A New Year, An Eternal Calling

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There is something so idyllic about New Years Eve.  The festivities, the lights, the bubbles in your glass and aspirations on your mind.

My hero is working the street tonight.  I’ve spent the evening fighting a cold while getting my little ones to bed, only to curl up with the dog and watch TV.

But my heart is heavy with the news of yet another officer down this morning.  It seems 2017 couldn’t be done yet.

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5 Deputies shot, one has died, and another agency is left reeling between pain and duty.  Following the initial news, sentiments pour out across social media and as details emerge its an all too familiar story.  A hero with a heart to serve has left behind a devastated family.  The deep stab of tragedy pierces the heart of those both blood and blue once again.

My heart is left with the same question I have asked over and over and over.  For what?  Two beautiful little girls will never see their dad again and for what? … One more dirt bag drug dealer will go back to prison and that newborn baby will never be held by her momma again, for what? … He had just started on the job and lost his life on the side of the highway and for what?

What?

Their calling is higher than my mind could ever begin to unpack.  It carries a purpose, an Eternal weight that is altogether made of the highest honor and the heaviest of burdens.   Every day they have the opportunity to make lasting impacts on people during some of their most vulnerable moments.  They bring peace to chaos, stability to hectic situations, and protection to those who need it most.

That is their “why” and their service will forever echo in Eternity.

Witnessing their sacrifice makes me question my own “why.”  It beckons me to examine my own calling as the wife to a hero.

How do I fulfill all that I believe I am called to be to my husband and children?  On the days when the late hours and early mornings catch up to me and its all I can do to make sure everyone is bathed and fed.  How do I respond in happiness to a husband that I haven’t seen in a week.  How do I keep peace in my heart when every alarm bell goes off every time I see another tragedy.  And do I truly, truly believe that my job too is an Eternal one?

I do.  Absolutely.

I have the incredible responsibility to bring peace to his chaotic day, joy to an evening full of sorrow and a safe place to rest when the world he has been in has felt like a battle zone.

Don’t misunderstand me friends, this doesn’t come naturally.  Bitterness, frustration, and yes even anger at feeling like I’m doing life alone some days would take over if I let it.

But I won’t.

And neither should you.

Our days are numbered and our every day actions have an everlasting impact, just like theirs.  Your position matters and your opportunity to love them as only a police spouse can is invaluable.

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Here’s to a safe, healthy and successful in all the right ways New Year.  In the words of my little guy Max, may 2018 bring you nothing but Honor and Peace.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”  Matthew 5:9 

 

The Deepest Waters

Funerals always felt so big. Shuffled in between uniform, after uniform, after uniform, trying not to lose my husband in the sea of blue.

Experiencing loss and heartache in law enforcement.

Funerals always felt so big.  Shuffled in between uniform, after uniform, after uniform, trying not to lose my husband in the sea of blue.  The arenas were large and the speaker list prominent.

I’d share glances with fellow wives, who’s heads and hearts were probably filled with the same questions that were swirling in mine.  We would share hugs with those we knew, drop a red stained carnation on another casket, and a spouse would clench another folded flag in their arms.

We always seem to talk about ‘The One’ we remember best or that rattled us the most as wives.  Admittedly I had a list in my head of funerals and times of being stuck in traffic jams caused by processions, that all seemed to shake me equally.  The morbid inclination to insert your own ‘what if’ in to a scenario is something most outside of law enforcement could hardly understand.

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Then one day death was right next door.  The wife, a friend, and the children like my own.  Time stood still in those moments after learning that their officer would not be coming home that night.  Never would he see the little boy he was so proud of getting off the bus from his first day of school.  Never would he share another night with his wife, or a hunting trip with his friends.  Never.  So many nevers.

My heart broke in silent despair as I watched his little boy so full of life, unaware of the pain that waited on the other side of daybreak when the news would come to him. “Dear God..” I prayed in those moments.  Truth of Scripture rang through my heart, but the humanness of how much I could understand was defeating.  “How…” “Why…” only begun the questions I had for something like this.

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Wrapping my arms around my friend and my love around her family was all that could be done in those moments of deepest pain.  Those days were full of broken prayers and mounds of heartache.  “But God,” I prayed.

When the funeral came, it suddenly didn’t feel so big.  The grief was so tangible and the reality of the loss so great, that it was all I could do to not sink right in my chair and disappear.  I could hardly tell you who spoke, or what great leader they quoted.  “He would have gone anyways,” his friend said during the service.  Those words pierced my heart and the numbing silence that I felt.

