Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Little Warrior Boys

     Several months ago during worship at church the Holy Spirit spoke to me, and while I don't ever take anything lightly that I hear from The Lord, this specific instance carries with it a whole lot of weight.  Not thinking about parenting at all, but just with hands lifted and my voice singing praises to my King I heard, "I have given you boys; boys to be men, men to be warriors, warriors for me."  
     "Whoa!" I thought to myself.  When it comes to parenting, I've always had goals of raising polite kids who will choose to follow Christ, but when I heard this I thought, "Okay, there's more to this whole parenting thing than just raising 'nice, polite' kids. God what are you entrusting me with?  This is a HUGE responsiblility!"  Not that raising kids isn't a huge responsibility in and of itself, because trust me with two boys, it's a challenge to just get through the day without a trip to the ER, but raising warriors?  
     Fortunatelly, we have another, larger, more experienced warrior living in our home.  As most of you know, my husband is a soldier in the US Army and has spent as much of our married life overseas in war zones as he has at home.  And if there's one thing he and his men do all the time, it's train.  They constantly keep up to speed with the weapons and technology which are available to them.  They fire their weapons at the ranges reapeatedly to make sure they are prepared for the attacks of the enemy.  And when my husband comes home at night, he doesn't stop being a soldier.  Don't get me wrong, he's not the type of dad that barks orders at the kids and me, but rather mentally, he is always prepared.  He is disciplined to look like, act like, and think like a soldier.  Being a soldier has been engrained in him; it has become part of who he is.  
     So, when I look at him and then at my little boys, who are 2 and 4, I realize we have a long way to go. After that Sunday, I have to say, I approach parenting a little differently now.  And while the monotony of everyday life can be a monster to be reckoned with, I strive to be more intentional.  I long to see their love for Jesus and people be real and tangible.  I want them to see and understand that even if they are the coolest superheroes on the planet, they still need God's mercy and grace.  I want them to recognize how blessed they are and we are as a family.  I want them to have mercy and compassion. I want them to know God's Word and how to fight the enemy.  I want them to know they are part of something bigger than this world can see.  I want them to be warriors-warriors for HIM!  
     Oh yeah, one more quick little thing, we're having another baby and could you believe it? It's a boy- another little warrior!

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Pine Tree

     After moving back to Georgia, it took a while to get settled in, and somewhere along the way my quiet times in God's presence became nearly non-existent.  I felt the desire to read The Word and pray but it just didn't happen.  And while I could blame it on a time of transition or just plain tiredness from toddlers, I knew that I couldn't keep living without being refueled by my Creator.  So, one morning I grabbed my cup of coffee and headed to the front porch.  I wish I could say I was excited and overjoyed to approach my God and spend time in His presence, but my feelings were quite the opposite.  I felt guilty, kind of the same way you feel when you're a kid and you've done something wrong and you just know your parents are going to be upset with you.  You could have done better but you've let them down; they're going to be so disappointed in you.  Okay, so I don't know about you, but I've always been the high achiever type and I hate the feeling of disappointing someone.  To be honest, I was afraid that God was going to be disappointed in me, that He would somehow reprimand me for my inadequacies.
     As I sat down and placed my cup of coffee on the table in front of me, I looked out towards the wooded area across the road.  I didn't know where to begin, but I knew I couldn't let guilt stand between me and Him.  I've always appreciated the beauty that God created in nature; His handiwork is so prevalent and easily recognizable outdoors.  So, I took notice of one towering pine that was swaying back and forth gently in the breeze, and began to thank God for the beauty that sorrounded me.  At this point, I was still uncomfortable but felt I was moving in the right direction and then it happened.  
     I felt God's presence, not his condemnation, or judgement, or disappointment, but His love and joy.  He reminded me that I like the pine tree may sway from time to time but my roots remain in Him.  He delights ini me, for I am His!  Wow, what an incredible God we serve.  It doesn't matter how long it has been since we have talked to Him, or just sat and spent time in His presence, He always wants us to come back.  
     I don't know if you've ever talked to God, or just sat in His presence and listened to Him, but I wish that each of you will take the opportunity to get to know Him.  You may feel weird and akward, but that's okay, after all, the devil will do some pretty crazy stuff to keep you from it; don't let him stand in your way.  There is a God who loves you, who will never leave you or forsake you.  If you don't know what to say, then just sit and tell him, you want to experience his presence, or if you enjoy nature, notice the details and begin to thank God for each of those beautiful things.  His Word says that "All good things come from The Lord."  Just meditate on that for a minute, what in your life is good?  Do you have a roof over your head?  Are you blessed with children?  Did you wake up today?  If you need more help, here's a prayer that can maybe get you started. 
     "God, I don't really even know where to begin.  I am not worthy to spend time with you, but that doesn't matter to you; You love me.  You created me and long to spend time with me.  I want to talk with you and to hear you.  Help me to be still and to recognize your voice.  Let me experience you presence.  God fill me full of your joy and give me a peace that surpasses all of my circumstances.  I want to know more of you.  Speak to me, and cover me in your love."  
      Now, just sit and relish in his goodness.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Man on the Ceiling

