Friday, August 31, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I once saw a tree
With a rugged old trunk,
All black and twisted and rough;
Yet soft on its branches
Sat delicate flowers--
Crowded, with not room enough.
The contrast was odd,
One I'd not seen before,
And yet, I was not quite surprised,
For this contrast exists
In a wizened old face
When there's delicate grace in the eyes.
I've seen it in hands
That were wrinkled and worn,
Yet which blossomed with joy as they served;
And in lips deeply etched
Sharing tender, sweet words,
Or transformed with a smile's playful curve.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Anyway, last night she counted on her little fingers and announced with excitement, "Daddy will be home in 6 days!" I gently told her, no, Daddy is coming home a little bit later than that. "How many days?" Um...let's see...about 13?
Well, that did it. The roof of the house caved in and a mushroom cloud could be seen from miles away. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. If anyone needs a living example of that truth, I had one on my hands last night for sure. Poor thing. (Both her AND me.)
I told her as she wept in my arms, "13 days really is not a very long time, honey." And she said, "It seems long to me."
True enough. So what is 15 months going to seem like to a 7 year old girl, come December? My heart just aches for her. But I am hopeful that successfully surviving the first deployment will show her that we can do it again, with God's help.
I read in a book that one family made a paper chain, with each link representing one week until their Daddy returned. Each week, they would take off a link, then write on it what they did that week and mail it to him, and he would build the chain on his side. So, theirs was getting shorter while his was getting longer, and they all had a visual aid to signify the time going by. A really beautiful idea.
With my luck, though, upon seeing a chain made up of about 64 links, the wee girl would probably collapse in a blubbering heap on the floor. I'm loathe to trigger that sort of drama. Not only that, but I'm fairly certain if the deployment were extended further at the end (which I fully expect), I would never be able to sneak more links onto the chain...my kidlets are just too smart for that. Darn me for raising thinking children.
On a lighter note, I did a little stamping yesterday afternoon with some cool Art Declassified stamps.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Well, Master McMurray made a believer out of me. Instead of Eastern religion, he has drilled the ideals of discipline, focus, respect, courtesy, tolerance and patience. He has encouraged them to work as hard in school as they do in his class. And he has sternly instructed them not to show-off their skills outside of class, or use them on anyone else in play.
I really attribute some positive changes in Kev to his new sport. Just the sense of accomplishment and the chance to do something all his own, different from his siblings, has motivated him to try harder at everything he does. I feel he doesn't sense his brother's shadow over him any more, and wants to show what he can do. He also has learned to fail with dignity and not be embarrassed to try big (and keep trying) in front of others. He is working very hard at this, and shows natural ability for the sport which other sports haven't really sparked in him. Maybe one day he'll even enter competitions.
What can I say, I'm a proud Mom. Here are some pics from a ceremony last week, being presented with his orange belt. (Please forgive the weird blurred-out faces of the other kids, but I didn't have permission from their parents, so I smudged them out).
Removing his yellow belt as the class looks on:
Receiving his orange belt, and an exhortation from Master McMurray of higher expectations:
Putting on the new orange belt:
The end of the ceremony, sporting his new color, and ready to take his new spot in the lines, closer to the front than before:
Way to go, buddy! I knew you could do it!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
It gets even worse. This trend in military family disintegration is being partly blamed for the rise of suicides among military personnel. This article by the Associated Press mentions new information put out by the Pentagon, and is worth taking the time to read. (And not only because I got to put in my $5 that was condensed into $ .02.)
Why do I feel compelled to bring this up? First, because I have tasted the stress they are talking about. I feel it every day. Kevin and I have been married 17 years, and I thank God for the stability He built in our life before we embarked on our Army adventure -- I know with certainty that we can weather these things. Even so, as we brace ourselves for another deployment soon (yep, 15 months this time), it is indescribably difficult. I can't even imagine how hard it is for some of these young couples who marry at 20 years old (or less), and immediately launch into all the pressures of married life AND military life, with a deployment thrown in the mix and the marriage set teetering on top of the whole wobbly pile. These young families need support and encouragement. They need your thoughts and prayers.
Second, I mention all this because I feel there is something that everyone reading this blog can do, whether you are connected to the military in any way or not. I want to ask you to look for ways to encourage our military men and women and their families. Offer your shoulder if you know a spouse with a deployed loved one. Tell them they are doing a great thing by supporting their spouse, even though it is sometimes overwhelming. If you can, offer to babysit, or take them out to lunch for a quiet hour to chat. Mow their lawn or wash their car. Send them a quick note or phone call, and mention how you appreciate the way they keep the home fires burning. Don't just ask them, "How are you holding up?" They get that question more than you can imagine. Instead, come alongside them and walk with them as much as your situation allows. Pray for them every day. The military has programs in place to support the families, such as Family Readiness Groups and Military OneSource; but sometimes the very best medicine is simply a listening ear and a hug, a prayer and a gentle encouragement to stick to it with all their strength.
