We got a dog!

There were so many nights he would come home from a shift and he didn’t have words to express what he had seen or been through. He just wanted a dog to come and lie across his lap and be there…something to pet and hold and not have to say a word.

…and Thunder is his name! Who could have known what a blessing a little miniature poodle could be! I am totally a big dog person, or at lease I was until this guy came into our lives. Growing up with dogs I knew the work it takes and I was NOT looking forward to having dog hair on everything. The constant sweeping and sniffling from my dog allergy did not make having a dog one of my top priorities, but my husband wanted something to help him through those tough days. There were so many nights he would come home from a shift and he didn’t have words to express what he had seen or been through. He just wanted a dog to come and lie across his lap and be there…something to pet and hold and not have to say a word. At first I wasn’t on board but the more I saw those nights and the stress the LEO life was having on our family I gave in and the search began.

I still wanted a big dog. I knew there would be hair (everywhere) but as we did our research we started looking for a dog that did not shed and offered the least problems for my allergies. I went to the local shelter and we searched rescues all over the U.S. trying to find the right dog. I had friends looking and family wondering what we were thinking! Then the text came. One of my good friends had a dog she thought would be perfect for our needs and she found him in the one location I hadn’t looked…Craig’s List!!! I called the lady that had Thunder and got the low-down on him. He was almost 2 and was living in a home with two young kids with #3 on the way. The owner didn’t want a dog anymore so she asked this friend to take him. The friend already had two dogs of her own so as much as she liked him she just didn’t want three dogs. She sent a picture of a fluffy-headed little pup so we decided to meet.

We met at a local Petco so we all felt safe and when we walked in I saw a lady with a scrawny, shaved, black, over-sized-rat looking thing that somewhat resembled the dog in the picture. I introduced myself and she explained that after the picture was taken the kids had gotten gum in his hair and he had to be shaved to get it out. Wow…this was NOT the dog I wanted and I actually told my husband I didn’t want him, but the boys and my husband were already hooked! The smell of cigarette smoke and lack of hair was all I saw, but they obviously saw something more in this little guy and that night in November 2016, Thunder became part of our family. We took the trembling pup into our arms, bought him a new harness (I was not keeping the one that smelled like cigarette smoke!), a bed, some food and a few toys and headed home with the newest member of our family.

Police Pup
Right at home!

We had been considering names since our search began but somehow, despite the size and look of this little tyke, Thunder fit, both as his name and into the hole we didn’t know had been missing in our hearts. Today I can’t imagine our lives without him. Thunder sleeps at our feet, usually with my younger son, but sometimes with me. He knows there are four of us in the house and he is never settled for the night until he knows everyone is home. He actually paces and sits as lookout (as shown in today’s heading picture) waiting until every one of us is home safely. Only then does he rest peacefully. He waits outside the bathroom doors for us and when one of us is gone he knows and will sit by that bedroom door wondering “where are they??” It is amazing how much he takes care of us. He knows when someone isn’t felling well or something is bothering one of us. He stays at the foot of the bed (actually ON my feet) when I’m not feeling well and today is hanging with my older son, who has been sick for several weeks. He has been following me for the past 15 minutes as I did tasks around the house and he finally stopped to eat only after I was seated back at the computer. He is our protector and even if he is only 10 lbs., he has the fight of a lion and will do whatever it takes to keep us safe. My husband is out bowhunting right now, so after doing his rounds to check on the other three of us, Thunder has resumed his post on the arm of his blue recliner, faithfully watching out the window for my husband to return and that is where he will sit until he hears the garage doors open and knows that his family of four is all safely home.

IMG_0142

What an amazing visual reminder Thunder is of the way our Heavenly Father is always aware of our needs and where we are. It is so easy to forget in the craziness of life, that just like Thunder, God knows our every need. He is there with us in good times and bad and even when we don’t have the words to express what we are feeling, He is there, like Thunder on my husband’s lap, to just BE THERE for us with no expectations! No words are needed. All we have to do is lean on Him and he already knows what we need.

I know God’s almighty love for us is much greater than what Thunder can provide but I don’t mind the cuddly little reminder every now and then, lying across my feet and just being there for me. What a warm feeling I get both from Thunder’s love and from the love provided on a much larger scale by my Father in Heaven who is also always watching over me, and my family. He’s there for you, too! All you have to do is ask.

Joshua 1:9 ~ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

 

I just couldn’t write…

I was supposed to be helping others, not whining about my problems.

When I first started writing this blog it was with the intent to share my experiences with others in law enforcement families to let you all know you are not alone. I did not set a schedule of when I would write or what I would write about, I just wrote when the feeling came over me. I mean literally…I would have a thought that I just had to share and I’d sit down at the keyboard for hours typing and editing. Then came the change… no inspiration. There were lots of things going on but I started to move into a place where I didn’t think others wanted to hear about my struggles. I was supposed to be helping others, not whining about my problems.

I have gone over a year without posting and I’ve decided it is time to break out of that rut and write. I’ve got so many things I want to share with you I have decided to make a list and tell you all about it when the inspiration hits so here we go.

*We got a dog!

*You want to move WHERE???

*We’re actually doing this?

*What was I thinking?

*First year teacher at the age of 39?!?

*Getting there…

*It is well with my soul.

