Here's your sign...

Today started out like many of the other days where I have had to get up and get both kids ready for preschool. We had a nice breakfast together but then it was a mad rush to get everyone dressed and out the door on time. After dropping both of them off, I had a list of errands to run. As I was turning into the parking lot of the first stop on my list, I saw an event happening outside a fast food establishment. The tent and signs caught my eye and when I passed close enough to read them I saw they said “St. Jude’s Radiation. Help us save kids.” (or something very similar to that.) Immediately I felt tears well to my eyes as I was struck by the reminder that even innocent children are undergoing the harsh reality of cancer and radiation. My own kids came to mind too; and while they have frequently been battling illness for the past 8 months, what they have experienced is nothing akin to the tortures of radiation burns, IV therapy, and hospital life. I said a prayer of thanks right then and there to the Lord for keeping our problems “light and simple” in comparison. Apparently He was just getting my attention and turning my thoughts toward health and the medical world. After finishing up a few more errands, I had one more on my list that I loathed to do. I nearly shrugged it off and didn’t go because it involved completing a “paper trail” of documents at the Army hospital here on post. Uggh and sheesh. But I knew if I didn’t do it now while I was a free woman (without kiddos) I might never do it. As I drove around looking for a place to park I passed by a woman from my ladies Bible Study group. The sight of her reminded me that another friend from that group was having surgery today. I stopped her and asked about our mutual friend and about herself. She told me of her own upcoming surgery next week and voiced many of her fears and insecurities to me. The Lord gave me the opportunity to encourage her and remind her that I will be praying for her throughout the weekend. As I walked into the building, I attempted to call my other friend who was to be operated on soon. I was not able to reach her but left a message with the support person who was there with her (her husband is downrange and was not able to come home to be with his wife during her convalescence) conveying encouragement and letting them know I was praying. Again, the Lord had provided another opportunity for me. I made my way through the building, getting my paperwork and taking it from point A to B. Along the way, I passed by a waiting area and a face caught my eye. Another lady from that same Bible study group sat in a chair in that waiting area. Another opportunity from the Lord. I stopped for a few minutes to talk with her. She too told me of her ills, her concerns, and her prognosis. She has undergone 33 surgeries for a head-neck issue she has dealt with for years. Pain is a constant companion to her, at times worse than others. And recently the pain has returned in a big way. I offered my encouragement to her as best I knew how and promised her too that I would continue to lift her up in prayer. As I left her side I was struck again by the ongoing barrage of illness and maladies that plague so many around me. I have had a few medical problems in recent past myself, but nothing of the caliber of which I encountered today. I felt compelled to say another word of thanks to Yahweh Rapha for my continued good health. Then on I went down my “paper trail” until I completed all I could for the time being. Somewhere in the midst of all that walking I realized that I was exactly where I was meant to be at this hour on this day. It was a humbling, sort of out-of-body experience to become aware of the fact that God was using me this morning. He was using me in spite of the fact that I nearly talked myself out of running that errand. And he’d used a man and a boy with a sign to catch my eye, soften my heart, and turn my thoughts toward ministry.

Head to toe

Here's a snapshot of our big ol' 5 year old boy and his new 'do. Doesn't he look so big?

And here's two sets of sweet little feet perched on our family piano bench.

J walked the dogs today...and other adventurous Army tales

Sugar and Spice, and everything nice, eh? Well this li'l girl of ours is more in line with the "puppy dog tails" portion of the opposite gender's nursery rhyme. J walked the dogs today. Yep, our 19 (soon to be 20) month old gal took those puppers for a stroll. Or at least she thought she was. Most of the way on our twice-around-the-block walk, this was the sight before me.
That's right - she was holding BOTH of them at the same time. And just chatting up a storm to those dogs; no doubt telling them what for and which way to go. I always keep the dogs clipped to my stroller as we walk, but in her mind I'm sure she thought she had those dogs under her complete control! We stopped for a picture, at which time she promptly let go of the leashes, but it made for a great picture anyways. (For those of you wondering, big brother was at preschool for the morning :) ♪Isn't she lovely? ♪ Army life: the two worst parts about it are the double D's -- Deployments and Departures (of friends, that is). And while we are undoubtedly in the midst of the former, we have experienced much of the latter last week as well. Three families moved away from our street within a few days time, all of which had kids of whom mine are fond. Sadness. But as a parting gift, a couple of them offered me the "remains" of their grocery goods. You know, the stuff movers won't box because they can't or because it's been opened? So, wow! Without going to the commissary, I ended up with a fridge, freezer, and pantry FULL of new and different grocery items! Needless to say, meals around here have been a little different, but fun and a nice change of pace. Just one of those neat quirks about life on post. Praying the Lord brings us nice new families with playful kids!

