John 15:12-13 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I’m sure you’ve seen the quote…
“Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American soldier.”
Today we celebrate and honor the American soldier. One of the greatest honors of my life is that I get to call a true American hero, “my husband”. That hottie up there ^ is mine. And for more than twenty-five years he’s been yours too. That man loves you and the principles our nation was founded on enough that he is willing to lay down his life for you.
I don’t usually post about Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day or any of the other days set aside on our calendar for acknowledging the price of freedom. Those days are sacred to me. But this year is different for many reasons. This is likely the last Veteran’s Day that my husband will celebrate on active duty. This is also the first Veteran’s Day since 2011 that he has been able to put on a uniform and do the job he was called to do as a young boy. That job? He’s the MILDEP (military deputy) of Night Vision and Sensors. Oh the irony… Three years, ten months, and ten days after coming under investigation for attempting to shine light in the darkness of Army contracting, he assumed the responsibility of ensuring that the entire Army can see in the dark. Hah! God has the best sense of humor!
Six days before my hero returned to work we received a call from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. Nine months ago, a series of “yeses” put us on a path to that phone call. In roughly the same amount of time it takes to grow a bundle of joy, God grew a bundle of hope for our baby girl. KKI was calling to say that they had a bed available for Sofija in their neurobehavioral unit. For now I am holding the details of her stay close and shedding tears at the end of each of our four weekly visits. Her projected discharge date is February 11, 2016. She wants to come home and we want to have her here. But we have been in crisis mode for longer than anyone should ever live in crisis mode. The struggle to keep her (and us) safe was a losing battle and we needed help. That phone call promised help.
While Sofija is at KKI, we have a social worker helping our family set up a plan for aftercare and checking in regularly to ensure that we are using this time as a respite. Feel free to take a second and cheer with me…. WOOHOO!! YIPPEEE!! HIP! HIP! HOORAY!!
Date night, after date night, after date night… with my real American hero. By the way, is anyone else bursting with excitement over the return of The Greatest American Hero? “Believe it or not, I’m walking on air. I never thought I could feel so free-ee-ee…”
One thing our social worker encouraged us to do was to get away for a couple of days. We haven’t “gotten away for a couple of days” or even overnight for that matter, in the last five years. Don’t get me wrong. I love my baby girl more than life and I miss her life crazy. But I was in desperate need of some time away with my man! This past weekend we remedied the situation with a weekend in The Big Apple.
I could write for days about all of the experiences we squeezed into 48 hours, but there was one experience in particular that wrecked me. I’ve been to NYC a few times and never made it to ground zero or the 9/11 museum. Before traveling I looked up Veteran’s Day activities in the city and found that the museum was offering free entry for veterans this week and half price entry for family members. I’m
a cheapskate thrifty. $12 is easier on our budget than $42 so I pitched the museum in our trip planning. It made the cut.
Oh. My. Word. Every single American (and anyone who underestimates the power of hatred) should go there. I have to be honest. I thought it would be educational and expected to feel a little sadness. What I did not expect is to be wrecked. As I walked around the bottom of the museum and witnessed the excavated areas of the north and south towers, I was completely overwhelmed. Tears began to pour and they did not stop for quite some time after we left. This picture was taken inside the foundation of the south tower. See that little man standing in the right corner? That little man was well over six feet tall. This simple two-word phrase kept running through my mind as I tried to take in what I was seeing…
Hate = destruction. Towers built on the strongest of foundations were destroyed by a single act of hatred.
The opposite of hate is love. Both require passion and dedication and sacrifice. One leads to freedom, the other to destruction.
In the aforementioned quote, those two people who’ve offered to die for you? In both cases, the willingness to lay down their lives has been rooted in immeasurable love.
Today, thank Jesus for eternal life granted by the cross and resurrection. And then, thank a veteran for your daily freedom.
Love = Freedom
BTW: we spent time with Sofija on our way to NY and again on our way home. She damaged a wall with her head last week so she’s making a fashion statement with a helmet while her head heals. She still captivates me…