End of Watch

 

From day one of my husband’s law enforcement career, which started as an MP in the Army 27 years ago, we were both prepared for the ultimate call of duty.  You talk about it around the dinner table, you talk about it before shift, before bed, and on family vacation.  You mentally prepare yourself (as much as you possibly can) for the fact that one day you may be the wife who gets the car pulling up to her driveway.  I informed my husband a couple years ago who I would want to deliver the news should it happen.  We talk about the fact that he wants bagpipes, that I want it at our home church, that i want a special time set aside for law enforcement to come and have their personal time with each other.  It’s just…normal conversation.

What isn’t normal and what LEOS (law enforcement officers) and their wives don’t prepare themselves for is when a LEO dies in some other way.  This week my husband’s fellow LEO died of a heart attack in his sleep.  44 years old.  Found by his teenage son.  What do you do with that?  I don’t think they know.  Over the past several days I have seen this family I belong to change.  It has made every officer do some self examination.  It has made every officer hug their kids tighter and more often.  It has made every wife hug her husband tighter and more often.

Our evening and morning were somber.  There are generally two reasons to pull out your Class A uniform, a parade or a funeral.  My husband was up late rubbing, polishing, shining. I slept on the couch because the lights were on in our room late into the night and the smell of brass polish and boot polish permeated the room.  It still does as I sit here.  We didn’t talk. And that’s okay.

This morning was a rush of last minute polishing and preparation.  He was so concerned that everything on that uniform not be a mm out of place.  It’s their way.  I get it.  It’s the highest respect you pay to a LEO brother.  Having it all together.  And the last thing my husband added to his uniform?  His brother Ray’s handcuffs.

See, twelve years ago we went through this, only from a different perspective.  My LEO was in TX training his new K-9.  I got an early morning call from the Sheriff himself (never a good sign).  He kindly and officially informed me that my husband’s brother, a correction officer, had a heart attack before leaving his shift and had died.  Ray was 37 years old.  I was stunned.  As soon as I hung up the phone my husband called from TX.  Not much talking, just a lot of weeping.  ”I can’t get a flight out for eight hours, I’m driving back.”  ”What?  You can’t! I said.”  You don’t tell a LEO “you can’t.” By the grace of God he made it home safe and sound.

The day of that funeral we were in the limo with my sister-in-law and her family.  And at that time (as now) I couldn’t imagine what she was going through.  Or her children (ages 14-1). Or my father-in-law.  My mother-in-law had passed away 30 days earlier.  Yeah, it was a rough year.  I do remember seeing the line of patrol vehicles and fellow officers and how much it meant to every one of us to see that family.

So, you may not understand that officer who pulled you over and gave you a ticket, and you might think he’s a real jerk.  But they are like anyone else.  They have wives, kids, they coach Little League, they sing in the choir, their friends and relatives die…

One day, could be sooner, could be later, but one day we will all come to our end of watch. The question is: Where will you be then?  Because…

Life is short.  Eternity’s forever.

 

My Iced Tea Didn’t Stay Cold!

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Yeah, I really complained about this today.  My sister in Christ, Meriam, is at the mercy of the Sudanese government because she believes in Jesus and won’t deny Him.  Yep, my tea is warm.  Her baby was born in prison because she wouldn’t deny Jesus.  My tea is warm.  Her American children were required to stay in prison with her.  My tea is warm.  I was convicted today about the power of God.  He has the power to protect Daniel in the lion’s den, the power to protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, the power to raise Lazarus from the dead, the power to heal Peter’s mother in law, the power to free Mary Magdelene from many demons, and I’m over here in America thinking, “Can He do it?  Can He free Meriam?”

You see, my tea is warm.  I have slipped into an American culture thinking that what’s going on in the other part of the world doesn’t affect me.  So, some lady is in prison.  So, some pastor is in prison.  So, some kids don’t know what they are going to eat or where they are going to sleep tonight.  So, some people don’t know Jesus?  So what?  So WHAT?

God did not place us here to be complacent.  He did not send Jesus to die so I could worry about iced tea and air conditioning.  He is worried about SOULS. About LIVES.  And I have crunched Him down into my little box.  The one that wishes He could do something for these poor people.

