Just dreaming

2012MSABlogCarnival

Today is Day 2 of the Blog Carnival hosted by Wives of Faith, and the topic is:

“What duty stations or locations would be on YOUR dream sheet?”

This one is easy for me to answer! So far I’ve only lived at one duty station – Fort Bragg – and I really like it here.  It’s close to the mountains and the beach. There are plenty of fun attractions a short drive away, and countless ones within a day’s drive all up and down the east coast!  Coming from Dallas, TX where going to the beach required a long weekend, I absolutely LOVE being able to go to the beach and back in a single day.

That said, there are some places that I would love to live during the remainder of my husband’s Army career, if the options were ever given to us.

1) Italy or Germany – these are a tie for me because either one would get us to Europe.  Rob was fortunate to be stationed at both of these his first time around in the Army, but those were before he met me so I would love the chance to experience that with him and see first hand where he spent several years of his life.

2) Hawaii – This one might not ever happen because it would require my husband giving up his Airborne status to go there, but it’s still on my dream list.  Our family loves, LOVES the beach and all things about the ocean.  While it might not be our retirement dream of the Caribbean, it would certainly be paradise to live in such a beautiful place and experience God’s glory in nature. They have mountains IN the ocean there, what’s not to love about that?

3) Alaska – I know, crazy cold right? That part would probably take a lot of getting used to, but I would still choose it over a stateside location just for the beauty of it and the chance to experience it.  The pictures I’ve seen of Alaska are always just beautiful and where else can you spot a moose in your backyard?

All of my “dream spots” are out of the continental U.S. because I figure we could go anywhere within the lower 48 on our own if we were willing to drive a while.  These dream spots are places that I figure we will never have a chance to move to unless it’s on the Army’s dime, so why not go big?

Also, I was born in California and moved to Texas when I was 5.  Then, I spent the next 30 years living in the same 30 mile radius, but my heart has ached for years to move to a new place and get to travel.  One of the things I was most excited about when Rob got back in the Army was the chance to see the world and show it to our daughter.  I know God has a sense of humor and it would be ironic if we spent the next 13 years at just ONE duty station, but we’ll hope not! Let’s get out there and see the world!

You know you are a military wife when…

2012MSABlogCarnival

This week, I’m taking part in a Blog Carnival hosted by Wives of Faith.  If you are a military wife, I can’t encourage you enough to become a member and get connected with these awesome ladies!

Here are my top 20 answers in no particular order to today’s topic,

 

You know you are a military wife when…

…you no longer have to do math to figure out what time to start dinner when your husband tells you he’ll be home at 1830.

…someone asks for the last 4 of your social security number and you ramble off your husband’s instead.

…you are surprised when the sound of thunder is REALLY thunder and not just artillery.

…you are close friends with someone for an entire year, but your husband’s have never met because they are never home at the same time.

…a good day includes your husband not landing in a tree.

…you say, “stand by” to someone when you are figuring out your answer.

…you refuse to answer the front door when your husband is deployed.

…you have a plan on what to do with your child if you should ever see men in dress uniforms at your door.

…you store your kid’s outside toys in a Tuff box.

…your husband’s work & dress clothes cost more than yours do.

…you tear up at songs like “Proud to be an American” and “American Soldier” no matter how many times you hear them.

…you run out of leftovers for your husband’s lunch the next day and he says, “I’ll just grab an MRE at work”.

…some of your closest friends are people you’ve known less than a year.

…the emergency contact for your child is someone you’ve known less than a month.

…you know your husband’s co-workers by last name only.

…you need your ID to buy groceries.

…your husband says he’s going to another state for a week to for training and you think nothing of it because it’s “only” a week.

…you know that any reference to “sand box” describes a deployment, not your kid’s backyard toys.

…you avoid going grocery shopping within 2 days of payday unless it’s an absolute emergency!

…your husband says he gets to “sleep in” and sets his alarm for 6:30.

Prayers for protection

A couple of my really close friends have husbands who are currently in Afghanistan, and I have another good friend whose husband will be there very soon.  This morning, I felt led to pray strongly for these soldiers, and for their families – for protection and comfort.  It’s no secret that things are challenging over there, and that there is spiritual warfare involved in addition to the war on terror.  It is critical then, that we as Christians bind together and send our prayers to the Lord on their behalf.

Will you join me today and say a prayer for our soldiers and this war they are fighting – for wisdom, discernment, and a safe arrival back home?  Will you pray for their loved ones back home – that they will seek the Lord and He will give them a comfort and peace that only He can give?

As one of my close friends said to me this morning…God is bigger than any statistics!  We serve a mighty God who is in control of all things and who can work miracles beyond our wildest imagination.  Be bold, and ask Him to return our soldiers safely home.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.” (Psalm 138:7)

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“Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid.  Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to me, “I am your salvation.”

