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So, I’m writing a book…

Yes, this is true. I have had lots of encouragement from friends and family, and I decided to make a go for it. The final decision came when my husband called me and basically gave me a direct order. That was last year. I have avoided telling people about this, because I didn’t want a world of people to be aware of my attempt. You know, just in case I failed. I gave myself a deadline of Thanksgiving, 2014. Some people might be thinking, “Oh! She’s got 6 months, piece of cake!” but those who understand writing are probably thinking, “Whoa girl. You’re screwed.” I’m thinking the latter too. I know that once I sit down at the computer, and start, everything just flows together. But usually, once it starts flowing, it doesn’t stop for several hours. I have way too much going on to sit at the computer for several hours at a time. Also, I feel like a bum when I sit all day. And then I start to wonder if I’ll ever even finish it. And if I don’t ever finish it, I will have wasted all of those hours sitting at the desk. Even now, I poured my coffee, grabbed a blanket, and sat down to finish my current chapter. Instead, I went to my blog. I realize I’m writing about writing, and now I’ve gone cross-eyed. 

      So, I need your help everyone! Please! Anytime you read or think about reading, can you do me a favor and send me a text to get me motivated? You can come up with one of your own, or I’ve prepared a list of text presets for you:

  • “Go write, you pathetic excuse for a writer!”
  • “If you don’t write, I’m unfriending you on Facebook.”
  • “Writers write, and you suck.”
  • “Do you really want to be a failure at life?”

Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking that those presets are a bit too harsh, so I’ve prepared a list for the meek at heart:

  • “Cathi, sweetheart, how’s your writing coming along?”
  • “Hello, dear friend, I just want to offer you some encouragement in your writing today!”
  • “I believe in you, Mrs. Writer!”
  • “I can’t wait to read your book one day VERY soon!”

And for those of you who are impartial to my feelings and want to call me out:

  • “So, tell me your most recent sentence.”
  • “How’s Chapter __ coming along?”
  • “Need an editor’s eye? Send me your chapters.” (This one is reserved for a VERY select few of my CMW ladies or other Grammar experts.)
  • “Count up how many times you’ve used the word “the” in your last paragraph. Multiply that by 60. Add 4. Subtract 20. Divide it by 2. That’s how many minutes you have to finish the next paragraph.”

Thank you, friends! I look forward to your encouragement and butt-kicking. This book is happening, folks! I will be keeping a list of you all for my acknowledgements! 

Cathi

 

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Mer-Christianity (not mere, mer- as in mermaid)

My heart is so heavy tonight with thoughts and talks and blurred, but concise visions of truth. The more I think, the more I pray, and the more I pray, the more I think. I have been thinking and praying and drifting and then reawakening with more thoughts even heavier than the last. It’s seeping out of my pores and dripping loud and heavy drops of thoughts, splashing into puddles of prayers, and I’m reminded of past sins. I’m sickened, saddened, angry, and afraid of my sin. I’m disgusted by it. My sins float into a thought cloud above my head, and I grab hold of a prayer to drown out the cloud. My prayers are heavier than my thoughts, so while my prayer sinks deeper and deeper, my thoughts continue to rise and linger. Jesus loves me, this I know, but he hates my sin. How can I be loved while the very robe I walk around in is drenched and soaked in an intricately woven pattern of sin mixed with sin. I am loved, but my sin is not. I have grace, but my sin does not. I, one day, will make it to heaven, but my sin will not. So, in light of these thoughts upon thoughts upon thoughts, I groan with another heavy prayer, and again it sinks deep. I watch it fall to the floor, and I bend it pick it up. My thought cloud stays still, and I take note of the illusion. I bend lower and closer to my prayer, glancing back at my cloud. It’s further still, so I allow my knees to reach my prayer’s shadow. I trust in the distance now, so I fight the urge to look back and I press my face to the floor, breathing in my prayer’s essence of truth. My face falls through the surface. There’s more beyond the love for me. There’s more than what I used to be. When I draw closer, I can truly see! It’s Jesus in the heaviness. He’s deeper than the surface, and when I dive in and begin to swim, my reflection is looking more like Him! Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, but my body wants more than to only hear. I want to see, I want to feel! I want to taste and see that the Lord is good. Every bite of your Word is food. The taste of your law is sweeter than honey. Why honey? Is it because of the bees? Because they sting? Or is it because they collect and protect and work together, ignoring time and weather, sifting through nectar to create and savor every drop of sweetness? I cannot believe this! My thoughts turned to prayers, my prayers turned to Jesus, and Jesus is the Word. The word is sweet, and sweetness takes work and time and the law is grace collected, sifted, and constantly stirred, not settled. I must not, no I cannot, no I will not be settled in grace. I will walk past the sands, feel the waters rise to my chest, trusting Him to be my breath. I will swim beneath the surface, allowing a new life, out of the norm, away from air and everything that I used to know as truth. I will seek, instead, His truth. I will reach to touch His robe, healing my thoughts of old, making me brand new. I don’t want to come up for air! I want the navy blue waters, not clear. I don’t want it to be easy. I don’t want to live to please me! Take me,  Lord, and lead me. I don’t want to want the simple life. I want to want the sacrifice, to leave my things and follow you, to toss my net, no questions asked.
Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief.
-Cathi C.

