"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, April 30, 2012

Livin' Like He Leaves Tomorrow

It happens.

One day there is a deployment looming. Then there isn't. Then there is. Then it's to somewhere else. Then they aren't deploying. Then they are. Then they aren't.

It happens. 

I have heard this every where. Everyone hearing another rumor, another change, another place, another time. It seems to be happening every where. I have heard the same echos from friends spread across the nation.

They are deploying, then they aren't.

They aren't and then they are.

People are leaving with two-months notice. People are preparing with eighteen months ahead of them.

We are all being jerked in one direction or another. I can't tell you into which one of these we fall. I can't tell you into which one of these we were in last week or will be tomorrow. Jerking here, a jerk there. One mindset, another. One heartbreak, one sigh of relief. 

It may be just enough to drive you mad. It drains your sanity, your understanding of reality. What is true, what isn't. 

Who knows.

Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. Ups and downs.

It's beyond tiring.

 Tomorrow I may hear something different. Tomorrow you may hear something different. And then two weeks later is will probably change. It seems to be where so many of us are. 

As the changes in info come, as the changes in timelines and if's and when's continue to bombard our hearts with one emotion after another, I am choosing to live in the same way. I am choosing to put the rest out of my mind and live in the very same way, regardless of what that day's rumor brings.

I am loving him like he is leaving tomorrow. Supporting him as if it is always a "when" rather than an "if". When they are deployed there aren't any "if's". We ignore the "if's". We shut them out. Remove them from our minds and focus on the "when he comes home." 

No "if's". Never "if's".

He is training for the mission. He is preparing for battle. He is gone more than he is home because of what is coming. 

I don't believe in "if's". 

As hard as it may be to not get my hopes up at the rumors that may circle, as much as I want to cling to that "maybe they aren't going", I know that at some point, at some point, they will go. 

They always go.

So focus on every day you have and live it like it is preparing you for the battle. Live it like it matters because every day is worthy. Every day is valued. Every day must bring joy to hold onto for the journey that is always waiting before you. 

Prepare as he prepares. Love as he loves. Wait as he waits.

Live in the unknown and claim it. Do not sink into it. Live every single moment, every single day, as if he deploys the next. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Deployment Survival Kit

My neighborhood on post has only existed for about three years (give or take). When I moved in just under a year ago, nearly every person on my street was with the same unit. They had all moved in at the same time. Their husbands worked the same schedules. They had almost all been at the same previous  duty station. 

They have strong bonds with one another.

When I moved in, without hesitation, they welcomed me. They told me the in's and out's of living on post (since we never had), let me know events going on, and which TV service to go to. All of the things that military neighbors seem to do for each other.

Three of them I have gotten to know best. One with a little boy younger than Eli but bigger than him (which is pretty much always the case with Eli). One with two kids in grade school (she is the very first person I met when I was moving in). And one who is, and this is her only poor quality, a BAMA fan. 

Football season was interesting. 

Anyway, their husbands deployed a little while ago for a year (yes, that's right, twelve-month-orders). I wanted to do something to let them know that they are in my thoughts, that I am rooting for them during this "go mode", and that I am here if they need anything. 

I know they have each other but they have always made me feel included. My husband is safe. My husband is "home" (quotes are necessary). I needed to do something.

To each of them I dropped what I called A Deployment Survival Kit at their door. So many people have asked about it that I wanted to share it here so that you can share it with friends and hopefully use it to brighten another spouse's day.

We all go through the cycle, in some way, but we fall into different parts of it at different times. When we are stronger, we need to share strength. When we are weak, we need to be willing to find strength in others. We are a community, a sisterhood, the arms behind the Army. We must support one another. We must be willing to put an arm around someone struggling beside us. We must serve one another while our spouses serve the nation.

Start smiles. Bring humor. Give strength. Share goodness.

We all need to.

This is a simple start.

