You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. —Psalm 16:11
In 2004, I was home in Orlando, Florida on “Christmas Leave.” Being away for seven months in Saudi Arabia and Balad, Iraq (Camp Anaconda) during Operation Iraqi Freedom drained me emotionally. My faith in God never wavered but conducting 24/7 operations in a war zone with the responsibility of providing for thousands of American soldiers required a positive attitude and a lot of prayer…prayer without ceasing type of prayer.
I remembered praying earnestly before the holidays for my vacation to be perfect. What was my definition of “perfect” at that time? The joyful presence of being with my family—with those I loved the most. I desired nothing else and had no specific requests in mind. I just wanted to be full of joy in their presence.
On this day, I certainly did enjoy my time. We watched college football (I do not even remember who), shopped, and my wife Trena made her famous homemade pizza, my favorite dish! The best part about the day? Their presence. I relished it because I knew when it would be time for me to leave home and finish my tour back in the war zone; they would no longer be physically present with me. I felt consolation in the fact that once back in Iraq, my Lord and Savior would still be there with me. His presence had never departed from me. Because this was true in my life, I felt confident and was ready to face the road ahead.