Veteran – the beginning

Main Entry: vet·er·an

Pronunciation: \ˈve-tə-rən, ˈve-trən\

Function: noun

Etymology: Latin veteranus, from veteranus, adjective, old, of long experience, from veter-, vetus old

Date: 1509

1 a : an old soldier of long service b : a former member of the armed forces
2 : a person of long experience usually in some occupation or skill (as politics or the arts)

veteran adjective

I had hoped to share this several days ago but some things kept me from putting it all together before today… these past few days have been some what emotional for me in light of the shootings at Ft. Hood.  It profoundly effected me in a way I can not explain.  Watching the service on TV was so very hard.  Seeing the boots, guns and helmets standing in a row made me choke with grief for those families.  My son is currently stationed in California serving in the Air Force.  And I guess it got me to thinking about him and what if this kind of thing had happened to him? How would I cope with such a loss?  I am so very proud of him and all that he is accomplishing in his career.  He is young and still has much growing up to do after all he is only 21 yrs old 🙂  But I realize that when he puts on his uniform he steps into service…service of my country.  He is doing what I had done so many years ago.  As my grandfather had done many, many years before that.

Sitting at my grandfather’s feet as a little girl, watching him strum the guitar and sing a song I had never heard before, was one of the joy’s of my young life.  Before life became confusing and hard.  I believe that is when God placed a love for music in my heart.  Pure, simple tunes played and sang acoustically. Those memories are filled with smiles, old stories and old songs, mostly country songs.  I loved to hear him sing, he had a great voice. He was my grandpa.  It was not until later in my life that I would come to know the details of his life.  Let’s see, my earliest memories of spending time at my grandparents house was probably 4 or 5.  So it was at age 42 that I actually heard, for the first time, stories of his days spent in Italy in 1945.

It was in 2002 when I began to seriously scrapbook.  I went to a Creative Memories crop and learned all about archiving my memories….my pictures.  I then learned how to Power Crop…that revolutionized my scrapping…I went from completing a couple of pages a week to completing a 45 page album in two weeks.  Yes, within 6 months I had completed 5 baby albums (including my own).  The second year that I had been doing this, I was back home in Missouri, visiting my mom and we were going through some old photos of my grandfather in the service.  That was the first time the idea came to me about doing a Heritage Album for my grandfather.  To commemorate his service in the Armed Forces.  Little did I know what I would find for what I did know was that my grandfather had served in the Army Air Corp during WWII. I had only just found that out when I myself joined the Air Force in 1985.  

Grandpa Pope & my mom

  I had taken the pictures back to Texas with me and set about researching his service.  It was in 1941 that the Army Air Corps became US Army Air Forces and then in 1947 congress de-established it and created the US Air Force.  It was actually kind of cool to know that I was following in his footsteps. I had his DD 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty). It lists the dates and places members serve during their enlistment.  It also lists their awards and medals, promotions, combat service, overseas service and records of training and schools completed. So I had his full military history in my hands.  Having served 10 years in the Air Force, myself, I had a better appreciation for what was typed on that piece of paper.  It was not just my grandfather, it was piece of history.  Not only my history but the worlds.  (my grandfather, my mother on his lap and her two cousins 1945)  

 

 

I had been to Germany and Italy during my time in the service.  I got to travel and see some of the places where our troops had marched and battled.  Where some barely survived and some died.  I had touched the ground where my country men had fought to free the world of evil.  There were reminders everywhere I visited.  scan0017 - Copy (2)American memorials, statues, military machines and graves.  And as I looked at the piece of paper in my hand I realized that we were connected in a way all veterans are connected.  No, I did not see combat, as my grandfather had but I wore the uniform.  I did not fly in a B2 bomber as he did but I have flown in C130’s, a C5 and sat in the cockpit of an F15.   I serviced & hauled service equipment to the F15’s and F16’s as an AGE Mechanic.  I stood in formation, saluted, marched and learned how to shoot a .38 and a M16.   (Me in 1986 Bitburg AB Germany sitting in an F15 Eagle)

