Sunday, October 28, 2018

God Uses The Inadequate and Uncomfortable

This has been a powerful week that started with worship, fellowship and teaching along side of over 300 law enforcement leaders at The Cove in Ashville, North Carolina. What a time to seek, and hear, God's calling
... to see a glimpse of His greater purpose in the mission field where ever He has placed us. Ladd and I have long known that His purpose in the path that He has set us on is way beyond what we could imagine. We are just now beginning to see a bend in the road... and feel a calling to keep going even though it isn't clear exactly what is around the bend.
One thing we know for sure, darkness and evil are all around us. Our law enforcement family is more intensely aware of that than most, because they come face to face with it daily... over and over... day after day, month after month, year after year. The need for hope and light in our world is great. Among our law enforcement family, active and injured, that need is perhaps even greater. To be called to be a part of bringing them hope through loving them and sharing the hope that Jesus offers is a privilege that is beyond our own ability. Thankfully we are not on this journey alone.
The week continued with a drive from North Carolina to Washington DC. When we hit the road before sunrise in Roanoke, VA; God said "Good morning" in a way only He can. As the sky turned pink all around us, the trees on the hills went from grey to red, orange and yellow. The highway dipped into a foggy valley, only to come up surrounded by hills of green pastures, colorful trees, old barns and signs with the names of historical places where previous generations fought for freedom for all Americans. A detour took us off the highway, past battlefields, landmarks and through tiny towns... places where Americans live, work and perhaps even take the freedom they have for granted.
We entered the capital city and went straight to our first meetings. All told, we met with staff in the offices of more than a dozen members of the House and Senate over the course of 2 days. During this time we learned of evil in the form of a bomber, and the heroic efforts of our law enforcement family to secure and neutralize that evil.
On Friday we met with NFOP (National Fraternal Order of Police) legislative directors where doors opened for further opportunities to serve disabled members of our LEO family.
I feel like what God has allowed us to do so far is only the tip of the iceberg for what He has for us to do still.
What a privilege to be allowed to take part in what He is doing among the families called to serve and protect our communities. We need them, because evil is not letting up. We need them to keep running into harms way... into the face of evil... as evidenced by yesterday's shooting in Pittsburgh. They need light and hope. They need to lay the burdens and images down and find peace.
We are on a journey that needs all hands on deck to leave no man (woman) behind. I feel sorely inadequate, and way out of my comfort zone, but I also know that God has used the inadequate and uncomfortable all throughout history. We are nothing if not willing to step out in faith and allow Him to use us where He has planted us.
Following is part of this morning's bible study. I can't wait to see where this adventure leads!
"The work we do together on Sunday mornings as we encounter God’s presence in worship is meant to equip us to carry that presence out into the world all week long. Your Life Gift is just as likely to involve changing oil on Monday morning as it is changing diapers on Sunday morning; just as likely to include sitting in the cancer ward as singing in the choir; just as likely to happen in the local middle school as in a Sunday school. In fact, if you can neatly package up your gift in an hour or two a week, I can safely say that’s not your calling. Not that there’s anything wrong with a couple hours of volunteerism—I’m just telling you that I’m confident God has a much bigger adventure for your life than that."
Better Than You Can Imagine - God's Calling, Your Adventure by Patrick M Quinn with Ken Roach

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How Do I Say Ouch?

Life with a spouse who has suffered major trauma and lives every day in incredible pain means it is hard to acknowledge when I am hurting. 
It means when I break my ankle and  a doctor asks "What is your pain on  a scale of 1-10?" I don't know how to answer. It can hurt like heck, but when I live every day with someone who experiences off the charts pain every single day, I answer "2"... because I can't imagine how my pain compares with his every day world.

It means pushing through what would bring me down under other circumstances... because I have to be strong and positive. 

It means having a terrible time feeling guilty when I can't do everything, but I don't know how to rest.

It means always pushing, always doing, always praying, always trying. 

It means my hurt takes a backseat to his pain, and I'm ok with that most of the time. But... sometimes I need to say ouch... without comparing my hurt to his. I'm working on that.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Guard Your Heart

In the wake of this week's tragedy in Las Vegas, I am once again grieved over the acts against fellow human beings that people are capable of. 
I have been praying for our country and our world. I have been praying for people to put aside hate and division for years now, yet the wave of hate seems to be growing instead of shrinking. We need to wake up and be conscious of the dangers of hate, and we need to be intentional about removing hate from our lives. 
Evil is all around us, and it is fueled by hate. The only way to counter hate, and therefore evil, is love... and God is love. (1 John 4:8)
Unfortunately, some people have rejected God's love, have allowed themselves to be consumed by hate, and have succumbed to evil. When we view others through a veil of hate, we cannot see their humanity, we cannot be objective. Sin/Satan wins. That is why we need laws... and prisons... and locks on our doors. That is why we need boundries. That is why we need Jesus.
I've seen far too much hate being given a pass in the name of protest or whatever the latest cause seems to be. Hate is a cancer that grows. There is no honor in hate, and it is extremely dangerous. Guard your hearts (Proverbs 4:23) because what comes out of your mouth (and your actions) comes from your heart. (Luke 6:45

