Preparing your Heart for a Rough Season Ahead

Preparing your Heart for a Rough Season Ahead

I scanned the detailed list of my husbands upcoming work engagements and I began to feel the stress and anxiety pile on.

We have a baby one month and then he leaves for TDY the next, and another the following month, and again the following month. Multiple TDY’s occupying 4 back-to-back months.  All while I manage caring for a newborn and a toddler.

Can you feel the kind of fear that overwhelmed me?

Read More

God Moments: From Airman to Mom

God Moments: From Airman to Mom

Through her unique yet challenging deployment, Amanda learned that she could do more than she ever believed she was capable of and that small acts could in fact change the world. She became more compassionate. And her eyes were open to the kind of suffering that was happening outside of the US every day. She realized she had to do more, so upon return home, she started donating to various organizations in helping people less fortunate than many Americans.

Although deploying changed her in many different ways, another challenge also significantly affected her --- transitioning from Airman to Mom. 

Read More

Deployment Diaries Part 3: Coming Home Reintegration From a Service Members Perspective

Deployment Diaries Part 3: Coming Home Reintegration From a Service Members Perspective

For someone who has her masters in Military Resilience, you would think reintegration would be a breeze, right? I studied all about the effects of deployment, and what redeployment would be like. I knew it wouldn’t be easy.

I expected to get irritated with my spouse, but even with all of the expectations, I wasn’t prepared. Not really anyway.

Read More

Deployment Diaries Part 2: There Are Good Days, and Then There Are Bad Days

Deployment Diaries Part 2: There Are Good Days, and Then There Are Bad Days

… Then, there are bad days.

These are the days when you wake up feeling "off."  You can't help the feeling, a bad omen that today is not going to go well. You wake up exhausted as if you had a restless night with little REM. Your body aches like you've slept on a hardwood floor with a flat pillow between your head and arm.

Your soul struggles to understand the emotions that flow through your veins.

Today will be a bad day.

Read More

Deployment Diaries Part 1: Our Children are on Loan From God

Deployment Diaries Part 1: Our Children are on Loan From God

Very seldom do you hear or see mommas leaving their cubs behind to go “fight a war” (using this term loosely).  Yet, here I was.

Whether a military mom, a missionary, an author on tour, a singer, executive, etc., many women are called to leave their babies in someone else’s care as they follow His plan, fighting back all the guilt and pain associated with leaving a part of you behind.  

Read More

A Military Members Perspective: Am I Thankful for my Service?

A Military Members Perspective: Am I Thankful for my Service?

In my 5 years of service, I have been thanked countless times, and each time I respond with a “thank you for your support”. This last time I was thanked, something different happened... I started to wonder if I, myself, was actually thankful for my service.  Over the last few years, I have started to dream of the day I would leave the military behind and all of the sacrifices that it has required of me.


If I was so excited to leave everything behind, did that mean I was not thankful for my service? That was the question that haunted me.

Read More

Why Everyone Should Send Care Packages & 52 Ideas to Include

It wasn’t until I deployed that I truly understood the importance of mailing care packages.

Prior to my experience, I thought the purpose of sending packages to deployed members was to give the person something they needed. Having now been on the receiving end, I realized it goes beyond fulfilling a physical need for some deodorant or beef jerky.

When you’re away from family and friends, there’s a void that you are left with. You miss the interpersonal communication, the personal touch of a kiss or an embrace. You long for something that just isn’t available to you.

Then, on those few sporadic mail days, you are blessed with something totally unexpected and super exciting.

It is on those days when I receive a care package that I feel the love emit from the contents inside.

From the card or note that cheers me up or brings a tear to my eye, to the k-cups that restock my stash and keep me going throughout the day.

These moments make you feel like a child on Christmas all over again.

I regret not sending packages to friends that were deployed; I just didn’t realize the emotions that could travel with these small blessings.

From here on out, I vow to be more diligent to care for friends, near and far. To send them love when they are away or when they are at home and need something a little extra because a little goes a long way.

When should you create a care package?

  • When you can’t physically be there for the person on the receiving end.

  • When you want to show them you love them and you care

  • When you want them to know you were just thinking about them

  • When you’ve identified a need and want to fulfill it

  • When someone is deployed or significant other is deployed, had a new baby, is going through a really rough season, just moved to a new location.

Is there ever a bad time to send a care package?

  • I don’t think there is ever a bad time to send a care package, but ultimately you should check the motive behind sending it. Don’t feel obligated to send something; you should genuinely want to send something out of the kindness of your heart.

