Hmmm... How to explain the feeling of finally getting to be with my husband again after being apart for three months straight with only letters and about 1.5 minutes total of telephone communication... That's a rather difficult task. I would say that there were feelings of relief, long-lost comfort, and SO MUCH JOY and excitement. When the time finally came near, I could hardly believe it. It seemed like years since I had last seen my husband. The Tuesday before we left for San Diego was the longest work day of my life. All day long I repeatedly asked my coworkers if it was time to go home yet. When I FINALLY got off of work that evening, I went straight home to do all of the last minute packing and to make a whole bunch of Cameron’s favorite oatmeal M&M cookies that he had apparently missed a lot since he mentioned them in like five different letters. When the cookies were done, I loaded up the car and headed out to Cameron’s parents’ house where I was staying since his dad and I were going to be leaving at 4:00 to head to the Kansas City airport. I did not sleep a wink the night before! Well, I did but only for about three hours. I woke up at 3:45 on Wendesday morning and then settled in for the two hour drive to Kansas City. After standing in line for hours, a three hour layover in Denver and another long flight, we finally landed in San Diego around 2:00pm. Talk about excitement! Unfortunately I still had to wait to see the love of my life because family day was not until the next day. On the day of our arrival, I met up with a girl whose husband was in the same platoon as mine and we all had dinner together and walked around Old Town San Diego. The next morning, I got up very early to prepare for seeing my husband. The first time I saw him was when they were all running. When they stopped and stood in their lines, he was standing directly in front of me! And then they all ran away… About three hours later, the new Marines were released to spend the rest of the day on base with their families. I saw him there all handsome in his uniform and tried to make it through the crowd. Finally, the moment that I had been waiting for so long for arrived. We met each other and of course instantly fell into each other’s arms. He hugged me tighter than ever before. The tears were falling freely and when I looked up he surprised me by kissing me in front of a million people including his dad, brother, sister-in-law, and our toddler niece. It was such a happy moment and I was shaking so badly that I thought I would fall down when he let go of me! A photographer took our picture as I removed his wedding band from the necklace that I was wearing and placed it back on his finger. Refraining from touching him after that was rather difficult but after the first five minutes of the reunion, he had to follow all of the rules for Marines in uniform. Watching the graduation the next day was very cool but finally getting to have my husband back for ten days straight after having not seen him or heard his voice for three months was even better. The whole ten days was spent visiting family and friends. And we didn’t even get to see everyone! The ten days flew by and I loved every second of it. My husband truly is an amazing person and I love him with my whole entire heart.
Well, I must say that this has been a rather emotional week. And it is only Monday! Thankfully, I am at the end of another day and not the beginning. I've been rather teary ever since late Saturday night as I was counting sheep while trying to fall asleep. Let me tell you this, counting sheep does NOT work when your mind keeps wandering back to your husband who has been away for almost three months... I don't think I ever made it past three sheep before I started day dreaming (or rather "night dreaming" while I was still awake) about graduation day and the ten days of leave. We are now in the single digits and needless to say, I think that this will be The longest week of my entire life. Nine days until I see my wonderful husband face to face! We're in the single digits, folks! Yesterday, I got to see a picture of Cameron. I was shocked to see how tan he is now but he looks absolutely fantastic! I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished. He is even the fastest sprinter in his company! I am looking forward to the days ahead and finally getting to be in his arms again. Over the course of the past few months, I have noticed that I cry at the most simple things. Letters that I receive, seeing pictures of marines (especially mine!) online, songs on the radio... It always seems to be the worst on days that I actually wear makeup too. We're going to be doing this for at least the next four years (possibly more). There are days when we both struggle a lot and days when we wonder how we're ever supposed to just keep going. Ultimately though, God will always provide. He's always there and he will carry us through when we don't think that we can go any further. He provides peace and rest and whenever I start thinking that I can't do it, He is quick to remind me that I can and that all I have to do is trust Him. He'll take care of the rest. This has been such an emotional journey full of ups and downs but I am looking forward to what is to come! I should probably invest in some waterproof mascara though...
