Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Day 163 - Wayne's 22nd Birthday

Probably the only one who cares more about a birthday than the one who celebrates is the mom who actually did the birthing.

I’ve thought a lot about the Virgin Mary today. Theology aside, you gotta hand it to the Catholics for honoring the Mother part of one of history’s most amazing women.

Think about what might have happened if Mary had been indoctrinated with Choice instead of with Responsibility.

And Joseph, bless his heart. Good thing he didn’t grow up watching Friends. He actually was one.

Jesus was born after Mary’s three-day donkey ride to a one-star hotel in Bethlehem. Even when relegated by an insensitive innkeeper to the barn out back, Mary kept her cool and delivered on a Promise.

Good News travels fast. Angels sang. Shepherds shouted. But Mary simply pondered these things in her heart.

Our first grandchild was here last weekend. Mesmerized by the miracle of new life, we sat for hours, watching Connor sleep and eat, coo and hiccup, stretch and yawn.

As the new family backed out of the driveway on Sunday, Myron and I pondered how much the baby will have changed by the next time we see him.

Jesus made another three-day journey with his parents when he was twelve, this time from Nazareth to Jerusalem for a 7-day Passover celebration. Somehow, on the way back, the family got separated.

Jesus' parents had already traveled a full day by the time they noticed he was missing. Wouldn’t you like to have heard that conversation?(Especially since, by religious law, women were not required to make the trip!)

Counting the day-long trek back to Jerusalem and the extra day they had spent looking for their son, it was the third day when Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple.

While resident teachers were marveling at the wisdom of their young visitor, Mary walks in and immediately throws the Mother Lasso.

"How could you treat your parents this way?" she demands.

"Why were you searching for me?" Jesus counters. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"

Nope. They didn’t get it. (Here’s your Sign!)

Poor Mary. She could have stomped over and spewed, “Listen here, young man! Do you have any earthly idea what I’ve gone through to get you to the point where you could stand here and sound half-way intelligent?”

Instead, Mary treasured these things in her heart.

Poor Joseph. He could have cracked his own parental rights whip, “The only father’s business you need to worry about is right here at the end of my arm!”

Instead, Joseph simply took his family back home to the carpenter’s house.

An obedient son, Jesus went down to Nazareth with his parents.

I bet that was a quiet three days. Things were different now, and everybody knew it.

This time, Divine Purpose wasn’t sung from the heavens or shouted from the hilltops. It showed up on the Way, in Truth, through the Life of Jesus--a kid talking to the good old boys at the Temple.

Did Mary and Joseph finally get it? They must have, because Jesus continued to grow in wisdom and favor with God and men. And they must have helped.

Yes, parents are mouthy. Yes, we sometimes forget the very lessons we are trying to teach. And yes, we resist cutting the apron strings.

But in the end, we finally get it. With a little time and a lot of Grace, parents eventually get The Big Picture.

Mother Mary put it best: “Be it unto me, according to Thy Word.”

But I do more than thank. I continually ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory--to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him--endless energy, boundless strength! (Ephesians 1:17-19 MSG)

Happy Birthday, Wayne.


Wayne said in a short Instant Message conversation just now he sends thanks for the packages he received today from his sister, Nikki, from Millsaps College, and from Ocee Elementary School.