"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, December 18, 2012

Believe in Hope - A Post by My Sister

I haven't been able to write a thing about those precious children. 

Not a thing.

I just haven't gotten the words out right and I believe if there are to be words shared for these children, for these parents, for the teachers and families ... they must be perfect. My sister sent me something last night and I asked if I could share it. Thanks, Em.

I believe in hope.

You know, as I sit here tweaking the midterm my students will take Thursday, my heart and my mind and my spirit keeps going to Connecticut. I’ve never been there. I’m not even confident that I could point it out on a map. But right now Nightline is doing an in-depth report on the troubled twenty year-old who has changed countless lives forever. And I’m sad.

As a woman who has dedicated her professional life to educating teenagers, I’m sad. As a mother to five living children, I’m sad. But as a mother to one precious deceased son, I ache. I ache for those mothers with a closet full of gifts that will never be opened in the magic of Christmas morning. Those grandmothers, staying with their grieving daughters, who fell to the floor sobbing this morning as they pulled from the dryer play clothes that will never be worn again.  I ache for those fathers facing a powerlessness no man can be prepare himself to feel.

And yet—I still believe in hope.

My favorite song in the whole, wide world is a quiet, simple Christian song called “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” While I treasure each word, each note, each inflection, this is the part that makes God real for me: “How deep the pain of searing loss. The father turns His face away. As wounds which mar the chosen one bring many sons to glory.”

How deep the pain of searing loss.


And yet—I still believe in hope.

The answer to this tragedy may or may not be stricter gun laws. It may or may not be armed policemen at every school. It may or may not be increased awareness of and understanding about mental illnesses. But the answer to this tragedy is hope.

Hope that one day soon this common humanity that we’re all feeling will “stick” and we’ll do more to really care for each other. Hope that peace and kindness replaces “lose ten pounds by Valentine’s Day” on our resolution lists. Hope that I’ll get to do laundry for all of my kids for as long as I live.

“For this I know with all my heart. His wounds have paid my ransom.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Coffee" Talk

To the Spouses of the 7-10 CAV Coffee Group:

Tonight (in my bright pink, footie pajamas) I spent too much time saying things that weren't even remotely what I wanted to say. 

It came out jumbled and confused and not even the slightest bit eloquent. I couldn't begin to put into words what I was feeling in my heart. If I could, I would like to try again.

K, it seems fitting that my last coffee would be at your house since your first was at mine. I have known you for the least amount of time but you are one of a very small handful of people that I instantly knew would play an important role in my life. You have been a listening ear from the get-go, a guide, a role-model, a calming force. You filled a void that so many of us were greatly needing. Thank you for allowing me to learn from you. Thank you for being present. Thank you for the guidance and joy I know you will continue to bring.

When I left my "family" at Fort Campbell, I never thought I could have those same friendships again.  When I came to this post, I thought that statement was to be proven true ... and then I came to this unit. I have been overwhelmed by the intense love and respect and care of every single one of you. The friendships made in this life ... well there just isn't a comparison. I have held your babies, watched newer spouses grow. I have seen some hard, hard times that have been pushed through. We have shared meals, Thanksgivings, football. Shared wine. Shared tears and I couldn't be more grateful for the strength you have passed along to me. 

I have watched very good friends leave this unit and to J, and L, and C, and my very best, B, the very short time we had together is something I will always cherish. I think our relationship to one another is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of camaraderie and I am grateful for every time we had together. That last picture will be framed in the next house. I can promise you. 

M, I said tonight that I know you will take care of these families that I am trying to learn to call "yours" rather than "mine". That transition and "passing-on" will be the hardest one of all for me. There are so many young spouses wanting so much to be guided and led and shown how to thrive. They are such an awesome group of women. Incredible. They have taught me so much about myself and about who I want to be. They have done so much to define who I am. They will test you, and challenge you, and you will be better for it. You will be a better leader because of who these women are. They are strong and eager and willing to serve. They are what I am most proud of. 

S, I was so worried about not being able to say what I wanted to say that I almost didn't get it out at all. You have been my "proving it wrong". You have been a force of good that I needed to see and learn from. You have been respectful of my decisions, encouraging, and guiding. You have allowed me to see how hard what you do can be and you manage it in a way I cannot understand. You are what the families of this unit need most. You are present and open and welcoming. You have handled absolute ignorance with grace and poise. You have offered a friendship that has been a challenge for me to understand and accept. You have been the epitome of what it is to mentor. You have never hesitated to step in and explain what I had not yet experienced for myself while always encouraging, always guiding. You have listened to some of my biggest worries and have acknowledged them rather than belittling. I cannot thank you enough for that. The idea of not having you so close is difficult to process. "Thank You" is not enough.

Leaving this unit marks my C leaving combat arms. It marks a major change for our family. Your loved ones will remain. I have been honored to stand with you. I have been honored to fight through with you. I have been humbled by the goodness surrounding every single one of you who steps up to serve. I am grateful that our families will continue to have you beside them. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to know you and share in your journeys. Day in and day out I am reminded of how very blessed I have been by you ladies. I hope that I have given back at least a portion of what you have given me. Words are not enough.

This life is full of comings-and-goings, comings-and-goings. Time goes by too quickly - much too quickly. There is always more to do, more to finish, more to start. Good-byes never get easier. Leaving never lightens the heart. But there is a comfort in knowing how small our world is, how intertwined our paths really are. 

Thank you for building so much of who I am. Thank you for being the good, for finding the joy. Thank you for your kindness and comfort. 

"I'll see you when I see you. And I hope it's someday soon."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

One in Ninety

 I am richly blessed in my family and in my friendships. Richly blessed.

Yesterday was a difficult day for C and I. I cried my makeup off not once, not twice, but three times. I was a splotchy, puffy mess. I just couldn't get through saying it without the tears coming. Not once. I cried every single time.

For much of the day I really was in complete shock. 

Total shock. I just ... I understood the reasoning. I did. I agreed with what she said. I just. couldn't. grasp. it.

It truly, truly, never entered my mind. Maybe somewhere in the back of it when the head-banging started but not really - more so just that I knew that that happens sometimes in these children. I still don't know exactly what I think about it. I don't think I will until we know more.

