Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Palm Trees, Preppers, and a Trip to Israel

The night we returned home from a weekend in Florida, I curled up on one end of the couch with my laptop and searched Pinellas County real estate for a pink stucco house, two palm trees in the yard, and an ocean sunset down the block.

My husband sat on the other end of the couch doing his surf the channels thing. Usually he’ll switch back and forth between boxing or football and some bizarre show, much to my annoyance.

But this night he didn’t.

I wish he had.

Because by the time we finished watching the show he settled on, my beach community fantasy had morphed into a nightmare of escape routes and desperate neighbors.

Doomsday Preppers will do that to you.

These people have done some serious preparation for disaster.  I read about a prepper who lives in northern Europe but has a bunker in South Africa. His contingency plan is to go by ship (his own fortified one) if a disaster occurs while he is in the north.

Although I’m not about to buy and bury a culvert to live in, I realize how woefully unprepared I am for long-term emergency living.

One survey reports that although 62% of Americans think there will be a major catastrophe within the next twenty years, 85% are not at all prepared. This sense that something is going to happen permeates the newsstands—magazines galore with end times prophecies and scenarios—Middle East upheavals and reconfigurations swelling around Israel.

So what to do? How much time and money do you spend preparing for the unknown?
How do you not worry about tomorrow but keep the oil in your lamp full and ready today?

Although I haven’t worked out the practicalities of what preparation looks like in my life, I have decided to be more intentional about listening to and waiting on the Lord about my plans.

He promises that although we make the plans, he directs our steps. And his ways are not driven by fear. This is something I was reminded of while reading Joel Rosenberg’s blog about whether or not to visit Israel in the coming days.

Rosenberg, a New York Times bestselling author, well informed and connected with the geopolitical scene and people of Israel, is the founder of the Joshua Fund, a humanitarian relief agency dedicated to “blessing poor and needy Jews, Muslims and Christians in the epicenter; in training and encouraging pastors and ministry leaders in the epicenter; and in educating and mobilizing Christians around the world to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Rosenberg encourages people to visit Israel (in particular with the Joshua Fund tour and epicenter conference) for several reasons: (Please see Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog  for the rest of each reason)
WE’RE LOOKING FOR PRAYER WARRIORS — The Lord commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and we’re looking for people ready, willing and able to obey Him. On the tour and during the Epicenter Conference, we’re going to pray with and for Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims.
WE WANT TO HELP YOU SHOW GOD’S LOVE TO ISRAEL IN A REAL AND PRACTICAL WAY — Much of the world ignores or criticizes or isolates or condemns the State of Israel. That’s why it’s vitally important that followers of Jesus Christ take the opposite approach. Let’s show the love of the Lord for both Jews and Arabs by touring Israel and serving the people there.
 WE WANT TO HELP YOU BECOME AN AMBASSADOR OF GOD’S LOVE FOR ISRAEL AND HER NEIGHBORS TO OTHER CHRISTIANS WHEN YOU RETURN HOME – By participating in this Joshua Fund tour and conference, you’ll get to see first hand why God loves Israel and her neighbors. 

So what does this have to do with palm trees and preppers? It is all related to how I want to live. I had crossed off a trip to Israel out of fear of the times. Now, whether I go or not, will be a matter of prayer and trust, not debilitating fear.

Just a look at a map of the Middle East is a striking reminder of the power of the Almighty. Israel, a country so small that you could shoot a high-powered rifle across it at one point, is surrounded by twenty plus giant enemies. But God. . .

And the pink stucco and Gulf-side sunsets? They may have given way to a South Carolina garden plot and mountain view. Still thinking on that one.

I don’t know the extent my preparation for disaster will go, but of this I am sure: my obedience in the little things, the daily things today, prepares me to hear and know where to go tomorrow. If I walk close to Him today, I don’t have to fear where I will be tomorrow.

And what say you? These are certainly serious times. Any recommendations or words of encouragement? Anyone looking forward to a trip to Israel? 

AND: Am giving away Max Lucado's, Grace and my own book as well as an audiobook. Blessings 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Breaking up with the bad boys

The elderly man chatting with the stunning young woman at the reception desk turned to me and said, “She’s got it all, hasn’t she.” I smiled and nodded. To all outward appearances it seemed she did. Beauty, brains, personality.

But I knew differently. I knew the battle that had been waged behind that dazzling smile. The lies that morphed the slender image in the mirror into a perceived rounded reflection. I knew the years that she, who had turned heads and drawn stares, had lost in the dark rooms of addictions and on the arms of deceptive men.

No one looking at her today would know of the deadly depths she’d seen.

Of the grace one quiet day that reached down and lifted her from the pit.

Of her determination to break that “fit only for a bad boy” image and put on her new creation dress.

We had coffee together one morning. She told me about a man who had asked her out. “He’s successful, rich, not the kind of guy I could get,” she said.

The words hung there in the morning light. A lie exposed. A past agreement of a lie in need of breaking. Not that she needed successful rich, but that she didn’t automatically deserve the bad boy.

It takes time this healing, this renewing of the mind. But the power has been broken: I will restore you to health and I will heal your wounds.—Jer.30:17

She fingered her devotional. “I’m learning not to lean on my own understanding but to trust God in all my ways.”

