Saturday, January 31, 2009

From whom all blessings flow...

It is so interesting to me that I have read the most difficult times of deployment are immediately before they leave, and immediately after. I'm not sure I would've agreed to that prior to experiencing it myself. But...I can now offer my resounding "yes!" to the discussion. :-)

What is even MORE interesting to me...or astounding...is how good God is during those absolutely rocky times where we feel like nothing is permanent, nothing is stable, nothing is, indeed, good. Why I'm shocked by that makes me feel a bit like a bad Christian...but 100% human at the same time. Needless to say, its a humbling reminder of God's grace, and His mercy. Pastor Brenda just spoke last week on "Authentic Faith." The whole sermon really spoke to me...but the best part of it was this: the differences between grace and mercy...because that has always been a conundrum to me. What WAS the difference? Well, here you are:

Mercy: the assurance that God will never allow life to be more than I can handle (excellent!)
Grace: power for the moment...in the moment...through the moment (awesome!)

When we walk in obedience to Christ, He won't give us more than we can handle. And in that, we feel incredibly blessed. So...as our family walks through this maze of emotions, circumstances, and ups and downs...we know this: as we humble ourselves before Christ...He does give us grace and mercy to continue on. I don't know any better promise!

What I want to share with you are some unbelievably tangible times that God has shown me his grace and mercy in moments of difficulty. (And please understand...by no means do I think that blessings always come in the form of something with monetary value, but I do believe that God always knows what our needs are...and fulfills them through the obedience and love of others.) For all of these things...we are truly thankful:

  • Sarah and Matt Habuda and Connie and Gary Weimer: without your selflessness...we weren't sure how we were going to be able to see Joshua in February. I love you ALL beyond belief for making this possible for us. Your constant prayers, emails and phone calls at just the right time *wink* have been life-saving. You are truly forever friends.
  • Rachel Carpenter: Your authentic friendship allows me to truly be myself, share myself and process all of my emotions freely. I am unbelievably grateful for Jesus piecing our friendship together over the years. Oh...and I'm thankful for my second husband, too! *wink* Thanks, Aron.
  • Tonya, Elena and Aaron: While I don't think on most days anyone would call us a functional family...we sure are fun! You guys are the best...and have helped out the most...with little complaint. We know you'll always be there and we love you.
  • Our parents: Whether you've supported us emotionally...or you just buy us groceries a lot...we know you're only a phone call away. We're thankful. Dad Carr...deck. This summer. You. Me. My pink hammer. ;-)
  • Our "Y" family: Jill, Kristy, Melanie, Donna, Mary, everyone at Riverfront and Green...it does my heart good to know that we really do have another family outside of our family. I'm so glad that you take care of our little man every day...and you always have our best interests at heart. Joshua always said the Y wasn't just a job. It certainly isn't...WOW!
  • Pastor Brenda and our Cornerstone family: Prayer is certainly a powerful thing. I for sure feel it tangibly sometimes. Love you guys so much. Brenda, your hugs are the best...
  • Tara, Lynsey, Katie, Joelle, Mary-O, Cassie, Neal and Ashli, Melanie...the phone calls, texts, support, offers of Girls Night's Out, working out together, swimming, etc. have NOT gone unnoticed. Trust me...they're coming soon.
  • Joshua's basketball guys: Holy. Cow. We don't really know what to say. I don't even know if any of you even read this...but please know how blown away we were at your gift. It was timely (though absolutely unexpected) and greatly appreciated. He really does love playing with you guys...so thanks for bringing joy to all of our lives (though I'd love it if the alarm went off a little later...).
  • Our neighbors: snowblowing our driveway...shoveling our walk...helping my sister clean off her car...taking our trash down...such little things that mean a LOT.
  • And all the rest who are not forgotten in my heart...but maybe just my jumbled head right now. :-) It certainly isn't just the people above who we're thankful for. It is everyone, seen and unseen, heard and unheard, who are loving and praying for us continuously.

