Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jeffrey sitting in a Black Hawk Army Helicopter, age 4
I believe I can fly!  I believe I can touch the sky.  I think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away!
This is Mark on bottom, and Jeff at age 4 on top

I have this memory of sitting in a lawn chair in my neighbor Janie's back yard, 17 years ago.  Our kids were playing together, and us moms sat chatting on a summer afternoon.  I looked up on Janie's rasied deck, a full flight of stairs up and saw my 4 year old son flapping his arms with a Batman cape on.  I stared for a second and it dawned on me that he might actually think he could fly.  I ran to him and got down to his eye level to talk  business.

"Jeffrey, you do know that you can't actually fly, don't you?", I said seriously.

"Mom, if I really flap my arms very very hard, I think I can fly off of this porch like Batman does.", was his honest reply.

I kept it simple, but went into one of my motherhood speeches about how movies were not real, and how there was no actual Batman.  He obeyed me, but I was never quite sure he believed me. 

Jeffrey has adored two men in life.  1. Batman, 2.  His Dad.  
Mark was a hellicopter mechanic in the army for the first 7 years of Jeff's life.  By age 2 Jeff knew the name of every airplane that his dad could find him a model of.  He had quite a vocabulary and it included words like, "Look Mom, a Schnook Helicopter" or "Stop, there is a Black Hawk."  He had his eyes on the sky for anything that flew.

When my kids were only 3 and 4, Mark and  I were so thoroughly frustrated because the army had just put him on orders to go to a special training to get his next rank.  There would be no promotion without BNCOC.  We grudgingly sent him of to VA Beach to school,  angry he would be missing Halloween and Thanksgiving.   

A week after he was gone I got a call to go to a special meeting.  The unit had invited me out to a secret bunker to tell us wives that all of our husbands had been shipped off to a secret REAL LIFE army mission.  The atmosphere was surreal, and I had to remind a few leaders that Mark was gone to school, not gone on this real mission.  

I was kept informed of the men's status by my close girlfriends.  We had many wive's get together's and the support was truly special.  On a Sunday night, October 3, 1993, my girlfriend was just about to leave my house when we saw on the news that some Black Hawk Helicopters had been shot down over Somolia.  Don't ask me how we knew, we just knew.  We looked at each other with wide eyes, and waited for news.  

By the next morning, it was confirmed.  It had been our unit.  My friend's husband had been shot, but was alive.  Many of our friends had wounded and missing husbands or boyfriends.  I had a good talk with God that morning, thanking him for the inconvenient timing of the school that protected my husband's life.  It was a sad and emotional time, one I will never forget.  No one who went through those dark days will ever forget October of 1993.  

Fast forward 12 years.  We have now gotten out of the army, my husband got himself a degree and a better job, and we had moved back home to MI.  Jeffrey came home from school in his Sophomore year telling us that he had decided he would be a soldier in the Army.  Didn't that sound like a good idea?  No, we said, you won't be a soldier.  You are going to get a college degree, and do whatever you want to do with your life, except be a soldier.  

Well, we knew that Jeff was interested in aviation, so we did whatever we could do to help him get a degree in Air Traffic Control.  He met a wonderful girl that I have told you about, and a few months before his wedding  last spring, he called me one day.  

"Mom, I have to tell you, and everyone  involved in my life the truth about my future, before I go any further with this wedding.  I cannot stop feeling like God is calling me to the Army."

"Jeffrey, are you crazy?  You are going to graduate next year with no debts, why on earth do you want to go in the Army?"  I said in return.

Well, our conversation went on for quite some time.  He ended up telling me that the more he had prayed about his life decisions, the more he knew God was calling him to be a soldier.  I conceded.  What else could I do?  Mark was beaming with pride, yet cautious of this life for our son.  

God is a really cool God.  Who knew that the whole time Mark was working in the civilian world he missed helicopters more than he would ever admit?  God did.  That is how we have ended up miraculously in Connecticut where my husband is now the Safety Manager on the very same helicopter he loved more than ever.  And starting over was hard.

I am studying a book called Experiencing God.  It is a wonderful study.  Yesterday Jeff called me to ask if I would gather some important information for him so that he could get his flight packet into the army for review.  He wants to be a Army Helicopter Pilot as soon as he graduates this May.  It felt like I was enabling my son to do something dangerous as I scoured around for his diploma that he requested.  

