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Bloom in Any Season

I was crying, running on vapors, trying to do it all myself. Why do I keep forgetting I didn't get this far alone? I need Him to bloom in any season.

Last Sunday, I held this beautiful rose in my hand as it bloomed defiantly in November. I heard God’s quiet whisper,

“Even this rose can bloom in any season.”

What wonderful encouragement! I have been truly relying on God during this difficult season in the Army, tired but coping.

And isn’t that when the bottom falls out? the minute we think we have it all together? the minute we try to do it ourselves .  .  .

God was encouraging me after the month we’ve had.

My husband has been gone 18 hour days, 6-7 days a week, most Army related but some hunting, and selfishly, I get tired of being ‘all the adults.‘ I was on vapors, holding on desperately for a break. When making frozen pizza seems overwhelming, I’ve hit rock bottom. I thought I had no more to give.

But God was also preparing & instructing me for the week to come.

Monday, the text message came, “Don’t expect me home.”

At all, for at least 72 hours, maybe a week. No warning, no planning ahead. Just gone. Not in war, not deployed. Yet, tiny heartbreaking nights that he just isn’t home.

I was crying, running on vapors, trying to do it all myself. Why do I keep forgetting I didn't get this far alone? I need Him to bloom in any season.

A piece of sensitive equipment (read expensive) went missing and the entire unit was put on lockdown. It wasn’t done appropriately. Soldiers were left with no food, denied necessary medications, while others were let walk to the convenience store or go home to tend to pets.

My husband was stressed and furious. If there was a way to make this situation more disastrous and less compassionate, they found it. Helplessly watching it unfold via text message was so incredibly difficult. Knowing how this would ripple through every inch of our next weeks, I could feel my anxiety building.

But I tried to push it down, jump those hurdles without breathing hard. We can do this! I’m not who I used to be. I’ve totally got this  . . .

. . . but the pressure built inside. I could feel God mentally tapping me on the shoulder, trying to get my attention.

“Even this rose can bloom in any season.”

But I didn’t want to bloom. I wanted to BE MAD. I mean had a good reason to lose it, right?

By day 3, I broke my #30DaysWithoutComplaint challenge. While I tried to be strong and calm, I ran out of steam. I cried. I complained, launching into the unfairness of it all, but I didn’t feel any better.

I was cooking  two separate, multi-step meals for a friend whose husband was having surgery, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for my house, making a week’s worth of meals for my husband, plus packing a suitcase, trying not to forget anything since we live 45 minutes from his training facility.

Meanwhile I was trying to parent, home-school, check in with family, fellowship with friends, deal with accidental Facebook drama, and take care of my personal needs, like eating. And deal with a 5-year-old who was having her own missing daddy breakdown. When I would look up from the chaos, all I could see was the dust, dog hair, and general filth and clutter taking over my house.

I was running out of steam because I was trying to do it all. I. Me. ME.

Ephesians 2:8 ESV  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”

Where was God in there? Yeah, I was giving Him a nod, keeping my exterior calm, but I wasn’t giving Him the anxiety in my heart, not asking Him to guide my emotions or attitude.

NOT MY OWN DOING. I didn’t change and grow through my own will, why can’t I remember this?

Why can’t I remember I will never outgrow needing Him?

I was trying to multi-task, poorly, trying to avoid burning down my house literally (I do have a nicely browned potholder now) and figuratively, not destroy months of work I’ve done living some big changes Christ is working in me.

And God whispered, you can bloom in ANY season when you live by faith. #BloominAnySeason Click To Tweet

Again seeing the rose in my mind, I heard God calling me to bloom in THIS hard season. I opened my bible app and let it start reading to me while I worked.

James 1:3 ESV For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Just last week, I wrote about the beauty of our marriage through the testing we’ve survived, the way we’ve learned to rely on each other. So did I mean it?

When I wanted to cry, I said, God “let me put down my agenda for this week and pick up YOURS.”

My prayers changed from bring him home to ‘how can I be calm despite the storm, help me prioritize,  and be a blessing and encouragement to my husband and friends.’

Why can't I remember I will never outgrow needing Him? Can't do this life on my own. #BloominAnySeason Click To Tweet

It was draining and emotional, but I managed to focus on one moment at a time and to be a blessing when my husband finally came home frustrated and exhausted.

Instead of demanding he talk, I let him work through his feelings. When he was sharp, I took a deep breath instead of firing back. I offered whatever support he needed and let him set the tone for the weekend, so he would have the fortitude to face the new week, including a 24 hour duty on Thanksgiving.

One way I learned to bloom in any season was to realize that sometimes messy can be beautiful because the house doesn’t get our attention – when we give it to people instead.

We are in the last years of his career, but the constant trials of Army life are surrounding us. We can focus on the difficulties or know that we’re being shaped and pruned to face every struggle, beautifully able to bloom in any season.

