Thursday, November 13, 2014

My God Redeems

I apologize for not updating sooner. Redeployment, block leave, PCSing, etc. have all happened in the last few months, and I've neglected some things. However, I cannot possibly share about all of that before I first explain how God redeemed this last deployment. Although in my last post, I felt like it would never end, I soon began to feel relief as the Lord answered my prayers. But first a little background...

During the second half of the deployment, I attended a Beth Moore Bible study at PWOC called Believing God. While I wasn't able to attend every session due to aforementioned illnesses, I did keep up with my homework and watched the videos online. Through this study, the Lord taught me many things. The most powerful part occurred one week when Beth Moore told us to do a timeline of our lives, even from before we were Christians. In this timeline, we had to record major events, as well as people God used or ways He was working, sometimes behind the scenes. This was such an encouraging activity, and I highly encourage you to write one yourself, especially if you are in a challenging season of life. As I was completing my timeline, deployments were a common theme, and things I had not thought about in years came back, reminding me of God's faithfulness. It brought me renewed peace and deeper hope.

As I was doing this homework, the end of the deployment was drawing closer and my husband and I began discussing when he might come home. We knew this was a year-long deployment, despite the fact that most other units were now serving 9 months overseas. Of course, my husband had to be in the unit that was the exception. While I was prepared to go the whole year, and possibly even longer (since you never know what the Army will throw at you), I was not prepared for the news my husband gave me one day while we were chatting online. I had been praying big prayers in my Bible study that semester and never doubted God, but I did doubt the reality of what happened next. My husband said he had good news. This could range from passing his PT test to having time to play soccer that day. However, on this day, good news meant that he had been approved to come home on an earlier flight! This flight would bring him back a month earlier than was expected. I was overjoyed at the news, not just to have my husband home sooner, which would be reason enough. This earlier timeline would also mean we would have more time before PCSing, and it would be right around my daughter's 2nd birthday which I had been very upset about him missing. In addition, my mom would be staying with us so she would be able to take care of my daughter while my husband and I could get some much needed alone time. My God is a Redeemer in every sense of the word!

You see, if you've followed my story from our last deployment, you know that my husband had been extended a month longer than the 1 year mark during his second tour in Iraq. It was a very difficult time for me, after what had been a mostly successful deployment. The extension had long-term effects on me, teaching me to never count on the Army's timing. 

Although this 3rd deployment was much tougher in many ways, God redeemed it. He gave me back that month that I lost in the 2nd deployment by bringing my husband home an entire month earlier in the 3rd deployment! Had I not done the timeline in my Bible study homework, these details would not have been as fresh on my mind. God is a master orchestrator, fine-tuning all the minute details of our lives to show His power. I love it when God decides to show off! How I pray He would do it more!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Will This Ever End?

It has been quite some time since I updated. DD and I have been sick every month since Christmas. It's been quite discouraging, and as a result, I feel as though I don't have anything positive to offer. I'm still trying to find the lesson in this myself so what good does it do to write a blog that just spews complaints? Probably not much good, but maybe it will help someone feel less alone.

That's what I've been feeling for the past 5 months. Isolated. Having a sick toddler means that we can't go about our regular schedules. I can't expose her to other children. And I often catch whatever she has. (Strep twice in one month, c'mon!) Then a week or two later, we start the same cycle all over again. I've been looking into all kinds of solutions/remedies. Maybe one will work. In the meantime, I struggle to be a good mom. The days are long, and I look at the clock and inwardly groan. My daughter is a delight. She makes me laugh out loud, but there are times when I feel as though I cannot pretend to have another cupcake party. It's mind-numbing monotony. I seriously feel like my brain cells are slowly dying off one by one. Stir crazy doesn't even begin to describe it. 
I run to the Lord and beg Him to give my life meaning. I am hungry for more. Why is it that raising a child and, therefore, leaving a legacy, feels so empty? It's incredibly important, but in the day-to-day, there is no weight to it. It's clear in times like this, that I need a break. But it's incredibly hard to get one. My husband is deployed, my babysitter isn't the easiest to schedule, and I have a hard time relaxing when I am away. Why does it take work to relax???

I know this is a season, but honestly, that doesn't always help. I can't always see beyond the here and now. I'm in this season, I can't see further than this season. I need God to be real to me, to meet the needs that I cannot meet in the typical ways to which I am accustomed (like going to Bible study, having a playdate with friends, etc). These are the days I feel like a slave to the baby monitor and a toddler's whims.

This deployment is almost over. It may seem like it will never end. But it will.  God is good.  No matter what.

P.S. I promise the next post will be more uplifting, even if it takes me another 6 months to write!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Up's and Down's

Deployments have their ups and downs. One huge “up” is R&R. These days with deployments being shortened to 9 months, not everyone gets it. Those of us lucky(?) enough to still do a year do get that time to reconnect with our spouse. During this particular deployment, R&R came just 4 months in – not exactly ideal if you're trying to break up the time. But God knew this was the perfect time for us. It was over Thanksgiving and just before Christmas, easy enough to celebrate both (which we did). For our little family, this meant a lot of fun packed into 2 weeks. Not only that, but being that we live in a state with bipolar weather patterns, we had days warm enough to go to the zoo and cold enough to play in the snow. The Lord orchestrated every moment, every detail to bring us closer together as a family. If you ever doubt how intimately God is involved in your life, I can give you several examples of how closely connected He is to our goings and comings.

Picking Daddy up from the airport
Zoo Fun

Snow Day
Yet even before R&R started, I dreaded the end. I worried how DD would react to DH leaving again. I stressed over how I would cope and get back to our routine. I bemoaned the fact that we weren't even halfway through this thing, and it would be quite a few more months (double what we'd already done, in fact) before we were reunited. I did not want to miss the joy, the connection, the memories, but my emotions overwhelmed me when I thought beyond the present moment.
Then I realized. I had to live R&R the same way I live every other day of this deployment – one day at a time. There simply is no other way to live, even when it's a “good” time. If I thought of the end, I wouldn't get to experience the elation of the beginning. If I thought of the goodbye, I wouldn't be able to revel in the anticipation of the welcome home. I had to make a conscious effort not to think beyond the present. It was hard, especially for a planner like me. There were times I would have to physically move to change my thoughts. But when I lived that day and that day only, I was so much happier, so much more content, so much more thankful, so much more present. My husband was appreciative too. He doesn't want to be reminded that he has to go back. Who does?!

Early Christmas
God continues to teach me (even in the good times) to rely on Him – not on circumstances, not on people, definitely not on feelings, not even on facts. He is the only One who can sustain me through the ebb and flow of life and keep me whole (/sane!) But I have to make the choice to surrender to Him, to look at just what He puts in front of me – not what's behind or 5 days in the future – and I have to look at how His hand never lets go of me, no matter how hard (or easy) it looks. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). And He will never leave me (Deut 31:6). Not when it's good, not when it's bad, not when it's easy, not when it's hard. Not when DH deploys, not during R&R, not when DH goes back, not when DH comes home. Never, never, never.