Home Sweet Home

You know that they.  “You can’t go back home again.” Country music star Miranda Lambert even wrote a song all about it in her song, “The House that Built me.” Growing up my Mom always quoted my great grandfather- telling her that she could never come back home- she left at the tender age of 18 from the surfing town of Huntington Beach for the rushing rivers of the great Pacific Northwest.  She was homesick, and he reminded her that she left, and it’s not the same anymore. Oregon was now her home. I heard that story my entire life, so when I got married and moved from Oregon to North Carolina- I subscribed to that notion.  I can’t go back home.

My husband and I called Fayetteville, NC home for a good year.  It was our first year of marriage, and contrary to what most said- it was a year filled with bliss and love. Perhaps it was because we knew deployment was looming.  Maybe the thought of him leaving for war kept things in perspective, so fighting just wasn’t even an option. Whatever the reason, our first year of marriage was a dream. I loved the humidity of the south, the culture, the thunderstorms, and the people I met.  There- they only knew me as Levi’s wife.  No history. No mistakes. It was a fresh start. I could be whomever I wanted.  I loved that.  Home- home was a time in the past and a, “never again.”  I was free.  I was happy.

Almost exactly nine months later, our first son was born.  As I labored, and pushed, artillery and thunder made the military hospital room shake.  I clung not to my husband’s hands, but the cold rotary dial phone with my Mom on the other line.  “Breath,” she would say.  “You’ve got this.”  “It’s almost over.” Though two friends held my legs, and my husband kissed my forehead, though I was surrounded by love, I just wanted my Mom. She was supposed to be there.  And bombs weren’t expected to be going off. The sun was supposed to shine.  This wasn’t how I imagined having my child.

After five hours of active pushing, my sweet boy was born. The nurse that kept yawning pulled him away too soon and weighed him.  Exhausted and confused, I just sat there.  I just had a baby. Across the country from home.  Away from my family.  And my one connection to everything that defined me and kept me grounded was leaving for war in three weeks.  All of the sudden, homes became a must, not a “never.”

The following three weeks were filled with doom and gloom.  Baby blues set in, and the reality that I would be raising this little boy alone.  No family.  No cousins. No Aunts or Uncles.  Not even my husband.  I made the emotional decision to pack everything up and go home. Home. I would go back while my husband was fighting for his life, and I would be ok. Home.  I needed to go back.

Not long after I decided to go home, I got a phone call from my Mom.  Her and my step Dad were moving. Not across the street, or town, or even a different but closer state- but to Fargo, ND. I didn’t even know where that was on the map.  This meant that for my son and I- were weren’t going home but going to another new place. We were starting over again.  But, at least I would have my Mom for that year.

The music of that next year was the scream of a baby that seemed never to be happy, and the cry of my Mom who wanted nothing more than to go home.  I found it hard to relate to her as her husband was safe, and they owned the most expensive house in all of Fargo.  What in the world could she miss so much?  Part of me began to resent home because of it.  My “must go home” because of a never again. I didn’t ever want to be so dependant on a place for happiness.  I wanted my joy and happiness rooted in Christ, and Christ alone.  Not my husband, not rivers, not where I was located, but in Jesus.  From that point on, I changed everything about my outlook and grew leaps and bounds closer to Jesus. I let go of my childish ways and became a Mother and a Wife, but more importantly women of God.

400 days passed and it was time to go back to North Carolin and welcome my husband home. A week later he was honorably discharged from the Army and us were again, free.  Where did we go? Do we go home? Do we stay?  Or do we find more adventure?

We chose the later- and embarked on a stupid journey out west to California, during the recession. Yeah.  Though we both we unemployed, God took care of us and blessed us with wonderful friends and a wonderful church.  When we realized nobody in the state of California was hiring, we headed back to the only thriving economy- Fargo.

I could go on and on- but before we knew it, Fargo was home.  We had another baby there and bought our first house there.  We set down roots.  We were settled and happy.  We had our tribe of friends and assumed we would be there for the rest of our lives.  Life was beautiful.

