Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Everyday Heros Hidden in Plain Sight—Part Two

Today's post is part two of last week's from blogger Carol Anne Swett. She has an amazing site, and I encourage you to visit her Confessions of a Fraidy Cat blog.Blessings,

I entered the plane breathless for the moment I could deplane. As my new friend's story unfolded, I found myself dreading the moment we'd land as much as I dreaded Hurricane Sandy's turbulence.

The plane lurched and bounced. We each grabbed at the other's hands, drew back a bit, and let out a nervous half giggle-half sigh when the plane evened out. For a few minutes, I had forgotten I was afraid.

An expectant mom weaved to the back of the plane trying to beat the waves of morning sickness chasing her to the lavatory beside us. We groaned kindred groans silently praying the plane would fly smoothly for her sake as well as our own.

"May I ask what you do for our country?"

“I've just gotten back from Iraq.” Her calm tone implied it was about the same as a trip to the grocery. She spoke of warm relationships with Iraqi people. She alluded to successes and failures she experienced while there.

Confidence oozed out of her pores. The fraidy cat in me blushed over my tendency to develop the vapors with the least provocation.

A spring deployment to Afghanistan overshadowed anticipated Christmas celebrations with her family. The light in her eyes dimmed a bit. She admitted to some apprehension about the future and explained how her family would care for her children and foster tot. She winced when she spoke about the hardships of being away so long.

I waxed bold and asked specific questions about how women cope with the rigors of life in the field. She laughed, “You'd be amazed at what you can do with eight ounces of water and baby wipes!”

I told her about my inner fraidy cat. My idea of roughing it involved trendy lugged soled hiking boots and a walk over to the glassed in elevators at the Embassy Suites hotel. She rewarded me with quick, easy laughter that captivated my motherly heart.

The plane gave another jolt. Again, I had forgotten all about hurricanes, turbulence, and plane crashes. We agreed our present circumstances were claustrophobic at best. 

She chuckled and told me about her favorite way to fly. In a helicopter. The kind with no doors – for easy out and easy in. She talked about the freeing sensation of flying low and fast with the wind against herr skin. Her words made me dizzy.

To everyone else on the plane, she was just another weary traveler thankful to be headed home before the storm shut the airport down. To me, she was an everyday hero hidden in plain sight. One who commiserated with my flying phobia even though she liked flying on door-less helicopters.

I did what was, for me, a heroic thing. I told her I was a person of faith and asked if I could say a prayer for her right then and there. Tears flickered and threatened to dampen her lashes as she nodded o.k.

I wrapped her in a motherly embrace and thanked the good Lord above for honoring me with the cramped, claustrophobic seat in the back of the plane. How else would I have met the hero hidden in plain sight? I thanked him for my friend in passing and begged him to follow her with peace and protection now and through all the days of her long life.

I asked him to bless her family and their time together. Lastly, I prayed Godspeed over her and her soldiers while asking God to bring peace to troubled lands through the work they do.

As the minutes ticked down, we talked about the longing for comforts of home. I asked about care packages and gathered advice about items to include and ones to leave out. I promised our chance meeting would make a difference even if I didn't know how just then.

The gentle touchdown came all too quickly. I knew life would carry us on to where we were headed. I would soon be a faint memory in the rear view mirror of her life. She, however, would be indelibly inked on the memories of my heart.


I am combining an effort to honor this soldier with the Twitter campaign to honor the memories of the Sandy Hook, NJ shooting victims. My friends at Home Educating Family's blog offered the chance to share my vision with you on their site. 

Join me in #26acts of kindness for men and women in uniform. Fraidy cats can accomplish some awesome things when we work together! To visit me at Home Educating Family's blog for more information, click their link below:
Home Educating Family


Carol Anne always wanted to be a writer. As an empty nest loomed, she began the journey of personal re-invention and discovered her first writing love -- blogging. In addition to her own blog, she is a writer for Home Educating Family's blog and guest posts for others when the occasion arises. She recently joined forces with a group of internet consultants as the staff Virtual Assistant and Social Media Consultant. Additionally, her own website will go live any day now. That's enough to make a techno-fraidy cat faint! Connect with Carol Anne through TwitterFacebook and her blog, Confessions of a Fraidy Cat!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Everyday Heros Hidden in Plain Sight—Part One

Today's post is by a friend of mine, blogger Carol Anne Swett. She has an amazing site, and I encourage you to visit her Confessions of a Fraidy Cat blog. I'll post the second part of this story next Monday, so be sure to stop back by!

