Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A New Season Just Around the Corner

The girls have been dying for there to be enough leaves to rake up and jump in.  Almost everyday since the first leaf fell they have checked around the house to see if there were "enough."  Today after school, Patterson stood up and announced it was time:).  She and Kate grabbed their shoes and headed out as fast as they could.  The pile was pathetic, but they didn't seem to notice.

I love how life is a constant state of renewing.  We have seasons, yes, but we also have days.  I love that days are renewed so quickly!  I love that I get the joy of that first pot of coffee every twenty-four hours.  And I love staying up late and I love getting up early.  My brother never quite got that about me when we were younger:).  Now that I'm older I stay up late and rise early for different reasons, but I've never lost my interest in it.  For me, there is just something about the quiet hours at night that are wonderful for reflecting on the chaos of the day (such as all nine fire alarms sounding continuously this morning just as we were starting breakfast ... if I never reflected, I'd miss a chance at a good laugh that came from a very stressful moment!).  And likewise, there is just something about waking up early and having time to be still literally and mentally.  How wonderful it is to read and pray before any sound or any item on my "things to do" list enter into my day.

Looking forward to kicking off  Fall this weekend with a visit from the LTC, my brother's family and a little football.

Sola Gratia ...

Monday, August 29, 2011

How Was Your Day?

I have a new friend ... a new Army Wife whose husband is stationed with mine.  
She sends me little texts many mornings and asks me how my mornings are going.  
I wonder if she knows what a little "happy" that is for me.
So tonight I wonder if anyone asked any of you how your day was.  
Ours here at 57 wasn't really filled with anything noteworthy, but it was our day and it was special. 
Funny how we can think we need all this and that to have an amazing day.
You know, I didn't do anything all that special for the girls or with the girls today.
But when I look at this photo of them in the tub, it hits me that it really doesn't get much better than this.
Joy at the end of the day.
Love my girls who teach me so much.
Humbled by my God who has such a tender way of reminding me of just how great He is.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In the Front Door

(Momma's house summer 09)

Walking in the door today from a morning of errands, I instantly thought, "I am so glad to be home." Basic, simple, everyday statement, I know.  But for me, it was huge.  There were many years that I never enjoyed walking in my door.  Well, that's not totally true.  I did enjoy being at home, but I never liked my home.  I'm not in love with where we live right now ... I don't feel like I've found my place to nest, but for the first time ever I really enjoy walking in the door.  I feel ok here.  I've been through a lot of mental battles over the years and tough situations and flat out crappy houses, and I just feel good here; thankful here.  When I thought about all of this today, I also thought about Momma and Daddy's home.  It's been four months since the tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa and there neighborhood in Alberta City.  Their house is coming together nicely and Momma moved back in a couple of weeks ago.  They were very fortunate in many ways.  But I know it has been hard to be patient and content constantly.  You know how somedays you can take the toys everywhere and the laundry piled up and then one day it is like you just wake up and "today is the day."  You're just at your limit and you spend the day putting things back in their place and cleaning.  Well, I know Momma's had those moments.  I know she's been so thankful, but I also know the whole situation has just gotten to her every now and then.   I can't blame her.  I understand. And I can't imagine not being able to do a whole lot more than be patient.

notice the shade ...

I never did a post on the destruction in Tuscaloosa.  I don't know.  It was powerful to me.  Tuscaloosa is my hometown.  There has never been a year in my life that I have not spent time in that town.  I went down right after the tornado and just couldn't believe what I saw.  Places I knew, but didn't recognize.  You hear people saying that, but it was true!  

Daddy took my brother and I for a walk down University Blvd, which runs perpindicular to their street.  My elementary school was gone.  I remember Grandaddy meeting my brother and me after school and walking us back to their house.  We used to watch the flinstones and I can remember eating buckeyes out of the refridgerator during commercials.  :)  

The gas station that was first a Krispy Kreme when I was in preschool (and Momma used to get me a chocolate iced donut every morning on the way to preschool from there:).) was destroyed.  So many memories on that one street.  Memories that I hadn't thought of in a very long time.  My Parent's house is across the street from my Grandparent's house.  Grandma and Grandaddy's house was destroyed by the tornado.  Daddy wanted to walk us over to take a look.  I guess I hadn't been over there (even though it is right across the street from Momma and Daddy's) since my Grandaddy died.  Maybe 11 years at least.  Wow, I was not prepared for the flood of emotions that I would feel as soon as I stepped on their paved drive.  I instantly remembered all of the long drives from Orlando and Tallahassee that we used to make "home" during school holidays.  (We moved to Orlando when I was in the first grade and Tallahassee when I was in the 5th grade and after my 10th grade year we then moved back to Tuscaloosa.) I remembered the long drives and stepping out of the car and onto the pavement and trying to walk along the edge like it was a balance beam and then jumping off of it onto the sidewalk and running up to hug my Grandparents.  I was so caught off guard by this memory.  I almost burst into tears.  I just left the drive then.  I know it was just a house, but that house was a huge part of my life and now that chapter was another chapter in my life closed.  I don't know if sad is the best word ... maybe powerful is better.  I have a lot of great memories there!

