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66 weeks and Hugs

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I hugged the Campaigners girls after Bible study ended, telling them to be careful and making sure to squeeze through each hug. Some people are “huggers”. Totally familiar with the gesture. Others hold their bodies back slightly, receiving in the slightest, but only to appease their huggee. For both types, I am always certain to hold tight, just a moment or two past their release cue. Hugs have taken the place of handshakes these days, and the hug value seems to have depreciated. For me, one single hug might be as exciting as a 2 dollar bill. It may only be worth $2, but if I receive a $2 bill from someone, I’m keeping that for sure!

The military life has taught me how to hug tighter. I learned it first with my husband, then with my children, and now with my friends and in my ministry. My hugs say so much more than “hello” and “goodbye”. The last time I hugged my husband, it said, “Please don’t go. I know you have to go, but I want you to stay. Please be safe. I know you have to protect other soldiers, but please come home to me. Please talk to God. I know you can’t talk to me, but please talk to someone. Please know that I love you and will never stop loving you. Please know that I’m praying for you and will never stop praying for you.” The last time I hugged my children, my hug said, “Do you have any idea how proud of you I really am? Do you know how much I would rather be cuddling with you, watching you fall asleep rather than doing anything else right now? Please know my love. Please know God’s love. Please be confident in yourself. Please trust me, because I really do want the best for you.” The last hug that I gave out tonight said, “Please, please, please be safe. Please know that you are far more precious than you could ever dream. Please see who you are through God’s eyes. Please know that you were created for a purpose so much bigger than your yesterday’s and tomorrow’s. Know that I love you, and I hope that my love and words make an impact on you.”

There are no “goodbyes” in my hugs. A hug is an embrace of excitement! Feelings of joy and overflowing enthusiasm. Intentions, thoughts, and plans wrapped inside of arms spread wide and drawing in acceptance. Reaching out, saying “I’m coming to you. I’m going to meet you right where you’re at.” Moving in and pulling toward me at the same time saying, “You’re welcome to experience my moment with me, and I would love nothing more than to experience your moment with you.” Our moments on this earth and in this life are numbered, so we need to choose carefully who we offer these precious, fleeting specs of time to. We have to make every moment count, and a hug is the perfect combination of desperately sought-after opportunities. It speaks without using words. It sends a message through time and space that can sew wounds, smooth scars, and link two opposite planes. There is a war on each surface, and the battlefields don’t touch, but the warriors are connected through similar hearts that long to love and be loved.

I wish we could bring back the full value of a hug. Maybe we can. Maybe if we love a little more, through every embrace, maybe if I love a little longer through my squeezes…maybe it’ll touch one person enough to make them want to do the same. Maybe we could pay it forward with our enveloping arms and open palms. If we can each make one person feel a little more loved, and they can do the same…wouldn’t we be fulfilling so much more than words could ever dream to achieve? Am I thinking too much into this? Maybe I just miss being hugged by my husband…or maybe I can sense the hugs being missed in others who feel that same longing. Regardless of the reasoning, I’ve learned the lesson nonetheless. To hug and to be hugged: that is the answer.

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64 weeks, and this chick be cray cray

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Oh. My. Gosh. I saw this while scrolling through Pinterest, and I thought, “This cannot be real.” So, then I looked it up, and girls really do this! I’m blessed in my life, and I’m very content with what God has called me to be as a military wife, but I would never chase after a life where I am parenting, taking care of a house, and spending my nights alone. I wouldn’t chase after a life where I worry if the next time I speak to my husband might be my last. I wouldn’t chase after a life where I know every single detail of my husband’s funeral because there might be one within the upcoming year. I wouldn’t chase after a life where I have to hold my child tight in the middle of the night after a nightmare about his Daddy being killed. I wouldn’t chase after a life where my husband would go off to war every few years and come back a little different, a little tougher, a little more distant, and a little less himself every time. I wouldn’t chase after a life of unrequited love for the sole benefit of a man who looks hot in his uniform.

I fell in love with my husband, not the military, and not his uniform. They hardly ever wear the dress uniform. I can actually count, on one hand, the amount of times my husband has worn his dress blues. One of those times was for his DA photo, which will end up being framed and surrounded by flowers if he does end up with that funeral this year. Seeing him in it is quite attractive, but the reality of what the uniform represents – duty, honor, sacrifice…possibly death – that is anything but hot.

I’ve met lots of military men in the past 8 years, and some were good guys, some were bad guys. You can’t categorize the military men as loving them all, as if they are all one specific type of person. To go out of the way to find a military man to marry and be open to parading outside of the base is the same as sitting outside of a hospital, hoping to marry a doctor. It’s absurd. I’m proud of what my husband does, but it’s not because of his uniform. It’s because of how he does his job. I’m proud of the man that he is, not the rank that precedes his name. I married my husband, not the military. The military is just the duty that came along with my calling to be my husband’s wife.

