The Purple Heart in George Washington's time was not given for being wounded. This award went to ordinary soldiers for doing something of merit—something that would find favor in the eyes of God. Washington knew they couldn't win if they weren't on God's side. And if they were on God's side, God would bless them.
I've been looking for people who deserve a George Washington badge of merit. Many of you have submitted nominations. Thank you for the love, respect, and consideration you have shown in doing so.
From your hundreds of nominations, we have narrowed it down to three finalists. Now, it's up to you to decide who gets this honor.
Here are this week's candidates:
1. Dana, the Mom to Many
Dana and her husband Brian run a nonprofit called Dogwood Ranch in southwest Missouri. According to their website:
Dogwood Ranch was created by family, for family. We believe that everyone deserves the chance to live the life for which they were created. Our mission is simple: to provide support for survivors of trauma as they journey towards wholeness. This includes creating a new heritage for foster children and youth who have been abused and neglected, by providing them with safe and healthy forever families. We are also committed to offering a place of belonging for foster teens through individualized transitional living services. Additionally, we offer specialized support through our equine assisted counseling program, which focuses on bringing restoration to foster youth and other at-risk populations, including our honored military veterans and their families. Through the operation of Dogwood Ranch, our desire is to allow those we serve a new way to experience life, family and true redemption. Everyone deserves a chance to find their way home.
According to her nominator, on top of their work at the ranch, they personally foster young girls and have had "over twenty foster girls they now call family."
Her nominator wrote:
They take the toughest cases that come up. On several occasions, I would reach out to see if she could go out, and she would say she couldn’t because they were on suicide watch that night. Young girls have tried to stab her, have stolen her car, and have come to call her Mom…She is an incredibly hard worker, no-nonsense, and full of life and joy. She is constantly making our community and our world a better place.
2. Francine, the Joyful Servant
Francine, who also goes by “Frannie,” and “Fran,” not only has multiple names, but wears multiple hats. At home, she is the mother of two boys with serious disabilities. At work, she is a caretaker for the elderly, and everywhere she goes, she is a ray of sunshine.
Her nominator entrusted her mother, who has since passed, to Francine's care at a nursing home. She said, whenever Francine was working, she would breathe a sigh of relief. She wrote:
While most of the aides looked at the work as just a paycheck, and some of them were actually cruel to the most needy patients, Fran treated each and every one of them like royalty. She saw each individual as unique and worthy of love and understanding. Every patient adored her, because they knew they were in good hands.
Her nominator wrote that she saw treatment of elderly patients that “made her skin crawl.” There was a woman at the nursing home with severe dementia who had become so antagonistic that other aides, to avoid feeding her by hand, would simply not feed her. When Fran was working, she made sure to sit with her while she ate. She even hosted “dinner parties” with multiple residents to ensure they were fed, and happy.
Her nominator wrote:
When Fran was on shift, people who needed help going to bed never had to wait long. Besides, they didn't mind waiting for FRANNIE. She always did everything with such love and care and class! Then, after a long eight hours (or sometimes a double shift!) she would go home to more of the same routine. And in spite of it all, she did it all with a smile on her face. I've never known anyone like her. She was a godsend to my mother. If it hadn't been for her, and a handful of others, Mom's time at the home would have been unbearable. This woman really does deserve an award.
3. Michael, the Godly Father
Michael was nominated by his three children for modeling how a true man of God lives, loves, and serves his community. After serving as a corpsman in the Vietnam War and then working as an elementary school teacher, his children say he was the “solid, and consistently Godly male role model” in his grandchildren’s life. His children wrote:
My father helped raise his grandkids when my sister was a single mom, even though he had already raised his own kids.
Michael shares the gospel in one-on-one Bible studies with young people who have just gotten out of jail. He raises donations for clothing, food, and blankets for the homeless. He meets weekly with young men for Bible studies, to mentor them, and help them mature into men of God.
Michael has taught true love to his children by the way he treats their mother–his wife of 42 years. They wrote:
He is a solid rock of unwavering love for her, which has had a huge impact on how my brother and I treat our own wives. Mike's steadfast love for our mother has taught us the meaning of loyalty, love, commitment, sacred covenant, compassion, honor, and what a true husband looks like.
Most importantly, they say their father "instilled in us an absolute love for our Creator and compassion for our fellow man. He is our number one role model showing us what a godly man is.”
Who do you think deserves a badge of merit? Cast your vote below.