Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tour of Duty: The Road Less Traveled

This is the official start of the Tour of Duty Bible Study. Last week was used as an introductory session. It was so great to "meet" some amazing women.  I am looking forward to growing and learning from this study.

Below are the questions that Sara gave us this week along with my answers.  Feel free to comment even if you are not taking part in the study.

Ch. 1 – The Road Less Traveled

1. What were your initial thoughts about this chapter/this topic this week? What’s one thing that stuck out to you?

I think we all need that reminder that this is all in God’s plan, that He chose us for this. We may say, “Whoa! I didn’t sign up for this!” but God says, “I’ve placed you hear for a reason.”

2. On pg. 11, what were your early expectations when you were first married or you first became a military wife?

When I my husband I and were first married, neither of us ever imagined being a military family. My expectation as a young married couple was that we would support each other and be there for each other.

Since becoming a military family, those expectations have not changed. I knew that I would be the supporter of my husband. I expected there to be difficult times.

3. What are some of the things you’ve done to prepare for deployment?

One of the first things we did was assess our priorities. We knew that our church nominating committee would be contacting us and we would have work commitments as well. We decided to say no to some things that would “ease” our schedules.

I began reading When Duty Calls which was provided to us by the NAMB. This helped me figure out some of the things that we needed to do. During this time, I also decided to do this bible study again.

4. In this chapter, we describe deployment as hills, valleys, sharp turns, U-turns, thick fog, desert heat and stormy wet roads. Have you experienced some of these conditions? Which ones? What are you experiencing now?

Let me just say, “Oh, my goodness!” We are riding right on that rollercoaster that has all the ups and downs, sharp turns and fog!

We were mentally preparing for this deployment. Then we found out that it wasn’t going to happen. Then we hear that it could still possibly happen.

Mentally, we are worn out. I think my husband more so than me. I’m a kind of go with the flow person, but just not knowing is hard.

5. In the section, “God has His best in mind for us” (p. 13), we talk about the big picture and “God’s best” versus “our best.” What is the difference? How have you seen this played out in your own life?

God’s best is for Him. Our best is for us.

Very seldom do we place ourselves in difficult situations on purpose. Human nature wants peace, happiness, and everything to be perfect. We usually avoid that which makes us uncomfortable.

However, God’s best will bring glory to Him. He will place us in situations that we can’t get through without Him.

When my husband was away over 3 months for CH-BOLC, I was basically a single mom of 3 boys, ages 8, 4, and 3 months. There was so much “drama” that happened during that time: my grandmother passed away, I got a flat tire, our electricity went out in one part of our house, our air unit messed up, school started back…..the list goes on. I had to learn to depend on others, including those two burly strangers at Target who changed my tire in the parking lot. I had to admit that I couldn’t do it all and that was ok. God changed me during that time. I became a different person because of Him. Without that experience, I would not have grown in my independence, coping skills, or in my relationships with others including my husband and God.

6. We talked about choosing bitterness versus trusting God. It’s easy to resent God for what He allows to happen to us. How can you trust Him despite your circumstances?

We definitely need to realize that we have a choice on how we react to God and the things he places before us. I think through prayer and scripture reading we can learn to trust him. We have to be honest with ourselves about our struggles and stop thinking we have to (and can) do everything.

7. Which letter of the SET acronym do you struggle with the most? What steps can you take to struggle less with it?

Equipped is a struggle for me. I think it is the simple fact that as a Reserve wife, I don’t feel connected to any one. My husband is with his 3rd Reserve unit (sort of in limbo). I have only met a few from the previous two. I don’t even have a relationship with his assistant’s wife. I do have my own support system at home, but I think having even the smallest relationship with other spouses of Soldiers he will be working with would be beneficial. Even being involved in an FRG would help, but currently that is not available to me.

8. What’s the hardest thing about deployment for you? What do you need to do to turn this fear/challenge/struggle over to God? (And how can the rest of us pray for you in this?)

The hardest thing for me currently is “Will there be a deployment?” The back and forth and up and down are hard. We just have to trust that God is using this time to prepare us for what is ahead.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Today was supposed to have been Jeff's deployment day. 

I breathe easily because the deployment did not happen. 

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was give thanks to God for allowing my husband to be home with me and our boys. 

Instead of seeing my husband off, I went on a field trip with Carter.  As we left, it was raining and just overall yucky. I just had to think out loud, "If I had to say good bye on a day like to day, it would have been even more difficult.  No sunshine. No blue sky.  Rain. Cold. Windy. 