I may not go to these places in my lifetime.  And God doesn’t demand me to go.  I have enough going on in my Judea and Jerusalem.  Or do I?  I love the saying that says, “If you aren’t concerned about walking across the street to share Jesus with your NEIGHBOR, why on earth would you go around the world to do it?”

BUT I have been called to be a part of this thing that is so much bigger than I am.  The family of Jesus Christ.  Fellow believers around the world call me sister.  They pray for me.  They pray for the CHURCH.  They pray for REVIVAL in the American Church.

Forgive me, Lord.  I DO BELIEVE.  I believe you can shut the mouths of lions and of evil governments that put women in prison for loving Jesus.

Will you believe with me?  I no longer wonder IF God will work out Meriam’s release.  It’s just a matter of WHEN.

Memorial Day From My View

 

Memorial Day is a bittersweet day for everyone.  I hope.  We enjoy the kick off to summer here in Western New York and other cold winter states.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  Enjoy the sun, barbecue and time with family and friends.  Laugh much.  Every soldier who died would want you to.  That is what they died for.  So you could have the freedom to enjoy this great nation.

I am married to a soldier/law enforcement officer.  I am so thankful God has spared his life through several dangerous attempts by others to take it.  While my husband did serve in combat, his life threatening incidents all happened in every day military and law enforcement service.

While we were still engaged he was attacked by a military working dog while doing overnight duty at the kennel at Ft. Benning, GA.  He managed to wrestle the dog for ten minutes until finally dragging him into a secured area.  He then crawled his way to the radio and summoned help.  He was in the hospital several days, underwent major reconstructive surgery and returned to full duty.

About a year later while a newlywed, I got a call at two a.m. that my husband had been in an alcohol related accident while on duty.  He was hit head on by an intoxicated Army officer.  This led to head trauma, seizures, and a one month hospital stay.  And he returned to full duty.

Several years ago while on duty as a deputy at our local amusement park, he was thrown from a golf cart sustaining a back injury that has given him continued problems.  But he returned to full duty.

Last year while training his police K-9 he slipped with the dog down an icy embankment breaking his pelvis and detaching a ligament from his hip.  And he returned to full duty.

And just in January of this year, a suspect rolled up his arm in a window and dragged him several feet down the highway.  The suspect stopped, put it in reverse, and proceeded to back up the same distance.  My husband had to use physical force to get the suspect to stop the vehicle and thankfully, the Lord’s protective hand provided two truck drivers at the right time to aid in stopping the vehicle and apprehending the suspect.  He came out with minor injuries. And returned to full duty.

So, I don’t know what it’s like to have a military or police vehicle pull up in front of my home knowing it is “the” vehicle.  But I know what it’s like to be married to a warrior who is willing to lay down his life for not only me and my children, but for others as well.

A big thank you to all who have served and paid the ultimate price.  Our lives would not be the same without you.  And to my husband of 25 years who the Lord deems fit to keep here on this earth; I’ve got what it takes to keep standing beside you and I can’t imagine spending the next 25 with anyone else who could make my heart skip a beat more than you.  I see you in that uniform and I feel like I’m 19 and you just asked me to marry you all over again.

So barbecue it up folks, because America is the land of the free because of the brave. We know that some gave all.  Don’t forget to salute that flag, thank that veteran, send a note to that widow, and support the college fund of that kid without a mother or dad.  And above all thank God the Creator for sending HIS only Son to pay the ultimate sacrifice.  A sinless Savior giving His all for a very sinful world. Think you’re “good enough?”  Not as “bad as THAT guy?” Check this out: http://www.needgod.com/index.shtml

 

Abnormal Living

The following is taken from Tea Leaves, Devotional Meditations for Women

Many of us have problems with hat we call “abnormal living.”  Our idea of a normal life and our life situations are two different things.  So we have a hard time handling life as it comes to us.  Life isn’t what we had pictured, and we “fight” it in our minds.

If we are where God wants us to be and these are the circumstances that come along with being in His will, we had better start calling them something besides abnormal.  The portion that God has for you in life is not abnormal.  It is His choice and His best for you.  In trials, God does not “afflict willingly.”  He has holy purpose in what He does and allows.

That does not change the circumstances, but with a heart change and a mind change, rather than bracing yourself and fighting against situations, you will find them workable.

I love to think that God appoints

My portion day by day.

Events of life are in His hand,

And I would only say,

“Appoint them in Thine own good time and in Thine own best way.”

