Our time of separation has finally ended as I arrived at Ft Jackson last Thursday evening. It was so good to be with my husband again -- to see him and talk with him. We got to share a neat surprise soon after my arrival. I brought with me the envelope which contained the gender of our child written down on paper. I had the ultrasound done earlier in the week but was sworn to secrecy by the Lieutenant until my arrival! So very "Army"!! By the way, IT'S A GIRL!! The picture in this post is of Kanuga, a retreat center in North Carolina. The day after I arrived, the Army bused all the Chaplains and as many of their wives as could come to this retreat. The best way to sum it up is that it is a retreat designed to show us how to put on a retreat. Part of the hardship of being in the military is the toll it can take on families. This program called "Strong Bonds" was developed by a Chaplain to be used to strengthen marriages and families as well as prepare single adults for married life. It has been a pleasure to be here for many reasons, the first of which is getting to be with Tim. The retreat setting has been nice, quite a change of scenery and pace for both of us (even with the excessive amounts of rainfall we've had!). Also, the material and information presented is real and practical. It is required that it be applicable to people of all faiths, so it is basically spiritually neutral. This has bothered me at times because God, Jesus, and the Bible are so instrumental in maintaining our families and marriages. Jesus is the basis for everything! But keeping in mind that all truth is God's truth has helped me to remember that no matter what psychologist "discovered" a theory, God created it! One other thing I wanted to blog about is my take on these Chaplains. The sheer number of guys (and a small number of women) is almost overwhelming. The morning we started out on this trip we all met at one location and all 100+ of them were lined up in formation. Talk about intimidating! They come from all different backgrounds, faiths, denominations, families, states (and countries), and personalities. Some of them are LOUD and some of them are introspective. Some are excited and eager and some are nervous and anxious. Some of them are on a "spiritual" path that isn't leading to heaven. But for the most part, they have one thing in common. As different as they are, they have all heard, felt, and answered two calls. One to serve their Lord and one to serve their country. The more time I have spent around them, the less intimidating and more personal they have become. They are pastors, youth ministers, men with a heart for ministry who have humbled themselves to be servants and submitted themselves to the grueling ways of the Army. The biggest things I feel for them are pride and gratitude. It is also my prayer that those who are sharing Christ with our nations soldiers will see fruit in their ministry as lives are changed for Him!