Friday, July 29, 2011
My husband, that is.
As a military family, lengthy separations are part of life. Training, classes, field exercises, deployments— anything from 2 days to 15 months, it’s all part of the job description. It’s common and even expected.
But the one thing it’s not?
It’s not easy.
It might only have been two weeks, but because we couldn’t call or email, it felt like twice as long.
But you know what? After two weeks apart, that felt twice as long… I’m certain I love him twice as much.
If that makes any sense.
In fact, he arrived back on base in the early afternoon, but with all the equipment inventory and recovery that occurs when you arrive home from living in tents for 2 weeks, he needed to stay at work till the late hours of the evening directing traffic and getting things cleaned up.
So do you know what this silly school girl did? She just couldn’t wait until the o’dark thirty hour when he’d be home-home. So she woke her sons up from their naps, packed a picnic lunch, made a “welcome home” sign and drove onto base to see her soldier for a few brief moments before he got back to work.
I know, I’m such a silly school girl.
But I really couldn’t resist; knowing that he was back, that I could see, hear, and touch him... I couldn’t wait a few more hours. And neither could the boys.
Our reunion was happy and filled with “Hi Daddy’s” and “Look how big I am’s.” (See! the boys felt like it was longer than 2 weeks too) and many many “I love you’s.”
This military life may not be easy, but boy oh boy, the homecoming’s are always so sweet.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
And the boys are in bed
In fact they've been in bed since 7:22pm, but shhhh don't tell anyone.
The dishes are done.
The house is tidy.
And I hear the sound...
And let me tell you, it's a beautiful thing.
Thank you, Lord, for moments like this one. For peace. For quiet. For calm. For Smirnoff Cranberry Lime. For avacado face masks. For hot showers. For deep cleansing breaths. And for your Word ministering to my soul.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Of course, I'm a bit biased because my husband happens to be one... and happens to be the strongest, bravest, best looking American Soldier out there... but even still, I love soldiers.
I have a real heart for them. I love talking with them, hearing their stories, laughing and listening... I love watching them work, seeing them parade, or jumping out of airplanes.
I admire the work that they do, their dedication and selfless service. I love their consideration for others... and for the lives of others... above and beyond their own.
Their selfless service amazes me.
And today was no exception.
I was driving onto our military base on the way to a friend's house, when I approached a traffic light. As I slowed down to a stop I realized that something was not right. There were cars stopped in all the wrong place. People slowly getting out of their vehicles. Looks of horror and concern across their faces.
There had been a terrible accident. A terrible terrible accident.
Multiple cars were crushed and in pieces. And one... one car was upside down in the bushes, flattened down to half its size.
As I gasped, I told my boys, "We need to pray. RIGHT. NOW."
For a split second, I paused; trying to decide whether I should get out too (I am a nurse, after all). I quickly noted the 10 or 12 people who had already gotten out of their vehicles. But they were all standing by their own cars on their phones. Though presumably calling 911, no one had stepped toward the rubble to check on the people inside.
In another split second, I saw something else. A vehicle filled with soldiers had stopped just a few cars ahead of me at the intersection. And before I knew it, a whole fleet of them jumped out of their vehicle and went running across the road.
Running fast. Running together. Running in a piece of beautiful Army green harmony in the middle of the discordant and chaotic scene.
It did not appear that they were trained medics, just a group of uniformed soldiers out on a drive. Yet they ran without hesitation. They ran quickly and authoritatively. They didn't wait. They didn't question. They didn't wonder. They knew what to do. They knew how to respond.
It didn't seem to matter whether it was a stranger in that car or not... whether it was an old man or a young woman; whether it was someone they knew or someone they'd never met. It didn't matter who it was. They knew they had a job to do. And they knew the Soldiers Ethos to never leave a fallen comrade.
I felt my eyes fill with tears as I saw them run and approach the vehicle. What a comfort it must have been to those trapped inside to see the men in uniform and to hear, "Here we are, and we're going to help." And to see that someone wasn't afraid in the face of fear itself... what a calming presence in the midst of tragedy!
It was comforting and calming to me too. And I wept. I was so thankful, so proud, so glad, for those dear soldiers. God bless them!!
When they do things like this, all the time, all around the world, how can you help but love them?