     A few weeks ago, i started having negative thoughts about my marriage.  They were thoughts of discontentment.  Now, I know we all have issues and marriage isn't always easy but at this point in my life, there was no reason I should have had these thoughts.  Jeremiah and I were getting along great, finances were in check, we had spent time together as a family, but still these thoughts kept creaping in.  I was aware they were in the back of my mind but there came a moment I had had enough.  
     I was tucking the boys into bed and as I leaned down to kiss Asher goodnight, the thought, "Maybe  we should get a divorce," ran through my mind.  It was at that very moment, I realized where these thoughts were coming from.  You see God's Word says that Satan is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, and this time, he was looking to devour my marriage.  I however, chose not to let him win this battle.  Immediately, I said, "No way devil!  I've had enough, and I won't allow you to put these thoughts into my mind."  From there, I headed to bed, wondering if I should tell Jeremiah the thoughts I had been having.  We are always very open and honest with each other but I didn't want him to think there was a reason for him to be concerned, so as i closed my eyes, I began to pray.  
     "God, renew my mind.  Help me to not be tempted to believe these lies.  Help me to focus on the good things, the things that right and true.  Guard my heart and mind Lord.  Protect my marriage, and give me peace."  
      I went to sleep and in the middle of the night was suddenly awakened.  I know this might seem strange and out there to some of you, but i felt a spiritual battle taking place right in front of me, I didn't see anything, I just felt it.  I don't even know how to describe it, but there was defintitely something going on in our bedroom.  I got up went to the bathroom and tried to go back to sleep.  When I woke up the next mornning I just layed there thinking about the events of the night when  Emerson, our 4 year old, who was sleeping in our bed that night woke up.  These were the first words out of his mouth, "Mom, did you see that man on the ceiling smiling at us?  I wonder how he got in here?"  He pointed to the window and said, "Maybe he came in from there."  
     I'll be honest, I was almost frozen; I wasn't sure how to respond.  I was almost afraid to ask him what he looked like, but I did it anyways.  He said, "He was just right up there on the ceilig smiling at us."  At that point he didn't give me anymore details and I knew if I asked, he would probably just make something up to give me an answer; but on our way home from town one day, he was taking note of the sun and said, "Mom, look at the sun!  There's a bright circle around the sun just like there was around that man in your room!"  Chills covered my body.
      "Emerson, do you know what that was you saw in my room?  That was an angel!" I said.
     And in true four year old fashion, he quickly replied, "No mom, he didn't have wings!"  So, of course we took that moment as an opportunity to talk about how we don't always see an angels wings, and that angels help God fight the bad guys.  
     Now, while I think it is incredibley awesome that God chose to let my son see an angel, I thinkk there's something more important for us to hold onto.  God is real.  He loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend regarldless of what we have done.  When we believe in His son Jesus dying on the cross and raising from the dead, we become His child, but that doesn't mean, the enemy won't still try to win a battle here and there.  Just think, Satan even tried to tempt Jesus himself.  He thinks he's big stuff, but I tell you what, he's nothing compared to my God.  Don't allow him to drive a wedge in your life, wihether it's in your marriage, a relationship with a family member or friend.  Don't let him build bitterness in your life.  I get that life isn't always pleasant, but there are so many lies we believe that are the product of Satan's manipulation and our human nature.  Be prepared for battle! Guard your heart; In Phillipians 4:8, God's Word says, "Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse" (The Message).  When you are feeling defeated pray and ask God to direct you to His Word.  Get filled up on the truth and get ready to kick the devils' booty!  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Homecomings and Houses

