"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Monday, June 27, 2011


"Just pedialite for the boys," I remind him as he gets their cups ready.

"And where is the pedialite?" he asks.

"In the medicine cabinet," I answer quickly cleaning up another bout of sickness from one of the boys.

"And which cabinet is that?" he asks looking completely confused in the kitchen.

"The cabinet with the medicine, C," I responded with the biting sarcasm that would accompany any mother who had been nursing two sick children since the day after her husband returned from war. 

"Babe," he said, keeping very calm, but obviously frustrated, "I don't know which cabinet that is."

Oooohhhhh yeah ... oops. Of course he doesn't. He has never lived here. He doesn't know where to find a fork yet, let alone medication. Man, I'm dumb.

It is so easy to forget that our lives have been so very different over the past eleven months. It is so easy to forget that while we spoke nearly everyday, saw each other over Skype, told each other about our day to day, we did so from two different continents, that might as well be two very different worlds. It is so easy for me to become frustrated when he doesn't know something that seems so simple to me before I am reminded that he cannot know because he hasn't been here.

And he really got thrown into it. His very first morning home we woke up to not one but two very ill children. The day after he drove his new Jeep for the first time he spent hours cleaning out the result of that sickness from my car rather than joy-riding in his. He was thrown into a home that he had never stepped foot in before, where things were in places he couldn't possibly know. His clothes in places that he hadn't decided on. His things put in places that I had chosen.

How hard must that be to go from one place of complete control - where every decision was your decision, every placement of every item left to your choosing, every little thing being in your hands - to a house that you don't know, where your things have been unpacked for you and placed in places you may not have chosen yourself. Where you have to depend on the knowledge of someone else just to find a towel or a spoon or a a packet of pedialite for your child. Where your three-year-old-child knows where more things go than you do.

How strange that must be.

Lord, give me the patience. Lord, give him patience. Our two worlds must be made into one again and what a transition that will be.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Words

There are no words.


It is something that you know or you don't. You have felt it or you haven't. You have lived it or you can only imagine.

There are no words.

I knew that the song playing meant that they were about to walk in. I knew that when this song ended they would announce the arrival of the troops. I couldn't sit down. Everyone else was sitting. They didn't know. But we had welcomed C's men home last week so I knew. I. could. not. sit. down. 

"Ladies and Gentlemen," and then the screaming started. I didn't hear anything else that announcer said. I couldn't hear the person standing next to me. I don't know if I really heard anything. It wasn't until I watched the video on my phone back of them marching in that I realized just how much my body was shaking. There is no feeling like it on this earth. Chills, goosebumps, shaking, tears. And I hadn't even seen him yet. 

And then one soldier turned the corner and took the last step into the formation of 300 men and women  and I knew those shoulders. I knew that frame. I knew that stance. That was my C. Without question, without hesitation, that soldier was mine. 

"Look at me, look at me, look at me!" I thought over and over again while my eyes didn't leave that face on the complete opposite end of the assembly center. He stood perfectly still, as they all do, with his eyes very, very slowly scanning the crowd. "I'm right here!" my eyes yelled and then they met his. He saw me  and in his perfect stance he gave the slightest, slightest nod. No one else would see it if they weren't looking for it, but I did and that moment will be mine forever. There were so many tears. Hundreds upon hundreds of the tiniest, simplest tears. The first time we saw each other. The first time I could look into his eyes from - what felt like - forever away and know that we were US again. That in this huge center filled with hundreds of people all trying to find each other while remaining so very still, so very focused, so very strong, we found each other. No words. No waving. Nowhere near in each other's direct sight. We were pulled to each other. He found me while I yelled to him with my eyes.

You can tell me things don't happen like that. You can tell me that people can't feel each other like that and I will tell you over and over again that you are wrong. He found me out of the corner of his eye, across hundreds of people, without moving his head. That doesn't just happen. 

