Sunday, August 28, 2016

Two Truths

There were times when you broke my heart, I cried and the pain increased

I thought my heart couldn’t beat any faster than when it was in your hands

I thought my heart couldn’t break any more than when it was in your hands

I feared, was it a mistake?

We have journeyed, and labored, and fought

We have made up the miles

I thought my heart couldn’t beat anymore than you took it in your hands

I need your passion, your touch

Could I breathe without you?

Yes, with labored breathe, skimming the shallow depths of my chest

I forgive

You saved, you fought, and you changed

I love you and you love me

My heart, my soul, my being belongs to you

Now, I learn, we have two truths

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How Are You?

my mother on the day of our mine and my husband's vow renewal
I was at the dentist the other day for my own routine cleaning and teeth maintenance, and though I had put it off for some time, I decided that I should probably get my mother into the dentist. There’s significance to this, earlier this year, my mother was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia with primary progressive aphasia, which means that although her behavioral demeanor has remained mostly in tack, her cognitive abilities have begun to dwindle. I am now her primary caregiver, and as of earlier this year, my mother has moved into our already crowded home (husband, wife with 4 children). Nowadays I am often found running around the house either changing a diaper, helping our older children with various task including 4-H and Boy Scout projects, and more often than not, switching around my mother’s backwards shirt or assisting her in some other fashion. To say that most days I go to sleep exhausted would be an understatement. To say that I still cannot get adequate sleep on most nights would also be an understatement. My life is consumed with being a caregiver, and this often times leaves little to no time for me. The time that I do have for myself is often spent working on my own college school work, or ducking away in my husband’s barn for some alone time with him. It is not uncommon for people to ask how I am doing or how my mother is doing. In the beginning, I rarely answered this question honestly. Nowadays, the question still seems loaded, but I try to be honest when I answer it. Truth is, I do not know when I will honestly be able to answer the “how you are” question in relation to my mother’s disease with “things are going well.”

The other day, my mother began to cry. I believe this was because she comprehends that she is becoming more and dependent on someone else. All I could do is look at her and tell her that I would be there for her through all of her disease, a disease that has struck my mother in her early fifties. Truth is, it tears me apart to see a once independent woman, the soul breadwinner of our home reduced to uncertainty and child like demeanor. Truth is I am saddened by the thought that there will come a time when my mother doesn’t recognize me. I am angered by the fact that this burden is on my husband and four children. I get frustrated with having to take two vehicles if we want to go someone as a family. It is no fun to deal with my mother’s unexplained sadness, tears, and hugs (which she never really did much of before). There are days when nothing gets me though the day, when nothing seems to get me though the moments of despair. It is easier to deal with the frustration because I remind myself that this is not my mother’s fault. Given the opportunity, she would buckle her own seatbelt in the car, she would handle her own doctor’s appointments, handle her own bills, and she would certainly dress herself. I know this journey is going to get darker, and I honestly do not believe I am ready for it, no matter how much I prepare. So, right now, I can honestly answer “how are you” in relation to my mother’s illness with “I am scared”. I am scared because I do not want to see my mother become more and more fragile, and I am sad that my children will not get to grow up with her as a grand mother (the woman who was once going to be their guardian). I am trying every single day to grab on to life with two hands and fight to stay on the ride. Most days I am successful and we have joy and laughter, and some days there are tears. Today just maybe one of those good days, time will only tell.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Veteran: When It's Not PTSD

not the last time we'd kiss good-bye 

First and foremost, I give the utmost respect to those who have sacrificed their lives, who have nearly lost their lives, and those who suffer daily with the demons of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am a very proud wife of an Army veteran who has multiple deployments and plenty of garrison duty (on post or constantly called back to post) under his belt. To say that my husband is my hero just may be an understatement of the century. We both loved being within the Military community, my husband was meant to be a soldier and was very good at being a soldier. When he went into basic training, he was waiting to be broken down, beaten down to the point that he was the Army’s blank slate. He believed and still believes in defending the nation and stops when the Star Spangled Banner is playing, when the Pledge of Allegiance is being recited, and makes sure to remove old flags so they can be retired with dignity. Yes, my husband loved being a soldier. To this day he is willing to talk about his service when asked, doesn’t have adverse reactions to loud noises despite a barrage of mortar music while overseas, and doesn't have scars attributed to war time. So, with all this under consideration, why did we struggle as we have? We recently celebrated ten years of marriage, sometimes a surprise thinking back to the strain in our relationship that really started to escalate when my husband separated from the Army. Sure, he had a military sternness about him when our two oldest children we young. After all, he was familiar with training and managing soldiers, so why should handling two toddlers be any different? Our real issues began after my husband left the Army. He struggled with drinking, which was a problem in service but was confounded by the fact that he no longer was bound by the Army’s constant beckoning. He left the Army because he no longer wanted to be separated from his family, but he was often times out drinking, returning home well into the morning. Little by little, he became easily agitated, and the direction of his aggravation was quite often his wife. I felt, more often than not, that I had to walk on egg shells. To keep a peaceful house, I had to regulate my emotions. I would cry and this made him confused and irritated. He would think in black and white terms, the gray area of life was elusive to him. He drank and chose that particular time to begin to nit pick on my flaws, and when I became defense in return this made him more angry and blind to his own behavior.

