Every time I turn around

Every time I turn around God shows Himself.  I have a story I want to share with you.  It is not my story but it is part of me because I live in this world and I have invited God to show me how to pray for things in this world.  Her name is Shawna Yates and she is a Marine Mom.  I asked her if I could share her story and she said yes.

Shawna’s son’s name is Ryan and he has accomplished more than a lot of us ever dreamed of at a very young age.  Tyler and Ryan were in the same company at boot camp so I met her via our Marine Mom Facebook page.  I was on that Marine Mom page when I came across this post from her.

“I am in desperate need of prayers.  I received a call from my son’s 1st Sgt.  He was picked up by Echo Company yesterday and has fallen into a funk and now wants to quit.  This is not like my son.  He is a very determined young man.  He graduated high school a year early (he was 16), had enough college credit hours to be promoted to Private First Class after boot camp (at the age of 17) and has never given up anything he has set his mind to.  He excelled in boot camp and loved it.  When I talked to him on the phone this weekend he sounded great, however something in his voice sounded different when I talked to him Monday night.  He is now refusing to train and is willing to accept whatever punishment the USMC has in store for him.  His 1st Sgt. is telling me that the paperwork to have him detained is being prepared.  He is just a boy!!! I feel so helpless!!”

I was immediately struck by her first statement…she was desperate.  Her heart was breaking.  I felt the pain she was feeling…it was tangible.  I knew how I would feel if that was Tyler.  Had something happened to Ryan?  Had he been hazed?  Hurt somehow?  Assaulted?  What would cause a boy who was to determined to just want to give up?  I didn’t have any answers for her or myself.  So I did the only thing I knew how to do….I prayed.  I told my son John and he prayed.  I told my friend Patrice and she prayed.  I went back to that post several times and over the course of the day there were almost 80 posts of prayer and encouragement for her and Ryan. What struck me was that these posts weren’t all just “hey we are praying for you” posts….many were actual prayers.  The Lord impressed upon hearts the need of this boy and this mom…most of who have never met either of them personally.  He so pressed into my heart the desperation of where Ryan was at and the helplessness that his mom was feeling.  That emotion thing that I talked about a few days ago was so relevant to this situation.  God can use anything He gives you for HIS glory.  I woke up several times in the night with Ryan on my heart and prayer on my lips.  I just knew that if I/we did not stand in the gap for this young man, his life would be forever altered.  Shawna was told that he would be given the opportunity to take his PFT (Physical Fitness Test) the following morning….one last opportunity to follow a direct order and get back on track.  If he did not, the consequences would be great.  Being detained can possibly mean arrest, the brig and even dishonorable discharge.  That goes with you for the rest of your life.  It’s like you have committed a felony or worse.  Having that on a job application is not good.  I just knew in my heart that this was not God’s plan for him but it depended on our willingness to rise up on his behalf.  So we did….lots of us.

Prayer is powerful stuff.  God is powerful stuff.  Just a couple of days before her son hit his own personal brick wall, his mom posted a scripture.  I saw it when she posted it but it came jumping off the page at me yesterday.  It is Joshua 1:9.

 “I will be strong and courageous.  I will not be terrified, or discouraged; for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.”

He was letting her know ahead of time that He was and would be with her…through EVERYTHING.  He was giving her hope before she even knew she needed it.

And so yesterday morning Shawna wrote this…

“Thank you all so much!!!!! Your prayers worked!  He found the strength and motivation to complete the Pft this morning.  He is now in Echo Company full force.  Ooo-rah!!!


“Well, ladies, I just received my call from 1st Sgt.  Ryan found the strength to pick himself up and become more motivated.  He took the PFT this morning and PASSED!!!!!  He has found his way back to the USMC.  1st. Sgt said he will receive a written counseling and will be assigned a mentor for a few weeks (which I know he is desperate need of).  He will not lose any of his money and will be able to call me on Saturday, so long as nothing else happens.  I want to thank each one of you for all your prayers, support and encouragement.  I laid in the dark all night and all morning going over each of your posts and I don’t think I could have done this without you all.  I will never forget this.  Thank you!!!!  Also, I would like to voice my appreciation of 1st Sgt Daniel.  He didn’t have to take the time that he did with my Marine or listen to this crying momma over and over, but he did.”

