Monday, July 06, 2009

Keepin' it Real

I normally love the 4th of July and it WAS fun to have a big party (in lieu of a graduation party in June). However, for most of the day, I had a lingering feeling of sadness as I watched Ryan. As every parent of a child who is about to leave the nest, there is a melancholy mixed with excitement as you watch your child learn to fly. Most of my angst, however, is about his entrance into the milit*ary--and the fears of the unknown dangers that lurk there for him.

Yesterday in church, we were sitting behind him, and it struck me that no one sitting around us had any idea that Ryan was going to be a soldier. I wondered if they would care if they did know. I started to feel a mixture of anger and an absurd desire to tap them on the shoulder and ask, "Did you know my son is going into the Ar*y?" The suddenness and fierceness of my emotion surprised me because it seemed to come out of nowhere. This is my baby...and I wanted people to care that he is going into harms way for them. And then...a flash of insight. This is how God looks at the world. He longs for EVERYONE to know that He sent His Son to save their lives. That He offers the only true freedom that every spirit longs to know.

As I contemplated my deep distress just at the 'possibilty' that someone might not care that Ryan was going into danger for them, I could only imagine the incredible hurt that God must feel as people mock and choose to hate His Son--whose only 'crime' is that He loves them with a perfect love. Who came to die to set them free. Who only wants a relationship with them.

How can we refuse this amazing, indescribable love?
A friend of mine sent me this in an email, and I want to re-post it here. Author is unknown....

Half Man – Half Boy

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society to be half man, half boy. Not yet wet behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work, and would rather wax his own car than wash his father’s, but he’s never collected unemployment either.

He’s a recent high school graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a 10 year old jalopy and has a steady girlfriend who either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting for him when he returns from half a world away. He listens to hip-hop, country or jazz and a 155 mm howitzer.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he lived at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus writing a letter is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in half the time in the dark.

He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.

He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: He washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteen full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes and fix his own hurts.

If you are thirsty, he’ll share his water with you; if you’re hungry, his food. He’ll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle if you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and his weapons like they were his hands.

He can take your life or save it – because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find the ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has wept in public and private for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.

He feels EVERY NOTE of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to ‘square away’ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking.

In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as his Father, Grandfather and Great-Grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return except our friendship and understanding.

Remember him always for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

A Prayer for our Military:

“Lord, hold our troops in Your loving hand. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. In Jesus Name – Amen.”

Of all the gifts you could give a U.S. Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Coast Guardsman, prayer is the very best.


Kim K. said...

Ok. I'm crying at work and about to head into a computer lab to teach a class. What a beautiful post and tribute to Ryan. Hugs!!

Shonni said...

Thank you for this is so beautiful, and yes, real.

Holly said...

I get it Karin. I really do.
I haven't been there done that with my child (yet) but I get the feeling that you want to let everyone know that your great family member is sacrificing so that everyone else can go to McDonald's after church and play video games after that.
Yes. I understand.
It can be terrifying thinking of what might lie ahead. But I am calmed by the reminder that God alone knows the number of our days and we are totally safe until He calls us home. None of us by worrying can add a single hour to our lives, so we must choose to let go of our tendency to worry and instead draw closer to our Father, trusting Him to accomplish His will in the lives of those we love so dearly.
It is such a lesson isn't it? Knowing what an enormous sacrifice He made for us and seeing so many mock it and refuse to accept it.
I will join you in praying for Ryan. The Lord will use this experience to shape Ryan and to prepare Him for things to come...things that Ryan was created to do for the Lord before the beginning of time.

jan said...

phenomenal, phenomenal post. i sent it to our church members who are part of our soldier support ministry. the parallels to God and His Son were amazing.

thanks. jan :)

Elizabeth Koproski said...

I appreciate what your son (and your family as you sacrifice also) is doing for our country! People may not know, but hopefully if they did, they would be as appreciative as I am!

Cari Bacon said...

I had to take a minute before I could post. I LOVE your realization of God's love through your own relationship with your profound.

Ryan - I salute you and prayed for you and your family this morning.

Todd,Michelle Bloom said...

And Ryan has my prayers, dear friend. Thankful that the God who called him will be his Protector and his Friend in every circumstance He takes him to. No words to express how grateful our family is for Ryan's service to our country - to us! Hugs. Shelly

Angie said...

Thank God there are young, and older, men and women who make this sacrifice. Our country wouldn't be what it is today without them. It was great to see that the Lord brought you back to seeing things from his perspective. It's a good place to be.

Pam said...

I care. And I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Joyful mom said...

Oh my goodness, friend--I have chills. What an amazing post--straight from your mommy heart. Wow!

Leslie said...

Praying for Ryan, you and your family. We will add Ryan to the list of those soldiers we know by name when we pray.

trustandobey said...

Thank you for the reminder of what these young people do and go through for thier country. We will be praying for Ryan and his parents (who are on the battlefield with him everyday in spirit).

Kimberly said...

Karin - I get teh email version of your blog and read it every day. I love seeing your beautiful photos and reading how your family is doing. Today's post really made me cry and I just want to reach out and hug you and tell you that I appreciate what your son is doing for our country.

Denise said...

I understand your pain and what your feeling. I had my firstborn son leave for the military about a year and a half ago. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I had this deep sense of pride and joy but on the other hand the unknowns and the fears and the thought of him leaving our home for good was so heartbreaking. Unfortunately after 6 weeks of being in the service he was sent home with asthma. I don't know what was more devistating, him leaving or coming home. He did so well in basic training, top of his class etc.. But I guess God has other plans for my first born son. Now my 19 year old (second born) has plans to enlist in the Navy. When he first told me I had that same gut wrenching feeling. I'm so proud of his decision but I can't imagine him not being here anymore. And then the worry of something happening to him just makes me sick. I know God is the protector and I trust God will watch over him. As a mom I can't help but have concerns for him. Thanks for the beautiful post. I wll keep your Ryan in my prayers. Please keep my Joe in yours. In Christ

Elaine said...

Hi Karin,
You know that I know where you are coming from. I have been on my soap box lately about our military on my blog.
As one military mom to another, if you need to vent, cry, whatever shoot me an email. I get it my friend! And I will be praying for Ryan and for your family.

Emily said...

I sent you the Lovely Blog award. I don't know how to send it on via comment space, so if you want it and have time.. you can pick it up at my blog :)

Thanks for providing inspiration to us all!

Anonymous said...

I love the poem. I know exactly what you mean when you say that you want to let everyone know the sacrifice your son is making for them.
I am a mom to 8. My oldest 3 sons are Marines , ages 24,23 and 21. They have all had their time in Iraq , with the middle one due back in the states next month.
When my husband and i are asked how we stay so calm . We answer with :God knows their appointed Hour , nothing we do can change that. We can only pray .

We will be praying for your son and for a smooth move to join us East Coasters.