Iraq Journey

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

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For He is God

November 26, 2008

How does one choose to tell the things for which she is most thankful?

Do I say I’m thankful for my life? For my salvation? For my family? For a comfortable existence? For the food we eat, the home we live in?

Because to start to make my “This year I’m thankful for…” list can at times seem so trite. So… forced.

I don’t deserve a single one of these things. Not one. Not my life, not salvation. Not a wonderful loving husband and precious, healthy little ones. Certainly not being born in a wealthy nation where a real, true, life-and-death need is virtually unheard of in my life.

So to say thank you seems so trivial. Not enough. Like a drop of water on the parched ground of the Sahara.

Unless, of course, the words continue.

Thank You, my Heavenly Father.

You, who sees fit to give us more than we deserve. Who pours out blessings on our lives, more than we could imagine. You hold each of us in your loving hands, caring and loving on such a personal, intimate level… its simply unfathomable. You have, in Your sovereignty, placed each of us in a certain spot on this earth. Some have less… much, much less. And some have plenty. You give us the ability to pour out Your love on the ones who have less, and to show Your love to the ones who have so much that they can’t see You through their “plenty.”

Thank You, my Heavenly Father.

You give strength when we are weak. You show us Yourself more fully when we are so low we can’t see anything but You. You are complete, and You in us makes us whole. You protect, You encourage, You guide, You comfort. You turn our mourning into dancing. Where a heart has been hurting, you give balm. You calm troubled spirits and give hope.

Thank You, my Heavenly Father.

You give us joyful, happy days. Time… moments… to fill with Your praise. The laughter of a little one, an unexpected blessing, a sunny sky or a welcome rain. Hearts restored, hope renewed. You give us rest.

Thank You, my Heavenly Father.

You give us a lifetime, Lord. Days to walk with You. You give us salvation, You promise Your omnipresence, You fill our hearts with gladness in the happy days and draw us nearer during the hardships. You are all in all.

You are God.

And for that, above all else, we are thankful.


Today, on this Thanksgiving Day 2008, along with my salvation, my beloved family and the indescribable blessings given to me by a great God, I’m thankful–oh, so thankful–for the fact that our guy is here with us on this holiday. As of only five months ago, we expected to still be apart and be several months away from our reunion. And yet, here he is, sitting by my side. Thank You, Jesus.

I’m also thankful that just yesterday, my precious sister-in-love had an sonogram which revealed that this new baby is perfectly, beautifully healthy. We look eagerly forward to the day when we’ll hold this little one–Adyson’s little sibling–in our arms and tell this baby the story of a big sister who touched our hearts before going to see Jesus. Thank You, thank You, Jesus.

May you sweet friends have a blessed day of thanks, taking time to realize just how much we have for which to be thankful. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Confession time: Turkeyphobia

Let me just say this:

Hooray for my cousin, who is having 15 (maybe more?) of us at her house tomorrow.

Because, people, I just finished cleaning my little house tippity-top to bitty-bottom and the thought that it will still be sparklin’ on Friday thrills me to my fingertips.

My cousin’s house? After we all get through with it? All of us adults and five children–three of whom are one year olds and one who is two and a half?

Not so much on the clean thing.

So thankyoueversomuch to Misty. I’m just feeling extremely thankful for that little (or not so little) fact of this holiday right now.

I confess I did entertain the notion of having our family come to our house for Thanksgiving. For all of about five minutes.

Our house isn’t the biggest by any means, but it could totally be done. And it would be fun. I’d feel so homemakery, wearing one of my many aprons, setting up food, enjoying the loudness laughter and merriment of my extended family. Our house would be filled to the brim, little people running and playing, coziness extending to every corner. We’d have the food set out on the table, buffet-style, because there’s no way we’d all fit at our dining table to eat, even with all the extension leaves in. We’d have made the corn casserole, Grandma’s sweet potatoes fixed with care by one of the next generation’s ladies, a plate of ham roll-ups being gobbled (ha! gobbled. Pun totally intended.) by all the guys. I’d set out the rolls, the cranberry sauce, the turkey–


The Turkey?

And that, my friends, is where the notion promptly ended.

