"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.

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.