I love how she applies each little truth, carefully like her morning makeup. It shines through, this new beauty not born of genes or bottles. Sometimes I want to hurry it along, say things like “Just get on with it,” but this God’s project, not mine. I want to align myself with what he is doing here.

I think of a verse once prayed in desperate hope for her and now answered:

[Her] soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper. The snare is broken and [she] has escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD who made heaven and earth.—Psalm 24

And I bow in thanks to the Lord for answered prayer, for mighty power, for freeing captives, and giving hope to those whose only hope is you.

Dear friends stopping by who love someone ensnared in the lies of body image or addictions, I pray God would give you steadfastness in prayer and hope in his redeeming power to set the captives free.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Battle of the Bulge, Part 2: Combat

Honoring soldiers all this week and especially those of my father's war: The second of my three posts on the Battle of the Bulge from the eyes of one who was there.

My father's journal:

The Bulge
We first found out where we were when we entered Luxembourg City. There were people on all the streets waving American flags and cheering us. We were given our barracks bags and told to dig in. Steve and I had just finished digging our hole when the Sergeant came by, told us to get up, ready to move. We were to leave all our extra clothes, blankets and barrack bags there. That was the last I ever saw of mine.

I had on my long underwear,(changed once in two months) 2 pair OD pants and shirt, field jacket, overcoat, two pairs of socks (I also carried an extra pair in my helmet)a pair of boots, and overshoes. This was to be what I wore through snow, cold and hell for the next two months.

By now we learned the Germans were counter attacking. The Battle of the Bulge had begun.

We did not know just how big the attack was. We still had not slept in some time. It was cold. Steve and I slept in a foxhole with our overcoats open and wrapped around one another trying to keep warm.

We stayed in defensive position for several days. We had been part of the greatest movement of troops in modern times. This massive mass movement of troops and equipment was one reason for the German advance to stall. They had not expected resistance so quickly.

We were on the southern edge of the bulge. The weather was overcast, snowing at times. There was up to 18 inches of snow on the ground in places. Most of the time we fought without benefit of artillery. Our planes could not fly due to the bad weather. Our tanks could not stand up to the German Tiger Tank.

We were advised Germans dressed in American uniforms had infiltrated our lines and were capturing road crossings. 

It was a time when you could trust no one.

My Worst Days

Christmas Eve 1944 We went into an attack on Hollar. On the approach to the town we came under mortar fire. They were the so called “screaming meemies” of WWI fame. The last I remember was seeing a large flash. I was knocked out by the concussion. When I came to I was all alone.

Christmas Day 1944  I went to Mass in a Catholic church that was still standing. During the mass shells came into the town. The priest kept right on saying mass and we all felt God would protect us.

A hot meal was sent up to by our kitchen. While we were being served our dinner we came under shell fire. I had my dinner on a plate when I dove into a ditch. I spilled my food into the snow but ate it anyway. That night we slept in a barn.

The Day After Christmas My daughter Barbara’s birthday. We were awakened about 2:00 a.m. Ate a K-ration breakfast. I sat on a dead hog. I was in dread of this day. I did not want to be killed on my daughter’s birthday. After breakfast I was sent out to scout ahead.

It was around 3:00 a.m. and very dark. I went down the road, crossed the brook away from the bridge, and went into the woods. I had gone about a hundred feet when I heard someone blowing their nose. About thirty feet in front of me were two Germans in a foxhole. I could see them silhouetted against the sky.

I turned and made it back over the bank where I told Lieutenant Jacks what I had seen. He moved the platoon to the bank and said he would fire his pistol at daybreak. We would then go into the woods using marching fire.

I told my buddy Steve (I Have forgotten his last name if I ever knew) where the Germans were I had seen. I said I would go toward them. He said he would come with me. He also said he had a funny feeling about this attack. When Lieutenant fired we started into the woods. Bullets were flying everywhere. We had walked into a full company of Germans well dug in.

Steve and I were nearing the foxhole when I sensed Steve had stopped shooting. He was about three feet from me. I glanced sideways at him just a bullet hit him in the forehead. I remember seeing his helmet fly off. He was in the process of loading a clip into his rifle.

The attack had stopped about as soon as it had started. I was very shook up. I was very upset over Steve’s death. I never got over it. We were quite close. Slept together in holes. He was my squad leader. I never made any more friends while in combat. The hurt is too great when you see someone you like killed in front of your eyes.

From Hollar we marched about twelve hours in snow up to our knees. We came to a city. There we went into houses and got bed sheets that we covered ourselves with. I believe they saved my life on more than one occasion.

We got to a one-street town. I was in the rear passing an open doorway when I heard someone call, “Halt!” We ran across the street behind a small building. Then we heard a hissing. They had thrown a grenade. The concussion knocked me against the building.

We were in full view but they never saw us. There was snow on the ground and we were still covered with our white sheets.


My father, like so many wounded of his generation, never spoke much about his experiences, nor did he receive help for his emotional trauma. However, today, there are many resources and organizations available, all of which depend on others for support. The following link lists many organizations that support those who are deployed, and those who have been wounded.

If anyone has a loved one in the military, I recommend this book of devotions:

Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves For Battle

Thank you for listening to this soldier’s story. Last up: Crossing the Sauer and Speechless

Father, keep us mindful that the beauty we enjoy, the bounty we feast on, the peace we walk in, and the freedom we take for granted, are gifts. Often gifts from another’s sacrifice. 

We thank you, and them.