Posted in Journal

On Birthdays, Military Life, and Freedom

Next week, I will celebrate my 60th birthday, and this week we celebrated Veterans Day. This particular time, combined with everything going on in this country, has caused me to look back and write down a few thoughts.

As a young married couple, Dan was in the Navy and deployed when I gave birth to our daughter. Meagan and I stayed with my mom for several months so I wouldn’t be alone. We then moved to Zion, Illinois. It was the first time I had ever been away from home for more than a couple of days.

When James was born two years later, Dan was there; but he left for a deployment when James was six-weeks-old. That time I stayed in Navy housing with my two babies. Don’t ever think that our military members (and their families) don’t pay a price well beyond a small paycheck for our freedoms. Do we regret that life or that circumstance? No way!!!!

No way, no regrets….but there were many weeks we ate soup and crackers daily so our kids could have what they needed. We lived far away from our families, back in the day before internet and cheap phone service (one 5 minute call per week was all we could afford). When Dan’s mother took a turn for the worse and died of cancer, we were too far away to get back in time. It was a price – but then we saw our country step in to send us back to PA to be with family for the funeral.

The nation watched the TV as CNN covered the Gulf War. I did too, alone at first. But then I watched with a community of wives as we went through it together. Are there wives that go astray? Yes! But most military wives that I met were struggling to keep their families taken care of while their husbands were gone. Our husbands (like so many others) were in the middle of that gulf. We helped each other in so many ways. We helped each other through the day to day chores, with childcare for doctor’s visits and to even go buy groceries (since at that time the commissary did not allow children), and we helped with the emotions military life brings. These were the things our children couldn’t provide and our husbands couldn’t provide – they were in a war! It was quite a great community of women – stronger than any of us knew.

It isn’t easy to be the one to leave; it isn’t easy to be the one to stay. Regrets? No, not one!!!! Complaints? Never!

Things of value rarely come without costs. Those were hard days, but precious days for us. When apart, we wrote letters to each other every day. When together, we sat at dinner and talked and dreamed of our future. We read books, walked in parks, flew kites, and fished. Those days helped make us who we are today, and those days were indeed some of the greatest of our lives.

Money can’t buy so many great things, but so many don’t know that because they are distracted by the things money can buy.

Dan and I were always very proud to do our part for this country. We knew at the time, and we know now that there is a price for our freedoms. We knew, and we volunteered for it. What a gift those prices now have become. Because of them, our freedoms hold great value to our family. We don’t take them lightly. We know that even if things get hard or we face challenges and even temporary separations, we can make it if we press on as a team.

When your spouse is gone for months on end and then comes back for a little while only to leave again…you both learn quickly not to make each other pay a $5 price for a one-cent bill, or you will spend your entire time together fighting. Time is precious. Love one another and don’t take each other for granted, or the things they do daily.

And never, never take your neighbors for granted because you never know that it might be you next in dire need of help or support or just a friendly ear!

Laugh every chance you get.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, stay in His Word, and in prayer. Serve Him and let everything you do flow from Him.