Categories
faith garden stories

so might we

I started sharing this vision with him, it was so vivid and so real I still believe today that it’s a promise from The Lord. I was sharing of chipped paint on the porch, hot coffee in hand, linen overalls, two dogs on the porch and an uncertain number of children running around our feet. I had a thick headband holding back my I’ve-got-more-kids-and-more-things-to-do-than-wash-hair kind of hair. he stood strong while i had my arms wrapped around him, leaning on him like i often do. we were smiling at each other, at whoever was taking the picture, at the kiddos, and at the house on a plot of land we’d just bought. it was an older house – lots of love, lots of porch sitting, coffee drinking in the morning, popsicles under cover in a late summer day shower, lots of barefoot and muddy shoes kicked off at the door kind of house. there was ample garden space, something we’ve talked and dreamed about for awhile now. to grow and raise and care for our own food, this space was giving us the ability to do such things. the land around is a little fuzzy. but i am so certain this house is a real place and I am so certain we will live in it one day. and as i was telling him and paused to hear his reciprocated enthusiasm he says to me, “i’ve got something I need to tell you.” which, nothing good ever really comes from that, right? 

before he could get the sentence out of his mouth, i knew where he was going. like Eliza Hamilton says (read:sings) “I know who I married” was running in the back of my mind. maybe i should back up? we were 17, in high school, had been dating less than a year when he originally signed the dotted line. oh you know, the one that means the army now owns him? yeah, that one. i know this man who’s name i share and child i bore is a man of honor, strength, integrity, valor, adventure, a man who fears The Lord and knows His voice. we had already trugged through basic training, Airborne school, AIT, a year active duty at Fort Bragg, a 10 month deployment, all in all – six years of our 7 years together had been owned by the army. 

the sentence, when i was mid-vision-dream sharing, went something like this, “for the last few months, i have felt The Lord telling me I’m not done with the military. I haven’t shared it with you up to this point because I wanted to be certain these weren’t selfish, fleshly desires but something from The Lord. the stirring is only getting stronger.” 

welp, that was in October 2020. He had just officially been out of the military four months. over the next four months there we a lot, like a whole lot, of conversations. sometimes hours everyday of the week. We met with our counselor, mentors, friends. Then, we got COVID for Christmas. So from New years eve through mid january we were quarantined. we spent every nap time for a week dong deep dives into both of our hearts, feelings, talking out the chaos the previous 2 years had been for us (a deployment, a baby, 2 job changes, buying our first house, the loss of grandparents, all while working on one bachelors degree). We used the study Love and Respect to guide us as we navigated this conversation that we both knew was weighty and ultimately was necessary for us to acutely hear what The Lord may (or what i was hoping: may not) be asking us to step into. 

we walked out of quarantine a more unified front, having repaired some of our foundation and for the first time in years having had some margin and space to breathe. I walked out maybe a little like Jonah. certain, though denying, what The Lord was confirming was the next step for our family. only, the following 2 weeks were a series of events that confirmed, undeniably, that my sweet husband would be signing that dotted line again. The Lord was gracious to give us one night away(our first and only since becoming parents) the day before he would sign the papers. 

Mid february he signed the papers. early march he left for training. sometime in July he will finish training. and sometime after that we will be together, as a whole family again, in a new state.

my initial reaction to this stirring on his heart wasn’t my best. at the surface I was frustrated and annoyed, having thought we were passed the army chapter of our lives. a deeper look would show more: doubt in his ability to hear the Lord, unbelief in The Lord speaking to my husband, or a reality that wasn’t my vision for our life. 

but we did the work anyway. if I had shut down the conversation, convinced the only way our lives could turn out was the way I desired in the moment, there would be questions unanswered and (honestly) grudges held. hurt feelings. doubt in each other and The Lord. 

we are 1-2 months out from memorizing another zip code. after some research on gardening in our new home state, i heard one local gardener say, “the conditions we face here are some of the hardest – both extremes. if you can garden here, you can garden anywhere.” God winked. the seeds i bought in anticipation for a spring planting and fall harvest in Tennessee have been sitting in the garage, i kept them as a visual promise believing that they’d be planted, watered and harvested. we will journey to a new place, call it home for awhile and learn to grow new things. 