What the "kit" includes:
A Bottle of Red - for nights when you need to "wine a lil"
A Handful of Chocolate - when you miss holding his hand
A Roll of Duct tape - to combat Murphy's Law
Big Girl Panties - for when you just need to deal with it
A Special Promise with a yellow ribbon - for days when you need to remember

Your kit can have whatever you choose. It can be simple. It can just be a card! Anything to let another Military spouse know: "I'm backing you!" "I support you!" "I am here if you need!" 

Something small goes a long way. Let's build each other up. Let's help each other thrive.

What would you put in a deployment survival kit?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Head Above Water

Parenting is hard.

Parenting alone is harder.

Parenting when your partner is in the home one day and out for weeks or months the next is hardest.

I'm tired.

Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. 

I'm tired.

I have said before that C is training far more than we have ever experienced. The ratio between when he is "home" and when he is not is beyond skewed. The chaos of emotions that accompany his training rotations exhaust every part of me. He is here for a flash and then he is gone. Logan asks when he will come back. When he comes back, Logan asks him not to go back to work. When he leaves again too soon Logan can't understand why. 

When C headed out this morning, he told me how sorry he was. In the complete disorientation of early, early morning sleep, I heard it: 

I'm so sorry I am leaving you again.

All that I could manage in response, half-asleep, barely-awake, was:

No sorries. Never sorries.

Parenting without them, keeping a family moving without them, handling the temper-tantrums, and the refusals to go to sleep, and the fights over toys, and the stubborn eating, and each tiny everyday thing without them, while still trying to keep them present, is hard.

But at no point is something taking me from being here. At no point will I receive a call, or a schedule, or a calendar update that tells me I not only will be gone for three weeks this time around but add another two. At no point will something else I chose take me from Eli saying his brother's name for the first time like he did today. At no point will a higher obligation take from me the frustration of Eli figuring out how to open doors like he did while he should have been in bed. At no point is anything taking me from this moment, right now, when I realize that my little man - who is still labeled "failure to thrive", still being monitored and checked on regularly by his wonderful doctor - that he can reach the door knob. That he has grown. Because I think that C's mind and heart would have gone to that fact when it happened rather than how my brain nearly exploded with the annoyance that he had made that discovery. 

And C would have loved to be here. He would probably have cheered and offered high-fives and just loved on him because he would have seen the good right then and not two hours later.

I know how much he wants to be here. I know how much it means to him to serve. I cannot know what it is to have your heart torn. To whisper an "I'm sorry," while turning and walking away. To want to hold onto both. To think that one has to be let down for the other. 

I will never know what it is to be a man torn into two.

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he can love so fiercely, so wholly. I cannot know how much he carries, how much his heart must hold, to love and serve both a nation and his family. His love for the other has never let me down, never made me feel less loved, less needed, less valued.

Never once has he left me with less of himself. 


No sorries. Never sorries.

Tonight is about keeping my head above water. Tomorrow may be very much the same. 

This. Life. Is. Hard.

But even on the hardest days, while he never fails to give me and his nation all of him, I, at the very least, owe him the best of me.

To keep loving. To keep moving forward. To keep swimming. Even when the best I can do on that day, on this day, is to just keep my head above water.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Beautifully Different

In four minutes, while the three "men" (well one man and two little boys) in my life are all sleep, I know that I will hear TAPS played over the speakers on post. The haunting and calming music will softly echo through the mountain post. 

It slows my breathing every time. Stops me from whatever I am doing or watching or thinking. Sends chills down my back. Scares me and comforts me. Soothes me and haunts me.

Every night, at ten in the evening, TAPS will play and my world will pause.

Every morning, I hear the boom of the cannon accompany reveille. Every morning that trumpet sounds. Every evening I hear the boom again as the flag is lowered for the day. 

Day in and day out I can hear the echo of gunfire as soldiers train on ranges. 
Pop. Pop. Pop. 
While walking along the trails, waiting with Logan for the bus, taking Eli into the hourly care, I can hear the popping. 

Nearly every time I take the road leading off post closer to the ranges, traffic is stopped by two soldiers as large tan vehicles pass across the main road. Tanks and trucks with large guns on top, the benches in the trucks filled with rows of soldiers sitting with guns in hand as they travel in from the field or out to the ranges.

