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Telling Them

March 1, 2010

It was time to tell them. To hope they’d understand.

Sitting on the couch, the four of us, cuddled close. We tried to explain.

We tried to smile.

“Daddy’s going to be far away. He’s going to do really nifty cool Marine stuff. He gets to ride on a bus and an airplane!”

Where is he going? Are we not going to see him anymore?

“Do you remember when Daddy went to Iraq when you were smaller? This place is close to Iraq. It’s called Afghanistan. Can you say Afghanistan?”

I don’t like those words! Our three year old furrowed his brow. Those are bad words!

Our two year old buried his head in Daddy’s shoulder. No go, Daddy. Stay home.

Their daddy’s rich brown eyes were glassy.

Daddy’s going to fight the bad guys, boys.”

Fight giants, Daddy? The two year old’s eyes were wide.

Will you be home when I get four, Daddy?

“No, Daddy won’t be home for your fourth birthday. No, not Christmas, either. But when you turn five, it’ll mean it’s almost time for Daddy to come home.”

But I’m not three. I’m not four either. I’m 21 now. I’m big and I’m going to go fight bad guys, too.

Help you, Daddy. Take mine sword!

“You have to stay here, guys. You have to take care of Mommy.”

No, Daddy. The three year old curled into a ball under Daddy’s arm. His little shoulders shaking and small voice broken with sobs.

No, Daddy.  The two year old stood on Daddy’s leg and wrapped his arms around Daddy’s neck, summoning all his toddler strength and squeezing hard.

My Marine looked at me over the heads of these, our precious ones, part of both of us. Our love displayed in the form of two little boys. One looks like him and acts like me. The other looks like me and acts like him. Binding us together for the rest of our days.

The moment, silent, still.

My throat closed so tightly, it threatened to suffocate me.

Is this really happening again, my beloved?

~~~

I’d like to give another family close to the military—whether you are the family, you are close to a Marine, Soldier, Airman or Sailor, or you know a military family who could be encouraged—a duo of books that have touched a tender spot in my heart.

The first is one I picked up at a library book sale months ago. I read it alone during nap time later that day and couldn’t stop the tears.

The book is simply called Daddy’s In Iraq, But I Want Him Back.

It was our story, in someone else’s words.

But really, it was the story of any family who has been through deployment. Because it’s not just the spouse or the parent who goes to war. The family left on the homefront is fighting a battle all their own, and just as important.

The second is Rain On Me, a powerful book of love-filled words by my sweet friend  Holley Gerth. She gifted me with a copy of her devotional a few weeks ago when I was in Nashville and I read it through, cover to cover, in two days. The gentle truths were written in the midst of a personal storm—and I couldn’t soak them up fast enough.

Holley has graciously offered a copy of her beautiful book to a reader here, and I’ve also secured a copy of Daddy’s In Iraq But I Want Him Back. We’d like to bless a family in or close to the military with this set of books. They are sure to be a treasure to whomever holds them in their hands.

To win the duo, simply leave the name of a military service member or family you love (even if–especially if–that family is your own) along with their branch of service. I’d like to make a list of these people, whether or not they’ve been through ten deployments or none, and keep them in prayer over the coming months. I’m not going to get gimmicky on you, because that’s not the point of this giveaway, but if you tweet about this and let me know you did so, you’ll get an extra entry.

I know you’ll be blessed.

Some Reality in the Best For Clickin’

February 17, 2010

Your comments made me cry.

I always feel so very humbled by your love and support when I share my heart, my reality.

On the deployment front, this is the time when it starts to get hard. We keep reminding ourselves that the anticipation of it–the goodbyes, the emptiness, but probably not the little boys’ heartache–is almost always worse than the actuality, because our Father gives grace for the moment.

In the vein of reality, here are a few others sharing their own authenticity:

  • Sarah, talking about the reality of criticism. Although I can’t believe this turned into a controversy about makeup.

All of these beautiful, strong women have challenged me today to pursue transparency and authenticity. Even when it’s difficult.

Because the Father gives grace in the moment.

My Heart Will Travel

February 15, 2010

I forgot.

We were busy with Christmas, then packing, then moving, then trip-taking… and I forgot about it.

My beloved, my Marine, is leaving.

For a year.

A year.

Over a year, if we want to be technical. Which we don’t.

I can’t escape it anymore. Not when it’s only a few (very short) weeks away.

Afghanistan.

I planned for it, talked about it, answered questions about it. But I didn’t let myself anticipate it.

He was playing his guitar yesterday. A song he’d play at church. I listened with my eyes closed, hoping for sleep to invade.

But instead, it crept up on me… the feeling. The encompassing dread. I pushed it down, down.

It was relentless and my pillow caught the tears.

He stopped playing.

Laid down and wrapped his arms around me.

I tightened my eyelids, willing myself to burn the feeling of his strong arms into my memory. My shoulders trembled.

I can’t forget. Need to save this moment. For the lonely times.

I know this, now, from experience. I’m not sure whether that makes it easier… or more unbearable.

He held me until I fell asleep.

Us

I knew what I was signing up for when my heart began to fall for him, this Marine of mine. But I didn’t know then how much I’d love him. 

Or that I would miss him so much before he even left.


~~~*~~~

Sandy Spot…. Take Two

December 8, 2009

DSC_3038-1

Wellllp, folks, here we go again.

Late winter. Afghanistan. Thirteen months.

We’re trying to figure out the best way to prepare the boys for deployment this time around. They’re both so much older and more aware. Troy remembers enough about the Iraq deployment to fight tears any time we mention Daddy going away for a while.

Any military moms or moms with similar experience out there? Feel free to toss out suggestions. I’m all ears.

As I type, John’s packing a bag for another globe-trotting experience–a precursor to the real thing coming up in a few months.

But the big news for the three of us left holding down the fort is that, well, the fort itself is moving.

We’re going to take this opportunity to spend a bit over a year living in my Favorite Place on Earth… John’s Colorado hometown. We’ll be within walking distance of his parents’ house and a manageable drive’s distance from my mom in Omaha.

So this Christmas is finding us soaking up every minute even more than usual, being that as soon as it’s over, we’ll be filling and taping boxes.

And gathering up military field gear.

Here we go…

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