The very first time C told me that he loved me, there was no sound, he wasn't looking at me, I didn't hear him say the words.
The very first time he told me, he was in the heart of Baghdad, in a small, cinder block room, looking through a webcam with a program that offered an image but no sound.
He typed it.
He didn't look up right away. He was looking down when the words popped up. It felt like an hour went by before I saw his full face. And when he looked up, my face was looking at the words. Just staring. Trying to understand it all. Trying to see the bigger picture.
And then I smiled, and he smiled, and we didn't type or say a word. Just looked at each other through fuzzy images, on fuzzy screens, in the middle of my night and the beginning of his day.
When C deployed we had just - and I mean, JUST - realized that we wanted to date. Ladies, I am talking weeks here. And all of it, to everyone, did not make sense. I wasn't looking for this. I wasn't wanting this. I had no intention of dating a-n-y-one exclusively, I didn't have time, it didn't fit into my plans - and to decide weeks before a deployment that I wanted to be with this man, who was leaving for twelve months to go to Iraq, and to not really know where we stood or what we were doing or how this was going to work.
I didn't know where this came from.
And it wasn't until three-months in, just about this time many years ago, that we both knew that this was it. That this was the way it was going to be. That this somehow, in some way, this was going to be my life.
But somehow, I always knew that. In the back of my mind it was there. The moment I met C, I knew. I fought against it, at times I even tried to destroy the possibility of it. But it was always, somehow, there.
Just weeks after C deployed, I was sitting on the organ bench at our church, before the first mass I was to sing that day, when the deacon who had baptized me, who watched me grow, ask how I was doing, what was new.
And with a smile on my face, without ever meaning to say it, without having thought about it, I said, "I found the man I am going to marry."
He didn't pause. He didn't take it as a joke. He didn't question if I was serious or had lost my mind or if I knew what I was doing. He just said, "Tell me about him."
And I did. He is the first person I ever told about C - besides my roommates. He walked me through the first half of the deployment. He helped me to tell my parents when I hadn't said a word about him to my family.
Because C was never supposed to happen. This was never supposed to be my life. This is not where I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to do, what I had planned for myself.
Ah, but it isn't what we plan for ourselves. How wonderful that Someone Else's plans have the great influence.
Because C was meant to happen. This life was meant for me. THIS is where I am meant to be.
How incredible when you realize that. How empowering to know that no step you take is not a step you aren't meant to. How humbling to know that you are designed for something greater.
How beautiful to know what that tugging of my heart, that no one could understand, that I couldn't understand, was bringing me towards. How incredible to think of how far we have come, how strong one can be, how fulfilled this unplanned life makes me.
How great are His plans for us and mighty His grace to thrive.
"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown
"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.