…whew! Now that it’s 2:30 am and That’s off my chest, goodnight! 🙂

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Sin vs UTI’s

In Younglife, we use the picture of lowercase “s” and capital “S” to describe sin. “s-in” would be what most people consider sin to be, such as sex before marriage, drugs, drunkenness, adultery, murder, stealing, and so on. “S-in” is a heart turned away from God. When we do “bad” things, those are just symptoms of a heart that is turned away from God. So basically, “s-in” is a sneeze, cough, or itch, and “S-in” is a virus, infection, or disease. You can’t just stop “s-inning” without ending your “S-in”. Sure you can go to AA meetings, return what was stolen, or go to marriage counseling, but other “s-ins” will keep popping up until you turn your heart back to God.

To break it down…first, you Sin, then you sin. So, the actual Sin is turning your heart away from God. Then we reveal all of the symptoms of our broken heart by sinning.

Try explaining that to Teenagers in 12 minutes or less!

More breaking down of it?
Sure, I can do that for you!

“s-in” hurts other people; family, friends, teachers, neighbors
“S-in” hurts you and your relationship with God.

I hope this helps you to explain sin to someone who might not fully understand it yet. But, it’s been a heart-heavy day, so I need to move on to something lighter…like urine. ((Ew…did she just say urine? Yes, yes she did.))

So, for the past couple of months, I thought that I had something seriously wrong with my bladder, but it turns out it was just a UTI ((Come on, Cathi…tmi, seriously)). The only reason I am coming out of the closet about this is because military wives need to be aware of the silent killer, which is the UTI. If your um….er…marital bliss is interrupted often due to the military stealing your man away all the time, then you need to remember to protect your lady stuff! …okay, maybe I shouldn’t say lady stuff, but what would you call it to be discreet? I can’t cough and point down there. This is a blog, folks. Plus, this is me, and I tend to be…como se dice…real? So, listen girls…if your man is gone for a long time and home for a short time, then do yourself a favor and head over to Rite Aid and grab a bottle of Cystex. 1 tablespoon a day keeps the UTI away! I forgot about it when my husband visited over the Summer, and I paid for it by running to the bathroom ever 5 minutes.

What did we learn tonight?
Sin is bigger than sin and buy Cystex or pee your pants.
Cathi-Out

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Married–Living Apart–Stress–Arguments–and an Apology

My husband returned from deployment in May, but has been living in a different state while awaiting orders to PCS. Living apart for over a year and a half has been really taking a toll on the whole family. We’re in this for the long haul, but our current situation is just so frustrating! We’ve gotten in 2 stress-induced arguments in the past week, and we are the type of couple who rarely argues. We’re compensating for each other’s absences, and that’s messing with the natural order of our lives. The “why” of the arguments is easy to diagnose, but the “what” that’s going to come out of them…that’s TBD. We need to not let these arguments become bigger than we can handle apart, so after sleeping on it last night, I decided to try to end this one through creative and cheesy writing:

Apology Poem

How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways:
The dimple on your cheek
On your hairless face,
The way that you walk,
With Your flat-footed swagger,
Your spyware knowledge–
My human defragger.
Your little cheat codes,
Like Percent temp percent,
You know it all,
But still sometimes pretend.
The games that you play
To annoy me on purpose,
Put frustration away,
Bringing laughs to the surface.
The stress that we’re facing
Is not with each other,
But it’s safe to put blame
On the father or mother.
Some just don’t get it,
But we get what we’ve got.
We get it the best,
Because we get what we’re not.
What we aren’t is together,
That’s obviously so.
What we are is forever,
So let’s let this fight go.
I’ll say it first,
Since you said it last,
I’m sorry, dear husband,
Let’s put this one in the past.