To get to my home after frequenting Target or HL, I have to stop at a gate and hand an armed guard my military I.D. Every time I want to return to my home from outside the gates I have to prove that I am supposed to be there. 

How interesting this life must seem to those on the outside.

Every time a civilian friend visits or a family member I laugh as their eyes widen when an armored vehicle pulls up beside us, or a soldier is on the ground doing pushups, or a trumpet blares the signal for lunch. I smile as the foolish grin covers their faces as we pass soldiers in formation, or when they see an obstacle course and they say, "Do they really climb that?" 

How strange it must be that it isn't strange that we see multiple black hawks and apaches flying overhead daily. How much I would have loved to watch one of my best friend's faces while I watched three black hawks land at the exact same time while I was sitting at the stop light nearest C's office. 

I wonder what my mom will think if she goes into C's office this week and sees the triangular sign on the entrance door that says "explosives". 

It is incredible when we think about what is our normal. What is our everyday, our "taking for granted," our "just the way it is." I wonder how much I don't notice anymore. How much would amaze the average American.

I will never forget the day I visited C while we were dating and he told me I couldn't pump gas on post. Do you remember the first time you heard that?  

I love that I can drive to the commissary and see Cav Scouts on horseback in the area just in front of headquarters. I love that I pass soldiers rucking along the path near the golf course. I love that I can pass down a road and I know if my husband is in his office or not by whether or not there is a guidon outside. I love that Logan watches the sky when he hears the sound of those helicopter blades. 

I love that I am learning what the different boots mean on different soldiers when I never noticed those things before. I love that I have neighbors who knock on my door with a plate of food and a glass of wine because they notice when C's jeep has been missing for a while. I love that when I see a certain uniform at a certain time, I need to say an extra prayer for that soldier because he just came home or he is just about to leave. 

I love that the little things that go unnoticed by everyone else, are the things that we find the most meaning in. I love that while to everyone else the trumpet in the morning may seem a nuisance, it means for one spouse another day closer to reunion. I love that while to many TAPS playing throughout the foothills is simply beautiful, to those who hear it night in and night out it means far more.

I love this life. With my whole heart, I love this life.

Sometimes - just sometimes - I forget just how beautifully different it is. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Over the last two days I have been in and out of training to become an ACS (Army Community Services) instructor. A friend of mine (one of the coordinators) thought I would be a good person to "teach" Army families.

We'll see.

While looking through the section of the AFTB (Army Family Team Building) lessons I have to mock-teach tomorrow, I began questioning if this is something I can do. I have never been one that can be reigned in to a script, to follow directions step-by-step, to "stick-to-the-program". It's one of my weak spots. 

The topic I was given - on the surface - seems like a perfect one for me. It is all about helping new spouses best understand what expectations are realistic and unrealistic when entering into the military life. I could talk one-on-one with a new spouse about the subject from the first boom of the cannon at reveille to the final boom signaling retreat. 

But none of it would be in the script. 

One thing here and another there, but most of what I would want to say wouldn't be what the Army put in print. 

People enter into this life with all kinds of different expectations. I entered into this life full of the negative thoughts, the stereotypes engrained in my brain, the "when will this be over?", and "why do I have to give up what I want?" I didn't support the military. 

No really, I didn't.

I didn't understand the life, the choice, but, man, I thought I did. I thought I knew it all. 

Some spouses enter into the journey with rose-colored-glasses, taking Army Wives the show to be the "reality" of the life. Falling in love with the uniform and then falling flat on their faces when they realize the uniform eventually boards a plane, enters a war zone, can't be home for dinner, for birthdays, for anniversaries, for bad days, to change a flat tire, to hold your hand while you undergo childbirth. 

It doesn't matter if you started the journey from one of the extremes or anywhere in between. Where you begin does not determine where you end. 

Every opinion I held about the military and the life it leads has changed. Every single one.

My mindset, my outlook, my hope, my joy, my everything came from one moment.