Because, truth be told, I’m deathly afraid of cooking a turkey. Terrified. Terr-ih-FIED.

I have no idea where this phobia came from, but it’s real. Oh, it’s real, people.

I’m afraid I’ll mess it up. (Can anyone say perfectionism flare-up?) It’ll be too dry. Or, worse, not done on time. I’ll forget to thaw it the day (night? week?) before and Thanksgiving will be ruined. It might be flavorless. And how on earth does one even know where to start in searching for the perfect, no-fail turkey recipe? How do you know it’ll be good? What if people eat a few bites each and then go home and talk about how awful my turkey was?

Hello, my name is Miss Perfectionist Pessimism, and I’m chairman of the People-Pleaser’s Guild. Would you (not) like a bite of my first turkey?

I remember my mom telling me years ago that a family friend had asked her two older-teenage daughters to each make a holiday meal–one did Thanksgiving dinner and the other did Christmas. All on their own. They did it and it was wonderful.

Let me tell you, hearing about this and I knowing that, at the time, these girls were only a few years older than my early teen self made me shake in those big ol’ clunky hiking boots I wore incessantly with my jean jumpers when I was fourteen. At least one of those girls must have made a turkey on their own. And had it out of the oven, juicy and moist, ready on time. Without the side dishes getting cold from sitting an hour after they were supposed to serve dinner.

At least, that’s how I pictured it. I have no idea how those dinners turned out in real life, but I’m guessing both girls did a pretty good job. And I was scared to death my mom was going to steal that idea and have me do the same thing in a year or two.

That was the year I first started paying attention to which grocery stores offered complete holiday meals in which the bird was pre-cooked.

Now I’m all for a good side dish. I’ve been whippin’ up green bean or corn casserole in a flash since I was twelve. I’ll search high and low for a tasty lookin’ potato thingamabob and I’d even attempt Grandma’s revered sweet potatoes if need be.

But the main dish? The Turkey with a capital “T”? Not happenin’. It’s just not.

(She whispers: At least not without my mom around. That’s the clincher. If my mom wasn’t in Alabama this Thanksgiving, then I might have given more than two seconds’ thought to the turkey thing. I’ve had let her do the turkey thing and just said, “Hey, my oven–her genius.” But she IS in Alabama, and there’s no way I’m having a family holiday here without my parents in town, because that would be really weird. Well, and I’m also afraid to cook a turkey without help, but, you know.)

So this year, I’m thankful for my cousin for helping me keep my house clean and ready for Christmas decoration day, a.k.a. the day after Thanksgiving. I promise I’ll help clean up the mess we make before we leave her house tomorrow night. I’m also thankful for my aunt, who is wonderfully preparing the turkey for our gathering. And for my mom, who will undoubtedly be the one making the turkey whenever we actually end up having Thanksgiving at our house one of these years.

Now I’m off to make me some mean ham rollups and toss together a green bean casserole. Because you know I’m all about them side dishes.

POOF! And there went two weeks.

November 23, 2008

I know, I know, I know.

Fourteen days. No post.

I mean, going a few days or even a week is usually acceptable, because, hello? You people have a life and have better things to do than check for new posts in this little bloggity spot. But almost two weeks without a post and the emails start coming in.

Um, are you okay? Are you gone? Are you sick? Are you going ever going to post again? Are you even ALIVE?”

That would be a yes. To all of the above.

You know, writing blog posts is a funny thing. It’s kinda like… well, my brain’s too far gone to think up a good analogy. I have no clue what it’s kinda like. But I’ll tell you what it IS. Fellow bloggers, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You go a day without posting. In my case, no biggie. A day or two between posts is typical. Then, you’re sitting there doing laundry and have ten million thoughts running through your head, all begging to be put to paper screen.

Better write a post today, you think to yourself.

Then you smell a dirty diaper, the phone rings and the toddler wakes up from his nap and, since your mommy-brain can’t hold more than ten million thoughts at once, you reach overload and forget about the post.

Two days later, you’re packing to go on a ladies’ retreat and it suddenly hits you.

It’s been four days since I posted. And now I’m going to be gone. Better write a quick post.

