Sunday, May 30, 2010

UPDATE...LONG OVERDUE

Yes, Honey, I know...it's about time. No excuses, Sir. No excuses.

CHRISTMAS IN IRAQ
As mentioned in my last post, the last day to send mail was May 15th. Well...the friends, friends of friends, family, and friends of family absolutely came through for Bryan and his men. The boy received 67 packages a week later! A few days after that he got 18 more. That's a total of 85 care packages!! Thanks to all of you! His CHU is now referred to as " The Distribution Center". You've made so many soldiers happy with the games, snacks, letters, magazines, and whatever else could fit in those boxes. He said he hadn't smiled that big since being in the US. Again, THANK YOU!






There hasn't been a whole lot of communication the last couple of weeks. They are very busy. Bryan says if he's not planning a mission, he's on the mission. He may get a couple hours of sleep somewhere in the middle. I did get to talk to him today after church, however. I went to my Mom and Dad's hoping we'd get to skype, and we did! They hadn't had that opportunity since he's been gone, so it was a special treat. He was rather tired. We asked if he'd been busy today and, of course, he said yes. He also said there was a food shortage the last couple of days, which will make you tired, too. Ummm, what? I heard him correctly...a food shortage. Somehow, they ran low on MRE's. Now, if I know my husband, and I think I do, he made sure all of his men had meals before he took anything for himself. It's one reason I love him the way I do. In one of his care packages was a can of pork and beans - courtesy of Jenny and Will Jones. He said he was so happy to see that can and ate it for dinner. Praise God, the shortage has been remedied and they now have plenty of MRE's.

Here at home a young black cat has adopted us. It's beyond me and mine how a cat would choose a place with seven dogs to call home. He doesn't care, though. He needs to care. I'm guessing he was put out or somehow became separated from his family. He's so sweet and loving and in need of attention. We finally fed it, which sealed the deal. He's here until we find a home for him. We have to find him a great home. If my dogs ever get a hold of him it's over. If you or anyone you know is in the market for a sweet kitty, please let me know. Some friends were over today fishing and their daughters named him. This is something I had refused to do thus far. His new name fits him...Army. I had nothing to do with the name. They came up with it all on their own. So, that's his name for now...until you come and rescue him from my dogs!

Well, tomorrow is Memorial Day. We've been watching specials on television tonight. In years past, these testimonies and stories have always been moving. But now it's completely different. My soldier is at war. It's almost surreal when they talk about remembering the soldiers overseas. Mine is there. I wish I could explain it. It's just weird.

We watched the PBS special tonight and I can remember watching it with Bryan on the couch last year. What a difference a year makes. Since then, Bryan's been at Ft. Benning for 6 months, Camp Shelby for one month, and Iraq for two months. I'll be the happiest woman in the world when he comes home.


Bryan, thank you for your service. Thank you for saying to God, "not my will but thine". Thank you for NEVER complaining about your circumstances. Thank you for taking care of your men and participating in "Mustache May" even though you hate it. Thank you for sharing your care packages with Iraqi children. Thank you for being my loving, faithful husband. I don't have the words to express my gratitude. You are my spiritual leader and I've learned so very much from you even though you're gone. I love you and I miss you.

Love to you all,
Ang

PS - Bryan, only a few hours left in Mustache May! You made it!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

WE'RE ALMOST THERE

Again, a busy week so no blog update. I'll try to do better now that we can no longer send mail Bryan's way. This week I've been busy putting together care packages and writing cards and letters. Knowing I can't send him something he needs is a little overwhelming. I keep thinking of things I should have sent and now can't. But I think he'll be ok. Our friends and family REALLY came through. And even friends of friends sent him boxes. I won't say how many are on the way to Q-West, Iraq because I want it to be a surprise to Bryan and his men. However, I will say that the Postmaster in Alamo, TN asked someone bringing in boxes on Saturday if those were for Bryan Hayes! Thanks to all of you who've made the effort to send him packages or letters. I wish I could explain how much it means to him. And thank you for including your children in your efforts and teaching them the importance of appreciating our military men and women. It's just good stuff. These boxes will arrive just in time, too. The DFAC (dining facility) closes next weekend. Therefore, the only food he'll have is what we've sent him and MRE's (meals ready to eat). I've seen these MRE's and yuck! God bless them for eating them.

Bryan had a very busy week. He had several missions and sometimes two in one day. Being a 2LT means he has to plan them as well. It's pretty stressful at times. I got an email Wednesday and the subject was "a song". He'd found a few minutes to write and I was elated. The name of it is "Southern Rain". I read the words and cried. It's about being home and having that southern rain cleansing his soul. It's so true. That's exactly what it does. When it rains here at home, he and I will stand on the porch, look across the lake, and soak it all in. Oh, how I miss those moments. I pray those memories bring him comfort while he's so far from home.

I got a good laugh while talking to him early in the week. He said his guys informed him it was "Mustache May" and they'd appreciate it if he participated! Oh my goodness...a mustache. HE HATES IT! He says it's gone on 01 June at midnight! I can't really get a good look at it when we skype. It just looks like he has dirt on his lip. Then yesterday when I was talking to him I heard a lot of hollering outside his window. I asked what it was and he said soldiers playing corn hole. He said some of the men found some wood and made it. He said, "soldiers are very resourceful". I love knowing they're able to find humor and have some fun during their deployment. Does this Army wife's heart good!

I'm sure you are all wondering why mail is ending, the dfac is closing, etc. They aren't going to a new FOB...they're coming home! I can't give the exact date but it's before September 1st. PRAISE THE LORD! I've known for a while, but I've also learned to expect and accept change. For now it looks promising. Thank you for all of the prayers. And please keep them coming. There are still lots of missions to run. Knowing he's coming home is such a relief, but I still miss him so much it hurts. Really, it does. We're both so thankful it won't be too much longer. Again, thank you, Lord!

Love to you all.


Friday, May 7, 2010

READY FOR HIM TO COME HOME

Why isn't this getting easier? I thought time was supposed to heal all wounds. Deployment has been backwards for me. I started out conquering the world and now I'm fighting back tears all of the time. My brain's been saying, "be strong, be strong, be strong". Being strong is tiring! God is still with me and continues to give me strength. I'm sure of it. I just miss him...everything about him. And I miss us.

From the moment we knew of the deployment I've prayed God would protect Bryan's spirit. God is certainly doing that, but this has taken a toll. As tough as he is, he is still human. Have you seen the pictures on Facebook? If not, Bryan's posted some pics of the soccer field where Saddam and his cowardly sons tortured and murdered athletes for making mistakes or not performing well. Seeing it on my computer made me physically ill. Seeing it in person, as these men have, must be indescribable. Scenes as these and devastation of war and quality of life of the Iraqi people, viewed day in and day out, is a lot to handle. God bless them.

Despite being a little homesick and the stresses of being at war, Bryan is doing well. We were able to skype this morning as I was getting ready for work and he sang me one of his silly "songs" - the ones I said I'd never miss. It was sweet music to my ears!

He's bonded with the men and there is a mutual respect...answers to prayer. He has three missions this weekend, I think. That's how he'll be spending his Mother's Day. I know he wishes he could hug and kiss his Mom and mine. God couldn't have provided us with two more precious, Godly women than Linda Garland Hayes and Annie Curry Brannon. It's because of their prayers and God's grace that Bryan and I found each other. His mom prayed for me and my mom for him years before one family knew the other existed. Thank you, ladies.

Thank you, Bryan, for your continued sacrifice. Please know we are praying you home. Love you, Babe.





Monday, May 3, 2010

I LOVE MY SOLDIER

Please forgive me for not updating my blog last week. It's been a busy time at the farm. Knowing the rain was coming on the weekend, I spent much of my time outside cleaning up from the previous week's round of storms. I sure hope this trend ends soon.

