Sunday, July 18, 2010
I know I've never ask so many questions, searched for so much understanding, or sought how not to feel so pained by words of good people that make me want to drown in tears as I have since my husband's only child and namesake, Sgt Patrick Tainsh was KIA 2/11/04 in Iraq.
No parent of a child killed in any manner would ever wish the grief and void of heart upon another. Those of us who stand by the wayside after receiving the news of the death of our children at war, remain supporters of those families still struggling with the stress and strain of their loved ones' deployments to war zones. We would even stand next to them, if asked, as their hero returns and walks toward them after their arrival back on U.S. soil. Even with our broken hearts, we are happy they are spared the dark pain of grief and can touch and speak with their child again.
My pain comes f rom wondering why as much care isn't given to us. Why do we have to receive the messages and hear the shouts, "Thank you Lord for answering my prayers!" after their loved ones have arrived safely home. Doesn't anyone realize how painful this is to us who can never touch or hear our child again?
Do they not know that is like as slap in the face, a punch in the gut, a boulder on our head because we scream inside and out, Why God? Why wasn't my prayer answered! Then someone says, "Well God answers some prayers and others, not." And I ask, what sense does this make? You mean God is somewhere switching his chin from one fist to the other thinking about whether or not He's going to answer our prayer to bring our kids or husbands home safe!
You mean the omnipotent God, all omniscent didn't know before our children were born how and when they would be taken from us, and hence, it was all those prayers and prayer warriors that did the trick instead of the fact that, "..you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old." Psalm 139:15-16
If this is true, then God did know us and our children and all loved ones before we were born and knows what will happen in our lives and the day that will be our last.
No, family members of fallen warriors would never want anyone else to feel the grief and pain that follows the death of a child at war or any other cause. It's an abyss that debilitates until we get through to the light again, but then we're never the same people we were before.
All we ask is that our grief not be enhanced and our faces not be pressed into words that make us feel that others received "special favor" from God, our same Father, and we didn't.
Envision this scene: "Whoopee, Dad gave me my prayer!! Whoopee, Dad is so good! Thanks every body for helping me talk Dad into answering my prayer! Oh what relief! Praise be to Dad!" While watching and listening is the sister or brother whose grief and pain rekindles to a rage because Dad didn't provide the same good favor for them.
All we ask is for consideration. And although our hearts are broken, because we owe it to our fallen children, their brothers and sisters in arms, and their families, we are more than willing and wanting to share in the joy of the return of others' warriors. We want to show the strength and courage our children showed the world.
We want those who received their children back to be thankful. We want them to shed tears of joy, to release the breath they've held while their loved one has been in a war zone. Just please remember, others of us prayed and believed as much and as hard as anyone else did whose loved one returned.
I'm not convinced it's prayer, no matter the number of words, or how many people pray, that keeps one person alive over another in a war zone, with disease, or other manners of death. I'm more able to believe all is due to that which God has already designed? For after all, He is the Alpha & Omega, the all knowing.
May our prayers be that our faith be sustained even in God's will to take as he also gives. May we pray as Jesus taught, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done...and add the words we all need: provide us the peace, strength, courage, and faith in the darkest moments of our life, and joy in the soul when we learn that only because it was meant to be that darkness passed us by.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
So you’ll know a bit about my denominational affiliation, let me put it this way:
I’m glad to have had the opportunity to worship in each of these denominations throughout my life because it’s helped me to see God’s face and His work through the various differences. I believe this comes because the most important similarity is that we believe in the One Sovereign God and Creator who has a purpose for each of us. And for those of us of the Christian faith, it is God’s grace through His son Jesus that brings us salvation and spiritual freedom.
Speaking of Freedom, apropos for today, July 4th, I like to share a bit of Exodus and Moses humor...
Moses and his flock arrive at the sea, with the Egyptians in hot pursuit.
Moses calls a staff meeting. "Well, how are we going to get across the sea?" asked Moses. "We need a fast solution. The Egyptians are close behind us."
"Normally, I'd recommend that we build a pontoon bridge to carry us across," said the General Of The Armies, "but there's not enough time - the Egyptians are too close."
Normally, I'd recommend that we build barges to carry us across," said the Admiral Of The Navy, "but time is too short."
"Does anyone have a solution?" asked Moses.