  • Don’t replace care packages with actually being there for someone. Things are nice, but you can’t buy love. Sometimes, an individual needs a shoulder to lean on or a person to talk to and if you are hiding from filling that need by sending a package, I would encourage you to reconsider.

 
IMG_7897.JPG
 

What should you include in a care package?

For the Coffee Lover:

  • COFFEE (k-cups, refillable K-cups, Ice coffee packets)

  • Creamer

  • Mug

  • Syrup flavors

  • French Press

For the Food Addict:

  • Different seasonings (adobo, garlic salt, etc.…)

  • Variety of hot sauce

  • A mix of healthy and guilty pleasure snacks

  • Healthy microwavable meals (quinoa packets, protein oatmeal, etc.…)

  • Something homemade

For the Book Worm:

  • Amazon gift card

  • Creative book marks

  • A motivational book

  • A book in their favorite genre

  • A book for their season of life

  • Book darts

  • Book décor

  • A book box subscription

For the Creative:

  • Coloring book with colored pencils and a sharpener (don’t forget the sharpener)

  • Journal + multicolored pens

  • Stationary + stamps

  • Inspirational wall art/decor

  • Command hooks and strong tape to display art

For a Stranger:

  • Anything motivational (book or art)

  • A variety of snacks

  • Water enhancers

  • Activity books, brain teasers, or puzzles

  • Amazon Gift cards

  • Holiday decorations (Christmas lights, American flags, posters, mini Christmas trees, New Years poppers, Easter basket, etc.)

For the Mom/Dad:

  • Pictures of their child doing every day things

  • Child artwork + tape to hang up artwork

  • A book to record themselves reading

  • Create a care package for the parent back home

  • Coupon for a free babysitter for a night upon return

For the Gym Junkie:

  • A jump rope

  • Motivational Tank / Tee

  • Refillable water bottle (aluminum keeps water cold for a longer period of time)

  • Protein snacks

  • Water enhancers (Gatorade, Spark, Fizz sticks, crystal light, etc.…)

  • Running socks (something about deployments make you go through socks quicker)

  • Wireless/portable speaker

For the Christian:

  • A new bible / study bible

  • A bible study workbook

  • Bible highlighters + pen

  • Scripture art

  • Scripture memory note cards

For a Woman:

  • Face masks, spa-day type stuff

  • Nail polish, remover, nail clippers, file

  • Body spray

  • Light makeup (favorite eyeliner, chap stick,

  • Foot scrub

For a Man:

  • See any of the other categories...

  • Beef jerky (lol)

 

Care Package blog

Why I Serve

00137102.jpg

Back in 2008, I sat in a large auditorium on Ohio State campus scheduling my first set of university classes. I knew I was going to be a Psychology major and pursue Pre-Med but what I didn’t know was that a desire to learn more about my father would eventually lead me to Active Duty.

In the course catalog, I saw the university had an “Intro To Air Science” class, which taught you about the history of the Air Force.

Introduces the United States Air Force and Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Topics include mission and organization of the Air Force, officership and professionalism, military customs and courtesies, Air Force officer opportunities and benefits, and communication skills.

I remember the guidance counselor signed me up for this Intro To Air Science (AS 100) class and didn’t mention anything else since she had no idea what the class was actually about.

This was the perfect class for me to learn more about my father’s journey in the Air Force. My father had enlisted in the Air Force years before I was born. He served our country for a few years and got to travel the world. He eventually left active duty and settled in Cleveland where he met my mother. They married and then had three kids. I was the eldest and only girl, so like any daddy’s girl, my dad was my hero.  Growing up I would hear some stories, or see some pictures or currency from the places he had traveled too. I thought this was the coolest thing ever. Besides my father, no one in my family had served our country.

A few days before classes started, I received an email about New Cadet Orientation for my AS 100 class. I was to report the day before classes began for some sort of orientation.

Scared out of my mind and not knowing what to expect I showed up and was shocked to find out what I had signed up for.  They gave us a brief introduction to the program. PT (Physical Training was 0500) Tuesdays and Thursdays, Leadership Lab (LLAB) was every Thursday for approximately 2 hours, Air Science class, uniforms, marching….

Did I just enlist in the Air Force? What the heck did I get myself into?!

They marshaled us through a couple of rooms where I had to get undressed in front of other women to try on uniforms. This felt like the real deal. By this point it was too late to turn back. I had already signed up, so I would try it out for the next 10 weeks. I could have dis-enrolled if I wanted to, but I was not a quitter. I would finish the quarter.

