Sunday, May 16, 2010

Deployment Reflections

We are down to a matter of weeks left in our deployment. It is quite amazing to me that it is that close. This year has been quite the year. At times when I reflect, I am so proud of the many things that I have accomplished, but many times I feel that there are so many ways I have fallen short. Many say I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but of course, that is just our nature isn't it? Especially now as a mom!

Right now, I am just trying to focus on finishing well. Some days I just would rather give up and coast through the end. But I feel there are lessons still to be learned. God has taught me SO much through this year-- one of the hardest years of my life. Last year at this time, I was facing a deployment that seemed too massive to even comprehend. I was 6 months pregnant and I was about to say goodbye to my husband of only 2 and a half years for a whole year. We were about to spend almost a half of our whole marriage time separated by thousands of miles and war. I pulled myself up by my Army wife boot straps and devised a plan for "my deployment".

Being the "do-er" of ministry, I had already begun planning a prayer group and Bible study for the ladies in our unit. I was going to be a leader in our Care team (which helps minister and care for families who experience the loss or serious injury of their soldier). I was on the board of the Chapel's women's ministry connecting new women to each other and the other women and making them feel welcome. I had a schedule of when Austin would come home for his two week leave and how that would co-incide with the birth of Ezra. It was a good, a GREAT plan! So I thought!

NONE of this happened the way I planned...not ONE SINGLE THING!! Because Ezra came early, Austin missed the birth, I missed the kickoff for our women's ministry and the bulk of the work for my position, and then...found out my dad had stage 4 cancer! I headed to Texas for several months and did not get to lead the Bible study I had help to start. Through my sleepless state, taking care of a newborn and trying to help my family go through this very tough time...I felt I had failed. All my plans got smashed within a few short weeks. What did God want from me? I don't know if I could even think that question at the time. I was too tired and just trying to push forward.

What do you do when you get nothing you wanted...when it seems like God looks at your plans and says, well those are good things, but I have something else planned. This is what I have been reflecting on at the end of this deployment. Because to top it off, my husband's unit is being delayed several weeks. I have had the tendency these last few weeks to allow seeds of bitterness to be planted in my mind and heart. Many of the women around me said goodbye to their husbands after mine and will see them come home way before. The world says I have a right to be angry and frustrated and bitter. I think anger is ok, but then it needs to be placed in the right place which is not in my mind and heart. I have to give it over. I have to focus on something different NOT on the things I cannot change. I have complete control over my attitude and I have not been seeking the right things to put in my mind. Instead of bringing my frustrations before God, I have brought them before MANY of my friends and family and even facebook!

So yesterday, I reluctantly opened my Bible study which has been gathering dust since March. Not really believing that it would speak directly to my situation, I was again blown away by my God...woah. We are looking at the life of David and his idea to build a temple for God. God's response...good idea, David, but I have something else in mind. "When God doesn't appear to bless your plan to do something for Him, consider that He wants to do something for you instead...Every work of our hands that God truly blesses always originates with a specific work of His in us." I pierced me in a completely unexpected way. I was supposed to be letting the Lord do something for me, bless me? I cried out to God in my repentance for not coming near enough to Him to let Him do what He wanted which was bless me so I could do the real work He has! So I'm working on that. Seeking to let Him be the one who blesses me so that I in turn can be who He desires me to be and to finish this year well. What a relief that I hadn't failed because my plans didn't happen, my only "failure" was the failure to not come near enough to Him for Him to bless me...bring it on Lord, bring it on.

So, I am working on my attitude...allowing God to transform it especially as my exhaustion from this year presses down hard on me, as a year apart from my husband takes it's toll on my emotions...I'm trying to give it over. To continue to be the best Mom I can be to my amazing little boy and to seek my Father's face. Because I didn't get what I wanted, but if I allow God to bless me...I get more than I wanted. And God has been good, I have a healthy baby boy who is a joy to me. My marriage has grown stronger and I think we appreciate one another more. My husband, Lord willing, will be coming home (many will not). My daddy's cancer is gone and he is working toward walking again very soon. I have amazing friends and family with whom my relationships have grown stronger due to all the challenges. So today, I'm choosing joy over bitterness. I know I will have to choose and choose and choose again!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

6 Months Old Today!

My Little Man,

You are 6 months old today! I cannot believe that you have been with me that long, yet it's hard for me to remember life now without you. You are the biggest joy for me everyday. You make me smile and laugh all day long! Your smile and charm are infectious. Everyone around you has to smile when you look at them with those big blue eyes and sweetly raise your eyebrows at them to let them know you are interested!

