Monday, September 2, 2013

Eleazar and The Bad Day Anthems

Ok...I'm just going to go ahead and Dave Barry it...that sounds like a great name for a rock band ;)

Seriously though. I keep wanting to dive into blogging about everything that we have been through in the past 18 months. Yeah, can you believe its been 18 months??? I want to start back at the beginning at Walter Reed but it kind of hurts to do that because of what we are going through now. We're exhausted, tired of struggling to get what he needs, and some other things I can't even post about yet. But the bottom line is we have had to fight tooth and nail for many of the things that G.I. Joe needs. Things that should have been guaranteed. We were warned from day 1 that I would have to be his advocate and fight for things. For the service member to do it its more complicated since they are still serving under a chain of command.

From day 1 though G.I. Joe and I also had a game plan....

We would NEVER stop at what we need. If we saw something that affected other wounded warriors we would seek to advocate for them and speak for the voiceless. That can be exhausting and frustrating. It can wear you down quickly but we have to press on. For our family and for everyone else, we can't give up. To just stop and accept that we can't affect change in certain areas makes so much of our own struggles on the road to recovery just seem pointless.

My heart aches to make things easier for G.I. Joe. And for every other wounded warrior coming after us. We want them to be spared some of the unnecessary things.

When I need a pick me up my heart whispers the name Eleazar. Weird, huh? Haha. So in college I went to school for Biblical studies. I cannot believe in all that study that I managed to look past this warrior. But God knew when I really needed to be struck by him. This summer one of our pastors shared the story of King David's sidekick, Eleazar. The entire Israelite Army had retreated at the sight of their mighty enemy. Except Eleazar. Here's what happened:

but Eleazar stood his ground
and struck down the Philistines
till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.
The LORD brought about a great victory that day.
The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
2 Samuel 23:10
 
Everyone has bad days or moments of doubt in their own strength. But for me I really believe God gives us what we need when we need it. Somehow when I think I can't do one more late night, or one more forced smile to convince G.I. Joe that I'm slaying whatever giant is in his way I realize that maybe I can keep going. My hand is froze to the sword. And for me, that sword is my voice. Its hours of phone interviews to educate any willing ears as to what wounded warrior families need. Its emails to the Pentagon. Its repeating "Don't worry, I'll take care of this" when I truly don't know what on earth I'm going to do yet to fix the latest break. Even if no one else stands with me in battle, I know the One who does.

And here are a few of my favorite "Bad Day Anthems" that I play on repeat to psych myself up when I need an internal pep rally :) Turn them up on a day when you need a little extra boost to slay your giants.


 Ps...when G.I. Joe has a rough day I usually drop everything and rap "Hall of Fame" to him. This  makes him realize he has bigger issues than whatever was previously bothering him ;)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I am a Caregiver.

I was not prepared for this role.
                Not emotionally. Not in practice.
                I often don’t even know what questions I should ask.
But that will never stop me.
 
I don’t flinch when conversations start with things like
                “When I was blown up….”
 
I may not have formal medical training,
                But I can probably change IV bags, wound bandages,
                And administer shots.
 
I pass on updates to loved ones
                Before I can even process what information I’m given.
 
I lost many friends.
                Some were “jealous” of the attention my Warrior gets.
                Some thought “wounded husband” was a contagious disease.
               
In the wounded…I found family, not just friendship.
 
I hold our children close at night in bed
                And answer questions about war and terrorism
                That no child should ever have to ask.
 
I grip the kitchen counter, white knuckled, as he makes his own sandwich.
                Sometimes I have to do something for him,
                But I know when it benefits him more to do something himself.
 
I looked on in wonder as he took his first steps as a new man.
 
I looked on in fear after that as his gaunt body looked ready to crumble.
 
When the muscle and weight came back, and he needed new dress blues
                I cried tears of joy.
 
I cry. A. Lot.
                Even months and years later.
                But only when he is asleep.
 
I am territorial of my Warrior.
 
I am a walking medical library and pharmacy.
 
I try not to finish his sentences.
                He needs to recall the lost word himself.
 