Exactly one year ago today, I made the best decision of my life (aside from salvation) to marry the love of my life and best friend. It's been an interesting journey this year. After returning from our honeymoon in Colorado Springs, we began our lives in a new town with no friends and no jobs. When we moved to Emporia, we were both nervous because everything was so completely new to us but we were excited to be starting the new chapter of our lives. Within two weeks of getting married, Cameron and I got plugged in to Flint Hills Christian Church where we quickly made friends and started to get involved as part of the church family. Money was tight because it turns out that jobs are sparse in Emporia but we somehow made it by on the little nest egg that we had saved up before the wedding. We spent a lot of our time during the summer doing church activities, spending time with new friends, and taking long walks along the railroad tracks. In August, we both started taking classes from Emporia State University where he was studying secondary education in history and I was studying elementary education. Life got busy but we still always made time for each other. In September, Cameron and I somehow both found jobs. While mine was not the most desirable of positions, it was a job. We made it through. By the time Christmas started drawing near, I had taken on another seasonal part-time job and was really feeling the stress. Cameron was always waiting for me even when I got home late at night with a hug ready. Miraculously, Cameron and I were both able to get a full week of work off during the week of Christmas and we both really enjoyed the break and just spending time with each other. In January, it was back to school and work and that is when Cameron really started talking about joining the Marine Corps. I was a little surprised at first but I started getting to used to the idea after a few weeks of talking about it. Sometime during the beginning of February, Cameron and I came to the conclusion that joining would be the best thing for us in the long run. I never imagined that it would all happen so fast. Cameron and I did TONS of research on the Corps and on February 13th, Cameron went and talked to the recruiter for the first time. On February 14th, we both went and talked to the recruiter together. Everything was crazy from that point on. We were traveling back and forth trying to find documents and filling out paper work and making many trips to Topeka for whatever it was that we had to do there. Cameron's scheduled ship out date was May 1st but he was on stand-by for April 1st and that is when he ended up going. I didn't know until that morning so naturally I was not prepared emotionally for what was to come. Leaving my husband at the hotel in Kansas City knowing that I wouldn't see him or hear his voice for three months was the absolutely hardest thing that I had ever had to do but looking back now, I am glad that he left in April instead of May. I'm glad that we are close to being done with basic now. In 24 days, I will be reunited with the love of my life, my one and only, my best friend. These past few months have been rough and full of day to day challenges but I am so glad that we didn't wait to get married. God's plan is always so much better than our own and I have been learning so many things on a daily basis. I am so thankful to have such an amazing husband who loves God and loves me and is always looking to do what is best for our little family. I love him so much and I thankful for him everyday! I'm sad that we are not able to spend today together but I am so glad that we are married. People always ask if I still would have married Cameron if I had known that he was going to join the Marine Corps and the answer is ABSOLUTELY 100 PERCENT YES! I love my husband with my whole heart and I would have married him regardless of his occupation. :)
Photo credit goes to my lovely sister-in-law, Kara Cunningham.
The day is finally starting to get closer! Well, technically it is always getting closer but now it actually feels like it. It has definitely been a long, hard journey but it is so nice to know that we are finally getting there. I've had my bad days of tears and depression and good days of trusting God and motivation to be the best wife that I can to my husband and now we are almost to that wonderful day when we are finally reunited. Since I last wrote, I have moved back to my hometown to live with my sister, started my new/old job, and gotten re-established in my church at home. These days, I am busying myself by making preparations for when I finally get to see the love of my life once more. I'm searching for flights and hotels and basically just making travel plans. I am also looking for the perfect outfit and doing my best to be in the best shape possible for that wonderful day. I am so excited that I can hardly stand it! I have definitely been tested in many ways since Cameron left for basic training on April 1st, 2013. As a result, I believe that I have become a better Christian and a better wife. I have really been learning to trust God and I can now see how he has been using my struggle for good. As a wife, I have really just been striving to be supportive to my husband in every way possible. I pray for him constantly and I am always looking for new ways to show him my love and to honor both him and God. I'm not going to lie, this has been extremely difficult for me and anyone who knows me well (or even not-so-well) can testify about just how much I have struggled. Especially in the beginning. Throughout it all though, I have learned a great deal of things and I am thankful for the experiences that God has given me and the lessons that he has taught me. While I never want to be separated from my husband again, I know that with him being in the Marine Corps now, that is just wishful thinking. But now I know that no matter what, God will provide and he will pull us through. The strength of mine and my husband's love for one another has also been tested throughout this whole journey and I have come to see just how strong it truly is. I can't help but get tears in my eyes when I think about all of the obstacles that we have overcome together with God. I have been greatly blessed with the life that I have been given and I wouldn't want to have it any other way. I love my man and can't wait to see him in 26 days!
