Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ready, PREPARE, Go!

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” (Matthew 11:10)

The holiday season can become a time of hustle and bustle. There are a lot of things to prepare for as Christmas approaches. Like most Americans, I enjoy the thoughts of being with family and friends sharing meals, gifts and warm conversations. However, preparing for their company can become a bit overwhelming at times. If you are like me, you like to prepare a warm inviting house for others to feel welcome and comfortable in. This can come at a cost with feeling the pressure to clean house, decorate, and prepare delicious foods and having the perfect music to invite your much welcome company in. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without someone to share and make memories with, right? Who are some of those people in your life? Is Jesus one of them?

Although, Christmas can be a joyful time preparing to be with family and friends, however for me, it is also a time to prepare my heart to reflect on, Jesus, the One who made my joy possible.  Without Him, I wouldn’t have these great people in my life or have the peace I have from day to day.  For me, it is not about being religious and needing to go through rituals to honor Him, but rather just meditate on what His ultimate gift of love has done for me throughout the year and how His blessings flow in my life because of His sacrifice. Preparing for Him to be honored comes easy for me, much easier than baking cookies or cleaning a house for company! Preparing myself daily for Jesus comes with ease because my thoughts are reflected on His blessings in my life,  which creates a heart of worship inside that I pray flows outward to the ones around me. My prayer is that it really does prepare the way for Jesus  to come through me and my words and actions to others.  John the Baptist knew His call and was determined to prepare for the coming King.  I want to be like John and prepare the way for Him too, but mostly for others who haven’t met Him yet to be introduced to Him through me.  In what ways this season are you preparing the way for Jesus to come? How are you preparing for others to meet Him through you?  Is it in practical, simple ways that not only speak to you, but to those around you? Prepare your heart and others today for the coming King who truly is the joy of this season! 

Below are some practical things you can do to prepare yourself for Jesus and others around you in real, relational ways :

1) Make a praise list of things God has done for you this year and add to it each day new blessings
2) Read scriptures relating to the coming Savior's birth(can be found in the Gospels)
3) Worship music helps reflect on God's glory and helps create a heart of worship
4) Do something kind for someone today that reflects God's heart towards them
5)** Make the choice to forgive someone whom you may have been offended by this season- this is the most powerful way to love Jesus!
-send an encouragement card
-take them to lunch
-invite them for coffee
-make or buy them a small gift
-give them a simple hug or a compliment
-simply offer your help this season in a practical way(babysit, go shopping for them, clean for them, etc.)
- donate time or money to an organization, serving at a homeless shelter or Salvation Army

There are tons of ways to reflect and prepare for Jesus's gift of love and pass it on to others this season. Below is a webiste with suggestions too and many more on the internet.

I pray you all have a very blessed Christmas as you prepare for the greatest joy you will ever have, Jesus!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Simple Holiday Warm Cranberry Punch

Hot Cranberry punch
 8 cups hot water,
1-1/2 cups sugar,
4 cups cranberry juice, add real cranberries for garnish
3/4 cup orange juice,
1/4 cup lemon juice,
 1/2 cup red-hot candies.
 Directions In a pot, combine water, sugar and juices; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add red-hots . Cover and cook until heated through.
Enjoy this great holiday treat!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Blow Family....2010

Greetings Family and Friends,
     While browsing through Walmart back in October, I noticed that Christmas decorations were already on the shelves. It was weird seeing witches and ghosts alongside jolly old Santa Clause and Jesus. By the time I left the store, I felt like I needed therapy for having Holiday Schizophrenia . Thankfully I was able to get healed by a shot of Starbuck’s; it works every time! I recommend it to anyone!
     Well, the Blow family is now in the Land of Oz, Leavenworth, Kansas, to be exact. I keep thinking that I see Toto in my front yard, but it is just our old mutt, Gizmo, who could easily pass for him. As most of you know, Kayla moved to Illinois with her dad back in January for her senior year. It has been a challenge for me to have my oldest fly the nest, but I am happy to say she is doing well in school. She managed straight A’s since being there. We are proud of all she has overcome since moving. She also made the Varsity cheerleading team and attended her senior homecoming. She looked stunning after getting in shape! Her plans are to go to nursing school in Chicago. Of course, we miss her but are excited to see the next chapter in her life unfold.
     Justin, as usual, has adjusted well to his new surroundings. You can find him most days on a skateboard, playing basketball, or on the computer playing games. Recently, he started Karate and enjoys the discipline and challenges it has to offer. His aim is to be a black belt at some point, so we are happy that he has some goals to focus on.  Justin continues to get more handsome every year, but I am a little biased. LOL!
     Nathaniel attends pre-school 2 days out of the week. He uses his natural charm and chubby cheeks to win his classmates and teachers over. Nate loves to be the center of attention! He enjoys the normal rough and tumble boy things like guns, Batman and annoying his little sister, Ana, to no end. Believe me, Ana knows how to fight back and has given Nate a few wallops in return. Girl power!
     Anastasia is as beautiful as they come with her gorgeous blue eyes and blond hair. We like to call her “Curious Georgina” because she is always exploring things in the final frontier of the Blow house, taking her where no normal toddler should go! She is one sassy and persistent child and reminds me of the widow in the bible who badgers the judge until she gets her way. Trust me, she runs things around here!
     Craig is attending CGSC (Command and General Staff College) for the Army.  It is a leadership course to prepare Majors for high level staff positions. He is busy most days studying or writing papers but every now and again he sneaks in a day of golf. He didn’t have the chance to do that at all when we were in the California desert. Recently, he was in a golf tournament and his team placed 5th out of 3o teams. He came home telling me that he knows what he wants to be when he grows up—a professional golfer!  I won’t tell you my response. Needless to say, he hasn’t quit his day job just yet! Craig also applied for the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) Master’s program and is hoping to find out soon if he made the list. I am so proud of Craig, and he continues to be an inspiration to me daily with all he does as a soldier and keeping the balance of family too. I am truly blessed by this man!
     As for myself, I keep busy doing what I love the most—being a mother. I am still involved with PWOC and plan on teaching some Bible classes again this spring. I also write monthly devotionals for their International Website. I love writing on my own daily blog called “Fab Life- Army Wife.” Also, in January, I am excited to embark on a new blog with a friend to help encourage and inspire other women, called “Encourage. Empower.  Extend.”
     As you can see, we continue to be blessed with all that God has done for us throughout the year. We are reminded how faithful God is as He takes us from place to place as an Army family. We wish you all a great Holiday Season and blessings for the year ahead. May the New Year ahead bring you more blessings than you ever dreamed of, and may you continue to grow in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Craig, Kimchi, Kayla, Justin, Nathaniel, Anastasia

Monday, December 6, 2010

What vehicle are you Driving.......Character or Emotions?