There are just moments when you don't understand why things come to be. That is where I was for much of yesterday. I just didn't understand why this was happening.

One blessing came so great and unexpected I cannot explain it. It just isn't mine to tell. But it never ceases to knock me to my knees how quickly goodness can come during a difficult time. Some things fall into place in a way you never could have known. Things make sense. The world makes sense - for at least a moment. 

It brought a comfort and a hope and a relief I cannot explain. It was just what I needed, just when I needed it. 

1 in 90 military children receive the diagnosis. 1 in 90. 

That really is such a big ... small ... that's so many kiddos.

Eli is being evaluated for autism. 

I don't ... 

We don't know anything yet. I don't think I ever reached anger. I hate having another thing that we don't know but it never reached anger. I don't think I ever made it past shock. 

I just kept thinking about the Cystic Fibrosis testing Eli went through. About how we never saw that coming. How we never expected that first result that called for weeks and weeks and weeks of further testing. I felt like I was punched in the gut when Dr. T called us after that first round ... I can still remember that exact moment. 

And it was when I was explaining that feeling to my sister that she reminded me what exactly it is that we are facing. That if this is our new reality, it will be a life-change, quite possible a major life-change, but that I won't be worrying about whether or not my baby boy will need a lung transplant some day or if I would outlive him (the nightmare I had again and again during that testing). That if it was between the two, this we can handle. This will not take my child's life. This is something that there are resources upon resources to help my son work through this, to help us work through this. This will force me to learn patience (which I greatly lack). This makes me cherish the time Eli spent cuddling on my chest this morning all the more. This makes me value every single word that comes out of his mouth - even though they are hard to understand and most often single words and not sentences, but, goodness, I will take them.

I have seen the mothers of these kiddos and I have been awed by their strength and their patience and their determination. I have wondered how they do it. I knew when reading a very special message sent from someone that has molded so much of who I am, that that strength comes from fierce, unconditional love. That determination comes from the promise every momma makes that child the first time they hold them in their arms - that we will protect them against every harm.

Whatever comes ... and we were told this process will most likely take some time because he is so young ... he is our baby. He's my lil' Eli. He walked early. He climbed early. He has always been our little "challenge". He has challenged our patience. He's smart and mischievous and has forced me to be more vigilant and attentive. I have questioned myself as a mother. And I hate saying that but I have questioned repeatedly what I am doing wrong. Why I can't always communicate. Why I just can't calm him down.

This may not be this. It could be me. It could be something else. We'll see what they say.

There is no place He takes us that we cannot thrive. No challenge we face that cannot be overcome. No change in our life that doesn't allow for a positive change in us. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let's Talk About Sex ... Pacts

I'm going to warn you, I'm a bit fired-up. Like hands-shaking-fired-up. And when I'm like this my thoughts are a bit jumbled and my words don't always come out right. But I have learned that I write the most openly when that flame starts so I am going to go with it.

Forgive me if the message is frazzled.

A month or two ago a friend of mine and a newer spouse asked me a question that to be honest caught me a bit off guard. 

She asked if cheating in a military marriage was "normal" because so many spouses at her duty station said she just had to accept it and push through.

Umm .... in shock at that explanation I very firmly said, "NO. That is NOT the norm and a hell-to-the-no is it acceptable."

I have not said a word about what has been coming out about (ex-)senior leaders of our military. I won't talk about that. My husband served multiple times beside one of these men over the last deployment. To say that I am disappointed and confused and ... 

Well, I'm not going to talk about that.

A fellow military spouse came to me today about an article published recently about "Military Sex Pacts." I am not going to share the article. I debated back and forth but if you go searching for it, trust me, you'll find it. At no point in the article does the author say that she approves of these apparent "sex-pacts" but she put in one line that has me so fired-up. It isn't a quote from someone else. It isn't something that she heard from somewhere else. She wrote it and she is taking hits left and right for it. 

Most civilian women would not defend their husband’s infidelity.  But for the military wife, cheating practically comes with the territory. And rather than ignore the lusty elephant in the room, some military couples have created their own defense against infidelity: the so-called deployment sex pact.  

I am not going to sit here and act like infidelity doesn't exist in the military. I'm neither naive nor obtuse. I have seen marriages that on the surface looked incredible to only be ruined by cheating. I have had friends struggle with it in their own marriages. I can't count how many divorces C has had to be in the middle of because for whatever reason it is part of his job. He has pulled cheating spouses out of the barracks. 

Spouses. Soldiers. Deployed. Stateside. 

It happens. 

But do not - do NOT - tell me that it "comes with the territory". Do NOT tell a new spouse that that is her "normal" and to "deal with it".

I am going to say something that may make some people upset but to my core it is what I believe. The difficulty of a deployment does not give a pass to break the vows. The struggle of being "alone" does not justify dishonoring the sanctity of marriage. 

I don't care that it's hard. I don't care that being alone sucks because I get it! When you say the vows you don't say "except when you are training," or "except during times of war." The soldier doesn't say, "unless I am bored in Afghanistan."

Come on.

Do not ... Do not, do not, do not tell the public that this is our normal. Do NOT tell the public that this is "acceptable" or "a given" or "part of it." 

It isn't.

I don't care what you decide in your marriage. I don't care if you cheat. It isn't mine to judge. But do not say that the vast majority of our military that is here to serve, who believes in the sacrifice, can't control their behavior, can't own their behavior, can't understand what a marriage is. 

Do not belittle the deepest respect I have for C, for the sacrament of our marriage, for our children. Do not lump my soldier into a lump of others who say a "sex pact" allows them to take care of their "urges".

That makes me physically ill.

Putting that into the minds of new spouses is toxic. Putting that out to the world is the very reason strangers find it acceptable to ask me: Are you worried he will cheat on you?

I believe in my marriage, in my husband, in the seriousness of the vows, in the respect, in the love. Marriage like that still exists. Respect and understanding of the vows still exists. 

Don't belittle me. Don't belittle C. Don't belittle every military couple that fights through, that builds a strong foundation of trust and respect. I will wait every single time he leaves me. Every time.

He is my everything and I have never questioned that I am his.

Have some respect for the thousands upon thousands upon thousands who believe in the vows.