He who promises is faithful. He’s carried us into unknown. 

He plants, He waters, He grows. 

and by His grace, so might we. 

Categories
marriage

rooted in: community

we just celebrated five years of marriage last week and are currently living in our fifth house, that we are currently under contract to sell later this summer. which, you guessed it, means we will be moving into house number six in our sixth year of marriage. now that we are officially back in military world full time, our moving average should actually slow down a bit. but okay all of this to share – we’ve only moved within the same city once. every other time we’ve picked up our life and moved 150-500 miles away. uprooting from one community and putting down roots in another. in some cases, we really didn’t do so well and in others we managed to find lifelong friends in less than a year living there. but here’s what we know to be true form both scripture and experience: life was not made to live in solitude. we are made for community! We were made in the image of God who in himself is communal – three in one. we were made to be in relationships! YES relationships with a spouse, parents, children. and YES other believers through the church! And we also believe, YES, the community we find ourselves in for however long we find ourselves there. see, this is kind of multifaceted, right? 

being part of our communities, we believe, serves multiple purposes. on the smaller scale we get to participate in unique parts of the places we find ourselves in. goat fainting festivals in small town Tennessee? oh for sure. Strawberry festival in the strawberry capital of our state? you betcha. we get to broaden our view of the world, His creation, and step into the reality of this place we find ourselves in while we’re here. i believe we can literally become more compassionate, more understanding people and followers of Jesus when we experience more of the local life. 

but we get to, as a family, create memories and traditions through our community too. taking our family to the armed forces day parade every year is surely going to produce honor and thankfulness toward the men and women who have served our country. or letting our kids join us in service around the city – serving coffee at the turkey trot thanksgiving morning (because we are for sure not he family that’s going to RUN on thanksgiving 😉 ), dishing up breakfast downtown at the rescue mission once a month as a family, you get the idea. while we’re here, wherever here might be, i really believe we get to plant our feet and let those roots grow and B E here. ya know? 

then maybe the most important part of it all – being in the community of other believers, doing life together. we’ve personally lived in seasons where our faith community was rich and vibrant and in other seasons we’ve lived without any. there is absolutely no denying the beauty of living life with other believers – serving The Kingdom together, sharing meals together, showing up with a survival bag when somebody’s got a sick kiddo, bringing coffee to new parents, taking midnight shifts to hold someone’s baby so they can get some sleep. there is a comfort in knowing The Lord is caring for you through the people He has placed in your sphere. thanks be to God for that. 

but you’re probably like me, knowing all of the above is good and true but also… hard. right? lets not even talk about that sometimes there’s conflict, unmet expectations, miscommunication, hurt feelings and so on whenever there’s relationship. getting started in a new place is hard. so here’s what we’ve done that has proved to be helpful and i pray it is helpful to you. 

-before you move wherever you’re going, start researching churches and listening to their sermons online. get a feel for the church so when you get to your new home you can jump right in and don’t have to spend months church hopping 

-when you get to said church, JUMP IN. join community groups, moms groups, running groups (or maybe coffee drinking groups 😉 ), start serving on whatever team you can, wherever The Lord has equipped you to serve. 

-make it a point to be out in the community every weekend. go for hikes, go to the park, attend an event, eat locally, shop locally. start getting a feel for your new city. 

-maybe the easiest thing you can do, go meet your neighbors. whenever we move into a new place we make cookies and just take a plate to the neighbors with a card that has all of our names on it to let them know who we are! then whenever we walk the neighborhood, its so easy to just say hey while they’re out! 

friends, i want to know how YOU build and find community. goodness there is so much more we could’ve said here about community – the value of it, how to find it, how to build it, how to participate well in it. but we would love to hear what you do. 

stay rooted, friends.

