In Her Shoes – Military Wives

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV
 
This week we remember 9-11-2001 and the staggering losses our country and our world have suffered because of that tragedy.  Since then, many brave men and women have signed up to go into the difficult places around the world to protect us, to protect our country, and to promote freedom around the world. 

And they are not the only ones sacrificing.  Spouses and children back home go through unique struggles while their favorite mom or dad is away (think of all the parents and grandparents, siblings and close friends of our military who also sacrifice).  We owe them a great deal of gratitude and love-in-action.
Please join me for a walk in the shoes of three military wives.  There is much we can learn from them.  To those ladies who have shared, thank you for your service to God, to your families, and to our country!
 
Michigan

 

My husband has been serving in the Army/Army Reserve for 19 years.  We have survived a 14-month deployment in 2003-2004 and a 12-month deployment in 2009-2010, both in Iraq.  During the first deployment, we had two small boys.  At the beginning of the second deployment, we had 5 children between the ages of five months and ten years.  We were blessed with a sixth child last year.

Yes, the separation from hubby is overwhelmingly difficult.   That ranks as the highest difficulty, but near the top of the list would be mechanical breakdowns (vehicles, appliances, etc.).  Accompanying the difficulty of my husband being gone was the loss of emotional help and encouragement that normally I could look forward to at the end of a long day or week.  Just as wearing was the constant child care with no breaks, like trying to survive the bedtime and teeth brushing every single night with no help.

How do I cope?
#1.  Pray and pray and pray some more.  Many times as I asked for help with loneliness, my husband would be able to make a phone call that day.  Other times I would pray for help with something that had broken down, and a person would offer to help without even knowing I needed anything fixed.

#2.  Learn to ask for help.  I wanted to appear like I could handle this.  I didn’t want word to get over to my husband that things weren’t going well at home.  I learned to take people at their word who had offered to help, even if it had been a long time since they mentioned it. 

My children have learned to love the United States of America, to honor and appreciate soldiers, and to be proud of their Papa.  I, on the other hand, have learned to lean on the Lord and on others when circumstances are not as I would like. 

During the second deployment, I asked people to commit to choosing one of our children and then praying for that child every day for the entire deployment.  Many stepped up to the challenge, and it brought tears and thankfulness to my heart every time I read the cards that those people sent, promising to pray for this child or that child.  There were several who kept their promise and prayed for us daily for a whole year. 

Others blessed us with the gift of encouragement and help that was not asked for.  Some offered to bring a meal “for no reason at all.”  They just informed me that they were bringing food and asked what night they should bring it.  A couple men showed up regularly and took it upon themselves to make sure the riding mower was running and blades sharpened, to change the oil in the vehicles, and anything else around the place that needed done.  They didn’t wait for me to say I needed help, but guessed what I needed and took it upon themselves.

One special couple would invite our family to birthday parties for their children as a way to get me out of the house and to help with the children for the evening.  They understood what the military doesn’t understand.  The military  offers free babysitting at the YMCA, but I, as a Christian mom, didn’t feel comfortable leaving my children with just anyone.  So they gave me a break from the children in a way that I was comfortable with. 

We had a problem with church family and relatives trying to assume the job of Dad.  If one of the children would misbehave in public, they would discipline them or rebuke them “because their dad wasn’t there to do it.”  Military kids have a lot to deal with without others coming down hard on them.  On the same thought, some could not understand why all of a sudden our kids were either  hyper, upset, or getting into trouble in class or other places.  Children respond to worry about their military parent in all different ways, and the best thing you can offer a military child who is acting up is all the encouragement and understanding you can give. 

We were blessed with countless offers of help at the beginning of both deployments.  The unfortunate thing was that probably only 50% of those were still willing to help when I asked.  Either do not offer to help at all if you are too busy or not able, or offer to help and mean it with all your heart.  It was also a great blessing when people would offer to help regularly, even weekly.  This gave me a “non-guilty” opportunity to mention needs without feeling I was begging or bothering someone who was too busy. 