During the fight for proper care, with each set back,
                I give myself one night.
                To cry, to eat ice cream. To disconnect.
 
Then I get back up.
                And I fight. For him. For all of them.
 
I hold people accountable.
                Especially when he is unable to.
 
I often feel a fire within
                Causing me to boldly speak for the Voiceless.
Fear of public speaking dissolves as I approach
General Officers and request better support of the wounded.
 
I see the blessings in every Friday night pizza
and the chance to bicker over toppings.
 
I also am painfully aware of the things we’ve lost.
                But that’s not what I chose to set my mind to.
 
I am not bitter.
 
 
I know that to live with anger and hatred means
                They have won.
 
I will NOT let the enemy win.
 
Not in my Warrior.
Not in my home.
Not in my heart.
 
 
I am a Caregiver.

 
 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My response to "THE" article.

If you are reading this blog post then its very likely you are familiar with military social networking and therefore know of the horrendous article written by David Wood over at the Huffington Post. Here is a link to the article and please note the title was changed. The article was written at the end of January but has faced a recent firestorm causing it to go mega viral. I left a comment last night but just didn't feel like I was "done." So here is the email I just sent him.

Mr. Wood,

 

Your article only just came to my attention last night. Judging from the hundreds of angry comments you received in the past 24 hours I’m guessing it slipped under other people’s radar until then as well. I would love to know where you are pulling your numbers from. My husband is an E5 and is currently active duty with the Army. He has been National Guard and a Reservist in the past though. So we have seen many sides of this lifestyle. Never though have we lived in the lavishness that you speak of. Because of years of inability to create a defense budget our family suffered financially. It was because of my parents that we didn’t end up in debtors prison. We are in a much better place now than we were before but our family of 4 still lives on less than -------(edited for privacy here and on FB)----- a year. My husband is in Special Operations and was wounded in action on February 20th, 2012. Which was also his 26th birthday. Our daughter was 3.5 years old and our son was 11 days old when I got the phone call informing me that he was wounded in an enemy attack. We rushed to his side at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and committed to staying there by his side until he was to be released. Normally the military compensates a family member as an "NMA" which is non- medical attendent. My children and I were denied this compensation for unjust reasons. We drained our savings account to pay for food, diapers and formula in the DC area where the cost of living was higher than our home of record. All along the way we had to fight for almost everything. They say if you are combat wounded the military will “fix it.” The truth is they will fix what they are willing to diagnose. He fights for recovery, I fight for his right to care. Where are our “lavish benefits?” Why do I have to threaten congressional investigations just to get my Purple Heart recipient treatment for the head injury he sustained in the attack?

 

People are so angry at you right now and saying some nasty things in their comments. I will admit your words made my blood boil. But I don’t hate you for saying them. And I’m not going to quibble over how wrong you are on your numbers or how much you distorted and misused the real facts about Defense budgeting. Let’s even pretend for a moment your numbers are correct. What you did as you exercised your freedom of speech and enjoyed freedom of press is you reduced these inalienable rights and the men who defend them to worthless piles of cash.

I will tell you the same thing hundreds of family members and service members are saying…

 we are not spoiled.

 

We do not live “lavishly.”

Not by financial means though.

 Here is what I enjoy in “lavish” amounts as military wife…

Time away from my husband which makes my tears flow and my heart grow.

Difficult “Is daddy going to die over there” conversations with a 3 year old.

Absolute disgust for the sound of the door bell ringing when he is away.

The knowledge that some things are bigger than us and worth fighting for.

A lump in my throat at the sound of the National Anthem.

Memories of grown men, some with their original limbs and some with new shiney ones, learning to walk again because they were protecting me and my babies.

Heartbreaking moments of holding a woman close as she cries on my shoulder because her son has just died from wounds sustained in combat.

Ability to use MY voice and MY words in letters to Congress or the Pentagon to advocate for veterans and warriors who have no one to speak for them.

Confidence that even acts of the most violent hatred cannot destroy the American Spirit.

