Friday, April 27, 2012

NMA

Here I am in the LOTFAHOTB, (Land of the Free and home of the Brave) situated in the rolling pastures of Texas Hill country outside San Antonio. For the 12th time in 4 years I find myself among the most amazing men and women I have met in the world. They are the Wounded Warriors and their families who have valiantly defended my rights and my freedoms. They have paid a far greater price than I could have ever imagined, and it still humbles me.

Yesterday, during training for the volunteers the two Chaplains for the WTB from BAMC, pronounced BAM-See (not to be confused with SAMC) and the Battalion Colonel (recently transferred from the DOD) were going over the basics of what we could expect from the soldiers and NMAs attending. They asked if we had any questions. My hand shot up, "Would you mind explaining the acronyms?"

Laughter erupted as they realized, for the most part we were a room of NMP's (non-military personnel). They tried to cover definitions of what their common language of letters referred to:

WTB=Warrior Transition Battalion
BAMC=Brooke Army Medical Center
SAMC=something I forgot already
DOD=Department of Defense

NMA=Non-Medical Attendees

These NMAs can be spouses, mothers, girlfriends, friends, or other family members that qualify as people who have assumed care for the soldier but are not medical staff. They clean stitches, administer medication, mop up vomit, sanitize bed pans, and stuff gauze in gapping wounds waiting the next round of surgery. It was a gruesome litany of things I had to wonder if I could stomach. But somehow these people are doing the next thing needed.

The Chaplains weren't trying to scare or horrify us, they were stating a fact and using acronyms to communicate as efficiently as possible.

I suppose it's easy to feel gratitude for the military, but what about the mothers, the spouses, and the children that have equally made a commitment and sacrifice? The next few days we're trying to help bear the load, make them feel appreciated, pampered and recognized along with the soldier they serve.

"Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you." John 15:14 The Message

Several of the soldiers have service dogs, (they are not classified as NMAs), but at breakfast I learned in great detail the months of training these furry friends go through. I got my information from a career military officer I had stopped to make an apology to. I felt I owed him one after last night's "Minute to Win It" round of hilarity.

I noticed his spiked red hair from the stage and the fact that he was sitting in the back. "Spikey, come on down and play the Insulator game." I explained what was involved (one person wrapping another with two rolls of toilet paper). He stood and said, "your going to make a half-blind and deaf dude with PTSD, seizures and balance issues spin around?"

"Yes, I am," I said with confidence, "but you can take a seat and have someone else wrap you up." He complied and followed orders like a good soldier will always do. He wobbled slowly toward the front and took a chair. Little did I know the result would be his transformation into a MUMMY! His partner quickly determined the fastest way to wrap a seated individual was to focus on the head! On occasion (I imagine when he grew tired of holding his breath) he would raise his good hand to create a nostril space.

After all that, they didn't even win! Hence, the apology at breakfast. As I stopped him, my assistant asked to pet his dog, who had take a seat right in front of his legs. He proudly began explaining everything the dog did for him. (From alerting others when he has a seizure, to helping him pick himself up after he has taken a spill from the balance issues).

But it was the posture of the animal I found striking.

Frankie is not much to look at; no pure bred, no shiny coat or wagging tail, but she is definitely special. She sat at his feet between us. He pointed this fact out. "She's keeping the space to protect me. She's been trained to do this because of my PTSD. She will circle around me continuously if I'm in a group.


She knows the space let's me feel safe."

"I will talk to the Father, and He'll provide you with another Friend so that you'll always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth." John 14:16 The Message

Just then, little mutt Frankie didn't look much like an attractive dog, but a whole lot like the Holy Spirit. One specially equipped to comfort us in trials, to lead us beside still waters, and to reside between us and the enemies that consistently seek to disarm, disable and disrupt our world;

to give us a space to feel safe.

This is a critical time and place here in the LOTFAHOTB! Many in attendance may have survived a war but do not have their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We are fighting an unseen enemy on unfamiliar ground.

PRAY for the battle-weary NMAs. PRAY for the harvest.
PRAY for divine opportunities.
PRAY for healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
PRAY for the speaker to deliver a message that will minister to their souls.

We are guaranteed the victory, we are more than conquerors, but it is still a war and their are still casualties.

Outside I am wearing an outrageous wig, costume and smile

Inside I am CMFHO (figure it out)

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Knees and Cheerleaders

"And let us run..." Hebrews 12:1

The roads were already closed in advance of the runners. The police standing post just shook their heads as I maneuvered my car past the barricades. I convinced them to let me through indicating my daughter's house was my final destination.

"...with patience..."

After a night out, she was not answering her telephone, or her door so I parked my car in the driveway and waited for the race to begin and the eventual passing by of my two sons. I set up for my photo opportunity.