I believe what connected us was that we along with other men and women served something far greater than ourselves. Whether during war or peace time it is not something to boast about in “look what I did” way but something to be humbled by.  Even more so when you watch a memorial or a funeral for a fallen soldier.  To serve in our Armed Forces is not an easy thing.  It is not to be taken lightly or taken for granted by those who don’t even realize the service they are receiving.  I admit that when I first signed the dotted line I really had no idea the commitment I was making.  I did not understand the fullness of what I was giving.  I was naive in what it entailed.  It was not until I looked at the album I created for my grandfather that I came to know what it meant to be a veteran of the United States Armed Forces.                                                                                                               

 My service was not something really to write about, I only mention it because it gives me a perspective to share with you a piece of history…I plan to share more about my grandfather and his service in the next couple of weeks.  I have some really great pictures to show you along with some stories…I hope you will plan to follow along, See you then…

Please continue to pray for our soldiers, daily!!!!

Grace to you
Shell

  

Memorial Day – The Fallen Say Remember Me!

Prayers for Ft Hood and our nation

I am heart broken over the shooting at Ft Hood, Texas…being a veteran and having lived on military installations all over the world I can tell you "this family" will prevail…their strength lies in numbers, in each other…but it will take them a very long time to heal.  My prayers are going out to them all. 

“Almighty God lay your hand upon those who are grieving, give them a strength only you can give, a calm in the midst of the storm.  Give comfort and especially grace, please father?  Bring some good out of this, as you promise to those who love you.  Give understanding where confusion lies!  And finally, Lord, help us all to forgive and love those who are very difficult to love.  In Jesus precious name, Amen!”

I don’t usually vent like this, especially in public but I think the indignation of such an act calls for it…so if you don’t agree, God bless & thank you for stopping by anyway.  I pray for my heart to forgive and be compassionate towards others during this time of unbelief but I like, Carol L, am very angry…and I want to scream to the world "wake up you stinking liberal idiots”

The one thing I despise is the talk of red flags…there is always red flags…I have some personal experience with that.  Everyone knows, everyone sees but no one speaks up until it is too late.   You want to talk red flags, you want to ask why someone didn’t see the red flags?  Where exactly would red flag information be sent to and put together so that we might know the danger lurking around us?  They are telling us there were red flags, of that I am sure but the red flags did not get centralized therefore the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing.   Then the media spends hours and hours after the tragedy wondering why no one put it together.  I got an idea why doesn’t the media hire a team to monitor red flags all over the country and then we wouldn’t have to hear for hours why no one put it together…yes I am being facetious!

I can give you my very biased opinion that may not sit well with many but if you think about how the current administration is taking the “centralization”  apart, line by line.  They have taken apart every measure of security that the previous administration spent years putting into place and now many lives are going to be lost because of it.  For the sake of not infringing on another’s civil rights. This tragic shooting will be the future of things to come when they do not allow the monitoring of everyone.  Personally I would not care if my privacy was compromised for the sake of saving lives.  If I wasn’t doing anything wrong then I would not have anything to worry about, right?

It is a senseless tragedy that only goes to prove how vulnerable we are as a country.  If a man, who was a member of our uniformed services can bring weapons into a place where no weapons should be, what makes us think we are any safer today than we were after 911?  Yes, he not only had mental issues but he was born right here in America, among us.  And in the end, his last words were that of religion bent to destroy every non believer in the world.  I don’t believe it was as much his religion that drove him to commit such heinous act but a warped frame of mind that comes from hate, fear and selfishness.  It came from a man who was ungrateful for a nation that gave him a career to feed his belly.  If this does not wake up those who think that we can keep being tolerant at the cost of our countrymen’s lives then we are indeed doomed. 