I had no desire to talk to anyone or read anything, even from fellow wives, and blogs about ‘times like these.’  I needed something authentic.  I needed a truth that I could anchor my soul to.  Something viable that I could give to this grieving family.  I wish I could say that something like that came.  That I had a heavenly moment of clarity and peace.  But I didn’t.

In my humanness, however, I did feel grace.  That even though I was angry, and sad, and confused, God was still good.  He was still in control.  He was still faithful.  Oh how I prayed this sweet family to feel that same grace.

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:3.  That scripture echoed over and over and over in my heart for the family who would now have to learn to live as survivors.

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In the days after the loss of her hero, I sat down with a broken-hearted wife.  “I knew Aaron meant a lot to me.  I had no idea until this happened how much he meant to everyone else.”  Those words have haunted me, hanging on in my mind, restless, looking for a place to land.

We walked our little boy through the funeral for his best little buddy’s dad.  A dad whose uniform and patrol car are all too familiar.  The reality for five-year-olds is well, different, as you can imagine.  But the pain on both of their faces is clear.  “He’s an angel now,” they say together.  “A MIGHTY angel,” we add.

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What-ifs are natural.  Should haves, would haves, could haves…we all have them.  “There is no silver lining in this,” Mike and I have said back and forth a thousand times since it happened.  It was senseless.  Absolutely senseless.  “He would have gone anyways.”  That’s what heroes do, I tell myself.  They run toward evil to protect the flock.  They truly are the sheepdog.

I am often asked how to support law enforcement.  It seems so trivial to say to say thank you, or send a card.  But all of these things are valuable.  Every blue light bulb, every cup of coffee bought, it represents a little bit of light in a world often riddled with darkness for our officers.

This last week has truly been the valley.  Would you pray with me?  For every family, every survivor, every child that is wishing they could see their hero again.  “But God,” may we all pray.  “But God, He is faithful.  Even in the darkest of hours.”  

Want to help support the family?  You can do so here.

Today, I’m Grateful

Swirling around in my head over the last few weeks have been striking reminders of why I am so grateful. 

That may seem strange, considering my beloved husband has been home and in pain after being injured on duty.  This in the midst of me finishing a licensing, our middle starting Pre-K and our littlest deciding she wants to be on full blown toddler status, you Mommas know what I mean.

 

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Scrambling through my day today, a squad car pulled up in front of my house.  Not for the same reason as another family here in the Midwest but rather just for my guy to hitch a ride to court since he can’t drive.  Lord, today I’m grateful.

See, he’s had had to deal with a crummy city doc that had no problem sharing his opinion of police.  He had to wait weeks for surgery and now sit for more weeks until he can start physical therapy.  Weeks.  Do something for me, imagine your husband home for just a week.  His arm in a sling, the recliner relocated to the foot of your bed, he can’t put his own socks on and there are three little kids running around.  Know how he’d feel?  Yeah, I’m there.

He is stir crazy.  But me, well, this wife is just glad he made it home.

Now, this young kid he was chasing probably wouldn’t have hurt him but he had no problem running from him.  He had no regard for all of those who pursued him and any injury that would bring on them, or anyone else for that matter.  The reckless behavior of one is causing my family weeks of our world turned upside down.  However, for us, it is only weeks, and today I’m grateful.

I scrolled through the news earlier, only to find an officer was gunned down early this morning.  A call for help during a domestic led to these men racing through the morning light to get to someone in need, only to be fired upon as soon as they got there.  Now a young son, wife and family, their world will forever be upside down.

As I saw his ODMP page, you can’t help but wonder how surreal that must be to see someone you love dearly with their name printed under their photo.  You just had dinner with them before they left last night.  They tucked your little one in to bed after letting them play with some gadget on their belt for the 100th time.  Your little one climbed with their little feet up the hard surface of their vest to give them one last hug.  I have seen this in my home more times than I can  count.  This is all something we prepare for but pray will never happen again, to any officer.  As you walk through these places in your mind, you get an overwhelming sense of gratitude that it isn’t your beloved spouse.  And all at once, a deep pain in your heart for the family that is left behind.

I’m grateful that my husband and dear dad to three little ones has always made it home.  This injury has given me a whole new perspective for those injured and medically retired and how important it is that no one forgets them.  The struggle, for some daily, to press on when the reckless actions of one forever changed their world, must not be forgotten.  May we all embrace the season of this life that we are in.  Whether he’s counting days to pension or you’ve got a new recruit that still shines their boots, may we all be grateful to have them home today.