But honestly, a warm sunshiny day would not have made it any easier!  Its just that on a rough day, you don't want your entire environment to be rough too. You know what I mean?

As I type this, I am well aware that Jeff could get orders next year, next month, next week, tomorrow.  I know that at any moment, our world could be turned upside down. 

I also know that the Lord is my Strong Tower!  When I am week, He is Strong!  When I can't, He can! 

I love my Heavenly Father and I know that he is with me, watching over me every moment of every day.  For that I am thankful. 

I know that whatever He places before us, He will not allow us to go at it alone. He will be with us.

Trunk or Treat

Wednesday night was Trunk or Treat at church.  A good time was had by all. 

Carson was so excited to help decorate the back of the van (Dollar Tree, I love you!) and wear his Ben Ten Spider Monkey costume. Carter refused to wear a costume...again.  He did want to wear Carson's Capt. America mask and shield.  Colin was an awesome Clay Matthews.  Even told everyone he lost his tooth when he and Aaron Rogers got in a fight in the locker room! Ha!  It really fell out while he was asleep.  What's up with my kids losing their teeth in their sleep???

If your church does not have Trunk or Treat, I highly recommend that you try it out.  We had lots of visitors. It is a great way to bring people to your church who would not normally go.  Our night started with a meal for the children. Then the adults had a devotional time while the children enjoyed a craft, Bible story, and games.  Then it was time for the candy!  There was trunk or treating, music, dancing, and fellowship in the parking lot.  Lots of fun!

Carter's Trip to Jackson's Orchard

This morning, Carter and I went to Jackson's Orchard with his daycare.  I am glad we got there early because it started pouring down while we were in the pumpkin patch. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tour of Duty Week 1

Today was the start of the Tour of Duty Bible study I am taking part in, again. 

I really felt that God was leading me to this study.  When we learned that Jeff would be deploying, I put this study on my To Do list.  I got so much from this study the first time I did it and knew it would help me through the deployment.  Well, orders were rescinded, but I still considered doing the study.  Then came the email from Wives of Faith that the study was going to be online.  I knew doing the study was a must.

So this week, we are introducing ourselves.  For those of you that don't know me....

Hi, y'all!  I'm Natasha!

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be a military wife. 

Jeff and I started dating in 1991 and were married 8 years later. That puts at a 21 year relationship, married for 13 of those years.  It wasn't until about 4 years ago that we began this journey.  He is now a Chaplain for the US Army Reserves.

I can't speak for how I've dealt with deployment because Jeff has not been deployed.  I can speak, however, about how I've deal with long separations, anywhere from a long weekend to almost 4 months.  It isn't easy to say the least.  However, I have grown from those experiences. 

I have to admit, I've never really had really high self esteem.  I've always doubted my abilities, and still do to a point.  But, taking care of home and children alone places a person in situations you least expect. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Separations have helped me to trust in the Lord.  They have caused me to put my emotions and feeling in check with God's will.  It is difficult to sometimes get up off the couch instead of brooding over our situation.  God wants to lead us, stretch us, strengthen us. We just have to let him. 

One thing I do struggle with is being a Reserves spouse instead of an active duty spouse.  I know that God has a plan in all this and maybe we may go active duty. Where He leads, I'll go.  Sometimes it just feels like I don't belong.  For someone who is often not comfortable in her own skin, this can pose a problem.  I don't know the in's and out's of the Army.  We've been on this journey for a couple of years now, but sometimes I feel just as clueless as when we started. I don't have any connections with local military wives. The only ones I know that are about my age have husbands that have previously served. I only meet people from Jeff's unit once or twice a year. Going to FRG meetings isn't really an option for us right now.  I think I would like to have those connections, especially with him being the Chaplain.  I feel like I should be there for the spouses. 

I am really excited about this study.  I am always open to what God has in store for me. This journey, although I have done it before, will bring new things.

A little of this. I little of that.

This time last month, we were preparing for deployment.  A deployment that was to happen this week.  So thankful it isn't! I know that whatever happens, God is with us.

Why am I blogging at 1:40 in the afternoon on a school day?  Carter decided Sunday to develop pink eye.  I know, right?  His daddy took him to Dr. Chris yesterday, and they enjoyed some man time (house cleaning and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse).  Today was my day to stay with him.  Kiddo is going back to daycare tomorrow. 

This will be a planned/unplanned 3 day work week for me.  I was initially taking off 2 days for Jeff's deployment.  When his orders were rescinded, I kept one day to go to Carter's field trip.  Well, then pink eye came along....You get the idea!