And then they released them to us and the crowd swarmed. Wives found husbands, daddies found daughters, parents found sons. In half a second the mob surrounded us, I saw my husband turn around to motion to one of his soldiers, and then he was gone and I felt like I couldn't breathe. "Where WAS he?" In the path between us that had been empty instants before were hundreds of families embracing, running, crying, cheering, laughing, smiling, kissing and I couldn't see my soldier. Desperately my eyes darted left, right, left, right. I couldn't see anything. I don't know if I could even process. He was gone.

And just like it happened the time before, my short, short body was standing on the bleachers looking left, scanning the crowd but not seeing anything that I wanted to see, when I heard it on my right, "You looking for me?" and there he was

There are no words. There are hundreds of tears, thousands of goosebumps, but there are no words.

To see our children hug their daddy. To see him kiss them. To see him hold them. To hear Logan yell, "Daddy!" and Eli softly say "Da-da" over and over again are incomparable to any joy I have ever felt in my life.

To kiss him. To see him. To know that he is here.

There are no words.

I have him. He's mine. He is safe. He is alive. My baby boys get their daddy back.

There are no words.

There are only tears. Hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of the most beautiful tears.

My husband is home. Thank you, Lord, for keeping him safe. Thank you, Lord, for giving him back to me. Thank you, God, for giving the grace for the journey. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, God.

"Boots on the ground" - on this ground, on American soil.

There are no words.

No words but Welcome Home.


(This was written earlier but I couldn't publish it yet!)

C was supposed to be home tomorrow - Father's Day. Before that he was supposed to be in last Tuesday. Long before that - and we didn't tell anyone - he was going to be flying ADVON bringing him home in May. He will be coming in "sometime soon." It's the Army way ... to hurry up and wait, I mean.

And I am soooo ready.

Ready to have him here. Ready for him to tuck the boys in at night. Ready to hear him sing them to sleep. Ready to watch him hang Eli upside down while I freak out at the same time. Ready to see him play baseball with Logan. Ready to cook breakfast together. Ready to hear him coming through the door - everyday. Ready to see that uniform. Ready to fold his clothes again and to make both sides of the bed. Ready to open the bathroom door and have that spice-scented-steam pour out. Ready to complain about the boots he brought inside ... again. Ready to see the Jeeps and trucks and cars in the parking lot of his building. Ready to see soldiers walking in and out knowing that one of them is mine. Ready for the brigade to not look like a ghost town. Ready to meet him for lunch. Ready to have the boys walk into his office and see Logan sit at his desk again. Ready to meet his soon-to-be-new-soldiers and their families. Ready for him to hold me. Ready to smell him. Ready to not sleep alone. Ready to not be scared. Ready to breathe.

I am so ready.

Hurry up and wait.

It's the Army Way.

Hurry up and wait.

I'm waiting.

Now Hurry Up.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I felt so accomplished. I had gone to the bank for the pre-approval. I walked out with the check. I had a mechanic double-check it. I held firm when the finance man tried to argue with me over the price. I moved money so it would go unnoticed. 

I bought that Jeep.  

It was a surprise. It was a welcome home gift that I couldn't WAIT to see his face when he realized it was his. I was so very excited.

I called the insurance company. I told them about the surprise as they added the Jeep to our account. I asked that the insurance cards be emailed to me so that he wouldn't know. The representative talked about how great a surprise this would be. How good of a wife I was. How sweet. And maybe she was distracted by all of the talking but she ruined it.

She didn't email me proof of insurance. She emailed C.

I didn't get to see his face. I don't get to know how he reacted. I worked so hard to see that excitement. So. Damn. Hard. and someone else's unintentional mistake took that from me.

To say I am upset is an understatement. It isn't just because he knows now - but because it was one more big thing that I did without him here and I wanted to reap the benefits. I wanted to see that smile. I worked hard for that smile. I researched. I went to several dealerships. I found this Jeep on my own. 

I am so incredibly disappointed.

