If you saw the three elderly folks in the above picture sitting in an airport, you probably would just walk by without thinking to much about them. “They’re retired and don’t have much to do—maybe waiting for a grandson or daughter to arrive”. But these people are very special. They are the last people our military sons and daughters see before leaving for Iraq and Afghanistan and they are the first people to greet our troops when they first arrive back in the states from the middle east.
Back in the early weeks of this blog after Sam was first wounded in Iraq, I wrote about the Maine Troop Greeters in my August 16, 2007 blog entry. The picture from that post was taken by someone in their organization. Sam mentioned to Erin how exciting it was every time they passed through the Bangor Main International Airport knowing they would be getting a warm welcome or sendoff.
“This inspirational story of three troop greeters will shatter the stereotypes of senior citizens today. Growing old will never be the same,” according to CIFF directors.
Please visit their web site for more information on the lives of these inspirational Americans who have dedicated their time to touching the lives of our troops.
Sibling Rivalry or Brotherly Love? I heard a man of God that I admire recently teach a devotional on James, the reported younger brother of Jesus. In his good natured way, and with a gentle laugh he surmised how difficult it might have been for James to have been compared with his older brother. Can you hear it now? Mary or Joseph saying, "James, why can’t you be more like Jesus?" I can speak to this first hand as I had an older brother who was far more passive than I, getting into far less trouble, and in general, pretty much a parent’s dream. Until high school he was also a foot taller than I was making him a natural on the basketball court, a six inch reach on me when we boxed, and saved his money well so he always had some. Couple these facts with my Mom and Dad occasionally saying, "Eric, why can’t you be more like Ray?"; was a sure formula for resentment from a young and immature adolescent. Fortunately, as I grew up, I began to see what my parents always saw and that resentment slowly turned to love and respect for the big goof. This small example must have been magnified many times in the household of Joseph and Mary. Scriptures show us that Jesus’ brothers not only didn’t believe in his ministry, but thought him addled. I prefer to believe as they grew, they saw what we see and that is something so unique and something so special about Jesus. If they didn’t, certainly seeing him crucified, dying, rising from the dead, and eventually ascending into heaven would be evidence enough to realize that theirs wasn’t an ordinary brother. Acts 1 finds Jesus’ brothers in the church in Jerusalem and James an eventual leader in that body of believers. In his letter, (thought by some to be the very first book written in the New Testament) James speaks of very practical aspects of daily Christianity. He calls himself a teacher, but never identifies himself as the younger brother of Jesus. He obviously learned humility; I would have had it printed on my business card! Ha!
Sam has two brothers that I have kept careful observation over, the past 18 months. We have shed tears together, laughed together, and rejoiced together as we watch Sam make advances and progress. They have offered love and support, not only for me, but for Sam and Erin, many family members, and a host of friends that are patiently waiting for that day when Sam comes home to be with us. One thing I noticed recently is their refusal to treat Sam any differently than they did before the incident. They ignore the temporary disability that Sam may find himself in; opting to speak of their many mutual interests, and of what they will do when Sam is restored. Whether they realize that or not; that is faith. On a recent visit, Donny came in and dropped the cap he was wearing in Sam’s lap. A silly thing to do; kind of an off handed insult mixed with the love and attention that brought him 100 miles to visit with his brother. Sam, not to be outdone, picked up his cap, held it out, and as he looked Donny squarely in the eye, dropped it to the floor. And with one fell swoop, Sam cleverly returned the gauntlet. Donny laughed, Sam smiled, and the visit commenced. A tragic event changes the lives of brothers forever; whether that be a crucifixion or a roadside bomb, and my boys are no different. They appreciate life more, relationships are just a little sweeter, and family is paramount. Since Sam was injured, Donny has married his sweetheart, Brandi, Marty and Helen have precious little Evan, and although our relationships were good before; they have taken on new heights of love and affection.
I am so excited to bring you some very special reports of good news this week. Sam had an eye test and the Ophthalmologist was very pleased about the restoration of his optical nerve. He doesn’t have to wear glasses anymore! This is actually better than where he was before the accident. Sam has been infection free for a few weeks now, save for a slight gurgle in his chest causing an intermittent cough. Erin thinks it could be allergies, as Marin County is having an early spring. The picture is of Sam as we sat on the deck at the hospital and enjoyed the sunshine in short sleeves. The strap on his head is just there to monitor his oxygen content when he is in bed. It is more accurate than the finger monitor that kept giving them some false readings. It looks like a sweatband and he is ready for the racquetball court. He looks good and feels good as well. The prayer requests for Sam’s roommate have accomplished much. His trach tube has been capped, he is moving his arms and legs, fingers, hands, and toes, and most importantly, making speech sounds. Vegetative? Pishaw, nothing is too hard for the Lord. I also saw John Murphy yesterday [John is a patient at Kentfield who fell out of a third story window and sustained traumatic brain injury]; he smiled, shook my hand, and waved good bye to me when we parted. God’s goodness continues to spill over there at Kentfield.