book recommendations, When "Everything" Goes Wrong, I Choose Joy in the One True God

When “Everything” is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God

When “Everything” is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God

Then you will find your joy in the LORD…

Isaiah 58:14a

Just a side note, this post became a bit longer than intended, and may end up becoming a series of posts in the future.

When Joy Is Hard to Find

2019 has been an intense year. There has been joy, but there has been a lot of “hard” too.

Though, if I’m honest my family has been in a rough season since 2017 when my husband left Active Duty. It appears we’re not quite ready to reap the harvest yet.

If this past weekend is any indicator, we’ve got quite a bit more sowing left in this season.

To those who know us personally, it isn’t a surprise to know we’ve been struggling. The move from Active Duty to civilian life has not been an easy experience. There have been more bumps in the road than either my husband or I ever expected.

Life without the security of the Marine Corps is a constant act of faith.

Never have we been what you would call financially “well-off”, but we’ve always been able to provide for ourselves and our children without too much struggle.

Until we no longer could.

Becoming Humble

When we moved from Washington State to Virginia, we left nearly everyone we knew.

My children left their friends and Sunday school teachers they loved. I left my sister, my cousin, and my childhood best friend.

We also drove away broke, because of a paperwork error that took months to straighten out before the Marine Corps would release my husband’s final paycheck.

Driving across the country nearly penniless, heading to a state where we still hadn’t found a place to live, could have been terrifying.

Instead, there was joy.

Okay, there was some fear too, but whenever the fear would claw at me I’d remember that everything comes from God. That He would provide in His way and His time.

So, I gladly accepted the joy He provided.

I shared adventures with my favorite people as we explored amazing sites, both created by God and made by man; the joy of giggles and drinking too much caffeine; staying in questionable hotels that would be safer if they were condemned; and cramming three kids, a cat, a dog, and two adults as well as everything we thought we might need, into a minivan.

With excitement like that, who had time for fear?

Joy in God is Accepting Help

After arriving in Virginia things became more complicated.

We needed to find a place to call home.

What should have taken only a couple of days turned into a two-month ordeal.

During this time, God once again provided for us, by opening the hearts and home of our dear friends.

Looking back, I believe God led us to explore Classical Conversations in Washington simply so we could connect with Rachal and her family, because once she moved to Virginia He led us away from CC and in another direction with our homeschool.

When Rachal and her husband offered us a place to stay while we looked for a house, neither our family or theirs expected it would be more than a weekend affair. So when place after place fell through and we were led to purchase a home instead of renting, my heart was filled with such gratitude and love when they welcomed us with open arms.

Let’s just say, there are times I think they deserved a medal (and possibly a parade) for that alone.

Having never needed to rely on others, accepting that my husband and I couldn’t do this on our own was difficult.

Especially since he was in a completely different state going through federal training.

Joy in God Comes When He Provides Family

When "Everything" is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God--wellofaith.com

Rachal and I weren’t close when we lived in Washington. We were friendly, and she was always willing to swing by and get my kids when I was dealing with rough moments during the pregnancy with my youngest daughter; we just didn’t spend time together outside of CC or our small-group Bible study.

God Knew What We Needed

Suddenly my kids and I were part of her family. We did pretty much everything together for those two months. My eldest daughter celebrated her 10th birthday sitting at their dining room table. She finally had older brothers, and she was thrilled to be there with them.

When I discovered I was pregnant with my youngest, Rachal and her husband were the first to know. In fact, they knew before I did, since they were convinced I was pregnant before I ever considered it. Later she was there holding my hand during the early morning hours as I gave birth to my youngest son.

Through every hoop we had to jump through while purchasing our house, to being hit with a stomach bug while pregnant, God filled me with joy.

There was joy in little things: having a second set of hands to snuggle my youngest daughter; someone to love on my “spirited” and struggling son, a church that had everything we were looking for. Things that would often be taken for granted just kept leading me right back to God, and the joy that comes from knowing He is taking care of each and every one of us.

God always provides, and my joy is always because of Him.

I Chose Joy in God Anew This Week

On Sunday as I prepared the kids and myself for church, I received a phone call from my husband. He’d been in an accident on I-95 and his car was totaled.