If you are a military wife, whether your husband is deployed or not, I want to tell you that your role in your soldier's life is crucial. I believe with all my heart that God picked you for your husband, and your husband for you. There are no coincidences. You have a place in his life that no one else in all the world occupies. You make a huge difference in his world, and his ability to go on day after day in that dreary desert, or that training exercise, or that PT test. Knowing that you are by his side gives him something to hang on to. Let him know you are there for the long haul, no matter how hard it gets. Help him be certain that a sweet life tenaciously waits for him when he gets home at the end of the day, or week, or 15 months. Make that commitment and stick by it, and remind him of it often.
And if you need help of any kind, don't try to do it alone. Find an uplifting friend and spend time with her. Attend church, read the Bible, and pray, pray, pray. Tend to your physical, emotional, and spiritual self. Minister to other people to remind you that you're not the only one. Keep yourself busy and try not to let your thoughts dwell on the "What-ifs" or the "If-onlys." (Read Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George for excellent help on keeping your thoughts at bay.) Focus on the good things about military life, and remember the happy times. If he is home, have a weekly or monthly date night. If your unit chaplain organizes a marriage retreat, be sure to go. Make a list of all the things you love about your soldier, and read over it often. Avoid people that drag you down, and try not to drag anyone else down in return.
Please listen to my heart -- God will help you through the sacrifices that are part of being a military spouse, if you look to Him for strength and make the commitment to follow Him and stick by your husband. Whatever you do, if things seem hopeless, please don't make any major decisions while he is overseas...let him come home, and give yourselves time to decompress, then try to work it out before you take any life-changing actions.
I would love to hear all military wives stand up and loudly proclaim, "I know the Army didn't issue me to you, but God did, and he outranks them all!"
Well, Tasra over at Real Women Scrap is hosting a Blog-abration! Check it out here, or click the link in my sidebar, and join in on the fun!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Check out the awesome new album by Memories in Uniform -- it is totally unlike anything out there and fully (and I do mean FULLY) customizable!
Plus, if you watch the whole video, when Amy flips through the idea book you can see my smiling mug and a couple of my scrapbook pages. ;)
Friday, August 17, 2007
Write 8 of your blog friends names in a unique way and post them. Then come back over and let me know. You must write the blogger's name that tagged you, then add 7 others. Be creative!
I'm pretty sure all these girls have already played along, so I'll just list them here to celebrate their friendship. :) Some of my best friends, all from 123-Scrap!
Thus, our first installment of "When Adventuresome Feelings and Hair Appointments Collide."
Yes, I went a bit darker. Much shorter. And it's slightly assymetrical, which is a little deviant in a non-threatening kind of way. And it's still a little flippy and sassy, which has been my hair signature for a number of years now. (Can one have a hair signature? I hereby submit one can.)
My Philosopy of Hair is that it's an accessory: something fun to play with, change, and experiment occasionally. Yet at the same time, I don't want to spend much time every day messing with it. So, for me, the short, flippy style is awesome. It allows my unruly, wavy hair to have it's way, thereby minimizing the time I have to spend disciplining it into place. (If this worked with kids, my life would be so much simpler.)
I feel like it's pretty unique. Although (for the scrapbooking-obsessed among us) after looking at the photo I realized it's sort of "Cathy Zielske Meets Vicki Boutin." Which is good company to be in regardless.
So. What think ye? Totally Hip, or Get a Grip?
This means you have a deep desire to be kind and fair to others. You may even be preoccupied with finding kindness in the world around you, far more than you realize on a conscious level.
It is possible that the underlying reason you seek kindness in the world around you, is that you fear cruelty, the opposite of kindness. That could drive you to unconsciously project kindness wherever possible into your world. Regardless of its origin, your steadfast adherence to being kind to others is felt by people you are close to.
You are probably more susceptible than others to being overwhelmed by emotions — both yours and others'. It is possible that your unusually empathic nature is a result of your natural sensitivity to others' pain, and your desire to help them avoid it. For this reason, things might affect you more than they affect your friends and family. To protect yourself from too much emotional intensity, you might want to keep an eye out so you can recognize it when it starts. That will allow you to slow things down until you feel grounded again.