Ok. As you can see there have been a few big changes in our lives since I last wrote in June 2016 so I’m going to take it step-by-step and let these feeling flow. If you’d like to come along on the journey, buckle up, grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and get ready for some honest, deep-down admitting that I need you all as much as I thought you needed me. Here goes…

 

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Photo credit to Jacob Abshire Wednesday Wallpapers

https://www.jacobabshire.com/musings/wallpapers/wednesday-wallpaper-heart-locked/

Sleeping Alone Again Tonight 

And while these disrespectful, unstable and unbelievably out of control criminals do their deeds I simply force myself to go to bed, just waiting for that sweet sound of him breathing next to me once again.


I’m going to bed alone again tonight. He’s finishing up another late call. At least I know he’ll be here but I’m not sure when.
Most nights I can’t sleep until he’s here beside me, but 6 am comes early and the kids need to get to school in the morning. Doctor appointments and work tomorrow tell me I need to go to bed. The headache doesn’t help either.

Tomorrow is June 1. School is almost out but this year the type of calls he usually doesn’t deal with so frequently have started early. Three drive-by shootings in the past month. Stabbings. Major drug busts. Rescuing young children from very dangerous and potentially deadly domestic situations makes me wonder what else is to come. Summer isn’t even here yet but the level of violent crimes has risen in the last four and a half years since we moved to Green Bay.
I try to figure it out. What draws people to such horrendous acts? This past weekend an officer was shot in Appleton, just to our south. Thank God she is going to be ok. These kinds of things don’t usually happen in our cities but it is coming. And while these disrespectful, unstable and unbelievably out of control criminals do their deeds I simply force myself to go to bed, just waiting for that sweet sound of him breathing next to me once again.

Every night it is the only thing that really lets me sleep… The sound of his breath and the feel of his arms around me once again telling me he’s home… Until he leaves to fight the fight another day and leave me lying here again longing to hear him breathe and feel his arms around me, home safe once again.


Sleep well my friends, for men and women like mine stand watch and guard the night so at least YOU can sleep peacefully, blissfully unaware of what they are protecting you from. That is the way it should be. Sleep well. At least one of us will. And the next time you see red and blue lights in your rear view mirror or find something to complain about the police for, remember what they do while you live your lives and what they protect you from. You will probably never really know the ways our police have helped you or the sacrifices his or her family make for you, but that’s what we do. All I ask in return is your respect and understanding.

When you meet an officer, you never know what they may have just seen. You may not know that this is his 22nd call of the day and shift isn’t even over. You didn’t see the body he just saw in the car wreck or chase down a drug dealer while leaping over fences on an empty stomach because crime doesn’t stop just so he can eat supper.

So sleep well and go about your day tomorrow in peace. We’ll carry the burden. IT IS WHO WE ARE, IT IS WHAT WE DO are the words my husband and I tell each other every day.

Good night, all. At least some of you can get a full night of rest. Whenever he does finally make it to bed I’ll be happy to catch the few winks I can until the 6am alarm sounds much sooner than it should. And when I wipe the sleep from my eyes I’ll remember again, like I do every morning, we live this life because we are called to it. It is our choice, it is our calling and it is an honor… But it sure can be hard sometimes.

 

Lessons from Health Class

Our LEO life reaches into our boys’ personal lives. I never saw it that way until my son opened my eyes.

Health ClassLessons from Health Class…

 

My (almost 15 year old) son came home with an assignment that really got me thinking this week. He had to write out for Health class what his views and thoughts were on dating and relationships. If he brought his assignment back with a parent’s signature on it he got extra credit. His teacher said it was his way of getting kids to talk with their parents about topics that may be difficult or awkward. His assignment starts with these words… (he gave me permission to share this)…

I believe that people should date each other in order to get know each other better, find out if the affection they feel for each other is real and will stay, and to enjoy one another. The characteristics of someone I would want to date is that they are Christian, smart, adventurous, like to spend time outside, are not against hunting, are somewhat fit, are dating not just to date (they are dating to get to know me), are family oriented, and that understand the police/first responder family life.

He goes on to describe some activities he thinks are good to do, what he feels our guidelines are as parents for his dating life and what he has set as his own personal standards for a dating relationship.

I must say I got emotional as I read it. It has always been my hope and prayer to be the best mom I could be and to raise my kids “right”. I want them to choose appropriate behaviors because THEY think it is right, not just because it is what Mom and Dad say is right. I look at my “baby” who is about to turn 15 and I thank God for blessing us with such an amazing young man. I pray for him as he grows up in a world that just keeps getting more and more evil, and I pray he holds true to the standards he has set for himself. But while reading his assignment, one thing caught my attention… I wondered what exactly he meant by she will “understand the police/first responder family life.” So…I asked him. My husband and I were there with him so I asked my son what he meant when he wrote that. He explained…

“I want her to know the type of life we live. I want her to know that if you say we need to do something or I need to be somewhere, I need to do it. She needs to understand that we live a little differently than most families and I want her to understand that if we have to go…we have to go.”

Imagine my awe at his thought process. I never really thought about things like how us being a LEO family would affect things like our son’s dating life. He opened my eyes to a whole new world and thought process. Our children are a reflection of us, and the choices we make affect them in ways we don’t even think about.

ripple

When I married my husband he was working on a farm. I never lived as the kid of a LEO and I don’t have the knowledge of what that feels like. My husband got into law enforcement one month before our first son was born so that is all our kids have ever known. What a mind blowing thought for me to think that my husband’s law enforcement career is shaping them into who they will be and that includes their future spouses and eventually their children and extended families. Our LEO life reaches into our boys’ personal lives. I never saw it that way until my son opened my eyes.

