My brother-in-law, Tim, deploys to Afghanistan in three days. It is his third deployment since President George W. Bush declared war on Iraq and subsequently Afghanistan. Our military is exhausted. Our military families are exhausted. Our military bases are depleted.

Souls are weary. Families are broken. Lives are falling through the cracks.

God how I long for the day when humans stop destroying each other.

3,000 men and women from his base are gone.


It's a ghost town of wives and babies and kids and chaplains trying to keep it all together.

And it's getting harder to keep it all together.

I am tired of this war. And I am tired of watching so many strong women (men) fight the war back home in their husband's (wives) absence.

Tim will be gone for 14 months.

While Melissa and Tim have a peace right now that passes all logical understanding...

they have been on an emotional roller coaster.

They have been trying to get pregnant for well over a year.

You know.

Or maybe you don't.

Can any of us really understand the intensity these families are living under?

Trying so hard to get pregnant  before he leaves, because truthfully -it's always there- the worst case scenario tucked away somewhere in the back of your mind.

What if he never comes home?

Trying so hard to not be stressed about getting pregnant before he leaves because, you can't make a baby happen.

And, maybe you don't even want to? I mean, what would it be like to give birth without your husband being around? To grow a tiny, kicking, squirrely little baby alien in your belly and have no daddy to whisper to it?

Trying so hard to sleep through the night, because the nightmares of someone in uniform showing up at your door with "the news" keeps you awake for months on end.

Trying so hard to trust that your wife will be taken care of in the arms of her friends and family; that if she were pregnant your baby would grow to love you even though it had never heard your voice or felt your touch; trying so hard to live in hope and not fear; trying so hard to get everything in order before you leave.

Trying so hard to enjoy the moments you have and not think about the unknown that lies ahead.

They have been preparing for this moment for almost a year. A year ago we knew he would deploy. Each month crept closer and closer and the curse that we refused to name got nearer and nearer. But now it is here. And I feel my heart almost stopping.

War. Tim. My sister's husband. A man we love. A friend. A buddy. Camouflage. Helicopter rides through the desert. A machine gun. IED's. Radical extremists. Third time. Really, third time? It's like we're basically begging for these men and women to not come home... teasing fate or something. No one should have to be in war three times. No wife should have to endure that. No child. No family. No man or woman on the field. And yet, these men and women are three and four times deep into deployments.

Thoughts rush my mind and my heart swells and I pray a prayer that makes no sense... God protect Tim.

Knowing it must grieve God's heart when any person dies in battle and believing that God does not interfere with IED's and machine guns; I have to believe that death in war is not God's plan for any one's life.

War was not the plan.

Death was not the plan.

Not the original one.

But you still pray. You pray for miracles. And peace. And protection. And you beg God for mercy. And you trust. Not always knowing exactly what it is you are trusting. But you trust, because God's peace that doesn't make any sense starts oozing into you. Something becomes calm. Centered. You trust that no matter what happens...

there is always hope.

And maybe that is why we pray for protection. Maybe God does perform a few miracles in the desert. Or maybe war is just war, and while some miracles happen, often times- there aren't many miracles in war. Maybe God is just there, walking through the valley of the "shadow of death"  alongside His children. Still, we pray- fearfully begging for miracles of protection- but mostly we pray because when we get past those initial prayers of fear, we desperately need to find ourselves connected to the heart of Jesus.

Our healer.

The only One who can make sense in the chaos we have created.

We need Him. And we need to be deeply rooted in His message.

Our God is with us. Emmanuel.

Jesus drew near to the weak, weary, and broken. He seemed to be on a perpetual mission of finding the sick, and putting a balm on their soul.

We need peace that makes no sense. We need water when our souls are dried up. We need a firm foundation.

When everything you love leaves on the back of a C-130... and your foundation shakes like the tremors of an earthquake-

His rod and staff will comfort you. He will lead you beside still waters. He will restore your soul. He will fill your cup. And though the world may give way... you can safely dwell in His house.


Melissa is pregnant.

they found out a few weeks ago.

Tim will be gone for 14 months.

Four months after she delivers their sweet baby.


