Saturday, September 24, 2011

The things kids say

For the past several years I have had the great joy of being greeted each morning with hugs and smiles offered by little tykes. My job has many benefits, but certainly, these small bits of affection are by far the greatest. I often wonder what career could be more wonderful; summers and holidays off, snow days, and all the hugs you could imagine. It's hard to believe a better career could exist. If one does, I'm all ears.

When I first started my job, my aunt had suggested I keep a journal of all the things the children said. I laughed at the idea and gave it little thought. Now, as I look towards a new chapter in my life, I wish I had. With stories such as the ones I will later share, I think I could have had a publishing deal and people around the world could've enjoyed a few laughs at our expense. Though some of the stories I'd share are worthy of a good chuckle, some would draw tears. The kind of tears that make you want to grab your children, squeeze them tight, and linger a little longer after turning out the light. One story in particular, continue to weigh on my heart.

Once, there was a young boy, full of energy and spunk. With a head full of moppy, blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, this young child was the perfect image of a happy kid. And he was. And still is. His family, I've never met, but I'd like to.

His father, according to the young boy, "Doesn't kill the bad guys. He doesn't even shoot them." But, what he does is important and the sacrifice is great. His father "works on the aircrafts", he tells me with a shrug. As if, him being gone, is just as simple as me stopping by Starbucks every Friday. It's that very reason my heart aches. This young child, is as comfortable with his father being gone, as we are with our every day freedoms. And though I use the word comfortable often, it is only to describe my sweatpants and hoodies. And here he is, comfortable.

"Every night" he tells me, with a smile larger than life. "Every night he calls to tell me he loves me." He knows my husband also serves our country and he asks if I also get calls. I do, but not as frequently. (I want to be positive in this blog, but I also want to be honest. And the truth is, some days I'm actually human. Some days, I'm just a woman who misses being able to share everything, even the mundane. Some days, I want to come home to a card or a letter, even when I know they are practically impossible to receive at this point. And yes, selfish or not, I want this knowing he has little downtime and knowing that the time he does have, needs to be spent sleeping or planning. I know. I know and I still want it.) He hugs me and tells me his dad must love him more. I chuckle, ruffle his hair, and agree. His dad does love him, that's why he's there when he'd rather be here. It's why he misses holidays, birthdays, and the first day of school. It's why he calls every night. He loves his son. He loves our country. And the boy? He loves his father. Not the hero, not the man in uniform, but his father.

Years from now, I will remember these conversations. I will remember the young boy full of energy and spunk. I will remember our military families who are not just fighting for our freedoms, but fighting to show their children they love them more than anything in the world.

The things kids say...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It Just Takes Time

Spouses have a temendous potential and opportunitu to help one another, from simple acts of service, like preparing lunch, to great deeds of encouragement and support, such as helping a mate find the fortitude to leave a secure but unfulfilling job and start a new career.

God gives people various talents, skills, and abilities, which He wants us to use in service to others. Some of these are listed in the Bible as "spiritual gifts." They include serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy, having wisdon and possessing faith. These are powerful tools, which the Lord has placed in our hands to help others- and that certainly includes our spouses.

Think of the many proficiencies people exercise- each of which could be used to assist a spouse. Some organize well; others have a good head for business; some are artistic and creative; others communicate well; some have wonderful social skills; others are gifted mechanics; some are fantastic homemakers; others have great physical strength, computer skills, financial aptitudes, mathematical talents, scientific acumen- the list goes on.

Take the time to get to know yourself and what you have to offer, and consider ways in which you could use your gifts to help the one you love.

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:2

**Taken from "Married for Life"

Friday, August 26, 2011

My mom has a button

There's a round button that sits in my mom's jewelry box. It looks tarnished and worn against her pearl earrings, something you can't help but notice when shuffling through the box full of jewelry. My fingers always find their way to the button, picking it up and turning it slowly. I close my eyes and I remember.

