"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stronger than Hate

While we were on block leave, a military wife from Fort Campbell posted a flyer from the Westboro Baptist "Church" announcing a protest to be held at the funeral of a soldier. I wish I could find it. The language was repulsing. Their argument for why they hold the protests made me ill. I wanted to share it here and if I can come across it again I will.

There are no kind words - or calm words, rather - that I could possibly share about that organization (no part of me can consider it a "church"). The flyer fired me up and it may be a good thing I couldn't write about it at the time that I saw it. Hate breeds hate. I know my anger would be what they would want. I know any strong language would empower them, make them feel even more right in their "mission".

The language of the flyer said that to not allow their protests would be to disgrace the "sacrifice" the fallen soldier has made to defend the rights of the citizens of this country. 

Good play, WBC.

I am sure that that was their intention. To "one up" military families. To take the rights and sacrifice and throw it back in our faces. To make a mockery of it. To say, "Ha, we got you."


You're right. You have a right to be there. Entirely correct. The man or woman you and you wretchedly tie-dyed signs are protesting against ensured your right to file the paperwork and express you intent to be present at curb side and face the motorcade. Yes, he or she was blown to almost nothing by an IED, or shot through the chest with a rocket-propelled grenade like C's friend, or shot, and shot again, and again to to allow that. 

That child who can't possibly understand what your signs say lost his daddy for you to stand there and look like a fool. 

But that child can understand hate. He can look at you and recognize the evil existing within your heart. But most likely, he will never see you. His eyes will never meet yours. His mind will never process the words that you so disgustingly spit out.

Because love is stronger than hate. 

For the dozen of you who "practice your freedom of speech," hundreds - hundreds - will show love to that family by standing in front of you and your signs. Quietly, respectfully, they will honor that family. The Patriot Guard Riders will hold the flags to block your hate-filled faces if a family asks for them. The will come from miles and miles because they love a nation, they honor a sacrifice, and they know that reacting with hate to yours will only breed more anger.

For a long time I thought there should be a law against what you do. And then I understood the goodness in people. It is very much my belief that people are fundamentally good - not fundamentally bad. Since your "protests" have started, America has seen strangers line up along road ways, who never knew the fallen - just as you have never known the fallen - who will bring their flags out of their homes that may not have flown in years and hold it to block you. I have no doubt that flag finds its home on the front of their house after that. Love comes out in numbers to practice their first amendment right just as you come out in hate and love comes out stronger.

I feel sorry for your children. The little ones you bring with you who hold signs they can't possibly understand. 

I pray for them. I pray for you.

The reaction of the multitudes that come out to where you are to shield children of the fallen, their widows or widowers, parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers ... they don't come for you, they come for them. 

They do not stand out of hate; they stand out of love.

Where there is evil, Good will rise to meet it and overcome it and defeat it. Where there is hate, people can and so often will choose love.

I do not know a god who tells us to hate people for their choices. I do not know a god who tells us to raise children in hatred and judgment. I do not know a god who gives us the authority to condemn. Your god is not my God. 

Your hate will never create hate in me, it won't create hate in those who stand in front of you in rows and rows and rows. They come out of love, they come out of respect, they come to quietly and peacefully honor and protect the families of the fallen.

Good will always rise above evil. Love always wins.

Your hate will always lose. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

To Love Enough

I don't think there is a military spouse among us that hasn't heard the words, "Oh, I could never do that!" 

I don't think there is a military spouse among us who has never at the very least thought, "This, this is too much."

For a generation that far too often ignores limits, who so, so often believes and strives to do the impossible, I find it is those who are of my generation who are the first to shake their heads and say they could never do what I do. 

They they could never do what we do when we commit and marry a man or woman who serves.

I was one of the many who shake their heads and say, "No, I could never." 

I was raised in a family where marriage is finite. Where that commitment is a commitment. A sacrament. Holy. From above. Sacred. To be protected and nurtured and worked through. That that love must be and will be enough.

There was a time when I honestly thought something must be wrong with women who went a year at a time (or more) without seeing their spouse. I thought their marriages must be weak. That their love must not be truest. I didn't understand how a man could love a family that he would so "readily" leave. I didn't think that a military marriage could hold the values of marriage I was raised on. I didn't think that the two could exist in one. 

Lord, how you humbled me.

I know that there are people who look in from the outside and think what I thought. I know the friends and strangers who say the words, "I could never do that," are not necessarily saying them for the reasons I would in the past. I know that we don't ever get to feel the full extent of what someone else feels, to know what they know, to live how they live.

But for every woman that has looked at me and said, "I could never," I will tell you that you can.

For every new spouse that has said that farewell for the first time, I will tell you, you will make it through.

For every mother struggling to raise that new baby without her partner, or juggle and balance and keep the other parent present, I will tell you, you are able.

You can love across borders. You can love across war zones. You can love through IED's, and mortars, and patrols, and trainings, and road-side bombs, and nights alone, and black-outs, and fears and dread and tear-soaked pillows.