As a Christian, who still lives in a Christian nation, I still believe God is on the throne and good overcomes evil in the end…in the mean time it seems God may be giving America up to its own wicked ways…and we are reaping the whirlwind!

Christians we need to pray, NOW, and keep praying!!!!!!

Fill’er Up, God!!!

 

other12_Spilled-Water

The boys and I are settled in our new home to some extent, although we are currently going through a kitchen renovation, which means we do not cook in the house unless it is microwavable.  You do not fully appreciate having a sink, an oven or simply a counter top to set things on until those are gone.  I believe the results will be beautiful when they are done and I am sure it will be worth it to my friend who owns the home.  We just need to be a little more patient and flexible.  We are praying for it to be finished by Thanksgiving so I can actually cook the turkey…lol, how I love to cook and bake and how I miss it! 

I can’t seem to tell these days what direction my life is going.  It is just moving around kind of quickly, with some fluidity, this way and that.  I can’t find much to complain about as far as circumstances go.  I can however list a myriad of questions about life, living and the Lord.  It has been a while since I had substantial questions for the Lord.  For the most part I was going along just believing and trusting in faith that He is guiding me.  Opening and closing doors here and there.  Recently I have been giving some doubts the benefit of thought.  What have I done with my life?  What have I really accomplished? How well have I done as a mother? What am I going to do when my kids are grown and gone? 

The answers to all these questions seem to be wrapped up in my children.  Everything I am about is connected to them in someway.  And because of my inability to be objective when it comes to them I am always feeling like a failure.  When I go to God about this I am even brought lower by the unworthiness I experience.  It isn’t so much guilt, though I am sure it plays a part, it is the inadequacy I am overwhelmed with when my children disappoint me.  I get my expectations all built up thinking that I have some how imparted the importance of love, friendship, honoring one another and loving God with all your heart to them and then I find out different.  I am reminded of all the times I probably disappointed my parents.  The ironic part is I would have never realized how I disappointed them until my children did the same to me.  Why didn’t I learn that sooner?

My two grown children lives are not going exactly the way I had hoped and prayed.  Both are very capable, responsible and very smart.  And beautiful…of course I say that cuz I am their mama…but I see them struggling with things in their lives that hurt my heart.  As a young single mother, raising them I thought if I did everything the opposite of my parents they would not have as many struggles as I did, especially in relationships.  I was wrong.  To say very wrong would be saying that everything I did or did not do was a waste of time.  Because I have faith in God and His word, I believe that “all things work together for good to them who love Him, to them who are called.”  Is that spoken to just the believer or can that be to the believer’s children if by chance they do not believe.  They made professions as children and have a foundation but their current choices do not reflect any of that.  I love them and only want them to realize the peace they could have in their lives if they only turned to God.  The God I tried to show them.  Jesus.  But did I?

You ever hear of the saying ‘blind leading the blind’?  Parenting is like that.  Do you ever feel like that?  I look back and think how did I think I could do it better than my parents.  I did not know what I was doing for sure and still not sure at times.  I am struggling to raise and teach my youngest two boys 12 and 14.  It seems they fight me at every turn.  I have to admit that there have been some days recently where I have just wanted to give up.  What’s the point, I ask myself?  Why do I think I can do any better a job with these two boys than I did with my older son and daughter?  I do not normally think or say to myself or God, it isn’t fair because I know that life is just sometimes not fair.  The bible says the rain falls on the just and unjust.  It is all so overwhelming at times when I sit and think about the shear responsibility of raising children into grown adults.  Why is it that when they make good, wise decisions we are so proud and as soon as they make a decision that leads to heartache we immediately feel guilty as if we ourselves did not teach them well enough?  That is probably my biggest obstacle right now.  Am I not trusting God with this?  Am I analyzing it too much?  Am I only seeing the negative? 