Bryan's been on a couple of missions this last week. Thankfully, he wasn't gone more than a few hours each time, which helps my nerves. Getting an email after the mission is awesome. Just knowing he's ok...it's the best. He had a mission late last week that was 55 trucks long. Can you imagine? I cannot. How intimidating that must look. Keep praying, please. Next week they start missions on foot. Bryan's been trained to do this and is looking forward to it. Me...not so much. I like knowing there's a 1.3 million dollar truck between the bad guy, who doesn't play fair, and my husband and his men. There's a different kind of blood running through the veins of an Infantryman. It's his calling.

Mind if I take a few sentences to tell you how much I love him? I've yet to lose that new, love-sick feeling for him. I love holding his hand. He makes me laugh like no other. He says, "You're my girl", which has a sweet and innocent ring to it. He tells me I'm beautiful and relieves my insecurities. This weekend he said, "We have to be the happiest couple in the world". Simply, he loves me. It's all I've ever wanted.

I sure do miss him. I miss his silly songs, which I vowed to him I'd never miss! I was wrong. I miss his hugs and the comfort he's always provided. I miss reaching over two dogs to touch him in the middle of the night. I miss him yelling, "Ang is home - haha" every night. (That's an Everybody Loves Raymond reference.) I miss the power clap. I miss my heart.

It's been eight months (less a couple of visits) since you've been home. I anxiously await our normal life again. Maybe God will provide the child we've been praying for all these years. Maybe not. Like you said, "As long as you and I are married, we'll be a happy family". I love you, Soldier.






Sunday, April 25, 2010

CARE PACKAGES

Several of you have asked me what to send Bryan in a care package. Below are some items I think he and the others would like. Because Bryan will be getting so many packages, I know he will share. Please do not let this hinder you from sending something. At the end of May or early June, the PX (post exchange) at their FOB will be closing. That means he and the guys won't have a store to buy the things they need. To make matters worse, they will stop delivering mail to his FOB at the end of May. Once his FOB closes he'll move to another area, but I don't know how long he'll be without amenities.

Keep in mind, he's in the Infantry - that means ALL BOYS! There is no need to send any girl stuff as there are none!




trail mix granola bars
brownies/cookies (may want to research how to package)
nuts
beef jerkey
tuna salad kits
canned fruit w/pop top
popcorn (microwave)
fruit snacks
cereal (individually packaged) - bryan's favorites are golden grahams and life
drink mixes - gatorade (orange) and propel (grape or berry)
coffee/splenda/dry creamer
plastic containers


travel toiletries - shaving cream, toothpaste, deodorant
baby wipes
face lotion
sunscreen
chapstick
kleenex
air/room fresheners
magazines

ANYTHING PERSONAL! He loves pictures, cards and letters. They encourage him and help subside the homesickness!

Please do not include anything with pork. Also, please don't send religious material in bulk. However, you are more than welcome to send something along those lines to him only.


THANKS TO YOU ALL!

FIRST MISSION COMPLETE

I'm so happy to say by God's grace, Bryan's first led mission went well. Things that could have gone wrong did. But he and his men handled it and got back to the FOB safely. Thank you, Lord!

We got to Skype with him a once yesterday and twice today. Again, I'm very thankful for the technology. He's doing fine and looks great. There are several more missions this coming week, so please keep the prayers going up. I love you all. Thank you.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

MADE IT TO FIRST DESTINATION

Bryan emailed and they've made it to their first stop safely. They have another long mission tonight/tomorrow, so I'll keep you informed. He asked that I thank everyone for the prayers. I thank you, too! I'll update again when I can.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

HE LOVES MAIL!

Bryan would love to hear from you. Please send a card or letter when you have a minute. If you'd like to send a care package, the post office has a nice sized box for a flat rate of $12.70. Please don't include his rank!


HAYES, BRYAN M
2/B/1/278TH ACR
Q-WEST, IRAQ
APO AE 09351

TODAY IS A STRUGGLE

Bryan made it back safely from his mission. Praise the Lord.

