( a number he does not share with his mamma) amongst the "missions" and yet PRAISE GOD, he and his comrades are all coming home together:safe and sound!
Joshua.............who can find fun anywhere on this planet found it in Iraq. This little vehicle he tells me is a "Gator". For all the hard times out repairing, servicing and teaching maintenance of his company's equipment, there are moments like this to write home about. We hope to see Joshua and his family some time next year after he returns and before he goes back over again! Reunions with Joshua are more complicated. He lives over 1100 miles away when he's not overseas somewhere! How I am rejoicing that we will have a reunion, face to face, with Joshua hoepfully soon and with Caleb : VERY SOON. I won't be at Fort Campbell for Caleb's "Green ramp" arrival and Caleb doesn't know it, but Charlie will be. I was so blessed to be on the ground when Charlie returned from his last deployment. The first tour, there was no way for that to happen so we all waited at the gate barriers when he came into the OKC airport. This second return with friends and a son-in-law-to-be as well. Malachi was in Cambodia, but the rest of us were there waiting in eager anticipation to see the Daddy Husband Friend walking out of the gate. Several days before Hannah's wedding we welcomed a dear friend home too, but it was not the welcome that Charlie , Caleb, Gideon , Joshua or Jon received. THAT welcome in contrast to the ones I'd grown accustomed to, defied words. All I can say or think or try to figure out in my head is how grateful and undeserving I am that all my guys came walking off the Green Ramp into waiting arms. The alternative is unthinkable and yet for some, unavoidable. I had dreams for months before Caleb deployed that he was not "coming home". They continued for months into his tour of duty. My prayers are all around him now as he prepares to board his first plane toward home. Yes Caleb will be back at Ft Campbell this weekend. We will see him , celebrate his return and celebrate the tail end of the holidays together. Please praise God with us for this return of soldiers, but as you look at my other photos , which are from our friend Scott's home coming in June 08, please stop and pray for the many families who did not have the smiling , hugging home comings, but instead solemnly awaited a flag draped casket to be rolled from a plane, escorted by dress uniformed soliders , to be welcomed in privacy by immediate family on the tarmac of the closest airport, hopefully not assaulted by the war protesters and their ugly sentiments splashed on posters or shouted at the grief-stricken family or friends, possibly escorted to a funeral home by a troop of patriotic biker folks who earlier stood at attention on that tarmac with flags unfurled to honor a soldier in his last home coming. Please pray for the children of those soldiers. Life insurance may cover a multitude of expenses, but it does not replace a Daddy or a Mommy in any of the ways that matter to a child. Pray for the families of those who are trying to figure out "what next" and for those who do not have the peace of God which ABSOLUTELY passes all human understanding as they send their soldiers to war and hope for the best. Pray for the marriages of those deployed soldiers, the spouses, the committment made to their marriages, the difficulty many face readjusting to being together again after a year or so apart. SO MUCH MORE THAN "Please Lord, keep our soldiers safe" isn't it? War is hard work for all involved. For some, the work will never truly end. Many of those are the families who now live without the soldier who did not meet them with open arms and big goofy smiles in an airport.
Charlie and Caleb , soldier to soldier, combat veteran to combat veteran
Charlie and Noah ...they all waited their turns for those hugs and smiles
Scarcely 6 months later we were part of this home coming........................
not the way this 12 year old boy planned to welcome his daddy home
My tears flowed as I took this photo. I could not put myself in my friend's place as she walked to the back side of the plane to say her private "hellos" and simultaneous "good byes." At that point I knew it could be me one day, but this day was about being there for a friend, for the widow of a friend and to help with arrangements that no one wants to make.
The contrast between this photo of my husband just becoming visible to his eager family before we joyously surrounded him, and the photos of our friend's reunion always serve to remind me to be so thankful for my family, not haughty or assuming, not expecting anything above and beyond what "could be" but prayerfully grateful that our family is still completely intact so far. The words to an old hymn "I Know Whom I Have Believed " (from 2 Tim. 1:12)come flooding to my mind."I know not why God's wondrous grace to me He did make known, nor why , unworthy, Christ in love , redeemed me for His own. But I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day......" Truly I know not why some other family grieves and we continue to celebrate , except that God has a plan which includes all life and death and those events were known to our Heavenly Father long before we knew about them.
Its been two years since Charlie came home, and our sons continue to go. I am beyond excited to add another WELCOME HOME photo to our gallery...for this week, I'll rejoice over this one !