Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Army Wife Road Trip

Well, two Sundays ago Seth told me on the phone that they could have visitors during their pass if they get a pass on Sundays from that point forward. The Drill Sergeant told him it was a risk the visitor would have to take because if their company did not get a pass, the visitor would have come for nothing. Also, the soldiers can't leave the base or get in a car or anything, and they have to have a "battle buddy" at all times. So, I told Seth that I was planning on coming the next Sunday! We were both excited, but still unsure if I would even get to see him.

Then, my air conditioner broke and I thought it was going to have to be replaced. Then, I had to have a root canal, a crown, and three fillings. Then, I got some itchy rash I thought was Shingles all over my back. I was starting to feel like Job in the Bible! I certainly was not going to drive all that way, spend all that money, and then not get to see my husband. But, I couldn't bear the thought of him thinking I was coming and then me not being there, so it all felt that much worse. I just wanted to talk to him so badly! I really almost called the emergency Red Cross number they gave us to call ONLY if an immediate family member dies. I thought I was going to...that should be enough, right? Well, after several emotional breakdowns, my daddy holding me while I cried, a fixed air conditioner and a trip to the dentist and doctor, everything got back in order. We also got some extra money that came in, so I was able to pay for it all and cover the trip. The only thing was Seth didn't want me to go alone. I don't know many people who can or would be willing to drop everything and drive to Missouri to sit while I MIGHT get to see my husband. Actually, several people probably would have done it, but I didn't even want to ask. But, I did know two other Army wives whose husbands are in Seth's company, and I figured they might be willing. (Technically I had never really met them, just chatted on Facebook.) So, I asked them to join, and of course, they figured out a way to make it happen.

We met up in Tennessee, drove to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, got to the base at 4:00 AM, running on adrenaline and the knowledge that we were actually in the same state as our husbands. We saw where they live! The address where we have been sending all these letters. We drove by the church. "OMG, they have been there!" "There is the PX, where they always come to shop!" "They can probably hear those same birds chirping!" (Yes, I actually said that, but in my defense, I was delerious.)

We get a hotel room, TRY to sleep, then get up and start getting ready feeling SUPER nervous. Every time someone's phone rang we all jumped! Is it them?! Finally at 12:30 Seth called. "Are you here?" he asked. "Yes, and do not tell them, but I have W's and E's wives with me!" Needless to say, he was very excited, and I had to tell him twice more, "Do not tell them! Their wives want to surprise them!" So, we met up with them, got introduced to all their friends, and had a wonderful visit for about 5 hours! It was just what we all needed to get through this last month. The guys were so thankful. One of the husbands came to me before we left and said, "Seriously, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much!" We all agreed the countless hours in the car, loss of sleep, money for gas and hotels, it was TOTALLY worth it! Here are some photos from the trip:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Embrace the Suck"

Well, I guess it was time. All this mushy love and God stuff and people are gonna quit reading if it doesn't get real sometime soon. Once, when I was complaining about something to Seth, he said, "Well, they have a saying here, and it goes, 'embrace the suck.'" Like, learn to love it 'cause it ain't getting any better! It's good for ya'!

I have been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately. School is out, and I do not thrive in this type of environment with no structure. See, it wasn't that bad at first because I had school all day long, where I stayed busy and interacted with real people (as opposed to my dogs, which I pretend are real people, and Facebook and Instagram people). Also, this may sound bad, but I kinda was excited about a few things that I couldn't do when Seth was at home. One, I could browse the aisles of a store, for hours if I wanted to. If you know Seth, he's not really the "browsing" type. Like, he insisted on going to the store with me, but then was rushing me out the door as soon as we got there. He's what we like to call "young at heart." :)  So I started to take an excessive amount of time in stores after he left. Another thing is, we would never agree on what we wanted to eat. It was always a compromise, and he was definitely the "three meals a day" type, where I am more of the "eat when you're hungry" type. So after he left it was a little exciting to get to pick whatever I wanted to eat! Like, if I want to buy a dozen Krispy Kremes for myself and then exist solely on doughnuts and pistachios for a week, I can! Or if I want to eat nothing but a Sonic cherry lime-aid slush all day and then go get Taco Casa at 9:30 PM, I can! I'm on MY time. I am accountable to NOONE. LOL! Sounds so awesome, but let's be real, the awesomeness has long since worn off. Forgive me while I feel sorry for myself for a minute.

Since school has been out, I have to spend a lot of time alone. I wake up alone, eat pretty much every meal alone, sit on the couch and watch TV alone, mow the grass alone, clean the house alone, kill bugs alone, run errands alone, go to sleep alone...and then get up and do it all again. It's really only been a few days of that, and don't get me wrong, I have great friends and family here, but unavoidably, while I am off work all summer and living by myself, I am going to spend the majority of my time by myself. It's a little ironic how I used to tell Seth I just needed some time alone after a long day at work. I would give anything to take those moments back and spend them with him! I pray that I never forget this feeling, that I always cherish every second I get to spend with him. I pray that for you too, that you don't take for granted the time you have with your loved ones.