Facing a future without my children is, frankly, scaring the heck out of me.  This whole matter is causing me some real angst.  My two boys are just years away from going out on their own.  My oldest two are already too busy living life and are too far away to come around.  What am I going to do with myself when I have no more children to take care of?  How am I going to keep myself from focusing on myself when they are grown?  You may think that I am being mellow dramatic about this but these years are going faster than I want them to.  I can not slow them down.  I don’t want to hide from life.  I don’t want to avoid it either.  I just don’t want to face life alone.  And that day is coming so quickly.  What do I do about that? I can hear some saying now, “Get a life!”

What does it mean to get a life, anyway?  What does that look like? As I sit here and think about it the only thing I keep coming back to is not being alone.  So that means I have to open up my mind to the possibility of a relationship.  Have I missed my chance at finding my ‘”soul mate?”  It is probably not like “Let’s Make a Deal”, you know what is behind door number 3?  I have already chosen two doors and I got the short end of the stick both times.  I have not discussed this particular subject on spaces before although I have alluded to it through the guise of loneliness but I am wondering if the Lord will open the door for me to meet someone or date?  Now isn’t that a crazy question?  I have so much more to wonder about and focus on than the complications of navigating a relationship or even the stress of dating.  What in the world am I thinking about that for?  I have asked the Lord to just get it out of my mind, the idea of ever finding my “soul mate” because it seems that there is just too much disappointment connected with this whole concept.  Too messy.  Is that realistic? 

There is a particular verse in God’s Word that He gave me many years ago.  I claimed it then for myself.  It was during a time when the bottom fell out.  I was sitting in the center of my bed, crying so hard that no sound came out for several seconds, maybe minutes.  I could feel pain so deep and central in my heart that it was all I could do to just sit and cry. I remember speaking to God through my tears, “Will this pain ever go away, will I ever love again, will I ever know what it is like to be loved by another?”  I said it over and over again as I rocked back and forth praying, sobbing and crying out to Him.  I grabbed my bible next to my bed and opened it up.  The page that I had opened it to had some scripture highlighted.  One of the verses my eyes fell upon was Jeremiah 17:8.  Right there and then I felt His love.  I felt His arms wrap around me.  His Word did not answer the pain question or the being loved by another question.  But it brought relief.  It gave me a glimmer of hope.  A hope that was not defined but for certain.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river,

And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green,

And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

01_tree_by_river

 Jeremiah 17:8

As I remember that moment I am realizing that everything we experience in a single minute becomes an opportunity for God to speak to us.  It becomes a thing in our life that God can use to bring beauty out of ashes.  He can make the crooked river straight.  He can make a mountain bow to Him.  He can take a crying, grieving woman and calm her heart.  So all the questions, doubts and fears that I have about my life, my children’s lives bring me back to Him.  Always.  Even now I can not go back to before I knew Him when I could not find comfort.  I can not get away from the fact that no matter how many questions I have, how inadequate I feel or how unworthy I am before Him, He loves me.  He knows better than I what doors I need to walk through.  If there is to be a ‘soul mate.’  What my children need and how my children will turn out, in spite of my mothering ways.

I think maybe all of these thoughts and questions are meant to empty me.  To take my eyes off my children and their lives, off myself and off the world.  To put them back on to Him.    

I am ready to be filled!

 

HeartWaterDrop7E0

Grace to you, Shell

PS: The song by JJ Heller "Love Me" (on my playlist) speaks to my heart

Love Me
BY JJ AND DAVE HELLER

He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He’s the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night, “Dear God won’t you please
Could you send someone here who will love me?”

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means

Her office is shrinking a little each day
She’s the woman whose husband has run away
She’ll go to the gym after working today
Maybe if she was thinner
Then he would’ve stayed
And she says…

Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me?
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love, what love really means

He’s waiting to die as he sits all alone
He’s a man in a cell who regrets what he’s done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
“Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home”

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
And it said
“I know you’ve murdered and I know you’ve lied
I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you’ll listen, I’ll tell you that I…”

I will love you for you
Not for what you have done or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew