Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Define Community

Tonight at bible study we discussed community.
We discussed a lot, but it often came back to community.

Are you part of your local community?
How do you define community?
As military a family we are continually moving.

The more I move, the more I want to stay connected to my friends and family in distant lands...
Holding onto treasured bonds.
Friends that I trust with my heart.
Friends that will hold me accountable in a way I am familiar with.

Sometimes I might even think that I can maintain that same sense of community from a distance.
But it isn't the same.
Or I might try to join a community online to meet new friends.
It has been known to work.

But it is easy to get stuck.
It is easy to get stuck in an online community.
It is easy to join an online community that simply agrees with everything I think I know.
It is easy to join an online community without opening my heart.
It is easy to join an online community that doesn't know who I really am.
Online, I can be whoever I want to be... or whoever I am expected to be.

I can judge and correct others without looking them in the eye...
Without compassion.
Without compassionate discussion.

So... how important is it to be a part of the local, breathing, hand-shaking, community of people who will move away in a matter of months?

It isn't easy.
And online communities are a great resource.
But rarely are they actually a community.
They are more of a forum.

The Internet Forum:
It is not uncommon for nonsense or unsocial behavior to sprout as people lose temper, especially if the topic is controversial. Poor understanding of differences in values of the participants is a common problem on forums. Because replies to a topic are often worded aimed at someone's point of view, discussion will usually go slightly off into several directions as people question each other's validity, sources and so on. Circular discussion and ambiguity in replies can extend for several tens of posts of a thread eventually ending when everyone gives up or attention spans waver and a more interesting subject takes over. (Wikipedia)
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:26)

I submit this to you, that in order to grow and mature as individuals we need actual community.
It isn't a new idea.
It isn't complicated.
But, it isn't usually easy.

Much like following Christ.
It is so simple.
There is so little we actually have to agree on.
But it isn't always easy.
And in order to grow and mature as Christians, we need local community.

Please share some of the ways you have found community at new duty stations.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sermon Notes 18-08-2013 Matthew 9:9-13

Follow along in my train of thought, and tell me what you think.  Below is the text that was covered in our sermon today:
Matthew 9:9 As Jesus went on from therehe saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. Follow me,” he said to himAnd he got up and followed him9:10 As Jesus was having a meal  in Matthew’s housemany tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Jesus and his disciples. 9:11 When the Pharisees  saw this they said to his disciples,“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? 26  9:12 When Jesus heard this he said“Those who are healthy don’t need a physicianbut those who are sick do.  9:13 Go and learn what this saying means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ 29  For I did not come to call the righteousbut sinners.” 
note 26: The issue here is inappropriate associations. Jews were very careful about personal associations and contact as a matter of ritual cleanliness. Their question borders on an accusation that Jesus is ritually unclean.
note 29: Hosea 6:6 For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice; I delight in acknowledging God, not simply in whole burnt offerings. 

Here are the notes I wrote down:
  • The tax collectors were unacceptable, legally and socially
  • Jesus saw potential for change
  • It was controversial  
  • "What do our actions say about our faith?"

Here is what I was thinking:  This sounds just like military spouse drama.

Now, let me take a moment to explain myself.  I do not think one type of military spouse is like the tax collector and the other like the Pharisees.  I don't see some of us as sicker than others... we are all sinners making mistakes all the time.

What I do think, is that we continually make the mistake of deciding what is acceptable in our little world and judging others.  Whether it is labeling someone according to their spouse's rank, creating expectations based on positions, limiting social circles due to military custom... we tend to draw legal and social lines.

We make the mistake of thinking that the path we have been put on is the exact right path for others, or that we are not allowed to stray from the path that those before us followed. As military families, our lives are filled with many BIG life-changing events, and we come from a wide variety of backgrounds. It is easy to get trapped when your life has convinced you that your way is the only way. There are typical ways things are done, and if it worked for me it should work for you.

