Wednesday, May 29, 2019

memorial day 2019

In honor of Memorial Day, I want to share a handful of memories with you...I apologize in advance for how disjointed this post may be, but that's simply because my mind is a bit disjointed right now.

There's the time I sat on the pipe fence while my brother tried to saddle Red Cloud for a ride. His role as a Cavalry officer had put him in a big Stetson hat, which made him a cowboy...saddling a horse wouldn't be a problem. I laughed while he got mad at a horse who didn't seem fond of the huge guy who wanted to go for a ride. My offers of help were brushed off with comments along the lines of, "I don't need your help to saddle a horse." So I simply watched and laughed and tried not to rub it in too much when Michael finally said, "Get down here and hold your stupid horse."

Or the time when I got a handmade card for Valentine's Day that said, "Though at times I may pick on you (just a little) should know I still love you."

Michael told me to hang back after a basketball game one night and ride home with him instead of Pop and Mom. What little sister wouldn't love that? So I hung around outside of the gym until he came out and threw me the keys to the pickup. "I think he concusseded me," he said, speaking of a rare opponent on the basketball court who was even bigger than him.

Then there's sitting on the bottom stair at my parents, waiting for the knock we knew was coming because of a phone call the night before. I had intended to be in the room with Pop and Mom when the uniformed soldiers showed up, but I simply couldn't bring myself to go in. Instead, I sat mutely, tears brimming, and listened to my parents' strangled sobs as they were officially told that their son had been killed in action.

How about all the times I was called, "Little Mike" in the halls of Bonner Springs High School? Talk about a deterrent--there aren't a lot of guys who want to ask you out on a date if that's you're nickname as a 9th grade girl.

There's the ugly snort/laugh I pulled out of Pop during the funeral, when I leaned over and said they should be singing "Dixieland" instead of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." It was the first time I had heard him laugh since we heard the news of Michael's death, and I clung to that sound as a promise that life would somehow continue.

There's hugging my baby sister as she got ready to leave the church on her wedding day, knowing I would leave while she was on her honeymoon and fighting the irrational fear that something would happen to me and she would be left in the same boat I have been in--a wedding day that is also the last day I saw my brother.

Or all the sweaty hugs after football games as Michael and John came off the field and I went to wait in the truck to ride home with my brother on a Friday night.

Then there are all the people who lined the highway that August day, getting out of cars and coming out of houses to stand at attention as we drove by on the journey from the church to the cemetery. My sister says she remembers one little old lady in particular who was waving a tiny American flag, but the picture I see when I close my eyes are the farmers, their work day interrupted, who stood with hats in hands as we passed.

There are countless words shared by soldiers who served with Michael, telling us they would have followed Michael into battle anywhere and any time because they always knew he would have their backs.

There's the sunlight shining through the glass at Nelson's chapel in Berryville, where we gathered to see Michael after they brought him home to us. I stood outside that room for what felt like an eternity, fighting an internal battle over whether or not I could go in to see my brother in a casket. Though the need to see him one last time eventually won out, I still wonder if I did the right thing when my mind flashes back to the memory of reaching out to touch a white-gloved hand.

There are countless family gatherings that somehow still have a piece missing, questions I know I can't answer for my kids about the uncle they don't truly know.

I've seen a lot of people posting about Memorial Day. First, I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I hope it was full of joy and laughter and lots of new memories with amazing people. As you celebrate the beginning of summer, though, please remember that Memorial Day is also a day of remembrance--a day we can celebrate because of those who were willing to pay the ultimate price for us. Please remember those who are dealing with a mix of memories, happy and sad, who may have a smile on their lips on minute and be fighting back tears the next.

Because what hurts the most is the thought that our loved ones may some day be forgotten.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

What are you worth?

I've stared at the blank page for quite a few days now, unsure of what to write. I've sunk into a place I've found myself many times--what if nobody reads my words? What if they don't mean anything to anyone? What if I work and put something out there and nobody appreciates it? What if my writing never goes anywhere, and it's all just a great big waste of time and energy?

It's a dangerous path once I get started on it, where my brain starts spiraling down to questions that most people would probably say I was crazy for asking. Really, though, it all boils down to the same question I've had running through the back of my mind since I was little:

What if I'm not good enough?

Have you ever been there? Does your mind whisper your fears so loudly that the rest of the world gets drowned out sometimes?
It's easy for me to see my faults. I could list more than anyone else could ever dream up about me, and even then someone would probably have to make me stop writing (not of my faults is that I get tongue-tied and stumble over my words). Ask me about my strengths, though, and you're likely to hear crickets.

And even then I get the feeling that people are going to think I'm fishing for a compliment.

 I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't worried about what people thought of me, when I wasn't intensely aware of every flinch, every misstep, every word that didn't come out right.

Here's the amazing thing, though. Even if all my worst fears are true--if I never measure up and nobody ever reads my words--I have the assurance that to one person, I was worth everything. One person chose to stretch His arms out and let Himself be nailed to a cross when He could have easily stepped down. I fully believe that His words, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," were spoken to cover each and every one of us, at the moment when we least deserve it.

There's a line in "Reckless Love" that says,

When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me

No matter how I feel, there is One who sees my worth because He sees me through the cover of the blood of the perfect sacrifice. Even though I could never be good enough, He gave everything...for me.

Parents, step up

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