In order to be successful, you have to be willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not. It takes character that is not built on emotions in order to accomplish this.
Below is a list I read from John C. Maxwell’s book “Developing the Leader Within you” and I wanted to share some of his insights and wisdom with you as you start your week off. Today is "Make it happen Monday" so get out there and drive the right vehicle this week so you can get to your destination with success! Happy Monday:)

Character-Driven People
-          Do right, then feel Good
-          Are commitment driven
-          Make principle based decisions
-          Let action control attitude
-          Believe it, then see it
-          Create Momentum
-          Ask, “What are my responsibilities?”
-          Continue when problems arise
-          Are steady
-          Are leaders
Emotional Driven People
-Feel good, then do right
-Are convenience Driven
- Make popular decisions
-Let attitude control Actions
- See it then believe it
-Wait for momentum
-Ask, “What are my rights?”
-Quit when problems arise
-Are moody
-Are followers

Who are you? What changes can you make to become  better today? Is it time to change vehicles altogether or do you just need a tune up? Whatever the case, making a choice is the most powerful thing you can do to change the person you are today.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Are you A Fluffer?

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
Are You a Fluffer?
Don’t you just love going into hotel rooms where they have the most elegant bedrooms. I am talking the kind  where the sheets are turned down, the mint is on the pillow and the pillows are nicely fluffed. Who doesn’t like a nice fluffed up pillow to relax them and give them peace from time to time?
Are you a” fluffer”? I mean someone who fluffs up people to keep the peace and make them feel good? In other words are you a people pleaser?  Recently, I was tested with this and God revealed to me that I was being a “fluffer.” At first, I tried to give the excuse I was using grace with the person but then after thinking about it He was right. I allowed my fear of man to rule in this relationship and so I performed to please this person, saying and agreeing with everything, but in my heart I was not being honest  and slowly resentment began to grow.  After many years of doing this, oneday it all came flooding out and the person was surprised- Yikes! Dangerous place to be because God calls us to truth and although most of the time I usually don’t have a problem with being upfront and honest(ask anyone who knows me-lol) for some reason this person had control over me because I was fearful of hurting the person. No excuse!
Needless to say the truth always comes out in the end . I am grateful for the reminder from God that pleasing Him in every circumstance is true peace, not the false peace and comfort I was creating in my heart.
God reminded me that love does cover a multitude of sin and grace abounds in love, but that also love comes in the form of truth too when gently given in the right timing and attitude. I am hoping I will come out of that sin of pleasing man because it never gets me anywhere but rather holds me back.
I don’t mind making people feel accepted around me or fluffing up their pillow from time to time in the RIGHT MANNER, but when it begins to challenge my integrity with God then it becomes an idol.
Are you a pleaser of man or God? Do you just tell people what they want to hear in order to avoid confrontation? If so, know that peace comes through Authority. When you are under the Authority of God’s word then peaces comes. If He is for you then who can be against you! Don’t buy into a false peace or become a fluffer because one day that pillow just might smack you back!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Arena of Tough Love- Are You Knocked Out or Fighting For It?

We have all heard the term, “Tough Love.” What does it really mean? Or what does it look like played out in a relationship? It might look like having to show someone we love a firm hand of “love” in a way of possible saying some hard truths that they might need to hear to help them or standing firm on a matter that might lead to having to break off a relationship for a time until they get the help they need. Basically, holding them accountable.  Most people might disagree that this is not love, but what does God say about love and how does He sometimes show us “Tough Love?”
Love. People talk about it all the time but few really know what it really means. For some people, it is an emotion that comes and goes like the wind. When you think of it on those terms that can be a bit frightening, love should never cease to exist just because of how we feel.  Our emotions are not a something that we can trust because they are fleeting and go up and down in a matter of seconds. That is why we need something more to define it so it helps firmly plant us into a solid foundation, this is what God’s Word is for. The sad truth is we live in a world that operates just like this. People get married or have a relationship with someone and the moment that someone makes a mistake or gets hurt, they choose to walk away. No wonder we have so much divorce and broken people in the world. Noone knows how to truly love. You can find out if a person really loves you when you have walked out a trial with them that caused you both hurt and pain. Man, that can be an eye opener and you can be left disappointed because not everyone chooses to love unconditionally!
The Word of God clearly states to us what love is, however, even most Christians either are confused with it or choose not to walk in it. Quite simply, God is love. His Word is love and following His word is us showing our Love to God and to others.  It does not come in the form of feelings, being depleted by our emotions. It sounds simple, but unfortunately it can become complicated and difficult, but only because we choose not to be obedient to it. God defines love(1 Corinthians 13) as this:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.
2 John 6 says, “And what this love consists in is this  that we live and walk in accordance with and  guided by His commandments(God’s Word) This is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you continue to walk in love. “ So, we simply follow God’s Word in order to love others and God.  Not only has God defined love for us but He has given us instructions on how to love. However, it is not always easy. Ask any human that and they will agree. It is the most powerful force on this earth and it can make you or if choose not to love or are not being loved, it can break you!
Now back to tough love. Sometimes we have to show loved ones what it is to love and it comes in the form of gracious discipline to holding people to God’s word. I know for some they can’t understand this. We have to walk that example out in our daily lives, forgiving people when they have wringed and continuing to still choose to love them no matter what.

 For example, out of God’s love, compassion  and mercy for the Israelites, He allowed them to wonder in the desert for years in their own misery and sin. He did this because eventually it caused them to cry out to Him  becoming desperate for Him again. They needed to be humbled and see that they needed change. He then began to restore them once their hearts were now ready to be loved by this awesome God.  In times past, I have had to show tough love by confronting some hard truths to some people. I did it in love(according to God’s Word) and my heart had a pure motive to help them. This is not always easy and it takes a LOT of prayer  and listening to God’s timing but in the end I knew God was asking me to. At first I was fearful of hurting them but by faith and obedience to what God was asking- I did it. These people were not willing to hear it at first and walked away from me for a time  but by faith I left it alone and hoped that God would change their hearts. Eventually,He did because He is always faithful. We have to trust Him.  But here is the thing; they did hear me in the end because they TOO  yielded to God’s word too and Love won in the end!  They  chose God’s love(His word) to help change them. It took some time but the “tough love” I gave them was really good love! Not everyone is willing to bow the knee to God’s love (His word). It takes maturity and a willingness to want to be changed. Change is never easy and sometimes hurts but if we really want to walk in the fullness of God’s love we must be willing to be obedient to it first.