Right now, your favorite things to do are eat (of course), jump in your jumper, look at mommy and laugh, play peek-a-boo, and play on your activity mat with all of your toys! You also are very interested in the TV, laptop, cell phone, remotes, etc. You love to grab your feet, and mommy's face! You know how to give me kisses and I love when you grab my face and plant one on me! You are so expressive and I love that! You know how to sit up (still working on sitting up and not falling over at some point), push up on all fours (no crawling yet), roll over from back to front and front to back. You now roll over to your stomach to sleep and can sleep pretty well unswaddled. You sleep most of the time through the night, but still like to see mommy in the middle of the night for a snack every once in awhile! You take 3 pretty good naps a day although I'm never quite sure how long they will be!

This week we will try solid foods (in addition to rice cereal) for the first time and I'm looking forward to trying to make all of your first foods homemade!

Ezra, there is never a dull moment with you. You teach me so much about enjoying every moment of life as I watch you explore and uncover the secrets of your new world. It's amazing to watch you grow, learn, and change and I am so beyond blessed to be your mommy. I know that Daddy can hardly wait to be back here to play with you and teach you things only a daddy can teach you. He's away for now so that he can help soldiers and tell them about Jesus as they fight for our freedom. He loves you just as much as I do! We cannot wait to be a family again with you!

I love you more than words could express. Thank you for brining me joy each day and putting up with me as I learn to be your mommy! Happy 1/2 year Birthday to you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The End of an Era, A Great New Year

So as 2009 came to a close, I began to reflect over the past decade. I turned 20 years old in 2000 and was a junior in college not knowing what lie ahead for the next 10 years of my life. During this decade, I moved to upstate NY for almost 4 years doing campus ministry, graduated from college, met and married my husband, graduated from seminary, lived in 4 different states, and had a beautiful baby boy! Wow! What a decade. I celebrate the end of it and the beginning of the '10's (?) by turning 30 next week! I would say it was a pretty great 10 years. God taught me so much through challenging me as a single person, ministry, a wife and now a mother. It is truly the end of an era, but more importantly it is the beginning of a new chapter and a great new year!

This year my husband comes home from a year at war, my dad WILL defeat his cancer and be healed completely, my little baby will turn a year old, and my baby sister will have her first child! I'm looking forward to all God has for our family. 2009 was a challenging year spiritually, emotionally, and physically and I don't regret the challenges we have had to walk through because of where they have brought us. I feel that we have all learned about serving one another, putting others above yourself. We have learned to depend on God for things out of our control--pretty much everything right now! I have gotten to know my family in a new way spending months with my grandparents who celebrated 61 years of marriage this years. Living in a house with 4 generations will certainly teach you some things! I have become closer to my dad as we have had several great spiritual conversations. My mom has become my mentor as a mom and of course, an even closer friend! My sister and I have drawn closer as we watch our parents walk through this difficult journey. Austin and I have learned the importance of a marriage grounded in our Savior and working at communicating well. We are more grateful than ever for one another! I have learned the beauty of being a mom. It is truly an experience like no other. It is hard, wonderful, scary, exciting, fulfilling, fun, challenging, emotional, fantastic, and sleep depriving...the most rewarding thing I have ever done thus far! My little boy will turn 5 months old next week. I can't believe he has been in my life that long, yet I can't imagine my life without him in it! (Will post specifically about Ezra next post!)

Oh what a decade it was! But as I look back and reflect, I see the thread of a God seeking to make us a little more like him and a God who is continually wooing us to himself. I am grateful and my hope is that he will be glorified above all else in my life and the life of my family! Let's do this 2010!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Being Thankful

I am continually learning how selfish I can be. I think having a baby will do that to you! Just a few months ago I was fighting to get more than 3 hours of sleep a night and once Ezra began sleeping through the night, I had more "me" time. I felt like a new person and who can blame a new mom for feeling so great once her baby was sleeping more. I was getting more sleep and getting more done...heavenly!

Then on our trip back to TX for the holidays, Ezra went through his 3 month growth spurt- eating like crazy and not sleeping. My little angel who slept for 11 hours at night was waking me at all hours and NOT going back to sleep. My attitude became bad...I had a right to MY sleep. Didn't my 3 month old realize he was cutting into MY time??? No, he didn't. And again I realize I am selfish. I know it's tough being a mom (toughest and most rewarding job I've ever had!), but my heart attitude effected me and I found myself angry and frustrated. I was reading The Baby Whisperer and online looking for solutions all day and night!