A.L. Waring

 

The Cost of a Stamp

Sending mail is a lost art these days.  Life is so convenient with texting and emails, we rarely think about purchasing a card, writing something meaningful on it, putting a stamp on it, and (if you are like me) actually getting it into the mailbox.

But, think about it.  How do you feel when you get a note card in the mail that has been personally hand addressed by the sender?  Pretty excited, huh?  I know I do.  Because in our present culture it means someone actually found you important enough to take time, money, and energy out of their day to send it to you.  Not that friends who text you don’t find you important.  There have been days when a text received at just the right time has turned my day around.  But there’s just something about that hand written note…

So grab a box of cards or some nice stationary, buy a book of stamps, and get writing.  I know postage isn’t cheap these days, but for the price of a stamp you just might make someone’s day.  That card might be just the thing God uses to lift someone from that funk they have been in, encourage someone in a decision they have been praying about, just make someone laugh out loud, or even encourage them to do it for someone else!  You could start a chain reaction!  And think about it.  What did it really cost you? Nothing compared to what the return on your investment could be.

I Already Knew Heaven is for Real

I read the book.  I won’t be seeing the movie. I’m not going to give a critique. But I am going to tell a story.

My mom passed away in August of 1999.  She was 70 years old and had suffered from spinal stenosis for several years.  The last year of her life she simply became weaker and weaker and so did her heart.  We weren’t surprised when she went to be with the Lord but missed her just the same, of course!

My mom left a legacy. She taught me how to love the Lord and how to serve the Lord even when it is hard.  And what she taught me about working for the Lord?   I couldn’t even begin to touch it.

A few months after she died I had a dream.  She was standing before me in the fellowship hall at our church.  She smiled at me and didn’t say a word.  I asked her, “Have you seen him yet?”  (referring to my dad) She simply shook her head and said, “Not yet.”  She was still smiling.  I said, “You’re not staying are you?” Again, she shook her head….still smiling.  And I lastly said, “You don’t want to stay, do you?”  And her response?  A shake of the head and a SMILE!

Then she was gone.  But the peace I felt warmed me through and through.  And that’s all I needed to know about heaven.  It was a place that was better than here. Better than here with her husband, children and grandchildren. And what could make heaven better than being with your husband, children, and grandchildren?

Being with Jesus.  That’s where He is.  And anywhere He is, is better than here.  That’s all I need to know about Heaven.  It’s where He is.  He is our hope and our destination.  He is the end of the road.  And the beginning of life.

More importantly than asking if Heaven is for real or what is heaven like, is to ask:

Do you know you’re going there?  Because God’s Word has already told us:

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. And so is hell.  But the mysterious scale that people believe is out there, isn’t.  No amount of good works can tip the scale in your favor.  Christ demands your life.  He’s already given His to take your place. It starts with admitting you are a sinner (yep, even the best of you), repenting of your sin and moving on in obedience to Him. He’s taken the first step toward you.

Life is short.  Eternity is forever.

Who Will Go For Me?

 

Read the following this morning in my TEA LEAVES devotional and it shook me. Hope it is an encouragement to you as well:

As I pick up our schoolchildren every afternoon and enjoy their chatter about their day, I wonder how many children come home to an empty house.  As I listen to our four teenagers share the highlights of their day, I wonder how the parents who came home and found that their fifteen-year-old son had committed suicide in their living room can face another day.  As I listen to my youngsters play a game together, my heart aches for the many children who spend nearly all their spare time watching TV.

As I take my aging parents shopping or our family helps them cut their winter wood supply, I wish all the elderly in our community had someone who cares.

As I enjoy the security of a happy marriage, it saddens my heart to think of the many adulterous relationships which exist so close to us.

As I read my Bible each morning and pray for strength for the day, it burdens me to think that some church leaders tell their flock not to study the Word for themselves because they are not able to interpret it.

As I think of the price of my redemption, my heart bleeds for the many in our “Christian” nation who believe that eternal life is merited by good works.  As I experience the miracle of a burden lifted or a grudge being removed, I long to tell someone, “I serve a living Savior.”

In our land of plenty, the welfare department provides physical needs but they have nothing to offer to the starving souls.  They do not provide comfort for aching hearts.  They do not provide companionship to the lonely.

