"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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scary Lengths

Friday I got a haircut. I have only gotten my hair done once since moving here and I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved it. It was the best cut and color I have gotten in a very long time. Friday was the only day I knew I had free for a cut before C's change-of-command so when they told me my previous stylist was off that day I went ahead and went with who they had free.

Well ... she wasn't really "free" because she was cutting and coloring two of us at the same time (do not ASK me how that is possible but she found a way). She was obviously preoccupied because she somehow misinterpreted the just above the shoulder cut that I showed her with something several inches shorter. 

She butchered my hair. 

And butchered is appropriate because she didn't ask or check she just cut - a HUGE chunk - like the entire back portion of my head at the same time. There was no going back. My hair is above my chin. I spent two-and-a-half hours at the salon while the manager tried to fix it. And the best she could do was make me look "less like Laura Bush" or less like I had a "bubble on my head" (her words). 

(I think the former first lady is one of the classiest of women - but I don't want her haircut on my head.)

I cried. 

I was that upset. And we won't even go into the fact that I have blonde highlights rather than the red lowlights that I asked for or that the hair-dye left to drip down my face had to be scrubbed off by a combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

It's a really bad hair cut. A really bad salon experience. Really, really bad. 

Luckily, I had a week and a half to pray it back. (I'm desperate). I had a week and a half before I was to be introduced to this new unit. A week and a half to somehow feel confident in the craziness I now saw in the mirror.

C just came home for lunch to tell me.

He's getting hailed tomorrow night. We are getting introduced to the unit in twenty-four hours. No matter how much vitamin B I put into my system I will not have hair below my chin before tomorrow night.

Maybe that is what is making me feel nervous. I'm a people person. I'll talk to anyone. I love meeting new spouses. But I swear when he said that I felt sick. It's been a while since we've done this. It's been a while since we've "belonged" to a unit. It's been a while for a lot of things. 

I am so very excited and nervous and ready and ... not ready. Why I am just a little bit scared? I know how to do this. I know how to "belong" but what if they aren't like the others? What if they aren't accepting? What if I can't be the same me? What if they don't like me? 

I feel like I'm starting a new school ... or about to enter a competition that is entirely subjective ... or about to perform a song on stage and I am nervous I won't remember the words, or I'll crack, or the audience just won't like my voice. 

Where did this come from?? 

It's the haircut. It's gotta be the haircut. Messing up my mojo. 

Maybe I'll borrow someone's stetson ... : )

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blue, White, and ... Red?

I guess you could say that the Army is a love/hate relationship - an on-again/off-again love affair, if you will. Let's just say, recently, we have been very, very off. 

Like, deleted-them-from-my-FB,-my-twitter,-and-iPhone-kind-of-off. Not.On.Speaking.Terms.


Today was a day of surprises and unexpected's and like any classic, good love story we are back "on" again. This last couple of weeks have taken a lot of faith, a ton of prayers, more patience than I have ever managed, and far more Grace than I am worthy of. Amazingly, things were answered quickly and beyond what we could have asked for and these last forty-eight hours have been filled with gratitude for the plan that has been made clearer. 

There's a catch.

And, goodness, Someone has a sense of humor. Just in case some of you have missed it, C is an infantryman. Cross rifles tattooed on his arm, (soon-to-be) attached to the front of my car, tucked into tiny corners of our home. Why is the sky blue?? 

Because God loves the infantry. 

Pretty sure that's a fact.

We bleed blue. We are one proud infantry family.

Well, folks, consider this girl humbled. Very humbled. My best, CAV friend was cracking up on the phone when she called after seeing my post. And I mean quick, short, snorting breaths while she told us how happy she was for us (when she could finally get the sentence out).

Yes. You read that right. We are joining a CAV battalion ... uh ... squadron. C is taking a CAV company ... err ... troop.  The red, the spurs, the ... um (deep breath) ... stetsons. 

Oh, my.

I think I can, I think I can. 

So, fellow Cav Cuties, be kind to this new girl and remain patient with me while I learn your lingo and am introduced to your traditions. I'm ready to earn my spurs, to 'embrace the cav', to maybe even wear red, because I don't do things half-way. When I'm in, I'm in. 


I'm still gonna laugh the first time C wears a stetson. 


