"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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bad Dreams

A couple weeks ago, C and I were watching a movie together one of the nights that he was home. For once, his phone didn't ring. For once, he wasn't running in to his office for a "few minutes" that always turns into a few hours. He was home. The boys were asleep and we were able to just be.

Logan woke up screaming. A scary, heartbroken scream. Right when I made it up the stairs to hold him the screaming changed to words between gasping breaths, "Daddy's gone!" "Daddy left again!" "Daddy's gone!" I tried to close the door to quiet the words but it was too late. 

C was standing behind me.

He heard it. He heard every agonizing word.

Not once in all the time that C has been gone this year had Logan ever woken up like that. Not once had I ever heard him scream like that. Not once had he struggled through those words in the middle of the night with complete and absolute despair. 

Not one time.

It happened for the first time when C was there to see it. He held him the rest of the night. 

I hadn't felt that broken since the moment during the last deployment when it clicked to Logan that his Daddy wasn't coming home for a very long time. I hadn't felt that helpless and shattered since I held him while he cried himself to sleep that first time.

I watched C wrap his arms around him and cradle him and say, "I'm right here, buddy. I am right here." C kissed the top of his head and tightened his arms around him while Logan slowly stopped gasping for air, stopped sobbing between breaths. He held him and rocked him until he drifted back to his dreams that again woke him with the same terror. And he tightened his arms again and kissed his forehead and said again, "I'm right here, Buddy. I am right here." 

I laid in our bed struggling to sleep, wanting so badly to understand why! Of all the nights he hadn't been there, of all the times that C wouldn't have felt that pain. With all the nights that he had not been here, WHY did it have to happen when he was?

Why when he would see it? Why when he would see his child broken? WHY? Doesn't he carry enough? Doesn't his heart hurt enough?  Doesn't he give and give-up enough?

I know how to want to take pain from a child. I know how to hold my little ones and rock them back to sleep. I know how to remind them how much their daddy loves them, and misses them, and wants to be there. I know how to talk to them about how important the mission is, how vital daddy's job is to every part of our life. I know how to dry their tears and kiss their hurts and just hold them. 

But to see two hearts breaking. To have no words that can heal or comfort or fix.
To see your children miss their daddy is a far different thing than for their daddy to see how much they hurt when he isn't there. 

It hurts to know how much they miss him. It hurts to know how much they want him here. It breaks me to know that he has seen it now. It threatens my strength to know that now that he is gone again, now that his nights are spent away from here again ... I know my C. I know that image, that scream, will stay somewhere in his heart. 

He carries so, so much. This was one thing I wanted to always carry for him. 

Positive Turns

I never thought I would enjoy teaching. 

I really, really thought I would hate it. I didn't think I would be any good at it. I thought I would teach my first class and I would walk away from it. 

I didn't think I would love it. 

And I really, really do. 

In the last class I taught at ACS last week, we had all the students/volunteers introduce themselves, let us know where they were from, tell us what their FRG experiences had been like. I stood in the front with a fellow instructor with twenty-seven-years in, still an active-duty spouse, and we listened to the different paths, the different stories, different experiences.

Almost every person in that class was taking it because they felt that something "wasn't right" in their current FRG, or it was broken, or their experience had been so poor before. I couldn't help but think how much that takes of a person to look at something that is broken, that in some cases has done harm, and to choose to be part of the team that rebuilds. To take that initiative. To say "this stops here." "This changes now." "I am part of the positive turn."

That is what is incredible about military spouses. That is what makes us strong, what makes our community strong. 

When something is broken, we fix it. When something is hurting, we heal it. We don't wait for someone else to step up, for someone else to demand a change. We choose to become part of the positive change, part of the greater good.

So much of this life - of any life - is about being the one who steps forward, who says, "This isn't right," "We can do better."So much of this life is about acting now, becoming part of the positive in this moment, creating healing and goodness today.

It isn't about waiting for someone else.

Our soldiers didn't wait for someone else to step up.

They chose to be part of something great.

The women (and one man) in this class chose to embrace the life, to not be beaten down by previous, negative experiences. They took the broken bits and chose to try to fix them. That takes courage. That takes faith. It takes goodness and strength and determination. 

