Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I have to say this has been a VERY different Christmas! We weren't with my family as we typically are, and we weren't with all four of our children. We spent today with our oldest son because he's in the final days of basic training and was only allowed a town pass if we came to visit. I spent a good part of Christmas Eve asking the Lord what I should do and the answer finally came when both the twins told me on separate occasions that they didn't want their brother to be alone on Christmas and were prefectly fine with me going. Dad was already going (we had settled that when we got the first call asking us to come) and at first he didn't want me to leave them, but I think hearing one of them say that changed his mind. We got up at 4 a.m. and hit the road after only three hours of sleep.

After the second of the four-and-a-half hour drive I knew it was important that I was there as my husband was struggling to stay awake and asked me to drive, but when I saw our son walking towards us no one could ever convince me differently that I wasn't where God intended for me to be. He was so excited we both got to come. As tear streamed down my face, and he tried to fight back his, I thought to myself, "How am I ever going to let him go after 3 seconds!" (That's how long you're allowed to hug them.) I guess knowing his dad was waiting to hug him made it somewhat easier...

We had so much fun hearing all about his six weeks here and seeing how he's grown. He smiled with a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment and purpose all day long! At 5:15 this evening we said our good-byes and watched him walk back to his barracks. Kevin turned to see if I was crying and asked me if I was OK. I assured him I was...until Sunday when we will say good-bye with the uncertainty of when we will see him again. Knowing we have four more days with him makes me extremely happy for now. It was a very special day and a Christmas I will never forget. I'm so thankful that I didn't have to miss it and that the Lord used my other children to speak to my heart and show me again how truly precious they are, so willing to sacrifice their time with us so that their brother wouldn't have to be alone on Christmas.

My favorite Christmas present this year...

That would be getting to spend the day with our son!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

The sound of the children playing with their cousins upstairs and conversations of what life is like being in the Army coming from the kitchen make it so real that we are home for a sweet visit. We're at my mother-in-laws today, after a long day in the airport (due to delays) and plane ride, and her love and hospitality make me smile. She is one of the sweetest and most loving people you will ever meet. I can't think of anyone more giving than her. She's raising three of her grand kids and the evidence that she loves us all very much is visible to all who know her.

Yesterday was the first "memorable" plane ride for the twins and they were beyond excited. They thought it was so much fun (I'm glad someone did!). Kevin and I got tickled at them several times. Our funniest moment of the day was our visit from Santa Claus at the airport. We didn't make it out of our chairs fast enough when we saw him coming and Kevin was as red as his suit. I'll just say he was quite the character and a little scary!

We finally arrived safe and sound about 10 p.m. and stayed up until 1:30 a.m. The boys said it worked out better for us since it was only 11:30 p.m. back home. We were up 5 hours later.

This afternoon we will celebrate Christmas with all his family and then head to my parents this evening. Tomorrow is still uncertain for me as our son called and has the day off and asked us to come spend the day with him at the Air Force base. My husband will be leaving bright and early in the morning to go be with him but doesn't want me to leave the twins on Christmas day so our daughter and I may drive up later in the day. I'm trying not to think about it too much, but I'm really want to go with my husband and be with our son. It's tough when there's more kids to think about...not to mention the rest of my extended family. I will get to spend time with my son for several days around his graduation at the end of the week, but the thought that I don't know how much we will get to see him after this weekend lingers in my mind. Plus, not being with my husband on Christmas day is very difficult to accept as well. I've just being praying for direction and trusting that God will give me the guidance I need and the heart to accept whatever it is I should do. Either way, just hearing my son's voice a few days ago was wonderful!!! He sounded so happy and excited about his future. I can't believe he's about to graduate from basic, and I'm so glad it's gone by quickly. I can't wait to see him!!! I couldn't ask for a better Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Congratulations, Chaplain!

My husband's commander had many nice things to say about him before removing his one bar and replacing it with two today. He told of how when asked what he was looking for in a Chaplain he told them he wanted a Chaplain who wasn't afraid to get in there and get his boots dirty with the other Soldiers, and that Kevin had definitely done that and he couldn't be more happy with him. Although rank doesn't really matter when it comes to being a Chaplain, I wouldn't want to not give praise to God for this blessing. It's nice to be honored for your hard work and dedication and today was a special day for my husband. Look at that smile...
I'm so proud of you, Chaplain (CPT) Burton!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Chaplain is back at work and in full swing. I wish for his sake that he had more time to rest after a tough two weeks in the field, but there's a lot to be done. Here's a few pictures from his time in the field.

