Guest Post from Allie!

Allison

 

Allison Brooks blogs over at Musings of a Curious Mind, and she has written a guest post that I get to share with you today! Thank you for sharing this with us, Allison!

I thought this was really a neat way to look at things. I like wine – it’s one of my favorite alcoholic beverages to drink alone or with a girlfriend – but keep in mind that you can, of course, take all these things into consideration even if you don’t drink. A relaxing cup of tea and some fun projects can get the job done maybe just as well. However, I have to say that a glass of wine does do an extra special job when it comes to relaxing.

Take note of the cute craft ideas – I’ve even seen someone with these “torches” lining their backyard fence! (Note: the link for directions to create the bath mat turned out to be a dead link, so I suggest if you need some suggestions, ask Allison by contacting her on her blog or do a search online!)

‘Wine’ Down and Relieve Stress

Having a loved one overseas can be difficult, but there are some great ways to ‘wine’ down and relax. Though a long distance call to your loved one can quickly ease the mind, sometimes that doesn’t take away all the other stresses of everyday life. One of my favorite stress relievers is having a gathering with close loved ones, family members, friends, or other military wives and drinking some great wine together.

‘Wine-ing’ down with a bottle or two of red, white, or blush wine can help you to talk about your stresses, relieve tension, get a little loose, and fill some time with laughter and sharing. And, when the party is over, don’t be worried about being stuck in the same ole’ rut; you can extend the fun and make nifty projects out of the bottles and corks. Try making these projects with your friends during another wine drinking gathering or by yourself.

Creative Designs Make Relieving Stress Fun and Unique

wine torchOne thing to make out of your leftover wine bottles is a wine torch. For just under five dollars you can get all the materials you need to craft a cool tiki torch out of an empty wine bottle. The torch can be attached to your back patio so it can serve as a creative outdoor lighting solution for your next wine drinking gathering with your friends.

All that is needed for this project is the bottle, torch fuel, a wick, screws, and clamps. You can find a list of necessary materials and instructions over at Gerardot & Co.

Another fun item to make is a cork board out of wine corks. This project takes quite a few wine corks to make it so you will need to get a lot of wine drinking gatherings in with your friends before you make it. Another good idea is to go to a local bar and ask them for their corks or ask them to save them for you.

By the time you have collected a minimum of 75 corks you can get to work crafting your own wine cork board. This cork board is a great way to organize pictures of your friends and loved ones atop the corks that topped off your favorite wines that you enjoyed with your friends.

I suggest laying the corks on their side to make the cork board, and you may want to cut them in half if you only have a few to double the amount.To me, hot glue works the best to hold them in place, and I use a frame to enclose the corks. Some more information can be found here.

This final project requires a lot more corks than the board, so to obtain the amount you need, I would ask a local bar to save their corks and give them to you. A wine cork bathmat can be created by laying wine corks side by side in a large shadow box frame. This piece will add a great amount of character to any house or bathroom, and will be a confidence piece.

So ‘wine’ down and make some unique items for the house, and better yet reduce the amount of stress in your life!

Once and Always

Random thoughts…

There are some things that you just are. Forever. For instance, I once told someone I was an MK (missionary kid), but he corrected me by saying, “once an MK, always an MK.” I may be grown up. My parents may not be missionaries any more, but I am still an MK. They say alcoholics are always alcoholics, and I’ve even heard “once a pothead, always a pothead.”

What about writing? And blogging? Once a blogger, am I always a blogger? (Even though I haven’t posted in over a month…?)

I’m just going to write, okay? I’m tired of trying to make things perfect! I’m just going to write.

Deployment

I know you’re all curious. Right? It’s been a year, and you’ve barely heard anything about deployment from me! It wasn’t my intention to let that happen. Actually, I intended to write about deployment a lot and really show you what it was like from my perspective. And now it’s over, and I haven’t done that at all.

Basically, deployment sucks, no matter how you slice it. The first month or two is supposedly the hardest, but for me it was at least 3 or 4 really hard months. After that, it got a little easier. The hard (low) times didn’t come as frequently, and I knew we were getting close to the half-way point. The 6-month mark was exciting and energizing, and we were, in some ways, lucky to have R&R in month 8 to look forward to. Our 2 week break was lovely and refreshing, but it was hard to say goodbye again and go back to online-only communication. For a little while, for me, it felt as hard again as it had been when he first left, but that faded, and the last 3 months or so passed fairly quickly.

Overall, I was surprised that I actually survived the deployment. I was surprised at how normal it began to feel to live alone, even though I still missed Hubby and wanted him home desperately. I was surprised that the whole year eventually passed, and it was over, and we had done it. I’m still surprised, I guess. But you can’t deny the facts!

I’ve been at a loss of how to write about all that as it was happening, and now the whole year has passed and I’ve lost my chance. But the good news is that deployment is over! Yes, hubby is home. He actually got home after 51 weeks, so my paper chain still has one link hanging up above the kitchen.

