Category Archives: my husband

widow and orphans. not really. part two.

It has been interesting in these last two years, while Ry has been wearing The Uniform full-time, to hear what people think about military folk, both the soldiers and their families.  The word that sticks out to me most is “hero.”  And I’ve heard it applied both to the one in uniform and the supportive spouse.  But here’s the thing:  I am not a hero.  My husband is not a hero.  We are 100% human.  Just as human as you are.  And just as needy for our spouses as you are.  You know how in love with and in desperate need of your spouse’s presence you are?  Yeah.  me too.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not whining here.  I just have a strong desire to stop the “hero” narrative.  Because I think it pushes soldiers into this supra-human category–this echelon above reality, where all the magical creatures live, like the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and Spiderman.  And my husband ain’t no Tooth Fairy.  Well, actually he is the Tooth Fairy, but that just means that he’s more willing to stub his toes in the dark messy kids’ bedroom than I am and I hardly think that qualifies him as on the same par as Spiderman.

My point is, I think by calling soldiers and airmen and corpsmen (and those guys who float on and under the water) heroes, rather than demonstrating your great reverence for what they’re doing, you are actually diminishing their sacrifices by attributing their willingness and capacity to do what it takes to some sort of Super Power, or other-than-human characteristic.  What I hear is “You have something I don’t that makes it possible for you to do this.”  Embedded in that, whether you know it or not, is the implication that it’s easier for my husband and me to do this thing because we’ve been gifted with some . . . well, something, that makes it easier for us to do this than it would be for you.  So in some weird, backdoor way, it lessens the weight and cost of our sacrifice.

Now, I realize that people who use these words are trying to say the exact opposite.  I do.  You’re struggling to put into words your appreciation and your admiration.  And I so appreciate it!  So, please don’t misunderstand.  I’m trying to help you in the struggle and tell you about language that isn’t so helpful.  And, maybe it’s just not helpful for me.  So, maybe I’m just helping you help me.  But maybe I’m also inspiring you to ask the soldiers and soldiers’ families you know how they feel about the “hero” talk.  Ask them if it helps them feel better about what they’re doing.  And if it does, by all means! continue to tell them that.  Because I know that more than anything, you’d like to help and support and express your appreciation for soldiers and for their families.

For me?  What I find most helpful?  Words like this:  “Wow, you must be dying a little bit inside every second your husband is far, far away.  I know that’s how I would feel.”

Actually, I have a real-life demonstration of what has been most helpful.  A very kind woman came to me, looked me straight in the eye, asked me how I was doing, and affirmed that “Yes.  This is so hard.”  And then she proceeded to equate my struggles and challenges with those that she faced when she was widowed.  She didn’t say, “Well, at least your husband is alive.  [Mine is dead.]”  She in no way tried to point my attention to the bright side.  She stood with me.  Eye-to-eye.  And said, “This is like being widowed.  Even if it’s temporary.  He’s gone.  And you’re here trying to do everything on your own.  And you’re trying to hold it all together for your children, be mother and father to them, while your beloved is gone.  It is so very difficult.”  I could have kissed this woman.  If that wouldn’t have totally violated my rules about strict boundaries of my personal space.

And this widow is not an anomaly!  Some of the most helpful and supportive encounters I have are with yet another (relatively young) widow in my life.  She checks in with how I’m doing.  She talks as if we have something in common, as if we speak the same language.  I’m humbled by her, because I am very cognizant that my situation is not exactly the same.  My husband is alive.  And he will be coming back to me.  And I still get to talk to him on the phone and see his face via Facetime.  I am in better shape than either of these women.  And yet, and here’s what’s most important, I think, neither one of them for a second suggests that my situation could be worse.  Neither one of them lifts up before my mind the things about this deployment business for which I should be grateful. Not a single, “Buck up!” or “Suck it up!” Nor, “Look on the bright side!”  No.  They look me in the eye.  They know and respect that I’m suffering here (on my own scale) and they neither minimize nor deny it.  They do not hide from my pain.

And maybe that is the real key.  We humans have a tendency to run the opposite way from pain.  I know I do.  When I can.  Even when we see pain in others, our first reaction is to “RUN AWAAYYYY!! RUN AWAAAYY!!”  And maybe widows have gained the capacity to stare pain and suffering full-on, to stand in the midst of it, to feel and experience the full weight of it.  They know there’s no escaping it; that there is no way around it, only through it.