May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away; may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them.

Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, may ruin overtake them by surprise—may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation. 

My whole being will exclaim,  “Who is like you, LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”” (Psalm 35:1-10)

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“My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me.” (2 Sam 22:3)

Have you surrendered?

Now that Rob is back from deployment, we are church hunting again. It’s always a challenging process, but this past Sunday we visited a church for the 2nd time and so far we really like it. Whether or not we’ll choose to become members there still remains to be seen, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that God spoke to me personally through that church on Sunday.

We sang an old hymn that I grew up singing and love dearly called “I Surrender All.” I couldn’t help but giggle with joy a bit when I heard the first few words because it was like God had sent me a special gift that morning in care of the church, delivered straight to me through the music leader.

I surrender all. That is God’s theme for me this year as I learn (and re-learn) how to truly surrender it ALL to Him. My cares, my worries, my dreams, my desires, my husband, my daughter….ALL of it.

My favorite verse in this song is this:

“All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.”

Am I living in His presence daily? Every day? When I am, I know it’s easier to surrender to Him. When I make myself get out of bed to have that quiet time with the Lord before starting my day; When I stop and pray during the day not only when I need help, but also just to praise Him for his glory – the closer I am to Him, the easier it is to trust Him (and his plans for me) completely.

Our lives are often busy and carving out time for “quiet time” can be challenging as military wives and moms, but it’s so important to find that time somewhere. Lately, I’m being challenged because we have a new puppy. My morning quiet time is being disturbed by taking the puppy out to potty, feeding him, making sure he’s playing with the right toys and running constant interference between him and the cat.

God is good and so very gracious! He wants to hear from us. Talk to Him while you drive, while you are doing the dishes or laundry, in the bathroom, or even in the shower. Seem weird? Well, God made you – He already knows what you look like naked! One of my greatest spiritual mentors has her quiet time every night in the bathtub.

He also wants to speak to us through His Word. Get an audio version and listen to it when you are in the car. Leave your Bible open on the kitchen counter and read it a little at a time throughout the day. I know a lady that keeps a Bible in the bathroom to read because it’s the only place she can get a little privacy with her kids running around. Do what you can, but make time for it!

What if you mess up? What if you just didn’t make the time today? The last few days? Then give yourself a break, remember God’s grace, and try again tomorrow.  He loves you and desires to communicate with you.

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)

He’s HOME!

So I had this post ready to post yesterday, but got busy and forgot to post it 🙂  You’ll understand why.

 

Aug. 31, 2010 – Rob was sworn into the Army (again), and left to begin his training as a “prior service” soldier first going to WTC (Warrior Transition Course), and then to AIT (Advanced Individual Training).

He was gone for 5 months. I saw him for a couple weekends during that time.

January 28, 2011 – We moved our family to Fort Bragg, NC

February, 2011 – We spent the month together! Hubby worked ‘normal’ hours.

March 1, 2011 – Hubby left to attend pre-deployment training at JRTC for one month.

April, 2011 – We spent the month together! Hubby worked for 2 weeks, and was off for 2 weeks.

May 17, 2011 – Hubby left for his deployment to Iraq

 

TODAY – December 22, 2011 (also the 11th anniversary of the day he proposed to me!)……

 

after being apart for 14 out of 16 months…

 

after 222 days of living over 6400 miles apart……

 

 

MY HUSBAND IS HOME!!!!!


All I want for Christmas is my Hubby!

The U.S. troops have exited Iraq and crossed into Kuwait.  Watch the video if you haven’t seen it.  It’s awesome to see that gate close.  The next step is HOME!  I am so ready for my husband to be home again.  Today marks the 219th day since I have seen him, and the closer we get to him being home, the harder it is to wait! I had prepared myself for a much longer deployment as we were originally told, but ever since Obama announced that they are coming home “by the end of the year” – I have been on pins and needles!

Every time the song “All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth” comes on, Lovebug sings,

“All I want for Christmas is my Daddy!” with a huge smile on her face!  She is just giddy with excitement, as am I!

Tonight I told her that the only present I want for Christmas is Daddy, and she replied “That’s one present you can’t unwrap!”. 

I had to laugh!  Oh, the joys she will one day learn about marriage!

 

In the meantime, we are keeping busy as we count down the days till his arrival. 

Clean house – check.

Welcome home sign made – check.

Laundry done – check.

Groceries purchased for his favorite meal – check.

Clean house again because we’ve lived since the first time – well, not quite ready to check that off, but we are getting there.

Troops in Iraq are coming home!