Blessings. Yes. We are incredibly blessed. Because of YOU...so thank you. YOU have shown me God's grace and mercy these last 4 weeks. YOU have blessed our family beyond reason. It is absolutely our prayer and hope that one day we can return the blessing...but for now...we know that God sees. And He loves you for it as much as we do.

~The Carr's

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spaghetti-o's and sadness...

I made Spaghetti-o's this weekend.
As I stirred them it made me sad...really sad.
I missed my husband...

Hey...who said I have to be rational all the time?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Conflict Zone: Valvoline-gate

I'm certain there are those of you out there who think and/or believe that since my husband and I are hundreds of miles away from one another, we only speak words of love, kindness and longing to and for one another. Well, let me slap you into reality. *grin* While we DO certainly do those things...there is still an element of "realness" to our odd long-distance marriage at times. And when I say "realness"....read "CONFLICT." We are not argue-ers by nature. But here is a recent going-on, just so you can all know and be assured that we are 100% still normal...I like to call it, "Valvoline-gate."

Setting the stage: So, I'm 5,000 miles over an oil change. I knew I needed one, but the money just never seemed to be there. Before Joshua left, he gave me a coupon book from Valvoline with some great money-savers. So, one day, I decide to use it. I pull into Valvoline, and the conversation goes something like this:

Me: Hi! I'd like to use this coupon for an oil change! (It was a regular oil change and 2 wipers for $5 off...I THOUGHT this was a good deal)

Greasy Valvoline Guy: Sure. (Puts the coupon into the computer) Hey, you don't look like Joshua Carr. (Good thing, huh, ladies?!)

Me: Nope. That's my husband. He's gone with the military and so he told me to use these coupons.

Greasy Valvoline Guy: Oh. Where'd he get sent? (Fishing for my vulnerabilities here....waiting to attack....)

Me: Blah, blah, blah...filling in the blanks with the details...

Greasy Valvoline Guy: (Preying on my vulnerabilities...sees his chance...) Hey, actually, you'd save MORE money if you went with this other coupon...

Me: Save more money? Sign me up! My husband would be proud!!!

We now commence the oil change and stop the mindless banter.




Ok...oil change over.




Greasy Sneaky Stinker of a Valvoline Guy: That'll be $79.95

Me: CLANNNNNNNNNNNNKKKKK....... (the sound of my jaw hitting the floor as I reluctantly hand over my debit card....)

We exit Valvoline now because the setting has become dark and ominous...

I now realize on my way home from my $80 oil change in which my car now has oil running through it that has been blessed by Jesus himself (which is pretty sure why I think it was so expensive...), that I should probably call my husband and alert him to this nonsense before he sees it for himself online. (This would be me attempting to confess before I get in major trouble! *laughing*)

I'll let you be a fly on the wall for THIS conversation:

Me: Honey...(trepidation fills my voice...)...so the guys at Valvoline took me for a ride.

Joshua, my darling husband: How expensive of a ride?

Me: ...uh....an $80 ride?

Joshua, my patient, loving husband: WHAT?!?! What did you buy??

Me: Nothing! Just an oil change and the guy's firstborn child. (Just kidding about that part) Well, and two wipers.

Joshua: So what did you buy?!

Me: (Still not apparently understanding the question)...Why do you always think I'm buying something? I'm telling you what happened...

The button pushing begins, and the argument ensues...

And so it goes. *grin* What I thought would be a frugal move on my part to save money blew up in my face. And my "confession" was met with major frustration...on both of our parts. The evening ended with both of us not speaking until the next day.

What ends up being the really positive part of this story is that even though we may not be together physically right now, we are beginning to understand how deeply important it is to communicate clearly with one another. We are also starting to have greater insight as to what words, non-verbals, etc. will really push one or the other over the edge. So often, I think, when couples disagree, it can be very healthy! The outcome, and the struggle to get to the understanding there, is worth its weight in gold. When we acknowledge those areas that we might be fearful of in our own lives and reactions in conversations, we can begin to work through them together. What seems frustrating and painful in life typically ends up being something beautiful and worthwhile in the eyes of the Lord.

