My husband and I never get away together.  I know people say “you have to make the time”.  But not everyone has ten kids and all the activities that involves, or has aging parents at the exact same time.  For the past two years we’ve been caring for Dale’s mom with Alzheimer’s and it has taken our time and our energy.  So when we got a call that Dale’s Marine buddies were having a reunion, it became our goal to get to this important event.  And we are so glad we did!

Unless you’ve watched a reunion of Marines, you have no idea how gigantic a hug can be.  The sound of these grown men wrapping their arms around each other with the massive thud of their hands and arms is enough to wring out a heart full of tears.  But to watch them reminisce and share their thoughts with one another is beyond beautiful.  They knew each other so well back then.  They became men together, the hard way.  And they were each other’s family for years.  When they get out, some of them are so glad to get back home that they hardly look back.  But most have a deep far-away love for the brothers they left behind in life.

One man, senior to my husband, caught my attention this weekend.  And I hope to goodness he’s reading this.  He asked me what made me smile, and I shared with him my hope and joy, “it’s Jesus.”   He genuinely spoke of the guys as “his boys” and I knew why.  He loved them.  It was in his heart.  This man will stay in my heart for a very long time.  He was heartfelt and real.  Life wasn’t easy and yet he still cared from the inside out!  Having never really had a father of my own in life, he was one of the men I could walk away from and say, “I’d take one like that!”

After we came home, I was working in my five-day-over-grown garden, of which I’m sure none of the children picked, watered or weeded while we were gone.  The weeds had infiltrated my beautiful rows and were almost as tall as everything in the garden.  I watered it generously and then started pulling weeds while the ground was soft and moist.  It made it easier to pull the weeds with their usually shallow roots.  As the garden started to shape up, this man again came to mind.

He told me that at some time in his life the motto of the Marines, “God, Country Corps”, had gotten out of whack.  It hadn’t been in the right order and God had not come first.  As I watered and then weeded my garden today, I thought about the order.   The order of the garden mixed in my mind with the order of the universe.  If we aren’t soft, if the garden we call life isn’t watered, we can not notice let alone pull the weeds out of our own lives.  If we aren’t diligent, daily, weeds get out of control.  If God isn’t first, other things come up, crowding out what is important.  It’s overwhelming.  The order has to be right.

I’ll never forget these Marines.  The big guys that we spent our only alone time in 30 years with. Time well spent.  In two years they will reunite again.  I’ll so cherish the moments with the Marine who said, “why do you smile?”, the man who made me smile!  A man who loved his “boys” and a man who gave me a glimpse of what a good father can be like.  For only knowing him just a little while, I was reminded to share my joy regularly with those who ask.  I was reminded to keep smiling, so that someone will ask!  I was reminded of order, and I was reminded how important relationship is, both with God and people!    My heart is full.