"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, March 22, 2013

Different Perspectives - Military Girlfriend

I can't begin to tell you how much your comments, messages, and emails mean to me. You all - soldiers and spouses, vets and active-duty - you all have been the greatest encouragement to me. Technology is not my thing. Blogging, really, isn't anything I am good at. You allow me to tell my story and seek comfort in the camaraderie. I am grateful for that and grateful that you accept my short-comings with technology.

An Army Girlfriend sent me the kindest message a little over a week ago and it gave me chills. I started this journey as a new girlfriend walking into a very scary deployment. She is where I was so many years ago. 

She has started sharing her own journey and I hope you will all offer her encouragement as she does so - just as you have for me. Meet Kristina and visit her blog (link shared at the bottom of her post). 

For A Little While Longer

I’m a military girlfriend. I never thought I would be.

And that’s how most stories start. We never think we will do something or we will face something until we are actually doing it: until we are actually facing it.

I’m a military girlfriend. I never thought I would be: not until I met him.

I see his name and his picture pop up on my cellphone screen as my phone starts playing “Save the Last Dance for Me” (the Michael BublĂ© version of course!) :). The caller ID tells me “My Angel” is calling me. I smile as I press “Answer.” Our conversation starts the same way it has always started. I say “Hi” and I can hear the smile in my voice. I can hear the smile in his voice as he repeats my greeting. Every call begins the same. We don’t do it on purpose. We haven’t even discussed it, but I’ve noticed it. Every call begins with a “Hi” and a smile in my voice. A smile on my face: a smile in my heart. Our conversation continues the same way it has always continued. We talk about what we did today. My day is always so different from his. I’m a sophomore in college, happily working towards an English Degree. My days are filled with books, essays, and the sound of a keyboard. There’s always one more assignment to begin, one more book to read, one more essay to finish. My days are relatively orderly. I wake up and I know that the rest of my day will be filled with classes and homework: filled with security and stability. His day is always unpredictable. He always tells me what he plans to do the next day, and he always ends up doing way more than he told me he would do: way more than I can even imagine doing. His days are filled with classes that teach him how to help and protect anyone that needs him, PT, mounted and dismounted land navigations, debriefings, and many other things that were like a foreign language to me before I met him.

My days are filled with security and a sense of stability: his are filled with situations that teach him how to bring me that security and sense of stability. His days are filled with situations that teach him how to bring all of us security and a sense of stability. As radically different as our days are, we spend our days doing one common thing: both of us spend countless moments thinking about each other…praying about each other…loving each other.

As I hear his battle buddies laugh and hear him joining them, my soul fills with joy. I can hear all of them through the phone and even though I cannot make out what they are saying, I can hear laughter: and my heart is complete. They have now all become a part of me. I pray not only for my soldier, but also for them. I pray that I will hear all of them laugh again when they come back home. He continues talking to me and I look at the time. It is 9:47 p.m.: or 2147 in military time. In thirteen short minutes it will be time for “lights-out.” In thirteen short minutes he will tell me he has to keep quiet. And shortly after that I will hear him mumble “I love you. Sweet dreams, Kristina” as he falls asleep. Once again I mumble back “I love you too. Sweet dreams.” And I remain on the line. I can hear him breathing in and out and I am comforted. I am joyous. I am blessed. I stay on the phone a while longer. It feels almost as if he is beside me. He breathes in and my lungs fill with oxygen: my world is the way it should be. As I hang up the phone, I close my eyes and offer a prayer to the One that brought us together. I ask Him to keep my soldier safe for me. I ask Him to keep all of them safe. To bring them all back home. To bring him home to me. This time I do not cry myself to sleep. I’ve made it through one more day without breaking down. I am thankful.

He hasn’t left me yet. He is still on US soil. I will be able to know that he is safe (and tired): for a little while longer. I will be able to hear him and his battle buddies laugh: for a little while longer. I will be able to hear him mumble “I love you. Sweet dreams, Kristina,” and I will be able to reassure him that I love him too: for a little while longer. I will be able to comfort him whenever he needs me: for a little while longer. I will be able to reach out to him, at any given moment, through a text or a call: for a little while longer. I will be able to breathe: for a little while longer.
My life will make sense: for a little while longer.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Humbled ... Again

Since moving to Kansas we have seen more snow than we ever saw in Colorado ... total. The cold here is a wet cold, a bone-deep-cold. While C was away I had to shovel the drive way - once for nearly a foot of snow and again for another seven-or-so inches. 