 



These things are lavished upon me. Some are difficult. Some are beautiful. But these are the things that all weave together, the good and bad, to make up the military life. You set out to write an article about budgets. Unfortunately you said so much more than that. If you had only stopped to let words like this sink into your heart before reducing us all to sniveling spoiled brats you might not have completely discredited yourself as a “journalist.” Go on, and keep writing. But just remember the words in this email because they are the life of those who sacrifice so much for your freedom to do so.
 
 
Jacqueline Goodrich~ Wounded Warrior Wife,
Founder of The General's Kids~Helping our nation's wounded warrior kids
through peer support and financial assistance.

 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Storm clouds and Rainbows

I feel awful for not being able to post this sooner but the lovely and talented JG asked me if she could write an article about our experience with Judd Apatow. The article was published on Breitbart Tuesday and for a little while was the "big" story in their entertainment section!!! She did such an awesome job putting everything together, especially considering I just wanted to ramble endlessly about it. We are so thankful to her and Breitbart for sharing our story. G.I. Joe and I are both hoping maybe others in Hollywood will see it and be inspired to reach out to wounded warriors. So if you have time give the article some comment and share love :) Clicking on the site and seeing that huge smile on my face totally made my week better.


Our week has been slightly stormy here. On Tuesday morning I started trying to make appointments for G.I.Joe. Important ones. But then we were hit hard with the revelation that back in December an error was made and he wasn't going to be able to see his doctors until it was straightened out. It caused a lot of panic and anxiety in G.I. Joe. Major trigger for his TBI symptoms. Thankfully we were able to spend yesterday in some offices getting a temporary fix in place so he will see his TBI specialist tomorrow and his other appointments start again next week. He feels a little better at least knowing he can get care but I would lie if I said this wasn't discouraging. We're both tired of fighting for everything. There will always be little glitches here and there but someone who is combat wounded has already done the "fighting" to obtain his right to care. His symptoms made it difficult yesterday for him to clearly, and without aggravation, express the issues so that's when caregivers like me step in and have to be the face of serenity. I'm happy to do it but its draining when you have to be the strong one, don't let your emotions show and keep it all together. So I'm tired today, but very much at peace that this will all be worked out soon.

And maybe one day it won't be the norm for caregivers to have to fight so hard for everything. I refuse to lose hope in that or to give up working for it.

Tag is also sick again. We had him at the doctor after all this yesterday and it looks like his airways are very prone to swelling when he has a virus. They think he'll need steroids whenever he has colds just while he is a little kid and then will grow out of it as they expand. Right now he just gets a few doses during a cold and its enough of a punch to get the swelling down and help him (haha and me) breathe easier.

So that's been our week. Typical wounded warrior life. :) But its a blessed one. We're getting really close to the launch of The General's Kids!!! Hopefully soon I'll have to official logo to share with you guys!!!


~Mrs. G.I. Joe

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ode to Innocence


I've been spending every moment I can spare lately working on stuff to get The General's Kids ready. Oh, did I mention that's the name of my new non-profit to benefit wounded warrior kids? :) Yeah, I'm over the moon about it! Its grown so much in scope since I first had the idea while watching Lucy, and other kids, struggle to adjust to hospital life at Walter Reed. I can't wait to post more about it but in the mean time you can check out the skeleton website here. Our official logos will be coming soon and the whole organization will have its "grand opening" of sorts on February 19th, 2013!!!

Wait, Mrs. G.I. Joe...that makes no sense. Don't you mean February 20th? Isn't that THE day? 

Weird, right?!

Actually, its perfect. The reason why I picked it is because of innocence.

The General's Kids is for the little warriors.

And my little warriors went to sleep on February 19th truly clueless about the evils of the world. That day was the last day that Lucy thought we only miss Daddy when he's gone. The next morning was a harsh reality lesson that should have come later in life: when Daddy is gone we miss him...and he's in very real danger.

February 19th was still a bubble. Even for me.

So every year on February 19th, instead of focusing on how unfair it is that innocence is often lost to tragedy, we will celebrate the lives that we are able to help through The General's Kids. And the day after that we'll continue celebrating the blessing that each breath is.

For now I'm going to leave you with some pictures that I took over the past year. I'm way over due on some picture posts :P


Empty bed on discharge day...best sight ever!!!