People outside of law enforcement sometimes have a hard time understanding why we do things the way we do. I am very vigilant and watchful. I am always scanning for danger and watching people. I am always looking over my shoulder and choosing my restaurants, driving routes, routines, etc. with care. People don’t know some of the things we know. People don’t see the evils we see, but that is how it should be. Law enforcement families know more about the dark side of life than anyone should have to, but knowing my son gets that and is thinking about how that will follow him in life makes me wonder…what else has he picked up that I don’t fully grasp?

How does he see me in my Christian walk?

What does he think of how I treat others?

Am I being a good example of kindness, compassion, strength, encouragement and love?

How is who I am and who are family is, shaping him into the man he is becoming?

The past few months have been pretty busy and crazy around our house. I feel like I’ve failed so many times at being the “best” mom I could be, but this health assignment has brought me back to a good place of realizing that there are always eyes watching me and the person I am, even within my four walls.

Thinking about my son dating used to scare me. I didn’t think I was ready to move into that phase of being the mom of a young MAN, but now I am more at peace about what is to come.

Who knew a high school health assignment could do so much for me? Thank you, Mr. Health Teacher, for providing those “awkward” conversations that turn out to be not so awkward after all! We have always had open conversations in this home and I am now ready to keep working on being a better me, so when my son does bring home that special young lady, she too will see what our family is like and how we live. She will need to understand that things are a little different for our son, living in a LEO family, but I am confident that any girl my son chooses will already know what she is in for. I just have to make sure I live up to the standards my son has set and don’t let him down. Sometimes I wonder who is teaching whom in this home…this week, it is my son teaching ME!

 

 

Health class picture found at:

https://media.victoriaadvocate.com/img/photos/2009/08/17/N_Procon_16X9_081709_C_61574_t640.jpg?a6ea3ebd4438a44b86d2e9c39ecf7613005fe067

 

Ripples picture found at: http://cdn1.theodysseyonline.com/files/2016/02/13/63590923851571493549820049_ripple.jpg

A Diamond in the works…

I am not dealing with seeking the approval of one specific individual. I am struggling with finding the approval of MYSELF.

I’ve had a revelation. For years I’ve been told to “not care what other people think.” “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” “It only matters what the people you love think.” Well, this morning I’ve decided that all of those people, for all of those years are wrong. It DOES matter what other people think, but not in the way that most of us think about.

If I love a certain blue shirt and want to wear it, but my friend says she hates it…it DOES matter what she thinks. What she thinks helps define what I think and how I am going to choose to think about myself and value myself in my own eyes. If I let her opinion change my mind and I don’t wear my favorite shirt just because she doesn’t like it, it has changed how I allow other’s opinions to affect me. On the other hand, if I choose to disregard her disapproval and go with what makes me happy I am telling myself that I matter! I am choosing to value my own opinion and stand my ground and this will eventually influence how I allow what others think mold me into the person I am meant to be. I have dealt with self-worth for years. I have always cared what other people think of me. It has had both good and bad influences on my life and I’ve had to learn to evaluate the source of opinions and decide whether I valued the person that was giving the advice.

I grew up in a home with a father who provided the primary income and a mother who, along with taking care of the three of us kids, worked side jobs to bring more money in. She never worked full-time out of the house and was always there for us when we needed her. My husband also grew up in this type of home. His father had the income and his mother raised the four kids. She has done seasonal and other jobs but was always available for the kids fulltime. We grew up in a town of about 900 people and I am happy to say we had about the best childhoods kids could ask for. There were bumps along the way, as in any family, but we had it good.

But, I am a mom of a different generation. Women’s liberation movements tell women they can do it all. The changes I have seen in the past 20 years and advances even before that show the strides our country has made in giving women almost every opportunity a man has. We can vote, we can have almost any job out there, we can have babies and a job or we can choose to be a career woman and live the single life. It is all up to us. The problem this brings for someone like me is I’m stuck in the middle of a giant revolution for women and I just don’t know quite where I am supposed to fit.

I want to be a mom but I want to work. Family values and the way I was raised tell me I should put a career on hold and raise my family first. Society tells me that I can have it all and I should do what I want and the family can just follow. This is where my beginning statement plays a vital role in my life today…IT DOES MATTER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK. I am not dealing with seeking the approval of one specific individual. I am struggling with finding the approval of MYSELF.

I want to be the best mom I can. I want to be there for my boys and I want to give them everything they need, the traditionalist shines through and tells me to put off working and be there for my family…but then the feelings of wanting to be successful and important lurk in. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with a woman working. I WANT TO WORK! But I also want to be a full-time mom! I’m stuck between that proverbial “rock and a hard place” and I’m feeling the squeeze.

I see many women who work outside of the home and raise their families very successfully. But I also see the difference it makes in the kids. I have many friends who stay at home full time and many that home school. I also have many friends that work and balance the rigors of daycare, family and a career. Each woman I know is strong in her own way and I respect each of them for the way they are handling their situation but I find myself stuck in the middle wanting it both ways.

I am not here to judge anyone. I am not here to tell anyone at home that they are missing out by not working and I am definitely not here to condemn those who are working. I “get” both sides. I have been working on my college degrees online as I raise my children. I have spent many nights, up until 2 am writing papers only to get up at 6 to get the kids moving. I have homeschooled in the past and right now I have both boys in public school. I have lived both ways and I love them both. What I need is to find that peace that tells me it’s ok. Right at this very moment I am taking 7 graduate credits, working part time, doing in-school student observations for a class, being a wife, being a mom and trying to do it all. Some days I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get it all done, so that is when I stop. I stop to think about those people who do matter to me and how I feel about what they think about me right now. Do I want them to see me and say, “Oh, look at her doing it all! She’s so successful.” “She’s such a blessing.” “We can always count on her.” Actually, yes, that is what I want but at what expense. My stress level lately has been sky high. When I just stop and take a breath I realize I have to dig deep inside and find how I feel about myself right now. If I don’t like how I’m feeling, there’s probably something wrong with the big picture. Life shouldn’t be about working to please others or appear important so they’ll find value in you. It’s about being the best “YOU” you can be. For me right now I think it’s time to just stop and take a good look at what’s “on my plate” and if I can “carry it.” If I have too much on my plate all it’s going to do is wear me out or ultimately break the plate and that’s a lot harder to fix than it is to just take something off the plate and maybe come back for it later.

