“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23, KJV) Especially this year as we celebrate Christmas, may the good news of God incarnate bring us joy and remind us that no matter our circumstances He is near.
Preparing for officership
by Cadets Johnny and Marsha Miller
Like most people, our lives have been turned upside down. Through adapting to online learning, juggling family and coursework, living in a socially distanced community and even a few weeks in quarantine, this year’s challenges have stretched and strengthened our faith.
Life at the College for Officer Training (CFOT) has changed dramatically since we arrived in fall 2019 but witnessing the flexibility and adaptability of CFOT administration and our summer assignment corps has been valuable preparation for our future life as officers. We have seen flexibility in ministry, creativity in serving and boldness in the fight for racial justice.
For us, the greater need presented this year gives us a greater desire to witness and to serve. We knew following Christ wasn’t easy, but believe God put us here at this moment and in this place. He’s preparing the Army and us to be adaptable in rapidly changing times so He will be glorified. We’re thankful we get to be a part of that.
We cling to the truth that while everything around us is changing and the world is falling apart, we serve a sovereign God who never changes. We take hold of His promises and hope. That’s where we see God’s presence with us. He is always here regardless of what’s going on in the world. Even if things don’t look the way we want, we still act, we still respond, we still walk forward in faith. Life always changes; things are never perfect. The question is how we choose to respond. We can fold or we can trust God to get us through. We’re choosing to trust Him.
Serving on the frontlines
by Morgan Marinelli
I became a nurse at the start of a global pandemic. It was a time of people sheltering in place and panic-buying toilet paper. Spring break trips were being cancelled and working from home became the norm if you were not deemed “essential.”
As a new-grad nurse who basically had just passed a written test with not much real hands-on experience, I felt anything but essential. For me, nursing is a calling. However, feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt creep into my mind on a regular basis during a shift. Combatting these feelings has proven an opportunity for growth in my nursing career. When these feelings invade, I remind myself to bring them to the Lord. Emmanuel. God, with us. What a promise! Having that visual, that image, of God being with me, next to me, next to my patients—it’s an honor. It’s humbling. Who am I to doubt myself? To think God didn’t bring me here to this exact place for this exact purpose?
I see reminders of God’s presence at my hospital every day. A patient who takes a moment to thank me. My amazing team of coworkers and their constant willingness to lend a hand. Another nurse high-fiving me and saying, “Never doubt yourself, Morgan,” after I perform a successful blood draw. God is with us, sometimes high-fiving us, even if we don’t always feel Him there.
Becoming a nurse in this COVID era has surely brought many challenges and uncertainties into my life. But I often find myself thinking of the words in Esther 4:14: “Perhaps you were made [a nurse] for such a time as this.” I had a non-traditional journey to becoming a nurse, and finally, now more than ever, I feel that I am right where God needs me. But it can’t stop there. I pray the Lord continues to call me, continues to challenge me and continues to reveal Himself to me daily.
by Captain Grant Holloway
It’s hard to look at this past year and not see how God has been with us, specifically when it comes to the adoption of our twins, Avery and Eleanor.
The journey of adoption is all about waiting, but during that time God prepared our hearts and lives for His plan. Even in the journey to make the decision to adopt, God was with us through valleys cloaked in darkness and moments filled with joy. We sensed His presence when we agreed to allow our profile to be seen by the birth mother and when we got the unexpected phone call saying we were chosen. Though we were nervous to meet the birth mother, God was with us, and we had a great first meeting. When we heard the twins’ heartbeats for the first time and saw them through a sonogram, God calmed our hearts and reminded us His hand was guiding us.
Receiving the phone call at 5:00 a.m. on January 22 saying the twins were going to be born and we needed to get to the hospital, God was with us. We celebrated His faithfulness while waiting for two days to become their legal guardians and take them home. And when the adoption was finalized on August 26, we were reminded again that God had been with us all along.
He has been with us in the small and big moments. He has sent people to encourage and uplift us, to celebrate with us, to pray for us and to support us. Even now as we continue to acclimate to the rhythm and responsibilities of parenting these precious children entrusted to us, we know we are not alone in providing for Avery and Eleanor or making decisions for their good. God remains faithful and is with us through it all.
by Major Valerie Carr
Matthew records how Joseph almost left Mary over her unexpected pregnancy. He didn’t understand what had happened but knew it wasn’t how things were supposed to go. All the planning for their future was upended by a claim she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I can imagine Joseph’s pain and frustration. So, he made a plan to discreetly leave Mary. “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” (Matthew 1:20) and he learned of God’s greater plan to save the world through this change in direction.
Like Joseph, many of us have felt disappointed in our plans for 2020. Everything we thought would happen has been upended, but I’m encouraged that we have a God who has promised to always be with us. (Matt. 28:20)
In January 2020 it was announced our family would take up new appointments in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the South America East Territory (SAE). Then there was COVID. We watched as borders closed across the globe and began to wonder how God would work out the call we had felt on our family. By mid-April our appointments to SAE were rescinded. Much like Joseph, we were taken aback as plans suddenly ground to a halt.
God continued to work behind the scenes as we worked through the impact COVID took on what we thought was meant for our family. In early May, we received appointments to Eastern Jamaica Divisional Headquarters in the Caribbean Territory. God moved in miraculous ways to make a clear path through opening borders, rapid visa approvals and necessary preparations for our family to move to Kingston, Jamaica, by the end of August.
This year has offered a chance for us to “pivot.” We are learning to trust God truly is with us and will be with us through it all, particularly when there is a change we didn’t see coming. As we adjust to a new culture and community as a family in mission, we are grateful for the experience and truth that no matter where we might be in the world or what we might be experiencing, God is always there “holding us fast.” (Psalm 139:1-12)