Although Arkansas has been my home for most of my life, I wasn’t raised here. My parents were both in the Navy. In those days, women were discharged if they were pregnant so my mom served until I came along. My dad retired after twenty years of service.  

Growing up in the Navy came with standards. I often heard the words “standard issue” which could apply to anything from uniforms to ink pens. These were items provided by the Navy and they were expected to be worn or used by the Sailors. I also heard the words “higher standard”. My family often says “we” were in the Navy. My dad could be sent to war, and was. “We” weren’t expected to put our lives on the line for our country. That’s a higher standard that our service members and veterans have been held to. 

Our higher standard referred to our behavior and actions. A sailor who got into trouble would face harsh consequences. Their behavior affected the whole unit they were assigned to. It reflected on their leader’s ability to run “a tight ship”. Our family was held to a higher standard. Our home was subject to inspection at all times and needed to be found acceptable by Navy standards. My sisters and I were held to a higher standard. We were expected to do as we were told, not get into trouble in school, use good manners, and be respectful. If we didn’t, it reflected on my parents and their ability to run a tight ship.

I know that approach to child rearing is old fashioned but I have no regrets, resentments, or apologies for it. As a matter of fact, I’m proud of it. The rewards of being a Navy Brat far outweighed the higher standard I was held to. We were taken care of. All of our medical needs were met without cost. Our groceries were tax free. Our moving expenses were covered. Even our faith was accommodated by a chapel at each of the locations where we lived. The best reward is still in my grasp and enjoyed daily: the memories we made. We traveled the world and experienced cultures and events and activities that would not have been available to us if it weren’t for our time in the Navy. The memories are what I treasure the most. 

Our family eventually settled together on 18 acres of property along the Arkansas River. My dad  gave each of us a portion and we’ve built not only homes, but a community here. He’s been gone for almost 11 years now. Every time I sit on my deck, or look out the window, or drive up to my house I see that beautiful view and I think of him. This river gifts me with wonderful memories.

As a Christian, I am held to a higher standard. My actions and behavior reflect upon my commitment to an Almighty God who is loving and perfect and so very good to me. I often fail to meet that standard. My devotion is weak and I really blow it. A lot. It’s not hard to be faithful to God. Not at all. The difficulty comes with fighting my own selfishness. But He forgives, and I’d rather serve Him in weakness than strongly resist him. 

I’m thankful for this amazing riverview. I’m thankful for Veterans. I hold them in very high esteem. I’m thankful for a God who loves and forgives me when I set my standards low. Today more than ever, I hope that Christians remember the higher standard we are held to. It certainly doesn’t hurt us to humbly serve the Creator of the universe. But it does hurt our testimony and our spiritual well being to be weak in our commitment. Thank you, Veterans. Thank you, Jesus.

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