Just then, his Public Relations man raised his hand.
"You!" said Moses, "You have a solution?"
"No," said the PR man, "but I can promise you this: If you can find a way out of this one, I can get you two or three full pages in the Old Testament..." copyrightOFFICEJOKES.NET
Exodus: 6:6: 7New Century Version:
“I am the Lord. I will save you from the hard work the Egyptians force you to do. I will make you free, so you will not be slaves to the Egyptians. I will free you by my great power…I will make you my own people, and I will be your God.”
Rev 21:1, 4, 6
There will be a new heaven and new earth. God will be with the people and will wipe away every tear and there will be no more death, sadness, crying or pain because all the old ways are gone. The one on the throne said “It is finished.” I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give free water from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty.
Through these scriptures, our Father, God, speaks to Moses in the Old Testament about bringing freedom to His people and in the New Testament He has provided a proclamation for a new heaven and earth where Eternal Freedom will be found from a list of oppressions. (I say this is an additional reason for a celebration of fireworks today!)
This promise in Revelation was made and is kept because of the sacrifice of a single man named Jesus who accepted the mission his Father asked of him to provide salvation for humanity.
Today, July 4, is our national date for recalling our founding fathers’ proclamation through the Declaration of Independence for our country’s freedom from oppression, a freedom created through the sacrifices of many both past and present, sacrifices that have allowed us to meet today in this place of worship.
By the way, how many of you knew that the only Christian Minister to sign the Declaration of Independence was Presbyterian Reverend John Witherspoon?
He gained greater reputation as a religious leader and educator than as a politician. Emigrating from Scotland to America in the midst of the controversy between the Colonies and the Crown, he took part in the Revolution, lost a son during the war in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and signed the Articles of Confederation as well as the Declaration. He is better known, however, for his role in the growth of the Presbyterian Church and for his distinguished presidency of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).
In thinking on our freedoms as Americans, I’m sure that each of you have heard this poem:
It's the soldier, not the reporter who has given us
Freedom of the Press.
It's the soldier, not the poet, who has given us
Freedom of Speech.
It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the
Freedom to Demonstrate.
It's the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the
Right to a Fair Trial.
It's the soldier who salutes the flag, serves under the flag and
whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who gives the protestor the right to burn the flag.
~Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC
The sacrifices made for our country’s exodus to freedom that created the opportunity for us to worship in the place and manner we choose has come with decades of great pain, loss, and grief just as was experienced by the Israelites exodus for freedom from Egypt to the promise land.
It was because our founding fathers knew the Exodus story and how God used Moses to lead his people from the Pharoah that they believed it to be the greatest inspiration for the original 13 colonies to say to England: “Let our people go!” Moses has actually been referred to as America’s Prophet.
Through this connection, it is so very easy to understand why America was built on Judeo-Christian beliefs and why the Exodus, Moses, and Pharoah have been symbolic in America’s history, especially seen in the American Revolution and our history of slavery and freedom.
In my personal journey as a person blessed to be born under the Natural Freedoms in America that were paid for by sacrifices of those who lived before me, I never dreamed I’d be married to a U.S. Marine or become mom to a U.S. Army Soldier.
Now, I’ll let you do a bit of math: I was in 7th grade when my husband was in Vietnam helping to fight for Freedom against communism.
However, after I grew up, he found me in Georgia while he was on leave after returning from a deployment in Japan. We married, and in 1990 I sent him off to the First Gulf War to help others ensure Freedom remained in place for the people of Kuwait when evil invaded their country.
In April, 2003, my husband and I sent a son, US Army Cavalry Scout Sgt Patrick Tainsh, to help secure Freedom for the people of Iraq while helping keep at bay enemies who want to destroy freedoms of America.
To prove there’s always hope, this was our former rebellious snow-boarding surfer-dude with dred-locks and earrings who swore he’d never follow his dad’s footsteps into the military.
We were and still are so proud of Patrick’s decision to serve a purpose greater than himself. He became part of the less than 1% of our nation’s population who voluntarily sign a blank check for payment up to and including their life to pay for the cost of freedom for each of us and others in foreign countries.