Then, at 7:34 am I got a call from a familiar area code.  It was 5:34 am there- never in our almost ten years away had we ever received a call from home that early.  My stomach dropped as I answered.  On the other line was my hysterical sister law. After minutes of trying to speak, she put her Mom on the phone, and I heard the news that forever changed everything.  “Your brother committed suicide last night.” Though this was my brother in law, I’ve known him since he was nine- he was my brother too.  Now, though, I was faced with calling my husband to come home from work- and break his heart with the news. That ten minute was the longest ten minutes of my life. The next few weeks were all a blur.  Funerals.  Viewings to say goodbye.  Fevers. Hallucinations. Heartache. Anger. The worry for his son. Wanting so bad just to go home, but wanting so bad just not to leave.

That following year and a half we lost two more souls.  Two more people we loved. And we weren’t there for any of it.  More news of more ailing family members came, and loved ones are hurting.  Tragedy after tragedy.  Our hearts left Fargo and went home during this time. We withdrew from life all together and spent every waking second trying to be there in some capacity for our loved ones.  I began traveling home for longer times with the kids, and each time leaving got harder and harder.  Finally, after my last trip home we decided it was time. Time to defy the odds, to ignore what they say, and time to go home. We trusted God- if it were His will our house would sell.

Two hours after listing we had a more than asking price offer on our house. That night we accepted the offer. One month later we were back home, this time for good.

And can I just tell you something?  Nothing has ever felt so right.  A month before and it wouldn’t have been the right time.  Years before, we weren’t ready.  We had a lot of growing up to do, and a lot of humbling needed to happen.  But now- now it was perfect.  Now, the music to our lives is a rushing river that is more like a person in my story than a body of water.  Now, my husband smiles like he hasn’t smiled in years.  Now, now it’s time come home and stake claim to our history, and embrace it. Now it’s time to be proud of the childhoods we survived and to be thankful for the ten years we spent lost, in the desert.  No homecoming could have been more beautiful than the one we have experienced now.

So listen to the music of your life now, and don’t be afraid to follow the sounds of your past.  Do go home. Go home and cry. Go home and go to the places you missed and be happy. Eat at the restaurants you grew up going to and enjoy every second. Relight that fire and get back into the life you left without shame. You can go back home. You can.



Learn How To Take Charge Of Music Website Performance Now

The essentials of getting a good music information website running can make a huge difference in your marketing campaign. Learning about web page design and maintenance up front will save you time, money, and energy. Take advantage of search engine algorithm optimization and online marketing tools to help create a successful website. If you are interested in increasing your page’s traffic, we outline them for you in this publication.

It is vital to have a high rate of speed for your music information website. Working with a top-notch web hosting company may help to increase your site’s speed. Ask about using CSS as a way to increase both your music site’s functionality and its operating speed. Hot button topics like how to best boost page load speed should be at the top of the list when you’re interviewing professional website designers.

The content on your web page must be closely aligned with your search key terms. If you highlight search key terms that don’t coordinate well with your web page, you will attract the wrong type of guests. When starting out, choosing, the wrong key search terms can ruin your music information website’s reputation permanently. With regards to guaranteeing an ideal key search terms are being utilized for your web page, contract a website designer to check out your web page and present you with a legitimate evaluation.

Consider working with a talented, professional designer who can create the music information website you need. Be sure to have an all around coordinated arrangement of what you need out of your site. Your detailed plan should guarantee that you get your required results. Be certain to look over the newest websites that the designer has completed.

Do not use just one resource when getting your images for your music information site. You can refresh your online page and give it a dynamic, fresh appearance if you select the right images. You can harvest royalty-free images from dozens of sites on the internet. However, you shouldn’t add images only for the sake of adding images – they should complement and enhance your written content.

With regards to expanding, sites should continually build up their base by getting new supporters and gathering new email addresses. You’ll get more prospective customers the more subscribers you have. Offer exclusive discounts for first-time purchasers and promotional items for new clients; all of your marketing efforts should be focused on that. Landing pages on your online site should all have high opt-in email forms.


For the Love of Face Washing

My Mom is BEAUTIFUL, OK?  She’s stunning.  When I was a little girl, I use to think she was Princess Diana. She looked so much like her and had all the same beautiful features. But of course, to me- my Mom was much much more beautiful then Princess Diana.  Even without the crown. Me? I would rather play games in Anytime Fun’s gaming trailer. I’m a gamer, you know?

I remember as a girl watching her get ready for the day. I can still smell all the smells, hear the blow dryer, and see all the makeup.  I never thought she needed it- she was perfect in my mind.  One time, we were headed to the mall to shop a little- she pulled out her blush and applied a fresh coat.  I must have been looking at her weird because she calmly and kindly said, “once you’re over 40, a little blush can go a long way.”  She snapped shut the blush and off we went.

