Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Good Morning From Afghanistan

Every night when I go to sleep I'm not only excited to finally be pulling up those covers and closing my eyes, but I'm also excited because I know when I wake up I'll have at least one email to read from Richard while I drink my first cup of coffee.

Because he is on the other side of the world, he's awake when I'm asleep, and visa versa. It is not ideal for "live" communication, shall we say, but in return it sort of forces us to make communication a priority, use it wisely and cherish it all the more when we get it.

The two to three lines (which sometimes there are more, but mostly that is all) that  Richard sends my way are some of the best read lines of my day. I love the comfort of them being a part of my routine of the morning.  For me knowing there is that baseline there ... that constant if you will ... is really all I need.

Yesterday, though, I needed more.

Weekends are always harder than the weekdays for me.  Saturdays are tough because those are our late night curl up on the couch and watch random old movies or talk all night long nights.  Sundays are tough because I miss him at church and I miss our afternoon cup of coffee.  This past Sunday it was rainy and I just really had such a stronger longing for Richard to be home than I typically do on most Sundays.  I just couldn't shake the knowledge of his absence.  This bled over into Monday and I think it's safe to say that I pretty much had one of the worst days that I've had in the past ten months.

Richard knew.  He knows me ... and I love that he does.  As a result, I had a day today where he just poured love all over me in every way he could.  I woke up with lots of images from his day ... from where he gets his COJ (cup of joe) to where he does his pull-ups (pull-ups are just sort of a thing for us) to various landmarks at BAF (Bagram Air Field).  He also filled my inbox with emails and links to various articles that caught his eye during the day, commented on my FB wall (maybe only the second time in ten months) and even face-timed me before he went to bed (literally a two minute or less chat as I was on my way out the door for preschool pick up).  Just little things, but things that were so up my alley and collectively priceless.

You know, I don't think he's ever quite done anything like that and it just filled me up all.day.long.

I love my good morning's from Afghanistan.
And I love my soldier, who truly went above and beyond the regular good morning today just covering me with so much love.

If anything, this deployment has taught me to open my eyes to the gifts and provisions around ... they are always there.  I can just get ever so caught up in what I don't have and think I need that I fail to see all that I do.  And even when I do see the blessings I sadly so many times belittle them rather than embrace them.  I am learning to embrace and I am learning to let go.  What a gift to have such a good friend in my husband to help me learn how to do both!

I am so thankful for a God who gives us little bumps along the way to help us grow.  I am thankful for a God who sustains us through those bumps, heals our wounds and makes us stronger in the end than we were before.

Ten months down, just six more to go ...

To God be the Glory,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Children of War

There are countless studies of the effects of war on children.
Well, I've got five and while they are not perfect and while they miss their Daddy in many ways and while I see many ways that they need their Daddy that they are not even aware of ... they are still thriving.

In the last ten years that we've been an active part of war, we've added three children to our family; we've moved four times and are getting ready to do it once more; I've never gone back home to live with family ... in fact I've lived the closest to family the last three years, yet in those years my Mom has been diagnosed with cancer and my parent's house had to be rebuilt from a tornado partially destroying it ... so there went my "support group" (not to mention the post my husband was assigned to closed, and he was reassigned to another unit for this deployment several states away from us, so no support from being in a military town or near a unit either).  So it's just been us, mostly, the girls and me, war and a whole bunch of other stress.

My point?  Well, I'm sort of making it to myself as much as I am to you ...

I have this insane desire to clean my house like we're clearing quarters when I've got a lot on my mind.  Today was one of those days and while the idea was a great one around 2, by 7 it was getting pretty old.  I had bathed the girls and as a last act was just finishing up picking up the bathroom before I headed upstairs to brush teeth and read stories.  When I walked upstairs, I saw this ...

My sweet girls ... curled up together just being sweet.  Not a huge thing, but it struck me that this happens a lot ... my Patterson who is always (bless her heart) getting into trouble for something or another, often decides to read to her little sisters when I'm not upstairs right away.  I never have to ask her.  She just does it.  And reading would be one of the last things that I would say was an attribute of hers.  So it caught my attention tonight.  It's been ten months since their Daddy left us.  We've got a lot more to go ... but they are doing just fine.  They have just one parent, no support group, no government program to help them cope ... yet, they are living life and carrying on.  Everyday they wake up; some days in better moods than others; some days excited about school, some days dreading it; some days they are little angels, others they are slightly less:); some days they eat their dinner and others they just push it around on their plate.  They are kids and while they miss their Daddy, they don't sit around dwelling on it.  They miss him on Birthdays and at Christmas plays, Doughnuts with Dads and Parent Watch week ... but they always wake up each day with the last one behind them.  Yes, deployment stinks and war is hard ... but God is bigger and He provides.  There are a lot of very tough moments, but there are a lot of good ones, too.

There are so many statistics out there for all kinds of things, but I hope that I (and you) will remember where hope is found.  Even when the odds are against you, blessings can abound!

My sweet girls ... children of war ... they are the strongest little warriors I know and God teaches me so much through them every single day.

To God be the Glory.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We Battle Too

It is almost 4pm.  I have about six minutes before nap-time is over.  I should be elated that another day is quickly evading me.  That's something to get excited about, right? That means just one more day closer to Richard coming home, right?  Right.  But you know the funny thing about deployment is that while I am so ready for it to be over with, I am not willing to just let life go in the process.  Life is too precious to just sit around and wait for it to pass ... even if the waiting is for something as great as a soldier coming home from war.  I am so ready, yes, so ready to get this deployment over with.  BUT, I want to make the most of our days here and be successful ... accomplish things and be a good steward of our time while Richard is away.  I want to fight my battles and end this deployment with wins, rather than losses.