 

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Day of the Deployed – Saying Goodbye

I don't know what it is like to be deployed. I just know what it is like to say good-bye and be left behind. Day of the Deployed - Heaven Not Harvard

Today is Oct. 26 – the 11th annual Day of the Deployed, a day to remember the sacrifices of all the service members deployed around the world. Perhaps, also a day to remember the families left behind as well.

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I don’t know what it is like to be deployed. I only know what it is like to say goodbye and be left behind: the heaviness in my chest, the knot in my stomach, the steely resolve, and the tears hiding behind every smile.

I don't know what it is like to be deployed. I just know what it is like to say good-bye and be left behind. Day of the Deployed - Heaven Not Harvard

Below is my post from the day my husband last deployed, his fourth deployment, my third. Hopefully, our last, but we never know.

Day 365 – August 26, 2010

A very brief hour and a half after our middle of the night good-bye,  I drag myself out of bed, too focused on getting myself ready for the second day of school and getting my Lil Bit ready for daycare to allow myself any more tears. Somehow, I manage to get out the door only ten minutes behind my projection, but I am running on autopilot.

I have rediscovered an appendage, my cell phone. I have an iPhone, so I am extremely attached to it anyways; it practically does the laundry! But now I have to reprogram myself to carry it everywhere. I never know when my husband will call.

He is still on post, most likely drawing weapons and waiting for the bus to load and take them to their flight, but for all intents and purposes, he is gone. However, I do relish the fact that I can still text message him.

I send him a quick picture of the baby in her red, white and blue outfit for the day and hope it doesn’t break his heart. I could barely drag myself back to work after the summer.

How in the world can he just pick up and leave his children for a year at a time year after year after year?

He has two sons, eleven and twelve from his first marriage (now 18 and 19 in 2017). They have been through all three deployments. Last deployment his younger son really struggled with missing his father and feeling angry about it. I am already planning some new things to help Chad feel more present for them throughout the year.

They have daddy dolls, which seemed too childish, but I got one for each of them, and when they saw them and understood that daddy’s picture would go in them, they both grabbed them and carried the dolls around for the rest of the afternoon.

Last night, his older son called crying.

Chad tried to explain where he was going and that he would be back soon. Due to some developmental delays and autism, we don’t always know what he understands or feels. This was the first time we experienced him breaking down.

His sobs echoed out of the phone and broke like soap bubbles across my heart.

His mother, father and I were all surprised to hear him expressing such strong emotions. I wanted to hug him through the phone. Out of everything, I think this was the moment Chad understood he was really leaving again and had to fight back the tears himself.

So . . . I am thinking about all three of Chad’s children as I drop off Lil Bit at daycare and head to work. I am smiling, saying “hello” and “good morning” until my friend Liz asks me how I am.

There are moments that we can only manage in silence. Speaking the words is too much.

For a second, the dam cracks and tears rush in. I just shake my head. I am glad she is such a good friend that she immediately knew I couldn’t talk or even manage a hug without losing my carefully placed facade.

Around ten a text message says they are boarding, and I don’t know when I will hear from him again. They fly a few different patterns to Kuwait. He could stop in Newfoundland or Ireland or Maine before the final leg to Kuwait. But I don’t know, I might hear from him again in a few hours or not at all for many days.

As I text back one more I love you and be safe, I realize that my cell phone has to go everywhere with me again. It took me almost the whole year to get used to being able to leave it in one room and walk into another, and now I am tied to it again.

Later, I realized I had missed a call while making copies after school, driving home this lesson. I frantically call back and call back. Even though I kissed him goodbye twelve hours ago, now every phone call, email, text message feels like the last one. The last call on American soil and I missed it . . .

.  .  . then he picks up. We have only a minute before I hear the boarding call in the background. I am just glad I got to say, “I love you” one more time. Now, it really begins, the wondering if and how we will both survive – on opposite sides of this deployment and the world.


Today, seven years later. I am watching him play with our daughter across the room. His uniform is different, but still says Army. By next year it won’t.

Physically, he’s been home for six years. Emotionally, he has only partially returned. But daily, we work hard to break through and reach across the walls each deployment built between us.

And our marriage is stronger than Army strong.

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The Devastating Agony of the Night Before Deployment

The nights before deployment were some of the most difficult of my married life. Every moment is full of the devastating agony of letting go. Each second is rich with longing and fear.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Seven years ago this week, the night before deployment, I began writing an army wife blog. As he was running around the house searching for random gear to pack in his last dufflebag, I began to write about the bizarre juxtaposition of emotions in the waiting for good-bye.

While he was gone, I wrote about our life on the homefront, my daily experiences as a geographically single mom, waiting for his return and doing my best to survive without him. I realize that this old blog might still be encouraging or helpful for someone, so I dug it out of the archive.