Can I confess something? I’m well on my way to 40 and never wear make-up. Even in public. Please don’t tell my mother.  I’m sure I always look haggard and pale to her, but the thing is- I just don’t care.  I still have to make up that I wore on my wedding day. Makeup that has lived in too many drawers to count.  Finally, just yesterday one of my friends’ daughters found it and started playing with it. I was so happy to hand it off and send it home with her.

Anyways- I’ve stopped wearing make-up almost entirely.  I wish I could tell you it was because of some great cause or divine inspiration with the hope to inspire others- but the truth is- I just don’t have the time nor do I give one flying freckle what I look like.  There are so many other things on my mind that what my face looks like- has taken a complete back seat.  Scratch that- it hasn’t even taken a back seat- it’s been dropped off at the donation site and left behind.  It’s just not a part of my brain.  I’m struggling even writing this because it’s so not a thing.

This is why I was startled about how much it bothered me when my Mom started posting things about this new skin care line, Roden + Fields, that claimed to take away her sun spots, wrinkles, and well- all the things I loved about her.  Why would she even WANT to get rid of that stuff?  And why, for the love of multi-level marketing, is she posting it all over her facebook?? Ugh.  Did I know eventually she would personally write me and want to tell me about it and can I just be honest? I dreaded it.  I love my Mom, but how in the world was I suppose to say I don’t give a flying freckle about that stuff?

“No Mom, I like my sun spot, but thanks for noticing.”

“ I like all those wrinkles and laugh lines too.”

“I don’t even wear make-up let alone put cream on my face. ”

“Anti- aging? Should I know what that means? Am I REALLY at that stage in my life?”

“Ok, okay Mom.  Truth? I haven’t washed my face in twenty years, and I go out in public with sleep in my eyes and no makeup on. Yes, you can remove me from the will. I understand.”

All these responses spun in my head for a week or so.  I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, she was euphoric and, this kind of thing is totally her thing!  I mean really- if I have questions about Organic anything, health, fitness, or even beauty- she’s my go to.  I skip all the “professional” books and suggestions and go straight to the source- Mom.  She’s a freaking walking encyclopedia for all this stuff.  Seriously.  It’s almost weird. But how was I suppose to say no thanks without making her feel….weird?  UGH!!  Being a daughter is hard you’ll.

Finally…I got the message.  She messaged me some videos to watch and why she thinks the products are so great. In her message, she pointed out that in fact- this stuff worked and she was seeing less of her sun spots and freckles, and fewer wrinkles.  A few minutes after she sent the message someone posted a picture of her next to my brother’s fiance’- and you couldn’t even tell the difference in age between them all.  Whatever voodoo magic this stuff works on you….works.  There she was, all young looking, fresh faced, beautiful, stunning, and stuff.  **whatever**

Sigh.  I still wasn’t interested, though.  Because well, I’m me.  (I mean, if you buy Roden and Fields or whatever it’s called, you do you!!!  I mean really- Mom looks even more amazing then before, and I didn’t think it was possible.  I get it.  It’s all good). And because I’m me, I just really didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I also didn’t want to hear about her getting all young looking and stuff.

Then I realized why.  I realized that those freckles, those sun spots- they are what made her my Mom.  I remember when she got some of them!  I remember studying them when she would read to me and I remember noticing that one year had been rough on her- there were a lot more wrinkles then before. I never thought she ever needed help beauty wise.  She was perfect, and she should know it!! I toiled with that to say to my gorgeous Mom.

After some time thinking, I responded- and I wrote her this big long thing about how I love her imperfections, and I’ll miss them.  I told her I remember her getting them, and those are what make her, her.  I told her I liked my spots and earned every one of them.  I told her how empowering it would be if more women just liked the way they looked. I told her she doesn’t need creams and make-up and the suns kiss on her skin only add to her beauty.  I proudly hit, “Send” and went to scroll around my FB while I anxiously awaited her response.

That’s when I saw something I never, ever, ever thought I would ever see.  There- on FB for all the world to see- was a picture of my Mom without any makeup on.  None. Zero. She hadn’t even done her hair!!!!!  That was the Mom I LOVED seeing, but few saw.  You have to realize this is a big deal- when she was in her 40’s she wouldn’t even go to the mall without a fresh coast of blush. And here she is, aged and older- plastering her beautiful face all over the internets!!!  My jaw dropped, and in my head, I said, “Ohhhh guuuuuuuuurl. No, she didn’t!”  Yup, she did.