To believe in good, to strive for good, after living through bad should be applauded and fostered and encouraged. 

It was heartwarming and reinvigorating to see so many people ready to be part of the positive. 

I now understand why people teach for their lifetimes, why people put up with the behind the scenes paperwork and administrative. I understand why people give so much of themselves in a classroom. You get to be part of fostering that goodness. You witness determination. You can see the resolve in people to keep pushing, to keep thriving. You see the spark catching.

It's remarkable. It's breathtaking. It's empowering. 

You choose what you do with any situation. You choose what you take part in and what you step away from. You may never know how much good you do, but you always choose how much good you don't. 

You can choose goodness each day. EVERY day you get to decide. Thrive or sit back. Fix something or let it sit idle, or continue to break, or continue to do harm. Become part of the positive or wait for someone else to.

It really is amazing when you really get to thinking.

You decide when and where good exists. That tiny spark is waiting. You get to choose. Goodness spreads. 

Go ahead, set the world on fire. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I know that Monday friends will post on my facebook page or text me to say "Happy Memorial Day" and to thank C for his service. 

It happens every year.

And I know that people mean well. It's hard to remember or to know what this day is about. I struggle with it every year. Yesterday C and I made it out to the outlet mall and took advantage of the "Memorial Day" sales - really took advantage. Today I picked up a set of red and white plates with stars on it and then put it back. 

Grills are on sale, patio furniture is discounted, grocery stores are packed. Everyone is getting ready for the big weekend.

People are gathering to "celebrate". 

I find that many times people think this day is equivalent to Veterans' Day or the Fourth of July. I cannot fault anyone for the confusion. Everything is marketed to party and to celebrate on Memorial Day. I didn't understand it before I lived this life either.

On Veterans' Day we celebrate those who have served - the living. We remember their sacrifices, their service, their selflessness. We remember them for what some of them may someday give. We shake their hands. We thank them. We honor. We celebrate their unbelievable sense of duty.

On this day, on Memorial Day, we honor the dead. We remember the fallen. We mourn, we say their names, we touch their grave markers. On this day the hands we hold are the widows'. The hugs we give are to the mothers and fathers who have lost a son or daughter. The tears we shed are for the fatherless and motherless children.

This day, we remember those who laid down their lives in defense of the nation. This day is to pray for the widows and the parents and the children. This day is to honor their fallen by supporting them, by loving them, by respecting the sacrifice. 

Monday - as we did the last Memorial day - our family will go to the wall at Fort Carson and silently read the names etched into the granite. Flowers and letters and favorite liquors will be left at the memorial. I never met a single one of these soldiers. I do not know their families but I have promised to honor, to remember, to recognize the sacrifice that is ongoing.

This day is hardest for the gold-stars. This day is hardest for those who relive the sacrifice every morning that they wake up without the other breathing, every night that they fall asleep without the other there. 

This day we must remember those they have loved and will always love.

If you spend this time celebrating, recognize the life that was given to allow you to - the thousands upon thousands upon thousands that have been given. Without knowing your name, without knowing your journey, before you were born, a soldier died to ensure your future.


Remember those they loved.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13


If there is a fallen hero you wish to remember please add their name to the comments.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Southern Comfort

There is a restaurant near the shipping store I use that makes Cajun dishes. From time to time I go in. The prices are too high for portions that are much too small for anyone who knows that kind of cooking. When I am desperate for a "like-home" fix I always seem to head in and order a shrimp poboy and slowly savor the all of six shrimp between the not-crisp-enough french bread. I eat my poboy with just melted butter and shrimp. Call me crazy. It's the way I like 'em. While part of it brings a comfort, much of that restaurant brings back the homesickness in full force. It is never enough. 

But no matter what, every time I open my car door in that parking lot, I can smell beignets. 

I would put money on that smell. The frying oil, the dough, the powdery goodness that melts when you eat it. Every time I open that door I nearly lose my footing. 

Today when I ran into the grocery store beside it, I found myself in tears. Yes, I miss my city. There are no words to explain that. You have to know such a place. If ever I cease to love ... 