What do you think of the statement shared from the article?  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What You Do Not Know

There was a comment left on Promises yesterday that has been going over and over again in my mind.   This person asked "How" ... how do you let them go. The final part of it is what sticks with me. This person asked:

How do you know if you will see them again ... 

The words have stuck with me throughout the day because the response is so very simple, and so very, very hard.

You don't.

When someone you love leaves for the battlefield you just don't know.

Every time C has walked away from me ... I knew that that could be the last time I saw his smile, his eyes, his broad shoulders. Every time it took everything in me to not let that break me. Every time I saw this man kiss his children goodbye, I begged God to let them always have a father. 


His boots walked the streets of Baghdad. He has kept those same boots because somehow - somehow - his men and himself survived every IED, every attack, every suicide bomber, all with those dirt covered boots on the ground. With the stats of that deployment, that very well shouldn't have happened. But it did. He survived. His men survived. They made it home.

There were moments my chest felt like it would burst, like my heart could feel the danger, knew the possibility that this day was the last day he could be standing. There were times when it took everything in me to push through, to keep breathing, to keep praying and believing and "knowing" that he was coming home to me - because there isn't room for anything else.

I know what C wants at his funeral. I have sat beside him, held his hand, and listened to every detail, every directive, every request. It isn't normal in any other life to know that at my age, for my spouse at his age. There isn't a funeral I sing where the families have selected the same readings, the same songs that I have to put the familiarity of those selections to the back of my mind. There isn't a single time that I do not have to fight back tears.

There isn't a moment I see a flag draped coffin that I don't have to remind myself to breathe.

I have fallen to my knees in throat-burning sobs because I needed to know that he was coming back. That there was more to this journey. That this was not our end.

I have seen the fear of leaving his family in C's face. I have seen the same fear in C's eyes. I know he fears it. I know it is his greatest struggle - the idea of leaving his children without a father. 

We don't talk about it. We don't have to.

I know my soldier. He knows his wife. 

That fear never goes away.

But how we live in every way, every single day must be in spite of that fear, in spite of the possibility. We live everyday with the mindset that they are coming home. They will come home.

We must live each day as a day worthy of our time, our energy, of the sacrifice. We must live each day worthy of our children's joy. What image have we given them? How do we want them to live? In fear? Or with joy and strength and determination? They mimic what they see.

We cannot know. As much as I hate that, we cannot know. But we must hope and believe and embrace the battle ahead. It's how you thrive - how you at the very least survive.

The last thing I have always said to C is "Come home to me."

 Every time. He always nods, slight, simple, just a nod but it is what I need. 

I hold onto that. He's coming home. Coming home to me. 

Because there isn't room for any other thought. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I don't think I can do this. You said you believe those in this life are called to it. What if I'm not called? What if I CAN'T do it. What if I'm not strong enough?

I listened. Then battled with what to say in response - trying to think if I had ever thought those same things.

As the conversation went on we got onto the subject of faith. Our beliefs are different - not really different, but how we approach things isn't quite the same. The fundamentals are similar but where you go from there ... well, they aren't. 

It may just come down to how I was raised - what I have grown to learn through grace. 

Never in even the darkest moments have I truly thought I wasn't able to live this life. 


Not once.

Have I found myself questioning it? Absolutely. Have I cried until there was nothing left? Again and again and again. Have I hated the separation and the fear and the uncertainty? Hate doesn't seem harsh enough. Yes, to my bones I have hated those things.

I went deep into my memories, dug up the hardest, hardest days, but never, not even in the darkest moments, have I honestly believed I couldn't do this - that I wasn't meant to. Not even when I didn't want to take part in the military life. Not even when I tried to separate myself from the very type of person I am now. Even then, I never thought I wouldn't be able.

Maybe something is wrong with how my brain works. Maybe it seems too simple. 

To me it is simple.

I was given this life because I will be made strong enough to live it. I was put here because here is where I can do the most good. 

I don't question the purpose - or even just the knowledge that there is a purpose. I don't question whether I can "do this" because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13). It really is that simple in my eyes.

Is it hard? Beyond hard. Is it scary? Terrifying. Is it lonely? At times but I do not feel alone. I do not feel abandoned. I do not feel that C isn't worth what this life brings. 

I know that I can love enough. I know that I can give more. I know that there is grace upon grace given to those who fall at the feet, who work for good, who serve those in need. 

I do not question if I am strong enough because I know the Source of my strength. I do not question if I can love enough because I will always honor my vows. I chose C. I chose this life. 

I committed my whole self, my whole heart. I promised to love enough. Every day. To love enough. 

I choose faith. I choose to know that whatever barrier, we will overcome. Whatever unknowns, we will work through. Whatever war, whatever separation, whatever fear, whatever struggle, I am in this every step of the way.

I do believe we are called. I do believe we are placed where we are meant to be. I do believe we have purpose.

There isn't a question of if I am able. There isn't worry that I am not chosen. There isn't any other option but to be.

Not for me. 

Not ever.


Friday, November 9, 2012


I hate taking out the trash. 

I really, really hate emptying the trash can. I will shove trash down until the bag is about to burst. I just hate it and I really hate that I have to do it when C is gone. 


I really hate that there have been break-ins on this post this past week. 

I hate that right when I got the boys back on a night-time routine I find myself picking them up and moving them to my bed so that I can lock them in my room with me at night just in case someone tries to break in. I hate lying awake thinking every noise is something to fear. 

I hate that he can't be here to check it out.

I hate that Eli started head-banging in anger again. I hate that C can't be here to balance out the lack of sleep with me. I hate that Logan and Eli got into their first real fight last night when I was already late for an event. I hate that Logan for the first time hurt his little brother out of frustration. I hate that C wasn't here to help me through it. I hate that I had to make it through that myself.

I hate that I haven't learned how to drive C's jeep like I planned to while he was away. I hate that I know that will continue to be put on the back burner when I really need to learn. I hate that I don't have enough time.

I hate that there aren't enough hours in the day. I hate that I am so tired.

I hate that I have to do it all.

I hate that I can't. 

I don't do well with failure. I don't think many people do but I fear it. Very often for me it just isn't an option. 

