Below are the answers to the discussion questions for Chapters 4 and 5. Please feel free to comment on anything even if you aren't participating in the study. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Ch. 4 – The Desert of Enough
1. Have you ever felt like no one understood what you were going through? How does this misunderstanding from others make deployment more difficult?
I think we have all felt that no one understands. In all reality, there are those that do. I think about the women before us who didn't have email, SKYPE, and texting. They had to wait and wait and wait and wait some more to hear from their Soldiers. Wonder if they think we don't understand?!?
Seriously though....it does make things difficult. I think maybe we let that misunderstanding make us feel entitled to a big pity party. We can stop reaching out for help (if we ever did in the first place). I think it can cause us to alienate ourselves from people who really do care about us and want to help us.
2. If you’re comfortable with doing it, describe a situation when you felt stuck in an emotional desert.
When my husband traveled to Japan (our first long trip away from each other), I was left home with my 2 1/2 year old. It was a very cold December. My son had locked himself in the bathroom with the water running earlier in the week. For a couple of nights our heat kept messing up. It would work throughtout the day and then stop at night. The last straw came when I woke up at 2 am and it was 53 degrees in the house. I cried and told God that I just couldn't do it. I couldn't pack up my son and somewhere to spend the night and then get up for work. I missed my husband and wanted him home. I wanted someone to have answers and to fix things because i just couldn't. God heard my cry and got me through that. The heat miraclulously came back on within minutes and my son and I slept warmly the rest of the night. I felt renewed by just handing it all over to God.
3. We talked in the chapter about finding shelter in God’s love for us. Have you experienced this shelter from God? If so, describe it.
Oh, yes! His shelter comes in so many forms. Having just enough money to pay the bills. A friend (or stranger) there when you need them. The words we need to hear from scripture or song. God definitely provdies for us in so many amazing ways.
4. We looked at some discouraging circumstances in the life of Noah, David, the Israelites and Hannah. With which of these situations could you most relate?
I have definitely wanted a child badly. It was one of those times when I told myself God would let us have a baby when he was ready and not being pregnant was ok. Only I found that I truly didn't believe it. I had gone to the doctor thinking/believing I was pregnant. When the nurse told me I wasn't, I practically ran from the office. My husband had to catch up with me. It was definitely discouraging, but I realized that my faith wasn't what it should have been. It took lots of prayer to get me where I needed to be.
5. Part of the journey of deployment includes emotional highs and lows. What can you do to combat this emotional roller coaster?
Prayer. Scripture reading. PRAISE GOD! It is important to realize that God is in control. This is His plan and that he will see us through. For me, not knowing whether or not this deployment was going to come was hard. I am a planner by nature. I needed to know one way or the other so I could have peace either way. God made His decision when we learned to accept His timetable.
6. We asked on page 63 for you to describe a time when belief in God’s absolute control over a situation encouraged you or someone you know. If you’re comfortable in doing so, share that time with us here.
My husband and I found ourselves in a financial mess after he returned from CH-BOLC. What was supposed to turn into a short trip (3 hour tour HA!) became the full course. At the time, we thought this was the end of the world. However, it was a blessing in disguise. We were able to get our vehicle payed off and figure out how to pay off some other bills in a timely manner. I like to think we are on our way to recovery!
7. Do you believe that God sympathizes and understands when we struggle? If so, how does that help you?
YES! YES! YES! John 16:33 says, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
It is encouraging to know that God has control and power over all things and that He wants us to have peace. We can "feel better" about difficult times knowing that He stands with us.
8. In what ways can you make deployment easier on yourself by realizing you don’t have to be perfect?
It allows us a time to try to cut back on things that are not important. Honestly, does anyone other than ourselves expect us to be perfect. My husband (mom, mother-in-law, half of our church) reminded me this week to ask for help, to take care of me needs. It is helpful to have those closest to you remind you to do that. They are giving you the OK not to be perfect.
