encouragement

The Troops Behind Our Troops

My husband and I at our wedding. December 28, 2013. Photo Credit to Zach Yokum with Yokum Pictures.

My husband and I at our wedding. December 28, 2013. Photo Credit to Zach Yokum/Yokum Pictures.

The sky poured down rain this afternoon, as tears poured from my eyes. I am not sure whether it was me or the heavens that watered the ground more, as today was filled with difficult goodbyes amidst the thundering storms.

My husband, who is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army National Guard, left for 4 months of Signal Corps training this afternoon. While it is only a season and I know it will probably end before we know it, somehow it feels like he has left for an eternity. The smallest window of time, when separated from the one you love and adore, can feel like a lifetime. Tomorrow is our four month anniversary. Perhaps the thought of being separated after only four months of being married makes things that much more challenging.

While I count my blessings that we can visit one another in June, my heart is heavy in not having him here tonight. He is my other half. The thought of him being deployed for a longer period than this one rivets me with both grief and pride. The sacrifice of our soldiers, their spouses and families is one of great burden and most of all, great love. It is one of the noblest positions on the planet. My family has a long history of military personnel and I am honored to have known and loved them. Thank you to all of those who have served and continue to serve.

As I sit here thinking on the subject, I want to personally thank each and every military spouse who has ever felt the pain, hardship and pride of loving an American soldier. It is unlike anything in this world. Truly. It takes a special kind of love, strength, patience, trust and faithfulness. It takes nights of loneliness and days of worry; it takes a heart of unfailing love and a patience only granted by our Creator; and it takes a beautiful strength that is often veiled by a reassuring smile.

While I have yet to endure a lengthy deployment, I am already given a taste of what it means to say goodbye and am being taught to be the military wife that Brett needs. After all, Brett and I were long distance five years until we were finally able to tie the knot in December. Between my family’s military past, Brett’s Basic Training, ROTC and now SBOLC, I am constantly learning what is required of me to be the encouragement and support he needs. Unfortunately, even with experiences, saying goodbye never seems to get easier.  This, however, is a good thing. It means that I am madly in love with the man of my dreams. Of course it won’t get any easier!

As husband and wife, we now face new sets of challenges between present training and future deployments. Already, I am being taught how to best serve him as he steps into a different world than the civilian one we are so accustomed to, to be the Lieutenant and leader he is created to be. With this in mind, I think I can go to sleep tonight without soaking my pillow through. I know he is where he is meant to be.

If you or someone close to you is serving, I would love to hear about your own stories. Feel free to comment and tell me about the soldier(s) you love and support.

Goodnight to all and God Bless,

Jessica Jo

Different

I need to be transparent: tonight I felt really disheartened.

After growing up eating sugar, dairy, pastries and breads full of gluten, sometimes the fact that I can’t anymore makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and just… cry.

Food, in my opinion, is one of the most wonderful and artistic subjects in the whole world; in fact, I was planning to attend pastry school before my body could no longer handle everything that makes a pastry, well… a pastry. Going on nearly eight months of completely eliminating all gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, etc., this new adventure can sometimes be disheartening. Especially since I’m not likely to ever have them again.

Whipping up a cake isn’t the same without white all-purpose flour; frosting isn’t the same without butter and powdered sugar; cookies aren’t the same without a glass of whole milk. The hardest part… trying to not feel like half the cook, half the baker, I was before.

But the truth is: I am no less capable in the kitchen now than I was then. I simply have to use different ingredients and different methods. If anything, I should be proud of myself for taking initiative, for going against the grain and fighting a battle that for me, really hits home. Okay, so maybe dessert doesn’t taste like it used to. Different doesn’t make it bad. It simply makes it- different.

If you’re having to make similar changes in your life, be encouraged.  Try to focus on what you CAN have over what you can’t. There are bigger things out there than not eating a piece of cake or having a glass of milk with your cookie. While I may have my days of sadness (and it’s okay to have those times), I always try to remember how blessed I am. I’ve been given the ability to live a better life through a healthier body.  Would I rather have five minutes of delicious contraband or a life free of pain and full of energy?

When I look at it that way, the answer is very simple: live life to the fullest and give my body what it needs so I can do just that.

Goodnight, all…