Walter Reed



Lucy's first day of "Walter Reed preschool" Haha she liked it for about one hot minute.


G.I. Joe's always wanted to go to Ranger school and have that tab. So I believe his First SGT (maybe, don't quote me) took off his patch and gave it to him while he was standing by G.I. Joe's bed in the field hospital. But we're shaky on those details. Its special though, without a doubt.

Fisher House life.



Another favorite past time...cheering on her Nationals!!!

Her welcome home present :)

"Disney Baby" is happy to return to his starting place :P

Where dreams come true and the good guys always win.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Last Email from Afghanistan

G.I. Joe's first Alive Day is quickly approaching. Less than one month from now it will officially have been one whole year of Wounded Warrior life.

Today was also the one voting day for round 1 of Military Spouse of the Year.

Its funny because before I never would have thought I'd be involved in something like this. Today on voting day I'm looking a lot like I did on the day that catapulted my life in this direction. That day I got the phone call I was so disheveled. I was notified in the morning so I had no strength or motivation to do much at all after that.

In light of these things I wanted to share something with you all that I've been holding near and dear to my heart for 11 months and 3 days. Its the email I received from him just hours before he was wounded. Our communication was scarce like always but I had emailed him an early birthday card (his birthday is the same day he was wounded) and he happened to get a brief chance to look at it.

Hey babydoll, thank you for the beautiful birthday card!  I have much to do but the Lord will be here to guide me and help me. You have no idea what your simple words of wisdom do for me here. Sometimes I get caught up in the hustle of the workday and lose track of some of the important aspects of my life. You keep me grounded in my faith. I love you and miss you so much. Please be careful out in the snow and make sure Lucy has a great time. I love you.

I clung to every word and reread this email countless times over the next week until I was able to be with him again. Its amazing how much life changed when that rocket was shot yet...when I read this email and really think about what we're doing now...it wasn't that life took a different direction. It did change from what we thought was meant for us. But really...it launched us in the right direction. It was necessary to guide us to where we are now. I think that's also why even though I've cried many tears, even lately, I don't feel angry or jaded by the world. Its more the opposite honestly.

If you haven't yet you can still vote for a military spouse that you are inspired by to become Military Spouse of the Year 2013!!! Voting is open until 11:59 pm EST tonight!

Judd Apatow we love you!

And this other little bit is really cool. I have to brag some but mostly on someone else. I reached out to Judd Apatow because we are HUGE fans of everything he makes. His movies are all our favorites and we love to watch them when we are happy or when we need a pick me up because life has gotten so serious. I told Judd (not knowing if he would even see my message) that G.I. Joe's Alive Day was coming up and would he just consider sending an autographed picture. He responded right away! I was floored to find out he was responding while getting ready for the Golden Globes!!! And before the awards were over I heard from someone who works for his production company saying "Judd would love to send something to celebrate your husband's Alive Day." Just days later a BIG box arrived. I couldn't make him wait a month. He read the name on the return address and just went into shock. Haha he kept calling me a liar thinking I was tricking him. So Judd had sent him lots of goodies from some of our favs. He grinned from ear to ear forever after that.

How cool to have your favorite film maker ever send you a personal present like that?! Judd has such an amazing heart. He went above and beyond. G.I. Joe is going to send him a thank you letter and one of his patches this week. Not a lot of celebs would do something like that when they don't get big publicity for it. So yeah. We heart Judd :)


Sunday, January 13, 2013

NYE: Rushing out of another hospital

So our New Year's was quite eventful. Tag gave us a huge scare so irony of all ironies we spent the last few days of 2012 in yet another hospital.

It started with an occasional fever that would rise, and then fall. He seemed to be in a lot of pain while eating but we thought it was gas. Or teething. We tried different things to help these issues and nothing worked. So the Friday before New Year's Eve his fever went up over 102. We have to watch out for seizures so I started worrying. It came down though so we thought the worst was over. Then Saturday it shot up to 105 and came with bloody dirty diapers.

