Monday, October 10, 2016

What I Have learned Being Married to a Country Boy

        So I married a country boy, a real through and through country boy. The type of boy who drives
an old Ford pick-up truck, carries a .44 revolver on his hip when deer hunting, and stands tall during the national anthem. Back when I knew him in high school, I thought he was an odd ball. I thought, “oh my goodness, who is the teenage boy riding into the school parking lot on a motorcycle?” I thought I had him all figured out, until one day, I realized that I didn’t know much about him at all.
        Over a decade later and there is little that I don’t know about my country boy (a man now). In fact, I know his social security number, birth date, and a lot of other pertinent information, including the dates of his Army deployments and when he joined and separated from the service. I know a lot of about his loves and dislikes, and the things that can infuriate him the most. What I didn’t expect was to learn as much as I have throughout or marriage from my guy. So, here are the things I learned being married to a country boy.

1. I learned how to back up using my mirrors. Yup, it’s hilarious looking at individuals turn to and fro trying to back up their vehicle. My husband has always been adamant about using mirrors when backing up, and I learned quickly that if I want to keep him quiet about my driving then I should probably learn how to back up properly. (now backing up a trailer…that’s another story).

2. I learned how to enjoy the outdoors more. Sure, I am still not into hunting, but I have learned to thoroughly enjoy fishing. From the first moment I hooked a fish, I knew I was hooked. There are activities that I probably would have never tried out if it weren’t for him.

3. I never thought I would eat seafood. Now, little by little, I have come to enjoy lobster, sushi, Ahi Tuna and even coconut crusted shrimp.

4. How to be patriotic. This is not just from my husband’s example, but through his service to our country. Together we try to cultivate an atmosphere of respect for our nation’s flag even if there are not always an agreement on ideals, processes, and beliefs.

5. I learned that a man can be truly enamored with a woman without make-up or fancy clothing. Sure, my husband oogles at the sigh of me in a tight little black dress, but put on a pair of blue jeans and my husband can barely keep his tongue in his mouth. There have been more times that I have looked raked over, sweat pants, or even after crying and my husband will look at me in utter surprise and say, “you look absolutely gorgeous”.

6. I have learned that God loves me, and He gave us a beautiful love story. When I am feeling down, unloved, stressed, rejected, and just plain beat down my husband reminds me that simple true love truly exists.

7. I would never have imagined watching a man gut, skin, clean and butcher a deer. Nor would I have imagined I would be cleaning and packaging said deer.

8. I have learned the value of hard work and dedication, watching a man with sweat on his brow as he takes an ax to a pile of wood leaves me breathless.

         Truly, what is the point to all of this? There are things on my list that could just as easily describe any other man. Yes, there are things on this list that are not historically attributed to being a country boy, so why would I label these things as what my country boy has taught me. The point is this, our spouses or significant others teach us things, whether we like it or not. They teach us how to react to emotions and who we can trust with our hopes, fears, and dreams. Our significant others show us themselves when they are at their best, and also when they are at their worst. We learn that the exchange between another human being on an intimate level can have its flaws just as it has its blessings. We should not expect to remain untaught in our significant relationships. How boring would that be, to never learn anything from our spouse? We need to be okay with learning from others, least of all, our significant others. To be able to say, “I didn’t know this, but you have taught me” is certainly not a sign of weakness, but a sign of love.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What Hacksaw Ridge May or May Not Teach Christians About War

There's nothing more wonderful than hearing true life stories about American soldiers, courageous individuals who devote part or all of their lives fighting for our nation. This is not only humbling for many, but also invokes a strong sense of pride. Hacksaw Ridge is a movie based off the true story of Desmond Doss a Private First Class (PFC) in WWII who served his country without bearing arms due to religious reasons. What caught my attention was the television trailer for the movie where Doss’ mother tells the young Desmond that taking a person's life is an ultimate sin. It is this particular lesson that remains with Doss throughout his life and military career.

The big question is, “what’s the problem?” After all, it’s a true life story of courage and honor, which most certainly should be celebrated? What was it that shot through my heart when I saw the television trailer for such an awe-inspiring movie? As an advocate of service members and their families, being a counselor in training, and being a Christian, I want to make sure that there is a balance between the Christian views of war.

My husband and I have spoken at lengths about the implications of the Christian view on war especially in terms of developing any mental disorder after service. My husband, a veteran himself, informed me that many soldiers were often complexed when it came to God’s view on being a soldier. These were men or woman who possibly had to see or do unspeakable things in the name of good, including taking a life. Speaking frankly, the view of killing someone as an ultimate sin cannot and should not be in a general context or ever blanketed. We cannot say all killing is a sin no matter what. 1 Peter 2:13-17 (New International Version) states, “submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

These men and woman are servants to the governing body of our government. These are individuals who are willing to lay down their lives in the name of freedom. God is not angry with them for being soldiers, for taking a life if that it what they needed to do. They have not committed a sin that they cannot come back from; it is not as ultimate a sin that should cause anyone to loose the love of others because they will never loose the ultimate love of God.

