Tag Archive | Air Force

When Dreams Die

cloud-tearsAs parents, we are told to never push our dreams on our children. If we didn’t make the swim team, we are not supposed to force our kids to swim. If we always wanted to be a rock star, we are urged not to hand a guitar to our kids and order them to play. I get that. We didn’t do that. No matter how much I love baseball, I didn’t make my boys continue to play when they didn’t want to.

But no one told us what to do when our kids’ dreams change.

For 4 years our eldest lived and breathed JROTC. He rocked the uniform; he earned the promotions; he participated in the competitions; he won the awards. We emotionally invested ourselves in the dream he expressed of flying in the Air Force. We spent countless hours coaching him through his application to the Air Force Academy. We made sure that we were checking in along the way, ensuring this is what he wanted to do. When the Academy didn’t pan out, we wholeheartedly threw our support behind his entrance into UCF’s Air Force ROTC program. We bought the Air Force T-shirts and put the bumper sticker on our car. His dream became ours.

Then, one day a few weeks ago, he told us he didn’t want to do that anymore.

Wait. What?

He had decided he wanted to drop out of his college ROTC program and change his major. Now, for a freshman just halfway through his first semester, changing his mind on a major is not a big thing. But what happened to the dream?

I felt like I had whiplash. What was I supposed to do now? I had the bumper sticker, for crying out loud!

OK, step back. Take a deep breath. Here are 3 things to do when their dream changes and your dream dies.

1. Assure them that you will support them whatever they decide. Of course, my younger son then informed us that he was moving out tomorrow and heading to “Hungaria” and joining the circus. Seriously, though, Justin needs to know that it’s OK to explore options, as long as he’s doing it for the right reasons. Is he changing for fear that he won’t succeed at what he wanted to do?

2. Give yourself room to grieve the dream, and let them in on the process. I shared with both my sons how I was feeling about this change, and that, in the process, I would be asking questions more for my own sake than for his. (That’s the conversation where the circus came up. Thanks for keeping things light, Son.)

3. Ask them how you can help. With a change of major, even in freshman year, came the need for a conversation with a new advisor in the new college of study. All this had to happen fairly quickly so he could register for his next semester. My question to him was, “What would you like me to do for you?” He asked me to research a couple of things for him relating to what he was considering pursuing next. I can do that. And I can pray. Pray for him and for us as we try to refocus.

I really don’t care what he does. I honestly don’t. He can be a garbage collector (though that might not be the best use of a college education), as long as he is listening to the Lord and doing what He wants him to do.

Getting a bumper sticker off the car is another issue.

image from sourceseekers.com

I Have a Dream

I keep having this recurring dream. No, it’s not the one where I show up at a college class I never even knew I had to find out there’s an exam I’ve never studied for. I haven’t had that one in awhile. In this one, I’m driving a car and coming up to a stop, and as hard as I push on that brake pedal, I cannot get the car to stop. It’s a very out-of-control feeling.

Out of control. Yep, that’s what it is alright. I’m a mother, watching my son become a man, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Not that I’m supposed to do anything about it. This is the way it’s supposed to be. But, take yesterday for example. We sent him off at 4:00 in the morning with about 100 people that I don’t know to a place we’ve never been to do something he’s never done before. Granted, the rest of the family would be meeting him there a few hours later, but still, the dream came.

Yesterday’s event was an Air Force Junior ROTC drill competition. Justin’s goal in life is to be an Air Force fighter pilot. It’s been my habit to thank active duty or retired military personnel for their service when I see them. Now, I do it with a bit of a tear in my eye as I think that someday in the not-too-distant future, that could be my son.

I’m having to release control, cut the ol’ apron strings, as they say. It started when he entered high school. Before that, he’d been under my watchful eye at our parent-involved private Christian school. When he started public high school, I felt like I was sending him into the lion’s den. He survived–even thrived–so this year wasn’t as tough. But I know that, in less than three short years, he’ll be leaving my little nest and I won’t have any control whatsoever.

Thank God that He’s still in control. And I can pray.

I know all my friends who have gone through this before are laughing at me–or maybe they’re nodding their heads in sympathy. That dream might come more and more often. And I’ve got two more kids to go after this one. *sigh* Those baby days were a lot easier than this. They are maybe not as physically exhausting, but emotionally, well, let’s just say I’m earning my gray hair.

I’m proud of the man he’s becoming. I pray that he seeks to stay close to God his entire life. That will make this letting go thing a lot easier on me, if I know he’s making good choices hand-in-hand with his Lord.

And it would be nice to hear “M’am, yes m’am!” around the house sometimes.

Thankful today for:

630. an extra hour’s sleep

631. sunshine with no sweating

632. pictures of fall in other places, because we have no color here

633. food when my stomach rumbles

634. the approaching holiday season

635. open doors

God Bless America

Today is Memorial Day. Unlike Veteran’s Day, which is set aside to honor those who have served our country in military service, Memorial Day is to remember those who have actually paid the ultimate sacrifice: They lost their lives in the service of their country. Neither my dad nor my brother ever served in the military, but my grandfather did. He earned a Purple Heart for being injured in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in WWI. I also had a great-uncle I never got to meet because he died in WWII. And my uncle is a WWII vet. My father-in-law is a veteran. David’s grandfather was a veteran. My pastor’s son is an active-duty marine.

We are touched every day by those in the military service. But not all of us have experienced the death of a loved one because of it. My eldest child has aspirations of being a fighter pilot in the Air Force. I fully support him in that effort, but the idea of him actually flying in war scares me to death. He thinks it sounds exciting and adventurous. I only picture his handsome, youthful body being blown to bits. Would I hold him back? Not in a million years. Even if at this moment, his idea is not that of protecting freedom but simply doing what he loves, I think his goal is honorable.

Some people deride our military and our leaders by saying they have callously sent young men off to fight needless battles in foreign countries. I picture this:

Say you were out watering your lawn one warm summer afternoon, living the high life, loving your freedom, when all of a sudden you hear a scream from the house next door. What in the world is going on over there?  you might wonder. You might even look closer to see what was happening. You might see a husband beating his wife and children. You would be shocked, or maybe even annoyed that this drama is playing out next to your quiet yard.

But, you may think, that’s their problem. Let them take care of it. It’s not on my property they’re having this trouble. 

Really? Wouldn’t you call the police and report a case of domestic violence? If you saw someone threatening a young child with a gun, wouldn’t you do something about it, even if it wasn’t your own family? Or is your motto “don’t get involved”?

That’s how I pictured the situation in Iraq years ago. The people were being beaten down, killed, evilly oppressed by Sadam Hussein. It was not right for us to just sit by and do nothing. When people can’t fight for themselves, we have a moral obligation to fight for them. Proverbs 31:8 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed” (New Living Translation.)

Do our leaders always make the right decisions? No. Is war a terrible thing? Yes. Is it necessary to battle evil? Absolutely. I’m no war monger. Ask my boys. I hate guns and fighting and weapons of all kinds. But do I believe the oppressed need to be fought for? Yes.

Thank you, all you who have sent loved ones off to their deaths in the service of our country, to help ensure freedom everywhere, not just on American soil. I’m so sorry for your loss.

God bless America.

Thankful today for:

321. All our military personnel: past, present and future

322. A day to remember those who have died in service to their country

323. Finally being able to use my massage coupon from my sisters

324. Friends coming over this afternoon

325. Only a bit of wind from Beryl (as of yet)

326. The testimony of a family I don’t even know during the hard-fought battle of their infant son. He lost the battle yesterday and is now in the arms of Jesus.