The soldier’s hat


I have been blogging about 12 years, although I don’t have all the posts from all those years. I do have some and I found this post today from around Memorial Day in 2014 while looking for another post. I thought I’d share it here again today and maybe share some of my past posts like Mama’s Empty Nest has been doing recently.


I remember the day Harry gave my son the VFW hat.  We were at a celebration at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars where they were honoring Harry because he was moving from the area to live with family.

I had taken Jonathan with me so I could grab a photograph for the local newspaper, but also so I could say goodbye to Harry, who I had interviewed years ago about his service during World War II. We had visited Harry at a nursing home a few weeks earlier while also visiting my aunt. My son, Jonathan, was 7 at the time.

I told Jonathan that Harry had fought for our country during World War II and to free the Jews during the Holocaust, something we had been talking about one night when he had asked me some historical questions. I remember how horrified he was about Hitler treating the Jews so awful and because of his age, I left out the worst of it, mainly only telling him how much the Nazis had hated the Jewish people and how wrong it was. After I introduced Jonathan to Harry, who was in the hallway sitting in a wheelchair, Jonathan, without prompting, saluted him.

Harry was touched and overwhelmed. As I sat and chatted with Harry, often having to almost shout since he had lost some of his hearing by then (he was almost 93), Jonathan drew a picture of Harry in the war, jumping out of airplanes and fighting in the Phillipines. Again, Harry was touched and impressed with Jonathan.

A week later when we attended Harry’s farewell celebration, we were surprised and emotional when Harry asked to see Jonathan and handed him two of his VFW Commander hats. Harry was thrilled to see Jonathan and smiled and talked to him, thanking him again for the salute and the picture.

We were definitely sad a year later when we heard Harry passed away. He had dedicated more than three decades to the local VFE post, where he served four years as post commander, 20 years as post quartermaster, 10 years as district quartermaster and three years as district commander. During his time at the VFW he had been named an All-American post commander, an All-American quartermaster three times, and also received several awards through the VFW.

DSC_4820DSC_4821-Edit-2When Harry passed away the  new post commander, Dan Polinski, told the local paper about the countless times Harry and others of Harry’s generation had stood in all kinds of weather to honor veterans who had passed away. Dan remembered one specific day where the rain was coming down, cold and stinging, against their faces.

“The younger of us, and I use that term loosely, said to Harry, O.C. Spencer, and some of the other World War II guys, ‘Listen, you guys, don’t stay out in this.’ The wind was whipping and it was brutal,” said Polinski. “Harry, and O.C., and all of the old crew — all of the old World War II guys who had stood with this Color Guard guy at many other funerals — just said, ‘No. He would do this for us.’” (Morning Times, Sayre, Pa. August 1, 2014)

I can attest to Dan’s story because I remember those rainy Memorial Days (in fact, I remember more rainy Memorial Days in Bradford County than sunny ones. It seems it always rains when there is a parade or a ceremony to honor veterans here.) I covered a few of those ceremonies for local newspapers and when I first saw Harry, and fellow World War II veteran O.C. Spencer, standing out in inclement or sweltering hot weather, I wondered why someone didn’t get them a chair or an umbrella, or usher them inside. Looking back I know it was because they stood not only to honor the fallen and those who served but to honor our country. They did what so many of us don’t, or won’t, do. They did what they’d done years ago when called to fight; standing when others turned or walked away.

DSC_5342_1We keep Harry’s hats sealed inside the clear plastic case he handed them to Jonathan in and we keep them in an honored spot next to a sealed American flag given to Warren’s family after his great-grandfather passed away. And when we do pull the hats out we not only remember the man who stood at every Memorial and Veterans day service, no matter the weather, in full uniform, honoring those who served and those who fell, but the man who came home from war, worked with troubled youth with his wife for a decade, worked hard at every job he did, and also showed us how to persevere during the toughest times in life.

