Friday, May 30, 2008

Year One in the Army

It's been good. It's been real good. Not without a little sweat and tears though. It's 5:00 in the morning here and my husband is out on a 7 mile run. I am up trying to finish a slideshow presentation for our formal this evening, but I had to stop just to write for a few minutes.

I didn't know what to expect coming into this, even with our prior time in the Air Force, and some of reality has not met my expectations, but all in all it's been good. I would say the toughest reality check for me was not being accepted by my neighbors. Word was out, and painted in a dark light, that the chaplain lived here and until our neighbors right next to us moved out and new people moved in no one spoke to us really. One lady did for a little while, but that seemed to change as time went on and I believe she found it difficult to be friends with me and hold on to her other friends here in the neighborhood. So, I trusted God in the situation and let it go.

Through it all God has taught me a lot. I have learned to lean on Him and know that He is that friend that sticks closer than a brother. I've made a good friend in my closest neighbor and she, too, will be moving into my new neighborhood where I believe we will both make friends and find people who accept us just the way we are. I've learned to spend my time not worrying about what I can't change and know that God will direct my path. He has provided me with friendships that can only be explained as God's orchestrated plan. My friend Sheryll is truly an amazing person and friend...a total blessing from God! And, my online friends are so wonderful that I sometimes forget they don't live right around the corner. They are always there for me and I appreciate them more than words can express.

Where did the gap come in regards to reality and expectations? Probably some of it had to do with the show Army Wives, and the fact that I never had trouble making friends when we were in the Air Force. The fact that we were enlisted and not in the chaplaincy may have had something to do with that, but who knows. In my mind I hoped I would find ladies like that right here in my neighborhood, and when I watched people turn their backs when I walked outside I was blown away. I don't say all this to make a big deal about it. I'm truly thankful for what I've learned through it all and not bitter at anyone whatsoever. I say it to encourage my friends who are thinking/praying about this life, or are in it right now and struggling to make friends, and to say that it will be OK. God has a bigger and better plan. Trusting Him, even when things don't meet your expectations, is vital. Leaning on Him during the struggles is so important. Knowing that God will see you through whatever it is that life brings you is key!

The greatest thing I've discovered thus far is a stronger, more intimate relationship with my husband. We've always been close. We've been best friends for many, many years. We've learned a lot over the last 21 plus years. We've grown in many areas and we're not who we were when we got married. God has been good. Knowing that he could deploy at any time, because that's just how it is in the Army, has caused me to take a hard look at how I am as a wife. More than anything, I want to be here for my husband when he's home...and I'm not just talking about the physical part of being at home. I want to sit and listen to him, truly listen. I want him to know he is loved, to sense my desire to be near him, to know that he is the most important person in my life, and to feel the love in both words and actions.

I am happy to clean the house and cook and get his clothes ready so that all he has to do is clean up and slip his clothes on. I've never enjoyed those little things so much in my life. I'm not sure when I started doing that, but it's almost fun to fold and lay his clothes out neatly on the dresser every day. He has three piles - the clothes to put on when he gets home from work (so that he can slip into relax mode as soon as possible), his PT uniform, and his ACUs. I share this for anyone who might be looking for a way to bless their Soldier in a small but meaningful way every day. I've learned to be more affectionate. It didn't always come so easily for me but I know how important it is and how much I will/do miss those hugs and kisses when he has to be or is away.

To sit still longer and let things that are less important go until he is out the door is something I also strive to do. Cleaning the house while he's at work is a priority. Our house, and everything about it, should be a safe haven. Works tough, real tough, so I want everything about this place to say, "Welcome home. Relax. Enjoy your time with your family. Look what I did today because I love you and want the best for you. Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family and for serving our country. I know it's not easy and I appreciate the sacrifices you make. You are important to me." Our love has grown stronger and more meaningful. More than anything I want him to know that what he does every single day means so much to me and I'm proud of him.

There are so many thing in between the toughest and greatest things I've learned this past year. I left out the obvious - serving the Lord, ministering to the Soldiers and their families - but I've written about that a lot and for some reason this is what flowed from my heart today. I pray it meets someone right where they are today. The Army life, as with anything, has it's good and bad points but I wouldn't change it. God brought us here and I trust that we will have good and bad days because it's in the moments of the two, and the somewhere in between, that we see more of who God is.