I know I’m not really a widow.  That’s why I stand humbled by the care of these two bona fide widows.  I am fully aware, and fully grateful that my husband will, indeed return to me in the not-so-distant future.  I’m even aware that on the Grand Scale of Suffering, this really is barely a blip.  (Though I would refer you to this post for my feelings about comparing pain and suffering.)  But I am struggling.  And hurting. And, yeah, suffering through these long days and months.

So, am I a hero, then?  No.  No.  Good grief I barely know what time of day it is and generally forget to eat and I use run-on sentences like someone’s paying me based on how many words I can cram between periods.  I am completely human.  As is my husband.  And I love my husband.  And he loves me.  And our day-to-day lives depend upon teamwork, mutual up-lifting and mutual dragging-along, upon laughter together and the sharing of household tasks like cooking/cleaning/laundrying/grocerying/garbage-taking-out-ing/etc. etc. etc.  Our day-to-day lives depend on these things.  Every day.  So, yeah.  For a year (more or less, give or take) apart?  It feels exactly how you would expect it to feel.  Difficult.  Painful.  Sad.  Lonely. Interminable. And all around pretty darned lousy.

Why do we do it then?  Well, because it’s his job.  It’s the vocation to which God has called him.  It’s the work for which he is most gifted and about which he is the most passionate.  Because he loves soldiers.  And he loves to care for them and to be there for them and to support them and to challenge them and to play football with them (and pretend he’s as young as they are) and to be with them. and for them.  To be walking, talking, breathing grace to them.  Right where they are.  That’s why we do it.

Because once our savior stared pain and suffering full-on in the face and did not turn away from it.  Because living the life to which he’s called us requires us to do the same.  May he take our little efforts and bless them and multiply them to be a witness—for as many who see—to the One who truly sacrificed, who suffered willingly and graciously, for true Life, and Life abundant.



Filed under Army stuff, Family Life, Gospel living, marriage, my husband

Widow and orphans. not really.

When last I posted.  yesterday?  the day before?  three days before?  last week?  I have no idea . . .

When last I posted I mentioned something about batten down the hatches, get your life in order, my life’s gone all Apocalyptic on me.  I mentioned several signs of impending doom.  I thought I’d lay them out one by one.  Giving a good glimpse of my whiny life over the last several months.

So.  To begin:  widow and orphans.  So, I used to have a husband who lived with me.  And he was very nice.  He was super incredible (I-think-she’s-just-making-it-all-up-to-make-us-jealous) nice.  He still is.  He’s just not living with me right now.  He’s in a land far, far away.  Sent there by the military powers that be.  Serving about a mega-church’s worth of soldiers as crises arise in their lives.  He’s working hard, working well.  Completely safe, really.  The biggest threat to his life is that he’s an introvert surrounded by people all. the. time.  But it’s his job and he likes it and he’s doing great at it.

That’s the shiny happy talk.  The less shiny?  the less happy?  Holy sister of fruitcake! this is haaaaaaard!  Every. single. day:  it’s hard.  It’s hard in the morning. it’s hard in the noontime.  Insanely hard at suppertime.  If you’ve read my blog before, you might have picked up on the fact that Ry does a. lot. of cooking in these here parts.  Like, a. LOT.  And now he’s gone.  And these children.  These growing children! (the boy is pushing 5’3”, 111 lbs., for those who are keeping score.) These children keep insisting on being fed every single day.  I don’t get it.  And you know what else I don’t get?  Why, after Ryan left, food stopped magically appearing on our table.  I don’t get it.

So on I march, through the year.  Feeding these beautiful little people I live with, trying to finish this degree that seemed like a good idea to start (and likely was and continues to be a good idea), and trying not to think about just how desperately I miss getting to see my best friend every day.  On the bright side:  I dropped a few pounds when I stopped eating all those waffles and pancakes and chocolate cakes and cupcakes and ganache and ebelskiver and fresh bread and biscuits and . . . and . . . and.  However, as the months have dragged on, I may or may not have replaced some of those calories with some liquid beverages I bring out after the kids are in bed.

