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    The Thing My Daughter Told Me that I Didn’t Want to Hear

    June 24, 2014


    Little did I ever know I’d be writing a post like this, trying to make my fingers type the words as my heart pounds and tears threaten to spill over again.

    She was about thirteen. We were sitting in church, and at the end of the sermon the guest minister–a complete stranger–approached with a microphone and gave us a public “word” concerning her. It was that thing that charismatics do, that is sometimes not exactly on target. And sometimes it is.

    “This daughter of yours is going to choose a path in life that you would never choose for her. But God wants you to know it is going to be okay.”

    bootsI blew it off. She’s the perfect child! What could she possibly do that we wouldn’t approve of? I forgot about it and went on living our safe and happy life.

     And then she said those ominous words that wintry day six months ago, just after her seventeenth birthday:

     “Mom, I need to talk to you and Dad tonight.”

     I said “Okay” and all but blew it off again. What could she possibly do…. Maybe someone else was in trouble.

    We sat down in the living room, the three of us, she in my green La-Z-Boy where I write, her Dad and I on the couch. We waited for the words.

     I’d never seen her so nervous and scared in my life, this confident firstborn of mine.

    “Spit it out, sweetie. We’re safe. Nothing you could tell us is going to change our love for you.”

    Voice trembling, face blotchy-red, she started. “I’ve known for a while I don’t want to go to college right away….”

    And then she dropped it on us, and I can still hear it today, exactly as it sounded then. Still see the earnest in her hazel eyes.

    “I want to join the Marines.”

    I don’t know what other mothers of daughters go through upon hearing those words, but I can tell you this. By some miracle, all I could think in that moment was that she needed us. She needed to know she was safe, understood, supported and loved for who she is. Somehow I reached beyond my shaken mind and called her shaking body over to us, placed her snug between us on the couch. Somehow I said the words she had so desperately needed to hear for the two years she had planned this, but was afraid to tell us. Afraid because long ago I spouted off something mindless to her, a mother speaking to her baby girl: “Don’t ever go into the military.”

     And now I had to make it right.

     “Honey, if this is what you feel called to do, we are going to support you.”

    Dad grinned, slapped his leg and said, “My daughter the Marine!” I kissed her cheek. Then asked her why.

    “Because I love my country and I want to defend and protect it.” And of course that was the reason. She is just that kind of lady.

    We went to bed and Hubby reminded me of those words from the man of God long ago and I held onto them tightly and cried myself to sleep.

    For fourteen days after that I cried the tears of a mother letting go.

    I know it was fourteen days, because on day fifteen my pacifist friend, one of my closest friends, asked me how I was doing that day. She’d been the first to shoulder my tears. I counted the days since we first heard the news and was suddenly aware that it had been the first tearless day.

    Now the tears come on any given day without warning, triggered by anything. An American flag. Driving past marshy Parris Island on a recent road trip. Someone in uniform. World news headlines.

    Mostly the tears come when I watch her. Strong her. Bold, courageous her. Beautiful, singing-at-the-piano her. Bionic, made-of-steel her. How did I not see this coming? Sleeping on the floor and in the woods. Standing to do her homework. The pro punching bag installed in her bedroom. The pull-up bar over her desk. The Navy Seal survival guide requested for Christmas. The American history books devoured one after another.

    News like this is in a category all its own, creating a strange and unique blend of emotions. I have never been so proud and heartbroken in my life. (And did I mention proud?)


    Baby Girl was sworn into the DEP (Delayed Entry Program) today and leaves for Marine boot camp, the world’s toughest military recruit transformation program, next year. Then combat training after that. Then stationed to anywhere-in-this-crazy-messed-up-world.

    We have one. year. left. with her. This is not exactly a going-off-to-college thing.

    So thank you for understanding that I’m a little different right now. Scatter-brained. Weepy. Stubborn about saying “no” to things outside this nest I’ve built for my babies. Desperate to make every minute count.

    Why does it always take losing someone to make us love them properly? I want to love all my kids this way. With her, I’m given the gift of foreknowing.