AHHHHHH!!! I think they call this week before finals "dead week" for a reason. Things here are a bit crazy right now. The semester is coming to an end and I am busy with final projects and preparations for all of my exams. As a student who has been in college for the past five years (and still isn't graduating even though she's never failed any classes and has only changed her major one time), I've been through this whole finals week thing about a dozen times. This feels different though. In addition to all of the usual stuff, my car is broken and stealing all of my money and I am in the midst of packing up everything I own so to get ready to move back to my hometown to live with my younger sister until Cameron graduates from basic. Everything's up in the air however I am still able to stay positive. God has been teaching me to rely on him more and more and I am beginning to understand and realize things that I never understood or realized before. My mind has been blown. I am overwhelmed and constantly amazed at how God has been working in my life and also in my husband's life. I must say, He is the only thing that keep me going when times get tough. :)
I finally started receiving letters from my husband! The first one arrived on Saturday, April 20th. Since then, I have received another six which brings the grand total up to seven! Talk about a roller coaster of emotions on my part! I am always so incredibly excited but then the letters sometimes make me cry. The first few were quite sad. My poor husband was miserable but he is doing so much better now. The last letter was so positive that I wanted to jump up and down and spin in circles and just squeal with delight however I tried to contain my excitement since the previously mentioned behaviors most likely would not be socially accepted in a coffee shop... I am just so proud of him! He is one of the prayer leaders and his platoon is doing well. In his letters, he has directed me toward two passages of the Bible: All of James 3 and Colossians 3:1-17. I love reading what he has been studying. He also inquired about how my reading of the Bible is going (I am currently reading in Exodus). It seems like we have both grown so much all throughout our experiences with the military. God is definitely using this difficult time of separation to build us up. It is amazing to read through the letters because I can actually see how we have both been growing in Christ and in our relationship with one another. This whole situation has only made our marriage and our bond stronger. One of the things that I look forward to the most when Cameron and I are finally reunited (in 49 days!) is that we will be able to talk to each other about the things that we have experienced and how we have grown and the things that we have learned in person. I love my husband entirely. I love him so much that I cannot even comprehend how a person can love another person so much. There are no words that can accurately describe these feelings. All I can do is stand here in awe. Whenever I think about how far we have come within our first eleven months of marriage, I get tears in my eyes because I see just how amazing God's love truly is. I know that I am not capable of knowing fully how much He loves us but through my marriage to Cameron, I have gotten a glimpse. What I Corinthians 13:4-8 says is so true. We have now survived the first five and a half weeks of basic training. Only six more to go! Until that day, I will be right here relying on God, counting down the days and stalking the mailman! Thankfully he understands that as the wife of a soon-to-be Marine, I have to stalk him so that I can get my letters as soon as they come... God bless you all and hang in there all of you fellow military wives and others that have to experience separation from your husbands. Real love truly does endure all things! This is Mrs. Gilligan, signing off! :)
Okay, so this week has had it's ups and downs. I feel like I've been on an emotional roller coaster but I just have to keep moving forward! Exactly one week ago, the mailman came to my front door with an envelope in his hand (there was postage due). I immediately recognized the handwriting on it as my husband's handwriting and got VERY excited. So I began running around the apartment like a mad woman as I was searching for my wallet which happened to be in my coat pocket that was right next to the door so that I could pay the 66 cents to receive my mail from my amazing husband. The mailman probably thought I was crazy with the way that I was going on as I took the precious envelope from his hand. Once I had the letter in my hand, I had to just stand there for a minute and enjoy the sight of an envelope addressed to "Mrs. Gilligan" with the handwriting of my husband. I finally forced myself to sit down at the table and open it and when I pulled the paper out, I was surprised to see that the whole thing was typed. As I read further, I realized that it was not actually something that my husband had written. It was a form letter that all of the recruits send back home. At first, I was disappointed because I have been dying to hear from my husband. This separation has not been easy by any means but I quickly recovered when I realized that at least the form letter gave me something to respond to and an address to send all of my other letters that were already written to. A pamphlet was also included in the envelope about family day and graduation so that at least gave me some more information. I am still waiting for the first real letter to come but I am doing all sorts of things to make time go by more quickly and new ways to support him through snail mail. There are