Family, Marriage, Military life, Uncategorized

The life of a military wife – waiting on phone calls

The day is like any other day until you get a phone call, “Babe, I’m deploying.”

To the average person, those words may mean nothing. To a military wife those words send a rush of dread, fear, and questions through a mind already flooded with them. Can you tell me where you’re going? Can you tell me for how long? Most questions cannot be answered…especially the hardest ones. Will you come back to me?

You’ve had some time to process and you try to pretend like that day will never arrive. You go through logistics and make plans for life apart hoping it will never come to fruition. Then suddenly you see the duffle bags spread out on the living room floor with shirts nicely rolled and socks wrapped tightly waiting to be checked off a list of essentials that are supposed to get your husband through the coming months. You know it’s real, but you aren’t ready for the reality to set it. Not yet. One more night.

As you close your eyes you finally allow every emotion to swallow you whole until you can hardly breathe. It feels like you won’t breath again until he’s home.

You’re strong for your husband, strong for your kids, strong for your friends and family back home who are so supportive, but also worry about you. That brave face remains until you’ve said goodbye in an incredibly intimate moment surrounded by strangers who have no idea of the dark fears racing through your mind as you send your soldier away for God and country. Once he’s out of sight you can allow a tear to fall, but you steady your voice to tell your children we’ll all get through it together. You know that’s true, though you’re not sure how. One of those strangers gently touches your arm and thanks your family for their service. You want to respond, but if you open your mouth you know you won’t be able to stop the emotions from spilling out so you just grin and nod. Then finally, in the dark solitude of your cold and lonely bed you sleep with the tv on to drown out your thoughts. As you close your eyes you finally allow every emotion to swallow you whole until you can hardly breathe. It feels like you won’t breath again until he’s home.

Yes, we sacrifice holidays, birthdays, and big events, but the hardest to sacrifice are the days and the moments. We sacrifice laughs and inside jokes and memories that are made apart. We sacrifice Sundays at church and life lessons. We sacrifice morning breakfasts and evening meals. The most mundane family moments are the most precious to a military family.

For months we connect with letters, then emails, then instant messages, and then voice calls and video calls as the technology in war zones progresses. Their tents turn to barracks and their chow halls turn to fast food and specialty coffee while outside those walls the very real danger of war still haunts them. You wait for weeks for any word. When it doesn’t come you try unsuccessfully to keep your mind from wandering to the worst case scenario. Then finally, a phone call, “Hey babe, I’m okay.” You can hear sirens and mortars in the background, but your mind zeros in on his voice because you know in a moment it will be gone.

Over time you’ve built a routine. More often than not you’ve built up a wall too. You try to balance living in the moment and guarding yourself at the same time. You find a tribe, rely on your family, volunteer your time, lean into work, find a hobby…anything to keep your mind occupied and the days short. Everyone feels the ache with each passing day, but the days pass nonetheless and we’re able to smile and laugh and just wait for the day our lives are whole again. Then, another phone call, “Honey, I’m coming home.” It doesn’t feel real. If you let it, those words might just take over so you try and steady yourself. You want it to be a promise, but you’re still waiting and still praying that he truly does make it home to you.

A sunny day finally arrives. Or maybe it’s raining, or it’s snowing, or it’s dark and damp, but in your heart the day is perfect. He steps off that plane onto the tarmac and you wave your flags and your kids jump with their signs painted in red, white, and blue. You’ve never felt so proud. You pick him out of the crowd of camouflage by his familiar gait and you can finally breath again. You embrace and breath him in and all is right in your world at least for a little while. You’ve been apart for so many months, but now begins the fight to put you family back together. It is a process of breaking down walls and reconnecting as a family side-by-side.

Military life is hard, but loving this military man is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I’d do it again 1,000 times and until the next phone call comes along, I’ll love him like it’s my last day.

Family, Life lessons, Uncategorized

Thank you Quarantine

Dear Quarantine,

You’re getting a lot of hate right now. You’ve turned our entire world upside down. Because of you and that virus we’re scared, overwhelmed, restless, unstable, lonely, unsure of the future. Amidst the chaos let me be the first to say, thank you.

Thank you for forcing me to slow down. Thank you for reminding me that “essential” has lost its true meaning. Thanks for the time to snuggle and learn to ride bikes and for the silly moments that we would have rushed through. Thanks for giving me time to work on my passions. Thank you for the time to complete some of the endless projects that have only been building to this point.