As the kids and I drove to pick him up, I sang praises to God. My husband’s car was totaled, and I thought I knew the hardship that would cause, but he had walked away from it without physical injury.

My children didn’t have to visit their father in the hospital, and I didn’t have to explain to them why their daddy wasn’t coming home.

Worries, Stress, and Choosing to Be Positive

When "Everything" Is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God--wellofaith.com

Each day since the accident more and more obstacles have been placed before us. Some of them God immediately removed.

When He answers a prayer, the only thing I can do is praise Him and focus on the joy flooding through me.

Monday was especially rough, because my husband was trying to process what had happened, and I was as well.

The first wave of adrenaline and relief had past.

I woke up to a panic attack that only God could calm as I prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more, until finally the panic subsided and I was able to sleep again.

My husband was frustrated and bitter, and all I felt was an overwhelming sadness and heaviness of heart.

It didn’t take long before I was irritated with myself and decided to give it all to God.

I wrote out my prayers, my concerns, my frustrations, and my overwhelming belief in God. I wrote out my praises to Him.

Then I spent time in the study of Isaiah.

Isaiah 41 reminds us to stop lamenting and to return to rejoicing. That God provides for all our needs even during our struggles.

His testimony is that He will never forsake us.

We are to trust God as our shepherd and allow him to do it in the His way.

God Trumps Fear and Worry. Every Time.

While I immersed myself in God’s word, the fear and worry began to fade. Nothing had changed about our situation, but I gave that stress to God and accepted the peace and joy that replaced it.

Today things are still “bad” and there are no answers in sight. We don’t know where the next days and weeks will take us.

What I do know, is that I have joy.

Not because of any physical or material thing, but because I know joy in God.

The joy only experienced when you know God is in control, and that this isn’t our forever home.

Joy isn’t just a feeling.

It’s a knowledge that you’re never alone, and Our God is bigger than any problem we will ever face on Earth.

Until next time,

wellofaith

For more on the topic of joy check out this post.

When "Everything" is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God--wellofaith.com
How the Military Strengthened My Faith--wellofaith.com

How the Military Life Strengthened My Faith in God

How the Military Strengthened My Faith in God

The Military Life

My entire life has been connected in one way or another to the military.

I grew up the daughter of a Master Chief in the United States Navy. I joined (albeit shortly) the Army National Guard, and in 2005 I married a Marine.

All these years later, I realize just how much that military life strengthened my faith in Our Heavenly Father.

Each situation, transition, and experience added another brick to the foundation of my belief in God’s almighty power, His endless love, and boundless wisdom.

God is Always There

When my husband and I first married, we were immediately stationed on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

This sounds like a dream destination, but for us it wasn’t.

We struggled, and there were times it didn’t seem possible for us to make it through together.

Looking back it’s easy to see, God had a plan for us; we just weren’t listening to Him or leaning on Him.

We experienced many different things during our eighteen months there.

Most of it separately.

My husband spent a good portion of the time we were stationed there deployed to Afghanistan–or preparing to deploy.

Because of this, we relied heavily on ourselves, and then expected each other to fill the empty spaces in our lives.

It was rough.

I’d never been away from my family or my friends, and living on an island–basically alone–showed me a weakness in myself I’d never known.

Even though I wasn’t intimate with God during this season of my life, He was there.

Taking the hard moments and using them to help build a strong foundation for my future faith.

The LORD Does it Again

When we left Hawaii we were stationed in Virginia.

We struggled to build our relationship, because neither of us understood the other. We didn’t communicate, and we hurt each other deeply time and time again.

Military Life Isn’t Easy.

How the Military Strengthened My Faith in God-- wellofaith.com

Not even for people with strong marriages.

Being young made it harder.

The Marine Corps was a tough employer, and my husband worked long hours and was rarely home.

When he was home he would unwind by playing computer games.

A solitary activity that didn’t include me.

Between the stresses of his job, and our lack of connection I was emotionally exhausted.

After two years, I was ready to call it quits.

Then a Miracle Happened.

I’d been told after the loss of my son I’d likely never carry a child again.

