For those of us schooled in the last century (long before computers and cell phones), getting a "gold star" in class was an achievement. It might have been for an improvement in grades or behavior, but the purpose was acknowledging, "You are special."
But since the end of the first World War, gold stars have also been awarded to mothers who lost sons or daughters in battle. The name (American Gold Star Mothers) came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star.*
Since 1936, the last Sunday in September has been designated as "Gold Star Mother's Day." There aren't Hallmark offerings, school closures or any other public recognition for this day. It's the kind of "club" you don't ask to join, and you aren't aware of until unspeakable tragedy happens.
I wouldn't know about it if not for Social Media and my current ministry work in the military arena. As I "tweeted" and posted Gold Star honoring photos, my heart broke for the loss these families face each and every day. But through the power of Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets, many are turning personal tragedy into campaigns for awareness on a variety of issues.
"...this is the only race worth running. I've run hard, right to the finish, believed all the way..." 2 Timothy 4:7 The Message
It's been a difficult, strange but exciting year of ministry. For the last twelve months we've been singularly focused on our work with wounded warriors, their caregivers, veterans and active duty military members. The website (www.battle-buddy.info) has received close to 18,000 "hits," assisting the Armed Forces community nationwide find help and resources. Since I began working alongside these true "heroes" (military AND their families) I know it is what my "Commander-in-Chief" assigned.
Hardly a day passes that I don't hear testimony of what a "godsend" being able to find help fast has made to a family/servicemember. These are individuals the ministry never would have an opportunity to interface with before. But, hardly a day passes that I don't hear tragedy; suicide, financial ruin, children being adversely affected by secondary trauma, and caregivers at the end of their rope. It's been hard to stay balanced between the oasis of good news and the battlefield of helplessness.
"But you-keep your eye on what your doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant." 2 Timothy 4:5 The Message
This morning as I meditated on the devotion for the day (see text below) I thought of the women I have grown close to during the process of launching a military initiative of ministry. They've shared their pain, their frustration and their lives in hopes that it would be of benefit to other caregivers and military families. Time and again, they say, "I just hope no one else has to go through what we've been through with "_______" (fill in the blank with the VA, doctors, Organization XYZ, benefit denial, disability rating, PTSD, TBI, ad infinitum). The devotional text speaks of "being crushed to be the broken bread and poured out wine FOR OTHERS..." It's not exactly something you would enlist for...
...like receiving membership into The Gold Star Mothers Club.
Pray for all the Gold Star families (over 6,700 Post 9/11 which does not reflect over 10,000 suicides due to PTSD and war trauma)
Pray for our Armed Forces who face yet another Campaign against terrorist forces
Pray for Caregivers of those returning from conflict who wage battles while establishing a "new normal"
Pray for the ministry of Sunshine After Rain as we continue to DAILY impact the lives of our nations heroes
"So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up or quit. RIGHT NOW, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith." Galatians 6:9-10 The Message
We can't fight the good fight without YOUR continued financial support and prayers. We won't reap a harvest without "seeds" sown in faith
Go online (www.sunshineafterrain.org) to make a donation by credit card or to set up a monthly contributions. Or by post at:
Sunshine After Rain Ministries
10024 Regal Park Lane #217
Dallas TX 75230
"All that's left now is the shouting - God's applause! Depend on it..." 2 Timothy 4:8
Armed and dangerous (smiling as a Texan)
*Gold Star Mothers Club ~Wikipedia
**My Utmost For His Highest
"...He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, "Here am I! Send me."
This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to crush us. We say, "if God would only us His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured out wine in a special way, the I wouldn't object!" But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed - you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only after they have been squeezed... Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.