Friday, December 30, 2011

An Adoptive Heart: Kathleen & Chris

And last but certainly not least... This is our Christmas letter to my dear sister Kathleen and her husband Chris. 

Dear Kathleen & Chris— 

Merry Christmas! This year’s gift to you is a little different than normal. We wanted to go a different direction since God has really been doing a work on our hearts over the last several months. I know we all enjoy getting “stuff,” but we have chosen to give something that won’t collect dust or break. 

Your gift for Christmas 2011 is a donation in your name to PAWS Humane Society. 

Why did we choose this for you? Because you both have such loving, giving and adopting hearts… from kittens, dogs, ducks, calves and even people. It is an inspiration to us in OUR marriage to love on others like you do, giving, especially in the name of Jesus. 

Thank you for being such a loving, caring and strong couple. Each time we hear about a new “adoptive” adventure from you, we can’t help but think of Jesus’ loving and adoptive heart. He invited us to be a part of His family when we least deserved it. 

We pray that this gift will go on and continue to bless others that are contemplating adopting a pet, farm animal or even person. As a result, we hope that God will continue to be glorified. 

So Merry Christmas, Kathleen and Chris. We love you with all we have and pray that someday as we all grow in our marriages, that we can bring our adopted pets, families, brothers and sisters together in Christ to celebrate God’s eternal gift. 

Love and blessings, 

Brandon & Sharita (and Justus) 

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Courageous Chickens: Merry Christmas Dal

This year for Christmas, my little brother received from us a letter about courageous giving... and chickens... 

Dear Dal— 

Merry Christmas! This year’s gift to you is a little different than normal. We wanted to go a different direction since God has really been doing a work on our hearts over the last several months. I know we all enjoy getting “stuff,” but we have chosen to give something that won’t collect dust or break. 

Your gift for Christmas 2011 is a donation in your name of 2 Chickens to a family through World Vision. 

Why did we choose this for you? Because you have such a passion for agriculture and your successful endeavor with the chickens doesn’t have to be limited to just your backyard. This donation will give a starving family a new protein source and help them to be nourished in a way they have never experienced. 

Thank you for being such a wonderful little brother. We are excited to watch you grow and pray that you will walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Each time we eat an egg for breakfast, we will think of the hope that we have for you in our hearts as you continue to get to know the Lord and Savior of the world. 

We pray that this gift will go on and continue to bless others that are also contemplating the salvation promise of Jesus. This gift does not only represent nourishment of the body, but it shows the spiritual nourishment that Jesus can provide once you invite Him into your heart. 

So Merry Christmas, Brother Dal. We love you with all we have and pray that someday we can celebrate alongside of you when Christ becomes the center of your world. We long to celebrate God’s eternal gift with you! 

Love and blessings, 

Brandon & Sharita (and Justus) 

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” –John 6:35

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Freedom's banquet: Mama and Daddy

Today, I would like to share with you our gift to my beloved parents in Kansas... It been an amazing journey for my family, especially as my Dad came to Christ in a Cow Pasture then was also physically healed in The Rest of the Story. (If you read these back stories, this gift will make much more sense.) 

Dear Mama and Daddy— 

Merry Christmas! This year’s gift to you is a little different than normal. We wanted to go a different direction since God has really been doing a work on our hearts over the last several months. I know we all enjoy getting “stuff,” but we have chosen to give something that won’t collect dust or break. 

Your gift for Christmas 2011 is a donation in your name to the Gluten-Free Society. 

Why did we choose this for you? Because you have raised a daughter who has followed in Christ’s footsteps alongside a Godly husband. When you both gave your lives to Christ, you gave up your own control, but allowed him to direct your path and heal you in ways unimaginable. 

Thank you for being such loving, encouraging and dedicated parents. Whenever we recall your amazing testimony, whether together or separated by duty, we will not only think of God’s grace, but also the wonderful gift you give us year round… Love and support. We pray that this gift will go on and continue to bless others around the world that are struggling with the same physical issues. As a result, we hope that God will continue to be glorified. 

So Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad. We love you with all we have and pray that someday, we might raise our children with love, respect and submission to Christ, just as you have done with both of us. 

Love and blessings, 

Brandon & Sharita (and Justus) 

“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” –Acts 3:16

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Truth: Mama Lex and Daddy D

The first up in our line-up for gift sharing of this season are my parents-in-love (yes, not parents-in-law, but parents-in-love) Mama Lex and Daddy D. Below you will find the gift that Brandon and I gave them... To not only live Christ-mas one day a year, but to have Christ-more everyday!

Dear Mama Lex & Daddy D— 

Merry Christmas! This year’s gift to you is a little different than normal. We wanted to go a different direction since God has really been doing a work on our hearts over the last several months. I know we all enjoy getting “stuff,” but we have chosen to give something that won’t collect dust or break. 

Your gift for Christmas 2011 is a donation in your name to our local Christian Radio Station 88.5 The Truth. 

Why did we choose this for you? Because you raised a son to live his life on the solid rock, living in the Truth every single day of his existence. And due to that upbringing, he has led his wife to the cross, and we are now walking in the footsteps of Jesus… Together. Because of both of YOU. 

Thank you for being such loving, encouraging and prayerful parents. Whenever we listen to The Truth on our radio driving in our car, whether together or separate, we often think of you and the wonderful gift you give us year round… Love and support. We pray that this gift will go on and continue to bless others around the world that has an opportunity to listen in. As a result, we hope that God will continue to be glorified. 

So Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad. We love you with all we have and pray that someday, we might raise our children to live the Truth, just as you have done with your beloved sons. 

Love and blessings, 

Brandon & Sharita  (and Justus) 

“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.” –Psalm 119:30

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Giving Heart: Christ-mas, Christ-More

It's 5:45 am... I throw back the covers and my eyes pop open. It's go time.

I swing my feet over the side of the bed. Oh, that floor is cold! I creep out of bed, down the hall, and take a deep breath. The moment of truth...

