20 years ago, I enlisted in the United States Air Force. Wow... the time certainly has flown by. I still remember the day I flew from Denver to Basic Training at Lackland AFB, TX. My mom told me, "there's nowhere in the world that I can't get to you." My dad told me, "if they make you a toilet cleaner, then be the best darn toilet cleaner there is." Oh boy, did their words ring true. I was assigned to an initial career field of logistics and completed tech school at Lackland AFB before being assigned to Spangdahlem AB, Germany. My time in Germany was my longest assignment. During that time, I dealt with 9/11, celebrated my 21st birthday at Oktoberfest, was on a country line dancing team that toured fests all over Germany, presented to American and Ukranian Generals, had my first (of four) knee surgeries, picked up foreign objects from the runway, hauled F-16 parts across the base, built a rudimentary database for supply parts, and made many close friends who I still keep in touch with today. My parents were by my side through it all. My brother even joined me for Christmas and New Year's one year and we toured Paris and the Czech Republic together. I took my years in Germany by the horns and held on for the ride before being transferred to Scott AFB, IL.
At Scott AFB, I was still in the logistics career field, but there wasn't a runway with F-16's. I merely had a desk job. This wasn't enough, so I was also on the Honor Guard and covered six states for military funerals and other events, this included singing the National Anthem for various events. I joined YAM, or Young Adult Ministries. It was during this time that I started to deepen my relationship with God. I was retrained out of the logistics career field and was sent to Alabama where I went to JAG (Judge Advocate General) School to become a paralegal. After JAG School, I was transferred to Langley AFB, VA. At Langley, I found yet another Young Adults group and organized Theology on Tap after working hours. Langley was my last assignment in the Air Force.
My mom flew out to Virginia to help me drive my car full of belongings all the way back to Colorado. We took a very circuitous route all over the place visiting family and fun destinations. It took us over a week, but it was what I needed to transition from military life to civilian life. I moved back home with my parents while I went to undergrad. My parents were instrumental in helping me re-learn how to be a civilian. They were, and still are, my strong and unyielding backbone. During my time back home, I was involved with the Catholic Young Adults of Colorado Springs. Here, I spent some time as the Spiritual Director and organized Theology on Tap for the Diocese, as well as organizing service opportunities. Today, many of these CYACS members are still my close friends. Fellowship always produces close bonds that cannot be broken.
During my time back home, I met a really nice and funny guy named, Jason. We dated for a year, were engaged for a year, and then married in 2008. I will never forget when Jason proposed to me. I was at a destination family reunion in Italy. I had no idea that Jason was there, too. One night, I was sitting next to my brother at a dinner when violinists came in and serenaded us. At the end of the song, one of the violinists gave me a ring box, and in walked Jason. Before I received the ring box, I literally heard God telling me, clear as day, "he is going to propose and you will say yes." It was an order from God. An order that I was more than delighted to follow through with.
Jason and I have been together for a long time. We have been through the ups and downs of life. Births, deaths, celebrations and defeats. I cannot imagine a better partner in my life. Jason makes me laugh every day; I firmly believe that laughter and joy is a gift from God. Other gifts from God came in 2010, 2013 and 2018. Those gifts are named Alexander, Abby and Andrew; my "A Team."
This morning before school, my children were asking me if I worked. I cited a recent study that said how all mothers work 2.5 full time jobs, plus I'm teaching CCD, plus I'm helping out with the school board, plus I blog and am a freelance writer, plus I'm trying to break out as a public speaker. I summarized to them that I work about 6 jobs. So, yes. I work. Abby, ever the wise child, said, "Wow, mommy. God has something special planned for you!" From the mouth of babes.
The past 20 years have flown by. They were enriched by the love and support from my parents, husband, brother, extended family and friends. My relationship with Christ has deepened over the past two decades, it has become more personal. It is a calling from God that I evangelize. I have seen and been through so much, that I firmly believe it would be a waste to not share the love of God with others. As Abby pointed out, God does have something special planned for me; but He also has something planned for YOU! God loves you and will meet you right where you are. Right now. Just answer His call.
"Behold the turtle, it only moves forward when it sticks its neck out." -Jason
These words were spoken by my husband on our phone call this morning. The original quote was from James Bryant Conant. This morning, I took Andrew on a walk by the Potomac River. I was talking to Jason while pushing the stroller when I stumbled upon a turtle in the middle of the path. We were discussing the logistics of the afternoon; one child has a doctors appointment, one child has cross country practice and the other child will be catching a nap in his carseat. Having three children, we certainly stick our neck out so that we can move forward and make progress on this path of life.
This past summer, we had reunions on my side of the family and on Jason's side. It was delightful to see the cousins play together and to watch my children spend time with their long distance relatives from Colorado, Montana and Michigan. During these reunions, I was reminded of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a community of persons. Family reunions are also a community of persons. Community has been a huge factor in our lives lately. Our community has certainly stuck its neck out for us when we needed it.
Last week, Andrew celebrated his first birthday. I was able to reflect at what we had gone through in those 12 months. He was hospitalized at two NICU's, he pulled through abdominal surgery where part of his colon was removed when he was 15 days old, and I was hospitalized for gastroparesis attacks for over three months. Not to mention, both of my parents also had major operations. It was a tough, tough year. But we stuck our neck out, held our head high, and spent a lot of time on our knees with prayer on our lips and in our hearts. There is no way that we could have survived without the prayer and support of our community. And we are all the stronger for it.
When I go through life changing moments such as these, I always want to shout from the rooftops how great my God is. During the trying times, God has strengthened my marriage and has been by our side. Words cannot express the amount of times that I have felt Jesus' unyielding presence. I always feel Him closer through times of suffering.
Today is the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. September 11, 2001 was a horrid time for our country. The first responders and military certainly stuck their necks out to save as many lives as possible. I was stationed overseas at an Air Base in Germany when the attacks happened. I will never forget the sirens indicating that we needed to be in full protective gear. We were quickly assembled in a common room and names were called for those who would deploy that night. You could have heard a pin drop. It was eery. We were worried about our family, friends and beloved country. Many of us couldn't get ahold of our families. Fortunately, I was able to call my parents before I left the Air Base.
We now live in a post-9/11 world. My children will never know what life was like before 9/11. But our country triumphed. Love was the answer. Instead of cowering in fear, our country stood in strength and solidarity. Our country brought God to the forefront.
Over the past 18 years, it feels as if God is transitioning to the backseat... again. He is no longer in the forefront. This is evident by abortions, the sale of aborted baby parts, mass shootings in schools and public areas, and even praising evil in hit pop music.
Let's stick our necks out like the turtle and bring God back to the forefront. Let's never forget that we are God's sons and daughters; that we are a family. May we always stand in strength and solidarity, with God as our General leading us towards the victory of truth and life.
I will leave you with part of the first reading for today. "Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Thank of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory." 1 Col. 3:1-11
Be like the turtle. Stick your neck out and progress forward. Stick your neck out and praise God. Seek Him, love Him, thank Him.