Sometimes we fear in giving people this kind of love and it is not something we need to be doing everyday and again I stress it takes discerning and praying and waiting on God’s timing. I have not always gotten it right and have probably failed more times then I got it right. But that is okay because God’s love covers a multitude of sin.  Our lives are a long and tedious process of learning. We must be patient with ourselves and others.  In this day and age we need more “tough love” because people are not being held accountable to their actions. It takes someone loving someone to help them with a gentle but firm instruction.  But we if we are the ones to give out the “tough love” then we must be humble ourselves when we might have to receive it. I know I have appreciated the many times someone has loved me enough to show me my errors and corrected me in love. At first, I was not always open to receiving it either but I learned slowly that God’s love for me is awesome and it changes me.  I had to yield to His word but I found out when I am on my knees in humility that is the best place I can be!
Bottom line is loving people is tough even when you are having to give “tough love” but we must be willing to be committed to one another, helping and bearing up with one another and stick it out no matter how bad it gets. This is not easy! Ask me how I know? Never mind don’t because I could be here for days on it. I encourage you today to seek your hearts and ask the Lord if there is someone whom you may have chosen not to love for whatever reason. Did they make a mistake that at the time you were unwilling to forgive or did they do something to you that hurt you that maybe you chose to stop loving them for it? Or  did someone give you “tough love” and you haven’t been willing to receive it? Whatever the case choose love! There is still time! Put aside those hurts, pains, rights and the past and move into the arena of love where there are some knock outs from time to time but each time you get up you become tougher and you love stronger! Victory is always inevitable when you are in the arena of God’s love!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Redeemed Christimas Memories

What is it about childhood that makes Christmas seem like a magical time of year? Is it all those visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads? For me, childhood was a precious, innocent time that will always remain untouched from the reality of the world we live in today.   I enjoyed driving through neighborhoods with my family, seeing the bright holiday lights and manger scenes of Jesus.  Let’s not forget the Norman Rockwell moments where the relatives would gather around our warm fireplace, drink eggnog and laugh while the old episode of Charlie Brown and his wimpy Christmas tree played in the background. Midnight mass was the final “hoorah” before the jolly fat man in the red suit squeezed down the chimney bearing gifts.   December brings me back to many late Christmas Eve nights staring out the frosted window pane, whispering to my younger sister, “Do you see him yet?” Of course, I was referring to Santa Clause, not the recent boyfriend who might be declaring his love to me outside on our front lawn.  The anticipation of waiting to open up our gifts at times was more than I could bear and morning seemed an eternity away!  My sister and I would wait up all night to spot the famous Rudolph, but somehow we never caught a glimpse of that luminous snout in our neck of the woods.  We even tried leaving him reindeer treats, but we were left thinking they were not as delectably gourmet as the ones in Milan, Italy.
Life didn’t get much better for that naïve, brown-eyed girl who believed that joy only came once a year in the form of presents and man-made tradition. Thankfully, as God would have it, I have been redeemed from childhood fantasies, and I have replaced them with lasting joy in the form of a Savior who is willing to celebrate with me all year round, whether or not I get put on the naughty list! My honor for Jesus will not be limited to just an annual Christmas card but rather rejoiced daily.  The beautiful Christmas lights I saw as a child are now replaced with the joy lit in my heart as I celebrate the coming King who will one day take me as His bride to a wonderland far better than any Macy’s parade could ever display! Childhood memories have their significance in our lives, but the memory of a Savior born about 2000 years ago is one memory that will last throughout the generations, long after the Christmas trees are taken down and ornaments stored away.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Garage Thanksgiving....

Who knew that a double car garage could bring a family together at Thanksgiving? We arrived at my in-law’s house on Wednesday afternoon greeted with contractors, furniture moved, drop cloths on the floor and much more chaos than one could imagine. On top of that there were five young kids running around among the mess to add to the drama!  My first thought was, “Wow!” The remodeling that was done looked great but the mess left over, not so much. However, my mother –in-law seemed to be calm for the moment. I don’t know how she did it knowing that the next day she was expecting 30 people to dinner. I would’ve been a mess! I am the control type and tend to stress over the details and there were a lot of details  still left to be dealt with!
The next day, Thanksgiving Day, the whole family began to pitch in to make things come together. After much planning and strategy we quickly realized that 30 people would not fit into the dining area, so we made the garage our dining room. We threw a clean beige  tarp on the floor to create a make shift rug , set up some tables and chairs , decorated the table tops with my 6 year old nephews homemade place mats,  set paper plates and plastic silverware and “BAM!” we were set!

Within a few hours the once dusty , cluttered garage turned into a family dining room filled with aunts, uncles, grandparents, mothers, fathers,  sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins , daughters and sons- a family was joined together! Even after Thanksgiving dinner, we continued to use the garage all weekend for our meals, playing family games, doing crafts and drinking coffee and dessert to end our evenings.  It was an unlikely place that somehow turned into a cozy space!

 I learned that it is not about the beautiful decorations or the elegant tableware that makes for a beautiful Thanksgiving but rather it was about taking life’s situations and making the best out of them by making memories. I was thankful for the reminder that life is never about the details about the people!  My in-laws double car garage will never be looked at the same!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Better is Better than Gold!

"When you cease to be better, you cease to be good." George Knox

How many times are we tempted to think that we have arrived at a place of superiority over people and circumstances in our lives? Probably more often than we would like to admit, huh?  For example, I have been a parent now for 18 years and I have 4 children. I have been through the infant, toddler and teen stage and understand the challenges well. However,  I could become tempted to think that I have nothing else to learn in the matter. How foolish this would be for me to do this? Believe me, my children are my teachers and I have much more to learn!

There is nothing respectable in thinking you are superior to someone. We must be willing to make progress in order for us to overcome our previous self. Are you willing to work towards progress and becoming better at situations and people in your life? Do you self examine your days,weeks  months or even years past to see if you have grown? If so, when was the last time you did this and what did you observe? Have you done anything about what you saw?

I am always telling my children that they must learn to be a teachable. We have to be a student of life constantly. When we fail to stop learning in  areas of our life then we just missed the point altogether about what life is all about. Life is a process of learning and journeying through challenges, growing to be the best person we can be. Be all you can be is what the Army challenges!  Hopefully, our goal is to improve daily. Be willing to put yourself into learning situations. Take on a new project or role whenever you have the chance. Don't remain the same there is no glory in that. Be willing to listen and ask questions, take yourself out of your comfort zone and change! When we choose to be a student of life, we open up ourselves to a world of possibilities that we never knew existed.

Lately, I have been wanting to improve on my reactions to frustrations throughout the day. I tend to become overwhelmed when things don't always go as smoothly as anticipated.  Being a mother of four and having a military lifestyle tends to set me up for  the attitude "anything goes."  Needless to say, I am not always willing to go!  I fight it tooth and nail becoming less then my best. I have my control fits and trust me they are no so pretty. However, I recognize this and am willing to work on it. Recognizing our need for improvement is half the battle. Being willing to make  a plan and following through is what is important.

You must be willing to make a plan. For me, I know my area of weakness so now I must plan the best route to improve. You can do this by seeking knowledge. I like to use the Word of God to help me. I have learned that the simple truth it contains our powerful and when applied, I can move mountains in my life. However, there are other options out there, like attending conferences or reading self help books or taking classes, etc. Action is required for change! King Solomon of Israel said, "Let instruction and knowledge mean more to you than precious jewels or gold."

