Category Archives: Everyday Life

Why this Christ Follower is over Christmas…

Christmas 1987.
I was seven and I was very aware of some things going on in our home.
I knew that we were very poor, not destitute, but only one missed day of work from it.
I knew that my dad was worthless in the fiscal department, making him my Momma’s third child.
And I knew that Christmas was stressing my momma out.
I watched her whole demeanor change shortly after Thanksgiving. She went from being okay to being depressed. Her “can-do” attitude transformed to the “give-up” attitude. And at seven years old, I knew why: She had no idea how she was going to afford presents for my sister and I. She was going over her bills in her mind thinking of which one she could skip, even though she knew the snowball effect from it would devastate the delicate ecosystem of “getting by” that she had designed. She didn’t have credit. Daddy had ruined that for her long ago…right along with her pride. She couldn’t ask her family for help either because they all needed the same. So, there she was, depressed, working her fingers to the bone, wondering how the hell she was gonna give her little girls something for Christmas. And as much as she tried to pretend everything was okay and as much as she tried to hide her tears….I knew.
And as much as she had tried to redirect the true meaning of Christmas back to the priceless birth of Jesus, her family had already bought into the secular aspect of it.
Three days ago, I stood in a store in front of a lady, waiting for her to ask my friend and I, “can I help you?”, but she couldn’t put her phone down long enough to bother. I stared at her with my aggravated eyes, not bothering to listen to what she was saying to the person on the phone. I thought to myself, “I’m gonna ask to speak to her supervisor as soon as she puts that phone down”, but then I saw it. I saw the look in her eyes. It was a look of panic and stress. It was a look of defeat that I had seen before and I knew. I knew because I had seen that same look every year in my own Momma’s eyes at this time. Then I begin to listen to what she was saying, right in front of me, to that person on the phone, “but sir, I cannot send any money until after the first of the year”, “yes sir, I understand, but I just can’t send anything until then”. I wonder which bill she wasn’t paying to buy presents for her family? I wonder if she even knows why we celebrate Christmas? It didn’t look like much of a celebration to her. She looked like she couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over. I wonder if anyone has ever told her that it’ll be okay if you don’t meet the standards of the world? I wonder if she knows that it’s okay to just give love? I wonder if she knows that just meeting the basic needs of her family should be gift enough for them? I wonder if she realizes that every time she looks at the gifts she gave her children, she will think, “that toy was my light bill money”? I wonder if she knows that she’s already bitter about this season? I wonder if she knows that her children will still love her even if she doesn’t get them the latest and greatest gadget? I wonder if she knows that the smiles and appreciation she will receive after the gift is given, will be temporary?
I wonder if she’ll ever grasp the real reason of it all…
I wonder if she knows that every good and perfect gift comes from Him?

It’s the expectation that I’m over. It’s the fake, “it’s-better-to-give-than-receive” bull crap saying that people tell themselves as they swipe that overused credit card, that I’m over. It’s the pressure to meet the standard that I’m over. I’m over it for the people that can’t bare that pressure. I’m over it because my Buddhist friend and my atheist friend both have freakin Christmas trees up in their homes. What exactly are they celebrating? The spirit of giving? I’m over what it does to hard working people like my momma and the lady behind the counter.
I’m over the secularized version of Christmas. Over. it. Don’t do it. Don’t buy into it. Don’t let your kids buy into it.
If your Christmas has become anything other than the celebration of the birth of Christ, please, please, redirect it. I’m not saying, “don’t buy gifts”. I’m saying, “don’t buy into the pressure of meeting the standards of what the world has made Christmas”.
It’s free.

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Military Ceremony & FLAG ETIQUETTE

In my years as an Army wife, I have attended more military ceremonies than I can recall.

There’s a beauty to them, that I love.

Recently, I attended a ball for my husband’s unit.

I love standing beside him as he stands at attention, as he salutes, as he works his way through the ceremonial rituals.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand as our Nation’s color’s are presented”.