For those of you who have asked to be updated on Eli - his final test came back negative for 80% of all mutations of CF. With that and his last sweat test, his doctor is comfortable saying he does NOT - does NOT - have Cystic Fibrosis. She is making a phone call for a second opinion/confirmation but we are pretty much in the clear. We SO believe in the power of prayer. Thank you all so much for praying for our little boy!

(And in case it wasn't clear, I like to JOKE about Cav but we are so very excited about what is in our future and about joining this unit. : ) More excited than I can say.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some One Else's Plan

Nightmares usually only come around deployments. And when they come they are about worst case scenarios, what-if's, the things we don't allow ourselves to think about while we are awake so they creep into our sleep. 

We were no where near a deployment. These nightmares were not about C. These nightmares were about my little baby. There were mainly just two - one of which I just cannot go into because of how horrible it was and one that should have been less terrifying but would NOT go away. 

I was sitting in an office, large desk in front of me, Dr. T on the other side. There were books and diplomas lining the walls, a file folder opened on the desk with a paper I couldn't quite see, and an empty chair sitting beside me. 

It was just me and Dr. T. 

"I wasn't expecting this result ... I know you weren't either ... Eli is a strong boy ... we aren't certain of what mutation he has ... "

And then I wouldn't hear anything else. She was still talking, and somehow I knew that what she was saying was terrible, scary, not something I wanted to face alone, and I just kept staring at that empty chair beside me.

And then I would wake up.

C is home.

He will be leaving again but for now he is home. This wasn't part of the plan.

I don't think I really understood just how much him leaving while our family waited for these results for our little boy was eating me inside. I tried to brush it off too much, tried to hide my fear from C because I didn't want him to carry it because he just didn't need that on his heart.

I didn't know how much this was breaking me until I received the phone call with the news. I didn't know how much I needed him in this until I could call him and tell him what Dr. T's nurse had said. And when I could tell him I just cried out of joy that he could know when I knew.

That wasn't in the plan - not in our plan at least. C wasn't 'supposed' to be able to receive that phone call. I wasn't 'supposed' to be able to tell him. I wasn't 'supposed' to be able to alleviate that weight.

But I could tell him and I needed that. I really, really needed that.

To tell him that our little boy was a big step closer to being okay. That his recent test levels were drastically lower. That the power of prayer is incredible. That we are so close to being 'out of the woods'. To be able to tell him that meant more to me than I knew.

There is always a plan - a much bigger plan - and we get little glimpses and peeks and we get "ah-ha's". I needed to be able to tell him. I needed him to know.

And he does.

Keep our Eli in your prayers a little longer while we wait for other results. He is being tested for Cystic Fibrosis and we are very close to a negative result. A week ago, the story was very, very different. The power of prayer...we believe.

And hop on over and enter the give-away. Today is the LAST DAY!

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Is My Blog - Featured Blogger

Whenever I check the stats on the blog I am always amazed at how many people in so many different countries read the stories of our family. I am amazed at how many people from all over this world want to hear this story either because they can relate to it so much or because they can't. I feel so blessed that for whatever reason, people want to share in our journey.

When I look at these stats the country that views our story the second-most is Canada. When C was in Kandahar he worked with Canadians every week. For a brief period they lived at the same facility.

When this Canadian Army Wife emailed me I was SO excited to get to 'know' her. First off, she's hilarious. Second off, she's real. Probably two of my favorite things in a blogger. I asked her to email details about herself so that I could feature her and she made me laugh while I read them. I want to share a few of them and then I want you to hop over to her blog and visit her "about me" page which introduces her far better than I ever could.

Here is what she told me:

I am a Canadian military wife. (Yup, we totally have an Army here.  True Story.) 

We’ll call my soldier DH.
We’ve been married 10 years.
We’ve got 3 kids, I call them Freckles, Drama and Monster.
I planned to have a career, I really did.  But for now I’m a mom.  Which is much harder than the career I planned.
DH has recently decided he is a career soldier.  I could have told you that years ago, but it’s nice that he knows that now too.

So my Canadian readers, THANK YOU for reading and for sharing in our story. If there are other wonderful Canadian bloggers out there please leave your blog url in the comments and hop on over and enjoy This Is My Blog!

Regaining Sight

I hadn't planned to write today.

To be completely honest, my focus was on something personal over these last 18 hours or so and not on the significance of this day. For our family personally today was a "we plan, God laughs" or even a "Why, God?! Why?" kind-of-day and it took up nearly all of my energy.