Categories
faith

rooted in: Him

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Colossians 2: 8-10

I’ll go first – I need to repent. Far too often have I bought in to a belief system created by the world. I’ve found myself with opinions, thoughts or values that are not actually of The Lord even if / when they were being taught by those who claim to follow Him. The philosophy of work, martial status, home ownership, relationships, church, personality types, etc. etc. etc. have been watered down and tainted from their original intention and design to produce a lesser version. There is a good design intended for the daily movements and workings of life and I’m quick to buy into The worlds ideas of what that is. But here in Colossians 2 we see that being rooted and built up in HIM leads to thankfulness.

Being rooted in Him isn’t only for the daily, ordinary moments of living. In psalm 66, the psalmist writes, “ For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads and we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.” (V 10-12, ESV)

and in 1 Peter 1:6-7 Peter writes, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor of Jesus Christ.” (ESV)

Can you see it? How we root ourselves in Him, in the truth of WHO He is (sovereign, good, just, merciful, kind, holy) so that it orders our everyday. And when those every days become difficult + filled with trials (whether trials just from living in a fallen world or trials from the enemy) we may have these roots in the right place. Those roots produce thankfulness. And we rejoice! We rejoice not because we enjoy trials + suffering but because our faith may be made all the stronger, our roots even deeper in Him. Right? Can you feel it? How when it hits the fan, our roots found in idols are easy to be pulled out and crushed. They can’t hold. But eyes fixed on eternity, knowing that in trials we can praise Him for this life is not it. We worship at the cross for His death means this world is not our home and we press ever further towards hearing, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”

It’s not done perfectly, right? Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just me here, so I’ll speak for myself. I want to maintain a posture of kneeling, worshiping at the cross, not dependent on my circumstances. Not only when things make sense, when my todo list is being crossed off, when the baby is sleeping, when plans are clear, when relationships are easy. I want to be in that position, eyes fixed on eternity. While the world is still exhausting, causing difficulty and grievances there’s a hope. A confident expectation of the future based on the promises of Him who is faithful.

So we lean in. We don’t numb the difficult days with pleasures meant to stir our hearts towards affection of Him. We don’t find our peace in a glass of wine, a pint of ice cream, a Netflix binge. They aren’t bad, but they make really crummy comforts. They neither last nor satisfy our souls the way we long for.

But the cross. But the one on the throne. But the hope in eternity. But God.

He does.

He satisfies.

He brings us from the brokenness into life.

He brings us life abundant.

He brings us to praise and worship, steadfastness and strength.

He is the only, the only, one worth rooting in.

Categories
faith military

blessing follows obedience

there’s sometimes a gap, ya know, between what we read and claim to believe and what we actually practice. We believe that the spirit guides and directs, that Jesus calls us to follow in obedience even when we can’t see through the other side. It isn’t logical nor does it make any kind of sense for a man to step out into a roaring sea… except when it’s his friend and savior that’s beckoning. I don’t know what the rest of the guys in the boat were thinking when Peter stepped out into the water to walk towards Jesus but I’m betting they were thinking what we would think: BRO, it’s water. You like for sure can’t WALK on it. But Peter? Eyes on Jesus. It legit didn’t matter what they were saying, he knew where Jesus was and he was going. Or what about Abraham who was asked to sacrifice the very son for whom he had waited and believed God was going to fulfill His promise through? Obedience. Not contemplating, making a pros and cons list, logically thinking through or trying to make sense of. Obedience.

We felt the call to a specific city almost 4 years ago now after The Lord lead us to a certain place 5 years ago. I can’t go into details just yet but 4 years of believing we’d be there eventually but never knowing how or when. We didn’t know if it would be years or decades. And honestly I don’t know that we were completely confident that it was a desire from The Lord or just a fleshly desire.

