"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, November 28, 2011


Through tonight you can get 25% off your Etsy order! 

Enter "CYBERMONDAY" at checkout for the discount!

Make sure you include in the comments which border you would like. There are many to choose from. Also, they are buy FOUR get one FREE! Message me on Etsy so I can make a custom listing to include that discount PLUS the Cyber Monday savings!

Get Shopping!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Sense of Entitlement

A friend and I were discussing spouses and family members who carry a sense of entitlement - that "You owe me" attitude. Another friend just today brought up the same frustrations.

I know we are not all alike. I know that we all have different personalities, opinions, upbringings. I respect that. But, there is little more in this life that frustrates me like the 'entitled's' that taint the image of the American military.

I hope that in every single thing I do I honor my husband, his sacrifice, his comrades. You can twist that however you want, say it makes me weak, say it has me living his life and not mine. You would be wrong, but you are allowed to be. I am an Army wife - yes, I am a wife, a woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter - but to so much of the world I am that one title. The wife of a soldier. I know we all have different opinions on that. Some hate it, some embrace it, some cling to it, some depend on it.

Some use it.

However you see it or define it or feel about it is your choice. I choose to see it as an honor. I know it as a blessing. To be an Army wife, to love a soldier, has been one of my greatest joys.

Not because it gives me any extras, or something free, or because it gave me ten percent off my washer and dryer.

It is my honor to know those who serve. It has been my honor to stand beside my husband every time a Vietnam vet, or a stranger, or a child, or mother shook his hand, or hugged him, or tearfully bought him a coffee. It has been my honor to live and thrive beside those who are just as committed as I am to embrace this life.

It boils my blood when someone causes a scene because a company no longer offers a military discount or runs out of something they are giving away or demands some special of any kind. It angers me to know that the people who witness such a thing may never experience the majority of us. That this one image may be the only one they will ever have to carry about those of us who marry into this life. It is so very hard to get that back.

I try in everything to honor my husband and those who serve behind him. If I am going to hold the title of "Army wife" then I represent them. What I do or do not do leaves a permanent image to any observer who recognizes the life I belong to. My husband would never ask for anything, never expect anything, most certainly would never demand anything. Neither should we.

We live a life of service - not demands. Be the example. Live with gratitude - always, always, always be grateful.

For whatever is given.

Our soldiers are deserving of the greatest of gifts or praise of goodness. They are deserving but would never expect or accept or demand. My greatest gift that I receive daily is in the goodness of this life, in the strength I see in a new spouse, in the absolutely pride and gratitude I have for my husband. To live this life is a gift, a privilege, an honor.

We are not entitled to anything for choosing this. We are given Grace, and Joy, and Strength.

Those are the only 'perks' I need.

Be grateful. Be humble - in everything. Walk with Grace.

Honor the life you hold.

Honor those who protect it, allow for it.

Always, always, always, give thanks.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

To Take it to the Heart

I am a passionate woman. If there is something I believe in, I put all of me into it - sometimes to my detriment. If a friend has been wronged I will defend her with everything in me, I will fight for her until whatever wrong has been righted. But if I am wronged, if I am angry, I will crumble, the hot, hot tears will pour from my eyes and that same strength that rises up for another will dissipate before I know it's there. I believe in working hard. I believe in earning a place in this world - not just existing in it. I believe in overcoming obstacles, in bettering those around me, in leading by serving.

I believe in the kindness in people - so much that when I learn such to be untrue it breaks my heart in the worst of ways. I believe in gratitude and joy and love. I believe that we all serve a purpose, that we all exist for a reason, that any one of us can provide understanding in the darkest of moments.

I know I did things against the norm. I married young. I had children young. I walked away from the life I had planned. I know that this life has granted me an understanding of things that I never would have known before. I know that this life can change people, can open their eyes or tear them to pieces. I know that what I have been shown provides a mindset that other's cannot have.

I have thought so much about where I am in life compared to those of my same age. Of what is important to me. Of what I have done in my short time in this place. The reasons that decisions were made and who made them and how we got here. I don't think my place is better, or more affording, just different. This life is a very different life.