Conversely, I urge soldiers to act in the name of the Lord. These men and woman cannot and should not commit atrocities to benefit their own need for revenge. Proverbs 3:31-32 (NIV) commands “do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways. For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence.” What implication should this have for soldiers? It means that although God has decreed war as necessary, taking up arms can be found necessary, cruelty towards others is not okay. Do not defile others in the name of war.

Back to Hacksaw Ridge, what should absolutely not be lost on the story of Pfc. Desmond Doss is the fact that he stuck to his beliefs; he remained steadfast with his beliefs. The Lord was calling upon him to react in a remarkable and completely polarizing way than others. This was God’s calling and purpose for Doss. Absolutely nothing should be taken away from this story in terms of resolve and respect. However, Doss is not better because he refused to take up arms. He is not more courageous nor should he garner more respect than a man who has had to kill men in battle. Equally, those who took up arms are also not better; they are not better reflections of men. Courage is courage is courage, I cannot stress this enough when it comes to the brave men and woman who serve in the military. The ultimate truth, God’s grace belongs to everyone, and true forgiveness is there is one only believes and asks.

A great article to further elaborate on the Christian view of war is Phillip Jensen’s article titled “What is the Christian Perspective on War?” found at the link below.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Unplanned but not Unloved: Story of Having a Baby After Permanent Birth Control

I Am What?!
I was alone in our bathroom when the doctor called me on the phone with my blood test results. I had been feeling ill the past few weeks, and started having this odd hunch that I was pregnant. There was something odd about this though, I had had permanent birth control put in eight months after our third child. I was convinced that her pregnancy was certainly God's way of telling me that I was done having children. Combine Gestational Diabetes and pre-eclampsia and I was over my head done with having children. I was content with this, our third child was more than we could handle, a tiny bundle of colic. So, as I mentioned, I underwent permanent birth control. Imagine my surprise and utter terror when I heard my doctor confirm my fears of being pregnant. What was it she said, "you're pregnant girl."

 I sunk down on the side of the tub. What the h@ll was going on, this had to be some sick joke. I didn't want to be pregnant, I didn't want another baby. I was angry because I was attaching myself to our latest little bundle of joy who, by this time was a toddler. I thought that this was going to take away from her security and happiness. Also, I had recently started graduate school, and this was certainly not needed. I did not want to be pregnant again. When I called my husband I was crying, and he was fearful. Now, at this point we were not even sure this was a viable pregnancy. The most we knew was that this could be an ectopic pregnancy, which would mean that I would need surgery. Combine this knowledge with my tears, and I could tell that my husband was slightly concerned.

I was scheduled for an ultra sound immediately, and my husband had to leave work early. Oddly enough, I remember this day quite well. It was November 11th, Veteran's day. Being that my husband was a veteran, I chalked this up to one cruel veteran's day gift. I asked our neighbor to watch our kids while we went to the hospital.

My husband that day was amazing, the opposite of how I thought he was going to be. When the technician began speaking to me as if this was some routine ultra sound, a totally normal happy pregnancy, I turned away and felt a tear rolled down my cheek. My husband held my hand, and brushed the hair away from face. He could see how all of the unexpected news, the viable pregnancy news, had hit me. What kind of mother was I going to be to this child when I didn't want another baby? So here is where my husband was, a man who I thought was going to flip out, the man who I thought was going to hate this pregnancy as much as I did, being strong. What was going on inside him mind? I later learned that a resounding, "bring it on." rung in his head.

This little girl came to us on our ninth wedding anniversary. She was a 5# 12 oz bundle of joy who I thought was just absolutely gorgeous. Up to that point, I doubted if I could love her. However, my heart had been transformed the first moment I looked at her. I remember telling my father as he held her, "isn't she beautiful?" And I meant it, she was our beautiful baby, a little girl who may have been unplanned, but made from love.

What have I learned. God has plans for us that we cannot even fathom. God knew I wanted this little girl, this unexpected bundle of joy, before I knew I wanted her. Everything we had done at this point included the idea for a family of five. We have a three bedroom home, a room with two girls who already took up quite a bit of space. Yet somehow we have made things work.

We have no plans of suing the company of my useless permanent birth control. How can you want to fight anyone when you know that she was the plan from the start? How can you not love a little girl whose blue eyes melt right into your heart, and whose smile and giggles fill the room with joy? I have health issues due to a fourth pregnancy, and I weigh the option for surgery to correct these persistent issues on a weekly basis, but Marie Grace is just perfect.

Marie- My middle name, my husband's suggestion on her name
Grace- By the grace of God, she is here with us

This smile makes us fall in love.