At the end of the day, I’ve decided I really like my husband, I really like being married to him, and I especially like being married to him while living in the same hemisphere  continent country time-zone house. I like to live in the same house he does.  And not just because of his passion for making magic with flour.  Although, that nearly covers it.


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What next? Part II.

Yesterday, I described in detail the ways God worked out the timing and details of our lives around Ry’s colon cancer in such a way that a horrifyingly scary situation was given space to be our one and only concern.  Everything else was smoothed out.  I ended by saying Ry was “easily able to step out of his work to take the convalescence his body needed.”

Of course, by “easy,” I don’t mean easy.  I mean with little complication.  Because it was anything but easy for Ry to step out of the world for 6 weeks.  It was terrible for him.  It was the most difficult challenge for him, I think.  Cancer diagnosis?  Fine.  We have a problem, we talk to the people who know how to solve it.  Surgery?  Fine.  I don’t have anything to worry about:  all I have to do is sleep during it.  Catheter?  um . . . we won’t talk about that . . . Pain post surgery?  Fine.  Pain is good.  Pain means things are getting better.  I can take pain.  I inflict pain on my body all the time in the name of health and fitness.

But.  Stop doing stuff for 6 weeks?  Stop working?  Stop producing?  Stop?!  Impossible!  Inconceivable!

Enter:  Ry v. Lee:  Battle of the Wills, Round Two!

I wanted him to stay alive.  I had handed him completely over to the care of strangers.  I had waited helplessly while they cut into his body.  I had seen him unconscious and I didn’t like it.  I had seen him nearly pass out under my care–having no idea how my weak, broken body was going to catch his strong and muscular one.  I had seen the stuff–blood?  bodily fluid somethin’-er-other–oozing from his wounds stain the bedsheets.  I had returned to the hospital at 7 AM the morning after the surgery to find his bed empty, his room seemingly empty, drips of dried blood on the floor! convinced, I was, that something horrible had happened to him in the night and they weren’t able to reach me on my phone for some reason.  All of it.  I had done.  And I never, ever, ever wanted to do any of it ever again.  I wanted him well.  I wanted him alive.  And I thought the best way to do that was for him to listen to his doctor and do everything the doctor told him to do.

But Ry thought differently.  Because Ry is not Lee, and Lee is not Ry.  Ry had handed his own body over to strangers to do with what they would.  He had lain helpless in a hospital bed, bound by medical equipment that was thrust upon him while he was unconscious.  Medical equipment he had no way of removing on his own, so he was left subject to the whim and schedule of hospital staff.  He’d had things invading his body that had no business being there.  He had done helpless and out-of-control.  And he. was. finished.  He wanted to be strong and healthy and well and alive and under his own power and volition.  And he thought the best way to do that was for him to listen to his body and to do everything his body told him to do.

So, my need to feel safe collided with his need to be well.  More screaming, slamming, weeping, rending of garments.  More stoicism, courage (stupidity?) determination (donkey stubbornness?), perseverance, and compassion with strong boundaries.

But in the end?  When it was all said and done?  What we had was a healed body, a body cancer-free.  Thirteen inches of colon were removed from Ry’s body—more than we had expected, although, apparently it’s standard—along with ten lymph nodes.  His lymph nodes were clear, his margins were clear.  He was finished.  The surgery was all that was needed to rid his body of the cancer.  If ever again I see the doctor who ordered Ry’s initial colonoscopy, I think I’m going to have to kiss him.

Ry recovered remarkably quickly from the surgery—which leaves Ry saying, “See?  I told you I could listen to my body!” and me saying, “Thanks be to God his intestines didn’t end up outside his abdominal wall in spite of his stubborn need to move a belt sander out of the garage mere days after the surgery, while he was still on a 10lb. weight limit.”

And we’re both right.  And we’re both grateful that we’re both right.  There is no reason on earth Ry should have had colon cancer.  Really.  He doesn’t fit into a single risk category.  He’s 38, with no family history, in great physical condition—he exercises regularly (crazy man!) and eats healthfully.  There was no reason for it.  I Googled till my fingers were bruised and my eyes were raw and I came up empty.  Yet it happened nonetheless.  Because, apparently, stuff just happens sometimes.  And all you can do is get through it.  And we, by God’s grace, by God’s strength, by God’s knocking some humility into both of us along the way, we did indeed make it.