My oh my how does time fly! I looked at my last post and realized how much time has passed since I last posted- nearly 5 months! So, grab a cup of joe and let's catch up for a bit shall we? Jeremiah arrived on U.S. soil in January, but due to debriefing and a tight budget, we didn't get to see him until a month later. He was going to be driving from Georgia to Missouri so I flew to Atlanta, which allowed us to have a little alone time on the drive home, before he was attacked by children. I was a nervous, anxious, excited mess. This was his fourth time to come home from a deployment, and let me tell you, those emotions never change. You've just survived months of wondering if you'll ever see each other again, or if your boys will have their daddy around to teach them how to play sports and be a Godly man, or if you do see each other, will he be the same? Will he have his arms, legs, fingers, toes, or the mental capacity to know who you are? I'm telling you, you play every scenario through your head, and it's at this moment, when you're about to step off the plane, you realize all those fears can be pushed aside. You don't know where he is going to be, what he's going to look like, what those first few moments will be like. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. I found a woman on the plane who was willing to tag along to baggage claim with my phone in hand so that moment could be captured. She was so kind and gracious to tell me that I looked beautiful and that my make-up looked perfect- even though I had just been crying. It was just the little boost of confidence I needed to take that long escalator ride to baggage claim. I don't know if you've ever been to the Atlanta airport, but that was the LONGEST escalator ride of my life. Finally, we reached the top, and there he was- even more handsome than I remember him. I got to him as quick as I could and all those nervous feelings were gone in an instant. I was right where I belong, in his arms. Other than the hazardous, icy roads, the drive home was perfect. He would tell me his stories from war, and I told him stories from home. We talked about fears, expectations, and together wondered what transitions we would face this time around. The boys were so excited to see their daddy, even Asher who was barely a year old when he left, knew his daddy was home! For the entire month of February, we worked on the final projects to get one of our houses on the market. Our goal was to sell this house, and hopefully have a little cash to be able to do something with the other house that had all the foundation problems and had been robbed by copper thieves. We got the house finished and on the market. Within a week and a half, we got a full price offer, and closed at the end of April! God is good! Now, we are researching our options for the other house. After a few different opinions, we have come to the conclusion, the house isn't worth saving- at least with our limited resources. We signed our name to the bank note and feel it's our responsibility to pay, but we aren't getting much help from Bank of America seeing that we've never been behind on a payment. Due to it's present condition, our insurance is also being cancelled. Our best option now, looks like selling the house, and getting a loan to cover the difference in the payoff from the sales price-j the hard part is finding someplace to get a large personal loan without paying through the roof interest rates. All that being said, God has provided before, and I know he will in this situation as well. We will keep charging ahead and somewhere along the way, we will find a solution.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Week in a Nutshell

     I read back over the past couple weeks of my journal entries and let me just tell you, there are enough emotions in there to keep a counselor busy for weeks!  I would love to share them on here but think it's probably not the wisest thing to do just yet.  Here's a little bit of what it was like.
     I had started writing before Christmas, because I was just really bummed that Jeremiah wasn't going to be home. The reality of the length of his deployment was setting in.  He was supposed to leave in April of 2013 and be gone for 4 months, that didn't happen.  His deployment got pushed back and they didn't leave until May.  Then, the 4 months changed to a 12-14 month deployment, and we were only at the 7th month mark.   I love Christmas, the sights, the smells, the reason for the season, just the overall spirit of Christmas, but this Christmas was tougher than years past.  It was hard knowing Jeremiah wasn't going to be there to watch the wonderment of our two little boys on Christmas morning.  In the evenings, I wanted to be able to put the boys to bed and just snuggle up on the couch in front of the tree with him, but I knew it wasn't even a possibility.  Maybe the most unexpected thoughts I had were those of guilt.  It was such a strange feeling to know as I was rushing around from store to store getting the last things ready for the holidays, he was overseas fighting for his life and my freedom.  It almost didn't even feel right to be happy, but i pushed through it.  
    Next, came Christmas morning, which i'm pretty sure has always been magical since the very first one with the angels, shepards, and that sweet baby Jesus.  It was still dark outside and the boys woke up and wandered into the living room to find two guitars under the tree!  They immediately put on a show!  I loved it!  Then, as I'm sure we woke up the rest of the house, the rest of our family began to gather around as we opened our stockings.  Jeremiah joined us through Skype which was awesome.  I was so glad he was at least going to kind of get to take part in all the excitement.  He then proceeded to tell me he got a Christmas gift too.  I asked him what it was and he replied, "I'm coming home!"  
     "What!"  I said with question in my voice.  I was waiting for him to tell me that is what they had been told, that he wasn't sure if it was actually going to happen or not, but for now, that's what they have heard.  But that wasn't the case, he had actually found out a couple weeks ago, and they had already packed up and started heading out of country!  It was at that point the flood gates opened and tears of joy rapidly streamed down my face!  "You're actually going to make it out alive,"  I yelled.  There have been so many times this deployment that I didn't actually know if he was going to live through it.  He was blown up 3 times his last deployment, and once this deployment; just how many times can a person survive such near death experiences, not to mention the numerous firefights that seemed to happen on a weekly basis, at best.  
     So, here we are one week later, and he is still coming home.  No change of plans yet, but until he is on U.S. soil, I am going to try to not get my hopes up too high.  I am so relieved to know he will be safe at home, well at least not being shot at or blown up by IED's, but I am really having to not let myself get too down when I think about the months that lie ahead.  Emerson, our oldest knows his daddy is coming home.  Today he said, "Mommy, it is taking Daddy forever to get here."  I tried to reassure him.  I explained it is a very long trip and can sometimes take awhile, but in the back of my mind all I could think was how are we going to explain to this little boy that we can't live with daddy because we don't have enough money?  
     Money.  I hate how money controls so many things, but I am so very thankful that my God controls more.  He knows what our future holds.  He knows exactly what we need and when we need it.  He will provide all of our needs.  
     I don't like to ask for help, especially when it come to needing help financially, but I also know how good it feels to be able to be a blessing to others when I have been able to give.  If you would like to help us, you can help 3 ways.  First, is by simply praying for us.  I am a firm believer in power of prayer and know that God has the ability to do more than any dollar amount ever could.  Next, if you feel led, you can help by making a monetary donation at  Finally, you can be a huge help by simply sharing the link to this blog or to the GoFundMe website so we can reach  a bigger audience.  With your help, we will be able to have our family together, and these two sweet boys can have their daddy home!  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Update on Mi Casa and My State of Mind