Dressed in my oversized orange t-shirt with the words, "I'm Bored!" across the front, I lie in front of the TV with my head resting in the palm of my hands. I kicked my legs back and forth, excited to be staying up late with my parents and sister. I looked at the TV, eyes wide, grin across my face, and felt happily content with my mom's decision to let us stay up past our normal bedtime.

I was disappointed, however, when my mom turned the channel from one sitcom after another and finally settled on CNN. The screen was mostly black, with certain objects highlighted in green, and anxious voices were quickly relaying one event after another. Glows of green would flash across the screen and you could hear the thunderous booms in the background. We were at war. I was 8.

Immediately questions raced through my mind and I tried hard to understand my mother's answers as she tried best to explain what it was her daughter was watching. I couldn't comprehend the war, but I understood my mom's tears that silently fell as we watched the rest of it in silence.

My mom later wore a button, round with the words "America Supports You" across a yellow ribbon. It was pinned just above her heart each day, becoming a staple item for her work suits and weekend casual wear. In our home, we talked about the war. We talked about our troops. We talked about death.

My family didn't know anyone in the war. We had no ties to military families. We weren't waiting for letters. We were just an American family, watching the war in the safety of our home, mesmerized by the glows of green on our TV. And my mom was proud. Proud of our troops and thankful for their service.

The button still sits in her jewelry box. A small reminder of the years of sacrifices our service members have made.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I've got a bucket, but no list...

Bucket lists are popping up everywhere these days. They're hanging on refrigerators, stuffed in purses, and checked off on blogs. It seems as though everyone has one and if they don't, they've at least considered it. But why?

I started thinking about bucket lists, what they mean and the value they hold, and I couldn't help but wonder if we're so consumed in the ending that we forget to live. Perhaps that's why the bucket list fascinates so many people; knowing the end will eventually come, you prepare by making expansive lists of things you'd like to do, places you'd like to see.

Perhaps it's just me, but lists make me cringe. (Maybe because I'm thinking of the one hanging on my fridge at the moment, detailing everything I must do before this house can be placed on the market.) They're like this evil force, staring me in the face, begging to be marked off and completed. When I think about my dying days, the last thing I'd want to think of is my incomplete list or the far-fetched, lofty ideas I never had a chance to chase. (That trip to Greece, probably never happening.)

So, instead of a bucket list, I'm contemplating just a bucket (and a few sticky notes). As I complete various tasks, visit different places, and enjoy new experiences, I could drop a sticky note in the bucket. At the end, at best, it would be full of things I probably never imagined doing (fixing my leaking toilet on my own-YES!). I could continue to live and as unexpected opportunities take place, log them, and then drop them in the bucket. There's no limitations and no scary list daring me to complete it.

Yes, I think I'll take that bucket... and that sticky note. I just made homemade key lime pie ice cream. Who saw that coming?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Words vs. Pictures

I have rewritten this blog post a hundred times. Though words seem to flow like a river, after reading them, they just don't seem like enough. The words are empty, meaningless. I don't write them to be that way, but they are. At least, that's how it feels.

It happens, not only here, but also at times when I write to my husband. I want him to know how much I love him, but it always seems that the words don't even come close to touching how I feel. They are vague at best.

So today, I am not going to write much. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves. Afterall, pictures are worth a thousand words, right?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Deployment Dare

Thanks to the Web site, you don’t have to wait until your husband is home to try the love dare. The people at have adapted the book into 40 online chapters of a “Deployment Dare” — just for military couples during deployment. Suggestions are written for both the deployed member and the spouse at home, so either one can participate, as long as there is Internet access, but it’s not necessary for both to do it at the same time. It may be helpful to also have a copy of Love Dare, but not needed, so don’t let that stop you if you don’t have it!