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73 Weeks

I stopped posting for a while, because I’ve been feeling pretty ashamed of admitting defeat. I’m going to go out on a limb and be mask-less in this post. Before I start, please try not to take anything personally if I offend you. None of this is meant for any particular person. I’m just going to share what has happened to me as I have prepared for my husband’s homecoming post-deployment.

First of all, I referred to my husband as a “box” a few posts back. This is due to the symptoms that I saw in him during R & R. His body was here, but his heart was distant, and his mind was preoccupied. It was obvious to me, and to only a select few of our very close friends, that he was suffering from combat-related stress. I immediately sought counsel from an online Christian military wives’ support group, and was instructed to keep my feelings from him, but to talk about them with some close friends and family in order to avoid internalizing my own feelings. I tried talking to family, but my conversations ended with me feeling like they thought I was being dramatic about what I was seeing. I talked to a few male friends, and those conversations resulted in the conclusions that I was overreacting or seeing something that just wasn’t there. I was desperate for someone to talk to, someone that would understand, someone that didn’t treat me like I was crazy.

I know that I know my husband better than anyone else does. I know that he is a changed man. I know that his symptoms aren’t temporary. I know that he is changed for life. I know that I’m not crazy, but because of the reactions of some friends and family, I began to pull back from those relationships. This is something that is so highly advised against, but I felt like I had no choice. Who wants to talk to or hang out with people who think that you’re crazy? No one. And definitely not me. So, I became a hermit. I did have 2 families that I was able to be completely honest with, but I began to pull back from them as well, because I felt like I had become a broken record. Nothing was changing in my husband, and nothing was changing in me. We were at a stand-still of the unknown, dark, and scary, and talking wasn’t getting either of us anywhere.

I’m usually an emotional person. Anyone who knows me knows that about me. I’m gifted with intense empathy and sympathy for other people’s pain. When others are hurting, I hurt with them…usually. Slowly, as I began to pull into myself, I began to lose this ability to connect with others on a deep, emotional level. I noticed this first in my ministry, then with my friends, and finally with my family. The most alarming of these was when I realized that I was even emotionally distanced from myself. I began to tell myself that my feelings were stupid, that I was being crazy, and that I had no right to feel the way that I was feeling. I lost motivation to cook, clean, and exercise. I had days where I stopped eating completely or binged on everything in sight. I didn’t want to play with my kids or my dog. I didn’t want to socialize with friends or church family. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to do anything!

I was so internalized that I felt myself crawling around in my own skin. I realize that that particular statement will only make sense to someone who has been there before or is currently there right now. But I could literally feel myself trapped inside of my body. It’s not as if I’m trying to get out either. I’m just living in there. I don’t want anyone to join me, and I don’t want to get out. I’m comfortable where I am, and that’s that. Just leave me alone, shut up, go away, don’t talk to me, don’t bring me food, don’t tell me you understand, and don’t try to help. Just leave me alone. I used to worry about and think about my husband, but there were some events that occurred between us, as a result of a combination between his combat-related stress and my internalized feelings, that caused me to stop thinking about him. I stopped worrying, and I stopped caring. I began to develop severe anger toward everyone I would come into contact with. I lost all sense of emotion except for anger. I forced myself not to act on this anger, because punching someone in the face for having 12 items in a 10 items or less line would be irrational, and I knew that. My logical self and my angry self were conflicted, and I felt angry with myself for feeling angry at everyone else, but I couldn’t stop my anger, so that made me even more angry.

I finally saw my doctor and sought counsel from church. I knew that I wasn’t myself, and I knew that I didn’t want to stay that way, and I knew that I couldn’t fix my problems alone. So, I was prescribed an antidepressant from my doctor. I tried not to be ashamed about this, and talked about it with friends. I immediately felt the results from the medication. I began to feel extreme emotional symptoms. One moment, I would be laughing hysterically, and the next moment I was sobbing uncontrollably. I gained back some motivation, cleaned my house again and got back on top of my laundry routine. I played outside with the boys and enjoyed playing fetch with Ace again. At first, I felt like this was a major fix, but then I realized that I wasn’t actually feeling those emotions. I was only showing the symptoms of those emotions. I was still numb inside. After a few weeks, I began to retreat into myself again. I no longer had anxiety issues. I had full-blown depression.