This life is humbling - not just because to serve is to be humbled before others, before God - but because there will be days where we feel that we have failed, that we couldn't do it, that we weren't good enough. We have to learn - sometimes repeatedly - that we cannot do it all. That the strongest among us will be weak.

Logan climbed into my lap today, kissed me, and told me I was a good mommy. In the last 24 hours, since Eli and Logan fought last night, I have not felt like a "good mommy."

I am grateful for this precious child. I am grateful for the littlest child clinging to my arm while he sleeps beside me, who still calls every soldier "daddy," who has been searching their faces for the one that belongs to him.

I am grateful for the friend and neighbor who took C's jeep around the neighborhood because it has been sitting too long. I am still thankful that she is the very first person that welcomed me to this village. She has been a blessing.

I am thankful that I have grown so close to people here that a handful know when my face is hiding sadness or defeat and they know to just give a hug because tomorrow will be better, tomorrow I will do better. I am grateful that they don't think less of me when I am weak.

I am grateful for this community - this intimately-knit community - filled with women willing to bend over backwards for one another. I am grateful for those who have been there, done that, get it. I am thankful that people are placed beside us for a purpose, that goodness and kindness always come at the most needed time (Thanks, D), that harder days provide for greater blessings.

I am thankful that I have been given a love worthy of such intense longing. I am thankful that I have been given a partner that I will fight for and thrive for and survive through this for. I am thankful that we are made worthy for the life we are given - that we are made strong for the journey we face. How incredible to be able to be given a love, to fight for a love, that makes the difficulties and the struggles worthy of the battle, worthy of the victory.

How humbling the Grace we are given. How worthy the victory won.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Training, Airplanes, and Percy the #6 Engine

The ACU patterns have been taking over our living room, C's closet, and our garage for the last two weeks. It's all gone now. 

The trunks have been put back, the supplies that were taking over the sofa, the kitchen table, every open space, are packed into a ruck sitting in a row beside rucks and bags that all look the same. His boots are gone.

To me this month is easy. Doable. Nothing in comparison to what we have lived through and what we can always face again. But to Logan ... 

He knew what that ACU splatter meant. He knew what seeing it packed into a ruck over a few days meant. He knew that when I had him put shoes on with his PJ's tonight ... he knew his daddy was going away for a while.

He grabbed onto C and begged him not to go. He said families are supposed to "stay together," and then that he couldn't go without him. That he "would be a soldier too" so that he could go with him. He tried to pick up the smaller ACU print bag to carry as his own. 

It was heart-warming and heart-breaking all at the same time. Gosh that kid loves his dad. 

I have said before that to see your child's pain, to see that hurt you feel in yourself in the eyes of your child, may be one of the hardest parts of all this. I can take my own hurt. I can handle the sadness and the fear and the unknowns but when you can see your child battling those same things ... well that suffocates the heart.

To watch C watch Logan ... to want to take away the pain he must feel when he walks away knowing he is hurting his child, his buddy, his "favorite batman," that touches to the pit of all you are. 

"But I. don't. want. him. to go!" he says, arms crossed in his car seat. 

"I know, boogah. I know. Me too." How do you explain it to a child? How do you explain how a father can be an incredible father and walk away at the same time? He loves him so much. "He needs to go with his Soldiers." 

"I can be his soldier," he says while wiping his eyes, the anger has turned to sadness. 

"You would be an excellent soldier, Logan," knife to the heart. To be an Army mom ... God, give me strength ... "But, you need to go to kindergarten first."


He's thinking.

"I need you to help me with something important."

"Hmmph," he grunts while crossing his arms across his chest again.

"It's for Daddy," I add.

"What is it?" He says, raising his chin. He's interested now.

"We need to bake him a cake." 

"Wwwwwhhhaaatttt?" He asks confused.

"Daddy's birthday is in two weeks. We need to bake him a cake." Finally, he's looking at me.

"But how will he eat it?" his arms are up and out, shoulders raised.

"We'll send it to him."

"We will??" He's shocked.

"Yep. We can mail it! And guess what?"

"What?" I think I hear a little excitement in his voice. I think ... 

"You get a piece too."

"And Eli??" 

"And Eli. You can each have a piece, we'll do a video of 'Happy Birthday' and send it to Daddy! Sound good?" maybe said a little too hopeful.

"Chocolate cake?" his palms are together and he's touching his fingers back and forth.  

"Chocolate Cake."

"Great plan, Mommy!!" Thank you, Dear Lord!

I know tomorrow morning he is going to ask for C. I know it. I know in the next month he will ask again and again. There will be tears. There will be anger. He will work through it and fight through it and I will hug him and hold him and love him all the way. 

What C will carry on his back is nothing in comparison to what he carries in his heart but I hope that the tiny items put into his pocket will help to lighten the load - Logan's toy plane and a tiny, tiny green Percy Train (Eli's favorite). I know there isn't a step he takes without them being who he thinks of. I know there isn't a moment away that he doesn't wish to hold their hands and fly airplanes with Logan and trains with Eli. 

I know that we are up for the trial, I know our children amaze us day in and day out, and I know He does not lead us where we cannot thrive.

Until those sandy boots sit just inside our door. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Grown to Love

A couple days ago a major cold-front came in and we had our first truly chilly night. The wind from the front destroyed my just-becoming-perfect-tomatoes which didn't matter because the drastic drop in temperature ruined them anyway. When I went outside to assess the damage to the vines it occurred to me that I would need to store our wooden outdoor furniture again. It isn't made to handle the snow and ice. I know, I know. Not the right kind of outdoor furniture for Colorado.

I love the look of wooden furniture ... even though I had to replace the set from last year ... because it was wood ... and wooden furniture isn't made for Colorado. 

I'm hard-headed.

While standing in my yard debating when and how to store the set it occurred to me that I would most likely not be putting it back out. Not here at least. It would move from the patio to (most likely) the garage to a moving truck.

Every emotion hit at once. I stood in my backyard in tears, unable to move, trying to process. Every emotion that had been suppressed or discounted or misunderstood over the last six months barreled through me and poured out. Friends leaving. Us leaving. The road ahead for those staying, knowing I won't be walking it with them. Too fast. Too, too fast. I don't want to separate from so many people here. Friends I feel I have known a lifetime. Friends I want more time with. Friends I want to fight through what is ahead for them with them. Good friends that I don't want to let go of. 