    Thank you for understanding that I don’t need a discussion about the politics and philosophy of war right now. I need you to imagine it’s your child. No matter what side of the fence you’re on–a child leaving and going into dangerous places is a child leaving and going into dangerous places.

    A child knowing what she wants and going for it is a child knowing what she wants and going for it.

    And a child willing to lay down her life for what she believes in is no longer a child.

    (8/18/18 Update: Anna ended up going the officer route instead of enlisted, and graduated from Officer Candidate School!)


    1978533_596740400417825_1867060277_o (2)


    Anna swearing in to the DEP (Delayed Entry Program)
    Anna swearing in to the DEP (Delayed Entry Program)





    36 thoughts on “The Thing My Daughter Told Me that I Didn’t Want to Hear

    1. Deborah Farren says:

      Wow what a beautiful story you have Faith. Many prayers will be sent your way as you go through this with your family.

      1. Faith says:

        Thank you, Deborah. I still remember your emotion when you came to my book signing. You are such a sweet and supportive friend.

    2. Shirley Eggers says:

      Faith, what a wonderful testimony. I cried all the while reading it. Such a proud moment. You raised her to be who she is in God. Such a blessing. We will certainly keep her in our prayers. Thank you Anna, it is people like you that deserve our respect.

      1. Faith says:

        And I cried all the while writing it! Thank you, Shirley.

    3. Cynthia says:

      Faith, your gift with words shares what is in your heart and the treasure of your family in a way we can relate to and is incredibly encouraging. You and your family are a blessing with your huge and giving hearts.
      Anna, I wish you God’s best! 🙂

      1. Faith says:

        Cynthia, So glad Dave and I have friends like you guys to lean on! We’re gonna need it! <3

    4. Meg Soper says:

      I cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through. We have had this discussion many many times in my home, what with us having 2 boys. I have thanked God for our military as I have waited with bated breath as they make their choices. I remember Anna as a baby and it’s hard to believe she is old enough to be here, but then again, my baby is graduating this year. I have cried my way through this blog and I am here if you need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to vent to.
      Anna, God bless you and thank you!

      1. Faith says:

        Aw, thank you, Meg! Yes, it’s hard to believe that just 17 years ago I sat in the MOPS group with you. WAAAA!

    5. MB Lynn says:

      Blessings for continued wisdom, peace & assurance in Jesus’ name. <3

      1. Faith says:

        Thank you, dear friend! <3

    6. My son Josh finished a four-year commitment in the Army, including nine months in Afghanistan, in February. It was hard all around. God bless you.

      1. Faith says:

        God bless you too, Janet, and God bless your son for his service! I’m glad he made it out safely.

    7. Kris Long says:

      Just finished reading your blog, Faith. I cried all the way through it. My son, Jason enters the fleet today…. graduated from ITB this morning, on a plane headed for his permanent duty station this afternoon. My daughter is in the middle of her MOS school and waiting to hear where she will be. My son planned this his whole life, my daughter was the surprise… but I wasn’t surprised. My first thought was… of course you are joining the Marines. Your Anna will do an amazing job and be a wonderful testimony for Jesus Christ. It is an enormous mission field. We are so proud of her! And of you and your husband. You raised her to be willing to become a part of something bigger that herself. You raised her to be her.

      1. Faith says:

        Wow, what an emotional day for you, Kris! I don’t know how people do this without the Lord. So glad we have hope no matter what!

    8. Edie Melson says:

      Faith, I’ve been where you are. Our son entered the Marine Corps straight out of high school. I can assure you that God has this. No matter what you face down the road, He’s there ahead of you. I’ll be praying for you all.

      1. Faith says:

        Thank you, Edie. And I look forward to reading your book! I’m going to need it!

    9. Diana VanLoon says:

      I know an amazing church in Jacksonville, NC, if she ends up there. They support their Marines during every deployment.

      1. Faith says:

        I’ll make a note of that, Diana! Thanks!

