Friday, January 15, 2016

Growing Pangs: Living Life in Community

The Guidry's right before they said their final "See Ya Laters."
Today my two favorite sailors Jon and Ty (who also happen to be identical twin brothers) boarded the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and departed from Naval Base Kitsap for deployment in the Western Pacific Ocean.  They will spend the next seven months "or so" patrolling the Western Pacific Ocean, before they return home.

I'm so proud of them.  And I've been crying big crocodile momma tears all day long.

Wanna know the odd thing?

I really don't even know Jon and Ty that well.  When we became friends with their Mom and Dad, they were midway through their senior year, preparing to graduate and join the Navy.  Our direct interactions with Jon and Ty have been relatively limited, but I love them both and feel like I've known them forever.


Because we started doing life with their family.  Real, authentic, vulnerable community.  The kind where you can drop in unannounced, jump into whatever the family is doing at the moment, and it's okay.

We've unpacked each other's groceries.  Carpooled.  Cheered each other's kids on at their sporting events. Shared meals - planned and unplanned. Cried together.  Laughed together.  Prayed together.  Celebrated each other's success.  Wept over each other's grief.  And the Group Text.  Oh man...  When it gets rolling, the fun (and the messages) never stops.

The community we've built is the kind where you can be honest about your highs and your lows.  No pretending.  Just real.  It's beautiful and vulnerable.  Sometimes that vulnerability is a little uncomfortable, but in a good way.

I'm not a Crier.  Never really have been.  Crying makes me feel exposed and uncomfortable.  But I woke up this morning with a heavy burden of grief.  I knew the Guidry's were in Washington waiting with a mixture of sadness and pride for their boys to board that aircraft carrier and watch it sail away.

Sailing away
Jon and Ty will be gone for almost ten months.  It's the longest the Guidry's have ever gone without seeing each other.  Jon and Ty will be somewhere in the Western Pacific when their only sister Lauren - who they openly adore - graduates from high school.  And their little brother Ethan?  Well he's halfway through a year of giant change: new town, new middle school, new friends - without his big brothers to come home to every day.  This is tough.

I know sailors depart from port routinely.  Every day families in our country wave goodbye to their sons, their daughters, their moms, and their dads while these heroes go off and defend our freedom and our country. It is brave and courageous.  I love the United States and stand in awe of what each of these families sacrifices day in and day out so I can live in freedom.

Today is different though. Two of those sailors manning the rails are faces I know. Faces I have come to love because their family loves them so well.
Photo session before the left for bootcamp

This family prays for each other.
My momma's heart is full of pride for the men they have become.  Pride for the courage they have.  Pride that they are serving our country and securing my freedom.  Excitement for all the cool adventures ahead of them.  Joy that they get to experience this together on the same ship. And grief for their family who is encountering the growing pangs of letting them become men.

And so the Non-Crier has spent the better part of today with tears freely flowing down my cheeks.  Tears of pride.  Tears of sadness.  Tears of "Wow! This is the goal of mothering.  To raise up kids who can be confident adults and go off and change the world."

It feels odd.  It feels uncomfortable.  But it feels right.  Life lived in community is rich and deep and I wouldn't change a thing.

Ty brought me a NAVY sweatshirt from the commissary.  I plan to wear it a lot, not just because it's cool, but because it reminds me to pray for these two sailors who are out changing their world.

Well done Al and Cyndi.  Your boys are men.  Good men.  Be proud.

Jon and Ty... know how loved you are.  Not just by your family but by an entire army of people who love your family.  We are praying for you and so excited to hear about all your grand adventures.

Be safe.  God is with you.


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