One quarter turned into two, which turned into a year and then four years. Before I knew it, I was taking the oath and commissioning into the United States Air Force. What started off as a journey to get to know more about my father turned into something more. It turned into a desire to finish what I started. A desire to lead the best and brightest in whatever capacity the Air Force needed.But it wasn’t always hearts and rainbows.

To be honest, I absolutely hated my first year. I struggled to lose weight. I struggled to pass my PT test. I struggled every single day and would cry myself to sleep most nights. I really don’t know why I didn’t quit.

Maybe I was afraid to disappoint my dad? Or maybe I was afraid to lose all of my friends? ROTC was my life and without it I was afraid I was nothing. The camaraderie was what kept me going. Some people thought I would quit, but that fueled my passion to show the world I was capable of finishing.

June 10th 2012 I graduated from The Ohio State University and commissioned into the best Air Force in the world.

Deployment - Take 4

This piece is Part 4 in a 4 Part Deployment Series covering my 4 deployment taskings in my Air Force Career.

deployment.jpg

If you have been with me this far, then you know my family and I have been on a roller coaster for the last few years. I was tasked to deploy two different times, each time getting canceled for a variety of reasons. During this same time, David and I were brought together, then apart with TDY’s and his deployment, we lived through a miscarriage, then the birth of our rainbow baby, and then finally another deployment and cancelation.

What was weird about the last tasking was that I truly felt God had prepared my heart to leave.

He told me to be strong and courageous, for the Lord my God would be with me wherever I went. 

For reasons I cannot elaborate on, deployment 3 was canceled as quickly as I had accepted it. After a short amount of time basking in the cancellation (and trying to figure out what God really had in store for me), another deployment tasking came down – Deployment tasking #4.

Deployment tasking #3 and #4 were essentially the same tasking, just a few weeks apart and a little bit longer.

At this point, my mind was going a million miles an hour trying to decipher how I was truly feeling. I still believed this was what God wanted of me. He told me to be strong and courageous and somehow I just knew in my gut that I would be leaving my little family behind.

When I mentally accepted this tasking, I stopped telling people I was sad to leave and instead, I embraced this opportunity with excitement.

Why? Well, because God was sending me on a mission. His mission.

Be Strong and Courageous

Once the world around me became still, I began to wonder…

Am I in denial? 

Am I trying to hide the fact that this deployment is going to be hard?  

Am I naïve to think I am capable of deploying? 

Is the enemy trying to confuse me? 

Am I feeling ‘okay’ because I trust God or because I’m delusional? 

To say I was all over the place is an understatement. 

I still don't know the answer to any of those questions. I hope I trusted God. I hope that I felt excited about this deployment because God had a mission for me rather than being selfish about the positives of this deployment because there were definitely positives.

Glass Half Full

Let's be real for a second. This deployment had a lot of perks. It would mean I could sleep by myself with no kid hogging the bed. I could read an actual book, not a kindle version (have you tried reading an actual paper/hardback book near a 1-year-old?).

I could workout and get sexy! Or, as one of my coworkers say "redefine sexy".

And I could make some decent tax free money.

Eventually, whenever my mind would wonder to all the things I would miss, I would think of all of the positives instead. It may seem selfish, but it was the only way I could survive. I had to see the glass as half full. 

Two weeks after the official tasking came down, I was saying “see you later” to my family and hopping into a black passenger van for the airport.

It was time.

Blessing in Disguise

Looking back, there was definitely a reason or a perk for the same deployment getting canceled and turned back on. It gave me another month with my precious family.

The entire first year of Natalie's life, God had been preparing me to leave. He was teaching me how to give her back to Him. How to hold her with open hands and rely on Him to protect her. Finally, I accepted the call he had for me and in return, I received a blessing.

He gave me another month at home and in that month, I was able to see my baby girl take her first step.

How lucky am I?

Deployment - Take 3

This piece is Part 3 of a 4 Part Deployment Series covering my 4 deployment taskings in my Air Force Career.

Incase you haven't read the 2 previous posts, here is a quick recap.

Air Force Deployment Blog

I had been tasked to deploy two different times without actually deploying.  I was removed from my first deployment because the commanding officer wanted someone higher ranking. No big deal. Then, after moving to another country, finding out we are pregnant and then miscarrying, a second deployment tasking drops (remember, this one was a dream job).