I am so excited!! This deployment that was supposed to last until May, will be over soon! According to the President, the troops that are in Iraq will be home by the end of the year.  Obama even said they “will definitely be home for the holidays”.  Of course, I don’t know if he means Christmas or the New Year, but either way his promise means nothing to me until my husband is sitting next to me on our loveseat in our living room.  I know that it’s the Army, and things can always change, but even if they don’t make it before the holidays…

MY HUSBAND IS COMING HOME!!

There is a lot of preparation going on.  The troops are getting instructions on reintegrating back with their families.  Some like to say it’s the “what to do (or not do) if you go home and your wife has spent all your money” talk.  It’s sad that those type of talks are even necessary, but unfortunately they are.

The FRG has also been getting things ready for the single soldiers’ barracks – collecting bedding, toiletries and snacks, so they can come home to a room that isn’t just cold and empty.  One thing I never realized before we started this deployment and Hubby explained it to me is that the single soldiers have to move out of the barracks before they deploy.  All of their belongings are put into storage until they return.  That means that when they get back, they are assigned a room, but they don’t have any of their things until they get to their storage.  We don’t want them to come home like that, so we are making sure they have sheets, a blanket, pillow, snacks and basic toiletries in their rooms.  It’s the least we can do!

Then there are the welcome home signs to make, the outfits to plan, and the food to cook.  Hubby is looking forward to my meatloaf and mashed potatoes so I’ve assured him I will have the supplies on hand, or it already made when he gets home.

We as spouses have even had meetings on what to expect when our soldier returns.  We’ve been instructed to make sure we are communicating with our spouse about our expectations – with the kids, with chores, and with intimacy.  As one experienced wife put it, we need to know whether he is expecting things to be like a microwave or a crock-pot that first night. I thought that was a great analogy!

Thankfully, Hubby and I have been doing a lot of communicating.  It’s something we’ve always been pretty good at, so we’ve been asking each other questions about expectations and sharing with each other what we are looking forward to.  We need to be on the same page so that unmet (and unspoken) expectations don’t cause friction, and I think we are right there together!  Such a great feeling!

It’s funny because when I thought he was coming home in May, I had myself all prepared for that we were in a routine so it didn’t bother me.  Now that I know they are coming home, it just can’t get here fast enough!  It’s harder knowing it’s so close, but still so far.

For operational security reasons, I won’t be giving any specifics on here as to his return even once I know something (which I don’t yet!).  All I can tell you is what the media has already released, like I mentioned above.  Don’t worry though, I will let you know as soon as I can once his boots are on the ground here at home!

Soldier Salute

Just a couple days before Veteran’s Day, my awesome Hubby was featured on a local news channel in their “Soldier Salute” program.  I submitted his information and some photos and was super thrilled when they notified me that it would be showing.  Thank goodness for DVRs, because they gave me a 2.5 hour window and it was super early in the morning!  Later that morning, I surprised both Granny and Lovebug when I played it on TV as they thought I was just looking at a regular show.  I was fast forwarding as I looked for it, and Granny started screaming “Go back!! That looks like Lovebug and Hubby!!”.  It was precious! I should have videoed THEIR reactions, but instead I was aiming my video camera at the TV so I could record it for Hubby.

The news people were on the ball though, and I didn’t even need to record it! Just seconds after I watched it, I received an email from them with a link directly to the video online. 

Here is my handsome hero!

Happy Veteran’s Day!

Veteran’s Day is a day to honor and remember anyone who has served our country in the military – past or present.  Unlike Memorial Day, which is to honor those who gave their life for our country, Veteran’s Day honors those that have passed or are still alive. 

Today, on 11-11-11, Lovebug and I joined with other families from Hubby’s brigade for a 5K walk/run on post in honor of our loved ones that are serving.  We gathered for a prayer and the national anthem before the air horn signaled the start of the walk at exactly 9:11 – the significance of course being that it was the events of that particular date that began this war.

To the troops that are serving or have served our great country,

Thank you for your many sacrifices and your commitment to preserving our country’s freedoms.  Thank you for your early mornings, your late nights, your missed holidays, birthdays, and other special events.  Thank you for putting your life on the line in order to help, protect, and bring freedom to so many.  “Thank you” is not enough, but I mean it with all my heart.

To the families of our troops,

Thank you as you too sacrifice many things in order to support your loved one.  Thank you to the spouses for the early mornings, late nights and long days you have as you manage your household and take care of your children without your partner.  Thank you to those that remain faithful to their spouse, who love and support them unconditionally as they do their job.  Thank you to the children who are being brave and sharing their parent with the children of the world.  Your role may be very different, but is equally important.  Thank you.