Unmarried ladies…please, don’t subject yourself to this type of desperation! This is no life you want to just throw yourself into because you’re tired of waiting around for Mr. Right! If you’re tired of waiting now, then this is absolutely not the piece of pie you’re looking to take a bite out of. This is a life built on waiting. All a military wife does is wait and figure out how to make the waiting feel like less of a wait. And it’s not just about you who is waiting for him to return, to call, or to write either. It’s about his children, his siblings, his parents, his grandparents, his aunts, his uncles, his friends, his neighbors. You have to put your own pain aside to cater to their feelings, as well. Because it’s you who keeps those relationships going for him while he is away. Screw them up, and you’ll lose even more of your husband, rather than gaining more of him for yourself, when he comes home.

This life is all about sacrifice, and not the pretty kind that gets published in papers and decorated with medals. I’m talking about the ugly kind. The kind where you eat after the kids go to bed, because there’s nothing else to do when your husband has 24 hour duty at the singles’ barracks. Where you sit in your bathrobe all day, because you’re not going anywhere, and he’s not coming home any time soon, because he’s at an FTX for the next 2 weeks. The kind where you are never the Hero in your kids’ eyes, because you always have to be the disciplinarian, and you want to make sure that the children always view their father with respect and honor. The kind where you talk to the TV, and develop way too attached feelings toward the characters’ fake relationships, because you’re new on post, and you don’t have any close friends, well into the first year of PCSing. The kind where you cry yourself to sleep after realizing that it’s been over a week since you last heard from him down range, and you don’t know if your prayers for safety are 6 days too late or if the communication lines are just down.

Marrying a military man is not a fairy tale. It’s a story about faith, courage, fear, humility, and loneliness. You don’t choose this lifestyle. It chooses you. (Moreover, God chooses you for your husband, who happens to be a military man) If you’re out seeking it, then you are not fit for it. Anyone who says that they can do it is really proving that they cannot. The real women that are able to live this lifestyle are those that admit defeat before the journey even begins. The truth is that we absolutely cannot do it, but we do it anyway.

Also, BOOM.

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63 weeks and Date Night

A girlfriend made a post on Facebook this week about how she was insulted by a nosey shopper at the grocery store. Of course, in the moment, the shock of this man’s lack of tact left her without a good comeback during the appropriate comeback window of opportunity. However, she did think of a great return insult after the time had already passed. Such a response would’ve left the personal space intruder just as dumbfounded as the unsolicited counsel that he imposed on her otherwise pleasant shopping trip. Her synopsis of the whole ordeal: “Life is full of so many missed opportunities.”

I had one of those events occur this week. Someone who knows very little about the military, as well as very little about me, tried to console me in my distress of being married to a military man. She went on and on, having complete lack of experience on the subject, but in full control of shoving her foot deeper and deeper into her own mouth. I practiced my smile and nod technique very carefully, focusing mostly on my facial expressions. I tried to keep the “micro-expressions” at bay as she said things that were not only completely off base, but also insulting, hurtful, and a tad bit psychologically disturbing. I felt my head tilt to the side, my eyebrow lift, and my eyes grow wide as she spoke about a subject that is extremely sensitive to anyone that actually knows anything about it first-hand. I could’ve silenced her with my colorful rhetoric based on personal stories and only a mere partial comprehension on the issue, myself. In my head, I had a spaced out look on my face, wearing a sign in my eyes that read, “You have no idea what you’re talking about. You don’t know me. You don’t know my husband. You don’t know the military. And you don’t know this subject. Just stop. And please, please I beg of you, don’t talk about this with anyone else, ever again.” But in actuality, I had a partial, sympathizing grin plastered over my gritting teeth, and I was nodding to the beat of “Hey Soul Sister” which was playing ever so faintly in the background.

My girlfriend jokingly called them “missed opportunities,” but I like to refer to them as “grace opportunities.” It takes grace and tact that only years of being silenced can produce. In this lifestyle, we have no say-so. I don’t even know where I’m going to be living when the next season knocks at my door. I have no choice over it either. It doesn’t matter where the best school is, where the housing market is at its peak for buyers, or where I can find raw milk and a good, honest, local farming community. I can’t force my own perspective on the wounds of war onto my husband. I can’t tell him what he should do with his career. I can’t do anything to stop the funds from seeping out of the holes in the government’s military budget. I can’t start a petition to make people care about and help with my son’s permanent damage that this unpredictable, unstoppable deployment has inflicted on his fragile, “seven and three-quarters” year-old heart. There’s nothing I can do to change our circumstances, so I’m just quiet. I spent the first few years talking and trying to say everything. I’ve talked my voice raw in the past, and now I know the benefits of silence.

