Monday, October 22, 2012

The most humbling experience ever...

So yesterday I had one of the most humbling yet exciting experiences ever. What started as an experience that I felt would help some special military members and their families and also help me achieve a personal goal turned into something that was so much more. I had no idea what signing up to run the Army Ten Miler as part of Operation Ward 57's team would mean.
We were first introduced to Operation Ward 57 when my husband was working at Walter Reed as a brand new Army nurse. This wonderful and special group, albeit a small group, is a non-profit organization that comes to the aid of wounded military and their families. I was simply amazed at what I learned from my husband about this group when he started working on Ward 57. I was eventually introduced to the group members for whom I soon gained the utmost respect. The executive director lives clear across the Country yet spends a large portion of her time fundraising and raising the awareness for this unique population. Another woman who is local but works full time and has a family spends countless hours going to visit these hospitalized military members and their families, organizing special "pick me ups" for them and so much more. There is an eleven year old boy who I have learned has such a love and appreciation for those who protect us that he has given of his time to speak on behalf of Operation Ward 57 and be such an inspiration to many!
 Amazing and truly Godsends. I keep thinking about scriptures that speak of angels among us when I think about these individuals and so many more.
When the question was asked about a team for the annual and historic Army Ten Miler, I was so excited and signed up many months ago.
The training began. I was frustrated because between pursuing another degree, working, and taking care of my family, I found that I had little time to actually get out and run. So the treadmill had to work and unfortunately I bore easily. I got through many episodes of Dallas, a few seasons of Knots Landing, and all 3 of my North and South miniseries' (among others) while knocking out miles on my upstairs treadmill, often at 8 or 9pm after dinner, homework, etc had been done. I learned at some point that my science department chair at the school where I teach was also running and had done so for years. Amazing. Such service--a retired Army officer and West Pointer who has for years given so much to so many and yet goes out every year to do this 10 mile run to support those who have fought beside him.
So originally the plan was for my Army officer husband and I to run together as a team. As our luck has it we had babysitter issues and so my precious husband told me to run and accomplish this endeavor and he would be waiting with our daughter at the finish line. We went out on Saturday, got our bibs and packets and picked up awesome shirts from our team's director.
Race day came and we were up early and headed to the Metro to go into DC. Again, as luck would have it, there was track repairs and we were derouted to the shuttle from one metro stop to another and that took up more time. I was worried that we would not even make it to the Pentagon on time. But, we did. I cannot begin to describe the sight I saw as we came up the escalator at the metro stop going to the Pentagon. There was a sea of people..flags..military in uniform...balloons..and lots and lots of excitement. Not to mention, it is a wonderful way to see the beauty of Washington DC. Let's just face it, the Tidal Basin is beautiful that early in the morning with the glory of the fall colors reflected on the water.
Overwhelmed. I was simply overwhelmed at the number of people I saw who were there to SUPPORT OUR MILITARY. It gave me hope that people really do still care. With quick kisses and hugs from my honey and sweet daughter, I went and found my "color" to wait for the start. Finally it was time to start. What I didn't know was that the wounded warriors (who have the strength of a thousand armies) started well ahead of the runners. There were some that were "hand-biking" the 10 miles. My husband said he saw them cross the finish line and described to me what he witnessed. I think every American should see what he described. Love and determination for our Country to beat ALL odds and keep pushing.
At any rate, the race started and I started WAY too fast. Realized quickly that was a bad move and slowed down for a bit then picked it up again. Along the way, I saw Americans lining the streets of DC cheering and supporting every single runner that went by. I saw flags, heared music, reached out and high-fived strangers with signs in support of our military! Amazing. In a world of unrest and political turmoil, so many Americans came together in the cold to support our precious military. There IS hope.
I made it to the finish line. Thankfully and I had tears in my eyes as I saw my sweet husband and daughter cheering me on! Although my muscles hurt today and Ibuprofen is my best friend, it is very small compared to what those who have fought for us and their families have been through. I cannot imagine what some of these wives I have met since living here have been through. I cannot imagine what the precious children of these heroes have been through. And yet, these are the very ones who come keep going to support this wonderful Country and those who serve. Seeing what I saw yesterday certainly puts petty day to day problems into perspective. In a "me" world, it's hard sometimes to see the bigger picture. If you have this problem, come out on Army Ten Miler day. You will definately have a different perspective.
I have to say I CANNOT wait until next year and can only pray I will once again be honored to be on team Operation Ward 57. I have often wondered why we ended up having to come to Washington, DC. Everyday I realize more and more that there was and is a plan. Part of God's plan was to help ME learn better to depend on Him. The other part was to introduce me to some of these wonderful individuals who serve tirelessly to our military in so many ways. I have met other wives in the Army Officer Wives Club of Washington, DC who welcomed me into the community and loved me. I have worked along side of military families at school and Christian educators who love our Country and have encouraged me. I have worked along side 3 precious nurses at school who have nurtured, loved, and supported my family and me. I have had the opportunity to be in the classroom with teenagers who ARE our future--and working with these young adults, I have been given renewed hope in the future of our Country. They are amazing (but I also know they come from amazing families--the apples do not fall far from the tree, thank goodness!) Also, I have worked with wonderful forensic nurses who work endless (outside of the spotlight) hours to serve those who are injured and hurt. How awesome is this?
So the point of this journal entry is this--I spent a great portion of last week (and several weeks prior) feeling overwhelmed, downtrodden, and just plain out aggravated that life was so busy and I was so busy. Then yesterday happened and all of that nonsense just seems quite petty. I am ashamed to say that it took something like what I witnessed yesterday to put some of that into perspective. I am so proud to be the wife of a 21 year Army soldier. I am also very proud to be living in American, despite the current problems we see (I am watching the last Presidential debate as I type.) America is and always will be the most wonderful place to live.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Walking Through History....

