I spent some time today looking at some of my deployment pictures and it hit me, not for the first time, of just how fortunate I was to have the experiences that I did. I was looking specifically at my cover photo for this blog. I was in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2009 and I was able to go into the town of Sulimaniyah and look around the local bazaar. We were visiting a Border Patrol Transition Team (BPiTT) that was assigned to assist and train the Peshmerga troops guarding the border of Iran. That entire trip was something like a vacation in the midst of war. As you can see in the photo, I am neither wearing armor or armed. During that time (pre-ISIS) the area was deemed safe and just like walking around our towns here in full kit and armed would be strange, so it was in Kurdistan. While I was there I even ran in my first half-marathon ever – a shadow of the Portland Marathon on a Peshmerga base with members of the BPiTT. At one point during the running of that race (and there were only 12 of us running it!) I was stopped in the road by a local goat-herder and his huge flock! We went to a local restaurant and had a normal meal…just like a regular Saturday night. I remember a fantastic mid-summer thunderstorm that was warm and took my breathe away with power and beauty. If you also look closely in the photo you can see the people all around me and how there aren’t faces of fear or anger, just people about their daily lives. I can’t tell you how precious that time was for me. It was like being able to recharge and catch my breathe before wading back into the storm. Little did I know then, that very soon I would be visiting a different BPiTT on the Syrian border with a much different outcome, a story for a different day. In Psalm 3:5-6, it says that “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of the thousands against me on every side.” Sometimes, we know that we need rest. Other times though, only God knows we need rest. I know that the best times I have ever slept occurred when I knew that people I trusted were on guard around me. It was in those times that I could rest and relax and not worry about what is out there in the night. This is how God is for us. He is always on guard watching out for us. During those times when He has need for us, He always provides what we need to accomplish His will. Some people may not buy any of this…and God gives each one of us that choice. But for me and in my life, I have seen too many times when circumstances have come that the only explanation is that God is there and directs my path. For me, the evidence is clear and my choice has been made. I know that I am fortunate indeed.