Anyway, here is my relevant scripture for this post.
James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith developes perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Or, in other words, "Embrace the suck!" Who knew the Army was so well versed in scripture?! Lol! So, yes, this sucks, and it's not getting any better until July 24th; however, I do pray that God develops a stronger character in me and Seth, and that He will be able to use us because of this experience. In that, I can find joy. :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself

 God gives us a pretty clear reason that we shouldn't worry in Matthew 6:25-27. "Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air. They do not sew or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?" 

Since Seth has joined the Army, God has showered us with blessings. He has financially blessed us in so many ways. There is no denying it: all of these things are proof that God is faithful, and He will provide. After all, we are much more valuable to God than the birds, and he makes sure they are fed! Here are just a few ways God has provided: because of Seth's service to the military, our credit cards and loans are all brought down to 6% interest. I have been able to pay off several bills since he has started getting his Army paychecks. Snap Fitness contacted me about teaching Zumba two nights a week, and then increased it to 3 nights, which is an extra $60 a week out of nowhere. A friend contacted me about teaching Zumba this summer at some local daycamps. I will get over $100 extra from that. We got a letter from his job from over a year ago saying that they still owed us his last check ($120). I was able to take him off my insurance since he is now covered by the Army, which is saving us almost $100 a month. My dad had a lot of travel "points" that he was generous enough to share, so he is flying me and my sister to Colorado so I can see my school, work in my classroom, and attend a meeting for my new job. 

My new job! I applied, did a Skype interview, and got hired all within 2 weeks of finding out our first duty station. All without knowing a single soul in the entire state of Colorado. (It is all in who you know. I know Jesus!) The day I found out I got the job I had 2 letters from Seth in the mailbox. He said several times in his letters, "I pray in Jesus' name that you are going to get a teaching job in Colorado." He didn't even know at that point that I had an interview! Also, all the soldiers got to sit down with a Drill Sgt. on Memorial Day and ask questions. By then I had told him about the job, and we had a lot of questions. So, he was asking them, and he explained that I had already gotten a job. Shocked, the Drill Sgt. asked, "Warren, how did your wife already get a job?" In front of the whole group, Seth answered, "Drill Sergeant, we prayed about it." Also important to note: this job was posted the Friday before we found out we were moving to Colorado on Sunday. It was a high school language arts teaching job, and they also had an assistant cheerleading coach position. Was that made for me or what?! 

One last little story. My sister-in-law, Natalie, offered to buy me a dress to wear to Seth's graduation ceremony. She is so thoughtful and generous, and she knew I would want to have something special to wear that day. She came to town this week and took me shopping. Her mother-in-law, Linda, was also in town taking her granddaughters to swim camp, so she was shopping with us too. I found a dress that I really loved, and Nat found some things she liked too. Linda offered to buy my dress and Natalie's items! I was so humbled that she would do that for me! Then Natalie offered to buy me the jewelry to go with it! I cannot even explain how thankful I am for this blessing. When I thanked Linda, she said, with tears in her eyes, "God has blessed us, and so we bless other people." Linda recently lost her daughter, very unexpectedly, to a rare illness. Her daughter, Julie, was young and beautiful. She was a mother to five children. Attending her funeral was, by far, the saddest thong i have ever experienced. And here was Julie's mother, praising God for blessing her family, and buying a dress for ME, of all people! Because they were willing, God was able to use these two women, and I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am for their generosity. The passage from Matthew 6 goes on to say, "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lillies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Soloman in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, oh you of little faith?" (Vs. 28-30) Thank you, Lord for "MUCH MORE" clothing me! 

The flower

One of the last things Seth had to do at Basic was FTX. (Have no clue what that stands for.) Basically, they go out into the woods and spend the night and train for combat, at least that's what I gathered. So he couldn't send any letters that week, but when he got back, he sent a flower that he had picked out in the woods. It was a tiny purple flower, and he took the care to press it between paper so it would keep its color. (I did not know that little trick, but he said he remembered learning it in science class.) Anyway, I opened the letter and the little, dry, purple flower fell out. He had written, "I have a flower I am sending you from FTX. It symbolizes you because I had it the whole week and I used it as my motivation." He also said it reminded him of my beauty and love, and he thought God had placed it there just for him. (Plus, purple is my favorite color.)

So, of course, I was very touched. I wanted to keep that flower forever, but it was so delicate and looked like it could fall apart at any moment. I had an idea to make a necklace out of it. I got the supplies at Hobby Lobby. It is basically two small pieces of glass in a bronze frame. I put the flower in one and a stamp from one of his letters in the other. I put them on a brown leather necklace. I think it turned out pretty awesome! I have such a loving and thoughtful husband. I thank God for him every day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Some wedding/engagement photos

We will be celebrating 3 years of marriage the weekend after Seth graduates. 

