Fear of Flying

In February, an opportunity arose for me to go visit my husband in Korea. WHOA.

I could not stop dreaming about it. How lucky am I that I am able to go visit my husband mid-deployment. Every military wife would kill for the chance to do that. My Rodan and Fields income from the previous month gave us a big cushion for the expenses that came along with the trip. I was all over it and extremely excited but one thing held me back.

My fear of flying.

I was going to have to conquer 3 different flights.

Atlanta to Seattle: 5.5 hours

Seattle to Japan: 9.5 hours

Japan to Korea: 2.5 hours

Grand Total= 17.5 hours of flying.

My heart sank. 2.5 hour flights from here to Oklahoma scare me. Now they weren’t looking so bad in comparison to the others.

Now I’m conflicted. I love my husband. The idea of seeing him seems so right. Everything fell into place perfectly. The only weeks I could go were conveniently the weeks of his military ball, his birthday, and our winter break for lacrosse which means we had family back home available to watch the babies. I prayed and prayed and prayed about what the right decision would be and every time I feel like God was telling me to go.

Then I started thinking of my fear of flying. It would literally consume me. I would start thinking of all the negatives and some were ridiculous. I allowed the devil to enter my heart and mind and TAKE OVER. I day dreamed about crashing over the ocean, something going wrong with the plane, something happening to me in Korea, something happening to my babies. Then I would become overwhelmed with sadness thinking about leaving the babies for 2 weeks. I’ve never been away from either of them for that long.

I was in this state of “BLEH” for months. I already have S.A.D. It’s been an issue for me since High School, followed by anxiety and depression. Not many understand or are willing to. It’s better now that I’m an adult and since I married Clay I have not had to deal with it as much. When he left in October, it’s like everything grew cold and dead again. I was immediately reacquainted with my HS self. I needed this. I NEEDED to see my husband.

I have God, my babies, and lacrosse to lean on, to help push me through and they are enough. I just knew if I saw him, I would have that light back in my life again. I think God knew that too.

My best friend, okay I have a lot of best friends, but seriously my oldest best friend that’s been by my side since elementary school BEST FRIEND had just recently come back from a mission trip and decided to come over and visit me one morning. I was struggling to wake up that day and the babies were too. It was like 11 AM. She could tell I just wasn’t myself. She literally just walked into the house and came down to my room. I’m pretty sure that’s the truest sign of a best friend. They just let themselves in….

After small talk, she just cut to the chase and said she was worried about me. Not in an ugly way but a genuine way. She’s the only non-military person that I have talked to since Day 1 of this deployment, besides a conversation on the back porch with my dad, that made me feel like she understood what I was feeling AND that it was okay for me to be feeling those things. I didn’t feel judged. She didn’t make me feel like a bad mom or a bad person. I sat and talked with her for an hour about everything. She listened. She asked me questions that made me challenge myself. She asked me questions that I didn’t want to hear my own answer to. I told her my concerns and fears about leaving. I told her why I wanted to go.  Literally, if anyone else asked me the questions she asked I probably would have been offended and just blown up on them.

She told me she had to go back to church but she wanted to continue our conversation later. I walked her out to the driveway and before she left, she told me I should go. And that sealed the deal. After she left I felt 100% at peace about the trip. I don’t know why, lots of people told me to go, but when she said it, it felt justified. I didn’t feel guilty for wanting to leave and see Clay. I didn’t feel bad for burdening anyone with the babies. I didn’t feel like a bad mom for disappearing for two weeks. I was going to see my husband. I was going to blast out of my comfort zone and JUST DO IT.

*Nike Sponsorship?….. jk

The morning of the first flight, I’m pretty sure my heart and my stomach were tied in a big knot. I choked down every tear kissing my babies goodbye. My dad dropped me off at the airport which was probably the best case scenario. He’s the least emotional, or the best at hiding it? He has always had a way of just making me feel very calm and confident, much like my husband, and he helps me conquer my fears. They both have always pushed me and challenged me.

The flight was surprisingly smooth, I was lucky and got a seat near the wings of the plane and the plane was huge so I couldn’t feel much. I took a sleeping pill to help me get some rest and it ended up not working. I was so tired but I had a middle seat and the guy next to me took the arm rest so I had nothing to lean on comfortably while I napped which left me conscious but basically sedated with no way to sleep so when we landed in Seattle I was exhausted.

I checked in for my flight the next morning and as I was waiting on my bags, I felt like a train had just plowed through my body. I started getting really sick and dizzy. My throat hurt. My muscles were weak and sore. My skin was hypersensitive and I could feel myself getting a fever. I grabbed my bag and decided to walk to the hotel we were staying at. It was only a mile. I could have taken the bus but they ran every 25 minutes to our specific hotel and apparently it had just come by. I didn’t want to wait that long in the cold so I just walked. I got my room key, went to the room and immediately got in bed. I felt so sick. My MIL just said she had the flu so I was worried I was showing symptoms. I couldn’t get on the plane the next morning with the flu!