I know that I value things differently than some of my peers. I know that I find more importance in small things than they may - that I have a different perspective on what qualifies as a "big thing."

I can remember who gave me nearly every wedding gift C and I received. One of my best friend talks to me about it all the time - as she attends engagement shower, after bridal shower, after couples shower, after wedding, after wedding, after wedding. I know that J and B gave me the seafood platter that makes me think of crawfish boils and spicy potatoes and Lenten Fridays that I dearly, dearly miss. I know that M from choir gave me a watercolor she painted of hydrangeas - fuchsia on blue. I know that my sweet Taylor from work gave me the most beautiful hurricane shade, and that my dad's co-worker and his family gave me a heavy glass bowl with my new monogram. I remember opening the wooden, hand-carved fleur-de-lis hook from Susan in our church. I know that my dear-heart L and her mom gave me the coffee-pot I clung to this morning. I know that Shannon gave me the St Louis Cathedral plague that hangs on my wall. I think of M&M every time I use my Cutco server and of my past religion teachers every time I entertain with my Adler's servers. I think of B and all of the other guys who gave me wineglasses and highball glasses, and stemless reds and whites that fill an entire cabinet in my kitchen.

I cherish people. I take it all to heart - good and bad. Everything stays with me.

Watching my old friends become engaged and getting married and announcing they are expecting always takes me back. And it makes me wonder if this life has aged me or if that was always in me, if that was one more key that prepared me for this. Is it the fact that I have held C's hand while we sat at the house of the deacon who married us and wrote down his final wishes, planned his funeral at the age of twenty-four and twenty-eight? Did that age me or was the strength for that always in me? Was it nearly losing a child in delivery at the age of twenty-two that made me cherish, or was the strength to pray through that always there? Did holding a son, trying to help him to understand why his Daddy couldn't sing him to sleep - not for a long time - teach me to be comforting, or was that always inside?

I know that what I have lived through is different from what my peers have lived through. I know that we are all made for the life we live. Given the tools, given the strength, given the grace. But I can't help but wonder if it is in these moments that these things were created or if they are already there, waiting to be clung to, to be acknowledged, to be needed. Maybe it's a bit of both.

I take it all to heart and it stays. The moments of our life stay with me always, defining me, aging me, strengthening me, teaching me.

Whatever struggle, whatever battle, whatever hardship the ability to thrive through it is there - whether it always has been or the grace comes in just at that much needed moment. It is there - waiting.

Maybe our hearts are made a little differently, their capacity a little greater, making it possible to keep the strength down deep, to hold onto the goodness that will get us through the harder days a little longer. To keep the pain and the sadness that builds strength, adds links to the armor, makes us grateful for the tiny joys. To carry our children's hearts and our soldier's. To acknowledge the anguish and the grace and the patience and the love that gets us through the unimaginable, the unthinkable, that teaches us who we are, what we can do. To hold enough strength for another to borrow and to keep a space for us to fill from them when needed.

We are made differently because this life is so very different. He made us to thrive through our days - not just to survive them. Take it to heart.

The heart can hold it all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Cry for Grace

We are military women. We are strong. We can do anything. We have super powers.

Okay, um ... no.

Yes, we are the strongest of women. I will say that again and again and again. We face battles that most can't imagine. We live through things that many will never understand exist. Sometimes it can feel like we can conquer the world, we are told that - I tell you that. I believe that we are strong, that we are able, that we can do more than most but it is those moments when we feel like we've "got this" that the moments when we are crumbling make us feel like we have no right to.

This life is hard, this life is beyond challenging.

We do not have super powers.

We have great love, we have unyielding support, we have Grace but when we enter into this life we aren't suddenly given an ability we never had before - that automatically makes us super-able. It doesn't work like that.

You have to seek it.

A very good friend of mine is right in the middle of the deployment while also in the midsts of a very big unknown. We have all been there. That time when everything falls apart, when we fall apart. When we physically feel like our body is breaking into pieces, one by one by one. When we find ourselves barely moving, barely breathing, barely surviving. When we question if we can do this - when we are unable to see beyond this most trying time. We feel helpless, we cry ourselves to sleep.