I went on a short notice TDY (training) and on the very last day of training I found out I was pregnant. No more deployment. 

We had our precious Natalie and life was good, then two months shy of her first birthday I was notified that a third deployment had dropped... This time, I would leave 1 week after her first birthday. 

Thankfully, current Air Force Policy meant I was safe from deployments or trainings for a year after birth, but i never imagined they would task me right after my daughter turned 1. 

Words can not express the feelings I had about this deployment. No longer was the job a dream job, nor the location a “vacation” spot. To top it off, I would be missing 5 months of my baby girls life.

Deployment Blog

Life Is Not Fair

Why would God wait until she turns 1 to pull me away? Why didn't he let me go on the last tasking, rather than allowing me to get pregnant just to leave her behind? 

It didn't seem fair at all. Not to me and most definitely not to her. And my husband just returned from deployment a few months prior! But duty calls and I volunteered to wear the uniform, at least that’s what I keep reminding myself.

In my moment of desperation, I got to my knees and started praying. Regardless of my questions, I needed to accept the fact that God had called me away from my family.

I eventually accepted the mission I was being sent on, and then it happened...

A text message from my commander that read - Your deployment’s been canceled, thought you would want to know… Happy Holidays!

 
IMG_5259.JPG
Christmas Deployment Blog
 

This was the last message I was expecting to receive and I can't say that I was happy with the news. 

How did I get out of not 1, nor 2, but 3 deployments? All of which I feel like I had no control over. This roller coaster of emotions goes right through me.  Everyone starts celebrating that I don’t have to deploy and the only thing I can think about is how God had prepared my heart to leave.

He gave me a sign. I was meant to deploy. 

He ignited the flame inside me to get excited about this deployment, all for it to just get canceled.

I wasn’t happy about leaving my husband or infant daughter. The thought of everything I would be missing just made my heart ache. My eyes would tear up thinking about how she would crawl around the house calling for mum-mum and never find me. Or how she would cling to her caregivers at the CDC (child development center aka daycare) to get the comfort that she can't get from her mommy.

No mom wants to be replaced. But on the other hand, I felt this strong sense that God was sending me on a mission and that mission was now canceled.

The day I found out about deployment #3, God gave me the verse “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, ESV).

This was very much what I classify as a #Godmoment.

IMG_7275.JPG

I took this as a sign that God would be with me on my journey away from home, for the 5 months, completing whatever it was that he needed me to complete. So why would He give me this verse, just to yet again, remove this deployment opportunity? 

When this last deployment was canceled, I was still aware of the possibly of getting tasked again, but I didn’t really believe another tasking would drop - until another one did.

There were only a few weeks between deployment tasking #3 and #4. I knew that God had a mission for me, I just didn't know what that mission nor why I felt like I was being jerked around on this road called life. Nevertheless, I was ready for whatever would come my way.

Deployment Tasking #4 (okay, maybe like Deployment #3 take 2).

Deployment - Take 2

This piece is Part 2 in a 4 Part Deployment Series covering my 4 deployment taskings in my Air Force Career.


Although unexpected, the second deployment tasking was a dream deployment. It was the same location as the first tasking, but this time, the job was everything I had ever wanted. It was like a glorified party planner meets executive assistant for the Air Force, also known as Protocol.

Although the deployment was a few months away, I needed to leave right away for a training back in the states and was set to depart two months later.

 
Protocol.jpg
 

On my last day of training, I notice something seemed off so I took a pregnancy test and lo and behold two little pink lines showed up on a pregnancy test (more like 15 pregnancy tests).

 
Pregnancy tests.jpg
 

Y'all, I was in shock. You would think I would be excited, especially since I miscarried less than two months prior, but the first thing that went through my mind was heartache and confusion.

Why would God give me a dream deployment and then take it away in a matter of weeks?Especially, when two months prior, He called my first baby home... Why now? Why would He call my first baby home? 

I was angry. Not at the fact that I was pregnant, but at the fact that I would have to go home and tell everyone that I could no longer deploy.

I am going to take a bunny trail here and say that in the military, there’s a stigma that some women get out of deployments by getting pregnant. Right before I left for training, I foolishly told people that “I would never be one of "those people” and now I was one of “those people”.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted - Matthew 23:12 ESV

A Humbling Experience

The bible clearly tells us that when we exalt ourselves (glorify ourselves) we will be humbled. That, my friends is what God was doing. He saw me placing myself on a pedalstool. Rising above all the other ladies who have gotten out of deployments and reminded me who was in charge.