I signed onto Facebook hours later and saw his posting  It said "There is no safer place on earth than directly in the middle of God's will."  With a lump in my throat, I posted below it, "and I pray he will always keep you safe."

This morning I went to bible study and one of the first things that came out of the mouth of Henry Blackaby's recorded video message was.  "You are never in a safer place than directly in the middle of God's will."  

Ok God, I gotcha, loud and clear.  Now please help my Mother's heart as we go through the rest of this story. Not only does he believe he can fly, he believes you are telling him to.


Karen said...

You are QUITE a writer, Mary. :) This is beautifully written and brought tears to my eyes. :)


cindy said...

What an awesome story Mary! There is nothing better then having your children seek the Lords direction in their lives! May God continue to be your guidance and strength! We'll be praying for all of you!
Luv, Cindy

Mom/Gramma said...

Being a part of that whole life you describe, I too was many mornings, praying with you after a phone call and tears between us brought us to the Throne of God. Together we would encourage you, (with God's help) and we would talk it through, Mother and daughter. Many times I hung up , praying once more that your feeling of being "OK" was real and You could do this. Obviously it was, and you did. Now, its time again, for Mom/Gramma to come again to the Throne of God and pledge my faithfulness in prayer. Our boy Jeff, is indeed a replica of his father. He has always wanted to be "MARK"< and so far, not a bad job. But, on the other hand, He is God's child and thanks to the training He has received, He will once again follow God's plan for him. He talked with me often ,when he first chose Mandy, very early on, and asked me to pray with him, which I did. Now he has her as his life's partner and I see God, so plainly within that marriage and so therefore I trust, in his choices and decisions about learning to "FLY". We can only continue our quest to trust in the Lord with all of our Hearts, lean not on our own understanding ,but acknowledge him in all we do and He will direct our paths.Pr3:5 and 6
If our path is to let go of Jeffrey once again, as we did so many times with Mark, and with you and Mark, God will see to it, that we do.
Trust and obey as the song goes, For there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus , than to trust and obey. God bless you all.

Jeffrey said...

Hey, I just read and really enjoyed your blog, obvioiusly. I thought that those pictures were really cool (i know, duh! ha) And I thought it was crazy, although probably not a big surprise that you heard the same thing I posted right after. God has some awesome ways of speaking to people. When I heard that, last wed night at church, our pastor was telling us a story about Abraham (Gen twenty-something) about how Abraham was asked to give up everything he knew to follow God. After that, out pastor look up at us and asked, "Now imagine you college students were asked by someone you've never actually seen, Please stop your studies here at MTSU, pack up and leave Murfreesboro, and go somewhere else for an unkown time and there you will do what I tell you to do when i tell you. When will you be back, if you are- who knows. " To that Mandy and I just looked at each other and smiled with an agreed, YEP, THATS US! lol As you well know, with the Army, there's no telling what we'll be doing, how long, where we'll be, or anything. As our pastor said, That is a true test in faith; One- I, the leader of My family, plan to take. It will be tough, I know it will, but as Phil 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Something else one of my professors said is cool too; "God can use you whereever you go for his Glory".
Thanks for the blog mom, I love you

Jennifer said...

God Bless you and keep you. You Mary, your husband, your daughters and your son.
I love you,

Bill said...

I was laying in a hospital bed in Dubai UAE with my femor sticking out my arse waiting on a surgeon to fly in from Bahrain on that day the Blackhawk went down. The day before, I was playing baseball and had a bad accident. The aircraft carrier I was on had to leave that day to go to Somalia and leave me in Dubai. I knew I had a brother-in-law who was probably on that special misson. Lot's of thoughts running through my head with no way to commuinicate with anyone. Funny how we both stayed out of harms way those days serving. Great story Mary. You and Mark have done a great job with Jeffery and the girls.

Georgie Horn said...

Very sweet story Mary. I completely forgot that Mark was in training on Oct 1993. It was all about God's plan, even those horribly dark days of 1993. I made life long friends from the tragic death of Tommy, learned what to say in sympathy and I learned to trust our Father. Bless you Mar, you're a bright light.