Friday, December 23, 2011

Deployment Ahead

     Over the course of the past 9 months we have heard talks of my husband being deployed; however since we have moved here to Georgia, those plans have changed at least three different times.  When you are married to the army you just learn to not believe anything until it is a sure thing- and even then it is not always sure.  Last month we were expecting a deployment to Iraq in June or July but a couple of weeks ago, that too changed.  Jeremiah came home from work and said, "Well, I'm not going to Iraq in June."  I looked at him and immediately knew he was going somewhere else sooner, and that is exactly what he told me.
     I have to be honest, I was not really surprised.  Over the next few moments a million thoughts flooded my mind.  First, I was sad when I thought about how he would miss the babies birth, but then when I thought about it more, i realized him being gone for the birth meant that he will be home before our son turns a year old.  Of course the thought of something happening to him while he is overseas also came to mind, but I tried not to go there yet.  The last thought I had came with a bit of excitement and anticipation, and that was the fact I knew a deployment meant I get to move home to Missouri with my family while he is deployed.  Don't get me wrong, I would never want my husband to deploy so I could go home, but as an active duty family, you know deployments are inevitable and you learn to make the best of them.
       So now for the hard part, over the next few weeks and months, I have to work at enjoying the time we have together and not fretting over the "What if's?"  I'm trying really hard as we approach Christmas to not let myself think, "Will this be our last?"  And all the while i'm trying not to think those thoughts, I also don't want to have any regrets should something happen to him so I am making sure we do things like videotaping him reading and playing with Emerson.
     As I work to control my mind and keep the fear to a minimal level, I have to just trust in my God.  I know He is faithful.  I know He will hear my cries, and that he is the defender of the weak.  In my moments of weakness, I know he will give me strength.  It is my hope in Him, that I know I will be able to have joy during this trial because during this trial my faith will be tested, and I will persevere.  I know He will comfort me and give me a peace that passes all understanding.  My God loves me and no matter what happens, he will provide my EVERY need.
     If there is one thing I have learned over the past two deployments, it is that when i randomly think of Jeremiah or his guys, whether it be as I am walking through the mall or waking up in the dead of night, I have learned to do more than just think- I have learned to stop and pray.  On more than one account after one of these middle of the night moments, Jeremiah has called me the next day to tell me of an incident and how it was completely a "God thing" that they survived.  With that being said, I have one favor to ask of you, when Jeremiah or I come to your mind over the next year, please don't just think about us- pray.  I am a strong believer that prayer is powerful and while there is a real battle of flesh and blood out there, there is a spiritual battle taking place that is ever bit as real.
     I know the next year will not be an easy one, but I look forward to sharing this journey with you.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Sister Could be the Next MISS AMERICA!!!

My amazingly talented, silly,  beautiful, genuine, and overall wonderful sister is competing for the title of Miss America at Las Vegas in January.  Even if she wasn't my sister, I think she would be the ideal candidate for a Miss America.  She definately has the beauty to be Miss America, but more than that she has the integrity to be an AMAZING role model.  One of the top 15 finalist spots is reserved for a people's choice, so that's where you come in.  We need your help.  Go to <> and vote for Sydney Friar, Miss Missouri's video.  We can only vote one time from each internet device so we need help spreading the word far and wide.  Thanks for all your help!   

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just a Normal Conversation...Well Kind of

It has finally started to cool off a bit here in Southeast Georgia, which for Jeremiah is perfect weather for sleeping with the windows open.  I however, crawl into bed completely covered in goosebumps.  If it's below 70 degrees, I normally freeze.  I have this weird thing called Raynaud's Syndrom which is a circulatory condition that causes my veins to constrict blood flow to my fingers and toes when I get cold; my fingers and toes will turn completely white and look almost dead.  It's kind of gross sounding, but it's just something I've dealt with since I was a teenager.  Anyways, as I crawled into the cool crisp covers last night, Jeremiah said to me as I was shivering and trying to get warm, "Are you going to make it your whole life without losing a hand or foot?"  I laughed and replied, "Are you going to make it your whole life without losing a hand or foot?"  I wasn't referring to him losing an appendage to frostbite but rather to a bomb exploding while he is trying to diffuse it.  We both just laughed and discussed how our regular conversations are so far from what most people probably discuss on a day to day basis, but for us, it's fairly common to discuss major injuries or even death.  While it may seem morbid, I think it is a way that we remind ourselves the dangers of his job and just the uncertainty of life in general and how we should never take a day for granted.    