Everyday Heros Hidden in Plain Sight.
by Carol Anne Swett

I stumbled down the plane aisle trying not to betray my infrequent flier status. Did my eyes shifting back and forth while checking aisle and seat numbers betray my lack of nonchalance? 

Confusion raised a nervous sweat on my forehead when I realized my seat was in the last row vs the middle of the plane. To make matters worse, I inconvenienced the young lady in the aisle seat to get to my window seat.

Hurricane Sandy bore down on us sending my flying nerves into pandemonium. I felt like a great white whale stuffed into a tuna can about to be dropped into the eye-wall of a hurricane.

The flying public is not overly chatty these days. So, I tried to figure out how to retrieve my book from below the forward seat given the one square inch of wiggle room afforded me.

Recognizing futility when I saw it, I sighed surrender and settled back to begin my prayers for arrival without aid of an airsickness bag. I gave a nervous glance at my seatmate expecting banal indifference. Trying to hide my startled reaction when her eyes met mine, I allowed a quick, "Nervous and infrequent flier . . . ."

To my surprise, she gave a sigh of appreciation and said, "Oh, I know! Me too!"

Rather than offering a begrudging acknowledgment of my plight and settling back with her own distractions, she drew me into an easy conversation. Had I any idea of the truth about her flying experience, I would have suspected her camaraderie was for my benefit only. Little did I know she was an everyday hero hidden in plain sight.

We asked the polite questions strangers on planes ask. We commiserated with relief knowing each understood the other's anxiety. The flight promised to replicate an old wooden roller coaster if the weatherman could be trusted.

We talked about the book she was reading and how it resonated given her life experience. It was only natural for our conversation to turn to her family. When she spoke of her children, her face took on a glow any company selling beauty products would die to reproduce.
In her early thirties, she held a newly minted MBA. Pride in her recent achievement paled when she spoke of being mom to a tween and teen boy and girl. On top of an already busy life, she was a new foster mom. The pitter patter of tenderness punctuated her excited giggles as she told me the story of how the toddler came to be in her care. 

When our talk turned to specifics of her vocation, the truth began to slip out bit by bit. She too was traveling for business. A shy smile appeared when she explained. Rather than traveling for her primary employer, she was traveling as part of her military service.

During each leg of her trip she explained she'd been privileged to give up my place in line to a uniformed member of the armed services. Each time, the service person replied, "Are you sure?"

Her adamant reply erupted, "If I could, I would do more!"
I shook my head in wonder to find this amazing woman, young enough to be my daughter, was one of the ones I been watchful for as I traveled. Dressed in street clothes, she would have vanished in the crowd but for our sharing cramped seats at the back of a plane. Sometimes God pulls some sneaky ones, doesn't he?

"National Guard?" I asked. Her smile glowed again as she nodded an affirmation. The writer in me sat up like a dog begging for treats. You know me. I always need to know more.

What about you fraidy cat? Have you ever met someone and known the meeting would change your life? I can't wait to tell you the rest of this story. When I'm done, I hope you'll join me in random acts of kindness. See you tomorrow, and we'll get this party started, o.k.?

Hebrews 13:2 (NLT) Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

Carol Anne always wanted to be a writer. As an empty nest loomed, she began the journey of personal re-invention and discovered her first writing love -- blogging. In addition to her own blog, she is a writer for Home Educating Family's blog and guest posts for others when the occasion arises. She recently joined forces with a group of internet consultants as the staff Virtual Assistant and Social Media Consultant. Additionally, her own website will go live any day now. That's enough to make a techno-fraidy cat faint! Connect with Carol Anne through Twitter, Facebook and her blog, Confessions of a Fraidy Cat!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Send a Little Bit of Christmas to a Soldier

I posted this article at the end of October, but wanted to have the same information up during the Christmas mailing season. Please feel free to share this info!

If you have loved ones deployed during the upcoming holiday you know time is short to get Christmas in the mail. This is a great time to pull together friends and family to help. Send out suggestions and invite everyone to participate. It’s especially nice if they include notes and photos. Serving oversees, soldiers can feel like they’ve been forgotten and these boxes help them know they’re not!

Also, be sure to pack any extra you can. There are plenty who won’t receive anything, and soldiers ALWAYS share!

For those who may be doing this for the first time, here are some hits and suggestions.

