Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Time flies... wait, I mean crawls

Well, its been about a week and a half since our trip to Chicago, and Josh and I are now able to talk almost everyday. Its been really great to talk to him. I have gotten to catch him up on a lot of stuff that was just too complicated to write in letters. However I feel like the time is passing more slowly now. I guess before I was looking forward to letters in a bunch once a week, but now its a phone call everyday. Or maybe I'm just getting tired of this arrangement of being apart in general.

One funny thing that has changed is our finances. Josh has always handled everything having to do with our money. I never even open the bills. But since he's been gone, obviously, I've taken care of them and its been easy, especially with only one of us spending money... He really had no chance to buy anything except maybe a little soap while at basic. But that has changed. Now instead of him calling me everytime I use my debit card, I am doing that to him. Looks like he's discovered a wonderful place called the "Nex", which is the Navy Exchange. This is kind of a department store on the base. So I get to hassle him about his purchases, most of which he insists are necessary. And I'll have to admit that I have enjoyed getting to have an occasional little TJMaxx trip without any hassle since he's been gone. At the same time, I'll be absolutely thrilled to hand it all back to him when he gets home. Financial management is not, let's say, my forte. I often wonder what in the world I was thinking when I declared "Accounting" as my original major in college.

Looks like I will get to go see him. Possibly next weekend or the next. Too bad he's not at a more exciting location. Its not even on the coast (I know, I thought Navy bases would generally be on water... this is a common misconception). But at least he's close enough to drive to.

The weather in Memphis has been crazy. I mentioned before that it snowed last weekend. Well, right now its like 65 degrees F outside. By Saturday, its supposed to be about mid 30's for the high, and ice/rain "wintry mix". Could interfere with plans for the Youth retreat, but we're not sure yet. Hopefully not! Our good friend Greg Davis is coming up from Alabama to do the retreat. He will do such a great job and I know our kids will just love him! He is going to talk about the "Amen" of our lives coming from 2 Corinthians 1:20: "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God." Should be good stuff. Really sad his wife Tesney (and my friend and former roommate) isn't going to be able to come with him, though!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Another picture

Here's another picture of Josh last weekend with his mom. You can tell the skinnyness here. That's a new shirt his aunt got him for his birthday, the latest addition in his Cubs wardrobe.

Well, I have talked to Josh 5 times in the last 48 hours, which seems like a record lately. He is settled into his room at Meridian. He has two roommates, and the setup sounds kind of like dorm apartments. They have a living area shared by several people, and their own bathroom and bedroom.

His program hasn't started yet; he has processing to do for this week. The program he's in is called RP, for Religious Program (?) Specialist. This segment of training just after basic the navy calls "A" school. It is supposed to last 6 weeks but the exact dates are pretty vague as to when he's coming home. As are all the details about what privileges/liberties he'll have there. He can call whenever he wants, though, and even has a cellphone. Can't wear "civilian" clothes yet, but will be able to on the weekends after about 2 weeks in the program. Can't drive at all. You can bring a car to the base, but you can't drive it until you leave. (???) I am sending him today his Ipod, laptop, electric razor, and some books. I guess if he can use his laptop then perhaps he'll be able to email, I'm not sure.

Anyway, that's the latest. Right now in Memphis its snowing outside. They say we're going to have pretty bad weather tonight. It looks really beautiful though.

I had lunch at Davis Kidd with Jean and Karie today and Annie and Daniel and Will. Couldn't resist a couple of pictures. They love the section in the back with the "choo-choos" as Will says. I couldn't get a picture where they were both standing still! Only one at a time. Also here's another one of Daniel from about a week ago. Can't leave him out!

Josh's new address

You can now write Josh at his new address. He also can receive anything else you'd like to send now too.

SN Ray, Joshua
RP "A" School
NTTC Meridian
740 Fletcher Road
Suite 100
Meridian, MS 39309-5040

I'll write more later, but wanted those of you who are interested to have his new address.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On his way south

Just talked to Josh this morning. He is at O'Hare awaiting his flight to Atlanta, then on to Meridian, Mississippi. Of course, his flight is going through Atlanta and not Memphis, even though Memphis is in a direct line south from Chicago to Meridian. Of course.
He is doing great, glad to on his way to the next stage. He said as they sit in the airport wearing their uniforms, people are constanting coming up and introducing themselves and saying thanks for your service to the country. Which kind of makes me tear up to think about!