It’s hard sometimes to look at the local Color Guard during Memorial Day services and not see Harry standing there, rifle propped against his shoulder, back straight, jaw firm, gaze steady. I find myself choking up at the memory of the dedication he showed and how a new generation is missing out on the lessons of perseverance his mere presence there taught us.

What is important, I remind myself, isn’t that he isn’t here anymore, but that he was there at all and that there are people still around who will work to keep his memory and legacy alive.

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Newspapers: the job that chews you up and spits you out; or trying to remember the good in the midst of a lot of bad

I wouldn’t exactly say my parents encouraged me to go into journalism, but when I decided that would be my major in college, they didn’t fight it – too much anyhow.

“It’s a pretty tough job, you know,” my dad said.

And he was right. Fourteen years later I can definitely understand how some who have left the field can say that newspapers chew you up and spit you out and never look back. It is indeed true in many cases, including mine.

Both of my parents reminded me journalism probably wouldn’t be a lucrative career unless I went to a big publication somewhere, which they knew was unlikely since I was a mama’s girl who hated being far away from home so much I picked a college about an hour and a half from where I grew up.

These warnings came 20 years ago. I can’t imagine what the warnings would have been had I announced I was going into journalism in 2019.

“You know you will have to pick a side – conservative or liberal – and only cover the news from that angle, right?” my dad would have said.

“Run as far away from  journalism as you can, okay honey?” My mom would have implored.

Even by the end of my college career, a degree in hand, it was clear my being in journalism might be a challenge for my family when Dad commented that the BS initials for “BS in Mass Communications with an Emphasis in Journalism”, which was what final degree was in, was fitting for more than the words “Bachelor of Science” when it came to the term “journalism.”

By the time I’d graduated, I already had a full-time job at the smalltown newspaper near where I’d grown up. My last semester of college I commuted, taking classes mainly in the morning and then going into work at the paper, working until midnight some nights, then getting back up the next morning, driving the 90 minutes to school (60 minutes if I really gunned it … um…which I didn’t because I’m a good, law-abiding citizen. The previous sentence was added for Mom), and starting it all over again. I survived on fast food and coca-cola and chocolate from the vending machine in the basement of the paper, near the pressroom. I also survived on very little sleep. It’s no wonder my thyroid died years later and I started to pack on weight on like a pregnant manatee.

How I ended up working at three newspapers in our small county of about 60,000, in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania throughout my journalism career is a long story. I met my husband at one of the papers. Shortly after we married we cut ties with the first paper I had worked at. That story is a bit long but I’ll summarize it with this: boss with a lazy eye yelling at me (or the wall, I’m not sure which) that my husband and I had neglected our “professional responsibilities” by driving one day down to my grandmother’s funeral 600 miles away in North Carolina, staying one day, driving one day back and getting stranded in a snowstorm in a suburb of Philly, therefore delaying our return by one day.

“You had the responsibility to be here when you said you would be here. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, I do,” I told him.

I understood he was a horrible man yelling at a person who had just buried her grandmother. I walked out of his office to the front desk, picked up the phone to call my husband at the satellite office he worked at for the paper and told  him “I’m quitting.”

“I am too,” he said.

A couple of weeks later the editor who had tortured us with constant yelling and berating received two two-week notice letters on his desk. I started job searching and my husband started working at the competition, which was actually the first paper he had worked at but was now under a different editor than he had worked for before.

I finished my career at the same regional paper my husband ended his career at about a month ago, though I walked away almost seven years before him.

In many cases when you leave a newspaper your co-workers don’t celebrate. They don’t feel sad either. You aren’t given a cake or a party. Sometimes you get a card and they wish you luck, but honestly, after so many years working with the public, there is little left inside a person to feel true emotions, even when a long time coworker finally escapes.

My husband worked at the paper 16 years, and a few years beyond if you count the years he worked there right after high school. On his last day, he received a card on his desk, signed by his co-workers. No cake, or well wishes.

