Thursday, February 11, 2016

Purple Hearts


I spoke with some ladies from California today.  It was a casual conversation about landmarks and good malls.  Actually, it was a mother and daughter.  The daughter had just arrived on base here in town.  She was fully dressed in her uniform, hair tied back incredibly tight, and boots that nearly reached her knees.  She looked so intentional.  I felt a little odd, but I wanted to just gush to her about how grateful I was that people like her were willing to risk so much for people like me. I wanted to hug her momma's heart and tell her that our country is so privileged to have such honorable people like her daughter representing us all.  

She looked new.  She looked excited and "chomping" at the bit to do her part in the service.  I've been in this town long enough to notice the difference between the seasoned  officers and a new recruit.  It got me thinking so I did some reading about the base.  I read: 
Fort Jackson is the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center in the U.S. Army, training 50 percent of all soldiers and 60 percent of the women entering the Army each year. Providing the Army with new soldiers is the post's primary mission. 35,000 potential soldiers attend basic training and 8,000 advanced individual training soldiers train at Fort Jackson annually. Soldiers who have trained or worked at Fort Jackson live by the base's motto, "Victory Starts Here."
Ok...that struck me.  I mean it really struck me.  I live in a town where half of all the soldiers entering the army come to train, and their motto is "Victory Starts Here"!  

I whisper the motto.  What a thing to say.  No wonder she looked polished and ready to take on the world.  She has bought in; her momma has handed her over, and she knows that Victory begins here.

I so well remember when my little world came crashing down, and all I could think about was how badly we needed to move.  We could not keep straddling our lives between two cities.  We had to be in or out. It was hard and exciting.  It was scary and daring, but we packed in a matter of days and bought into a new life right outside the gates of Fort Jackson.  We left the home we owned and moved into an apartment where I was convinced we were the only non-military family in residence.  I had really no idea how heavy the presence of Fort Jackson was in Columbia.  I had never lived here, and I really knew nothing of the military.  

Most of our first friends were soldiers and their families.  We did a Bible study at our apartment with several of them.  I never knew the facts of the base, and I certainly never knew the motto.  I just knew we had moved to do battle with our life that was starting to unravel.  We had to get closer to good medical care, we had to get closer to Kevin's job, and we had to rally ourselves because change was coming.  

These years in Columbia have been so different.  We have battled hard for our family, and God has fought right alongside us.  We used to have these little "pie-in-the-sky" dreams about what we might could do for God.  But when the days got quiet, and it was just Kevin and I in the hospital for so many weeks, that picture started changing.  

-Jesus, you completely changed our perspective.  You know, when I really think hard about it, I believe we both died in that hospital.  We died a good, needed death.  When the day came to go home, we were not the same people that entered.  Not. Even. Close.  I think of Jacob wrestling with God and the lifelong limp as a result. But what a thing to wrestle.  Who gets to do that?  Who lives to tell of it?  What an honor. We might not limp, but we have the battle scars.  But suddenly, they seem like badges of honor.  Purple hearts.  We have purple hearts.

I am in tears.  Jesus, what a gift.  I mean really, how could I see it any other way?

It is a peculiar thing.  I don't have the uniform or the boots.  But I can see the gates, and I can hear the battle cry!  VICTORY STARTS HERE.  It is easy to see that it begins where we end.  

I do not know just how it all happens to be, how God sees these little details and crafts them Divinely into a sculpted soul for Him. My brain shutters to understand it.   But I can't look at anything the same.  I never will.  Our town, our home, our life has all changed.  I can put the flag in the ground and declare, "Victory began here".  

I want to run into the streets.  I want to run across the world.  I want to hug every orphaned child, cook a hot meal for every wandering soul, and kiss the faces of every saint that has showed me the way.  This is Jesus.  This is Him.  This is His love.  This is what He died and powerfully rose again for...for my tiny, little purple heart.  

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