I had only met a handful of spouses since we had been at Benning. My neighbors whose husbands were in the same class, a friend of a friend who was often at our complex. That was just about it. I nearly didn't take the course being offered for the spouses. Pregnancy had not been easy and the thought of committing myself to almost a week of classes seemed beyond sensible. I had made it here for the first day. We'd see about tomorrow.

There was that awkward feeling as ladies shuffled in, some knew others, some clearly didn't. Our seats had been assigned and I quickly found my place with the large binder on the table. The three people that I knew weren't at my table. I didn't know a single soul. Not-a-one. 

And then someone across the table asked where I was from and her entire face smiled when I said, "New Orleans" and my whole face smiled when she said, "Lafayette." She didn't say it the way we say it. Not, "LAH-fi-ette," but "LAUGH-fai-ette." She was authentic.

We were put at that same table for a reason and I thank God for it.

For four days we laughed at each other's jokes, we debated king cakes, we spoke each other's language. Well, most of it. She is from Lafayette. 

And that was that. I missed graduation because I started having much-too-early contractions right before the ceremony. We spent four days together.

 I didn't see her again until after Eli was born. When C was deployed, while she was preggers with number three, she came to New Orleans to spend the day with me. 

One day.

We shopped, we ate, I introduced her to Randazzo's king cake, and I won our long-standing debate over whose was better. 

Five days. We had spent five days together since the time we had met. 

May seem crazy. 

Last week her and her family - husband, three kids, and two dogs - stopped over in Colorado during their PCS from Hood to Washington and stayed for a day and a half. I miss her already.

She had a child walking who I had never met. She had a husband that I had only met twice before.

And she is one of my closest and dearest friends in this life. 

Seven days. We have spent a total of seven days, spread over (nearly) three years, physically together. 

Seven days.

She has seen my highs, my lows, my struggles. She knows the fear I am holding onto right now. She understands why I am battling certain decisions. I have heard her weak moments through a phone line. I have contemplated putting kiddos in a car and driving to Texas if she gave the slightest hint that she needed me to. She understands what I miss. She understands the mistakes I have made, and do make, and will make. She makes me laugh and she has seen my tears.

Seven days.

God gives you who you need, when you need them. He opens your heart to those who bring you closer to Him. There is no timestamp on what makes a friendship. There is no benchmark for when things become real.

Sometimes they are instant. Sometimes they are true from the start. Sometimes distance doesn't matter. Pain can be shared across borders. Heartache can be understood in a phone call. We can carry each other duty stations apart.

There is a beauty in this sisterhood. Bonds formed in the strangest of circumstances. Unbroken. Unwavering. Always understood. 

She is my bit of Southern comfort when I need a recipe for a good shrimp dish. She's that needed Southern comfort when I need someone to let me be a little-less strong. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Missed Understanding

The Garrison Command of our post put on an online townhall via Facebook sometime ago. Reps from every major part of post life were in "attendance" - to include the Garrison Commander. 

I didn't ask any questions, didn't respond to any questions, but I did read every single issue that was brought up. I thought the reps did a good job of directing people to where they needed to go with their issues. Offering specific phone numbers, contacts, so that each agency could speak to specific issues on a personal level. The Garrison Commander even offered his office number to a spouse with many questions. For the first time around, I thought the command group did a good job. They did what I believe should be done - they directed people where they needed to go and then left it for them to take the initiative to do it. 

The purpose of the Town Hall was to answer questions about the drastic cuts that have been put into place and how and what things will change. Some people - many people - stayed on point and asked questions that I was also curious about. But there were a handful of spouses that took the public forum as an opportunity to bash their husbands' units - questioning why they weren't allowed to come home for lunch, or why they weren't allowed to attend certain retreats, or why they were/are flagged, etc. etc. etc. One spouse basically took on the Garrison Commander head on and I applaud him for how well he handled it. 

This may get a little too personal here. This may be one of those posts where what I feel isn't the same as what half of you feel. But I have been needing to write - and what I keep sitting down to write about isn't something I can write about - so this is where my fingers are taking me and I'm rolling with it. 