There, in the gentle glow of Christmas lights are piles of presents. Santa showed up and he did not disappoint. I grab the nearest gift with my name on it and violently shake it. Nothing. Dang. It's probably clothes. Socks. Maybe even underwear. Sigh.

Yes, I have grown up and matured over the lasts couple of decades. I still love receiving the gifts, but now I love the family time even more... Especially since I am married to a soldier. That's a whole new level of not taking that time for granted!

God designed my heart to give. I love giving presents and showering people with love, sometimes in the form of "stuff." Each year at Christmas, I would go all out thinking, marinating, pondering strategerizing, and planning what I deemed were "perfect gifts."

Last year for Christmas, my beloved suggested that we do something different and forego the hoopla of dropping wads of cash and buying presents. He suggested we give something perhaps more thoughtful like donating our money to a good cause.

I flat out told him NO. Absolutely not. Negative. Nada. So we went with the "traditional" gift giving. It was great.

That was last year. Apparently God wanted to do a little bit of work on my heart... And I suggested we do Christmas differently this year.

So we did. And, it was also great, just like last year, only in a different way.  This week's posts are all about giving... Not giving stuff, but rather giving a piece of our heart for Jesus. For the next several days, I will share with you the heart gifts that Brandon and I gave to our family.

The gifts weren't much, but they were ones that will hopefully keep on giving... Just like that gift that God gave us when he sent His son to die on the cross.

Just because Christmas has passed for another year, doesn't mean our Jesus heart of giving has to stop... Christ-mas is one day... But we can celebrate Christ-more all year long.

Never stop giving,

"But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you —see that you also excel in this grace of giving." 2 Corinthians 8:7

Friday, December 23, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas: My Gift to you

Dear Readers, 

This is my Christmas gift to you... A tiny reminder of WHY we celebrate this wonderful holiday. We are free to celebrate thanks to two different sources: Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and our beloved American Soldier. 

May you have a blessed and Merry Christmas! 
Twas the night before Christmas, 
And all through the base, 
Soldiers were last minute shopping, 
Running all over the place. 

It has been a crazy year, 
Full of missions and drills, 
But serving in the military, 
Had made them very fulfilled. 

The soldiers had learned, 
That military service involves giving, 
Boots on the ground charging enemy lines, 
Was one way to make a living.

Some of them were traveling, 
Going home to see the family or friends, 
Others were sitting in a desert, 
Only thoughts of home to bring grins.

Their faithful wives and their kids, 
At home in beds did they lay, 
Whether together or separated by duty,
Prayers of love they did pray. 

Christmas morning arrived, 
The military family gathered by the tree, 
But before opening presents, 
They prayed for the reason they are free. 

On a starry night long ago, 
A baby in a manger did lay,
Sent as the son of God, 
For our sins he would pay. 

God sent us a piece, 
A tiny portion of his heart, 
In his Son Jesus Christ, 
So from Him we wouldn't part. 

Our soldiers and our Lord, 
Stand to sacrifice and give, 
Willing to die for our freedom, 
So a life of love we might live. 

As we approach another Christmas,
Remember it's not about the gifts or the food,
Nor the games, shopping or decor, 
But rather a thankful attitude. 

For only two have ever offered, 
To die for you and me, 
Jesus Christ and the American Soldier, 
One saved our soul and both made us free. 

Praise the Lord for both freedoms, 
That we can live in His light, 
Merry Christmas to all, 
And to all... a good night. 

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor." Luke 4:18-19

Thursday, December 22, 2011

True Reason for the Season

About a week ago, my husband and I were preparing to depart for our holiday block leave road trip that would take us from Fort Benning, Georgia to South Dakota to Kansas and back. Our car was loaded down, ready to depart early the next morning. Our refrigerator was completely bare so we could reduce the possibility of growing penicillin in it while we were running amuck. Thus, we went out for a quick supper and on our way home, I decided I wanted to peruse through the neighborhood and check out the Christmas lights. 

Some people in our neighborhood went all out for Christmas. Inflatable Santas, Frostys and Rudolphs bounced in front yards. Icicle lights sparkled and multicolored light glowed. Trellis and porch decorations were abundant. I was impressed. 

I continued to drive (which probably wasn't the safest decision, as I was much more interested in gawking at the Christmas lights than my husband) and I kept commenting on the decor. We didn't do any outside decorating on our house mainly because 1) We weren't going to be home for the holidays 2) We didn't own the supplies necessary and 3) I sure as heck wasn't hanging that stuff up by myself as my husband was rather occupied with his job.  (Something about training future soldiers to defend America  took take priority over Christmas lights. Scoff ;-) 

We drove around for about 15 minutes in our neighborhood, guessing who might "win" the yard decorating contest and living vicariously through their glowing decor. Suddenly Brandon said, "Hey, do you know what? I didn't see one nativity scene in all those yards." 

I stopped the car, right in the middle of our street. He was right! Not only was I surprised at that revelation, but I also was shocked I didn't realize it at all until he brought it up. Huh. 

Before you get all riled up, I am not about to get all up on a soapbox and preach about the rumors of Santa Claus' existence or how anyone who mentions him is in the wrong. I am 26 years old and still get gifts from Santa... and our future kids will be getting gifts from Santa Claus as well. 

Brandon and I joked about our "decoration" strategy for next year... I said we should get a live nativity scene, complete with camels and sheep to set up in our yard. He agreed and said he could get some of the trainees/privates to pose as Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and Wise Men. He could force them to stand in our yard for 6 weeks. Or he said we could just spell JESUS in our grass in Christmas lights. 

We laughed. It was awesome. But obviously that revelation about the nativity scene (or lack thereof) stuck with me. 

Do we really take time to remember why we celebrate this holiday? I know it sounds cliche-y, but we gotta remember the real reason for the season: That baby born in a manger over 2000 years ago. And that baby wouldn't have had any impact on us had it not been for the Cross. We have been set free-- all because of Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection! 