I don't want to go into PCS mode. I don't want to start with the "I'll just have to pack that up" reasoning  when I see a small antique or knick-knack in a thrift store that I want. I don't want to take down what is on my walls. I don't want to take Logan from his school. I don't want to take him from his friends. I don't want to take Eli from our dear friend who loves him as her own. I don't want to think about how we are going to get the armoire in our room down the stairs without breaking the wall or our backs. I don't want to purge the things that don't need to move to the next place. I don't want to hand over our families to anyone else. I don't want to leave them. I don't want to move forward while they stay behind. I don't want to take Eli from his doctor and take the gamble with who he and Logan will get next. I don't want to leave my church. I don't want to leave our priest who will deploy with these soldiers. I am not ready to leave.

I have so much left to do.

Today I went in search of mums. Fall is my favorite season. I love the smells, the feeling in the air, the scarves, the boots, the football, the colors. It is one of the things I have learned to love about Colorado - we get Fall. Before a morning tea (yes, morning tea. No, I don't drink tea, Yes, I stopped at Starbucks first) I drove to pick some up while the boys were at hourly. After a disappointing 5 minutes of looking at the dismal selection I settled on the very large purple mums in the front of the display. I honestly wanted the red but I make it a point not to purchase red during football season. 

When I went inside to pay for my flowers I noticed the bulbs for tulips and such were out. I loved my tulips last year. They lined the house, filled the planters in our back yard. I loved watching them bloom. Immediately I picked up a large bag. Before it hit the cart I put it back. 

I wouldn't see them bloom.

I can't tell you how long I stood in front of the display staring blankly at the packages. It could have been seconds, minutes. Who knows. I just stood there. I loved watching the bulbs spring to life last year. I planted some with my neighbor's daughter who was so excited when she told me "our flowers" were growing. She would still be here in the spring.

I don't remember walking away. I don't remember turning the cart to go towards the register but somehow before I made it there the smaller display of tulip bulbs caught my eye. Purple and gold. Large bags with just purple and yellow tulips in them. I picked them up and firmly placed them in the cart, walking away with them before I could change my mind.

Sometime next week, or the next, I will be planting tulips. I will plant them along the side of our house in the trench that I dug last fall, raking out rocks and putting elbow grease into digging out clay. I will ask my neighbor's daughter if she would like to plant them around the shared tree like she did last time. I hope they bloom as long for the next spring as they did the last. I will trim down the hyacinth plant that should finally have blooms next year and hope that the person who lives in this house next will get the same thrill I did when I first saw the green leaves fighting through the grey rocks. I will sneak over to my neighbors house and plant the bulbs along her front steps, smirking all the while. When spring hits and her BAMA pride has all been packed up for the time, purple and gold tulips will line her front porch and I know that she will know I got the last laugh. 

This life is a cycle, a journey, a continuation. We are always coming or going, coming or going. We never have enough time where we are. We learn to hold people tighter, make friends faster, cherish every moment. There is a beauty in the struggle. A goodness in the changes. 

Make the most of what is placed before you. Bring joy. Find joy. 

Bloom where you are planted then leave part of you with those you have grown to love. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


For those who have known me for a long time, who have worked close to me, who have been a significant part of my life, they know how I feel about the word "sunshine."

When I started calling people "sunshine" I didn't even realize I was doing it. It wasn't until people started commenting on how it made them feel that I understood why I said it. 

When people made me feel happy, motivated, encouraged, I called them sunshine. When they brought joy, when they brought smiles, I used the word. It has always been reserved for those who have built me up, who have encouraged me, who have brought goodness in everything that they do. It has always been reserved to those with good hearts, with good intentions, with kindness.

It isn't a word I throw out. It isn't something that I make a point to use. It is a "name" that just fits with certain people in my life and in simple moments it comes out.

There is someone in my life who has become a mentor and a friend. Who I greatly respect and care for. She has been a great teacher and guide. She knows how I struggled - and am still struggling - with the idea ... no the reality ... that when we leave Fort Carson we will leave combat arms. She has heard me talk through the worry and confusion. She knows my faith. She knows my intentions. She knows what I hope to give every day that I am in this life. 

When talking it all out the first time we saw each other after all the changes came to be, when I told her how much I did not want to leave these families, she hugged me and said, "You have brought sunshine to this unit."

I don't think she knows what that word means to me. I don't think I really knew what the word meant to me.

I realized in that moment that that is how I hope to live my life - in every aspect - wherever it leads us.

I always hope to find joy, to give joy, but to bring sunshine, to makes things brighter ... that must be what we hope to do!

Make it so that your presence gives something positive rather than negative. There is too much negativity surrounding this lifestyle! Too much that can bring a new spouse down. That can crush the isolated, those who don't reach out. Be Positive! 

Positivity spreads. Seeing others thriving through makes us want to thrive through. We need to embrace the new spouses, mentor them, guide them, empower them. Teach them how to overcome the harshness and the difficulty and trials that are always present in this life. We need to encourage rather than judge. Share experiences rather than look down on those who don't have them yet.

Smile. Encourage. Empower.

Bring sunshine. Be sunshine. Love this life - love your soldier - commit in such a way that your hope and joy and determination radiates.

Bring hope.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Toughest Tears

This evening I sat at a large table surrounded by my Cav sisters and watched a Sergeant Major cry. 

I couldn't help looking at his sew-ons while trying to look anywhere but into his tearing eyes. A Ranger, a Pathfinder, a Jump Master, you name it and it was on his chest.  

He was acting as the CAO (casualty assistance officer) for his fallen friend and he was in our upper-level Care Team training offering his perspective.

A Ranger. A Pathfinder. A Jump Master. 

A Sergeant Major. 

In tears. Taking a moment to breathe.


I don't know what the future holds for us. I don't know if C has served on his last combat deployment. Every part of me thinks he has. Every part of me believes we are past it. That I will never be the one on the other side of that doorbell. That it will never be me. That I never have to fear it again.

I don't know how to explain the jumble inside of my heart. I sat surrounded by women who would be on these teams. Who would stand up and go if called upon. Who I have all the faith in, and respect, and admiration for what they are willing to do. 