Ryan came to me in October 2020, after officially being out of the army since June 2020, to say that he felt The Lord telling him he wasn’t done with the army. *cue all the emotions from me.* I was like wwaaaayyyy not on board. We spent the next four months praying, talking to mentors, literally met with a counselor more than once, talked with friends, did an marriage study. We spent hours upon hours upon hours walking through this decision. And maybe another time I’ll share more details but it came down to this: The Lord made it very, very clear through a series of events that the army was what was next for our family. And I was still like “uhhh, can we not?” But we were clinging to this phrase: “blessing always comes on the other side of obedience.” And knowing this is what he wanted, to do anything else would be direct disobedience which really would just be us (read: me) believing I know better than The Lord what’s best for our life, that surely signing up for military life can’t be best. But I was faced with the reality of this: if I believe He is good, He is sovereign, He really works all things for our good and His glory then what He’s asking of us is best. Maybe it brings deployments, maybe it’s living a contenannt away from family, maybe our kids grow up losing and making new friends every few years. From my view it made actually no sense. And yet… I knew it’s what He was asking us to do.

Peter did walk on the water. The Lord did provide a sacrifice for Abraham and The Lord did fulfill his promise to Abraham through Issac.

So, here we are. 57 days down of training. And we’ve got projected orders for his first duty station. And would you believe me if I told you that out of the 17+ duty stations he could’ve gotten, this one being one of the least likely for a whole slew of reasons, The Lord in his grace is sending us to the very place we’ve felt pulled for the last FOUR YEARS. We can’t say anything quite yet but we’ve talked to a dozen people who have confirmed that The Lord had to be at work in this because there is no other way we would end up here.

The Lord is faithful. He is kind. He is gracious and merciful. My doubt and unbelief does not deserve this goodness!

This is not a testament of how The Lord gives us what we want, because I believe that’s mostly not true. That he grants the desires of our heart when HE is the center of our heart. When we are so IN Him that His will IS the desire of our heart.

Blessing comes on the other side of obedience. Maybe weeks, months or years later. But The Lord is faithful to do a good work, to work all things. And friend, as a speak this over myself I speak it over you: stay rooted in His word, in the spirit that you may recognize His voice when he beckons, that like a sheep knows his shepherds voice, we may hear the quiet voice of the Father when He speaks.

Stay rooted, friend, in the only thing that lasts.

Categories
faith

where are we rooted

The flower in good soil carries the nutrients to every part of the flower and it flourishes. It grows. It’s healthy. The flowers bloom, or the tree produces good fruit, the vine blossoms. But the same plant whose roots go deeper in bad soil, wither and die. The nutrients needed to produce fruit or beauty aren’t available. And, friend, isn’t the same true of us? If our roots are deep in The Lord, in his church, in his word, then the very things we need for abundant life are readily available. We produce fruit. Fruit of the spirit? You betcha. But our very same lives if rooted in comfort, or finances or appearances or marriage or health or any thing other HIM will eventually prove to be really awful gods, really crappy rulers of our life. Eventually, it’ll become obvious that fruit will not be brought forth and beauty will not exist. The world is poison to our life. Satan is the ruler of this world (john 12:31) and if we are rooted in anything here, eventually death is the result!

I heard just the other day that a reaction of devastation to an unmet expectation is often the sign of an idol in our heart. Man, did that sting. It is way too easy to idolize a loving marriage, finances, comfort, plans made. Eternally, these things hold so little weight. Eternally, they can’t stand. They’ll never hold up or live up to what we are placing on them – satisfaction, joy, feeling content or complete. ultimately those things have to come from the source Himself. Jesus!

BUT man how gracious we have abundant life in Him. Deeper roots in Him produce life and life abundant! 