My battles? Yes, while I don't sleep in a tent on a cot that collapses in the middle when I sit on it to tie my boots, and while I don't walk to work and to a cold shower in 3 degree temperatures (just to name a few "fun" current issues), I do have battles that I face on the home front.  Battles that leave me drained and weary and frustrated many, many days.  Today I won a lot of those battles, but I feel so beat up by the combat that victory seems anything but victorious.  Today was (and I know it's far from over at this point) one of those days that "on paper" was victorious, but emotionally it was just so draining.

Doughnuts for Dad for Kate's class was today.
Patterson had her first orthodontist appointment today.
I called Veritas and had my first conversation for the High School Honors Program for my Hanson Ellis.
(homeschooling just got a lot more expensive!)
I still could not get Parker to sweep the floor.
I forgot to eat breakfast and ate lunch standing up, again.
When Olivia's teacher told her class to not forget about Doughnuts with Dad tomorrow, she said, "Everyone has a Dad.  But mine's in Affastan."  Her teacher asked me "Is her Grandpa going to come?" As much as I tried, I couldn't help but have tears roll down my cheeks.

When I sit down to check my email, I get an email from Richard with the subject line "42."
When I open it up, I find this

Psalm 42
 1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
   so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
   When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
   day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
   “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
   as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
   under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
   among the festive throng.
 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him, 
   my Savior and my God. 

Yes, today the battle was won here on the home front.  And while I am emotionally drained, I am reminded of from where my help comes and in whom I should put my hope.  I am drained, but I am thankful for my battles and am thankful for my soldier and I will praise my God always.

Proud of Kate who dreaded this day, but rejoiced in surviving it!  I am thankful God makes little people so strong!! I am thankful for a husband who always seems to know just what I need, and I am thankful that God puts me in situations that keep me close to Him.

I am thankful for our days ... even when they are draining and even when they are spent with our family on opposite parts of the world, separated by war.

My hope is not in the end of this deployment, but in God.
To Him be the glory.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

One Month Ago

One month ago the girls and I went to bed after a quiet evening of returning home from dropping their Daddy off at the airport so that he could return to Afghanistan.  One month ago I climbed in bed thankful that R&R was behind us; thankful because now we could focus on finishing the school year, selling our house, moving to our new duty station and prepare to welcome Richard home for more than just 15 days.  One month ago I closed my eyes relieved that I didn't have to dread R&R ending anymore.  One month ago I lay silent in bed as tears slowly forced their way out of my closed eyes and as the lump in my throat frustrated each attempt I made to swallow.  One month ago I took a deep breath and thanked God for my husband and for the gift of having him home; for the job he chose to do and which he has been blessed to continue in.

Oh if only I had majored in English or Creative Writing rather than Mathematics in college!  If I had maybe, just maybe I could put into words more effectively all of the emotions I experienced simultaneously one month ago.  As I sit here thinking for the first time about it being a month since Richard left, I can instantly feel every single emotion all over again.  I can feel them, but I can't express them.  But that's okay.  The important thing is that I'm here, writing this post and functioning pretty darn well for another month being the single parent of five girls.  What else can I say other than God is faithful?

I knew one month ago how hard the next day would be.  I've done this all too many times before.  I knew my weaknesses, and I knew I will battle everyone during Richard's absence.  I knew how hard it is for me to keep functioning right after Richard leaves and before I have time to "adjust" to his absence.  And I knew how desperately I would yearn to talk to him during those first few days of transition, yet I knew that those are the days, ironically, where communication would be at it's worst.

I knew all of that one month ago, but I also knew that God would once again provide.  This time was not outside of His plan, and He would not forget about the girls and me.  I knew all of the firsts ... the first night in bed without him, the first dinner without him, the first trip to the gym without him ... etc., would be tough, but I also knew that the seconds would be a easier.  The struggle never really goes away, but it does get better.

Matthew 5.4
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Last night as I finished up dinner preparations, I felt a sense of peace just pour over me.  It really came out of nowhere.  I felt so hopeful about the next six months.  This deployment has ripped at my heart in so many new ways, but I realized last night how truly excited I was to finish it out and be reunited with Richard. Usually it takes a while for me to see the blessings of a trial, but this is the first time I think I've ever still been in a trial and seen the blessing amidst it.  I have so much more to learn and so far to go to becoming even remotely like a Proverbs 31 Wife (even an off brand one!). But God is working in my heart and has so used this time in my life to pour out His love on the girls and me and to open my eyes to see it.  The past ten months have been a time of refining for me, and I am so thankful that God loves me enough to put me in that fire.

Yes, I wish Richard were home.  Yes, I wish we were moving tomorrow and getting ready to see him within days.  Refining is good and I'm thankful, but yes, of course, I'd rather not have to do all of that ... patience isn't my best virtue and what I wouldn't give to be typing a homecoming post!! But God's will is for us to finish out this deployment, one day at a time, and many of those days I'm sure will be long and hard and just plain tough.  I know this. Yet I also know that He promises to provide.

Isaiah 40.29
"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

One month ago I knew I'd make it to today ... but I didn't know how.

To God be the Glory.