If you're ready, then let's go! :) Together we will get through some of the most challenging days with the help of our Savior, our significant other, and each other. I'll post the "Deployment Dare" every TWO days to help with any difference in time zones or if your husband/wife has trouble communicating on a daily basis. So, this will take us 80 days to complete! I hope you'll join me!

Below you will see our first Day, with some comments. Please feel free to comment as well below the post. I'll add Day Two's tomorrow. :)

Operation Tank You
Click on the following link and read through Day One's Challenge.

How do you plan to show patience? Was there a piece of scripture that spoke to you? What are your thoughts on the relationship between patience and deployments?

Comment below and let's really show our support for one another. Afterall, we're all in this together.

Lois Arbogast- Love that you're doing this! We did it during Rich's first deployment and then did the 5 Love Languages last deployment and found both a great way to keep connected and focused on God together during our times apart. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did and get some friends to do it with, as well!

Operation Tank You- Looks like we're on the opposite schedule of you. We did 5 Love Languages last year and loved it! It really made us open our eyes and realize some of our little squabbles were simply because we didn't know how to "read" one another. After reading the book we both went "Oh, now THAT makes sense!" We loved reading the same book at the same time and going through it together. We look forward to doing this one together now.

Amber Brewer Stone- I always think of the movie "Bruce Almighty" when I think about asking God for patience. He doesn't give you patience, he gives you oppurtunities to be patient in. God gave me a chance to practice this with Stephen today. We are switching the tags on our Accord from California to Tennessee (our home state) and it was something that he was supposed to do before he left. Instead of getting frustated with him in an email, I decided to do it and not complain to him in an email that he didn't do it before he left. Somedays it's baby steps.:)

Operation Tank You-I love that you said that Amber. My husband also "forgot" to do several things before leaving for his deployment. It left me with a lot of headaches and having to call my mother in for help. I was pretty upset and discouraged, wondering how I was going to get it all done before I had to head back home, but instead of letting it out on him, I thought of it more as me being able to help him, something I don't get to do when we're so far apart. It actually felt good sending the e-mails to him after I started checking items off the list. I even surprised him with a few things he hadn't thought of.

Operation Tank You- Patience. It's not something I have much of when it comes to midnight phone calls, failing internet connections, and missed calls. Often I become quickly frustrated, shut down, and then find myself on the verge of what seems to be endless tears. Although we have more communication now then let's say the Vietnam Era, living in a instantaneous world makes it more difficult during deployments.

Reading Day One's piece on patience really struck home.

Yesterday, my husband tried to Skype with me since I was with his entire family on their yearly vacation trip to the beach. We came back to the house just in time, but of course my internet was down. Once it was up, his was down. It became a back and forth until I finally just opted to receive his Skype call on my cell phone. I would have loved to seen him and shared everything with his family, but instead of becoming angry or frustrated, I opted for an alternative. I guess that's what I have to do with my attitude as well. When I feel the stress building, OPT FOR AN ALTERNATIVE.

After our call, I felt a lot better. I was able to talk to him for a good while and it was nice to relay the information then back to his family. We would've both loved to have seen one another, but we certainly will take what we can get.

I think the littlest tyke in our party said it best when he said, "Don't be angroid". Angroid- The combination of being angry and annoid.

So, I ask you, what attitude will you choose next time?

Monday, July 4, 2011

My kids know who the real heroes are

Below is an article, written by someone else, that said everything I wanted to say. Today, as we celebrate our freedom, let us remember those who have served before us and those that serve today. Thank you!

My kids know who the real heroes are

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No matter what you call him, just make sure you call

I am still waiting to hear back from a few photographers, but then I will post a blog about Father's in the military in honor of Father's Day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Every New Beginning...

Today marked the official end to the 2010-2011 school year. Sure, we walked across the stage on Wednesday and handed the kids their "diplomas" and then later watched as they hung out of the windows waving frantically at us yesterday. But it wasn't until today, when we handed in our badges, turned off the lights, and said our final goodbyes to our colleagues that it officially ended.