Okay now we were freaking out. We went to one ER and it was there that his fever spiked to the 105 mark and they realized we needed to transfer to a bigger hospital and be admitted. We watched them hook our little guy up to tubes and after a while he quit fighting people because he was so weak. He had a steady flow of IV fluids and anitbiotics. At the first hospital he had blood work, IV's and x-rays. His blood work showed an extremely high white blood cell count. Honestly we were thinking the worst. After x-rays and an ultrasound at the second hospital showed no tumors or swelling they ruled out our worst fears. Its assumed that he had an infection in his colon. We aren't sure what it was or how he got it.

For the next few days Tag and I weren't allowed to leave his hospital room. He stayed on IV's for a good bit of the time. Lots of cultures were run. Once his fever came down and stayed down on its own, and once he was able to eat on his own again we were able to leave. But I will never forget spending hour after hour holding Tag while he was connected to that IV. Its a whole different experience when you are staying in a hospital for your kid and not an adult in your life. My heart just broke for him. We're so blessed whatever he had he was able to recover from. We made it home a few hours before midnight on New Year's Eve!

Lots of great things are happening in the G.I. Joe house! Tag is doing much better now and next month we'll be having a party to celebrate his first birthday and G.I. Joe's 1 year Alive Day. I'm so excited to have our friends and family over to celebrate my boys. And all the details will be coming soon on this but....

The SCC approved the organization of my company, The General's Kids!!!!!!

I still have to get approved for my 501.3 non profit tax exempt status but in a month or so we'll be up and running and able to bless lots of military kids living at hospitals around the country with parents who are wounded, ill or injured. I'm going to post about that this week and share all the details and goals we have. Things haven't gone "smoothly" for us on this journey but we're content to go through it because it means we can help someone else.

I know my last few posts have been really lengthy and wordy :P Thanks for reading! More pics and less words in the future, I promise ;) Things just always seem so crazy in our house. But I wouldn't trade it.

~Mrs. G.I. Joe


Waiting to be transferred. Completely miserable.

Couple days of IV fluids and meds makes a HUGE difference!

Let's go home! I wanna see my Lulu!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why I decided to "run" for Military Spouse of the Year 2013

I have been honored by 2 wonderful friends who nominated me for Military Spouse of the Year. In the midst of all the excitement that comes with announcing such an honor I completely expected there to be a few who had some critical thoughts to share. And I'm fine with that because I haven't always loved the idea of doing this. I'm posting this now so everyone will hopefully see my heart and understand this "competition" a little better.

My first experience with the Military Spouse community was as a 19 year old sending her husband off to war for a year. The FRG leader was married to the First SGT (I believe) and her response that day when I approached her with tears in my eyes asking for support was to laugh at me.

Fast forward a couple years and the Military Spouse of the Year competition was born. I was annoyed by the sound of it. Seriously? I can't get the slightest bit of support from older more experienced spouses and you want me to vote for one to become Prom Queen? No thanks. Then that first year's finalist came out. Oh my gosh. They gave me so much hope. They were incredible women who devoted their livelihoods to serving others, in ADDITION to supporting their own service member. I saw that there were beacons of light and love living quietly among us. Never could I hope to be one of them...but just to know that they exsisted and didn't want me to fail as a Milie was all I needed.

Four more years later my dear friend asked if she could nominate me. Uh, for reals? No thanks. I'm thinking, "Geeze, these women change the world...I change...diapers. Don't get me wrong...I totally rock at that...but not award worthy for sure."

Skip with me to this past fall. That same friend said to me "Okay, here's the thing. I'm nominating you whether you like it or not. And you need to accept. Don't do it for you, do it for your wounded warriors."

Ah she knows me so well. I hate "vote for me" things. I've been in so many blog competitions that no one ever knows about because I'm so uncomfortable with the chance that someone will think that I think I'm better than everyone. But that's not what this contest is about. Its not about being better. Please understand my heart when I say that being Military Spouse of the Year does NOT mean "Job well done!" to me. Its an honor, sure. But its not a pat on the back. Its not a trophy.

Its an occasion to rise to.

Its a challenge to live up to.

Its simply a vote of confidence.

It means you have faith in me to keep going and to keep helping the wounded warrior community.

It means working even harder to live up to the award then I did to be nominated for it.