A few hours later you stop before walking out the door, grab your laptop and tuck it into your bag, needing it for something non-blog-related that weekend. You think to yourself that maybe, just maybe, if there’s a chunk of down time one afternoon, you’ll toss up a post saying that, hey, I’m gone.

You drive down to a beautiful old hotel on Coronado Island, get in your room and open your bag. A friend catches a glimpse of your laptop and says, “NO! No blogging for you, missy!! You’re on a retreat!”

So you spend a few days breathing salty air, enjoying amazing fellowship with precious close friends, building relationships with new friends, running on the beach at 9pm–the little waves lapping at your feet, being encouraged and challenged and changed by God’s Word, riding beach cruisers all over the island, and doing so much talking that you wonder if it’s possible to run out of words.

And you almost forget you even own a computer.

Then you come home. Your toddler runs to you, shouting, “MOMMY! You’re home!!” and your one year old won’t let go of your arm. Your husband kisses you and tells you thank you for everything you do to keep your home running. You hear about their fun times, books read, park trips, junk food eating, games played.

Within a half-hour of coming home, you’re right back into real life and loving your little family. But there’s your laundry to do, church stuff to launch into, dinner to think about and always diapers to change.

That unwritten post? Still unwritten.

And here’s where the clincher comes in on the bloggity front. Now, NOW, you’ve gone over the one week mark. NOW you can’t just come off with some post about whatever. You can’t even just pull out a half-written somethin‘ out of your drafts. NOW you need to say something about where you’ve been. Or what you’ve been doing. Or why on earth you left up a post about the Marine Corps Birthday for a week. The only problem NOW is that, you know, it would require thought–a commodity in rare supply these days.

So the snowball starts rolling.

As soon as you get some sleep to make up for the late nights of the retreat, you’re on your last load of laundry, and you think you might have actually made eye-contact with your computer again…

You find out there have been two deaths in your extended family, you start practicing the piano for a funeral, you put any and all computer time into a blog design on which you’ve taken too long already, your kids get sick, you realize you aren’t going to be able to make it to the funeral after all, your brother turns 18 and you go to a Southern Gospel concert with your family–leaving the boys with your amazing cousin who tells you to bring them over even though they’re sick–getting to bed that night at 3:30am, to be awakened by bright-eyed kiddos at their usual time of 6:30am. Oh, and then it’s time to change a diaper.

The post?

Still unwritten.

SO. It is now Sunday morning, and I’m on the couch with my little sickies instead of at church.

And here’s a post.

You know what John said when I came home from the ladies’ retreat?

I asked him if being home with the boys for a couple days was what he expected. Easier? Harder? Exactly what he’d thought it would be?

“You know,” he told me with a slightly puzzled look, slipping his arm around my waist. “There was just a lot less time in a day than I’m used to. It was like one minute we were waking up, and the next it was bedtime. Just like that.”

Yeperdoo. Just. Like. That.

My version of an Ooh-Rah

November 10, 2008

“Do you know what today is?”

If I weren’t married and out of the house, I guarantee you my dad would be asking me this question today. In fact, I’m guessing he probably already has asked my mom and brother. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he calls in the next few hours to pose the question to our household.

The answer? The one that’s been ingrained in my mind every November 10th for as long as I can remember?

Today is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. The 233rd birthday, to be exact.

Hence, the Ball the other night.

(I always take any chance I get to use the word “hence.” Or “thus.” I love “thus.”)

I remember the first ball we went to, when a personal friend walked up to us as we entered the ballroom and told me “Happy Birthday.”

I, the Marine wife of only a couple months, looked at her quizzically and said quite eloquently… Huh?

John later explained that since it was the Marine Corps birthday ball and since I was now among the ranks of the USMC spouses, people would be telling ME happy birthday, too.

“But, so, well… why are they even telling YOU “happy birthday” when it’s the Marine Corps that’s old, not, you know, YOU. It’s kinda weird.”

He further explained (while, you know, pulling me aside to shield me from the shocked and appalled stares of the seasoned Marines and spouses around us) that, well, in fact, the Marines? They ARE the Marine Corps.

Oh. Yeah. I guess that’s right, isn’t it? Weird. But it makes a little more sense.