But I'm trying to look at the bigger picture. C is almost home and I mean almost home. I am still going to see his face when he sees this Jeep. He is still going to pile the boys in the backseat (in their car seats, of course) and take them for a ride right away. He is still going to be so excited. And above all, he is going to be here - surprise or no surprise. He is going to be home. That's the bigger picture. I will get to see so many smiles so very soon and there won't be less love or excitement than there would have been. He's going to be home and I couldn't be more excited about that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Grass is Always Greener ...

I have had a difficult time of letting go - of moving forward - and I never thought I would. Certain things have been so different from the ways I have been taught, and shown, and known things to work and to be handled.

Every duty station is different. Every unit is different. Every leader is different. 

And I have been struggling with the difference between my Army post now and my Army home that I knew so well before. Yes, I realize I didn't call this one an Army home because it isn't to me yet. I have been to the point of complete anger at how differently things have been handled, been brought to hot tears, been frustrated beyond words and it isn't like me. Things have happened in a way that disappoints me and discourages me. 

Yesterday I had a very good talk with a very good friend - a very, very well-seasoned spouse - who I have learned more from than most and who is currently on the other side of this country. She said a lot and she listened more. She made me laugh - as she always does - and she faced a certain reality with me.

I am here now.  

"No one is like the 101st. You just need to know that." Yes, yes, we are brainwashed but really ... I mean, duh ... she's right. ; ) (Can I get an "Air Assault"?)

"You'll fix it," she reassured me. 

And, yes, this was mostly a joke because she knows how much of a "fixer" I am but it really got me thinking. No unit is perfect. But some do better than others - and I don't mean one is tougher, or stronger, or one gives a louder "hooah".  I mean the people in them - the leaders, the civilian employees, the volunteers - can do a better job of communicating, promoting camaraderie,  building a "unit" within the unit. 

And I may not know how to fix everything - that isn't up to me - but there are parts that I will be able to control in the near future. There is an effort I can make and that I will make. I can take responsibility for what is around me and take everything that I have learned in my last real Army home and use it here - at my new one.

It will take patience. It will be a transition. It will be a bumpy road but I committed to serve in this life, to persevere, to thrive and to encourage those around me to do the same.  And I believe we all pass it along,  empowerment spreads, and by focusing on the little around you, you can influence the whole.

So I will stop looking back and holding on and criticizing. I am moving forward and holding onto the good to help me to do better, to serve better, to encourage.

No one said it was easy but this isn't anything that can hold me back.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I have decided that Sunday is my laundry day. Well, I didn't really decide - it has just happened that way since we moved. I have never done all my laundry on one day before but now I guess I do. And this Sunday was definitely laundry day. 4 loads when it was all said and done. It was also a baking day. I baked a total of 16 dozen cookies. 8 dozen of which were from-scratch-M&M-cookies but all for the returning single soldiers' barracks. When the boys were napping, and the laundry machines were going, I took on the garage. The insane, horrible disorganization that was the remainder of a very badly packed move. And I did it. I opened every box. I sorted, I tossed, I put aside donations, I marked items for a garage sale, I unpacked and consolidated, unwrapped and put away. I lifted a very large, very heavy, seven-foot, artificial Christmas tree onto a very high storage shelf and didn't get injured in the process. I broke down boxes; I sorted packing paper to be recycled. I finally found my bathroom rugs in a box labeled "Candles". 

I started to pin a potential slipcover.

I finished painting the garage-sale-find-dresser for the boys room and went out to set up the pool for my boys. I pruned my flowers and made an arrangement with the fresh cuts. I cooked dinner and then we headed to LOWE'S. 

I bought more paint : ) ... and tape, and rollers, and brushes ... 

And - get this - I did it without any coffee.

I guess you could say I'm nesting. The week before Eli was born, I was on my hands and knees scrubbing grout lines with a cleaner and a toothbrush until C insisted he take over. I didn't nest with Logan. It's hard to nest when you aren't allowed out of bed. But I am most certainly nesting now.

I want things to be perfect. For the house to be done. For it all to be put away. For every little thing to be put in place. Perfect. Because I want things to be "home" when he walks through this door.

And then it hit me. It will be perfect - no matter what I do and don't finish - it will be perfect. Because he will walk through the door. And all the rest will follow.