He did, however, receive a kind farewell, complete with gifts and cake and streamers, from the coworkers at his part-time switchboard job at the local hospital, where he had worked off and on for seven years.

What was not surprising about his departure was the snide comments written on the newspaper’s Facebook page about him when he departed because one thing I’ve learned working at smalltown newspapers is there is no shortage of people who want to tell you that you suck.

I have less than fond memories of working at newspapers, mixed in with a few positive ones. I remember once, as a new reporter, after misidentifying someone in a story, apologizing to the person I had misidentified and being told my apology wasn’t accepted and that I didn’t, I quote, “deserve to breathe anymore.” I remember writing a lifestyle column and having someone scribble their dislike of it all over the newspaper with a black marker, which they had folded over to make sure my column was on top and shoved in the front mail slot with the words “No one cares about your stupid teddy bear or your stupid kid.” To make sure I saw it my “kind” co-workers propped it up on my computer so it would be at face level when I sat down. I tried to pretend I didn’t care, but I went home later that day and cried and wished I had listened to the career test I’d taken in high school which listed journalism as the top job I should never take.

These were the same co-workers that didn’t know I had come in early and was sitting at my desk on the other side of the partition when they called me a liar for calling in sick for morning sickness when I was pregnant with my first child. I almost went over to their desk and puked on them to show them how real the sickness was. I didn’t have morning sickness when pregnant. I had “all day sickness.” I still wish I had puked on them in some ways, though the relationship with them did improve somewhat in the future.

Not long after the note was left on my desk about the column, the publisher called me into his office and told me to stop writing about my kid because no one cared. I stopped writing the column altogether and tried not to look anyone in the community in the eye because I didn’t know who was sitting at home with too much time on their hands, hating me for writing what I thought were funny stories about my kid and his and my childhood. I honestly thought they might like a break from the dismal news that usually appeared in the paper. Apparently, not.

I was walking in Walmart one day with my son in the cart and a woman stopped me and said: “Oh, is this the little boy you write about in the paper?”

I thought she might be mocking me so I was afraid to admit it, but when I did she said, “I just loved your column. It always made me think about the good times I had with my children when they were growing up.”

She asked me why I wasn’t writing it anymore so I told her what my publisher had told me. She told me he was wrong. As the years went by I still had women stop me, most of them with adult children, and tell me how much they missed my column. I always told them ‘thank you’ but that I’d never write the column again. It had been made clear to me what I had to say was “stupid” and “unimportant.”

There is a long list of the cons of my years in newspapers – from being yelled at about mistakes in obits that I didn’t make (we copied them from the funeral homes), from being told more than once to go back where I came from (I had lived in the county my whole life so this one always puzzled me), to being threatened by a convicted murderer’s family (that all worked out, but it was scary at the time); to being told I deserved to die for a misquote; to spending nights crying myself to sleep after I’d had to write about a fatal car accident or a story about two county sheriff’s deputies murdered; that time I was cheated out of benefits by my boss because I had to cut my hours when our daycare provider got busted for not having a daycare license; those times I provided an idea, only to be pushed aside and then have a man come in with the same idea and hear the man congratulated for his amazing idea; and, of course, the many times I got yelled at for writing information provided to us by the police because the person arrested insisted they were innocent.

Throw into those cons that night a drunk guy threatened me because I accurately quoted him at a local school board meeting during the public comment section.

“If you…if you print what I say .. I’ll..I’ll….” he slurred into the phone.

“You’ll what?” I asked.

“I’ll..just …you better not print what I say,” he said.

Mixed into the negative were a few positives – nice people met, friendships formed, appreciation expressed for stories written, a husband met, skills learned (like the ability to compartmentalize emotions, shoving them inside until I could have a proper cry later in the darkness of the night before falling asleep.