God, however, works miracles all the time; in His time it happened.

With our marriage on rocky ground, we made it through the pregnancy and birth of our eldest.

It wasn’t easy, and we still didn’t turn to God or acknowledge Him in our lives.

We continued to go it on our own, and made each day harder than it needed to be.

Again, the LORD wasn’t deterred.

He used our experiences in this new place to add more bricks to the foundation of my faith.

Deployments, PTSD, and Selfishness

My Husband Deployed to Afghanistan Twice.

The second time he deployed, our eldest was a toddler, and that changed everything. His absence was no longer only affecting me, but was affecting a little girl who didn’t understand why her daddy wasn’t home to tuck her in.

This wasn’t the first time he’d been gone from our lives since her birth, but it was the first time the military had taken him to a war zone.

Those seven months were both a struggle and a blessing.

I just didn’t realize the ‘blessing’ part until years later.

While he was gone I experienced a number of things that would have been so much easier with God actively in my life.

Learning Experience: God is Faithful

My daughter ended up rushed to a children’s hospital when her temperature elevated and the local hospital didn’t feel capable of caring for her. We rode in the ambulance for over an hour, to a hospital in the middle of the desert.

I’d left my car at the local hospital with no idea of how she and I would get home.

Without knowing it at the time, God was there.

Her fever broke and we made it back home.

A problem that seemed insurmountable was solved.

Back to Back Deployments Are Traumatic

When a service member returns from a deployment it takes time for reintegration.

Not only for the member, but for the family he left as well.

We’d spent seven months apart, and during that time both our daughter and I had grown and changed.

He’d changed too.

You can’t deploy somewhere, see death, destruction, and misery, and not be irrevocably changed.

It was really hard to connect.

He and I had never really been great at communicating in the first place, add in the stresses of his returning to a safe place, and the communication was practically non-existent.

God used these struggles too.

I couldn’t see it at the time, and if you’d asked me during those days I would have scoffed at the idea of any god, let alone the God.

Then He Deployed to Okinawa

How the Military Strengthened My Faith in God--Wellofaith.com

Within weeks of his return, my husband was back scheduled to deploy again.

Granted, this time it wasn’t to a war-torn country where anyone could be planning to kill you; it still meant he would leave his family for another seven months.

Prior to any deployment, service men train for what might happen while they’re on mission.

This training takes months, and at times feels like a deployment itself.

We never saw him, and when we did he was angry.

I was angry.

Something was going on with him, I knew it and so did our daughter. He didn’t agree.

The week before he deployed to Okinawa, the dam broke. I was tired of seeing my baby girl hurt by her father’s indifference.

It was the first (and only time) my husband has ever sworn at me.

He was in pain, I could see it, but I couldn’t fix it.

I couldn’t help him, and he wasn’t willing to help himself.

My Decision: To Love

The night before he left, I made a choice.

It was time to stop being selfish. To stop placing blame, and just do what I should have done all along.

The same thing Jesus would have done.

I wrapped my arms around him, and loved him.

Regardless of my anger, my confusion, and my own hurt, I felt peace wash over me.

This was the right thing to do.

He wouldn’t leave our home with an angry, bitter wife. He would leave with a wife full of love for her husband.

It’s obvious now what that peace was.

That change wasn’t because I’m a naturally forgiving person.

God had wrapped His arms around me, and said, “trust me”.

Another Miracle

Seven months later when my husband returned, he was a different person, and so was I.

This time however, I saw something better in him.

There was a light in him again. The pain wasn’t gone, but it was receding.

God had worked on him too, it seemed.

In the solitude of long runs around Okinawa, God had started to heal my husband.

Military Life: Relocating Time and Again

From the East to the West and Back Again

Our active duty military career continued until 2017.

During those years we moved from Washington State to Hawaii.

From Hawaii to Virginia

Then onto California.

Back to Washington State, just to do it once more– across the Continental United States to Virginia.

We grew our family from that first miracle to four miracles.

How This Helped My Faith

Soon after we had our second child, our eldest son, we were given orders to return to Washington State (where our relationship originally began).

Just like that, a light came on.