I stand and wait for the cue of my husband because I know that he knows which way the flag will be brought in.

He turns to face the back of the room, standing at attention.

I turn, AND PLACE MY HAND OVER MY HEART.

We watch the flag enter with the color guard as the drums are rolling.

It’s beautiful, as it gently flutters in the breeze from being carried.

As it passes, we turn with it until it makes it’s way on stage and I stand there with MY HAND STILL OVER MY HEART.

And I keep it there until the presenting of the colors ceremony is finished.

I look around and I only see a handful of wives doing the same as me.

I gasped as I saw some of them talking!

HOW DARE YOU TALK DURING THAT!!!

YOUR HUSBAND LAYS HIS LIFE ON THE LINE FOR THAT FLAG!

AND IT’LL BE THE LAST THING YOU’RE HANDED IF HIS LIFE IS TAKEN DEFENDING IT.

So, please…please, please, please show some respect for your Nation’s Flag.

If it passes you in a parade: PUT YOUR HAND OVER YOUR HEART AND FOLLOW IT BY TURNING YOUR BODY AS IT PASSES AND DO NOT TALK.

If it is being presented or retired by the color guard: DO THE SAME THING LISTED ABOVE.

If you are unsure: AGAIN, DO THE SAME THING LISTED ABOVE.

And for further information concerning our NATION’S FLAG: click here.

Thank you for your time.

 

Civilian Friends, Listen Up!

Something you should understand, as a “civilian”, about your military spouse friends:

Time is our most precious asset with our spouse, so if it can be spent with them, instead of you, please understand and do not get offended. REMEMBER our husbands do NOT work a regular 9-5, so we don’t get to see them everyday. One day we can give you all of our attention and the next, we can’t. It’s not you. It’s nothing personal. It’s our life. Be excited for us when our husband returns. Don’t get your panties in a wad because we can’t meet for lunch or hang out on the weekends as much. Again, it’s nothing personal. It’s a priority thing. And we are not using you as a distraction while our husbands are gone, either, so get that out of your head. We want to be friends with you, but we want you to understand our lifestyle and respect it. And if we make it through all of this and we find ourself geographically separated from you, don’t forget us.

 

 

 

The Morning After

Naturally, we congregated and there we sat, the morning after, still in a daze.

Confused.

Shocked.

Remembering.

Grief etched on our faces and heard in every word spoken.

God?

It’s hard to see You through this pain, this grief, this wailing wall,

this interim.

This interim of time between grief and heaven.

Because we all feel it, right? At some point or another, we are in that time. That time of in-between.

Remember in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the day after Jesus dies on the cross?

In Matthew, it just says that the priests (the same priests that yelled “CRUCIFY”) went to Pilot to have the tomb where He lay, sealed and guarded.

That’s the only account of the in-between Jesus dying for you and the resurrected Jesus to give you life more abundantly.

What did the disciples do?

Well, we know they congregated, because on the third day, resurrected Jesus was among them.

I bet they were the same as us: dazed, confused, shocked, grief-stricken, wailing, hopeless.

Remembering.

Questioning.

Still following, but maybe struggling with the follow.

Waiting.

Waiting for the in-between to be over.

One of my most favorite verses in the Bible: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31.

Some versions use the word “trust” instead of “wait”.

They that trust.

They that trust in the in-between, shall renew their strength.

So, whatever you’re in-between…

Sickness.

Deployment.

Terrible twos.

Marriage woes.

Divorce.

Finances.

Grief.

Trust Him.

Wait for Him.

Hope in Him.

Sometimes it’ll be hard.

But, keep on keepin’ on.

Because you know what?

On the third day…

He rose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 years ago

The alarm had already went off to get up for PT, but he hit snooze…

and in the nine minutes between, I had a weird feeling. 

Did I seriously just pee in the bed? (hahaha)

I get up to rush to the bathroom, but made it to the edge of the bed where (just like the movies) a huge burst of water poured from my womb.