Every part of me felt total and complete guilt as I sat there knowing I most likely will not be with them. That from now on C should be safe. 

Every part of me finds comfort and gratitude in that. Every part of me is thankful for the service he has given and for the position he has been selected for. Every piece of my heart is thankful for this new path ahead. 

I don't know how to explain carrying that immense gratitude and at the very same time carrying complete guilt. I feel I am abandoning our families - and the families of our troop are very much our families. I hate that they may fight through a deployment that I may not be fighting through with them. I feel so very guilty that we may never live through that again. That I have let them down somehow. That I haven't given enough. 

I - beyond words - know that this change was right for our family. I know the hours and hours of discussions and research and prayer led us to the right point. I have the deepest faith that what is to come will be meant for us. That I will have purpose in this new walk. That C will be where he can do the most good. I know how vital his future position is to the overall mission. I know this is a good fit for him. In my heart I know that this is the most difficult decision of C's career. I know that what I am feeling will never compare to what he must be carrying. Never

But I want to be here with our families. I want to be here to do the most good that I know how to do. I know how to comfort. I know how to communicate. I know how to hold a child who is hurting, a spouse who is hurting. I know how to fight through a struggle, through murphy's law of deployment, through the hardest, darkest days. I know how to hold a hand and sit in silence. To my bones I know how to give all of me as a combat spouse. 

I know how to watch a Sergeant Major cry and blink away my own tears.


People may never understand what these families give - what the families that surround me will continue to give. To sit at a table and to hear - in detail - how a fallen soldier's body is transferred, how long a period of time that can take in different instances. To hear gruesome, unimaginable scenarios, to know that the next time that could be your soldier and to still, STILL, despite all of that, stand up and say, "I will help. I am here. I care." takes more of a person than most can imagine.  To just think of what a combat family carries day in and day out, in the months before a deployment through when their favorite boots are in theatre to when they again sit inside their doors ... to carry that and to thrive through life! It takes your entire self. It takes the deepest determination and patience and understanding. It takes the most profound love. The most tested faith. 

It has been my honor to stand among these families. It has been my joy to watch young spouses thrive. I have been humbled by the strength surrounding me, by the will, the resilience. Awed by the selflessness of these families. 

Every moment that I remain with you, I can promise you will have all of me. Every move I make in your circles will be with the full intent to build you up, to do good, to make a positive change. For however long I have the honor to stand with you, you will have my whole heart. The day we leave this unit, the day we walk away to begin the next chapter, will be an emotional, emotional day. I hope I will have done enough. I hope I will have given enough to try with everything in me to repay the smallest bit of the debt we owe the men and women who serve our nation. I hope I will have done the most good.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Today was a hard day. The hits just keep coming. Life won't slow down ... or speed up ... or slow down. It's moving too fast where I don't want it to and too slow where I do. There are more unknowns. Mixed feelings. The back and forth, the jerking around of emotions.

The stresses of this life are tremendous. 

Gone or here. Deployed or safe. Training or on leave. 

Each stage of the cycle brings its own challenges. Each unknown brings its own bit of worry. 

This life will break your heart. This life will bring moments that make you feel like you are falling apart. Like you cannot take one more thing. 

There will be days when all you want to do is pull up the covers and sleep through it. When you want to scream at people who deserve it. When every piece of you swears you are about to break.

There can be incredibly dark moments along the journey.

No part of this is easy. Lovin' C ... that, that is easy. But that is the only part.

Every other part of it takes an extra breath to make it through. Takes a moment of closed eyes, of prayer, of understanding, of grace, takes a patience that most have to fight for. Wondering when that deployment will come, if it will come, where it will be to, all takes something deep to breathe through it. Watching daily news during a time of unrest hits us a bit harder. Evening broadcasts are far from "easy" to watch. Seeing the flags flying at half-staff ... that takes a moment to breathe through.

I will never tell you that loving a soldier is easy. I will never tell you that this life is for everyone. I will tell you every moment of every day is a little harder than it is for many.

I will tell you that we all break.

Watching your child begging daddy not to leave is not for the weaker heart. The automatic reaction to suck in air when there is knock on your door that you aren't expecting never goes away. The nights are far from easy. Everything will go wrong at the same time. Saying goodbye never hurts less.

People will always misunderstand. Ignorance will always hurt. Someone will always ask the "wrong" question.

I will never say any part of this is easy. Almost every part is very, very hard.

I will tell you, you were chosen. I will tell you, you are placed for a purpose. I will tell you despite the hardest days, the darkest trial, somewhere deep is the resolve to triumph.

I will tell you this path is worthy. That you are able. That you have what it takes.

Even on the days every part of you says that you don't.

You do.

In the deepest part of your self, you can find courage. In the scariest parts of the journey, you can be brave.

No part of this is easy. No moment will be without fear. But I will tell you this life is beautiful. I will tell you this life is worth the struggle. There is honor in service, goodness in sorrow. The heartache lets you feel. The difficulty allows you to learn. The fear makes you value life.

Your spirit builds its armor. Your heart will always endure. The good will always find a way.

You will find the strength to find the joy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Changing Tides

I could write a book just about the last twelve months of our life. C has been home and this may have been the hardest twelve months of our life together. He's been out of combat. He's been safe. And our world has been - again and again - turned upside-down. 

The emotions of a deployment - the emotions of a combat deployment - are like nothing else in this world. I cannot tell you how many times I would just quietly say the line "I cannot promise ..." to myself when C's boots weren't in our foyer. To remind myself. To encourage myself. To push through. To remember why we do this, how much he loves me.

In the last twelve months I have felt absolute panic and dread and fear and confusion and near hopelessness. I have watched my friends make life-altering decisions. I have seen careers end before their time. I have listened carefully while C relayed his conversation with branch that changed the game the moment certain words were spoken - all while he traveled in his vehicle back out to the field.

In March it became clear to us that - just like for many in C's "year group"- that it would be difficult for him to continue in combat arms. 

In the months following it became clearer that a change was needed. It has nothing to do with not wanting to be "in the fight." Nothing to do with that. The thought of that being the case is the one thing that almost had him hanging on. To not be "on the line" ... it isn't something I can imagine him processing.