I can slow down.

Because we will build a home as we go. And if I don't paint the rest before, he'll paint with me - because he knows how much it means to me. If I don't finish my slipcover before he walks through that door I will while he takes our boys to the park or brings them to look at the tanks around post. I don't have to decide which fabric to make curtains out of right now because I can ask him his opinion in just a few days. (Which he will roll his eyes at).

These things can wait.

But again, I'm nesting.

And C did have to physically take that toothbrush out of hand and pull me up off the bathroom floor the last time.

It can wait. Really. But then again ...

Where's that blue painter's tape? I may just start taping off the trim in my room ...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Landing Zone

A box landed on my porch today.

Okay it wasn't just a box - it was a very large, very green 'tough box' - and it didn't "land" nor was it on the porch. The very nice mailman carried it into my foyer and carefully placed it on my floor.

I have no idea why I asked him to put it there. I don't know why I didn't open the garage and put it in there instead. I wasn't thinking about it or maybe I was just rushed. Friends were over and I would have to leave them a moment to open the garage - not to mention that the garage is currently still full of some moving items (mainly gear) and I would have to find a place for it. So anyway, it is sitting in my foyer. I haven't opened it. I really need to to check the contents but I'm not ready.

I'm not ready for the sand.

I don't want sand in this house until his worn boots bring it in. And then I will be grateful for it because his boots will, for the first time, step into this house - our home - that he has never lived in. His boots that will have carried him home to safety will bring sand from a war-zone. The boots that carry flesh and blood and life with each and every step will have brought him home to me. The sand that covers his uniforms, fills all of the little pockets, and shakes from the ties of his boots will be a constant reminder that he is home, he is alive, he is safe.

Oh, I will take that sand.

I will keep on waiting, keep on moving, keep on praying, because I hang on to that dusty day.

That day when his sandy boots, again, sit just inside our door.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

To Serve


 She wanted to know how to answer this question. How many times have we all been asked this when someone finds out that our service member has chosen to reenlist or re-sign? How many times have people edged that question with disgust? How much does it hurt our hearts when we hear it? How many times do people ask why WE do it? How many times have we stood there with our jaws hanging open? How can anyone ask such a question? How can anyone not understand? How horrible that it is a such a foreign concept. How horrible that so many Americans think it is a pity, or unconscionable, or strange. How awful that the idea of service is something to be degraded. How incredibly sad.


This life that we lead is a life of service. Our soldiers serve in the greatest of ways. They serve a nation - a very great nation. They serve for our children; they serve for our children's children. They serve their parents, their spouses, their siblings, their friends. They serve strangers. They serve.

We serve.

I never mean to equate spouses to soldiers - I don't believe we are the same. I do not believe my sacrifice is greater than his but we do sacrifice, we do serve. Every day that our soldiers serve so do we.

We serve each other. We serve our families. We serve this nation. By building a strong family - a strong marriage - we build a strong military family. By forming a strong foundation for our spouse and family, we keep a strong foundation when he is away. We build a strong soldier. When we build strong soldiers, we build a strong force. When we build a strong force, we build a strong nation. We serve.

By empowering those around us we inspire them to empower others. When we reach out to one, we reach out to many. When we offer the tools for a strong foundation to one spouse, she builds a strong foundation for her family. She inspires those around her. She empowers others who share this journey.

And it continues.

We keep passing it on.

It isn't shameful or worthy of pity or questioning.

Thank you all for being a support for me, for serving with me, for empowering me, for encouraging me.

To serve is a humbling experience. To serve is an honorable experience. To serve is a blessing. The strength to do so will be provided when you are called to this life. The tools are given and He works through those that surround you to allow you to thrive. The hardest moments allow for the greatest grace.  Grace will be given for the journey. Find joy in it.


You will find it when you serve.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fish Bowl

(An old post I forgot to publish. Oops!)

