Finding Serenity as a Military Wife

It’s a warm Summers evening and the sun is setting over the mountains. I look out the back screen door and take a deep breath of the fragrant air. I close my eyes and am taken back to the same smell in the air so many years ago.

It’s a warm evening in August 1996.  I am sitting out on my front steps crying, wishing my children would just fall asleep. The smell of fresh cut grass lingers in the air.  I hear my neighbors laughter from their back yard. The sound of a family playing outside late into the warm Summer night.  I envy them.

It had been another long day of being a Navy wife and mom 24/7. Jeff had been deployed several months of his six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf.  It was his third long deployment in our 8 years together. He had been gone so much before the deployment too, doing work ups and overnight duty section rotations.  I missed him. Our children missed him.  The days seemed eternal and the nights too short.  I was tired and emotional.

In those early days of our Navy career it was easy to feel sorry for myself. Considering all that I had to do alone. Everything fell on me.  Everyone relied on me. Some days were overwhelming. Sick children, broken down cars, not enough money in the bank, and not enough sleep.  As they grew older, I tried to stay on top of homework deadlines, school activities and sports. Trying to meet the emotional and physical needs of three growing kids when my tank was on empty. Some days were easy and some days I wish I could do over. But I couldn’t have done it without the support of some great friends, my faith, and the extended family that would swoop in and save my sanity when I felt like running off to Antarctica…

Military spouses, we do it because we LOVE our husbands/wives and we LOVE our children. We do it because we are grateful for our nation. The responsibilities will either make your marriage stronger or it will tear it apart.  It is never easy, never.  It’s a choice. And with the hardships there is also great reward. Just show up to a homecoming. I wish all marriages could experience that longing. It’s part of the glue that binds military families together.

After almost 26 years as a Navy wife, it is still not easy to be away from the man that I love. In fact, in many ways it’s harder. Our children are grown; our house is empty of the demands. I have more time than ever to nurture myself, my husband and our relationship.  This is our season to get to know our mid-life selves, find new hobbies and go places together.  I long for his presence now, more than ever.  Not because I need help around the house, or could use a break from demands. But because he is my best friend, has been since we were 21. The one who knows me better than anyone else, and yet has so much more to learn. We are getting older, we can’t help that, Lord knows.  It’s evident every day.  We have known many couples in recent years that’ve unexpectedly lost the love of their life. It’s heartbreaking. As much as we want forever, none of us are promised a long life together.

Stick with me here, I’m not trying to depress you all!

I had a “Ahh-ha” moment one day not too long ago as I was driving to Portland for a family event without Jeff. He was out to sea for a few weeks at the time.  I had a brief twang of self-pity on I-5 South (in your most depressing voice…). “Here I am again, all alone, he’s always gone…blah blah blah”.  But as fast as it came over me, it passed and I was brought to tears with the realization that my sweet husband has missed SO much more than I could ever dream of. 

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself!” I demanded.

In his almost 28 year career with the US Navy, he has been away nearly 11 full years.  Add up all the long deployments, work ups, duty days and few years living apart.  11 years!  4015 days give or take a few. 4015 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Multiply that by 3 beautiful little children and he missed 12,045 precious hugs around his neck. 4015 bedtime stories and sounds of “goodnight daddy.” He missed his birthdays, kids birthdays, our anniversaries and holidays. Trips to the pumpkin patch, Christmas tree farm and Easter egg hunts. First steps, first foods, first days of school, first dates, first dance, first day of college, cross country trips, family vacations. 

I was there; I was a part of all of those special moments. Yes, I was without my husband, but I was there. I felt those little arms and smelled those sweet necks. I have those moments in my memory. He only has the memories of being told and some photo’s to share in the excitement.

It’s my desire to never feel sorry for myself for being alone as a military wife again. It’s been my privilege to support this man as he served and did his job. His sacrifices have allowed me to be a stay home mom and wife for many years, so that I only worked when I needed to or desired to. He gave when I’m sure his tank was empty.  He supported me when I went through depression and anxiety. Sure, sometimes he disconnected emotionally, because he HAD to, so that it wouldn’t hurt as much to say goodbye to his family.  So that he could focus on the task of serving our Nation. So that he could do his job well.  That could break a lot of men and women, even the toughest nuts. They have to learn to separate their emotions, and say good bye….over and over again.  What a difficult responsibility!