And I love that it means I would have more chances to spread the word about my non profit. And it means more chances to meet the people who have the power to create better policies that will prevent our warriors and their families from falling into crisis.

If you ask why you should vote for me and what makes me better I will tell you this...there isn't anything. I'm just asking that you step out and take a leap of faith with me. Trust me when I say I won't let you, or the wounded warrior community, or those teenage warbrides who need hope, down.

That's what this competition is about. At least, to me it is.

Check out my profile here and watch this uber awkward video ;) And help me see a dream come true by making this the Year of the Wounded Warrior Spouse! The first round of voting is only one click, one day! January 22nd!!!




Thursday, December 20, 2012

I chose to live above hate


It blows my mind that we are already at the 10 month mark. Almost a year. Almost a year ago men came over a ridge with the intent of killing as many as possible. I believe its simply God’s divine will that my soul mate managed to come back to us. I still don’t know everything that went on that day. Or if the man who shot that rocket in G.I.Joe’s direction is alive or dead. All I know is they wanted him out of this world and our lives have changed so much since that day.

Lots of amazing things have been happening lately in our family. For one, G.I. Joe’s canes have been collecting dust! His full recovery is still projected for sometime next summer, so we have a ways to go, but progress is happening. Christmas Eve will also be our 7th wedding anniversary! He left for Iraq when we had been married a week and that’s also made me really think about some things. When we were 19 year old newlyweds I had no clue what trials lay before us. I only knew that even hard times with him were better than an “easy” life with someone else.

I still feel that way. After 2 wars, 2 kids, and life-altering injury…I’m blessed. Don’t get me wrong, I do have bad days. Things can get very discouraging and I shed a lot of tears. I cry when I think it seems like it will be so long before we can own our own home. If I could get a job right now, we could swing it. But its not possible. I can’t manage his care, be there to help Lucy through this, and get a job. There just aren’t enough hours. G.I. Joe wants more than anything to give us a home of our own, but it has to wait. Sometimes I cry when simple tasks are just more struggle than they should be. He gets sick easily and doesn’t have the same energy that he did before the attack so it makes for long days with little productivity. Hearing Lucy cry, completely out of nowhere, because she is scared he will leave the house and get hurt again or worse…that takes the wind from sails.

These things hurt my heart. I would be lying if I said I never wanted a time-out from our circumstances for an hour or if I said I was never jealous of the tiny problems other people often mistake for day-ruining events.

But I refuse to let that hurt turn to hate. That’s what the terrorists want. If they couldn’t take G.I. Joe from this world I know the next best thing would be to know they ruined our lives and put us through hell. I won’t give people that satisfaction. They attacked him, and other soldiers, because we stand against oppression and hate. I won’t let them win. Not in this house, and not in my heart. What they don’t realize is that for every heartbreak along the way there has been a blessing.

One vile act of hatred gave opportunity for countless acts of love.

I’m more grateful for the small things in life than ever before. I don’t take as much for granted and we live a more fulfilling life now. Hanging on to the hate and anger would just drain our joy. That’s not something I’m willing to waste my time on. Next year we’re starting up our non-profit to benefit children living in military hospitals everywhere. I’ve been given the opportunity to advocate for better wounded warrior care and the United States Navy has expressed interest in implementing my ideas already. We’ve been able to help other people because we went through this tragedy. And next year…my G.I. Joe will return to duty to keep fighting terrorism around the globe. Our life is not something to mourn or be angry about. None of these amazing things would happen, or mean as much, had we not been able to walk through this valley. So if I could ever say something to person who shot that rocket 10 months ago this would be it….

I forgive you.
I feel sorry for you that your life clearly doesn’t have as much joy and laughter as ours.
I pray for you. Truth be told I probably need to do it more often, but
I pray for your soul.
That may sound crazy to some but once upon a time a man named Saul 
killed a whole lot of people that he hated.
He encountered God on a lonely road and
Became perhaps the greatest evangelist and gospel speaker of all time.
I believe God can still work miracles.
I pray for your wife and children.
I pray that while on earth they are able to enjoy love and innocence.
I pray that when they do leave this earth, whenever that may be,
That they will leave it with the God of Love in their hearts
So that they can boldly approach His throne in Heaven and be comforted by Him.
You tried to destroy us.
But God’s plan for our life needed you to bring us to a point 
where we could better serve our fellow man.
Because of you I’ve uttered the phrase “Thank you Jesus” more than ever before.
Because of you we’ve exchanged anger for compassion.
Our lives will truly never be the same because of what you did 10 months ago.
And again, I forgive you.

