Jodie here. Today I've got a family on my mind, one I worked with during my husband's second Iraq deployment. They were unique in a way that lives with me today, in a way I wish I could emulate more.
I spent 11 months speaking regularly with the Barnes family. We talked of my husband and their son, Nathan, who was something of an encourager and maybe a little bit of a comedian in our company at Fort Drum. Mr. and Mrs. Barnes were precious parents, so proud of their son, so concerned for his fellow soldiers, so in love with their country.
I was in the opening ceremony of our Bible school in July 2007 when my cell phone rang with my co-FRG leader's number. When I stepped out of church onto the lawn, I could hear in her voice that something was very wrong. Her exact words are lost to me, but I remember like it was yesterday dropping to my knees on the grass when she told me Nathan had been killed. He was shot boarding a helicopter in an Iraqi village. Gone before anyone even realized he'd been hit.
What happened afterwards still defies my understanding. Nathan's family started collecting money and supplies. More and more and more until they filled a shipping container the size of a semi-truck. A shipping container which they sent to the very same tiny village in Iraq where their son was killed.
And then they did it again.
The Iraqi Army commander in that village spoke publicly of Nathan's sacrifice and of how his family responded and how that should encourage all of them to be better people, to grow into something that would make Barnes's memory proud.
The power of forgiveness. The power to overcome hate, to heal hurts, to soothe grief. Sometimes love surpasses understanding, doesn't it?