But given a few more years, a few more nights of duty, a few more weekly haircuts, a few promotions, a few moves, a deployment and a whole lotta last-minute-changing-of-the-”set-in-stone”-plans… it makes sense to me.

Because the Marines? They ARE the Marine Corps.

Novel concept.

So, as a Marine daughter and now a Marine wife, I’d like to wish my daddy, my husband, the oodles of friends and family who have worn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor–and their spouses (this is you, fellow bloggie Marine wives!)–a very happy birthday.

Oh, and check out this seriously awesome tribute to the Few and the Proud. We loved it. Merritt clapped his hands and screamed. When it was all over, Troy said, “Aw, I’n proud uh you, Daddy!” How he knows what that means, we have no clue. But, boy, was it cute.

And also–bonus points to the first civilian who can tell me where the USMC was started. Without Google help. Ha.

Well, I didn’t lose a glass slipper, but neither did I get home before midnight

November 8, 2008

It’s that time of year. When Marine wives ’round the globe don their gowns, fix their hair, and slip into their heels while their guys button their dress blue uniforms and polish their medals.

And those of us who are too cheap frugal to go have our hair and nails done by Those Who Know What They’re Doing… simply do our own hair and nails:

Notice, of course, that I’m only showing my left hand. I didn’t figure you’d want to see the large SMUDGE residing on my right thumb. Classy, that smudge.

Also, I don’t offer any close-ups of the hair. I don’t know that it’s necessary to tell the story behind the hair. The freaking out once I realized I had to leave my house in thirty minutes, the fact that the sparkly clips I’d bought weren’t working, the kids waking up cranky and one of them screaming inconsolably while I tried to finish my hair with one hand while holding said little one, the fact that John was already IN San Diego for a class and I had to get ready alone… it might all be a bit much for you to handle. It was a bit more than much for ME to handle.

How ’bout I just sum it up by saying this: Next time you’re going to your big formal event of the year, don’t attempt to get yourself, a two year old and a one year old ready on your own. The stress just might make you want to rip your hair OUT rather than position each curl.

But once we got to the fancy Hyatt in the downtown San Diego Gas Lamp district, it was worth it. Before we were even in the door, the proper valets parking our vehicle, the ladies in formal gowns walking below sparkling chandeliers, Marines standing tall in white gloves and hats.

The ceremony itself was the best we’ve ever been to. The color guard marching in behind two trumpets, a snare drum and an old bass drum (look closely in the center of the above picture and you can see them), the Marine Corps band playing–no canned music–the tribute to our fallen service members. All of it. Awesome.

Goose bumps, I’m telling you.

I love a formal place setting. It makes me want to talk softly, smile sweetly and take tiny, delicate bites.

That last bit? Not hard to do when the dinner salad is the largest course and the formality of the evening dictates the main course be about the size of a pea.

A very delicious pea, though, I must say.

We don’t usually stay too late at the Ball, as the later the hour, the more rowdy the crowd becomes. But it’s always great for me to meet and get to know the Marines John works with, especially the people deployed with him.

Although, I’d have to say the my favorite part is watching all John’s Marines when they talk to him.

“Happy Birthday, Gunny. Nice to meet you, Ma’am. Yessir, I’m doing well. Enjoying yourself, Gunny? Have a good evening, Gunny.”

I love the terror respect.

And then I think, “What on earth? I’m married to a Gunnery Sergeant? Seriously??”

Oh, and the other fun thing was meeting the husband of a blog reader. It’s always a wee bit shocking to have someone walk up to you as you meander through the large hall and say, “Oh, hello, my wife reads your blog.” But, hey, lots of fun. (Hi, Celeste!)

For whatever reason, we didn’t take a full-length picture of the two of us other than the professional shot we’ll have back in a few weeks. Which is a big ol’ bummer.

But here’s the report, according to Troy, just before we left he and Merritt with our good friends Nicole and Jason: “Mommy? You a princess? You go to the ball class like Cinderella? You go with Daddy? He be like Prince Charming?”

So there ya have it. Cinderella and Prince Charming. Minus the wicked stepmother and glass slippers.

But the very best part of it all was hanging on the arm of my very own Prince Charming. He was dashing in those Blues.

Goodness I love that guy.