This isn’t something that comes easy for me to admit. I feel like so many people have said to me, “You’re so strong!” So, I’ve felt like I’ve needed to live up to their perceptions of me. I didn’t want to let my readers and friends down by revealing my inability to cope. My blog is subtitled, “An Army Wife’s Coping Strategies,” and I’ve run out of coping strategies. I’m a failure. Please, don’t tell me that I’m not, because this is a big deal for me to admit that I am, and yes, I am. I have succeeded in my suggestions of how to deal with the stresses of a deployed spouse, but I’ve failed as an example of how to cope with the stresses of a spouse who is suffering from combat-related stress.

This week, I’ve admitted that I need help beyond friends and family. I tried drugs, and they were a temporary fix. I need more help than what I’ve been doing, so I spoke to my pastor, and he set me up with a Christian counseling center. Next week, I’ll share some of my break-through’s from my first counseling session. It was wonderful to pin-point my source of anger and to have someone, who doesn’t know my husband or me, see things from my perspective and tell me, out loud, that I’m not crazy. I’m not ready for pow-wow’s with friends or family yet, but I know that I’m making progress. I have a fear that strangers might judge me for my depression, enemies might rejoice in my pain, and family/friends might be offended by the things that I’ve written. I’m afraid that other Christians might say that I have lost faith, but I absolutely have not. I can’t let these concerns hold me back from taking this step. I have to get better for my family and for myself. This is no way to live.

My name is Cathi. My husband has been gone for over 16 months. He returned from war with combat-related stress. I have depression from coping with his war injuries.

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Until next week, keep your crazy to yourself, because I’m obviously dealing with enough of my own.

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69 weeks and I suck, but whatever…so do you, and so does everyone else.

Last week, I reached my boiling point, and there was no wooden spoon to keep me from boiling over and spilling onto the floor. Don’t know what I’m talking about? See this popular pin:

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I think that this Pinterest and Facebook era has put so much pressure on wives, moms, and especially Stay-at-Home Moms. If we’re at home all day, then we must prove that we did something with our time. It isn’t enough to throw a party, but we have to make glow-in-the-dark mason jars to line the driveway.

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We can’t just have a French twist for an evening out. We have to watch the tutorial on how to master the never-ending inception braid (a braid within a braid, within a braid).

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We can’t just hand our kids a coloring book and crayons, oh no. We have to pick up scraps from the lumber yard and repurpose them with DIY chalkboard paint to allow our children to express themselves artistically.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love my Pinterest page. I love getting ideas for projects and seeing the things that interest the friends that I follow. I am just standing up and admitting 3 major flaws, of which I know I am not the only one:

Flaw #1
Sometimes, I put way too much effort into a project just for the sheer purpose of watching people’s jaws drop. It’s crazy, I know, but don’t sit there and tell me that you don’t do the same. Something about the claim that “I made it” or “I did it myself” brings an overwhelming sense of euphoria to a woman who earns her keep by staying at home with the kids all day. I think we need a sense of accomplishment beyond our laundry and dishes. Something that says “I don’t just sit on the couch all day,” and “I’m not JUST a stay-at-home-mom.”

Flaw#2
Sometimes, I sit on the couch all day. Ooh, freaking sue me, alright? I tossed chicken, potatoes, and carrots into the crockpot this morning (without any special recipe or seasonings other than salt and pepper). The laundry may not be folded and put away, but it’s not like that clean pile is going to run away. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes, and I’d rather let them air dry than towel-dry each, individual crevice of the Tupperware lid before putting all of the dishes away. No, I did not do my child’s reading and writing lesson today, but he can’t get any dumber as the days pass. As he gets older, he will only get wiser, and one day of missing a phonics lesson is not going to send him in a downward spiral against the flow of all humanity. No, I did not put on makeup, and no I don’t plan to. I’m not going o the grocery store, and I plan on having one of the kids check the mail later on. If you want to call me a name, it better be either “Pot” or “Kettle” because let’s face it, you have couch days too.