I am going to say now, that if you don't agree, that is OKAY with me! I promise. I hope you won't step away from the blog because of it. 


I personally have never lived "old army". That is before my time but many of my friends and mentors have and I have listened to their stories. I have read the books on etiquette and traditions and customs. I like "old army". There are parts of it that I wish I could experience - minus the white gloves. 

Okay, I think I would even have the white gloves.

Yes, I probably would. But then you need the right dress and hair. White gloves wouldn't work with skinny jeans ... 

But that's not the point. 

I believe to my core that military spouses should understand the life they live - that their spouse lives. I believe that they should be involved in the community - that they should be active in their spouse's unit. I think that camaraderie can help to strengthen both spouse and soldier. There is importance in finding your voice and understanding the every day ins-and-outs of your soldier. 


But that is not the same thing as telling the Garrison Commander of your husband's post that he doesn't get to come home for lunch every day, or that you don't think he should be flagged, or that he works too late, etc.

Oh, ladies, ladies, ladies, I cringed as I read some of these posts - public, identifiable posts by spouses.

It is not my belief that a spouse should ever cross the chain-of-command or should by-pass her husband's responsibility to take issues to his chain-of-command and bring them up in a public forum. I have seen things done every place that we have been that haven't been what I liked, or how I wanted, or what I thought was the proper way but it isn't my place to take up that issue. It isn't my place to circumvent the process, and Goodness knows, C would be a hot mess if I did.

There are so many times I want to go up to certain spouses and shake them, beg them to understand that a soldier is not just a soldier from nine to five. A soldier is a soldier from the moment they sign their name and take the oath to the day they separate from the service (and to many - far beyond that). Every minute in between, every second, they are a servant to a nation, answerable to a much higher authority - an authority above their spouse.

I was reading an article about in uniform protocol and etiquette yesterday. I thought it was an excellent source for spouses new to the military to better understand the rules that a soldier must adhere to while in uniform. I even learned a few things. But the public responses of some spouses saying no army rules will dictate how she acts around her soldier. No regulation will say whether she can kiss him in public, or expect him to answer a phone call on his cell phone while walking, or which side she will walk beside him, or that he has to let go of her hand to salute.

One spouse commenting that no other place of employment would inflict such rules on their employees.

Oh well that is the problem right there. Our spouses don't belong to any other organization or workplace. Our spouses belong to the greatest fighting force on Earth. Their protocol must demand greater discipline, it must expect a higher decorum from the people which represent it.

There are no breaks. There isn't a separation in the eyes of the Army. Your spouse is a soldier at. all. times.

He is always representing the force. Always projecting the image of what a soldier is, what a soldier should be.

The fact that C every now and then will quickly squeeze my pinky while we're walking and just as quickly let go is all that I need.  It's more than he needs to give when he is in uniform, representing his unit, his post, his branch, his nation. The fact that C has to shave every day - whether on duty or not - is something he agreed to. I feel no hardship when walking on his left side rather than his right to enable him to quickly and correctly salute.

The things some spouses were saying ...

I just kept shaking my head.

I married a soldier. I married a man who is held to a higher standard - who must comply with the rules set above him. It doesn't mean I love him any less because I don't squeeze his hand when he tries to jerk it up to return a salute. It doesn't mean I have any less passion because I am mindful and understanding of the uniform.

It means I respect his sacrifice. I respect the uniform he is privileged to wear. It means I understand the bigger picture, the importance of the rules, the reasons they exist.

I understand that he is - at all times - a soldier.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Arms that Carry an Army

Read my latest post for the Homefront United Network:

And then hop back a post to enter into the give-away TODAY ONLY!

Happy Military Spouses' Appreciation Day!

Military Spouses Appreciation Day - A GIVE-AWAY!

Today is Military Spouses Appreciation Day! 

As a thank you for all that you do to support your military partner, we are having a ONE DAY give-away!

TODAY ONLY you can enter to win this handmade wreath. 

How to enter: 

Comment below with how long you have been a military spouse and which branch you are associated with. : )

Leave a SEPARATE comment stating if you are a Facebook Fan. (You must tag the page on Facebook sharing the blog for this to count!) 