 I close the back door.  I check all the locks. And I crawl into bed alone. As I pull his pillow close to me, I say a prayer of thanksgiving. I am thankful for all that I have been given. The easy and the hard.  The good and the bad.  The strengths and the weaknesses.

I lie in the dark thinking about our past, and our future. How the past 7 months have been a roller coaster ride of decision making.  How the more I try to control what goes on around me, the more I realize each day has an agenda of its own.   All that energy that I put into planning far into the future yesterday doesn’t matter today. It was a waste of precious time. We try to make our plans, but God directs our steps.  Daily. Hourly. Moment by moment.

We planned to go to Hawaii, God redirected our steps.  We planned to go to Washington DC, but God has redirected our steps once again.  I hesitate to share that we are now planning to retire after 28 years. God may decide to redirect our paths once again.  I don’t know for certain what tomorrow will bring.  However, the letter has been sent, and we are waiting to make it official. It’s about as for sure as we can know. 

As we wait, there are two things I am certain about…(1.)That Gods plan is always the one I want to be a part of.  And (2) I don’t want to see my husband miss any more everyday moments in our life together.

Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; 

Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 

Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right 
if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life 

and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.


**This is my experience as a Navy wife, I know there are so many moms that have to do it alone every day who don't have the emotional or financial support of a spouse. You are so strong and courageous! Your children will look back and appreciate your sacrifices.  I understand that tiredness and I want to thank you too, for putting one foot in front of the other, pressing on. You are appreciated!


"I had the most interesting call today...."

Where do I start?
I never meant to be gone so long.

Remember when I mentioned there would be changes coming?
There was more truth to that than
I even knew.
Have you ever been given a choice and the decision seemed pretty simple?
But deep down you weren't sure if your decision was the best choice?
So you give it to God and ask Him to make the choice for you,
knowing He knows what is best.

As a Navy wife, 
I am pretty used to unexpected change. 
I sense it coming.
 My husband usually comes home with a look on his face
and the words that come out of his mouth go something
like this...
"I had an interesting call today...."
Those words still send a pit to my stomach.
A feeling of anticipation AND uncertainty.
It was just a year ago that he used those words to let me know he would 
be deploying for 6 months last Summer.

In January, 
he was given the choice to change duty stations AGAIN.
Of the options we were given, we happily chose Hawaii!!
Warm breezes, sand between our toes, birds singing all year round.

As we waited for official orders, we stayed quiet about it
(OK, so it was really hard and I told more than I should have,
but it was HAWAII after all, duh!?)
The more I watched HGTV "Hawaii Life",
researched places to live, beaches, planned visits from friends & family...
the more I felt uneasy about being so FAR from my kids for 3 years.
Paradise or not...I tried to block out how sad that made me feel.
Especially with a very real possibility
we could become grandparents during that time.

We waited and waited for the official orders to come in.
We took a 2 week trip to Arkansas.
(I'll share about that soon)
We started to go through everything in our home,
deciding what to take, or not take, all the way to Paradise.
We made many trips to the thrift store & dump.

THEN, about 3 weeks ago, Jeff came home from work,
plopped down his backpack and said...
"I had the most interesting call today...."

I was kneeling on the counter top washing the kitchen windows.
I slumped onto the counter, put down the paper towels and quietly said
"We're NOT going to Hawaii, are we honey"?

It turned out that the orders were never written up for Hawaii,
the guy he was supposed to replace was extended and so that option became
obsolete. Without us knowing, the orders were written up for our next choice.
The choice my gut felt was the best choice all along.
The choice that put us within 2 hours of our daughter and husband.
The choice that God knew was for our best all along.
Washington D.C.

The night we found out about the change in plans I called our
daughter, Janelle.
She squealed and cried when I told her.
I felt peace.


Now, that I've had more time to think about it I am kind of scared. 
Sounds silly, I suppose.