Marathons, half-marathons, and the Iron Man competition are the topic of many conversations during dinners at Monday@Mom's. Both my sons are training, but my oldest has taken it to another level by committing to his first full Iron Man competition this summer. The last time I offered dessert after dinner he replied, "I'm watching my weight." WHAT! "You're burning more calories than you can humanly ingest!" I replied. "Yes, but one more pound is one more pound of impact on my knees. One more pound I have to carry."

"...let us throw off everything that hinders..."

You see, my son is VERY aware of every ounce that will be pounding on his feet and his joints for the 17 hours of physical endurance he has signed up for. It has served as a good example to me - not only in the physical realm but the spiritual one as well. Every activity that is not Kingdom focused and advancing IS holding me back in the race He has set before me. The distractions and things of this world are designed to discourage us and get us of course. It is HARD work and commitment that makes triathletes. It is not for the faint of heart. The spiritual race we are set on takes disciple and active participation.

I was also reminded of the mindset and psychological aspect such a race takes, this week as well. My youngest son had has first "open water" training swim in preparation for his first triathalon. His natural athleticism has often irritated his older brother. When we talked about the swimming portion of the training, he said, "It's not that far, it's not that big a deal." But on Monday, he laughed and said, "did you hear how I almost drowned!" Not something a mother wants to hear at dinner. He went on to explain how out in the middle of the lake he panicked realizing he just might not have been as strong a swimmer as he thought. The winds were high that day and kicking up whitecaps across the surface, slapping the swimmers in the face as they were going the distance. His brother and friend had long since out paced him and they figured he would just be okay, just swimming slower. But somewhere halfway through, far from shore, his mind responded to the fatigue in his body and started saying "you're not going to make it." Recounting the story he chuckled, "yeah, I got a little freaked out. What was I going to do? Turn around? Keep going? At one point I just had to make the commitment past the pain in my muscles and go for it."

"These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised." Hebrews 11:39

For the past few weeks, my crafty friends and I have been busy making trophies, hats, platinum record albums, praying hands and various and sundry items to award as prizes for the Wounded Warriors event this coming week. I have often set my glue gun down and just paused to see beyond the veil of the natural and exclaim to my "armed" friends, "Do you realize the cloud of witness that are marveling at what we are making! I bet Michelangelo and Leonardo are wishing they had glue guns back in the day!" To which my friend replied with a burst of laughter, "yeah I bet he is saying, 'I had to lay on my back for that chapel ceiling and THEY get to do the fun stuff!" But alone at night, before I go to sleep, I confess sometimes I listen to the lie and wonder "what the heck am I doing? What is this good for? What am I good for?" I panic in the middle of my lake of uncertainty.

"...When you find yourself flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item... THAT will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" Hebrews 12:3 The Message

My son interrupted my writing with his daily phone call. He began with his standard question, "What are you doing?" I replied, "writing about you!" He then went on to tell me he took his younger brother out to "witness" a triathalon this weekend. "I wanted him to see what a race looks like. It's one less thing he has to be nervous about." That's what brothers do, that's what friends do, that's what we as believers need to be doing for each other. For those facing moments of weakness and uncertainty about their upcoming race.

When I was sitting on the sidelines of the marathon I felt overwhelmed by the Spirit. Police were riding alongside the lone Kenyan runner who was WAY out front. "Go, go, go!" I shouted, although I don't think he even heard me his mind was so focused on the finish line. Then, slowly but surely more and more runners began to fill the street. Some, obviously reaching the end of their physical stamina were grateful for the bystanders. All of the sudden, in the distance I saw my son coming down the street, I almost cried. It was partially pride, but it was also the Spirit giving me the inner knowledge of just how many "witnesses" really ARE on the sidelines of heaven cheering us on. The feeling THEY have seeing the pace we are keeping, the hardships, the losses, the financial troubles, and the personal losses we experience. "Run, run, the finish line isn't far!"

"...if they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God..." Hebrews 11:16

Friends, we are each others cheerleaders AND coaches. We can encourage one another to finish the race set before us. We can share what has happened to us so others can find their race easier to run. We can be disciplined in the Word, in fellowship and in prayer that will enable us to endure the physical and spiritual times when we are prone to panic. We can do whatever is needed to cheer up and cheer on, the hurting, the broken, and the discouraged.

Next week we'll be doing our part to encourage the valiant men and women who have served our country. We won't be handing them medals for their service, we will be showering them with the joy of the Lord!