He was sure glad to get back home and out of the cold!

He's in a Stryker... Preaching to the Soldiers...

His assistant (far left), another Chaplain and himself.

His ride...

Pretty cool to be issued your own Humvee, huh?!

There are only a limited amount of times I will get to be with him when he's ministering to the Soldiers so seeing these pictures makes me happy! I love seeing the smile on his face, and knowing he is reaching out to young men (many the same age as our own son) makes me love him all the more.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Did you get dressed this morning?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18

As I read this I was reminded that I need to put on a little more clothing today. Not the material, external kind, but that which guards my heart and mind. There are days I'm just picking up pieces of the armor, not all of it. How beneficial can that be? Would I ever want my husband to go out into the battlefield with only some of his protection? No way! Today the Lord has used the sounds I hear of gunfire to awaken my heart to the war around us. Not what I can see on the news or hear on the radio, but the spiritual battle that takes place all over the world and so often goes unnoticed...or so we think. Our hearts and minds need to be protected. Our children needed to be dressed for battle. They may be too small to put it on themselves so we have to help them. Are you dressed for battle? Are you guarding your heart and mind? Are you helping your young boys to put on their armor? Those are the questions I asked myself this morning.

I woke up struggling with the thought of going to church for some reason...mainly because I miss Kevin and just wanted to lay around the house and stay out of the cold...but God lead me here to this scripture to remind me that it's not beneficial to me or my boys to skip church. When I heard the gunfire from the Soldiers in training I felt sorry for them that they were out there on a Sunday morning and I guess from there the Lord just began to speak to my heart. I'm grateful he did! I must go get dressed and wake up the boys for church!

Thank you, Lord, for the reminder to put on the full armor of God. Thank you for your Word that is living and active, sharper than any double–edged sword and penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; that it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. I needed to hear what you had to say today.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Looking through pictures...

This was when my husband was in Basic Training in the Air Force in 1991.
This was many years later at the same spot.

Now our son will be the one wearing the Air Force uniform, while his dad wears his Army uniform, and we will take another picture in this same spot in just a few more weeks...when he's in his final days of Basic Training.

I can't wait for that day to get here!!! I am so ready to be able to spend some time together, as a family, with our son. Only 20 more days!!!

A very powerful song...

"What Soldiers Do" Lyrics
by Monk & Neagle from the album The Twenty-First Time

Come and walk with me, my son
I need to share my heart
Tomorrow when the morning comes
I’m headed off to war

Take care of your mother
And your little brother, too
I’m praying that I’ll be home soon
So I can be with you

I know you’re only 10 years old
I know that you’re afraid
But I need you to be brave for me
And for the family

I know it’s hard to see me cry
But put your mind at ease
God is watching over us
So we can be at peace

With all my heart
I can’t wait to tuck you in
And sing a song to you

Son, stand strong
Love is the reason I would give myself for you
‘Cause that’s what Soldiers do

Remember what I taught you now
About how to be a man
Talk with God throughout the day
He will help you stand

With faith to see, hope to believe
And love for everyone
Know that I’m so proud of you
And I will always love you, son

With all my heart
I want to take you to our favorite place
And catch a fish or two
Son, stand strong
Love is the reason I would give myself for you
‘Cause that’s what Soldiers do

As I go, I want you to know if I don’t make it home
You are gonna be alright
I’m telling you, son, you’re gonna touch the sky
Don’t lose hope, just lift your eyes
We’ll be together again some day

So with all my heart
Hold on to Jesus, son
And He will lead you through

Son, stand strong
You may never go to war
But you’re a soldier, too

And when you have a son like you
Teach him to fight for what is true
‘Cause that’s what Soldiers do
This sign hangs just outside our post, and songs like this hit home for many, many people. My neighbor is preparing for her husband to return from the war next week, while others are preparing for theirs to leave. My heart aches for them. People all over the world are preparing for the holidays, but to know that we have Soldiers away from home makes it more difficult to enjoy. My two Soldiers will be in safe territory this year and I am grateful for that, but I feel for those who aren't. Spending time with those young Soldiers on Thanksgiving did something to me. It made them more real. I see Soldiers every day and for some reason I didn't seem to feel the sting of deployment so much until recently. Maybe because my husband is away more these days and the thought of him going off to war lingers in my mind. I don't know. What I do know is that I, too, am grateful for those who serve our country, who care more about others than themselves, who are willing to fight for freedom no matter the cost. I'm honored that my husband and son are serving and I pray they always know how much they are appreciated. I pray that we all will tell our Soldiers how much we appreciate what they do this Christmas. Give them the gift of knowing they are important and lift them up in prayer.