I've said it before and will say it again and again and again: thank you, thank you, thank you to all who serve and the families who persevere back home. Your sacrifice is inspiring and beautiful. In the midst of war, we draw near to Jesus, the deliverer. The giver peace. We pray for miracles- but more than that- we pray because the Lord is our refuge.


Do you have a loved one who is deployed? Please put their name and any specifics about their family in the comments section.  At the beginning of next week, I will compile the list and turn it into a blog, which anyone can then print off and use to faithfully pray for your loved one.


Do you know an organization that supports military families? Please leave a link in the comment section. I will compile those into a blog next week as well.



If you have any family or friends at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii- please let them know I will be doing a FREE show on the base, May 10th at 9:00 a.m. in the chapel. Military families from any base on the island are welcome to attend and free childcare is included!

Stories: A Journey of Hope and Redemption

Free acoustic concert and worship with Jenny Simmons from Addison Road

honoring the military families on the island of Honolulu

May 10th, 2011 Schofield Barracks

9:00 a.m.

Sponsored by Women of the Chapel



Thank You


My dad, mom, and sisters at dad's promotion ceremony in March.

My sister Melissa and husband Tim

It's ironic to me that we celebrate Memorial Day with a day off.

We're eatin' our hamburgers (in Texas they end up tasting a little extra salty as the wrath of God bores into us with the heat of hell and our sweat taints the taste of every good thing), drinking our lemonade, and enjoying a day by the pool as if this is a huge tribute to men and women, past and present, who have sacrificed for our country.
This Buds fer you Dad!
Tim, I'm sending a hot dog of remembrance your way! Erik, every memorial day shopping sale I take advantage of today is done so in your honor! Grandpa and Uncle Bill, thanks for Nam... cannonball!
It's like we're saying:
"Dear Military: Thank you for protecting our gift of freedom. We shall appreciate you by giving ourselves a day off! Congratulations us, we have just scored a four day weekend."
If it were up to me, my Aunt Lizzy, and Benjamin Franklin, everyone would be required to attend a memorial service today. Then we would all attend an American history lecture followed by a documentary on the beauty of freedom (I would then require everyone to feel grateful for freedom.) Then we'd all sing the Star Spangled Banner together with our hands over our hearts, tears in our eyes, and no funny business going on to the side. And finally, we'd end up babysitting for military wives so they could spend a day at the spa. Oh yeah... and the spa, of course, would be free.
In a perfect world.
Truth is, unless you have someone in your family who is in the military, today is probably just another Columbus Day.
Growing Up
I'm a little dorky when it comes to patriotism and the military.
I will always remember being in the eighth grade at the Texas State Fair and hearing the Army band begin to play the national anthem. In my little heart, time was standing still. But the people around me didn't even hear it. They didn't even stop. I was dumbfounded. What's wrong with these people? Aren't they American? Have they no respect? I was sure Benjamin Franklin was appalled and I secretly apologized to all military and true patriots, past in present, in my heart and got on the midway ride. I have prayed many prayers like that since then.
Dear George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt (and Teddy for that matter), OK, and General Norman Schwarzkopf and General Colin Powell, and Uncle Bill:
Forgive us for being ungrateful punks. And can I just say a special act of forgiveness on behalf of the people who can't sing the national anthem. I mean, what kindergarten did you people go to? We are sorry for all the times we have not voted, not sent letters to a soldier in Iraq, and not gone to a Memorial Day service. I am especially sorry that I did not give away my box of thin mint Girl Scout cookies this year to the kid collecting boxes for our troops. I'm still feeling really guilty about that one. And we really are sorry for all of our peers who can't sing the National Anthem... I mean that really gets me.
