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.