The moment I recognized and accepted the reality of this life.

It isn't enough to recognize that your spouse has given a vow to a nation that directly conflicts with the vow he made to you. It isn't enough to realize that a country's priorities will belong above your own. It isn't enough to recognize that your husband is a soldier.

It isn't enough.

It isn't enough to understand that he won't be able to work nine to five. It isn't enough to recognize that his job is twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred-sixty-five days a year. It isn't enough to understand that he is at all times a soldier first. 

It isn't enough.

You have to accept that when duty calls, you come second. It's harsh. It's hurtful. It is hard to say but it is true. When duty calls he will go. 

You must accept that you married a person who serves. You must accept that you married a soldier. Who will leave you. Who will ask more of you than what is asked of most. Who will not be there for your hardest of days, for your loneliest of nights. Who will ask you to keep a family thriving while he leaves you behind. Who will expect you to honor the vows, to keep your promise, while he keeps the vow he first made to the nation. 

You must accept that you married a man who cannot always hold your hand. Who cannot always give you the answers you want to hear or the place to live you want to live. 

You married a man who can never turn off his job. Who can never stop the call from coming down. Who at times will have to tell you, "I can't be there." 

The moment you accept that he can say these things, that he can leave you, that he can put someone "else" first, and at the exact same time he is still loving you, and honoring you, and protecting you is the moment that you understand, that you are truly open to the remarkable journey. 

Our society continuously tells us to put ourselves first, to do what makes things easiest for us, for me, me, me. You belong to the one percent that chooses to put everyone else above themselves. Who values everyone else's freedoms and liberties above their own. To sacrifice the luxury of time together, and comfort, and ease so that others may keep it.

You have been called to serve the nation beside your soldier. To love him, to honor him, to support his mission. You serve by accepting the life, by finding the joy, and by thriving along the journey. 

Understand the reality you are facing - a terrifying, harsh, difficult calling - and accept that you have been called.

There is so much joy in knowing that you are fully capable of beating any odds stacked against you. You are fully capable of thriving through, of loving through.  

Acceptance is key and you are ready.


The blog was nominated as a "Best U.S. Military Spouse Blog" for the 2012 MilBlog Conference. If you are a supporter of TLAS I would appreciate your vote! You can find the nomination on the first page.. A few other nominating comments have been left but they are being deleted as there aren't supposed to be multiple comments left for the same blog.

You can vote by giving a "thumbs up" next to the nomination left by Erin. Please share the link to the voting if you would like! Thank you all for all the support you have given me and the blog! This has been such an awe-filling experience. : )

Monday, April 9, 2012

Just Like Daddy

Logan turned four this past week.


Time goes by so quickly. 

C has a pair of dogtags that he has had since basic fourteen years ago. They are like any other, two thin pieces of metal with black rubber surrounding them. Attached is a tag I sent him during his first deployment that is scratched almost beyond recognition. If you look hard enough you can just barely see the simple cross on the one side and the words "I Fear No Evil" on the other. 

The instant I heard the light clanging of the metals clinging against each other I knew what Logan had in his hands. 

"I'm a soldier, Mommy" he said placing the dogtags around his neck, letting go so they hung to his waist. 

I smiled - a thin, tight smile while the cling-cling-clinging continues with every tiny movement of his little body.

"I'm gonna be a soldier, Mommy. Just like Daddy. I'm going to be a soldier."

The same thin smile holds on my face while I search for the air that has left my lungs again. He smiles wide while pulling up the dogtags, trying to raise them higher on his chest. They slip back below his waist the moment he lets go.

"Okay, baby." 

"Just like Daddy!" he reminds me, "I'm gonna be a soldier."

"Just like Daddy," I nod.

C's mom will have both her sons deployed at the same time (for the first time) in the future. Two different branches, two different locations, but for the first time, their deployments will overlap. For the first time, both of her sons - her only children - will be in harm's way. 

I don't know what that must feel like. 

Looking at Logan and looking at Eli I cannot begin to comprehend how much that must hurt. How empty that must feel - to be helpless.