The starting gun is about to be fired. I am fired up and smiling
In His service
Charlynn

Be part of the cheer leading team of Sunshine After Rain Ministries. To donate by credit card online, please visit our website:
www.sunshineafterrain.org

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Zamzummim


"...but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim, a people great, and many, and tall..." Deuteronomy 2:20-21


A few weeks ago, during my morning Bible study, the name Zamzummim popped up. Just rolling the syllables across my tongue produced a grin. "Zam- Zzummimmmmmmm, what is a Zam-Zzumimmmmmm?" I read on to discover they were enemies of Israel and GIANTS. A worthy foe indeed. They are mentioned in the sermon of Moses to the Israelites as they are preparing to enter the Promised Land. Moses is recounting the faithfulness of God against enemies and circumstantial odds. He is preparing them for the battles ahead and reminding them GOD COMES THROUGH!

"...but Jehovah destroyed them..."

"Zam-Zzumimmmmmm, I need to write about that," I thought to myself - but a tornado and other pressing issues of life interfered with my well thought thoughts. Until now.

"...rise up, take your journey..."

I've been preparing for weeks for the Wounded Warrior Getaway (soldiers never retreat). I called to discuss some of the details with the San Antonio office. During the course of the conversation I asked about one of the warriors. "You need to pray," was the response. It was not what I expected to hear. "The soldier attempted suicide over the weekend and we don't know if they will attend or not."

I was so saddened by this news. I understand hopelessness; to be so far down in despair to be willing to leave everything behind just not to hurt anymore. Perhaps you have been there as well. You have seen "giants" of circumstance occupying you "Promised Land." Whether the difficulties are financial, health issues, relationship crisises, they can overwhelm your confidence and drown you in an ocean of fear. 


The Joni and Friends Getaway, provides a lifeboat for these men and women and their families. It is a place of nurturing faith and strengthening love. These warriors return from battle wounded on the inside and out. They have stood valiantly in the gap for OUR freedom. It is the best thing I do - it is the hardest thing I do.

Pray for our military. Pray for their families who have sacrificed alongside the soldiers. They have given up baseball games and ballet performances so WE can experience the benefits of One Nation Under God. Pray for the wounds and scars of wartime to heal. Pray for the soldier who felt such desperation and ALL the others struggling with depression and post traumatic stress that we don't know about.

Last December when I traveled down to San Antonio to visit with several soldiers and their families, I had the privilege to tour historic Fort Sam Houston with one of the families. This is not a place where just any civilian can visit. It is now part of the Joint Base with the Air Force. The flag of the fort was at half-mast. I asked the soldier about it. He shook his head and said, "They lower it when someone is killed in battle, but the saddest thing is soldiers are dying here (on US soil) everyday! Nobody remembers them."

The staff of Joni and Friends are diligently working to see that we do remember those who have returned. Here at the office of Sunshine After Rain, we are working to provide the "sunshine" of His love after the "rain" and trauma of war.

As you pray, please consider participating financially with the ministry. To make a donation by credit card online, visit our website: www.sunshineafterrain.org.

God bless you, God bless America and the military that protects her!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Far Enough Away

"You know the whole sky lights up from a flash of lightning? That's how it will be on the Day of the Son of Man" Luke 17:24 The Message

The sirens have temporarily stopped, but continuous weather coverage is still being aired. For the last two hours the television has been showing live coverage of a tornado on the ground just south of Dallas in Lancaster, Texas. The weatherman remained calm in his reporting even though the video showed semi-tractor trailers flying through the air like leaves on an autumn breeze. His voiced never wavered making sure to alert any viewers in the immediate path of the storm to take cover.

Honestly, it was surreal. It was like watching modern day footage of the Wizard of Oz. I wanted to scream for Auntie Em and keep a firm grip on my imaginary Toto, but instead I just prayed. The images of Joplin and the 54 seconds that changed their lives is all too fresh in my mind.

The sirens have started again, my door is open, but outside my house it is not even raining. The storm is "just far enough" away not to be affecting me.

This Sunday believers around the world will be celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. But four BILLION people are "just far enough away" not to realize the approaching danger. I'm not talking tornados, doomsday dread, freak-enomic meltdowns or political upheavals. I'm talking about what is sure to affect everyone ever born - DEATH.

"Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh Death? Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?" 1 Corinthians 15:55 The Message

The only protection we have is the shed blood of the Lamb. We all have friends, neighbors, loved ones who are in the direct path of separation from God for eternity. Whether they have ignored the "sirens" of repentance or claimed not to want any part of the church because it is filled with hypocrites - make no mistake, one day their will be no where to run and no "storm shelter" of excuses will protect them.

I tried to place a phone call to my children to make sure they are safe and not on the roads driving. I wanted them to be sure to be watching and prepared.

The call failed.

I know the witness of my life, and the love of my Savor never will.

Easter is not about eggs
It is not about baskets
It is not about rabbits or baby chicks

Don't let your celebration be "just far enough away" no one recognizes the danger.

Watching the weather and praying