Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Oh, the Places You'll Go" Part 2

I have been pretty much procrastinating writing this "part 2" post. I think mostly because it was such a difficult time for me, and I just want to focus on the new, exciting things happening in our lives right now. There will be a part 3, and I will get to those new and exciting things there...I think. Nevertheless, I think it's important to note where we've been and come from, and I think sometimes those memories can make me even more thankful and humbled by the glimpses I catch of how much our God really loves us.

Matt deployed a couple days after Christmas. He spent the deployment in Japan, on a carrier, in the Philippines, and in Thailand. He was even supposed to help out with that whole Burma clean-up, but they never allowed them in. I was at home, spending much of my time with family. I missed him so much. I struggled with the idea of how to be a good wife so far away from him. There were discouraging times like the weeks that would go by without a word from him, or the times we could talk and his phone would disconnect, or the static was so loud I couldn't even hear him. There's also that 3 second delay where we keep interrupting each other (not on purpose of course) and then have to repeat what we said...wasting those precious and expensive minutes. Yes, there were so many things that felt like it couldn't possibly get any more annoying or difficult. We never did get that power of attorney straightened out, and I was on the phone constantly about bills and was told they couldn't talk to me because Matt's name was on them. Then after days and hours of phone calls, I'd get frustrated and burst out, "I'm paying the bills so you better talk with me!" This time apart didn't always bring out the best in me.

I have a funny story actually about one of the numerous phone calls I made about an error. This time, it was just after Christmas. I flew home that morning and my family was celebrating with gifts that evening. I had gotten my dad a new prepaid cell phone that he could really use. I ordered it online and got a great deal. That evening before the exchange, I opened up some of the Christmas gifts I had ordered and had sent to my parents'(being so far away, many gifts were ordered online) to check to make sure everything was correct. I struggled with opening his box, and let's face it, I was burying strong emotions to this point. I hated being home. I hated being away from Matt, and this was only day 1 of this stint. I let out grunts and frustrations at the "stupid box" and burst into tears (up in my room of course...away from everybody) when I saw what was inside. A METALLIC HOT PINK phone! This was for my dad! I don't know about your dads, but my dad wouldn't be so thrilled with a hot pink phone. Ohh, I laugh at that now, but it sent me over at the time. So, my dad got a hot pink phone that Christmas until I spent several hours arguing with the service lady that the phone I ordered was red...etc. etc. Finally, they sent him a black phone...which turned out to be silver. Whatever! At least it wasn't pink!

Of course we all remember the flood in my apartment I experienced. If you need refreshers on my broken toilet and water filled rooms, you can read about that here and here, oh and... here. I spent the winter in our apartment quite cold. Our utility bills were out of this world, and I tried what seemed like everything to keep it reasonable. I shivered through the cold northeast winter with our heat set at 62...with lots of blankets and a space heater at my feet. I began subbing and to be honest, I was nervous. I wanted so much for Matt to be able to pray with me for my first day and be an encouragement, but that was a time we weren't able to talk for a couple weeks, and he didn't even know I started that new endeavor yet. I walked in that first day thinking, if I can make it through this deployment, I can make it through the day with first graders...and "of course," it was one of those days there weren't any lesson plans left for me. I'm telling you, I laugh about these things now, but boy, I wasn't laughing at the time. My cousin, Chrissy, often joked with me, calling me Job. She was usually my comic relief and always helped me put things into perspective. There were so many people who helped me through this time. My cousin, Bethany, allowed me to live the college life again over several weekends to give me an opportunity not to spend some evenings alone. I had phone conversations with my best friend Laura, who's boyfriend happens to be in the Navy, so we have even more in common. My family gave me things to do (even things I wasn't particularly thrilled to...hmm, taking care of the animals), and I could really go on and on about the people close to me I needed and were there.

How about some of the good things while he was gone? I had Matt's ring around my neck.