And aren't all of our relationships worth that?

Colossians 3:12-14, 4:6

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you maybe have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity...Let your conversations be always full of grace...

What would our relationships with others look like if we lived this out...? I bet it'd be darn good.

*Wishing you healthy-conflict and grace-filled outcomes...*
~meg

Basketball: The Cure All

I'm sure most of you already know this but I like to play basketball - a lot. I'm willing to sacrifice sleep just to play hoops. The majority of my basketball outings are at 5:30am which Meg just loves the alarm going off for that one (EDIT FROM MEG: please note: that would not be a "singular" alarm...try 4 or 5 alarms going off for basketball...this I DON'T miss).

I use basketball for a variety of reasons but a stress reliever is my biggest. Anyway, the last time I played was the day after Christmas; almost a month ago! So you could probably guess that I'm really starting to miss it. Unfortunatley, the command here for our pre-mob has put out that we're not allowed to play basketball. Apparently, broken ankles can keep you from going to Iraq. Weird. So I've primarily been working out. I'm actually really starting to enjoy it, but it's just not the same as a good game of basketball. Plus, I have been getting a little homesick. The longest I've been away from Meg has been 5 weeks when she went on her missions trip last year to Cambodia but I still had Caleb to keep me company. So now it's been almost 3 weeks since I have left home and I'm starting to feel it a little. Granted, I've been through this before and I know it will pass but that doesn't mean I can't miss home just a little. There have also been some other factors going on, so I've been a little down. Anyway, today after I worked out, I stopped and shot around in the gymnasium for a bit. Then me and two other guys played 33 (to me thats not actually a game of basketball and I was only playing at half speed so I didn't really feel I was being insubordinate). Let me just tell you how much better I feel. It was like a tiny sliver of home. I instantly felt my spirit rise and the world warm up. Not to mention that it is 70 degrees at Ft. Sill today. :-) (ANOTHER EDIT FROM MEG: JERK!!!!!!)

Anyway, I think this little experiment just proves my theory that basketball cures all.

Thanks for all the prayers and support. I need 'em.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oiy

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Now I'm doing some Army training - Part 1

So my life here at Fort Sill has started to pickup - some! We were actually busy on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this past week.

Wednesday started off with us going to do some HEAT training (Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer) or rollover training. (You know the Army and their acronyms!) Anyway, this training is to teach soldiers what to do in the event that their vehicle starts to rollover, whether it is by our own doing or by some IED or road-side bomb (sorry folks, but it happens). Apparently, there are staggering statistics that says the basic soldier is not prepared in the event their Humvee flips. Plus the fact that everything now is the up-armored Humvees so their center of gravity is way different. Anyway, the first day was just the class portion and only lasted a couple of hours. But again, the purpose was to teach us some different things explain how the next day would happen for the actual rollover training. Now my first thought was "we're actually going to get to rollover some hummers!!" but I knew that wasn't going to happen. So when we went the next day, it is actually a simulator machine. Its built just like a humvee on the inside, but the difference was that we would actually get flipped upside down. Once we first got in, they explained how the doors worked. The up-armored doors weigh 240 pounds and have a special locking mechanism. So obviously they want you to try them out. So once everyone is in and buckled and has the doors figured out, they start the machine. The first thing is they take you 25 degrees one way, then 30 degrees the other to demonstrate some of the max limits a humvee can go to. Then, they take you ALL the way around. Talk about a roller coaster ride!! It was sweet! For the next part of the training, they take you and turn you upside down--and then you and your team have to get out. Riiiiight. When you first get upside down, you have to wait about 10 seconds before they tell you that you can exit the vehicle. So if you think about it, we were just hanging upside down by our seat belts. Once they say "GO!" you have to unlatch your belt and FLOP. It was a good thing we wore helmets. :-) Anyway, you then have to get the doors open and everyone get out. As easy as it sounds, the doors gave some people some problems. The combat locks can be tricky. Needless to say (ahem), I was the first person to get ours open in our team. Piece of cake. It was SUPER fun but I'm hoping I never have to put the training to use. Anyway, some of the pictures are from this training.
This is what it looks like BEFORE you start rolling.