And we came out the other side all the more convinced that making plans makes no sense.  And all the more convinced that God has blessed us with a wonderful marriage and that he continues to bless our marriage richly.  In spite of ourselves.

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Filed under 2011, colon cancer, marriage, my husband

What next?

So, two days after Ry was diagnosed with colon cancer, his job changed.  Well, actually, he started his new job four days later.  And we were so grateful for it!  I mean, sure it made a crazy situation even crazier, but it really proved to be the best working situation under which Ry could deal with what came next in his cancer journey.

Once we got passed his initial plan, that is . . .

When we talked to our family doctor about Ry’s diagnosis, he agreed with the GI about the best course of action:  a bowel resection.  The doctors would remove a chunk of Ry’s colon, taking out all that could have been affected by the cancer, as well as lymph nodes that would be biopsied as well, to make sure the cancer had not hit those.

Our first major decision was to find a doctor to do the surgery.  We wanted to go outside of our small town and even beyond the small city nearby.  I was in full-on freak-out mode, trying to research all of the hospitals within a reasonable distance from us; trying to determine which would be the best one.  In Ry’s favor was that all of the tests in addition to the original scope, came back with promising outcomes:  his CSA, the blood test looking for markers of cancer, came back clear;  his abdominal X-ray from his initial doc visit came back clear, so it didn’t seem the cancer had grown through to the outside of his colon;  his chest X-ray ordered by the GI was clear, which was good news, given that the lungs and the liver are the first places colon cancer generally spreads.  All of this was good news.  All of this pointed to a good outcome, to limited invasion by the cancer.

But still and all, I was in full-on freak-out mode:  “GET OUT ALL THE CANCER!!!  GET IT OUT!!!  GET IT OUT NOW!!!!”

And Ry?  Well, Ry was starting a new job.  In an unusual position.  Feeling the pressure to prove he was necessary in this unusual role as a full-time battalion chaplain in the National Guard.  So, he thought it would be best to wait a while for the surgery.  To wait until he had settled in at his new job, before he took weeks off from work to have and recover from a surgery.

::insert jaw-drop emoticon here::

So, as I said, this whole thing was a very human endeavor.  A very human endeavor in which one-flesh and two-brains came to blows.  It was not always pretty.  About that I would like to be very, very clear.  Because this whole story can turn out to be another one of those pretty pretty stories where the couple love each other so deeply and their faith is so strong and the wife gazes glowingly at her husband:  her hero . . . and the husband gives gentle pats to his wife’s knee:  his humble help-meet.  And that’s the last story I want to tell.  Because that’s not our story.

Our story involves yelling and crying and screaming and slamming of doors and banging one’s own head off of walls and more screaming and crying and sobbing and weeping.  Well.  My story involves that, anyway.  Ry’s story involves rugged stoicism; a walk along the fine, fine lines between courage and stupidity, determination and donkey stubbornness, compassion and “I feel your pain, but I don’t care.”

We are not the same people.  We are awesome, awesome friends and companions, partners, lovers, one.  But we are not the same people.  Well we’re not entirely different.  We are both very strong, very persistent, very insistent, (these are all nice words for stubborn, you realize) people.  And when we have the same goal in view?  We are magic together.  But when we are at crossed-purposes?  with some passion infused for good measure?  Human.  Ever-so human.

In time, Ry decided not to put off the surgery for very long, and it was scheduled for March 29th, giving him just over a month to work at his new job.  And giving his new insurance the month it needed to kick in.  The first blessing.  We had received an estimate of the bill for surgery under our old insurance before the new insurance kicked in.  ::insert bulging eyes emoticon here.::  Oh. My.  Oh my.  I don’t know how we would have paid it off.  I mean, we would have.  Surely.  But over time.  Over some good, long time.  Under his new insurance?  It was covered.  My thanks to you and you and you and you:  all of my taxpaying friends.  Here is an example of how your tax dollars helped one family in a very profound way.  Military insurance is not perfect, but in this case?  It served us very, very well.  And for that we are grateful both to the providers and to The Provider who put Ry in his new job at just the right time for our financial needs to be provided.

