Tuesday, August 5, 2014

First Day...of the 3rd grade (and Kindergarten, too!)

We made it!  We survived day #1 of homeschooling with 2 students in our classroom.  The principal opened us in prayer this morning and we hit the school-ground runnin'! I'll admit that schooling 2 of them at home using different curriculum for each of them took my organization and planning skills to a new extreme level.  But I believe that we will get in a groove soon and we won't be working until 3:00 (as we did today).  Our li'l girl is the most eager learner I've ever seen - she's got enough learning eagerness for both of them!  Her curriculum is pre-planned and all set up for me to teach.  Phew!  Such a relief!  Li'l man's curriculum takes quite a bit more planning and plotting - but is also more flexible.  One of our goals this year is to help him grow into being a self-starter when it comes to learning.  For us, that means that he gets to make SOME decisions about what he does and when.  He likes to procrastinate :-) so hopefully using this method he will soon learn that the only person that inconveniences is himself.  Also, cursive is on the agenda - and he is excited about it!  Another goal is to have li'l girl reading by Christmas.  She complains LOUDLY that it isn't fair that brother can read and she can't! :-)

So thankful for this opportunity to make the best investment I can into my family by being at home during these years!  And also thankful for a husband who supports me and, in accordance with Proverbs 31:28, "her husband also blesses her and praises her".

2 cutest kids in class :-) (apparently they decided the dress code was varying shades of blue)


 "ABCD" by li'l girl

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Chaplain Wive's Frequently Asked Questions

Over the 5.5 years that we have been in the Army, several ladies have found this blog as their husbands were entering or had just entered into the chaplaincy.  This thrills me, as this was the original intent of this blog from the beginning!  Some common questions have arisen and I thought it might be helpful to post some of them here.  These are a combination of lessons learned, passions/leanings, and ministry philosophies.

Q: Did you go to/were you able to go to your husband's graduation from CHBOLC (CHaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course)?

A:  I did go to hubby's graduation from CHBOLC.  I highly recommend it.  I actually went down for his graduation week. They had classes for the spouses, events and outings, and then, of course, graduation itself.  I knew nothing of the military or chaplaincy, so it was definitely a great place to start my learning curve :-) Also the chaplain museum is there at Ft Jackson -- all chaplain families should visit it at least once to get a sense of the history of the chaplaincy since the beginning of the US Army.  The Army will not pay for your flight or trip, but hubby may be in a private hotel-like room and they allowed me as his wife to stay there with mine in the room that week.  It was a double/queen sized bed.  I did not bring the kids with me.  (They stayed with family - okay, I was pregnant so technically I DID bring one child :-) but the other stayed with grandma and grandpa).  If you do need to bring your kids with you and there is no childcare, maybe you all could just plan to be there for the graduation itself.  It is a momentous occasion. :-) You will circle back to Ft Jackson (home of CHBOLC) at some point during your chaplain's career, so it is good to get a feel for the post and its surroundings.

Q:  Will the Army pay for/help us move to our first duty station?

A:  The Army will pay for your initial move to your first duty station (as they will pay for each initial move to each future duty station).  Once your hubby has orders and you are packed up and leave your current home, the Army is then paying for your housing.  For the length of time that you are "in transit" to your new duty station/home, they will be paying your hubby a per diem rate.  It covers hotel and food for a limited number of travel days.  Some families move themselves and pocket the money that the Army would have paid to the movers (might be a good idea for those without kids or those looking to make some money in order to get out of debt?) BUT I don't recommend it with small children.  It is hard and a hassle, but sometimes you walk away with $2000- 3000 in your pocket.  Also, when you get to your duty station, you may be on a waiting list for housing - this is normal and occurs at almost every duty station.  You can either stay in a hotel/condo on post (paid for by the Army's per diem pay for a short time) or if the wait is a long one you may have to find an apt or housing off post.  We have found on-post housing is worth the wait (especially as a chaplain family)!

Q: Is it true that most officers choose not to live on post?

A: I think the saying that many officers don't live on post is a misnomer.  We know plenty that DO live on post.  My husband and I HIGHLY recommend it for those moving to their first duty station.  It is the best way (in our opinion) to get acclimated to Army life. And when your hubby is home (not deployed), it will be nice having him near to be able to see him for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.  However, I realize that saving money may be important to your family.  Some families we know were able to get out of debt by living in a house/apt well below their BAH (basic allowance for housing) and it worked out well for them. If you need to do that to get out from under some debts then do what you need to do, just don’t forget the added expense of utilities.  But if you are able to, we recommend trying life on post.  We have lived both on and off post and I can definitely say I have been able to have a more vibrant and active ministry alongside my husband while living on post (closer proximity to chapel, families in our neighborhood were easy to open up to and minister to, fewer number of hours spent in the car going to and from post, etc.)

Q: What is an Army community like, especially for families? 

