Living in the Void

So I am in a really strange place.  Even when I don’t think I have expectations, sometimes my brain just does it anyway.  I think I had this picture of how things would be for Tyler’s 10 days home…I am having to let go of that picture.

My vision was that he would want to be at home with us…to just hang out and talk and spend time with his siblings and his mom and dad…all the time.  But he has grown up.  He has separated himself (as he should).  He wants to do things with his friends and not be at the house all of the time.  But his place in our home is not the same.  It has been altered by life.  It will never feel or be the same again.  That is very hard for me…I don’t think I was expecting it to be this hard.  I must let go of my boy and let him be a man.  I have to give him permission to grow up.  Don’t get me wrong, I know this is how it is supposed to be.  It is so healthy for him to be separating himself from his family in this way.  I just haven’t figured out how to process the change.  There is no working my way into it.  He left one way and came back another.  There is more to his “leaving home as a boy and coming back as a man” than I thought.  It is not just an appearance thing.  Sure, he looks a bit different, he carries himself in a much more confident way, but there is so much more to it.  I would love to just plow my way through it and get it over with, but I’ve never been that kind of person.  I have to admit that this is a loss for me.  I feel grief.  I feel sad.  While I would not take this away from him in any way, it just hurts.

 And at the same time, I feel inexplicable joy.  The pride I feel for what my son has chosen to do is immeasurable.  I have this overwhelming urge (as many of you have experienced…lol) to tell everyone about him, what he is doing and how great he is.  Success, for me, used to be defined as what “I” was doing with my life, how “I” was moving forward or changing or growing.  Now success for me is much bigger.  There is no greater success than seeing my kids move into the world in a productive, powerful way.  He is doing that.  And I had something to do with that.  His dad had something to do with that.  That is success.  We are so, so proud of him and all that he is choosing to do for himself, for his family and for his country.  He has taken a difficult road.

So I am living in this void…somewhere in the middle of everything, trying to wade through to the other side, trying to process something that is, at the moment, beyond my reach.  I know I am not the only mother who has ever felt like this.  It has been happening since the beginning of time.  I just have to keep putting my focus in the right place and asking the Lord for help and understanding.  Besides, just when I get it figured out, I will have to go and do it all over again with the next one….and the Lord will really need to help us then because there are two more after that.  (Oh my! hehe ) I am so thankful for my husband who loves me and is letting me express my struggle to him, tears and all.  I know he is feeling a lot of the same things and is having to work through this from the “dad” side of things as well.  I love you Brad.

So I leave you with this.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 

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First sight

I can’t stop looking at him. You know when your baby is born, how all you want to do is stare into their little face, examine all their fingers and toes and just hold them? That is how I feel. In all of his growing up I have never felt such inexplicable, overwhelming emotion at seeing his face.  All 400 of them came running up where all of the loved ones were lined up.  I was searching for him. Frantic. I just wanted everyone to move so I could find him. And then I did. He was beautiful (sorry Tyler). I had seen a picture of him but nothing compared to that first sight of real flesh and blood. It sounds strange to say, but he exuded power. I had never seen him like that. I snapped picture after picture. I wanted to touch him but I couldn’t. He had to run…literally.

They took off on their 3.3 mile motivational run and we waited (impatiently) for the second pass…and then the final return.  As they came back into formation, I saw that he was barely sweating. He had just run over three miles and he looked like he had been on a leisurely little stroll! It was amazing.  Brad was on the other side of the formation and I could see him right behind Tyler.  I don’t know how he kept himself from reaching out and touching him.  I could not have done it.  I would have brought the wrath of the DI’s down upon us because I would have reached out impulsively to put my fingers on his warm, flesh and blood skin.  As we waited while they went to clean up and get into their uniforms, I heard the best thing I could have ever hoped to hear.  The Drill Instructor gave orders that the first hug go to the moms. 
When they marched back in for liberty formation, I saw a new person.  I didn’t understand just how much three months would change him.  He was taller, stronger,  bigger,more confident.  He still walked like Tyler but it was different somehow…and so perfectly aligned with his new brothers. 
The dismissal caught me off guard.  It came sooner than I expected.  I was video taping their formation and all of the sudden they broke ranks.  I stopped filming.




I WENT RUNNING.  I got that first hug and it was the best one I’ve ever had.  He was solid, like a rock and I cried.  I just hugged him and cried.

