Monday, February 14, 2011

Deployments...Valentine's Day

Since it is Valentine's Day, and I know some of you are having to be without that special someone on this day, let me first heart goes out to you! It's never easy to be separated from the one you love, especially on special days where it'll seem like everyone around you is clinging to their loved one but you. Been there, did it two years in a row, and would rather not do it again. I was, however, reminded that no matter the distance we are still very much in love and have much to celebrate.

If you find yourself alone today, call up a friend in the same boat, love on your kids, or prepare a care package. That's what I did. I made sure to have some packages that got there in time for Valentine's Day, but also sent another package out the next morning that I had filled with all sorts of things to say "I'm celebrating our love"...

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To my husband...
I'm so thankful you are HOME with me this Valentine's Day. I love you with all my heart!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Deployments...Three Months Down

It was mid-October at three months down. My birthday falls mid-October. I would say it's difficult when they're gone any birthday, holiday, special event... I don't really remember much about this month except that we were still losing Soldiers and it was difficult. I remember my daughter threw me a birthday party at her house and several of my friends came, and we had a good time. I think the word "celebrate" wasn't really in my vocabulary (until the day my husband returned home for good), but we had a good time. By this time in the journey, I was thinking about it being half-way to R&R and in three months I would see his face again and feel his touch. You have to find things to look forward to...

Also, by three months down I was really close to several of the women in our battalion, and felt a part of the "family". It felt good. I had struggled before the deployment to really feel a part of the "family". I think it's something everyone goes through... God had blessed me with some wonderful friends and it was something I had really desired to take place long before, but I think sometimes it's difficult for people to warm up to us chaplain wives. I could be wrong...but I would be interested to hear what other chaplain wives think... I know, after I got to know some of the ladies well, they shared their fears of being close to me since they weren't "religious". They soon came to find out that didn't matter to me. I wanted to know them and become friends just like any other woman would want. Thankfully, that opportunity came with the deployment, and I wouldn't trade those times of great laughter and even great tears for anything. Except for the lives of our Soldiers.

Thinking through the deployment isn't easy. This time last year my husband had probably just gotten back on the battlefield from having been gone for R&R (it takes longer to return than to get home for R&R). We were given two weeks together and it was wonderful!!! Saying good-bye again, however, was not. I teased him a lot about restraining him and not letting him return. :) But, I knew he must return and that his men needed him there. I think knowing it's what the Lord has called us to do makes it easier...and when I say easier I don't mean it like it was easy to do at all, just that God gave me the strength to somehow let go and watch him step on that plane to go back to a very dangerous place.

I'm thankful it's over and he's home. I am thankful for this Army life, even when it's difficult, and thankful for all the Lord has done. My heart goes out to all enduring a deployment right now!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Deployments...A few photos for today

The Chapel. They started out with these benches, but my husband was able to get chairs so they could fit more people in the Chapel. Not only Soldiers attended services there; he also had contractors from all over the world. He loved it! Also, once they got Internet service, I was able to watch most of the services via Skype. It was awesome!! Before Skype, my husband was kind enough to video the services and send them to me...something I really appreciated since I missed his preaching so much.
My husband set up a room inside the chapel that he called "The Chap Ex"...a place the Soldiers could come to get toiletries, snacks of all sorts, movies, books and such for free. We had several people who sent boxes on a regular basis to keep it stocked well. The twins and I liked to fill a box (or two, or three) and send out at least once a week. Thank you to everyone who sent boxes! The Soldiers really appreciated it.
Baptism downrange. They were able to cut this broken water tank and use it for baptisms. It was winter there at this time so they brought it into the chapel.
Memorial built downrange by Soldiers to honor their brothers killed in combat.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Deployments...Two Months Down

About six weeks into their deployment things got rough. On Sept. 14, 2009 we lost two great Soldiers. I wrote about that some in my post "Forever Changed" - you can click here to read if you haven't already...since what I write later won't make much sense if you haven't. It's still not easy to think about all the lives that are forever changed (there were even more lost after that post), but I find comfort in knowing those families are doing well.

It was difficult to leave my friend, Sarah, but I know God has placed people in her life to bring encouragement, and that even the miles between us won't take away our friendship. Her sweet baby girl is such a blessing and I am so thankful the Lord blessed her with this beautiful child. Andrew - her husband, as well as all our other Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, will never be forgotten.

After posting "Forever Changed" I didn't get back on my blog to write for quite a while. It was a difficult time working a full time job, taking care of my family, and with all the other things we had going on in our battalion and brigade I just had to step back. It was much more important to me to spend time with people. I'm praying to be able to recall as much as possible to write it we'll see how it goes.

I'll end by saying I really had no idea we would endure so many casualties during this deployment. I knew very quickly it was going to be bad, and my heart broke time and time again as I sat with family after family who lost their hero. I thank God He allowed me to be there, even in the midst of such a difficult time. Those families are precious to me, and I was honored to help however needed or be a shoulder to cry on.

I'm thankful my husband was able to be there in Afghanistan for the Soldiers of our great nation during such difficult circumstances, even though I missed him terribly, and so very thankful for the many who returned home to their families. Many are still hurting from what they experienced or endured from being blown up themselves and injured in some way. Our continued prayers for them, and their families, are important. Take time to pray even if you don't know them by name!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Deployments...One Month Down

At this point it was still very, very painful to have my best friend gone every day. I would find myself still waiting for him to come walking through the door, like he was just down the road on post. It's a strange feeling. I think once you've known someone for so long (we're about to celebrate 24 years of marriage this month) it's impossible not to feel a void when they're not around.

Looking back I don't recall what all happened the first month, but I remember him arriving at Kandahar and soon experiencing the death of Soldiers. It wasn't Soldiers from our Post, but he still prayed over a few men that had been killed, and participated in their Ramp Ceremony. He asked me to watch for reports of their deaths and write down their names in my journal. Month one was just a peak of what was to come...

Kids & the Military

Yesterday was a very difficult day. I got a call from the school here saying that the school we came from was not going to give the twins credit for last semester. When my husband received orders we went to the school to talk to them about it, knowing we would have to move before the semester ended. Here it ended with Christmas break; there it ended last Friday. The first words out of the registrar's mouth were, "Can't you just stay here until January 28?"...NO. I was shocked. We're in the military. We move when they say move. If the boys and I did stay, that's pretty much two months of separating our family, making two house payments - with a BAH change not in our favor, deciding what stays and what goes, my husband picking out a house by himself, the twins starting the semester here a month late...need I say more?! After just coming off of a year long deployment, and the headaches listed above, NO ONE would be able to talk us into that!

To make a long story short, they told us we would just have to take their current grades with us and the school here could accept them (or reject them)....which we're finding out isn't the case. The school they left has to decide whether or not to give them credit, and they have said no they won't give them credit...or so the first person I talked to said. And we called and talked to everyone both here and there that would answer their phone, left many messages and got no calls back, and talked to both military liaison's here and there, and...well...we still have no answers.

Needless to say, we're fighting this!!! It's just not right. The children of our service men and women deserve better than this! Please pray for this situation, and for our twins. They worked hard and were in school until the day we had to depart. Just a week before Christmas break, with many driving miles in between. They're just innocent kids caught in the mess of it all...hoping and praying they don't have to redo a whole semester, and lose credit for being in school for months before our departure, working hard, and getting no credit for it. Not to mention, it could happen to us again before they graduate from high school. There has to be something to help military kids through transitions like this.