Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord

Photo taken by Peter Sleeth--used by permission of The Oregonian
1st Lt. Justin Chandler in Iraq in 2003
          I want to share a story with you today that is very dear to my heart.  As you read it, I hope you get a sense of the miraculous timing of all this, and the blessing it was to this mother's heart. 

          When my son Justin was in Iraq in 2003 with the 82nd Airborne, several news correspondents were embedded with the troops. I learned through internet searches that Peter Sleeth, with "The Oregonian", was one such reporter who followed the troops and posted his stories on the web.  I searched for news daily. 

          It had been several weeks since the war began, and I had not heard anything from my son.  As the weeks passed, fewer stories regarding the 82nd appeared on the news or on the internet. 

          Then one day my search yielded the following link:  "Just back from Iraq, see Peter Sleeth's new photo gallery".

          With one click, four pictures of my son Justin popped onto the computer screen.

          There he was dressed head to toe in full Army gear, his helmet buckled under his chin, his face and hands smeared with dirt.  With a pensive look on his face, he sat crouched on dusty cement steps facing a little dark-haired girl and boy.  They too were dirty and somber.  They sat at his knees looking up into his face.  His arms were outstretched to them, as he gave the little girl and barefoot boy sips of water from a plastic bottle.  The little boy held a bag of Skittles that had been in Justin's MRE (meal ready to eat).  The caption beneath the picture said that Justin was caring for the little children while paramedics cared for their mother nearby.

          On the following Sunday, Easter, the story behind the picture of my son and the children was the featured story in The Oregonian.

          When I saw the pictures, my heart overflowed with joy and gratitude to God for his loving kindness to me.  I was so eager to have any news of my son's unit.  I never expected personal news of my son.  And that day I saw four pictures of him.  Then a few days later, I read the heart-warming story about what Justin had taken upon himself to do for the children that tumultuous day. It was a story about kindness in the mist of turmoil.

          I can never repay God for allowing me to see those pictures.  What a miracle to have a glimpse of my son that day.  Out of thousands of soldiers, my son was photographed at that particular moment by Mr. Sleeth.  Of all the things he could have been doing, he was taking care of little children. 

          A burden was lifted from me that day.  I felt like God was showing me personally that He was watching out for my son, and He wanted me to know it. 

"I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us..." Isaiah 63:7a (KJV).

Photo taken by Peter Sleeth; used by permission of The Oregonian
1st Lt. Justin Chandler in Iraq in 2003


  1. Thank you for this story, Rose! Indeed the Lord is so absolutely loving and kind to give us those glimpses of His care for those we love--miracles of His grace. I know you were also so proud of your son.

  2. This is such a sweet story, Rose. We trust that God is watching out for our children but isn't it great when He shows us He's watching out for moms too.

  3. Thank you so much ladies for sharing your thoughts. God amazes me.

    And I'll add a note here--I am from Georgia and I had never heard of The Oregonian, or the award winning photographer, Peter Sleeth. How God brought this all home to me! I had not cried after my son left for Iraq, although I was a mess. That day, I cried. And it was good. I cried tears of joy.

  4. What a wonderful reminder of our all-knowing, all-loving Father!

  5. What a beautiful story, Rose, and what a wonderful son you have! Thank you for sharing your son and his photos with us!

  6. How uplifiting. I can only imagine how proud you were of him, in the midst of your relief.

  7. What a beautiful story. A great reminder how personal our Lord is and how He can use any method to speak to us. Hats of to Mr. Sleeth for reporting good news.


    Tom Blubaugh, Author
    Night of the Cossack

    1. Definitely, hats off to Peter Sleeth. My thanks to him. God bless him for capturing uplifting moments such as this. Because of his capturing this moment, not only did Justin, the children, and God get a blessings that day, but everyone who will see and those who have seen the pictures will be blessed as well. God takes personally every act of kindness.

  8. A truly wonderful story Rose which should serve to anchour our faith in God so much more. He truly is amazing and does wonderful things for His children. Your son is a beautiful human being.

  9. This brings tears to my eyes. What a blessing for a Mom with a deployed son. God knew exactly what you needed. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and inspiring answer to prayer.

  10. Rose, I read your story with tears rolling down my cheeks Our son also served in Iraq in 2009. The hand of God is truly almighty. We drove a few hours the day before our son was due to arrive. I have some health problems and I was having some challenges. I was not able to stand to greet him but I looked up on the jumbo, jumbo screen and the camera was on our son 3 different times.My heart leaped at the sight of him on the screen. I will never forget the sound of children crying Daddy! Wives calling out their husbands name.Yes, The Lord works in mysterious ways indeed! Thank you Rose for your beautiful story.

  11. And thank you Mary for sharing your story with me. It is a good thing to feel that someone "understands" the longings and cries of our heart. (I appreciate your writing because it confirms to me that I'm doing what God wills for me to do.) But, above all, God truly understands our hearts, like no mortal person can. All praise to Him. Isn't it wonderful that we have His Spirit in us as His children. My prayers and blessings to you and your children today Mary. :-)