Forget? Impossible!

June 9, 2010.

Like many days, that day I dialed my mom’s number after I left work.  She answered the phone with a broken and desperate voice.

“Mom?  Is something wrong?”

“Yessss.”

“What is it?”

“Ben got killed in Afghanistan,” she sobbed.

“No, he didn’t.  NO, he didn’t.  He did NOT!”  I protested, as though if I shouted it enough times, it wouldn’t be true.

“Yes, he did…” she cried.

Blur.

I hung up to call RJ, but he couldn’t understand my screaming.  I finally took a deep breath, and screamed, “Ben’s dead!”  That he heard.

Blur.

RJ swung into the parking lot where I’d exited the road.  I fell into his arms screaming.  He wrapped himself around me and carried me to his truck.

Blur.

All our kids were packed up, and the dogs were boarded.  We began the journey to Tennessee to wait with our family for Ben.  Everyone was in shock.  This was not supposed to happen.  You don’t understand…THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.  Ben had spent YEARS training as an Elite Forces pararescueman (PJ) in the United States Air Force.  After all those years training for carrying out lifesaving rescue in the most extreme of combat situations, Ben had given his life saving others after only six weeks in Afghanistan.  Six weeks, 93 rescue missions.  How could this be?  We couldn’t wrap our heads around the fact that he was gone.  It seemed like he’d only just arrived there.

In Tennessee, we received few answers.  The helicopter had been shot down by the Taliban.  An RPG, known for it’s inaccuracy, had found its way to the tail rotor.  Four had died upon crash.  Three survived, but with severe burns and injuries.  Their fate remained unknown, though one would succumb weeks later.  We waited for word as to when Ben would be returned to us.

Then came the call.  Westboro Baptist Church notified our local radio station and newspaper that they intended to protest Ben’s funeral.  Shock, agony, anger, and several emotions I’ve never experienced and cannot name whirled around inside me.  I thought I was going to faint.  How could anyone assert such opportunistic hatred into the worst moments of our lives?  Unimaginable insult thrust itself upon uncontainable grief to produce incredulous agony.  I found myself wishing I could physically hurt these horrible people, but was left feeling helpless, as any action on my part would simply gratify them and detract from Ben.

We were notified that Ben’s body was being returned to us on Saturday morning, June 19, ten days after he had given his life.  The family made plans to meet at the airport for his first and final homecoming.

What happened next was the most awesome, miraculous, encouraging, incredible, and unimaginable outpouring of human love, respect, and support I’ve ever witnessed in my life.

Join me in experiencing it….

Life from the foxhole

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Being the wife of a bronze star recipient and the aunt of a purple heart recipient (who sacrificed his life for our freedom), I hesitate to even use the term “foxhole.”  I can’t, however, find any word to better express what we should expect when we become vocal in our faith and intentional in our Christian journey. 

If you’ve been aware of my recent silence, rest assured…it isn’t because I have run out of things to say about God’s mercy in my life.  It is because the flaming arrows simply have not stopped coming at me since my Walk to Emmaus in March.  They warned us this would happen, but it appears that my professions of God’s tender mercies have earned some extra ammo aimed in my direction. 

Dang, how I hate the distraction of flaming arrows.  The Bible assures us we will face them as believers, but we can, should we choose, remain on the sidelines of battle.  The less public we are with our faith, the more likely we are to be largely left alone.  While everyone faces adversity in this life, the enemy of our souls delights in going after those who attempt to share the kindness and mercy of a loving God in a world desperate for hope. 

Faith.  That’s all we have.  Ephesians 6:16 instructs us, “In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all (!!!) the flaming darts of the evil one;” (ESV).  “ALL” is an amazing word.  What a relief it is to know that God has already provided assurance that we have ALL we need as we undergo attack.  Faith.  Because he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.  Because our battle is not against flesh and blood.  Because the battle for our souls was won on two wooden beams. 

In Romans we are promised this:  “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (16:20, ESV).  As surely as we recognize the evil and darkness rampant in this world, we can identify the one who hates us, whose goal is to immobilize us or defeat us, if it were possible.  Faith makes that impossible.

So while I’m here in this foxhole, let me tell you the wonderful mercies which God has bestowed.  Our daughter Kelsey was undiagnosed with lupus six days ago.  All traces of antinuclear antibodies and lupus-specific markers are GONE from her blood.  She has been released from her rheumatology clinic after sixteen months of being a patient.  This doesn’t happen.  Our son Colson walked away from an automobile crash that totaled his vehicle.  We have nearly lost count of how many times God has spared him from death, beginning at age three when he was miraculously saved from a near-drowning, a few years later being struck by lightning, and later taking a bus to school one day and one day only (the day I was t-boned by a Ford truck exactly where he should’ve been sitting), and numerous times fainting (the big one resulting in a severe concussion, the effects of which lasted nearly a year).  Colson’s accident graciously did not happen while RJ and I were on our cruise (a sweet friend pointed out to me), but mere days after our return.  I am posting from Virginia, where I’ve been given the incredible privilege of caring for our granddaughter while our oldest child, Kasey, works toward her bachelor’s degree–where Christian and Kelsey are also pursuing theirs and where Colson is attending in the fall. 

God is good all the time. 

Faith is easy with a God so incredibly good.  What arrows???

 

 

Vacay!

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Hitting the seas tomorrow by way of cruise ship.  Please pray that things will be peaceful and smooth on the home front with all our chickadees and our grand-chickadee.  Also, please pray that this will be a time of refreshing for my husband and me.  He very much needs a break from the stressors of life.