Thursday, April 30, 2009

Off to Iraq. . .

Above: Austin and Brittany at Ft. Hood, TX before his deployment to Iraq. . .

In her book, the Power of a Praying Parent, Stormie Omartian has a chapter entitled "Releasing My Child into God's Hands". . Omartian said that mentally releasing your child is one of the first and most difficult things parents must do. Yesterday was one of those days.

As Austin, our oldest son, deployed to Iraq for a year, my mind was flooded with memories of having to do just that. . . releasing him to the Lord time after time as he has grown to manhood.

My first memory of releasing him was the day when I took him to Kindergarten for the first day of school. We had visited the school the day before to make sure he knew where his classroom , the bathrooms, cafeteria, and school office were located. The next day, when I pulled into the school parking lot, he jumped out of the car, waved at me and said "See you later Mom, "and ran to his classroom. I was stunned . I thought, "You can't do that. .I need to walk you to your classroom, I need to hold your hand. . you need to cling to me and cry. . This is supposed to be emotional." Instead, I sat in the car laughing and crying at the same time. "Okay God, you obviously have prepared him for this day. I need to get out of the way." Little did I know that this incident would be a snapshot of Austin's life for the next 20 years.

The next big "release" came when he got his driver's license. . .I remember standing in the driveway, watching him drive off to school for the first time in an old red/white dodge truck with his little brother and sister in tow. I remember thinking "God, there go all my chickens in one basket. I don't have any choice but to trust that you'll take care of them." Everything in me wanted to jump in a car and follow him to school. . .but with the strong urging from the Lord, I turned and walked back into the house, and spared Austin from total embarrassment.

Another time, I can still remember where I was standing in church when Austin came running up to me at age 17 and said "Mom, can I go with Wes James on a mission trip to South Africa?" I said "No, of course not. . .you are too young." Dad said "Sure." I was overruled and that was a good thing. No one in our family had ever gone overseas on a mission trip and I just knew Austin was not ready. But I was wrong and again, I had to release him to what God had opened doors for him to do. And this happened several times during the next few years as he traveled to Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda and China. .

The next big "release" was when he approached us about doing ROTC in college and signing a military commitment. No one in our family has a military background, so the idea was pretty foreign to us. But there comes a time when a parent realizes that he is not the "quarterback" of his child's life any more. . .the parent is simply up in the balcony, cheering him on. And the other concept we had to understand that none of this was a surprise to God. If we really believed that God orders our steps, then we had to "release' and let God be God in each child's life.

Yesterday was another step in that journey. Watching him prepare to leave with 300 other soldiers was further confirmation that God has a plan for everyone and we may not understand it or like it; nevertheless, it is God's plan being carried out. Yesterday was probably more difficult on Austin than the other events of his life, because this time he leaves behind his precious new wife for a year. . .and that is the harsh reality of military life.

I guess the biggest thing I have learned from this journey is that Fear can be paralyzing in a parent's life. Satan will use fear to try and thwart God's plan for our lives and in the lives of these children that he has given us charge over for just a few short years. But prayer and studying the Scriptures goes a long way in helping us defeat the fear that whispers in our ears. If we truly believe Psalms 139, where God tells us how intimately he knows us and loves us, then Trust becomes the invisible rock we lean on for the difficult days. . . .

Thank you all for your support for our family and please say a prayer for Austin and Brittany when you think about it. . . it will be much appreciated.


  1. I have so much to learn from you Bonnie. Thank you for this post! I can only imagine hw hard it must be on Brittany and August. She looks absolutely beautiful in the pictures by the way. Keep me posted on how i can be praying for them and for ya'll. I miss you.
    BTW...Finals are next week for me and it is hard to believe that a year of school is almost done. This year has gone quick and I pray that by the Lord's grace Brittany will be able to say the same. Love you guys!

  2. Bonnie,
    I'm bawling...just bawling...I just said on facebook that I miss my kindergartener. The last couple days have been rough because he is learning things at school that I never wanted him to learn apart from a Biblical worldview and with his Mommy there to explain. I've been so tempted to drag him out of school and homeschool him. Your words are full of wisdom and that comes from experiencing God on a daily basis. What a treasure. I miss you.

  3. I always think about how my mom would let us ride our bikes around the neighborhood, to the library, to Sonic. I can't imagine letting Caleb leave my sight. I have a lot to learn. Thanks for this post. We will be praying fervently for them both!

  4. Bonnie I am so glad you started a blog. Thank you for sharing you life,your family and most importantly your faith in the Lord. My heart goes out to you as a mom and Brittany as a wife. I just can't imagine how hard that day was. But I know that our God is a good God and His plans are SO much better than our plans. We are praying for protection and peace over this next year. Love you all and thanks for the eternal investment you have made in my families life. Love ya.

  5. This post brought both tears and have a way with words. I am about to send my first to Kinder and I am having a hard time letting go myself. Love your story about Austin's first day at school. The strength you draw from Christ is amazing. I pray I can be the same kind of mother to my kiddos. Our thoughts and prayers are with Austin, Brittany, and your family.

    God bless!!
    brandon, erin, faith & ben howard

  6. Bonnie, I stumbled upon your blog from "The Pink Tractor." Thanks to you and your entire family for being willing to let go of Austin. It's because of men and women like him that we live with the freedoms we have. Welcome to the blog world, It's been fun for me, I hope you enjoy! Come and visit me at Grace-Works @ or Maime's Hospitalitea Cottage @

  7. Bonnie, what a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I just sat here and read and had chills. Thank you for sharing your heart. And yes, it always comes down to TRUST. That is the bottom line of most of my own struggles. I will pray right now for Austin, his new bride, and you.

    Lori Todd