Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home, an interview with April Gardner and Elaine Marie Cooper, two of the contributors to this anthology.
Saying good bye to a loved one leaving for war is a gut-wrenching proposition. But for those left behind, their deployment marks the beginning of our battle. And yet, it is possible to find God’s peace in the midst of fear and conquer the terror that lurks in the darkness of doubt. In Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home, parents, spouses and siblings recount their personal journey as God goes before His people during times of spiritual, physical and military warfare. Learn the secret to living a peace-filled life when a loved one leaves for battle. Fight fear; win the war at home.
1. Tell us how you got involved in this project and what you hope will result.
April: It was actually Elaine that alerted me to the project. I knew instantly that I needed to do my part, in this amazing book. Deployments are a regular part of my life. I've been there many times, and will be there again. Besides the Lord, it's been the support of understanding friends that's gotten me through. That's what this devotional is--friends reaching out to touch the lives of those who are lonely, fearful, and in need.
Elaine: I got involved in this project when I saw a posting on a blog that Edie Melson was looking for contributions to a devotional for families who had a loved one at war—any war. Edie wanted first person accounts that emphasized various aspects of dealing with the real-life difficulties of having a loved one on deployment and how, as Christians, our faith was able to sustain us. Since my own son had been deployed twice, I was able to draw on the personal angst of a Mom who knows her son is in danger, yet trusting that the God Who created him would be his shelter in war. What I hoped to impart was my own real life scenario: already dealing with the loss of my daughter to cancer, limited support of my family members, and struggling to maintain faith amidst my own battles on the home front. I hope that by sharing my own moments of both fear and faith, I can help others walking in my shoes.
2. Can you share a little summary of your contribution to the book?
April: When I heard about the project, my husband was in the middle of an eight month deployment in Baghdad. I knew instantly I needed to be a part of Fighting Fear, but it took months for the Lord to guide me in exactly what to write. It was over the holidays at a small town post office that God used an elderly woman and her generosity to sooth my ache. Needing to be a constant pillar of strength for my kids, I didn't know how scared and lonely I was until that kind stranger gave me permission to cry. God's strength and comfort comes in many forms and it's those forms this book addresses.
Elaine: I couldn’t believe the title of my son’s e-mail: “In the Sandbox.”
My breathing quickened as I clicked to open it. There were the words that made my heart lurch and my soul cry out. My son was actually in Iraq on the ground.
He’s supposed to be in the Persian Gulf on his aircraft carrier, I thought. Tears were pouring down my cheeks. Why is he there, on the ground?
My son Ben explained in his note that he had been flown into the country from “the boat” to help coordinate flying missions. It was an honor and spoke highly of his character and leadership ability.
But that’s my son, I cried out to God. This isn’t fair.
I remembered telling my children for years that life was not always fair. Never had it seemed more unfair than three years prior to Ben’s deployment, when my only daughter was taken from us, the victim of a brain tumor. Before she had been diagnosed with this devastating cancer, the horror of 9-11 had occurred, prompting Ben to join the Navy and defend our nation. So while my husband and I fought our daughter’s cancer battle at home, Ben was sent to Florida to train to go to war in the Middle East. In May of 2006 he left for Iraq.
3. What was it like to write about this experience?
April: It was tough! But good for me. Writing it freshened the experience and its encouragement. It reminded me of God's sovereignty and love.
Elaine: Writing about my experience was heartbreaking. Even now reading it, the tears begin to flow. I don't know that the passage of time ever removes the deep, painful times from a mother's heart. And knowing that in 2012 he could be deployed again only adds to the distress. Yet the God Who watched over my son in 2006 is still watching over him today—and tomorrow as well.
4. Have you connected with others and/or learned something in the process of this project?
April: I've been amazed at how eager and desperate people are for encouragement during deployments. Not only family members but friends, as well, who want to do something to help. Many have already told me they can't wait for the release so they can buy the book for someone in need.
Elaine: Other than April and Edie, I have not connected with any of the other contributors as yet. I want to read the whole compilation of stories before reaching out to the others on a more personal basis as we share our struggles as fellow fighters of fear.
5. Anything else? Thanks for the opportunity to share about this much needed book. The war in the Middle East is now the longest war in American history. Our troops are weary. Their families are falling apart. Fighting Fear couldn't have come at a better time.