Old Soldiers and Grandsons

Sometimes it takes thinking about a certain event a second or even third time to clearly see details that may have been missed the first. Here is a personal story about that.

I ran some errands with my daughter and grandsons the other day. First off, when I arrived to pick them up, I realized that I did not have the 4 year old’s car seat with me. So, I had to drive back home and retrieve it from the garage. Oh well, another thirty minutes gone, but not a problem as I was finished working and we were not on a time schedule.

We had several places to go that day, so first, we headed out to good ole Walmart. You know, Walmart, where everyone shops and since it was the end of November, guess what they were doing? Yes, Christmas shopping was in full swing. People everywhere with cars zig zagging in and out of the parking lot continuously.

My daughter was sporting a “boot” on her left foot as the result of a shopping cart incident at her place of employment and her two little boys were in the back seat chattering and being silly, one 9 years old and the other as previously mentioned 4.

Foolish me, I take the isle in the parking lot that is the most popular, right in front of the doors, hoping to find a close space. Just when I thought I was never going to find one there it was, the space right after the the ones designated for disabled folks. Yay, we all pile out and head into the store.

With the boys hanging off the end and side of the shopping cart off we go on our separate ways, me with the boys and my daughter to do some Christmas “business” without the little ones tagging along.

I grabbed several items that I needed, including butter, we always need more butter! As the boys were walking ahead of me and the cart I was pushing, we passed many people along the way. Interestingly, my eyes fixed on the face of an older gentleman who was walking by me. He was wearing navy blue dress pants and a light blue button down shirt and over that was a military winter jacket. He was well groomed with closely clipped beautiful white hair. His jacket was full of patches representing his extensive career serving our country. Without thinking, I made eye contact with him and said hello as I passed. I really didn’t give him time to answer as I was following the boys and quickly reassigned my attention to them.

We finished up with our shopping having traveled most of the store and headed to the check out. The “self check out” experience went amazingly smooth this time and we headed to the car to wait for their Mom to join us.

We had just gotten into our seats when I looked up to see the old soldier approaching. His car was parked right beside ours. He took a glance our way and got into his car, preparing to leave. I spoke to the boys and told them to take notice of this man, that he was a soldier and had served in the military years ago and obviously was a long time veteran who may have been in several wars and that he may have seen awful things and deserved our respect for his service. As I was speaking I looked back and saw my 9 year old grandson giving the old soldier a salute. He held his hand above his eye as the old soldier looked at me. I smiled at him and then he looked to the back seat of my car and returned the salute. I could have cried! My grandsons were very taken with his gesture as was I. “That’s how you show respect to those who have served our country,” I told them. We drove away with a warm comfort in knowing that we had taken the time to engage an old gentleman and had paused to acknowledge him.

So, was it a coincidence that I forgot the car seat that made us thirty minutes late? Was it a coincidence that I took my eyes off my grandsons for a second in order to engage an old soldier passing by me in Walmart? Was a coincidence that I “just happened” to “find” a parking space near the ones with the stamped wheel chairs on the signs. Maybe, and maybe not. You can decide that for yourself. I happen to think that when we pray in the morning to cover our day, and ask the Lord to help us be more like Him that He may just set in our pathway and old soldier that needed to be acknowledged by a little boy. Maybe he needed to hear a friendly hello. Just maybe his day was made by these small encounters. I sure do hope so!

Or perhaps this was one of those “angels unaware” encounters, that was set before us. Perhaps even , as we took pause and like one of my teacher friends says, were “boots on the ground” Christians to an old soldier who was walking the isles of Walmart alone, we left a mark that will only be revealed when we are face to face with Him. Perhaps this one time we were like Jesus, the only One who really sees inside our hearts. Again, I sure do hope so!

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America the Beautiful, limping, torn and bleeding.

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This morning I woke up dreaming. In my dream I saw in the clear blue skies over me clouds, many clouds, and they were beautiful! Remember when you were a kid and you would lay in the sweet green summer grass while the sunshine warmed your face making every muscle in your body relax? The skies were a brilliant blue with white puffy clouds overhead. In my dream there were many many white puffy clouds overhead, but they were not in the usual shapes of clouds, you know, the kind that look like animals or objects when you look at them with your imagination. These clouds were distinct and I knew exactly what they depicting.

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The clouds in my dream were in the shape of tanks, planes, jets and ships. Military equipment that was strong, large and impressive! Positioned in the sky, row after row of them. All lined up in perfect military formation. However, as I was remembering how they looked in the dream, I had a sadness come over me along with a great sense of patriotic emotion. These wonderful majestic pieces of military equipment represented the past. Having long ago surpassed the glory of their missions. Now, tethered in the sky, they were a beautiful shadow of what once was. Sadly, I realized, that what I was seeing was the glory of the United States of America standing tall and proud in the fast fading form of clouds that come and go with the flow of weather.

These remnants of a brilliant, strong and hardy America were reminders that the heyday of this country with its military strength is just about gone. This country that boasted the brightest and the best was now losing its strength and posture in the eyes of the world. Fading into the memories of countless veterans and their families and those who faithfully watched as the USA went forth helping, enabling and supporting other countries when they needed it most.

Just as the picture below shows one of our wounded warriors, dependant on a chair for his mobility, we too have been injured and wounded as a country. We are not the people we once were. This is not the America that once was. Just as the generations after Moses lost sight of the wonderful miracles that God had done for them in Egypt and in the desert, it is with a heavy heart that I ponder what will happen to the generations following mine as they no longer hear the stories of the people and their battles that kept us a free nation.1779073_10152083545299270_741731931_n

I am part of the baby boomer generation, now welcoming grandchildren into our families and linage. Will these children currently being born have even a hint of the patriotic spark that we were raised with? Will they sing the great songs we learned by heart? God Bless America, You’re A Grand Ole Flag, or even America the Beautiful. I wonder how long we will be opening sporting events with our National Anthem. Will the generations following us even know who Francis Scott Key was and why he penned such unusual lyrics? I once had an elderly teacher make sure we knew the lyrics of the last verse:

 O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

Those fading remnants of our military strength that I saw in my dream not only reminded me that there is a crisis here politically, but also, and much more importantly, this country is in a spiritual crisis like none we’ve ever seen before. Our faithful nation has become one that is tarnished and torn. While there is still a remnant, yes, strong and bold who declare daily the faith of God through both prayer and behavior, there is a sinister and malevolent spirit that has overshadowed such a large portion of our “united” states. Lawlessness and murder are rampant, what was once evil is now called good. The bible tells us that this will be happening in the last days. Anyone with eyes and ears can realize that it is now true. We are there now!

The God that helped bring this nation to its feet is still the God he always was. As we chopped away at the goodness that brought us our strength with decisions such as removing prayer from school and allowing sins like abortion and immoral sexual behaviors to override our souls we have stayed the protective hand of God that once held us so securely.

As individuals, we have the power to take back what we have lost. It will only be through repentance that we can regain some sense of unity in this nation. As those figments I saw in my dream of our past strength fade away, my prayer is that we will be drawn to our knees and repent for the sins of the nation and once again invite the God of the universe back to us with contrite  hearts.

Will we ever recover that which has been lost? I doubt it. However, with faith I speak the powerful lovingkindness of God over my family, friends and loved ones and yes even those who persecute me. Will we be reduced to a people who has to deal with lawlessness and disaster? Perhaps, but as Joshua said: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

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