I have thought about that truth through the years and desire nothing but the power to change my life by getting wisdom. When I seek wisdom and apply it , it becomes a powerful tool to success.  More so,  I must be willing to live by example but it starts with looking inward to do this. So, often we want others to change  so it makes our lives easier. However,  we don't have the power to change them, only ourselves. When we change ourselves, we then see the world differently and react to others better. Shouldn't this be our goal?

What  do you need to change in your life to become better in your relationships, marriage, finances, job, etc,.? What specifically are you doing today to better yourself?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Forever Sunset....My proposal story!

I happen to be visiting Maverick, aka, Craig Blow, in the Bahamas for a few days back in 2002 while he was serving as the Army’s Liaison Officer for the OPBAT Counter Drug Mission in Nassau. He would go to work in the morning while I hung on the beach until he retuned from work every day. It was my kind of vacation, sun by day, romanced by night! On this particular morning, I woke up to a note in the kitchen saying, “Be ready out front at 4p.m.- Wear tennis shoes and comfortable clothes-Can’t wait to see you this afternoon!- love, Craig.”  Well, I hate surprises and not being in control of things so my mind was everywhere, but I submitted to the process! How bad could it be after all, I was in the middle of paradise!  I obeyed what the note suggested and  waited  outside the condo complex  with tennis shoes on and an anxious mind to follow. Exactly at 4 p.m. , a taxi cab drove up with Craig in it to pick me up. Off we went to God knows where!
The first question out my mouth was, ‘Where are we going?”  He answered with his tan self,  “You’ll see!”  So, I sat back and we made our way through the busy streets of Nassau until we ended up at a Horse ranch near the beach.  I was excited! I loved horseback riding! ‘Really, we going horseback riding?” I asked. “Yes!’ he said with a beaming smile. I was a happy girl! As we made our way into the ranch, we were greeted by this couple who appeared to be more than accommodating to helping us. We saddled up the horses and I mounted a beautiful tan stallion. “Are we the only ones?” I asked the guide as I looked around to notice we were the only ones there.  He replied, “Must be your lucky day because no one else is riding this afternoon.” I didn’t think anything about it because I could not wait to see the sunset on the beach, so we made our way along the beautiful shore line. We stopped the horses and just took in the view before us. The waves were gently pounding the shore and the water was a crystal blue color. The sunset was absolutely stunning.   It was like looking into a scene on a post card! It was so peaceful to be sitting there atop a horse just enjoying the moment. Life was good, but little did I know, life was going to get better quickly!

All of a sudden Craig decided to dismount his horse and walked over to the side of mine.   I was still sitting on the horse and he began these beautiful words to me, “ Kim, I brought you here today, not to just enjoy this beautiful sunset but to ask you an important question too.” My heart started beating very fast and I just knew where this was going. He reached to grab the back pack on his shoulders and opened up the bag. He unwrapped a bag  and revealed a beautiful handmade woven bag. He reached inside the bag and  as he began to pull out this ring box, all these  beautiful red and pink rose petals fell  to the ground. This guy was good! He could have written a book on the perfect proposal!  He opened up the ring box and an amazing diamond ring in the shape of a Marquis  glared back at me with some bling! I was speechless!  Craig continued to declare his love for me, but honestly, I can’t remember what he said because I was still in shock over the ring. Forgive me Craig!  Hello, you show a girl some bling and all words become white noise!-lol! 

At any rate, I do remember him telling me that he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me! The whole time, unannounced to me, we were being videotaped. Our guide was in on the proposal plans!  I had been duped, but in a good way! The reason why there was no one at the ranch except us was because Craig rented out the whole place exclusively for us! Can you believe it? I mean who does that? My hubby did!!!

At any rate, the evening didn’t stop there, it got better and better.  As if that was possible, right? We make our way back from the shore line on the horses to the ranch. I was on cloud nine! Between the proposal, the ring, the horse, and the scenery, I was out of my element!   I felt like a princess in a movie. Once we got back to the ranch, another surprise awaited me, a white stretched limousine was parked outside. There was a driver standing there with a bouquet of gorgeous roses to give to me from Craig! I could not believe that Craig had done all of this just for me! Once inside the limo,  there was a bottle of Champaign for us to celebrate with.   We then drove to a local restaurant that was located on a gorgeous part of the island where we ate a delectable Lobster and steak dinner! Needless to say, I had the best night of my life! Less than 3 months later, we were married in the Bahamas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are you a Smurf or an Ark Runner?

Does anyone remember the little blue cartoon characters called the Smurfs? Well, the other day I was enjoying watching them on television with my two toddlers. One of the Smurfs was growing impatient as Papa Smurf was leading them on this long journey. The irritated Smurf piped up and asked Papa Smurf, “Are we there yet?” I chuckled to myself as I heard this question because it reminded me of myself as a youngster. Patience was never my strong suit growing up and I still struggle with it today! Papa Smurf graciously replied, “Be patient, in a little while!”.

So many times throughout my life I wanted to complete projects or assignments at school as quickly as I could because I didn’t have the patience or self discipline to work at them properly.  By doing this, I ended up taking short cuts that would cost me in the long run. I would make careless mistakes or worse than that I would end up having to start all over again because I didn’t learn the lesson properly the first time.   I can still hear my dad saying to me, “Work smarter not harder!”  I wasted so much time because of my pride thinking I could cheat the system, when in reality, I was cheating myself.  For some reason my goal was to just finish as quickly as I could and that meant success. Much later in life, I learned that success was not always about finishing but more so in persevering and learning through the process of completing something. Wow, that was a huge lesson for me and still is today!

As humans, we want to take those short cuts. We tend to think shortcuts are going to get us to our end result faster and easier but ultimately it only delays us that much more. A friend of mine and I were joking about how we both tend to be “Ark Runners” ,meaning that we’re similar to the  old servants of God who would  run ahead of the Ark of the Lord in the Old testament and get killed for it! Sure, we laugh about it but it holds some truth!  Running faster or taking short cuts is not always the best way to compete, just look at the  Aesop’s Fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” Bottom line in this story-  be the Tortoise!   However, God does not physically kill us but He definitely kills or rather  humbles that pride in us  that allows us to think  we can just take short cuts or run ahead of the process of life.  Timing is everything to God!  He has nothing but time in His hands because He is the author of  it! Hello? Too bad some of us don’t take into consideration that God’s daily planner is not bound to earthly time but rather eternal time.

 Cutting corners is a lack of impatience and self – discipline.  Albert Gray once said, “The common denominator of success lies in forming the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” Let’s think about that for a moment. Can you think of some things that you didn’t want to have to work at because you didn’t have the patience or self-discipline to persevere through them? What were the consequences to that?  It might be a failed relationship, finances, school work or a job. Whatever it was, did it cause an obstacle for you?