Thank you for the hours of laughter that I would normally miss during the day. Thank you for the milestones I may have missed and for the lifelong memories. Thanks for forcing us to find new ways to connect and for reminding us of what we’ve all been taking for granted.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Thank you for highlighting those among us who are fearless defenders of our health, safety, and comfort. We salute them.

Thank you for turning many in our world to the Father – the peace-giver – when our peace could no longer come from the world and comforts we’ve built around ourselves. You have reminded us that the world is mostly good and that the Lord created us to be overcomers. Thank you for pointing us toward the One who never lost control amidst the chaos and for reminding us that there is a peace that passes all understanding.


A grateful quarantiner

Family, Motherhood, Uncategorized

I’m glad they have each other…

Listen y’all…

One day her brothers will threaten to beat up a boy she likes and she’ll hate them for it.

One day she will be the only girl they can cry in front of when they have their hearts broken.

One day they’ll realize they don’t really have much in common.

But today, they choose to all sleep in the same room on any given Tuesday.

They’ll share secrets and memories that mommy and daddy will never be a part of.

Today, they hug each other and share I Love You’s for no particular reason. They jam out to the same music in the car and wrestle endlessly in front of cartoons at the end of each day.

Today, they fight over silly things like who got to sit by the window last and who ate the last Goldfish, but one day they will be the first to stick up for each other in any situation.

One day they may become ruthless and competitive and resent each other’s strengths, but today they read to each other, help each other, and applaud even the smallest of victories.

One day they’ll beg for space, but today they hate the thought of one night apart and they squeal when they see each other after a long day separated by school or daycare.

For now, I’m glad they have built-in best friends. They learn from each other how to share and be kind. They learn how to be loyal and forgiving, but also when to be tough and when to show grace. My prayer is that their siblings will truly be one of their greatest blessings in life like mine are. I pray they will continue to cheer in each other’s moments of victory and cry with each other in the failures. I pray they build each other up, hold each other accountable, and always steer each other toward Christ. I pray they remember whose they are.

For now, they may not appreciate every moment. But, life gets hard. Tough times inevitably lie ahead and mommy and daddy won’t always be there, but they’ll have each other. They’ll share secrets and memories that mommy and daddy will never be a part of. God willing, long after mommy and daddy are gone, they’ll still have each other.

The Lord uniquely designs each family and I’m so thankful for the way He chose to build ours because I’m forever grateful that my kids have each other.

Family, Life lessons, Uncategorized

To the man who loved me first…

Maybe it’s because as the youngest child I spent much of my youth with just you and mom. Maybe it’s because we’ve always shared a passion for sports and music. Maybe it’s because we both cherish tradition. Maybe I just simply never lost the wonder a little girl has when she believes her daddy is a superhero. Whatever the reason, even after three children of my own, I’ve never stopped being a daddy’s girl.

I still hear your voice and words of wisdom almost desperately pleading with me, lingering long after I walked out the door as you tried to hang on to your little girl, “Remember whose you are,” not only as your daughter, but as a daughter of the King. Your words remind me still to live worthy. You prayed over me as I stepped out into life on my own and I’m certain you continue to pray for me today.

I chose a man who treats me like his queen because I grew up seeing myself as your princess.

You encouraged me to be strong, to practice hard, and when the time came to put my game face on. You taught me to make no excuses. I only know my own strength because you brought it out of me.

You taught me to work hard, pray hard, love hard, give everything, and then when all is settled, take a nap.

A little girl will never see herself with more worth than when she looks at herself through her daddy’s eyes. I chose a man who treats me like his queen because I grew up seeing myself as your princess. I’m lucky to have had such an incredible example of a husband and father and friend. And though he stole it years ago, you were the first man to have my heart.

No matter what, I’ll always be your little girl.

Your sweet pea


Life lessons, Motherhood, Uncategorized

What soccer gave me…

Listen y’all…I know that many young women (even those who desire to have children someday) cringe at the term “soccer mom.” The term invokes images of minivans filled with stinky, noisy children, and Capri Sun straw wrappers everywhere. For me, there is nothing better. The only thing I ever wanted to be was a soccer mom, both literally and figuratively. I love Saturday mornings gathering up gear, rushing to games, cheering on the sidelines, bringing team snacks. I love it all.