Ladies, and especially girls, don’t let what you think others want from you become so important that you forget to decide what you really want out of life. Dig deep and find what makes you happy and chase after that with all of your might. I will never regret the years I’ve had at home with my boys and that number is getting smaller and smaller. My older son is a freshman which means I’ve only got a few years left before he’s out on his own. I am proud of myself for completing my Bachelor’s degree (at 33 years old). I have taught my boys that it’s never too late to learn and that hard work pays off. I’ve also shown them that I can balance between pursuing my dreams and being their mom. That’s where I am finding my true self-worth. Sometimes I need to just take a break like this and get things typed out to really see what’s going on in my heart. Emotions pour out and when I see what I’ve written it reflects who I am and what I find important.

I’m going to keep working on finishing my Master’s degree. I’m going to keep showing my boys that hard work pays off, but I’m not going to let the things that I think others are looking for in me determine my happiness. My happiness is found within these four walls, with my husband and my sons and with what works for US. I’m going to push through this semester, somehow, and do it because I want to and not because society tells me I need to. I’m going to keep on keeping on and do it for the right reasons. I do care what other’s think of me but I’m going to let that be a matter of helping determine who my friends are and not who decides what I do with my life. And most of all I can rest peacefully, even among the high levels of stress, because I know I was created by a loving God who doesn’t care what degree I have or what type of house I live in…He cares about what’s in my heart…

Psalm 139:14

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Marvelous are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

Time to continue on with my day and get it all done, but now with a more joyful heart, because I’m not doing it for the praises of anyone else. I’m doing it for me and my family.

Sometimes beautiful things come from the results of time under great stress…just look at a diamond!

diamonds-loose-certified-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture of diamonds from:

Follow your Heart photo from:

Career and family photo from:

IT’S WHO WE ARE, IT’S WHAT WE DO

Helping people is part of my inner being, it’s who I am, it’s what I do. But sometimes it all catches up with me and I just need to sit down and let my mind stop spinning.

 

IT’S WHO WE ARE, IT’S WHAT WE DO… Sometimes life just gets crazy. I am a people pleaser. I like to make other people’s lives easier and I tend to put my own health and sanity on the back burner to make sure I do all I can to help others. I love serving. Helping people is part of my inner being, it’s who I am, it’s what I do. But sometimes it all catches up with me and I just need to sit down and let my mind stop spinning.

Balance street signs

 

I just started a new part-time job last week. Being the new office manager of a small credit union is a new adventure I’m eager to embark on. Three hours a day, three days a week still leaves time for me to be there for my family. I have a few days off to do homework and balance my other jobs being a wife and mother. I substitute teach when I want to and I am also finishing my master’s degree. I am also the Preschool director at our local church. When I do think of each role I am in individually I am fine, but when something big happens in each of these roles all in the same day it gets to be a bit overwhelming. Today when I got home from another day of training and learning to do the important monthly paperwork at the credit union I had a phone call for a second interview as a substitute teacher at a local school district. Getting this extra part-time job would mean I would no longer need to drive half an hour or more to substitute teach. I never expected to get this callback so after placing all of my roles in front of me in an imaginary puzzle I started to realize just how many coals I have in the fire and I got a bit flustered. I am excited for each role I play but there I sat evaluating the importance and my desire to be in each role and I found myself having so many emotions I almost wanted to just sit there and cry. I wasn’t sad at all, but all of the stress of trying to please everyone in each of these roles was too much to take all at once. Looking at my calendar for the week makes me wonder how I can do it all and it was only 1:30 on Monday afternoon! Wife, mother, student, director, office manager, teacher, and so much more…how was I going to do it all?

That’s where my LEO comes in. He is the one that helps me find balance. Being a law enforcement officer, my husband has to juggle many things all at one time. Talking to someone in person as he has voices talking to him through his ear piece, writing reports and responding to calls, keeping tabs on where his partners are and often times driving while always being aware of his surrounds and what is going on around him…it is what he does, it is who he is.  He has trained. He has studied. He has practiced. He is amazing at what he does. He is continuously taking in as much as he can to learn to do his job to the best of his ability. He learns from his and other people’s mistakes and always strives to do what he can to serve his family, his church, his partners and his city. He also has many irons in the fire.

He is part of my inspiration and one of the reasons I am able to continue when I come home on my Monday and wonder just how I’m going to get it all done. He is my support. He listens when I need an ear. He gives advice when I need it. He is my advisor, my psychologist, my shoulder to lean on, my wall to bounce ideas off of, but most of all he is my partner in life…the one person I can count on NO MATTER WHAT. He is the father to my children, my partner in life, my protector, my husband and most of all, my example of how to live out the life God has called us to with honor and integrity. He is by no means perfect, but I don’t need perfect, I just need someone who is always there for me whether I’m having one of my “Mondays” or a day of calm relaxation.