I learned how to work fast, how to be semi-organized and you would think I would have grown a thicker skin, and in some ways I did, but in other ways, I simply decided people were better off to be avoided because eventually, they’d find a way to tell you that you suck.

Someone once asked me if I miss working at newspapers. I told them, “Sure. Yes. The same way I would miss a bullet in my brain.”

“Would you ever go back into newspapers full time?” someone might ask me one day.

My answer would be simple: “Not even if I was offered a million dollars.” Okay – maybe only IF I was offered a million dollars.

I hate to sound so negative about newspapers  because my husband recently started a new job at a newspaper that I worked at (and have the least negative memories of) and there are aspects of small-town newspapers I wouldn’t mind participating in again – like maybe writing a lifestyle column, although that could bring me hate mail over any tails of teddy bears I might share again.

Newspapers were good to me over the years – gave me a job that was never the same from day to day; helped me learn a little bit about a lot of things; helped me hone my writing skills (yeah, I know – keep honing); led me to a husband and from that to two amazing children; and helped me meet some amazingly kind people.

But I still carry the teeth marks and I can’t imagine ever placing myself back in that lions’ den, especially now with so many lions ready to eat journalists alive.

 

 

 

There are a few bad things about getting back into reading

In the last several months I’ve cut way back on social media and found myself very lonely. The loneliness sometimes leads to depression, which isn’t good, but what is good is the fact I’m now back into reading and writing.

I find I now look forward to bedtime, not because I have time to mindlessly scroll through social media without feeling guilty that I should be spending time with my family instead, or not because my old age makes me want to sleep more. Now I look forward to bedtime because I can escape into a good book before sleep. In fact, thanks to the diminutive appearance of my Kindle I can escape into a good book almost anywhere.

I can not tell a lie – I feel a bit of a rush of rebellion when I stay up late with a book and I know it’s because of all the nights I spent with my head under the covers with a flashlight so Mom wouldn’t catch me up reading pass my bedtime. To this day I still feel the urge to pull the covers up over my head when reading a book after midnight. I realize I probably need therapy. My mom wasn’t against reading, in fact she read so much it’s probably why I have a love for it, but she was against me being very tired for school the next day because I had been up too late reading.

 

Rekindling (pun intended) my love for reading is almost entirely a good thing. Still, it does have its’ drawbacks.

First, there is the fact I often stay up too late when I’m caught up in a good book and pay for it the next day when grogginess causes me to forget to turn on the stove to cook dinner or that I put the dog out an hour ago. Much to my chagrin, I have to admit my mom was right about that needing sleep thing.

Then there is the fact reading, much like blogging and writing short stories, is yet another way for me to procrastinate cleaning the house, folding laundry, loading the dishwasher or feeding my children. Why are kids always so hungry anyhow?

Another drawback to returning to the love of reading is the reminder of how stupid I really am because I have to keep highlighting words in the Kindle dictionary to learn the meaning of them. Truthfully, I could skip the word and keep going but since that nifty dictionary feature is already built into the Kindle it seems a shame to let it go to waste the same way I apparently let my brain go to waste.

Then there is the drawback to being able to look up words with the tap and slide of a finger: realizing you’re not only stupid for not knowing words but also because you keep trying to tap and highlight words when you are reading an actual, hard copy of a book.

Yet another drawback is when a book either is too exciting or jumps the shark and leaves me laying there in the dark all pissed off, tossing and turning, fuming, writing letters of disgust in my head to the writer. I was recently in the midst of a very well written Christian fiction book when it went off the rails into fantasy territory and I was left all theologically pissed off because miracles don’t happen like that in real life. So there I laid lost in deep thoughts about why we don’t see miracles today, instead of accepting that it’s JUST A BOOK! Hello! I decided then I needed to read less theological books before bed, instead focusing on books like The Cat Who… books or The Mitford series.

