Author Archive for Meg Chaney

Meg is wife to a military man, mama to a preschooler & toddler, and nap time reader of classic literature. Her favorite dates with her husband include bookstores, coffee shops, and dreaming up the next corner of the world they want to travel to. You can find her on Instagram @deployedheart.

Fear Not

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I sat there, sipping my mocha, while our daughter rolled a ball across the floor, back and forth, and periodically tried to escape from the little corner we had planted ourselves in, waiting for them to call the flight. I took a picture or two of father and daughter, grinning, holding each other close. And then, before I was ready for it, he was hugging me one last time, and getting in line to board his flight—the flight that would take him, first to training, and then to the other side of the globe, to fight for freedom and safety.

He stepped onto the jetway, and I turned toward the exit, holding back tears as my daughter toddled along beside me, totally oblivious to what had just happened. In a daze I walked back outside, strapped my daughter in her seat, and then drove across town before the tears finally hit.

He was gone.

The endless weeks stretched out in front of us. The mark I placed on next year’s calendar looked way too far away. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Easter, so many holidays would pass before I saw his face again.

During our deployment season, I struggled. Struggled with envy as I saw pictures of families on social media as the holidays came near. Struggled with worry, as my husband lived in a volatile part of the world.

Struggled with peace.

Because I was living through a season that felt anything but peaceful. A season where the contrast of life and death was inescapable—cast sharply in black and white. A season where I truly noticed the influence of my husband on our lives. I noticed the littlest things. The lack of heavy boots at the end of my bed. The lack of excitement at the end of the day, when my daughter used to watch with anticipation for her father to pull into the driveway. That missing set of hands during the bedtime routine. I missed his company. I struggled to see how these long months of separation could be of any good.  

There were times that I let fear take over, as I imagined what could happen to my husband over there in that sand pit.

Fear, because I honestly doubted I could be a single parent during this season. My husband had always played such an immense role in our home life, I didn’t think I could do it on my own.

Fear, because I really don’t like being home, alone, in the dark.

Fear, because my husband was living in a truly violent place.

Yes, fear was very much a part of my life during that season.

But then, peace would enter in.

Peace would come, in the moments where my imagination would get out of control. When I’d start to become consumed with the what ifs.

Peace would come and smooth out all the frustrations, the loneliness.

No, my life during that season didn’t always look all that peaceful from an outward sense.

But the beautiful thing is that God understood.

He took the fear, the loneliness, the frustration, and replaced it with His peace.

“He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon. For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:4-6, HCSB)

This image, of a mother bird with her young, reminds me of just how gentle God is with all of us. He gets it, when we’re going through a rough season. When we’re struggling with fear, anger, frustration, loneliness. And sometimes He just holds us close. He protects us. He reminds us that we belong to Him. That He has the bigger picture already figured out.

That deployment season is now a few years back for us, but even now, I have days, times when I feel so lonely. Days when I’m frustrated as a wife and mother. And then, I remember that time of refinement. Those moments when God showed up, and simply held me, with all my frailty and doubts, close. And it reminds me, I really have nothing to fear. He’s got this.

A Legacy of Love

Photo fro the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College

Photo fro the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College

She loved.

Not with an everyday lovey-dovey sort of love, but with agape. A love that keeps no record of wrong. A love that hopes. A love that never fails.

I’m still trying to figure out that sort of love.

My own love is imperfect. People aren’t always trustworthy. Those I love don’t always follow through. They make mistakes. Unfriend me. And my, how I can hold grudges against them. I think back to times of my life, moments from my childhood, and I can once again feel mad about it. Betrayal. Hurt. Unforgiveness. On my own, I feel all of these things.

But she lived her life differently.

She who by earthly standards could have held far more grudges than I.

She who watched her father, her sister, her brother, her nephew, and so many others die from mistreatment.

She who experienced hunger and pain, verbal and physical abuse.

She chose to forgive.

And her story influenced my own spiritual legacy.

thegalleryofheroes.com

 

Even before the Second World War started, Corrie ten Boom lived an impressive life. She was intelligent, independent, giving. She was the first woman watchmaker in the Netherlands, ran a church for the mentally disabled, and was a foster parent to many.

When the war came her family’s watchmaker business became a front for hiding Jews and members of the Dutch underground. She was sent to a concentration camp and shared the gospel throughout her time there, a light even in that darkness.

After the war she toured internationally, sharing her story and receiving awards, including a knighthood. Her book, The Hiding Place, was a firsthand account of her experiences.

But what I find most fascinating about her is her ability to love. Love with a kind of love that can only come from God.

Love, as she lived through ten months of mistreatment, first in a prison, and later at a concentration camp.

Love, while she watched her dear sister slowly die from the deplorable conditions in the camp.

Love, when she opened up a convalescent home after the war. A place for concentration camp survivors—both victims and those who sympathized with the Nazi cause. She didn’t turn people away. She created a place for healing. For love. For forgiveness.

Corrie herself would admit that she couldn’t love in her own strength. No, if it was up to her she would hold grudges against others. But, “when Jesus says to love your enemies, he gives you His love to do so” (from a recording of Corrie ten Boom’s Testimony).

It was never up to her. She just had to be willing to let God work through her. She bravely shared her testimony with the world, unafraid to share God’s love with those who might need it most.

www.nanozine.net

www.nanozine.net

 

In 1975, her story came to the big screen. The Hiding Place was broadcast for all to see.

And my mother, Tamara, was one of those whose lives changed. At the age of 15 she sat in that movie theater seat and watched faith lived out in action.

Tamara says, “Even in her eighties, [Corrie] shared her story with such grace. Listening to the way she forgave with such grievances against her, I realized two fold: that I was forgiven for all that I had done, and that I should forgive others.”