…I let these words sit on the screen this week and now that it is Friday and the craziness is almost over I look back and wonder how I got through it all. The number one thing that I can think of is I wasn’t afraid to let someone know how I was feeling. My someone was my husband this time. Some days I call and talk to one of my sisters-in-law. Actually, Monday afternoon I Facetimed with my brother’s wife and got to see the adorable face of my 9-month-old niece. Just taking that break to let someone know I was “going crazy” and having them listen helped in more ways than they will ever know. It helped me take a break, sit back, take a deep breath and trudge on through the hectic week. Letting someone in on what we are feeling can be hard but I have learned over the years that when I keep it all bottled up nothing good ever comes from it. It is the days that I do let someone know I’m struggling and just let it out that I’m able to pick myself back up and continue through the stresses of life.

not going to be easy coin

 

I am a servant. I also have to remember that I am a willing servant. I am choosing to do all of these things, even when it can get overwhelming. I love my life, as crazy as it can get and I don’t want to give up any of the coals I have in the fire. I am choosing to keep them all burning but I am also learning that sometimes I can let some of them sit because they’ll still be there when I get back from tending to the business at hand. I have partners in life that can help me know when I need to just let them all simmer for a bit and take time for myself, but it is because of those people in my life that I am able to let it all out and then continue this journey we call life. My husband, my sisters-in-law, my children…we all get ourselves into these tough days but we aren’t alone and we help each other through. As my husband told me…IT’S WHO WE ARE, IT’S WHAT WE DO. But it sure is good to know I don’t have to do it alone!

 

Images found at:
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10088174
http://theimagineproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Screen-Shot-2014-03-25-at-8.59.12-PM.png

 

 

 

I SMILE

I lost count of how many times I’ve purposefully stood with my wedding ring in their sight so I could maybe avoid the question asking if I was married.

I AM USED TO SHARING MY HUSBAND WITH THE WORLD. He misses birthdays, holidays, family gatherings and just regular life experiences to serve as a police officer and I get it. I make sacrifices so others can be safe. I go to family events without him. I take my boys to see the new movie at the theater without him because he’s at work. I know a lot of other families both in law enforcement and not, do the same. We usually eat supper without him. It’s all part of the job. I have had people think I was a single mother or separated from my husband when we started at a new church because my husband was either working or sleeping after the night shift so often. I lost count of how many times I’ve purposefully stood with my wedding ring in their sight so I could maybe avoid the question asking if I was married. We have chosen this life and we take all that comes with it.

The issue I am dealing with today comes after a night of a 12-14” dump of beautiful Wisconsin snow. As he backed out of our garage to head in for shift yesterday, I watched as a single snowflake lazily fluttered to the ground. Up until now we’ve had no snow that would stick and only a dusting at a time. The weather predictors told us to expect 10.9 inches and we almost wanted to laugh. They said it would start at 3 pm so at 2:09 pm I did laugh as the snow was doing all it could to tell the weather predictors who was boss. And boy did it show the city of Green Bay who was boss!

The boys and I watched out our windows as that single little snowflake was joined by every relative it could find and decided the wind should come along for a visit, too. The birds and squirrels had rushed to get their fill so they were now in hiding and by 8 pm we already had about 6 inches on the ground. I was grateful for our neighbor who had given us his snow blower to use and for the teenage son that couldn’t wait to use it. We didn’t get our White Christmas in Green Bay but it had finally snowed and as my other son had exclaimed, “At least we’ll have a White New Year!”

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So my problem comes when I texted my husband to ask him how bad it really was out there. We were down to our last bag of milk and I had considered driving to the store for a few items when he basically demanded that I not go ANYWHERE! Some highlights of our conversation included that there was a layer of solid ice under all of that snow and that people were being absolutely unsafe! Police cars were driving 25 mph to get to help people and yet other drivers felt they could handle going 50 mph and were going around the police cars!

To those drivers let me say this… Really people?! Let me get this straight…You are smarter and better at driving than the men and women that have been trained in EVOC and are working to save others in the storm? What makes you think you are so invincible, and that going around a squad car is the smart thing to do? With today’s technology, just about anyone should be able to know how much snow we were going to get and how bad the storm was…and for those who couldn’t find the time or technology to get the answer…eyes and ears are the best clue to know that when the wind is blowing snow horizontally and coming at an inch an hour, you probably don’t NEED to go shopping for non-essentials or drive to the casino! Is it so important to be at the casino that you put other peoples’ lives at risk by being on the road? Unless you have to get to work or have a legitimate necessity to drive, there is no reason to be on the roads in those kind of conditions. When you are out there you are only making the job of the police, fire, ambulance, etc. harder because you are causing accidents that could have been avoided had you just stayed home and off of the roads or you are simply in the way of them getting to help those in need. I don’t mind sharing my husband with someone that had to get to work 3rd shift and went in the ditch or couldn’t get up the hill, but yes, I do mind sharing with those that have no common sense and choose to only make my husband’s job harder, and more dangerous! To know that he was using himself and his squad to block off roads until salt trucks could come makes me proud, but to know that people don’t think and don’t care enough about others and will disregard his safety or wisdom and training and just drive around him to get to their unnecessary fun makes me angry!

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Ok, there’s my rant.

But…

…in reality, I am sharing my husband with other people every day he goes to work. Even on a bright summer day I hear about all of the different types of people police have to deal with. The ones who can’t control their children and expect a police officer to fix in 5 minutes, the mess they made by years of not parenting their children. Those that are fighting over property after the fifth boyfriend has moved out or the divorcees that can’t even do a child exchange without fighting so they need the police to come and supervise. These are the times I get frustrated. But then I stop and choose to change my focus. If I dwell on all of the bad things happening, it changes my day and makes me mad, but when I remember the ones he truly helps I am reminded why we are still in this profession…this life.

