Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  There are so many things for which I am thankful...for the gift of grace, mercy, love, and strength.  For my sins having been paid in full by the only One who can completely satisfy it and work out a perfect righteousness for me.  For the sweet way God has and is making Himself known to me.

For my husband and brother (pictured below) who sacrifice so much to protect our freedoms. 

For a husband who loves me and is always doing his best to show me that he does...even when many, many miles separate us.  For my children, who keep me going.  Thankful for the way they give random hugs and the precious way they say "I Love you mommy"   Thankful for a loving and supportive family that I know I can rely on always. 

Thankful for incredible friends who call, text, and message me daily.  For the sweet, sweet friend who sends me a text every single morning that says "Good morning beautiful, I love you"....because she heard me say that is one of the little things I miss.  And for the friend who stays up with me every night till the wee hours when our hearts are heavy and we just need to pray and find things to laugh at.  For a church family that reaches out to me and I know is praying for all of us. 

I am thankful for so much...even deployment.  NO, I am not thankful for my hubby and brother being away from us, again, but I am thankful for the closeness it brings and the real, intimate way that God is making Himself known to me.  These are times that I probably could not have otherwise, and for that I am thankful because I know that He is with me in a way that is undeniably real.  Even when I have 2 empty chairs around the table today...

So may we all remember that we have so much to be thankful for...even in hard times.  Thank God for your blessings today (and always)  His name is worthy to be praised! 

Please remember all of those who are serving our country and are separated from their family and friends.  Pray for their safety and strength.  And remember their families who have an empty chair (or 2) around their tables this holiday.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Lucky Winners Are:

To be completely fair, I used to select the random numbers. The numbers that were generated:
#5 and #4

So congrats to:

Abbie Keel and Kim Wade

Abbie and Kim, I will get your signed books to you soon!

Thank you to all who commented, I wish I had enough copies for everyone. I do hope that you will still get you a copy.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

And The Winners Are....

Using the winners are commenters # 10 and #3 sooo...

Congrats to Stephanie B. and Tabitha Reynolds!!!

Ladies, email me jessicacrow at bellsouth dot net
please include your mailing address in the email so that I can get this book out to you.

Thank you to all of you who left a comment. I wish I had enough for all of you. =) I do hope that you will get you a copy of this book anyway.

Be sure to check out my current give-a-way that will close Nov. 14 at 8pm central. Click HERE to check it out.

Hope that everyone is enjoying their weekend!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Give-A-Way

I am so excited to offer another give-a-way in honor of Veteran's Week.
I am giving-a-way 2 (yep, 2)  SIGNED copies of the devotional book Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I had the unique honor of reviewing this incredibly powerful book before it was even published. I remember reading through this book and being completely inspired by the stories. Stories of perseverance against the odds. Stories of courage in the harrowing experience of war. As well as stories of faith and the reminder that God is with us-He is in even the smallest details. When one of the authors, Jocelyn Green, contacted me with the offer to give 2 copies of this devotional book, I was so excited.

This book is a 365 day devotional book with a collection of stories from men and women who have been closely involved with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The stories come from officers, NCOs, chaplains, special forces, family members, non-military, and even a commander in chief! The stories chronicle events from 9/11 to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are stories of grief, of PTSD, of deployment, of leadership, of courage, of faith, and so much more. These stories bring to life the real challenges each contributor faced along with scripture and a short prayer.

This devotional book opened my eyes to a side of deployment that I have never experienced. The recounts of the firsthand experiences were so powerful and moving, but the most powerful and moving part of each story was the unmistakable comfort of God's hand in each and every situation. Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq and Afghanistanhad a stronger impact on me than any other devotional book I have read. It spurred patriotism, pride, and being more of a prayer warrior. This devotional book is without a doubt one of the most moving devotionals I have ever read and I definitely consider it a must read! It is such a powerful and moving book that I think every one who wants to learn the realities of war as well as learn about God's grace, strength and comfort will benefit from reading it.

Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq and Afghanistan has received:
·         Gold Medal, spiritual/religious category, Military Writers Society of America (award presented in Pittsburgh on Oct. 2, 2010)
·         Silver Medal, inspirational category, Branson Stars and Flags Book Awards (award will be presented in Branson, Mo., Nov. 6 – but I will not be able to be there)

Please click HERE for more information about this incredibly powerful book.