Despite the disadvantages to becoming a voracious reader again, I’m glad to have a way to escape from both the mundane boredom of my own life and the insanely, way too exciting events of the world around me. Currently, I’m switching between a Cat Who book by Lillian Jackson Braum ( a series of books about a newspaper reporter and his crime-solving Siamese cats) and the fifth book of the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

How about you? In the midst of any books you are using to avoid the responsibilities of life?
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To read more from some readers who read more and write more about what they read, you can click over to Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon on her blog, or on Facebook.

Carrying the star

This year there was no snow to make the truck slide but there was mud so the star was walked up the hill, instead of driven, to the end of the field and edge of the woods, by the father and son while the grandfather prepared to make the Star bright. This year there were new light strands on the same wood, the same star he built many years before, replacing the old lights that had burned out.

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They carried it up the steep hill and then the pulley was looped around the trunk of the tree and the ladder was climbed. Down below I took on the role of Grandma (Mom), since she can’t walk the hill, by saying things like:

“Someone hold the ladder.”

“Be careful.”

“Don’t lean out too far.”

“Don’t go up there on your own. Someone should be here to hold the ladder.”

“The ladder is tied to the tree,” Dad said, looking down at me with the expression parents give children when they know more than them.

“Oh. Well… still…”

So they pulled the star up to a place on the tree where drivers from the main road can see it, where people who need a sign of hope can find it.

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DSC_0711I thought of the post I wrote about this annual tradition last year and thought I’d share it again:

The star

They carried the star up the steep, snow-covered hill because the truck’s tires spun and sent the hunk of metal skittering sideways toward the old dirt road. In the end they left the truck in the field and slid the star, made of wood and strands of Christmas lights off the roof. Their breath steamed patterns out in front of them as they walked and the sun, a misleading sign of the outside temperature, cast long shadows onto the untouched surface of the snow that fell the day before.

Ropes were looped and tied and hooked on a pulley, the ladder was climbed and the star was hoisted with a couple reminders from father-in-law to son-in-law to “be careful of the lights! You’re hitting the lights on the tree!” But finally it was high enough and nails were hammered in to hold it in place.

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Dad built the star several years ago and put it at the edge of the woods, at the top of the field and where people driving by on Route 220, across the Valley could see it. It has become a beacon, you could say. A beacon of good will, or peace, or joy or whatever it represents for each person who sees it.

It can mean a lot of things for a lot of people but for Dad it is a sign of hope and the real reason behind Christmas. After all – isn’t that what the birth of Jesus was all about? Bringing hope to a hurting, fallen world?

So on this little hill, in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania my dad hangs his homemade, 50-some pound star, and with it hangs a little bit of hope – hope for health, for peace, for love for all, hope for the broken, the weary, the shattered souls.

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Why I briefly broke my 30-day Facebook detox (and no, it wasn’t to vent about a fast food restaurant.)

I’ll confess!

Turn off the interrogation lights!

This week I logged on to Facebook, briefly breaking my 30-day detox.

I know.

I’m a total fraud.

But, wait!

Let me explain.

Here is how it all started: without logging onto Facebook, I looked at the Today Show Parenting Team’s Facebook page this week, out of curiosity, and discovered one of my posts I had submitted on the community, had been shared. It had 38 comments and 240 shares.

The post, entitled “A Pregnancy Loss is A Loss No Matter How Small” was about my early pregnancy loss, which was caused by a blighted ovum. The post focused on the feeling by some women that they don’t feel they have a right to mourn an early pregnancy loss. In  reality they do, because that pregnancy, no matter how brief, represented their idea of what was to be. And because that pregnancy was the start of a life that ended too soon.

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Some of the comments on the post were so heartbreaking that I wanted to show the grieving mothers support so I hesitantly broke my Facebook detox simply to try to offer them some words of comfort. A couple days later I checked on the post to see if any other women had commented and discovered my post had also been shared on the Today Show’s main Facebook page and there were now 408 comments, 2,652 shares and over 11,000 reactions. I was flabbergasted and knew I couldn’t comment to all those women so I just read most of the comments and cried at how many of them had been told they had no right to mourn such early losses.