To go into all the reasons would leave me typing for hours ... for days, really. And some of them I don't think I could ever put into words. I never thought we would be here.

To explain the emotions that we battled with and talked through and struggled to name ... well, those are still ongoing and being processed and worked through. 

The next time I see C in his blues it will be without his cord. 

And I didn't start crying until just now. 

Just now. That thought.
  Deep breath.

We thought we would be an Infantry family until the day he retired. As an army wife, I "grew up" loving the blue, loving Fort Benning because it was Fort Benning, the "Home of the Infantry," where C earned his wings. The history of C's first unit, meeting the families of the "Band of Brothers," living the life of the band of sisters battling through deployment together. Every fiber let me know I was made for this. 

There is pride and a reverence. Great courage and great fear. Immense longing and intense love. Overwhelming sadness and bone-deep joy. 

You just can't know unless you have lived it. 

To love a combat soldier has been an honor, a joy, a grace-filled journey. To continue to love a soldier will be the honor of my life

Our journey is changing. The road ahead is unknown.

But I know that there will be joy. I know that there is purpose. I know that our love is great, our need for Grace is endless, our Guide is like no other. 

Two months ago I held my partner's hand, squeezed it and said, "You have given more than most. You have sacrificed more than most. You can lay down your gun." 

For the one who will step-up behind and pick it up, Thank You. For the many who have fought beside my C, Thank You. For the dear friends who have guided us through, Thank You. 

 For the thousands who courageously said "send me," whose families mourn, we will remember.  

The timing revolving around this change is still uncertain. What is to come, we still just do not know. We may still have another deployment ahead of us. We just aren't sure. We are still an Army family and hope to be one for many, many years to come. 

THANK YOU for supporting us and encouraging us! I hope I can continue to repay the blessings you have all been. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remember This Day

Remember the fallen, the heroes, the rescue crews. 
Remember the children of the lost, the widows and the widowers, 
the mothers and fathers who buried children. Remember.

Remember the soldiers who knew their lives would forever change
 the moment this was known to be a terrorist attack. 
Remember those who signed up on September 12th. 
Remember those who joined in a time of war.

Remember every soul that has been lifted up for the past 11 years beginning that day. 
Remember those still fighting to honor those who fell first and to protect those who lived since.


I will never forget.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I cannot tell you how much I have wanted to write. How much I have wanted to share with you. How much I need the therapy I find in writing it down and sharing the journey.

There have been so many things that at this time, I just cannot share. I respect OPSEC. I understand the gravity of keeping some things close. I understand that there are some things you just don't get to share. I will never compromise the safety of our men and women in uniform for the sake of a blog post. Ever.

There have been some things that I just haven't felt comfortable writing about because the struggles we are going through are what some - but not all - of the military community are going through. What C and I have been facing and pushing forward in spite of are very personal to our Army journey. They very much have to do with his job, his years of service, his point in his career path, his rank

I do not like to talk about rank. 

A comment was made by someone recently that made my blood boil. Her husband has been in for 23 years. She is very much "done with the Army" (something I have heard her say more than once). She has a distaste for officer spouses and for officers. She has stereotyped spouses - repeatedly - based on their soldier's rank. She quickly, decisively forms opinions on "who they are"; she "can just tell" as she told me. All these things I have heard from her lips and experienced for myself.

Every person is entitled to take whatever they think and think it. Really, I'm okay with that. But this person is/was in a position of leadership. She was an instructor for a course that teaches new spouses about embracing this life, thriving through it, understanding the in's-and-out's. She is in a position where what she says holds meaning. She is in a position where we do not discuss our spouses' rank unless absolutely unavoidable. We - as spouses - do not hold rank.

I'm going to say that again.

We. do. not. hold. rank.

I have never entered into combat. Haven't spent one night in boot camp. No one punched my chest at C's last promotion.

(I'll get back to that. Well not the punching the chest thing, but the not holding rank thing.)

This instructor stood in front of a class of new spouses and berated the Army Officer. She made comments that her husband - a 1SG - "actually worked." That the enlisted spouses in the room had to learn to see their spouses less. That their spouses "earned their paychecks." That they weren't "given" to them like others.

I don't know where to start here. I honestly don't know how to explain the dozens of phrases and situations and rebuttals and frustrations running through me. They are all things I have heard before but to have been informed that they happened in this type of setting ... Yes, she was reprimanded, privately, but I wonder what impression that left on those spouses. I wondered if that sparked a division for them.

What did they leave that class thinking? What did the "enlisted spouses" in that class leave thinking? What did the "officer spouses" think? Because in that class - in this journey - we are Army Wives.

When the comments were brought to my attention, my first thought was for our very, very good friend, with a very strong career path ahead of him, that took a career-ending-fall, because of the mistakes of others. Who fought to save the careers of those below him for a mistake that was not in his power to prevent. Who did so honorably. Gracefully. With dignity, and compassion, for those who served with him and below him. My thoughts went to the many who did not submit their paperwork to separate from the Army while he didthe very same week that she commented that they "don't really work."

My thought went to C who works insane hours. Who loses so much time with his kiddos. Who greatly respects the men doing the job that he has once done. Who answers the calls at all hours of the night and then goes into work, or to pick up a soldier in trouble. Who, as part of his job, has to know about the well-being of the families of his men. Who never, never has time that is considered "off duty." Who is held to a higher standard. Who started out at seventeen at the very bottom and has given his youth.

My thoughts went to how hard he has worked while facing the vast uncertainty of the cuts that may very well affect him. So much that he carries ...

He "earns his pay."

As a very new Army wife, I was told by a senior officer's spouse that I should be "more conscious of my friendships" if I cared for C's career. That people notice. That people talk. She was referring to one particular friendship at the time that I still hold very, very dear to my heart. Her husband's rank is very different from C's.

WHY do we do that to one another?

WHY do we insist on creating a division?

 I have never thought I should care and I never have.

When told by a volunteer in our unit that I was "different," she asked why. The thought made me sad - wondering if she had been told the "category" I unwillingly fall into was all a certain way, or if those clinging to that same category had given her just reason to find me "different." After debating how to answer what I told her is that when it comes down to it, her husband's life is at greater risk than C's. His chance of sacrifice is higher than what I face. And her husband will still put his life on the line, making far less money and, that to me should be recognized and respected.