Flaw #3
I think I’m a terrible Mom sometimes. A the end of every day, I have a ritual of checking on the kids before bed. I always touch their skin to see if they’re hot or cold. Cole is always sweating, so I turn on his fan and switch his comforter out for a sheet. Idan is always ice cold. so I switch off his fan, gently pull a sweater over his little head and arms, and put socks on his feet. They both have dry lips, so I put a little dab of Vaseline on them to allow them to moisten and heal over night. I do these things and then I stand back and look at their little faces as I recall the day. Did I do too much? Did I overwork Cole with his studying, cello practice, and chores? Did I ignore Idan too much when Mommy needed that 20 minute bath to herself? Should I have made jello worms out of straws instead of giving them pudding for dessert? Should I not have let them dip their green beans into ketchup? Should I have taken them for a walk instead of watching cartoons with them? Should I have cuddled and watched cartoons instead of sending them outside to play? Do they exercise enough? Do they relax enough? Do they have clean clothes for tomorrow? I did it all wrong again! I’ll try better tomorrow…

This week, God has done a mighty work on the way I view myself. So, let me now share with you the way my flaws and your flaws are lies that satan whispers into our ears, because
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
-Romans 8:1

Flaw #1 – TRUTH
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
-Galations 1:10
Honestly, God doesn’t care about chalk board paint or mason jars. His heart is for his people! We are his people! Quit putting pressure on yourselves (Really, I’m talking to me , but I’m including you all so I don’t feel alone in this) to be the best, to have the neatest whatever, or to make something or do something outside of your realm of expertise. If you’re an artist, fine! Make art! If you’re a dancer, dance! If you like doing hair, then freaking do hair. Don’t feel bad if your sock bun has pieces of hair sticking out of it. In the words of Darrell from Mad TV,
“Don’t be insecure, girl! Own that ponytail! Work that updo!”

Flaw #2. – TRUTH
“The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul…”
-Psalm 23:1-3a
Our bodies were created to work, and our bodies were created to rest. There is NOTHING wrong with having a rest day. Even with people who work out, in order to see progress, you MUST take a rest day following a couple of rigorous gym days. God rested after 6 days of creation. He WANTS us to rest once a week. A lot of times, a stay-at-home Mom’s work load is heaviest on the weekend, because everyone is home. So, if Monday is your couch day, and the laundry sits for an extra day from the weekend madness, then so be it. Monday is my messiest house day, so if you’re planning to stop by, then expect laundry and dishes and me in my bathrobe. I dare someone to criticize me on a Monday…they’d just better hope I’m not also PMS-ing (yes, even though I have no uterus, I still experience PMS).

Flaw #3 – TRUTH
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
-1John 4:18
God is not looking down on us at the end of the day, waiting to punish us for making bad parenting choices. And on that note, who’s to say that the choices we made were bad? Maybe they needed to run around unsupervised in the woods behind the house. Maybe they needed to spend 30 minutes in their room thinking about their choice to back-talk. Maybe they needed to take a break from reading and just watch some mindless cartoons for a day. Maybe I really needed that 20 minute bath to myself in order to de-stress. And honestly, I’ve tried the jello worms, and they’re dumb. They break apart, and the kids really weren’t as excited as I felt my effort warranted.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
-Matthew 6:34
We can’t obsess over how we can make tomorrow better. I’m going to fail tomorrow, just like I failed today. My kids are their own unique personalities, and I can’t plan tomorrow before its even here. If Idan wakes up cranky, he probably needs some cuddles before we practice tracing letters. If Cole has a ton of homework after school, then we’re not going to the park. If the dog barfs all over every single item of clothing in the house, then it automatically becomes laundry day, even if it’s not Wednesday and isn’t on my mental list. Tomorrow will come, and I can’t stop it, so I might as well enjoy today before tomorrow steals it away from me.

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68 weeks and Welcome to the Dark Side

“mo”
Message received Tuesday, 4:27pm

When we started dating almost 9 years ago, I knew I loved him right from the start. I’m pretty sure he felt the same, but saying “I love you” is nerve racking in the beginning of a relationship. Then there’s always the question of who will say it first. It wasn’t going to be me, that was for sure. I was at my game-playing prime, and I had my feet firmly planted in never calling first, not going out of my way for him, and definitely, under no circumstances was I to claim the mushy goo-goo, lovey-dovey feelings that were squirming around and stirring up butterflies inside of me. I was the queen of playing it cool. But I managed to find loopholes in my own rules. I could stop by his office if I was planning to stop by my little sister’s school, which was right across the street. I could accidentally call him when I meant to call my friend, Jen. I blamed it on my crazy speed dial and even crazier scatter-brained tendencies. The whole “I love you” rule though…that was tough one to find my way around. I had to tread lightly around it. I had to think carefully and plan tactfully. I thought about saying it every time we were looking at each other, but I always managed to avoid it by babbling random nonsense words. I had created my own language to suffice my appetite for a serving of “those three little words.”

