Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Surrendering the Fight

It's the same for all of us. September 11, 2001 is burned into our brains in images we will never forget. There are moments I'll never forget: having to tell a roomful of ninth graders that their lives had just changed forever; sitting in total silence in a tight circle around the radio with my junior class homeroom; staring at the sky on my drive home and thinking I'd never in my whole life seen it so clear and blue.

But there's another image. Me. Standing outside of my classroom, trying desperately to get my soldier husband on the phone. There was no way to know if he was on a plane, headed to parts unknown for who knew how long. Yes, he came home that night, but we both knew it was only a matter of time before he'd be on the other side of the world.

Another image about two weeks later. Me. On my face. On the floor. Begging God not to deploy him because it would be the worst thing that could ever happen. God, there's no way I'll survive.

Well, here's the amazing thing about God... His timing is perfect. When my husband did deploy, I was ready. God had ushered me through several trials, a load of deliverance, and a whole new way of thinking. When I watched my soldier form up to leave for Iraq the first time, I knew it would be okay. It's another story for another time, but that deployment led us to one of the most amazing seasons of our lives, as individuals and as a couple. It is unreal what God can do when you surrender.

And that's what it boiled down to: surrender. Someone said to me, "Jodie, you have to let him go. If you wrap a fist around him and hold on tight, God can't get to him." When it came down to it, I had to leave my husband in God's hands. I had to trust it would all be okay. Did I have days when I worried? For sure. Did I have days when I tried to "have it out" with God? Sadly, yes. Did we survive--even thrive--in our time apart? Incredibly and amazingly, we did.

Deployment is what you make of it, and that's something I'll talk about as we go. Just know this... When you're on your face and you're begging God to get you through, He hears. He knows. And He never leaves.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Saying Hello

Hi, all!

I've been looking forward to this for a long time. When Edie sat down with me at a conference in Indianapolis and told me about her plans for Fighting Fear, it took me about 0.3 seconds to say I wanted to be a part of it. At the time we initially spoke, my husband was half a world away in Afghanistan on his third combat tour. Not only did the idea speak to my past, it definitely gripped me right in the present.

You see, I love military families, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word. There is this "family" among men and women who are married to those who serve. No matter where you are or where you come from, you have an instant meeting ground, a mutual understanding. When half of your heart is gone, nobody else gets it. There are crazy things you say that would appall other people... but another spouse knows the meaning behind the words. They understand the crazy laughter, the sudden tears, the bursts of anger... And they let you have your moments of insanity because they know, tomorrow, it's probably going to be their turn.

But it's not just about spouses, is it? When my husband was in Iraq in 2006, I had what ranks as one of the greatest privileges of my life. My FRG co-leader and I decided to reach out to families during our deployment, and I got to know some incredible people. Army moms and dads are amazing, and my heart aches for parents, brothers, sisters, girlfriends, boyfriends... They sit on the edges, sometimes forgotten by organizations that forget soldiers have parents too. My families and I spent that deployment riding a roller coaster together... A roller coaster that managed to dip a whole lot more than it climbed. Out of that 12-turned-15-month deployment, I fell madly in love with some people who still hold pieces of my heart, men and women with whom I shared some of the most emotional moments of my life.

That's why Edie's idea stoked a fire in me. All of us--spouse, parent, sibling, friend--need to know we aren't alone, that these crazy emotions we feel aren't abnormal. We need to know it's okay to be perfectly fine one minute and a little bit out of our heads the next. We need to realize we all have our rituals, whether it's the wife who sleeps in the guest room for the entire year her husband is gone, the mom who leaves the Christmas tree up until August, or the friend who searches twelve stores for Silly String and water balloons to mail to a foreign country.

My name is Jodie Bailey, and it's an honor to spend time with y'all. I hope you find here some camaraderie and maybe a few reasons to smile. Most of all, I hope you walk away every day knowing that you are far from alone, even when the one you love is eight thousand miles away. Thanks for stopping by. I'll see you on Wednesday!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pictures of Patriotism

Today I want to start a new section on this blog.

Pictures of Patriotism

I know there are lots who believe in our great country and support those who protect our freedom...and I'm on a mission to find and publicize the proof.

Here's how you can help.  Please send me your own images or stories where you've seen the true heart of America.

You can contact me through email at ediegmelson (at) gmail (dot) com. Or you can leave a comment. Here are a couple of images I've seen lately.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Angels on Guard

If you say "The Lord is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:9-11

I will never hear the rumble of a motorcycle again without remembering today...

Today was the funeral service of Army Medic, Private First Class, Justin Whitmire. He was killed by an IED on December 27, 2011. He was barely 20 years old and graduated high school in 2010 with my middle son.

While none of us was looking forward to the service today, our anxiety was increased by advance knowledge of the protesters who announced they would be present. The mindset of people who think they are doing anything productive by harassing families struck by tragedy is beyond me. I know, no matter whom they claim to represent, they are nothing more than ignorant hate-mongers. But my heart ached at the thought of this brave family enduring anything additional on this day.

Then we found out the Patriot Guard would be on duty.

This amazing organization has banded together to stand, as a wall of avenging angels, between the family and those who seek to harm them. I could try to explain their mission, but it’s most aptly stated in the mission statement found on their website

Outside the church, they surrounded the mourners, standing at attention and shielding them from all uninvited interlopers. Their respectful silence said it all. These men and women travel hundreds of miles to show the respect of a grateful nation...and the provision of God.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Apple of My Daddy's Eye

Today I want to share a devotion from my new book, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.

The Apple of My Daddy's Eye
by Edie Melson

For thus says the Lord of hosts, “After glory He has sent Me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” Zechariah 2:8 NASB

Ever since I can remember I’ve been told I was the apple of my daddy’s eye. When I was growing up, in addition to his office at the university, my dad had a desk at home. It seemed huge to me, made of dark wood and covered with important things. I used to play under that desk, hiding for hours with my dolls and my imagination. Why was I drawn to that old desk? In addition to the papers, pens and blotter on top of the desk, there was also a polished wooden apple, inset with a delicate brass frame. That frame held a picture of me. It was a physical representation of how my father felt about me. This reinforced how precious I was to my dad and how much he loved me.

I wasn’t the only special person either. This saying was common and I’d heard many people refer to others as the apple of their eye. Many years later I began to wonder about the origin of this saying and learned that it originated in the Bible, specifically the Old Testament. Not satisfied with just that information, I dug deeper. I learned that the apple of the eye is the pupil of the eye and that this saying was actually a word picture about relationship. It’s a picture of being so close to someone that you can see yourself reflected in the pupil of their eye.

That picture brought tears to my own eyes as I remembered how much I meant to my earthly daddy and how much I mean to my heavenly father. How does that relate to the time my son spent as a soldier in Iraq? One day, when I was struggling with fear over his safety, I read the verse in Zechariah where God refers to His people as the apple of His eye. He reminded me of the meaning of that verse and showed me that even though my son was special to me, he was infinitely more precious to God.

As I prayed and meditated over this verse I found myself at peace. Not only did I care about what happened in the Middle East with my son, God cared. And more importantly, God could and would take care of my son.