Friday, October 7, 2011

Budget Cuts and Long Lines

     We operate under a fairly strict budget.  I wish it was because we were trying to put money aside for something, but it's really just out of necessity for survival.  Last week, Jeremiah received word his pay is going to decrease by $200 a month because of the governmental budget cuts, so needless to say we are reworking the budget and looking for anywhere we could possibly cut back.  I'm trying not to be bitter. They decide to cut back the pay of the men and women who defend our freedoms, whose families sacrifice day in and day out, while a majority of the politicians in Washington enjoy a lifestyle of luxury.  How many of them are willing to take pay cuts?  On the other hand, the sensible side of me understands our country is in need of major financial review, and we have to cut back somewhere; it's just hard when it affects you personally.  After going over our budget, we've realized we could save nearly $400 a month by living on base.  We have moved four times in the last year and a half, so I'm not looking forward to the possibility of packing again but it would be worth it to not be so financially strapped.
     While we know we could save money by moving into base housing, we also see the need for our grocery budget to expand.  Emerson is getting bigger and eating more, and with us expecting our second child, mac-n-cheese won't work to provide the little one growing inside the nutrients it needs.  A friend suggested we apply for WIC.  I figured we would make too much money, but we don't; we actually qualify!  This isn't something that I would normally be so open about by my experience in the application process was eye opening.
     I first attempted to call the WIC office on base.  I left a few messages but none of them were ever returned.  After a few failed attempts there, I thought I'd give the county health department a try.  They don't take appointments over the phone so I gathered all the documents I needed and headed into town.  The waiting room was just as I expected, filled to the brim with pregnant women and mothers attempting to keep their small children entertained while they patiently waited to be helped.  I entered the office and asked what i needed to do.  A lady replied, "Oh you need an appointment, just put your name on the list, and have a seat out in the waiting room.  We'll call you in when we're ready."  After 45 minutes of waiting, they finally called my name.  We went in, sat down, and the lady asked for my name, address, birthday, and social security number.  I gave them to her, and in return, she handed me an appointment card and said, "We've got you set up for an appointment on October 5 at 1pm.  I told her thank you and left disappointed and frustrated.  I had every piece of documentation with me that I needed but would have to come back in a couple weeks regardless.  I told my sister-in-law that it's easy to see how people get stuck in the welfare system because even if they were trying to work, you have to take off a half day to get an appointment and then another day for your actual appointment,  not to  mention your follow up appointments you have every 3 months.
     On Wednesday, I gathered up all the documents I needed and headed back to the WIC office.  We waited for another 45 minutes and finally got called in.  While she was taking my information, she informed me this appointment was only for me and in order to get Emerson enrolled also, we would have to make a separate appointment.   GRRRRRR!  I was so frustrated but knew there was nothing I could do other than make him an appointment for a later date.  The earliest appointment we could get is four weeks away.  So, I set up the appointment and continued giving her my information.  She then told me to go back to the waiting room and another lady down the hall would be calling my name.  I wasn't sure what the next lady was going to do but I noticed every time she came out and called someone's name, she was changing her latex gloves.  Shortly, she called my name.  We went back into a small room where she weighed and measured me, asked me a series of health related questions and checked my iron levels.  From there, she asked me to take a clip board and go into another waiting room until my name was called.  I, along with several other women, was wondering what I was waiting on now.  Finally, a nutritionist called me back to her office to ask yet another set of questions.  When I finished there, she told me to go back to the main waiting room and listen for my name to be called.  Within just a few minutes, I heard my name.  I was approved to be on WIC and received a quick mini-lesson on how to use the vouchers.  When I left, I was slightly frustrated with this screwed up governmental system, but I was also very thankful for a little help with groceries.  In a few more weeks, I'll take a half day off work and spend another afternoon waiting.              

