"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer ..."
1 Peter 3:12a
"But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."
Operation Purple Camp
My older three daughters were chosen to attend an Operation Purple Camp this year. This is a camp that is for children whose parents are deployed or will be deployed or have just returned from a deployment. It is supposed to give them a connection with other military kids in their same situation and give them some skills to work through whatever difficulties they may be facing. Of all the years that Richard has been gone, I've never applied to one of these camps. I decided to this year, as this deployment was just a little on an elevated level for our family and being that we do not currently live in a military community or near one (the closest one, the one my husband was assigned to, is an hour away and is closing), I thought that it might be good for them to reconnect with other military children. We've only had one deployment with an actual Family Support Group. Yet once my husband reached his destination he was pulled from his unit and assigned to a Marine one (of all things!) so while my girls are used to being without other kids to chum with during a deployment, it is one thing to do that in a town that understands deployments ... another to do it in a civilian community. I was hesitant. As soon as they were chosen I had a fear come over me of "Wait! What have I done?? Will they leave here happy and motivated and return with their eyes open to the horrors of war?" I asked a few good friends and was assured they'd be okay. That this would not be like an AA meeting:). So I took the plunge and informed the girls they were going to camp!! They were thrilled and did have a super good time. I was so proud of them. They constantly amaze me with how they can just jump into an unfamiliar situation and thrive. If only I had a teensy bit of that boldness!
To make it even better, their Daddy was able to drive with us down to drop them off. (and I still have a post due on that amazing weekend out of nowhere!)
So why the verses above? Well, I found it interesting in listening to my oldest talk about how great camp was and why. I found her needs to be strikingly similar to my own. I knew they'd enjoy connecting with other military kids, but I guess I never thought about how much they actually needed that. At least my 13 year old. She's fine here and is settling into her life here more and more each day, but she admitted that it was just so nice to be able to have people who've "been in my (her) shoes." I was happy for that for her too! I'll never forget the first time I walked into the ROTC building at the University of Alabama with Richard after we'd been married. I felt instantly amongst the company of friends. And the funny thing, it wasn't as if I didn't feel connected before I walked in those doors, but when I walked in it was just so much like walking into any Army building on any of the various Posts where we'd lived. I felt at home and I felt good.
As I listened to Hanson Ellis talk (and talk she did ... maybe over an hour straight:)!) I couldn't help but thinking about how neither of us feel that connection at church. I don't know, maybe that's okay in a sense. After all, it's not like we don't have any connections other than military related and so much of our life is military driven, that it's natural to feel more connected to "family" than "friends" in certain situations, if that makes sense. But I felt a stirring in me to dive deeper into this conversation with Hanson Ellis. I asked her "So what did they tell you to do when you had an issue?" She responded with basically all they said to do was write down your feelings in a journal. That's fine and a great idea, but I reminded her that we as Christians have answers. That we have HOPE. The verses above are just two that I keep at my computer to keep my focus on this. I think it's great that she's an Army Child and proud of it. But I told her to make sure that she wasn't taking a trait and making it her identity. And of course this was a great reminder to myself, too. How easy it is for us to turn our circumstances into what defines us, rather than taking what defines us into our circumstances. May we all keep a close eye on what title we claim, because that is the title we'll have.
To God be the Glory!
(and it really was a super fun old fashioned camp!! they had a blast and I was happy for them to go and happy for them to return:)!)