“Flowers!” My front yard has flowers! I may have physically skipped a little when I saw that. Three tiny bunches of purple flowers. I leaned down a bit. Were they lavender? They looked like lavender. Where does lavender usually grow? How wonderful that we have flowers!

Then I felt it.

I don’t know how long they had been standing there or what they thought of me leaning over flowers I didn’t plant with a beaming smile on my face. Who knows, I could have been talking to myself because of how excited I was. But I looked up because I felt their eyes. Two ladies smiling and staring in front of the driveway next to the one that was now mine. I was already smiling (probably like a fool) so I waved back and started walking towards them as they began to walk towards me.

I guess I didn’t think I would feel it so quickly – the being watched feeling. We have always lived at least 20 minutes from post – at least. We like the separation. I could lie and say my husband is the only one who likes the separation but I don’t mind it either. I think it helps to find a balance – at least for our family.  To live on post was a BIG decision for our small family but one that we both believe is best this time around. The benefits will greatly outweigh the rest.

As I talked to these two, very nice women, watched the interaction between people in our very busy and youthful village and really opened my eyes my chest felt heavy. My mind was starting to panic. I felt suffocated.

I was the new girl – and clearly very much the new girl – and I wasn’t used to it. To make it harder, nearly everyone on my street is with the same aviation unit and were also all together at their previous OCONUS location. They were all the first families into this village of new houses and some had been together for years – a lifetime in the military realm. All of their husbands were home. Talk about outsider. It just about knocked me over how out-of-place I felt.

Since I arrived here, I have experienced nothing but kindness from people. The guard gate who let me through when I didn’t know I needed a special pass. The ladies at CYS who walked me through the deployment benefits and told me the ins and outs of how to get things I needed. The patient women at the housing office who waited an hour for me to get in touch with my husband to have him walk through getting additional paperwork over the phone. The soldier at the main gate who saw my Louisiana Temporary Tag and talked with me a moment about his hometown which is the same as the one I love and just left. The two ladies who talked with me and told me why the satellite is better than the cable and why they don’t paint their houses and how silly I was to paint mine and where they have been before. Everyone has been so kind.

But I still feel like a fish in a fishbowl.

I know that this will be an adjustment – more than I probably realized – because right now I am the new girl in a place where everyone knows everyone and there really isn’t anyway around it.

And so tomorrow I will open my uncovered windows and climb my ladder and paint despite how “impractical” it is. Tomorrow I will buy a watering can and in a few days I will research care for lavender. I will buy a flagpole holder and ask permission to mount it on the column on my house because I believe it belongs there.  I will continue to move forward while people smile and wave and watch.

And I will live in the fishbowl, one day at a time, and somehow I will make it home.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Thankless Job

"I mean what do they really do anyway." I didn't really say anything for a minute. I counted to ten in my head (literally). I remember how easy it is to have this perspective. I wonder if that is what I would think if I hadn't lived this side of it before. But I didn't know what to say because there was SO MUCH that I could say. But could I say it calmly? Questionable. 

My friend was talking about Rear-D (rear-detachment - the ones who stay behind during a deployment to handle this side of things).  Her intentions were not malicious and she didn't have any idea what my experience was with this. I am sure I would have said the same thing BUT my husband was the Battalion Rear-D Commander for the the last deployment at Fort Campbell.

I cannot even begin to explain what that job did to my family. It may have been one of the greatest challenges we have ever faced. I wouldn't wish it on anyone - a-n-y-one. And we heard this question far more than I care to admit. And for all I know my husband did it differently than most - was more involved - but I don't know. I just know how Rear-D was for us. I know how hard he worked. I know how much this took up our lives and I know I never want to go through it again.

It's a thankless job. It's a forgotten job. There are things that happened that I still have issues with forgiving - but  I'll get to that.

My husband never wanted this job. He could have turned it down. He was being pushed to turn it down by part of leadership. But I fought hard for him to take it. I wish I would have known ...

