Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pre-deployment Phase

I was reading a blog that I found today and on her page she talks about the 3 stages of deployment. Pre-deployment, Deployment, and Reintegration. We are in the Pre-deployment stage, and this is what she says about it, which I thought described it very well.

This is that uncomfortable time frame when you are preparing for deployment. Mindsets are shifting; practical preparations need to be made, nervousness and questions abound as the calendar ticks down to good-bye day.  I have found this to be a very difficult time. My husband would be going back and forth for multiple training missions for a few weeks at a time, so he was in and out for months prior to deployment. While this may have seemed to some as good practice leading up to deployment, it was actually harder because we were unable to settle into a routine. Neither was he, and we would finally get to  a point of just wishing the deployment would start, so we could start counting down to the end.
If you find yourself in this time frame, I would encourage you to remember just a few things. 

Look at the big picture.  Understand that your feelings are normal and that it is all part of a process. Just knowing that there is a predictable cycle can be helpful in taking the sting out of your emotions.

Educate and prepare yourself.  Be proactive in reading about deployment issues. This information is readily available on many websites, books and through the military. Educating yourself about deployment will remove some of the power of fear.

Grace. For yourself and your family. It will be a roller-coaster of emotions. Be ready to be forgiving and patient.

The pre-deployment stage is HARD. Unless you are military, you don't understand. During the training cycle (pre-deployment), I have had people ask me how long is he going to be gone? I usually can't give a very accurate answer and since we shouldn't really be talking about ship's movement...I usually give a very generic answer. Sometimes, I might say, "a week or two." To which I get a response, "Oh! That's not that bad!" To which I just want to say, "Really? You think it's not that bad? How about next week when he leaves for 2 weeks, or a couple weeks after that when he leaves for 10 weeks, or how about when he gets to come home after that for only a few weeks and then leave again? How about when he misses 3 of his kids that bad enough? How about when after all these not too bad LITTLE away times he leaves for 8 months or more?" I'm not mad or anything, I know that if you are not military, you don't know you shouldn't say things like that. So I just smile and say, "Nope, not too bad." One week may not seem bad, but when you add it all up...even one week is hard. These shorter underway times are not good practice...they just make it harder. You know they are going to be leaving for a long time and all you want to do is spend every moment with them. Instead they are gone more then they are home and you get very little of them at all. And when he is home, he's trying to do things around the house to make life easier for me when he leaves again...when all I really want is for him to snuggle with me on the couch and talk.

It's hard to get into a routine when he is coming and going so much. When he's home, we don't want to do anything with anyone else...we want to hibernate! But we can't always do that every time he comes and goes. The kids have end of the year stuff going on at church and baseball and we can't just back out of everything because Daddy is home again. It's different when he comes home from deployment, it's great to take a break from everything then...but we can't do that during's just not practical!

During the moments that he is home, I need to make sure that we are taking care of business stuff too. We have to get a Power of Attorney and make sure all the bills are in my name and discuss car stuff and lawn stuff and money stuff and figure out how much money he can take out each month to have with him and talk about expectations for communication.

So that brings us to her 3 steps. Look at the big picture - my feelings are normal!! That's good to know! Lol, I know that they are and that we go through this before every deployment. It's a little harder this time around since we just had 3 years of shore duty. But I know that all this is normal and this too shall pass.

Educate and prepare this one I am really good at!! This will be our 5th deployment so I know the ropes, but I still read everything as a refresher!

Grace. Such a little word that means so much. Have grace with myself and my family. Have grace with my friends, who maybe don't get it, but they love me so much and just want to support me in any way they can. And grace that God has for me too. I wouldn't be able to do ANY of this without the grace of God. His mercies are new every morning!! When people ask me, "How do you do it?" I know that it's because God gives me what I need every morning to get through that matter which stage of the deployment we are in! I thank the Lord for my wonderful husband whom I love and who is patient with me when times are hard and emotions are overflowing, I am thankful for my children who bring so much joy to my life, I am thankful for my family and friends that support me emotionally from afar, and I am thankful for my new friends here who will support me during each stage of this new deployment and be my Aaron and Hur when I feel like I can't do it anymore.

I don't like this pre-deployment stage, it's hard, but I know that with God's grace, we will get through this and deployment and reintegration. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

What Memorial Day Means to Me

When some people think of Memorial Day they think of cook outs with family, beautiful weather, planting the spring garden or flower beds, and doing yard work. Many think of the military and say kind words about appreciating their sacrifices. I'm sure some people don't think much about it at all, it's just a day off.

When I think of Memorial Day...only one thing comes to my mind. Ricky Nelson.

I didn't really know Ricky Nelson well, but I know his family. On April 14th, 2008, at the age of 23...Ricky was killed in Iraq. He was newly married...his wife became a widow. His parents lost their son. His 5 brothers and 1 sister lost their brother. Many lost an amazing friend. He was so many things to so many people...and they lost him. Thankfully he is not lost forever, because of our hope in Jesus Christ, we will see him again one day.

Exactly one month from Ricky's death, my husband came home from Iraq.

One year later, our 4th child was born.

One year after that, on Memorial Day weekend, our family placed a flag at Ricky's grave.