I know how hard C works. I know how much responsibility is on his shoulders.

I don't think spouses have a right to stand in front of others and say who works for their pay. I don't think spouses have a right to form a division among us.

I don't think a spouse holds the right to belittle the sacrifice and work of ANY soldier.

One fellow spouse told me in the Civilian world, we would be good friends. I answered her that we are in the military world and we are.

The lines are tricky. The lines exists for the soldiers for good reason. No, our experiences are not 100% the same. What I am struggling with at this point in our journey is not what most are. It is very much only related to rank and status and time in and branch. What the spouse of an enlisted soldier faces at some times may not be the same as an officer's spouse. What the spouse of an officer struggles with one day may not be the same as an enlisted soldier's.

But that does not give either the right to belittle that struggle. We cannot know what the other is feeling and making broad judgments is toxic.

We are accountable for what we teach those entering into this life. We are accountable for the impressions we give by our actions, by our words, by our faces, our sarcasms, our jokes. We are responsible for empowering our sisters-in-arms.

What we say about "the other side" will stay with those who hear it. I am blessed to be married to a man who has done three years as a "joe", four as an NCO, and seven as a "sir." I am blessed to have friendships in every single aspect of this life. I am blessed to have mentors who have instilled a deep respect for the service as a whole. I am even blessed to have "teachers" who taught me what I never want to be.

We are responsible for those who join the journey, for giving guidance that does good, rather than sharing stereotypes that do harm. We all live a life of service and to serve is to serve. To love a soldier is to love a soldier.

Simple. Basic. Sisterhood.

Monday, September 3, 2012


During and after Isaac, a comment someone had put on the Weather Channel's Facebook page was all over my newsfeed. The people of New Orleans were angered, deeply hurt, and frustrated by what one woman said. I can't remember the exact wording but she - rather void of tact - spoke about how stupid the people of the Gulf Coast (especially New Orleans) must be to live in a place that suffers hurricanes and exists below sea-level. She used harsh language, horrible wording, and nothing that she said offered a solution. Nothing that she stated held a purpose except to rant and call out someone else for something she couldn't understand.

How quick we are to pass judgment and condemn. How quickly we rip apart something we have no understanding of. How quick we are to give an opinion that holds no value, no purpose, no empathy.

She spoke about how whiny the citizens of my city are. How give-me-give-me-give-me we are with every hurricane. 

I love my city. I love my city for its uniqueness and strength and independence. I love my city for its acceptance of every walk of life, its character, its tenacity, its determination, its will to move forward, to celebrate making it through, to celebrate rising above, to celebrate life. I love my city for how proud it is, too proud to accept help without it being forced down its throat. I love my city because after it swallows that pride, it shows its gratitude, it gives back, it thanks those who came to its rescue. I love my city because it is a place that somehow has the ability to love deeply, to make those who visit it feel deeply, for those who live in it, to live by it, and for those who leave it, to carry it with them always.

New Orleans stays inside you. To leave it for a time, leaves a longing; to even think of leaving it forever, breaks the spirit.

So much of what she said, her hatred for something she couldn't understand, her need to say it in a public forum just because she could, because she "had the floor" ... 

How many times have Military Spouses heard strangers say or seen people post:

Well why did you marry a soldier in the first place?
I am so tired of hearing about this war. 
I am so tired of hearing about giving military families this, and giving military families that
Why do they even get married?
Why do they have kids?
How dare they bring children into that lifestyle!
They are so give-me-give-me-give-me. 
Why even be there when he gets home? He's a murderer! Their kids aren't safe.
Soldiers shouldn't be able to pro-create. It's not fair to the child. 
(Not kidding. I have heard it.)

Every word one of hatred. Every word one of ignorance. Every word gut-wrenching, soul-sucking, anger-filling.

How often do we as people pass judgment and express it just because we can. How often do we spew hatred because we "have a right!". 

How often do we inflict pain just because we want our say, our two-cents? Because our voice needs to be heard. It will be heard!

How much greater would this place be if we had more empathy. If we thought before we spoke, or typed, or tweeted. How much kinder would we be to one another if we took the time to try to feel what others feel and if we can't to not claim that we know better, that they must be wrong because we cannot understand. 

If you cannot understand why people rebuild, you don't have to. If you can't understand why military families exist, what it means to live this life, you don't have to. 

There are times when to not speak, does not make you weak. To hold your tongue does not mean you have no voice. If we could just feel for one another, respect one another ... it is not our place to condemn.

Words are powerful

No one can walk a mile in each person's shoes. No one can know how each soul lives. No one can feel what we feel, live through what we live through, but we can all accept that we cannot know. That we cannot know each person's struggles and reasons. We can choose to love first, to empathize first, to respect always

How quick we are to speak. How quick we are to condemn. How quick we are to show our ignorance.

How quick we should be to try to understand.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It is Good That I am Here

I know I have said again and again and again that C was never part of my plan. Having two little boys at my age was never part of my plan. Being a "stay-at-home mom" (a term I loathe) was never my plan.  Moving, the military, war, separation, training, was never in the smallest, simplest way part of my plan.

I was teaching part of the Family Readiness Group Leaders course this past week and I was struck by how many young women in our class were new spouses. 

During one of the breaks I was talking to a student about how much this all was to take in. I had been talking about the deployment cycle, about the stressors that accompany each part of it and somehow we got on the subject of never for a moment imagining how much we would face, how much our lives would hold.

She, like me, didn't come from a military background. She, like me, had the smallest little touch of it so distant it didn't really count. 

She never thought she would marry a soldier. She never thought she would be taking the time to learn how to serve other spouses when her and their husbands left for war. She never thought her path would lead here.

Looking back I can see it. Looking back I understand why I was given the experiences and the people that were put into my life. Looking back everything fits, everything brought me here. Everything built onto something before.

Everything gave me my armor, my hope, my faith, my joy.

It is good that I am here. It is right that this is where it brought me. C is my balance, my partner, my goodness. Every step brought me to today, to tomorrow, to him.

None of this was what I planned. Not a moment, not a breath. None of it but looking back to all makes the whole.

And, C, well I think I loved you all along.