February 27, 2012

Prayer Brigade

*Disclaimer - I am a Christian, more specifically Catholic. I have my beliefs, and I am a strong believer. That does not mean that I subscribe to all the ideals of the church, or that I push my beliefs onto others. This is simply my point of view. Religion can be touchy subject as we all have our own ideas about God, and faith, or lack there of. I am not writing this to change minds, preach, or impose on anyone. I am writing this to explain how I get through the day and what gives me strength.

I've always had a complicated relationship with God. There were times when I was younger that He was not an important or active part of my life. There was a time when I did not believe at all. As I grow older my faith in God has played an active role. It's amazing how when you feel you have nothing left you can always turn to your faith.

I find myself praying every day about one thing or another. Usually I pray for strength, peace, or the courage to be better. I pray that by His grace my husband comes back to me. I pray for my brother who died 5 years ago, and who's death is a large reason why I have the faith I have.

Religion and faith has always been present in my life, even when my own faith was floundering. Both of my grandmothers were very devout believers. They both prayed to God, and to the Holy Virgin a lot. Both always, always had their prayers answered. Both of my parents grew up in very active catholic families. My father's oldest sister was a nun, he was an alter boy. My mother's father was a member of the Knights of Columbus and buried with his saber. The religion of my family has been passed on to me, but I was also given the freedom to form my own opinions, and my own beliefs.

When I learned of my husband's coming deployment I called my mother and asked her to pray. I called my mother in law and asked her to pray. I know that both mothers have passed my request on. I know that in my church back home, and my husband's church, the congregations often pray for his safe return. Every member of my family and my husband's family are praying for him, for me, and for our children. I truly believe in the power of prayer, and I affectionately refer to it as "The Prayer Brigade" when my husband is away. This gives me some comfort. I can feel the support and love of our family and friends stretching across the Pacific.

One of my girlfriends, and fellow Army wife here on Okinawa once said "You have to give it to God." At the time, I thought I can't just do that. But lately I've been absorbing the meaning of those words. I don't have any choice but to give it to God. The wives of the men in my husband's unit lean on each other. We are always there for one another. But many nights when my children are safely tucked in and I'm alone in our bed my mind doesn't just shut off. My thoughts inevitably turn to my husband. My fear and worry comes to the surface and I cry from the depths of my soul. I let out everything I've been keeping locked inside. Through it all I have no choice but to pray. I don't have the strength to go this alone, and in those moments of sorrow there is nothing else. My husband is not here to hold me and tell me it's going to be ok. I don't have him to lean on. I have no choice but to lean on God and hope that He will see us through. I have no choice but to believe that God is on our side and will return my husband safely to his family. I know that I am not alone. The Prayer Brigade is on it.

February 24, 2012

Something Beautiful - United Grace

I have to admit that lately it's been an ugly, ugly world. At least to my thinking. I've been keeping up with current events in my husband's current corner of the world. Though I'm not happy about what I read, I would rather be aware than left in the dark. I can't do anything about it. The control is out of my hands. All I have left to do is pray. I don't have the energy to be angry at our enemies. My energy has to be focused elsewhere right now. But no matter where I am focused it is only a distraction. It doesn't cure the heavy, achy, worried heart I carry around with me.

There are beacons of light in the midst of this whole mess. The ladies with whom I've become acquainted are some of the strongest, smartest, well rounded women in the world. One lady in particular is part of an amazing company called United Grace which supports our military personnel and their families. This company has taken something that is difficult, nearly impossible at times, and from it they created something beautiful.

United Grace makes amazing jewelry, hand crafted in the United States (thank you very much!) designed specifically to support our military community. They have 3 different collections. The Signature Pendant, the Blue Star Grace collection, and the Gold Star Grace collection. As soon as I saw the Blue Star Collection, my first thought was "I must get my hands on one of these pieces." The blue stars appeal to me for obvious reasons. 
Photograph from unitedgrace.com

This is not the cheaply made, fake metal "Support Our Troops" jewelry that you find at the kiosks in the BX/PX. This is the real deal. Real stones, and real metals. The only way I can describe it is beautiful. United Grace has done a wonderful job of creating and crafting their products.

I have a tendency to take anything concerning the military personally. It is my lifestyle, my husband's career, and my family's livelihood. I am impressed and truly touched that someone thought enough of us to create a company tailored specifically for us. It reminds me that even though we remain a faceless, nameless entity to the majority of Americans, we are not forgotten.