To know that your child - who will always be your child - will be going where you cannot protect them, or jump in front of them, or hold them, or keep them, or fight for them.

I am so very proud of my husband. I am so grateful to be married to such an incredible man. I am humbled by the life we live, blessed by the lessons it provides, strengthened by the people it has surrounded us with. I am honored to belong to this community.

But for whatever reason, the idea of Logan or Eli entering into it as soldiers and not just existing in it as military children ... 

It leaves me searching for breath every single time. Leaves me aching with every innocent "just like daddy" comment. It cuts in the deepest way.

But goodness is Logan proud of his daddy. Every soldier he sees he calls, "Daddy's soldier," or "Daddy's friend," or "Daddy's buddy." Every helicopter is one "Daddy can jump out of." Every airplane holds a different meaning for him. 

Because Daddy is his hero.

And he loves his daddy. Thank God C is a man that in every way I would be proud to have a son just like him - proud to have two sons just like him.

 C is a good man. A good father. A good husband.

Every part of me would be so proud to raise two young men who are good men, good fathers, good husbands. It is my purpose as a momma. : ) My goal. 

Their role model - their daddy - is a good man, a good father, a good husband

But day-in and day-out he is also a good soldier.

Of course they want to be just like him.

If there is ever a day that I look at either of them and hear, "Mom, I want to be a good soldier" ... I hope that with the greatest grace and the smallest smile I can hug them, kiss their cheeks, and remember the words of this little boy. 

"Just like Dad." 


The blog was nominated as a "Best U.S. Military Spouse Blog" for the 2012 MilBlog Conference. If you are a supporter of TLAS I would appreciate your vote! You can find the nomination on the first page.. A few other nominating comments have been left but they are being deleted as there aren't supposed to be multiple comments left for the same blog.

You can vote by giving a "thumbs up" next to the nomination left by Erin. Please share the link to the voting if you would like! Thank you all for all the support you have given me and the blog! This has been such an awe-filling experience. : )


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Precious Children

C has (and will continue to have) a fairly rigorous training schedule. So far this year he has been home for less than five weeks total. And the weeks that he is "home" he is at the office on average fifteen hours a day, his phone rings when he is tucking the boys in bed, or finally going to see a movie with me, or taking a moment to breathe, or sleep

I can count on one hand how many times we have been able to all sit down and eat a meal together in 2012. 

One hand.

The year is a quarter over. 

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Sleeping is hard when they aren't here. I have never spoken to a military wife who says she sleeps better when her soldier is away. Every little noise, every gust of wind, every thought, every unknown, every question, every scenario creeps in through the darkness. And even when all those things don't, you still have a side of the bed that is cold and vacant and untouched. 

Nights are hard.

And somehow, on the hardest nights, Logan just knows. That little boy, who will be four in just a few days, knows when his purest heart is needed. On nights when I can't sleep for the longest, when I toss and turn, and think, he almost always walks in quietly, climbs up onto the high bed, and says, "Can I sleep on Daddy's side?" 

And I always say yes.

He doesn't do it every night. He doesn't do it every time C isn't here. But the nights he does, those are always the nights that I need that tiny voice asking if he can be there.  

Children are a blessing. The strength my little ones give me when I am tired and worn ... I thank God for them. 

Children are incredible. Military children have a gift to heal our hurts, to strengthen our aching hearts. We hold them tighter, they hold us tighter because sometimes mommy needs that precious, precious touch. Sometimes, Daddy needs that squeeze around the neck to remind him that they are who he fights for. 

 The nights can be lonely, the days can be long, the clock ticks and ticks and ticks, never stopping, never pause. Military children are precious, and loving, and resilient. I am reminded every day of the gifts that they are.

Gifts men and women lay down their lives to protect. 

Precious, precious children of God.

April is the Month of the Military Child. Pray for our military children - from the unborn who will wait to meet their daddies, to the grown men and women who, very often, becomes soldiers and/or the men and women who love them. 

God Bless our troops and those they fight for.