9. Which Scripture passage out of the ones that identify rest on p. 67 meant the most to you?
Psalm 4:8: I will both lie down in peace and sleep. For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
I don't sleep well when my husband is not home. The dog barks and I look out the window. I hear a creak and walk the house. Worries and stresses flood my thoughts. However, this verse reminds me that God provides me with true peace and rest. I can give my burdens to him and he will take care of me.
10. How does knowing that God will walk with you through the Desert of Enough help you today?
It is an amazing reminder that I am not on this journey alone.
Ch. 5 – Mountain for One
1. We’re in our fourth week of this study – only 1 week left!! What has God taught you recently through the journey of deployment? It can be big or small.
God has just been reminding me of things I know (things that I hope my faith will hold on to). I need to let go of some things, take care of myself, and just trust Him.
Everything is in God's timing. We can't rush things. We can't slow things. We are so not in control.
2. What did you think about this chapter this week? Have you found yourself on a Mountain for One recently? If you feel comfortable, share what that’s been like.
My Mountain for One has not yet come. Ask me again in a few weeks!!!
3. If you feel comfortable, share your response to the question on page 75 regarding a time when you wanted to give up.
I think sometimes the frustration of feeling like we have to do it all, or being in position when you didn't have support makes you want to give up. I remember wanting to give up on a church committee because I felt like I was the only one doing anything when it was to be a group effort. Giving up is the easy way out. I stayed on the committee after airing out my feelings to my husband and pastor, and that gave me a new outlook. I took the focus off of me and put it on God.
4. To which CAVE do you most often retreat in hard times?
I think maybe Apathy. It is easy for me to remove myself emotionally from situations.
5. What has God already done in your life that you missed because you weren’t looking?
I think I missed out on things due to fear. My middle school music teacher encouraged my to be in the high school color guard, but I didn't feel like I was good enough. I even backed out of living in the dorms in college due to fear, of what, I don't know. I just chickened out. When you lack self esteem fear grips you and you miss out on what God can offer you. Those things could have built my confidence and provided great experiences.
6. Read Philippians 4:8 and discuss your thoughts. What other verses has God used to encourage you?
When I read Philippians 4:8, I am reminded that whatever we set our thoughts upon is what we become. We can make excuses for ourselves about many things to make us "not look so bad." When we do, that becomes our lifestyle. One thing I am seeing now is that some women that I care about are convincing themselves they need a break from their husbands and children, so for them it is ok to go out to clubs just to get away. I think that is asking for trouble. I don't see anything wrong with some moms taking time to go to dinner to hang out to talk, but going out drinking to places where others are there to hook up, not so good. We have to be very careful of becoming worn out. We shouldn't view our families, our lives, or the season we are in as a burden, when we do, that is asking Satan to come on in and take over.
I love Psalm 118:24: This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. It reminds me that each day is a gift. We are not promised tomorrow, so we should make the most of today.
Music also touches my heart. We sang Spirit of the Living God at church recently and it really spoke to me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me;
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
7. Like Elijah, what action is God telling you to do?
I think God is telling me to be in his presence. So many times I find myself slipping away from Him because I have made my life so busy and so unorganized. I need to focus on Him.
8. How has God been whispering encouragement to you this week?
God has definitely been whispering to me this week! I have felt and heard Him in the little things, cherishing the time with my family. He has definitely reminded that He is in control and urging me to trust Him.
9. How do you make reading your Bible a priority? When do you do this? What tips can you share with other women in the group?
When I feel like I am not as close to God as I need to be, I realize it is because I have not been reading my Bible. When thing I have learned to do is to keep a Bible near me, in my bag, by the recliner or bed, or even as an APP on my iPad or cell phone. Then when I have a down moment, I read scripture instead of magazines, playing games, or watching TV. I've done this early in the mornings before any one else is up, in doctor's offices, in the car while waiting for my husband to come out of a store, or at night while the kids are watching cartoons before bedtime. I had to acknowledge all the ways I waste time before I found the time. We all complain that we just don't have time, but if we assess our internet time, our tv time, etc, then we really do have the time, we are just choosing other things.