We don't sleep.

We all go through it. And so very often we tell ourselves, "I'm an Army wife. I can do this on my own. I should be able to do it. Everyone else does it alone."

It is so easy to think that. I find that so very often that it's the leaders who tell themselves this over and over and over again. Because if we reach out what will people think? We can't be weak! We can't make people question if we are capable. No, no way!

I get it. I really, really do. But that is not how to lead. We teach our wives (yes I know how funny that sounds) to be self-reliant, to learn to function on their own, but we always remind them of their resources, that they are not alone, that we are here.

We tear ourselves apart trying to make it on our own. Trying to not lose it when all two or three or four kids get sick at the same time - when we get sick at the same time. When you finally get all of you into the car to go to the doctor and the car won't start. When you lose your ID off post. When CYS loses paperwork that kicks your child(ren) out of their system until they get it together. When you turn on the news at just the wrong time and that panic sets in on top of every other emotion your heart can hold. When you see announcements that the American people take for face value and you have to hold your tongue. When every muscle of your body aches.

Those are the days that can break us. Those are the days that can take us out of this life. Those are the days that the strongest of women cannot do it alone.

We have no superpowers.

But there is always great love, great support, awe-filling Grace.

ASK for it. USE it. CLING to it when you need it. And at some point, no, at many points we all need it. Call a friend. Call your family. Call your church. People want to help, know who they are, and ask them for it. That is where you will find the grace.

You cannot lead if you will not reach out. You cannot thrive if you aren't willing to fall to your knees. You cannot find strength if you do not seek it in others.

There is no shame in knowing your limits. It doesn't make you "less" of an Army wife. Deployments teach us who we are. The darkest moments show us our strength. Sometimes we need to share someone else's. Sometimes they will need to share ours - and we are all willing to give it. Asking for help doesn't take from someone else. We do not lose anything when we give it. We gain.

So take a deep breath, find that littlest bit that is left, reach out your hand and ask for help.

Sometimes the strongest act, the greatest triumph, is found in the quietest, softest, most broken cry for Grace.


So today is a really BIG day. Big things to announce!

First for the give-away winner:

Oh Wait! We have TWO!

Our first winner is Canadian Army Wife Kim (reccewife)!
Our second winner is Army Wife Adrienne!

Winners were chosen by random.org. Please email me with the print you would like! What? How do you choose?

Oh, at the ETSY page I just finished!

It isn't too pretty and it doesn't look NEARLY as well done as the others up there but we all know technology is not my strong point. For now, it is just the 10x13 high quality prints that I designed and had made. I have a ton more plans for it ... if I can figure them all out. : )

So Kim and Adrienne, head over and choose the border you would like for your set and then email me with that info so I can get it out to you!

I never planned on selling Promises but the messages and emails you all sent asking me to were so wonderful I felt like I had to. I hope you like the prints! 

Congrats, Kim and Adrienne!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Last Day!

Today is the LAST DAY of the Promises Prints Give-Away!! Do you want a set of these??

The winner can choose from six borders and will receive both the Service-member's promise and Spouse's promise that they choose! 

I have:
A Soldier's/Army Wife's Promise
A Marine's/Marine Wife's Promise
A Sailor's Promise/A Navy Wife Promise
An Airman's Promise/An Air Force Wife Promise
A Military Man's Promise/A Military Wife's Promise

And for the Australian's:
A Soldier's Promise/A Defence Wife's Promise
(I do not have your border shown).

I am VERY excited to announce that these WILL be for sale on Etsy (since so many of you have messaged asking) beginning later this week! You know how badly I am with technology so it is taking me some time to set it up but I am ALMOST there! 

But free is better than buying, right?! So go enter the give-away ... right now ... go! I hope you win. : )

And do you like the prints?? I hope so. 

I do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To Love a Veteran

There was a time - and I am so ashamed to say this - I thought men and women who chose to serve, who chose to leave their spouses, who chose to leave their children must not truly love them. I am in tears as I type such a thing. The very thought of that now ...

It is incredible how much a heart can change, how much a perspective can change. Being reminded of the way I used to see this life, of the way I used to perceive every aspect of a life that I had no knowledge of, humbles me beyond words. It brings my entire body inward. Makes me still.