In shock, I yell “my water just broke”!!!! 

And he had the nerve to say “you just peed in your pants” as he reached over to turn the alarm off. 

But, he glances at the floor after seeing the fear in my face. 

And like a lion pouncing on its prey, he’s on me…scooping my half-naked self up with his half naked self,  trying to carry me to the car.

He’s crazy. 

I talk him into us both getting dressed and we leave 5 minutes later. 

He’s a madman. 

He’s rushing, blowing the horn, getting literally battalions of people to get out of the way, because it was PT hours and we lived on post. 

I wasn’t even cramping, but that didn’t matter to him. 

In his mind, his job was to deliver me to the hospital as quickly as possible. 

My mind is racing as I recall the night before: 

Baby names were being discussed: Jack, Michael, Ethan. 

Yeah, that one! 

Ethan. Ethan. Ethan. 

But what middle name? 

No worries, we still have 8 more weeks before we have to decide. 

8 weeks. 

8 weeks. 

No, hours. 

Fifteen hours later…

there he was. 

I saw him for only a second before he was rushed off to get hooked up on all the machines. 

Ethan. 

No. That doesn’t sound right. 

No private room, no husband to stay, no sight of baby since birth, 9 hours ago. 

I slowly make my way down the corridor, against the advice of my rude nurse. 

And there he is…hooked up to God knows what, stomach sinking too deep with every breath. 

He flinches when I touch him. 

I cry. 

He cries. 

I long for my husband. 

Stupid Army and their semi-private rooms. 

One should not be alone after giving birth, especially when the baby is “not thriving”. 

Yet there I lie, alone. 

Riley. 

Yeah, I like that name. 

Riley. 

Now, 13 years later, I look up to him. 

I see signs of manhood…the mustache, the adam’s apple protruding. 

And I’m blessed. 

I’m blessed to see him grow, to see him thrive, to see him love God with all his heart.

 

 

 

So you’re a young married couple…NOW, WHAT?!?

We got married in a fever—I love saying/singing that:)

I was 19, turning 20 a few weeks later, and my husband was 22.

Several things happen when you marry young (and by young, I mean before the age of 25, which seems to be the “cut-off” for consideration when it comes to “young married”):

#1. Most people have NOTHING positive to say.

– “they’ll never make it” (prove them wrong).

– “wonder when the baby’s due?” (which may be the case, but is that any of their business? NO).

– “what were they thinking?”

– “you’re gonna have a hard row to hoe”–this one’s actually true, though, but not just because you’re young and married (although all the negativity makes it worse), but because all newlyweds will go through some sort of acclamation to the whole married vs dating relationship.

#2. You’re gonna have it rough for a few years or intermittently, in many aspects: financially, spiritually, and emotionally.

– Finances are the NUMBER ONE reason for divorce in our Country and being young married only increases the risk of divorce. SO, unless you’re a silver spoon child, you’re gonna struggle as a young married couple, but even if you’re blessed enough to have parents that will bless you financially, you still need to learn how to stand on your own four, married-couple feet. Ideally, we would all have been raised to be financially responsible, but that’s not often the case and when you’re young, your priorities are different, thus merging in these bills and new married lifestyle, things can get complicated and tension can (and will at some point) occur.

Find a book (my favorite is Larry Burkett–Dave Ramsay also has great financial workbooks and budget plans).

Find a mentor to teach you how to plan for the future.

Don’t spend what you don’t have. Become debt free and stay that way.

Spiritually, you are merging two fleshly people into one. AND FYI, it’s more than sex. You have to place someone’s needs above your own and trust me when I say–that is NOT an easy feat at any age–but, typically, the younger you are, the more self-centered you are, so this combo isn’t exactly idealistic for a healthy start. I spoke with my pastor’s wife one day regarding this very thing. I had only been married about 3 years at the time and we were fighting a lot and I was near my wits end with the whole “marriage” thing. She looked at me and very bluntly said “well, you’re just gonna have to die”. What?!? Excuse me?!? Yes, that’s what she said. By that, of course she meant “die to my selfishness”–which was exactly the problem. I was offended at first, I’m not gonna lie, because who wants to be told that they are IN FACT the problem? Then, I got over it, because the truth hurts and she was right.