You can love enough to hold the hand of your partner as he writes out his will. You can sit beside him as his abled-body directs his funeral. You can love enough to hold the hand of a friend while you push through labor with out your husband. You can love enough to clap with all your might and simply let the tears roll while watching your first baby take his first steps without daddy there to cheer. You can hold your child back when his hero walks away. You can hold that little body as he kicks and screams and holds out his hands wanting nothing more in the world than for that man walking away to run back to him.

You can hold your little one to your chest when he wakes from a nightmare and all he asks is "why?" You can hold him, and rub his hair, and squeeze him to your heart without uttering a word. You can  freeze and say a prayer when that notification vehicle rolls down your street. You can hold your breath and then fall to the ground with that relief. You can struggle with the guilt and the gratitude and the confusion and the sorrow.

You can hold enough love to blanket your children with the love of two. You can cry enough tears to wash your pain away. You can scream and punch pillows and get back up and continue on. You can wait. You can live fully.

You can live through this day and the next and the next.

You can love enough to let him walk away. You can love him enough to hold your tears. You can love him enough to not allow resentment. You can love enough to love this nation as he does. You can love enough to understand that there are somethings you never will.

You can love enough to love completely. You can give enough to make you whole. You are able to live this life. You are given grace when you live with faith. You are given the promise that you can endure all that threatens.

You are placed where you are placed because you are able to thrive - you are able to do the most good. You are able to grow. You are able to love.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

Love never fails." 
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Old Glory

Yesterday I was taking some time that I do not have to waste my life on Pinterest. I actually really love pinterest. Most of the things I pin I get to trying at some point. Well, I used to. Before life got crazy busy.

One of my favorite things to find and pin are patriotic ideas. There was a time in my life where if you told me that I would have a soft spot for old Glory somewhere down the road I'd look at you like you were a fool. But now give me a pin with a faded red, white, and blue and I am suckered in. 

I have gotten into the (very good, I think) habit of going to the source of a pin before pinning it myself. When I saw two of my favorite things - a reclaimed window and an American Flag - I nearly just hit "repin" which I almost never, never do anymore. I caught myself and went to the site and then clicked the link featuring the project to go to the source of the project. 

It was adorable and shanty-chic and I could imagine every part of it in our home. I scrolled through the pictures, the supplies, and then I got to the step-by-step. Very simply it said, "Cut the flag into pieces that fit your window pane." 

I crouched forward as I sucked in air. 

I can't tell you how long I sat on that page trying to decide how I felt about it. I read through the comments. It seemed based on some of the comments left that someone else had left a comment that had been deleted that must have explained why you do not cut a flag. I don't know what the deleted comment said but whatever it was the author felt the need to discard it. 

I cannot tell you what all I felt about it. There was anger, and confusion, and questioning, and disgust, and so many other things. Mainly I was angered that someone must have said something and the page owner deleted it because she didn't agree - or didn't like being called out. 

Because, yes, it was a beautiful project, yes it was something I wanted to do right up until I saw the words "cut the flag". 

I thought about it through the night. Thought about it while volunteering today. I questioned if I was over-reacting. If it was because I held it dearer than some. If I was wrong to react the way I did even just with myself. I was incredibly confused over if what I did feel was the same as what I should feel. Was it really that big a deal? 

While driving home from the baseball practice that Logan didn't have but this momma forgot he didn't have, I took a turn down a road that I didn't mean to turn down. I saw the MP SUV blocking the roadway and one car stopped behind him. I looked at the clock on the dash and realized it was five o'clock on the dot (1700 hr) and I, too, stopped my car and stood outside my door. I watched as car after car after car after car stopped and watched the drivers and passengers get out. Civilians and soldiers. Every one exited their car and faced the flag just yards from us. In silence, the formation behind the flag waited. In silence, dozens of Americans stood at attention as the slow and careful hands pulled the thick cord, one hand over the other. In the Colorado wind, just as it was at it's lowest, another soldier's hands moved quickly to tame the whipping of the flag so close to the ground, not allowing a thread of it to touch. 

This was my reminder.

I almost dropped our flag in our garage many many months ago. The bottom corner came so close to the dirty ground of our garage. I have never seen C move so quickly. I have never seen his hand as forceful and as graceful as they were in the moment he caught that corner, stopping it an instant before it touched the cold concrete.

No one would have known that flag had fallen. 

How great a respect, how urgent the sense to sustain it.

No oath is administered without it present. No fallen soldier returns home without being draped by it. No widow goes without soaking its folds in her tears. 

Maybe to the many, cutting the thread is meaningless. Maybe to some, it can be justified. If the fact that the thought of it makes me cringe makes me "out-of-touch" so be it. If the fact that we stop our cars and face the symbol of our nation when it is raised and lowered makes us submerged in this life, I am okay with that.

The flag is not something that should divide a nation. It is not something that we should battle over what respect it is due or what it stands for. It isn't something that should be so disregarded that to snip it into pieces like any other piece of fabric or paper doesn't matter. 

It does matter. 

It is a symbol of unity, of strength, a constant beacon for those who defend it. 

It does matter.

It matters.

And it deserves the respect of a nation.