I immediately thought of the FB message I sent her and my, “oh guuuurl,” change to, “can I delete that??  Has she seen it? CRAP.”  I opened it up, and she had already read it.  Double crap.  Crap crap crap.

As is typical with my Mom she handled my long winded rejection very well and graciously.  She didn’t let her rebellious, non-showered daughter bring her down.  She didn’t feel threatened by my unwashed face and “too good for creams” attitude. Sigh.  Mothers, thank goodness they are so forgiving!

So here I am- openly saying that my Mom looks a decade younger then me because she freaking washes her face and I don’t wash mine.  Will I change? Probably not.  But she looks as good as she did a million years ago (yeah, she’s that old) and I look well…like I don’t wash my face. Ever.

Thankfully there’s room in this world for the non-face washers like me, and the religious face washers like my Mom.  And thankfully, in Gods eyes- we are beautiful with or without said face washing.  Am I right?!

So be you. Wash that face.  Or don’t.  Wear that makes up, or your kid’s breakfast.  Whatever. Just be content- and love you.  Because you’re beautiful, ok???


Being A Soldiers Wife

An identified U.S. Army personnel wears a hand lettered "War Is Hell" slogan on his helmet, June 18, 1965, during the Vietnam War. He was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Battalion on defense duty at Phouc Vinh airstrip in South Vietnam. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

This is going to be an extremely personal blog. The one I’m terrified to share, but I need to. It’s healing to share and to get this out in the open.

Almost seven years ago my husband deployed to Iraq. It was June 6th, or 7th I believe, of 2007. That was the last time I ever saw him again. The picture, shown above, is the last time that man ever held our son. That was quite literally seconds before he disappeared on one of the many white buses that took him away to battle. I thought I would only have to survive a year without him, but seven years later I’m here, and he’s not. No- he wasn’t killed in action, and no he wasn’t injured physically. But he was taken. The very man that my husband was disappeared that day and who he was upon homecoming was a complete mystery to me.

It’s taken many years to see the toll that war has taken on my husband, but the further away we get from it the more evident the scars and wounds become. The brilliant man that never forgot a thing all of the sudden can’t remember to brush his teeth in the morning. It’s become second nature to remind him on his way out the door. Almost everytime I ask, he rushes to the bathroom. This is the very same man that, before war, brushed and flossed religiously. He was so uptight about his oral hygiene his Mom even send floss in his care packages. She sent so much floss, we used up the last one just last year. Now though, I remind him to brush his teeth.

The man that was awake and cheerful at 4:30 am now rolls out of bed just to sit on the chair for an hour- and usually he falls asleep holding his coffee, and it spills all over the carpet. There is a permanent stain from all the reoccurring spills.

The emotional, not afraid to cry husband is now someone that just blinks over and over again when faced with emotion. No tears, no words, just blinking. Sometimes I wait for over an hour to get a response out of him, but usually, there is no response.

The Dad I expected my kids to have, he died a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful father and loves his children but the Dad he was before war was different. I find I grieve the loss of those traits more then any other. I miss the man that taught Sunday School and had all the kids at church looking up to him. I miss the silly side of him that made any child giggle. I miss the passion he had for Jesus. I’m sure it’s in him somewhere, but I miss seeing it.

The first month my husband deployed I had a dream over and over again that I couldn’t find him. I would call and call, and he wouldn’t answer his phone. I would look, I would drive around, and he was nowhere. Sometimes the dreams were nightmarish, and sometimes they were just weird- but I always woke up in a sweat. Seven years later I still have those dreams, but they are almost always nightmares. He never dies, but I can’t ever find him. He’s gone. In these dreams I’m desperately searching for him, begging whoever knows him to remind him of the kids and I., I have these dreams almost weekly, nd most of the time it takes an entire day to recover. I don’t think I’ll ever get use to them.