Phone call after phone call, email after email; that has been my life these past few weeks, and no, I don't work in an office. After two television news interviews, I have had a number of people asking about our house, and wondering if anything has ever happened with it. In short, no, not really. I've talked with a number of organizations, the insurance company, and the lawyers in the JAG office just to name a few. I have had some gracious individuals give monetary gifts and a few others have offered their assistance with the heating and plumbing repairs, but with the foundation still the major money issue, we have together decided it is wisest to not do anything until we have a solution for the foundation. Let's be realistic, it would be better if the house was just torn down- at least that's how I feel right now. I would feel terrible if they did all that work on the plumbing, heating, and drywall, and then, by some miracle, we were able to work something out with the bank, and they demolished it due to the foundation. I'm not going to lie, there have been a few mornings when I have woke up this week feeling knots in my stomach because of our house. It has taken a pure conscious effort to control my thoughts and be reminded that God is in control; He is faithful, and he will see me through this. Worse than fighting those thoughts, are my fears concerning Jeremiah. He has been really "busy" and in war, "busy" is never a good thing. I see him every few days on Skype which is great, but it plays with my mind when we go longer than usual without hearing from him. Multiple times a day, I wonder if today will be the day- Was that the last time I will see him? Will a car pull up in front of our house? Will some men in uniform walk up our steps and come knock on our door? Will today be the day my world is totally turned upside down? As quickly as those thoughts try to creep in, with a lump in my throat, I push them back and think of Philippians 4:8. I love the way The Message version puts it. Phillipians 4:8-9 (MSG) 8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. It isn't always easy taming our wild minds, but I think God knew we needed specific instructions to not dwell on the negative. I don't know what tomorrow holds for my house or for my family, but for today, this is the day that He has made and I will choose to rejoice and be glad in it. Do you ever struggle with your thoughts? Do you have a good practice for overcoming the negative? I would love to hear them!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here?

As I sat down to right this this evening I am still in utter amazement at the number of people who have given their prayers and support to us during this tough time. My inbox has been flooded with peoples' sympathies, ideas, and even links to others who might be able to help us. I am meeting with a gentleman on Monday at the house in Springfield, to discuss some of our options and to see if he thinks the house is even worth trying to repair. Another builder has already told us that if it were him, he would tear the house down, and cut our losses. That sounds easy enough, but even demoing a house would cost a pretty penny. Furthermore, I don't think that is even an option considering we still owe the bank $53,000. So, I will be calling the JAG office on Monday as well to see if they have any legal advise for me as to what we could do. Regardless of what we do, it is going to cost a lot of money. A huge blessing we did get this week was that some of our friends contacted City Utilities in Springfield, and CU credited back 100% of our water bill to our account since the usage was due to vandalism. Praise God! These same friends also started working on a fundraising site so that individuals could send us donations. It is incredibly humbling to be in this position, to have people asking what they can do to help, and replying, "Well, you can give us a donation if you would like, and of course, your prayers are always welcome too." I don't know about you, but asking for money is not my cup of tea. I have however, been on the other side too, wanting to do good for somebody, to help somebody in need, to be able to be a blessing, so I get what people are wanting to do. I truly believe God created something within us that simply desires to do good for others. I also know that God has promised me He will provide all of our needs, but he didn't tell us how He would do that; and if it is through the generosity of others, I want to be open to accepting the blessings He has in store for me. So, with that being said, if you would like to help us, you can make a donation online using PayPal, by clicking on the button to the right, under Pages titled, "Donate to the Cartwright's Home" or by visiting the facebook page, "Military Family's Home." Last but most definitely not least, I am asking for your prayers, that God would give us His wisdom, that we would not rely on our own understanding, and that everything will work together for His good. I praise God that He is already receiving the Glory in this situation. I am beginning to taste how God is turning this sour bushel of lemons into just might take a little time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Morton Salt & Bitter Lemonade

