Speaking Out: Faith through the Storm

I am SO excited to be a part of the Blog Hop team promoting A Time to Speak -Nadine Brandes’s newest dystopian novel in her Out of Time series. This incredible novel released on October 16th and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the continuation of Parvin Blackwater’s courageous adventure. What excites me most about being a part of this blog hop is the opportunity to SPEAK OUT.Hashtag-Called2Speak-2

This past weekend my family and I flew to Texas to visit our daughter for her first collegiate homecoming. We were so excited…until we saw the weather report. We were heading into the dark purple pixilation of 10+ inches of rain with flood warnings. I prayed. I worried. We got on the plane hoping we’d make it to Texas and drive the hour and a half to see our daughter.

We flew into the storm. The flight took an extra hour and a half as it tried to navigate around the storm but in the end we had to fly into it. We made it but our plane had to park on the runway of DFW until the lightning, sheets of rain, and thunder died down enough for us to safely get off the plane.

Sitting on the plane made me think of how often I head somewhere without knowing what will happen in the journey. Life as a military family makes this a common occurrence. We’re given our orders and we report for duty.

Two and a half years ago our family was assigned to Washington D.C. We had no idea the storm we were going to face would introduce our family to the devastation of suicide, depression, and mental health issues. If we’d known, you can bet we’d turned around and said, “No way, Jose!”

In the book of Luke, Jesus tells his disciples to go to the other side of the lake. They obeyed unaware of the storm ahead. But Jesus knew. The disciples were afraid. They forgot who was with them. And Jesus called them out on it…after He calmed the storm, of course. Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:22-25 NIV)

Where is my faith? In those dark days of the storm I admit I was like the disciples. I was terrified of losing my daughter. I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to save her. I forgot who was with me. The One who knew about the storm before we stepped foot on the boat. The One who promised to never leave me or forsake me. The One who will calm the storm if only I have faith.

Jesus has a way of growing our faith. Even the disciples were left asking, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” During the storm it was hard to see the rainbow on the other side but here we are. God is faithful. I only have to have the faith to believe He is with me.

Storms will come but my faith comes in knowing Jesus is with me. He knows what lies ahead and He will be by my side until I make it to the other side.

What makes you want to speak out?  http://bit.ly/AmazonATtSPaperback #Called2Speak #ATime2Speak(Click to tweet)

ATimetoSpeak5What happens when you live longer than you wanted to? 

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council uses Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes.

Parvin and Hawke find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out? 

Book Two in the “Out of Time” series.

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Read about the first book, A Time to Die, here.

 

Don’t forget to check out the amazing giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js“>  You could win a signed copy of A Time To Die AND A Time to Speak!!

9.28.15 – Gretchen Engel
9.30.15 – Nadine Brandes
10.01.15 – Jason Joyner
10.05.15 – Gretchen Engel (part 2)
10.06.15 – Tricia Mingerink
10.08.15 – Gretchen Engel (Scriblerians)
10.09.15 – Emilie Hendryx
10.11.15 – Janeen Ippolito
10.12.15 – Zachary D Totah
10.14.15 – Brittany Valentine
10.15.15 – Andrew Swearingen
10.17.15 – Megan Besing
10.19.15 – Angel Roman
10.20.15 – Charles Franklin
10.21.15 – Lisa Godfrees
10.23.15 – Shantelle Hannu
10.27.15 – Natalie Walters
10.29.15 – The Artist Librarian
11.02.15 – Rosalie Valentine
11.17.15 – Amanda Fender
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A Love Message from My Father

baby-84639_1280I’m going to share something with you that feels so personal it makes me second-guess myself. This morning I received a personal message. One so personal that I don’t want to share it but then a huge part of me wants to scream it from the rooftops. This morning I received a loving message from my Father. I know, I know, some of you are probably going to stop reading now but I beg you to hang in there. This won’t be long and I feel like it’s so important.

As I was reading my Bible this morning, in the book of Isaiah, God is sending a clear message about the destruction he is going to bring on Israel because of her sinful disobedience. This book is filled with destruction and despair but there’s also a message of love and redemption if only they would turn back to the One who loves them. Okay, if I haven’t lost you yet here’s the love message I received:

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,

all the remnant of the people of Israel,

you whom I have upheld since your birth,

and have carried since you were born.