I meant to wear my cross pin with an American flag today but I forgot. My mind was busy thinking of other things as I headed out the door with two kids and three bags in tow, five minutes late to church for practice.

I meant to light a candle at 9:11. I meant to set an alarm on my phone to remember. But I forgot to and the time passed before I realized.

I meant to watch the coverage today but I was distracted by the thoughts in my own mind over a situation that had nothing to do with the 11th of September.

When I put the boys down to sleep and sat on the couch to fold the laundry I had just pulled from the dryer, I checked my DVR and remembered that I had set a particular program commemorating this day to record previously. It was the History Channel's 102 Minutes that Changed America.

With most of the lights off in our home, with our children asleep, with my husband gone, I sat and I watched and I cried and I whimpered and I shook. Because for as much as I remember that day (and I remember that day) it wasn't until watching the unbelievable coverage of this program that I realized how different it was to experience 9/11 as a child than to 'experience' it now as an adult, as an Army wife, and as a mother. 

It was an entirely different understanding. It wasn't until tonight that I truly understood what my mother must have felt on that day - waiting to hear her son's voice, knowing that he could have been there, not knowing where he was. It wasn't until tonight that I realized how much strength and grace must have been poured into her on that day to not let us feel the terror that I felt watching the footage. 

It was not until tonight - as I looked at these attacks from the perspective of a spouse - that I could feel the heartbreak of these spouses being interviewed whose loved ones were on the planes, or in the towers, or in the Pentagon. It wasn't until tonight that my heart broke with them rather than just for them. 

It wasn't until tonight that I could imagine knowing that you would never see your children again. 

When I watched those towers fall I was sixteen years old. My body literally crumbled to the ground in absolute despair. I feared for the safety of my brother in New York. But in no way could I understand things then the way I do now. 

It was like living through it for the first time - seeing the images, watching the videos, hearing the screams. It was so very different to watch these tragedies at this point in my life - a very different point - than at that one.

What touched me the most during this entire program was the footage of the firemen. The hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of men suited up, walking forward, holding their oxygen tanks, their folded hoses, helmets on their heads, just walking towards the blackness. I wonder what they must have thought entering those towers. I cannot fathom what thoughts must have been racing through their minds. I am extraordinarily humbled by their selfless bravery - beyond words. I watched in awe as the tears quietly rolled down my cheeks. I want to shake each of their hands. I want to thank them as an American. I want to hug their widows, their children.

I know that none of it would be enough.

Tonight I went up the stairs to Eli and Logan's room and traced crosses on my children's foreheads (as I do every night) and then I just sat with them. Watching them sleep. Trying to process that this tragedy may only be a small section in their history books. Trying to decide how I felt about that. Struggling to hold onto the thought itself. Wondering if they would ever live a day like the 11th of September - if their children would. Praying fiercely that that would never happen. 

While I sit here, the personal struggle that I went through today - that took my thoughts away from the significance of this day -  means nothing. 


I have so much to be grateful for. So much that makes me fortunate. So much that shows blessing after blessing to our family. 

And for a moment today - many moments really - I lost sight of that. 

For a moment, I forgot. 

How much I needed to be reminded. Life is precious. Freedom is precious. Goodness in people is precious. 

I will honor those who were lost on that day and every day since. I will remember. I must remember. And I will teach these things to my children.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Hard to believe a decade has gone by. 
Hard to believe that there are children living who can't remember or weren't born yet.

My prayers and thoughts are with the families of the victims on this day and everyday. God Bless them and comfort them today and always.

I will never forget. 

Read my post for today on The Homefront United: Unforgettable 

Where were you when the world changed?

(Don't forget to check out the giveaway going on HERE)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strange Places

We are in a strange place.

Part of it is familiar; part of it hard to understand. Part of it was planned; part of it was never foreseen. Both hold unknowns.

All of it makes up a very strange place.

C will be leaving in just a few days. We knew it was coming. We planned for it. From the day his boots hit the floor of the foyer we knew when he would leave us again. We don't know how long he will be gone. He could be gone for a week. He could be gone for three months. We won't be able to talk to each other.

At all.

We knew it was coming. It seemed so far away and now it is here. I want to hit pause.