     In 1914, Morton Salt, inc. created their first advertising campaign for a series of ads in Good Housekeeping Magazine. What they came up with was a picture of a little girl carrying an umbrella and a box of salt under her arm, pouring out onto the ground behind her. Along with that picture came one of the most widely recognized slogans, "When it rains, it pours." While this slogan was intended to show the salt would pour under damp conditions, it has been found fitting to describe the tough circumstances that we seem to go through at different times in our lives. And right now, there is an absolute downpour in our neck of the woods.
     First, let me just take you on a little trip back to the beginning of the storm. We have two rental houses in Springfield, Missouri that we haven't sold because we bought them at the height of the market and we owe more on them than what they are worth, but with an upturn in the real estate market we decided we would try to get them ready to sell so we would have one less thing to worry about while living across the country as a military family. We had some renters at our East Avenue house that had done a sufficient amount of damage so we worked on it while Jeremiah was on leave in Missouri before he deployed to Afghanistan. After a few days of work we decided we didn't want to spend our last few days together as a family stressed and working on the house, so we hired it out. Most projects on the list were small but the one big one was fixing a buckle in the dining room floor. When they the tore the floor up, the found a problem-a huge problem.  The foundation, sill plate, and rim joist were completely rotted. Just in case you don't know, that is just about everything that normally holds a house together at the base.  This had allowed the house to settle several inches. Now, the entire center joist of the house is resting on the main drain pipe. The estimate to jack up the house, dig out a new foundation and replace all the rotted wood, just a mere $26,000!  Aside from the amount that it would cost to fix, the worst part may be that someone had attempted to fix it before but we would have never known that if we hadn't torn the floor up.  This part of the house couldn't be seen during an inspection. The house was a HUD house when we purchased it, which makes me wonder if the person that allowed it to go into foreclosure, knew exactly what they were getting rid of- a lemon, a very sour lemon. 
     From there we called our insurance company, not really expecting them to do anything, but thought it was worth a shot.  They determined the damage was done prior to the time we had it insured with them, and said there was nothing they could do.  The next step was to call the bank and work on it from that end.  We bank with Bank of America and that alone can be a nightmare in itself at times.  Over the course of the past few months, I have been in contact with them, sending them their required documentation for their borrower's assistance programs, but it hasn't been doing me any good because these programs are all intended to keep a borrower in their home.  We could choose to foreclose or see if we could do a short sale, but besides the fact Jeremiah and I both feel it is irresponsible to do that, he cannot take a negative hit to his credit in order to maintain a Top Security Clearance for his job.  So, that pretty much leaves us with our hands tied.
     Now, if you'll remember, that was just the background, here is what has happened most recently.  Friday night I got a call from the neighbors at this house and they informed me it looked like someone had broke in the back door.   I called the police, filed a complaint, and they went out and checked it.  They didn't see where anyone had broke in, but I still felt a little unsettled about it, so Sunday evening my mom and I headed to Springfield to check it out.  We pulled in the driveway just as the sun went down, and when I opened the front door I heard water rushing.  I ran to the neighbors to find a wrench and a flash light to turn the water main off.  I finally found the guy across the street home, and he offered to come check out the house with me, so we didn't have to go in by ourselves.  There wasn't anyone inside, but someone had definitely been there, and I don't think it was Goldilocks...unless of course she has gone into the scrap metal business.  Whoever broke in, ripped the heater apart and stole the coils, ripped out the copper pipe fittings on the hot water heater, cut a pipe on the refrigerator, and busted out a main water pipe in the bathroom as well.  However, they were kind enough to try to stuff a shower curtain over the pipe, like it might actually stop it.
     The walls were drenched.  The crawl space was completely flooded which resulted in the carpeting throughout the house to be soaked, and the floors in the bedroom to buckle.  Here's the real kicker, when the insurance adjuster came out, he said none of it would be covered because the house had been vacant for more than 30 days prior to the incident as clearly stated in our policy.  If only honesty wasn't something I valued, I could have maybe got something out of them.  Instead I am left with a house that is in even worse condition than it was before and worth even less than it was before.
     When the adjuster was telling me they wouldn't cover it, I felt like I could puke or pass out, but I held it together.  I didn't even cry until after he left, and I was a good twenty minutes down the road.  I hated to tell Jeremiah the terrible news, but he of course took it in stride and assured me that it was okay.  "It's just a house," he reminded me.  As I drove back home, I prayed and cried out to God, singing, "I need thee, Oh I need thee.  Every hour I need thee.  Bless me now my Saviour, I come to thee."  As I got home to my momma's comfort, I told her in some strange way, I am almost glad this has all happened while Jeremiah is deployed.  It has been a good reminder to me that a house is not the most important thing in life, that money isn't the most important thing.  While I have a house with some major issues, I still have so many blessings.  I will continue to push forward, to not let this get me down, to find ways for God to use this bitter cup of lemonade for good.
     My mom keeps telling me I need to make a YouTube video explaining my situation and just ask people to send $1 to help us get rid of this house, but that's just not me.  What I would like though is if you have any sound advise or know of someone in the banking/ housing industry with Bank of America that could give me some direction instead of the run around I would greatly appreciate it!        