Our Assistant Principal, an emotional cryer by nature, gave the closing remarks this year. She first began by telling a story of growing up in a military community and how she'd cry every time a military family (that she didn't even know) would leave the church she attended. The final farewell.

I started thinking about my own goodbyes. I know that in less than a year, I too will be leaving my home church, family, and friends to take on a new adventure and life. Of course, I cried. Who wouldn't? I have grown up in a small town, attended the same church since I was 14 and even teach at the same elementary school I "graduated" from years ago. Most of what I know and love are in that little town.

Most. Not all. My husband and I have been flying across the United States for the past three years. He has been more than supportive of my decision to stay behind while he continued to train and deploy. He knew I needed my friends and family (and believe it or not- the SANITY of my sometimes INSANE job) to get me through the months we'd spend apart. And it was true. His deployment flew and soon we were used to our monthly flights and the "cram everything you can into one bag and one weekend" routine. But, the time has come for me to finally let go of what's comfortable, jump with both feet into the deep end, and know that if I need rescuing, he'll be there.

I still get choked up thinking about saying goodbye to my friends and family. It's hard to imagine my life without them (and my job). But, I'm reminded by my MAT friend that you should "make new friends, but keep the old". So, my new beginning will mark the end of a life I love. I hope some of my "old life" will find its way into my new one.

I mean, look at those in the military past and present. If they can do it, so can I!

**Dedicated to one of my latest care package recipients. She has just moved, away from what she knows, to a new base far from home- ALONE. Her husband is deployed and they are expecting their first child in September. Her e-mails remind me of the struggles, but also of the adventure that lies ahead of me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


A couple of months ago I posted the following as a discussion on our Facebook page. I thought it was worth reposting, though the period of time has obviously changed.

During the next several weeks, we'll hear gripes and grumbles over the daily sacrifices made by those who have given something up in observance of the sacrifices made by Jesus. Although faithful, the words "I wish" and "if only" will be mumbled by those followers as they walk past the chocolate aisle, glance over a menu, or pass up their Starbucks Coffee. Forty days. That's the number of days, those in observance, will sacrifice.

180. That's the average number of days a military family sacrifices while their loved one is deployed. Of the remaining 185 days, a 1/3 will be sacrificed through training. Sacrifices made, on your behalf, so you can practice your religion in the safety of your home, city, state, and country.

As the days of the Lent Season pass, I just have one question...

What sacrifice are you willing to make for them?

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I always forget to mention this, but we're also on Facebook! Don't forget to "like" us!

Thank you mom....and dad!

I have always given. It normally wasn't much, but it was something. It started when I was young. The picture in my mind is as clear as a photograph.

"Hand me my wallet", my mom said softly as we approached a stop sign off an exit somewhere in Pennsylvania. We had just visited my grandparents and we're making the 6 hour trip back home. We were tired, we were cranky, and we were hungry. No one really made a move for mom's purse. Again she asked, but this time with a little more demand in her voice. My dad argued and in the end he finally said no. What my sister and I didn't know was that they weren't arguing over who was going to pay for dinner.

We approached the stop sign and my mom whipped around, grabbed her purse, and proceeded to grab a handful of cash. She rolled her window down and she handed it to the man with the sign.

I studied the guy; average height and weight, scruffy beard, tired brown eyes. He wore a hat that at some point was probably white and a grey t-shirt. He blessed my mom and we were off.

As we pulled away my parents continued their argument. It was the argument that as I got older I also faced within myself. Can you trust that he's really homeless? Is he going to use the money for good or evil? Why should I help him, what has he done to help himself?

My mom's answer was simple: You don't know. As we ate our McDonald's, mom explained that you don't know how people will use what you give them but you pray that it is for good.

My mom has continued with just that. She is always helping others and donates when she can. She reminds us that it wasn't too long ago when we were also at a point in our lives where we had to reach out and ask for help. And people, not knowing us, gave. Now that we're older and have been blessed with more than enough, she believes in giving as much as she can. And, I do too.