Lord, thank you for your love. Thank you for bringing us to this place. Thank you for the journey we're on and for all that we are experiencing through it. Thank you for the moments of great joy and the moments of pain. Thank you for the peace, comfort, strength and joy that You bring. Thank you for change that causes us to grow. Thank you for watching over us and guiding us. We are honored to serve you, Lord. Amen.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm Reminded...

  • Every morning, when he rolls out of bed at 4:15 a.m. for PT - I'm reminded.
  • When I pull his name patch, his rank patch, US ARMY patch, his unit patch, the flag patch and the cross pin off his uniform to wash it - I'm reminded.
  • When I iron his uniform and place the patches and the cross back on his uniform - I'm reminded.
  • When I wash his PT uniform and lay it neatly on the dresser every day so he doesn't have to look for it in the wee hours of the morning - I'm reminded.
  • When he leaves for days to go into the field - I'm reminded.
  • When he calls to say he'll be home late - I'm reminded.
  • When he tells me all the things he has going on - I'm reminded.
  • When he shares how God used him to minister to his Soldiers - I'm reminded.
  • When he lays his head in my lap and falls a sleep because he's worn out from the day - I'm reminded.
  • When I see him in a room full of Soldiers and can't find him because they all look the same - I'm reminded.
  • When I see him ministering to his Soldiers and see the joy it brings - I'm reminded.
  • When he talks with our children about his/their day and tries to spend time with them because it's limited on the weekdays - I'm reminded.
  • When I see him putting together his bags to leave for the field or training - I'm reminded.
  • When he talks about deployment - I'm reminded.
Everything about his life, our life, reminds me that we are in the Army, but more so that his service and sacrifice are for a greater cause than just the's for the Lord, and I'm honored to be his wife. One year ago today I was trying to prepare my heart for what would come the next morning. I posted this on my blog that day.

I remember the morning he left as if it were yesterday. My alarm clock went off bright and early with the words, "God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good. And when I pray; it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should. But I do it anyway, I do it anyway..." (from the song Anyway by Martina McBride) ringing in my ears and I just laid there and sobbed. I knew I had to get up and go to work, and just an hour or so later he would be holding and hugging our children and telling them good-bye before heading off to South Carolina. I remember trying with every ounce of my being not to fall apart at work.

Today, I wouldn't change it for the world! It can be difficult sometimes...I won't lie. But, I love it. He loves it. Our children love it. It's what the Lord called us to do and we know following His will for our lives is of utmost importance. Sure, we miss our families, we miss our church and our friends...but, we also love where we are and the ministry God has for us here. Being reminded of my husband's hard work helps me to keep my role in perspective. Loving and caring for him and our children brings me great joy, and I'm honored to be on this journey with such a wonderful, hard-working man.

To the many other men and women serving our country, thank you! To the families of those who serve, thank you. To the other chaplains and their families, thank you. Daily I am reminded of the service and sacrifices made for our country. To my husband, thank you for being the man of God that you are. I love you and I pray God's blessing on your life as you minister to the Soldiers. I know they are blessed to have such a caring, passionate chaplain. I feel so blessed to be your wife!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Remember Our Fallen

There's never been a time in my life when I thought more about what this day means. This morning as I was getting dressed for the day, I heard the story of a father who went to Iraq to see the place where his son died. As I listened to this father speak of what he dreamed the day of his son's return would be like, I was quickly reminded what this day is all about.

It's not about barbecues and parties to celebrate our three-day weekend (or four in our case); it's about remembering our fallen service men and women. Those who gave their lives to further our freedom. I admit, I'm guilty too. I think more about what I gain from a day off with my husband rather than reflecting on those who gave their life for the freedom I cherish.

I was reading on the Memorial Day History site and this paragraph really struck me, causing me to realize that we need to make this day about remembering - remembering those who died in service to our country - and less about entertaining ourselves. Enjoy the day, just don't forget to honor our fallen! Here's the paragraph:
"Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country."
To all the families mourning their fallen - my heart goes out to you. I'm grateful for their sacrifice and sorry for your great loss. To my friends serving down range right now - I'm praying for you safety and quick return. And, to their families - I am praying for you. May God give you strength and peace during this difficult time.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More on the marriage retreat/our weekend

If you didn't read my last post, you might want to click here first.
The marriage retreat was a huge success! Many couples took the time to personally thank us and share what they learned or liked about the retreat and we definitely left there knowing marriages were renewed. Praise God!