    10. angel lutcher says:

      You all are in our hearts in prayers, I know it wasn’t my daughter but my son, but still difficult! (((HUGS)))

      1. Faith says:

        Absolutely, Angel! Son or daughter, it’s hard letting go. I just now learned that your son is in the service; David told me. Bring him by our house next time you’re in town.

    11. Marie Hilty says:

      Wow! Sounds similar to my son ! When theres a calling on their lives, the hardest thing to do is step back, ta breath, and let go! Gods plans are so much better than anything Icould wish for my son! Praying for Gods strength for our soon to be Marines and our families!

      1. Faith says:

        God bless your son, Marie! So glad to know our kids are in God’s hands and in His plans.

    12. Michele Gregory says:

      Wow Faith & Family that’s incredible news, thankyou for writing about this . You are an amazing woman and we will of course add you all to our prayers in this incredible challenging exciting new journey. Blessings on you all .

      1. Faith says:

        It’s been a long time, Michele! Thank you for your sweet words.

    13. Debbie Jenkins says:

      On December 4, 1979 I boarded a plane bound for Marine Corps boot camp. Believe you me, everything will be ok. When I was in the USMC there was no e-mail, there were no phone calls. When I went to Japan I didn’t hear the voice of my family and friends until I returned home. Woman Marines carry and qualify with the rifle and sometimes the pistol. I was one of the first WMs that proved we could do it over and over again. My sister and I covered most of the world cut off from family accept through mail. What a blessing technology will be hearing from your daughter sometimes daily and even doing Skype. The Chapel will be a place of comfort. And if I recall, every night everyone says the Lord’s prayer. I still remember the way we sang it. She will be tested over and over and will prove to herself she can do anything. My heart goes with her. Go to the graduation if you can. You are all now a Marine Family. God Bless

      1. Faith says:

        I love your story, Debbie! Thank you for sharing. Semper Fi!

    14. Anonymous says:

      Proud of her for serving her country. I know it must be so very hard for you Faith. It would be for me too. Atleast she’s doing a good thing. You wrote this so beautiful. Thinking of you.

      1. Faith says:

        Thank you so much. 🙂

    15. The military is wonderful and life changing. I joined the Army after a year of college and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I wish everyone had to do a tour in the military. It changes your life forever. We are blessed to live in a free country, but those freedoms come at a cost. Congratulations to your daughter. There are cell phones now. There weren’t when I was in. It’s just like she went off to college. Bootcamp and training school and then her permanent duty station. Just a job with funny scrubs. Hang in there mom!

      1. Faith says:

        Thank you, Tina, and thank you for your service! 🙂

    16. Dear Faith,
      Thank you for your post today. I will be praying for you and your family during this time of separation.
      Your message is so important – we don’t know how long we have any of our loved ones on this earth…your message is a good reminder to truly love my friends and family and appreciate those God has placed in my life.
      Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart with us.

      1. Faith says:

        Thank you, Beth. 🙂

    17. Melissa Davis says:

      Your story about your daughter helped me so much! I too thought our lives were going in a different direction this past Easter weekend 2017 my husband and I found ourselves in a recruiting office feeling the same exact thoughts that you spoke about. We’re a faith-based family I know God has a plan. would you please give me updates on what has happened with your daughter, it would mean a lot to me God bless you thank you for your story. Blessings, Melissa Davis

    18. Monica Adair says:

      Hi…I would love to read an update on Anna to hear how she is doing. Our daughter is strongly considering the same path and I need some reassurance! Thank you for sharing your story!

    19. Heidi Adams says:

      Any update? My daughter is considering this as well.

    20. Faith says:

      For those asking for an update: It’s been almost 6 years since I wrote this post and my daughter is now an officer in the Marine Corps! She loves her life and we are so proud of her. She is still in training for her particular MOS (which I won’t disclose here), and we know the reality of deployment looms, but we are not afraid. God’s hand is obviously on her life and this is her calling. Yes, our faith will be tested and it will be hard and there will be times fear will knock. I’d never want to do this without God!

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