The sound of doorbells still startles Linda Mills even though her husband, Army Staff Sergeant Drew Mills, retired from the military years ago.
“To this day when I hear the doorbell ring my heart palpitates a little,” she says. For years she’d feared news of her husband’s death and for years Drew had faced death daily during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. As a senior scout gunner he was often first into battle. He loved his job. He’d still fight today if he could.
But on June 7, 2012, his military career changed forever. It was the day he earned a Purple Heart and a recognition of valor, but it was his last day of military combat.
Drew’s unit was hunting for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan when they were hit hard by one. After that attack, which killed two friends, life seemed like a blur to the Mills—a blur of multiple surgeries to save Drew’s life and legs and to help him recover from traumatic brain injuries.
That was eight years ago. They’d only been married two years at that point.
When they arrived at Samaritan Lodge Alaska earlier this year, they were looking for anything that would help them move forward with their lives.
A Life-Changing Week
Perhaps it sounds impossible that a week can change anyone’s life after they’ve faced so much. But if an IED can change the direction of a life in a split second, then why can’t God over the course of six days?
Through our Biblically based marriage classes, Drew and Linda learned about God’s plan for their relationship and their family. They learned how to communicate clearly and work through conflict. They learned how to love each other the way God designed.
Through excursions into Lake Clark National Park and other parts of the Alaska wilderness, they connected with each other, with God through His creation, and with other military couples who faced similar challenges.
Counseling sessions with retired military chaplains helped the Mills experience God’s love for them as it’s expressed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, in Alaska, they finally were able to begin healing from the previous years of injury, difficulty, and grief.
“This week has brought God back into our lives,” Drew said. Linda agrees: “So much of the last few years has been dealing with trauma and getting back to physical health, mental health, and us trying to find our purpose. He’s a different person and I’m a different person because of this week.”
Though Linda might still have those moments when her heart skips a beat, and Drew might still have difficult memories of combat, now they should remember to take courage from the words of Christ: “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).Read comments