He had a pillowcase I made. Yes, I'm just an amateur. Yes, it needed ironing. *Hence that lower score on that 60's wife quiz* What can I say? It was a rush to the finish line. I should've just taken another picture of it all fresh...but we moved...I have no idea where it is right now.

He used it pretty much every night...He only didn't when it was in the laundry. Here's proof on his little rack on the carrier:

I asked if he ever was made fun of for it. He said some guys would start to read it, sort of sarcastically, but each one would fade off, sort of back down once they realized what it said. There certainly is power in His Word. Some of them even wished their wives made something like that for them. The verse on it was Psalm 4:8, "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe." I also had Isaiah 61 on the back with a little acorn. We talk a lot about being oaks of righteousness. On the sides, I embroidered his nicknames...silly, I know. I don't think any of the guys started calling him Bubba though.

Another wonderful thing during this time: Skype and webcam!! Whenever Matt had "real" Internet, like in California and a few occasions in other countries, we were able to hear and see each other!!! Sometimes we would talk in the wee hours of the morning for me because he was often 12-14 hours different time-wise. I guess I'll clarify "real Internet." Real Internet, as per Webster..or Beckster...is when Matt had the capability to check yahoo email, the blog, use Skype, and just surf the web in general. Fake Internet is when Matt had the capability to only check his military email and that's it, which was mostly while he was on the boat. Because he traveled to so many different places, he was on and off the boat several times. After a couple of times, he lost access to his fake Internet because the fake Internet did not recognize his username and password...or whatever. Thus, the weeks of no communication period sometimes. I know, I have a lot to be thankful for...his location/s for deployment and the amount of time we were able to talk to each other. It just still wasn't an easy thing...for me anyway.

Pete and Laurel found out they were expecting Annabeth and had Annabeth all while Matt was gone. Remember how I chased after her balloons in the swamp?

Also during the deployment, I started this blog. I think it was so good since I had sort of stopped journaling for awhile. Question to those who journal: What do you do with all those used journals? I have several already, and I'm only 24. So, I figured the blog saves space...and is so much more fun. Does blogger give the opportunity to print these into little books? That would be cool...especially if down the road they can this whole thing and our entries are lost. Anyway, I "met" some neat, neat people through all this blogging stuff. I probably spent more hours on here than I should've, but I had a whole support and prayer group right through here. How cool is that? I was able to read how other Christian military wives handle the stresses and learn from them. Heather's husband was stationed out in Okinawa when Matt was deployed over there. I can't tell you how encouraged I was to find her blog, and start commenting and emailing back and forth! It was so huge to me to have an older sister in Christ who was living right where my husband was for much of his deployment! I have never met her in person but am so grateful for our friendship, especially during that difficult time. I know her husband was an encouragement to mine as well. I'm a little jealous Matt got to meet the family ;), but it was so wonderful Matt was able to connect with others for fellowship and worship. If you didn't catch their meeting...it's here!

I think that's all I have for that time now. Stay tuned, because I promise, we have more blog worthy material since Matt has come home! Glimpse: Grocery store accident: Matt crashes cart into aisle shelf at 20 miles per hour, leaving wife who of course is in need of restroom, doubled over laughing, trying to keep from causing another accident.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Oh, the Places You'll Go" Part 1

These posts are probably going to be long (when are mine ever short?)...and they are more for my heart to remember where we've been over the course of this "year-ish," but I'm sharing anyway, just in case you're interested in a glimpse of our young married life.
This is the song I referred to way back in post #1. We felt like it was a good theme, since we were going for a crazy ride this year. Yes, we were moved out of our comfort zone into a plan greater than ours. We were stretched and have grown...

I guess I'm going to start back at the beginning. So, a little more than a year and a half ago (about 19 months ago), Matt and I were married (December 16, 2006!). In March, Matt got that packet in the mail notifying him that he had been recalled into the Marine Corps for 1 year. Matt served 5 years active duty and had the final 3 years of inactive duty to wrap up. He was a little over 1 year into his "inactive duty" stint when he was recalled. In April, he was sent to Kansas City to get more information and another set of his orders. That's when we knew October was looming around the corner. I am thankful Matt did not have to leave right away, but I must admit March to October was at times, a dreadfully long time.