It's not about the gifts, the awesome food, the lights, ornaments, snow (or lack thereof), cheesy movies or men in red suits with excessive facial hair. 

It is about our Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ. Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus... And thanks for being the true reason for the season! 

Partying it up for Baby Jesus, 

"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:9-11

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Year in Review: "Crazy Awesome"

Hi there again readers... Today, I am going to share with you the Christmas letter (And picture) that we shared with our friends and family. 

Note: If you are one of our friends and/or family members and did not receive a hard copy in the mail, my apologies... but when one is working for "God Dollars" as opposed to world dollars, postage gets expensive... FAST :-) 

We hope you enjoy the recap of our "Crazy-awesome" year. The copy dude at Staples was intrigued (yes, apparently they read your letters when you have them copied. Awkward.) 

Thank you all SO much for your support you have shown us during this crazy-awesome God-filled year. As always, let me know how I can pray for you-- and if you would like to share this with your friends, go ahead and spread the message for His glory!

Greetings and Holiday Blessings!
      Anybody else out there have a crazy-awesome year? I say “crazy-awesome” because at some points over the last 12 months it has been pretty crazy, other times pretty awesome and sometimes both. I am going to try and be “brief” in this letter (I know, that’s a first… alert the media) but I will explain how you can find out more about our little Knobloch family below. Ready?
At last writing, I think Brandon was getting ready to leave for Drill Sergeant School. Well, in case you didn’t get the memo, he did great. He graduated at the very beginning of April, which was awesome. I flew out to celebrate this huge accomplishment and as we drove back, our transmission randomly died in Paducah, Kentucky. After 3 days in Paducah waiting for a new, shiny (expensive?) transmission, we made it back home. Crazy.
We returned to Kansas and had about one month to prepare to move to Georgia. I married off one of my best friends (love you Kally!), then the following morning Brandon and packed up and started our trek to the deep south. Crazy. While I was sad to leave a great job at Heartland Works, as well as the Midwest, we were excited for the new adventure that God was taking us on. Awesome!
Brandon started his duties as a drill sergeant in June. It’s an intense job and I get to hear some pretty crazy stories about the “bad life decisions” of some of the trainees. My favorite quote (so far) is “REALLY PRIVATE? REALLY? YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN YOUR ARMY CAREER FOR A BOWL OF APPLE JACKS?!?” It’s kind of a long story, but you can shoot me an email or give me a call for the whole tale. J  Being a drill sergeant (and drill sergeant’s wife) can be a little challenging because the hours are crazy when in cycle, but the growth we have experienced as a couple has be awesome. Oh, and God has been pretty awesome through it all too!
Oh, I almost forgot! We welcomed a new member into our family in May… WHOA, take it easy… don’t get all crazy and go mail us booties and blankets. You can, however, send us rawhide bones and squeaky toys for our baby dog Sweet Justus. He is a rescue puppy and is pretty awesome. Hilarious really. He only weighs 12 pounds (he’s 10 months old) but has the personality the size of an elephant. We aren’t really sure what kind of dog he is—rumor has it, his mama was a Papillion, but as for the daddy?? He has HUGE ears and is really smart. During my solo time this summer, I taught him how to sit, stay, fetch, roll over, high five, pound it (with his nose), dance and walk. With him around, we never fail to be entertained. Awesome huh?
Moving on: this summer as I was pondering my purpose in God’s plan in Georgia, I got involved with Christ Community Church. Again, it’s a crazy-awesome story that won’t fit on one page, but long story short, I started working as SERVE intern. I have been with that team since July and have LOVED every minute of it—I have learned so much and continue to revel in God’s awesomeness. Never knew I was called to ministry til my boss Kelli asked me that in July. Talk about light bulb moment! Answering God’s call to ministry has been crazy awesome.
You might also remember during last year’s letter, I was getting ready to start working on my Masters of Arts in Christian Leadership. Crazy right? On December 2 (yes, this year) I finished it. A two-year program in 310 days. Awesome. And praise the Lord for no more research papers!!
So now what? Great question. Brandon and I continue ministering to people here in the Deep South through out lives and jobs. I hope to maybe get Justus certified as a social therapy dog in the new few months. I had the chance to go back to KS to see my family during Thanksgiving and God allowed me to lead my Dad to Christ! Hallelujah!  That was beyond awesome. (To see the whole story, check out my latest endeavor that God has called me to: writing, specifically on my blog. Notice the enclosed card. Tell your friends. Help us share God’s message. Please and thank you. It’s precious!)
Oh dang… I’m already at the bottom of the page! Time to smoosh the final thoughts from the last year: Brandon took up a hobby of brewing his own beer, I am Family Readiness Group Leader for our company in the army, neither one of like grits or sweet tea (we tried,) we love our house, we celebrated one year of marriage on October 2nd (one year down, somewhere between 49-74 to go!), the enclosed picture was our Halloween costume, and we miss you all! WHEW!  Please call, Facebook or email us. Oh, and keep up with us on our blog. You might laugh, you might cry, you might rejoice… but you will see that we worship a God who loves us and is crazy-awesome, in more ways than one.

For His Glory,
Brandon, Sharita & Sweet Justus 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” ~Romans 12:12

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shoulder Padded Jesus Power

Today's family time in South Dakota began with a conversation about shoulder pads. 

The topic was brought up by my beloved husband, and no, we weren't talking about manly football shoulder pads. As we half-watched a rerun of Matlock, Brandon spouted off "Why does that chick's shoulders look like that? Is she wearing... shoulder pads!?!" 

Mama Lex (my mother-in-law) and I looked at one another. Here we go.  This is gonna be good. 

Thus started our extremely random conversation about the who's, whens, wheres and whys of shoulder pad fashion. Precious, right? 

Lex and I both explained that we have both been through the 80's ish era of wearing shoulder pads. I shared with my husband the purpose behind them was to broaden up the shoulders of women, to make us look more "powerful" in what was a man's world. His reaction? A good-natured sigh and roll of the eyes. 