One of the perks of living up this way is that we are in the mecca of history--not just history but specifically Civil War history. My secret passion (well, not so secret) is Civil War history and although the move up here was met with a lot of resistance, I was thrilled to be in the middle of EVERYTHING.
Before I get into our trek through history, let me back up to last fall, which I just realized was the last of journal posts. Again, time has gotten away from me! Last August, my husband passed his 20th year in the Army. Simply amazing. Before I knew it, August 2012 had arrived and we were at the 21st year. He will do enough time to pay back AECP and we'll see what happens next. Nonetheless, things are going good for him and I think his 2 years of nursing have been educationsal and rewarding.
My first year of teaching ended in June with a bang. I have to say I loved every second. God is good. I wanted something that would keep me with our youngest daughter and not having to depend on a babysitter. God answers prayers, no doubt. I love each and every one of my students. I am so excited to see what God has in store for them. The Senior students I had in my class have now all entered college and I have no doubt at all that they will all excel at whatever they do. Absolutely wonderul. I was able to see not one--but two open heart surgeries as field trip opportunities came about through this wonderful job. Fascinating. I used to BEG as a new nurse many years ago to see this miraculous surgery but never was afforded that opportunity. Who knew years later I would be able to watch this with 18 high school students and other adults who accompanied us on this field trip.
Summer starting with a great visit from my oldest daughter and her boyfriend (who I think it just wonderful) and we had the best time staying up late and playing cards and laughing. We were able to see the Space Shuttle which is now stored in one of our museums here and that was something. I have to say--it is much bigger than I ever imagined! The visit ended on a bittersweet note. Bittersweet because I knew that I was sending my precious girl back to Auburn to continue her studies in the care of this sweet young man. As much as I want her to enjoy her college days and grow as a young woman, it is hard to watch her go through airport security with the love of her life. I still see the pig-tailed girl climbing trees. I am thankful for that girl. She is a blessing to all who know her and especially to me, her mom! After the much too short visit, I flew to Jacksonville, Florida through tropical storm something or another to be with my family as my dad had surgery at Mayo Clinic. It was a very scary time. Even though I had not seen my parents since Christmas and I was thankful to be able to spend that little time with them, it just broke my heart to know that my dad was there to undergo this surgery. After many days in the hospital and many scares-along with many prayers, he was able to come home. The visit was short and I flew home to welcome in a "land hurricane" to the area which would leave us with no power for about 17 hours. Many of our friends did not have power for DAYS.
A nursing conference with a co-worker in Philadelphia was next and I learned so much. I have been very blessed to be working with some wonderful nurses and educators!! I have never been to Philly and trust me, we had a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich! A couple of days later after we returned to VA, my little family and I drove down to Alabama to spend a week with my parents. It was a great time and seeing my dad doing so well was wonderful. Unfortunately I did not get to see my brother, niece and nephews but next time..... Life is busy for everyone! I cried for days after we left Alabama. I cannot say how much I miss being at home. We stayed up late playing cards and dominos with my mom and it was like I'd never moved! We did manage to slip away this week to Williamsburg for a few days and that was nice but next week the rat-race begins and life gets busy at least until May! It's all good though. I know that we are blessed.
So back to the title of this journal. All of my life I have loved history. My momma used to say that she figured that someday I would become a history teacher and spend my life teaching the younger days of our wonderful Country..but here I am some 15 years later, living this history through my books and old DVDs. In the South, I only thought I was in the mecca of history. Up here though, it is a different story. We are right in the middle of so many Civil War battlegrounds. We had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg this summer and I thoroughly enjoyed every second. The Pennsylvania hills are amazingly haunting. I can only imagine the thoughts of the soldiers who trekked through that beautiful land. I visited there as a young girl and it has not changed a bit. Breathtaking. The state statues are the best--the Alabama statue and the statue of Robert E Lee on his horse (VA) are both my favorites. We visited the Cyclorama (remember that, Momma) and it was just as I remembered. We live in the center area of many of the battlegrounds: Petersburg, Fredricksburg (and the places in which it encompasses,) Antietam, Appomattox, Gettysburg, and the list goes on and on. We've made many trips to Manassas (were Stonewall Jackson got his name) and I never tire of that battleground. It's just down the street too! I was there as a young girl to watch a re-enactment of the first battle of Manassas on a hot July day. As we drive around here in our everyday life, I cannot help but imagine the footsteps that came through! I have my list of places I intend to visit already made and slowly but surely checking off the list. I love standing in front of the display of General Grant and General Lee's chairs at one of the Smithsonians and simply imagine what must have been going through these military genius's minds as they sat across from one another at Appamattox in April 1865.
Williamsburg was nice. I also went there as a young girl but I always end up back in my Civil War history books.  I have read and re read many books and never tire of my favorite writer, John Jakes. Although fictional characters are in his books, he has meticulous intertwined historical figures with his fictional characters to set the stage for a historical drama. Also, the Time-Life Civil War series my parents bought for me when I was in Middle School have worn pages from my continuous thumbing through them, looking at pictures and reading accounts from the lives of those before us.
At any rate, as much as I miss home I decided when we came here to make the most of the opportunity we have been given. I don't know how much longer we have here or where we'll end up next (preferably not West of Texas) but whereever it may be, I know there is a purpose and reason.
I hope and pray for those of you in the path of Isaac and pray that the effects of this storm are not as bad as predicted. Maybe it won't be a year until I update this journal but knowing me, it might. Much love to all...