Yesterday I was watching the morning news and saw the Commanding General in Iraq. A bad guy was killed (you know the group-don't want to draw attention to my blog) in the area of Bryan's mission. He said he saw part of it. Bryan assures me they will be safe, but a wife can't help but worry sometimes. When talking to him yesterday, he said for me to be sure and read my devotion from Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling". As it is everyday, it was perfect. The first words were, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you". It went on to say, "The media relentlessly proclaim bad news...A steady diet of their fare will sicken you. Instead of focusing on fickle, ever-changing news broadcasts, tune in to the living Word". Was that for me or what? God's perfect timing makes me smile. I think I'll lay off the news for a while. Drinking coffee and watching Fox and Friends is my favorite morning ritual, but I'll have to replace it with something else for a few months.

The role of a 2LT is Platoon Leader. He's leading his first mission tonight through Saturday. Apparently, it's a pretty serious mission. That's all I know and care to know. God has given him this mission for a reason and when Bryan succeeds, he'll give the Lord all of the honor and glory. In the mean time, I'm a wreck! I've had to remember to let go of the things I can't control, but, again, a wife has the right to worry. I do take comfort in the fact they are traveling in MRAP's - Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles - and have been well trained for several different situations.

Bryan wasn't sure if they'd have internet where he was going. He said if they did he'd email to let me know they made it to the first stop safely. Of course, I'll pass it along.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A SIGH OF RELIEF

Yay! Great weekend! I was able to Skype with Bryan a couple of times. Of course, I sometimes have to do it in the middle of the night, but I'm ok with that! I'm so very thankful for the gift of technology. It certainly makes you appreciate the mothers and wives who didn't have instant communication in earlier wars.

Bryan is doing well and settled in Iraq. He has his own "Chu". It's a metal shed with a couple of beds. I think he's comfortable. The weather at Q-West is similar to home since he's in Northern Iraq. I like knowing it's not 100+. He has FINALLY met his men and the fit is perfect. God continues to answer prayers. It's comforting for all of us to know he's with well-trained and well-disciplined men.

Bryan was away from the FOB yesterday and today. All he said was, "You know what I have to do, and I'll call you Tuesday or Wednesday". Those are not my favorite words, but he's right. I know what he has to do. I hang up, pray, and do what I have to do, too. There's that strength God has provided!

I'll let you know he's made it back to his chu as soon as I can.





Friday, April 16, 2010

IS IT GONNA BE LIKE THIS FOR 8 MONTHS?

Today's been a tough one.

Since the first week of Basic Training, Fridays have always been the hardest days for me. I knew yesterday that today would be trying. I could feel it. Little did I know.

Bryan called at 245 this morning. They were ready to transport the soldiers deploying to Northern Iraq and were heading back to Kuwait City for their flight. I was able to go back to sleep, thankfully, but when I got up it hit me. He's actually going. He'd also been separated from Culbert...2LT Joseph Culbert. They've been training together since 2008. They've been Battle Buddies and our families have grown close over these two years. Culbert, I believe, is deploying just outside Baghdad. Anyway, it was all so surreal. And I couldn't really remember too many details from our middle of the night conversation. About 11am Bryan called to let me know they made it. Unfortunately, our connection was terrible. I could only hear pieces of words, which was frustrating. I somehow managed to hear he was outside Baghdad and would be heading to Mosul or Q-West in two hours. Then our connection was lost. So sad. I haven't heard from him to know they arrived at Q-West. I'm hoping for a USO call tomorrow. I'm guessing this is how it will be throughout the deployment...waiting for the next call.

Even though it's scary to know he's actually in Iraq, it's pretty exciting. Bryan's been training and been in some sort of Army school for over 3 years. He's ready for his mission - mentally and physically. He's taken pride in his physical fitness and has graduated at or near the top of his classes. And Bryan hasn't met the guys in his unit, yet. He's been training at Ft. Benning and his guys were pre-mobing at Camp Shelby and then left for Iraq in February. I'm excited for his "joes", too. They have a cream of the crop platoon leader coming their way. He's committed to his men. He knows the families of these men expect him to bring them home in the same or better condition as when they left . It will be an honor to serve under Lt. Hayes.