Self discipline is a quality that is acquired through practice.  In order to be successful you have to be willing to do what does not come natural. You must be also willing to be held accountable to standards.  Real success is in the experience and process of getting to the end result no matter how you feel.  So many times, we are focused on the end that we miss out on all the wisdom we can gain by facing our fears and challenges through it.  God is met in the middle of the process! Suffering consequences for not following through is a great reminder to help you stay on track, so don’t fight the failures, embrace them!
We can’t be impatient Smurfs and we definitely can’t be “Ark Runners!”. Ask yourself today, have I cut corners or ran ahead in something that I should have taken the time to work through with patience and perseverance? If so, it is not too late to just sit back and enjoy the scenery and take in all the bumps in the road. Each bump has its purpose.  Eventually, you will get there and until you do, remember what Papa Smurf would say, “Be patient, just a little while longer!”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Need Another Belt Hole This Thanksgiving?

Can you believe that next week is Thanksgiving? It seems like just yesterday we  left the sweltering heat of the Mojave Desert to the rolling hills of Kansas! At any rate, like most of America we will be traveling to see family and share in a bountiful meal. I don't know about you, but I am all about the food! Unfortunately, I am one of those people who live to eat not eat to live! How I wish I was the skinny gal who could look at food and not be moved by it.

However this year, I don't want to put on the extra pounds because I just spent some time taking them off. I have always struggled with my weight to a point. More so, after I had my last two children back to back!  When I was in the military, I had to always get taped because I was always about 5 pounds off , but I would always make the tape test.  I tend to be a muscular build and muscle weighs more than fat, at least that is what I would tell myself!-lol Glad those days are over with. I remember starving myself for days because I didn't want the embarrassment of having to be taped. Through the years, I have come to accept that I will never be a size 6 ever again( I think that happened for about 2 seconds somewhere in my life!) but my focus is more about making healthy choices and keeping my body moving at least 30 minutes a day.

This Thanksgiving, I want to enjoy my time with family but at the same time maintain my health. Believe me people, I can go OVERBOARD!!-lol.....I have a small plan of action which is the half the battle....just being aware of what you eat can make a huge difference. For me portion sizes have always been my down fall. I grew up eating 2nd's and third helpings and desert every night. I can't blame my mother, she was a good cook and she was Englishman!  The Europeans love their deserts, not to mention the McMahon clan!

I will be watching portion sizes and scaling back.  Before, I would I never even consider them, but these days I try to eat on a smaller plates and keep the serving bowls off the table to avoid the temptation of more. Also, I plan on allowing myself to indulge in desert. However, again keeping things within limits. I believe in cheating once a week. The biggest thing is to try and keep my body moving for at least 30 minutes a day while traveling will be the challenge,  so I will throw in some walking shoes and make it happen! Craig tries to book hotels that have a gym or indoor pool, so no excuses! Again, have a plan and stick to it!! Go prepared and hold yourself accountable.  And even if you don't have the luxury of those things, you can still exercise without equipment, you just have to be creative. There are tons of ideas on the internet.

There are a ton more tips I could share, but I would love to hear any you might have as we approach the new year about weight loss or even about healthier cooking. It is funny how as I get older and am about to be 40 , I am more aware of my body more than ever, especially what I feed my children. I use to buy sweets all the time, but now I try to limit the deserts to once a week and even try to portion them out. Of course, my 10 year old son whines the whole time and I get faces made at me that would stop any mom in her tracks, but I try to remember that I am his example and more so I am his mother! It is up to me to pass to him good habits....Whatever habits he learns , they will be with him for a lifetime!

I would love to hear any advice, tips or suggestions to how to lead a healthier  Holiday  season this year!
I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving full of joy and great memories. Be safe and enjoy your life!:)

Below is an article I read from Cooper Wellness:
  1. First of all, don't arrive at a Thanksgiving dinner hungry. Eat a good breakfast and maybe even lunch that day.
  2. Fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter of it with lean meat, and one quarter with starches like mashed potatoes and turkey dressing.
  3. Choose white-meat turkey and avoid eating the skin.  
  4. Void gravy. Turkey doesn't need to be smothered in gravy to taste good. If you want gravy, just drip a little on your meat and potatoes.
  5. Limit yourself to small helpings of heavily sweetened yams and cranberry sauces.
  6. Use restraint when dinner rolls are passed around. Buttered rolls may melt in your mouth, but they're full of calories, so only eat one.
  7. Try sampling in moderation the many foods that you have looked forward to. And consider bringing something healthy to the dinner, like a side dish that's low in fat, sugar and salt.
  8. Eat slowly. By eating Thanksgiving dinner slowly, your body has time to register when it is full so that you don't consume too much. Don't load your fork with the next bite while still chewing the current one. And instead of hurrying for a second helping, consider taking a short break. Stand up and burn off a few calories by lending a hand in the kitchen. Your hosts will, of course, appreciate the help!
  9. At dessert time, try to choose the lightest options. Pick pumpkin over pecan pie, for example, and avoid 200 calories in the process. Or just eat half a piece of pie, and pass on whipped toppings and ice cream. As dinner winds down over coffee, avoid any plates of additional sweets that may be sitting on the table.
  10. After Thanksgiving dinner, take a walk with your friends or family. Fifteen minutes of walking will get your blood circulating and can burn off 100 calories, says Susie Kania, exercise physiologist at Cooper Wellness. The fresh air will invigorate you after a long stay at the table.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Procrastinate Later"

"The best way to get something done is to begin." ~Author Unknown
What is Procrastination?
So what is procrastination? Basically, procrastination is the act of putting off an essential task until a later time. We have all been there for whatever reason. But we don’t have to stay there. Procrastination is the number one time stealer. You have the power to overcome it, by making the decision to just do it!
Have you ever heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?”…one bite at a time! This is SO true! Don’t become overwhelmed. Instead, make the decision to overcome. Choose a task, make a plan of action and make it happen.
There is a lot about this subject I could talk about, but I don’t have time, I have things to do-LOL! Below are just a few tips I have learned through the years.  Procrastination is a state of mind, just like everything else in life, attitude is everything. Perfectionism can cause procrastination. Most people won’t start a task unless they know it will be completed perfectly. Don’t buy into this lie! Life is a process and the process is just as important as the end result. There is so much to be gained in the process that most people refuse to even start….make today count!
1)Have a plan of action- this keeps you from being distracted! Post it where you can see it!
 2)Make yourself accountable (tell someone your goal). Set a goal date or time and keep working on it until it gets done. Don’t quit!
3)Keep it simple people! Don’t over plan, be realistic.
 4)Start with the most important task and work to the next one task at a time.
5)Having time increments helps. Maybe work in 15 minute increments and take a break. Keep going until you get it done.
6)At the end of the day, review your progress; don’t become frustrated if you didn’t get everything done. Remember that the process is just as important as the success!
Just do it! Put aside excuses , the laziness and the overwhelming emotions and take a step- you will be amazed at how the first step in the hardest.
What are you putting off today? Whatever it is, decide it will be the last day you allow your procrastination to overpower you.
Have a great Monday!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Easiest Creamy Seafood Chowder Ever!