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Crazy Man at Wal-Mart

     A couple months ago, I was at Wal-Mart shopping for a Mother's Day card when an older black man approached me.   He said, "Hello" to Emerson, and then proceeded to ask me what I was going to name my little girl.  I was kind of thrown off and to be quite honest, I just thought maybe he wasn't "all there."  So, I simply told him Emerson was a boy and that we weren't expecting a baby.  He, however, was persistent with his question, "What are you going to name your little girl?"  Seeing that he wasn't going to give up, I replied, "Well, we've talked about the name Lylah."  Abruptly he responded, "No!  That won't work!  Why would you name her that?"  I told him it was a name my husband and I both agreed on, but he said, "You need to choose a name the Lord would agree with."  At this point, I was still thinking this man was just a crazy but it was what happened in the rest of the story that really made me question whether this man was crazy or was he something more?
     We continued to talk for a couple of minutes about the Holy Spirit and how He speaks to us, but then what he said about stopped me in my tracks.  He said, "The Lord wants me to remind you that twins run in your husbands family."  My mother-in-law is a twin.  My mind was swirling.  "Who is this man?  How does he know me or my husband?  God are you really speaking through this man? "  As my mind continued to race he  continued with, "And his mother has never had twins has she?"  My mother-in-law has had 8 children, none of which were multiple births.  I think my jaw dropped at that point as I was in shock.  He concluded our conversation with, "Well, that was all the Lord would have me speak to you now, so I'll be on my way," and walked off.
      Needless to say, I couldn't even focus on picking out a card.  I thought, "Oh my!  Am I pregnant?  Am I going to have twins?  What just happened?"  I tried to call Jeremiah but couldn't reach him, I had to tell someone what had happened so I called my mom.  As I told my mom the story, she said, "I just keep hearing the word 'favored.'  I don't know whether it's God saying you are favored or that maybe this little girl will be favored?"  When I got home, I took a pregnancy test and it came up negative, but then I looked up the meaning of Lylah and discovered it means "dark beauty."  I still like the name but with these circumstances, decided that perhaps we shouldn't name our little girl Lylah.  Over the next 48 hours, at the most random times, I kept hearing the name "Annelise" running through my mind.  So, finally, I decided just for curiosity sake, I decided to look up the meaning.  Much to my surprise Annelise means, "Favored, grace, and God's bountiful blessing."  Wow!  Maybe the man at Wal-Mart wasn't crazy.  Maybe he is just a messenger from God.  I called my mom and told her she wasn't going to believe this but the story gets even better.  We were both in awe of the situation.
     Now, a few months later, we are expecting our second child.  Will it be a girl?  I guess we'll know in a few more months?  My husband, along with several family members, are convinced that we are having twin girls.  As for me, I'm not too convinced that we are having twins.  I think God just spoke that to me so I would recognize it was Him speaking and not just a man.  I have my first ultrasound October 18th; until then, we'll just have to wonder.
     While this story is crazy, this situation continues to prove that God still speaks to us.  The same God that spoke to people in the Bible, speaks to me- even if it's through a crazy man at Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Substitute Teaching and Group Doctors Appointments

  This week is one of those weeks you just want to get over with.  I am going to start substitute teaching for Liberty County Schools in Georgia, but first I have to go through job training.  I'm not exactly sure why they call it training because if it's like any other substitute training I've had in the past, we all just listen to a bunch of rules and school district policies, watch mandated reporter videos, and fill out paperwork.  None of the training sessions I have been to in the past have ever given tips on classroom discipline or what one should do if a kindergartner wets her pants in the lunch line while another kindergartner throws up and starts a puking chain reaction down the lunch line....yes, that actually happened to me at a school I worked at.  So, tomorrow I'll sit in a room full of strangers making polite conversation, but I probably won't ever see these people again.  The good thing is that after tomorrow, I should be able to substitute teach and finally make some money- which is definitely a good thing.
     On Friday, I have my first OBGYN appointment.  It's on base and the receptionist kindly informed it will be a "group appointment," and their space is very limited so I need to come by myself.  "Group appointment?!  What in the world is a "group appointment?"  I'm assuming they are just going to explain the good ol' policies and procedures to us, but we are on a military base; I've heard things are different, but this may be a bit more than I bargained for.  Don't worry, I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Emotional Overload