I'll let you all know when I hear from him again. Let's pray it's tomorrow!

Love to you all.
Ang





Thursday, April 15, 2010

WHERE DO I START?

The name of my blog is The Fairy Tale. A whopping 2 weeks into our relationship, Bryan wrote a song for me with that title. My husband is my knight in shining armor. I can't remember what life was like before him, and I certainly can't imagine my future without him. But I guess for the short term I'll have to figure it out! Maybe one day I can update the blog with stories of us instead of how he's doing at war. For now I'll skip over the last 11 years and 8 months!

Our Army life has been short but so very long. Bryan was sworn in to the Tennessee Army National Guard February 24, 2007. Since then he's been to Basic Combat Training at Ft. Jackson in Columbia, SC, Officer Candidate School at Ft. McClellan in Anniston, AL, Officer Candidate School in Smyrna, TN, Basic Officer Leadership Course II and Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course at Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA, and pre-mobilization training at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, MS. Whew...I just went through three very long years in one sentence. God has blessed our Army lives with the best family and friend support group we could have ever imagined. That's you! Thanks to you all.

Because Bryan and I have spent a good bit of the last three years apart, we've been reminded to never take each other for granted and to make the most of our time together. I'm proud to say we've done just that. I wouldn't change a thing. Most of our time was spent at home and our families have been so gracious and understanding. They've understood when we've wanted to have gatherings at "Belleau Wood" (home) rather than driving to Brownsville or Hernando. Bryan NEEDED his time at home. We made lots of memories.

Bryan is an Infantry Officer in the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. He's a born leader. And he's not only a leader in Uncle Sam's Army, he's a leader in God's Army as well. God called Bryan into the military. We've endured some pretty hard times since joining, but we've grown much stronger. We often refer to something we heard Chuck Swindoll say once...if you are comfortable, you probably aren't in God's will. Boy is that true! However, the peace and strength we've been given is almost overwhelming. We are in God's presence and we soak it up like sponges!

I could go on and on about us. I love us. I'll spare you and get on with it. I'm sure you're all interested in how our soldier is doing.

He left for Kuwait Saturday, April 10th. His mom, Gee (I know same as my Mom!), and I went to Camp Shelby to spend a few extra minutes with him each day and to hopefully see him off. We were there Wednesday through Saturday and were fortunate enough to spend lots of good, quality time with him before he left. Thank you, Lord.

Bryan made it safely to Camp Beuhring, Kuwait. He's in the middle of the desert and adjusting to the new time zone. I'm not sure his nose and throat are adjusting to all of the sand/dust in the air, however. They will with time.

The USO is a God-send to our men and women at war. They provide a phone bank where troops can have a 20 minute phone call FREE OF CHARGE each day. If it weren't for this, we'd have to use Bryan's cell phone which is $2.50 per minute. Of course, we could email and facebook, but there's nothing like hearing his voice. I'm sure he feels the same.

The first day in Kuwait was an off day to catch up on sleep. I believe he slept from 3am to 3pm. Some of the next day was spent on the range in order to zero their weapons. Instead of zeroing the first hour, they waited for camels to get off the range! It's a completely different world. Wednesday the USO provided entertainment - The Zac Brown Band. Bryan loved it. They will be performing on the Academy of Country Music Awards this Sunday night and are supposed to use some of the footage shot at Camp Beuhring during their performance. How cool!

Bryan will be heading to Q-West, which is outside Mosul in Northern Iraq. We hear good things about this spot. It could be anytime between now and Sunday.

I realize this particular blog is long and probably a little random. I promise it will get better and easier to read! There's just been so much going on that I feel the need to explain it all.

I'll update often, I promise. Love to you all.
Ang