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I just couldn’t imagine not offering some words of comments to these hurting moms, especially one who had lost a baby only a couple of days before she commented. She had been 32-weeks along. My daughter, my rainbow baby, was born at 37 weeks. I can’t imagine being so close to full term and losing a child. I have at least two friends who have lost children later in the pregnancy and it breaks my heart to think of the pain they suffered during that time. It breaks my heart even further to imagine they may be afraid to talk about those losses because we live in a society where miscarriages can be so easily dismissed, especially if the loss is early in the pregnancy.

I want those women to be able to share their feelings. I know I blogged about my feelings here and under the Today Show’s Parenting Team challenge to share about a pregnancy loss, but the whole situation is still difficult to talk about.

There was a lot going on in our family during that time in addition to the loss. It was a whirlwind of emotions and confusion and rejection and part of me shut down after the miscarriage. There was some shame mixed in because the pregnancy came during a marriage trial.I worried some might think the pregnancy came to try to save the marriage when that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Even now I feel myself cringing inside as my fingers hit the keyboard. Despite having a personal blog, I’m not a person who thrives on sharing intimate thoughts or feelings, even if I think the sharing might help bring comfort to someone else.

What I hope the post the Today Show shared will do is help grieving moms have the courage to speak about how their pregnancy loss made them feel and ultimately understand they are not alone.

Creative Tuesday: try it all

A photographer asked a question in a Facebook group I’m in, sometime last year, about how to get better at varying her perspectives for her photos.

So I told her:

“Try it all. Go high. Go low. Shoot between. Climb on chairs… move back, move close. Think what will help capture the moment the best. Don’t be afraid to try it all because – why not? If it doesn’t work then you still learned from it and know what to try next time. Like my 11 year old says “YOLO – you only live once” so go for it.

Creativity in any form is a learning process and how will you learn if you don’t – to borrow the slogan for Nike – just do it! Get in there. There is nothing wrong with trying it all and seeing what happens.

We learn from the failures as much as we do from the successes so get out there and fall flat on your face!

I’m serious. Get out there! What are you waiting for?

Finally some fall colors: 10 on 10 for November

We waited for it patiently and that patience finally paid off this past week when the leaves on our trees finally changed from dreary brown to bright yellow and then scattered the ground, creating a blanket of bright for us to walk in and inspect.

My daughter and I spent part of a day picking up leaves and tucking them away in her bicycle pouch if we (or rather she) deemed them pretty enough.

We still have one tree that hasn’t changed yet, but always changes late. The tree blesses us with amazingly beautiful and uniquely patterned leaves even as the cold weather sets in and the snow starts to fall.

This post is part of the monthly 10 on 10 blog circle where a group of photographers share ten photographs from the previous month on the tenth day of the month. Find the link to the next blog at the bottom of this post.

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Creative Tuesday: Just take the photos already

So many people want to be a photographer but are stuck on the idea the photo has to be technically perfect. They want their child to sit just right or the light to hit just so or the moment to be simply perfect and if they can’t do that then forget it – the photo isn’t taken.

Maybe because I like to photograph moments more than poses, and had to focus on them when I worked for newspapers, the lack of perfection in a photo bothers me less than it does some photographers. When I look back at my photos over the years I sometimes mentally scold myself for a technical error, knowing my aperture was set wrong or my ISO could have been raised or lowered, but normally my attention is on the moment captured rather than the technical aspects.

I don’t want to look back at my memories from a special time in my life and pat myself on the back for nailing focus. I want to look back at those photos and remember how I felt, what was happening, who was there. I look at photography in a similar way to art – it’s about how the art makes me feel not how it was made.