When we were active duty, he and I once got into an argument on his willingness to put himself in harms way. I didn’t understand why he would give up the chance to return back to his family, and he didn’t understand why it didn’t make sense for him to take the place of a less experienced soldier.

After his discharge from the Army, he was regretful. He felt that since his service did not compare to that of his WWII grandfather’s service that he was not good enough. He is a man that would put himself in harms way to save his fellow man, but this was and has remained never enough. He is the man that when the country is under attack, you want him in your corner, but this was and is not good enough.

So, here is what my heart has to say. Thank God, I still have my husband with me that his service to our country and unwavering devotion to this country did not take him from me. However, here is where the proud wife of a veteran begins to feel her chest tighten up. There are numerous times that I fell to the floor of our bedroom in tears. I was breathless as I fought to understand who the man was that I married. I couldn’t understand his cruel nature or why he was breaking my heart. I was angry when he’d come home from drinking. There were times when I prayed for God to take him because my unwavering devotion to him meant that I would never leave him. I was beginning to feel numb to our marriage. It was only due to an act of God that he began to understand how much he had broken my heart throughout our ten years of marriage. He began to understand how to communicate to me. He began to understand that when I cried, I just needed his touch and that he did not need to fix me, but be there for me. I believe this is what life is like with a veteran when it is not PTSD or at least, this is what our life looked like after his service. I am still learning and trying to piece together the puzzle of our life together. I am still working to separate what is genetics, what is his personality, and what is the soldier, but now I am able to appreciate the muddy road we have been traveling together. I am working to deal with my own anger, frustration, and sadness over my broken heart, so that I can continue to appreciate where we have been and where we are going. Please know that each and every veteran and their spouse have their own story, and that service affects everyone differently. Our life has not been without its trials. We have fought and torn each other down, but through God have finally reached a point of peace, and now we live our lives to keep it. Only now I am able to say that we are blessed through our brokenness.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Forgiveness is Not a Myth

broken, but not beyond repair

It took a long time to understand what forgiveness really was. When my husband and I became a couple, it was not under the most holy of circumstances. Nowadays we firmly believe that we were meant to be together and that our human ways of handling life created more than one obstacle to claiming each other. We’re going 10 years strong as husband and wife, and the months keep adding up as we go along. However, for the longest time I agonized over what we had done early one Christmas morning, the sin we had committed and the brokenness we created. In the start of our marriage, I began to believe that I was doomed to loose him, and created many maladaptive thoughts when it came to his Army deployments. I was terrified that he was destined to die because that was our punishment for sinning. If there was a negative thought to be had, I had them. See, that’s the terrible thing about sin, it makes one believe irrationally, it tears people apart inside and drags people down to the point that we are barely able to see the light. During this time I began to move away from the Lord, I wasn’t becoming a holy terror. I wasn’t drinking or doing anything in excess, but what I was doing may have been far worse. I simply did not turn to the Lord. I asked for forgiveness, I begged on the floor while on my knees to be forgiven for what I had done, but each time I did, I did not believe that I was actually forgiven. This was mistake number one. Understanding what it took to gain forgiveness meant that I would have to share the blame. For the longest time, I did not take into account that my husband had also sinned, which was mistake number two. It was not until years later after my husband was discharged from the Army and on his 18 month educational endeavor in Arizona that I began attending school again. My journey through obtaining my psychology degree at a Christian university began to open my eyes to the Bible, to reading and understanding scripture and this inspired me to get into church. This may sound like I am going to preach the importance of attending church (yes, it is important to fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ), but what I want to share is the message that has permeated my very existence and catapulted me into my relationship with God. In a small town, tiny church one Sunday I sat in a church pew, stunned and rendered motionless. From the pulpit I heard the pastor say (and pardon me if these are not his exact words) “who do you think you are that God cannot forgive your sin?” Please take a moment to think about this. Sin is sin is sin, sounds silly for me to say right?

“But this sin is worse than that sin-“


That is when I knew that forgiveness was no longer a myth. Who on earth was I to believe that I could not be forgiven by God? Who was I to believe that my sin was greater than God, greater than the forgiveness of God? Some reading this (I would appreciate greatly) may not be Christians, but that does not mean that forgiveness is out of your reach either. Some folks may struggle as I had done in the past, twist their self-talk and function through life on maladaptive thoughts. True forgiveness is not a myth, and you should not have to continually ask to be forgiven. We are human, we do harm as part of our nature. God understands this. He wants us to turn to him when we are weak; He even wants us to turn to him when we feel strong. That was mistake number three for me, not making the most out of my relationship with God. Once I understood that God’s forgiveness is not contingent on how terrible my sin is/was, but contingent on believing and knowing the He forgives, I forgave myself. Now, I am more than willing to share my testimony, to share my shame, to share my anguish. Don’t allow maladaptive thoughts to consume your daily life. It is painful to make the change, to repent, but the forgiveness on the other side is liberating. I would endure ridicule and human damnation because I have been forgiven by God, and that forgiveness is just as real as technology I am using to type these words.

A great compliment for this post is "Nobody is Too Broken for the Grace of Jesus" by Jarrid Wilson and can be found at