Monday, May 27, 2013

Thank You

It's Memorial Day and there is a "M*A*S*H" Marathon on television.  I like this show, partially because it is funny, and partially because it doesn't make light of war.  It shows how it is dirty and unpleasant and cruel. The people in the show are funny, but the situation never is.

As I watch this beloved program, I am reminded of so many of my family and friends who have in the past or are now serving in the Armed Forces.  Several of my family members and friends have fought in war.  I have friends who are serving now around the world.  Some are back home, but still serving here in the States.  We take this time every year to remember those we have lost, but also to thank those who have given of themselves.  And not just the ones who are in fatigues, but also their families who wait for them at home.  I would imagine that waiting at home, can be just as hard as serving at times.  And many children grow up while their parent is away defending our Country.  We owe these men and women and their families a huge debt of gratitude.

So, to those who have are are currently serving in the Armed Forces:

Thank you for being willing to be away from your families to defend us.  Thank you for volunteering to put yourself in harms way to keep us free.  Thank you for your courage and your hard work.  Thank you for going to places that we wouldn't want to go, in conditions that no one would want to be in, so that we could stay free.

To the families of those to serve:

Thank you for supporting your military family member.  Thank you for keeping the home fires burning while they are away.  Thank you for diligently raising children alone, while your loved one serves.  Thank you for your courage and your bravery on the home front because we know what you do is not easy either.

Thank you all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Be Joyful Always???

As much as we wouldn't like it to, bad stuff happens sometimes.  Those days are hard.  There is no one who would tell us that they are not tough.  When someone starts talking behind your back, that hurts.  When that job you really wanted falls through, that is disappointing.  When we lose someone we love, that is painful. The weather gets rough, the world gets cruel, people we love get sick or hurt, and just bad stuff happens.  

But we are not defined by what happens to us...we are defined by how we react to what happens to us.  When we are under pressure, what is really in our hearts will spill out...for good, or for bad.  Anyone can be happy when life is going well.  But choosing to be joyful when life is spinning out of control...that is a bit harder, but it can be done...and it should be done.  Notice that I didn't say that we have to choose to be happy.  I said, we can choose to be joyful.  Happiness is an emotion.  We are going to feel the way we feel. Sometimes it will be happy, sometimes it will be sad, sometimes it will be angry and sometimes it will even be numb.  But to be joyful, is to literally be "full of joy" and that is a choice we can make regardless of our circumstances.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
"16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

I love those verses and I try to live my life that way.  I don't have to enjoy the circumstances of my day in order to find a way to rejoice.  I suppose I'm a bit like Pollyanna playing the "glad game" in that respect.  There is always something to be thankful for even in the midst of life's most challenging times.  But we have to be willing to look for the good in every situation.  Not everyone is willing to do that, but if you are, you would be amazed at the things you can see and the ways God works even through those difficult times.  And the more we look for the good in every situation, the more things we will find to be joyful about.  

Living this way, takes practice.  But we serve an amazing God, who finds ways to show His love for us every matter what we feel.  He is there and He loves us...and that alone should be enough to make us joyful.  

Watch carefully...what will God show you that you can be joyful about today?