Lord, bless and protect our soldiers, as we have been blessed and protected by them.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
1. For the next 30 days, purpose not to say anthing negative about your husband -- not to him, and not to anyone else about him.
2. Everyday for the next 30 days, express at least one thing you admire or appreciate about your husband. Say it to him and to someone else about him.
It has been a great challenge (especially now that my husband is away for an extended period without any way of contacting him--oh Army life, how I love you!!) but also a great encouragement to carry on.
I have a wonderful marriage. I have a husband who loves and supports me; who listens, counsels, and encourages; who cherishes me like Christ does the Church. And I love him back. I love him with my whole heart; he's my best friend, my right arm, my go-to guy, my knight in shining armor. I am so very happy with him, and really, in every aspect of our relationship. I'm fulfilled and content. Complete. And it's a wonderful wonderful blessing from God alone.
But I know, that while my situation may not be that rare amongst my Christian friends, it is rare in the rest of the world. It's rare to have a happy committed relationship with your spouse. It's rare not to have any ongoing feuds or problem areas. It's rare not to argue and yell at each other. It's rare to have what I have. What we have.
But the truth is, it's easy to take it for granted.
Really? Is it?
But yes, yes it is. You get used to being this happy, this safe, this loved. And just think it's normal. But it's not.
It's not normal in this sinful world. And it's definitely not what sinful old Kathryn deserves.
But I have it. And oh boy, I have it in such a good and marvelous way, it makes me weep to think of taking it for granted. It cuts me down to my very core to think I have not daily thanked God for my spouse and our marriage. And to not have told my husband EVERY SINGLE DAY how much I love him and how wonderful he is.
So there you go. I'm taking on the challenge. And I urge you to pick it up too. Whether your relationship is in an upward spin or a downward spiral, whether it is just beginning, or hasn't yet begun, we all need challenges like this one.
Choose to build up your relationships. Choose kind words instead of negative ones. Choose to guard your tongue among others. Choose to let your loves ones know how thankful you are.
Choose. Choose. Choose. Pray. Pray. Pray.
With faith in Christ, nothing will be impossible for you.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
No mousse, gel, or hairspray needed, just pure and natural bedhead.
Even the hairstyling commercials and magazine covers can't get it to look this good.
Often times, when I see him in the morning, I'm not able to contain my laughter (can you?). And I'll say, "Josh, let's go look in the mirror" so that we can laugh and smile at it together. Afterall, it's good to learn to laugh at yourself. And often times, we end up laughing at my hair too.
Yep, he get's his wild hair genes from someone...
Anyway, this particular morning, I took him to the bathroom mirror and said, "Joshua, look at this wild wonderful hair of yours. It's beautiful! And do you know what? God made it this wild and wonderful way. God knows each one of your hairs, he know's the number of them, he knows the direction that they are pointing this morning. God know's all things."
Josh smiled deeply and fluffed his hair.
Then I said, "And do you know what else, my dear Joshua? God cares for each one of these hairs on your head. And if he cares and knows each one of your wild and crazy strands of hair, how much more, does He know and love you!?!"
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.It was a sweet moment of laughter and meditation together. Not only was it another chance to share God's Word, but also an opportunity to demonstrate that God's word is not just for our evening family devotions, or Sunday at church-- it's something that should permeate every thought, action, and yes, even every reflection in the mirror.
Monday, July 11, 2011
In my old age, I’d forgotten.
Forgotten that eating an ice cream cone was a skill.
A very very precise skill, requiring full attention on every side.
Having learned this skill so many years ago, it was easy to forget. But eating ice cream cones with my boys while we were on vacation… brought back memories.
Suddenly, I remembered the sweet satisfaction of licking that first taste of ice cream off the cone; it’s cold sweet goodness spreading across my tongue, and melting away into nothingness.
The pure pleasure of tasting and feeling it at the same time. Oh the wonderful deliciousness of ice cream!
And, oh man, do I remember the drip that got away and the side of the cone that was just impossible to keep up with. Licking and licking, but not being able to catch it all.
Oh yes, the memories of eating an ice cream cone as a kid.
When I saw the looks on my boys faces, the determination, the delight… I wished I could go back and enjoy an ice cream cone the way they did that day.
Friday, July 8, 2011
I’m browsing through recent pictures of Noah and found some that I just absolutely love.
