The time is drawing closer when this scene will soon be a reality in my own life. Husband stepping off the plane with his carry-on, wearing his uniform and walking toward us and once again coming home in its truest sense. Looking back over this time of deployment I can see failures and successes, but mostly God's providential hand carrying us every step of the way. It is hard to explain the emptiness that has consumed me at times during this past year. It is hard to calculate the tears that I have felt, even if I have not cried them. It is difficult to explain the burden of responsiblity one feels parenting solo, when in reality one is still very much married. I have had to take the role of both father and mother and at times have felt a miserable failure at both. But, God has never failed to scoop me up during those times and hold me close. He promised to be a father to the fatherless...and although, praise the Lord, my children are not genuinely fatherless...for this period in time that have been practically. I have taken on roles not normally done by me. Big bug killer, trash carrier, vehicle maintenance person, family worship leader, picture hanger, etc. Things they would have normally been run by their father for permission, the children have looked to me. It is not that I cannot make these decisions, or do these tasks. It is not even that I am bitter because they have fallen to me. It is just that doing them is just a constant reminder that my best friend is gone. When your loved one is gone, everything becomes a reminder of the loneliness. And even in the wonderful homecoming, there is always the adjustment that must come. Many times, soldiers have seen and experienced things only read about in books. The anxiety, the jumpy nerves, the difficulty acclimating back into our western culture after living in a war zone, the experience of dodging bullets, constantly being afraid that your vehicle may be the next one blown up by an IED, or that your plane or helicopter might be the next casualty...all of that is real. A man does not forget easily when faced with these things. A wife does not let go of the stress of constantly wondering if the next knock on the door with the white van parked outside will be to inform her that her husband was the latest casualty. It takes time to get back to what was once normal. And many times, what once was, never does return...but there is a new normal. A father must be reacquainted with his children. My husband comes home to a daughter that is closer to womanhood than when he left. She has grown almost 6 inches during his absence. Children have new routines and life experiences that he must "catch up" on. Even small things moved around in a home are new. Settling in takes time. But I know the God that carried us through will also be the same God that once again molds us together into a stronger family because of what we have experienced. He is our strength. And it is to our Father that we go for shelter. When you think of our family, please pray for my husband's safe return. Pray for a gentle transition and pray that God will be glorified through it all!