A Day of Remembering

Memorial Day is a pretty special day for me for several reasons.

First, it’s a dedicated day of remembering the courage of our military, those that have given their lives by dying for our country, and those that are actively giving their lives for our benefit.

The reality of the sacrifice of our military is especially close to me and my family. There are six kids in my family and three of them are actively in the military.

Come to think of it, if you ever come into our home when all our family gets together, it may be rather intimidating: 1 former Marine, 2 active Army guys, 1 Navy specialist, 1 kickboxing trainer, 2 biology med students, and mom that can make a casserole that’ll knock your socks off.

I pity the fool that intrudes our house when we’re all there. In the words of Antoine Dodson, “You are so dumb.” After 5 of us beat the living daylights out of him, we’ll send him to the med brothers who’ll resuscitate his life and replace his limbs. My mom will then make him a meal fit for kings, and then we’ll tell him about Jesus and send him on his merry way.

Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it paints a picture nonetheless.

But mostly I want to paint a picture of sacrifice. I want to say thank you. Thank you for serving our country. Yes, all of us that work jobs are still serving our country and economy by being faithful and productive, but last time I checked our slogan where I work at 9Round is, “Get fit, Never hit.”

When you join the military, however, you get fit because you prepare for that moment when you willingly go into a battle where you very well may be hit. That’s the kind of service that makes our military vastly different from every other career in our country. Would you second-guess accepting your job offer if that were written on the job description? Yet every day hundreds of normal everyday citizens volunteer for this job. How amazing is that? Every person protecting your country today, the greatest country on earth, is a volunteer. Pretty awesome.

Thank you for the sacrifices: missing your youngest brother’s graduation party, missing the birth of your first daughter, moving all across the country and world, being separated from your wife or fiance for extended months at a time, for your faithfulness and commitment.

Thank you for our benefits: that I can work for a small, local business, that your dad can be a Christian pastor and speak with freedom, that I can write and post on a free blogging platform without interference, that I can be an entrepreneur and creator in my free time, that I can go to sleep tonight without fear of bomb threats and invasion.

For all the endless sacrifices and benefits for our sake, we say thank you. We’ll never know the beauty of these freedoms unless one day they are gone. So we enjoy them and honor you for all that you do, seen and unseen.

Charity Jackson, Navy

Charity Jackson, Navy

Jon and Kristin with baby Elanie, arriving home from Iraq; Army

Jon and Kristin with baby Elanie, arriving home from Iraq; Army

Nate and Jeanie; Army

Nate and Jeanie; Army

Memorial Day is also a special day to me because, well, I was born on Memorial Day. And apparently I’m a pretty memorable person, according to my mom (well-played, Mom).

So I’ve been remembering my recent birthdays, and honestly my last 2 birthdays haven’t exactly been stellar.

2 years ago: I was in Philadelphia with a whole bunch of people I didn’t know and spent most of the day by myself. After a quick trip to Starbucks to celebrate with a coconut mocha frappe, I retreated back to my room. So sad. (Granted, the next day I would be leaving for Europe, but I still want a pity party)

Last year: After several attempts to find somebody, anybody,  to go with me to watch Colbie Caillat at the Memorial Day celebration in Simpsonville, I resigned to spend the evening house-sitting for my friend. just me and the dogs. eating chips and salsa. and Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips. and watching The Vow. alone.

that’s one very depressing birthday.

Thankfully, every year we get a chance to make up for the mistakes we made in the past, and now I’m with my family in Indiana, having a duo-celebration with my youngest brother as he graduates from high school. and we all breath a sigh of relief.

That was a really unnecessary introduction. But it does remind me of how thankful I am for the changes that have come about this past year and all the craziness that has happened. So I just wanted to share a quick little photo journal of some highlights this past year. It really has been unbelievably wild. If I were really cool, I’d make an Infographic, complete with diagrams, timelines and neat swirly arrows.

but I’m not cool. so pitch that thought.

and enjoy.

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These guys attended my birthday party last year. Obviously, they were about as thrilled about watching The Vow as I was.

 

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First time Broadway experience. And it was WICKED AWESOME!

I was flown out to LA area for a job interview. The drive through the mountain pass to get there was phenomenal!

I was flown out to LA area for a job interview. The drive through the mountain pass to get there was phenomenal!

That same week I got to drive down to San Diego for my first time. All in one day I was in the desert, mountains, and beach. That is why Cali is legit.

That same week I got to drive down to San Diego for my first time. All in one day I was in the desert, mountains, and beach. That is why Cali is legit.

This year I got to be very involved with the homeless in Greenville and had a lot of unique experiences that have changed my life.

This year I got to be very involved with the homeless in Greenville and had a lot of unique experiences that have changed my life.

Snowboarding in West Virginia, baby!

Snowboarding in West Virginia, baby!

This was my last day at my former job. We donated windows to the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville. It was a great way to end a season and enter a new one.

This was my last day at my former job. We donated windows to the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville. It was a great way to end a season and enter a new one.

This is Lilly. 6 months after the 5K, she was connected with a specialist in New York, and after an intense surgery, she was declared cancer-free! Praise Jesus!

This is 3 year old Lilly. 6 months after my first 5K which raised money for her fight against brain cancer, she was connected with a specialist in New York. After an intense surgery, she was declared cancer-free! Praise Jesus!

Enter 9Round into my life. In March I started training to become manager and head trainer at the 9Round location on Wade Hampton. Amazing job, amazing organization! I love every minute there.

Enter 9Round into my life. In March I started training to become manager and head trainer at the 9Round location on Wade Hampton. Amazing job, amazing organization! I love every minute there.

During my first week we had our annual national 9Round convention downtown at the Westin Poinsett. Yeah, we were running around the Gold Room in boxing gloves. Be jealous.

During my first week we had our annual national 9Round convention downtown at the Westin Poinsett. Yeah, we were running around the Gold Room in boxing gloves. Be jealous.

jared1

My youngest brother Jared had his high school graduation party the same day as my birthday this year. Now I call that good timing.

Well folks, there’s the overview of year 25. Now onward to 26. Do I have plans, dreams, goals?

eh, ish. Here’s what I’ve learned: pray, plan, dream … and then go. One day you have to make the decision to actually do something, to walk forward, even if you have no idea what step to take after the first one. But that’s ok, because you’re never, ever alone, no matter how dark it may seem or how fearful you feel. Are you a child of God? Then be aware that before the words ever cross your lips that you need His presence, God’s presence has always been there and has never, and will never, leave.

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