Creamy Seafood Chowder
1 Quart(4 cups) half and half
2-3 cans (14-1/2 ounces of diced potatoes drained
2 cans  condensed cream of mushroom soup (I sometimes add 1 can of potatoes soup for extra thickness)
1 medium onion. Minced
½ cup(1 stick) butter, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2-3 cans(8 ounce) whole oysters  rinsed and drained (I don’t drain it because I like the added flavor)
2-3 cans(6 oz) of drained minced clams
I package of 14 oz of shrimp( defrosted,peeled and tail removed) or you can do 2 cans of (4oz) cocktail shrimp drained
1 package of scallops( defrosted)-optional and any other seafood you might want
Combine all ingredients into crock pot (except for shrimp or scallops) on high for about 2 hours ,After 2 hours have passed, add shrimp , scallops and  continue to cook for 45- 1 more hour.
If cooking without crock pot but on stove pot, add all ingredients to a pot and cook for 1 hour on medium...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Follow up for Blog...."Tearing Down the High Places"

This is a follow up of information about my blog on "Tearing Down the High Place." I recieved this information from someone who use to dabble in withcraft and the occult but has been delivered from such matters. Thankfully, she is now a Christian and no longer a witch.  I thought you would find it interesting to what the symbols to the altar formation we found yesterday represented...

The triangle is used to represent a deity.  It is also used in the masonic alot; the rock represents earth and may have something to do with whatever spell or something they were trying to do.  The stick is used by the Goddess of the ceremony to mark a place and also to let everyone know of her position and she uses it to cast the spell.  The cup is used to hold the potion and the cup is sometimes referred to as a cauldron and the yellow liquid was probably hand made and had something to do with the spell they were casting.

What Are Your Thanksgiving Traditions?

 I can almost smell the aroma of Thanksgiving now as I write this. There is nothing like the smell of a scrumptious, fat turkey roasting in the oven to get you in the mood for the holiday! Not to mention all the tasty side dishes to dress it up, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, cranberries, roasted vegetables, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, you know where I am going with this! The kind of meal where you have to loosen your belt or unbutton the top button of your pants! Who doesn't enjoy sitting down to a feast with family and friends and then kicking back to watch a day of football? Snooze and eat some more is my motto! Well, football I can do without but the food and company, I am all over that!

For many families, it is a joyous time of reuniting and reconnecting. Yes, at times things can get a bit stressful, especially if you are the one hosting the event. However, for  the most part it is a time to make memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. As I am getting older, I am finding myself more and more cherishing these times and creating something special for my own children. I am grateful for the fond memories I had as a child growing up. I smile when I think about how I would hear my dad use the electric knife in the kitchen carving the turkey. That was my cue to run up the stairs and beg for him to give me a piece of that crispy turkey skin! Yummo!! I still do it today as an adult. Old habits die hard!  I also enjoyed our family gathering together to plat Trivial pursuit and me cheating to get the answers so our team would win. There, I confessed I feel better-lol! And of course, there were all the leftovers that would consume us for days. My mother had a way with taking the leftovers and making delicious treats, like turkey soup or turkey salad for sandwiches. Even as an adult, she would make it and send us home with Tupperware containers full of it! For some, the day after Thanksgiving was a blast because of the shopping extravaganza they would dare to undertake. I for one, was not a huge fan of the crowded stores and long lines, but there was something about the hustle and bustle that was exciting...I am a people watcher, so give me a latte and a bench to sit and I could be there for hours.

I have four children, and my oldest will be graduating this year. It is hard to believe that she has grown up on me. Just the other day I was looking through past photos of her and I am amazed at how fast the time has flown by! I still have three at home and it makes me want to place a brick on their head to keep them from growing up on me, but as life would have it, they too will one day leave the nest.....sigh!

This is why I really want to make the time I have left with them to matter. It is funny how as a parent you evolve.  I want them to be able to remember  their childhood memories with a smile and cherish the things we did together and hopefully create in them a desire to pass on the traditions to their families one day. Isn't this what it is all

Here are just a few ideas to  help you gear up for this Thanksgiving. Some of them are my own ideas and some I have seen done with others throughout the years. I am hoping it will inspire in you the desire to create your own traditions. Also, feel free to add some ideas so that we all can glean from the awesome ideas out there.

One thing I remember doing as a family before we ate dinner was  go around to each member of the family and declare what it was we were most thankful for this year. I always loved hearing the heart felt responses and especially the young children's ones. They have a way of bringing realness to any situation.  Another tradition for us was to have our desserts after the big meal and play games together. This was always a fun time because we laughed and enjoyed ourselves. There are a ton more but I would rather share just a few that I have read about recently.

Jim Daly, from Focus on the Family, discussed in one of his blog's about taking "thanksgiving" scripture verses and reading them and asking a question at the end. Here were some of his points from his blog:

* "I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me" (Psalm 13:6). QUESTION: How has the Lord has been good to you this year?

  • "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2). QUESTION: Can you tell us several "benefits" or blessings that you've received from the Lord?

  • "Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). QUESTION: Can you think of an example where giving thanks to God was a challenge? If you gave Him thanks anyway, what happened?"

  • "Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song" (Psalm 95:2). QUESTION: What's one of your favorite praise & worship songs? What makes it special?

    Another idea that helps bring families together is crafts. I always like to  buy small glass vases and fill them with cranberries, wrap a decorative ribbon around them and place a candle in them and give them to my neighbors before the holidays. It was always so cool to see them displayed within their homes when I would visit them.  The kids LOVE to be part of projects like this and it teaches them to think of others.

    The following link is a site I found for kids crafts. I plan on doing this one with my toddlers and then writing on each turkey feather, a reason why I am thankful for each of them. Like for my darling Anastasia, I love her curiosity and zeal and Nate's  chubby cheeks and smile.  For Justin, his wittiness and energy. The list goes on and on when it comes to being grateful for our children. There are TONS of ideas when you google thanksgiving crafts. Here is a picture of the craft and the link.

    Also, I know another tradition that we did with our oldest daugter was serving with her at a local shelter for the homeless. She would go to Savannah, Georgia's Thanksgiving meal for the homeless in the park and serve. Again this was one way to give back to those in need. Also, you can have your younger children collect can goods from neighbors and deliver them to local churches or organizations that help feed the homeless or those in need.  For the military, most units put together a single soldier's meal.

    There are tons of ways to get involved within the community. It makes you appreciate all the more what you have and inspires other with love and thanksgiving too. Also, I saw an idea that 10 days before Thanksgiving, a family placed a box on the kitchen table, decorated it and had each person place a note of thanksgiving in it daily. They then read the praises in the box on Thanksgiving day. A friend of mine has blogged about her thanksgiving praises each day for the past week or so.  I found that to be cool too,

    I hope that some of these ideas have helped stir spirit of Thanksgiving in you for this season. If you would like to share some of your traditions, I would love to hear them! I pray that each of you will be blessed as you gather with family and friends. Make the season count and be sure and not forget to thank the One who deserves all praises!

    Last but not least, please pray for all the troops and their families that are serving and who are not together this season!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TEARING Down the High Places.