As I drove home, with the radio off, I played a whispering game with the boys. They played along, no questions asked. Then, after we pulled into the driveway, and I turned off the engine, we sat there completely quiet for a moment. No one could stop what happened next. Not that foot-in-mouth woman, not the nosey guy from the grocery store, not the neighbors, not a 5 star general, not the government, not even the president. The only one that could control the next few seconds was the Holy Spirit, and he was whispering gently in my ear. He counted down from 3, 2, 1 and I started to yell at the top of my lungs,

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

The boys shook their heads vigorously, waving their arms and wiggling their legs shouting and screaming,

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Then silence again.
We each took a deep breath. I opened the door, helped my youngest out of his car seat, and we walked into the house talking in a normal tone about the plans for the evening,
“Take off your shoes, brush teeth, Jammies, and climb into bed. I’ll be right there to tuck you guys in.”

“…a time to be quiet and a time to speak.” -Ecclesiastes 3:7b

Activity #63: Date Night with my Son

My oldest son has been having a rough time getting back into routine since my husband left, and it’s been causing a lot of friction between the two of us these past couple of weeks. He has been super mouthy lately, and the back-talking has gotten out of control. I found myself constantly telling him not to do or say certain things, and the broken record feeling was driving me nuts. Finally, I thought I’d try something new. Instead of telling him what not to do and what he was grounded from doing. I decided to tell him what TO do. I know that I am raising someone’s husband, and I think that it’s high time he begin learning how to woo his future wife. Practice makes perfect, and I’d rather him practice chivalry than rolling his eyes and slamming his door. The teenage years are going to creep up before I know it, and now is the time to start teaching him the ropes of dating, the reasons for dating, and the rules for dating someone’s daughter. I told him a few basics, and said I’d be waiting in my room whenever he was ready to pick me up. He called his Nana for a few pointers, and when a friend stopped by, during my waiting-in-my-room time, he pulled her in for some help setting up.

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112My son is almost 8 years old, and had his first date with his mom. I’d consider it a success! Next time, I’m going to teach him how to cook something for a date. We talked about why people date, and how to properly say goodnight to a girl. He walked me to my bedroom door, gave me a hug, and thanked me for joining him. I explained how he could get bonus points if he really liked the girl. He knows to 1) plan date number 2 before date number 1 ends, and 2) send her flowers the next day to let her know that you’re thinking about her. I know that with practice, he’ll be an excellent boyfriend and husband one day. But for today, I enjoyed watching my 7 year old play baseball with the neighbor boys, and yes, even fighting with his little brother. Until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway.

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62 Weeks and Homemade Peanut Butter

There are some wives out there who “wear” their husbands’ rank. They march around, as if they themselves are also enlisted. These women act tough, bark orders, and study AR’s and FM’s just for the purpose of looking like they know it all. This type of living is not for me. I don’t claim military rank or status. I’m actually quite a fan of wearing my hair down, wearing makeup, and PDA. I like being able to say what I want, when I want to, without fear of being “smoked” for it. I cannot, however, claim full civilian status.

Marriage is a 3-legged race. My left foot is in the civilian world and my right foot is tied to my husband’s left. Both of his feet walk in the military realm though, so half of me is walking in his world. Some husbands drag their wives, some wives drag their husbands, but essentially we military wives are living in both worlds in one way or another. Because of this, we stay up studying with our men for the promotion board. We have a meeting with the company commander to request better living quarters during advanced training for our NCO’s. We wash, massage, and care for the feet that get minimal escape from those god-awful boots. We polish every coin, hang every certificate, and press every uniform. We take pride in our soldiers’ accomplishments and feel every ounce of disappointment that they feel in their failures. We get excited when they get a hot shower down range, and we panic inside when there is any type of danger. This is us in their world. They wear the uniform, follow the orders, give the orders, and do the job. We shadow them, mimic their gestures out of flattery and habit, and we silently walk. We are ready and sturdy for them to lean on us, but it almost never happens. But, if at any moment they need it, we are ready. We chant, quieter than a whisper, “Please, just lean on me. Just lean a little bit. Come on…lean…come on. Just lean a little bit. Come on…come on…” But they don’t hear us, because all they hear is the shouting of their own voice blending in with hundreds of thousands of other warriors singing,

“WHEN I WAS BORN MY DADDY LEFT! left, right, left.
LATER ON MY MOMMA LEFT! left, right, left.
I GOT DEPLOYED MY WOMAN LEFT! left, right, left.
THE ARMY THE ONLY THING THAT’S LEFT! left, right, left.
COME ON! left, right, left.
LOUDER! left, right, left.
COVER! left, right, left.
AGAIN! left, right, left.”