I tried to sleep it off but my heart was racing. An hour later my friend arrived and she was like,” Dang, you don’t look good.” Great first words after seeing someone for the first time in 5 months haha

She was awesome. She immediately ran down stairs and bought a ton of medicine and told me to take it all, lol. She ended up meeting up with family for dinner and I bought a fruit cup and a cup of hot tea from the little restaurant downstairs. I took a hot bath and tried to get a few hours of sleep.

The next morning I still felt uneasy but worlds better than I did when I got off the plane so I decided to go. We checked in and waited to see if we had made the list. That’s the only down side to flying Space A, you never know if you will make the flight or not. They called my friend and then finally,” Rutherford!” I was so relieved yet terrified.

I made the flight! I was going to see Clay. Now I had to cross the ocean… for 9 hours.

I was able to sleep the majority of the flight and the majority of the turbulence we hit was while I was sleeping. They played movies and TV shows for us. We were served two hot meals that actually weren’t bad. I had a row to myself in the back so I took the window and stretched out. A couple hours into the trip we flew over some beautiful mountains covered in ice. It was like a scene out of a movie on another planet. It was breathtaking, untouched, raw land. I looked up our flight route when I got back and found out we had actually flown over part of the Aleutian Islands!

We landed in Japan for a brief layover so they could unload some passengers, allow new passengers to join us and to refuel the plane. I did not see much of Japan. The mountain ranges in the distance were beautiful. The air had a sweet smell. The trees are very elongated and a deep, dark green color. I hope to go back with Clay sometime and actually explore!

The last leg of the flight to Korea was short. I napped for a little bit but my stomach was in knots! I was so excited to see Clay. The plane touched down and I started sobbing. First of all, I was extremely proud of myself. Second, I was so grateful to God that we landed and he guided that plane so gracefully. He was with me every second.

I was overwhelmed with joy, nerves, excitement… I just wanted to jump on Clay and hug his neck SO BADLY. I kept picturing it over and over and over.

We got our bags and Customs took longer than I thought it would. The guys had jumped on a train to meet us so we waited at the hotel on base until they were close. The plan was to take a taxi to the train station closest to base but turns out there are like 3 stops outside of post to choose from and we had NO IDEA how to get there or where we were going AND it was raining. Our phone service was limited so we just decided to stay put at the hotel and the guys were going to pick us up there. Waiting was painful and 2 hours felt like forever knowing the other half of my heart was traveling closer to mine by the second. I just wanted to see him!

Clay said it is not like America, the taxi will not wait on you to get your bags and get back in, so we had to hurry and try to keep our taxi. I saw them pull up out front. I could hear his voice through the doors and I could pick out the back of my husband’s head in a crowd of a million. My heart was pounding. I ran out the doors and tackled him before he could even turn around. Words can’t describe how amazing that hug felt. We got my bags, he gave me a big kiss and our taxi ditched us. We didn’t care too much, we were just happy to be back together. Luckily someone was dropped off right behind us so we jumped in that cab.

We attempted to find our way back on the trains but ended up getting lost and it was freezing. We got as close as we could to post on the train, because its the cheapest way to travel, and then jumped in another cab the rest of the way to save us some time. The guys had to be back on post in their rooms by a certain time and I had to check into my hotel. We made it with 30 minutes to spare thanks to a special taxi service in Korea called ” Bali Bali.” It’s either fun or horrifying depending on the type of person you are. For me, it was the latter.

We stopped at a little hole in the wall that the guys call “Ma’s.” (That’s not the actual name of the restaurant but “Ma” is the Korean way of saying “Mam” in America. Apparently “Ma” had the best french fries in the world so Clay had to buy me some. They were actually very good. I looked behind the counter and saw she was cooking them in soybean oil. They had hints of salty, sweet, and bitterness which is why I think it they were so delicious.

I enjoyed finally being able to eat with my husband again. I was holding his hand, kissing him, hugging him, talking to him… My heart was at peace.

Long plane rides still freak me out a little bit BUT I would travel around the world for him again in a heartbeat. It was worth everything. My world felt whole again. Now the babies were the only thing we were missing for it all to be just right. As much as we wanted them there, we agreed to take advantage of the time we had alone together so we could enjoy just being us again.

Blog  about our trip is T.B.C.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


Watch our reunion HERE!