We briefly continued the conversation then moved onto less ridiculous topics. (Thankfully.) I realized I still needed to come up with a blog topic for today, so said a few brief prayers for inspiration as we were venturing around Sioux Falls throughout the day. 

Late yesterday afternoon found us stopped at Crossroads, a Christian book and music store. I was browsing around, trying (operative word: trying) to exercise control and not purchase everything I picked up. I came across the clearance section and grabbed a book called "Guerrilla Lovers" by Vince Antonucci. I opened it to the first page and read the beginning paragraph. Guess what? It mentioned 1988 and shoulder pads. 

Ok, God. You have my attention. 

On our drive home, I started thinking (AGAIN) about the former shoulder-padded power fashion. I wonder how often we try figuratively bring back this fashion by doing things to our heart, mind, or attitude to gain power in this world? Do we desire to have power and control? I know I do. I have to fight that worldly urge daily and submit to Him. And while I have no longing to bust out a suit jacket with shoulder pads again, I think I am putting a padding on my heart and lean on my own power instead of Jesus. 

Pray with me today to let go of our "shoulder-padded power" desire and turn it all over to Jesus. With the power of God in us, we can do all things... we don't have to have big awkward padded shoulders... AND the power of Jesus NEVER goes out of style. 

Powered by Jesus, 

"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." Romans 4:20-21

Monday, December 19, 2011

Red Light, Green Light... Yellow Light

Isn't it funny how things in adult life can bring you back to the departed days of youth?

Ok, that sounded a little deeper than I originally intended. (Don't worry this post isn't going to be that deep, I promise. We are on leave from the army for the holiday. As is my brain.)

Events of last week led me back to my youth, the days of games on the playground and in our backyard. Ever play the game of "red light green light?" It was one of my sister and I's favorites, ranking right up there with hide-n-seek. It's a pretty simple game, kind of like Simon Says... One person is it, and they direct the other players to run or stop by saying red light or green light. Just like traffic lights. Easy. But the heifer I was when I was younger, I would sometimes toss in a yellow light just to confuse everyone. (Playing fair is so overrated when you are eight years old.)

Anyway, I was rushing around last week trying to lay the smack down on my to do list. Run run run... I caught myself hurrying for essentially no reason last Monday night in the Walmart parking lot. My husband was working overnight duty and I had no reason to rush home, other than to get a bath and go to sleep... And it wasn't even THAT late. When I made this realization I literally stopped in my tracks in the middle of the parking lot and said "Girl, slow down!" (I got a funny look from the dude behind me, but oh well.) 

Funny how we have been conditioned to hurry hurry hurry with everything we do. Fast food. Instant download. Express mail. Hey, I love efficiency as much as the next person... But sometimes we just need to chill out!

So the week progressed and I was making the necessary preparations to depart for two weeks of holiday block leave. Brandon was working overnight again on Thursday so I found myself super charged running around Columbus like a two year old snarfing down cookies. Christmas letter written. Stamps purchased. Frozen yogurt date with my boss. Final blog giveaway prize book purchased. Christmas letters stuffed and stamped. Check, check, check, check, check!

My time in Columbus was dwindling (my pulse rate was increasing) I needed (wanted) to make it back to the post office to finish up my checklist for the day... So off I raced.

Oh wait. Timeout. Did I fail to mention that Columbus was crazy that day? It was a Thursday afternoon, but it might have well been Black Friday, which I avoid like the black plague. Traffic was ridiculous and it was swamped. Utter chaos. And against my better judgement, I joined right in. 

So I get to the post office... The lines are out the door. Honestly, I didn't mind much since my in-town list was essentially done... By the time I got done and headed back onto the crazy streets, traffic had reached a new level of insanity. Apparently it was "national drive like an uncourteous aggressive person" day. Long story short, everyone was so busy that no one would let me over so I could exit back onto the interstate to get home. What should have taken about 30 seconds to get on the right path homeward bound took about 20 minutes.

After doubling back a few times and thinking some not-so-nice things in my head about some of the other drivers, I made it back to the interstate. I started to breath again. And I felt a nudging from God.

"Sharita... Find your yellow light. Slow down."

"Ah. Um, but I still have more things on my home to do list. How I'll I get it all done?"

"Trust me, daughter. You will accomplish what you need. Take some time for you and me tonight."

So I did. I went home and instead of logging backing my computer to start my next project, I showered and changed into comfy clothes. I poured myself a glass of wine. I left the TV off. I sat down in my red recliner and opened the window. (It was 70+ degrees that day. Awesome!) I picked up my iPad, launched Pandora, and grabbed a handful of mint chococlate truffle kisses.

I sat there for about 3 hrs, reading a great e-book, relaxing... Breathing... Enjoying my yellow light... Enjoying my God.

Is God giving you a holiday yellow light? If so, don't ignore it. Embrace it. Embrace HIM. He isn't being like my younger heiferish self trying to confused you. He is allowing you time to rest. Recharge. Relax.

Oh, and in case you are wondering... I got my to do list completely done on Friday. And even had time to enjoy another holiday Yellow light at the movie theater later that afternoon.

Everyone says that Christmas colors are red and green.

I say this years holiday color is yellow.

Recharged and loving it,

"All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing." Isaiah 14:7 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Army of God: "Wilco"

For any of my new readers, I need to bring something to your attention that is vital not only for this post specifically, but for this week and my entire blogging library. 

I am a nerd. 

Many of you are probably nodding your heads thinking "Uh, duh Sharita." I personally like to think of myself of somewhat of a sophisticated nerd, but I really do get quite a thrill out of lists, journals, weird numbers concepts/facts. And, as you may have noticed, I love learning new words. Hence the weeklong discussion we have had about Army of God vocab. 

(Random vocabulary note: Did you know that splendiferous and fantastical are both real words? As in, they are found in the dictionary AND Microsoft word doesn't do that squiggly red "you-spelled-this-wrong underline?) 

See. Told you I was something of a geek. 