Overall, your strong orientation towards kindness gives you an optimistic nature, which translates into you seeing the best in the people around you. Because you're not one to be overly judgmental, others may seek out your company when they need a friend to talk to. People close to you likely know that you care deeply about the inner lives of others and can listen to what they have to say without imposing your views on them.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I'm going to admit it. Lately, I've been a big grump. :( As soon as Kevin got home from the last deployment, I started to worry about the next one. I let it take away my enjoyment of everything -- I slipped into a deep sadness. I can't go through another deployment like this. For the sake of my husband, my kids, and especially me, I'll remember how to be Happy.
Supplies (for those interested):
Background is watercolored onto Strathmore 140 lb. watercolor paper using a wet-on-wet method
Chipboard swirls are by Fancy Pants
Chipboard letters are by Pressed Petals, Making Memories, and BasicGrey
Flowers are by Heidi Swapp, and I folded them in half or fourths
Patterned paper on the swirls by BasicGrey
Inks by Colorbox
Clear Embossing Powder covers the letters as well
Gems by Mark Richards
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
I keep looking at this photo, taken a number of hours before I dropped Kevin off at formation to leave for a month of training in California. He is so calm, like always, and I'm struck again by what a confident person he is. Not self-confident, really, but so confident in God that he just never seems to worry, or regret, or waver even the slightest bit. He's a rock, and I'm so thankful for him. Plus, he's patient with my misty-eyed female fussing when I find it necessary. Sort of like in this photo. You can't even tell that our neighbor across the street, the Colonel, was outside watering his lawn when I made Kevin lean against the bricks for a picture and told him he looked hunky. Can you tell? I know! He's a master of control and patience.
I'm telling the kids this is like practice. It's "only" a month, it's only training, and then we get him again for a couple more months before we have to say good-bye for longer. I'm not telling them it will be at least 15 months, because I'm waiting to see. You never know what will happen, really.
So, in the meantime I look at this picture and giggle to myself about the Colonel, and thank heaven that for now, it's only practice.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
What an encouragement. That verse is talking about me! (And you, too, if you know Him!) I am part of His flock. I am his lamb. And I have my own young. What a joy to be reminded that He meets my needs; He gathers me up and carries me close to His heart; and He gently leads me.
So often I'm a wayward child. I don't follow his example, and it always ends up badly when that happens. I focus too much on the inconvenience a problem causes me, rather than the teaching opportunity that is always present in every problem. I get overwhelmed by my long list of tasks, and forget that they are only children for a little while longer. I allow non-realities such as worries and "what-ifs" to cloud my mind. But God is patient and continues to remind me of His love and eagerness to help me live a life of power, faith, and adventure. I want to do more than just keep my head above water, but on my own that is totally the best I'm capable of. With Him I can soar on eagles' wings, and jump with the hinds on high places. Even throw my hands in the air and enjoy the roller coaster ride that is this life. Why, then, do I insist on doing it my own way so often? Why do I grip the restraint bars and squeeze my eyes shut, wishing it would slow down? And where are those high places when I can't even lift my eyes to look for them?
Uh. Well, *that* was a self-absorbed question. Of course they are still there even when I'm not looking. And I'll visit them again with his help.
Lord, help me tend, gather, and gently lead my children the way You lead me. Help me live with such faith that I become fearless and peaceful and focused.
One thing he does is put wonderful people in our lives. The kids and I got to visit with Bret and Kelly over some great Barbeque at Shoepf's in Belton. Love that place. Love these friends. Love those babies they brought with them just for me to ogle and cuddle. :-) And what an encouragement they are to me.
Friday, August 10, 2007
But wait, there's more! If you send them a project to post on the blog using the Shanghai ID stamp, they will send you a sample baggie of more of their stamps! Absolutely FREE! What could be cooler than that?
Check out the Dossier, with lots of cool new samples using ADC stamps. Here's a tag I made with one of the older stamps, Lizabeth, and the Spy Stencil Alphabet:
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Got this from a very intelligent friend. (Thanks for the grin, Melissa!)Never Argue with a Woman...
One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap.
Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out.
She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.
Along comes a Game Warden in his boat.
He pulls up alongside the woman and says, "Good morning, Ma'am.
What are you doing?"
"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking, Isn't that obvious?)
"You're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her.
"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading."
"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment.
"I'll have to take you in and write you up."
"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.
"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.
"That's true, but you have all the equipment.
For all I know you could start at any moment."
"Have a nice day ma'am," and he left.
MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.