Monday, April 27, 2009

1 week and hundreds of boxes later...

We have officially been in our on-post house for 1 week now. This week has been chaotic to say the least. I knew how much stuff was in our storage unit, but seeing it get unloaded AGAIN here at our new house overwhelmed me all over again. I have had to constantly remind myself that these 'things' are not just 'stuff' but 'blessings from the Lord'. We basically went from a 1650 sq ft house to a 1320 sq ft house...with most of the same stuff :) It has been a challenge and physically exhausting (for a pregnant girl) to unload all these belongings, sort through them, and find a home for them. Today we had 15 feet of trash lined up at the street for trash day! Praise the Lord for decluttering...it feels SO good! Next time we will declutter BEFORE we move. Thank goodness for the post-wide carport sale this Saturday!! Fortunately, Tim had requested 10 days of "permissive leave" so he has been here every step of the way. I could not have done this with out his help, and the help of my parents who were here for the first couple of days after the move. As of now, we are 95% unpacked (I shall pace myself for the other 5%) and are going to spend the next 3 days of Tim's leave time enjoying ourselves and relaxing. Since I have been given the gift of being a WAHM (work at home mom...very part-time), we can finish up the household later and enjoy our family time now. Fort Bragg is really nice. Our neighborhood is great, really quiet, lots of sidewalks and parks nearby, and a pool just at the end of our street. The people here are very friendly and our neighbors are great. We are surrounded by several Chaplain families, which is so cool! Dylan is very happy to be settled, to have his own room, and to be with his dad again. The Lord has indeed blessed us and taken care of us during this time of transition. He even allowed us to purchase a 2009 GMC Acadia for me to drive, that is paid in full!! We have been visiting a different protestant Chapel each Sunday in an effort to find the one where Tim would best like to serve. So far they have been like Goldilocks and the 3 bears...too hot, too cold, too big, too small, maybe some that are just right but we will keep looking for a couple more weeks...all the while praying for God to show us which one. I was surprised to find that alot of the attendees at these Chapels have been retirees. I am glad, though, because this makes for a nicely well rounded congregation. Both in and out of the Chapels, the people here seem to have purpose. For me, that makes for such a nicer atmosphere. I pray that Tim and the other Chaplains here can help the soldiers see that their deeper purpose is to glorify God and be satisfied in Him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dear Jordan,

Your daddy and I are busy deciding on a middle name for you. We haven't quite figured it out for sure, but there are a few things that we DO know for sure. Even as little as you still are inside me, just 20 weeks big, we love you oh-so-very-much! You will come into a world where you are as loved as a little one can be. Your daddy is extremely excited to be having a girl, since he's already got his boy. I think he is looking forward to spoiling you and watching you wrap him around your tiny finger! I can't wait to hold you and smell your sweet skin, and see how much you look like your brother :) Jordan, besides being loved already, the thing your daddy and I hope the most for you in this world is that you (and your brother Dylan) know how wonderful and real God is. We are spending our lives following His voice, not because we are afraid of Him or because we have to. But because we want to and we love Him with all our hearts. We know that He is as real today as He was in the pages of the Old Testament (that's in the Bible; I'll show ya!) and that He is still in the business of loving and saving people. He is someone worth giving up your life and its comforts and conveniences for! Our deepest prayer is that someday you understand and can worship God this way. For now, just know that He loves you so much that He gave up his little baby... Waiting with open arms, Dad & Mom