I grew up in a military family. My uncle Bill was a 'tunnel rat' in Vietnam. My grandpa served two stints over there and my mom says, after that, he never played the piano anymore. My dad is in the reserves serving as a chaplain. He was just promoted to Full Bird Colonel; he's been in my whole life. My uncles, on both sides of the family, all served active duty until they retired. One uncle was in charge of completely grounding all aircraft for a fourth of the country on 9/11... he's the tunnel rat uncle. Growing up, I had cousins living all over the world. Japan, Germany, Hawaii, and every place in between. Now, I have cousins in the military. And my sister married into the army; her husband just got deployment notices for April 2011. Afghanistan.
It will be his third deployment since he graduated from West Point seven years ago.
So I am not sure if the family history is what made me cry my eyes out when I first heard Lee Greenwood sing, "I'm Proud to Be an American" or what, but I was one choked up little fourth grade girl who couldn't understand why everyone at the laser light show on Stone Mountain that night wasn't bawling their eyes out. Were they not proud to be American? You'd think I was birthed on the steps of the Washington Monument the way my heart beats patriotism, but I wasn't. I was born in Albuquerque. That wasn't even a real state until 1912. I barely got in.
Ryan says I'm a dork about it all, but I can't help myself. I put my hand over my heart during the Star Spangled Banner and I sing with furry. I cry every time the end of the parade comes and Vets are all piled into the back of a flatbed waving their American flags. And, to this day, I thank men and women in uniform for their service- which Ryan says is really embarrassing- as only old people do this.
I admit. I am from a generation of people who don't quite get into "thanking men and women in uniform," but I am old school. I still think it deserves a thank you. And I still think it means a lot to a person in uniform.
I don't believe we are the best nation in the world; some last great hope for humanity.
I'm pretty sure there are positives and negatives to every nation (some far, far greater or worse than others). But I do believe our nation's story is uniquely built upon freedom. And even though the founding fathers were far from perfect in their attempts to implement this (slavery), and we have fallen short since then (Trail of Tears, child labor, women's suffrage, Arizona's new law [too soon?]) we are one of the few nations in all of history that has stood the test of time and progressively moved closer and closer to true freedom for all people.
That freedom- to write my own opinions in this blog, to choose a religion, a school, a job, a family, to choose peace or violence- my ability to be free comes down to the scores of men and women who decided a long time ago that individual freedom was worth defending and protecting.
And today I thank them.
Truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
To those of you who take care of the kids, pay the bills, work two jobs, and have dreams at night about whether or not your husband is safe... thank you.
To those of you who have moved all over the world, learned new languages, and represented our country in the best possible way as you served in the military... thank you.
To the medics, like the one we met a few weekends ago at Sea World, who pick up the broken and care for them like they are your own kids, your own parents... thank you.
To the little boys and little girls who Skype with a parent, write them cards, and pray each day that your dad or mom comes back home safe and sound... thank you.
To all the families who have said good-bye to your husbands and wives, moms and dads, sons and daughters. For those of you who have mourned at the site of a folded flag. For those of you who carry the darkness and pain of war with you; you who long for the day when you will see your hero, when you will see your baby again... thank you.
To my brother-in-law Tim, who studied hard, got his doctorate, and wants to serve in the military until they kick him out... thank you. Your passion for public service is amazing. Your compassion for those you serve, whether American or Iraqi's, is beautiful. Your commitment to your calling is honorable.
To my sis, Melissa. God I want you home so bad it hurts. But you are such a strong like stinker and the way you love on the women at your base and the lifelong friends you are meeting is inspiring.