Back to the topic at hand: it is the culmination of our weeklong study of Army of God words. Today's word is an abbreviation: 

"Wilco: The abbreviated version of will comply, often used in quick conversations or text messaging." 

Easy right? Will comply. Like will do. Roger. Loud and clear. I get it. Gonna make it happen. 

How often do we respond to God with wilco? I know as for me, I sometimes pretend like I didn't hear what He told me, instead of being immediately obedient to him and surrendering to make it happen. 
Iron Mike @ Fort Benning, Georgia.
"I am the Infantry, Follow Me!"
Shouldn't we do the same if not more for Jesus?
(Photo taken by John D. Helms) 
As I was thinking about this week's lesson via this particular blog topic, I couldn't help but think of the main themes: Voluntold and America dealt with obedience, Stuff with Things and Frago focused on trust. Today, when it comes to Wilco, it's about submitting to the awesomeness of God and agreeing to comply with whatever he has called us to. 

This thought continued my thinking process. (I know, scary.) Obedience, Trust, Surrender. Huh. I wonder if there is an army acronym for OTS? Knowing our beloved military, I was confident that at least one existed... 

When I looked it up online, I was right. At least one did exist. I actually found about 237 acronyms that OTS could stand for on one website. (237? Really military? Really?) 

But the coolest part? Out of that entire list, a quick scan had my eyes land on OTS that meant "One-Time Source." Coincidence? I think not. God IS our one time source. All we need, we get from HIM. Wow. 

Voluntold, America, Stuff with Things, Frago, and Wilco.

Obedience, Trust. Surrender.


One. Time. Source.

So this week, as those new vocab words swirl in your brain, I leave you with this newly invented Army of God prayer.

"Dear Heavenly Commander: I pray that I can be obedient to all of the stuff with things you have voluntold and called me to. Help me to trust you when my plans become frago. When I want to run, instead let me embrace you, rejoice and yell America! God, please change my heart so that my first instinct every day is surrender to you, take up my cross and follow you. When things get tough, allow me to press forward, clinging to your love and softly whispering "Wilco, sir." Father I salute you for the love you have given me when I least deserve it.  Lord, you ARE my OTS, my one time source. Then. Now. Forever. In your precious name, AMEN." 

I'm in the Lord's Army,

"Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him..." Hebrews 5:8-9

Leave a comment here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Army of God: "Frago"

"Yeah that sounds great... Do you still want to meet at the mall? <ssrrrrtttpppp> Wait are you there? <psssrrrrrrrrkkkkktttt> Can you hear me? <ttttsssssssffffff> Hello? Hello? HELLO? <beep beep... call dropped.>

Sigh. Just typing that one-sided conversation above raises my blood pressure a bit. But we've all be there-- we have plans, think we know what is going on, then beep, beep, call dropped. Were our plans staying the same or was our compadre on the other end about to share a new idea with us? OR someone calls very last minute and either cancels or completely changes the game plan. Frustrating, huh?

So today's dropped cell phone conversation and change of plans is brought to you by the word "Frago." It means "Fragmentation order" which essentially deals with a last minute change of plans (aka breaking original orders)  especially when carrying out an operation or previously determined path. (If you get nothing else from today's post, you at least have a cool word to say... seriously, pronounce it outloud... FRAGO. Funny.

As a drill sergeant's wife, we have a lot of "frago" in our house sometimes. In the army... and with God.

Frago follows right along with the other discussions we have been having this week about obedience and trust. Now we add change into the mix. If you would have asked me about my original plans five years ago, I can guarantee it wouldn't have sounded like this:

"In five years, I will be married to a soldier and working in ministry. We will live in Georgia and have a puppy. Oh, and I will have gotten my masters and my husband will be an Iowa boy who currently serves as a drill sergeant and plans to make a career out of the military."

Uh, yeah, no.

Don't get me wrong, I am beyond thankful for the path God has put me on to get me here. As much as a joke about the military, I really do love our life. We are blessed. But honestly,  I feel like our lives are one big "Frago."

Is your life a little frago too? I am going to guess the answer is probably yes. You had ideas of where you wanted to go and how you wanted to get there, then our Upstairs Commander put the whoa on that and took you in a completely different direction. Change of plans. See? Frago!

Maybe you are in the middle of a big Frago or your life (like mine) is a bunch of little fragos all jumbled together... you might be wondering what in the name of chocolate cake God is going to do with you. Maybe your communication with Him is a little fuzzy and you can't quite make that "cell phone" connection clear.

Don't fret, dear reader. Every change you experience in life is all part of "THE PLAN." No, we don't have the notes or the completely order of operations in front of us. But we do have an awesome God that we can trust with all our heart.

So don't fear frago... feed off it!

Changed by God,

"He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."-- Daniel 2:21

Tell me about your experience with Godly "frago" and leave a comment here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Army Of God: "Stuff With Things"

I know, I know... when a person says they have a "favorite" something that usually indicates that they  have only one. HOWEVER... I am writing this blog, so I make the rules. And today is another one of my favorite vocabulary phrases used by the Army (specifically, my husband.) 

Stuff with things: The abstract phrase used to describe a plan of action or agenda that is yet undetermined or completely unknown to any or all parties involved. 

In civilian terms, "stuff with things" is a great way to say "We are going to do something that will take up time and may or may not be productive, but honestly, I have no idea what that is going to be." 

When I hear this come from my beloved it is usually in one of two ways: either he really has no idea what is going to happen that day (with the Army, that can happen at any given moment) or when he is attempting to recount his day and it happened to be exceptionally chaotic. 

"What did you do today sweetheart?" 

"Um, Sharita... I really don't even know. We worked for 20 hours. I think we did stuff with things." 

<Note: This phrase can also be used in a sarcastic manner... as can most unofficial army terms. Didn't know if you were catching onto that pattern with "voluntold," "America" and now "Stuff with things."> 

As with most of the army terms I have been introduced to and really like, this one has also made it into my everyday vocabulary. (I actually said it while leading a task force meeting at church yesterday. Sigh. It's ingrained.) 

