Today, I Will Remember.


Today we remember D-Day.

I, like most of you, have listened to the speeches online, and have seen the pictures. As a history buff, I find myself drawn to the countless documentaries, movies, and reports that have come front and center as we move towards the anniversary. I get lost in them. I marvel, with respect, at the courage, the bravery, and the sacrifice men, half my age, made so long ago.   I think about those boys, and realize that many are no longer with us, and all have moved well beyond the point where anyone would call label them as such.

Today, as I reflect on this moment and the images that bounce around my television and my computer, my memory keeps turning to one veteran of WWII in particular;

Milton W. Halainen.

As a boy, he was just Uncle Milt, and he held an incredible place in my life, and the life of my family.   As a little boy, I remember his visits, and how me and my sisters would always be excited when he and his wife arrived at our home, or we his. When I was a boy, he was a bigger than life man.   I loved every part of the man he was.   I loved how he made us laugh.   I loved how he made our home when he was there.   I loved how he just seemed bigger than life. Uncle Milt passed on when I was in college, and I think about those memories, and I realize that even today, they mean so much to me.

As a boy, it was my Dad, my Uncle Eddie, and Uncle Milt who defined for me, what being a man was supposed to be. I am sure there is a bit of mythology packed into my recollection of each. Yet, as a boy, I wanted to be some combination of these three men.

I remember him today, for when he was a barely a man, he served in the 769th Ordinance of the 69th Infantry Division during WWII. I remember being younger than my youngest and sitting with him, as he showed me pictures from a scrapbook.  I saw, in black and white, snapshots of what was for him certainly life changing.   I recall seeing him on skis, at a concentration camp, and in boot camp. I saw pictures of what was left of Germany and his time there.  Although, I have no recollection whether he was there for Normandy, I know that he was there for the nightmare that followed.

Today, I both treasure and regret that moment I spent by his side.   I treasure the time spent with a man I truly loved and respected, but I also regret not having the knowledge to ask him the right questions.  Thinking back today, I have a great many.

I would love those answers today.   I would have loved to have talked with him about courage, fear, and bravery.   I would have loved to ask his advice. I would have loved to talk with him as a man, not a boy. I would have loved to share a scotch with him.

I was young. I didn’t understand the scope of what those pictures revealed or the pain that must have been behind those stories.   I missed that doorway he opened for me. Today, that missed opportunity ranks up there as one of my life’s regrets.

From time to time I find pictures and I remember Uncle Milt and how special he was for all of us.   Today, I remember.   Today I remember all the men like him who undertook a journey that I cannot even imagine, and who returned to be bigger than life to countless little boys like me.   Today I remember that moment 70 years ago, and think how it must have changed – perhaps even determined – the man I wanted (and want) to be.   Today, I think of the man who will be one third of how I always measure myself.

Today I remember the many men like him, some still here, many more gone.  As I remember Normandy, I will remember the men behind the stories.   Today, I will remember heroes, and thank them for being larger than life.



This past week, I had the opportunity to have a discussion with someone who had some challenges with some implications of a message I recently posted online.

It was a discussion about sin and the cross, and for that individual, my understanding of both, according to him, had strayed a wee bit too far. Although differing views on even the atonement is okay, he took the opportunity to try to convict me of the errors of my ways.

He tried to change my mind and my belief in as loving and respectful a way possible.   Or maybe I should say, as loving as possible when you believed the other person to be dead wrong and destroying your faith.

Anyways, let me try to summarize his position.

A Moment on Mother’s Day


Today, Mothers Day, I celebrate my Mother and the Mother of my children. I thank them for who they are, what they have done for me and for my girls, what the brought and bring out from me. I celebrate because deep down I recognize the immense holiness that comes from this definition.

In search of the right words of thanks, along with the need to determine how to package this moment for the church I serve, I stumbled on this video.

This video tugs at the heart strings, because it reminds us that even if this is their moment on the surface Mom’s are not perfect, even if they hover somewhere close in the eyes of their kids. That baggage we bring to motherhood – and fatherhood– is so easily revealed in the simple words of our children, and in this video, I found that reminder.

From a church perspective, Mother’s Day is one of the hardest things to do right.   It’s probably only second to Father’s Day in degree of sensitivity required; ‘cuz life ain’t perfect. As a matter of fact, sometimes it’s far from perfect. Sometimes its imperfections are heartbreaking.