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Where Did My Emotions Go?

     A couple weeks ago, Jeremiah called and said his deployment got pushed back and wondered if I wanted him to come to my parents for another visit; did he really need to ask?  Of course I said yes!  We were so blessed to get to have that extra unexpected time together.  He even got to see Asher walk!  The only bad thing about him coming home again meant we had to say, "Goodbye," all over again.  As we traveled two hours to the airport the same knot began to develop in the pit of my stomache like it has every other time.  We tried to talk about things that weren't related to his deployment but we have found that to be nearly impossible. I know it is hard for me, but I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must be for him;  I at least get to be around the boys and my family, he won't have any family.  When we arrived at the airport, we decided it would be easier if we didn't go in, we would just drop him off in the parking lot.  I prepared myself for a complete cry fest. I watched him and he leaned over Asher's car seat to kiss him goodbye and wondered if Asher will ever have the opportunity to know just how amazing his daddy is.  Next, came the hard one- I hesitated getting my camera out to capture these tough moments, but I knew if something did happen I would forever regret it.  Jeremiah picked up Emerson and in true Emerson fashion he squeezed his daddy as tight as he could.  Finally, it was my turn.  We hugged and kissed knowing that we wanted to cherish that moment but also knowing how quickly you forget what that person's touch feels like.
      As he walked away with his suitcase in hand, I prepared myself for a cry fest, but nothing happened- not hardly one tear.  And let me tell you just in case you don't know me well, that is extremely unusual for me.  Sometimes I am completely convinced that God alters my hormones when Jeremiah is gone.  I can go for months without crying, and as soon as he is home, the tears flow. Maybe I just put up my walls but even at that, I know my God is protecting me and preparing me.
     I know this deployment will not be easy.  Jeremiah is not going to a safe place.  His job is not easy.  However, we do serve a mighty God.  He has carried us through three other deployment and I know he will do the same this time.  I know it is easy to read blogs and stories like these and think we will pray for them, but then we never do, but I am asking a huge favor of you.  Please pray for Jeremiah and the safety of the men he is with.    Pray that God protects them physically but also pray for their mental stability, their ability to be quick on their feet, to make wise decisions.  Pray that miracles take place right before their eyes and that people will be brought to God, that he would receive the glory.  I never want a deployment to happen but when they come around, I do look forward to all the stories I get to share that are a testimony to God's provision and grace.
      May God richly bless you as you invest your time praying for us.  I hope that you too will use these moments to testify about God's greatness!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Drenched in Grace

As the days pass, it is getting harder and harder to tame the thoughts and fears of Jeremiah leaving. I drove past Range Road the other day in Niceville, Fl which is where the EOD Schoolhouse is located and out in front of the building is a large memorial wall for the fallen EOD soldiers. The last time I stood in front of that wall, I was filled with a different set of emotions than the ones I feel now. Then I was so proud of Jeremiah and all he had accomplished because making it through EOD school isn't an easy task, not to mention the strain it puts on the families too. Now, I am trusting that God will protect him and give him the wisdom he needs to keep his name off that wall. I continued my drive back to the hotel reminded of God's grace and that I need to continue to put my hope in him.
Then, yesterday, I took the boys to the Air Force Armament Museum so Emerson could look at all the airplanes, missiles, and rockets, and while we were there I began to notice the walkways were lined with brick pavers dedicated to loved ones who were killed in battle. For some reason it just hit me different than it usually does when I read the names of the fallen. As I watched Emerson play without a care in the world, tears filled my eyes, knowing the weight of the bricks we stepped on. In that same heavy moment, I sensed God's overwhelming protective presence, like he just scooped me up in his arms. I can tell God is sharpening me, like a knife on a stone, He is gradually allowing me to experience these deep heavy emotions but at the same time, revealing himself to me.
As we left the museum, and traveled to our next destination, God once again poured out his grace on me. I don't even know how to describe it! He gave me this hope, this refreshing sense of eternity. He lifted me up, soaring like an eagle above our circumstances. It was a beautiful moment when I felt completely drenched in His grace! We don't know what tomorrow will hold. I am so grateful that regardless of what my time in this world has for me, my God has a beautiful eternity waiting for me. In the mean time, I look forward to more of these grace filled moments where God reveals His glory to me right here on Earth.
We serve an Awesome God! Has God revealed himself to you in your daily living? I would love to hear and share your stories!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Deployment Ahead...Again

