that also but I too, have been stricken with weeds, barren and unproductive.

I carried on throughout my yard until I found myself standing in front of a rose bush crying. I remembered as a child how I would see elderly ladies outside their homes staring at their flowers. I always wanted to be like that...have nothing to do but stare at pretty flowers. I walked up to my favorite little tree near my front porch. The faint smell of honeysuckle filled the air and ground was carpeted with white flowers. My husband says that was always his grandmother's favorite tree too and I stood there for awhile, in the peace, in the calm.

I knew I had walked through the chaos and into the calm by trusting His lead. I didn't bother wiping away tears as they fell onto my collar. In the light breeze I began to hear something...something so far away. I couldn't tell what it was but it sounded so beautiful and I wanted to hear more. I stepped deeper into my front lawn trying to figure out what the sound was, but all I knew is...I wanted more.

I stood very erect and very still. The wind stopped for just a brief moment and I heard it again. This time is very prominent and I knew it was the song of a distant wind chime, though I have no idea where it was coming from. It was just there. It reminded me of playing in my yard as a child and hearing the noon-time toll of the local church bells. I listened for as long as it played, back then, and now.

I have found myself in the middle of chaos, in the middle of noise. For once I didn't run from it, I walked into it, knowing I can't always make it go away. I listened to it until it got quiet. I smiled knowing that once again, my Lord has provided such a great feast for this small bird, but I thank him for it all...for the chaos, for the quiet, for the feast, for it all.