Both of my children have a heart of gold and a spirit of compassion for those in need. I am so very proud of them. Yesterday morning, the General and I along with Andrea and Kevin made our way to First Baptist Church in Sealy. Our being there was important because Craig was one of two young men being ordained as a deacon. Each of the candidates for ordination was asked to share their story. Listening as Craig shared about himself filled me with such gratitude for the man he has become. I couldn’t be prouder of him.
Craig said of himself: “I grew up in Henly, Texas. Which is really to say that I grew up in Henly Baptist Church in Henly, Texas. I’ve always viewed the two as synonymous; you can’t have one without the other. Henly Baptist Church is a small country church where everyone is family. I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior in Henly Baptist Church. As a young boy I used to listen to my father preach on Sunday mornings and I envisioned myself following in his footsteps and one day becoming the pastor of Henly Baptist Church.
I then made a couple of important discoveries. The first is that the thought of public speaking scares me to death. The second is that I have a bit of an accent. Can you imagine the number of roasts that would have burned waiting for me to get all the words out?
Rather than my father’s footsteps, I ended up following in his twin brother’s. My Uncle Ronnie went to Texas A&M, I went to A&M. Ronnie became a Marine Officer, I became a Marine Officer. Ronnie went off to war; 32 years later I did as well.
On the campus at Texas A&M is a monument dedicated to the A&M men who have given their lives in defense of our country since World War II. My Uncle Ronnie’s name is on that monument. Though my uncle’s name is what initially drew me to the monument, it’s the scripture inscribed on the monument that has had a lasting impact on my life.
The scripture is John 15:13. Christ told his disciples “Greater love hath no man than this, than that he lay down his life for his friends”. When I read this scripture I think of Christ’s example as the servant leader and I think of his disciples, men who left behind everything that they’d known to follow Him and to serve others. To me this scripture is a call to selflessly serve others. Now I won’t claim that I always get it right but I wanted you to know what’s in my heart.
My senior year at Texas A&M I met a pretty young girl from Cat Spring, Texas. A little over a year later we were married and we set off to make our mark on the world. For the next twenty years we went wherever and whenever the Marine Corps told us. With each new duty station came the challenge of finding a new church home. I say challenge because I was always looking for Henly Baptist Church.
When I left active duty three years ago and we moved back to Cat Spring, our Connect Group in Camp Lejeune was praying that we’d be lead to a new church home. We were led here. We visited a few times and realized that we were being called to First Baptist Church, Sealy. In short order we’d joined the congregation. The more we got to know you, the more we considered you to be family. Our three children came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior in this church. They were baptized in this church. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re home. I am both honored and humbled to serve as one of your Deacons”.
As a father, I could not be prouder of Craig. The same is true of his sister. Craig and Andrea are almost ten years apart in age, but unlike what one might think, the age differential is irrelevant. They are extremely close. It had been Andrea’s hope to run in the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon with Craig in Washington, D. C. following his last tour in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, a work commitment and a change in supervisors resulted in her previously approved vacation time being rescinded. Despite the disappointment, she resolved that one day she’d run in that marathon.
Consequently, months ago Andrea and Kevin purchased tickets that guaranteed them the opportunity to participate in this years Marine Corps Marathon. The package deal included plane tickets and non-refundable hotel reservations. When it comes to living out one’s dreams, Andrea has the stamina to make it happen. In the process, she also hoped her passion for participating could also generate support for a charity of her choice.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way one anticipates or hopes, but I like the way my daughter has the ability to take the ball and run with it regardless of circumstance. She’s not a complainer and she is fairly private. The last several months have been months of difficulty for her. Yet rather than tell her story my way and get into trouble, I’ll defer to what she’s shared with others. That way, I stay out of trouble and perhaps even help the cause she supports.
The email communication she shared weeks ago with her friends began like this:
“Many but not all are aware, Kevin and I started 2017 training to run the 42nd annual Marine Corps Marathon this October. We joined the Semper Fi Fund Team for an incredible opportunity to raise money for our nation’s wounded heroes (www.semperfifund.org) . As life has a way, God brought to light a medical condition that precludes my ability to run this year although we will attend the race. While our sneakers may be hung up for now, our commitment to support Semper Fi Fund remains. Our goal is to raise $5,000 and to promote the continuing needs of our nation’s injured service members. We need your help to reach our goal!
First and foremost, we ask for your prayers – for our country’s wounded warriors and their families as well as for the brave men and women serving in the Armed Forces.
Secondly, if you are able, we truly appreciate any contributions you can provide. You can also help us reach our goal by sharing this message and links on Facebook!…”.
My world is good because the world in which my children and their families live is good. Treva and I are honored that they routinely invite us to be active participants in their lives as well.
All My Best!
P.S. If you’d like to make a financial contribution to assist reach my daughter and her husband to reach or surpass their goal for The Semper Fi Fund you can do so by using either of the following links: https://runsignup.com/kevinstearns or https://runsignup.com/andreastearns . Donations can be made securely online. The Semper Fi Fund will send you a tax receipt by mail within two weeks. Any amount you can give will help; no donation is too small.
Many companies offer matching gift programs to their employees that can increase the power of your donation. Contact your personnel office to see if your employer or organization participates in matching gift programs. Semper Fi Fund’s Federal Tax ID # is 26-0086305.