Life goes on. Because of the sacrifice that Ricky gave, our life goes on. Because of the sacrifice that so many have given, we can have our picnics and our get togethers and our 3 day weekend to plant flowers and hang out with our loved ones.

Because of their sacrifice, we have freedom...and it is NOT FREE. So on this Memorial Day, I WILL enjoy my children and my day...and I will remember their sacrifice.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Rest in Peace, Ricky, you will never be forgotten.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

God's Promises

It's amazing how God works. Even through facebook, lol. Mr. M left April 16th and was supposed to be gone for 3 weeks. They had to pull into San Diego for a day and ended up being stuck there for the whole time. Which delayed them coming home, so they were gone for a month. It was tough but we, of course, made it through. 

Yesterday I started feeling kind of anxious and I thought to myself...I can't do this. I can't be here and him not be here. He can't leave me for 8 months or more plus all the training time beforehand. I can't do it again. I don't know how I did this before and I can't do it again. And I felt so lost. There is nothing we can do. This is his job, there is no out. I am a military wife and this is my job. To stay here and hold it together. But how can I do it?

Today I woke up and had to take him to the ship to leave again. I am not feeling good and then had to say goodbye and my feelings from yesterday surfaced again. This afternoon I went on facebook and these are the posts I have seen in my feed today.

This hard place in which you perhaps find yourself is the very place in which God is giving you opportunity to look only to Him, to spend time in prayer, and to learn long-suffering, gentleness, meekness - in short, to learn the depths of the love that Christ Himself has poured out on all of us.

Isaiah 54:10, "'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you." 

‎"Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 

We all have something to overcome; don't think that you're the only one. God will be you strength if you let Him.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you, Lord, for the reminder of your promises.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Love Languages

Years ago, I took a test to find out what my love languages were ( I don't totally remember where all of them fell, but I remember my top one and my bottom one. My top one was Acts of Service. This was obvious to me and I didn't need to take a test to tell me that I like to be a team with my husband. I like him to help me with things around the house and things with our child...we only had 1 at the time. 

The bottom one was physical touch. The other ladies in the Mom's class that I was a part of were shocked. Not only was it at the bottom...but it got a big ol' fat ZERO! It wasn't that I did not like physical touch, which was their interpretation, it just wasn't my love language. I felt like the test was rigged against me!! If you ask me a question like, do I like my husband to hold my hand or do I like my husband to help with the dishes...of course I am going to put help with the dishes!!! Holding hands isn't going to get the dishes done by either of us! But if we do the dishes together, then there is plenty of time for more then just holding hands!! 

The other ladies made it their goal that they were going to help me change my love language and make me more comfortable with physical touch by giving me a hug every time they saw me, I mean, my poor husband! I must never allow him to touch me, right? This is where I roll my eyes. If only I would have been bold enough to say, "Trust me ladies, my husband is not complaining when it comes to the bedroom!" But I was young and didn't think it was appropriate to talk about such things at church! And doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the Love Languages? You are supposed to figure out what they are and how to communicate with your spouse through that...not change them to make someone else happy!

Learning about the five languages has definitely helped me in my marriage, my parenting, and in other relationships too. If you know what someone's love language is, you can love them in their own language and improve your relationship with them. Or if I am having difficulties in a relationship, I can almost always contribute it to that we are speaking a completely different love language.

There are times, though, when you can figure out someone's love language and try to love on them in that way...and it still doesn't work. Some relationships just have a complete disconnect no matter how much you love them or how much you try.

Today, I decided to take the test again. I was curious if my love languages have changed over the years. This was the result: Acts of Service (11), Quality Time (9), Physical Touch (5), Words of Affirmation (4), Receiving Gifts (1). So Acts of Service is still at the top, which again, doesn't surprise me. Quality time doesn't surprise me either, I feel loved when people spend their time with me. Physical Touch has moved up!!! I think part of this was because it got matched up with questions about receiving gifts. I also think that with now having 4 children, there is not as much daily physical contact...therefor it's appreciated a bit more. And I do love my honey's massages! I'm actually surprised that Words of Affirmation is as high as it is since usually it makes me uncomfortable, but I do like it when Mr. M says he is proud of me or when someone thanks me for doing something for them, so I guess it makes sense. The bottom one this time around is Receiving Gifts, and the only thing that surprised me about this one was that it got anything! Lol. I'm not big on gifts at all! I'd rather not get gifts for my birthday or Christmas or any other holidays for that matter. I would much rather you spent time with me then buy me a gift. So some things have shifted around, some remain the same. We grow and change and love changes us too!

The one thing that really struck me about my top 2 love languages, Acts of Service and Quality Time, is that my husband can not do either of these when he is away with the military. He can't give me Physical Touch either. So my top 3 are totally impossible for him. NOW I say, my poor husband! It's really amazing that we have such a wonderful marriage after 17 years of him being in the military. It would be much easier for him if my love languages were Words of Affirmation or Receiving Gifts...but they just aren't. 

So how does a marriage not only survive, but thrive, even when your love languages aren't being met? The answer is simple for me...God. God is the language of love!! No one can love me like Him.