Over the past week our world has turned upside down. Those of you who know us personally know that things have changed for our little Eli. I have sat down to write about where we are a countless number of times and I have not been able to do it. It is too much. I get too emotional when I think about it all so bear with me as I struggle through this.

Time doesn't stop and now is one of those times that I really, really need a pause button. But then I also need to fast forward because I need C to be here when these next test results come in. I don't want to wait another week (maybe a month) for the answer. I need him to hold my hand. I need him to know when I know. Those test results won't be in before he leaves and I may not be able to tell him. This is our baby and I don't want to carry this alone.

Eli is undergoing further testing to determine if he has Cystic Fibrosis. We thought the original test was going to come back negative. We were sure of it. We honestly looked at this as a formality that they had to cross off this list. We weren't concerned. It came back in the "further testing necessary" range - points shy of the absolute positive. We were dumbstruck.

C is leaving and our baby may have a very scary disease.

It's a lot to carry.

Oh how I want to quiet my mind. Thoughts are racing through it faster than I can process. Images that bring me nightmares, fears that I can't put into sentences. My eyes, my head, my entire body aches from the thousands of tears.

I feel powerless.

We are handing it over to Him. I have to trust in His plan. I have to know that He will comfort C's heart while he doesn't know, while I can't tell him. I have to believe that he will quiet my mind as I give these  fears to Him.

I firmly, heartfully believe that we aren't given anything that we cannot make it through. His grace is enough. If this is our trial, if this is our cross, we will carry it together.

God give us strength.

Please remember our family in your prayers.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Faith Deployed ... Again - A Review and a GIVE-AWAY

Using Random.org the winner has been determined and it is Cate!! Thank you to everyone who entered. We will have another give-away in the future!

"The choice is ours. The stakes are high -the minds, hearts, and attitudes of our families. We can either live our military lives victoriously, confident in the goodness and sovereignty of God, or in defeat, as victims of circumstances beyond our control." 
-Jill Bozeman and Jocelyn Green

When I received the reminder email a little over a week ago that a review was soon due on a book I had volunteered to check out, I meant to pick up the book right away and get started. In the last week our world was turned upside down and this became just an intention and not an action. But two days ago I began reading and I didn't stop. I was blown-a-way. 

I mean, hello?! How many times have I said what that quote says? The whole time I was reading, I was highlighting, marking, writing, "YES!" in the margin, "Exactly!" "Amen!" What a book!

Faith Deployed ... Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives is a collection of reflections, stories, and encouragements from military spouses across every walk of this life. Each short piece offers scripture, reflection, and a prayer. Every military wife should read this book together with her bible and be encouraged, grow stronger, cry when needed, and use it to move forward each day. 

I tell spouses all the time: "Use the tools He gives you and you cannot fail." Consider this book one of those tools. Happy Reading!

Faith Deployed ... Again

What's better than going out and buying this book? WINNING it! Yup, ya heard right, I am doing a Give-Away. Bloggers pat me on the back - this is a big step for me. HAHA! So here's the deal...

There are two ways of entering:

Find your favorite post from To Love A Soldier and tell me what it is in the comments! That counts as one entry. (If you really want to make my day and just be nice, go ahead and share with the social media of your choice. It won't get you another entry but it will make me smile!)

Become a public "Follower" and leave another comment telling me you did! Ya know you want to. Already are? YAY! Thanks! Go ahead and leave a comment telling me how how you found me and how long you've been a follower. It's another entry for you too!

So that's it - two ways of entering. Simple? I hope so.

Other Rules: You must be 18 years or older to enter into the give-away. The contest begins at 10:20 am mountain time on September 7th  (11:20 am Central) and ends a 11:59 pm mountain time on September 15th. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced on the blog and FB page by September 17th. You cannot comment "anonymously" because I won't know who you are so make sure you leave your name or blog name. I know that many of you are out of the states so I will ship to the US and Canada - as well as Germany, Japan, or Italy with an APO address. If you have questions please email toloveasoldier (at) gmail (dot) com.

Happy Commenting! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Victim or Warrior

My mouth was hanging open as she told me about her first coffee experience. I couldn't believe how incredibly opposite hers was from mine. The wife she sat next to spent the entire time complaining about the Army, the brigade, the spouses, the volunteering, the moving, the commitments, the people, the everything. She looked lifeless. It was very clear that she hated this life. 