To all of you who serve: thank you.

In a perfect world, a twenty year old would not be given a gun and my cousin would never utter the words, "mom, they've turned us into a killing machine." In a perfect world there would be no threat of nuclear weapons (or nuclear stockpiles for that matter). Dialogue and compromise would cure all things. And civilians would never die because of a bomb gone wrong.
But our world is not perfect.
Until the day comes when peace reigns... I pray for peace. For the end of all wars and all violence.
But until that day comes... I am forever grateful for the men and women who choose to defend my safety, my freedom, my home.
So from one girl who still cries during the national anthem and thanks people in uniform...
for what it's worth...
thank you.

5,000 Feet Above Dallas

Ever heard of Prescott, Arizona?

Yea, me neither.
It sits two hours outside of Phoenix, nestled in the mountains, 5,000 feet above Dallas.
And from what I can tell, I'm sorry Chicago, but it is the windy city. I've never seen wind so fierce or birds so brave. Every time one takes off, the mother in me hurts for the poor stupid bird. They don't make it very long, but they sure do try. I guess even animals have to test their boundaries.
Back to Prescott... it is beautiful here and the people are particularly kind and hard working. The rugged west is growing on me.
Last weekend at the SeaWorld San Antonio show I met a group of guys (and one gal) who just finished basic training at Lackland Air Force Base. They stood up front through the whole show and made me nervous. Are they here because they like the music? Or will they, at any minute, die laughing? Nine years in and I still battle the voices of insecurity. But they just looked so stinkin' intimidating with their crew cuts and reserved, respectful mannerisms that I wasn't sure what to make of them. They stayed for the entire show. And when we ended with the song Hope Now, they linked arms and sang it together. One guy had tears running down his face.
They waited in line forever, and of course I have a special love for military people, so I gave them as many hugs as I could :)
As I started talking to some of them they told me about boot camp and how they'd go back to their barracks each night and listen to Hope Now. They told me about their families and where they were going to be stationed. And as they started to walk off the last guy came up and asked if I would sign his program for his mom. He had been waiting patiently, quietly, for everyone else to go. He told me his mom was a huge fan of our music and had always wanted to see us in concert. I asked if she was at the show and he told me she didn't live around here, but that this would make her day. He said he hoped one day she'd be able to see a concert because it would mean a lot to her.
"Where does she live?" I asked him.
"We just played a show there last weekend outside of Phoenix! Bummer. I think we are playing there again soon, but I'm not sure where."
"Well most shows are in Phoenix, but she lives in Prescott."
Prescott. I've seen that name. I know I have.
"Hold on."
I went and found Richard (our new drummer) at the merchandise table and he looked up the show for the coming weekend.
Prescott, Arizona. Sold out.
I was so excited I almost fell over. My little heart was overflowing for happiness. Not because I was sooo happy that this person would get to come and see us in concert, as if I were blessing her with the gift of seeing Bono or The Beatles, but I was so happy that I could give Jeff something to give his mom. Because any guy who waits around for an hour to have you sign a CD for his mom living thousands of miles away, means he really loves his mom and longs to do something special for her.
I ran back to the table and told him. "You're not going to believe this. Of all the places in the world we could be playing next weekend, we are playing in Prescott, Arizona. And your mom will be on my private guest list."
Two hours outside of Phoenix, nestled in the mountains, 5,000 feet above Dallas and San Antonio.
His mom wrote me that evening. I've highlighted the parts that made my heart soar:

"Hi, I am Myra H., mother to a very excited Airman Jeff H., stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. He told us you were in concert at Sea World San Antonio today and that something very special happened when he talked to you. What a huge blessing and answer to my prayers of the last few days. Jeff did not know of my prayers to be able to go see your concert at the Heights Church in Prescott .

To tell you the truth, I was planning to bug the snot out of KGCB’s morning crew Steve and Dave when they have the contest starting Monday morning for the tickets to the concert. I am on leave of absence from work due to a recent surgery, so money is a bit tight right now. I have been praying, asking PAPA GOD if the contest was the way for my husband and myself to go to the concert that He would make a way. And then we get the call from Jeff this afternoon. WOW is all I can say."

This story reminds me that the Holy Spirit is real.

To me, that was not just a lucky, random conversation. I was tired. It had been a long day. The military guys were at the end of the line... the line that I assumed had been cut off already. I was slightly annoyed that there were still more people... I was so tired. I was ready to go and take care of Annie. But something moved inside of me and I felt such love for this group of guys who had been singing their hearts out. And something about this one guy pulled me in. I felt the urge to talk to him.

That urge, I believe, is what the Christian church calls the Holy Spirit. The part of God that is alive and active and moving inside of our hearts and our lives. Calling out to us in that still small whisper. Speaking to us. Moving us. Prodding us. Convicting us. And moving our spirits to take care of and love those around us.

Looking back, I didn't know it was God. I just felt the desire to talk to this guy. If it were me, I would've gone backstage. But in that moment, it wasn't me. It was God putting a different thought into my heart.

I truly believe the Holy Spirit put this desire in my heart to have a conversation with Jeff. I believe it with everything inside of me. Not fate. Not chance. Not a random coincidence. But God himself who loves his children and longs to give us the desires of our hearts. There was a reason.

And that reason was to answer the prayers of Myra; a mom recovering from surgery, tight on money, touched by our music, and praying quietly to her God that he would help her win a contest so she could spend a night listening to music that uplifts her soul.

And God answered.

Myra and David will be our special guests tonight at the Tenth Ave. North, Addison Road concert. We bought her flowers. :)