As a lifetime lover of soccer myself, I dreamed of kids that loved the game as much as I do. As a kid, my dad was always my coach and my mom never missed a game. My brother and sister also played. We were a sports family, but soccer was always #1 in my heart. Because of that, I always hoped my own family would be the same.

I don’t want my kids to play soccer, I want them to have all of the things that soccer gave me.

This weekend my daughter took the field for the first time. She was the one
with the beautiful brown ponytail all the way to her bum swinging with every
step. She was the one dancing in the middle of the field with the pink cleats and shin guards, and the giant matching bow in her hair. She’s not quite the tom boy I was growing up. She didn’t score a goal. I’m pretty sure the few times she touched the ball she dribbled in the wrong direction. But, still, as I watched her on that field my heart was happy. She was laughing with her friends and she really loved that bow. I’m almost certain this soccer mom somehow gave birth to a cheerleader.

I’m not living vicariously through my kids or trying to force my passions onto them. Playing soccer was not a chore, it was what I loved to do and I want my children to find that for themselves – even if it does end up being cheerleading. These are some of the most cherished memories I have growing up. On the field is where I met my dearest friends, who are still my closest tribe more than 20 years later.

I learned more about myself in those 90-minute games than in any classroom. I learned to push myself both mentally and physically. I learned how to balance my time and how to fulfill commitments as part of a team. I learned how to be a good teammate by relying on people and “leaving it all on the field” for something bigger than myself.  I learned how to encourage others and I learned how to suck it up when I fell flat.

Soccer taught me how to be tough. It taught me that “practice like you play” carries over to the real world in so many ways. I learned how to be coachable and how to be a valuable member of a team even when you aren’t the most naturally talented. I learned that everyone has something to give and nearly everyone is stronger than they think they are.

I don’t want my kids to play soccer, I want them to have all of the things that soccer gave me. If in the end the game turns out to be baseball (Lord help us) or ballet or cheerleading or any combination, I’ll be happy as long as my children find something that they are passionate about. I want them to love something that isn’t always easy. I want them to fail and I want them to win. And I want them to cherish the memories they look back on.

But, also, I really want them to love soccer 😉

Motherhood, Uncategorized

A mom’s worst nightmare

Listen y’all, this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever shared with the world, but here it goes…

I forgot my son in the back of the car. That’s right. The mom who the world thinks has it all together forgot her newborn son in the back of the car.

My whole life, leaving a child in a hot car had been one of my worst fears. While I feel like most don’t understand how a person could just “forget” their child in the back seat, I had read enough stories and heard enough personal testimony to know that it can happen to even the most dedicated and loving parent. Knowing this, I took every precaution I could think of. I put stickers in the car that I picked up from a local city hall during a campaign to raise awareness. I made arrangements with daycare providers to always call if my child was unexpectedly late or absent. I regularly reminded my husband if our routine changed and I was sure to speak out loud who would be responsible for dropping off or picking up the children. When my sister had her first child I was only 16 years old, but I had already begun to have nightmares of leaving my nephew in a hot car. And they continued with each child that entered our family after that.

I am more than cautious. I am more than aware of the dangers. I am more than educated on how easily it can happen. And still, it happened to me.

To say I was “out of my routine” is an understatement. I just had a newborn, our third, and I suffered complications after his birth. Those complications and hormones put me in a postpartum fog that I didn’t experience with the other two. For the first time since I was 15 years old I wasn’t working full time. My husband received orders overseas and we were trying to make arrangements for our home, our kids, our household goods, our three dogs, our newborn, get passports, schedule flights, schedule hotels, and the list goes on and on and on.

I tell you this not to seek any attention or pity for myself but in the hopes that the shame I feel and receive will be worth it if it helps even one family.

We had cleared out of our home and were staying with friends waiting for our flight overseas. One morning I took the older two children to preschool and the baby and I drove to our home to prepare for a walk through with our realtor. I was on the phone with my husband and had a million things running through my mind. My precious angel was silently sleeping in the back seat.

Thank God for whatever in that split second made me snap back into the reality of the moment. Thank God for every moment that I have had to hold sweet Asher since that morning when so many other families did not.

I got to the house, pulled into the drive way and still on the phone with my husband, rushed to the backyard to ensure the landscaper had come as he promised the day before to ensure the yard would be ready for photos.

