We have met many military men and women and said, “Thank you for your service.” Their usual reply is, “You’re welcome. Just doing my job.”

Such humility warms one’s heart and gives our estimation an even higher regard for this service member. And we can’t forget the wives and children who are at home. They are serving as well with hearts on their sleeves and hope in their hearts.

Our son, an active Marine for 16 years and now retired, regarded his service to his country as an honor. But, he always credits his wife for keeping the home fires burning and raising their two children with him absent for many months at a time.

We witnessed first-hand the faith in God, courage, strength and forward-looking hope our daughter-by-love displayed. Because she did, it made a great difference in the lives of our grandchildren.

They missed Daddy terribly and prayed for him each day. Visits by computer at least let them hear his voice and laughter, see his face and hear him say, “I love you and miss you;” far different than previous wars before computers where soldiers wrote letters that were censored before delivery.

In my estimation, one of the most heartening developments over the years has been Operation Heal Our Patriots, established by Samaritan’s Purse. As I receive their PrayerPoint booklet each month, I am blessed by the stories of military couples being able to experience physical rest and spiritual renewal.

These wounded heroes and their wives connect with other couples and receive Biblically based marriage enrichment classes and Godly wisdom from retired military chaplains. This all takes place at Samaritan Lodge Alaska.

God wants us to bring refreshment to others. And at this unique lodge surrounded by beauty that takes one’s breath away, restoration in Christ opens new hope for their futures.

It is a time and place where Jesus’ words as seen in Matthew 11: 28 and 29, NLT take root in ready hearts. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

As the mom of a Marine who served during this war on terror, I am extremely grateful to God for his safe return to us. To all our vets, active and retired, you are our heroes … center stage. Selah.

Jan Merop, a columnist with the Highlands News-Sun for 29 years, resided in Sebring for 28 years and is now living in North Carolina. Visit her blog, Journeying with Jan, at pauseandconsider.net.

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