We returned yesterday afternoon and pretty much crashed on the couch. It was such a beautiful day outside that I hated to lay around, but my body and mind kept telling me to stay put. To our surprise, we didn't even have to cook dinner. My daughter and her boyfriend came home from the store with food to cook for the whole family. It was a wonderful dinner and we really appreciated their thoughtfulness!!

Back to the retreat. The first day was probably my favorite. I really didn't expect them to be so engaged in the training, but they were and it really showed. On Saturday, right before the training ended, we had them use some of the tools they had learned. We asked them to face each other and tell their spouse one thing they would like to see them work on, then they had to repeat what they heard and then the other person did the same thing. It wasn't easy for some of them, but it was so exciting to watch many of them take a step forward in their relationship and experience the rewards of working to better their marriage. If there was one thing we tried to get across to them, it was the benefits of communication - proper communication - and to see them actually benefit from using those tools was so rewarding to us.

Another blessing was to get some family-time ourselves. Our daughter wasn't able to go, but the twins were and they had a blast learning how to skim-board. It's a pretty cool thing. They even got dad to try it, and I just have to post the pictures of his first time on the board. The story goes like this. "Hey dad, try this..." (The twins explain how)
And off he goes! (You throw the board out in front of you and then you run to jump on.) But, he ends up stepping too close to the front'll get what happens from the picture below...
Typically we miss capturing funny moments like this, but not today! We laughed and laughed and are still laughing...

But wait...
He actually lands it! On his feet...on the board!!! I made a little PowerPoint presentation to show our couples Sunday morning, and we laughed some more. It was a wonderful weekend, and spending it ministering alongside my husband was such a blessing to me. I can't wait for the next one! Here's a few cute pictures of the twins from the weekend...
They LOVED skim-boarding and had so much fun! Even though the water was FREEZING, they played for hours. On Saturday night we built a fire near the ocean and they'd board a while, warm by the fire a while, and head back out (with sweat shirts on, hoping they didn't fall). It's so fun to watch them having fun. And, for anyone wondering, no I didn't try it. The water was way too cold for me. I did get in up to my ankles though - not because I wanted to, but because I wanted to get close enough to take pictures and talk with some of the couples out in the water a little ways. The few times the water rolled in quickly and caught me by surprise, reaching almost to my knees, I thought I might pass out. It was that cold!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Our First Military Marriage Retreat

This weekend we are doing our first marriage retreat. We attended one right after we got here, but my husband just helped with it a little...we weren't in charge of the whole thing. After our first day of training, I can tell you it has been AMAZING! The couples are very receptive and appreciative and wanting to learn how to better their marriages. It's been wonderful to work alongside my husband again!!!

We have 31 couples and 30 children. The awesome gift to these couples is that they have free lodging, free meals (all three!) and free childcare here in the hotel! We don't hold them in the room all day either. Giving them time to spend alone is important, too. These men have been working long and hard and to have this time alone with their wives and time to relax with their families is such a wonderful thing for their marriages.

Last night most of us were out walking on the beach and playing in the freezing cold water. It was so neat to walk along the beach and run into different couples. We are really enjoying getting to know them better; and hearing that this retreat is making a difference in their lives already is great! We are really looking forward to this morning's session.

I must go...(more later!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Days of Remembrance

Today my husband had the privilege to do the invocation and benediction at the 2008 Days of Remembrance ceremony here on our post. I initially went to show my support for him, but after just a few moments of sitting there I realized it would become so much more to me. It was set aside as a time to remember those who faced the evil of the Holocaust, as well as to think about the terrorism that takes place in our world today.

The guest speaker was Mr. Leo Hymas. He was drafted at 18 years old and would soon experience things that haunted him for years. In 1997 he began to tell his story to students and probably anyone who would listen. It took all of me to stay composed as he talked about his own personal experience and the things he encountered when they stumbled upon one of the concentration camps with 18,000 prisoners.

He talked a lot about what it meant to him to live through the war and watch his friends die, to see starving children, and to find thousands of bodies and realize the extreme cruelty and torment they had experienced. He talked about lessons we can learn from the Holocaust and showed genuine appreciation for the many soldiers in the room who volunteered to defend our country.