Even to your old age and gray hairs

I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

I have made you and I will carry you;

I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

-Isaiah 46:3-4

Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Uh, Natalie, I think it’s talking about the descendants of Jacob…the people of Israel. Last time I checked you were in Georgia.” Yeah, I know. BUT and this is a big but (not just the capitalized letters either) what I want you to do is replace the section “descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel” with your name. Then read it again. Come on, it’ll take five seconds. Did you do it?

“Listen to me, Natalie,father-445096_1280

you whom I have upheld since your birth,

and have carried since you were born.

Even to your old age and gray hairs

I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

I have made you and I will carry you;

I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

In a world that tells we’re not enough this message says just the opposite. It says we’ve been loved since the day we were conceived. Held since the moment we took our first breath. And no matter what we face we will be sustained; carried; and rescued. I don’t know why but this message from my heavenly daddy just spoke to me so deeply it’s hard for me to find the words to express how I feel. I don’t even know if there are enough words or if they’d even be the right words. What I do know is that I needed to hear this and I wanted to share it because I know there are people in this world, friends, family, who need to hear this too. I pray this message of love brings joy to your life today.

Blue Star Wife Chronicles: PCSing

“Where am I?” 

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If you’ve ever seen the movie, Overboard, with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, you might understand why I assumed these were the kids hanging off the cab of the truck. Great movie!!

These are the words I mumbled to myself…okay, not so much mumbled as spit out through clenched teeth as I navigated my vehicle through a narrow, dirt road where a pickup truck raced passed me with kids hugging the cab as they bounced up and down unrestrained in the bed whooping and hollering.

“Where am I?” Our new duty assignment. This was where I would be spending the next two years while my husband served and the kids I start over. This was not our first move. This is our tenth move in just over twenty years in the Army. We are not new to this. And yet we are. Every move is new. New town, new people, new church, new schools…the list could go on.

You’d think after so many moves I’d be used to it but I’m not. Not too long ago our family experienced our biggest move and I was really struggling with adjusting. Everything was so new and different. A friend told me it took her nine months to adjust. NINE MONTHS!! That’s almost half our tour. But she was right. It took me nine months to realize the beauty of my new home and accept the newness as part of my life.

We’ve been blessed to live this crazy military life but it does come with its pros and cons. Normally I make a list of the things I learn about each new assignment location in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way and so today I thought I’d do the same. So here goes:

Things I’ve learned since moving to Georgia:

1. There are some Southern accents that make English sound like a foreign language.

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Rapunzel’s mom from Disney’s Tangled.

2. My new fragrance of choice is bug spray. 

3. I will have to embrace my curls frizz. I’m thinking of dressing up like Rapunzel’s mom for Halloween. 

4. Butter might be its own food group. Sweet tea, too. 

5. Alligators are legit.

6. There is NOTHING like Southern hospitality.

I know I’ll learn to adjust to small-town living (pop. 10,000) and everyone tells me how much they love living here so I know my time will come-maybe just nine months from now. In the mean time I’m going to keep adding to the list while I enjoy the nightly lightning and thunderstorms and sip on a glass of sweet tea from the comfort of my air-conditioned dining room (see #2 above).

I hope y’all will come back!

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Military Fiction Giveaway

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Military fiction can be hit or miss and I hesitate to read or recommend stories about something so close to my heart. As a military wife I tread lightly when it comes to endorsing fiction that depicts the reality of my life and the lives of my extended military family spread out across all military branches.

This is where author, Ronie Kendig, raises the bar. Her Quiet Professionals Series takes readers on a fictional adventure with Special Forces Raptor team. The authenticity of setting and the rigors of battle-worn soldiers color every page of the story giving readers a “boots on the ground” experience they won’t likely forget. It’s military fiction at its best.

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And I’m so excited to giveaway a signed copy of Falcon. The third and last installment wraps up Raptor team’s mission in Afghanistan and promises to keep you turning pages to find out how it all ends. There are lots of chances for you to enter:  Like my Facebook Fan Page,  Follow me on Twitter, or sign up for my blog, and then leave a comment with your email. On May 31 a winner will be announced!