Categories
family marriage

rooted in: family

we have this vision of 100 years from now when our grandkids have grandkids and our great greats ask what grandpa and grandma mccomb were like. we pray our grandkids laugh, followed by a sigh and something along the lines of, “oh, gosh, where do we start…”

we pray they tell stories of packing around our table for meals where we probably ate tacos. while the conversation around the table may be long forgotten we pray they remember laughing till their sides hurt. we pray that they tell our great greats about how we were quick to dish out wisdom, kindness and always had ice cream in the freezer waiting for them. we pray that our kids and their kids and their kids remember that these McCombs were committed to their word, quick to take in anyone who needed a bed and there was always another seat at the table for anybody who needed a meal. we pray they see ryan and I forgive freely, encourage often and do so humbly. we hope they tell our grandkid’s grandkids that we got a fork and spoon tattooed for each other and because we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. we want them to remember we were quick to put down what our hands were busy with so we may listen well and that the gospel was on display in our home. 

that’s where we want to be 100 years from now. but here’s what we know: it starts now. it started almost 5 years ago when we said our vows and became a family of our own. while we know every generation only takes a piece of what previous generations have given them, we want to make sure we give them good stuff to take. maybe more like, gospel stuff to take. 

we’ve been working on a mission statement and creed. we’ve been messily stumbling through creating new traditions for our family and continuing traditions we both loved as kids. we have lots of conversations about the air in our home, what do we want our kids to feel like at home? what do we want their friends to feel like at our home? our friends? strangers? what will they feel as they step through our front door? 

Friend, if you’re here then maybe you too are wanting to create roots for your family. if you’re a military family like us then you probably feel all the more a desire to create a family culture that remains the same duty station to duty station, state to state, country to country. your whole family will find comfort in traditions, rhythms and a heart beat in a family that remains the same in whatever time zone you find yourself in. 

so, we will keep chatting more about what we are doing (read: figuring out) as we go! but I would love to hear how YOU are creating roots in your family. what traditions do you have? have you written a family mission statement or creed? what do you want your kids’ kids’ kids’ to say about your family? 

stay rooted, friends!  

Categories
faith motherhood

i think it matters

I think it matters how we do it, ya know? That it’s not about just doing it but our heart, our posture, our willingness to do so. For anything – for marriage, for parenting, for PCSing, for grocery shopping, for cleaning the house, for reading “we’re going on a lion hunt” for the sixth time today. I think The Lord cares a whole lot about what are heart looks like while we do these necessary daily acts. He cares if it’s with thankfulness or annoyance, with joy or frustration, with gladness or apathy. Because the real shaping of our hearts, the sanctifying work happening in and through our days comes when we take every though captive and let him do His work in them. 

So as a military wife and stay at home mama for me that means deployments, parenting solo, moving often and the constant unknowns. I cling to the truth that He is good and He provides, He alone sustains and carries. 

It doesn’t happen over night and it’s not all of the time. Slowly, faithfully the Lord sanctifies our hearts. We get to partner with Him, ask Him, to bring joy and gladness to the places we feel frustration. He’s faithful to do it! Mama, cling to what is good. Look at eternity and the dishes don’t feel so overwhelming. Gaze at the cross and the tantrums feel manageable. Stay rooted, friend, in the gospel. Let it seep into all the places of your heart. 

Categories
faith

Hamilton + Paul

Thomas Jefferson referring to Alexander Hamilton, “as long as he holds a pen he’s a threat.” Well,I guess he technically sang it.

I was washing dishes and my 14 month old was climbing from floor to kitchen table in the 7 seconds it takes him to do so. Hamilton (the musical) was playing through a Bluetooth speaker, the only way dinner got done when my husband worked late. Because for some reason, our child who could speak a language only I understood thoroughly enjoyed a musical about a founding father.

I digress. I had felt the urge to leave social media, to step back from those places for a myriad of reasons. But I genuinely love sharing what the Lord has placed on my heart, parts of our life and growing alongside friends and family and anyone who cares to follow along. I believe that when we use the gifts he’s given us, to his glory, HE is brought glory. HE is made much of. Because gifts (however elaborate or lacking) say more about the giver than the receiver. He is generous, and loves beauty, is the Author, creator. And any of those small attributes he’s put in me, get to point to him. I get to hold up a mirror for the world to see more of Him.

