and the winners are....

...with my trusty assistant, Anna, we just drew the names for the 2 book giveaways. Congratulations!

Teri S. won the book Faith Deployed, and Kat won the book Battlefields and Blessings.

If you didn't win this time, be on the lookout in the next couple of weeks. I have another book from Moody Publishers that I will be reviewing and I have a free copy to give away. It's called Putting God Back in the Holidays. Look for it!

Thanks, everyone, and have a blessed Friday!

Veteran's Week blog tour and book giveaway!

Hello! Veteran’s Day is this week, and Jocelyn Green over at http://www.faithdeployed.com/ is hosting a “Veteran’s Book Blog Tour”. As part of that, I was thrilled to be asked to review her book Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan. As the wife of an active duty military man who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I found myself both nodding in agreement and shedding tears as I read through it.

But before we get to the review, I also want to let you know that I have a copy of the above book to GIVE AWAY! Yes! So leave a comment at the end of this post, and I will randomly select a name to receive a copy of this book. I will close out comments one week from today. If you’re not interested for yourself, please pass it along to your friends, perhaps an active duty person, a military spouse or parent who would enjoy this book.

On to the book… as the back cover reads, “readers will come away appreciating those who have lived loudly for liberty.” The book is composed of daily readings, written by what you might call a panel of experts: active duty military, spouses, family members, and civilians connected with the military. Each day’s reading contains a short story from real life. Coming from different perspectives as they do, it gives a clear, real view of a nation at war. I’ll be honest….while Steve was deployed to Afghanistan over this past year, some of these stories may have hit a little too close to home for me to read during that time. Now that we are past this latest deployment, I am able to go back and look at that time period with more perspective. A book like this helps with that perspective, as I see that many others have had the exact same feelings as I’ve experienced.

Be prepared, this is unvarnished storytelling by some of our nation’s bravest. But they're stories worth telling, worth reading. Each reading ends with a ‘prayer’, and there is also usually a Scripture that reminds us to turn to the Lord.

Faith in adversity is the overarching theme of this important, unique book. We're reminded to keep our faith and courage, to maintain our faith and trust in the Lord, regardless of the circumstances. The writers have managed to give voice to fears I was unable to express, worries I didn’t want to verbalize, and hopes I quietly cherished.

This book has won two awards:

· Gold Medal, spiritual/religious category, Military Writers Society of America
· Silver Medal, inspirational category, Branson Stars and Flags Book Awards

A must read for anyone connected to the military, especially in this era of frequent deployments.
Please leave a comment, and you could WIN a free, signed copy of this book!

Please visit http://www.battlefieldsandblessings.com/ for more information! Tomorrow I will post a book review/giveaway for the book Faith Deployed.

Reintegration, post-deployment, Spouse Buzz...

So there is a term for that post-deployment period..."re-integration", where everyone is getting used to being back together again. As much as you missed and love each other, there are always some growing pains as you get back to a new 'normal'. Everyone has changed--no matter how many times you've been through it, at the end of each deployment, you're a different person, and so is your spouse. So, the key is to adjust and adapt and be ok with the new yous. I imagine everyone experiences this differently.

I found some good stuff I'd like to pass along...Spouse Buzz is a great site that I discovered over the past few months. Lots to read there. I appreciated reading other military spouses voicing the same thoughts/fears I experienced over the course of this past year... for instance, "anticipatory grief." If you've felt it, you'll know exactly what I mean. There's lots to read there, as well as links to blogs from other mil. spouses. Here is another good post about homecomings. This one was written by a soldier on returning home from deployment. It's always good to see things from the other person's point of view.

If I could give any advice regarding deployments, it would be to have as much patience, love, and generosity as you can on the homecoming. Try to walk a mile in their shoes, so to speak, and try to imagine how you would feel if you changed places. Faith behind all of that is important to me as well. Heck, it sounds like a good recipe for marriage overall, doesn't it? :)

After the rain...

We've had some record-breaking heat in this part of the world over the past several weeks. The temps even went over 100 at least one day--and remember, here in Germany, we have no such thing as air conditioning. Tonight, we had a nice little cool-down, and a rainshower. The air feels wonderfully cool, and after the rain stopped, I stepped outside for a moment and spied a big beautiful rainbow. Then a double rainbow appeared. Such a nice little reminder of God's mercies!

I'm a human being, not a human doing

Some things I've been thinking about, for various reasons...

"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem." (Theodore Rubin)

"When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail." (Abraham Maslow)

"Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make strong." (Norman Vincent Peale)

and...."Life IS pain, Princess! Anyone who tries to tell you differently is selling something." (Wesley from Princess Bride)

We're in the midst of watching our house get packed up--again, our 5th move in as many years, don't even ask me how many total--and as a rule, other things will go wrong or need attention while you are already dealing with the one big thing you had geared up for.

So... I'm taking a breath, stepping back, and remembering I don't have to do it all or solve everything today. Letting it unfold. Remembering I'm a human being, not only a human "doing".

Life is good!

'snapshot' mentality

You know, it's interesting, this whole Facebook phenomenon. I have heard from and seen photos of people I haven't heard from or seen in 15-20 years, the past month since I signed up. Sometimes the reunions are a bit shocking ("you're doing WHAT?" "you married WHO?"), and others I am not surprised at all, the course a life took. There are even some people (darn them) who don't look like they've aged a bit.

I must admit a certain amount of chagrin at some of the 'reunions'. A memory of a more immature me, words I'd like to have said or left unsaid...so many things. And I hope they don't only remember me in that way. We've all changed and grown since back then, I like to think.

It reminds me to let other people grow, change, be free of whatever label they had when I last knew them. And also to give grace to my own kids as they struggle through these awkward years of growing, as they learn to find their own identities. It can be a messy, difficult process. And I need to be reminded to not label them as 'the one who always forgets his wallet' (well, he does), or the 'dramatic' one, or...well, you get it.

You probably have some of them too. It's hard not to take a mental 'snapshot' of someone, even our own children, then always think of them that way. I seem to recall Diana Waring mentioning this in her book Reaping the Harvest. Good stuff.

I still maintain after 17 years of parenting, that the most difficult part for me is in the knowing how much and when to let go. After all, their purpose is to become their own people, walking their own walk with God. Grace. It goes a long way.