As D continued to tell me the events of the evening I was so grateful she has such a good outlook to start off in this life. That she came into it knowing the difficulties - or being aware that there were so many - and that she vowed to face them.  That she had a new husband who was dedicated and kind. They were going to be a good team. I know this young wife is going to make a difference in the lives of those around her and it made me so aggravated that this stranger had said such things. If this was any other new spouse, who knows how her reaction would have been. D let it roll - she knows better.

Over my few years in this life I have met so many different types of women. The quiet leaders - who are a constant - calm under pressure, giving gentle guidance when necessary. They can sometimes be misread as disengaged but I assure you they're not. They are watching. Taking it all in. Some of my best 'teachers' have been these types. There's the loudmouths. Okay, I'm a loudmouth. Who are always smiling, laughing, talking, talking, talking, talking, shaking hands, giving you info, asking questions, patting you on the back. We can be very intimidating in a different way. We mean well. You can laugh at us. We're probably used to it. My husband is the first to make fun of me for it. There are the "leaders" who don't really act like leaders. They hold a 'title' because of who their husband is but aren't committed. They aren't engaged. Stay calm - they probably have a right hand who is. There are those who hold a 'title' because of who they are married to and do care. Who have the right intention, who help because that is where their heart is, not because they 'have to' but because that is where they find their purpose.

I can tell you stories for hours and hours about the different people in this life. We are varied, some of us 'fit' into a category, some of us don't. Some of us change. Some of us remain constant. We come from every possible walk of life and that is just another part that makes this life so incredibly beautiful. The people.

When I was a child (okay, even as a teen, a bit) I played victim. The world seemed like it was against me in my mind. (I know my mom is nodding her head right now). "Mom! Nick locked me out of my room!" "Mom! Nick called me a conformist!" "Mom! Nick took my drink!" "MOM!' "Mom!" "MOM!" Yes, I was that child. I took every little thing to heart. Took everything as an offense. I was as whiny as they come. I was (and am) the middle of five. I still take an awful lot to heart. It's just how I am.

But I won't be a victim to this life.

It's easy to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders when your soldier deploys, or then have to move AGAIN, or you leave your hometown for his job. It is easy to hate that you can't find a job for yourself because his job will always take priority, his job makes you move every two to three years, his crazy, unpredictable hours make it impossible to plan for anything significant. It's simple to despise the fact that you don't know if you can make that family trip to the beach because you don't have a clue what his schedule will be like next year, next month, next week. It is easy to go crazy among the white walls that surround you because you don't want to hang pictures or paint or decorate because this isn't your "home" this isn't your "house." You aren't even your own person anymore, you're a dependent. Oh, how awful!

Tough love time.

You can feel that way if you want to. That's fine. It's your choice. Your life. But you aren't gonna make it. Sorry. But you won't. I have known many victims.

They are all divorced.

We all have times when we straight up hate parts of this life. There are parts of this life that I really, really have to fight through because I am fighting for my family. I said before that it breaks my heart that my boys will go to so many schools. It really, really brings me to tears thinking about it. But I can't let them see that or know that because that is my worry - not theirs. What they perceive from me is what they will take into their own little hearts.

If you believe in marriage, in your spouse, in bringing your children up to be happy, good, loving people you don't get to play victim. There is no room for that. We all fight the same battles, we all fear the same things, we all feel beaten down at times.

Moving all the time sucks. Deployments really, really suck. Having to make new friends is intimidating. Being the new girl is not easy. Transitioning your children is quite an undertaking.

But you get better at the moving. You get to redecorate all the time. Unpacking is sometimes like Christmas. Deployments make you stronger. They can strengthen your marriage if you work through it. Everyone else is just as scared of having to meet new people. Almost everyone is the new girl at the same time. Suck it up. You owe the best to your children. You brought them into this life. It is up to you how they view it. You children are always, always watching. They take in more than you realize. You are responsible. They didn't choose this - you did.

These things cannot become bigger than we are. No deployment is bigger than your marriage. No move is bigger than the love you have for your children. This is a battle - and I mean that in the strongest of ways. This a fight to live, to thrive, to make it through intact, together, stronger.

You have to fight for your marriage, for your children, for yourself because you don't get a do-over. This is it. Now or never. Sink or swim.

Victim or Warrior.

Pick one.

Which one are you?