I live with four remarkable people. Each day, I watch in awe as they wake up, do their schoolwork, eat, and sleep. If you looked, you would see four ordinary looking children ranging in age from nine to sixteen. But, when I look, I see heroes.
What makes them heroes is not their parents, or their grandparents. It is not even their accomplishments that make these four special. It is simply the life that God has called them to live…the life of a military child.
I often read stirring accounts of those who face danger every day in the defense of our country. I read praises of the spouses of those who wear a military uniform.
It's time to acknowledge the youngest and bravest warriors among us, our children. They have each been chosen by God for their role in our families and the lessons I have learned as their mother are innumerable. Here are three:
On August 10, 1990, my husband, Bob, and I knelt beside the bed of our oldest son, David, two days before his third birthday. We struggled for the words to explain why his world would be completely transformed in the next ten hours. His birthday party would not happen. Bob would not see him blow out the candles on the birthday cake.
The next morning David, our infant son Jonathan, and I would board an evacuation flight. We would leave the only home David knew, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Bob tried to explain but it was David who defined the truth: "If it isn't safe for us, why is Daddy staying?" When we explained it was Bob's job to stay, David listened carefully.
We ended our talk with prayer and David snuggled down in his bed, trusting that we would take care of him. The next day he held tight to my hand as we walked to the plane that took us away from our home, leaving his father behind. His childlike trust gave me courage.
David's trust in us painted a clear picture of the trust I need to have in my heavenly Father. Matthew 6:26-27 says, "Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?"
The call shocked all of us. The three hours allowed for a decision drove us to our knees. Out of the blue Bob was asked whether he would be willing to deploy to Macedonia in support of Operation Joint Guardian. He called me. I gathered our children and prayed. Instead of two children, we now had four. David was 13, Jonathan 10, Sara 8, and CJ 6.
I struggled to explain what this four-month separation meant. It meant Daddy would miss two birthdays and Easter. It meant Daddy would not be there to teach Bible study each morning or eat dinner with us. It would create a huge vacuum in our day-to-day lives.
It was easy to explain the reason Bob needed to go. I told them that with our military in Macedonia and neighboring Kosovo, children there could go to sleep at night without being afraid. Daddy needed to go so other daddies could kiss their children good night knowing they were safe.
David and Jonathan were old enough to process the meaning. Both swallowed hard and said they thought he should go. They reasoned they could loan him out if other children would be blessed. Their willingness to give up their dad for others humbled me.
With our present world situation, many, many more military children are being asked to make this sacrifice daily. I am sure they will step up to the demand just as my children did. Military children make sacrifices so others can live in security.
Paul writes clearly what a military child learns at a young age. Philippians 2:4 says, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
In our eighteen-year marriage, we have moved seven times and lived in eleven houses. Our children have packed and unpacked their "stuff" more than most people will in a lifetime. They have rearranged posters, bookcases, beds. They have bunked together, bunked separately, bunked in rooms no bigger than a closet, and once made their beds in a home older than our country!
I've watched as they've hugged people who have touched their lives, knowing they may never see them again after we board the plane or drive off in the car. I have watched in awe as they have simply answered the call to go to the next place and followed us, their parents, as we have followed our Lord Jesus Christ.
And then there is church…we have called eight churches "home" within five distinct denominations. We have been part of a body of believers as small as a dozen and as large as two thousand. We have gone where the Lord has led and our children have walked there with us.
Yes, we have cried our share of tears and looked back longingly a few times, but the kids have always put one foot in front of the other and made the best of the situation God has placed them in.
Paul communicates this lesson in Philippians 4:11-12, "…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
These three lessons have been learned at a tender age by our children. Yet, while they have learned the tough lessons, they have also learned what it means to be abundantly blessed.
Because our lives only make sense when viewed as God-ordered, they have seen the hand of God repeatedly upon their lives. They have faced scary situations and personally witnessed God meeting their needs in exciting and wonderful ways.
Through varying circumstances, they have had the unique opportunity of allowing God to mold and refine them. They have seen God answer the big prayers and answer the ones only spoken in their hearts.
They know God will meet them in the quiet places when things are tough. They know that God is a God who can be trusted because He has never left them, no matter where they are. They are heroes of faith, young warriors with a purpose. They are military kids.