What to Pack
  • Christmas Candy—even chocolate, this time of year it should do fine.
  • Baked Goods—cookies and bars travel better.
  • Individual Drink Mix—this makes even luke-warm water palatable for our men and women far away from home. Also, the individual packets are much easier to carry when they’re away from base.
  • Beef Jerky—our soldiers need good quality snacks and this is a popular source of protein while out on patrol.
  • Nuts—another great snack, packed with protein.
  • Individual Snacks—you know the individual likes and dislikes of your soldier, but some good choices are protein bars, granola, small pop-top cans of fruit, etc.
  • Handwritten Cards & Letters—now is a great time ask friends and family to write short cards and letters to arrive inside the box.
  • iTunes Gift Cards—Most soldiers have iTunes accounts and can get much more than just music. There are audio books, TV shows, and movies available.
  • Pictures—yes, you can email them pictures, but something to have in hand often means the world to our loved ones away during the holidays.
  • Socks— for soldiers in combat uniforms, socks don’t last long, so it’s always a welcome gift.
  • Batteries—again, there’s always a need for these.
  • Toiletries—travel size soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. But, if you’re including these things in a shipment with food be sure to double bag these items. Nothing’s worse than getting a box from home where everything is covered in mouthwash or toothpaste.
  • Wet Wipes—great for so many things, also a need for those deployed.
  • Playing Cards & Frisbees—life on base is sometimes boring and these can help pass the time.
  • Books & Movies—again, both good ways to pass the off hours. Believe it or not, childhood Christmas classics, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, are favorites with our soldiers! 

Tips on Packing
  • Be ready to ship three to four weeks ahead of when you want the package to arrive.
  • Use small quart size, zip-top plastic bags to double bag anything that’s a liquid or gel. It’s devastating to get a box full of unusable items because something burst in transit.
  • It’s also a good idea to double bag anything that’s powder. That way it will still be usable if it breaks open during shipping. 

Now it’s your turn, I’d love to hear some of your tips and suggestions.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Remembering Our Veterans

A guest post from Leigh DeLozier

Much of the media’s attention lately has been on the elections, and rightly so. But let’s not forget we’ve slipped into November and that next Sunday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. It’s one of those holidays I know I’m guilty of not paying close enough attention to, even though I certainly should.
As the WWII generation ages and leaves us, I think many of us tend to forget what a gift they gave us through their service. Here are a few numbers to help put it in perspective:
  • 16.1 million Americans served in WWII, with an average time of serving overseas of 16 months.
  • An estimated 292,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines were killed in battle during WWII.
  • A total of 405,000 U.S. military servicemen died in WWII, either during or outside of battle.

Those are sobering numbers, and they don’t even take into account the sacrifices made during all the other conflicts the U.S. has been involved in. They also don’t reflect the numbers of Americans who have served during peacetime, but were willing to go to battle if needed. For example, just from my own personal connections …
  • One great-uncle served under Patten in WWI. He drove a tank and carried shrapnel in his skull for the rest of his life (which was long-lived, fortunately).
  • Another great-uncle was taken as a German prisoner of war during WWI. He was in the prison camp at the same time his brother was in an English hospital recovering from the shrapnel wounds.
  • My godfather participated in the D-Day campaign.
  • Several other men in the church where I grew up were also WWII veterans. I don’t know all of their stories, partly because most of them never wanted to talk about it. But I always knew they were heroes.
  • One of my uncles was career Navy. Another served his Navy time in Ireland.
  • My dad is a Coast Guard veteran; my father-in-law was an Air Force veteran. Several other friends – or immediate relatives of friends – served in peacetime or were part of the campaigns associated with Desert Storm.

Even so, I’ll never truly understand the stress and sacrifice they and their families go through because I haven’t been in that spot myself when a loved one is on the line. But I can remember to say “thank you,” I can teach my children what these people have done for us, I can pray for our military and their families.
I hope you’ll remember to do the same. And if you have close connections with someone currently serving in our military, I would love to know. I’ll add them to my prayers.

Leigh DeLozier is a corporate writer and editor by day and freelance writer by night. She works on her middle grade and YA novels during her kids’ music or dance lessons, while waiting in the car rider line at school, or when the rest of her family is sleeping. She loves any kind of chocolate, is addicted to Beth Moore Bible studies, and drinks entirely too many Diet Cokes. She blogs about writing, books, and her life with Christ at www.leighdelozier.com. You’ll find her on Facebook by searching for Author Leigh DeLozier or on Twitter as @lbdelozier.