My husband liked to eat pizza, preferably Papa Johns. And he didn’t dip just his crust into the garlic sauce. He would dip into it with each bite of the entire slice. He loved cheese and onions as his toppings (freaking ew), and he hated the pickled banana pepper that came inside of each box. I happen to think cheese and onions pizza degrades the quality of Papa Johns in its original splendor, but that didn’t stop me from giving him a thumbs up every time he would order dinner for us (up until a couple of years ago when I finally admitted it to him). I gagged a little every time I took a bite of that concoction. Love makes you do crazy things and eat delicious pizza, made disgusting by tossing some onions onto it. I remember looking forward to the pepper at the end of the meal. It would set a fire to my taste buds, making that horrid onion taste disappear. He would cringe every time I reached for the pepper, which always made me laugh.

One night, he had a little get-together, and he ordered Papa Johns, but thankfully…no cheese and onions. He went to grab me a slice, and came back with 3 peppers for me. I didn’t need it to wash out any onion taste, but he was so happy to have snagged them for me before anyone else had the chance…it must’ve been love, right? I wanted to say it right then and there, but I couldn’t break my rule! It was such a dilemma. Then, it hit me… Spanish! I could say it in Spanish! If I was Hispanic, then it would’ve held more weight, but since I was just this little white girl in soffee shorts and a camo hat, it would just come off as a cute effort at speaking In a foreign language. I could always play it off as me thinking it meant “I’m hungry” or something like that. So, I looked at him and mumbled, “Te Amo,” as I took a bite of my pepper. Right away, he and his friend caught a stare with each other, and I just smiled and sang while doing a little happy-fat dance, “Yay, peppers. They’re so delicious. Inside my tummy. I love to eat them…” I was trying too hard to distract them from my little Mexican declaration, and it seemed to have done the trick…

Fast-forward almost a 9 years later, and because of that night we have our own secret love language between us. “Te Amo” is how our love started out, and it has transformed over the years. It turned into “Amo” for a while, then “Mo,” and then “M”. Nowadays, if we’re across the room from each other and we catch eyes, one of us will sometimes press our lips together, as if to form the “m” sound, and the other reciprocates.

The past 15+ months have really taken a toll on my husband and me. I started this journey out filled with optimism and courage to fight the fight while maintaining a solid stance. This week, I finally slid down the wall, and hugged my knees. I just can’t stand it anymore, so I have to sit. My husband isn’t feeling the “Te Amo” right now, so I’ve been fueling up on every little “Mo” and “M” I can get from him. I think his “Amo” tank has officially run dry, squeezed to the last drop by this deployment, and we’re both left standing (me sitting) across oceans just pressing our lips together, making a silent “M” sound. What do you do in the middle of a tag-team boxing match, when both partners are completely beat to a pulp? Just give up and stop fighting, right?

Wrong. You go to Sally’s and dye your hair. At least, that’s what I do! After what had been my worst day in this deployment so far, after my t-shirt became my sobbing, snot rag, and I fed my kids marshmallows and kit-kats for dinner, a few girlfriends from church showed up at my doorstep with wine and hair dye. It was exactly what I needed to snap myself out of it! I have been all sorts of blonde variations for the past 5 years, with little spurts of red in the fall, and I finally went rogue…and by rogue I mean brunette.

Activity #68: Crossing Over to the Dark Side

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I’m always the one doing the hair and/or makeup for everyone else, so it was really nice to be sitting in the chair and sipping on a glass of Pino instead. The company wasn’t my usual circle of friends, but it was exactly what I needed, and I didn’t even know it! I needed Christian women who would listen, offer advice, not judge, and wouldn’t indulge in my pity fest, but would allow me to ride the ride for a night. After I got all of my crying and whining out of my system, they helped me dust off and get headed back in the right direction. I’m so very grateful.

…and I bet you’re wondering how my pepper song and dance distraction turned out, huh? Well, that same night he translated my “Te Amo” into English. 🙂

Until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway!

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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.