In February, 2004, my husband and I experienced the reality of personal sacrifice and cost of Freedom when Patrick was killed in Iraq. He died from wounds he had received but told no one about because he was true to his commitment to sacrifice himself if it was necessary to save the lives of his brothers. And we all know John: 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
I’m not going to dwell on Patrick’s story, although I’d love for you to learn more about him and that of others who have sacrificed for us through my books: Heart of a Hawk and Surviving the Folded Flag: Parents of war share stories of coping, courage, and faith.
What I do want to dwell on is how we find Freedom from the negative effects of the tragedy in our lives.
It’s been said that the death of a child is the most “cruel of all losses” because the death of a child is the unnatural order of things in a parent’s world; and that with the death of a child comes the death of part of a parent’s future.
Although I love God and believe in the sacrifice of His son for my Spiritual and eternal Freedom, I’m not going to stand here and tell you that I wasn’t angry at my Dad with screaming at him (that’s the kind words) after my family was brought into the torture chamber of grief.
I so feared my husband’s state of mind that I hid his pistol.
I would sit on my back porch in Georgia and cry and beg for understanding and ask Why us?
Of course, after more than a six year journey, I now know that the correct question is “Why Not Us?”
Two weeks after Patrick’s memorial service, in an emergency room where we waited the typical seven hours for helpful information, we learned that my husband had a 4.2 abdominal aortic aneurysm.
I returned home and stood in the back yard and screamed again at God while digging into the red Georgia brick-hard clay with post-hole diggers.
Now with time, that didn’t turn out so bad, the holes were used to plant flowers that became a beautiful garden and I gained some extra needed muscle mass in my arms!
However, our world had other pieces falling apart. As time passed, the beautiful young lady that we adored and who was to be our daughter in law had to move on with her life.
This is called the domino effect for parents…we not only lost a child, we lost everything and everyone ever to be attached to his future. The void is indescribable and the pain at times debilitating and understood only by others who have suffered the same loss.
And with learning that term, domino effect, I now see visions of those black and while dominoes my grandparents had when I was a kid and how when set up a certain way and touched they just go falling down atop one another one at a time! I’m just waiting to come across a set of those so I can throw them on the floor and stomp on them.
I've repeated often the cliche', "Life just isn't fair." Then God placed someone on my path at provided me with a message that has lent me a spirit and mind changing attitude:
Genesis: 4:6-7 when cain was angry because his brother Abel's sacrifice was accepted and Cains's was not, the Lord asked Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?"
Hebrews: 11:36-39 tells us: "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." And the writer shows proof by discussing all who have lived by faith, yet they faced jeers and flogging, chains, prison and stoning. They were put to death by the sword, were destititute, persecuted, and mistreated. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and lived in holes in the ground.
And for all their faith and suffering, "None of them received what they had been promised"...entry to the promised land, because it was not of earthly things that God spoke, it was as Hebrews 11:40 spoke: "God planned to give us something better so that they could be made perfect."
To me this is validation that it is only our faith in God to believe in and grasp our spiritual freedoms beyond life on earth that brings us peace and calm.
So much of life doesn't seem fair even though we live in the most free and wealthy country in the world. We go to church, show our faith, do "all the right things" but that isn't what it's all about. Our good workds do not earn us a perfect smiley trouble free life on planet earth because it's about "having faith and pleasing God through that faith even when we experience the greatest darkness in our lives. For we cannot truly know the love and hand of God until we experience the darkness and hold to faith in the journey through.
The beauty of a relationship with God is that He allows us the Freedom to be angry and to say anything we want to say and to feel any way we want to feel about Him through our worst experience, Because His Big Shoulders are big enough to take our anger and raging as He waits on us to receive from Him Freedom from the torture of grief, anger, and confusion.
One of my favorite Psalms is: 51: 8 & 10: “Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you crushed be happy again. (10) Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again.”
My husband and I are six plus years into our journey now. A journey where through much struggle and holding on to mustard seeds of faith through prayer and seeking during the greatest darkness of our lives, we have been freed and found our Declaration of Independence from the grips of tyrannical grief and the abyss it could have buried us in.
And this declaration came only through allowing God’s Spirit to lead us on the path that used our experience as parents of a fallen warrior to help others grieving for the same reasons.
This declaration was one that taught us to take our eyes from ourselves and place them on others so that we could find our own comfort and blessings.