The month following the miscarriage, we did everything we could to get pregnant again. Not to toot my own horn, but everything was timed perfectly yet, nothing happened. The following month, we found out I was deploying, so no more "trying" to make a baby.

Again, God had other plans. All the charting or temping (check out the Fertility Awareness Method) couldn't get us pregnant when we wanted to and apparently, didn't help us when we decided to stop trying.

David and I were intentionally trying not to get pregnant and God decided it was time.

Are you picking up what im throwing down? We try for a baby, and nothing happens. We try for no baby and BAM two little lines on 15 different pregnancy tests remind me that the Big Man upstairs is in control.

In shock, I made my way back to England and tried to gather the courage to tell my husband, my commander and everyone else that I would not be deploying due to an unplanned/unexpected pregnancy.  Thankfully, the news was well received and the girl who went in my place was extremely excited to deploy.

Funny story - poor David was on an emotional roller coaster. One minute he is prepping for me to leave. The next minute (13 days later) I tell him hes going to be a dad!

His respone "You need to quit messing with my emotions".... romantic right?

Now, we fast forward to present day... Baby girl is 1.5 months shy of turning one and I get notified that the Air Force wants me to deploy again. Deployment tasking #3.

Lessons Learned

1) There is very little that you can actually control in your life. Realize it and embrace it. 

2) There is no good in pride. I was so prideful about who I was professionally that I allowed it to steal my joy when I found out I was pregnant. 

3) You might never understand the why. I don't know why I had to miscarry my first baby, nor why God blessed me with our baby when i finally had a job I wanted, but I know that all these pieces will fall into place and the picture will be revealed on the other side of heaven. 

Deployment - Take 1

This piece is Part 1 in a 4 Part Deployment Series covering my 4 deployment taskings in my Air Force Career.

Recently, I was tasked to deploy, again, for the fourth time! Now it’s not what you think, I actually haven't deployed at all in the short five-ish years I’ve been in the Air Force. So here’s my story…


A few years ago (2014), I received my first deployment tasking. I was in the middle of planning a wedding and had just recently pinned on 1st lieutenant when I received word that I would deploy to do administrative stuff in a joint environment.

The great news was it would be a sweet deployment (more like a vacation than a hardship). The location had, not one, but two pools!

The bad news--I would miss my own wedding.

You would think a girl would be heart broken about this news, right? Wrong. I was actually quite excited for the opportunity until I told my Fiancé. Needless to say he was not thrilled about the idea of me leaving and us postponing our wedding.

After discussing our options, I begrudgingly agreed to try and find a replacement. In the beginning of our relationship, David and I had agreed that we would always put our family first, if ever given the choice.

Going on this deployment would mean putting off our wedding for the unforeseeable future (we had already bought a dress, hired a photographer/DJ and reserved the hall) and there was no guarentee we would be able to have a big celebration in the future.  

It wasn't easy reaching out to my peers, but I humbled myself and sent an email to everyone eligible to deploy in my place, explaining the circumstances.

After a few inquiries, no one volunteered to go, so I mentally prepared myself for this new adventure; and then it happened.

God said ‘not right now’ and He took this deployment right from underneath me. Apparently, the downrange commander wanted someone higher ranking with more experience and so I was removed from the tasking. It was a bitter sweet moment for me.

On one side, our wedding plans stayed the same - kind of, but on the other, I lost out on a  great opportunity to deploy and save a lot of money.

For those of you who never understood why we had TWO weddings… well now you do! We decided to have a small celebration in case I would be tasked again while also keeping the plans for the large celebration.

March 5th 2015

March 5th 2015

September 5th 2015

September 5th 2015

David and I went on to get married, then moved across the ocean to finally live together, like a husband and wife should.

Then, after another whirlwind of events (think—new job, new country, new home, pregnancy then miscarriage), another tasking comes down.

Deployment tasking #2. 

I don’t mean to negate the impact of those previous events, because they surely affected us greatly, and I will talk about those later; my current focus is on the peculiarities surrounding me and deployments.

In a span of four months, David and I rode an emotional rollercoaster, with twists and turns, climbs and drops, which encompassed my first deployment tasking, then deployment cancellation, the passing of my grandma and then finally getting married; all of which I would have missed had I left on that deployment.

Looking back, I don't know why the first deployment wasn't meant to be, but I am thankful for the opportunity I had to spend extra time with my family. Now it was time to prepare for this next mission set before me. 

Deployment - Take 2