I think it is this past perspective that allows for the littlest increase in patience, the greatest bit of understanding when I hear the same from strangers. I have been there. I have thought these same things. I have not understood in the exact way that so much of this country does not understand. Anytime I lose patience, anytime the sarcasm begins to creep out, that distant voice is put back in my head, in my heart. My voice. It brings me back.

I never ask anyone to support the war. If you ask me why I think we are there, I will tell you - if you will listen. I will not argue. I never think less of a person who sees no purpose in this war. I would never think that. But, to support or not support the war has nothing to do with whether you do or do not respect and understand what a veteran is.

Nearly every time the national anthem is played tears flow from my eyes - very slowly, very quietly. If C is deployed, my face will be splotchy and puffy and hideous by the time that wonderful anthem ends. That happens for so many of us who love or have loved a veteran. If you ever see, watch, we will not wipe our eyes, we will stand straight, focused on the crimson and blue and white, we will not dare remove our hand from our heart to pull out a tissue until the final chord silences. Our understanding of that anthem is different - it runs deeper.

We know men and women who have fought for it, who have lost limbs for it, who have shed blood for it. We know those who have died. We know their widows. We know their mothers, their fathers, their brothers and sisters. We have held their children. We have seen the folded flags. We have mourned, we have prayed, we have remembered.

We know what our men and women give in defense of every word of that anthem, every thread of the flag. We know the days they miss, the births, the funerals, the first steps, the illnesses, the bedtime stories, the wins, the losses. We know the heartache, the pride, the sadness. We know what it is to have a heart permanently split in two - to have such intense love for family coupled with the rarest love for country. We know how painful that love is for all of us who share it. We know.

I know how awkward it can be to approach someone who has served. I know how hard it can be to take that step. I know very often you cannot always tell who the veterans are. They do not want any recognition. That isn't why they do what they do, what they have done, what more will follow in their steps to do in the future.

They are men and women who do not ask - do not ask for anything.

We ask of them.

I will ask just one thing of you - the simplest thing. Respect the flag they fight for. When the Anthem plays, place your hand over your heart, stand straight, and face the flag. The heart beat you feel ... that is what they fight for. That is what they selflessly leave those who love them for. That is what they strap on pounds and pounds of armor and equipment and headgear for. What they go days without eating for, weeks without showering for, months without kissing their children goodnight for. You - your heartbeat is what they carry. Whether you ask them to or not. Carry theirs with you. Stand for those who have lost a leg, or both, who cannot stand beside you any longer,  who have no arms left to salute, who have fought in the deserts, in the mountains, in the jungles, in every place that this country has asked them to go. Who crouch into the crevices of a mountain side, who have slept in fox holes, who slide as closely to the dirty, rocky ground as possible to remain undetected. Stand tall for them. Respect the flag - the flag that they always carry closest to their heart. That their families cling to. The flag that they revere, that in all things, is respected, is honored, is protected.

Honor the flag and you honor them.

On Veteran's Day and every day.

Thank you to all who have served and continue to do so. Thank you to those of you who have stood beside C on the battle field and in our homeland. I honor you.
You can also read last Veteran's Day Post: A Very Important Day

And be sure to enter the Promises Give Away!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Who Built My Armor

I have said again and again that I believe those who live this life are meant for this life. Something, or rather, many somethings in our past shape us for this. Something brought us here, prepared us for this, built our character, our armor to carry us through. Everyday I learn more and more how much of what prepared me for this came from my parents.

I know how much of me comes from my Mom. So much of my personality comes from her, my out-going side is hers, my smile, my some-what frightening love for football. Much of me mirrors her. Without question I learned to serve from my mom.  Her kindest heart has taught me to give what I can, when I can, how I can, as much and as often as I can. To find what it is that I can give the most, what I can give joyfully, and to do so over and over and over again. My mother's loving hands helped me to find the joy in living a service-filled-life. Help me, daily, to take what I have in any situation and build it into something greater for the good of others. To use my talents to empower, not just enable. To give it to God. I learned from watching her, from knowing her. She is always supportive, always hopeful, always ready to come to the aid of her children and for any one else. She taught me how to pray, how to hope, how to love. So much of me is my mother.