My Tour of Duty Bible study started today.  Evidently, I don't follow directions well because today was an introduce yourself day. I was ready to discuss chapter 1!  Oh, well, I will just be ahead next week.  I am so excited to get to know a great group of women.  We are already learning so much through our introductions.  I will be posting here as well to let you know how things are going and how God is working in this study.  I absolutely love Sara

Today's lucky number is 6.  That is the number of times Carter has said, "Big spider at Nanny and Paw Paw's house eat bugs."  Just so you know, those were his first words this morning, and we will have that chat again before bedtime!  And this is the big spider...

The boys are mostly all set for Halloween. Carson decided to be a Ben Ten Spider Monkey.  We don't even watch Ben Ten.  We go for what looks awesome. Colin is going to be Clay Matthews.  Never heard of him 'til last week. Sorry Packers' fans.  His daddy got him a Clay Matthews jersey while in Chicago last week.  Carter is going to be....well....we aren't really sure yet!  Last year he refused to dress up. This year we bought him a Jake and the Never Land Pirates costume.  When we finally "convinced" him to put it on, it didn't fit.  HMMPH!  Got to figure something out before Trunk or Treat at church tomorrow night! 

I totally feel like I am in over my head coaching this Robotics team. I volunteered for the kids because I got the feeling the program would stop, and now I feel like I am letting them down.  I thank God everyday for Pam Rowland.  She is so awesome to keep helping even though she does not officially work at our school any more.  I just don't want to hurt the kids' chances of being successful during the competition in December. 

I am preparing for my first Veteran's Day program at school. We will have a guest speaker, slide show, and music.  I am really excited about it and hope it turns out wonderfully by honoring our Veteran's. 

Happy Tuesday everyone! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tour of Duty Bible Study

When we found out that Jeff would be deploying, I thought of doing the Tour of Duty Bible Study (again). I completed the study the first time back in May 2011 and found it very beneficial.

Each time Jeff is gone away for a long period of time either for his civilian job or for Army training, I find myself referring to topics and ideas from that study.  So, I definitely knew I would need to do it again during the deployment. 

Well, after we found out that Jeff was not going to deploy, I still considered doing the Bible study. After all, the Army does what they want and I knew there was a possibility that he could still go somewhere.  Shortly after Jeff's orders were rescinded, I got an email from Wives of Faith; they were going to host the Bible study online again! I couldn't turn it down. 

I feel like God is leading me to this study.  I look forward to the the community I will join online.  I will post here about it as well. 

And the winners are....

Britt T., Leah, and Kristi. 

You ladies are the winners of a free copy of Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World. Britt T. I will get your book in the mail at the first of the week.  Leah and Kristi, I will hand deliver your copies! 

Thanks to all who entered.  I hope you were encouraged by the guest posts.

The books were given to me from Leafwood Publishers for the purpose of hosting a giveaway. 

Book Review: Stressed-Less Living


It is something we all have in our lives. Some is good and some is bad.  Some is short lived and some lives with us for a long time. 

In her new book, Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World, Tracie Miles takes an honest look at stressors we encounter and how we become so numb to stress, we don't even realize we are stressed. 

Tracie discusses the impact that stress has on our lives, physical and emotional.  I appreciated the fact that she opened up and talked honestly about experiences in her life that caused stress. 

Throughout the book, Tracie focuses on scripture that we should lean on. She discusses people in the Bible that dealt with stress. 

I liked that each chapter ends with reflection questions and Stress Busting Scriptures. 

Even if you are like me and think that you've got everything under control, you will still enjoy this book. It will open your eyes in many ways. I like to think of myself as one that doesn't stress out. But when I read Tracie's chapter about parental stress, it really hit home. 

I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of review from Leafwood Publishers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Exodus 33:14 says "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

Stress is a universal epidemic which has created desperation for peace in the hearts, minds, and souls of people everywhere. The problems of today’s world have created a sense of secret panic in the heart of every American, regarding jobs, homes, marriage, child rearing, financial security, and the future.

As a result, millions of people are forced to wake up every morning and face these stressors in their lives, feeling hopeless that life will improve, and inadequate and unequipped to make that happen. Although people have tried everything from massages to vacations and everything in between, many are overlooking the only real cure for stress – Jesus.

The inner peace that comes from the miracle of a changed heart, a renewed perspective on life, and a reenergized faith is the only kind of permanent peace available. Below you will find 10 tips for helping you tap into the peace-filled stress relief you have been searching for.