     So, if you read my last post, you'd think that being allergic to my husband was the hard part of him coming home; the sad part was that was just the beginning.  Over the next few weeks that followed, I took a ride on an emotional roller coaster with more ups, downs, and loop-d-loos than I care to admit.  I could cry at the drop of a hat over absolutely nothing.  I was so confused, "Why was I such an emotional wreck?"  I knew I was happy to have my husband home but my emotions weren't lining up that.  To give you an idea of just how emotional I was, listen to this.  My husband and I went home to my parents house for the weekend and while there we were visiting in the living room with some family and friends.  Jeremiah simply told them that I had been a little emotional.  He jokingly said, "I could probably just look at her right now and she'd start crying."  Before he could even look at me, I was already beginning to cry.  Ugh!  I was so disgusted and frustrated with myself.  What was wrong with me?
     Eventually the crying stopped and somewhere along the way, life seemed to get back to normal.  It wasn't until about a year later during Jeremiah's second deployment that I really took some time for myself to get to the bottom of things.  At that point in time, I was working on my Master's degree in school counseling and while learning how to "help" others, I did a lot of "work" on myself first.
     Every deployment to a war zone carries it's own stressors, but there is something unique about a first deployment and all the unknowns that be simply overwhelming and even terrifying at times.  You see, I am a planner, an organizer; I like to know what's happening and when.  When it's not possible to know what is happening, I like to think of all the "What ifs?" so I can be prepared for different situations.  Of course one of those "What if's?" I contemplated was, "What if something happens to Jeremiah?  What if he isn't one of the lucky ones?  What if he doesn't come home?"
     Throughout my thoughts and fears of something happening to my husband, I also had this overhwhelming sense of peace and joy that everything was going to be okay, not that my husband was going to be okay, but that no matter what happened to him, I would find joy in the trials God would allow me to go through, knowing that each of those trials would be one of the ways He would complete His work in me so that I may one day be, "complete and mature, lacking absolutely nothing," as His Word promises in James 1:1-4.   But as you know, when he got home, I was lacking that joy, and it was driving me crazy.  I finally came to the realization while in graduate school that I was planning on my husband dying overseas; I didn't want him to die, but I just thought that's what was going to happen, that that's what God's plan was.  So, when he came home alive, I didn't really know how to react.  If he would have died, I thought I knew how I would react.  Sure I would have been an absolute wreck to begin with, but then I had this idea I would be strong and even joyful in the depths of that dark time- that God would use me to encourage and minister to others.  But then, he came home.  If God's plan wasn't for him to die, what was His plan for me?  Needless to say I was disgusted with myself; how could I be such a terrible person that I would even think such things?  I battled feelings of guilt and worthiness for a while but soon just realized I can plan and think about all the "What if's," but regardless of what they are, God will take care of me in the present, right here in the here and now.  Now, of course, I am more than happy my husband has survived two deployments.  We have an incredible little boy  and love every moment of being a family.  I've learned that tomorrow really does have enough worries of it's own, so for today, I am only going to worry about today.          

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Defining Moment from the Trenches

     There are many times during a deployment that I just get overwhelmed.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed with fear and loneliness, and at other times I am overwhelmed with people's generous outpouring of support.  However, during this last deployment, I had one of those moments you know will remain with you forever.  I was at church and in the middle of worship just felt myself become overcome by fear and worry.  I just kept asking God how I could ever survive if something happened to Jeremiah.  I stopped singing and just sat down and prayed.  Right there on the spot, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "I will provide for you.  I will provide for you financially. I will provide for you spiritually.  I will provide for you emotionally.  Even in death, I will supply all your needs."
     I have to admit, while I should have been comforted by this, my immediate thought was that something was going to happen to him.  Then I realized the important part of God's message to me that Sunday morning- my God was going to take care of me regardless of my circumstances.  I know He loves me and promises, not just in his Word but even through His Holy Spirit on a Sunday morning, He will take complete care of me.  I was overwhelmed with God's grace and humbled by his love.  For He never promised me an easy life void of  trials, but I am assured that his grace will always be sufficient.    