I always knew that.

In these last several months I have learned how much my Dad prepared me for this. There are many things that I never understood about him as a child, things I rolled my eyes at, things I responded to under my breath. There are moments now where I know how much he shaped who I am, who I hope to become, the example I hope to set. I just didn't quite understand it until now.

My dad left for work when it was still dark every morning for as long as I can remember. Every evening when he came home our family of seven ate dinner together. Every evening he would play games with us, shoot hoops, throw the baseball, help with homework, prepare us for tests, tell us we were smart, that we were beautiful, that we were good kids. Every single night he was present, involved. He was at every sporting event that he could possible attend, he coached in a way that was always encouraging, always the way children should be coached. He learned the rules of soccer because my little brother and I both loved to play. He came to my softball games and watched me do cart-wheels in the outfield. He let me quit when I said how much I hated it. He taught me how to drive (something my mom probably should have taught me). He taught me how to check my tire-pressure, check the oil, add oil. He took the time to show us, not just tell us. He was always there for his children. I cannot remember a time when my dad said he was too tired, or too sore, or too stressed. Never once do I remember that.

It is not until now that I see C come home after a twelve or thirteen or fourteen-hour day, and see him pick up the boys running to him, and hanging them upside down, and talking to Logan about school, and playing dinosaurs with Eli, and chasing them both around the house, and playing pirates with them at bath time, and reading them stories, and singing them to sleep, and praying the same bed time prayers, and telling them that they are smart, that they are good, that they are wonderful that I understand how very much my dad molded me for this life.

Because I know how tired C is when he comes home. I know how sore he is, how stressed. I know the worries and uncertainties running through his mind. I know the fear of the unknown. I know how much he is carrying every night when he walks in that door - but these boys ... these precious, innocent boys they do not know.

I never knew how much my dad carried, how tired he must have been. I never, never knew.

My dad showed me the man I deserved, that my future children deserved. He showed me how a man should love his family. I have never questioned how much my dad loves my mother, how much she loves him. I have always been shown how a partnership works, how to love through every trial, every struggle, every unknown. How to love completely, unconditionally, how to thrive together.

My dad is an incredible man loved and supported by a remarkable woman.

They brought me here. They prepared me for this beautiful life. They built my armor.

I couldn't be more grateful.


Make sure you check out the Promises Give-Away HERE! If you are having trouble leaving a comment, select Anonymous and be sure to put your full name in the comments!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Promises: A Give-Away!

It's here! 

In celebration of our growing Facebook Fan page I am giving away a set of Promises prints. They are sized 10x13 and are ready to frame. . These prints cannot be reproduced or sold. 

If you win and you do not belong to the Army branch, I WILL make prints that apply to you i.e. "A Sailor's Promise," "An Airman's Promise," "A Marine's Promise," etc. 

There are multiple ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment below saying why you want to win.
2. Share The Give-Away on Facebook and tag @To Love A Soldier in the post. Then, Leave a comment here saying you did so that it adds to the count. (You must be a Facebook fan to do so). 
3. Tweet about it and tag #toloveasoldier. Leave a comment here saying you did so.
4. Blog about it! Leave the link to your post in the comments. 
5. If you become a public follower (or already are) leave a comment below.

You must leave a separate comment for each method of entry.
5 ways to enter! 

Rules and important side notes:

You must be 18 years or older to enter. 
This is open to service members, spouses, family members, and even just good friends of them who want to give a great gift. : )
I WILL ship internationally. If the original winner belongs to a different nation's military, I will select an additional winner belonging to the American military. (So there may be two winners).
The give-away begins Monday November 7th at 0745 mountain time and ends Monday November 14th at 1000 mountain time.
The winner will be chosen by random.org and announced November 15th.
Be sure to leave your FULL NAME if you respond anonymously. I will not have a way of contacting you, so I must have your full name to announce the winner. 

Thanks, everyone, for sharing and reading our journey. I have been so amazed by your kindness and support. Ready, set, go!