So, how do you win this book???  Just leave me a comment below.  (Remember this devotional book is for anyone)  Because I am a little late getting this up, I am going to leave this contest open until Sunday, Nov. 14 at 8pm central.  I will randomly choose 2 winners at that time.  Good luck!!!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

Today, we salute the courageous men and women who have and are serving our nation. My prayer is that God will continue to be their strength, will be their protector and their shield, and will be their source of courage. So grateful for the sacrifices made by these brave men and women so that we may experience the freedoms we have. Happy Veteran's Day!

I am so thankful for everyone who has served our country, but I am especially thankful
for the brave men in my family who have and are currently serving.  So, thank you to both of my grandfathers, to my dad, to my father in law, to my brother, and to my precious husband.  I am humbled by your service and sacrifices.  Thank you just does not seem adequate. 

My grandfather passed away earlier this year.  He is greatly missed.  I am so proud of the godly man he was and for the service he gave to our country. 

This was my grandfather back when he enlisted...such a handsome man!

My precious husband and brother who are currently deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom.  Thank you Jason, for your commitment to God, to country, and to your family!  You are a hero in mine and the kids eyes...we love you so much!  Jeremy, my little brother, thank you for your service!  I have enjoyed our long conversations and you sharing with me some of your combat experiences...I know those memories must be so difficult. We love our Uncle Jeremy!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Give-A-Way Time!!

In honor of Veteran’s Week 2010 I am so excited to be able to offer 2 (yes, 2!) of you lucky readers an opportunity to win a really excellent book: Faith Deployed, Daily Encouragement for Military Wives

I was contacted by the author, Jocelyn Green, and was asked if I would like to review this book and give-a-way a copy of it to two lucky readers. Well, I jumped at the chance to be able to do this. I reviewed this book a little over a year ago at the end of our 2nd deployment and now that we are in #3, I found myself already turning the pages of this very uplifting and encouraging devotional.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
If you have ever felt overlooked and undernourished as you strive daily to meet the needs of everyone around you-in a culture that largely does not understand your stressful lifestyle-this book is for you. Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives is not a guide to long-distance relationships or a how-to on navigating through the military culture. It does not offer “ten easy steps” for an easier, painless life. Instead, through squarely addressing the challenges you face, Faith Deployed will equip you to respond biblically to the daily struggles that threaten to wear you down.

As a Christian and a military reservist wife who has been through multiple deployments, I am always on the look-out for a book for military wives that is written from a Christian perspective (NOT a follow these "ten easy steps" for a smooth deployment) If that is what you are looking for, then this is the book for you! I found this book to be full of compassion and grace. Each writer featured in this devotional have not only been there done that, they bring these experiences to readers while offering hope to those who are experiencing the unique demands of the military life and are in need of comfort. As many of you know, deployment is a very trying and challenging time. Not only is deployment challenging on our marriages and families, but it can also be challenging in our walk with God. This book is filled with devotions and appropriate scriptures that remind us of the hope we have in Christ and that in spite of the emotional roller coaster we can rest in that hope. The contributing authors in Faith Deployed shared stories of struggle that I could identify with. I was so inspired, often moved to tears, and uplifted all at the same time by reading their stories. Not only did the authors share their struggles, but they challenged me to look deeper (asking myself where my true feelings were), encouraged me to pray and jolted my efforts toward Christ

In closing, there are 2 things I want you to know:
1. The focus of this book is the unchanging, everlasting character of God. Even in our darkest storms He does not change!
2. I highly recommend this book if you are a military spouse, know someone who is a military spouse, or would like a glimpse into the struggles faced by the military spouse. The devotionals are easy to read and really are a “daily encouragement for military wives”

Also, check out these awards that Faith Deployed has received:

Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives won:

· Bronze Medal, spiritual/religious category, Military Writers Society of America (award presented in Pittsburgh on Oct. 2, 2010)

· Bronze Medal, inspirational category, Branson Stars and Flags Book Awards (award will be presented in Branson, Mo., Nov. 6 – but I will not be able to be there)

· (The book’s Web site,, won third place in the blog category this year from the Evangelical Press Association, too.)

If you would like more information on this book, please check out the website by clicking HERE.

