Road Rage

stopsign

Before we moved to New Jersey, one of the pieces of advice I was given was to learn how to give fellow drivers the bird. At the time I thought the advice was kind of funny, but once we got here I understood how true it was. There’s a reason New Jersey has topped the list of worst drivers in the United States in multiple studies and polls. After just a few months of living here I’ve learned that if a car is turning left, you don’t sit behind them and wait, but instead speed past them on the shoulder of the road. Or if the car in front of you is going too slow, you pass them, even if there’s a double yellow line. Trying to get out of a crowded parking lot recently made me feel like I just wanted to put my car in park and sit there until it was entirely empty, but of course, I couldn’t, because I had five cars all diagonally pointed at mine, inching closer and closer and yelling at me to let them in – how could I choose?

But this post isn’t designed to knock Jersey drivers. While they may be the worst in my book, every state has its own crazy drivers. The problem in this post isn’t with them – it’s with me. When I was given the advice to learn to give other drivers the bird, I laughed a little, but knew I would never do that. Now, after a few months of driving in Jersey, I’m proud to say that I haven’t picked up that habit while driving, but disappointed to say I’ve picked up a few others. What I’ve learned is that at the heart of this kind of aggressive driving are two key traits: impatience and self-importance.

Think about it.

“Oh my gosh. Everyone else on the road is going 80 and he’s going 60. That’s not safe. Why do I have to be stuck behind him? It’s going to take me forever to get there now!”

OR

“Don’t these people know that I have somewhere to be?”

I’m not going to lie and say that thoughts like these have never crossed my mind. Which is why, after a particularly stressful weekend of driving in the Garden State, I am writing this post. While it’s easy to feel justified in your impatience, self-importance, and even anger behind the wheel, those attitudes aren’t something that God supports.

I say, “Why is traffic moving so slow? Can’t you speed up some!”

God says, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, PEACE, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.” (Galatians 5:22)

I say, “You jerk! How dare you cut me off!”

God says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Fret not yourself, it only tends to evil.” (Psalm 37:8)

I say, “Don’t you know I have things to do and places to be?!”

God says, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3:14-16)

My personal challenge to you today is to not fall into the pattern of others on the road. But also not to fall into the patterns around you. It’s easy to become impatient and angry or to feel a sense of importance, especially when you see those around you doing it and, oftentimes, getting ahead because of it. But at the end of the day, it’s not worth it.

As Matthew 15:14 says, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

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Where Does God Want Us?

One thing most military families can’t avoid — moving. Sometimes you head to the place you’ve always dreamed of going. Sometimes you head to the place that’s dead last on your list. And sometimes you can’t even decide where to go in the first place. A worship song that sticks with me as a military wife is Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Follow.”

Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. When you move, I’ll move. I will follow.

We like to think that the military controls where we go, but let’s not leave God out of the equation. Maybe you didn’t get that dream duty station not because there weren’t any openings, but because God wanted you to be somewhere else.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God may have a new mission field for you. It might not be in the middle of Africa or Asia. It might be in a place where the majority of people are already Christians. Wherever it is, if you focus on doing HIS work while you’re there, instead of solely focusing on your own agenda and emotions, you’ll have a much better experience.

We can plan and talk to detailers all we want, but at the end of the day, we’ll go where God needs us most. It’s okay to pray for that dream location, but at the same time, add a “not my will, but yours” at the end of it.  And when you get to wherever you’re going, say another prayer that God will help make you useful while you’re there.

Being Frugal

Today’s post comes directly from the devotional Traits of a Military WIfe: A Month of Daily Devotions available for Kindle and in hard copy on Amazon.

“Why do military families complain about what they make? They get free housing, free health care, money for food and military discounts. They’ve got it made!”

As a military wife, you know that isn’t true. When you add up how much time your husband spends on the job, he’s making a few dollars, maybe even only a few pennies, an hour. However, that doesn’t mean you have a reason to complain about your finances or become frustrated with how little you have. It just means you must work hard to effectively manage what God has provided for you. If you want to have enough money to meet your needs and still have money to give, you must be frugal.

Even if you and your husband make plenty of money, it doesn’t hurt to exercise some frugality. In fact, the Bible encourages you to pay attention to your finances and manage them wisely.

Luke 14:28-30 says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.’” and Proverbs 27:23-27 offers this wisdom:

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,

give careful attention to your herds;

for riches do not endure forever,

and a crown is not secure for all generations.

When the hay is removed and new growth appears

and the grass from the hills is gathered in,

the lambs will provide you with clothing,

and the goats with the price of a field.

You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family

and to nourish your female servants” (NIV).

You may not have the nicest furniture, designer clothes or a new car. You might not get to eat steak for dinner every night or go out to eat all the time. But really, does it matter? Military movers are likely to scratch your nice furniture and lose your new clothes. And no matter how expensive the food, you’ll still be hungry the next day.

In Matthew 6:19, we receive the following wisdom: “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal.”

Instead, you can store up treasures in Heaven by following God and by managing what little you have well enough that you can still help God’s people. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

You’re Not the Only One

As a military wife and mother of young kids, one of the things I hear the most is, “I don’t know how you do it.” It, of course, refers to holding down the fort while my husband is away. Some take it further and compare me to a single mother, although I’m quick to remind them that while I may not have my husband home, I have his support and income to help while he’s away. Regardless of how they word it, I never know quite how to respond. Is it as easy as I make it look? Of course not, but it’s a part of life, and it’s actually a part of life for more than just military wives.

Every day moms, and even dads, must run the show while their spouses are away. While people recognize the hard work I do, they don’t often stop and tell my friend whose husband works random hours at a grocery store that she’s doing a good job or encourage another friend whose husband spends a few months every year working on the pipeline in Alaska. They don’t notice the friend who never sees her husband because they both have to work conflicting schedules in order to make ends meet either.

Sometimes it’s so easy to become consumed by our reality that we don’t stop to look at the reality of those around us. We can go months without our spouses, but that mom whose husband goes back to work after she has just had a new baby may be struggling even more than us. The wife whose husband has left for his first business trip may really be struggling with loneliness. The woman who only gets to see her husband as she’s climbing into bed after a long night of work may be longing for a little quality time with him.

Does that make what we do any less amazing? Does it make what we do seem any easier? Of course not, but it does give us the opportunity to pull away from our reality and start supporting someone else in theirs. We’re often the ones getting encouragement, but we should also be the ones doling out the encouragement to others.

The Bible tells us to encourage others too…

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” – 1 Peter 4:8-10

Why does it matter?

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We can use our experience and the strength we’ve developed to build up other military wives and other wives and mothers who are struggling while their spouses are away, whether they’re away for 8 months or 8 hours. By doing so, we’ll take the focus off ourselves and our struggles.

Look around you. Who can you provide some support and encouragement to today?