Seeing so many "sightseers" was powerful, too.  I didn't like it.  I know people were curious and I can't blame them, but I don't know, Tuscaloosa is my town and it just bothered me to see people riding through snapping images of the destruction of people's lives, basically.  It seemed rude.

I took photos, but not that many.  I wanted to remember what I saw ... what had happened to my town.  But I also wanted to respect those still living there ... or those who a couple days before lived there and now were just trying to figure out which direction was forward.

So I never did a post.  Just didn't have a feel for how to go about that.

When I started to think about all of this this afternoon, I was reminded how much I have to be thankful for.  I hope that you are thankful when you walk in the door today.  And when you start to wish for more, may I suggest you pray for those still rebuilding in Tuscaloosa.

(more images)

Momma's house after the storm.

the front yard side where the girls love to play in the sprinkler and roll down the hill

tree that fell on their house ... gives you an idea of the size of the trees that filled their yard

Windsor Drive from about a month ago ... Daddy used to go on walks up this street with the girls and it used to be shady ... not anymore

back drive that used to be lined with tall pines and lots of other beautiful trees ... looks like Southern California to me now ... nothing against So Cal, but it just isn't "home"

So much to be thankful for, yet so much still to be done.  It's going to take some time still ...
Thank you for your prayers!


(the above image has nothing to do with this post ... it is just there for the cute factor)

We have a t.v. in our house and we have Direct TV.  But that's not the confession.  My confession is that I'm not ashamed of it. We homeschool and my husband's frequently gone and it is oh so nice to have a show dvr'd for the little ones when I need a few minutes to unload the dishwasher without any help or when I simply  must make that quick phone call.  I also enjoy the background noise of the news when I'm folding laundry late at night or working on lesson plans.  When my husband's gone the days can be long and lonely and it is nice to have that connection to the outside world.   AND with five girls it is very difficult for me to "be all to all" solo.  I know there are those of you out there who can do it ... I'm just not one of those people.  And when he's home I enjoy finding a war documentary or discovering an old movie to dvr and watch with him late on a Saturday night.  And then there is football.  Can't forget football:).  I might be able to replace all of the previous mentioned, but I'm not clever enough to figure out how to stream football from the computer onto our t.v., so for now cable stays.

And all that said, I rarely actually watch t.v. ... even when Richard is gone.  Our girls never watch t.v. before bed, (and have never had an issue with that) but have always had stories and books ... even our 13 year old.  If you can do without t.v. great!  I think my only struggle with it is that we watch it so little that I feel wasteful in paying for it.  But for our family it is a much needed extra at times.

I know I'm being a rebel, but I must confess it is the truth.

Just sayin'!!
Have a great weekend y'all! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ups and Downs

Deployments are filled with so many ups and downs for me.
Maybe I've just done this one too many times. Maybe it's that we have five very active and busy females under my command this time.  Maybe I'm just being lazy and selfish ... just sayin' ... maybe it's just that Richard has been gone for over four months and he's still in the USA.  I don't know.  If I were honest, I'd say it was a little of all of the above and maybe then a few other things on the side.  Regardless, deployments are filled with so many ups and downs for me.  This go around is no different, however I do feel like it is a little more intense.  I can get amazingly motivated and in a split second feel like I'm just going to die of loneliness.  Don't worry, I'm okay, but I am being honest and I am not so sure there is a lot of that that goes around.  

The first part of 1Peter3.12 tells us that "the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer."  What a comfort this is.  What hope!  What encouragement. When I think of this verse, I am reminded that life ain't always perfect.  It's not always easy and it's not always what we want or even what we think we need.  But if we know Christ, then we know that we are not forgotten and that things are exactly the way they are meant to be.  His eyes are not ever off of us.  And for me, what I read in this verse it that there will be times we cannot resist crying out and when that happens, we have the best ears to cry out to.  

