Memorial Day. A day to remember.

He’s leaving today.

I crack my eyes to let in the predawn light.   My stomach feels nauseous.  I should have gotten up earlier.  We won’t have much time left to spend as a family before he takes off.  Now, where is he going again?  How long will he be gone?

It really doesn’t matter.  The hard part is always saying goodbye as I transition my family into waiting well for his return home.  I hate saying goodbye.  It really should get easier as time goes on.  But it doesn’t.  Now, I find myself going through the stages of grief even when he is just going away for a weekend with his buds.  I don’t tell him though.  I don’t want him to feel guilty.  I don’t want him to carry the weight of a needy wife in the midst of all the other responsibility he faces.

I stretch my arms as the breeze from the window hits my face.  I look over to the alarm.  Shoot, my son has dojo in 45 minutes.  Wait.  Dojo?

“Ugh.  I just had a dream that you had to leave for guard today.” I say as I roll over to cuddle into him.

“I do.  Just don’t trip over the bags when you get outta bed.” He replies.

I poke him in the ribs.  Hard. He has it coming.  He has been out for nearly a year but the emotions are still very real.

It’s Memorial Day.

I take a moment to count my blessings that I have my husband to joke with today because this is not the story for so many.

Somewhere, a woman rolled over this morning to reach for her husband and he wasn’t there.  Or, he was, but emotionally, he is still fighting a battle in a land she will never know, nor never visit.  A place in the life of her soldier will that will remain detached from her reality.  He fights a darkness that she cannot begin to understand.  She is hopeless to intercede.  But she loves him anyway.

Through outbursts of unexplained anger.  Night terrors.  Paranoid and cynical behavior.  She knows he’s healing. She wonders if there are any other steps she should take.  She prays for a glimpse of the man her soldier was before war.

She wonders when he is going to stop taking chances with his life to drive the adrenaline he has become addicted too.

She wonders when she will be enough to fill the void his life is missing.

Days like today are hard. They drudge up memories long buried .  They revive emotions that are impossible to understand for those who have not gone and seen realities of war because we chose to stay at home.  But, we’re here now.

What can we do with all of this?

Pray.  For those whose soldier aren’t returning home.  For peace, protection and provision in their road ahead.  Pray for the soldier who is still trying to find his way, even in the safety of home.  For resolution. For peace.  For an encounter with the love, grace and mercy of a mighty God.

Be a willing listener, but don’t push for answers. Be available to listen without judgement.  I don’t know what you’ve seen and  I don’t know what you’ve done but I’m here and I care for you.  Nothing you can say will change that.

Keep it confidential.  It’s not your story to share.

Love unconditionally.  There is a price for freedom.  The number one goal of our soldiers is to bring everyone home alive.  Sometimes that happens at the expense of a soldiers moral code. Sometimes, lives are lost.  Regardless, the price is high.  Too high for some, even when they return home.  The number of soldiers taking their own lives after returning home is at an epidemic high. And unnecessary. It’s something we can no longer ignore.

Today, let’s not forget.  Let’s check in.  Let us shower those who have lost their soldier with love and support.  Let’s remind soldiers who are still fighting the battle that they are not alone.

 

If you know a military family in need of support, check out military one source .

 PTSD is taking our soldiers at an alarming rate. 1 military service member and 22 veterans per day.   Please consider joining my friend’s battle for awareness at  Valhalla can wait. You’re likes and shares will send the message to our troops that they are not alone.

 

 

The bravest hearts come in small packages

We pull in to the K-Mart parking lot in Freeport, just outside of Applebee’s.  I can feel the tears burning my eyes. I’m trying to be strong but failing miserably.  I take off my seatbelt as I glance in the rearview mirror.  My Chloe, then third grader, was folded over crying silently.  I look over at my husband as he gets out of our magic van.  He pops open the side door as I walk around to take the driver seat.

This is where we say goodbye. I wish I had a fast forward button I could push.  I’m really not ready for this.

“Dad”, our 5 year old Lucas says, “Chloe is just afraid that this is the last time she is going to see you before you die.  But I know that Jesus is going with you and he is going to kick the bad guys butts.”

I will live and die to claim that these are and will be the hardest words I will ever heard one my kids say.  The hardest moment I have ever had to move through. We were prepared physically. In the last few weeks, we had attended every family meeting the national guard had offered.  We got our financial affairs in order.  Arranged for activities to keep the kids busy.  My work schedule altered to accommodate my new single mom status.

We planned for the worst while expecting the best.  But no one told me how to walk away. To leave my man behind to go and fight a war while I proceeded forward with my regularly scheduled life.

Yet, in that moment of brokenness, sheer wisdom came from the mouth of our kindergartener.

You’re not going alone. 

Jesus is with you.  

Jesus has your back.

When our greatest fears threaten to paralyze us, we have to stand on the fact that the power of God will fuel us with exactly the thing we need to move us toward his purpose, even when all evidence says we can’t.

He gave a stuttering murderer the power to part the red sea with his staff.

He projected a rock from the sling of a small boy to the exact coordinates needed to slay a giant.

He arranged a marriage for a pregnant, unwed teen mom that her reputation & future would be restored so she could fulfill her “yes” to him.

He granted his son the power to defeat a sinners death on the cross that all who believed could live in relationship with him.

He granted peace of mind to a 5 year old boy and his family that was separating for deployment.

What is paralyzing you today?

What is that thing you are facing that leaves your palms sweating?

What is the thing that leaves your stomach in knots of anxiety?

God is there.  He has gone before you.  He is with you now.

He has already kicked bad guy butt.

Allow his mighty power to move on your behalf today.