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The first 2 weeks

We are coming to a close on our first two weeks here at Ft Bragg. It hasn't been too far from what I expected, with the exception of the fact that we have been living in a one-bedroom hotel! Tim does PT early each morning with different soldiers from the companies in his battalion and then comes home for breakfast and a shower. Dylan and I get to eat breakfast with him (which is a real treat and different from our former life where we all got up at different times). Tim is also able to come home for lunch since he works so close and his lunch breaks allow plenty of time for that. His day finishes up between 4:30 and 5pm and then he is home for the evening. I'm sure there will busier days and times when he can't come home to see us so much. In fact, I know he will have to be "out there" some lunches and evenings with his soldiers in order to meet them where they are with God's message of hope. But I have so enjoyed having him around and being a family again. Practically speaking, I wish I had done a couple of things different. One of which is to keep my child's shot record handy instead of packing it. If so, I could have enrolled him in part-time day care and taken advantage of the many classes/briefings/meetings that are offered to spouse's. There is not alot to do during the day in a 300 sq ft hotel room, so I wish I could have gotten out and gone to the spouse's orientation and the PWOC (protestant women of the chapel) meeting. Also, since I love to walk and exercise, I could have explored the many beautiful trails here on Ft Bragg. I guess there will be time enough for all that in the future. Also, I wish I'd brought more movies for Dylan to watch (Red Box has been our friend!) and more outdoor toys to play with (i.e. riding toys, balls, etc.) Anyways, live and learn...and the next time we PCS (permanent change of station...restation) I will know better. This morning Tim started his day with a 2-mile ruck march where he toted a 35 pound ruck sack on his back while marching. The past 2 mornings he has run 4 miles before I even got out of bed! His stamina amazes me. After September I will have no excuses not to get super-fit with him. For now, baby Jordan keeps me grounded :) Tim has had alot of time to get to know his Chaplain Assistant as well as a few others C.A.'s this week. This afternoon he is participating in a memorial service for a soldier who was killed stateside over last weekend. Memorial services have to be a Chaplain's least favorite duty, yet it is probably what families of fallen soldiers benefit from the most. I pray that Tim is someday able to lead in this kind of ministry in a way that Supremely comforts the hurting and gives Hope to the grieving. I also pray that his spirit, his light, is not dimmed by the darkness of these events. We will be moving into our house on Monday (3 more days!!) with the help of my parents. It is soooo good to have family who is able to come and help! I will post pics of the house when I get some.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter 2009 -- He is risen!!

Here are a few more pictures from our morning. It was cold here at Ft Bragg for our sunrise service.
And here is the first of my "belly shots". This is Jordan and I at 19 weeks. There really wasn't much to photograph until now. The bump is kind of hard to ignore at this point!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter festivities


The slide show above is of our family picnic as we gathered just before leaving Columbia. Both sets of Dylan's grandparents were there, as well as Aunt Liz and Uncle Robert.

This morning we spent some time exploring the post. We drove around and looked for street signs and landmarks -- only getting lost a couple of times! :) After lunch and a nap we took Dylan to what was listed in the paper as an "Easter Egg Hunt" at the local youth center on post. We decided to skip the beforehand festivities (who schedules a kid's event to start at 2pm? It's like the universal nap hour!!) and just to go for the Hunt. We arrived a couple of minutes before the Hunt was to begin. The best way to describe it is PANDEMONIUM! There were about 300 kids jockeying for position as workers threw thousands of pieces of candy on the lawn of the youth center. At the blowing of the whistle the kids took off and scooped and foraged the candy. Not exactly the representation of the meaning of Easter we want our kids to grasp! :) So pint-sized Dylan managed to get about 4 pieces -- and then it was ALL gone. In less than one minute that lawn was completely clean! Anyways, Dylan had a good time but was a little overwhelmed with the whole situation. Here are a few precious pictures.

After feeling a little "let down", we came back to our hotel-home and dyed Easter eggs. I guess we didn't take the time to properly explain what to do with the little color pellets because as soon as we gave one to Dylan to put in the vinegar he put it straight in his mouth!! It was the blue pellet, now less! Thank the Lord they are made of food grade, non-toxic dye! Here are a few pictures of the finished product.

Tomorrow we plan to attend a sunrise service on post to celebrate our risen savior. Tim is going to visit various Chapels until he finds one he feels he and we fit in with and then plug into the ministries there. Happy Easter, everyone!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A day of fasting and praying

Today the Chaplain's at Fort Bragg (and possibly other posts) are Fasting and Praying for suicide prevention. Last year the army saw its highest suicide rate in 3 decades. Please pray that these men and women serving God in the military are able to reach the hurting where they are and keep precious lives from being lost outside of the warzones.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Trusting in God

The past 2 days my mind has been continually meditating on Psalm 91:1-2:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust".