While voluntold and America primarily focus on being obedient to God, "Stuff with Things" also deals with obedience, but even more so with TRUST. God, being the all-knowing, all-loving guy that He is, very rarely (if ever) reveals the entire picture to us. He feeds us bits and pieces along the way. Our future might look very uncertain and we live our days being obedient to Him, doing "stuff with things" but not completely sure where we are going with it until He shows us. 

That's the key. He doesn't call us to just be busy, rushing around and filling our time with stuff. However, when we enter into His presence and obey without seeing His bigger picture (which only He has access to) it can feel like we are running around, almost chaotically, doing "stuff with things." But take heart. He wouldn't ask you to do something without purpose. Listen for His voice so you can do HIS stuff for HIS things and HIS purpose. It's all part of HIS plan. So trust that He's got it under control. 

Now if you will excuse me... I gotta go do some "stuff with things." 

Trusting Him and Living with Purpose, 

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”-- Psalm 31:14

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Army of God: "AMERICA!"

Today's army word of the day should come as no surprise to those of you who know me...


Yes, I am an army wife... But I started saying this before I became a wife... I think Brandon got me started on it early during our dating relationship. And here we are, almost three years (seriously?!?) later. I also started saying it before that movie "The Other Guys" with Will Ferrell came out (he says it after he guns the gas petal... it was grand.) 

But wait... Before I get to far into this post, I would like to make an announcement...

WE HAVE A WINNER!!!! (AMERICA!) <sorry, I'm getting carried away in my excitement>

The winner of our Happy Dance Celebration "Glad-Sharita-finished-her-masters-and-survived-to-post-her-100th-blog-today" Giveaway contest is...

Mr. Ryan Wilkerson!! 

Congratulations Ryan... I will be in touch with you ASAP to arrange delivery of your super-awesome prize package of 3 books (Share Jesus without Fear, Winning with People and Wild at Heart) and two "buttons" for office/desk/home entertainment (Easy Button and Panic button.) Thanks to all who entered. God blessed me with a fantastic turn out, which just makes my heart swell with joy and holler AMERICA!!

Let me chillax for just a second so I can explain the whole thing with "America."  (Breathe... in through the nose, out through the mouth.) Ahhhh... Ok, now I am focused. Ish. 

The word "America" in this context doesn't necessarily mean anything patriotic (although it certainly can.) Rather, it can be an expression of excitement, which you probably already picked up on earlier in this post. It can also be used somewhat in the form of a sarcastic question (but yet obedience), like when I get some slightly jumbled info from the Army. 

"So we have to do what when? Ok... <sigh> America." 

Oh, and there is a diction piece of this I should address-- I don't annunciate the word fully. I don't mean any disrespect, but usually I say the word with such fervor it comes out 'Mericah! I know I am not the only person that uses this phrase, but it is certainly one of my favorites. 

So what does this phrase have to do with God? Well, it's a sign or expression of joy. It is exciting. Even in times of question, I use the word "America" as a form of agreement (obedience.) When God does something awesome in my life (aka, masters, 100th blog, awesome husband, upcoming holiday block leave) I have a flurry of thoughts going through my head, usually in the form of "Praise the Lord!" "That's awesome!" "Mericah!" 

This last week of doing the giveaway and really focusing more on my blog has blown me out of the water. (Or, in this case... off the map.) It is amazing to watch God accomplish His will and to rejoice-- we are a part of that will!! Here's an example of "America" coupled with joy and obedience. 

Yesterday I had a huge to do list to try and hammer out. After my morning work out and breakfast, I had my quiet time with the Lord... Then proceeded to "officially" start my 1000 Gift List (inspired by Ann Voskamp) 

While that sounds like it took a while (I wrote down 100 simple gifts that God had given me) I ROCKED through the rest of my day's list. I gave my first fruits (time) to God, and He gave it right back in ways I couldn't imagine. WHOO! AMERICA! 

What moments has God planted in your life lately that have excited your heart so much that you can't help but get a rush from it? We are celebrating together... God's gifts... blessings... and love... with an awesome expression... Praise the Lord... 


With a Full and Joyful Heart, 

"The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry." Job 39:23-25

To leave a comment click here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Army of God: "Voluntold"

When one gets involved with the army, there is A LOT to learn. 

It doesn't matter if you are actually joining the ranks as enlisted or officer, OR you have been called to marry a beloved soldier... There is going to be a learning curve involved. 

Early on in our marriage (ok, let's be honest, it's still pretty early... we are only 14 months in) I had to stop Brandon every other sentence and have him translate the gobbledygook that he was trying to communicate.  Even now, I have to put the words through a filter in my army wife head to understand them. 

On a typical night, I hear something like this come from my beloved: 
"Hey Sharita, the CO and the BC were talking today, and since we are done with ARM and getting ready to do FTX, I got voluntold to do CQ on 12 December."

<insert wife brain scrambling sound here> 

"Hey Sharita, the commander and the battalion commander were talking today, and since we are done with advance rifle marksmanship and getting ready to do a field training exercise, I am working overnight charge of quarters duty on Monday, December 12." 

Um, ok. Roger?!?

This week, I am going to share with you some of my favorite "army" words/phrases... And since this is a Christian blog (not sure if you picked up on that yet ;-) and we are all fighting in the "Army of God," I will of course be drawing some kind of parallel to how God lovingly directs our paths. 

So are you ready? I hope you are standing at parade rest and anticipating todays "Word of the day." 

This word of the day is BY FAR my favorite word taught to me by the army. I use it in my civilian life... and it is awesome... Ready? 

"Voluntold: the inadvertent nomination of an individual to comply with orders or plans through being commanded to do so... or else." 