But now I ask you…
…am I a mean old Mom that I truly can’t decide which picture I like best?
My dear, dear, Noah, every look on your face is precious to me.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
The extended vacation that I have alluded to in recent posts was our family’s first “Space A Adventure.”
For those not in the military crowd, flying “Military Space Available” (or Space A) is something akin to flying standby—only it is on military aircraft leaving/arriving at military installations instead of commercial planes to commercial airports. It’s a bit more unpredictable (if you can imagine that), and requires a bit more flexibility (if you can imagine that), but….it’s also COMPLETELY FREE for service members (both active duty and retired).
Yes. I mean it. Completely free.
So, while it can be unpredictable and requires extreme flexibility, it’s one of those crazy amazing benefits to military members.
And… being the bargain hunting, budget minded family that we are…we decided to go for it. We had a huge family reunion taking place on the opposite side of the country, and were looking for ways to minimize the costs of flying across the U.S.
Enter: Our first Space A adventure.
Why didn’t we give it a test run before we had 3 little boys, ages 4, 3, and 1?? I don’t know. But anyway…we did it. God went with us. And though we were completely sleep deprived at both ends of our journey, our trip went extremely well. I won’t deny the challenge of keeping 3 kids (or their parents) calm and rested on an unpredictable flight schedule, but hands down, it was worth the hassle.
The very night Nick signed out on leave/vacation, God provided a direct flight from the Southeast to Northwest (these happen but rarely—as in, twice a month!!) and there were 5 available seats with our names on them. Yes!!
We made our first part of the journey flying in the back of a C-17. Quite an experience to say the least. But really, an amazing one at that.
It was loud and we had to wear ear plugs the entire trip, but we were also able to move around (once we reached cruising altitude, of course) and could run, play, and sleep on the floor of the monster sized plane. It was pretty amazing.
The boys loved it and behaved incredibly well. Or at least it seemed that way. It was so noisy on the plane (loud engines and no insulation) and we had to wear ear plugs the entire 6 hour flight, that I couldn’t hear any whining or crying… and neither could anyone else. Very handy. Haha.
But I speak in jest, I do think the boys behaved really well. In between playing and snacking, all the boys napped on the plane too. What a cool memory for them to play catch in the back of a C-17 while flying above the earth!! Nick was as well behaved as the boys, and gave me a mock presentation of his jumpmaster duties. It’s awe inspiring to think he jumps out of aircraft like this, but a bit scary too. Still can’t believe he does this for a living.
Perhaps one of God’s neatest provisions for us was when we arrived at the Air Force base in Washington. We were tired and weary from traveling most of the night (and the 3 hour time change to boot), only to find that the next leg of our flight (from Washington to California) had been canceled/delayed for 3 days. (See what I mean with flexibility??). While we were registering for continued travel, we were delighted with the somewhat surprise appearance of good friends from our home church in here in the South (the Hilbert’s, for those who know them). They had just moved to the Northwest and were busy getting settled in themselves.
Seeing our weariness, our friends jumped in, whisked us back to their house on base, watched the kids and gave us a little down time while we found a hotel for the night. Then, while we were trying to decide whether to wait 3 days for the flight, or to just make the 12 hour drive to San Francisco, they INSISTED that we borrow their minivan for the journey to CA so that we could get to the family reunion without delay. Wow. Friends in need are friends indeed. It was above and beyond anything we would have imagined possible and made the decision easy.
Or relatively easy.
When they first offered the use of their minivan, we flatly refused. Borrow someone’s brand new Toyota Sienna, drive 800+ miles with 3 messy boys, keep it for 2 weeks and then drive it back before heading farther north to visit my family?? NO WAY. But I think they must have prayed for us all night, because in the morning, when decision time came for us to drive/rent/fly/wait, Nick and I both had the gut feeling to accept our dear friends generosity and borrow their car.
In some ways, I still can’t believe we did it. But it was so obviously God’s wonderful providence, as the family had no need of the extra vehicle (their spouse/soldier was out in the field for 2 weeks and the car would sit in their garage unused). As our friends put it, “It was no accident that we had an extra vehicle during your time of need.”
Anyway, as you can see, God provided marvelously for us on our Space A trip. Our flight home required a stop-over too, and then a bit of a drive to get our vehicle, but all in all, it was a great trip.
And I think I’d say, we’d do it again.