Know That I Am With You

My husband recently received official orders to deploy to Iraq this August. (He was originally scheduled to leave in May, but now we get to spend the summer together before he departs.)

rhema-30I have been thinking about how to prepare our daughters for the 15-month separation. Although he has been to Iraq before, this is our first go at it with two children at home. (During his first deployment, Rhema was born.)

I have a slew of articles that detail strategies for helping young children cope with deployments. All of these articles naturally assume that the child has the ability to speak and understand language.

Hope will miss her daddy sorely, but I know she will be o.k.

It’s Rhema I wonder and worry about. How do I explain? Do I even try to explain? She will be aware of his absence, but she won’t understand where or why he’s gone. It’s typical for children to display more behavior problems when a parent is deployed. Will this be the case for Rhema (times ten)?

Brandon and I work hard to connect with Rhema when she is in the same room. It takes significant time and effort. How will Brandon maintain a connection when he is several time zones away? She does not do phones. When she was a baby, Brandon sent a few tapes. He used an old tape recorder and read her Bible stories and told her all about Iraq. I suppose we’ll try that this time around. Even if she does not understand what is being said, at least she’ll hear his voice. We’ll try video as well, but I don’t know if it will hold her attention.

I read an article about an airman who organized a 5K run during Autism Awareness month while he was deployed to Iraq. He had a young son at home with autism. He was able to raise thousands of dollars as soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in Iraq participated in the run. The father’s motivation for the event:

“If I cannot be with him to support him and participate in his therapy, I want him to know, one day when he can understand, that wherever I am and whatever I am doing, my heart and soul are with him.”

Naturally, that statement gets to me, and it reminds me of a love story. One in which the Man loves so much that He lays down His life. He breaks down the wall of separation. His ministry is reconciliation. His very name is Emmanuel. God with us.

The Father says to his child: It may seem like I’m far away, but I have not left you. You may not understand it all right now, but no matter what you may face, I am with you! Not for a moment have you left my heart, my thoughts, my love.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35; 38-39

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt 28:20

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Heb 13:5


And so, we take heart!

18 thoughts on “Know That I Am With You

  1. oh, love. i don’t envy you this, but i know you will find a way to stay connected. your faith, not just in God, but in each other will carry you through and keep you connected.

    rhema’s proven time and again that she understands far more than she may be able to let on. i always think back to that post you wrote early on about the questions. do you remember it? when she showed her grandma her new shoes? i think you have to assume that she’s taking it all in.

    i saw a documentary on the USO a while back and they were helping soldiers make videos of themselves reading their kids’ favorite bedtime stories. are there any books that you all read together that hold her attention? maybe if daddy were on tv reading the book and you could hold the same book with her while she watched it could help link the video to something tangible for her?

    i know that with your fabulous sister and extended family you will never be alone through all of this, but please know that there are people out here who will come running if you need an extra set of hands. whether it’s a little help around the house, some company and a meal (we bring the meal), a few hours of baby sitting, whatever ~ please, please, please just ask.

    again and again and again, thank you.

  2. I will be praying that this summer will be extra special! Photos speak volumes to the heart and mind. Capturing photos of your husband and your children together can be such a comfort – to you & to your children. Now they have photo frames that you can record messages on. Rhema understands loving tones even if the words themselves escape her.

    I’m sure that God will give you some “articles” to write (to help other moms later on) as I am certain that many, many moms are in the situation you are in with your husband being deployed with children who are not able to speak and understand language. It is often in our own struggles that He uses us to bless others.

    Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


  3. Isn’t there a Dora episode where Papi deploys?

    I love how you always bring the challenges and struggles of your life back to God and biblical examples of His love, grace, and faithfulness. I’m going to start emailing our problems to you – maybe I’ll soon learn to stop grumbling and start seeing the tough stuff through eyes like yours.

    Thanks for your constant example of living in faith.

  4. I’m sitting here, wringing my hands, wanting to comment, not sure what to say. Then I see us at Jess’s kitchen table. I see you talking about when/if Brandon will go. Graceful. Calm. Confident. Filled with peace. Happy. Even though I am so sad for you that it’s official now, I can’t help but smile when I think of beautiful you.

    I have a cousin in Iraq now. I think he might be using Skype to keep in touch with his wife and his son, who was born about a week before he deployed. If that’s a possibility (and I’m not positive it is) I think that would be helpful to Rhema, seeing her dad in real time, having him respond to her actions.

    Love you. You know where I am if you ever need a shoulder.

  5. It will be a challenge for sure, but your loving family will pull through it. I think you should seriously look into video connections over computer. Even if it’s just for a minute it might help her to see him.

  6. Skype baby all the way!!! You can download it for free and then get a cheap webcam. We use it with Devin so he can see his beloved Papa in California! Ok I know I am several hundred miles away but I will road trip for you anytime.

    Or feel free to come here. Nahulan is excellent with kids. My cousin’s girls asked to take him home with them when they were up for the weekend. 🙂

  7. What a blessing to be able to spend the summer together!

    I love Your Scripture references for this post, Jeneil. I am praying for all of you that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7), and I’m looking forward to the Lord’s promise of the Kingdom of Righteousness when “… the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. The mind of the rash will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.” (Isaiah 32:3-4)

    Come, Lord Jesus, come!

  8. Love story. Yes.

    Could it be that even if video doesn’t apparently hold Rhema’s attention, she’s still picking things up peripherally? The video & Skype thoughts sound like helpful options (ways to communicate presence & love).

    Holding you in heart and prayer!

  9. In the short time I’ve known you, I already admire you so much. Your words in this post are interwoven with such emotion and beauty. I will be thinking of you as you prepare for the time apart. Sending love . . .

  10. Wow, we love the suggestions. We’re actually excited about finding creative ways for Brandon to connect with both Rhema and Hope. Thanks so much!

  11. We live in a military community; thus, we are well familiar with families who are experiencing the coping strategies of deployment. Honestly, you mothers/wives/kids/ and in some case husbands, are my heroes. I don’t know how you walk through these seasons without the help of a spouse. That being said, I was a single mom for nearly 4 years, so I grasp some of what it means to “go it alone.” Jesus Christ is the all-surpassing Power that sustains us, even when we feel as if abandoned and left to our own best ideas of how to walk it through. Without His daily presence in my life, I would live as dead…without hope and strength for my next breath.

    I know that God will give you what you need when the time arises; thankful for the faith that you carry, friend. May it strengthen as you go and in full measure as you walk it out.


  12. This site: has a lot of helpful info. In addition, PBS will air a Sesame Street special for children of deployed servicemembers on Wednesday, April 1st at 8pm (check your local time).

    We think of you guys often and are praying for you all. Sorry we missed seeing you when we were in town last week. We love you guys!


  13. whoa. didn’t see that analogy coming there. kinda gave me goosebumps.

    all i can think is that soon you’ll be down here with me!!! selfish, i know, but don’t you think your fam has had you for long enough?! (kidding, just kidding. you know i love them.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s