And yes, his redeployment (homecoming) was very exciting (and stressful…). I’m thrilled that he’s home! It has been great! There are adjustments and some struggles, and possibly some more of that to come, but nothing beats my joy at the simple fact that he’s home, now. And you, my few but loyal readers, deserve to know about it.

Smile with tongue out

And I think that’s all I have to say for now. Things are beginning to calm down here, so I hope I will be able to get back into a routine of more regular posting. Until then… feel free to comment or send me messages or otherwise let me know that I’m still loved!homecoming

Thankful Thursday #3

I am grateful for good, forgiving friends who are willing to be patient with me and all my flaws! Thank you, guys, for loving me in spite of mistakes and allowing me to be close to you! You know who you are!

I’m thankful for a God who cares about every feeling I have and doesn’t get mad at me for feeling what I feel. He is patiently teaching me that I can choose how those feelings do or do not affect my actions much more often than I thought I could. He is reminding me that even when I feel overwhelmed, he hasn’t left me, and even when I feel devastated, he has good things planned for me. So, I guess I’m also thankful that there’s a truth that is much more powerful than my human feelings.

My husband is someone I’m always thankful for. I’m so proud of him for surviving this deployment, and I’m so happy that it’s almost over and I will get to have him home with me before too long. I’m grateful that he has stuck with me, even when I’ve made it difficult. Not only that, but he’s always willing to look at himself and try to make changes to make himself better. At this rate, he should be literally flawless in another 5 years or so…

cuddly tumblesOpen-mouthed smile

Finally, I’m thankful for my sweet kitty cat who, throughout the last few months, has become more sweet than ever. He rarely bites me any more, but he does cuddle me – lots. He’s great company. Did I really want to throw him in the dumpster a few months ago? lol

What are you thankful for this week?

Ready for Rest and Relaxation

I’ve got the itch. It’s time for R&R. Past time, in fact, if we go by the month Hubby requested for leave. We still don’t know when it’s actually happening, but we know it’s coming soon!

We’re sort of glad that we’re getting mid-tour leave in the last half of deployment, but the long wait to see each other has been kind of killer. Now, with the time fast approaching, it’s almost all I can think about. I spend so much time thinking, planning, imagining him here. We’ve talked about our expectations for the time (I would recommend this highly to people looking to R&R coming up or even redeployment; don’t just assume you’re on the same page!), things we want to do, people he wants to visit. I’ve made to-do lists to get the house ready and shopping lists to make sure we’re stocked up and have all his favorites, and he has started thinking about foods he wants to eat so he can experience all the good stuff before going back. It’s very exciting!

A couple days ago, I was picking up some R&R-related items at the store, and I must have been looking pretty happy as I thought about his arrival – enough that one lady commented on how great my smile was! 😀

The last time we faced R&R, Hubby and I weren’t married or even dating at the time, and he stayed mostly with his family in between making visits to me and other friends. This time it’s going to be totally different. Neither of us has experienced this before, so we may not really know what to expect.

I’m just trying to keep in mind that I should expect a great time and not worry about imperfections. It won’t be perfect, there will probably be some bumps, but we can still have a wonderful time together. My only real hopes are that we have a relaxing, enjoyable visit that refreshes us and helps us make it through the last few months of deployment! Do you have any other tips for how to mentally (or emotionally, or physically) prepare yourself for R&R?

 

(R&R or mid-tour leave is a two week break during deployment. The soldier basically gets to go home – or somewhere else – and chill out with no responsibilities for a while before going back. Travel time from the deployment location to home doesn’t count, which is good since it can take anywhere from a day or two to a few weeks, but as soon as he or she arrives at home, they get 14 days until their return flight. This is pretty standard for all year-long-or-longer Army deployments. I don’t really know how to works in other branches or with shorter deployments.)

Passage of Time

I’ve been thinking about how deployment is changing my perception of time. I’m starting to realize that God’s using it to give me a whole new perspective, and I think in some ways I’m understanding God a little tiny bit better. Like I have a little more understanding of the idea of him being outside of time itself.

When I have to go a few weeks without seeing friends, I sometimes chuckle on the inside when they explain on our next meeting how much they’ve missed me, while I feel that hardly any time at all has passed. What’s the big deal? Next to having to wait a year to see my other half again, to feel him and look into his eyes… Well, let’s just say it makes all these little gaps of weeks and months feel like nothing.

I can’t really imagine what it is like for God to be outside of time, but if the (global) church is his passion, his love, his other half, so to speak, and he is separated from her for… well, a long, long time… Well, I can imagine that feeling now. She fell away from him, and he won’t be reunited with her until basically the end of this world. Like a year’s separation for me, and how impossible and horrible it seems to a normal married couple, God’s separated from his bride the church for… thousands, if not millions of years. How insignificant must other, shorter increments of time feel to Him? To me it gives new meaning to the verse that says a thousand years is like a day to the Lord.

I’m trying to apply this understanding to my prayer life. See, I’ve been getting frustrated with God for not answering my prayers. Sometimes I pray specifically for the same things for weeks on end, and sometimes I begin to lose hope that he’ll ever hear me and answer. But I have felt like he’s saying to me, “Just because I haven’t answered in a week, you think I’m not listening at all? Trust me! I hear you, and I will answer you. I will meet all your needs. Have patience.”

