Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. — Joshua 1:9
There’s a story behind these two stories. It all started in the heart of a grandmother who was and is concerned about her two grandchildren who became part of the military family when Dad went off to basic training, and then deployed to Iraq. She wanted to help, and she did. And in helping her own grandchildren she has seen her books help thousands of other military children around the world. You can find the story on www.weservetoo.com . . . .click on “About.” Turns out this particular grandma knows what she is talking about—she grew up the daughter of military parents, too. Her family’s history is one of military service to our nation throughout World War I, II, Korea, and Vietnam. In wanting to help her family’s most current generation serving in the military, she had looked around for a children’s book which would address deployment issues. She didn’t find anything—and then God provided the idea for We Serve Too!
This dear grandma’s name is Kathleen Edick, who teamed up with her friend, Paula Johnson, to produce We Serve Too!: A Child’s Deployment Book and We Serve Too! 2: A Child’s Reunion Book. The introduction page to the second book says, “This story was created with love for a certain little girl and a certain little boy by their Colorado grandmother and her Colorado friend to help their little hearts understand the whats and whys and hows of living a military life especially when duty calls to take their daddy far away.” The two ladies also include this dedication: “Dedicated to YOU. . . the brave children of all the parents serving in the mighty American military, in recognition of your courage and sacrifice for the cause of freedom.” Kathleen told me over the telephone, “The children need to know that there is a purpose in their waiting. The military is a calling—and the whole family is part of that. You have to do it together.”
Turning the pages of the companion books reveal wonderfully simple illustrations of a military family undergoing the emotions of joy and sorrow which accompany the challenges of deployment and reintegration. The beauty is not just in Kathleen’s drawings and Paula’s layout, but in the “space” that the words give to promote discussion on the tender topics of loneliness, anticipation, anger, courage, teamwork, patience, respect, and resilience. Kathleen’s words put to rhyme by Paula leave plenty of openings for the parent or leader to talk—to share feelings. Kathleen told me, “What we wrote clarifies what they are feeling”. . . . and there is great security and comfort in that validation.
But that’s only the start of what these two creative ladies have done with We Serve Too! In the back of the first book you will find “The Creed of the Soldier’s Child”—which has recently been put to music and will soon be on YouTube. Open up the “Creed” folder and you will find “Things To Do While Dad’s Away,” “My Prayer for Daddy,” information on other ideas like downloadable stickers to make the books branch-specific and coloring pages—and don’t forget the dog tags! Yes, these ladies have thought of everything—even dog tags for the children. The website has parent and leader page-by-page discussion guides to download for groups or families, ideas to create a “homecoming box” and “tear bottle,” and links to Kathleen and Paula’s blogs where there is more information and inspiration.
The We Serve Too! project began with a God-inspired idea. The inspirations continue as God is now helping Kathleen and Paula put together a third book, for the children of wounded soldiers. In helping military families to help kids cope with war-time deployments, we thank God for His working in Kathleen Edick’s and Paula Johnson’s hearts. They have taken seriously the exhortation of Philippians 4:8 by putting into words these ideas which are “excellent or praiseworthy” and then encouraged our military families to “think on these things.”
The “Prayer for Daddy” goes like this: “I pray my Daddy will be strong; That time away will not be long. I pray dear Lord, be close to him. On every mission, go with him. While we at home stay strong and true; Help us to love and trust in You. Amen.”
Thank you, Kathleen and Paula. To God be the Glory!
Edick, Kathleen, and Johnson, Paula, We Serve Too! and We Serve Too! 2 (Eaton, CO: Wee The People Publishing, LLC, 2008 and 2009)
Questions to Share:
1. How can we, as a couple, encourage our children (and others) to understand how they are serving our country in this deployment?
2. How can we, as a couple, pray for military children to be strong and courageous during this deployment, and during the time of reintegration?