Round and round we go, where we stop...

And here we are completely upside down.


And now everyone GET OUT!!!



It was actually pretty tough but still a lot of fun. You can get so disoriented so easily when you're upside down and trying to remember which way to pull down and back (or up and back) on the handle and then try to push open the 240 pound door.


And then later that day, we went to a basic Iraqi language class. They gave us this little pocket manual. Apparently there are a whole bunch of civilian Iraqis on the base daily so I should get a little practice.





Its entitled the Language Survival Guide. Hilarious. Anyway, I'll have more to report on day 3 of cool Army training in the next post. Love you guys.
Josh

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Here I am, doin' a whole lot of nothin'

So I would like to tell you that my time at Fort Sill has been a week of great training. The truth is I haven't done much of anything other than sit around. Since I was joining my new unit so late (they have known they were deploying since last January), they have already completed a lot of the training we were supposed to do here. Plus I am a vehicle mechanic in a helicopter unit which means we're like the stepchildren of the unit. So I just have been hanging out in the barracks, catching up on my sleep. My biggest highlight has been conducting my own personal Bible study. I'm trying to be an example to my fellow soldiers. Most of them are pretty young and need a lot of guidance. I'm finding it hard at times to fit in but with my great personality, I'm working it out. :-) Also, I have been working out every day. Its kind of a new thing for me. I would like to come out 10-15 pounds heavier in muscle so I've got some work to do.

We finally got our Internet hooked up in our room today. I'm hoping that will act like a little moral booster for me. I got to see Meg and Caleb tonight using Skype. In case you're not familiar, it is an online program that allows us to have a video call with one another. So I got to see them both tonight. I get a four day pass at the end of February. We're still working out the details if I'm going to come home or if Meg and Caleb are going to come and visit out here. It makes more sense financially for me to come home but we loose 2 days of time together for me to travel. So we're checking out our options.

Anyway, its getting late and I need to be up at 0545 or 5:45am for all the civilians reading this. Anyway, thanks again for the prayers and support. I'll be sure to post again when we actually do something.

Josh

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Was Someone trying to tell me something...??

So, as you know, we didn't have a whole lot of notice for this deployment. About 2 weeks. But as we were waiting for the "official" word, Joshua and I were praying for peace, and I was really grappling and wrestling with the Lord. While we both felt like this really was where God leading Joshua for this time (His purposes are always better than ours...we can't wait to see what He's actually going to do in and through us during this time), it was hard. I couldn't seem to find that place where the peace of God could really reign in me fully...because I couldn't separate my human emotions from the situation. I think God caught on. :-)

Each day, I get a "Verse of the Day" from a radio station that Joshua and I love, http://www.air1.com/. Here are the verses that led up to the day we found out he was going for sure...and then a few days afterward.


22 December Verse of the Day:
The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.
Psalm 103:13 NLT


21 December Verse of the Day:
The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.
Lamentations 3:25 NLT


20 December Verse of the Day:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12 NLT


19 December Verse of the Day:
So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!
Psalm 31:24 NLT


18 December Verse of the Day:
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
Psalm 33:22 NLT


17 December Verse of the Day:
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
Psalm 39:7 NLT


16 December Verse of the Day:
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NLT


15 December Verse of the Day:
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.



It never ceases to amaze me the things that God uses to speak to us....emails, songs, text messages at just the right moment...not to mention prayers from friends, quiet moments alone with Him, and His word. My heart is crying out for more of Him...these are hard days. Tomorrow he leaves. But we are clinging to the hope we have in God and knowing that we will indeed be "strong and courageous" for Him. I pray that whatever season you are walking through right now...whether it is a season of great joy, great sorrow, great loneliness or great anticipation...know that God's promises are for ALL of us. Look for the incredible ways that He wants to speak to your heart today...its gonna be good.

*love*
~meg