also several things that I am doing (or not doing) until he gets back. I'm changing routines and making some new ones. For instance, my husband and I always would spend an hour or so together before bed watching an old TV show like the Andy Griffith Show, Gilligan's Island, or Hogan's Heroes. We had done that pretty much every night since we got married. Since the day he left on April 1st, I have not watched any of those at all (because he cannot watch them either) and I am not going to until we are reunited. Instead, I have been using that time for Bible reading and then letter writing. The only way that I can sleep at night is if I write to my husband right before I go to bed. I am also wearing his wedding band on a necklace until he is able to wear it again (we were told that he can wear it at basic but it would probably get dinged up and broken so we decided that it would be best to leave it here so that it will be safe after training). To make the time go faster, I just try to keep myself busy. If I spend too much time alone I cry so I also try to be around friends and family as often as possible. I'm also making all sorts of plans in preparation for my dear husband's graduation. It sort of feels like I am getting ready for my wedding all over again only this time it isn't costing me money and I don't have to worry about dealing with mothers and mother-in-laws or anything else because this will be between just me and my husband. I've developed a new work out plan and I am doing facial and hair masks and a few other things so that I will look my best when we are finally reunited. It's nice because those things help to keep me busy while improving my appearance! I have also spent quite a bit of time shopping online for the perfect dress to wear to his graduation. I have even started making actual traveling arrangements too. I think I've got a couple of close family members that I am going to drive with to graduation and then my husband and I will fly back together. Making plans for graduation and finding little things to look forward too has definitely helped to make time go by more quickly! I have also found that finding new things to do in my letter helps a lot. So far, I have sent him the church bulletins that have all of our church family news and upcoming events as well as my sermon notes, pictures of the fishing trip that I went on with our sister-in-law and niece, and a ziplock bag to keep his letters in. I am still in search of other things that I can do without causing him any grief. I do research or contact my brother-in-law if I am not sure that something will be okay. I would hate if I was the one causing problems for my husband. He has it hard enough. I just can't wait for him to get out. I have a paper chain (like the little kids make in elementary school) to count down the days until he gets home. I have also been changing my computer's background to a different picture of him every week. Most of the time they are silly pictures that make me laugh because they help to keep me positive. Even with the two hour time difference, I realized not too long ago that my husband and I actually wake up and go to bed at the same time each day because he gets up at 5:00 and I get up at 7:00. It is comforting for me to know this because I have made it a point to pray for him every morning before I even get up and right before I go to sleep around 11:30. I also pray throughout the day but those times are set times for praying for my husband. Sorry that this is such a quick cut off but I must be going now. I've got some homework to do. I'll be writing again soon!
Hi all! My name is Emma and I have been happily married to the love of my life for ten months now. My husband, Cameron, and I have been living in a college town in Kansas where we were both working on our bachelor's degrees. I work as an online psychology tutor and my husband worked at RecXtra (an after school program) at Village Elementary School. God, church, and our church family are a humongous part of our lives. It was just a few months ago when my husband started really struggling with school. He wasn't focusing and was just have a bad time in general. It was then that he started mentioning joining the Marine Corps. At first, I sort of just brushed off the thought. He had never given me any indication that he wanted to join the military before so I thought it wasn't a big deal. However, he began to talk about it more and more. We started to seriously discuss the possibilities, the pros and cons, and the effects that it would have on our lives and on our marriage. We eventually came to the conclusion that in the long run, his joining the Marine Corps would be a good thing. After that, everything started happening really fast. Cameron enlisted and was part of the delayed entry program however that was only for a few weeks. Last week, Cameron had an appointment with his recruiter in Topeka and I had just happened to tag along. It was then when the recruiter asked if he would be interested in being one of the "standby shippers". My husband, who has always been the kind to jump right in and get things done wholeheartedly agreed after he looked to me and asked if it would be okay with me. Of course I said yes. His leaving earlier just means that he'll get back sooner, right? Yeah. Well, Cameron had a 50/50 chance of shipping out on April 1st, 2013 and he did ship on that day. I didn't even know for sure until that morning. No one did. After discovering that I have this to say, letting my husband walk away and leaving him at that hotel was the hardest thing that I had ever done. I couldn't even drive away for almost an hour because I was too upset and didn't