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SWEET REUNION

Our son-in-law David is in the air, on his way home from Iraq, right now! He left Baghdad Wednesday and went to Qatar. Yesterday he flew to Ireland and from there he will fly to Baltimore, MD today. Tomorrow Julie and the kids will pick him up at the airport in Montgomery, AL! What a day of rejoicing that will be! I wish I could be a fly on the wall to watch that sweet reunion!
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So much has happened since he left. Many things have changed. I think David will be surprised at how much Julie and the kids have grown since he’s been gone—and I mean that more than physically. Benjamin and Joshua have both stepped right up to the plate and tried to fill their dad’s shoes as much as possible in order to help their mother. They’ve taken on chores they’d never done before, used their creativity to help to solve problems and been willing, encouraging supporters for their mom. Hannah, too, has been quite the little worker-bee, but she seems to have struggled the most emotionally without her daddy there. Believe me, though—tomorrow all will be right with her world again! Julie laughs when she says she has become an independent woman—learning how to mend fences, fix doorknobs, deal with car breakdowns, and drive across country on her own. She also says she can’t wait to hand it all back over to her husband again! It has left her with an even greater appreciation for those military wives whose husbands are gone for even longer and in more dangerous deployments.
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David himself has changed. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel over there, but more than that, his training and time in Iraq brought difficult challenges and opened his eyes to real suffering and a different world. He spent the last six months in a spiritual wasteland, receiving very little in the way of spiritual refreshment or fellowship where he was, other than whatever family and friends sent from back home. David has always been one of the most godly men I know, but I am sure the Lord will use these things to make him even more grateful, even more burdened for the suffering and lost, and even more willing to be used by God.
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There is so much for which to be thankful, as well. That David made it there and back again safely. That it was six months, not a year; Iraq, not Afghanistan; air-conditioned office and room, not a tent in the desert or hard duty in perilous areas. That they had Skype and cell phones with which to communicate twice a day. That although there were many challenges for all of them, none of them were life-threatening or so difficult that they could not make it through with the Lord’s help. Even little Pumpkin the pound puppy whom they adopted just days before David left to be a distraction for the kids presented them with one dramatic escapade after another and raised the stress level considerably, but she brought a lot of joy and they are so thankful for her.
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There will be such joy tomorrow! There will be sheer bliss on David’s part as he enjoys being back in the center of his loving family and the comforts of home again. There will be relief on Julie’s part as she turns some of the responsibilities of home back over to David. There will be adjustments to be made in the coming weeks as they get back to normal again. There will be new challenges, but at least they will be able to face them together.
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Julie and I have greatly admired my cousin Betty over the years. Her husband Brad is a Navy pilot and Commander. They have had many separations of months and even years, as Brad has been deployed, and through it all their family has prospered. Betty is a strong, compassionate woman who truly reaches out to others to help and encourage. Their children, whom she home-schooled, have grown into wonderful adults. Betty and Brad seem to have a close, sweet, loving (and fun!) marriage. I know Betty would be the first to say it is the Lord who made it possible.
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I Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” God takes us through the hard times to change us. To make us better, stronger, more mature. To make us come forth shining as gold. To prove to us and to others that our faith is real. To bring praise and honor and glory to God.
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The Lord has done all these things in David and Julie and their three children through this difficult time in their lives. And now comes the time of great rejoicing! Now comes the time of sweet reunion! Praise and honor and glory to God! Thank you, Jesus!