Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Obedience School

If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15
Our six-month-old puppy has a strong will. He’s a naturally happy, people-loving dog, but he has a mind of his own. While that’s not necessarily bad, it can get him into trouble. So we found ourselves at obedience school with him.
During the first two weeks of class, we focused on basic commands like sit and stay. But in week three, we learned what I saw as one of his most significant needs—the necessity of paying attention to us. We learned how to teach this important concept. Once he was sitting in front of us, we held his leash up straight so his gaze was focused on us. When he looked away, I was taught to give the leash a slight tug. If he continued to ignore me, I increased the force to bring his focus back to me.
The purpose of this lesson was two-fold. First, it taught the dog who his leader was and that he needed to do what he was told—even if he didn’t want to. The second reason was protection. His owner can see more than he can and can spot unseen dangers, like a car coming down the road, or an unfriendly dog. If he focuses on his owner and pays attention, he’ll be safe. If not, he risks getting hurt. Whether he’s distracted by other stimuli, or simply chooses to be stubborn, he increases his risk of harm.
I realized the same is true in my life. I’m like the puppy who’s still learning what to do in each situation. I can’t see everything around the corner or ahead of me, but I have a Heavenly Father who can. He sees the big picture. He is the Master who loves me and has my best interests in mind. So I need to trust him and follow his lead. As long as I do, He’ll keep me safe. But I have to pay attention.
Be obedient and focus on Him.
Ellen Andersen, a native of California, moved to Greenville, SC nine years ago. She is a member of the Upstate Fellowship of Christian Writers and An Author World in Greenville, SC. She serves as a Stephen Minister at her church and is involved in a women’s Bible study. She is working on a memoir detailing how God used unforeseen circumstances in her life to change her focus so she could minister to others to whom she could not otherwise relate.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm glad you're in my dash

What is a dash?  A couple things.  The first is a race run usually in competition, as shown below.

Bob Wheeler of Springfield wins 100 yard dash by Boston Public Library
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

But it's also a space between one time and another.  The following poem make me stop and consider what that time looks like.

I'm glad you're in my dash

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears.
But he what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth...
And now only those who loved her 
Know what the little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own, 
The cars, the house, the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left 
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To think of what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel,

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we'd treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
May last only a little while.

So when your eulogy's being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how your spent your dash?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fighting Fear Winning the War at Home
by Edie Melson

Edie Melson has a new book, released just yesterday, November 7, for families of deployed military.   Edie has allowed us to see a bit into her personal life in this book. She was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us in the following interview.  

Q: So, why did you write this book Edie?
A: Our oldest son, Jimmy, decided to bypass college and go straight from graduation to the Marine Corps bootcamp, then to Iraq. I struggled with fear during his time in the military – especially during the deployments. I looked for resources for families and only found things written for military wives. I decided that if I survived his time in the military I’d write about how God had kept me sane.

QWhat do you hope the readers get from this book?
A: I want them to realize they are part of a community. They aren’t alone. So many of those families struggling with deployment don’t live on a military base. That can cut them off from a group of people who understand the experience. I want this book to be a resource and to point loved ones to the ultimate help, God.

Q: What held you together during his times of deployment?
A: I have to give all the credit to God. He surrounded me with family, friends and an amazing church, to give me the support I needed.

Q: How can other families dealing with this issue find help?
A: I have a great community blog with tips and encouragement from others who are and have experienced the deployment of a loved one. It’s also important to let those around you know what you’re dealing with. Our church family was a great resource for prayer support during Jimmy’s deployments.

My website is www.WinningTheWarAtHome. I'm a member of a national organization, Blue Star  Mothers of America.  This group has local chapters all over the country.  I'm active in  our local groups.  It's a group made up of mothers who have children who are either active duty military or those who have been honorably discharged.  It's been a lifesaver for me personally and I highly recommend it!  The group's  motto says it all--Supporting our troops and each other.

Q: Is there anything that would help people in another area of the country find support in person?
A: I would start on the Blue Star Mothers website--www.bluestarmothers.org.  Even if you're not a mom, this group is usually aware of other groups in the community who support the family and friends of those in the military.  

Q: Jimmy was in the Marines.  Is Blue Star Mothers for mothers of soldiers in the other branches of the service as well?
A: Blue Star Mothers is for all branches of the military: Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Q: Speaking of Jimmy, is he out? How is he doing?
He does have some disability from the time he served, but he’s doing really well. He and his wife live about three and a half hours from us and he’s in college full-time right now. He wants to go into teaching – but I suspect he may turn out to be in denial about his own writing abilities.

Q: Back to your book. How can someone get your book?
A: They can order it online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or they can have their local bookstore order it. It’s available as an eBook or a traditional print book.
If you want an autographed copy, I’ll be happy to arrange that through either my writers website: www.TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com . Or the book’s website: www.WinningTheWarAtHome.com

Q: We also want to let readers know Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home isn’t your first book.
A: I do have another book out, Social Media Marketing for Writers. It actually hit #1 in its category on Amazon this past summer. It’s available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble as an eBook.

Well, there you have it folks. As someone who's come through it herself, Edie's a got first-hand knowledge in this and knows what it's like. Sounds like a good resource for families and friends of those deployed in the military. Thanks for the interview Edie.  I'm sure the book will be a great asset for your readers.