Imagine you are traveling down the highway, making good progress towards you destination, and then there it is, right in front of you, the dreaded, big orange metal sign that reads, "Caution, Road Work Ahead," and traffic immediately slows down. After several miles of those oh so lovely orange striped cones, you get that freeing feeling of being able to step on the gas again; and just about the time you resume your speed and feel like you are making good progress again, you see it again, there off in the distance- another big orange sign! "Really," you say to yourself, or to whoever is in the car with you willing to listen to you complain, "Already? Again?" You know exactly what I'm talking about right? Well, that is just how I feel when seeing Jeremiah's next deployment off in the distance, but yet approaching all too quickly. We just got through one deployment. We've gotten settled into our new home, gotten our kids into a routine, and worked through some of the transitions that nearly every military family goes through after a deployment; and now, we are getting ready to do it all again.
The deployment will bring its own challenges but so far, we are just dealing Jeremiah's crazy training schedule in the midst of the holiday season. He is having a blast working with the Special Forces, but we hate being away from each other, especially when he is state side. We have weighed the pros and cons and have decided it would be best if I move back home with my parents while he deploys again. I will have the help and support I need, and my boys will have the opportunity to strengthen their relationships with at least one set of grandparents and other family members. Going home, doesn't just mean packing a suitcase for a weeklong visit, it means attempting to pack for two kids and myself for a year, all into one car load, and packing our home into boxes and moving it into storage. We considered keeping out stuff at our house so we wouldn't have to find a new rental when we move back here, but there is a strong possibility we will be PCSing (moving to a new Permanent Change of Station) when Jeremiah gets home. Furthermore, when we added up the dollars we would save by not paying for rent, utilities, cable, etc, we didn't even have to think twice. Packing and moving has become like second nature to us.
Once we made the decision to move home, the next question was when should we move. Jeremiah isn't leaving for a while yet, but due to training he will only be home a combined 2 weeks between now and the time he leaves. So, we will travel to Ohio, have a wonderful Christmas and New Years, and then come home and start packing. In the mean time, we are going to try to capture and soak up every moment we have together, not just rushing through life to get to our next destination, but trying to keep it slow and focused on the important things in the very moment we are living.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Rock for a Pillow

While you might read the title of this blog and think it's going to be about Jeremiah sleeping on a rock, it isn't. It is about a much older story. You see, it has been a while, a long while, since I have been dedicated to spending some quiet time with God. I'm sure having a toddler and a new baby has had something to do with that, but, nonetheless, my spiritual growth has been stunted over the past few months. I don't know about you, but when God convicts me, my first reaction is to feel guilty. Then, I get depressed thinking about how I should be willing to sacrifice a few moments of sleep to spend a few minutes in the presence of the Almighty. With that being said, my sister gave my husband a new devotional for Christmas, so I started reading it here and there, and in those few moments, through those few paragraphs, God, once again, in His ever so loving and faithful way, drew me near to Him.
As I got up this morning, I felt a different feeling, not one of regret, hesitation, or conviction but rather an excitement to spend time in His presence. I recognized God's conviction, not as a shaking finger pointing at me, telling me I was wrong, but as a God, yearning for His child to spend time with Him. Wow! Isn't it crazy when you think about it, the God who put the moon and the stars in the sky, the God that created man, the God that sacrificed His son, wants to spend time with me. He has a message to give me, wisdom to instill in me, and a presence to rejuvenate me!
This mornings devotion took me to the Old Testament, to the story of Jacob camping on a rock. He was completely unaware of God's presence but after a restful night's sleep, and a heavenly dream of angels going to and from Heaven on a ladder, Jacob was certain this place was in the presence of God (Genesis 28:10-22). As I read it, I began to think about how so many times we ask God to be with us but fail to recognize when He is. It has ben my experience, that God shows up in the most unexpected places, and unexpected times. I think we often expect to find God in a sanctuary, or among believers in a Bible study, but who expects to find Him on a rock. While I might not be planning on camping out with a pillow for a rock anytime soon, I do know God is just as able to reveal himself to me at the playground, the grocery store, or in the middle of the night while feeding my sweet boy, as he was to Jacob that special night. It is my prayer, that I actively look for God in those places, that I expect to experience His presence in other places than our church sanctuary. As we come upon this Christmas season I am reminded of one of God's many names, Emmanuel, meaning, "God with us." So, as we head about our day, let us meditate on Emmanuel, and know He is with us, through thick and thin, through ups and downs, through snotty noses and poopy diapers, we can rest and be inspired by the very presence of the Most Holy God!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Playground

