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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.


~~~*~~~

Valetines, Schmalentines

February 12, 2010

Okay, I admit it. I’m a bit of a humbugger when it comes to the good ol’ Lovey Dovey Day. Actually, both John and I are, so, hey, it works well.

We were talking this morning about all of our Valentine’s Days together and realized that, lo and behold, we’ve only really and truly made V-Day plans ONCE in the six years we’ve been together.

Year numero uno, we were engaged. John gave me some red roses, some chocolate and an uber-soft little brown stuffed dog holding a red heart in his mouth. The dog actually smelled like chocolate. I still have him, only the red heart is gone thanks to my oldest son swinging it around for hours at a time and the uber-soft fur lost its appeal after my nieces decided to give the dog a bath in the toilet. Which may or may not have been filled with clean water. We will never know.

(I had to retype the word dog five times just now before I got it right. My fingers want to type “god” instead of “dog.” Guess you can tell what word I type often around here, huh? Helpful hint: it’s not dog.)

So that was Hearts and Flowers Day #1. Oh, and, unbeknownst to me, John had planned to take me to the one and only fancy (yet still family-owned) restaurant in our little town. But we ended up being invited over to the home of our very first “couple friends” for dinner, which of course we did instead because, hello? Being considered a real live couple by a real live MARRIED couple? Big deal when you’re only wearing the engagement ring.

I’m thinking it was a good thing, too, being that only a few months later, that nice little fancy restaurant was rumored to be closing its doors due to failure to meet the health code. Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day, future spouse!” like salmonella, right?

Red, Pink and White Day #2 found us married and realizing how seriously RIDICULOUS we thought the whole cards, dinner, date, etc. thing, so I did my best to make new-wife-spaghetti into something fancy by adding Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese and serving it in a heart-shaped Le Creuset dish. Fan-SAY. After dinner we made a split second decision to go see a movie, but ended up stuck in dead-standstill-the-highway’s-closed-ahead-but-there’s-nowhere-to-turn-around-for-miles TRAFFIC and missed the show. We made it in time for the 10:30pm show… but basically fell asleep. What amour.

Valentine’s Day #3 was the one and only time we actually made–and kept–our plans. We were out of town for a work trip of John’s and I was about a month away from having our first baby. I did my best to dress up and make myself pretty despite the burgeoning belly and we took advantage of being someplace other than the podunk Marine base on which we lived by livin’ it up that night. Nice dinner, gifts, cards, lots of chocolate and we even managed to make it to a movie. What we saw clearly made a lasting impression on my heart and life being that I can’t remember a single thing about it other than that it was animated (who said our taste had to be mature??) and had something to do with people (animals?) and Little Red Riding Hood (or was it the three little pigs?).

For the very life of me, I can’t remember a single, solitary thing about year #4. I know we were in the middle of moving, had just found out we were expecting Merritt, Troy was about to turn one, John got orders to a new duty station and was told he was going to Iraq in coming months. Can anyone say, um, maybe a bit stressed? We might have done something Valentine related that year, but I doubt it. I’m guessing it was more along the lines of, “Wait, what’s today again? Something about hearts and love and flowers? I dunno. Okay now where’s another moving box….?”

And then there was last year. But you all know about last year. It was the best. Which is actually quite surprising, being that it was also the year my very own Valentine was, you know, HALFWAY ACROSS THE GLOBE. Anyway. Moving right along.

Which, my dear sweet enduring people, brings us to this year. This year, which finds us back together again. (Cue sappy music.) This year, in which we just opted out of the whole gift and card thing altogether because (le tear) we don’t need a DAY to tell each other how much we love each other. This year, in which we have two rambunctious boys who crack us up all day and whom we really just prefer to have near us. This year, when we don’t feel like paying a babysitter to watch them while we brave the crowds just because we’re supposed to get out and DO something. This year, in which we are closer than ever to each other and to the true definition of love. This year, in which we simply have a normal, nice day as a family. This year, which found us standing in the kitchen together making a nice little meal and then drinking milk from our “fancy” goblets with dinner. This year, when romance in our relationship is more alive every day than it’s ever been on past Card and Chocolate Days.

This year, when our version of a romantic night is sitting on the couch side by side, eating homemade blueberry pie (see? I did SOMETHING sweet for my Valentine.) and… you know… being the total geeks we are and hanging out on our respective laptops.

(Sappy music recording screeches to a halt.)

I know, the mushiness of it is astounding.

I think I may well be the Scrooge of Valentine’s Day (or maybe not. What do you do? Love it or hate it?) but I’m here to tell you that real life romance is alive and well, my friends. Whether or not you made big plans or gave red and white gifts.

Alive and well.

Obviously reposted from Valentine’s Day 2009. Because once again, our uber-exciting Lovey Dovey plans include unpacking boxes. We are clearly still as humbuggish as ever.

So. That whole move thing?

January 4, 2010

It’s still happening. Don’t be getting any ideas.

It’s just that… welp… I don’t exactly know how to, you know, DO a move.

You’d think, since we’ve changed base camp four times now, I’d be closing in on pro status. But our first few moves were no biggie, in-town house swaps. For our last move, which was only a few hours away, the Marine Corps has this handy dandy thing where they–gasp!–arrive at your house with a big moving truck, walk inside with an armful of boxes and tape, pack it all up, move it all out, drive it to your new house and unpack the boxes.

I know, pampered, right?

Except for the part where your TV screen gets smashed in, one leg of the kitchen table mysteriously vanishes, your antique family heirloom china is in pieces and your wedding dress ends up in Guam, it’s a system fit for a queen.

(No, those didn’t all happen to us… but I know people to whom they did.)

But THIS move is a little different because

A.) We’ve decided to make this move apart from a typical USMC re-stationing, thus

B.) we have to move ourselves, and being that

C.) we’ve never moved ourselves more than a few blocks away, let alone a few states, I’m a little worried, especially being that

D.) John will have long days (and nights) of major training between now the

E.) less than four weeks before we move.

So, basically, I have no clue what I’m doing or how I’m going to do it.

We have friends who have offered to help load up the truck and such, but it’s this whole getting ready to move thing I’m not so sure about. Where do we start with the packing? The bedrooms? The living room? Is it better to use bubble wrap or paper? Do we go room by room or group types of items together? How can I do this with a three year old and two year old who are having a hard time with all the changes? How do we manage to say goodbye to everyone we want to see in the next three weeks? How can we keep from eating macaroni and cheese and Del Taco for the next month?

And most importantly, how can I do it all and keep from pulling out all my hair or ending up in the looney bin before it’s all over?

Getting an answer to that last one seems a little… sketchy.

(Here’s the part where you come in.)

Being that most people in this world have done a bit more moving than I have, I’m enlisting your help.

I need your #1 moving tip. Or maybe your Top Ten.

Badly.

Because I have a living room full of boxes to pack, three weeks in which to do it and only an hour till nap time is over.

Please and Thank You.

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