What more is there for me to say.  This story, to me, is just yet another way of God showing me that my relationship with Him is important, not only for myself, but for others as well.  If I was not drawing close to Him, I don’t know that I would have heard the need for such focused prayer for Ryan…I don’t know that I would have prayed like I did, even if I had heard it.  This is yet another story that I will take forward in my pursuit of God.  He is who He says He is and He moves at the sound of our voice…Every Time I Turn Around!!



The "Missing" Days

I’m really missing my kiddo today.  It kind of comes in waves now.  Most days are great…I’m thinking about what he is doing and how proud I am of him, praying for his heart and well-being.  But then there are those days that I wake up with the missing.  At first, when those days came around, it was really overwhelming and I just felt like crying.  Now I like to think that it is God’s way of speaking to me, whispering my son’s name to me…that maybe it’s going to be a day where he really needs some focused prayer…maybe he is struggling physically, or in his head, or in his spirit.

For so many years I used to think that my emotions were a curse.  They were something I hated.  I felt like such a freak because everything felt so, so big to me.  Simple things became so complicated because of the largeness of my feelings.  I used to look in the mirror and tell myself that I was a freak, that I was useless because I couldn’t do anything without crying.  I know now how I hurt the heart of God when I did that.  He made me the way I was for a reason….I just didn’t know what it was yet.  Now, I at least have a glimpse of what those reasons are.  The first and most important is to have a real, intimate relationship with Him.  Once I was awakened to His heart for me and His desire to be friends with me, it began to change everything.  He started showing me the value of my emotions…how they could be effective in praying for others.  When you can truly relate to how someone is feeling inside, you have a window into what their struggle really is.  Most of our internal struggles are born out of emotion and we forget that emotions are not facts, that they will lie to us.  I had to start asking myself what the “truth” was.  Did the Word of God and how He felt about me line up with my emotions?  A lot of times they didn’t.  A lot of times they came out of my past experiences and how I filtered things in my current life.  Is this making any sense?  I hope so, because it was such a huge revelation to me at the time.

As the Lord began to teach me about Himself and about why he gave me the emotional personality He did, something began to change.  I started to realize that there was no emotion I could feel, or thing that I could do that would change His heart for me.  Nothing could change it.  Nothing.  My emotions were okay, He just wanted to teach me about balance with them and looking at His Word and Truth.  I began to understand what a gift He had given to me.  It was no longer a curse.  I was not a freak and I was not useless.

In these new days of learning the life of a military mom, I’m realizing that all of those things that the Lord has taught me up now have a point.  I could never have walked this road even a couple of years ago.  He knew what I needed to be able to walk through this and He is going to teach me a lot more for other things that I will face later in my life.  So yes, I have days like today where I miss him so much.  I want to be able to just pick up the phone and hear his voice and tell him how much I love him.  I cannot.  I have to learn to be okay with that and do it in prayer instead.  I know that I can stand in the gap in prayer for him and know that I am holding back the enemy when he is advancing on Tyler.  I can use the emotion that God gave me to understand that he may be missing his home and his friends and his family….and then turn it into prayer for him.  I have to stop focusing on what I cannot do and put my heart into what God has given me the ability to do.  Pray. Always. Without Ceasing.

Yes, I just used that word!

There were many years that I hated Valentines Day.  It just magnified everything that was wrong in my life.  Today it means something so completely different.  For me, it’s not just for Lovers.  It’s so easy to sound cliche’ with these kinds of things, but I so want to convey the realness of this for me.  I have always thought I was a person who loved deeply…now I can’t say that that is necessarily true.  I am learning a whole new level to what “real” love is.  It is so NOT about me.  I went into marriage thinking that this person was going to “complete me”….that I would “love” him and he would “love” me.  I had no idea what real marriage was about.  Love is about sacrificing yourself…I am not so great at that.  Love is about your heart for another’s well being, comfort, joy, security.  We can never take the place of God in another’s life, but if we are not loving sacrificially, we are not loving at all.  When it comes to love, take yourself out of the picture completely..looking for something in return is not love.