 At first, I was going to keep this experience to myself, but after much prayer and some confirmation, I feel it is my responsibility to awaken your spiritual senses.......

My family and I chose to spend Veteran’s day with our veteran, being thankful that he was home and not deployed. We decided to have lunch in a nearby park and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Our kids ran around and climbed to their hearts content on the playground equipment.
After about 20 minutes, we noticed two young women walking out a wooded creek bed area. One of them was wearing a military uniform and carrying a metal shovel. The other girl had black hair and was wearing a black sweat suit. They appeared as normal people except the fact they had a shovel and carried nothing else.  I remember them walking past us and not making any eye contact as if they were hiding something. Craig and I looked at one another curious to what the shovel was for, but quickly dismissed it as they drove away in their car.
Afterwards,  we decided to take the kids walking and stop along the creek bed because my two toddlers love to throw stones into the creek and watch the ripples run across the water. I enjoy watching them do it because it brings back memories of just how joyful it is to be a child. Childhood is an innocent time and you are truly naïve to the world around you. Little did we know that less than 5 feet from them lay an altar like formation that was meant for purposes that would make any child have nightmares if they truly knew its purpose.
At first sight, the altar formation appeared harmless (see picture above). Honestly, to most people who have no spiritual awareness, it is simply what it is, a triangle dug into sand, beside a moving stream, with 3 points to it. At each point was a rock, wooden stake and a cup of urine. Immediately, our thoughts came back to the two women holding the shovel.  You might be asking, what are you getting at, Kim? Well, read on and find out. I challenge you to open up your spiritual eyes around you to know there truly is an enemy lurking in places you can’t see with your physical eyes. It takes spiritual discernment to understand the supernatural and the truth of God’s word.

In the book of Ephesians 6:10-18, we are told that there are spiritual principalities and darkness all around us, and we need to put on the full armor of God to defeat the plans of Satan. This is why as Christians we need to be aware of the environment around us, discerning and looking with spiritual eyes. You have to train your eyes to see what most people would dismiss.  What you see physically is at times an indication of what is going on spiritually. Scripture tells us to get wisdom and most of all seek understanding. One of my spiritual gifts is discernment and this altar like structure was not an innocent structure but a purposed Satanic or Wiccan altar. Upon further investigation of this site, we noticed a bird footprint in the center of it. Later on, at home I found further information supporting my original thought of the spirit of witchcraft! Google Wiccan, triangle, wood sticks, and urine and you can see for yourself. But be careful not to be tempted to get fascinated by such evil myths.

The  city of Leavenworth , Kansas has a ton of witchcraft  in its history.  In fact, there is a part of post that was used for animal sacrifices years ago. As far as we know, they have ceased to take place, but the truth is Satan has not.  He still has his followers here. Leavenworth also holds  three prisons here, so can you imagine the spiritual affairs looming here?  In every city across America, big cities, small cities, we have Satan worshippers, Wiccan’s and all sorts of groups that worship false gods and make blood and animal sacrifices. Should we fear this? No, but we should be willing to teach our children and others about the effects it has on us spiritually. Let’s take a look at just one small part of scripture to help enlighten us to how God feels about such matters. Deuteronomy 12:1-5 says, 

The One Place of Worship

1 These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess--as long as you live in the land. 2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. 3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. 4 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.
As you can see, God hates idolatry or any sort of altar representing any kind of worship that does not honor Him. Put simply, it is a sin and it has caused many nations within the history of the bible to fall because of it.  This is the consequences to sin is spiritual death, and at times, yes, even physical death. It is time we wake up and see the world for what it is, but at the same time know that you have the power to overcome the Satan’s schemes. Look into the spirit, get wisdom and seek understanding!

As a royal priesthood, my family and I tore down this altar and all it stood for! We prayed against any evil schemes that it may have been purposed for. We took back the land for God! This is our calling as Christians, to stand and fight against the evil of this world and especially in the supernatural. It was a teaching moment for our 10 year old son. It opened his eyes to know that not everyone around us is of God. Who knows why those grown women built this altar? We don’t have to know why; we just have to stand against it. There is more to this world than what you see physically; there is a supernatural realm that effects.
Since moving into Leavenworth, Kansas, my spiritual senses have been on guard. My heart has been burdened with intercessory prayer for this area. Leavenworth holds a huge prophetic purpose because of it being a pioneer city, the first city in the state of Kansas. It was built by a river and many items and people traveled through this region, Abraham Lincoln being one of them. In fact, he gave his a speech from a place on the same river that was fed by the stream that this altar was built from.   If you have any understanding about the spiritual aspects to how cities and lands were used in scripture then you understand my point. If not, seek wisdom and understanding.
My point is this friends, be aware of the things, people and places around you. God has given you spiritual authority to tear down the high places of darkness and pierce it with the light of Christ. We don’t need to fear by any means because there is no fear in love. However, when we choose to  stand on the WORD  or the world, then either one of two things can happen. We can either walk in spiritual blessing or walk in the cursing that affects the region in which you live. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord and choose to tear down any strongholds, idols , altars or ideas that sets itself up against God. We are in fact, part of the royal priesthood of Melchizedek(Look in the book of Hebrews), Jesus being the highest priest of the Land!  It’s time to stand in the gap and to walk out our destinies in Christ, and to help set order on this earth.  Be bold and courageous and you will overcome the giants of the land! BlessingsJ