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American Heroes Don’t Always Wear A Uniform

In Washington D.C. it’s impossible not to be reminded of the heroics shown by the men and women who wear a uniform. But sometimes heroes don’t wear a uniform…and sometimes they’re under five feet tall. I’m talking about the military child.

photo 3photo 4I don’t have to look far to see some of my biggest heroes. My own children have moved more times than they can remember; have left friends and made new friends; have cried when their daddy deployed; laughed when their daddy returned; prayed when there was no word. They have passports  stamped in languages they don’t understand and don’t know how to answer when someone asks, “Where’s home?” Most of their friends don’t understand the life and it’s hard sometimes for them to fit in but they stand tall next to their uniformed hero and to me they’re the most resilient, courageous, and honorable heroes I know.

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First Deployment 3 days after our son was born.

894604I found a book called 100 Days and 99 Nights by Alan Madison. This cute story is about Esmerelda Swishback McCarther, the daughter of an Army soldier who deploys to war. Esme details what 100 days and 99 nights is like without her daddy. The book made me laugh, cry, and reminded me what the littlest heroes go through. It reminded me of every deployment our family faced throughout the years.

Homecoming after third deployment.

Homecoming after third deployment.

I’m so proud of my little heroes and of all the military children I know.

The Military Child

The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost

anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking.

It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry

them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the

military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new

adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely

resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are,

that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world and in every color, and that

education doesn’t only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to

adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting

adventure full of new friends and new experiences.

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Me and my heroes!

So excited to announce the winner of Ronie Kendig’s A Breed Apart Trilogy! Congratulations Ann McPherson Badder!! You’ll be receiving an email shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered and be sure to check out next week’s giveaway of Ronie’s latest release in her Quiet Professionals series, Falcon. 

A Breed Apart

22571323Last week I shared the incredible stories of two Military Mamas making a difference in the world wherever the military sends them and I was led to honor a different kind of hero. The canine hero.  Author, Ronie Kendig, introduces readers to them through her trilogy, A Breed Apart

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The A Breed Apart Trilogy follows the story of three canine heroes. Trinity: Military War DogTalon: Combat Tracking TeamBeowulf: Explosives Detection Dog. This suspense trilogy will have you turning the pages to find out what happens next but if you don’t believe me then ask Emilie Hendryx. A fellow author who will tell you it was this series that locked Ronie Kendig into her “Must Read” list. Here’s what she has to say:

images-1“I have found a new author-crush! Ronie Kendig has completely rocked my world with her novel, Talon: Combat Tracking Team from her A Breed Apart series. Honestly, there aren’t enough good things I could say about this novel. Exhilarating action from page one. Characters that you can relate to. A plot you couldn’t hope to anticipate. And a loveable dog–what more could you ask for?”-Emilie HendryxBeowulf

 

 

With such a spectacular review how can I not offer you a chance to read these incredible stories? Check out my  a Rafflecopter giveaway and earn entries for your chance to win a SIGNED COPY of A Breed Apart trilogy. I promise you won’t want to miss out on the adventure these four-legged warriors take you on.

RonieKendigHeadshot-200x300Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children and a Maltese Menace in Northern Virginia. Author and speaker, Ronie loves engaging readers through her Rapid-Fire Fiction novels. 

If you’re a fan of Ronie’s check back soon because I’ll be giving away a signed copy of her latest release Falcon. If you love our military you will LOVE her Rapid-Fire Fiction!!

Military Mamas Making A Difference

It’s not hard to understand how difficult life in the military can be. Long deployments away from the ones you love; starting from scratch with every new move; avoiding the questions blockheaded civilians ask to distance ourselves from the reality of the answers. All of it is hard. It takes a special breed of women to take on the military life whether they don the uniform or support the man who does-they are one-in-a-million.

And so I want to honor two of these Military Mamas today on my blog. These women have shown that no matter where the Army (in this case) sends them, they thrive and make a difference in the world around them.

Elizabeth Smith 

Liz Smith has run more than 100 races, competed in close to 75 half marathons in the last 7 or 8 years but nothing compares to the joy she gets crossing the finish line as one of Ainsley's Angels.

Liz Smith has run more than 100 races, competed in close to 75 half marathons in the last 7 or 8 years but nothing compares to the joy she gets crossing the finish line as one of Ainsley’s Angels.