As we have gotten settled back into life here in Georgia I was realizing the need for Emerson to have some social interaction with kids his age, so I started taking him to the playground on a regular basis. He, just like I expected, is doing quite well at learning the social skills needed in a toddler's world. What I wasn't really expecting to find at the playground were moms who live in a military community to be so dissatisfied with their levels of social interactions with other adults.
Even though Jeremiah has been in the army for over seven years, we are really just now getting the true active duty experience because the first 5 years he was in, he was a reservist. I figured that because military families relocate on a regular basis they would be quick to open up and make new friends; what I have found is the exact opposite. When I take the boys to the playground, I see other moms, including myself, looking for some adult conversation. So many times, we will say to one another that we should get together sometime but then it never happens. This week I decided to change that.
As the kids were running around having a grand ol' time, we moms managed to maintain small talk of the kids and weather. One mom had recently just "got here" in June. June may not seem like that long ago, but 6 months should be long enough for someone to at least start to feel like they are settling in. Knowing how I had lived here for a year without making too many friends and feeling settled myself, I asked her how things were going and if she liked it here. Her response was, "Yeah, it's hard." Guessing I probably knew what she was meaning I asked the group of surrounding moms if they ever find it strange that military families keep to themselves. They all agreed and from there, the level of interest in the conversation immediately changed. I could see and hear relief in some of their voices; they knew they weren't the only ones seeking something deeper. We laughed about how we have cell phone numbers of other moms and say we are going to call but then a couple of weeks pass and, by then, it is too awkward to call. So, right then and there, I seized the moment to set a date to get together. I laughed to myself as I could see we were all just trying to play it cool and not act like giddy girls who had just made new friends. Tomorrow, our kids will play, we will have some girl time, and who knows, it may be the start of new lifelong friendships.
If you are or have been a military family, what has been your experience with families socializing with one another?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Battlefield

     After receiving the phone call from Jeremiah that he had been hit by two IED's, my mind was in a bit of an unstable place.  I wanted to share what it was like to experience this but I also wanted to make sure it was okay with Jeremiah before I posted these stories for the world to see.  So, when I asked him if it was okay if I blogged about the happenings of the past few days he said it was fine and that if I wanted to write about what was going on with him I should also add to it a sniper tried to shoot him in the head.  Looking back, I realize this was a dumb question, but at the time I asked, "How did you know he was trying to shoot you in the head?"  He proceeded to tell me that he was the only one laying in thge middle of the road working on a bomb when a bullet landed right by his helmet.  He tells me things like this like they are no big deal, and strangely enough, my reaction is just the same.  At times, we try to make light of the situation, maybe even with a joke or two, just to keep our sanity, even though we both completely know the reality that we are facing day in and day out.  So, throughout the next couple days, I just kept praying for God to continue to give me His grace and strength, and without hesitation, that is exactly what He did.  A few days after the phone call, I was standing at the bathroom sink washing my face, getting ready for bed.  As I closed my eyes and splashed the warm water on my face, God filled my mind with a vision, not just a little fleeting thought, but a strong, beautiful image that I hope will be forever engraved into my mind. 
     The land was desolate, no grass, no buildings- just dry, dusty, rocky brown soil.  Jeremiah was in full uniform laying on the ground, in deep concentration, working on diffusing an IED.  He wasn't at all aware of what was going on around him.  The whole scene, even though it was in a desolate land, was filled with this warm, golden light.  While he was lying there, these huge angels with tan skin, strong arms and massive white feathery wings were in battle all around him.  Some had spears and were fighting an unseen enemy.  And in the midst of the battle, one of the angels lunged forward with an outstretched arm, to catch another angel which was falling backwards limp.  He had just taken a bullet to the chest. The image transformed from an action scene to a still picture, frozen in time.    
     I rinsed the soap from my face and grabbed the towl to dry.  Refreshed, not by the water, but by my loving Father God.  I am so grateful for His strength, and that He knows exactly what we need when we need it.