Happy 4th of July From a Million Miles Away

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For as long as I can remember the Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. I love patriotic songs, all the food involved, the overall feeling of patriotism, and – most of all – the fireworks! From the time I was in second grade, I wanted to be a wife, a mother, and The First Lady. I thought being The First Lady was the most patriotic thing I could do.  (I wanted to dress like Jackie O and decorate the White House, too, but I digress…)  In high school, I met David Denning. Not long after, this man would become my husband, and a Naval Officer.  Marrying a Naval Officer was the icing on the cake for a girl who loves her country.

After we attended college, Dave commissioned May 2011 and our journey into active duty military life began. We began the journey with some experience  in the Reserves while he attended school, but that was it. Let me tell you ladies, being active duty was a whole ‘nother ball game for us! I was not prepared for all of the time we would spend apart. When he commissioned, we had a 2 year old and a 5 day old. He deployed two months later. In my mind, he would only be gone when he was deployed. It was hard, but I knew to expect it. When he came home, though, he had something called duty days. That meant every six days he would spend 24 plus hours on his ship to stand duty. Every six days he would not cuddle with me in bed, every six days I would be with the babies alone all day and put them to bed by myself, every six days no matter the day (even Christmas), he would not be there.  On top of duty days there is underway time. He has been gone for weeks at a time for different exercises that his ship has taken part of. Last year, he did not deploy, but with the combined underway time, he was gone a total of 18 weeks. We have only been in the military a total of 6 years, and 3 of which have been active duty. I applaud the families who have been in for so much longer and have spent so much more time apart. We are just at the beginning. Becoming a military wife has given me a new perspective and I am thankful for that.

This Fourth of July, while still my favorite holiday, will be a hard one for me. My treasure, my soul mate, my husband, is currently deployed. He has not yet been gone a full month, so we are just at the beginning of this long time apart. Lord willing, he will be back in time for Thanksgiving and for the birth of our fourth baby.  I try to keep it all in perspective but it is still hard. Doing life every day without him is hard. Taking care of our three babies under age five without him is hard.

america the beautifulThis Fourth of July, I feel bittersweet. While I sit on a blanket with our three children watching fireworks, celebrating America’s birthday, my husband will be celebrating in Bahrain. It doesn’t feel right to celebrate my freedoms while my husband and many others are far away still fighting to defend those freedoms. I am so proud of our troops and especially my husband. He sacrifices so much to defend and protect our country. It can be so easy for me to get mopey and discouraged when I am self-focused. God had blessed our family tremendously and He has a plan for us. Even during our time apart, God is using us and has a plan for us. We are right where he wants us to be. As I think about the words of the song America the Beautiful, I think of our beautiful country and my heart swells for love of my country, even though I believe our country is moving further and further away from God. As I watch the fireworks this year, part of my heart will be missing. But I can rejoice in the fact that God is still God and He is in control. His love for me is endless and He brings healing to my hurting heart. God has given me a verse for this season in my life, Joshua 1:9…

Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I want to be strong and courageous like my husband and I am confident in the fact that God is with me wherever I go (and wherever Dave goes)! Enjoy this holiday. Enjoy the songs, the fireworks, the desserts and your families. Feel proud to be an American and remember our troops still fighting for our freedoms and the freedoms of others. Try to always be thankful for time with your loved ones and hold them close. Rejoice in our freedoms as Americans but, more importantly, rejoice in our freedom that we have in Christ! Happy Birthday America! Happy Fourth of July, ladies!

{This post was written by Reta Kae Denning.  Reta Kae is the proud wife and high school sweetheart of David, a Naval Officer stationed here in Jacksonville.  They have three beautiful blondes: a girl and two boys, and one more on the way!  Reta Kae likes smiling, shoes, shopping, reading, being at the beach, 80s music, Christian rock and roll, vanilla iced coffee, eating out, seeing a movie in a theater, and just being around family!  She serves on the Chets Women team as leader of small gatherings.}

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