Imagine all this taking place while you're sitting among soldiers in uniform! It was almost more than I could take when we all stood and the soldiers sang the I Corps Song and The Army Song. I kept telling myself, "Do NOT cry, do NOT cry here with all these soldiers around you!" Luckily, I made it through, but my heart was filled with emotion as I listened to the horrible stories, observed the soldiers I sat among, and felt such pride for the great men and women of our country who are willing to defend it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A beautiful Mother's Day

Today my children blessed me with gifts, hand-drawn pictures, poems and phone calls. The phone call being from my son who is far away from us right now, yet feels so close when I hear his voice. During the chapel service we were singing this song about the love God shows us and I started to cry thinking about the love He has shown me through my children and husband. The love I receive from them is such a blessing to me.

One of the twins (DR) wrote this poem:

My Mother

I am thinking of a unique lady
Not your everyday woman
You may not see another like her
She's an amazing mother

She is a skinny, beautiful lady
Compacted with joy
Faithfulness flows from her veins
Courage thunders when she speaks

With just a hug...
You'll never be the same
You'll be what you can't explain

With just a gentle touch...
She'll fill your mind with good thoughts
Of hope, joy and peace

With just a word...
You'll slowly become
What you thought you'd never be

With just a smile...
She will load your heart with joy
Making you complete

So if you look at her you may see
She's more than she needs to be
She's all of that and much more
She's my amazing mother

Yes, I was crying! The other twin blessed me with a picture he drew of Hawaii. It's beautiful and he's quite the artist! He also made a screen saver telling me "Happy Mother's Day" that was up when I got out of the shower this morning. My daughter and her boyfriend gave me a huge frame that reads, "Family. The love of a family is life's greatest blessing" in the middle, with 11 places to put photos of my choosing! It's really beautiful. I can't wait to add the photos and get it hung on the wall! My husband's gift to me is A TRIP TO HAWAII with my daughter in August!!! She's already got the flight and hotel paid for by the people she's taking wedding photos for so I'm going to tag along! My son was worried that meant I wasn't going to visit him this summer, but no matter what I'm doing that...even if it means I can't go to Hawaii! I told him he doesn't have to worry about that!

Well, it's a wonderful day and I'm so thankful to be a mother!

Thank you, family, for making this day very special. I love you!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Year Ago

While reading my older blog this morning, I noticed that one year ago, on a Saturday morning far different from today, I started this new blog. I can't believe it's been a year! Tears came to my eyes as I read over several of my old posts, like this one. I'm so grateful to God for His faithfulness. He has been there for us every step of the way, and it's been more wonderful than we ever imagined.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thank you to our Military Spouses

Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day so here's a huge thank you to all our military spouses and a note to say I am praying for you and appreciate you! It's not an easy way of life, but our Soldiers deserve spouses and families, too. Thank you for the many sacrifices you make for our country!

Loving, supportive spouses make all the difference in the world! And remember...our Soldiers carry a lot of burdens on their shoulders so if they forget, or don't even know it's Military Spouse Appreciation Day don't give them a hard time about it...

You are appreciated!

Early Morning Run - Army Style

Talk about A LOT of Soldiers!!!! There were thousands running in formation down the streets of our post this morning, and it was pretty awesome to stand there and cheer them on. Here's only a very small portion of the men in my husband's battalion. There are many, many more that we couldn't get in the picture as they were running by. My husband is the one waving at us in this photo below. His morning started at 3:15 a.m. It's a wonder he could even smile (you have to click on the picture to enlarge it if you really want to see that cute smile). They had already been running for a while when they made it to us. It's always a very humbling experience to be among our Soldiers, especially when you know the sacrifices they make. Who wants to get up very early in the morning and work out five days a week? Not too many people I know. But, they don't have a choice! This is only one of the many sacrifices they make for us. Staying fit is so important when you could be called upon to fight at any time. To see them run past us with smiles on their faces and looks of appreciation was...well...I don't even know how to put it into words.
I feel honored to be a part it all, and to be the wife of a US Army Soldier (and Chaplain!)...You make me proud, babe! Hooah!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Our Airman...