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, it occured to me as I was holding my little boy trying to get him to take a nap that I was not being thankful at all. I said I was thankful for him and yet I was frustrated at something that was not his fault. The rest of that day, when he cried, I reminded myself to be thankful that his lungs work so well. When he woke me up in the night to eat, I thought how thankful I am he can eat on his own and doesn't have to have a feeding tube. When he smiles at the sound of my voice or cries at the sound of it because he's hungry, I remind myself to be thankful that he can hear me. He is healthy and happy, and as I became thankful, I found joy at being his mom again--even when he awoke at 4:30am. So I'm learning to be thankful even when things are hard because I am so blessed. And, God gives me the strength and grace each day to be a good mom despite sleepless nights!

How could I not be thankful for this little guy!

Yes he is always this happy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Miss My Men

Most of you know that my husband is deployed and, of course, I miss him on a daily basis. There are times when I just feel like half a person. God is faithful to complete me emotionally, but their are times where I just want a man to do something for me. It may sound silly, but I miss a partner to do life with. Someone who is also Ezra's parent to comfort him and feed him his 6am bottle or 4am when he's going through a growth spurt. To take out the trash, take care of the cars, and help me make decisions. I can do all these things myself...that's not the point. I just miss someone to do them. I miss my Austin.

I also find myself back in Houston missing my dad. Yes he is here and fighting his cancer so strongly, but the dad I know is not here right now. I hurt for him that he can't do the things he wants and loves to do right now. On the way to Houston from Dallas, Ezra's portable swing broke. I was just thinking I wish my daddy was here to fix it. Maybe that is a selfish reason to want him here and healthy, but serving us girls is one way my dad shows love to us. I know he misses it as much as we do. Now here we are taking care of him, serving him. We do it gratefully, but we miss our dad and our husbands as we ladies depend on the Lord and one another to get those things done.

I love you Austin, and miss you and your partnership. I love you dad...let's kick this cancer in the rear!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Almost Half Way...

So I wanted to be one who writes on my blog more...Wasn't sure what to write about today. Austin and I are almost half way through our deployment which seems totally crazy. We have been apart now for almost 6 mos. I didn't think I could do it, and I cannot! Only God has sustanined me through all of this craziness. It has been 2mos (almost 3mos) since I saw my hubby last. Communication has not been great as he has moved locations and they are not yet completely set up. We have only been able to talk twice a week at best. We still have email and for that, I am thankful.

I am thankful for a husband who loves the Lord, loves people, loves his country, loves his son, and especially who loves and cares for me despite the miles between us. I am thankful for my beautiful son who I fall more in love with every it is such a challenge and a blessing to be a mom! I am thankful for my awesome support system of women here in Colorado Springs...I could not do this deployment as well without all their help and encouragement. I pray that I am as much of a blessing to them. I am thankful for my family who are so loving and supportive of me even when they are going through one of the biggest trials of their lives! I am thankful for the ministry we have to the soldiers and their wives, the beautiful house I am living in FOR FREE, all we have been provided...and mostly thankful for a God and a Savior who provide for my every need and who is worth worshipping...Ok so I guess I needed to just be thankful. It puts me in the right mindset everytime. I'll just include some pics of a few of these I am thankful for!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


It's hard to see the fear inside
As I walk away from you
And distance overcomes the miles
As slowly I pull through
And I cannot reach the world today
Cuz I'm suffering from you
And the more I think, the more I cry
As I walk away from you

I'm two steps away
From loneliness
I'm awake
From the mess we made
I'm alive
And I'm feeling incomplete

I don't understand my life
Or the version that chose you
And the warring hearts and winter came
Now there's nothing left to do
And I cannot reach the world today
Cuz I'm suffering from two
And the more I think, the more we die
As I walk away from you

As I watched this dance last night on So You Think You Can Dance. I was moved to tears. For most people, they cannot understand how dance might do this to you. But many times as I have watched people dancing I have seen God move in my life. This beautiful dance portrays a woman struggling with fear. For many women with deployed husbands, this is a huge struggle for them. I remember before Austin left for Afghanistan people would ask me if I was afraid for his safety or even his life. My answer was usually, "No, he's a chaplain. He doesn't carry a weapon or go into battle." I was completely unaware that Satan was getting ready to attack every ounce of my being with fear throughout the next few months. Sometimes I had reason to be afraid as Austin traveled on dangerous roads to meet with soldiers in other areas, but sometimes I just felt fear as a cloud over me. I never expected to struggle in this way and Satan's arrows were fierce and unsuspecting. Now that I have realized my struggle with fear, I have to bring it sometimes daily before God because I cannot hold onto it. I would drown beneath it. Maybe your fear is different than mine, but fear is a tool Satan uses to make us ineffective where we "cannot reach the world today." I hope you can take from this secular expression of fear and see the spiritual battle it represents in so many of our lives.