Emotionally, you’re gonna be in a place you’ve never been before. Why? Well, because all of the above. Don’t sull up and not share your emotions. Talk and talk some more. You can get through it. My TWO pieces of advice to the young married couple: Find someone besides momma to talk to and DO NOT EVER talk bad about your spouse–to anyone!

#3. There’s little tolerance and almost NO respect for your marriage from outside sources. You have to gain a few years of sustainability before that occurs…because (let’s be honest) people are judgmental. The odds are stacked against you, according to most folks, so they’ll pay you no mind until you get some years under your belt–which is really asinine if you think about it—when not that long ago, people married in their YOUNG teenage years, but that was before it was okay to have premarital sex and                co-habitating was nonexistent. Do yourself a favor and surround yourself with people that will speak positively about your marriage. Surround yourself with people that believe in you and still believe in the covenant of marriage.

There’s more, but I’m sure you get the point.

Here’s the truth about being married young:

You’re gonna have hard times: all marriages do.

You’re probably gonna change, with age and experiences, you’ll mature. Change together.

People are going to say some stupid things to you—most of them will likely be those you are close to, e.g. your family. Make up your mind to not accept what they say, if it’s negative. Surround yourself with supportive people.

You’re going to go to bed angry sometimes. Apologize. Let it go. Die to yourself. Older couples aren’t exempt from this either.

You’ll be tempted and not just in a “sexual” way, but that too. You’ll be tempted to give up. You’ll be tempted to become another statistic. You’ll be tempted to flirt. AGAIN, no marriage is exempt from the same things. Flee from temptation: turn and run.

Positives:

You’re young, so passion is going to come way easier for you—and not just sexually:) Embrace how passionate you become when it comes to your marriage. Fight passionately and love passionately. And keep that passion alive!

You’re young, so when you make it, and you will if you BOTH put your heart and soul into it, your love story is going to be Oscar worthy!

*And for those that are reading this that are feeling down because they married young and didn’t make it: take heart! I bet you have more advice than I on what not to do/what to do. I bet that that experience taught you a lifetimes worth of lessons that you will be able to share with others. I bet that God is going to bless you with the marriage you so desire. And I bet that no weapon formed against you shall prosper.

25 Reasons I miss my husband…

Other than the obvious physical reasons:) 

1. I LOATHE pumping gas and when he’s here, I don’t have to. 

2. Homework. My daughter is VERY passionate about NOT doing homework. He has much more patience than I do:) 

3. The church pew beside me is empty…

4. Driving isn’t really my thing, either. 

5. Instant access isn’t available and that sucks—especially if someone gets sick, tire blows out, “hey, I’m thinking of you…”, etc. 

6. Sleep evades me, most nights.

7. Being the third wheel is not fun:/

8. The car doesn’t clean itself…

9. The toilet paper is NEVER on the holder.

10. 5:00 a.m. coffee time

11. Coffee isn’t already made when I get up. Yes, clearly I’m spoiled when he’s here. I’m okay with that. 

12. Decisions are made with discussion later. 

13. House. Maintenance. Ugh. 

14. Half the duet is gone. 

15. Holding his callused hand. And P.S. ALL men should have calluses unless they preach full time and/or are old:) 

16. Hearing him say my name. 

17. Who am I supposed to stick my cold feet on? 

18. His morning attitude–he’s EXCITED to be up in the morning. Me? Not so much. 

19. Hearing him shave in the morning

20. Hearing every bone in his body crack as he walks through the house. 

21. His shoulder, my pillow. 

22. Hearing the roar of the motor cycle when he pulls into the neighborhood. 

23. Smile from across the room. 

24. Hand on my back. 

25. He’s freakin hot and I miss seeing him everyday:)