In some ways I feel like I am emerging from this weight of expectations... worldly expectations, and seeing so many opportunities to meet God's expectations.  And really I do think it comes down to asking myself, "What do my actions say about my faith?"

Jesus said, "Go and learn what this saying means, 'I want mercy and not sacrifice.'.." (Matt 9:13)

Jesus does not want me to sacrifice my time, my energy, my sanity to the FRG, the PWOC, the OFS or the CSC.  He wants me to show faithfulness to God, acknowledging Him in the mercy I show to the spouses around me. Mercy. Looking past rank, position, title, experience, or lack thereof.  Just mercy.

How quickly do we forget that the mercy we received should be passed on to others?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dear Deployment Letter - My First Guest Blog!

This spring we thought we would be spending the year gearing up for another deployment.  Fortunately our unit came off the 'chart', and it is business as usual for us... at least as far as 'business as usual' pertains to a military family.  I had almost forgotten that I had submitted a 'Dear Deployment' letter to Kathryn at Singing Through the Rain.  She contacted me on Sunday, asking for a photo and bio, and I quickly found a couple friends to proof read my letter before it went live.  Lucky for me, I have some grammar experts in my life, and I really should utilize them much more often.

Maybe my letter has not gone viral or gotten a single comment, but I love it!  It was something I sat down and wrote from my heart without second guesses or fancy words.  I realize it uses some words and phrases that might not usually make sense, except to those who have been in similar shoes... there are plenty of us.

So, check it out, leave a comment, maybe even submit your own 'Dear Deployment' letter to Kathryn.

Dear Deployment: Respectfully, My Heart

I'd love to hear from you!

~ Tia
Redeployment 2012 - Fort Wainwright, Alaska
Marta Boschmann Photographer (and military spouse)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Military Spouse Business - Faithful and Fruitful Steps

Starting my own business has been a step into the vast unknown, until now.

What business? 

Don't feel left out of the loop!  I haven't actually launched it yet.  But I have made the first steps, and I am learning a whole lot.

You may already know I started my search for a purpose (beyond the home) a few years ago.  I decided I had an opportunity to create a niche for myself, allowing me to be an available wife and mom while also developing my own interests and purpose.  So, I took the basic first steps into Faith.

Exploring my faith was my first step, and it has also become my guide.  This blog was developed out of my desire to communicate with others about what I was learning.  It also expresses how I observe the world around me from my growing Christian perspective.  The process of blogging introduced me to an online community of military spouses, and those spouses are inspiring me!

Over the last couple of years I have kicked around several business ideas, looking for the right fit.  But it wasn't until recently I got kicked back in the butt, and I truly started focusing on what I have to offer.  That kick in the butt was from Kaye Putnam, founder of Successful Military Wife!

Kaye develops programs that coach entrepreneurs in an online group setting.  I joined, not really knowing what to expect, but hoping to find some basic guidelines for moving forward with something.  What I found was not only a guide for moving forward, but I also found actionable focus and a community of support that I will continue to turn to.

Over the month of April, Kaye shared so much advice that I will be going back over it again and again.  As a member of the test group for Kaye's Marketing Makeover Challenge, I have been invited to be an affiliate and share the information about the upcoming June challenge.  I will also be participating in the June course, because I have a lot more progress to make!

Click here to find out more information about joining the June Marketing Makeover Challenge with me.  Whether you are just getting ideas together, like me, or already have an established business, Kaye can guide you to developing more effective marketing.  I'll be there!

(And if you are still wondering about what business I am starting... click here)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Expect Conflict

Conflict. We know it will always be there, yet we act so surprised when it pops up.  We collectively roll our eyes and sigh in frustration, or even defeat.  Often we fight back, but rarely do we take the time to consider the proper field for the battle.

This Sunday one phrase from the sermon stuck with me:

Our deeds show who we are.