Who can enter:

Because this is Military Spouses Appreciation Day you MUST be a U.S. Military Spouse to be eligible. I know we all come from different walks along this journey but today is a special day to honor the spouses of those who serve in the United States Military. 

You must be 18 or older to enter this give-away.

(REMEMBER this give-away is for TODAY only! It runs from now to 11:59 pm on May 11th. Winner will be announced on Saturday, May 12th!) 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Life Changing

Hello, my name is Megan Williams and I am a volunteer for Delta Company. I am calling with a script. This call is not in regards to your soldier. I repeat, this call is NOT in regards to your soldier.

There has been a casualty within your soldier's unit ...

I cannot tell you how many of these calls I have made but I can tell you where I was when I made this set of calls for C's old unit. I was in the kitchen of another spouses house, leaning on the counter, crossing off one name after another. 

R was at the kitchen table, crossing off the names on her list. S was in her living room doing the same. Three phones. Three women. Three lists.

Name after name after name being crossed through.

This wasn't our company anymore but in every way other than on paper, it very much was. These were not my families anymore but they were the ones I knew first. These soldiers had been C's.

This call down was not mine to make - but I asked to help - because there is only so much you can ask from people. Only so many times they can make those phone calls. These families had suffered so much loss that they could recite the script with you, understood that answers could not be given, that what was in that script was all that we were allowed to say. They had received the same call so many times, throughout the entire twelve months.

I was twenty-three the first time I saw my husband come home after beginning the process of a casualty notification. Most of my friends were graduating after their 5th year of college when C called a father to tell him his son had lost both of his legs to an IED and was fighting to keep his arm. That soldier was the same age as me.

He lost both of his legs in an instant. In just one tiny, tiny second, they were gone.

Twenty-three. Fresh out of college. Fighting a war.

K - a reader - emailed me because she just went through tragedy within her husband's unit. One of his soldiers just lost his leg. Young, healthy one moment. Without a limb the next.

Her life changed when she found out. It wasn't her soldier. It wasn't his leg. But something changed. War became real.

And yes, war is very, very real to us. But once there is a casualty, a tragedy, a loss of life, of limb, of mind ... once we can grasp that, once there is that moment when it hits us, deployment becomes something else.

K said it felt like a loss of innocence.

She is so very right.

Certain things hold no value in our lives anymore. Certain things have no importance. How we see the world changes.

What we see other young people doing or NOT doing with their lives, suddenly frustrates us. What we see others placing value on, makes us want to shake them. What others take for granted, we know can be lost, and is lost daily on a battle field.

We know that these soldiers give and give and GIVE in ways so many cannot understand. The soldier C made the phone call for, STILL serves. He is still a United States Soldier who has given his legs for a nation.

The soldier K spoke of is at Walter Reed laughing and telling jokes and pushing through without his leg.

The strength.

The complete selflessness.

What they GIVE.

It is awe-filling. It makes me feel that I must do more. I must give more. I OWE them.

Because they give so, so much and ask nothing.

How few can understand. How many live their whole life without feeling this deep, soul-shaking  gratitude. How much we owe these men and women for just being willing to give -whether it is a cause you can believe in or not. Just the fact that there are people who - no matter the danger, no matter the very real possibility of loss - they will go.

There are men and women who will give all. Who are that selfless.

They walk among us, and live among us, and are ridiculed and misunderstood and protested against, with so few understanding.

Their resolve left unshaken.

It's life changing when you realize the goodness in these soldiers. It is life changing when you watch them walk again. It is life changing to know their spirits.

Life changing to know that such goodness gives so much for so little in return.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What's in an Age

I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. I have never been big on birthdays. I don't dislike them, I just don't go crazy over them. But over the last month-and-a-half people have been trying to guess my age. For a very long time, I have preferred for people not to know. When I took a job in our first Army home state, it was in my job agreement that people would not know my age unless I chose to tell them. Weird, I know. 

I am younger than C. 

Throws people off all the time.

In three jobs I have had, I have been younger than most of the people I supervised.

It has always just been that way. 