His phone card must have run out because we got cut off in the middle of a sentence, so I'm sure I'll hear from him in Atlanta or when he gets to Meridian. Its just nice to know the time of silence is over and I won't have to wait three weeks between calls!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Weekend in Review

First, some pictures:

Josh is in the guy on the right on the front row right in front of the flags.

The reunion - he's in the uniform he wore most of the weekend - called his dress blues.

His first time to listen to music in eight weeks (besides a trumpet :)

The whole family that got to come.

The other uniform he wore - called working blues.

Well, I'm back from Chicago, and it was a really great weekend. So many of you have called or emailed this week to find out how it went. Thanks! I have lots to tell but I am just still so exhausted emotionally that's it hard to put into words.

The ceremony was really neat. I have never been to something like it. Josh stood in the front of his division so I was able to see him the whole time during the graduation. He could see us too but he wasn't allowed to look at us. They stood at attention for over an hour. I don't know how they do it. I got to run out and find him immediately after the ceremony. We hugged and then I kissed him, and he said, "I'm not allowed to kiss!" Which was hilarious. They weren't allowed to be very affectionate in the graduation hall. I don't know why, just another random rule. But seeing him was an unforgettable moment. Which unfortunately did not make it to film. But, I have a picture taken a few minutes afterward... He is really thin and very pale. :) He looked great though and you could tell he was proud to have accomplished this.

He got to spend the rest of Friday with us until 8 pm, 8 am - 7 pm on Saturday, and 8 am - 6 pm on Sunday, then we flew home Sunday night. At the graduation and when I went to pick him up each morning, I met several of his friends. One called him "Pastor Ray". Apparently Josh had helped this guy through a difficult time when he got some bad news from home and so he started calling him that. Another guy was from Boston, and he literally sounded like he was from the movie Good Will Hunting. It was obvious that Josh was like an older brother to some of them, and I was really proud to see that God had been using him. Josh has a knack for attracting the random and the misfits, and this experience was no exception. I know he made a difference for some of those guys. Some of them were there for him too. It was interesting to see the cameraderie among them. I realize now why people who fight wars together are so bonded. Josh only went through eight weeks, granted it was really tough, but just eight weeks and they are so connected to one another. The system definitely works, too. Even Josh was anxious about getting back on time when it was getting somewhat close to time to take him back each evening. Anxiety isn't really his style, usually. But like he told me, "Being late is not an option."

I think the hardest part was just seeing that he still has so much to process. He couldn't really talk much about it; I mean, he told a lot of funny stories and we laughed a lot. I think this experience has really been life-changing. At the same time, he was the same old Josh. Sarcastic and funny, but a little more sentimental than he usually is.

Sunday we worshipped at the Lakeview Church of Christ in the city. It was a great experience. Our friends, Trevor and Alana Thompson, minister there, and I saw several friends there that I knew from years of Harding past. It was good to be back at church sitting with Josh. Also, I love meeting with groups of Christians in places other than home. It reminds me how much we all have in common as believers.

I should be able to talk to him this week sometime. He will leave the base in Chicago probably Wednesday and he'll fly to Meridian, Mississippi. There we think he'll have a lot more freedom and he should even be able to call me and maybe we can visit each other on the weekends!
Thanks again for asking me about it!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Happy Birthday in person

I am sitting in the hotel room in Lincolnshire, Illinois, near the Navy Base and we just dropped Josh off to stay at the night at the base. We had a great day and the graduation was so neat. I was so happy to see him. I've got more details but I'll write when I get home. Today was also Josh's 29th birthday and I got to say happy birthday in person! I am a happy camper.
P.S. Josh is skinny and looks really cute. Very short hair. :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Talked to Josh Today

This is a big week. I leave tomorrow to go to Chicago for Josh's graduation. We'll get to see each other for all weekend! So I have been getting ready for that all week. I have even been getting up early and getting stuff done so I can leave town knowing I have taken care of everything! Today, I got a phone call during lunch. I was sitting at El Mexcal, a favorite lunch spot, with Buster and Jesse and the phone rang, so I went outside and talked to him for about 30 minutes, while my lunch friends sat there waiting. (Thanks to them for being patient, by the way.) Josh is doing really well. He had just completed the "Battlestations", which is the 24 hour testing of all the skills they've learned: a rescue mission, firefighting, and other stuff. He had been up since 5:15 am yesterday, and this was at 12:45 pm. Now he has officially done everything needed to pass on to graduation and he gets to relax the next two days. I'll see him on Friday morning at his graduation and around 11 am I'll get to actually see him! At this point it doesn't look like he'll get to come home at all in between this and the "A" school in Mississippi. But I am still just so excited that he'll be out of that place that is like a prison.