Most of what I write on here comes from my heart.  Some of it is things that God is just beginning to talk to me about so I may not have it all figured out, but I’m working on it.  I just love how He moves my heart to pursue Him.  There is nothing that has ever satisfied me more than Him.  When I am far away, I see the difference in myself…how I move through my day, how I react to others, how I feel inside.  I don’t like being far away.  When I am, I want to move back towards Him as quickly as possible.  I used to think that when I fell, I had to make up tons of ground to get back next to Him but I have discovered that that is a LIE.  The only thing I need to do is acknowledge my weakness and accept His love and forgiveness for me and we are right back where we left off with each other.  The enemy uses that to keep us away.  He will do anything and everything to keep US away.

I have a heart for Worship and for Prayer….many times the two together at the same time.  There have been many things that God has given me a heart to pray for, but what is really burning in my spirit right now is the military.  God has always used things that are close to me to show me an area that needs prayer.  Yes, my son is in the Marine Corps, but my burden is expanding from just prayer for him to prayer for all of our military….and I don’t mean just prayer for their safety, but real, intense prayer for their hearts, their minds, their souls.  In a lot of respects, we romanticize most aspects of the military.  But if we really dug beneath the surface, we would see things that are not so pretty.  In no way am I disrespecting the military, I just want to talk about what is really there.  These young men go into this new world, frankly, without very much life experience and are exposed to things of war, things of ugliness, things that the rest of us never even think about.  They are trained to kill or be killed.  To defend at all costs.  Actually having to do this changes a person forever.  And on another front, let’s get real, there are women who are looking to be with military men and work their way through the barracks.  God’s heart for these women and men is not this!  His heart is for love and compassion and support, not for using and being used or for momentary things.  His heart is for eternal, lasting things.  War is not the only thing these boys face.  Financial, sexual, physical, emotional temptation invades them from every direction.  My heart is to see revival in the United States Military.  Yes, I just used that word, revival.  I know it has become such a “christianese” word, but real revival is changed hearts and minds…people going wholeheartedly after Jesus no matter the consequences.  It is love and healing and restoration.  It is everything that defines (if possible) God’s heart for all of us.  It is a real, real thing.  As a dear friend said to me today, our military is ALL over the world.  If there is revival within it’s walls, then it spreads EVERYWHERE.  Ultimately that is God’s heart…that the WORLD would see and KNOW that He is God.

So God is stretching my vision of prayer…He is expanding it outward to places I have never even thought about.  I thought that He taught me to pray so that I could pray for my family, which He did, but I am realizing that He never teaches us anything for a single end result.  It’s kind of like an onion…there is always another layer, there is always a deeper place to go.  I know that He moves at the sound of our voices and I want to be one of those voices.  I want to go deeper.  Always.


My husband is in construction.  For many years it provided for our family pretty well…the work was consistent.  Now it is a hit or miss thing and you have to go to where the work is.  So this morning Brad left to go work out of town.  I have to say, I felt pretty strong about it last week, but this morning we woke up to dreary weather and snow…and a nasty cold.  I found it hard to see him drive out of that driveway.  Do you ever “Feel” abandoned but you know you ARE NOT being abandoned?  This is what I am fighting today.  Brad’s sacrifice is so great…he is the one who has to live out of a suitcase.  He is the one who has to sacrifice his comfort in home to make sure we can pay the bills.  He is the one who misses seeing his kids every day and laughing with them at silly things.  He misses parts of growing up that I do not because I am here.  So I am writing this to put voice to my fight.  I will choose to walk in thankfulness that he has work to do, that he is willing to do it and that he loves us.  I will pray for his spirit that he does not become discouraged and lonely.  I will tell him good stories and make him laugh.  I will love him no matter what.