As military spouses we are often fighting a battle to be strong and independent while our lives are significantly impacted by the traditional military culture, including circumstances and expectations which often ask us to submit and fall in line.  At least, it can feel that way, and sometimes you just want to fight back!

We might blame the leadership.  
We might blame our husbands.  

We might even blame ourselves for getting into the mess to begin with and then vow not to bother getting involved again.

Sound familiar?

Conflict can push us beyond who we are, or at least who we want to be.  What we need, is to start expecting conflict.  Expect to disagree.  Expect not to be heard.  Expect to me misunderstood.  Expect that others are not always going to recognize you as the strong, independent, expert that you are.

Recognize that there will always be conflict when people come together!  That does not mean we should not stop trying.  Conflict resolution is the only way we will learn anything from each other, and the only way to bring us closer together.  We are military spouses, and we are strong and independent, and we need stand strong for each other, not against each other.

What do you see happening in your military community that represents the strength and independence of the spouses around you?  Feel free to post links!

~ Tia Sunshine

(Technology is constantly changing.  If you have not started following me on Facebook, do it now!  There will be changes coming to my blog over the next few months.  Look for future opportunities to opt-in for newsletters to keep up to date with the future launch of a new website!)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Prepared for More

Where is your passion?

What gets your goat?

What drives you nuts?

What in your world doesn't work?

What do you truly care about?

What is your mess?

Your mess?  I'll bet you are not the only one who can claim that mess.  I'll bet you are surrounded by others who are going crazy about the same things you are!  The problem I often run into is focusing on my frustration, my disfunction, and myself.  Pretty soon a valid problem becomes a hopeless, defeating rant.

 Therefore we do not despair,  but even if our physical body is wearing awayour inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentarylight suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seenFor what can be seen is temporarybut what cannot be seen is eternal.

I'll be honest, I do muddle through my daily frustrations.  I make it all work.  I might not solve the problem, but I adapt.  And guess what?  Through all that adapting, I have gained experience.  Every experience, every obstacle, every mess I have been entangled in has prepared me for something more.

I don't always know what to do with these experiences.

Too often I take my successes and failures and dictate my expectations onto others.

But, what if I  made a daily commitment to give my thoughts, my frustrations, and my experiences to God?  
What if my mess means more to God?  Because I am convinced it does mean more.

Was there a need not met for me?  
Maybe I can fill that need for someone else.

Was there a blessing that turned my life around?
(hint... there have been many!)
Maybe I can be that blessing for someone else.

God creates success in our life when we honor Him by giving our mess to Him.
Do you agree?

~ Tia Sunshine

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On The Spot!

I could not sleep last night!  It was one of three things:

1. It was the glass of red wine before bed. (Sometimes that happens)

2. I felt bad about going to bed instead of chatting with a good friend in a different time zone. (Sorry, Katie - I should have stayed up since I didn't end up sleeping anyhow)

3. I was super excited about presenting OFS at an FRG tomorrow.
* You don't know what OFS is?! Click here to learn more.
** You don't know what FRG is?! Well, that can be a long explanation, but I'll give you the simple answer:  Family Readiness Group is a unit specific support group for sharing unit specific information to family members.

I am so energized about the progress on bringing Operation Faithful Support (OFS) to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, that I am pretty sure an adrenaline rush is what kept my brain spinning.  Jill Bozeman has blessed the Army community by creating the OFS program, and she has really set an outstanding example on how to solve a problem and fill a need! Jill has inspired me to think out of the box, and it was the push I needed to go from studying and occasional blogging to something more.  

I am super excited to be invited to speak at an FRG meeting, and when I did manage to sleep last night, I was dreaming about how I would present OFS in a dynamic and heartfelt way.  If you know me, you probably know that I can tell a story... at least when I don't feel on the spot.  For some reason, despite all I know about public speaking, I need practice.

Want to give me some advice?  Go ahead!  I love to get comments here or on my Facebook page.