~Mrs. G.I. Joe

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

To the families of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods...



The other day Lucy and I were bouncing on the trampoline at our rural residence. The leaves from the trees peppered the trampoline and crunched beneath us. Lucy's brownish-reddish-blondish bob flopped as her feet met the mat. And out of nowhere I was struck by something....there was a clear and distinct absence of the explosive sound that mortars make. Leaves rustled. Springs BOING'ed. Giggles escaped. But there were no rockets screeching and booming. Its an odd thing to notice, right? I guess to many its weird but if you all haven't noticed that sound--or absence of sound--already then you will likely have a similar revelation in the future. Its when you have seen the tragic high costs of freedom that you can begin to vividly notice the lack of violence around you.

On February 20th of this year my husband's small combat out post was attacked in Afghanistan. They came under fire from rockets and other "small arms." My G.I. Joe was hit but was able to get help. Every time new information on the attacks in Benghazi comes out my heart breaks more. Your loved ones, your heroes, should have received help. In the midst of already tragic circumstances you all have to deal with lies, disrespect and cover up.

I know most media outlets, and too many Americans if you ask me, are turning a blind eye to "Benghazi-gate" as it unfolds. But I want to go on record here and now to say this freedom-loving-American family is outraged for you all. The cover-up is unacceptable. The rude, loud mouthed comments from the Vice President are completely inexcusable. And even mentioning that stupid movie at your loved ones' transfer ceremony should be viewed as reprehensible.

As our Lucy grows we know she will be asking more and more questions about how G.I. Joe was wounded and why. When she questions these issues we will always make a point to tell her stories of valor that took place in Libya this September. When she is older and learns her Daddy was hit by mortars in an attack in one part of the world, we will also tell her of Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods who refused to stand down and lost their lives saving others who were hurt. And we'll tell her of people like Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, who went into a dangerous area routinely because they believe in things like freedom and democracy.

In the midst of the whirlwind this must be for you all, please know that there are people all over the world praying for you all and seeking the truth. We pray that our nation's lawmakers will not settle until everything is revealed. We pray for you all that you will have the strength and comfort you need to deal with what lies before you. And we pray that everyday you'll be reminded that you have the bravest guardians smiling down on you.

Basically, we stand with you.

We'll stand beside, or behind you. Whatever you need.

But we will NOT stand down.




Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

PS~Those of you who have blogs should grab this pic, post it there and/or Facebook, and write the families your own "We won't stand down" message to show them that 6 weeks later we haven't gotten tragedy that is still continuously unfolding.



Photobucket

Sunday, September 23, 2012

To a Warrior's Daughter...



Today you are turning 4 years old. One day a long time from now when you are "big" you'll probably find this note tucked into your travel journal from this week. You'll need to read it later because right now you are still so young, it might be hard for you to grasp everything I'm saying.

We have to constantly remind ourselves that you are still "little." This year has probably been the most life altering year you will experience for quite a long time. At barely 3 years old you had to adjust to Daddy being gone even more than normal, then deploying, and going from being the center of our universe to having to share the spotlight with your baby brother. Just when we thought things may settled down long enough for you to adjust and get life under control, the unthinkable happened. As you put it "Daddy got wounded because the war hit him." You went from missing your SuperMan to helping take care of your Daddy who was weaker and slower than you. And every step of the way we have been in awe of you and your sweet spirit. I think I was more nervous about him leaving the hospital than you were. The first time you saw him walk, you weren't scared. You were confident in him. You didn't panic. You didn't see his wounds, you saw the warrior. I told you once to be careful with his face and leg and never had to remind you again.