February 11, 2012

Different Sides

I've been wanting to write this post for a few days but every time I sit down to write, the words have escaped me. The situation upset me so greatly that I had to remove myself from it, and it has taken every ounce of strength to stay removed.

It began with a friend of my husband who posted a photograph on Facebook. A very heated debate ensued regarding the picture, and at one point, another person who joined the conversation told me, "I'm sorry that you have to go through this." in reference to my husband fighting what he called"an illegal war". Those comments stopped me for a second, and then it made my blood rage. I was shocked, angry, and hurt.

I know why my husband is goes to war. I know why he fights. I make it my business to know. But I am not sorry. I am proud of what my family does for our nation. I love my husband, and I love my country. I'm proud that we choose to serve something greater than ourselves. I realize that not everyone has the courage or the strength to do it. I would not trade one single day of it, nor would I choose any other life. It's true that deployments are incredibly difficult. But I certainly don't feel sorry for myself, and I don't need anyone else to feel sorry for me either. For someone to say something like that to me is insulting beyond all reason.

In a conversation I had with my husband not too long ago, he said that Americans don't care about this war. I didn't want to believe it, but in this case his statement rings true. I have been part of this life for long enough that it's easy for me to forget not everyone is affected by this war. Especially when my entire existence hinges on it. And especially when I live in a military community. There are people out there who walk down the street and don't spend one second thinking about this war, or the men and women who fight it. They don't think of the families that make that sacrifice. There are people who can go days, or weeks without giving it a care. For many it's become nothing more than a political poker chip. It's so easy to read and educate yourself on what is happening over there or just make yourself aware. I guess it's just easier for some to sit in a nice warm office, and pass judgement without knowledge.

This encounter made me angry and sad. Not only for myself, but for the utter ignorance of this person and the fact that there are more out there just like him. But even when ignorance like his spews over me and tries to taint the life I've built with my husband, my soldier, the life I love, I will never be sorry.

February 8, 2012

Health & Fitness: Including Guest Writer, Kristin Wells

For the past several weeks, I've been undergoing a personal quest to lose the 30 pounds I neglected to lose after the birth of my children. As I continue to exercise, and eat better, I've come to realize how vital health and fitness is to survival as a military spouse. I am also documenting my personal struggle journey at thinwithin.typepad.com

I know there are a lot of military spouses out there who want to get fit, want to lose a few pounds, and maybe just don't know where to start. This is where a young lady named Kristin comes in! I met Kristin just a few days ago. She is a recent college graduate who majored in creative writing. She expressed an interest in writing something for my readers. I found her article compelling and interesting, especially since I have a tendency to occasionally struggle with making healthy eating choices. So without further adieu!

A Glimpse At Eating Healthier

By Kristin Wells

There are many health benefits to eating more nutritious, lower calorie foods. Unfortunately, most people crave these high calorie comfort foods, despite their efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Thankfully, there are many small changes you can make to substitute your favorite foods for healthier versions of the same thing.

1. French Fries
We all salivate at the mere mention of French fries. Greasy, salty, and piping hot, French fries are a comfort food for many- and also wreak havoc on a healthy diet. If you can't live without the flavor of salty fried potatoes, make them at home. Thinly slice potatoes, spritz with cooking oil and sprinkle with salt and herbs, then pan-fry until crisp. Even better are baked sweet potato fries, which are as delicious as they are nutritious.

2. Baked Potatoes and Chips 'n Dip
Got to have sour cream on your baked potato? Substitute plain nonfat yogurt for 1/2 of the sour cream you would normally use. This is also a great tip for making homemade chip dip. Also, switch to baked chips or tortilla chips as an alternative to greasy potato chips.

3. Microwave Popcorn
A great substitute for buttery microwave popcorn is organic stovetop popcorn. Organic popcorn is free of chemicals, low in fat, and low in calories. Sprinkled with a low-calorie popcorn flavoring, this makes for a great healthy alternative to microwave popcorn.

4. Candy
Do you have a sweet tooth? Dried fruit is the answer! While still on the sweet side, dried fruit is full of vitamins and minerals and is a much healthier alternative to packaged and processed candy.

5. Cake
Try replacing cake with whole wheat banana nut bread. You'll save several hundred calories if you indulge in a slice of warm banana bread instead of a thick slice of cake.

6. Sugary Cereal
Steel cut oatmeal is an easy replacement for sugary, nutrient-deficient breakfast cereal. Jazz it up by adding dried or fresh fruit, nuts, and spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg.