October 25th... that was my last entry. For some reason I felt that if I sat down to write my tears would just not stop. I had so many things to say to my Grandpa and went to sleep that night anxious for my visit with him the next day. But That phone call was what woke me up that next morning. My grandpa went to be with Jesus early that morning. This has left me wordless for awhile, and I have thought many times about sharing little things here and there, especially about the Christmas season, but just couldn't clear my mind enough to share. But this morning I received a second letter from my cousin who is in Iraq fighting in the war. The first letter I received was over Christmas when we were at my family's up in Minnesota. Both of these letters carry such important messages. They can encourage and inspire anyone who reads them. Having my cousin fighting in this war has made me so much more aware of the sacrifice our soldiers make. Not only them, but their families as well! And their sacrifice, I believe, is right and just. It is not for nothing! But it does come at a price! Gabe has a wife, Lisa, and two little boys at home. And every time he is deployed, he misses the everyday things for a year! Now, I admit, I cannot relate even remotely. So when I saw Lisa over Christmas, I asked her if it is harder at this time of year with him gone and she said, no, it is hard to not have him here for the everyday things. She just wants him here at night especially. And I spoke with Gabe for only a brief minute or two as the phone was passed around at our family Christmas get together and it was a reminder that I need to try much harder to support them.
Gabe has sent two letters and I thought I would share them with you. His words are so well thought out and well spoken. I have deeply appreciated these and I am so proud of him.
LETTERS FROM WAR....
Family and Freedom. These two things are foremost in my mind, especially today. Today, we celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus the Christ. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in the commercialization of the holiday that we loose sight of this real meaning. It is with Jesus to whom we belong to a greater family and we owe our Freedom to him. Not a freedom from government oppression or slavery but a freedom from eternal death; a freedom from want; a freedom that nothing in this world can take away from us.
The definition of Christian is of being like Christ. If Jesus came to save the oppressed, then is it not our duty to do the same? I am not calling the war we are in a religious one but the parallels to living a Christian life are glaring. I say that this war, as ugly as it may be, serves the oppressed and the wanting. These people, throughout the world, have lived under the heavy hand of slave drivers and dictators and know little else but that life. To give a family their freedom, that means a lot to me. I would hope that there is enough good in this world that if my family and I were ever in that situation, that someone would have the intestinal fortitude to free us.
I fight in this war because I know it to be right, regardless of politics and other things. I know of people, whom I have helped directly, that no longer fear; that no longer want; that they have a chance to be a family. I fight in this war for my own family. To Lisa, Joshua and James - Guys, I am far away in a dangerous place doing dangerous work but I want you to know that I (We) are not selfish. We believe in something bigger than ourselves and are prepared to give every last drop of our blood in it's defense; Life, Love and Liberty. These wishes are not American but of all who want freedom.
Let us give thanks on this Christmas day for our freedom both earthly and eternally. Do not let this Christmas season go by without really looking at yourself and the world around you and see the good. Sometimes it is hard to find it but I ask each and everyone of you to look at the good around you and use that to motivate your actions. It's hard here but we all do that. It would be a long deployment if we were to dwell on the bad. Live fully; love deeply; and bring freedom to those who do not. God Bless all of you on this Christmas!
11TH WEEK-NEW YEARS EVE~
Today is New Year's Eve and we are on the threshold of a new decade. I think we were supposed to have flying cars by now right? To me, this new year and new decade bring with it both a sense of uncertainty and hope. Who knows what the world will be like in the coming 10 years? Will be fall deeper in to chaos and war or will we, as a global family, begin to heal those wounds that have long scared our histories?
I have hope. I have seen the true nature of man and have hope that the intentions of the good outweigh the intentions of evil. There is a quote I often use to remind myself of the resolve of well intentioned men: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke. Mr. Burke's contention is simple; so long as good men are willing to fight, evil has no chance of establishing it's permanence on earth.
I have seen good men fight and die for what is right and have seen the end of evil's life on several occasions. It brings me hope, not that we use force per se, but that there are those within this world who are willing to give up that which we hold so dear; our lives. It brings me hope seeing that there are those who are willing to set aside our differences and start fresh with a sense of tolerance and forgiveness.
Forgiveness. A word most of us are familiar with but, admittedly, used sparingly. I am no more perfect than anyone else but it has become blatantly obvious that without forgiveness, there can be no healing. Some reading this may not be Christians but forgiveness is not necessarily a Christian concept. Jesus taught us that we must forgive. For those of us who claim Christianity, how can we if we chose not to follow in those footsteps?
In this New Year, let us be mindful of the true meaning and practice of forgiveness. The world will be a better place and 'good men' will prevail against evil not through force but by love.
Thank you Gabe for reminding us to live with purpose that is beyond serving ourselves! Thank you for your sacrifice, for your bravery, for your passion and love for others in need, and thank you for bringing our family into this war which I also believe is right. All my love! Mandy