Yes, let me say from the get-go, that they stay home. They stay safe. They are not in harm's way. But I guarantee, as an infantryman, my husband would take a helmet on his head and gun in his hands anyday over this job. He went to court and testified in child-custody cases. He saw the dirty, dirty things that can happen in poor marriages over a deployment. He removed cheating spouses from barracks. He was mediator in financial disputes. He was in the middle of divorces. He witnessed and testified about child neglect. He had a child dropped off at his office because his guardian just "didn't want to deal with him anymore." He discharged unfit soldiers (nearly 100). His phone rang 24/7. He took off just half-a-day when our son was born (yes he was was here - thank God - but he had other things that were important to other families). He listened to spouses yell on the other end of a telephone for God-only-knows-what reasons. He called the families whose son or husband had lost both of his legs, or had shrapnel in his chest, or in his eyes. He went to the home of a colleague's spouse to deliver news of injury because that's how he would want me to be told. He visited Walter Reed. He hugged families whose soldier had been killed. He held the hand of his fallen friend's mother. He stood near the casket of soldiers that had been his soldiers the last go 'round. He had to grieve (you don't have time to grieve in combat). I can't explain how difficult that grieving was for both of us. He received those phone calls. He made the phone calls. He was the hated person on the other end of the phone. He made sure hundreds of families didn't fall through the cracks. He made sure they knew when their soldier was coming home - hundreds.

And maybe that doesn't seem like much but I saw this change my husband. It aged him. It tested his faith in people. I would do anything to take this experience from him.

And after the soldiers came home and while he was at Air Assault, his desk was cleared off, put in a box, and dumped in the hallway. When he came back a printer was sitting in its place.

It is a thankless job.

But I know this will make him a better leader. I know that he has learned so much about how he wants to be and how he doesn't. I know he is a better man for surviving this, for doing a good job in a horrible situation, for learning from it. I know this has changed him and I know he will find the good in it.

So please don't think they do nothing. If you think about it, shake your rear-d's hand, send them an email, tell them "Thank You," because it means a lot. They work hard when they would rather be doing anything else - at least C did and I am proud of him for it.

The "Safe" Zone

(I wrote this a while ago. I didn't want to put anything out there until everything was 'concluded'. The memorial for these soldiers was held yesterday in Afghanistan. C was one of the leaders who planned it.)

I woke up with that feeling - you know - that feeling. The pit in your stomach, the truly-feel-sick-but-you-know-you-aren't-feeling. I tried my best to brush it off, to ignore it. When that didn't work I tried rationalizing.

Just a few more weeks. We just have a few more weeks. They're in transition. No reason to worry. We are almost there. Just a few more weeks. Transition. They're in transition. He's okay.

I stared at the "Welcome Home, Daddy" banner sitting by my front door, flattening out. The feeling was going away. I wasn't thinking about how he usually calls by now. He was busy, just busy. I was feeling better, I had won the mind-battle ... and then I turned on the news.

"Bloodiest Day" the headline said, "At least seven troops killed." I felt nauseous. 

Where, Where, Where, Where, WHERE? 

Like the news could hear me, the announcer said, "Kandahar." I nearly threw up.

Several hours later I heard from my soldier.

"It is so good to hear your voice. I had the worse feeling ... " 

"I know them, babe. I work with them. I can't talk about it. I just ... I ... I love you." The tears were starting to roll down my face. 

This feeling has not left me because it wasn't my soldier - but it was another wife's, another mother's, another child's. And we are at the end. We are in the mental "safe zone" - or at least I thought we were. And I can't stop breaking for these families. These families whose soldiers either just got there or were just about to come home. I can't stop crying.

I can't help but feel guilty. I am so incredibly grateful that it wasn't him but that isn't fair either. Because it was someone's everything. It was someone's partner on the journey. It wasn't mine and I have to thank God for that - but that seems so wrong. There is so much guilt. I can't help but want so badly to take away this pain. Because it just doesn't seem fair. It is never fair.

Right now someone is hearing the doorbell and I feel so broken. Their world is about to change and they don't know it. I can't even process because we are at the end. The end and we lost these heroes.

They are not forgotten. They will never be forgotten.  Remember them. Remember their families.