Dear Police Wife

Dear Police Wife,

I know you, I am you.  I know you are hurting, I am hurting.  These last two weeks have shaken us to the very core.  I’ve watched in horror as our brave men and women in law enforcement have been murdered because of the uniform they wear.  I’ve shared in your messages, prayers and calls for peace toward law enforcement.  I’ve cried with those close to me and hugged those who anxiously wait for their beloved husband to come home.  I know, all too well, that sinking feeling as they walk out the door and you begin to count the minutes until their shift is over.

I’ve sat in anger with you as we watched our very own President use a memorial service to push his agenda.  I’ve fought with my own mother over the recent police shootings and the media.  I could talk until I’m blue in the face about escalation and use of force and to no avail.  Why bother.  I’m utterly exhausted and quite frankly, now I’m just mad.  I am mad that our men and women in law enforcement are being put in such danger because of the environment that BLM and other people in authority have created.

After yet another brutal killing of our Peace Officers in Baton Rouge this morning, Sheriff Jeff Wiley of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office said it best. “To those who have for several years now “Whipped up” a frenzy of anti-police rhetoric and repeatedly described the law enforcement and general public relationship as “corrosive” and disrespectful… I say this to you… get to know these usually young men and women, look into their eyes and into their hearts before you pre-judge. They are splendid peace keepers, brave in response and humble in their service to others. They are NOT killers, NOT racist, and NOT haters, just simply put they are sons, daughters, wives, mothers, and fathers, who answer to a higher calling, that of being a professional law enforcement officer.  Those that spew this hate of law enforcement and promote this regrettable divisiveness need to stand down and reflect on the environment you have helped create.”

Of course we know this.  We know that our officer has come home devastated because he couldn’t save someone.  It didn’t matter what color their skin was.  We know that our officer has come home mad that the same woman was attacked by her ex-husband for the second, third, fourth time, even though he just arrested him.  It didn’t matter what neighborhood she lived in.  We know how our officer has spent our money on putting gas in someone’s car.  It didn’t matter what kind of car they drove.  We’ve seen the joy on our officer’s face when they’ve come home after night shift and they were able to surprise someone with a new light for their bicycle, so they can safely ride to and from work in the dark.  It didn’t matter why they didn’t have a license.  We know that the big bad police officer is actually a softie when it comes to his little girl.  We know that if you want to get on his good side, just crack a joke or quote Kevin Hart.  We know that they are brave, strong and more honorable than anyone will ever understand.  They are mothers and fathers, dear friends and sons and so many other things to us.  We know this.

 

How do we continue on with our head high and our hearts at peace?  When everything around us wants us to worry every time they walk out the door.  Remember the words of our Heavenly Father in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”  Press in to that peace.

If there is one piece of encouragement I could give you today, it’s this.

 

Press On.

 

Press on toward all that your officer and your family is sacrificing for.  Press on for a better community, better neighborhoods and holding that Thin Blue Line.  Press on for a strong marriage, even if it is scary right now.  Press on as a strong mother, who is brave for her children and cheerful in the face of adversity.  Press on.

Press on in honor.  Your family is honorable.  Your officer is honorable.  You are honorable.

This calling is not for the faint of heart and you dear wife, you are as strong as they get.  Remember to lean on each other during this time.  Pray for one another.  Make plans with one another.  Do a shift meal or a play date together.  Our sheepdogs will be out standing guard, lets be rallying together and working toward having a solid fortress of peace for them to come home to.  Good always wins.

 

Love,

Autumn

Mother’s Day For The Police Wife

Alright friends, we should talk.  This will not be another, how to survive the holidays alone blog.  Or maybe it will.  But bear with me.

It’s Mother’s Day.  A day for breakfast in bed.  A day for flowers.  A day for waking up to a clean house, bathed kids and folded laundry.  Oh, blessed Mother’s Day.

For those of us who walk this line with our spouse, Mother’s Day may mean waking up to the thud of boots by the front door as they arrived home this morning; to be greeted with flowers and a tired look on their face.  As they scurry off to bed for the day (or night), however you look at it, you are back on duty yourself and although you wish you could’ve slept in or taken a spa day, he needs sleep.  You third shift families know how crucial guarding that time is, so for now, you just count your blessings and are thankful once again, for the sound of him getting ready for bed.