Ups and downs.  I am so riding that roller coaster lately.  I wish I had a unit to be around and get frustrated with:).  I wish I had tons of friends to pop in and take my mind of things or even take my kids for an hour or so.  I wish I had family to come stay with me a month and just be here.  I wish my girls were younger so that we could load up and just "get out of dodge" so to speak for a while, rather than older ones who are tied down by activities.  And I think it is okay to wish these things.  Sometimes, as a friend wrote, it is good to have a little tantrum:).  But I definitely make it a practice to focus on the good, too.  There is always so much of it! 

So tonight as I struggle with focusing on the good, I start by simply thanking God for creating Richard.  I thank Him for giving me a life that helps me appreciate (miss) the very simple day to day things. I thank Him for the depth of relationship that I have with my husband because of so much separation.  Yes, you read that right ... despite what you may think, there is depth.   I thank God for the grace He gives me daily to encourage my husband in a job that God has blessed him with ... grace to see beyond the separation.  And I thank God for the mercy He shows me each day and pray that I can have the humility He requires of me to honor Him and be "strong" in a way that I wish I didn't have to be.

I don't have a lot of help.  But I do have a 13 year old who just cleaned up the entire kitchen without my asking, a 9 year old who ran the baths and gathered the p.j.'s for her little sisters, a 4 year old who out of nowhere told me that I looked awesome (I'm in the clothes I ran in about five hours ago), a 3 year old who got her p.j.'s on by herself ... because "I can do it by myself!" and a 7 year old who for the first time all day is not bothering one single person.  I know this moment is fleeting:), but I am thankful God allowed me to recognize it and I am thankful that it was here.  

Sola Gratia!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I took the image above today while at a stoplight on our way to church.
Our youngest, Olivia, will be three tomorrow.
Olivia is such a funny little kid and we love her so!!

Richard was in Egypt when she turned one.  
He was home last year.
He is in Texas this year. 
He'll be in Afghanistan next year. 

You might say that at this age it doesn't matter that much if he misses three out of the first four birthdays.  
I don't know, maybe not.  However, when you think that it's not just the birthdays but two and a half years out of her first four and a half years of life, it changes things a bit.  

I tell you what sweet girl, when you turn five your Daddy's going to be there and we're gonna throw you a super party!!  

Life is a gift and we will celebrate it tomorrow. 

Missed Birthdays ... another part of our sacrifice.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Last Saturday

My head hurt so much today. I just had the worst headache, nonstop headache, for hours this afternoon.  I tried to take a 30 minute nap, but of course that didn't really work well with Olivia's plan to get out of her bed during nap nap-time and put eyeshadow all on her forehead and then panic because it got all in her bed.  So I thought maybe a good home cooked meal of comfort foods, such as squash casserole and homemade brownies (as well as other things) might be just what I needed.  That only created more dirty dishes than I felt like cleaning.  Then I thought about taking a shower before reading the girls stories ... that just seemed to give my girls more of an energy boost and bedtime seemed to come much later because winding down from a bit of extra free time at night obviously takes a houseful of girls quite a bit of time!

Then finally after they were all in bed I just felt so tearful.  I couldn't really put my finger on it.  Surely I wasn't crying just because I had a headache!  No, I realized it's just been a powerful first week after Richard's leave ended.  Last Saturday there were two cups in the cup holder.  Last Saturday the seven of us spent the morning at the pool.  Last Saturday Richard and I had dinner out ... alone.  Last Saturday he gave the girls a little something to let him know he was thinking of them and going to miss them.  Last Saturday was our last day with him.  It's been a busy and full week.  I guess I've just not had a chance to really process the separation and work through those emotions.  I think they were just pushed back to the bottom of the list and my head couldn't take the ignoring of them anymore.

We had a nice day today, we really did.  I am always so thankful for our life and for the sustainment that God gives me so abundantly.  But even on the nice days, I miss Richard sometimes even more than I myself realize.

I'm thankful to know that he misses me too.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beach Trip

For the first time ever, we had a summer beach trip.  The trip, in my mind, was anything but relaxing.  Where we stayed was just short of earning a full star (and yes, that would be ONE star), but looking at the photos, I realize there were memories made ... and even the nightmarish ones make me chuckle now.  I wish I could have overlooked the smell in our room and the ants in our room and the bugs in the pool (I'll stop there) and just focused on the seven of us being together.  No, that's not totally true ... I did focus on us being together and completely soaked that in, but the issues!  Oh the issues!!

Lesson learned ... no matter how tired I am, there is a reason I should be the one planning the trips. And from now on, always pack the cleaning supplies:).  We were blessed to go, and have some super memories to giggle over at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner in the years to come!



Yes, Olivia was HORRIFIED!  "It's coming!" was her response.  Love her anyway:).

Had fun, but oh so glad to see this city again!