There are those who genuinely need help and I have no problem knowing he is out there helping people in real need. When he comes home all amped up and I find out it is because he saved a man’s life by holding pressure on a wound until the paramedics arrived and then helped even more, I SMILE. When I hear he found a child wondering all alone and was able to keep the kid safe until the parents were found, I SMILE. When he glows as he tells me about how he visited with a group of kids that wanted to say hi and see his squad car…how he handed out Packer cards and made a connection with a neighborhood of kids, I SMILE. When I hear that he stopped something small that was beginning to bubble into something potentially dangerous from becoming a fight, I SMILE. But mostly, whether it is the menaces out there with a desire to cause trouble or the good citizens that just need help, when I see my husband walk in the door after his shift, I SMILE.

He is home. He is safe. He will wake again tomorrow to fight the good fight for another day. I don’t know what he will face each day that I have to share him with the world, but no matter what he winds up dealing with I know he loves what he does and he is making a difference in the world. The bad need to be dealt with and the good need him to help them. It is because of this, and because of his response to the calling that I continue to share him with the world, and…I SMILE.

HOW IS IT BEING MARRIED TO A COP???

I immediately knew my answer but had to think about how to put it into words for someone who can’t understand the life from my perspective.

Caourage quote large cropped centered blue border

HOW IS IT BEING MARRIED TO A COP??? Last week a man at church asked me how it was being married to a cop. He wondered how I was handling the thoughts of danger in life as a LEO wife, especially after the events that happened in the past year to make police officers not the most popular people. I immediately knew my answer but had to think about how to put it into words for someone who can’t understand the life from my perspective.

First, I thanked him for his concern and support of my husband. I admitted that it is becoming a different world for police and their families but then went on to explain something to him that brings me peace. When we lived up north and my husband worked in the small town we lived in, he would often be on the road by himself. One officer for the entire town of 1500 plus 1 or 2 deputies working for the County meant if he needed backup it could take a long time to get support. Now, living in Green Bay, he is, of course, never alone. Whether staffing is at minimum or there are a full number of officers on the road, I personally know that his backup is never that far away. In fact, I know that the specific group of people he works with have been together for years now and can tell by the slightest change in tone of voice over the radio just how fast they need to go to get there to back up my husband. Most times he doesn’t even have to specifically call for backup. They just keep an eye and ear out for each other and know what type of calls warrant extra support and which ones are likely to be able to be handled alone. He has told me how he has driven past other officers just to make sure everything is good and to be close by just in case things would go bad. Just knowing that this is how they operate makes me know that he is not in this alone and in turn I can be at home with my family knowing he has the best of the best watching out for him. They have gotten to know each other. They are brothers and sisters in blue and they are there for each other. I am able to go on with my day knowing that my husband is in good hands, and he is one of the good hands helping keep his LEO brothers and sisters safe. That is one of the reasons I can kiss him goodbye with peace in my heart. His job is dangerous, but when danger comes and the fight is on, he is not out there alone.

That is the answer I gave when talking to that man at church, but I want to also share that getting to that point in my life did not happen overnight just because we moved to a bigger department. It definitely took time…a lot of time. It wouldn’t have mattered where we lived when my husband began his job in law enforcement. It is a scary world we live in. There are still days that I fear for him and when I see things on the news like the happenings in Ferguson I do feel some fear in the pit of my stomach. We get a little bit more on edge and hug a little tighter before he walks out the door. I sigh a little bit deeper in relief when he walks through the door at night after a shift. But I am to the point in my life as a LEOW that I had to give up my fears to a higher source. The first several years of life as a law enforcement wife were some of the scariest I have ever lived and he wasn’t even on the road for all of those. Looking back I think part of it was that our kids were younger at the time and being home alone a lot with two young kids, especially at night, brought thoughts of fear and anxiousness at even the little things. Strange noises, having to go into the dark basement or outside all alone, voices of people outside that seemed closer than normal all brought on fears like they would for some other people. But I began to think about all of the things that “could happen”. What if I’m home alone and there’s a fire and I can’t get both kids out by myself? What if I fall and get hurt and nobody is around to find me and help me but the boys? What if I let him and one of the boys go somewhere and they get into a car accident and I’m left to live life alone? Somehow I thought that being with him could prevent the bad things from happening. Being a young mom and new to the law enforcement world brought on fears and I was letting those fears take hold and affect how I lived my life. I realized some of them were possibilities, like the getting out of a fire, so I ran scenarios through my head and tried to prepare myself as best I could. I did things to protect my family but it was those irrational fears that were getting to be too much. That’s when I started to pray for the Lord to just take them away. I couldn’t live in fear. I knew if I was going to make it as a LEOW I was going to have to get over those fears or they were going to make me go crazy!

I prayed and over time things slowly got easier. They boys got older, my husband showed me how to make safe choices that every LEO family should learn, but most of all I prayed. I prayed for peace. I prayed for my husband’s safety. I prayed for OUR safety. I prayed for wisdom. But most of all I prayed for God to calm my fears. I will never forget the night that I finally realized all of those years of praying had helped. I needed something out of the basement so I went down and found it and after returning to the main floor it hit me…I never thought twice about going downstairs, even late at night in the dark. The fear didn’t consume me any longer. My prayers had finally been answered. It had taken SEVEN long years, but my fears were finally gone. In those years I had learned many things to do to help keep our family safe, ways to prepare for emergencies like fires or tornadoes, and most especially not to worry about things that I never had control over anyway! From that night forward I was a new woman.