Baby Sign Language

In college I was told I had to take two years of a foreign language. I had a terrible Spanish teacher in HS and she kind of ruined my love for learning another language so I was thrilled when I found out my college offered ASL. It was different and I needed a change. I grew up with a girl who was deaf and I always thought it was so intriguing that her family and friends could communicate with their hands and through facial expressions. It’s a beautiful language and culture. We were right next to the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind and we were able to work with kids of all ages from that school. They taught me so much and it was a blessing to learn from them. They can literally do everything we can do, they just have a different way of communicating.

After I finished school I never thought I would be able to use ASL again but I was wrong. I was able to give a deaf man directions in NYC on my way to visit my husband at school, I had the pleasure of signing for two deaf patients at our pediatric dentist office, I learned songs to sign in church, and I was able to teach my baby sign language!

I think the hardest part about having a new baby is the fact that they can’t talk to you and this is why they cry to communicate. Over time you learn to decipher what they mean because every cry sounds a little bit different. I’ll be honest though, I don’t like crying. I don’t think any mom LIKES crying so I told myself I was going to try everything possible to be able to communicate with Luke before he got to that extreme.  I didn’t want Luke to have to cry in order for me to get him something he needed.

When Luke was 6 weeks old, I started signing to him. I started by finger spelling his name, L-U-K-E, at least 20 times a day. The
goal was just to get him to start looking at my hands and face while I spoke to him. I would also sign the alphabet to him a few times while we were cuddling on the couch or if I was rocking him to sleep.  Luke still can’t sign his name or the alphabet but the goal was just to get him to focus on my hands.

He started taking a bottle regularly around two months. Every time myself or Clay would hand him his bottle we would verbally say “milk” one time and followed by the sign for milk (open and close your hand as if you were milking a cow) and then give it to him. EVERY time he had a bottle, BOTH of us did this. Now he was learning to associate the sign “milk” with the action of drinking milk.

Around 6 months he signed milk back to us for the first time. We were very excited. Most articles I read said not to even bother starting with them until 6 months and you could expect them to sign back around 9 months to a year. I knew in the deaf community that babies had been signed to from birth because that is their ONLY form of communication if they are completely deaf. They do not have vocal cues at all. I thought if deaf babies can sign at 6 months or sooner then hearing babies were capable also. It comes down to consistency. As long as you work on it with your child every day, they will pick up the signs.

Luke is now 16 months and not only is he talking, he can sign: milk, more, water, eat, please, thank you, tired, yummy, finished, and dog. He can give high fives, blow kisses and nods yes and no. We have much more to learn and it has been relatively easy to teach him, it’s just a matter of remembering to do it! I’m looking forward to the first day Lily signs back to me but until then I will keep signing to her.

It’s been a blessing to be able to communicate with Luke and I hope things will be just as easy with Lily. It has, in my opinion, significantly cut down on tantrums and tears and helped my husband and I develop a more intimate relationship with our son.

We haven’t used any magic books or TV shows. Just Google some simple signs, learn them, and be consistent! Hard work pays off and the first time they sign back to you makes it all worth it.

Here are some pictures of Luke signing “Please”

(He wants some of those banana pancakes!)



Watching him walk away..

As an Army wife, you learn to cast feelings aside and you find strength in places you could have never imagined. With that comes the harboring of emotions so it is good to “let it out” every once in a while. This post will help me re-live some of those bitter-sweet moments surrounding Deployment Day.

The day Clay left, I felt like my world had fallen apart. Clay is the BEST teammate. We work so well together. Our friendship, business relationship, spiritual relationship and intimate relationship has always been so easy. Where one of us is weak, the other is strong and we have always been able to pick up the pieces for each other to make this perfect puzzle. We have our flaws, don’t get me wrong. Marriage takes hard work and patience. Generally though, life seems effortless as long as we are walking through it together.

Clay’s favorite hobby is fishing so the day before he left we decided to go fishing as a family. We’ve been fishing many times together but that day has been one of my favorites, along the fishing date where he asked me to be his girlfriend. The weather was perfect. We sat and watched Luke run up and down the dock with the sunset behind him. Clay taught him how to feed the fish with an old bagel that he brought. He loved throwing the bread into the water and occasionally he would tear off a piece to try and share with his 2 month old sister. When the sun went down and we had to leave I knew that was a picture I wouldn’t get to see again for a while so I soaked in every second of Clay kissing our baby girl on the forehead and watching Luke ride on his shoulders all the way back to the truck. The drive home was quiet. The babies fell asleep and neither of us really knew what to say to each other. I think we just wanted to be still, in the silence of it all. We knew what was coming but we just wanted to be, together.

We got home and watched a couple episodes of House of Cards to finish out the last season. At night our favorite thing to do is either lay in the hammock together on the back porch in the breeze as the beautiful Oklahoma sun sets over our fence OR we lay on opposite ends of the couch and give each other foot rubs as we watch TV. We chose the second that night so that he could hold our babies and put them to sleep one last time. Luke lives for his daddy so every second of cuddle time means the world to him. It hurt my heart watching him lay Luke down that night to pray with him. Our routine is very special to us so I know held tight to that memory too.