My mother had grown up in the Catholic church. From an early age she knew about Jesus, even believed in Him, but Corrie ten Boom’s story was what compelled her to take a step further and have a personal relationship with Him.

Corried showed her what love in action was really about.

Welcoming others in.

Forgiving them.

Letting go of past grievances.

It may seem small—a young 15 year old girl whose heart was changed in 1975. But the effects rippled.

The effects of one Dutch lady, back in 1944, rippled forward, until they met my young mother in a movie theater that day. That story, that testimony influenced her life and changed its course forever. One lady’s love. One lady’s dedication to forgive and to share Jesus with those around her.

And that story influenced me as well. My mother shared Corrie’s story with me as a little girl.  I grew up knowing about Corrie ten Boom, about her trials and her love for Jesus. Her legacy became my Mother’s and has now become mine.

That kind of love is unforgettable.

“I have experienced it. You cannot go so deep. Always deeper are the everlasting arms that carry you.” ~ Corrie ten Boom

 

Sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/corrie-ten-boom-21358155#work-after-the-war

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/voices/boom.html

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10006914

http://tenboom.org/aboutthetenboomsc48.php

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL769C87D81920071E

The Tantrum Days

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Friends, can I tell you a secret? Being a mother has been one of the most exhilarating, joy-filled experiences of my life  . . . but it also has been the most heart-wrenching, confusing, frustrating thing.

Some moments are wonderful, bliss-filled snapshots of this blessed life I live. Some moments I hope to always remember.

There are moments, early in the morning, when my toddler cuddles up against me, clasping his cup of milk, and we read some of his favorite stories, content in the 5 o’clock morning light.

There are moments when my preschool daughter and I laugh, dancing around the kitchen, letting the music reverberate through the house, swinging from side to side, twirling around. The laughter in those moments starts in the eyes and makes its way down to my heart.

There are sunny afternoons lazily spent in the backyard, going down the slide, blowing bubbles, racing through the sprinkler, or taking lazy walks down the sidewalk, discussing everything thing we see—each flower, each tree, the features of each house we pass by.

But I think too often the good is celebrated, while the struggles are hidden. It’s easy to post only good pictures on social media, to document the happy moments, the moments when you can actually get your kids to pose together, smiling.

Something is neglected in those moments: transparency. The reality that life has its ups and downs, moments both easy and not.

I think too often the good is celebrated, while the struggles are hidden.

I crave transparency. I crave relationships where I can be honest about feeling lonely and insufficient. I crave relationships where I can be honest about the mornings when we wake up, have our leisurely time reading books on the couch and are faced with struggles from then on out: toys breaking, siblings fighting, tantrums unavoidable and unending.

With the chaos, my anxiety spikes. I panic. I start to shut down, to feel shaky, frustrated. I make rash decisions, hasty decisions, angry decisions. I tell myself I’m doing everything wrong. I wonder why my life is like this and why we face this week after week, year after year. Why I was placed here, in our home, day in and day out, to mother these children? Why?

It gets gritty, friends. It gets dirty, rough and downright ugly.

There are days when I feel so lonely. Lonely, living so far away from family and friends. Lonely, when I feel like my child is the only one who has tantrums like this. Lonely, when the only people I talk to in an entire day are under the age of 5.

There are days that are so filled with frustration. Frustration over my children, their disobedience, their tantrums, their less-than-perfect natures. Frustration over my inability to guide them to calmness, to divert the meltdowns I can see are coming.

Those are the days when I feel so insufficient, when I feel like I don’t measure up. On days like those, I’m sure that somehow I’m messing my children up forever. I’m sure that they’ll hate me when they’re grown.

And today I feel scared. Because I actually just admitted to those things above. They aren’t pretty, but they are honest. It’s easy for those dark moments to take control. It’s easy for me to dwell in the negative.

But God is there.

God’s there when I panic, when I’m huddled in the corner of the room. God’s there when I cry out for help, for a steady heart when I feel it breaking, for direction when it comes to parenting. And He reminds me I am created in His image. He reminds me I’m beautiful, I’m loved and I’ve been placed in this messy, imperfect family for a very specific reason: to love and raise my children to know Him.

Sometimes, that moment in the corner is exactly what I need. Yes, at first it’s a moment of loneliness, of desperation, of fear. But then I turn to my Creator, and I ask Him for help. I ask Him for peace when I can’t see it on my own. I ask Him to show me how to discipline my children in love.

And I often return to this specific portion of scripture:

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8, HCSB).

I once had a Bible study leader who told me to replace the negative lies in my life with God’s truths. She reminded me we have a choice where our mind wanders. Others have reminded me of this truth, as well. I’m often guilty of dwelling on these negative areas of my life instead of replacing them with God’s truth. This verse has become a favorite of mine, because of this. It becomes an easy filter for truth versus lies in my life.

Lie: I don’t belong here. God made a mistake.

Truth: He created me to mother these children.

Lie: I’m all alone.

Truth: He is always present. Nothing escapes His knowledge.

Lie: I’m messing them up.

Truth: He will equip me to raise up my children in His ways.

The problems of life don’t always immediately disappear when I do this. But it’s a good practice; practice at getting my wild feelings and my brain under control and reminding myself that God is there beside me through it all.

It really will be OK. I’ll make it through today and then tomorrow and then the day after that. He will give me the wisdom and strength to mother my children each step of the way. My job is to focus on Him and His truths along the way.

One of my words for this year is peace. It’s a hard one, but it’s something I desire more of in our home life. Peace in the midst of crazy. Peace that will help my children learn to calm down and to understand the reasons for rules and order in our life. Peace in my heart as I raise these little ones up to know Him and His truths. Peace that I can’t always express or explain, but peace straight from God up above.

Peace.

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