On October 21st, around 8am, I said goodbye to Matt at the airport. It was a difficult thing, yet a comforting thing, to have so many family members there. I was so thankful to get an access pass to the gate to see Matt off. I had no idea that was a possibility until Matt checked in, and the sweet lady at the counter offered it to me. I about let down my flood gates right there in thankfulness. That gave us a few minutes of alone time before he boarded that plane. Ugh, those feelings come up just remembering that time. We don't have any pictures of that day, and honestly, I'm kind of glad we don't. You see, when troops are recalled, in the Marine Corps. anyway, their orders are written unaccompanied whether the troops are married or not. Had his orders been accompanied, you better believe I would've been on that plane too! The first day was not an easy one. In fact, it twists my stomach just thinking back. I forced myself to go to Sunday School and Church, but to be completely honest, I just wanted to be alone. Throughout his time away, I struggled with the concept of home. I felt a sort of homesick no matter where I was...at our apartment, at my parents' house, in the car...and my apartment wasn't particularly comforting. Despite the fact that it's a basement etc. etc. ;), everything reminded me of Matt. We are best friends, husband and wife, and as long as I'm with him...I find comfort. I think this time definitely enhanced my perspective that this world is not our home. Just as I longed to be close to Matt, the Lord longs to be close to us. Just as I waited for a phone call or email, the Lord waits for our communication with Him. Just as I waited for the day to meet Matt again, so we ought to long for the time we will be in heaven with our Lord and Savior.

In November, I was able to make it out for a long weekend during the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. We ended up going to the wrong ball at first, but made it to the right one just in time. We didn't stay for the dancing (of course), but I must say, it was an experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed the cheesecake! Because Matt's orders were unaccompanied, he and the rest of the recalled guys stayed in the barracks. Barely scraping enough money together to make it out (Matt's pay was a little messed up for "awhile"), ...can you keep a secret? I ended up staying in those little lovely's too. It wasn't exactly a honeymoon suite, but I was able to be with Matt. My birthday was the next week, so we celebrated early with a little ice cream cake! I flew home, and my birthday came and so did some red roses and a special note. Thanksgiving was a tough one...we have never actually spent a Thanksgiving together because of different circumstances. I'm thinking this year's will be really special!

December trudged in, but we were blessed. Family and friends helped make it possible for me to fly out the 5th and stay until the day after Christmas (which ended up being 2 days after Christmas due to weather delays)! That means, for me to come out, we needed a hotel room. I wasn't going to stay in his room again, especially for that long and on days he worked. We also needed a rental car to get around (because Matt was unable to bring a vehicle to base). All of these things really add up, especially after a flight during the holidays. Those family and friends, and the Lord's grace, literally made it happen! We had such a wonderful time and were able to celebrate our first wedding anniversary (that was so important to me)...at Balboa Park. We also exchanged our Christmas gifts that day because I wanted to enjoy the time and not be an emotional wreck because I was to leave the next day. We went to Disneyland...the first time EVER for either of us (to Disneyland or Disney World). We also visited the San Diego Zoo (so cool) and Wild Animal Park. We found a church we really enjoyed and met a couple who were originally from our little town and my college. They gave us a grand tour of San Diego and took us out for many lunches. We had to make several changes to my flight to stay the length I was able to, and finally, on December 26th we made our way to the airport again for my overnight flight home. When we arrived, we saw that my flight had been cancelled. Because I was not notified, the airline gave me some special niceties to make my next flight home more comfortable...which was scheduled for the next morning! Woohoo! I was so happy for more time with Matt, but it only left us with about 5 more hours together away from the airport. Back to the barracks we went (and his tiny single bed) because we had already checked out of the on-base hotel, and let's face it, we didn't want to spend 70something bucks for 5 hours. Matt was able to see me off each time through his military clearance, and I made my difficult flight home. Matt flew out to his destination the next day.