"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Tuesday, September 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.