So, back to the beginning question… How is it being married to a cop? Well, it definitely isn’t easy but I can say that over time it gets easier. Fears that come naturally, fade as you learn ways to be smart and protect yourself and your family. News stories happen and emotions rise but they also fade and you learn from whatever it was that happened in the world to make those fears try to creep back into your mind. You find friends and people to help you talk through the hard times and you above all, always remember that no matter how hard you try to plan, YOU ultimately aren’t in control. I can’t stop the criminals from doing bad things. I can’t stop car accidents from happening. The only thing I can do is remember that God is in control and HE knows so much more than I do. Living a life of fear is no way to live, in fact it is miserable. Even though we now live in a city with more criminals and more crime, I know that we need good men and women out there on the side of the “good guys” and that is what my husband was born to do so I can either ask him to stop doing what God intended him to do or roll with the punches and learn to give up my fears. I can tell you that the second option is working so much better than the first and I am honored to live with my officer through the good days and the ones that scare me half to death. Fears still come but now I learn from them and move on because usually along with those scary days come some totally amazing days that make it all worth it. So, how is it being married to a cop??? It is an HONOR and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

YES, NO or WAIT

Today I learned that not only was God using that time to shape my husband, but he was using my husband to also shape me.

YES, NO OR WAIT.

I have heard it said that when we pray, God has one of three answers for us…Yes, No or Wait. Sometimes He grants our prayers and we are happy. Sometimes He says “No” and we wonder why He is being so mean. Still other times we don’t get an immediate answer and we have to Wait. This was the case for my husband and me as we spent years trying to find a way for him to become a full-time police officer.

He started his law enforcement career working in the smallest county jail in the entire state of WI. We hadn’t really thought about this field but we were both working low-paying jobs and since we were expecting our first child my husband decided to seek a job that would pay better so I could stay home to raise our son. Being hired in the jail was more about the money at the time. Little did we know it was just the start for us and would change our lives forever.

His working in the jail brought on many emotions for me that I’m sure I’ll get to in future posts, but today I am thinking about all of the times I heard about the conversations he had with his inmates. I didn’t know the names or the specifics of what was said but I heard many times how the way my husband treated the inmates made a difference in how they treated others.

He told of days he came into work and something happened to make an inmate angry. Some jailers would treat the inmates as they saw them, criminals behind bars, doing their time. But my husband always tried to see them for what they really were…people. People who had made a mistake, but still were people. He made connections with his people. When you spend 8 or sometimes 12 hours on a shift checking on someone at least twice an hour, taking them their meals, letting them in and out for work, dealing with their problems, etc. you inevitably start to get to know people. One of the things he would always tell me was that they still were people and deserved to be treated respectfully. If they disobeyed or were disrespectful that was a different situation but when they cooperated and followed the rules it was a different place. When certain inmates got riled up, my husband had a way of talking them down. After reading a book about it we found out it was a term called “Verbal Judo”. You can use words as your defense and often times do not need to use physical means to handle a bad situation. Often times the words even calmed them down enough that what was expected to become a bad situation just fizzled back to calm cooperation. Over time this became a skill he was known for and the inmates would ask to talk to him if there was a problem because they knew he would listen. What I took away from those years was that humans are much more than what their current situation may seem. When you get to know people or look at the big picture you often times see why they act as they do and how you treat them really does matter.

Now back to the Yes, No, Wait. It took several years, and a LOT of patience before we got to the point from wanting to be in fulltime law enforcement to actually getting the chance. Opportunities that we thought were a sure bet fell through and it actually took four years longer than we expected before my husband landed his first full-time job as a police officer. We would get to the final process in a location and then be turned down. We would apply somewhere we dreamed of living. We found places that we thought were perfect but time after time we just didn’t get the job. Then came Green Bay. After going to Law Enforcement academy here one of my husband’s classmates asked him to apply here. We had never considered it but apparently God knew best and after about a year-long process we accepted a job working for the department. Along the way we never understood the No’s that we thought should be a Yes. We grumbled and complained and began the search for a new location but the whole time we were seeking what we wanted instead of what God had in mind and it wasn’t until we listened to His will that we got our “Yes”.

During those years working in the jail all we wanted was to move on and to have him become a police officer but now when we look back we agree that the time he spent inside the jail talking to inmates and building personal communication skills were actually preparing him for a better and ultimately safer time on the road. What he learned in the jail both about himself and how to talk to people in stressful situations has helped him so many times in his job now in the city that I am grateful for the time we spent in “Wait” mode. We even had some No’s during the Wait and weren’t exactly sure how long the Wait would last but God knew and I have learned that He knows so much more than I do. When I tried to force things and pick where I was sure we were going to get hired, it only led to built up hope and then a rollercoaster ride down to the valley of disappointment. The whole time what we thought was mean was actually God equipping him and even teaching me about the value of waiting.

Today I learned that not only was God using that time to shape my husband, but he was using my husband to also shape me. That lesson about troubled people still being people has been a key part of several discussions we’ve had lately. We have talked about how you may see someone who is crabby or rude but you don’t know their circumstances. You don’t know what their life is like or what just may have happened two minutes before you saw them. Maybe they are just mean but maybe they are actually hurting and the way you treat them may just make a difference in their life. Just as the way my husband treated his inmates affected their behavior and actions, we need to think about the people around us and consider that we don’t always know the big picture.