I want to use the words that swirl in my head, the connections The Lord shows me between scripture and our life, the rhythms or practices we’ve found helpful in our daily life and what we feel The Lord is teaching us in these days about who He is and in light of who He is, how we respond. In this space we want to really grab hold of the truth that we believe He is using ALL things for our good and HIS glory. And that the really hard, really painful, really confusing stuff when seen in light of eternity makes a whole lot more sense. And while we may never see the full picture of how our stories intermingled with another will play out, I really believe that when we can hold fast to the simple truth that God is good and He is enough, we can walk forward wherever He has placed us with joy and confidence, peace and ferver knowing that the one who is sovereign and over every moment also calls us beloved. how despite the evermore challenges this world brings, we can press forward in the hope and joy in Him. we get to count it all joy, my brothers, when we face trials of various kinds knowing that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. and what a good good Father to grant us a desire to press furthermore into Him. I want to share our journey that He may become more in our own hearts and that you too, friend, may see him working in all things and that you too may orchestrate your life to move ever more towards him.

I don’t think nows the time to sit it out. There’s too much at stake for the saints to sit quietly by as spectators to the war playing out. there’s been a war raging for generations and we seem to have lost sight as to whats at stake. you, believer, have been uniquely placed here in this unique time for a unique purpose. not because YOU are great, but because He is sovereign and working in all his people at all times, not excluding you dear friend. its not the time to sit this one out. jump on in. shake the gates of hell a little bit. It won’t always be heavy stuff around here. and maybe that looks like selling everything and moving somewhere else. but for me, and maybe you too, in this season it means raising the remnant within the four walls of our home (wherever that is). it means seeing this season that we are in right now as ministry – discipling the ones I rock to sleep every night. We want to share in a way that shows how we can fight the good fight in all the places of our lives.

I won’t be silenced. Not because *my* voice needs to be heard. Or *i’m* particularly talented or skilled. But because He gives gifts and stirs desires and I think this, right here, is part of mine. May the gates of hell shake as my fingers move across the keyboard. May Satan shutter at the sight of saints choosing to sing in the face of fear and uncertainty. May we spur you on to see where The Lord is prompting you to press in and intends to use you where you are. While I doubt demons will speak of me like they did Paul, I’d be satisfied if they quoted one 14 month olds favorite musical, “As long as she holds a pen, she’s a threat.”

Categories
faith family military

welcome / what’s this all about

hey, friend. Im Portia. and man am i thankful you are here. here’s the run down: i married my my prom date in June of 2016. In under 5 years of marriage we managed to squeeze in: five homes, three dogs, one deployment, one baby, eleven jobs, 1.5 bachelors degrees, nine cars and somewhere around 1k bowls of popcorn. its been wild. Im not here because i think i’ve mastered any of these changes and have some new insight to share with you. nope. im a military wife, mama to a wild little man, wrangler of two dogs and believer that He really uses all things for our good and his glory. and when we really take Him at his word, in trusting the holy spirit we get to partner with The Lord in some wild and beautiful redemption stories. We’ve moved. like, a lot. with no sign of slowing down any time soon. we’ve yet to spend 2 Christmases in the same place. but even so, i believe in planting. in digging and watering and caring for the soil. in growing roots deep in community, deeper still in the word of God. deep roots let trees weather storms. whatever happens above the surface, be it leaves falling or limbs breaking, the tree lives on to see another day for the deep roots its grown beneath the surface. we get to be people rooted in the truth, watered by the word, deep in community with one another so that we may be steadfast in the storm. as a military wife, which really means a professional nomad, it’s inevitable that we will be uprooted. But we know we are rooted in much more than the city we call home or the local church we find ourselves in. While we value and seek to be rooted in the places that will undoubtedly change, we know we also get to grow roots within our family and in His word. We are simply seeking to be deeply rooted.