1. Recognize what is causing you the most stress and ask God to help you in those areas. Change the things you can change, but what you can’t change, turn over to God.

2. Reflect on what your definition of peace is. Is it based on your circumstances or your relationship with God? Ask God to help you relax because of who He is, not because life is conflict free.

3. Reclaim your identity. Make sure that the opinion you have of yourself lines up with what God’s Word says about you, and not the opinions of others or the trappings of comparison. Forgive those who have hurt you and embrace your worth and value in Christ.

4. Redirect your thoughts. Focus on becoming an optimist, putting pessimism behind you.

5. Rearrange your priorities and control your busyness. Ask God for guidance about what your priorities should be right now, and for the courage to make changes as He sees fit.

6. Refresh yourself by getting a portion of God’s Word every day, so that His peace can fill your heart. Also make time for yourself and do something that you enjoy.

7. Release your fears and worries to God, instead of letting them suffocate your joy and peace. Ask God for the strength to trust that He has it all under control.

8. Refocus on what’s really important in life. Don’t become consumed with sweating the small stuff.

9. Reinforce your faith by spending time in prayer, studying scripture, and fellowshipping with other believers. Equip yourself with spiritual armor so you will be prepared to stand strong when adversity strikes.

10. Recharge your life by humbling yourself before God, acknowledging your stress, and embracing the true rest that He offers.

To dig deeper into each of these 10 tips and learn how to apply them to your life, and to receive a daily challenge activity for each tip, sign up for Tracie’s free 10 DAY STRESS DETOX on her blog at www.traciewmiles.com.

If you would like a copy of Tracie's new book, Stressed Less Living, today is your lucky day.  I have 3 copies I will be giving away.  All you have to do is leave a comment below describing which tip above you need to use in your live to live a less stressed life.  I will choose 3 winners on Saturday, October 13. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

Guest Post: God Is Bigger Than You Think

Our problems and our stress can sometimes seem so much bigger than we can handle, especially when we are not only facing one giant problem, but many. You may be facing a major giant right now—being in a personal relationship that has suffered many blows, a marriage that is crumbling more and more every day, a spouse addicted to pornography, a friend or family member held hostage by substance abuse, an inability to find employment despite daily efforts for months, home foreclosure, difficult bosses, harassing credit and collection phone calls, tragic accidents, chronic or terminal illness, family problems, sexual abuse, or worse.

Sometimes even our greatest efforts to manage our stress can seem futile when our giants seem too huge to ever overcome. Instead of seeing progress, we feel like we are just beating our head against the wall, over and over, becoming more stressed-out as the reality sinks in that we cannot change the situations that are stressing us, no matter how badly we wish we could.

Ever been there? I know I have.

I used to wake up every morning and start thinking about all the stressful things that I had to face that day. I would try to give myself a pep talk to preempt negativity: Today I will not allow things, circumstances, or people to push me over the edge. No matter what, I commit to maintaining my temper, my poise, and my attitude. I will trust God to be my portion and walk in his ways.

However, within two hours that heart-felt commitment would become a distant memory as I jumped head first into the day and got sucked deeper and deeper into all of my problems. In fact, on some days, it actually seemed like life had a chokehold on me, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t pry its ugly fingers from around my weakened jugular.

By the grace of God alone, I feel so blessed to have discovered years ago that life does not have to be that way and that God never intended for it to be. He never intended for us to lead lives of despair, stress, and dread. He never meant for us to be so bogged down with worry and stress that we would dread getting up in the morning; although, this type of living became a reality when sin came into his perfect world. But God is still God. We cannot escape our life, but he is our escape from stress.

Overcoming your stress begins with recognizing the fact that no matter what problems are causing you stress and anxiety, God IS BIGGER. Yes, he is bigger than the issue you are thinking about right now. He is bigger than the hopelessness that seems to be engulfing your every breath. He is bigger than the greatest fears you hold in your heart. He is bigger than the unrelenting stress that plagues your heart as you try to juggle all the demands for your time and attention throughout the day. He is bigger than your biggest challenge, whatever it may be.

As we become more mature in faith, learning to trust that God is capable of all things, we will see God as bigger and bigger every time we encounter him. God is, and was, and always will be the same, but as we give him sovereignty over our hearts, our awe of him increases.

You see, each time he intervenes in our lives, we witness his power and our view of him grows. Once we allow ourselves to grasp how big God really is, we can learn to put aside worry and stress, and learn to rest in knowing that he can handle our problems—leaving no need for us to destroy ourselves stressing over them.