Monday, September 4, 2017

Seek Peace

So, this morning's study was on Job 25 - As I near the end of the book, Bildad's misguided criticism and judgement of Job includes some words of truth. Basically, he acknowledges that God is in control and has dominion over all. We can't fully understand all that goes on, but He does. 
As things seem so out of order and full of chaos these days, Gods promise is for peace. 
I memorized Philippians 4:6 some time ago, but 4:7 shines a light on the previous verse... as we present everything to God, we may not get the answer we pray for, but God will give us a peace about whatever answer we do get.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
Perhaps a big part of our chaos is our failure to seek His peace... just a thought.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Get in the game, but first show up at practice

Marriage is tough. Relationships between people are subject to imperfection because people are imperfect. There are more forces trying to tear marriages and families apart in our culture than ever before.
Ladd and I celebrated our 31st anniversary in March. This month it has been 15 years since the traffic stop that rocked our world. We've been down this rollercoaster and have hung on for dear life. We have not done so without battles or scars, but can honestly say that now our marriage is better and stronger than ever before. If I could give a couple of pieces of advice....
First, law enforcement life puts a strain on relationships to begin with. Of course there’s the odd schedules with hold overs and call outs, particularly on holidays, birthdays and first dates. And it is well known that there’s an ever present danger cloud hovering. Perhaps more subtle strains come from some of the very things that draw law enforcement couples together in the first place. LEO'S are take charge sort of folks...they have to be. LEO spouses are independent sorts... they have to be. It takes a lot for these 2 types to be vulnerable. When a family is rocked and one is forced to become vulnerable due to injury or illness, that person often lashes out at the only one he/she feels "safe" to be vulnerable with. When much is ripped away, the hurt and anger come out, and resentment can settle in... and it's easiest to focus that on the one you feel safe to be vulnerable with. "Easiest" is relative, those lash outs still damage, hurt, leave scars and require much grace, love and forgiveness.
Second, Injury does not just effect the injured. Everyone in the family is effected, and changed. Recovery and finding the new normal isn't a solo sport, it's a team effort. You may need to back up and start over in a lot of ways. Step back and realize/remember... you are not each other's enemies. You are on the same team, but you can't just show up at the game and expect to play... let alone win. Winning teams are committed to show up at practice, do the drills, and work through the tough stuff.
My sport is basketball, and I've never known anyone who wants to play with a ball hog... and ball hogs rarely realize they are part of the problem working against the team. 
My advice... go back to fundamentals.
Start with dating again... get to know the "new" people you are. Be intentional. Relationships are not about keeping score between team members. They are about each member giving it their best effort. Sometimes we loose. Sometimes we have a slump. Winning teams are made up of members that make their teammates shine.
Just some reflection after pondering the fact that there is a lot of hurt out there, and hoping to offer a bit of encouragement. 
Get in the game, but first, show up at practice!

The Destruction of Hate

For the past couple of weeks I have been reading and studying the book of Esther. This has caused me to reflect on how hate and bitterness consumed Haman. Hate and bitterness are powerful emotions that, especially when combined with pride, can take over sound judgement, logic and rational thought process... take over a person. These emotions form a slippery slope that burry love, compassion, grace, mercy beneath the avalanch of evil. 
As I read and reflect, my heart aches for those caught on Haman's slippery slope today. One only needs to turn on a TV or open a paper... let alone open social media... to see evidence of how hate consumes and blinds. Hate is a tried and true tool that Satan has been using for centuries. It breaks my heart to see so much evidence of his work all around us.
I pray that people would seek the fruits of the Holy Spirit more than ever, and that they would allow these fruits - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control  - to flourish and overpower hate.
I pray that hate would not continue to blind, and that Haman's story would not be the story of our time. 

I pray that evil would be exposed and hate driven agendas would be thwarted.
I pray that the wounds of hate may be healed before they destroy.
I pray that the cancer of hate would not spread and that the scars of hate would diminish as hate is put aside.
I pray that the destruction that hate brings would be replaced by the restoration of kindness, gentleness and self control

Friday, July 7, 2017

Dependence Day... Every Day for 15 Years and Counting

July 6, 2002... Fifteen years ago life as we knew it was turned upside down and inside out. Every day since that day has been a reminder of dependence... on God more than on others and on ourselves, as we step out in faith at His calling.

For our family, everything since that day has been measured as time either before or after that day. I am so proud of the perserverance that Ladd has shown, and continues to show every day since Dependence Day 2002.

I've learned a lot in these years "since the accident". Lessons about about life, faith, Ladd, myself, friendship, love, compassion, forgiveness, worry, letting go, patience, pain, and laughter... to name a few. God has taught me perserverance, and given me strength. (Yes, I am weak, but not because I am a Christian. Rather, I am only strong because I am a Christian.)

The opportunities that God has opened for us through this journey have been clearly His work. The sheer number of people and circumstances needed to come together to allign at the right time and with the right information and experience are nothing but His work, and it is humbling to be a part of what He is doing.

As we work on behalf of critically injured law enforcement officers and their families, first with our own small voices, then with Hunting for Heroes, and now with How2LoveYourCop and Wounded Officers Initiative; we are encouraged and bolstered by the stories of heroes who have sacrificed so much for communities across the country and world. We have met men and women who have run into danger and made their communities safer and better, yet have been tossed aside once they could no longer stand the front line. This needs change. These heroes need help, and we are committed to leave no man/woman behind.

Thank you to all who have supported, prayed for and encouraged us along this journey.

Today stories of hate towards authority and accountability are only overshadowed by stories of compassion, resilience, and perserverance. Let your story be one that builds others up, not one that tears others down. Let your story be one of strength through dependence. God bless!