Or you may have gotten that brush of a kiss as they tried to not to wake you before they crept out quietly for their shift before the sun came up.  You awoke to find a card by the coffee pot and flowers on the counter.  Today you’ll spend the day with your parents or in-laws, but family gatherings solo are nothing new to the LEOW.

Or like me, they are on the glorious mid-shift and sleep when you do, wake when you do and have the mornings home with your toddling little ones.  I know it will change as the kids get older but for now, I love mids!

So this morning as my dear husband rose when the first little set of feet hit the floor, I let him.  I was taking advantage of this chance to sleep a little longer.  I laid in bed thinking about Mother’s Day.  I thought about getting all three little ones out the door for church, taking a friend to lunch after and how I needed to clean my house sometime this year.  My to-do list started before I even turned the covers.

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I knew my guy worked today and well, I wasn’t that upset.  Holidays are relative to our family.  Y’all know the drill.  More often than not, holidays are celebrated on a rotation day off.  Since he was here in the morning we enjoyed a little time together but before I knew it, it was time to get everyone dressed and out the door.

Now, wrangling our little ones should truly be an Olympic sport.  They are fast, tenacious and find great enjoyment in clowning around.  As I attempted to button up a shirt on our three year old, after barely getting the 18 month olds pants on, I was getting annoyed.  My hubby rushes over to help and before I know it, I am taking my frustration out on him.  Before I even know what I’m saying, I spill out, “Why bother helping now?!”  My heart sunk before I finished the sentence.  I turned to see the look on his face as he asks me to clarify what I just said.  “I mean, I do this every week by myself so, I don’t need your help.”  I watched as he walked away, upset and tore down by my words.  I felt awful.  What I fail to remember when I’m only thinking of myself is the incredible sacrifice that he too is making.

See, this Mother’s Day, he got up and made our littles breakfast, even after getting called a pig this week by a boy almost the same age as our oldest.  He wrote a card out to me, his lucky wife, full of kind words, after staying up late many nights to finish reports on robberies, fights and drunk drivers.  He thought of me, his tired wife, as he let me sleep in this morning, despite his 22 hour day the day before.  I could rave about his accomplishments in his law enforcement career so far, his awards or accommodations and all of those are certainly worthy to be mentioned.  However, what strikes me and humbles me, is his seemingly supernatural ability to wake up and not hate the world after some of the experiences he has.

I realized that as these mean words poured out of my mouth this morning that I was not being the kind of wife that I needed to be.  I offered my apologies and he offered his explanations.  “You know, sometimes this is the only two hours I have of peace all week,” he offered.  “I come when I can but now and then I just need this time alone.”

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My mind wandered back to the memorial service for fallen officers we attended this week and an all too familiar poem.  As an Officer faces God for ‘The Final Inspection’ he has a conversation with him…

“Step forward now, policeman.  How shall I deal with you?  Have you always turned the other cheek?  To My church have you been true?”

The Policeman squared his shoulders and said, “No, Lord, I guess I aint, because those of us who carry badges, can’t always be a saint. 

I’ve had to work most Sundays, and at times my talk was rough, and sometimes I’ve been violent, because the streets are awfully tough.

But I never took a penny, that wasn’t mine to keep…Though I worked a lot of overtime, when the bills got just too steep. 

And I never passed a cry for help, Though at times I shook with fear.  And sometimes, God forgive me, I’ve wept unmanly tears…”

I found in this moment that what my husband needed most from me was understanding.  Instead of seeing all that I give up or all that I do alone, I need to remember all that he gives of himself.  Instead of holding the things he isn’t there for over his head or getting resentful at this life, I remind myself of the huge calling that God has on our family.  Sure he works most Sundays and is often absent from birthdays and holidays.  I may not get to sit around this Mother’s Day but I do get to raise three beautiful, strong children that respect and admire all of our public servants, especially their daddy.  So this Mother’s Day and the many more to come, I will remember what a gift my husband is for helping support me as a Mother.