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DSC_0290-2DSC_0008A local art teacher recently shared a photo of a painting by a student of his on Facebook. The painting was of a woman singing and I actually scrolled past it but then flung the cursor back up to take a better look at it. As I stared at it for a while I found it left me with a relaxed, easy going feeling, something I needed in the midst of a stressful week. I could hear the smooth jazz music and the velvet tones of the singer’s voice and imagined a cup of hot tea in front of me.

Someone else could have looked at it and said they saw technical errors (I doubt many would have) or that the singer wasn’t as “realistic looking” as some might think it should be, but none of that mattered to me because what was important to me was how the painting made me feel. What if that young painter had given up on her work because she decided, in her own mind, that her work wasn’t good enough? What if she had decided that because something didn’t look technically right, the painting could never touch anyone emotionally? She would have been wrong and if she hadn’t finished the painting she would have robbed me of those few moments of respite I was given that day by looking at the painting.

But because she picked up that paintbrush and painted what she felt, not only what she saw and knew, a soul, my soul was touched.

So pick up that camera.

Pick up that paintbrush.

Pick up that pen.

Put those fingers on the keyboard.

Just paint the painting, take the photos, write the words, create what you feel in your heart, not only what you know in your head.

You may not touch millions or thousands or hundreds or even fifty people but if you even touch one – isn’t that worth it?

For more inspiration to get out and create already check out YouTube entrepreneur and photographer Peter McKinnon talking about the power of an idea.

It's better to create something

To follow my work you can catch me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/lisahoweler or at my photography site at www.lisahowelerphotography.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lisahoweler.

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The day God told me I needed to create a war room

One day last month God told me (in so many ways and with various hints) that I needed to go to my war room and pray about all that has been leaving me stressed and tied up in knots inside. The problem was, I didn’t have a war room. I’d never established one.

For anyone asking, “what in the world is a ‘war room’?”, in modern Christian terms a war room is a small, quiet place without distractions, reserved to meet with God about specific issues you are facing in your life.

In all honesty, God has been laying this whole “war room” idea on my heart for months, after I watched the movie War Room, but I’ve been ignoring the prodding because this Mom can’t even use the bathroom alone most nights, let alone lock myself in a closet to pray.

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Yet there I was one day, anxious about so many things and scrolling through Instagram, when I should have been praying, and two posts hit me full in the face. They were both written by women who were also struggling with anxiety. One wrote about withdrawing into her war room during the difficult times.

A half an hour later, this time while I was avoiding life by wasting time on Facebook, the word was in front of me again in a post by blogger, Roslind Jukic. 

“When you find yourself soul-weary, the first place you need to go is to your war room,” Roslind wrote. “And here’s why: Satan will take advantage of your weariness. He will whisper lies to your heart. He has already been creating a strategy for your demise. He wants to use your weariness for his purpose, to steal your joy, to rob you of your purpose, and to destroy your testimony. When you are weary, you need to get in your war room and begin developing a strategy against the enemy….a war plan for victory!”

So I made a war room in my bedroom closet. I cleaned it out (tossed clothes and stuffed animals to one side), taped a piece of paper with some pressing issues written on it on the wall and sat in there to pray.

My 11-year old son, who I had practically forced to watch War Room with me one day, found me there and looked bewildered for a moment but then had a moment of realization and said “You’re making a war room aren’t you?” And then he crawled inside with me and I held him for a few moments before he left to make sure his sister wasn’t pulling knives out of drawers to cut open her yogurt tubes.

I came out of my bedroom closet ten minutes later having difficulty breathing because of all the dust in there, but I did it! I had established a war room.

“We pray because our own solutions don’t work and because prayer deploys, activates, and fortifies us against the attacks of the enemy. We pray because we’re serious about taking back the ground he has sought to take from us.”
― Priscilla Shirer

Now I just have to be more consistent about going in it and actually praying about issues facing our family instead of worrying about them.

Do you have your own war room? Or have you thought about creating one? If you have one, how has it helped you and how do you keep yourself consistent in entering it during the tough and stressful moments of life?