The truth is that none of us have the Hallmark Card kind of life, and true motherhood and fatherhood doesn’t look like what Madison Avenue would have us believe.   We reside somewhere else. For many, mother’s day reminds us of that strange citizenship, or that less than perfect reality.

So, how do we celebrate the good, and acknowledge the not so good?

Certainly, some of those who find a place in church on Mother’s Day morning, have or had Moms that were near perfect in many – perhaps most – ways. Others had Mom’s that fell short.   Sometimes they fell short in colossal ways. Some might miss their moms with a very real ache, and others might have chips in their hearts because of the profound mistakes their mom’s made. It’s a painful reality that for every June and Ward Cleaver there is a Mommy and Daddy Dearest, and a much larger number of those that fall somewhere in-between.

With that in mind, I often remind myself to be cautious from the pulpit and to travel carefully through the joy and pain of Mothers Day.   Many church leaders are outspoken in their advice that we skip it entirely. Me, I argue the opposite.    At least at Asbury Church, we need to celebrate the fantastic and awe inspiring mothers among us, as well as remember those whose journey was harder.

We – as a church – need to recognize those who have children, and those who, either by fate or choice, do not. We need to recognize those in our community who chose to become mothers and couldn’t, those that chose and did, and those who chose not to be.   We need to recognize that for each of them, they all come carrying different bags.

As we recognize this reality, we begin to realize that Mother’s Day can be something bigger and holier than enshrining the white washed, Madison Avenue version. We can be reminded that Mother’s Day is more than your possession of biological offspring. We can remember something else.

I pray for the time that this day becomes one to remind us that there are those among us, mothers and stepmothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and friends, who have been like mothers to us.    Who wrap us in love, grace, and hope and as a result change our worlds.   As a church, we should – we need to – celebrate the fact that through their love, wisdom and guidance, we have been shown strength, courage, and Grace. These countless women have become the models for a new – and maybe even – holier generation.

Today, is a day were we, through the examples of the women around us, stop and become intentional about what is meant by God the Mother.   Scripture is clear that there is an aspect of God that is best seen through the example of the strong woman and mother.   Jesus told his followers that he wanted to gather the children of Jerusalem in the same way a mother hen gathers her chicks. The Hebrew Bible tells of a God who declares that “as a mother comforts her child, so God will comfort you”

God the Mother is just as Biblical and just as truthful as God the Father.

So, as the rest of the world celebrates the Hallmark mom and countless people outside these doors long for that dream or regret what they missed, I want to be different. I want to celebrate my Mom, and my wife, and I want to celebrate more.

Inside Asbury Church though, during the passing of the peace, we will be intentional. We will take a moment to celebrate a different truth and a different reality

As we at Asbury celebrate Christ’s peace, and pass it along to each other, we will stop and take the time to celebrate the women in our lives who remind us of that through their strength, resilience, beauty, sacrifice, and love, we don’t have to ever go through this journey alone.   We will celebrate the women among us who show us what and who God is.

As we start our service, the youth will be giving a carnation to all the women in this place – ALL of them – as a thank you and a reminder; a reminder of the gift they possess and the window they can open; a window upon a Mother God who can provide a peace that changes everything.

Yet, before a single flower is handed out, it will start with a prayer. I will share the following prayer, born out of a poem by Amy Young:

Lord, today we grieve, mourn, remember and celebrate.  

  • To those in our community who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with them.
  • To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with them.
  • To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we walk with them.
  • To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with them.
  • To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with them.. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
  • To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need them.
  • To those who have warm and close relationships with their children – we celebrate with them.
  • To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with their children – we sit with them.
  • To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with them.
  • To those who experienced abuse at the hands of their mother – we acknowledge their experience
  • To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having them in our midst
  • To those who have aborted children – we remember them on this day
  • To those who are single and long to be married and mothering their own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way they longed for it to be
  • To those who step-parent – we walk with them on these complex paths
  • To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with them.
  • To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with them.
  • To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend them for their selflessness and remember how they hold that child in your heart
  • And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with them.

Lord, This Mother’s Day, we ask you for the Grace to walk with all those we mentioned.   Remind us that Mothering is not for the faint of heart and that we have real warriors in our midst. Help us to sense you in them.   Let this wish and this hope be our Mother’s Day prayer. In your most heavenly, wonderful, and motherly name we pray, Amen.

Stacey, Mom, and all the wonderful women I cross paths with each day,  Happy Mother’s Day.

( The Pic used at the start of the post is by Frederic Poiro, and used by CCL, -Amy Young’s blog can be found online at

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