I will also add any new thoughts or things I’ve learned in the years since at the end.

*          *        *         *          *          *          *

August 2010 – Day 366  (the night before goodbye)
The nights before deployment were some of the most difficult of my married life. Every moment is full of the devastating agony of letting go. Each second is rich with longing and fear.
My husband kissing our infant daughter goodbye in 2010

So . . . here it is. After months of looming, the day is finally here. His last day at home before leaving for Iraq, AGAIN.

It’s the night before deployment.

I try not to cry when I ask if I can leave a few minutes early today. Supportive smiles are good, but the pitying looks at various levels of understanding are hard to face.

We live near a military base; people, for the most part, get it, but unless you have gone through it and sometimes even unless you’ve gone through it more than once, the nuances of this military life escape even the most sympathetic friend.

By the end of the school day, I am ready to race home, take off my heels and see my husband, but there is a heaviness surrounding our exchanges. So many words hang in the air, unsaid but felt.

Dealing with deployments-the night before goodbye is full of unsaid words and not enough time. Click To Tweet

He wants to tell me so many things, but his mouth can’t seem to juggle the marble ideas in his head and spit them out. Instead he grasps my fingertips with my arms wrapped around the baby and whispers, “I love you.” And takes her, wanting his last few minutes with her too.

By the time he sees her again, she will be crawling, maybe even walking. Today she smiles and is working up to giggling, but is still very much a newborn. When he comes home, she will have celebrated her first birthday and be several months closer to the next one.

How do you fit an entire year into one last night?

I watch him feed and snuggle her. Her whole faces explodes into a Cheshire grin when he smiles at her. I am worried that his deployment will subconsciously make her feel abandoned by men or sad.

Even though, she will never remember this year without her daddy, I will have each day etched across my heart.

He wants to eat at his favorite sushi place. I think raw fish should still be swimming in someone’s tank, but I concede. He is deploying to a place he affectionately calls “the armpit of the world” or “prison” depending on his mood. I can give in.

We have sushi and spend our last precious evening on the couch watching TV, because even though, I have raw and deep emotions, I don’t really know what to say. If we haven’t loved each other enough all year long, the next ten minutes or just the right phrase, won’t fix it.

Saying goodbye before deployment is standing on the edge, leaning over just enough not to fall. Click To Tweet

Saying goodbye before a deployment is almost dangerous, walking a fine line between rich and hopeful and breezy belief that this is just see you later. I feel like I’m peering over a cliff’s edge, leaning over just far enough not to fall.

We stay lighthearted as we start to discuss the most ridiculous news headlines of recent days. The laughter pulls us together. We laugh and want to fall asleep, but he has to go inspect barracks, so we kiss goodnight.

His goodbye is only for a few hours yet, but the word tastes bitter on my tongue. I fall asleep and wait to wake up for the real good-bye. My dreams are frantic and jumbled, some with him and some in which he is already gone.

At some point, I reach across the bed, and he is there. I am tempted to stay awake just to memorize the safe warmness of him, but drowsiness wins and I slide back into slumber.

He wakes just before four, and I get up to say goodbye.

The nights before deployment were the most difficult of my married life. Each moment is full of the devastating agony of letting go, rich with longing and fear.

Some wives will spend the morning sitting in the gym bleachers, listening all the speeches, etc. but it’s the second day of school. I shouldn’t miss work and can’t see waking the baby this early will help her adjust to this new routine, so we decided that good-bye is the same whether we say it now or in two hours.

Besides, I don’t have to have a brave face for anyone here at home. I cry ugly sobs when the minute comes.

Despite really trying here, I can’t quite capture the horrible lead-weight-in-my-chest feeling with words.

Quietly, I tell him to come home and be safe.

Then, he is gone. I stumble around the house picking up cast off items that didn’t make the final duffel bag. I finally drop back into bed for an hour or so before my first day as a temporary single, working mom commences.

*          *         *        *         *         *

I haven’t had to say goodbye like that in seven years now. But just reading it, I remember every second like yesterday.

Nights before deployment were difficult, full of devastating agony, rich with longing and fear. Click To Tweet

I shouldn’t have to do it again as we near retirement. But for younger wives, letting go and saying goodbye is a process that begins with his orders.

You start mentally preparing a world-wind family vacation tour, and a slew of honey-do lists that will help you start this year alone- because everything breaks when they leave.

You start measuring every moment against, “What if he never comes home,” which is the pendulum swooping ever closer that dangles over every interaction until he leaves.

I watched every second between him and the baby. As her mom, I wondered if these small moments and pictures or recordings would be enough if it were all she ever had of her dad.

Those days before deployment definitely help me now be more mindful of today’s blessings. Even when life is hard, it isn’t deployment hard.

And it reminds me that none of us have a guarantee of tomorrow.

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