Thanksgiving this year has been replete with the traditional (at least a traditional meal of turkey, dressing, corn, potatoes, and rolls) and with the new. Thanksgiving 2012 is consisting of a visit in the home of my oldest daughter Charity Geddes on the base of the Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, which brings a special meaning to this important event.
Debbie and I didn’t want Charity and our granddaughter Brynn to be alone, so we drove to Norfolk from Detroit, hoping to be a blessing, but as so often happens in life, the greater blessing seems to come back to us.
Earlier this afternoon as I sat on the front porch facing the sun and the courtyard, listening to children playing, military wives chatting as they monitored their children, my thoughts turned to what is represented by the scene I was witnessing—things for which I’m thankful today … and every day.
Family—I’m thankful for my family. We’re a scattered bunch these days—literally from sea to shining sea. Charity, her husband Brandon who is currently deployed in the Middle East aboard the USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN69), an aircraft carrier, and their daughter Brynn can see the Atlantic from their quarters.
Second son Jordan lives in Seattle, where he is clerking for one of the judges on the Ninth Circuit Court, so there’s the geographical extreme amongst the family. Four hours from here in Holly Springs (NC) my youngest son Joshua and his wife Amber make their home. “Daddy’s girl” Joy, my youngest, and her family live northwest of Detroit in Fenton (MI), (almost 30 minutes west of Clarkston, where I am based), while step-daughter Dawn lives in Dallas.
Literally, we hail from the north, south, east, and west! As different and scattered as each of us may be, we’re family—and we’re thankful for many things, but especially for each other.
Military family—I’m thankful for the military families of our nation. For the first time (to my recollection), we’re spending Thanksgiving on base. The normal hustle and bustle of base life is missing today, but the laughter of children playing together continues for those families who remain. I enjoyed overhearing the young lads playing—and it was easy to grasp that these were typical military kids, giving commands to each other (boys) … and the girls were … well … typical little girls!
Several of their dads, like my son-in-law Brandon, are deployed, leaving behind wives and children to make a go of life without Dad temporarily—a reality that escapes many civilians—but such is military life. Everyone adjusts … again and again … since one of the few constants in this life is change. For example, we were greeted by Charity with the news that The Ike will be coming home somewhat unexpectedly in December, rather than March, only to redeploy in February for another rotation.
As Debbie and I were soaking up the sunshine and listening to the children playing, my mind drifted back to some of the inequities in America today. For example, Brandon, while deployed, has to pay for his “ward room” or mess fee as an officer! Debbie commented, “It’s strange isn’t it—while he has to pay for his own food while serving his country, millions of people too lazy to work are being paid 4-5 times that amount every month for doing nothing?” (But don’t get me started on that subject, since I believe that ‘if a man won’t work, neither let him eat!’)
America—I’m thankful for my country! Although I’ve been privileged to work in many foreign countries through the years and though being American makes us no better than no one else in the entire world, there’s just no place like home. I’m thankful for America!
Having just endured another (and most vicious) presidential election and campaign season with its negativity, we must not allow our faults to overshadow the greatness of America. Inseparable from America’s greatness are the values that brought about such freedom and prosperity. I know of few places where those values are best demonstrated than throughout America’s military family.
America’s values—I’m thankful for our foundational values! From before the beginning of America, the driving force and hunger was religious freedom. Although theologies varied, all religious freedom tended to inspire and produce an evolution toward equality, self-governance, and the rule of law, which was rooted in Nature’s Law. While America today is trending toward forgetfulness of these biblical principles, I’m thankful for a vocational privilege to calling a people back to those values and to the God who gave them to humanity.
BTW, do you pray? If so, why not take this opportunity to make a list of important things for which to be thankful—not in a generic, politically correct manner, but specifically to the God who has made all these things possible. Further, make a passionate appeal for God to draw the hearts of Americans back to Himself, whether in salvation or in service.
The Apostle Paul used the phrase “neither were thankful” to describe people living in the last days. Pray, too, that we will truly maintain an attitude of gratitude, especially on this day—Thanksgiving 2012.