Second blessing:  If Ry had to have abdominal surgery that was followed by 6-8 weeks of convalescence afterward while he was working at the church?  It would have been beyond difficult for him.  It would have been impossible.  He would have been checking in with people all the time, he would have had me driving him to visit people, he would have been going out of his mind to have to leave his beloved congregation without him for that long!  But because of the job change, his beloved congregation had a pastor serving them full-time.  And they were in good hands.  And, because his new job had just started, he didn’t have much in the way of loose ends there.  He easily was able to step out of his work to take the convalescence his body needed.

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Filed under 2011, Army stuff, colon cancer, marriage, my husband

How did we get here?

Yesterday I made a mighty big promise (though I didn’t actually promise) to finish up the Army back-story stuff in a paragraph or two so that I can return to the colon cancer story.  Yeah.  I’m sure you believed me.  And these few lines here don’t count as a paragraph.  They’re a preamble.

So, you might be finding yourself scratching your head, wondering how we went from packing up Ry’s Army uniforms for good to Ry is now serving on active duty with the National Guard.  Well.  Funny that.  Ry and I try really really hard not to make plans.  I especially eschew the practice ever since I declared unequivocally that, 1.  The only way I would live in the South was if the Army moved me there and 2.  I would never ever never ever never ever never move back to New Jersey after Ry’s seminary years there.  18 months after serving Ry’s first call as a pastor–no Army connection whatever–in Georgia, we returned to New Jersey for me to finish up seminary.  It was then that I determined never to make plans again.  But, apparently, Ry did not get the memo.

We really, truly, to the bottom of our beings, believed that Ry was done with the Army when he resigned his commission.  We moved our family to this wonderful little town where my sister lives–a dream she and I had shared for 10 years! finally coming true!–to serve a wonderful little church full of wonderful, faithful, hard-working, hard-loving people.  And Ry was content.  And I was content.  And Ry declared, “I am never moving again!  I love this church!  I’ll retire from here!  I love our house!  I’m never moving out of it!”  And I said, “I hope we never have to leave this church, this town, this house.”

But, in time it became clear that Ry was not as settled as he had been.  I’m not sure when the unsettling happened.  Perhaps it was three years in to our “permanent” home.  Beset by disturbing dreams about the Army, Ry’s contentment with resigning from the Army began to break down as shadows of regret began to overtake it.  I watched it happen, while continued on his merry way.  His dreams spoke loudly and clearly to me, and this was not the first time in our marriage God had spoken to us through dreams.  Also speaking volumes was the way he put on his uniform to speak at local veterans’ events, and, even more so, the way his uniform hung on the coat tree in our foyer for months afterward.  I knew it wasn’t just due to our usual housekeeping failures.  It was there.  Written all over him:  Ry had left the Army, but the Army had not left him.  Ry’s pride and confidence in his service began to be replaced by what appeared to be shame over having abandoned his post.  And I could watch that no longer.  My husband had been a distinguished ROTC cadet, had served the Army with excellence each and every step of the way.  And I could not bear to watch him enshroud his military service in a cloak of . . . I’m not exactly sure what . . . shame?  embarrassment?  guilt?  regret?

One final episode broke it all wide open for me.  Clarity came through:  My husband needed to return to the Army.  In some way.  In any capacity.  Those uniforms needed to come out of their boxes–well, actually, they needed to be replaced with the new ACU’s that had replaced the old BDU’s, but that’s not nearly as powerful an image–and my husband needed to once again wear the Army uniform with pride.  God had spoken.  Loudly.  Clearly:  Ry’s call as an Army chaplain was not over yet!

It took several months to get the details worked out–although, not as long as it might have.  In fact, a couple months prior to the Final Episode, at a family wedding, Ry had run into a soldier who had passed through Ry’s purview when Ry was mobilized with the Reserves.  Both had left an impression on the other.  And it turns out, this soldier was now serving as a serving as an “officer strength manager” with the National Guard.  His job was to recruit officers for the Guard.  So, when Ry and I finally concluded that he had to get back in uniform, Ry knew exactly whom to call to get the ball rolling.  In fact, Ry had the soldier’s business card in his wallet from when he’d shared it at the wedding.

God.  God’s fingerprints.  All over all of it.