Going

Here I am, a bundle of nerves and excitement.  When Tyler first left I was so melancholy for several days…time just seemed to drag.  And then I got my first letter on my birthday…what a joy that was!   Now here we are, packing up the van to head to California.  I try to picture him in my minds eye.  I have seen a quick video of him a couple of weeks ago, but I know nothing will compare to wrapping my arms around my son in person and looking at his beautiful face.  I have not felt this kind of joy since the day he was born.  There are so many different kinds of joy that go with raising kids…its hard to describe!

I have decided that time travelled the slowest at the beginning of this journey and at the end, during Crucible week.  The middle was just that…the middle.  But now at the very end, we are flying again.  I hope the drive goes this fast! 🙂

There have been so many people, known and unknown, friends and strangers who have made it possible for us to go see this momentous occasion in our sons life.  Finances have always been a struggle for us this time of year but God has just completely overwhelmed us with his provision from the most unlikely of sources.  Brad said to me the other day, “I just keep praying for what we need, not what we want.”  Well I guess the Lord put this occasion in the need category. (I did too but wasn’t sure if God had or not..lol) I don’t know if I would have ever gotten over it if we could not have gone….so thank you P (you know who you are).  From the bottom of our hearts…you took up our burden and you made it your own and walked with God to make a way where there was no way.  Thanks will never be enough…I love you!

Questions

It’s really funny how new circumstances in life make you think about things that have never entered your mind before.  I am an emotional person and I tend to feel things on a really intense level.  I also know that I can tend to be a bit dramatic, but I was sitting in church this morning listening to Jason speak about heaven and something struck me….and it has been confirmed even more as this day has progressed.  Let me start with a memory of something he said many months ago.  I don’t remember it exactly, but it was something like this.  In the process of his wife dealing with cancer, God was asking him if he would choose anger or choose Jesus if the Lord chose to take  her home…if she died.  I remember feeling so affected by that…wondering if I could choose the path of life in the middle of such extraordinary pain.  So while my situation is not even remotely the same, that challenge struck me this morning.  And here is why.  As I have already written, my son is now a Marine.  He is in a very dangerous profession now.  My friends and I have talked many times about how God has given us these kids to raise but ultimately they are HIS.  Do I really believe what I have said?  If it were me, would I be able to do what Jason did?  Would I be able to let Tyler go and let God do with him as He chose before he was even in my womb?  And not even in the case of death…can I let go of Tyler and rest in the fact that he is in the palm of God’s hand….in everything he does and everywhere he goes?

I know some of you may be thinking that I am getting way ahead of myself, and maybe I am, but sometimes God asks us to make choices about how we will do things long before we are ever faced with the need to make the decision.  And sometimes He just wants to know if we mean what we say because He wants to take us to a deeper level with Him.

When I got home from church, I learned that a new marine from platoon 3207 lost his mother and sister in a tragic car crash just last night.  He was set to graduate with Tyler…they are in the same company, but different platoons. There were many boys in that platoon that did not get one phone call home in all their time away.  I pray that he was not one of them.  I pray that he was able to talk to his mom and have the precious memory of her voice, her love, her excitement for his accomplishment.  I desperately hope that his lost loved ones knew Jesus and are now experiencing the Heaven that we imagine, that Jeff has an intimate knowledge of who Jesus is so that he may know the comfort of His love in his deepest of pain.  That he clings to the Truth…that Jesus loves him with everything He has and is with him all the way through this.  He will be graduating early and coming home tomorrow to be with his family. Please pray for him and his family.

So while I may tend to move in the emotional and dramatic, I just feel that I feel that God is asking me to make a choice…and not just with Tyler, but with ALL of my family.  No matter what circumstances arise, am I willing to let go of my hold on these precious people in my life so that the Glory of God may be seen?  Do I choose life by choosing to fall into Him instead of growing angry and bitter over questions that may never be answered?  I know I will never stop asking the questions, it’s just how I’m built, but will I choose to be okay if all is silent?  Will I just be still and let God take me to a deeper level with Him.  I’m making my choice now.  Above all else, I want Jesus and I choose life.

Coming home

It’s funny how things run parallel in this life.  I have a friend who I have know for many years.  She has been through some big struggles in her life, but no matter what she has come out on the other side so much stronger.  Yesterday, as my son was becoming an official Marine, she welcomed her husband home from Afghanistan.  As I watched those men and women travel down Main Street a this morning, flags and arms waving, I was struck by the irony of the moment. One comes home and another is on his way out.  This happens over and over and over again….every day of the month, every month of the year.

