Music Monday: Help Me Find It – Sidewalk Prophets

6652e8ffe624f821baea1726756fdb7fIt’s easy to go about life, sometimes feeling like you have no clear idea of what you’re supposed to be doing. What the bigger picture for your life is. And sometimes, when you think you know, something is thrown into your life that turns it all around and upside down.

When my husband and I would talk about this “pending deployment” (now a current deployment), I couldn’t help but feel like the ground under my feet was falling away from me. Any sense of security was gone. All those plans we had, put on hold or wiped away altogether. And I felt like I was left standing alone.

What I’ve come to realize is that I’m never alone. Yes, I’m lonely (who wouldn’t be with their best friend 1/2 way across the world). But lonely is not the same as being alone. My husband is there for me as much as he can be, however there is someone else I can rely on. Someone else that I should rely on. Someone else that I should trust with the most intimate parts of my life.

I’ve had a lot of questions in my life since this deployment was first mentioned in our home – which means there has been a lot of questions in our home for almost two years now. This deployment was on and off so many times I’m still dizzy.

I still don’t have all of the answers, but I feel called to speak openly about the challenges of being both a military spouse and an LEO wife.

My message is for those that feel alone. My message is for those that feel misunderstood. My message is for you. Some people might not like what I have to say…sometimes the truth is very painful to hear.

This song has always brought me comfort, and I hope that you find comfort in it too. If there is a road you should walk, He will help you find it.

I don’t know where to go from here
It all used to seem so clear
I’m finding I can’t do this on my own

I don’t know where to go from here
As long as I know that You are near
I’m done fighting
I’m finally letting go

I will trust in You
You’ve never failed before
I will trust in You

If there’s a road I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will
Whatever Your will
Can you help me find it
Can you help me find it

I’m giving You fear and You give faith
I giving you doubt
You give me grace
For every step I’ve never been alone

Even when it hurts, You’ll have Your way
Even in the valley I will say
With every breath
You’ve never let me go

I will wait for You
You’ve never failed before
I will wait for You

If there’s a road I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will
Whatever Your will
Can you help me find it
Can you help me find it

I lift my empty hands (come fill me up again)
Have Your way my King (I give my all to You)
I lift my eyes again (Was blind but now I see)
‘Cause You are all I need

If there’s a road I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will
Whatever Your will
Can you help me find it
Can you help me find it

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No, I Don’t Have Time For You

Busy-I-Am-Too-300x3002And no, I’m not trying to be rude. There is no subliminal message, no ulterior motive, no big secret as to why I can’t attend this event. Or drive 30 minutes to your house. Or go out to dinner. Or even have you over for dinner. I’m so busy, I don’t even have time to explain to you why I’m so busy. So stop asking for my time, and stop making me repeat myself in a thousand different ways.

My spouse is deployed. Most days, I feel like I’m drowning in more ways that one. Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, you name it. It’s me, just me, and I have a beautiful, sensitive, energetic, and stubborn three year old to raise in her Daddy’s absence. I have to be both people not only for her, but for pretty much every aspect of our life. All responsibility is on me. My shoulders.

Yes, I know you offer to help. But most things you can’t help with. You can’t be her mom. Can’t pay my bills. Can’t run my business. Can’t do the accounting for my business, or run my rental property. Can’t write my papers or take my class. These are the things that consume my time, and only I can do them.

You can’t be my husband when I need comfort. Yes, you can provide comfort – but you’re not him and its just not the same. You can’t be my husband when I’m longing to be loved, touched, and held. You can’t be the person that I need or want to talk to when anything comes up. That’s my husband, and no one can replace him. And I miss him like crazy. Every day is painful without him.

If and when I need help, trust me, I’m asking for it. Don’t be surprised that it might not be you though, for no other reason then I spread out my requests and SOSs amongst all of the people in my life. Furthermore, if you make me feel guilty about asking for help, bail on me when I need you (and you said you’d be there), or betray my trust while helping, I’m most likely not going to ask for help from you again. Basically, if you make me feel “icky” in any way while helping, I’m not asking for help from you again.

1505177_450424281725457_138363339_nSure, maybe you could go grocery shopping for me. But, that would require me to make a shopping list, and I don’t have time for that. Sure, maybe you could clean my house. But, that would require me having cleaning supplies on hand, and I haven’t had time to go shopping to restock. Sure, maybe you could babysit, but whatever little time I do find I want to spend with my daughter. She needs me, and I need her.

I don’t need more issues in my life. I don’t personally need it, my marriage doesn’t need it, my child doesn’t need it, my husband doesn’t need it. I don’t have time or the energy to add any additional negativity to my life. I don’t have time or the energy to respond to a million questions. I keep a pretty tight personal bubble these days – it’s a survival tool.