May we cast our comfortable complacency aside and put on a not-so-comfortable concern for the lost with whom we come in contact.  May we be observant of the opportunities to show them that we care about their eternal destiny.

CONVICTED.

Jesus-In Our Head or Heart?

 

From Daily Meditations for Women, Tea Leaves compiled by Nancy Stutzman:

 

“…Don’t so many “Christians” have Jesus in their heads–and only there?  Yes, they know the language, know the right prayers to pray, put on superficial smiles, respond to “How are you?” with “Fine!” even when there’s turmoil and hurt inside, can pull out appropriate verses on occasion.  Needs?  Do they have them?  They’re not expressed.  There’s a missing element.  What is it?  Could it be brokenness?  Transparency?  Really NEEDING God?  Jesus in their heads, yes.  Such an experience of Jesus will only reach another head and will result in head knowledge without a heart experience.

Jesus in the HEARTS of believers…that’s a LIVING experience!  That’s where the springs of living water are.  That’s where the power is—power to forgive, power to lay aside our reputation, power to maintain clarity in our relationship with Him and others, power to risk vulnerability and transparency, power to respond to, “How are you today?” with a “Would you pray for me?  I’m struggling,” power to confess our faults one to another (that’s where the healing begins), power to respond in obedience to the promptings and urgings of the Holy Spirit, power to fall on our faces before Him and say, “God I NEED YOU.”  Such an experience of Jesus will reach another heart.”

 

Thank you to whoever penned this!

Do I Have to Share Him?

The following is a devotional entry from the book, Devotional Meditations for Women, TEA LEAVES, compiled by Nancy Stutzman. Several women contributed to the book or I would give proper credit to the proper lady.  Life is busy, as you know.  Lots going on around here, so I thought I would share some of these devotionals that have had a profound impact on my thinking over the past several months.

Now he’s mine, I thought on our wedding day.  Although I knew that God had first claim on my husband’s life, I was unprepared for the implications of that claim.

None of our wedding vows had said anything about sharing my husband.  I didn’t know then that countless brown-skinned Salvadoreans would soon be taking chunks of my husband’s days and nights.  I had no idea that he’d become so involved in soul-winning.  Nor was I prepared for the long hours he’d spend counseling new Christians.

At first i twas hard to accept.  I wanted to have first place in my husband’s life.  I wasn’t satisfied with the time he spent with me.

Then I read about Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower. As the story goes, Dwight took Mamie aside soon after their wedding.  He told her that his country would have first pace and she would have second.  Mamie accepted it and they lived together happily for 52 years.

If Mamie Eisenhower could accept second place in her husband’s life for the sake of the United States of America, can I do less for the kingdom of God?

Someone once wrote, “It’s better to have 10 percent of a 100 percent man than to have 100 percent of a 10 percent man.”  Thinking of it that way helps me to be content even when Eli’s not at home.

Yes, my husband is mine.  But first of all, he belongs to God.  If only I wouldn’t forget so often!

 

Spring Is On Its Way…To The Northeast And To My Heart

Those of us here in the Northeast and everywhere else that has been hit with a winter to remember, are just about through with the beauty of winter. The first snowfalls were beautiful, clean and white covering grass, trees, limbs, roofs. We couldn’t get enough.  Those first calls that school was closed, the excuse to skip grocery shopping and dentist appointments brought a resounding hooray!

But now…we are ready for it to be over.  After a while, the beauty of the snow drifts in the driveway and yard are replaced with the drudgery of having to trudge through it once again only to clean off the car, start the car, and maneuver the car down roads that aren’t good enough to be driving on, but not bad enough to be closed.

Sometimes life is like that.  We feel strong and confident from the lessons we are learning through the snow drifts.  We are thankful that God has shown Himself to us through the difficult walks.  But then we think we have the lesson down and we’re ready for the snows to let up.  For the sunshine to break through and warm up the temperatures and melt the snow.  For it all to go away.

I’m in that place these past few weeks…..with winter and life.  My body and my heart are ready for a new season! I’m done with the shoveling, the trudging, the dark skies, the cold that life in this fallen world brings.  Lord, warm my heart!  Bring back the sun (Son) in it’s glory!

But until You do (and I know You will), wrap me up in Your blanket of love, light the fire in my heart, and put a good cup of coffee in my hands.