We are our parents, the good and the bad. Luckily, I think I took away far more good from my parents then the bad. So, when people stop to thank me for what I do, I need to also stop and thank my parents. You taught me well. Everything I do is because of you. Thank you!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Things We Do

Recently our Family Readiness Officer sent us the following:

In the past, little recognition was given to the trials and tribulations of the service wife who made it possible for her husband to pursue his service career for the benefit of our nation. In the last decade, the stress and strain on the family has perhaps been greater than ever before. The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation strongly believes community support and public awareness of the service and sacrifice of the military wife and family is important.

The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation has created the Irene Ferguson Marine Wife Recognition Award in memory of Irene Ferguson, wife of Major Glenn Ferguson, United States Marine Corps (Retired).

The spirit of this award is captured in the words of Major Glenn Ferguson below:

“My wife’s passing gave me pause to reflect on the nearly six and a half wonderful decades we shared together. In doing so, I realized that in all the museums I had visited, all the parks I had walked through, and all the buildings I had been in, none included a tribute honoring the life of commitment and sacrifice made by service wives in support of their husbands. Their men frequently left for distant lands where they usually lead busy lives; sometimes in exciting or dangerous times. Many were awarded medals and received accolades from their fellow servicemen. Their feats were often extolled in the newspapers and magazines. Unsung were the wives left behind. These steadfast women nurtured and educated their children, cared for them in times of sickness, and soothed their fears when daddy was gone. There are no medals or monuments to attest to their trials, tribulations, and victories.”

And he's right, we don't have awards nailed to the walls of our homes and there's not a wall with our names dedicated to the sacrifices we've made. We don't have medals or ceremonies honoring the lives we've lead. Those things don't exist for the "silent ranks". Or do they?

I believe they do. They're called pictures. And I have mine proudly hanging on the walls, neatly placed on shelves, and arranged on my desk at work. My favorite one reminds me that no matter the sacrifice, the distance, the time apart, the reward is priceless.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beyond Duty

Recently I read a book written by my husband's friend, "Beyond Duty". He had asked me not to read it, but like a kid being told to stay out of the cookie jar, I couldn't resist.

The book, by Shannon Meehan, was written with the intent to release his inner deamons; the ones that have been following him since the day he called in a missle strike. The day the war changed him.

As wives, mothers, and fathers, we worry about that very thing. When he comes home, will he be hardened by what he's seen or grateful for what he's done. Will he struggle quietly with images and sounds of war or will he be able to disassociate himself with the pictures of war. Who will he be when he comes home? You don't talk about it, but it's always right there. The wondering. They give you pamphlets on what to look for, signs. You memorize them. You search for them reluctantly and pray for them not to be there.

What do you do when they are? You pray. You ask for help. You cry. You worry.

Less than a week ago, a wife contacted me about a special care package. It is not for her children or herself, but for her husband. He has PTSD and is struggling to get by on a daily basis. I could feel my heart ripping apart and the tears welling up in my eyes. Throughout the entire e-mail she never once wrote about her own feelings, struggles, or heartache. She simply wrote with a purpose- send something to him, so he knows he's not alone.

The only problem is, I don't know how to wrap up my arms to hug him or my heart to replace the one in him that's broken.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Little Bit

Recently my grandmother was diagnosed with Stage 6 Alzheimer's, a change in her original diagnosis. For the past couple of years we have watched a beautiful southern woman, full of grace and charm, drift away. The vibrant woman I spent every Sunday with, no longer knows who I am. After being told on Monday that they had changed her diagnosis from dementia to Stage 6 Alzheimer's, I began to do some research. What I found was devastating and heartbreaking. I couldn't breathe. My grandmother is dying and we can't save her.

A flood of memories. Tears. A smile. More tears.