The Lord has been taking care of us in amazing ways, but this transition has been rough. The 3 of us are basically staying in a hotel room that has 2 double beds and a mini fridge, freezer, and microwave. There is one kitchen with a stove and sink for the whole building, and it is downstairs. Oh yeah, and no elevator...and I'm 19 weeks pregnant :) Now I know that's not exactly what some would call "suffering for Jesus" but it has been stressful trying to figure out how the 3 of us who have not been together much will now survive in a 300 sq ft space for 15 days. It is SO good that we can be together and I have missed our "family". But I am definitely longing for our house (should be ours by the 20th) and some space!
My mind has definitely been focused on our surroundings, and so this verse couldn't have been more timely for me. I am not dwelling in a small hotel room, but in the shelter of the Most High God. I am not sleeping on a double bed (with my husband and my growing, pregnant belly!); I am resting in the shadow of the Almighty. The hotel we are in is called the Leal Guest House. As I was showering yesterday morning, the spirit prompted me to look up the meaning of the word "leal". So after I showered and dressed, I looked up "leal" and found that it means "faithful, loyal, true". That's when I got goosebumps. The last part of this verse says that God is a refuge, a fortress, and someone we can TRUST! As random as this room assignment seemed to be, God used it to show me that I am in the Leal House, His house, His place of trust.
Sunday was a tough day. Reality hit and I had a hard time dealing with it all. I found myself not in a place of doubting what we were doing but feeling somewhat overwhelmed. Part of it was just the situation we are in and part of it I feel certain was Satan up to his never-ended scheme of making us take our eyes off of the author and finisher of our faith. There wasn't much we could do about our situation, but we could do something about the way this room looked! After a major overhaul, alot of organization, and a home cooked meal things were looking up! My motto has been and still is "One day at a time."
Dylan, who is 3, has been doing WONDERFULLY through it all. He has nothing but excitement for all that is going on and told me this morning "I like this cool place, Mom!" Wow, I wish my attitude could be that positive :) As he and I walked hand in hand today through the post hospital he randomly told me "Mom, you're so beautiful!" What did I do to deserve that? So flattering, and yet so humbling. God, help me to live in a way that is worthy of the blessings you have already bestowed on me.
Not wanting to leave out Tim, let me say what is going on with him. So far, it has just been paperwork, or what the military calls in-processing. Lots of information, little excitement. But Tim loves just being in this environment. He hopes to meet his battalion (the group of soldiers he'll be directly responsible for) on Thursday. If you are following our Journey, I pray it is a blessing to you as you. And please pray for us and the men and women of our military.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Transition so far...

Saturday, April 4th, 3pm

Since returning from the retreat at Kanuga, I have been in classes at Ft Jackson with other Chaplain’s spouses. The FRG (family readiness group) at Ft Jackson has begun providing a 3-day class designed to prepare the spouses of Chaplain’s for the world they are about to enter. The information we were provided was wonderful and necessary but overwhelming. It is a lot to take in. We basically went over in 3 days some of what took weeks for our spouse’s to cover in their classes. However, I now feel prepared…armed, if you will, for meeting the task that is to come.

Hearing the stories of the panel of wives during the seminar to me was priceless. Each one of their precious faces told me the same story, “You can do this. You can make it. It IS possible.” This will not be an easy life; it will not be a passive life. It will be what I, what we, make it to be. If we expect “great” and work toward it, that is what we will see. If we expect less, we will not be disappointed. One of the Chaplain instructors spoke to us the first morning of the seminar and he gave us a visual picture of what the majority of our ministry role will be. Exodus 17:8-13 says:

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. (ESV)

I treasure this analogy, because it reminds me of so many things. It reminds me that we are in 2 wars, physical (fighting terror) and spiritual (fighting Satan). Also, it reminds me that God has called my husband to this fight. It helps me remember that he WILL grow weary…just expect it. And when he does, put a stone under him, allow him to sit, and help hold up his hands. I know that is my duty and I pray that I am sensitive to those things and I perform them well.

To see Tim graduate from Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course (CH-BOLC) was almost a surreal thing. It was one of those moments in life that you anticipate for so long (longer than just these 3 months), and when it comes you think “I can’t believe it’s happening!” I don’t know when I’ve been more proud of him. As I write this, we are on our way to Ft Bragg to “settle in”. Although we won’t officially settle into our home until the 20th of April, we are going to begin our life there today as we check into hotel-like accommodations. I know there is so much to do, with moving, unpacking and Tim beginning a new job. But my mind is easy and my heart is calm. I know that each step will be orchestrated by God and that his strength and grace will be given me to meet each challenge. My pregnant body has definitely had trouble keeping up with the fast pace of the past week and a half (make that 3 months!) but I am still standing, and this baby is still kicking!

My mind is mostly consumed with thoughts for Tim and what is about to commence in his life. Today we should meet one of his head Chaplains and Monday Tim should meet his Chaplain Assistant. This assistant is an 18-year old Private Second Class whose job is to help Tim carry out his tasks and to defend him whenever there is a need for it. You see, Chaplains are weaponless at all times, even war. I am praying already that this PV2 is a good aim and shot, and that his heart is in the Lord’s hand. If you are following our Journey, please pray for us over the next month. It may be a difficult time for us as we adjust and transition. For God and Country…