"Disguise yourself?" I asked him, glancing out the window at my husband mowing the lawn, where my 6-year-old daughter pranced around in the freshly-cut grass.
"Yes!" he said breathlessly. "I've gotta fight off the lawn mower monster and save my sister!"
He grabbed his plastic sword, which handily doubles as a water gun, and shoved his chubby feet into some black rain boots. Then he plopped a cowboy hat on for good measure and dashed out of the room.
As he did, I called out some sort of caution about not getting too close to the lawn mower, and then jokingly yelled, "Be brave!" as the screen door slammed behind him.
Be brave, I thought. Immediately, my thoughts turned to the wives and mothers across our country that say the same thing to their husbands and sons in uniform. But instead of facing a pretend battle with a lawn mower, those troops are facing a real battle with a real enemy. I thought of my hairdresser friend, whose son ships off to Afghanistan next month, leaving a wife and an 8-year-old daughter at home. I remembered how the tears formed in her eyes as I watched her in the mirror and the scissors snipped. She told me how hard it is for her to let her son go and entrust him to the hands of God. I cannot imagine how she must feel. I thought of my grandmothers on both sides, who said goodbye to my grandfathers as they left to serve bravely in World War II before my parents were even born.
Words are simply not sufficient to express my gratitude to the courageous men and women who have put their own lives on the line for our freedom. They are over there at this very moment, sacrificing so much to preserve our way of life, and part of that means that my children are able to play in their yard without fear of real danger. It means that, thanks to those brave souls, my family can live, work, and worship in peace. Many of those who fought have paid the ultimate price. I remember them and honor them on this Memorial weekend.
My little boy wants to defeat his make-believe enemies. Of course, these days, he always manages to do so. I will not always be able to fight his real battles for him, as much as I wish that I could. But no matter what kind of challenges he may face in his lifetime, it's my prayer that he cultivates a courageous heart, the kind that is unwavering, persevering, and strong...like the kind of heart inside those who defend this country.
Lord, watch over them.