Memorial Day: Remembering when you don’t remember

I’m a generation X-er.  The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the Shock and Awe headlines of March 2003, are the acts of war I remember.   And as close to home as the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan have been to me, no one close to me has lost their life in the battles of the past 16 years.  Memorial Day could easily become the symbolic start of summer for me and nothing more.  But I’m a mom of teenage boys, and I hear the news headlines and appreciate American history and the value of human life too much to let that happen.

For me, remembering those who have lost their lives serving in the military means intentionally remembering when I don’t remember.  It means purposefully reflecting on what it means to me that I live in a country where over a million people have given their lives in combat.

My 12 and 14 year old sons know war mostly in terms of first person shooter games (something I’d rather they never knew).  They hear headlines and know the story of 9/11.  For them, the history of war is glamorized.

My point is, neither I nor my sons know the impact of loosing someone we love to war.  So I decided to have the boys use Google to calculate the combat deaths from every U.S. military conflict.  Once they added all those lives up, they had come up with 1,243,493 sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers given for us.

We never knew one of them.

Their lives and deaths weren’t glamorous.  They weren’t perfect.  They weren’t Marvel comic heroes.  But they put themselves in harms way in the moment they lost their lives on a mission to protect this country from the evils of foreign oppression and dictators.  Without them, the country my sons and I live in may not exist.  Both they and I need to take the time to remember those we don’t remember so we can foster gratitude and soberness and thoughtfulness about this country and our roles here.

I asked my boys to write either a poem or essay… some sort of reflection on the 1,243,493 souls who gave their lives in military combat for the freedom of citizens of the United States.

Connor, my 14 year old wrote an essay, “Why These Lives Matter To Us.”  Ryland an acrostic using the words MEMORIAL DAY.  Me, a blog.  Our stopping to think and reflect on these lives with our words is important.  It’s a way to honor the ones remembered.  Even when we don’t remember.

While writing this over my Twitter feed came a tweet about the book The Things Our Fathers Saw: The Untold Stories of the World War II Generation is on sale on Amazon for $0.99 in the kindle edition.  We’ll be reading some of that tonight too.

As a Christian, my ultimate homeland is not the United States of America, but I want to be a blessing to her and honor those who laid down their lives for sojourning Americans like me.  I also want to be a sober minded, serving citizen and a mom who passes thoughtfulness and gratitude and the gift of remembering on to her kids.

How are you intentionally remembering the 1,243,493 today?

another day in the books

We had farm visitors today!  A soap customer and a nurse I used to work with came with their sweet kiddos to check out the baby goats and pick some soap.  Of course, the baby kitties were a hit too.  Even the chickens drew their attention.

I enjoy sharing the pleasure of having a little farm with others.  I never would have thought I’d get to do that!

Today was day 1 of 4 off work.  I worked three days in a row and that’s enough to tucker a girl out!

Today was a rest and visit day.  Tomorrow is a Goats Make Soap Co. business day and another disbudding day.  We have a set of twin bucklings that need to be disbudded.  I’m not looking forward to it at all, but it has to be done.

Goats Make Soap Co. may soon have soap on the shelf of a store in Madrid, Spain!  We received a request from a merchant in Madrid who would like to stock our soaps in their little store.  So exciting!

Ryland had band practice this evening and Connor baseball.  Saturday and Sunday will be a tournament weekend for Connor in Gilbert.  And then another 12 hour shift at the hospital for me.  Mother’s Day is coming, then Nurse’s week, then another doe is due to kid, and then school is out for summer!

The days fill up and go by so fast.  When I get a chance to stop and survey, a week or two has passed and before I know it it’s a new season and I have two sons fast becoming men entering their 7th and 8th grade years.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!  – Psalm 90:12-17


Sundays just aren’t the same

It’s really beautiful out tonight.

I broke the normal Sunday night routine of dishes, laundry and dispatching children to the shower to get ready for work and school on Monday to come sit out on the patio and think, which means write, for a bit.

I’m really bummed about how Sunday’s have turned out for me and my family.

This summer it will have been 2 years (I think) since my church peacefully parted ways. Our small number of families set out to find a new church family and our pastor followed the call on his life to teach… all over the world. Between baseball tournaments for Connor and my work schedule, I have been at church maybe 2 Sunday’s a month at most. When I do go, it’s not always at the same place. We just haven’t settled anywhere.

 I want to find a church with a Saturday or midweek worship so that if baseball or my work schedule don’t allow us to go on Sunday we still have a chance to meet. This weekend was one of those weekends when neither Saturday nor Sunday would have worked for church since Connor had a tournament that extended into the evening Saturday and took up the morning on Sunday. And it’s nearly unheard of to have a Sunday evening service anymore. I miss that. Growing up we were at church Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night. Not that that makes you special or a better person, but it’s just so refreshing to pause from the business of daily life to have dedicated times (multiple times, not 1 hour on Sunday morning) when you can go hear the preaching of God’s word and join with others in worship. I miss it. A lot.

We have fun baby goats running and jumping around out there in the goat yard. Six in total. Five are bucklings (male goats). And a lone baby girl (doeling). We’ll keep the doeling. All the bucklings will be wethered (castrated) and sold. I wanted to try raising some of the boys for meat, but I’m having a really hard time thinking about actually carrying that plan out. And my macho-man husband isn’t helping. When I told him my idea about raising them until 8 months of age and then having them butchered, he protested. He can’t handle the idea of eating something he watched grow in our backyard. That’s the whole point actually… to know where your food comes from and that it was raised in an ethical and healthy way. But it is hard. I think I could go through with it, as long as I don’t have to do the killing (and I won’t), but I’m still undecided. I’ll probably put them up for sale, knowing they’ll be somebody’s barbecue, and if the don’t sell, I’ll destine them for the freezer in 8 months.  I’ll probably have to schedule that freezer day on a day when my husband’s at work… he’ll have no idea when dinner’s served.

Goats Make Soap Co. had our last booth at the Momma’s Organic Farmer’s Market at Parkwest in Peoria yesterday.  We were invited to be regular’s next year.  I don’t know what we’re going to do over the summer.  We’ve developed a regular customer base, and for now we are able (just barely) to keep up with the demand for our soaps and lotions.  Time is the issue.  Working full-time, raising sons, married life, goat farming… our days are full. We’re discussing making a formal business plan.  We’re also planning to approach Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Tractor Supply and Ace Hardware about become a vendor so that our soaps will be stocked in their stores… at least in Arizona.  That’s a HUGE deal.  Only because I have no idea how it works and I’m confident it’ll require equipment to make much larger batches of soap and packaging that’s suitable for store shelves.  We’ll make the plans.  The Lord will direct the steps.

Connor has taken his first paying job as a farm-hand for a neighbor to do evening farm chores once a week.  She has twice as many goats as we do and a much more extensive (and beautiful) homestead going on.  I’m really proud of him.  The foundation is starting to get a frame.  The ditch I started digging when he was a baby is starting to take form.  I’ve been raising a man, not a boy these 13 years.  I pray with even more desperation and fervency for the next 13.  Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain.