Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Pick Up Rank

Yesterday morning was a celebration.
"Honey! I saw the list. My name is on it!"

As of yesterday morning, Mark is now a Major!
I had joked with him, by the time he got home, he would pick up his rank.
And he did. Mark has worked hard for this.
Has a nice, solid sound to it, don't you think :)
Needless to say I am very proud of my man.
So when I plan his welcome party (date unknown) I shall have to get a cake that says, Major.
O I like the sound of that :)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

To Be a Soldier's Wife

A deployment is something you can only understand if you've been through it, and we who have loved ones in warzones need all the support we can get. Not your judgement.

As we come to the tail end of this our fourth deployment, I cannot help but reflect on these past months.
In May 2009, Mark went off for training, to prepare for an upcoming mission.
In June, he left to join his new unit.
July, there was a halt: You had cancer? We need to make sure your cancer free. This is of course AFTER Mark's THIRD deployment AFTER cancer treatment was finished.
Test done, Mark is send to rejoin his unit.
Northeastern blows into Virginia. Power is out for five days and I stay with Mark's parents.
December. I contract the swine flu. Lousy Hannukkah except for the cards got off to Mark and the cards he got to me.
Feburany 2010. Mark comes home on R&R. He has a bad cold that is really a virus and leaves it with me, giving ne another bout with the Swine Flu.
I am not suppose to be getting the Swine flu: I'm Jewish!
Lungs were damaged, but slowly began to heal.
During this time, I did a lot of sleeping (to recover) reading (to stretch my brain and to learn new things) and even had a Starbucks buddy I met once a week.
To be a soldier's wife (or married to any of the branches of our armied forces) means to stand beside your soldier as they defend the nation.
It means Carepackages and letters and waiting up until 12 am for the phone to ring.
It means those special days are spend alone. And if you don't have children, like Mark and I, the lonliness wraps you like a shroul.
It means finding your voice, creating your space and keeping the home fires going for your loved one. It is knowing it is ok to cry yourself to sleep as well as to go out and have a good time with a buddy.
It is knowing that folks Support Our Troops and friends Support Their Spouses. It is knowing not everyone thinks your man is a hero, that your stupid to marry into the military and enjoys teasing you with the thought that your man is being unfaithful. Or worse; "well you married a soldier, you should have known what to expect."

It is recieveing an e-mail thanking YOU for your service to our nation. It is a child saying, "I am praying for your husband."
It is Mark telling me about the letters he recieved from Betty and the Carepackages from Isreal. About the little Iraqi girl who played with his glasses and having out footballs. It is the tribal leader shaking Mark's hand and thanking him for all he is doing for his people.
It means you are part of something bigger than yourself and dispite what the nay-sayers claim, knowing your man is working to help improve the lives of others as well as stopping the forces outside our gates that threaten us.
Frankly, I never thought growing up I would marry a military man, but G-d did. And i am so glad He had enough faith in me to chose this path for me to walk. So it is not easy; but it is worth it.
I love the man.
And as hard as this is, I have never regretted a day I said yes, I will marry you, to my soldier.
 To be a soldier's wife is a high calling. An honour. To be Mark's wife: heaven on earth.

Friday, 25 June 2010

A Marriage of Gold

Today I feel as if I have come full circle.
I have gone through the highs and the lows, the anger, rage, tears, yelling at the Army, Mark and G-d. Even myself for being so unreasonable.
I can look back and see where I came out like gold and other places, feet like clay. There were moments one would have been hard press to believe I was a child of G-d and not of the devil.
And yet I have come full circle.
Like a wedding band.
A wedding band goes through a lot to be formed. The gold is firs melted and refine, fired hot to removed that which in impure.
It is then form in a ring, and that ring is not only beaten into shape, and fired. Cooled off. And again fired until the band is form. And the maker can see his/her face reflected back.
G-d does that with each of us, to form us into something beautiful. And for the married couple, the making of the wedding band is what each couple goes through. to become one.
Painful, yes.
But look at the results.
Just like every wedding band cannot stand the pressure of the heat, so not every marriage. But those that do...ah...shine forth like gold.
The G-dly marriage is to reflect the imagine of G-d.
This has been Mark and mine praye since we were engaged.
Through the fire, I feel closer to my beloved.
And my G-d.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

To Be Loved

Shalom: As most who follow this blog knows, my Mark is the kind of guy who remembers thoses special days; like today. Today, nine years ago, on a Sunday morning we met. Today, six years ago Mark told me for the first time I was in his heart.
And yesterday, without fail, Mark send roses on my birthday.
It's true I would have recieved roses anyway. But for me, when he is far away, my husband still remembers those special moments and makes the effort to reach out with his love.
With so many marriages under various strains these days, I do not take the love my husband and I share, the love that he showers on me for granted.
Mark has often said when he looks at me, he is aware of how much G-d loves him. For he feels G-d in me. And I feel the same way. Our love draws us not only closer to each other, but to G-d Himself.
After all, Romance was really His idea; it we humans that have muck it up :)
I know, your wondering what I mean by that..... ;)

It's My Birthday!

Yeserday was my birthday.
As hard as it is with Mark still not home, I still have a wonderful day.
Wonderful messages from friends and family, calls from my mother, mum and dad Reel and of course from Mark.
Yesterday, I also recieved an answer to prayer.
In the wee hours of yesterday morning, G-d was dealing with my mother.
So after she sang Happy Birthday to me, she told me about my father.
My father, Louis Shackeford, was a very handsome New York cabdriver. They were from two different worlds and this was the 1950s.
My mother's first husband, Henry didn't die (as I had been told by others) but the marriage just didn't work out..
This explains so much, in my life: why my mother was so angry for so many years and how she finally came to peacce.
I understand more about my firey personality; you can't be a New York cabdriver and be a wimp, not can you?. Mummy says i have the same shade of brown eyes.
I still hope one day (if he is still alive) to meet my father. But knowing more about him, helps me know more about myself.
It is hard having my beloved away. Each day that passes means he shall be hope soon. I just need to hold on.
These pictures are from my surprise birthday three years ago. I made this album yesterday, relieving the joy and foun of that evening.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Could This Be The Week?

First; thanks for the prayers concerning my blood pressure. I am feeling better. I do have a slight headache this morning, but I think that's from the weather. I am going to get an icepack.
The Drama Queen. I am happy to report that this matter has been resoluted. There have been some misunderstanding the past few months and things came to a halt yesterday. It is one of the things about this computer age; without a face to see or a voice to hear, it is so easy to misread another's statement. I did this. We have both asked and given forgivness, after talking things out, the relationship has been restored.
And frankly, I am happy; for I have so missed  having this person in my life.

Today, I start on the study which frankly looks like a junk room. Once Mark comes home, the trunks go back into storeage. I also need to start cleaning out closets. These days your taking your life into your own hands when you one of the closets.
That means a call to Good Will.
So off for coffee and getting to work.
And who knows, this just might be the right I hear: "Honey, I'm my way home.....

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Drama Queen and Father's Day

Today is Father's Day. A day we celebrated the men in our lives we call Father, dad, papa and even grandfathers. As many of you know, I grew up without a father. My birth dad left my mother and I before I was born, My step-dad, a hurting person, took his pain out on me. But G-d was and is faithful, was and is a Father to the fatherless. He brought several men into my life, men I have the honour to call, dad or papa.
Earlier in the month, on facebook, I wrote a thank you to the man who was my dad. A family memeber called me a "drama queen" because of this. And that Betty and Marty, is how I earned that title.
A title I reject. This was their way of striking out bcause Mark forbids their calling our home and they are blocked on our facebook. We have since taken bigger steps.
So to my fathers:
To Louis Shackeford: I never knew you, but I thank you for my life. There would be no Laini if it wasn't for you.
To Hunter Bernard: we share a loe of C.S Lewis and music. Now in heaven I miss you. My beloved has your amazing blue eyes.
Papa Fred Teague: What can I say? You and Jan have loved me, prayed and supported me, even had a "few questions" for Mark when we were engaged. You who prayed for a husband for me and walked me to the Huppah

To Colonial and Mrs Baldwin: You who are g-d parnets to my Mark, caring for him while he attended WestPoint, helping to shape the man I call my husband.
And of course Dad Reel. How I bless you this day. You who raised such an amazing man.
Most important; The my Heavenly Father; thank you for my life, for loving me, for creating me, for declaring I have a place and a purpose on this earth.

And lastly, to my friend Beth, who lost her father a few months ago. To Beth and all others who's dad is no longer with us: I pray that The Holy One will comfort your heart this day and bring some measure of joy in your memories.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Today is the first day I have been headache free.
I took the medication (pain) before bed and slept well. No waking up in the middle of the night.
I need to remember to take it before bed this evening.
Still some stomach-bowl stuff, but that too is getting better.
I spoke to Mark this evening. I was telling him how I felt like I'm been whining far too much on the blog. He said (and I'm sure it is true) there are those who are facing their own battles and it is nice to know that there is someone who understands and can relate, even find comfort and encouragement.
Mark knows how to say just the right things.
It was then that I was reminded of the five Psalms books. That many of the Psalms were written during great trials; David running away from king Saul and later his own son. Of pain and lost and betrayal. Of struggles with faith in man and even G-d. Do You see me? Do You hear me? Do you care?
And always coming on the other side Praising G-d.
I realized that if I had no faith, I wouldn't even cry out to Him? Who prays to a G-d they don't believe in?
The Holy One actually invites us to pour our sorrow upon Him. Unlike imperfect men and women who are too  busy with thier own lives or disinterested in yours. Who has not only an listerning ear 24-7, but the whine and the tears don't Him a bit. In fact, the tears are collected in a bottle.
He Who is the Lover of my soul, gives me songs in the night and quiets me with His love.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Sometimes I Feel...

Several hours ago, I arrived home with Challah for Shabbath, lemon and lime aide, Galoraide, change in blood pressure medication and pain medication.
It seems that my blood pressure is between is climbing. In the doctor's office alone I went from 140/80 to 130/90. That ninty isn't good.
My doctor believes it is a combination on of the stress and the food poisioning from eating unknowingly eating Pork. The Pork alone would have raised my BP.
So she changed my blood pressure medication and gave me a pain medication for the headaches if they should return. And if I fell worse, go to the ER. So, this weekend I am on to rest, filling the new medication a chance to work.
Just when I think I am pulling it together, that I now have a handle, it falls apart.
I feel like I am falling apart. They say that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.
Right now I don't feel stronge. Dispite the fact that I know G-d and my belovd loves me, I feel alone in the world.
"don't go by your feelings..."
And what am I suppose to go by?

Right now, I am hanging on by the love my beloved and I share.
But I need him home!
I hang onto the thread that is my faith.
Soon it shall be Shabbat. A Shabbat I had hoped to share with Mark. In our home.
So I shall pour the wine and enjoy the challah with the chicken soup.
After a few hours, take the medication and grab a good book to read.
Before I go and cry yself to sleep.

One Week Ago

It was one week ago today that my happy world took a nose's dive. Today is has begun that slow climb back up where it belongs.
Earlier this monring I awoke with a headache. Like clock work, I have been waking up @ 3:30 am with a huge headache, so I am seeing the doctor this afternoon. True it could be stress, but when this headache hits, over the counter medications isn't doing the job. Which is why I have to see the doctor. While out I can pickup my Challah for Shabbat.
Not sure what to do, so early in the morning, I decided to look at some pictures;
Today,  five years ago, on an early Sunday morning, already getting hot, Dwayne, who took our wedding pictures, took  us up to Rose Hall, a lovely park in Virginia Beach. It was here we had our engagement pictures taken. I remember that morning well. We had so much fun with Dwayne, knowing we picked the right man for the job. It was his idea for us to wear jeans and Mark the striped shirt. I had a pink shirt that matched, so it worked out well.
I remember noticing Mark's colour was returning from the chemo, that both his hair and his beard were fuller. And he was so playful! We had been so careful in our affection towards each other. Having both been in relationships before and now both truly believers, we didn't wish to do anything that would flame the passions.  I even wore a purity ring. Now I know that it sounds that in  odd that in this day and age, two adults would not....but we chose to keep our courtship honourable. To honour G-d, ourselves and each other. We were also quite aware that there were young people watching us. And while it was hard (lots of cold showers) love can indeed wait.
After the photo session, we went to visit our former church, later having lunch with friends. I remember thinking the next time I would see these folks will be at my wedding...
So as I write this, I am quite happy, remembering one of the happiest times of my life. Yes, he is still gone. But as Mark and I say; "he's out of my arms, but he's in my heart."
So I am planning my day. Cleaning and dusting the bedroom, seeing my doctor afternoon, preparing for Shabbat. And later, pull out the Scrape book I did for our engagement.
Catch ya later....

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

It's Worth It

So I dragged the three trunks into the study. They weren't that heavy.
Dinningroom regain.
Then after my shower and braiding my hair I head to the store.
 Man alive it is hot out there!
But I didn't get sick. However, I did catch a cab home.
And the driver was awesome. Not only did he load my bags for me, open the door for me, but carried the bags to my front door.
From the islands, so of course, he has courtly manners
After speaking to my mother, I put away the food and went to take a nap.
I'd been wondering if all Mark and I have gone these past several years; his coming home with cancer, chemo and radition, back to back deployments, delays one after another. Is waiting for retirement really worth all of this.
And then there are the people who make our lives so difficult inside and outside the service because we are army.
 Those americans who view my husband as a killer, a rapist, helping to steal another country land or worsr, trying to bring to its people freedoms we enjoy here, but take for granted.  Why not just quit and return to full-time teaching....

And then Mark sends me this picture. This is Mark gurading a set of Colours that were flown over ground zero in New York City. I looked at his face. The expression says it all.
It is worth it. As an officer in the Untied States Mark has vowed to guard those colours. And I stand behind the man.
Full circle. We were attacked on 9-11-2001. President Bush did not start this war; 19 men on a plane did. And what the world did not expect was we would hit back.
It has been said Amercians have no stomach-no guts when it comes to war. That when we start seeing the body bags flown home, we will go running to the White House and demand an end.
Some have done this.
My take; get the job done; make friends with the people; kick the emnies a@@ and bring them home when the job's done.
I want my man home; I need my man home.
But I remain a proud Cpt's wife.
Yes, it's worth it.

Taking Back My Dinning Room

If you have to keep telling people your the president, your in charge....your not in charge....

Shalom: I realize as I headed into the DinningRoom this morning two things:
1. I am out of creamer. Off to the store I go.
2. There are three huge trunks taking over my dinningroom.
Now mind you, I am planning amoung all things (depending on what time his flight is) a romantic, candlelight meal. White table clothe, good china, rose red wine glasses, a vase of flowers, homemade turkish delight....
Those trunks don't quite fit in.
So into the study/prayer room they go. They weren't that heavy to drag.
It has stopped raining for now and means it is nice enough to walk to the store. I need to make myself chicken soup anyway. It's good for what ails me right now.
By taking back my Dinning Room, I am saying "deployment, you don't win! Oh sure, you landed a punches. But I'm getting in a few licks of my own."
I picture the day Mark walks in the door and sees the table waiting for him, his home, his wife welcoming him home.
It shall be a battle to keep my spirits up, but I can do this.

Coffee Might Help

I have awoke to cloudy skies and a heandache.
Actually the headache hit around 3:30 am
It's down quite a bit now.
I believe there are a number of factors: food posioning from chinese food (when you don't eat pork and it served to you unawares, it can have the same affect) the coming storm, the stress of what is going on in terms of Mark and a bad night's sleep.
And I wouldn't be surprised if my pressure was up alittle.
Maybe a cup of coffee is what I need to break this pressure.
And prayer.
Right now my prayers sound like..."O G-d, how am going to get through this? Help me through this. Cut through the red tape and bring him home, please. "
selfness yes. But that's I can dig up right now.
Ah here comes the rain.
That means i can turn off the A/C for awhile.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

White Pizza

First, thanks for allowing to blow off stream the past few days. This has been the worst deployment to date and it has take me a bit to get back on my feet.
And learning the chinese food I ordered had pork in it hasn't helped. I haven't eaten pork or shellfish in over twenty-five years, so you can only imagine how sick I am.
If this keeps up, I am going to have to see my doctor.
You never know who your true friends are until those hard times that knock you to the floor or against the wall and they are there to help pick you up and put you back together. Those who not only stand with you against the storms, but also offer you shelter and a cup of Starbucks....
Now you know I had to work that in there.
Today is the day I slowly come back to myself.
I am Mrs. Mark Reel, Laini, child of G-d. Wife of an amercian hero, needlewoman and world class hostness.
And I found that white (with spinach and tomato, got to have the veggies) is very good.
It is time to get the hair done and make an appontment for a penicure, to buy new sheets for the bedroom and refocus that one day soon I shall get that calll..."Baby, my flight is due in at..."
And tonight, after I say my prayers, I shall cry myself to sleep.
Tears are healing you.
Hugs and Love.

Moment By Moment

So today is a new day.
Military payday.
Like right now I really care about the money.....
Last night Mark and I talked. One of the few good things about his being in the states; we can talk more. He didn't wish to stay on long because he could hear how tired I was. He said that the stress was taking its toll and go to sleep.
And I did.
He's right. I have been on an emotional roller-coaster the past several days. And only another military who has gone through the past eight years would understand.
Because since the War on Terrorim began eight years ago, the military has changed greatly. Because this is the longest conflict we as a nation have been involved in, we have more units moving in and out, being deployed back to back, five, six deployments isn't unheard of. More war dead and injuried, more families falling apart. Military programs are being revamped all the time to catch to the increase needs. We the spouses and are being asked to give up far more than ever.
And the "at least he's in the country" doesn't help. Because where Mark is stationed right now, he has an excellant chance of being send back to Iraq or Afghanistan for another year without me not even seeing him.
We the families are the low man on the totem pole and it doesn't do any good to raise our voices. For like our national leaders, their not listening to us.
So we cry, pray and wait, working on Thomas Kindcaid puzzles.

Monday, 14 June 2010

OK This Sucks!!!!

So after my shower, the phone rings.
It is Mark.
"I have good news and bad news."
I sat down on the bed....
He (Mark) will be seen by Dr. Mintle at Walter Reed this Thursday and another doctor tomorrow. That means the progess is moving.
The bad news....
What we thought would be seven to ten days has changed to....we don't know.
This means we have no idea when Mark is coming home. But since he can get only one pass, we have decided for nexr week since a dear friend is getting married on our anniveristy amd has asked us to be part of her wedding.
So when will I see my husband again...I don't know.
I am beyond tears or yelling....
I am ready to lay hands on someone.....

This Stinks!

Actaully Frday night, that isn't the work I used....
Mark: "Come on Laini, I want to hear you say it...The Army Sucks!"
Laini: "I can't say that!"
Mark: "Yes you can. Now let me hear you..."

And I let it rip!
It isn't Mark's fault; this is his job and the army is making sure he is ok.
But Mark has been in the Untited States for almost two weeks and I haven't seen him yet. And I can't go up to him: I still wounldn't able to see him. Just sitting in a hotel room all alone.
How much are we as military spouses and families are suppose to take.
I thought the days of "if the army wanted you to have a family, they would have issused you one were over?"
This is the longest war this nation has ever fought in. I am not going to get into the politlical ins and outs of this conflict: Mr. Obama is the President and it's his to deal with.
We the families, however, are having to deal with it as well. With back to back deployments that aren't even a year apart now, marriages are under more strain and many are breaking up. More and more military children are having problems and getting into trouble. And while more folks are entering the service, it is the Army Reservist that is still the most used.
I am proud of my husband. I am proud that he has chosen to serve his nation. I stand with him and would never dream of asking him to leave the service, or leave him.
He has been gone for so long....
Just let me hold him....

Delay Doesn't Mean Deny

First, I need to make admends to my buddy Koda. But the picture of the cat with the glasses (and they looked like my) was just too cute to resist. But you know, you are my heart; no cat could ever take your place.
One of my family member's referred to me as a Drama Queen, Dear Marty said that person didn't know me.
Well, Marty, if you had been around the past three days, you would have reconsidered that statement.
It all started really Monday afternoon.
I went downstairs for the mail and found two We Tried to Deliever notices.
Really? No one rang my door bell, nor were the notices on my door.
So I called to have them redelievered.
The two boxex arrived the next day just afternoon the laptop was returned form repairs.
I then looked at the notice again because I was expecting trunks. One notice was for boxes and the other for trunks, so I had to call for redelievery.
There suppose to arrive Friday by 3pm,
Having this funny feeling, I went downstairs to the mailbox and sure enough, the mail carrier did not come upstairs and deliever the trunks. Another notice was in my mailbox, this time a final notice!
Back on the phone.
And this time, I wasn't nice. I amde it clear someone was lying: no one made an effort to deliever the thrunks and I was home all day. My day had been shot; my holy day was about to begin and voilated because the US Postal Service no regard to anyone's faith and the trunks were the personal items of a returning soldier from a year's deployment.
Do you call this supporting our troops????
Yes, I had the flag waving and the tears flowing. I was promised they would arrive Monday.
Bright and early Shabbat, I recieve a call from the Post Office. It seems the Manger recieved my complaint and called. The local post office never recieved the messages to redeliever. He didn't knwo what was going on, but would deal with it. But if I was home this morning, he would have the trunks delievered. Two hours later, Mark's trunks and three boxes being placed in the Dinningroom.
Marty, I'm not finish....
After the  phone calls Friday, I broke with Tradition and ordered Chinese Food.
Then Mark called.
Change of plans. Fort Dix no longers does the ongoing medical care (like cancer screening) unless your station at Dix. So new medical orders have to be cut and Mark has to send to a treatment center (we are praying for Portmouth Naval, that way he can come home). New orders take seven to ten days to cut.
Seven to ten days.
"This means your not coming home Monday or Tuesday..."
"This means you may not be coming home this coming weekend..."
"This means the army could send you to a treatment center outside Virgina for 60 days...."
I didn't the news well....
Forty-five minutes after supper Mark called, knowing his wife was a mess.
Plus I was royality sick from the worst Chinese food I'd ever eaten
I think I earned that crown, Marty.

Friday, 11 June 2010


Now I know where my glasses went....

I guess it goes without saying I am quite excited about Mark coming home some time next week. Because he came home with cancer after his second deployment, he has to go to Walter Reed for Cancer Sceening before he comes home. Thrus the delay.
But i rather wait a few days and he gets the all clear sign, than for him to be home now and several weeks later find out there is something wrong.
But I think he is ok. Plus, he is having pain in his feet and that needs to be checked.
Anyway, I am nearly beside myself planning his homecoming.
To be honest, there really isn't a lot I can do right now until I get an rentry date (see how military I'm becoming)
But there are special little things around the apartment I can do to that will both please him and keep me from grabbing the first GreyHound bus and going to get my man.
And after the last time, me and GreayHound still aren't speaking terms.
So, now it is time to prepare for Shabbat.
And G-d willing, next week Mark and I will welcome Shabbat together.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Yes I am very happy.
Last Saturday night just after sunset, the power went out. (not happy)
After about three hours, it came back on. (very happy)
Then I recieved a call around 11p.m.
I knew it was Mark.
It was his cell phone number which meant one thing...
"Honey, we just arrived in Philly. Their loading our baggs on the plane and we're about to fly into Fort Dixs."
My beloved is back on Amercian soil. Safe and sound.
I am sure in your mind's eye you can see me rejoicing even now.
So now he is going through the progress of reentering and should be home, our home sometime next week. A huge thank you to all of you who stood with us, prayed for us, encouraged me during this time. For some this is your second deployment with us. You are awesome.
Now, to address he person who refer to me as a drama queen.
You are a pitiful creature not worth my time or space on my blog.
So now it is time to swing into action with the Welcome Home plans.
I would love to share them, but I can't risk the chance of Mark logging on reading about what I am up to. But I promise.
I pray all is well in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

New Month, New Challenges

It's a new month. With new joys and sorrows. New adventures and challenges.
After a depressing month, I am up for Summer.
It is now June.
Summer is just around the corner.
Time for watermelon, lemon-aide and Moroccan mint tea. Time for cookouts and ice cream.
It is Laini's birth month, the month Mark "I love you," for the very first time and the month we met under the Huppah.
So with a renewed spirit, I clean out the fridge, prepare for a doctor's visit and find a sponge mop so I can do my hard wood floor.
Because it is now June.
The party starts RIGHT NOW!