I am working on a column about how my 16 year-old daughter leads me by her quiet example. Before I share that column it seemed important to give you some history, so I’m taking you back almost five years to show you the place where it all began. The column below first appeared in April of 2009:
April 26, 2009
A Daughter, a Prayer Box & Soldiers
Parts of today’s post are taken from a journal entry written April 17, 2009:
I am on a plane headed to Florida to meet my sister-in-law and I am sitting next to a young combat soldier named Kevin. He is headed back to Iraq to continue his second tour of duty. He was home for R&R; he gets fifteen days…once a year. He says he wasn’t exactly ready to go back, but alas here he is on the plane headed back to complete his duty. What an honor to be placed next to him. This is the second time in a row I have been placed next to a soldier on a plane.
On my last flight his name was Wendall. He was sitting in front of me, I tapped him on the shoulder and thanked him for his service, I then asked him if there was a way to pray for him.
My boldness is inspired by my youngest daughter, Erin, who is 11. One day about a year ago I found a heart box on her dresser. It had been given to her with candy as its contents, but when I opened it this day the contents were sweeter than anything I could have imagined. It was filled with little strips of paper with names on them. Her candy box had become a prayer box. “Soldiers”, “Pastor Stan”, “Unsung Heroes”, “Foster kids” and more…at her tender age, how does she know to pray for leaders, soldiers, and so many others?
I told Wendall about this box, he told me to tell Erin he appreciated the prayers and would pass this on to his friends in Iraq. He asked for us to pray for his safety.
So here I am on a plane again and it is another soldier who sits down next to me. How honored to be placed yet again next to someone who serves on my behalf. I am excited to tell Erin I get to tell another soldier that he is covered in prayer as he serves.
I learn he joined the army to get out of a tough neighborhood. He didn’t want to go the way so many around him were. The army has been good for him he says, but he is anxious to finish his time (2 more years) and start school. His first tour was in Baghdad and he says it was rough, he saw things he won’t soon forget. This current tour is in northern Iraq and its pretty peaceful. I learn his family is his mom and his sister. He says his mom cries whenever they say goodbye. I can only imagine.
He is sleeping, as curled up as he can be and his head is against the window. He looks so young, he is 22, I am 44, he could be my son. I think of my son, who is 14 and already growing into a man sized body, what if this were my son leaving for Iraq? I think of this soldier’s mom and I find myself praying over his mind, his body, his heart and his soul, may all be protected as he serves our country. May God’s peace fall upon him in great and abiding ways.
When he wakes up, I learn he has a six hour layover in Atlanta, I have felt in my spirit to give him some money for lunch and dinner. How awkward, how will I do that, I wonder? The plane is landing and I know I will regret it if I don’t listen to what I believe is the Holy Spirit. I turn to him and try to hand him some money, telling him I would like to buy him his meals today. “No thanks ma’am” he says very politely. “Please let me do this for you.” “No thank you ma’am.” he says again. I looked him square in the eye and said “Erin would want me to do this for you.” he looked down…took the money and said “Tell Erin I said thanks.”
Thank you Erin for being so big in your prayers, for your inspiration, for making me bold on your behalf. Thanks for being the kind of kid who would want to buy a soldier a meal – I know in my heart this is indeed what you would have wanted.
And be safe Kevin, we’re praying for you and your comrades.