Activity #62: Homemade Peanut Butter1362962431020

I put on a movie, and it took 2 hours to de-shell the peanuts.
I put on a movie, and it took 2 hours to de-shell the peanuts.
1 bag equals 1 jar
1 bag equals 1 jar
Food Processor for 5 minutes.
Food Processor for 5 minutes.
Boom. Done.
Boom. Done.

So, I bought a bunch of peanuts for my husband’s Guys’ Night when he was home, but they weren’t very popular. So, I decided to try making homemade peanut butter with the leftovers. Seriously…you should go do this right now! It’s delicious! I can’t imagine going back to store-bought ever again! It’s super easy, doesn’t have to be refrigerated, and it’ll go by a lot faster if you enlist the help of friends, kids, or your spouse.I’m going to try homemade nutella next! I can’t wait! Until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway!

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61 Weeks and R&R

Hello Blog,
I’ve missed you these past few weeks, but all for a good reason. Y’all, my man was home! I spent weeks upon weeks imagining the moment when I would wrap my arms around him again, and the day finally came.

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There are things that most military wives don’t like to share with the non-military community. These things are just not easily understood unless you’ve lived through them yourself. I’ve been tossing this around for a few days. I’m not sure how to word it or if it can even be put into words, but I’m going to try. I created this blog to be honest and to allow the regular civilian world to experience this whole process through me. So, keeping my recent struggles to myself would be going against exactly what my purpose was in starting this project. So…about R&R…

First of all, my husband has his own story, so I’m not going to speak from his perspective or even try to touch on what War has done to his mind, body, and spirit. I can only speak on what it’s done to me. These past 2 weeks have shown me a lot. It actually feels like it was just a dream when I try to look back on it. I feel like I did everything right and by the book. I tried to keep the house clean, had an equal mix of eating out and at home, allowed time for him to be with other people, set aside time for just the 2 of us, allowed him to step in with the kids as he saw fit, kissed him every chance I got, prayed over him while he slept…I feel like I did it all right, but I knew, every time that it wasn’t going to be enough.

I always cringe a little when people tell me that my job as an Army wife must be so hard. It always makes me feel so uncomfortable, because I think of being my best friend’s wife, and that’s not hard at all. It’s actually quite easy to be married to him. But now I’m finally admitting that this is really hard. It’s hard, and I’m in way over my head. I’m so mad. I’m so I credibly pissed at the Army right now. I’ve always been supportive of the military as a whole, and I’ve always been patriotic, but I honestly think it’s gone. I trusted the Army with my husband, and they did not care for him the way they said they would. It’s like they locked him up in a box, within a box, within a box, tied it up in a thousand strings, and then dropped him off at my doorstep with a “Good Luck” grin.

I was able to pet my box, hug my box, and toss it around with the kids. I displayed pictures of my box on Facebook, invited friends to visit my box, and toted my box around for a night on the town. I loved waking up to my box in the morning and kissing my box goodnight. I enjoyed cuddling with my box and watching my box enjoy every bite of my cooking. I love my precious box, but I really just wanted to open it up like Christmas morning and enjoy all of the wonderful things inside. Every time I tried to snip one of those strings, 2 more grew back. I can’t open my box. It’s mine, it belongs to me! Why can’t I just freaking open it? It’s so unfair. Yes, I realize that I sound like a little kid having a temper tantrum right now, but that’s exactly how I feel. It’s not fair, and it breaks my heart, and it’s not fair and it makes me so mad!

I wanted to just take an ax to the dang box and go to town on it or light it on fire and watch those strings burn off, but I can’t do that. That’s where the job of the Army wife is hard. I have to sit, silently and patiently, waiting for those strings to untie themselves. I can’t cheer when it happens either, or they’ll become shy and tie back up again. I have to wait and pray as the layers shed off slowly, and in the mean time, I need to keep my feelings to myself, as not to upset my box. Also, no one else knows what’s inside of the box but me. I’m the only one who’s seen the contents of the box, within the box, within the box, so no one else sees anything wrong with the picture. So, I’m just this crazy lunatic that’s worried about the contents of my box being damaged. I can’t talk to my box about this issue, and no one else sees any problems. So, I sit with this anger, and I sing hymns to comfort my own troubled soul. And I wait. I wait, and I wait, and I wait. So yes, this job is hard. I agree with anyone who makes that statement. I love being my husband’s wife, but I don’t like this Army Wife MOS anymore, and I just want my husband back. I’m officially declaring my stance on this War as cotton-pickin’ stupid, and I’m over it.