In the Trenches

What is it about challenges that bind a group together? Have you ever noticed that?

timthumb.php

I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week. As I write this, our church youth group is taking part in an annual mission trip/youth camp.

Several youth groups in our area are spending the hotter-than-the-sun days of this week all over our town. They’re ripping off roofs for new ones, giving elderly and disabled people access to the outside world through new wheelchair ramps, cheering up homes through fresh paint, and other repairs.

It’s fascinating to watch our group during these weeks. They don’t scatter as much during free time or meals. They gravitate toward one another naturally, even if they’re on each others’ last nerves.

And throughout the year they keep these common experiences alive. “Remember that cactus that grew through the roof?” Yep, they all remember. Together. Just like I remember stories from mission trips of yore. (I like getting to use that word whenever I can, don’t you?)

Challenges bind us together.

The other day I ran into a former coworker from my hospice days. Eight years spanned the time from our last meaty chat. But we–and several other comrades–had hunkered in the trenches in those times. As we talked it was like we’d seen each other yesterday. Nothing can break our experience together.

It’s as if these bonds are God’s bonus for surviving and thriving in difficulty.

So, what challenges are you going through today? Are others facing them head on with you? Then take heart! You’ll share those common badges of honor forever.

And it’ll be like no time has passed, even if the years carry you far away from each other.

 

Time Travel: It’s Your Turn

I thought it would be fun to make you, dear readers, the focus of this month’s Time Travel (history) post. Ready to hop in the time machine?

Image: Daniel Cardle

Image: Daniel Cardle

Not that you’re old enough to be historical, mind you. Ahem.

I’d like to know:

Where were you in June 2005? And June 1995, 1985, 1975, and so on? I’ll let one of you get the ball rolling in the comments, then I’ll add my answers.

Noisy

Stomp. Thud. Whack. The ceiling sounds like it’s ready to rain down on us.

I smile and look down at my little hound dog, Daisy. Ruff! [Whimper.] She can’t decide if she’s defending our home or needing to cower.

Roofers rule the top of our house, showing the old, damaged shingles no mercy. The noise and commotion sound great to my ears. I know we’re getting the shelter of a much-needed new roof in return.

Daisy’s not convinced. I wish I could explain it to her. Wish she’d trust me when I tell her over and over, “It’s okay.”

She tucks her tail and paces anyway.

Do you think God ever feels like we do?

He allows noise and scary commotion in our lives to grow and benefit us. Out with the old, damaged bits. In with the new and improved things we need to heal and to carry out His will.

But we don’t understand or glimpse the big picture. We just feel the confusion.

He knows that. And He tries to comfort us. “It’s okay,” He whispers to us over and over. He wishes we’d just believe Him.

We’d do well to listen to the whisper and take shelter in His arms.

Even if we won’t understand this side of heaven.

 

 

Review: Whisper on the Wind

Once a month I offer a review– usually fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes movies/TV. Grab your favorite hot beverage (mine’s a mocha), and let’s talk!

This month we’ll whisk away to World War I in Belgium, 1916, in Maureen Lang’s Whisper on the Wind.

Whisper_on_the_Wind-200x300

Rating: 5 out of 5 mochas

What it’s about: Isa and Edward have known each other forever. Now the terrifying German army occupying their homeland makes this war feel like it’ll go on forever. Can they operate their underground resistance newspaper and survive? Will it bring them together or will the war tear them apart?

You might like this if you like: Historical fiction in general, Downton Abby, the movie Swing Kids (even though it’s about World War II)

What I’ve liked: Whisper on the Wind sticks with the reader long after “The End.” I read this, oh, maybe two years ago. Even now I see the streets of their Belgian city and feel the desperate tension from the deadly enemy’s occupation and all-seeing eyes. Lang combines vivid detail and action with the emotion of well-developed characters. This is one of those stories that makes you feel like you have an idea of what it was like to live during this terrible time. It also illustrates inspiring bravery and heroism borne from necessity.

I’m not crazy about: Maureen Lang can’t help this, but I didn’t like that real people had to endure such conditions during this war. It’s sobering, but we can’t ignore what happened.

The bottom line: I’m so glad I picked up Whisper on the Wind. Lang wove a rich tapestry of story featuring characters who mirrored real-life homeland heroes.

What about you? Do stories based on real events, like this book, draw you or make you shy away?

 

Say It! Three Reasons to Praise God

If someone knew God based solely on what you said about Him, what would they know?

He’s put it on my heart lately that too often I’m silent about Him–His work, His worthiness, His love and care for us.

Can you relate? It’s not that I’m mute on the subject on purpose. It’s that a day, a week, can go by and I don’t realize that ears around me haven’t heard two words from me that praise Him specifically.

David didn’t have that issue. The Psalms bulge with his specific praise of God. Here are just two:

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.  ~Psalm 34:1

We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.  ~Psalm 75:1

And did you notice something about these verses? Verse one, both of them. David kicks things off with praise of God. It’s not an afterthought. How often do my friends and family hear God’s praise first from me, not last?

But it can be a win-win for God and for us:

1. God deserves our praise and acknowledgment, period. When we speak highly of Him, it blesses Him.

2. It’s gets us outside of ourselves. Have you ever noticed that it’s easy to focus on ourselves and our problems? Telling about what God has done gives us the gift of perspective. We’re reminded that God is faithful and loving. It’s hard to wallow or be negative when we look up at Him.

Not only that, but…

3. Praising God in our everyday life holds out hope to those who need it. You never know when something seemingly insignificant that we mention is just what someone needed. It may even point them to Jesus for the first time.

I think it’s high time I loosen my lips and invite God into the conversation.

How about you? Do you find it easy or challenging to bring God into your daily conversations?

 

 

 

 

Speaking out loud about what God is doing.

Why? God commands it, it blesses others, it blesses us

How? Awareness, then everyday conversation