Andrew is my oldest nephew. My oldest nephew used to be Nathanael, but when I got married almost five years ago, I acquired an additional family with many more nieces and nephews...of which Andrew is the oldest. For those of you who don't know Andrew, he has a very dry, sarcastic sense of humor which cracks me up. He also has an impressive vocabulary which is due largely in part, I'm sure, to his parents Paul (Tony's oldest brother) and Lori. Andrew also loves his family and is a great big brother to his younger sisters (who probably didn't always think so growing up).
The first time I met Andrew, it wasn't really Andrew. Tony and I were still dating (if you could call it dating, considering we lived 2,000 miles apart and only visited each other five times before he popped the big question on that fifth visit) and he asked me to come out to Minnesota for Thanksgiving. Well, I came out to Minnesota, and we drove down to Iowa to spend Thanksgiving with Paul and his family and several other extended Carter relatives. His adorable niece Carrie met us at the door with a young man who was introduced as Andrew. It wasn't Andrew...it was a friend of Andrew's. They all got a huge kick out of it, but what did I know? I'd never met the guy before!
My mother-in-law often calls Luke "Andrew" and I consider it funny...but also an honor. I didn't know Andrew when he was growing up (although I've heard some funny stories), but the young man I now know is very impressive. He's a goof ball (notice I put that first), he is a deep thinker with some really great and challenging things to ponder, he loves God and puts his trust and life in Him, he enjoys spending time with his much younger cousins as well as his older aunts and uncles and grandparents, he is protective of those he loves and in some ways he reminds me of a teddy bear, but he also loves his country and is serving in the Army to protect the freedoms and this country which we all too often take for granted.
So why the write-up today about Andrew? We just got word that he was sent back to Iraq a few days ago. We all knew it was coming, but it just seems he was sent sooner he should have been. Andrew already served one tour and did some incredible things over there, had some incredible experiences. He is in a unit that has one of the highest percentages of injuries and fatalities due to the missions they are assigned. While it wasn't one of his favorite things to talk or write about, it was amazing reading and hearing about some of what he went through. This is a young man whose life has been and will be indelibly changed by his service to our country, like everyone else who has served in the military. Regardless of your personal opinions about the war in Iraq, Andrew is one of countless men and women serving our country and doing what many of us couldn't even imagine doing....
I truly respect and honor Andrew, his commitments to God, family, and country, and pray that God will keep His hand of protection over Andrew, giving him wisdom, courage, good health (mental and physical), and peace with all he is experiencing, however difficult that may be. I pray that he will continue to positively impact the lives of those who come in contact with him, whether here or in Iraq or wherever God directs his path. Please join me in praying for Andrew, as well as the many others who are serving our country.
(photos are of Andrew and Luke in 2004, and Andrew, Paul, Carrie, and his friend Erin a few months ago)