Psalm 57: 1-3 “Be merciful to me, God; be merciful to me because I come to you for protection. Let me hide under the shadow of your wings until the trouble passes. I cry out to God Most High to the God who does all for me. He sends help from heaven and saves me. God sends me his love and truth.”
God has surely sent to me and my husband His love, truth and freedom from the teeth of grief through the words and actions of many earthly angels that have serendipitously crossed David’s and my path. He has provided earth angels to become a part of our family that were not so before Patrick’s death, and He has sent others to lead us where God wants us to be on this journey, even though we didn’t volunteer to sign up for this particular trip!
Yes, our lives are forever changed. We have struggled along with others we know on this journey to learn to “carry on” in our “new norm”.
As another mom wrote to me: “We are learning to live with the scar tissue that now surrounds the hole in our heart.”
Every day is not the most pleasant of days in this natural world where so much negativity fills life, but freedom from being tied down in troubles of living comes through our Spiritual Freedom, our relationship with our Heavenly Father through prayer, meditation, and scriptures of love, peace, hope, and promises.
There is a saying that (most grieving don’t like to hear) that time heals…but I’ve learned there’s more to those words…it’s not time that heals, but what we do with that time that makes a difference.
Once I allowed God to lay in my heart what He would have me and Dave do to let Him shine through us in the darkness, and help us manage our grief, we were Freed and led into blessings for ourselves and others.
We became peer grief mentors to other parents of fallen warriors across the country and have two books published with a third being prepared for the printer.
These books help to keep the legacies of fallen warriors alive while sharing stories of the coping, courage, and faith of their families.
And most important and my favorite yet, God has allowed me to take our testimony to others, to say yes, this life is difficult, it ain’t no bed of roses.
Often we feel that just about the time we get over the hill, something knocks us backwards, like Sisyphus of Greek mythology. This was a king whose judgment after his death was the frustration of repeating over and over again the rolling of a huge boulder to the top of a mountain only for the boulder and he to roll back to the bottom each time he almost reached the top.
But, after all, this is planet earth. It is our temporary home… which reminds me of one of my favorite Carrie Underwood songs:
“This is my temporary home,
It’s not where I belong,
Windows & rooms that I’m passing through,
A temporary stop on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know, this is my temporary home.”
And while we have to endure wars and rumors of wars and suffer the sacrifices by our military necessary for Freedom in our natural world so we can enjoy our freedom of worship without assault or threat of death,
We also have THE ONE to go to who sacrificed for our spiritual freedom and eternal life,
and here’s my poem I wrote about that One to correlate with the poem I read about the Soldier:
It is the Grace of God, not the material world that provides freedom from fear.
It is the Grace of God, not the use of drugs that provides freedom from grief.
It is the Grace of God, not man alone that provides freedom from hatred.
It is the Grace of God, not abuse that provides freedom from anger.
It’s by the Grace of God, who gave His Son
Who died for the sins of the world, who defeated death for the world,
And is the light of the world
Who gives each person freedom from the darkness of this world.
Let Freedom Ring are words we know from one of our most famous national songs:
Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to “My Country Tis of Thee” in 1831, while a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts.
The song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831, at a children's Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston
While each of us are so very blessed and proud to be living the American Dream with our freedom to worship, speak, and experience other rights because men and women we love have sacrificed greatly to make it so for us and those in other countries,
May we always declare first the most important truth: We can truly Let Freedom Ring when we live in the true freedom provided by grace through God the Father and His son Jesus.
And we can never earn this Grace through any work we do, but only through our faith.
And when we find ourselves slipping back down the mountain we’re constantly climbing or feeling oppressed by the darkness that exists in our natural world, let us celebrate our spiritual and eternal freedom through remembering the scriptures I began with:
Exodus: 6:6: 7New Century Version: “I am the Lord. I will free you by my great power…I will make you my own people, and I will be your God.”
Rev: 21:1,4,6 “There will be a new heaven and new earth. God will be with the people and will wipe away every tear and there will be no more death, sadness, crying or pain because all the old ways are gone. The one on the throne said “It is finished.” I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give free water from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty.
I ask God’s special blessing for each of you today as you leave this place and celebrate your natural, spiritual, and eternal freedoms, provided by the Grace of God through His son, Christ Jesus and the great men and women who serve in the United States Military.
And I ask that our nation’s military families be filled with the peace, strength, courage, and faith that comes only through our Creator and Father, God.