So…how do you win this book???? Simply leave me a comment telling me if this book would be for you or if you would like to win it for someone you know . That is all! =) This will be open until Nov. 13 at 5pm central. At that time I will choose randomly 2 lucky winners.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Send Off

The send-off was just a little over 2 weeks ago, but its so weird because sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday and then other times it seems like it was 10 months ago. Those days leading up to the send-off were very emotional (as to be expected) Especially with all the ceremonies and visiting about rollar coaster. The night before send-off was busy with last minute packing. While hubby was packing, I managed to sneak about 20 different little notes into his bag (all hidden in pockets or tucked in clothes) Just wanted him to have little happy's to open and read...anything to bring a smile to his face. Also that night, our precious friend Kelly, who also took our family pictures, came by because she had something for Jason. She made Jason his own personal album of family pictures to take with him. Not only did she put the pictures she took in it, she also took the time to go through our facebook pics and used those too. The album is incredible and of course had me in tears. It was so thoughtful and definetly something that Jason will be able to hold on to and cherish over the next year + while he is away from us.

The morning of the send off was very, very early...after not much sleep the night before. My dad came over along with my mother-in-law to spend a little time with our soldiers before we had to leave. Unfortunately there was not very much time for visiting, but we did get in a few hugs which is really what it is all about, right?

Since it was so early, we left the kids in the pj's and put them in the carseats to allow them to finish sleeping. Jason and Jeremy loaded up all their bags and thankfully it all fit (yay for the big suv) My mother-in-law was so precious to take off work and ride with us so that I did not have to drive back from the airport by myself. I did not know emotionally how the kids and I would be and I just wanted to have another adult with me. I am thankful that she was able to be there.

The ride over to the airport was quiet at times, laughing a little, and feeling the large lump in my throat at times. Lots of emotions huh???
Once in the airport, we realized that we did not have much time...which is likely a good thing, no dragging it out. We took a few pictures, gave kisses, wiped tears, and hugged tightly until the last possible second (you know that kind of hanging on that you just do not want to let go of) I stood there and watched Jason and Jeremy walk away until I could not see them any longer...the further away from me they got, the larger the lump became and the greater the empty feeling became. I tried to take it all in...remembering the moment...I somehow managed to tune everything sounds, no smells, no other visions except the vision of my 2 soldiers walking away, dressed in uniform with a backpack on their backs. They looked so strong. They looked so confident. Although I know that inside, underneath that strong, confident exterior, they were both going through their own roller coaster of emotions. I watched until I could no longer see them. That was it...they were gone. Then I turned around, hugged my little family, wiped the tears away and said silently, "God, your in control now please take over this for me and protect my guys" And with that I took a few breaths and knew it was time to go. Along the way we passed other soldiers from the unit. I gave them hugs and briefly let them know to be safe and that they would be in my prayers. Some of them looked eager to get this over with, while others looked just as scared as I have felt.

There was not much time to be in the moment...which is probably a good thing. The kids were loudly claiming they were hungry so with that we along with another mil. family headed off to breakfast. I must say that leaving the airport for deployment #3 was by far easier than the previous 2 it because we are use to this and it gets easier with each time? (not even hardly) I truely believe it is because I have placed complete control of this in God's hands. I know that He alone gave us the strength to walk out of that airport just like He alone will give us the strength to walk through each day for the duration of this deployment. That is not to say that once we got home it was not hard, because it was...but I still felt at peace. (more to come on that in another post very soon)

So with that, I will leave you with some pictures:

                            My dad and Jason just before we left the house to head to the airport.

                           My dad and my brother, Jeremy...a quick little visit before we left.

Jason got in a few hugs from the kids before we walked into the airport...much easier to have these moments in the parking deck as opposed to inside the airport.

                              oh are they not sweet???  hehe  it is not always like me ;)

                               Walking into the airport with daddy...what a sweet moment

                                        The kids taking a picture with daddy and uncle Jeremy

               My family of goodness how I have enjoyed having my little brother living with us.

                                                       My precious mother-in-law

                                                      I had to capture this picture...

                                                     Getting in one last hug from daddy

                                                      Jason saying good bye to his mom.

So, that was our send-off. I think I am getting close to being caught up with the blog. I have several blog topics floating around in my head plus lots more pictures to share, I just can not seem to find enough time to log on here and get it done. I some how blocked from memory how incredibly demanding it is to be alone with 2 children...whew...especially when they are both in school and involved in things outside of school. Although, being this "busy" sure does help with time going faster.

I am excited about 2 posts that I have coming up this week though! In honor of Veteran's Day, I have been asked to review 2 books and some (actually 4) lucky readers will get the chance to win those books!!! I promise, you are not going to want to miss out on these books =) Those posts will be up this week, so be sure to check back for your chance to win these give-a-ways.