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To my favorite soldier,

I love you and I miss you dearly.  I can’t wait to have you home again.  In the meantime, I thank you for your willingness to answer God’s call to serve your country – not just once, but twice.  I am honored to be on this roller coaster with you and will always be here to support you and love you 100%.  I hope you always know how much I admire and respect you as a person, a husband, a father, and a soldier.  It is a true blessing to be married to not only my best friend, but also my HERO. 

I love you always,

Your Bride

The good, the bad and the ugly of Army life

It’s been a while since I’ve written about how life in the Army is going for us.  I honestly can’t believe so much time has gone by already.  We’ve now been an Army family for over a year – about a year and 2 months.  I’ve been completely shocked by some things while totally unfazed by others.  Let me share just a little bit of it all with you!

 

The GOOD:

* Army wives are so much more friendly and welcoming than I could have ever imagined.  They truly all know what it’s like to be the “new girl” and they are willing to reach out to help you, invite you over for coffee, and let you into their friendship circles right away.  They don’t care about your age, just your attitude.  I was worried about coming in and being so much older than many of the wives, but it hasn’t been an issue even once.  Even though some of my new friends are almost half my age, it doesn’t matter because we are in similar seasons of life and that is what helped us form a bond.

* The Commissary!! Great prices on groceries! I’ve also been impressed at the number of organic and gluten free products they offer at awesome low prices, which saves me from making the hour long trip to the nearest Whole Foods.

* I LOVE my neighbors and am having so much fun with them!  God has truly blessed us with our home.  Not only was it available almost right away when we moved here (saving us from having to move twice or being on a long waiting list), but we live right next to some amazing people.  Our next door neighbor and the ones next to them are great friends of mine now.  Our kids all play together almost daily, while us mommies get to chat with each other.  We share lots of laughs together!  We also share food – when one of us cooks something new, we often take samples of it over to the other two to try.  We borrow things from each other – a steam cleaner, a vaporizer, foil, mayo – whatever!  I love it! I have never had neighbors I could do this with and it’s so fun.  Sometimes I’ll step out to take the trash out, see one of them, and end up talking for 30 minutes.  It’s great! 

* Our FRG (Family Readiness Group) rocks!! Seriously.  I wasn’t sure because before I got her I had read very good and very bad stories about FRGs.  But, I was determined to jump in and volunteer because I figured you can’t complain if you don’t try to help :)  Turns out we have a great leader who works hard to keep us all in the loop, and even plans fun things for us to do.  So, if you are not sure about whether or not to get involved with your FRG – give it a chance!! At each and every duty station, even if you had a bad experience before.  Try it again.

* Living on post – I love it! It’s like a little city of its own.  We have grocery stores, a PX (think mini-Walmart), a Post Office, chapels, car repair, car washes, gyms, pools, running tracks, Starbucks (2 that I know of!), gas stations, bowling alleys, playgrounds, etc.  It’s also nice not having to pay rent, electric and water each month.  It all comes straight out of our check in the form of our Basic Housing Allowance.  No wondering what the electric bill will be this month – we pay the same every month.

* Lots of activities for adults and children!  There are endless options for getting involved in groups or classes to have fun and meet people. 

 

The BAD:

* Friends moving away.  I connected with an amazing woman almost immediately after moving here.  I met her through PWOC and it turned out she lived right down the street from me! She has a son that is Lovebug’s age and they hit it off right away too.  I knew right away we would be great friends.  Unfortunately our husbands never had the chance to meet because mine deployed, but I know they would have gotten along too.  But she just moved! All the way to another state.  I realize it’s a fact of life in the military and either we will move, or our friends will at some point, but it still stinks. I’m very thankful for the internet and I know we’ll keep in touch that way.  Plus, we’ll have a new place to visit.  

* Drama! Oh boy, the drama! Just like anywhere else in life, it’s out there.  You just have to do your best to avoid it, stay out of it, or don’t let it bother you.  It could suck the life out of you if you let it.

* Not being able to plan.  I’m a planner.  I like to know when things are going to happen and what path we are going to take to get there, but that gets thrown out the window in this life.  I’m learning to embrace the concept of the unknown and just be comforted knowing I don’t have to make the choice rather than let it stress me out.

 

The UGLY:

* Obviously the worst part is the deployments. I miss Hubby so much and can’t wait to have him back on my sofa, in my arms, snoozing away to NASCAR in the background.   It also stinks when my friends’ husbands have to leave and I know how much they are going to miss them.  

However, even during these times there is good to be found.  I have grown in some amazing ways, and proven to myself to be stronger than I thought.  It’s also great to be surrounded by people who “get it”, and that leads to those great friendships because we instantly have something in common.  It also makes my heart grow even fonder for my Love…my best friend…my Hubby! Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love him even more – I do!

All in all, it’s been a great ride so far and I look forward to seeing where the next year takes us.