By this time it was 11 PM and Clay had to wake up at 2 AM so we decided to just pull an all nighter. We took a bath then stayed up and talked all night. We had a genuine and complex conversation and it was nice to get to know each other on that level again. We become so absorbed by day to day life that its easy to just get lost in it all. I wish we took the time to talk like that with each other more often. We both ended up falling asleep for a short time but I remember just fixing my eyes on his face, examining every feature while running my fingers through his hair. Kind of like when you hold your children and gaze at them while they’re sleeping. When you love someone that much, you love and appreciate every part of them. I wondered, will I forget what he feels like? The warmth of his skin. Holding his hand and feeling an odd sense of protection because it swallows mine. His giant bear hugs that make me melt. His kisses, the ones that make the world disappear. I didn’t want to. I promised myself I wouldn’t forget so I soaked it all in. Every bit of him.

2 AM came too soon. Our son was so angry when we put him in the car. Clay just stood there and held him for the longest time. Lily was fast asleep in her seat. The ride was silent again. The entire 20 minute drive to post I just held his hand tighter and tighter and cried harder and harder the closer we got to base. All the guys were in the parking lot hugging their families and spending their last 30 minutes together. Lots of hugs and kisses, and holding the babies. The final call came for them to shut the gates and Clay had to leave. I just wanted one more kiss and one more hug… but I didn’t want it to be the last so I kept begging for more. Finally he let go of my hand and watching him walk away made my heart fall to pieces. I looked across the parking lot and saw my best friend Nikki standing there with her 6 day old baby and thinking it wasn’t fair. All of the special moments in those first weeks, in the first year they couldn’t experience together. Same with us and our two month old. Nikki’s mom came over hugged me tight as I cried in her arms. It was nice to have her there since my mom couldn’t be.

One thing I knew for sure as I got back in the truck was how lucky I was to have a great group of women to call my friends. We were going to get through this together. Nikki’s mom spent the night at our house that night just so I didn’t have be alone and Nikki had her mother-in-law to stay with her. Words can’t express how that one act of kindness made me feel. As Day Zero went on I felt more at peace than I thought I would. I went to bed feeling broken and woke up with a sense of hope and motivation. I knew we had so many people praying for us and the power of prayer is a beautiful thing. God’s love is so strong and so abundant. He can carry any burden and he did for me.

I have this rule where I try to give myself a timeline to be upset. I tell myself, ” You have one week Brooke. One week to be as sad, depressed, angry and upset as you want but after that it’s time to suck it up, dust it off and move on.” If I don’t, then I let sadness consume me which causes anxiety and depression. That’s a place I never want to go back to because it’s easy to spiral into and hard to get out of.

That evening my OB, who lives in the same town, messaged me and said, “Crossfit tonight?” I didn’t plan on it but i thought, forget it, I’m going. He knew I liked crossfit and remembered me. Here it was, someone forcing me to be strong that I would have never expected to. I appreciate that motivating text. It had been 10 weeks since I had Lily and I just had my second c-section in a year so I was nervous about going back but I decided to JUST DO IT.  I walked in and I felt lonely, but encouraged. I knew that this was how I would literally gain my strength over the next 9 months. The last part of our workout was a run but I decided to row instead. I put my headphones in and rowed harder and harder… and harder…and HARDER until the tears just started flowing down my face again. My coach was so scared that I had hurt myself but it was like every bit of emotional pain I was feeling just left my body. It felt so good. Unfortunately, some turn to alcohol or drugs to fix their pain but I have chosen to turn to God and working out to rid myself of the stress I carry.

That evening was hard because Luke walked to the garage door like he does every night and said,” Dada? Dada?…” He just kept hitting the door, looking at me and pointing at it, saying his name over and over. He did this every night for two weeks until we came to GA where there is no door he is used to seeing him walk through. He is only one so he doesn’t understand where he is or why he’s gone, just that he’s missing his best friend. So I just tell him he’s not alone because I miss my best friend too.

As soon as I found out Clay had landed and he was safe, and I felt much better. I wrote down my favorite quote and taped it to my mirror the next morning so I could see it daily. People say they don’t understand how I can do it. How can I get through this time with two babies, alone? Well, many women have to. We find strength in places we could never imagine. Through Christ who gives me strength, all things are possible. He never leaves me, he never forsakes me. God is good ALL THE TIME. He has a plan and a purpose far bigger and more important than I could ever imagine or understand. I know he has a brighter future for our family, we just have to climb one more mountain to get there.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

“We either make ourselves miserable or we can make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”- Unknown

Here’s the link to the Vlog from that dayimg_0515