I have been in Washington STATE for 23 years.
My husband has lived alone in CA and on ships in order for his 
family to have a sense of stability and structure.
We have lived in 5 houses here,
but our kids grew up with the same friends most of their life.
I wanted that for them, I was a Air Force "brat" and changed schools a lot. 
I envied my husband. He knew the same kids his whole life.

I am not a city girl.
I like wide open spaces.
Water and meadows and space to breathe.
Tall buildings, crowded sidewalks and traffic give me anxiety.
But, I am excited too.
Excited to step out of my comfort zone.
To see and do things I've never done.
A new chapter.

Today we listed our beloved Vintage Home for sale.
I realize that I've been very spoiled.
I don't think the place we will be renting will have crown molding,
hardwood floors, dormers and built ins.
But I'm totally fine with that.
I can create a warm and pretty house.

But a HOME...
A home is so much more than the building we live in.
It's a state of mind. An attitude.
All the crown molding, bead board, and hardwood
in the world won't fill your heart the way
memories, hugs and a home cooked meal does.
Home is the sound of laughter, singing, and the warm fuzzy feeling you get when
your husband...children....friends.....family....walk in the door.
And its in the mess they leave behind.
It's the feeling of your puppy curled up at your feet.
It's the smell of hamburgers on the grill on a hot Summer evening.


Are you ready to go on an adventure with us?


If you give a girl a Clawfoot Tub....

...She might act a little CRAZY.....

So, I have shared many times how I've 
managed to put my foot in my mouth at the wrong time,
Or get myself in weird predicaments.....
Oh, you're new here? 
Click on the Story of Me to the right--------------------------->
And you may want to get a drink of water, it way take you awhile!
It happens A LOT.

Last weekend we were invited over to my husbands cousins house.
A long lost cousin who we just met a few years ago.
And, amazingly, only lives 35 minutes from us!
I'd love to tell the incredible story of how God put it together,
but it's not my story to tell.
Just trust me when I say God is always at work around us!!

They recently downsized from a huge, HUGE, house to
a much cozier house. 
An adorable house with breathtaking views of the water.

After enjoying some pre-dinner appetizers, great conversation,
 and a glass of wine
I needed to use the restroom.

Here's the thing about wine...
it relaxes your tongue a little...and increases the enthusiasm.
I already have a loose tongue and too much enthusiasm.

Here's another thing...
I have a long standing love affair with claw foot tubs!
I have wanted one since I can remember.


So, I walked into the bathroom and there it was.
A gorgeous, clawfoot tub. Gorgeous.
I ran my hands along the smooth white rim.
And I must have squealed.

Claudia came around the corner to check on me.
"I LOVE YOUR TUB!!" I said... in very breathy tone.
"One day when we return to our Whidbey* house I'm going to get one!!"
I continued.
(We own a house on Whidbey Island that we rent out, we will retire there in a "few" years)


Then she said it.
"You can have this one, its not our style....We have another one
that we will be using when we remodel..."


And with that,  
I proceeded to climb into their/my tub with my boots on.
I laid my head back and had a "moment".
My heart swelled three times its size.
I could've laid there daydreaming for a very long time
 about how it will look and feel in my own house.
Daydreamers, you know what I mean!

at the risk of looking like a total nut job
 in front of Claudia and my husband. 
(He had come in exclaiming "She has wanted a tub like this FOREVER" 
after hearing all my excitement.)
realizing I just climbed into their tub with my boots on...
I got out and toned down the enthusiasm.
(only on the outside!!)

We had a wonderful dinner, laughter and a fun game with their 10 year old daughter.
I can't wait to get together again!

Before we left, I had to see her one more time go to the restroom again.
I was tempted to lock myself in and rip all my clothes off...
but I restrained myself.

When we got home and my husband went to bed...
I went on Pinterest and continued my daydreaming!

Seriously, I am still so excited, and thankful!

(I'll post about it in a few years when we get moved back to Whidbey
but we have a big adventure in between now and then)



Celebrating...{ Seven }


(*This is the final post of the Celebrating series. To read from the beginning, you can start here.)

Change comes with every decision we make.
For example, this is our new grand-puppy Spieler.

When Janelle and Justin brought him home just 9 short months
ago I'm sure they didn't expect how much their life would change!