I was relieved to tell my husband that yes, the landscaper had come. We hung up the phone and with one thing marked off the list and 999,999 more things running through my mind I simply walked inside, up the stairs of the completely empty house to the laundry room where one final load of cleaning rags needed to be folded and packed.

It was only about two minutes. I had folded maybe three small rags when all of a sudden in a flash my mind realized the silence and I gasped out loud as I bolted downstairs. Still in pain from child birth, but feeling none of it as I skipped multiple stairs, opened the garage door and ran, ducking underneath before the door was even half-way open.

Asher was still sleeping peacefully in the back seat but I pulled him out and held him, ran inside and sat on the floor crying and saying over and over, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord.”

It was early May in Arizona. Thankfully the morning was cool and I parked in the shade. Asher was only in the car for a couple of minutes, but his tiny nose had already begun to form beads of sweat. I have tears running down my face as I type this now.

Weeks went by before I told anyone, even my husband, what had happened that day. I couldn’t let the words come out of my mouth. I spent nights up with Asher crying as he nursed thinking of what could have happened and unable to sleep thanking God for his mercy on us that day. When I finally was able to share it with my husband all I said was, “My worst fear as a mother came true.” He knew exactly what I meant and he immediately responded, “You left Asher in the car.” Yes. I left my child in the car. My throat closes around those words as they hang there. My heart pounds and my hands are shaking. It seems unimaginable. But, it happened.

I pray that friends and family who read this are shocked. I pray that people say, “Oh my gosh, I would never imagine she would be the type of mom to do something like that.” Because the truth is, I’m not. Most aren’t. There’s a science behind the difference between “forgetting” and just completely “not remembering”. It sounds like semantics, but scientifically speaking, a person can have memories of something that never happened, like bringing the car seat inside as I had already done for Asher and his two older siblings countless times. If you’re shocked that this happened to us then that means it can happen to you.

Even with every precaution, my sweet baby was still in danger. Thank God for his hedge of protection. Thank God for whatever in that split second made me snap back into the reality of the moment. Thank God for every moment that I have had to hold sweet Asher since that morning when so many other families did not.

Please, I beg you, take precautions. Help those around you. Don’t be afraid to ask where the baby is or to double check. If you’re in a postpartum fog, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Audibly designate who is in charge. Use a sticky note. Leave a shoe in the back seat. Leave your phone in the back seat. Put a string around your finger. Whatever works for you. Don’t ever assume that the worst couldn’t happen to you. Because it can.

I expect a slew of negative comments coming my way. If I’m honest, maybe that’s why I’ve waited so long to share this story. But, if only one family is spared an ounce of heartbreak, then I’ll take it.

And to the mama who didn’t have a happy ending my heart breaks for you. Please know that God is still good and try to forgive yourself.



Listen y’all…I know the idea of motherhood is all sweet and gentle and filled with dancing in the kitchen and kissing boo boos. But, for me, the things that make me feel most like a mom are the very basic things that moms do during the course of a day or week. Most of them have to do with me remembering my mom doing these same things throughout my childhood. So, here’s my random list of the times when I feel most like a mom:

  • Putting folded laundry away in their drawers after they’ve gone to sleep. I specifically remember drifting off to sleep as a child hearing my mom shuffling around my room opening closets and drawers and picking dirty clothes up off the floor. It’s strangely comforting.
  • Reaching to the back seat while driving one-handed down the freeway to grab their trash. Every mom knows without asking what is needed when you hear the chip bag crumble and a voice from the back say, “Mom, here.”
  • Answering any question with, “Go ask your father.” I remember this back and forth very well as a child and I remember once my siblings and I were finally old enough to work it to our advantage.
  • Giving “the snap” and “the look” in the middle of church and never having to say a word. Oh yes…y’all know what I’m talking about.
  • Waking them up each morning for school by rubbing their chubby little hands. 
  • Any time both the first and middle names come out. It’s serious business when you say it through gritted teeth.
  • Yelling from downstairs to them playing upstairs that dinner is ready….like, 17 times before anyone actually moves.

How are you spending your between moments?

The real joys of motherhood are found in the day-to-day. We can all create picture perfect Facebook moments, but the time spent between those snapshots is what life and family are really all about. How are you spending your between moments?

Feel free to share the moments that make you feel most like a mom in the comments!