Sometimes, I’m afraid time won’t ever slow back down. If weeks feel like no time at all, will it still feel like nothing when Hubby is home for two weeks of R&R? Will I have trouble soaking in his presence and enjoying our time together? Will my life speed by too quickly, with this perception of time? I have hope because I’ve known women who have been through deployments with their husbands before who still ached terribly at their husbands’ absence for a week or two of training. So things must eventually return to normal. But hopefully when that happens, I’ll still be able to remember the lesson I learned. Mostly – the patience.

Valentine’s Day 2011

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

First romantic Valentine’s Day poem, according to Wikipedia. Written by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382.

I think I prefer a more modern poem, though. This was written in 1784:

“The rose is red, the violet’s blue 
The honey’s sweet, and so are you
Thou are my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine 
The lot was cast and then I drew
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.”

Although I don’t understand using an apostrophe in place the the L in should. I’m pretty sure you’d still pronounce it the same way, and an L is hardly any harder to make than an apostrophe. Just saying.Happy Valentine's Day!

I’m sad to spend this day apart from my honey. After already spending our first anniversary apart, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and my birthday, it’s disappointing to have to face yet another holiday. But our love can be celebrated despite the distance. 🙂

I remember our first Valentine’s Day, back in Jr. High, when we were just friends. He got me a mug with candy in it… The mug was black. I knew he didn’t mean anything by it; he was just dense, in the way that teenage boys can be. But really, a plain black mug? Once the candy was gone, I was left with a black mug, and I always thought of that one day and Marty’s token of affection… Or he thinks my heart is black? I’m really not sure.

For our first Valentine’s Day as a couple, I was all whiny and disappointed because he was stuck at Fort Campbell, and I was going to be all alone (except not really alone – I was going to be surrounded by happy couples), but Marty surprised me by driving down to visit!

He even got my roommate in on keeping the secret. In fact, he called me and sang a song for me, since he wasn’t going to be able to be there in person. But then Maycee and I got home, and he was hiding in my room! Wearing a flower made of pipe cleaners and felt! 😀

Anyway, one of the good things about this year is that it gives us a good excuse to go overboard next year to make up for all these holidays. And I assure you, we will. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

More Than Just Surviving

dedI think this is one of my biggest struggles: to not only trust God with the direction of my life, but to be content and to thrive where he places me rather than just survive. It’s a struggle at all times, but it’s especially difficult during trials. Of course, most recently it has been difficult due to deployment.

I hate deployment! That’s understandable, right? My husband is gone, and not only absent from my every day life but placed in a dangerous situation! I have to miss him and fear for his safety, and most of the time I just want to go to sleep and wake up when it’s all over. I don’t want to live through this year of deployment, but I have to, so many times I have this mentality of needing to simply survive. Do what is necessary to make it through another day, and eventually it will all be over.

That’s okay. I mean, eventually I will have survived the year, Hubby will be back, and things can go back to normal. But I don’t think it’s what God wants from me.

Jeremiah 29: A Letter to the Exiles

God’s people had been carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon and were going to remain there in exile for 70 years. Of all the times to justify that survival mentality, you would think this would be a prime example. But God isn’t satisfied with that… God asks for more. I found this passage really speaks to me and where I am with this deployment… Here’s my paraphrasing:

This is what the Lord Almighty says to those He carried into deployment: “Make homes and settle down; plant gardens and work on other projects. Care for your family and friends. Don’t let yourself whither away. Seek peace and prosperity where I’ve placed you… When your time is completed, I will come to you and fulfill my good promises. For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me with your whole heart and find me, and I will gather you from the places where I have banished you, and bring you back.”

God wants his people to know that he can be worshipped outside of the holy land just as well as inside. He is God over Babylon (deployment) just as much as he is God over Jerusalem. As one commentary says, “Real hope for the people, according to Jeremiah, lay not in some immediate relief from social and communal death, but in living through that experience as faithful people, awaiting the Lord’s ‘future with hope’."

Biblical Encouragement

People are watching us, so let’s follow Jesus’ perfect example:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

Thrive, don’t just survive. Think on God and his goodness and all the good gifts he gives. Run with endurance, don’t let yourself whither. Keep praying and pursuing God. This is how you should live, regardless of where he’s placed you and whether or not you want to be there. This is how you get the most out of life and bring God the most pleasure.

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Phillipians 4:4-9 (The Message)

Thriving

I’m still working on it, but I’m getting better at ridding myself of that survival mentality. It’s about time, since we’re almost five months into this deployment! God is really trying to pound some lessons into me, I think…lol. And I feel like I’m finally ready to start learning rather than burying my head in the ground and waiting for it all to be over. I’m finally ready to hold up my chin and start facing things head-on, with His help. I don’t know if I’m really thriving yet, but I’m doing a little more than just surviving, so I guess that’s good.

Anyway, that’s what I’m working towards, and that’s how I want to go through the rest of this deployment. I want to do more than just survive. So there are my disjointed thoughts for the day.

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