Joining the Army, Liz, knew running was required but she dreaded it. As a child she preferred swimming or martial arts…really, anything but running. However, in the Army, a soldier must always be combat ready and that meant running. A new assignment landed her with a new boss who LOVED running. Like five miles a day five times a week kind of love. She couldn’t and wouldn’t let her new boss down. Hooah!! It didn’t take Liz long to embrace the challenge and discover that running relieved her stress. Twenty years later she has developed into an elite athlete with an elite purpose.

While deployed in Afghanistan Liz became the unofficial ambassador for the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon series. With only a starter group of four they quickly grew to over 250 participants competing in each race across four bases in country. Racking up more than 1200 miles in 12 months, she completed 17 half marathons and 50 virtual runs of varying distances but her goal was never in the mileage-it was in encouraging a new runner cross the finish line.

unnamed-2Returning from Afghanistan Liz’s purpose for running shifted. In 2014, she offered her legs to one of Ainsley’s Angels. An organization started by an Active Duty Marine whose daughter has Infantile Neuroaxanol Dystrophy (INAD). The organization’s mission is inclusion by offering individuals with disabilities the freedom to take part in endurance events. “Angels” offer their legs to serve as the rider/athlete’s legs and Liz got her chance to be an angel in September 2014. She pushed Chandler “Bean” for seven miles during the Washington Ragnar Relay-a 200 mile team run from Maryland to Washington D.C. Honored by the experience of watching “Bean’s” joy she now serves as a national ambassador for the organization.

Liz’s love for running and people has inspired her daughter, Katie, to follow in mom’s footsteps. She, too, has become an ambassador for Ainsley’s Angels and has already served as an angel twice in March. Katie is now training for her first half marathon where she can push a chair with an athlete and a message about inclusion. Liz is incredibly proud of her daughter’s selflessness but I think it goes without saying, “like mother-like daughter.”

 

Natalie Voss

Natalie has been supporting her soldier hero since 1995, along with their children Wyatt and Cammie.

Natalie has been supporting her soldier hero since 1995, along with their children Wyatt and Cammie.

Military movement is hard on every member in the family, including the furry family members. If you visit an animal shelter near any military installation it won’t be hard to find a family pet abandoned because of a move or deployment. This is where Natalie shines!

After adopting their dogs Dottie and Hatcher through the Humane Society near Ft. Hood in 1998, it didn’t take long for Natalie and her entire family to fall in love with precious “fur babies” discarded into the streets.

A military assignment to Indiana started their journey into fostering when they became a part of Houndsong, a beagle and coonhound resuce out of Hammond, IN. Their first rescue, Sully, was a Bluetick beagle. Fostering him for two months and finding him a forever home turned the Voss family into canine heroes!

It's a family affair to rescue.

It’s a family affair to rescue.

Since then, Natalie and her family have rescued around 120 dogs giving them a second chance at life. Many of the families who adopt her rescued “fur babies” keep in touch with Natalie sharing pictures through Facebook about how their new furry family member is thriving and adding joy to their lives.

Of course, Natalie has had a couple of foster “fails”, meaning a few of her rescues have melted her heart and the heart of her stalwart soldier leading to several new Voss family members. Gunnar, Primrose, Periwinkle, and Sandy joined the family through the years and have become poster pups spreading the word about how important it is to save a dog and adopt.

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Natalie’s family has embraced her love of rescue and participate in several rescue events in their area to raise awareness and money for animal rescue. They are currently working with Rescued Pets Movement rescuing animals from Houston area shelters and then fostering them until healthy enough to travel to their new forever families.

“The ways in which people treat animals will be reflected in how people relate to one another.”-William Greider.

Natalie’s treatment with these abandoned souls is reflective of her loving, generous, and selfless personality. There aren’t many times when you can look and see an angel on earth but I know each of those big puppy dog eyes that look up at her from a cage know what I know-she is an angel.

 

It has been my great honor and pleasure to honor these Military Mamas for the work they do as well as supporting and protecting our military. It is my hope that you will check out the links to the organizations they are involved with and be inspired to support making the world a better place. As part of this special honor I will be sending a small token of my gratitude for the difference they are making along with a donation to each of their organizations.

Don’t miss next week’s post when I introduce you to MWDs. Don’t know what an MWD is? Well, it’s another military hero…of the canine variety. Author, Ronie Kendig, will introduce you to her series A Breed Apart, a trilogy of stories about these awesome four-legged war heros along with your chance to win a signed copy!

Keep up the good work Mamas!! Hooah!

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