Life lessons, Uncategorized

Her hands…

You can learn a lot about someone by looking at their hands. Our hands tell the stories of our lives. In our family, these hands have been passed down from generation to generation. These hands remind us that we are family. We are unbreakable. These hands remind me that to be a “Wilcox girl” is both an honor and a responsibility.

Today, she is no doubt holding her daddy’s hand at the feet of Jesus. 

The Bible talks a lot about the hands of God because the thought is relatable, and comforting, and a powerful reminder. There’s nothing more personal than someone’s hands.

Today, my Aunt Jan went home to be with the Lord, but the lives touched by these hands will continue to love her until we see her again. Today, she is no doubt holding her daddy’s hand at the feet of Jesus.

There are many things I’ll remember about Aunt Jan. I’m sure everyone has their own precious memories that they will cling to. I’ll remember her laugh. It was the kind of laugh that could fill a room and brighten 1,000 suns. It’s the kind of laugh that stays with you. I can hear it even now and it makes me smile. I’ll remember her hugs. An embrace that surrounded you and was so full of the love that just poured out of her. I’ll remember her love for her family and her God. I’ll remember her hands.

We love you Aunt Jan. While a piece of our hearts went with you, we carry the truth that we will see you again. Until that day….


Motherhood, Uncategorized

This chair

This seemingly ordinary chair has seen each of our days together – sitting in the corner, inconspicuously soaking up sweet memories that are all too fleeting.

This chair held me as I held each of you before you were born. It heard the quiet lullabies as I rubbed my belly and thought about the fears and my excitement knowing that I would soon hold you in my arms.

Then, this chair became the place where we shared some of our most precious moments together. It’s where we read “Goodnight Moon” every night for two years. It’s where I first sang you the song that my mom sang to me as a little girl…a dream come true. It’s where you learned the words to that song as you grew and began to sing along.

Some day I will hold my children’s children in this chair.

It’s where I rocked you to sleep on nights when I just couldn’t bear to lay you down or let you go. It’s where I nursed you for the first time and where I cried as I nursed you for the last time. It’s where we both fell asleep, your head on my chest breathing in sync, heartbeats in rhythm.

It’s where I spent sleepless nights worried about a fever or a lingering cough. This chair is where I prayed over you and where I asked for patience and wisdom. It’s where I cried as you slept when I felt like I had been too harsh that day.

In this chair, daddy held you and recorded a story book the night before he took our hearts overseas for God and country. Then, where daddy sang to you after you didn’t recognize his face when he finally made it home.

When one became two and two became three, it’s where I sat and spoke words of love and assurance over you knowing that in the morning life would look very different for our little family.

This chair has heard laughter and seen tears. It’s heard stories and songs and heartfelt prayers.

It’s nothing special to look at – just your average chair.

I almost let it go once, making room for the future. But in the end it felt like a part of me. A part of us. A carrier of our memories. And some day I will hold my children’s children in this chair.


Motherhood, Uncategorized

A glimpse of the man he’ll become: A guest blog by Jennifer Tanner

Nothing in all the parenting books prepared me for this… for seeing him this grown. For this glimpse of the man he will become.

Nothing prepared me for what it would feel like to watch him make real friends… friends that weren’t just friends because of convenience, but friends who would laugh with him, encourage him, and push him to be the best version of himself. Friends who would share his success and feel his disappointment with him. Who stand beside him at the blocks and walk with him through the fire.

And nothing prepared me for how much I’d love all of these kids who have become like family. No one told me how much I’d love the parents who made these kids the kind of amazing kids I’m proud my son calls friends. These parents who understand my kid and love him like their own. Who know the life of a swim parent. Who drive him all over creation and then sit beside me with white knuckles gripping our seats because they want success for him as much as I do.

And finally, nothing prepared me for this sport that has such high highs and such painful lows…this sport that is so exhilarating yet so very unpredictable with fractions of seconds meaning the difference between heartache and elation. Nothing prepared me for the times he’d miss the cut and I’d have to help him pick up the pieces. Just like nothing prepared me for the overwhelming pride I would feel watching him work hard for something… or the joy I’d feel when he achieved his goals. Nothing prepared me for this sport that requires so much from his teenage body and mind. This sport he loves enough to invest hours and hours of his life week after week… enough to pour in his heart and soul day after day. And no one told me that without even realizing it, I’d pour in my heart and soul too.

-Jennifer Tanner