We always hear about the trauma soldiers face and see the dramatic ways in which they try to cope- drinking, drugs, and sadly suicide. But we rarely hear about the small ways these soldiers change and how the loss of who they were can feel a death. We never hear about how the soldier that read his bible everyday and couldn’t ever stop reading it now hardly picks it up. We don’t hear about how these men can’t enter a room without looking above for snipers. We don’t hear about how all these subtle changes effect the wives, and children. We don’t hear about the ones that are good at suppressing their trauma. We don’t hear about the soldiers that function relatively well to the untrained eye, but to the wife and kids it’s like a dam about to burst. Water leaks from the cracks and you take a deep breath in to prepare, only years go by like this because these soldiers are strong. But you know, eventually, the dam will break. You try to patch up all the leaks, you go to great lengths to do anything you can to keep the leader of your family together and in one piece. You love him and need him.

People that don’t understand war and the toll it takes on a person can’t possibly understand. Not one person can come home from war unscarred. There are wounds, some are easy to see and most are terribly difficult to see. But they are there. But you know, they are alive so you’re thankful. You’ll take the new husband because he has a beating heart and you adore him- even the new him. Then you’ll feel guilty for missing the man you married. You feel bad for complaining. You’ll wonder what he saw, what he experienced. You’ll wonder what it was that finally did it- what was it that took him? Was it the soldier that lost half his body? Was it the children that lost heads? Was it the seven friends that were ambushed and died? Was it cleaning up their bodies? Was it that he survived and they didn’t? Was it all the death? Was it the separation from love and life? Was it living in hell for almost three years? What? What or who took your husband?! You daydream about going to hell and bringing him back. You’re desperate.

All these thoughts and desires are futile so keep patching those leaks and holes. You pray, HARD. You love, unconditionally. You serve. You laugh despite it all and you both carry on- and relatively happy too! But then there are the moments you both can’t ignore the obvious- you see the damage and you mourn and weep together. Stupid stupid war. It’s evil. This hate for evil though is a common ground and because of the love you have for God and eachother you fight together against all the evil. Then there are glimmers of hope, of clarity and you think that perhaps he’s coming back. Doctors see what you see, HE see’s what you’ve seen all along and you praise God!!! NO more band aides, no more patching the leaks but real healing comes and the leaks stop. You slowly start to feel like you can exhale and the sun starts shining and peaking through the dark clouds. You take out that loan for the business you’ve always wanted to start. Before you know it, life abounds and grows and you see a glimmer of the man he was. He’s new too, but it’s still him. You want to finally leap into his arms and look in his eyes, is it really him?! How you’ve missed him! You put your hands on his cheeks and just stare to take him in…

This is what the past seven years has been like. But repeated over and over. Two steps forward, a few back…more forward…a few back…but progress is made and hope is restored. You rest on God and what you know- He restores all that is lost.

The passage that has been my pillar during this time has been Joel 2:24-26, “…The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame.…”

Levi- I love you endlessly. The strength you’ve shown, and your fight to win against war melts my heart. You are my hero of all hero’s and I adore everything you are!


It’s Not Really About the Music: It’s about the kids.


Here at YCCA Music, you’re going to learn that it’s not about the music.  There’s no music at all. This was simply where I decided to start blogging about all things homeschooling, Mom, and family related. Like this the blog is about war and deployment.  Or I might write about bouncy houses and parties because life you know? You’re going to realize it’s a random blog.

It’s music that comes with starting your own business (seriously thank goodness for www.nvbloans.com) while homeschooling and grieving the loss of a brother. It’s the Music of life.  It’s the music we walk to everyday while we teach the kids.  It’s the music we hear when the house is silent and everyone is asleep.  It’s not what we would consider music right now-but it’s my favorite kind.

Some music is fast, some slow. Some are angry, some nice.  Today’s music-is a bit of a bang.  I’m going to start with a bang.  An open letter to those divorced.

An Open Letter to Children and Parents of Divorce

When I was four months old, my Mom and Dad divorced. This isn’t a pity party, and I’m not looking for attention. I’ve long put off writing my thoughts out for fear that it would come across as dramatic. The fact of the matter is, seeing as how I was so young, I never knew better. I never knew life with my parents living under the same roof. I never saw them argue, and I never saw them work it out. I never saw them hug, and I never saw them kiss. I never saw my Mom so mad at my Dad she kicked him to the couch. I never heard the door slam after a heated argument. I never saw them agonize over a tough decision. I wish, though, that I would have and I’m ok saying that now.

I remember being in high school, and my Dad came to pick me up at my Moms house. He needed
Continue reading on It’s Not Really About the Music: It’s about the kids. »