In December of 2009, Ry was once again commissioned.  This time as a chaplain in the Army National Guard.  And our intention, our expectation, our plan was for him to serve out his career doing the “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” thing, while continue to serve full-time as the pastor of this church we loved dearly.  Obviously, it was still the new Reserves/National Guard, but things had settled down considerably since Ry had resigned his commission in the spring of 2005.  And because we were confident that God was calling us to this new adventure, we were confident he would provide all that was needed for the journey–for both us and for our church.

Then came last January, 2011.  Word had already been out that Ry’s unit could expect to be deployed the following January/February.  For a year, then, Ry had been serving his National Guard unit on the standard “one weekend/2-week” schedule.  And then some.  And then a lot more some.  But on January 17th last year, Ry attended a meeting for brainstorming the best ways to provide help and support for his unit, which had recently suffered a tragic loss due to suicide.  Sadly, this was not the first success of several attempts and multiple ideations within his unit in the previous three years.  Out of that brainstorming session came the possibility that Ry would serve full-time for the year leading up to the deployment, providing counsel and support to soldiers who were preparing for ye another deployment. His unit was in need of the full-time care of a chaplain, yet it is highly unusual for a National Guard or Reserves battalion to have a full-time chaplain serving them.  While we thought it would be the best thing for his unit, we knew it was very unlikely to happen.  However, on February 19th, just two days after he was diagnosed with colon cancer, Ry’s orders came through, and, as of February 22nd, 2011, Ry began serving full-time in the Army National Guard.

Because he was serving in the Guard full-time now, he could not serve our church anymore.  Someone was brought in quickly, and this pastor has been able to serve our beloved church in Ry’s absence.  When he first left the church, he did so with the understanding that he would return in two years’ time, after his deployment.  That was the plan.

However.  (and perhaps you’ve caught on to the pattern by now)  Several months in, it grew abundantly clear that there was no way Ry could hang up his uniform to keep it in a closet for all but two days a month and two weeks a year.  He had donned the uniform, and found the exact place to which God has called him for this next phase of our lives.

It was devastatingly sad to leave our old church.  We truly had not expected to leave them, and certainly not after 5 1/2 years.  But our confidence in God’s providence wins out once again, and we look forward to seeing what all God has planned for that congregation.  We remain confident that Ry was called there for those 5 1/2 years.  Ry remains confident that it was indeed God’s call on him to hang up his uniform for those four years.  And now, we rest in God’s provision for the phase of Ry’s military career that will follow his upcoming deployment.

I realize I’ve just written 1188 words and never actually returned to the colon cancer story.  I can’t be trusted.  That much is true.  But Ry’s National Guard thing plays a big role in the colon cancer story, so it seemed a necessary interruption.

The thing with our lives, though–and I’m sure it applies to everyone’s–is that all of the events of our lives all so intertwined and convoluted.  It’s like looking at a tapestry.  You can’t just pull one thread out to follow the whole picture.  Each individual thread is connected to a web of threads that together make up the whole picture.  So, yes.  To tell the story of Ry’s colon cancer, I had to return to the early 1990’s and Ry’s ROTC career.  God has been weaving a breathtakingly beautiful tapestry of our lives.  He has.   I love to take the opportunity to stand back, and look at the whole picture, and then, take a closer look with a magnifying glass to discover how that red thread there is connected and enmeshed with that blue one over there.  How there are no straight lines, even if it appears so, that even the straight lines are intersected and redirected for a time.  God has woven a beautiful story for us.  And I look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve and progress each step of the way.

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Filed under 2011, Army stuff, Gospel living, my husband

We interrupt this near-tragedy with a major life change . . .

The colon cancer saga continues, but I thought now would be a good time to remind you of what was going on concurrently with the colon cancer saga:  Ry’s major, whirlwind change in occupation.  To properly address the change, it seems best to go back to the very beginning.

Prior to last February, Ry had been happily serving as a solo pastor of a church we loved, while also serving in the National Guard as a chaplain.  His passion and gifting for the military goes back to his ROTC days in college.  It was a long road from his initial commissioning upon graduation, to his commissioning as an Army chaplain seven years later.  That whole separation of church and state thing complicates the path from ROTC to Chaplaincy.  Throw in four moves, a job change, and a baby, and you have quite the complicated mess.