Back to life, back to reality

I feel like suggesting a new addition to the Chinese Calendar. Instead of the year of the dog or the goat, how about the year of sickness? Well, at least that's what it's been like at our house since Chaplain deployed. Even now I am nursing (in the RN sense) a boy whom I believe may have the flu (wish I'd made him get that vaccine NOW). Not that my kids were pictures of health before hubby left, but the volume of illnesses has definitely increased since then. We were blessed that the Lord gave us an illness-free R&R...Oh yeah, except for a raging ear infection in our son's right ear :) I have been through the gamut of emotions over this sickness thing. And with just over 4 months to go in this deployment, I have come to settle on this emotion: acceptance. I am a clean freak -- I LOVE a clean house. So my kids' illnesses are not due to my lack of housekeeping skills. My children do not have any major medical diagnoses like heart disease or diabetes that could explain their frequent illnesses. So what is happening here is out of my control. They are my number one ministry priority this deployment. I have been blessed by God to have other ministry outlets these past 7 months, including piano and a ladies Bible study. But much of my hands on "work" has been caring for them. I mention this in my blog not to complain, but to report that sick kids during deployment seems to be a VERY common thing for the spouse left behind. Is it REALLY that kids are sicker with a parent gone, or is it just that the load of caregiving seems overly heavy for one parent? Or perhaps these kids were destined to be sick like this with or without Daddy/Mommy at home? I don't know for sure. Many of my friends have experienced the same or similar situations as ours. My explanation of it stems from a sense that Satan doubles and triples his attacks on families who are serving God faithfully (whether Chaplain or not). What better opportunity would he have to tear apart a family for good than when they are geographically apart, each struggling in their own way? The following is an excerpt from an article in our local paper, The Fayetteville Observer, published today. It is SO good at expressing the thoughts in my heart regarding being mom to a boy-son. I just had to share :) Home Front: As little boys grow, so do mom's fears by Sonya Sparks Murdock When you are a mom of two little boys, certain things are inevitable, such as scraped knees and pockets full of dirt. Boys catch frogs and pull tails off lizards; it's just what they do. They burp their ABCs at the dinner table - the louder, the better. Boys collect rocks and give them scientific names, like "fossilized dinosaur poop." We mothers of the male species get nervous when our homes are quiet, a sure sign that mischief is imminent. In my house of boys, the cushions are never on the sofa, but on the floor instead, where they serve as forts and castle walls. Likewise for the pretty pillows that I bought to match the sofa; apparently, the boys took the term "throw pillows" literally. In fact, if you are a woman whose living room does not look like a war zone, then you are not a woman whose children are of the male gender. Because, in a house with boys, the living room floor is always strewn with dismembered action figures and random plastic body parts. Poor Darth Vader doesn't stand a chance against the Force that is known as Boy. It must be genetic instinct for boys to turn ordinary household items into weapons of destruction. Sticks become guns; long sticks make perfect light sabers. That innocent TV remote secretly emits high-powered shrink rays. Even the dinner table becomes a battlefield for sword fights with butter knives. Lure of a uniform After extensive research (and by research I mean comparing notes with other moms at the playground) I have come to this finding: All boys play "war." My boys were destined to pretend to be soldiers, emulating their greatest hero, their dad (cont.) Unless you have one (a boy), you won't understand. Once you do, you'll never forget!! My husband is back with his guys, ministering, and feels he is exactly where he needs to be doing what he was called to do. The kids and I are back to our "routine" (a loose sense of the word needs to be applied here), exactly where we need to be doing what He has called us to do. For now...On the distant horizon is reunion. And already it smells sweet. For those of you doin' this thang ;) take heart. God is doing something mighty. For those of you considering this life, prayerfully seek him -- and then JUMP IN! Be sure to bring your tissues and Tylenol! :)

From Drowning in Disappointments to Upheld by Hope

It’s not supposed to be this way... I chose to revisit one of my favorite books yesterday.  (Love Lysa’s story!) And my whole heart resonat...