Every time I see a new picture of my son I realize so much more how much I really, really, really, really miss him. He's looking more and more like his dad every day! I saw this on facebook last night and just had to post it. This is his (sort of) tough face...ha!

We love you, son!!!

Thankful Thursday - Help

I lift my eyes up to the hills -
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

I have these moments in life when I just need to stop and be reminded of God's promises! And, today, when I read that verse above, I thought, "Lord, I am thankful for the help you bring to me, in so many ways!" This life isn't always easy, we have our ups and downs, but to know that we have a God who cares about every detail of our lives is refreshing.

Later in Psalm 121 (verse 8) it says, "The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." What an awesome reminder to me, on a day when I'm tired and just need His help and strength, that the Lord is always with me, that He is watching over me...every step of the way.

Lord, today, and every day, I'm thankful for YOU, my Helper. You bring strength to my life just by sitting in your presence and reading Your Word. Thank you for your promises! Thank you for being our Helper in times of need. Thank you for caring about every detail of our lives and for watching over us. Amen.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A dream (or more so, a nightmare) I'd rather not have

This morning, after falling back off to sleep again when my husband left for PT around 5:30, I dreamed that my husband called me and told me to come up to his office. When I arrived, I saw other wives crying. I immediately sensed what was going on and began to ask my husband why he had not forewarned me. Minutes later I woke up, praise God, but I'm still thinking about it.

That was just a nightmare for me, but my dearest friend here is preparing for it. Her husband leaves next Monday and I know it's really tough. She's thankful he will be here for Mother's Day, but I know she only wishes it could be longer. My heart always feels burdened for her, as I know she is as close to her husband as I am mine, and the thought of being separated for any length of time is almost more than we can bare. Too, we have other dear friends whose husbands are already there on the battlefield, and more preparing to go, and my heart aches for them as well.

It's been extremely busy for us lately and my husband was only home eight days last month, but I'm grateful for every minute. We had lunch together in my car for just a few minutes today because his schedule is so crazy, and we talked about there not being any end in sight. I try not to feel at all sorry for myself as I realize many, many other spouses are sacrificing so much more. Though the time apart is difficult, and I don't wish for it, I'm grateful that more and more God is opening my eyes to those who are hurting and lonely around me. I see women who look worn out, who are at their limit, yet they press on. I wish there was more I could do. I wish our husbands and wives, sons and daughters, and friends would all be able to come home soon.

Looking at the faces, watching them walk along looking downcast, makes my heart break. I think of all the people in this world that probably don't even give what our Soldiers and their families are going through a second thought and it's painful. I think about the people protesting, instead of loving on and supporting our troops, and it makes me angry. I think about those who have lost loved ones and I'm saddened. And, I think about our God, the one who told us there would be wars and rumors of wars and know that it's a part of life and, by His strength, we can be victorious even in the midst of painful experiences.

Thank you, Lord, for the hope we have in You! Watch over and protect our Soldiers and their families. Give us strength to carry on and peace for the moments we need it the most. Be with all those who are on the front lines, and bring them home safely very soon. Be with our Chaplains who are there with our men and women. Give them the words to say that bring comfort and strength. Be with our friends who are experiencing deployment right now and those that just left or are about to leave. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Life is wonderful!

I know I haven't been writing much lately, but it's been very, very busy around here. I just had to get on here this morning to give praise to God for all He is doing in our lives. Some of that being the peace and comfort and joy the Lord has given us even with it being such a busy month and my husband being away most of it!

My husband made it home late Thursday night and fully expected to have to work Friday with only four hours of sleep but, to my surprise, he returned from his early morning meeting saying they had given him the day off (answered prayer!). About noon he took me out to lunch and we had a nice little date, and then we came home and ended up going back out with my daughter and her boyfriend to chat with them while they ate. Then, we headed to our twins track meet. I can't wait to download the pictures from that! They are good little athletes.

We are having a nice, relaxing weekend together with the kids, and we are all leaving soon to head to chapel to worship the Lord...and, praise the Lord, the chaplain preaching today is my husband!!!

That's all for now...

Friday, May 2, 2008

God is with You...

"When you expect to have two minutes and God gives you two hours..."

Smith Family Story

I was so moved by this video that I wanted to share it. To visit Angie's blog click here. I've been reading her blog for some time now and kept meaning to add a link to it for other people to read. I pray you are blessed by this story.