an effort to understand (or why not Portland?)

What happens when you tell the world your plans? You have to tell them you've changed them.

Those of you who have been following our story probably remember a blog post from October about our plans to move to Portland (I removed it temporarily while I have been trying to put this post together).

We have decided to stay here in Oklahoma (can you hear the cheers coming from the grandparents?).  There are some peripheral reasons for this, but primarily we are choosing to make Kevin's health a priority.

Questions start forming: does he have cancer? is he seriously ill? what happened to him?

War happened.

Yes, it was almost three years ago.
Yes, he served two tours.
Yes, he seems fine.
Yes, we are a happy family.

While all of those statements are true, it is nearly a daily mental struggle.  If his legs had been blown off by an IED (improvised explosive device) people would be anxious to serve him, however he is trying to pull the shrapnel out of his heart and his mind, which is an injury that is completely unseen.  There are very few civilians who have an inkling of what it is like for our returning soldiers, especially the ones who saw intense combat (Read this article by a soldier who was able to articulate really well what the experience is like).

Perhaps the inability of civilians to understand is because it is incredibly difficult for soldiers to communicate what war really has done to them internally. Sure they can tell you stories, but this is not the same as explaining why though they love their families and war was possibly one of the worst experiences of their lives, they want to go back.

Kevin has described PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a dark cloud over him that cannot be lifted.  Some days it is merely overcast, but others have tornadoes and the threat to take shelter.

So, we are staying.  We are learning how to cope, how to heal, and how to best love each other through this part of our journey.


Sunday best

It's hard to believe these guys are 16 months old.  Here they are looking absolutely handsome.
 Eli has discovered accessories; belts, scarves, sunglasses, you name it, he is excited to wear it.
 Evan is our climber!  He is capable but cautious, here he is preparing for his career as a performing cowboy.
These days Eli jabbers away with nonsense words, but will talk to you for ten minutes or more, Evan is working towards real words like ball, Papa, eye, bye, and a couple others (Eli on the left, Evan on the right).


note from self

Last night I was talking with some friends, and one of them started to share with the rest of the girls something "profound" I had told her.  My ears perked up, "what did I say?"  I honestly couldn't remember.

She began to explain the scenario, and it came flooding back to me:

When the babies were small (which actually lasted for quite a while), Kevin was working late, I had already put our big boys to bed, fed the little ones, swaddled them, and was standing over one and calming the other one down.  I rotated between Evan and Eli; one would be crying while I held the other, and it continued this way for at least an hour.

I felt like I was at a breaking point, and I cried out to God, "Please...please, help them, put your hands on them, calm their little bodies, I believe you can do it, take this burden away even if it's just for an hour."

As my friend explained, she was on the edge of her seat, wondering, did he? Did God calm them?

No.  They continued to scream and cry.

But through their tears the Holy Spirit spoke gently to my heart saying, "My grace is sufficient, I will calm your heart, this is how you will know more fully who I am."

It is in moments of desperation we find the grace of God to be most fulfilling.