Thoughts from the week

The house is quiet and I'm back online. I haven't written since I had some very special people visiting...my parents! I already miss them, and wish they would have had a few more days to spare, but I'm so thankful for the time we had together. Plus, we'll see each other again at Christmas! They've been wanting to visit so I told them to come while my husband was in the field. He would have liked to see them, too, but he understood me wanting them here while he's gone. On my way back from the airport (at 4:15 this morning) I thought it might be nice to line up friends and family to visit like this every time he has to be gone for an extended period of time...but, then again, he might not be too happy if he never gets to enjoy their company! It sure helped the time to pass while he is away though...

The weather didn't really cooperate, but it made me smile when my dad told someone that he wasn't here for the weather anyway. We still had a lot of fun! It was neat for me to get to show them what it's like living on a military installation. Just a week before, the twins and I discovered something fun and inexpensive to do so we shared our new found entertainment with Granny and Pops...bowling!! It was a lot of fun. I think it will become something we do regularly! One day I let the twins miss school so we could travel a little. We ended up in a bit of a snow storm when we went to play in the snow, but it was still fun. It's not every day that you get to build a snowman (or snow bunny....we're not sure what it was exactly) with your Granny! I left the camera in the truck and it was too cold to walk back and get it so I have no pictures to share of that day.

My husband is ready to come home to us and his warm, comfortable house and bed and shower and home-cooked meals. It's been a great ministry opportunity, and he is very happy to be there with his Soldiers, but I'm sure he is getting tired and ready to come home. He sounds good every time we talk and I feel blessed to be able to get calls periodically! I'm so very, very thankful that times have changed and we can carry phones wherever we go. I know it can have its disadvantages sometimes, but I praise God that we have them so we can keep in touch with those we love. It's wonderful what we can do now. Soldiers away at war are sometimes able to see their families while talking to them, and even the birth of a child, via the Internet and I think that is so awesome!!

Not being able to hear from my son very much makes me even more grateful for technology. I've been waiting for a letter that he was supposed to get to mail last week and it still hasn't arrived. The waiting and not hearing from him is tough! I can't imagine what it must have felt like in past wars to have to wait on letters from your children or spouses! I am thankful he's not at war right now and that I at least know where he is and that he's not in danger. Praise God! I have friends whose husbands are at war though and I know how much it means to them to get an email or phone call.

Well, I know my thoughts are random but my life is pretty random right now!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

We heard from our son yesterday and all is well. He is enjoying his training and making new friends. We had not heard anything since Thanksgiving so I was trying hard not to worry about it and praying every time he came to mind. Last night I just stopped what I was doing and just asked God to let us know that he was OK. His girlfriend got a call just a few minutes later! He had told her he was calling us next time he got the chance, but I wrote him on Monday to tell him he could call her since his dad is in the field. I know how hard it can be when you're not sure when your next phone call will be and I didn't want him to feel torn. She needed that call anyway!

I haven't heard from my husband yet today and I'm praying all is well. He had a very long, hard Ruck March last night and 5 services to preach today. I know he is excited about preaching so I can't wait to hear from him! The twins and I spent some time on our knees praying last night as we knew he was out marching for the night. It was so sweet to hear them praying for their dad and all the Soldiers with him, and their brother and the other Airmen training with him right now. I feel so blessed to have such fine young boys. I can't thank God enough for them!

We're about to head out to church. I am so happy God led us to this church off post. It has been such a blessing. I look forward to worshipping with other believers this morning! Nothing takes the place of the one-on-one time time of worship between me and God, but this is so important, too. I'm thankful that all over the world today Christians are gathering together to worship and honor God. There's just something so amazing about that! I'm so moved to think that today, even though we are apart, my husband and I will both be worshipping the same God. The services will be very different - I'll be sitting in a warm church, in a comfortable pew, while he'll be standing out in a cold field of snow, probably with a few Humvees to shelter them from the wind, worshipping with other Soldiers.