Like a program working in the background of your mobile device, God had been working on me.

I’d discovered what had been missing from my life.

For so long I’d been trying to fill the empty space, and nothing had worked.

With the knowledge I was heading back to the home I’d run away from, I surrendered.

God broke through my stubborn pride, and with open arms accepted me: scars, bad choices, confusion, and all.

Through it All, He Remains

Since that summer day in 2013, many things have changed in my life.

I’d be lying if I said my marriage suddenly became perfect, and all our problems magically disappeared once I accepted God back into my life.

That we never struggled.

I’d be lying if I said our lives have been perfect and there hasn’t been a day of worry.

It doesn’t work that way.

There has been pain and loss (My father passed away in January 2015), and there were times of deep fear within this Momma( when the doctor discovered on Mother’s Day 2018 that my youngest daughter has multiple VSDs in her heart)

Being a Christian is hard. Really hard for so many reasons.

Jesus never said it would be easy.

But, I can tell you without a shred of doubt it’s worth it.

He’s worth it.

We’re worth it.

Through all the ups and downs, God continues to strengthen my faith. Not in myself, but in Him.

My family grows, matures, and loves each day, because of His love and righteousness.

And through everything–including the change from active duty military life to reserves–God continues to love me.

When the Marine Corps payment doesn’t come in when its supposed to, and the bank account is too low to cover everything, I trust God.

I know, without fail, God will provide.

Keep praying, I know I will.

Until next time,

wellofaith

P.S. For a book to help you reconnect I suggest: The Five Love Languages Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts

How the Military Life Strengthened My Faith in God
I Plant My Roots in Jesus

I Plant My Roots in Jesus

I Plant My Roots in Jesus

People Always Look for Roots

Either we want to set down roots, find our roots, or cover our roots with dye.

Roots, like people, come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Some are small, delicate, and easily damaged; others are larger, stronger, and withstand the passage of time and the inevitable battles that come along with life.

I am human.

A small, delicate root that would break off if I wasn’t attached to another, more substantial one.

Jesus.

His strength, unfailing love, and grace, build me up when I would otherwise break.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify these things to you for the churches. I am the root, and the offspring of David; the Bright and Morning Star.” Rev. 22:16

Putting Down Roots is Tough Without Jesus

I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to create a stable place for my children; a rough task when you’re married to someone in the service.

Every three years we’ve packed up our lives and moved to a new duty station. Some of these places have been better than others, and some of them I’ve been more than willing to see in my rearview mirror.

No matter where, the places have taught me something, and led me one step closer to Jesus.

Today the sun is shining brightly outside, and flowers are beginning to bloom. Gardens are being planted and the seedlings are burying their roots deep into the moist soil.

My children have also put down roots.

They have friends and activities, and they’ve started knowing the routes to places we go often. It brings me joy to hear them state where we’re going based on landmarks.

Within a few months, however, things will be changing again. My husband’s time as an Active Duty Marine is coming to an end, and our family will be facing the shift from military to civilian life.

This will likely mean not just a change in routine, but a change in location as well.

My eldest hopes to remain in the area she has grown familiar with.

The possibility she’ll have to leave her friends is an emotional trigger for her, and has led to a number of angst-filled conversations and outbursts.

My other two children are still too young to understand, and at this point, I count that as a blessing.

I Plant My Roots in Jesus

God Knows His Plans

Currently we don’t know where the LORD will lead us.

Daily we pray for His guidance and that we trust in Him.

My husband and I aren’t making any plans without prayerful consideration, because we understand our wants don’t always align with God’s plans for us. Since we want Him to use us to further His glory, we will follow Him.

While there is a possibility my daughter will get her wish, and we will remain in our current community, we continue to pray for her understanding that His will is so much bigger than our own.

A lesson that has taken me well into my thirties to start to understand.

Even though we haven’t settled in a location where we can put down the traditional ‘roots’ of a house, a garden, and community involvement that lasts longer than three years– I know our roots are in the best possible place– Jesus. He will nourish us, strength us, and help us grow no matter where we end up physically.

Have you put down permanent roots in Jesus?

Until next time,

wellofaith

via Daily Prompt: Roots