Reflections of a Craig Blow

Happy Veterans Day Kimchi and to all you military wives and your family members who have served.  Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made!  Kimchi is letting me share a little bit about my service and why I serve.   
     Growing up in the country outside Xenia, Ohio, I remember spending sunny afternoons lying on the warm grass looking up into the sky at the fighter jets flying their training missions high overhead and dreaming about being a fighter pilot.  I was always excited going to the Wright Patterson Air Force Base museum or the air shows nearby to see the planes up close.  My dream as a boy was to be a fighter pilot, but as I grew older, I lost sight of this goal. 
     As a junior in high school, I learned about the Air Force Academy from a friend about to graduate and begin school there.  He mentored me in the long and arduous process of getting a Congressional nomination and getting accepted into the academy.  He explained the opportunities available upon graduation.  In hearing that this route would reconnect me to my dream, I felt a heightening in my spirit and that I was back on the path God instilled in me at a young age.  Through a long set of circumstances, rather than getting into the Air Force Academy, I got accepted into West Point.  But, I didn’t find out until two days before I was to report for Beast Barracks, their basic training.  I knew right then that God kept his hand on me the entire process and this was certainly the path He chose for me. 
     God blessed me with decent grades at school which allowed me to get into my branch of choice—Aviation.  Upon graduation, I went to flight school and began my career in the Army.  God’s path for me led me to Fort Bragg, NC, where I was blessed to meet my wife, Kimchi.  I can’t say enough about the support she’s given me and encouragement each day since then.  God is certainly right that a good wife is indeed a blessing from the Lord.
My Army career has led me on a couple deployments away from home.  First, before Kim and I were even married, we were separated for my counter-drug mission to the Bahamas for a total of eight months.  Yes, that was hard duty!  But even though I was in the tropical Caribbean, I was still separated away from Kimchi.  Several years later, we PCS’d to Hunter Army Airfield, and I deployed again for 12 months.  Because I was going to a combat zone, this proved more stressful for Kimchi than for me.  But through it all, we were both able to rely on God for strength in overcoming the situation.
     A year and a half after returning, I was moved to be the battalion rear detachment commander for the surge deployment of 15 months.  During this time, I saw firsthand how supportive wives can make deployments so much more bearable for their Soldiers.  In dealing with numerous issues at home base and in Iraq, both the families and Soldiers overcame numerous ordeals, and we constantly worked with them to be available to support each other.  The spouses of our Soldiers showed courage and bravery like I’ve never seen before.  Through thick and thin, they always came through with strength to deal with the demands of deployment.  I gained a new found respect for military wives during this assignment!
     In return for the spouses support, every month our battalion took about 30 minutes of video footage of their mission in Iraq and recorded shout-outs from a number of Soldiers to say hello to their families.  I played these videos at the monthly FRG meetings, and the spouses always flocked to see the footage of the mission our unit was executing and a glimpse of their Soldiers too.  I was just proud that I could be the conduit between the deployed Soldiers and their families and support wherever and whenever I was needed.
     I am proud to serve our great country, and to contribute to protecting our freedoms.  I know you too share in this pride and this Veterans Day gives us the opportunity to take a few moments to reflect on it.   Thank you, military wives, for the service you provide in giving constant support to our service members!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier!

Almost 18 years ago, I was driven to Ft. Jackson South Carolina on a Grey Hound bus alongside 3 other young girls who were just as anxious as I was to get to Basic Training started and over with. We heard nothing but horror stories and were ready to take on this new chapter in our lives like any soldier would, with bravery and zeal! I still remember what it felt like to see my drill sergeant for the first time. He was a 6 ‘1”, muscular African American man. He put the fear of God in me from the moment I saw him. My heart sank as I heard him step onto the bus and scream, “You have about 2 seconds to get your butts off my bus and help me start earning my pay…NOW MOVE!”
Needless to say, I moved alright, but apparently it was not quick enough because before I knew it I was faced down in the front leaning rest position staring at his nicely shined boots! I remember him screaming at me to get use to my reflection in his boots because that is where I will stay for the next 8 weeks! And believe me he was right!  I was an Asian version of a Private Benjamin. I had a cute bob  hair cut that hit just above my collar, always had a tube of lipstick handy in my BDU jacket and marched my cute self around like I was something! Oh, I was something alright, I was a mess! I had no clue back then!! But life was about to change for this Southern Bell and fortune cookies and fried chicken would not be there to comfort me any longer!
I quickly learned to obey all orders and listen to detail (something I still struggle with-lol). Making beds with hospital corners, scrubbing the grout between bathroom tiles over, over and over again, and dusting in places you never dreamed of were just a few things that made Basic Training….not so fun! Then there were those long runs at 5 a.m. after only 2 hours of sleep, not to mention long road marches in the rain, through sand and with 30 pounds strapped to your back, carrying an M16 while holding back tears from your back aching and blisters on your feet(Gosh, I sound like my parents talking about their past days-lol).  You get what I am saying….So, many times, I wanted to give up and go home. I missed the comfort of home, mom making my bed and doing my laundry! I remember thinking so many times, “Why did I sign the dotted line for this, I am a woman, I could be at home getting my nails done and enjoying a latte!”. But no,  I wanted adventure, I wanted a challenge, I wanted the honor of saying, “ I am an American Soldier!” . Well, now I can say that! I served for 6 years. My MOS was a dental hygienist. I know what some of you might be thinking…easy job! I am here to tell you that the medical people in the military have long hours too and serve in ways that most people take for granted. Sure, we had tents in the field but we would see hundreds of soldiers in just a couple of hours all through the night.  Not to mention that looking into people’s mouths all day long is not what I would call a glorious job.  Who likes looking at blood filled spit and smelling horrendous breath? Believe me; you see things that would make you gag and think twice about kissing another human being…just saying!-lol
I was blessed to serve in Wurzburg ,Germany with 3rd ID  on my first tour for 3 years. I loved that assignment. Thankfully, I did not have to deploy during Desert Storm because of pregnancy.  I met some great friends that even today I am still in contact with. After that, I was in Fayetteville, North Carolina for the last 3 years of my commitment.  I know 6 years is only a drop in the hat for most career soldiers but it was long enough for me to appreciate the role of a soldier and what their families do on a regular basis.
I learned that a heart of a true soldier is commitment to his or her country. Let’s be real, there is a lot of “stuff”( this is a nice word to replace the profane 4 letter word)that you have to do.  Of course, at the time you don’t know this or it doesn’t make any sense, but there is always a purpose to the constant drills and exercises you do.  Kind of like life is now when you are enduring life’s struggles, you have ti trust in the process. Trust, now there is a word! It was about being stretched beyond myself at times and trusting in the people who were in charge of me. It was about being able to be flexible and redirect at a moment’s notice. Ask any soldier and they will tell you that it is always, “Hurry up and wait!”
At the time, those things just seemed like things you did, but what I learned as a soldier was something that I would gleam from the rest of my life! Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day and I am honored to say that I served my country for a short time and more so I am the wife of a soldier!!  I put the uniform on, trained with the best and believed in a cause bigger than myself….Freedom!
I look back and reflect with a smile. I have a ton of stories, being abandoned in woods for hours, having a 4ft  black water moccasin fall into my water filled fox hole, throwing hand grenades, and driving a Bradley tank one mile with style!It was all an experience that I will never forget. But mostly, I remember the camaraderie I formed with fellow soldiers, the encouragement, the tears and the moments shared while wearing the uniform. We held a special bond that was connected through a commitment to defend and serve our country no matter what orders came down. There was a purpose and we were all moving in the same direction with unity.  You don’t find that often these days. Mission accomplished is what we wanted to hear at the end of the day! Or, “Well done, good and thy faithful servant!”
The Apostle Paul tell us in 2 Timothy that we all need to be like soldiers, to take on our trials with bravery and perseverance. To know who our real Commander and Chief is and please Him with obedience.  We can learn much from our soldiers in the military. They serve selflessly every day, they sacrifice a lot and all because they believe in a cause, they believe in something bigger than themselves.

My prayer this Veteran’s Day is that we can be thankful for all those that have given their life for freedom. Also, I pray that we can gleam from their daily examples of obedience, commitment and sacrifice. Hug a soldier today, let them know that they are important and that they make a difference. Don’t take them or your freedom for granted because it was bought with a price!  Pass this gift on by educating  your children on the history of this great nation. Pass the gift on of what a soldier did for you today!
God bless this great nation and God bless every soldier and their families, both present and past!!!