If I need space, please respect it. I’m trying to survive. Don’t add more pressure to me, don’t make me feel like how I’m handling things in the wrong way, don’t speak to me like its my job to appease you.

What do I have time for? For people to lift me up. Tell me you’re thinking of me, but don’t ask for my time, because I don’t have any to give. Tell me you’re praying for me, but don’t ask me questions you know I can’t answer. I wish I had answers too. Tell me you’re here for me, but do not expect me to “make something up” just so you can help me. And for goodness sake, don’t get mad at me when I don’t ask for help. Trust me, this isn’t about you.

And I don’t have time to explain myself. Again.

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2015 Military Spouse of the Year: How the Nomination Changed My Life

photoWhen I first started my blog, I had no idea the impact (if any) that it would have on my life, or on the life of anyone else. I just needed to write – to get things off my chest. To hopefully be heard, but most importantly, hopefully help someone else through my journey.

Only a few days into my new blog, I received an email from Military Spouse magazine. “What’s this?” I thought to myself. I then opened an email that would forever change my life.

This email was in regard to a nomination for the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year Award. I briefly touched on this in my Military Equality post: the dear friend that nominated me has a husband too, but through a series of IED blasts he had to be removed from the deployment. He worked through the pain for months. Stayed on deployment much longer than he should have, but he would not leave his fellow Soldiers. It got to the point where he could hardly walk. They couldn’t find answers. This was over four years ago. They still do not have answers, and they are still sacrificing.

And with all of that, she nominates me. Me? Somehow, someway, I made an impact on her life. But what I want her to know, is what an impact she and her husband have had in my life. When I need strength, I look to them. When I need patience, I look to them. When I need to remind myself what unconditional love within the military is, I look to them.

And when I think of my own struggles, I am reminded that I am not alone. I am reminded that each military family has their own struggles and challenges, regardless of branch, deployment status, MOS, etc.

You can ask my husband – I was pretty upset, bitter, angry, confused, and a whole bunch of other emotions when this deployment came into our life. I kept wanting to change our situation. He’s served before, now we have a young daughter, and I was left asking myself “why us, why now, why does he have to go…again?”

He would attempt to answer these questions: This is what he’s called to do, we’re not the only family making sacrifices, he would always regret it if he didn’t go, and the list goes on and on. Are all of these answers reasonable? Absolutely. But, in the moment, those aren’t necessarily the things we’re wanting to hear. Sometimes, we just want to have an adult version of a tantrum.

And honestly, that’s where I was at. For a long time, for a period of time longer than it should have been. Yes, this is a challenge for me – but its a daily challenge for 1,000’s of our military families across the world. And when that nomination email came to my inbox, the reality of the situation and the need for a change in my heart was all too apparent.

Maybe I’m the first spouse to feel this way (doubtful), or maybe I’m taking a leap of faith here in voicing my struggles. To acknowledge that yes, this is hard, really, really hard. I want other spouses and military significant others (or anyone – mother, sister, daughter, father, son, brother, etc.) to know that its okay to acknowledge the struggles and challenges of loving and supporting a US Service-member. It’s a rewarding vulnerability for sure – but one that is so, so worth it.

To my friend who took the time to submit a nomination for me: I love you. I cherish you. I honor you. I see you. I hear you. I will speak up for you. I want you to know how humbled I have been through this process, and that I take both the nomination and role of 2015 Oregon National Guard Military Spouse of the Year whole heartedly – and with a sense of motivation, drive, passion, and determination.

The timing of this whole process was nothing short of “perfect timing.” This process has allowed me to heal, renew my pursuit of military equality, and love my husband and this crazy life in new ways. To anyone who loves and supports a US service member – I love you. I cherish you. I honor you. I see you. I hear you. And I will speak up for you. see-hear-matter

Music Monday: This Year’s Love – David Gray

39ea333a98449ac4929a6c2a92d1c275This Year’s Love by David Gray is “our song.” Probably not your conventional, typical song for a couple, but that’s one of the many reasons why I love it. This song was the topic of conversation for our very first phone call over ten years ago. When I wanted him to kiss me for the first time? I casually had this song playing in the background (in my defense, he did tell me that hearing this song makes him feel romantic…so I went for it). Did he kiss me? Nope. That’s for another story – but we still laugh about it to this day. Let’s just say that he’s happy I didn’t give up on him after that!

Its not about how easy love is, or about how perfect it is. Its about the realities of love, how people are hurt within love, turning in circles, but continuing to love anyway. My husband is both a full-time LEO and an Army National Guard Soldier. Our life is not easy, in fact it is very hard most of the time. But, I wouldn’t change him, or our life, for anything, and we have to just take each year’s challenges as they come.