A: Wonderful.  When hubby deployed -- this is another benefit of living on post -- I relied HEAVILY on neighbors.  They were all in the same boat (hubbies deployed or deploying) so they all understood and no one asked questions.  Once my youngest spiked a fever so high I had to take her to the doctor immediately.  I walked to my neighbors, told her of the fever, left my oldest with her and got in the car.  She asked no questions and told me to do whatever I needed to.  Of course, I knew her well by that point b/c our kids played every day together and knew I could trust her. That was a peace of mind for me that money couldn't buy.  Also, our chaplain spouses group had a list of girls that babysat and we shared those names with each other.  At most duty stations there is a small group of chaplain wives who band together for sharing community and resources with each other.   Another option is the many childcare/preschools that are available on most posts.  We have also utilized those from time to time and they are usually very professional and well run (and offer discounts if your husband is deployed). 

Q: Can my husband do his duties at chapel and our family attend a church off-post?

A: The short answer is yes.  However...we have chosen to be heavily involved in our chapel on post and not attend a church off post. We both feel that as a chaplain family, if we do not attend chapel and are not heavily involved with it, what kind of message are we sending to the families on that post?  Chapel is not worth it?  We don't feel right about encouraging people to attend chapel (one of the key elements of a chaplain's ministry) if we ourselves don't go.  Sort of like saying "It's good enough for your family but not for mine."  Most of the larger posts do have several chapel services to choose from and children's and women's ministries as well (please, please, please check out PWOC - protestant women of the chapel - or CWOC - catholic women of the chapel, depending on your denominational preferences :-)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A few pictures of awesome birthdays gone by...

In honor of our little guy, who will all too soon be turning EIGHT!...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A kingdom perspective

We homeschool.  Have I ever mentioned that? Yes?  Well, today was a typical Tuesday in our house. With school out of the way early in the day we were free to run errands in the afternoon.  And it was on the way home from those errands that something wonderful happened - a small miracle.

In recent weeks it has been my personal and public prayer for God to help me and our family stay mindful of His kingdom...the work He is faithfully doing in our hearts and in our land.  In fact this morning I had spent some precious moments with the Lord, in His presence, reading His word and asking Him again to help me be mindful.  My heart was in tune and my mind was alert.

But as we came to a stop at the red light just outside our gate, I felt the question rise in me again.  One of those questions I face almost daily.  Another homeless person? Everyday?  Always at least one standing outside our post gates...asking, begging for money, for mercy, for help.  It has become easy to grow calloused to them, for they are always there. And who knows if they are really homeless? - or scandals instead.  I have reasoned with myself that if I gave money to every one of them everyday, well, you know...

Today, though, my son didn't see him right away.  I had already noticed the man, unshaven, unkempt, with his sign held out for all to read.  I had already reasoned with my heart and conscience.  But as the light turned green and we rolled on, my little man caught sight of him.  And as a second grader, my boy can now read.  He read the man's position and his plea: "Homeless. Please help."  What came from his mouth was both poignant and pleading. "Mom, we should have given him some money."  I thought for a brief moment.  What should I say? Lord, don't let me sound jaded or closed off.  Help me show tenderness and grace. I responded, "Did you bring any of your money?" "No," he replied. "Next time, if you give him one of your dollars I'll pay you back when we get home." 

Now, to appreciate this it is helpful to understand the child who spoke those words.  He is a saver and a bit of a tightwad - unless it's someone else's money. :-) He can save for weeks on end in order to buy a certain toy he wants.  He's unwavering and doesn't allow temptations to throw him off his savings plan.  Who can blame him? - he works hard for his money.  But today, he was moved with compassion at the sight of a man asking for help.

It would have been easy to have said, "Okay, honey.  Next time that happens, I'll give him a dollar and you can pay me back."  But my heart has been set on looking for God's kingdom work - in the here and now.  "Next time" may be too late.  So I said to my son, "Do you want me to turn around? I have a dollar in my wallet." His reply made my heart smile, "Yes, Mom.  I prayed for wisdom this morning and I think God would want me to do this."  Not wanting to be outdone, I pulled out two dollars - one to match his. 

I'd been praying for eyes to see the kingdom at work, for opportunities where God would have me do His kingdom work.  And just outside the gates of this "kingdom" in which I live, I found an answer - a reply from the King.

We circled back around and exited the gate we'd just entered.  "Hand them to me, Mom, and roll down my window please.  I'll give them to him."  And so he did.  As the man approached the back window, he looked my son straight in the eyes and said, "Thank you.  May you be richly and abundantly blessed, young man." I couldn't have said it better myself.  A sweet conversation followed that teaching moment as we talked together of Solomon asking for wisdom, of passages from James, and of teachings from Jesus about the greater blessing being in the giving, rather than the receiving. 

And once again, the greatest lesson in our homeschool day came not from a textbook, but from Yahweh. :-)