A lot of the less then awesome duties that Brandon gets to do (and I get to deal with) in the army are typcially voluntold to him. This happens when someone says "Who wants to pull CQ tomorrow?" When everyone remains silent and avoids eye contact because they were hoping to sleep a full night and eat food other than from the DFAC (Dining facilities) and the answer comes from the same person who asked the question: "Knobby... you pull CQ." And Brandon says OK (most of the time, because that is the kind of awesome soldier he is.)

God does the same thing-- sometimes he asks a question or gives a subtle command that He of course already knows what will be the result. Maybe He says "Sharita, do you want to be called to ministry?" (Insert brief moment of blindness/eye contact avoidance here) "Thanks Sharita! Way to step up. You will do great. Now... get to work, girl." 

We all reserve the right to say NO to being voluntold... but it is going to cause a lot of issues, especially when we are being voluntold or called to do something by our Lord. We can say no... but then we have the whole issue of disobedience to deal with. While that sounds like a less than winning situation, let me assure you that living a life of obedience and embracing those calls of voluntold-ness is worth it. God knows what He is doing, and if he gave us choices all the time, we would probably be in a bigger mess than normal. 

Have you been "voluntold" to do something lately as a soldier in the Army of God? Have you complied and followed through or tried to say no? Take heart and have faith... God is the ultimate commander-- He isn't interested in making you hurt or live in a pool of bureaucracy. He loves you... So when He has voluntold you to do something, let's head into battle, together. Look up, smile and say YES SIR! 

You won't regret it. 

Thankful to be Voluntold, 

"Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask." Philemon 1:21

PS-- The giveaway for the free "Leadership and Faith" package is still going on... BUT TODDAY IS THE LAST DAY! (Entries close at 8pm EST) You don't want to miss out on this great opportunity. To enter comment here or see my celebration post for more information!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christ in a Cow Pasture: The REST of the Story...

Seventeen days ago, I had the opportunity to lead my beloved Dad to Christ (In case you missed it, get the whole story here. It's a pretty awesome recount of God's love and power!) 

So today, in the words of the late Paul Harvey... Here is the REST of the story. 

First, a little background: since October of 2008, my Dad has been struggling with his health. Up until that point, he had been in ok physical condition, minus the extremely random heart attack at age 45 when I was a senior in high school (but again, that is another post.) Anyway, on Halloween night 2008, I got a call from my mom that they were taking my Dad to the ER for "nerve issues." I can't remember all of the symptoms, but we were concerned. 

(Sidenote: never try to google the symptoms and come up with a diagnosis before the doctor does... you won't sleep for a month. Yikes.) 

Ever since that point, my Dad's health has been all over the place... the nerve issues continued and it has been over three years and they have yet to determine a legit diagnosis. Not long after the nerve stuff showed up, his stomach/digestive system got all out of whack. Needless to say, for the last 3+ years, my dad has essentially felt like crap. 

The doctors (from small town to KU med) have pretty much just passed him back and forth because when he goes, he shares ALL of his symptoms (which is what I thought you were supposed to do.) Unfortunately, the neurologists say "I don't do stomach stuff" and the gastroenterologists say "I don't do nerve stuff." "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know." You get the point.  It's been over three years of bouncing around with minimal answers and resolution. Until... 

He found Jesus in a cow pasture, sitting in the cab of a yellow work truck. (Seriously... link up to the other story and this will make A LOT more sense.) 

Dad and I prayed for Jesus to come into his heart that day in the cow pasture late morning/early afternoon. After that, we headed home for lunch, scarfed down some food and headed back to the cattle. As we were bouncing along in the pasture, suddenly I blurted out "I wonder if you have a gluten allergy." 

Now, before all you medically inclined people out there start teaching me about the differences between gluten allergy, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, just let me say... I need to know these things. Because I have had ZERO, zippo, nada experience with this and have NO IDEA where this thought came from. 

I immediately got on my handy dandy Android and googled "symptoms of gluten intolerance." Good thing I was sitting down in the truck with the door shut or I would have fallen over. People with gluten issues can have extremely random symptoms... Everything from headaches (check), attitude changes (check), stomach stuff (lots of checks,) and nerve issues (holy frickin' check.) 

My heart was POUNDING as I read the list of symptoms out loud to my Dad. Now, there is something to you need to know about my Daddy. I love him. Dearly. But he is a red head. He is very stubborn. And he is a straight up pessimist. 

After the junk he had been through the last three years of feeling like EWW, he wasn't very optimistic, but at that point willing to try anything, even if it meant giving up beer and "real bread"... which says a lot for that red-headed Missouri Mule. 

We got home, I encouraged Dad to share what had happened to his heart that day. It took some coaxing... (Profess it with your mouth!) but he hugged Mom and sobbed out "I accepted Jesus into my heart." It was beautiful. (Pause for Kleenex break.) 

THEN, I shared with Mom the idea about the gluten allergy/intolerance whatever it could be. We read through the symptoms again and out of the 40 random ones listed, Dad had 18 of them. Hmmm...

Mom was also desperate for Dad to feel better and we noticed that the research said typically in adults (especially older adults) gluten issues often go undiagnosed. Interesting... 

So, with a one day notice, we enacted "Operation-Gluten-Free-Thanksgiving-Please-Jesus-Let-This-Be-From-You!" (GFTPJLTBFY for short :-) 

We had a gluten free Thanksgiving, thanks to the surprisingly large selection of gluten-free products at our local small-town Wal-mart. I even created a version of a food diary, complete with the pain ranking scale (the one you see at doctor's offices with the smiley and sad faces.) I said we were going to do this experiment, recording Dad's "pain" ranking throughout the day, along with what he ate (gluten free of course.)

Well, it has now been 17 days. I called Dad yesterday to wish him happy biological birthday (I think it is pretty sweet that he gets TWO birthdays within a 17-day time span.) And guess what? My pessimistic, seemingly hopeless Dad said... He felt better. "ALMOST good." 

That says A LOT!! I was so excited and am now celebrating for ANOTHER reason! He is not completely pain free (he has been a farmer for nearly half a century-- I know he has back/nerve issues in general) but the stomach/digestion thing is GREATLY improved... and gluten free. 