5 Keys to Supporting Your LEO

It’s been one of those weeks. You LEOW’s know the type. That doctor’s appointment you scheduled 3 weeks ago, along with that parent teacher conference, all around your husbands mid-shift schedule, is suddenly thrown out the window when he gets called to cover 3rd’s for the week. You are suddenly left doing it all alone…again. So with your two-year-old in tow, you start the day. Rushing the oldest to school, crossing back to go to your doctors appointment, only to double back to the school to squeeze in that 20 minute parent teacher conference. You come home by 2, only to find your husband making his way out of the closet, where he’ll be sleeping for the week, in hopes of actually resting in a loud house of two little boys. You know this will be the only hour you see him before you have to go pick the oldest up from school and before he leaves to work part of his 20 hours of ODE that somehow got scheduled the same week as everything else. You want to muster a smile, a hello, an anything other than explaining why the 2 year old is crabby from not napping, how you desperately tried to entertain him while the doctor measured the size of your growing belly, why he’s sticky from eating 2 meals in the car today and how if you could just get a nap before dinner, you may not cry before the end of the night. Oh the joys of being a law enforcement family.

I once joked that if I could just keep a dentist appointment without some state mandated training popping up that day or a DUI at the end of the shift which causes a shift in sleep schedules, it would be a miracle! My sweet dentist has learned after so many reschedules, don’t call me, I’ll call you! I will call them every 6 months, probably the week of, and take whatever cancellation they have that lines up with our current schedule for the week.
How in the madness of it all do you offer your hard working officer husband a place of refuge from his daily beat? How do you help him come home, unwind and enjoy his family when he can? And how do you, as the wife of an officer, stay positive, remember the man you married and raise children to love and respect their Dad, even when he had to miss their Christmas Concert?

Here are 5 tips that I use to help keep our family close and support my Officer.

1. Always Have A Meal Ready.

Now, this may mean a leftover lasagna in the fridge that he can scoop out and reheat at 2am or a warm plate in the oven when he comes in at 7pm. Having a meal ready for him, lets him know that you’ve thought of him, despite his absence and he get to enjoy what you all did for dinner. Keep granola bars on hand, fruit on the counter and the occasional energy drink in the fridge for him to grab on the go. After your morning Joe, reset the coffee to brew at 1pm, so he can have a fresh cup when he wakes up. That free gas station coffee is never quite as good as home.

2. Connect Every Day.

Sitting in a restaurant with your husband in uniform, hoping your kids are on their best behavior and trying to not feel like fish in a bowl, gets exhausting. Every so often, meet him at the park with the kids and a hot bowl of what you all had for dinner. Take every chance to connect in your every day life, because on those weeks of busyness, it may not be as easy to do. Text pictures of the kids, send funny things they’ve said. Keep him up to date on all things family, so he doesn’t come home one day to find a guy your daughters been dating sitting on his couch and he doesn’t even know his name. Share articles, stay up to date on City County Council meetings on Public Safety and keep him in the loop on sports and activities. Resist getting upset that he isn’t there and help him to feel a part of it all.

3. Stay Available.

When you write the schedule for the week out on your board and your Officer is working 55 hours in 6 days, how do you manage to squeeze in family time? One thing that I do is write the entire family schedule out side by side. This helps me do two things, plan what meals he will be home for and what times we will all be home together. This way I know at the beginning of the week, which days to guard from play dates, visits with grandparents and shopping I need to do. I let the kids know when I pick them up from school that Tuesday that Dad is off tonight so get your homework started in the car and no you can’t play with the neighbors when we get home. Protect that time, even if it only comes every 12 days.

4. Resist the Urge to Complain.

Now this is a tough one. The days he gets to be at the shooting range all day for ‘training’ and you’ve been home with two sick kids and quite frankly, you’d much rather be at the range yourself, going out for Mexican and shooting off 300 rounds. Resist. Don’t complain. At least for the first hour. Let him get in, shower and sit down before you do anything other than ask how his day was. Walking in to a nagging wife, complaining about nice it must be to sit around with your buddies all day and do target practice, will only make him want to pick up a course on how to perform CPR on dying dogs (and call it necessary yearly training), to get out of the house!

5. Love Him.

This may sound rudimentary, you married the guy right? I’m speaking of a different kind of love, a faithfulness if you will. Love him when he is late getting home, don’t berate him with questions. Speak proudly of him, especially when he isn’t around. One day, he might hear these words and it will boost him to know that you boast about him. Let the kids know (the appropriate) stories that he’s done at work. Tell them how he got a stolen car back in a few hours and how he received an award for being the ‘Most Complimented Officer’ in the department. Let the kids know that he is a hero, despite what’s going on in the news. Showing your children how to love and support your Officer will keep them from growing bitter at his profession. It will serve your Officer well knowing that his family is proud of him and that they support him.

In doing all of these things, we as wives, can stand behind our Officers and help hold their arms up in battle. As the days grow darker and the media more relentless, our Officers can know that they are appreciated, especially by those closest to them.