Though an 80 year old could have passed him 12 times you would patiently walk beside him, never a step in front. You held the free hand that wasn't gripping the cane and you encouraged him with every step. Where did you learn to do this?! I was a mess anytime Daddy walked. I was so scared and nervous his body couldn't handle it. But you showed him care and confidence. That balance is still hard for me, 7 months later.

This wasn't the first situation where we (and others) have been in awe of you. On this day 4 years ago a nurse ran down the hall and told other nurses to come to my door. She wanted everyone to see how relaxed I was while laboring to bring you into this world. No drugs at all. Just peace. Then you slipped out on your own. No one could believe how fast and effortlessly you entered the world.

I have no doubt that through the years you will continue to amaze us. Already at 4 you have handled with grace what most adults are incapable of handling. You do it with smiles, laughter, and brutal innocent honesty. Daddy and I are incredibly proud of you. And we want you to remember something very VERY important....

This is ALL because God is working through you.

He has AMAZING plans for your life.

I wasn't prepared for any of this. We really can't be prepared for the things that happened this year.

But when that happens God gives us the grace we need to get through it.

You, my sweet and goofy child, are a breath-taking picture to people of God's grace.

You remind us everyday of all He is capable of.

And for that we can only say thank you.

I'm pretty sure you have taught US more than we have taught you so far.

Happy Birthday, Love Bug. You were the best answer to every prayer we ever prayed.






Monday, September 17, 2012

It's almost that time again...

Its birthday season around here at the G.I. Joe house!

I really feel like it wasn't that long ago when a few days after her 3rd birthday, we were able to have G.I. Joe come home to surprise Lucy.

This year she's had a few things to make it extra special.

When things settle down I'll have like a bajillion pictures to post but I wanted to share this one.

On Saturday we had my family over for her "family birthday party." She'll still have a party with her friends next month and something coming up on her birthday but this was her "first party of the season." Haha

My Mom snapped this picture while we were singing to Lucy and it just blows me away every time I look at it.

It so completely shows what we were terribly close to losing and how great God is.

If you are able to have moments like this, there just isn't much to legitimately complain about.

G.I. Joe is alive and here with us. We don't know what's going to happen 6-12 months from now or if he will ever make a full recovery but he's here. He wasn't supposed to be in this picture...he could either be deployed or far worse because of that rocket, but by the grace of God my G.I. Joe is able to watch our baby girl turn 4!




Monday, September 10, 2012

Because of this piece of metal...

Walter Reed is a very short drive from Baltimore so a number of times we got in the car and just went to the harbor on a whim. One very very hot sunny day in June were heading back to our truck when we came upon the Baltimore World Trade Center. In front of it was the most moving display I'd ever seen.

On a huge slab of white marble perched mangled pieces of metal.

Metal from the Twin Towers.

They were twisted,

rusted,

burned.

Lucy knew something as different about this. She even got a little emotional and whiny.

"Mommy, what is that metal? Why is it here? Mommy, don't take pictures! Mommy, I want to go!"

It only took a second for both G.I. Joe and myself in unison to say

"This piece of metal is why..."

We explained to her that what happened around the pieces of this metal is why Daddy goes away.

Its why he wants to help people.

Its why he wants to keep US safe from now on.

Its why he has metal inside his body and can't run with her.

Its why he'll do everything in his power to return to duty.



There are really no words to convey the emotion of being arms reach away from something that hundreds of innocent lives perished under. And harder still to describe the pulling inside me. This week I read an article about a soldier who was killed in the same area G.I. Joe was wounded in. And of course...this hero died from the same type of wounds. September 11th was always emotional for me...being a military spouse always has added  another level to it. But now, G.I Joe is here and alive. While so many, no too many, aren't.

There is thankfulness in our hearts...and sadness for the families of the fallen.

There is confusion as to why God chose to spare him, and for G.I. Joe I know there will always be a fair amount of guilt.

After living with these roller coaster of emotions...

And having to listen to my husband talk about how he is still willing to make sacrifices for our freedom, I have come to one conclusion...

Some were meant to live for freedom, 
and some were meant to die for it. 

No matter which, we should NEVER take it for granted.