I am on a flight home from a business meeting in Orlando. I left Monday morning and will get back about 10 pm tonight. My soul is aching to be back. Five days away is too long. (Now a getaway with my sweet Christianne? That could go perhaps a bit beyond a week and be just fine...). But five days without my family is longer than I like to go. And for this, I must give credit to my sweet, angelic wife. She has made our home a sanctuary. A haven of peace and love. Within the walls of our home each of us feels safe. Things aren't always perfect. Disagreements arise. Messes are made (and often not dispatched too very quickly:). Deadlines are occasionally missed. Once in a great while tempers may even flare for a moment (this is almost exclusively my domain, but those flares are weaker than ever and rather far between these days.)
The mother truly sets the tone for the home, and I am so grateful that the mother of my children sets such a righteous, loving and serene tone for us. Thank you dear Christianne. And thank you dear Xander, Lexi, Taylor, Sophi, Jessica, Graci, Cali, Parker and even sweet Elli for responding so well to your mother's loving influence. Thanks to each of you for your part in making our home a little piece of heaven on earth. Thanks for your texts, prayers, thoughts, and phone calls while I was away. I have missed you. I am glad to be coming back.
Last night the mother of a dear family in our church congregation passed away. When I heard the news today my heart broke. This family has had a tremendous impact in our lives, and I am so sorry for their loss. I am reminded of the importance of being grateful for my life each and every day.
When I am gone for a few days like this and find it hard to be away from those I love the most, I think of my brother, Matt. His Army deployment caused him to be away from his family for a full year. What a challenge for him. I am so grateful for the men and women of the armed forces who make such sacrifices as they serve our country. As they serve me and my family. As they play a part in the greatest military in the history of the earth so that I can fly home to my family and watch my boys play basketball and take my kids to a Chinese New Year celebration. As much as I salute Matt, I am perhaps even more grateful to his wife, Carla, for her sacrifices in supporting him as he was gone. Being a single parent is tough for a day, let alone a year.
There are so many who do so much for my family. Thank you. Thanks to those who serve us face to face on a daily basis. Thanks to those who serve us at home and abroad in defense of our country. Thanks to the men and women who sacrifice their time to be on city councils and school boards, to be coaches and scout leaders. Thanks to the leaders of our nation for the efforts they make to preserve the United States as the amazing and god-fearing country it is. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to the many, many people who make it such a wonderful thing for me to return home again.