He has grown about 10 pounds a month, but still thinks he is a lap dog.
He is well behaved, but at 90 pounds, this bundle of love & licks can pin you down in no time flat. (The more I screamed, the more he licked!)

They knew a puppy would require much work and discipline, 
but they underestimated the fun and love they would know owning a dog like Spieler.

After a long and cold snowy season, Janelle was ready for a change around her house too.  She has done an amazing job creating a cozy and organized home
for she and Justin. She has a real knack for putting things together!
(I didn't get many good pictures of their cute little house)

One day, she asked me to help her create a Spring mantle. 
As if creating Spring inside would melt the snow outside.
But after a LONG Winter Season, she needed to FEEL Spring was close.
So, while visiting Amish Country, we found this faux birdcage and
the sweet little blue bird.

The next day, while she was working on her wedding quilt,
I went to work on the mantle.  I "shopped" her house 
to find just the right things.

It didn't take me long to find the perfect pieces.
A framed chalkboard and a blue vase that was used at their Wedding.
She had already written the verse on the chalk board.

While Janelle was sewing and I was playing with the mantle, Jeff
and Justin found some time to relax on the sofa.

When I was done, I stood back, content with what I had created by bringing Spring to the mantle...

But I thought I heard some snickering.... it seems
Winter FUN still lingered in the corner, 
mocking me...

Sometimes it takes us a little time to accept that change is coming.  That a NEW season is approaching.

And boy, do we know about that!
We are preparing for big changes too!
That verse will prove to be one I want to memorize as we navigate the upcoming months.

And of course,
You will be with us each step of the way!


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Celebrating... { Six }

Family Tradition

Great Grandma's Swedish Rye Bread

One of our special family traditions is making Great Grandma Brasks
"Swedish Rye Bread" at Christmas.  This long standing Swedish tradition
is a favorite for us. Jeff makes it every year and we share it
with our family and friends. 

It is delicious toasted with butter on a cold winters day. 
 Our kids have the recipe in their
that I made for them as a gift over a year ago.

(psst...kids.... Mom made a typo on this recipe! Change the salt to 1 TABLESPOON, oops)

As the kids were growing up, Jeff and Janelle would often make this bread together.

Janelle now lives with her husband in PA, so she and dad
didn't have that opportunity during the Holidays.

But, since we were visiting, dad decided it would be so fun to make another memory with his sweet girl.

This recipe takes a few hours and I guess I got distracted because
I didn't get any pictures of the finished bread!  
I did find, however, this old picture 
of the bread when they made it together several years ago at our home.
(BEFORE we remodeled our kitchen and I painted the corner cabinets white!)

(Sorry, Janelle, I know you aren't fixed up in this picture, but you are still adorable!
Unlike that awful old kitchen!! ew)

Moms, isn't there something so sweet about watching your husband
cook with your daughter? Heart swelling!



Celebrating... { Five }

.... Intercourse in the Winter
(Intercourse, Pennsylvania,  People!! Geesh...)

A beautiful day for a car ride to Amish Country!



Celebrating... { Four }

The making of a Quilt....

Not just any Quilt. 
When Janelle and Justin were married, all the guests gave them
fabric swatches. Pieces of material that had personal meaning. Those pieces
of fabric also represent the gifts of friendship, family and love.
Pieces that will be with them as they create a lifetime of memories together.

Janelle was so excited
 to take those pieces of fabric and create something beautiful and lasting. 
 Justin (and Spieler, their dog) watched her with loving anticipation. 

When she got stuck along the way, 
her husband stepped in and helped her solve the problem.

Each, with their own way of problem solving, worked together to figure it out.

They laid out the pieces of fabric together and created a plan.

She stitched and he ironed out the seams.

Piece by piece, until all those little unmatched swatches,
became the start of a beautiful keepsake.

Life is much like a patchwork quilt.

Little swatches of time, people, and experiences lovingly
laid out together. 
The pieces don't always line up perfectly, 
but once stitched together, 
they are strong enough to endure some wear and tear.
A large, warm memory 
to be wrapped around us and cherished.

Especially during the chilly seasons.

I am looking forward to watching them create this quilt together.

It will be beautiful!