So much bigger than us

So, when Seth first left I took it way harder than I had expected. It was like it didn't sink in until the actual day he left. I had to call in to work and say I couldn't come back that afternoon. The reality sunk in, and though I still trusted God, the fact that I wouldn't get to see him for 5 months was weighing on me. We got no phone calls besides the initial "I have arrived at Fort Leonard Wood. I am safe. I will call you when I can." I will never forget that one! I started getting letters pretty early though, and reading Seth's words was so soothing to the pain I felt. I would rush home to the mailbox and then read the same letters over and over again. The thing that gave the most comfort from those early letters was the realization and proof that we had been obedient and God's plan was set into action. At reception (where they wait before basic even starts) Seth had started a bible study. He said more and more guys were coming to him for prayer and guidance. He told the married men about our God-centered relationship, and they said they wanted that with their wives.  Seth and I both began to really grow closer to God and each other. He started bringing guys to church. Several got saved on Easter. One funny thing that happened was a drill sergeant came up and apologized to Seth because he had cussed in church earlier that week. You have seen the movies. you know what the language is like. You know how drill sergeants treat SITs (soldiers in training) and it sure isn't likely that they would  apologize for anything, especially something as common as using profanity. Seth said, "I don't even know how he knew I was a Christian." Well, I do. One of Seth's favorite verses, Matthew 5:16, says, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven." Anyone who has ever been around Seth has seen this light. He is so full of joy and laughter. People want to be around him because he just shines from within. You cannot deny God's power in the presence of a light like that. He has a joy that others long for. It is so strong, it became evident to a drill sergeant during the first and hardest days of Army Basic Combat Training. My favorite book in the Bible is Esther (also the name of my PRECIOUS niece). Esther 4:14 says, "...And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this." At such a difficult time, God gave us comfort by showing us, over and over, that we were put in this position "for such a time as this." 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

To answer the question: Why?

Why did Seth join the Army? FYI, I and many other Army wives would probably much rather hear, "Thank you for your husband's service," than feel like we have to scramble to find the words explain why. But, we do try to explain, mainly to get past the disapproving look on your face when you ask, "why?" There are several reasons that we made our decision. Seth needed a career path. He was running into one closed door after another in Tuscaloosa, and it became clear that our "season" here was over. It was time to move on, at least for now, in order for him to get some job training, education, and experience. Seth had been thinking about it for a while and we started to pray. We prayed for several months and felt like maybe the military was what God wanted us to do. We knew it would be a good ministry opportunity, and we would get to travel the world together. :) Plus, Seth could finish his degree, make a career of it, or get a job like military police where he could get out after his initial enlistment and get a policeman job somewhere. There are a lot of other benefits too, like insurance, lower interest rates, etc. I was thinking pretty logically, but I can honestly say I think Seth just felt right about it, and he wanted to serve his country. He knew that joining the service was something to be proud of. So, after a lot of prayer, we were ready to become "army strong." But, we were still met with a lot of opposition, from godly people whom we respected, so we were still a little unsure. This decision, to sign your life over, is not one you want to be unsure about. We started to be very specific in our prayers. We prayed that when we met with the recruiter to see which jobs were available to him, that we would know based on those jobs if we should go forward or not. We prayed this a lot, but one more time before we walked into the meeting. He had like 3 jobs he was interested in, and we wanted him to be able to start sooner rather than later so I would have time to find a teaching job in our new place before it was too late. We wet into the meeting to find out that his number one job choice (military police) was available, and he would leave in about a month! (Normally it takes 4-6 months.) We knew God had answered our prayers, and that is "why" we made the decision.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven"...it goes on to say "a time to plant and a time to uproot." (Verse 2)

Matthew 28:19 tells us to "go and make disciples of all nations."

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pictures I took after Seth first left for Basic Training

These are pictures of me, our Cane Corso, Sam, and our adopted beauty (mutt), Lucy. As soon as I got his address, which was several weeks after he'd been gone, I sent him these pictures and all the letters I had been writing him. (We didn't get to talk on the phone for over a month.) He says he sleeps with the picture of me by his heart every night. His drill sergeant even asked about it. Now the other married men do the same thing. <3 He also said the drill sergeants look at their pictures. At the beginning of BCT (basic combat training) they are not yet considered soldiers. They aren't supposed to say "hooah" or do any other "army" things. When they saw the pics of Sam with his "Hooah" sign, they started joking and said, "That dog's not a soldier! Warren, you tell that dog to get in push-up position." Lol! Seth says they don't do it often, but it's always good to get the Drill Sergeants to laugh.

My Handsome Soldier

To start...

I am starting this blog because seemingly out of nowhere my husband and I decided that the Army would be a good career for him. (We are both 26 and have been living in Tuscaloosa, Al for quite a while.) He is in Missouri now, completing his AIT training to become a military police officer, and though what he is doing is WAY more difficult than my role here, I am left, all alone, to field the numerous and sometimes intrusive questions/comments people like to ask/say. (For example, "Why in the world would you let him do that?" Or "Aren't you afraid he could die?" or my personal favorite, "Make sure you..." followed by whatever expert advice this person has about military life, moving, finding a job, etc.) I don't mean to come off as rude, as I really do love sharing our story; it can just be exhausting sometimes. So, I wanted to start a blog to tell our story, share our adventures, and most importantly give God the credit for His guiding hand in all of this. Also, I wanted my students, coworkers, zumba ladies, and other people with whom I won't regularly communicate to be able to keep up with me and Seth. Well, here's the initial post, and I will be posting more soon!