This is just me talking, because I tend to do that from time to time… you know, ramble. And that’s okay. The internet has given people like me a voice that may not have had a voice otherwise (thank you, Internet!) which if you think about it… (this is where you think about it) could be considered a BIG responsibility. I mean, if we ALL have the possibility of having a voice, we should be very careful about what we say, and we should honestly mean the things we DO say. In saying that, here is my honest to goodness pledge (right hand raised) to be genuine at all times.
Last year, was a rough year for us. I took an extended, but largely unintended, hiatus from all things media related like the blog and Facebook. We started the year with some very ambitious and well intentioned goals. Oh, yeah… so you know how when someone starts out like that, you just cringe because you know there will be a train wreck. Sometimes it’s a slow train wreck, but a train wreck nonetheless. That was us. First, we found out we were expecting again! Yay! That was a good thing, because we are a growing family and everyone was really excited. But this particular pregnancy was kind of rough on me. The morning sickness was worse, the exhaustion was worse, everything was worse. Even the delivery was harder. And it put a strain on every part of our life, because for whatever reason- the family unit revolves around Mom. So, if Mom isn’t doing well… no one is really going to function at tip top.
Then there was Iraq. We tried to keep this part of our lives private. And I think in some ways, it did stay private. But at home, Iraq compounds normal day to day activities. We have good days and we have bad days. I know the kids will never have known us differently, and perhaps that is a good thing, but maybe someday when they are older they will be able to understand why we are the way we are. It’s not bad- but it is different.
I should back up a little… Keith and I (Rebecca), are both Iraqi war veterans. We were both in the Army, which is how we met, and we are both out now due mostly to the war. We did not know each other prior to the war. When I joined, I felt confident that I was going to retire from the Army. Then the war started… and everything changed. I don’t say these things to draw attention to ourselves, because actually this is really hard for me to talk about with any depth, but we are who we are due to a great part of how the War on Terrorism has played out in our lives. It is inescapable to be able to talk about us, without talking about the war in some way.
Ever have one of those moments where your life is heading in a direction and it’s kind of on auto pilot, then all of a sudden something happens and you are flung through a 90 degree turn? The war is like that for us. We were trucking along trying to get through life doing what we could and doing well with what time we had… then the war started. And for whatever reasons, we were in the Army at the time, caught up in events bigger than ourselves with greater depth than we could possibly have tried to imagine. We grew up and maybe too fast and maybe more than some people ever will, but that is what war does.
Last year, was a pretty big deal for the history of the war in Iraq. Last year, was the year that we officially lost the war. Did we really ever HAVE a mission? I guess that is the bigger question. To be honest, we were set up for failure from the beginning, but until last year, I think that we held onto some hope that MAYBE the things we did there would have some sort of the positive impact for the people that call Iraq home. Last year, was the year we had to come to terms with the fact that everything we sacrificed in effort to help in Iraq was in vain. There was an unimaginable amount of grief involved for us who are no strangers to what deep grief feels like. It was a strange place, because there were some days that I felt ready to just push the button to blow up the entire Middle East myself, and then there were other days that the rational part of my brain had to really talk the emotional part of my brain back out of dropping everything to jump on a plane and go back to do… whatever it would take to make it right again. I, personally, flip flopped back and forth on that regularly. I had to come to terms with understanding the mission (whatever it was) was never going to be finished and that Americans in Iraq did more harm than good. I was needed at home and my kids needed me, even though the sheep dog inside of me was ready to go at a moment’s notice. The war had to be left in the past as a piece of history in our lives. It was the only way to move forward.
Looking back to those months last summer, I am just glad they are over. We can’t even begin to predict what the future holds, but we can control how we should react when future situations arise. It was a time for us of rededication. We really needed to step back, which we did, even though we did not want to. I mean, really--- who would want to deal with these kinds of things? We don’t, but we also know we need to do things that we don’t want to do, because it is good for us. We didn’t go to the farmers’ market near as much as we would have liked, we did not get near as much done on the farm as we wanted, and we questioned the direction our lives were headed. Where did we want to go? Is the farm what we want to do? Can we handle everything we are working towards? Particularly with all the challenges we have faced and continue to face. We talked about this a lot. We were sad, we were grieving, we were very, very angry. Emotions were running full swing all summer long (on top of the pregnancy!), but this is why. Iraq happened. And there was nothing we could do, but respond.
And our response is this- Yes, we want our family to be happy and joyful. Yes, we want the farm. Yes, we want the farm to be successful. Yes, we have work to do. Yes, we are willing to do it despite our circumstances. But yes, there are things out of our control. We all have those things. And it’s okay, because it is just part of being human.
And yes, we had a baby in October taking our family firmly up to nine people. At the end of the day, our family is what really matters. That is the biggest responsibility of all. We’ve been entrusted with it, and we take that seriously. We know that our circumstances are sometimes bigger than we are, but they are not bigger than God who already knew the outcome before we knew the problem, and so we have to put those things in His hands and know that He has already handled it. So, this is what we have learned through this-
It is good to sit back and decide how you want to live, and you may need to reevaluate that from time to time. We’ve decided we want to be faithful (our faith as Christians is a BIG part of this journey!), joyful, humble, and wise, because there is still hope for the future. That is our new mission, and it is good to actually have a mission.