At the welcome home ceremony there were many things said, but none rang more true than the words of one.  I cannot quote her exactly but this is what I took away.  We as civilians will never truly understand the sacrifice of those who serve.  We go about our lives, forgetting that troubles exist outside of our bubble because you keep us safe.  You are the ones who leave home.  You are the ones in danger.  You are the ones that fight instead of us.  We could never do what you do.  You do it for us.

So for Rachel and Vern and their family, words are small, but thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You are the reason that we can live in our safe little place, the reason that my children know God without government limits, where they can play outside without worrying about suicide bombers and war, where we are all safe, no matter where we live.  You have the courage to do what the rest of us cannot.  Without you, we are not the United States of America.

I pray a blessing of prosperity and love over you and your family.  Where there has been strife, let there be peace.  Where there has been anger, let there be joy.  And where there has been struggle, let there be freedom, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Eagle, Globe and Anchor

I know he did it.  I feel it in my bones.  Sometimes a mom just knows.

I was driving kids to school and had just dropped the last one off and headed to work.  All of the sudden I felt giddy…like I could just burst out laughing…not because something was funny but from joy.  I knew there was less than an hour left and that he was most likely marching back to base.  As much as I had confidence that he could do it, the waiting was SO difficult.  And now, as I am writing this, I know that he has completed his task.  He is about to receive his Eagle, Globe and Anchor.  You see, the moment you step off the bus onto those yellow footprints at boot camp, it is DRILLED into you that you ARE NOT a Marine!  (And yes, they actually stand on yellow footprints) You have not earned the title of United States Marine UNTIL you cross the finish line of the Crucible.  And he has done it.  He completed the task set before him and he is now a United States Marine….and I am a Marine Mom.

Fear

I’m afraid.  There I said it.  I don’t know that I even fully realized it until talking with a friend yesterday.  I want so much to be strong but the closer we get to Tyler’s graduation, the more real it becomes.  He is now, first and foremost, a Marine.  For 5 years (at the very least) he belongs to the United States Marine Corps.  His life is dictated by that.  Yet we are a country at war.  The closer we get the more I am being made aware of my roll as a Marine Corps mom and how important it is to be careful.  I was reading some information on OpSEC (Operational Security) and it just stopped me in my tracks.  It was about things I had not even thought of that can have an effect on my son and his unit wherever he is.  (Here is the link for any of you who are curious about what I am talking about…http://www.marineparents.com/deployment/opsec.asp.)  It’s not like I didn’t ever think about any of this before he actually went in, but there are some things that just become more real the closer you are.

My fear clouds things…it isolates me.  When I am afraid, I somehow buy the lie that “I am the only one.”  The confession is this:  I want people to see that I miss my son and that I am proud of him.  This is “normal.”  I don’t want them to see how really afraid I am.  That somehow conveys weakness…that I don’t have it all together.  Well, here is the truth.  I will NEVER have it all together.  Do you see how our minds can just twist things up?  The truth is, this is all new territory for me and I have to work things through to learn how to do them.  As an adult, I think I put an expectation on myself that I should just automatically know how to do something new.  I have no grace for myself in the learning curve.  It’s okay to not know how to do something.  It is NOT okay to cry ignorance forever.  I am responsible to learn and grow and change as God leads.  And boy is He leading right now.  My prayer is “Lord help me to be transparent.  Help me to be honest about where I am yet move forward to what You have for me.  I don’t want to remain in ignorance.  Help me to continue to pursue Your heart and keep “growing up”.  I want to be better, more loving, more peaceful.  Show me how to have grace in the changes that are upon me.”

And so this is going to be a long road and my desire is not to walk in fear, but I don’t know how to do this.  I have never walked here before.  I want my heart  to be so connected with the Father that fear is a foreign emotion to me.  But right now, I let it go for a second and the next thing I know, it is back on the brain.  I guess what I am trying to do by talking about all this is to process it and bring freedom to myself and other people who do the same things in their minds…the fears, the thoughts, the words that never get said out loud…I want to say them.  What is in the dark only gets darker, what is brought into the light is changed.  Light brings freedom and I’m just trying to walk that out.  I want freedom and I want God!