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I was a freshman sitting in the auditorium of my Bible college. A military missions organization, Armed Forces Baptist Missions, was showing a video about their ministry – highlighting the intense needs that military members had. As the video spanned over flag-draped coffins, the young man sitting next to me was wiping his eyes.
I was awed and my heart was stirred but I didn’t, well…get it. Even having two grandfathers, an uncle, and a cousin who served, war had never personally touched me. We went to Memorial Day parades, but generally my thoughts were why didn’t they throw more candy and when can I eat hamburgers.
That day everything changed. Because I thought I was going to marry the one sitting beside me. And if he loved the military this much – then I needed to as well. So I prayed a prayer – simple, yet sincere:
“God, give me a heart for the military.”
I thought that I would end up a military missionary, and the funny thing is that I still did – just not at all the way I imagined.
When the young man walked out of my life, I figured well that was the end of that. But it wasn’t. Because everywhere I went I saw them: Bumper stickers, flags, signs, recruiting semi-trucks, even men and women in uniform. My eyes had been opened to this world that I thought I would be a part of – but then wasn’t – and I couldn’t shake the hold it had on my heart.
You see, God had answered my prayer, but I couldn’t see how all of the pieces were going to fit.
For months I got angry at God every time I was confronted with thoughts of the military – God? Why are you doing this to me? Why are you taunting me with this life I cannot ever have? These people I can never reach?
And He just smiled on and I’m sure He was saying, “Oh, sweet child, just you wait.”
Because then the day came when an old friend called me up and said I love you and I want to marry you and Oh, I’m reenlisting all in the same phone conversation. Two months later when he was sworn in, I became a military girlfriend. Then I went on to be a military fiancee, military spouse, and now…a veteran’s wife.
Between blogging, volunteering, and friendships with my military sisters, I think that I’ve been able to do more for the military community in those six years than I ever could have in a lifetime of “military missions.” Because I’ve been a part of it. I’ve lived this life. I’ve known loss and deployment and military abuse and anxiety disorders and raising my son by myself and more.
Now, we are on the other side, but the prayer remains answered and the love for this community hasn’t gone away. Some days I wish I could just walk away and stop thinking about it but I can’t.
You can take the milspouse out of the military, but you can’t take the military out of the milspouse.
So, when two different civilian organizations independently approached me about writing for them for Memorial Day about military life and veterans issues, I most gladly said yes.
On this Memorial Day, it is my heart, above all, to honor the fallen. I in no way wish to detract from the ultimate sacrifice that they have made. Our own son is named after a fallen soldier, so know that I take this very seriously.
But I also would like to invite you over to Brightpeak Financial, where I have written about one of my military experiences as it relates to Memorial Day in this post, What Memorial Day Means for a Military Wife.
I am also being featured on a local blog, Triad Moms on Main, about how our community can support those left behind, the 150,000 veterans who reside in my local area, in this post How the Triad Can Support Its Veterans.
May we never ever forget about the flag-draped coffins, the 21 gun salutes, and the ones left behind.
May this Memorial Day find you and your families blessed.