I hope you enjoy this song as much as we have:

This years love had better last,
Heaven knows it’s high time,
I’ve been waiting on my own too long
And when ya hold me like you do
It feels so right oh now
I start to forget how my heart gets torn
When that hurt gets thrown
Feeling like you can’t go on

Turning circle’s and time again
Cut like a knife oh now
If ya love me gotta know for sure
‘Cause it takes something more this time
Than sweet sweet lies oh now
Before I open up my arms and fall
Loosing all control
Every dream inside my soul
When ya kiss me on that midnight street
Sweep me off my feet
Singing ain’t this life so sweet

This years love it better last

This years love it better last
‘Cause who’s to worry if our hearts get torn
When that hurt gets thrown
Don’t ya know this life goes on
Won’t ya kiss me on that midnight street
Sweep me off my feet
Singing ain’t this life so sweet

This years love it better last
This years love it better last
This years love it better last
This years love it better last
This years love it better last,
Woah woah woah I yeah
This years love it better last

2015 Military Spouse of the Year: Top 18 Update

Top 18Today Military Spouse magazine announced the Top 18 candidates for the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year. I was beyond humbled, honored, and surprised when I realized that I was amongst the Top 18! You can read about all 18 candidates here. The next round of voting will occur on ONE DAY – February 4th for the branch-level winners (one per branch). I encourage all of you to read about all of the candidates, and vote for EACH category (National Guard, Marines, Coast Guard, Army, Navy, and Air Force).

As mentioned in my 2015 Military Spouse of the Year: Round One Update post, I was named the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year for the Oregon National Guard. This is an honor and responsibility that I take whole heartedly, and I have big dreams and ambitions for what I can do within this role. Jeff Bezos said, “You don’t choose your passions, your passions choose you.” This couldn’t be more true.

I have wanted to get involved with supporting and lifting up other military spouses for quite some time, a dream that started during my husband’s first deployment 4 years ago. When this second deployment reared its head in our life – I decided I couldn’t be silent anymore. What if I could help one person, just one person by sharing my story and voicing my opinions and dreams? I didn’t know how to start, but I knew that I just had to start, period. You can read more about my passion and reasons for being a MilSpouse blogger/writer here. Yellow Ribbon Image

Locally, I’m looking into the opportunity to speak on a panel at upcoming Yellow Ribbons events in some “spouse to spouse” sessions. I look forward to the opportunity to speak to and with other spouses about reintegration, the unique challenges we face as National Guard families, and be a resource and sounding board for those spouses who need emotional support. The first time my husband deployed, I quickly learned how easy it is to feel alone – and I am actively working to prevent that from happening to any other spouse.

I am also currently working on my first book (title to be released upon obtaining a publisher), with the focus of the unique challenges we face as National Guard spouses and families. It’s not a how-to book, there are no checklists or steps – it’s just me, talking about emotional survival, challenges, and the path to strengthen my own marriage by learning to understand my husband’s heart (no matter how difficult it makes our life). I’m about four chapters into my book, and I’m very excited to share it once it is complete! My dream is to have it handed out (for free obviously) at all Yellow Ribbon events.

In regard to Yellow Ribbon events themselves, I want to start working with my local state to hopefully be involved in the process to revamp how they are currently conducted. Feedback that I have heard from most people within the military disregard those events and brush them off – as they have not truly spoken to the hearts of those that attend. I want the events to be meaningful, purposeful, and one that spouses and their families want to attend.

The other big issue with these events is that they are usually spread out, and many families cannot attend due to the nature of the National Guard (families having no local base and being very spread out geographically). I want to create more online resources or a system to allow those spouses and families that can’t attend the events to have access to the same level of information. Make sure that the any and all information at the Yellow Ribbon event is accessible to ALL spouses and families (within OPSEC of course). I don’t want distance, life obligations, or any other circumstance to get in the way of providing the highest level of information and support.Pledge-Of-Allegiance-

Finally, I want to help bridge the gap between the various branches of the military. I firmly believe that we are one family, one united front. As stated in my Military Equality post: The Army cannot do it on their own. The Marines cannot do it on their own. The Air Force cannot do it on their own. The Navy cannot do it on their own. The Coast Guard cannot do it on their own. They must work in unity, in oneness.

Now yes, I understand each plays a different role, and each has a different set of ranks, military specialties, etc. That’s not my point. My point is, they serve the same nation. They serve the same people. They serve you. They serve me. In our Pledge of Allegiance, we pledge allegiance to who? The United States of America. What do we stand for? One nation, indivisible. How do we accomplish this? With liberty and justice FOR ALL.