This isn't a post to say "Yes, I am genius and thought up this gluten theory." It's a God thing. Dad, after struggling and clinging to control for 53 years, gave his life over and submitted to Jesus that day n the cow pasture. He gave up control.  His illness and health issues were part of his recovery testimony. God had the loving plan all along to put him through those health trials to bring my stubborn Daddy to his knees before the throne. Within HOURS of saying YES to Jesus, Christ gave us the answer to start the physical healing process. Can I get an AMEN??

From Christ in a Cow pasture to God and a gluten-free lifestyle... What an awesome way to tell the rest of the story. 

The Testimony Continues, 

"Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!" --Hebrews 12:9

PS-- The giveaway for the free "Leadership and Faith" package is still going on... You don't want to miss out on this great opportunity. To enter comment here or see my celebration post for more information!

PSS-- If anyone out there has any stellar recommendations for living a gluten free lifestyle (specifically: recipes) please comment and let me know!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Gloves are Coming off: FIGHT BACK!

"LADIES & GENTLEMEN...(gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen...)
WELCOME...(welcome, welcome, welcome...)
TO THE  FIGHT (Fight, fight, fight...) 

I took a boxing class my senior year of college (my 5th year at KSU.) It wasn't because I aspired to be in the ring, listening to the announcer's echo of my mad skills as I faced my opponent. Nor did I plan to learn how to properly punch people who annoyed me. I took the boxing class because I was a 5th year senior and it was an excellent alternative to any "real" class I might have to take... like biochemistry. Yeah, no thanks. 

My boxing class was a ton of fun-- our teacher was terrifyingly awesome... She threatened us that if we used the skills from class to start any kind of fights outside of class, that we would flunk. She also said she WOULD find out because her husband was a cop. I don't know if she could legally do that, but I sure as heck wasn't going to find out. 

You probably don't have to take a boxing class to know the number one rule of the class: Fight clean. We have all heard the phrase about "hitting below the belt." Yeah, that definitely wasn't allowed. But isn't it funny how when Satan fights with us, he doesn't follow that rule. He will hit wherever he can, usually where it hurts the most. He fights DIRTY. 

Let me explain. 

I was having a conversation with a dear friend and mentor of mine a couple day ago. She was telling me about the weekend she had-- it was literally a weekend from Hell. Satan was doing a number on her life. I chimed in with my own experience, and she reminded me that the more successful we become in glorifying God and sharing His message, the harder Satan is going to fight us. 

Here's the kicker-- The Enemy isn't going to attack us in our strongest spots. I would say that it is pretty unlikely that Satan is going to show up in my grill when I am elbow deep in ministry at church, surrounded by other spiritual leaders. I am strong there. Close to God. Rather, he is going to attack my soft spots, my weak spots, probably when I am not looking. 

Last week, Satan decided to try and attack my relationship with my husband. But Brandon and I came together in the name of Christ and plowed through it, which brought us closer than ever. So this morning, when I was feeling good, emotionally and spiritually,  he tried a new tactic and The Enemy punched me in the gut when I was least expecting it. 

So, I'm a woman. (Hopefully you were aware of that.) As a woman, I am conscious of my physical self-- I try to work out and eat healthy and monitor my weight. I hadn't stepped on the scale in several days (I do an accountability check about once a week-- don't worry, I'm not obsessed with the numbers) so decided this morning was a good time to check it out and make sure I wasn't way off. 

I stepped on the scale first thing this morning, looked down... and smiled. I thought "Ok, that works." Not terrible. I will take it. I walk away, go to my bathroom, pull my hair into a pony tail. For some stupid reason (Satan?) I decide to go back in an weigh myself again, with a few less articles of clothing (I don't want to get graphic here, but I don't know many woman that like to get a "home weight" wearing a lot of clothes.) 

I could have worn this whole pack and
it wouldn't have added 4 lbs to the scale...
I go back to the other room, step back on the scale literally 3 minutes later... and I am 4 pounds heavier. 

I about flipped out. I stepped off... Stepped back on. The same number, 4 pounds more than the very first. Granted, I was not a physics superstar, but I am relatively certain that my pink elastic ponytail holder did not weigh four pounds. 

I try a third time, and it says the same undesirable number AGAIN. Right when I am on the verge of grabbing that scale to chuck it out of the nearest second-story window while yelling words unsuitable for a Christian blog, I have this weird flash of a vision in my mind. I felt the devil on my back. I saw myself with the weight of Satan ON me, pulling, weighing me down. 

I'm not sure if anyone knows what weight class Satan is in... but this morning in my bathroom, he weighed four pounds. I laughed at the realization and said, "Ok God... you fight this one for me." 

Here's the best part: I went jean shopping today and fit into a size of jeans that I had never fit into during my adult life. AND when I got to the car, I saw a rainbow in the distance (which I take a sign from God... it's in the Bible.) I gave my day to God. He fought the battle for me. And made me a winner. Satan=KO (knocked out.) 

Remember that Satan doesn't wait for the "perfect" or fair conditions to fight, with both of you in the ring, God on your side, hands wrapped, paying attention, warmed up, and gloves on. He doesn't wait in his corner for the bell to ring... He comes after us, at any given moment. Fortunately, God has our back. So sure, we might end up with a black eye or the wind knocked out of us from a shot below the belt by The Enemy, but as long as we ask God to help us fight our battles, we will ALWAYS win. 

Oh, one more thing. You know how at the end of the day people naturally weigh more than they did in the morning? Well, I stepped back on the scale tonight, after drinking over 80 oz of water today and eating 3 meals and 2 snacks... and I weighed LESS than my four pound up number this morning. 

Take that Satan. The gloves are coming off. I'm fighting back. 

Cross, jab, hook, uppercut, 

"Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” --Psalm 35:1-3

PS-- The giveaway for the free "Leadership and Faith" package is still going on...  You don't want to miss out on this great opportunity. To enter comment here or see my celebration post for more information!