I worked full-time through college. I sat on conference calls in the hallways between classes. I switched from jeans and t's to heels and skirts in the Lockett restroom at LSU. My bed was covered in literary theory and floorset/merchandising pages. 

To many people, I married young. And for my generation, yes, I did. To most of my old friends who are just getting married and just having kiddos, I was a young mom. And I was. For today, I guess I still am.

 I was talking to a newer Army wife last night who entered this life at the same age I did. Who was and is a "young wife". Whose friends are still very much living their youth, and extending their college lifestyle, and who worry about how to pay the $175 for the shoes they "have to have" rather than worrying over how you will hold your husband's hand as he fills out the paperwork directing his last will and wishes. 

This life ages you.

I am twenty-seven-years-old. 

You have no idea how hard it is for me to type that. I feel old but at the same time I don't. I cannot tell you how many times I have been reminded by some spouses in this life - or outside of this life - that I was only "twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five."That I had no idea what was ahead. That I was "too young" to know.

 I worry how many people will now take less value in what I say. How many people will question if my experience can really be what it has been. Because I married young. I had kiddos young. And to so many people - so many Army wives - people write others off too quickly because of the numerical age.

I have moved four times - so far - in this life. I have lived in four states - so far - in this life. I have lived through two deployments with another approaching. I have lived the emotional roller coster of a deployment that didn't come. I have watched my husband grieve for fallen comrades while at home. I stood behind him as he held the hand of the mother of the friend who took his place. Who didn't come home. Who could have been C. I have struggled through that guilt. I have watched my partner fight through that. I have felt helpless, unable to take that pain. There are no words. I have watched careers change in an instant. I have watched women bring children into this world while daddies fought in a war. I have held a friend's leg while she welcomed her daughter, while she pushed surrounded by women, without her husband to coach her through. I have watched my husband kiss his new baby goodbye. I have watched daddies kiss their new babies for the first time - months after they were born. I have watched my Logan's arm tighten around C's neck - knowing, somehow always knowing. I have whispered the words, "Come back to me," through trembling lips and the softest tears. I have watched him walk away. I have recognized the fear. I have stood beside other spouses at a memorial while a four-year-old boy kissed the photo of his father set high behind a set of boots, a standing rifle, and an empty helmet. I have sat beside my husband while he dictated his funeral. I have listened as he discussed his pallbearers, his burial place.

That changes you.

I have waited for life changing news for myself, while my husband was six-thousand miles away. I have hidden testing, I have battled between what truths I should tell if my diagnosis had been different. If it had been what the fear was at the time. I have waited for a phone call that would change the life of our little Eli without C here. I have watched my husband struggle with leaving both of our boys in the hospital on two different occasions to return to duty. I have survived the nightmares. I have cried myself crazy in a kitchen after thinking I heard my husband being shot over a phone line. I have learned how to pray in great despair. I have learned what it is to be body-trembling-grateful. I have been humbled again and again. I have struggled with the guilt of thanking God for the saved life of my soldier while nearly being knocked over by the guilt of the same thought. I have feared the doorbell. I have lost my breath at the sight of my Logan wearing dog tags. I have felt the unspeakable joy of two homecomings for my C and seven for others. 

I have bought a car - negotiated a price, fought a finance manager to get what was fair. I have moved cross country during a deployment. I have made a temporary house into a home. 

I have waited. I have lived the vows. I have honored a man in a life that many cannot understand. I have stood against ignorance. I have done my part to help others to understand. I have fought for my soldier, for my family, and for the families that surround us. I have learned day in and day out how important grace is.

I have taken a path that no one understood - that I didn't understand - and have embraced it. 

That ages you. 

It sets you apart. It gives you experiences most will never have. It changes you.

You learn you are able. That you are strong. That you belong to something great.

You learn that your twenty-seven is not the same as another's. You learn to be amazed by what you have lived through. What you have survived. Where you have thrived.

Age is a number. One day I may learn to wear it as a badge of honor. I am twenty-seven and I have thrived through this much. I am twenty-seven and I have loved this completely. I am twenty-seven and I have learned that I am able, that there is no place He leads us that we are not meant for.

Age is a number. Just a number. 

What have you learned?
And how old did you think I was? ; )