This is part of my mission, and I’m working on a project to close the gap both in the civilian world and the military community. To bring awareness that each branch has their own set of unique challenges – none of which are better or worse than another branches’ challenges. They are just different – and we need to support everyone. Lift everyone up. Be a nation indivisible. Will you join me?

One Nation

Rewarding Vulnerability

There is no love greater,
Than the one that we know,
Even through all of the distance,
And all of the lows.

Yet there’s little understanding
For the role that we play,
To love our Soldiers regardless,
Every night and each day.

How do you do it?
A question often asked,
It’s complicated yet simple,
Feeling the need to be masked.

We’re told by society to keep smiling,
be strong,
To act like everything is fine,
And that nothing is wrong.

But, it’s not always dreamy,
In fact it’s really quite hard,
Our heart is always vulnerable,
It’s always on guard.

We cry and get angry,
And get confused too,
Yet we love and we wait,
So they can protect you.

Yes, the goodbyes are many,
and the stresses are high,
But the homecomings are worth it,
The best reason to cry.

Our hugs become tighter,
Our kisses more sweet,
A greater appreciation,
for every time that we greet.

You see, this love is rewarding,
It’s one of a kind,
It’s the love that we’ve dreamed of,
And prayed one day to find.

These challenges and trials,
are just par for the course,
Strengthening our love for our Soldier,
Of the US Armed Forces.

Eternity

Constantly Committed Amongst Constant Chaos

chaos3The title might be a mouthful, but it describes my life. Describes our life. Describes the everyday life during deployment. When your significant other is away (whether drill, or training, or work, or deployment), all of the responsibility is left to you. Deployments or long trainings make this extra challenging, as there is no reprieve for a long time.

No matter what your life circumstances are: significant other with or without kids or spouse with or without kids – the reality is that you’re maxed out. Over committed. And your life is probably chaos (both on the inside and the outside). Here’s a little bit about my chaos:

My husband is deployed (this maximizes the chaos of the following items). We have a three year old daughter (trying to raise her with patience, obedience, love, understanding, compassion, and everything else on minimal energy). We have a 6-year old yellow lab that still acts like he’s 6 months old. We are blessed to own our home – but I’m also blessed with all of the maintenance that comes along with it. We have a rental property for me to manage.

I run my own business. I’m taking one college course to further my knowledge in my career (already have my bachelor’s degree). I’m writing what is the equivalent of my career’s thesis paper (I’ve spent over 100 hours on it, and I’m not even close to being 1/4 of the way done).  Oh, and I’m trying to write my first book to help other National Guard and Reservist Spouses survive their deployments and the civilian world. That’s just the big stuff.

Then there is the other everything else items: cooking, cleaning, laundry (including dreaming of actually putting them away), dishes, take out the trash, feed the kid, clean the kid, feed the dog, water the dog, clean the dog, gas up the car, go grocery shopping, clean the car (or…..not), pay the bills, answer calls/texts/emails, and the list goes on and on. Don’t forget to add nurture relationships in there too.

Even if there is a down moment, my mind is filled with what needs to happen next. I feel like I’m on a spinning gerbil wheel and I can’t get off. Even if I’m not figuring out my next step in life, I’m thinking about him: Is he okay? Is he safe? When will I hear from him? Will we have a good conversation? My mind never shuts off.

I also need to send care packages to my husband. Email him. Send him letters. Speak his love language. I enjoy all these things – but I often find myself feeling guilty for not doing enough or feeling that I’m not being enough for him. Why? Because I’m constantly bombarded with the everyday responsibilities that consume my time.

Yes, some of these items above are by choice. But, it doesn’t help when someone points that out. Plus, I can’t say no. I can’t just stop being a parent. I can’t just stop being a wife. I can’t just stop paying the bills, or stop doing the laundry. I could stop my class or stop my demonstration report for my career…but these are things I had planned well before the deployment was thrown into my life. Our life. By saying no to the things for me, I feel that I’d be losing myself.

My husband didn’t say no. He chose to stand up, raise his hand, and say “send me. I’ll go.” Why did he say yes? Because this is what he feels called to do.

There was a point where he was willing to say no, for me. To stay home, for me. But I could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice. He would always regret it if he didn’t answer the call. (This is for another post). I’m blessed to be married to a man that wants me to pursue my callings too.

I too would regret if I didn’tanswer the call answer my calling: to reach out to other part time military spouses and be an emotional sounding board so they know they are not alone. It’s a calling that I’ve had for a number of years, but life kept getting in the way. I don’t know how I’m going to do it – I’m just going to write, and keep writing. And pray that I help someone. Be a resource for those that feel there is no resource.

So, here we are: constantly committed amongst constant chaos. And that’s okay. At least it helps pass the time!