I mentally live in the world of flip-flops. 

Tomorrow it will be cold again - not a Colorado cold where you see kids wearing short sleeve shirts waiting for the bus in thirty-five-degrees - but a stay-in-the-house-because-thirty-five-degrees-feels-like-death cold. But today ... today was a strangely beautiful day of seventy degrees. 

For the first time since moving here, people were outside their houses.

I have hated this neighborhood. Convinced they put us in the wrong spot. That these people are weird. In frustration I have repeatedly commented on the lack of welcome, the in-hospitality, the failure of anyone to say hello. I have waved to strangers with no reciprocation. I have grown more and more frustrated as I noticed the family across the street has a little boy Eli's age who is even in his very small preschool class. 

I have repeatedly told C that I wish anyone would just say hello. 

Today the doorbell rang and I jokingly said "Maybe someone wants to finally welcome us to the neighborhood."

I opened the door and the family from across the street - who I have been most critical of - stood there with a newborn baby, and a plate of cookies, and their son who is in Eli's class.

Their newborn baby.

And their son in Eli's class. Their son who is severely autistic. 

And they were standing before us apologizing for not making it over sooner. Offering to help if we ever needed someone to take Eli to or from school. Standing there giving us a plate of cookies, juggling two kiddos on our porch who both needed attention.


Knee-bendingly humbled. 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

221 Days to Hug Mommy

If you spend thirty minutes with me - give or take - you will learn that I am a die-hard sports fan. I love my Saints. I love my LSU Tigers. And one of my best memories is going to Wrigley Field with my dad to watch the cubbies play ... well, lose ... but still. 

A photo popped up in my newsfeed today that Drew Brees shared of a female marine hugging her son. The back of his shirt said, "I have waited 221 days to hug my mom." 

It is a beautiful and heart-crushing image. It gives me goosebumps, brings tears.

Everything about that picture is beautiful. Everything about that picture is saddening. Everything about it is worthy of pride and honor. 

The most recent comment posted below the image (and there were over twenty-thousand) said "Mothers should stay with their children," and a little higher up, "What mother abandons her child for 221 days?" and more and more and more just like it. She was called irresponsible and unloving. That beautiful, beautiful image of pain and sacrifice and absolute joy was judged and twisted and dishonored. 

I don't have the words to explain my complete disappointment with the people who shared such hurtful and irresponsible words. 

It takes but a moment for me to be reminded that there was a time that I may have uttered them.

So often the images are of the men - the husbands and the daddies and the brothers. And while some will say the same things about a father leaving a child, it is nothing in comparison to the public beating our women who serve this nation take day in and day out. 

No soldier deploys for selfish reasons. No soldier wants to leave his or her home, his or her children, his or her world. No soldier strives for that. 

But each and every service member has chosen something greater. That doesn't mean they have chosen something over their children, their spouses. It doesn't mean they have chosen to put something in their place. 

Wars are not fought by childless men. Wars are not fought by childless women.

Military children hurt. There is no question. I have held two kiddos while their daddy boarded a plane to Kandahar. I have taken pictures of a daddy holding his new baby for the first time. I have watched friends' kiddos crawl to a man they had never met before. 

Military children hurt.

But, oh, how they thrive! How they learn to cherish and love! How incredible it is to see how much love they can hold, how quickly they can remember, how deeply they can understand that their family has chosen to serve a nation. How much they learn what it is to put others before yourself. How much our children learn to give to those who need, to cling to those around them.

Military families work hard to build a firm foundation. To give that to our children. Our children are resilient and strong and oh-so brave. 

They learn what service is from the best role-models children can have - their mommies and their daddies. 

These children are not abandoned. They are NOT abandoned. 

How strong the women who raise their right hands and recite the vows must be. How much they must hear and try like hell to ignore. How much it must hurt to have a stranger judge them. The stranger that they have sworn to protect.

Because someone has to. Someone must

To the service-women of this nation - you have my profound gratitude. You have my prayers. You have my support

I  know how beautiful that image is. I  know how much pain exists in the words "I have waited 221 days to hug my mommy." I know you are selfless. I know you love your children with the fiercest love. 

I know you are protecting them in a way so much of this world can't understand.

Thank you for having the grace to serve honorably, to love these children as only their mothers can. Thank you for your service - for your selfless service.