I was able to pass this along to my students today when I was substitute teaching. While talking at the end of the day with a group of students they began to complain about a teacher and how mean he was. One of the students made a comment that the teacher must be having problems in his marriage because that’s what he would suspect if he acted this way at home. The rest of the class froze in amazement that those words actually came out of the student’s mouth so I saw this as an opportunity to talk about what I have learned about how we treat people. I shared with them the story I just wrote about above, how my husband used to work in the jail and how he learned to treat the people with respect. How we don’t always know the full story and knowing the story isn’t necessarily the important part. The important thing I wanted them to know was the difference we can make by choosing how we are going to treat people. If we treat even the meanest person with respect it just might make a difference. I had spent 20 minutes listening to my class talk about how their teacher needed to change but after my heart-to-heart with them there was a silence and a change of attitude… and maybe a change of heart in the kids. I may never see those kids again but I am sitting here tonight thinking back to the almost 15 years ago when we were waiting for our Yes to come.  It came, but God used the Wait for so much more than I’ll ever know and today the “Wait” lessons I learned were passed on to a whole new group of students.

Going through a “Wait” can be one of the hardest things we have to do but knowing what I know today, and feeling how I feel right now I am becoming more and more willing to walk alongside my husband through our “Waits” because the benefits we get on the other side are more amazing and wonderful than I could’ve ever imagined while I was inside the wait zone.

Just before the final bell rang today I watched the posture soften and the complaining words of my students change into Thank Yous. The last boy to leave my room today, the one who had done most of the talking but also seemed to change the most actually said, “Mrs. L., thanks for being a top notch substitute.”

I had shared with them that being a substitute meant I was at different schools, in different classrooms all the time and this may be the one and only time I ever see them, but if I could leave one thing with them it is that even if I only ever know them for one day of their life, I hope I make a difference in that one day. I hope that in my one day I taught them something and not just off of the lesson plan, but something about life and how to be a better person. I truly think today was one of those life changing days at least for one boy and if I have to wait another 10 years for a “wait” to become a “Yes”, I am willing to do it. Days like today don’t happen enough and I am hoping that as I learn to wait I can pass on my experiences and change more lives.

Isaiah 40:31

“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

TEACH ME LORD, TEACH ME LORD…TO WAIT.

Almost

MY HUSBAND ALMOST HAD TO SHOOT A MAN TODAY.

MY HUSBAND ALMOST HAD TO SHOOT A MAN TODAY. Not even logged onto the computer yet, he received a call that my family and I actually saw him responding to. We had just pulled into the ice cream shop, hoping to catch a few minutes with him when we saw the red and blues go darting by. It was not until he stopped by after the call, but never got out of his car, that we found out it was him.

“Was the really HIM?” asked my mom. Yes. What has become a natural observance for me was fresh in her mind seeing him racing into action for the first time. I’ve been there for the missed dinner dates, or the times he just sat down and had to race off, never finishing his meal, to back up a Brother in Blue or come to someone’s aide. But she had just witnessed for herself a tiny piece of what my life is like.

So much happened that I will never know about but the words that I walked away with and that are still ringing in my ears right now are, “I almost had to shoot a man today.” I’ve heard it before but it has always been after he finished shift, changed back into his regular clothes and came home. I had never been there by him right after it happened. He texted later to apologize for the lack of words when my parents, boys and I came out to his squad to say hi and goodbye and wish him a safe night. But I understand. I am the one that stays up after shift to watch a movie or just talk until the adrenalin of the day tries to leave his system. I am the one that hears the “I can’t go right to bed when I get home, I just need a little time.” My other family members know I am married to a cop but I don’t think anyone else really knows just how much being a cop affects him to the core. Today I saw what it was like to be there with the adrenalin still fresh in his body. The way it changes who he is and the emotions he is feeling.

I watch the news and I see the stories about the shootings that DO happen. I can only imagine what those officers are feeling when they DO have to pull the trigger. But I don’t think people stop to think about how many times a day the word ALMOST comes into the picture. The shootings that happen are major events and are publicized so the media can have their day but what if we knew just how many times the word ALMOST happened. How many times do our men and women in blue choose in that split second, with the adrenalin flowing fierce and hard, to NOT pull the trigger? Something happens to let them decide that it’s not time to pull. Somehow they come out of the call safe and sound and go on to the next call pending on their screen. Sometimes they catch the perp and sometimes they get away but that decision, with adrenalin flowing and lives in the balance is one I cannot being to imagine having the responsibility to make.

I saw today what it was like when the word “ALMOST” had just happened, and with the way the world is going I will not be completely caught off guard if I get the call saying he had to pull the trigger. My point in writing this today is to share the story of this “ALMOST” and to ask people to stop and think about what it must be like to have to make that choice. There are consequences to both decisions and seeing how he felt after the ALMOST, I pray he never does have to pull the trigger. BUT, if I do ever get that call that he did have to make that choice I will know for sure that it was the right call, for I’ve seen what he feels after the ALMOST, and the wisdom, courage and strength it takes to not pull the trigger. If the call does come, I’ll have his six because I know he knows what he’s doing and has had to make the choice so many times. He walks the Thin Blue Line with honor and I have all the faith in the world that he was born to do this job. I love my cop with all my heart and am proud to be his wife.  I’ll continue to sit up late into the night to watch a movie, or just talk or hold his hand after the ALMOSTS. I’ll never know what it feels like to have that adrenaline slowly leaving my system, but I’ll always know what it feels like to be by his side and will always think of him as my HERO.

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