I started thinking about the long goodbye ahead of us. The uncertainty and fears that creep into my thoughts like a bad nightmare. My questions linger longer that I'd like them to and I'm left wondering if knowing the end is near is better than not knowing at all. I begin wondering if I'm strong enough and if I'm not...

Prayers. I asked my mother, how she was able to keep it together at the end of her mother's battle with cancer and schizophrenia. She told me she would pray the entire way to the hospital and then cry the whole way home. I nodded, fighting back tears, and then a connection I had never considered was made. My grandmother was "deploying", only this time, she wouldn't come home.

Now, I can handle this. There will be days that it will be a fight to get out of bed, knowing she will soon be drifting farther away. I'll ignore the fact that she's almost gone and then wish I had spent more time with her. After spending more time with her I'll think that it wasn't nearly enough. I'll cry and then hide my pain behind big glasses and a wide smile. And I'll pray. I'll pray for her to leave with dignity and grace and when she does, I'll be proud. I will be sad she's gone, but I will be proud.

I imagine that my care package will come in the form of hugs and family dinners. We will pour ourselves over pictures and laugh about the times we shared with her. There will be tears, but we'll recall the times we cherished most and we will be proud to have had her in our lives.

*Every time a loved one finds themselves facing another deployment, it feels as if it's a long goodbye. The questions race through your head, the fear and doubt linger, and you want nothing more than to ignore the inevitable. Be that care packae to someone else. Donate your time, resources, money. It doesn't have to be here. Just go out and be there for someone facing a deployment. Chances are, they need you more than you could imagine.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prayer Bear

Last year, a volunteer at my school slipped in to my classroom with a special Several weeks ago a volunteer at my school slipped in to my classroom with a special gift; a prayer bear. Made with love and small enough to travel, Mrs. B packed the bear with plenty of prayers and well-wishes. I asked G to take it with him or at the least to pack it away for our future (as in so far in the future you can barely even catch a glimpse) children. Never did I expect him to actually take the bear and certainly if he did, never to bring it out of his bag. Always full of surprises, he not only took the bear, but has also began to snap pictures of the bear in action. He sent me a few pictures from time to time of the Prayer Bear doing various things associated with his deployment. It always made me smile to see the bear working alongside a bunch of Marines and Sailors. When G returned, he had even more pictures of the bear to share with me. It brought me great joy to see the little guy "flying" and completing rescue missions, PTing with the guys, or "keeping watch" at night. Operation Prayer Bear was a success.

Again, G is packing to head back out. It seems strange saying goodbye when we just said hello. This time, I will be sending him out with 20 other Prayer Bears thanks to Mrs. B's church. All of them are different, but they send the same message. Wherever you may go and whatever you may see, He will be with you.

Thank you Mrs. B!

Donate On-line Now!

Donations! Donations! Donations! It's that time of year again where I start collecting donations for the spring/summer months. Think "summer basket". "gardener's delight" and "little tot's toys". If you want to make a donation, comment below or e-mail me at  If you would like to make a monetary donation you can now do that by clicking on our PayPal Donate button. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pictures are worth a thousand words, but tears say even more...

We waited.  For seven months, we waited.  And here we were, moments before their arrival, and still waiting.  The time was crawling and still there was no sign of the helicopters that would signal their arrival home.  We held on to each other, every now and then wiping a tear that had found its way to the side of our cheeks, and waited. Together. 

There were smiles and laughter throughout the day, but now mostly just an anxious silence that fell between us.  I couldn't open my mouth to speak but I knew there were words that needed to be said as we stood there, tears in our eyes, waiting for the ones we loved to come home.  I put my hand on her back and without saying a word, told her everything was going to be okay.  We had made it.

We stood together, side by side, like Marines.  We were each other's strength and although we both had our moments of weakness throughout the deployment, we knew standing there that day, we were strong and we had survived; together. 

Operation Tank You is the hand on your back, letting you know, you're not alone.