Friday, November 5, 2010

The Farewell Luncheon

Just before my hubby and brother left, the unit they are a part of had a Farewell lunch. Even though this is our 3rd deployment, this is the first time I have been able to attend a Farewell Lunch. (1st deployment he had less than 2 weeks notice so there was not time for a lunch, 2nd deployment he was attached to another unit so the lunch was held there, which was too far for me to travel with children) So finally, this time we were able to attend one.

The luncheon was really nice. It was held at one of my favorite restuarants in town (their food is seriously incredible) We spent several months putting this luncheon together and wanted to make sure every detail was included. There were a lot of "important" people to invite, a band to reserve, slide shows to make, speakers to arrange, etc...lots of little details.

Everything went off without a hitch. The atmosphere was perfect. The food was incredible. The speakers did a wonderful job. The band was really, really great (and I think made the luncheon over the top) Below are some pictures of the luncheon:

Jason's mom, Polly, joined us for the luncheon.  I was so glad she was able to be there with us.

Another picture of the three of us.

My hubby and my brother.  I can not believe I got them to take a picture and smile (good smiles) at the same time.  ;)

Me getting to take a picture with my two favorite soldiers.

Sgt. Anderson and me.  Gonna miss this precious lady! 

Kim and me taking a break from our FRG duties. 

me, Kim, and Patti

Wendy and me...the roses were presented to the FRG officers by some of the officers...thought that was very sweet.

Wendy, Angela (Ava was in her belly here but she made her suprise appearance about a week after this picture was taken) and me

The FRG officers:  Wendy, Angela, Kim and me

Here are a couple pictures of two of the speakers.  The speakers really did a great job.  I was thankful that they were able to take a break from the busy schedules to speak at our luncheon.
Rep. Mike Rogers (and yay!  he was re-elected)  spoke to both the soldiers and their families and extended his support for the troops and the families that are left behind.

We also had our (controversial) mayor speak.  To be honest, I was a little nervous about this one.  And when he started his speech, I was a little fearful with where he was going with his speech.  But he ended up doing really well.  He talked about his time in service and offered to help the families in any way that he could.

All in all, it was a good luncheon and I was pleased with how everything turned out.

Still to come: Send off pictures, I am working on a blog to address what it is like (for my family) those first couple weeks after deployment begins, and of course the wonderful Give-A-ways planned for next week! (In honor of Veteran's Day, I will be giving away 4 things next week!!! You will not want to miss this )

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Week Before They Left

The week before my hubby and brother left the only thing we wanted to do was spend time together as a family without any interuptions.  Well, that is exactly what we did.  Let me also say, that I know without a doubt God is in all the details...every single little thing that may not seem important to most, but matter so much to us.  God knew that Jason and Jeremy would be leaving.  He knew the dates (long before we did) He also knew that it would work out for Fall Break at the kids schools to fall at exactly the week before the guys left.  Again, no big deal to most, but it meant so much to us not to have anything going on so we could focus on our family.
Below are a few pictures of things we did during the week before:

Jason and Jeremy both were able to help with coaching Jack's soccer games.  Jack loved it so much!

We had a little cookout with our families.  Unfortunately this is the only picture I have from it.  What was I thinking?

The kids love to play we played quite a few games.  =)

We also carved pumpkins!  Jason loves to do this...its always fun to see what he will create

The kids taking the "guts" out...YUCK!  They love doing this and I am not going to stop them.

This picture makes me smile and tear up at the same time.

General Bone E. Parts with the pumpkins they created.

Of course Jason had to have an Alabama, he did not make me an Auburn pumpkin.

We also took the kids to eat sushi!  Madeline liked it:

Jackson did not like it at all, but he enjoyed the food being cooked in front of us.

Giving daddy a big hug while he eats a huge burger!

I had to include this picture of Madeline...she is waiting on her food to arrive...

We (all 4 of us and my brother) also went fishing one day. 
Jason and the kids in the car on the way to fish.

My brother Jeremy with the fish he caught using Jackson's old batman fishing rod.  He actually ended up catching 3 with that rod. 

Our sweet Madeline also wanted to have a tea-party one day...She sat this all up by herself and invited us to all come to the party.

Jason and the kids enjoying the tea-party:

We had a really great week together and are so thankful for that time. =)

More pictures to come soon of the Farewell Ceremony and the Send off.

Also, just in time for Veteran's Day next week, I will be having a couple give-a-ways...your not going to want to miss these!

So lots to come!