One of the biggest mistakes that Christians make is seeing the giants in our lives as so huge that we lose sight of the fact that God is bigger. But God’s desire is that with every new circumstance we face, we see not only the giant, but an opportunity to discover what he is capable of handling, and just how big he really is. And to discover that in Him, we can be less stressed.

Tracie Miles is a national speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries, and the author of Stressed-less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World. She is a contributing author to the Proverbs 31 Encouragement For Today devotions, and the P31 Woman Magazine. She considers herself the poster child for stress recovery, and has a passion to help others discover the peace that God can infuse into our lives, even when our circumstances are less-than-peaceful. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

(almost) Deployed

A few months ago, we heard rumor that Jeff would be deployed.  We started taking "inventory" of some of our commitments, starting backing off from a few, and began to mentally prepare (although you are never prepared). It seemed that others knew what was going on and we didn't.  In September, Jeff went for his health assessment/physical.  I told him that if all that went well, then he would hear for sure whether or not he would be deploying.

After his health assessment, rumor then turned into written orders. Jeff was going to be deployed.

We told our boys, closest family members, and bosses. I went ahead and took off the days that would lead up to Jeff's deployment date. I started considering the best date to start the Tour of Duty Bible study again. Also, I started reading my When Duty Calls book, courtesy of the North American Missions Board. I wanted to make things as less stressful on all of us as possible (I am not that naive, but I did want to start checklists and preparations for what would be happening within the next month. Oh, and I am the one who read ALL the wedding books and pregnancy books when those life changing events approached).

As we began to prepare for the deployment, we started hearing more rumors that involved Jeff's orders being rescinded.  What?  I NEVER heard of that!  Talk about an emotional rollercoaster! We talked and prayed about it and decided that we would keep preparing for deployment until we got written orders stating Jeff would not be going. 

Well, those official orders came.  Jeff would not be deployed.

Now, I don't wish my husband away for anything.  No, no, no.  I do, however, understand being called to do something, and the feeling of disappointment when that is taken away.  Jeff felt like this was what he was supposed to do.  We have decided, though, that the timing wasn't right.  We weren't going to push one way or another, but put our trust in God: if Jeff was supposed to go, he would go. If he wasn't supposed to go, he wouldn't. God was and is in control.  

I saw how quickly orders can change.  I realize too that we could get new orders tomorrow. 

So, we will just wait to see what God has in store for our family. Our trust is in Him. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

This Man of Mine

When we started dating in 1991, I never imagined where that simple, "Will you go with me?" might take us.  I tease kids now, asking, "Where are you going?"  when they say they are going with someone.  It might be an age thing.  Jeff and I decided last night that we aren't as young as we used to be, having to let our food settle, turning our heads to burp up our dinner before we kiss, or hearing bones creak and crack when we move our arms to hug. 
But seriously,

On April 15, 1991, when Jeff asked me over the phone, "Will you go with me?" and I said yes and put him on hold so I could get rid of Brandy on the other line, I never imagined where we would go. 

As we dated, I knew I loved him. I knew I wanted to be with him.  I just knew.

We had our ups and downs. We were kids.  But we never let go of our love for each other.

In 1998, Jeff asked me to marry him. On October 2, 1999, we said I do. 

We opened our hearts to each other and to God.  Ours is a relationship of three: husband, wife, and Heavenly Father.  God is taking us on journeys we never imagined.  But we trust Him.  I trust Him to see us through anything.  He had a plan when Jeff and I met.

We've grown together. We've laughed together. We've cried together. 

Certainly things are different for us now, 13 years later.  We have steady jobs (I worked 3 days a week at minimum wage in a church nursery). We have a home (we lived with his parents, twice).  We have 3 children. We have commitments to church.  There are many nights Jeff falls asleep in our bed and I crash in the recliner with a kid that refuses to sleep. Then miraculously I make it to our bed in the wee hours of the morning, pulling the blankets up over me and rolling over, and somehow our feet touch under the covers. And my heart races.

With 3 growing boys, we get no privacy. We take family dates to Sonic or to the park.  We hold hands in church and as we walk through stores (if we have free hands). We take advantage of our rare grown up dates to grown up places where we eat grown up meals.  We have deep meaningful conversations.  We pray together.  We pray for each other.

God led us to each other.
He led us to a church that loved us.
He led us to the foot of the cross where he saved us.
He led us to a life of service in our church and our country.

When Jeff asked me, "Will you go with me?" and I said yes, God knew where we would go.

I am grateful, I am blessed, I am amazed at the gift of having this man in my life.