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Not So Perfect Homecoming

     Nearly 5 years ago, after my husbands first deployment, I was waiting with anticipation at the parade field at Fort Hood, Texas for my husband to arrive home.  There were several hundred family members waiting together in the bleachers.  On the opposite side of the parade field, a few hundred yards away, we finally saw the buses pull up, but all we could see were the feet of the soldiers filing off and falling into formation.  I jokingly said to another wife, "Bus driver, move that bus!"  Others overheard me and immediately everyone began shouting "Move that bus!  Move that bus!"  As the buses pulled away and our soldiers appeared off in the distance, the emotion and excitement in the stadium became overwhelming with cheerful tears and shouts of a job well done because we knew they had finally made it home.
     Over the next few days, they had to be debriefed before they could be released to go back home.  On the last morning we were in our hotel, I woke up and thought, "Man, my arm really itches."  I looked down and quickly discovered that it wasn't just my arm; my entire body was covered in hives.  We went to the pharmacy and loaded up on Benadryll for a 12 hour trip home to Springfield, MO.  By the time we reached northern Arkansas, I looked like a burn victim because the hives had spread to cover every inch of my body and were extremely swollen.  In addition to itching like crazy, I was also beginning to lose my voice.  In hindsight, we probobly should have found an emergency room at that point, but I just wanted to be home.
     We made it home that night, but when I woke up the next morning my hives were still terrible and Jeremiah was insistent that we go to the hospital.  Feeling gross from traveling all day the day before, I said, "Just let me take a shower, and then we can go."  Needless to say, that was a bad idea.  I got lightheaded in the shower and as I was yelling for Jeremiah to come help, I passed out right as he caught me.  He drug me to our bed and tried to get me to come to.  When I finally regained consciousness, all I could think was I had to go to the bathroom.  I was trying to tell Jeremiah what I was needing but he simply replied with, "Um, I think it's too late."  As you can probably imagine, that wasn't exactly how I imagined what it would be like for the first 24 hours my husband was home from Iraq.  From there, Jeremiah tried to get me back into the bathroom while yelling at   Logan, my younger brother who was living with us at the time, to come downstairs and help.  Jeremiah tried to cover me up with a towel so Logan wouldn't have to see his older sister naked, but in the meantime, I passed out again, losing and regaining consciousness a number times.  I remember feeling terrible and wondering what was going on.
     We went to the emergency room, but they didn't find anything wrong.  We tried to narrow down what I might have had an allergic reaction to, but we couldn't come up with anything.  Over the course of the next few days, we discovered that anytime I came in direct contact with my husbands skin, I would break out in hives all over again; so, for the next two weeks, we both spent all of our time at home in long sleeves, pants, and socks.  Finally, the hives were gone and we could work at life getting back to normal.
     I know that anytime anytime there is a big change in one's life, that it's good to prepare for those changes.  I knew there might have been some adjustments to make after a deployment to a war zone and there were- I just never expected to be allergic to my husband.    

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting to Know this Mom in the Trenches

Being a mom is one of the hardest and most important jobs in the world, but for several women out there, including myself, being a military wife is equally as trying.  So, when you are both a mom and a military wife, you know what it's like to be right there in the trenches of life.  Some days are calm but others days you feel you're being fired at and attacked from all directions, wishing you could just yell, "Retreat!" and fall back to a safe zone.    This blog is about my life and the trials and triumphs I experience while being a "Mom in the Trenches."
     I am a twenty-seven year old married to Jeremiah, the man of my dreams.  I grew up in small midwest town, El Dorado Springs, MO, which my husband lovingly calls, "Mayberry."  I had a wonderful childhood filled with fun memories and tons of family traditions.  My family has always been close and over the years as us kids have gotten older, we've grown even closer.  My husband was in the Army Reserves for four years before he switched over to active duty but during that time, he completed two deployments to Iraq as a Combat Engineer.  Now, I stay at home with our son, Emerson, while my husband works as an EOD (Emprovised Explosive Device) soldier in the United States Army.  His job is basically to diffuse IEDs and anything else that might potentially go "Boom" downrange.  Needless to say, his job can be a bit on the stressful side.
He completed his EOD training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida this past year, and we are now stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
     We were expecting my husband to deploy for the third time in the next few months, but we recently received word his unit's deployment has been pushed back.  This was great news, or at least I thought it was.  A week after hearing there deployment is being pushed back we found out we are expecting our second baby!  My first thought was that he will be home for the birth but then I realized, he will be leaving when the baby is nearly a month old and miss his/her entire first year.
       As a military wife, there is constantly that wonder in the back of your mind, how long will you have your soldier; will these next few months be the last?  As we are out at the beach or exploring the town, I wonder with every click of the camera and every moment that's captured as the shutter lens closes, "Will this be a picture that I look back at in a year and say, 'Man, I wish he was still here.'"  Aware, that the road of wonder and worry can be a dangerous road to go down, I quickly remind myself that life is uncertain no matter who you are or what you do, and that God's grace will always be sufficient regardless of my circumstances.  So for now, I am living life to it's fullest, not taking for granted time with my husband or my son, fully recognizing that none of us has a promise of tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day, another battle, to be fought from the trenches on the homefront.