want to leave him. To make things worse, I got pulled over for the first time ever on the way to my Grandma's house where I was staying for the night and pretty much bawled my eyes out while I was hiccuping and trying to explain to the officer why I made such a stupid driving error. He didn't give me a ticket, thank goodness. I made it to my grandmother's house in one piece physically but emotionally I was an absolute mess. I had cried my eyes dry on the way home which was something that I didn't even know was possible. I wrote the first letter to my husband that night, cried some more, and finally fell asleep around one only to wake up again around four and not fall back asleep. The next day wasn't much better. I cried and cried, hugged my husbands hoodie, cried some more, and wrote another letter. Oh yeah, I also drove home to the apartment where my husband and I live and cried some more because I was there and he was gone. I am thankful that my little brother was there to help me and make sure that I didn't forget to eat because I know that I would have otherwise. I really didn't have an appetite anyway. I couldn't eat more than a few bites at a time because it would make me feel sick. The second day dragged but eventually it was time to get ready for bed. I had just started writing my letter when I got the first phone call. It was quick. 15 seconds long. All he said was that he made it safely, he would be contacting me in two to three weeks via United States Postal Service, that he loved me, and good bye. I don't even know if he heard me say that I loved him too. He hung up that fast. After that, I cried some more (Yes, I was a major cry baby for the first three days). I didn't sleep very much that night. I got four hours at the most and still had to go to class the next morning at eight which was miserable. On Wednesday, I still couldn't eat more than a few bites at a time. My life felt completely empty which makes sense because my whole world is currently located in San Diego, California. I didn't want to go to school or see people. I wanted to hide away. That night however, I had a turn around. I just happened to pick up my Bible and had a sudden realization. I was becoming depressed and I had to put a stop to the oncoming depression immediately. And I did. I spent some time praying and a bit more time reading and guess what happened then. I actually felt better! Of course, I still missed my husband and I still do now and think about him constantly, but I realized that I can't be here being all sad and depressed. That isn't what he needs from me. He is pretty much going through a living hell right now and needs me to keep things going at home and stay positive so that I can give him some much needed support and an outlet to the world outside of boot camp. I am so disappointed in myself for being that way but I am also thankful that I was able to snap out of it rather quickly. That night, I actually slept soundly until my alarm clock went off. The next day, my appetite had returned and I awoke with a determination to support my husband in every way possible. He needs me more than ever and I have to do my best to meet his needs. So yesterday and today I have been doing lots of research on Marine boot camp so that I can get a better understanding of what he is doing so that I can pray for him in a more effective manner. Also, I have begun setting goals for myself and creating routines to make the days go faster. Here are some of the things that I have come up with so far. To start with, I decided that now is a good time for me to get in shape and add some extra beauty routines so that by the time the end of the three months gets here, I'll be extra pretty for my husband when he comes back! I know that sounds a little vain but really, they're just time fillers that happen to have some bonus effects. I have also decided to create a to-do list everyday of things that I MUST accomplish before the day is over. Things on that list can be anything from cleaning the bathroom, to reading a chapter in the Bible, to plucking your eyebrows. Just make sure that you do the things that you put on the list! In addition to that, I have been looking for ways that I can support my dear husband even better. To do that, I have simply placed a notepad and a pen somewhere in every single room. By doing that, I am able to write down my thoughts for the day and send him little tidbits like encouraging song lyrics, Bible verses, and simple love notes without having to do it all at once. I am going to send him pictures of me and also of our nieces whom he adores so much. In addition to that, I am going to be sending him some stamps so that he won't have to worry about going and buying them at the recruit camp and hopefully he'll be able to write more often. I miss my husband like crazy; so much that it hurts. I still cry all the time but I am doing much better. My life has been refocused now and I know that I need to stay positive so that I can provide the encouragement that my husband needs. It's almost like I am just pretending but I have to at least try. I have been writing everyday but I don't have his address yet so the letters are still sitting on the night stand in our room. I am still waiting for that first letter but I will be sure to let you know when I get it! Please do comment if you have any advice or suggestions This whole military thing is new to me so I am definitely still trying to adjust. I would love to connect with some people who have been through the same or similar situations. What did you do in this situation? How did you handle it? Well, that's all for now. This military wife is signing off to write another letter!