But it finally happened:  Ry was finally a chaplain.  It was a call to Army chaplaincy that first turned Ry away from his mechanical engineering studies and aspirations and toward seminary and ministry.  During airborne school after his sophomore year of college, Ry saw Army chaplains in action and had an overwhelming sense of, “YES!  That’s what I want to do!”  We spent our junior year of college prayerfully considering and discerning if that was indeed where God was calling him.  And it was a tough thing to figure out.  He was then in his third year of studying mechanical engineering and there would be no changing majors at that stage of the game without adding years to his undergraduate education.  Not to mention:  Um.  Hello??!!  He was an engineering major for pete’s sake??!!  And now he was supposed to go to seminary??!!

Turns out that, yes, he that is precisely what he was supposed to do.  A tragic event that took place during the fall of our senior year thoroughly clarified and cemented his call to be a chaplain.  We were on our way . . .

Seminary shopping was fun.  I highly recommend it as a past-time . . . Not really.  Ultimately, the choice felt very clear and very right, even if it was not quite the location we’d been hoping for.

While Ry was in seminary, as part of his requirements, he had to serve in two congregations, participating in leading worship and pastoral care and leading youth programs.  And he fell in love with the local congregation, with being a pastor.  This came as a bit of a shock to us, because to this point we fully expected him to go straight from seminary to the Army.  That was our plan.  Seminary was just a stop along the way, a bit of a pause in the Army thing–aside from 12 weeks of Officer Basic Course one summer–while he received the education he needed to be an Army chaplain.  But something happened.  He realized he wasn’t just called and equipped for the more limited ministry as a chaplain, but also for service in a congregation.  The Army Reserves seemed to be the place for him to serve, so that’s the direction we started moving.

The way was not smooth, however.  I’m not even sure what all happened to slow the process down, but Ry was not commissioned as a chaplain until a full four years after he graduated from seminary.  In August 2002.  When we look back at it through the lens of history, we now know that was very interesting timing . . .

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Filed under 2011, Army stuff, my husband

the longest Saturday . . .

possibly ever.

The problem is, I’m spoiled.

I mean, my husband works every day.  And by every day, I pretty much mean every day.  But it’s all spread out and more flexible than not.  But mostly, I’m spoiled because when he is home, he is home taking good care of me and the other three people we live with.  Yesterday he baked bread for us.  He takes toddlers to the potty, he cooks dinner, breakfast, and lunch–not every meal, but at least as often as I do if we were to get into a contest.  He does laundry, he does pick-up duty, he periodically finds and vacuums the dining room floor.  Other than that last one, he does everything I would do at home.  We share all this stuff, this day-to-day work.  I’m spoiled.  And grateful.

But today . . . today my being spoiled is biting me.  Today he left at 5 AM to drive 3 hours for a training event for chaplains.  And he won’t be home till 6.  And I was already worn out going into today.  And now all I want to do is whine.  Cuz I’m awl awone in the tasks of this day.  Boo-hoo.

While I whine, I realize that most if not all of my friends are thinking, “Welcome to the real world, Sistah!”  Where we moms and wives just do all the kid and house stuff all day every day all the time.  So, today, I feel for you ladies, I do.  You’re much stronger and braver than I.  Because I can’t do it.  At least not today.

And I refuse to blame the snow, so don’t even go there (you know who you are 😉 ) I blame the fact that we moms are not built to do this job in isolation.  We’re just not.  We’re supposed to have extended family, a whole community (don’t worry, I won’t say village, though I will think it), to help us through these days.  To hold the baby when she won’t stop crying and nursing won’t do the trick, to keep the kids while we escape into a much more manageable menial task like using a toothbrush to clean the bathtub, to make sure we eat dinner on the days when the children require constant attention from no one but mama, to keep the kids while mama takes the 3 mile trek to town to buy whatever she can dream up to need to buy (OK.  Here I’m picturing the trek to Walnut Grove.  I can’t help myself).  Whatever.  Whatever it is, a mom is supposed to have other people around her to help her with this monumental, relentless task.  She just is.

So, today I lament the loss of communal homemaking.

Or that’s just my fancy way of saying I miss my husband and I want him to come home so I can flee and have some time in solitude.

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Filed under being The Mommy, Family Life, homekeeping, my husband, SAHM