As hard as it is to swallow in the middle of a difficult circumstance like a deployment, God did not make a mistake when He deployed my husband.  Good will come of it if I allow Him to be glorified and to show His power.

A heartfelt “thank you” to the Bruck family!
 
 
Minnesota

 
My husband joined the Minnesota National Guard two years ago. He went to basic training for 3 months and to Officer Candidate School for 4 months. He will be gone again soon for 4 months to complete officer training. He also currently has a full-time job with the National Guard 2½ hours from home, so he is gone a lot. We have four children, ages 7, 5, 4, and 1 and are expecting #5 in Dec/Jan.
There’s the struggle of rejoining after a separation. The husband feels out of the loop and the wife is used to handling things on her own. It’s hard to readjust. 
I’ve struggled with trying to handle things on my own when my husband is gone, instead of asking for help. I’ve had to learn to humble myself and get help from church friends, so I can have a break from the kids, do shopping, have fellowship with friends, etc. Otherwise, I have felt so alone and like I can’t handle things by myself all the time.
My husband faces temptations he would probably never face otherwise. There are so many unsaved and immoral people in the military who have little to no character.
I am learning to rely on God and trust Him more. Things change so often in the military, you have to learn to be flexible and trust God to direct your lives.  I cope with God’s help and definitely involving other people in our lives. It may be having people over, having babysitters, getting together with family, having someone help with cleaning my house, etc. If I have a need, I’ve learned to ask for help and discovered that it’s not only blessing me, but what a blessing it can be to someone else that they were able to help me. When I can afford it, I have paid a babysitter once a week while I do all my errands and shopping.
It’s nice to see people appreciate my husband and thank him for his service. It opens up a new realm of people you would have never met otherwise. Financially, it has been a blessing to us.
I appreciate it when people ask how I’m doing and offer to help. One lady offered to come and read to my boys in the evening. Other people have offered to babysit. A lot of church people came to see my husband off for basic training. People sending letters or packages to my husband when he was gone. Pastor letting the church know when my husband is leaving and keeping them updated.
I asked my church for help when my husband was going to be gone for 4 months. I asked for a sign-up sheet and once a week someone to watch my kids for 3 hours or help clean my house. They were willing, but it would have been nice if someone had approached me first and asked how the church could help. And then when they made the sign-up sheet they put, “Tracie has asked that we . . .” I wish they would have said, “Our church would like to help Tracie in this way, while her husband is gone for military service.” I don’t know if that’s my pride, but it made me feel like I was imposing on people.
 
“All the paths of the Lord are loving and faithful.”
Psalm 25:10
Don’t be too proud to ask for help. There are people out there who want to help you, and you deny them a blessing by saying no or by not asking. 

Special thanks to the Delich Family!


Washington

My experience in the military showed me two things. Just like every American, peacetime is a time to forget God. It’s not until things get rough, wartime, separation from loved ones that a person is most likely to look to or blame God for their circumstances.

Separation time is difficult for the military member but I believe it is even more difficult for the family left behind.

While I was stationed in Korea for a year, I had only been married for a little over one year. It was extremely difficult for me to have to leave my husband behind. I lost ten pounds within the first month and really felt disconnected. No one really wanted to be there, so there was no use complaining.

I remember some friends’ advice, “You will either grow or fall back spiritually during deployments. There is no ‘staying the same.'” They were right. I got connected with a local Bible study through the chapel and spent most of my free time with friends I had made there. I also had the opportunity to connect with a missionary outreach located just off base for uniformed personnel.

The worst thing that happened while there came from my own husband. He was having a real hard time dealing with this separation and all his phone calls were about his misery. It got to where I didn’t look forward to them anymore. There was nothing I could do and I told him he needed to focus on taking care of himself for now and just keep busy. That didn’t mean I didn’t love him. He made the decision to surround himself with people who believed personal happiness was king. He secretly considered divorce, so he might have a chance at happiness with someone else.

Fortunately, God protected me from knowing about it and I was able to grow spiritually during my tour and see other people through His eyes. I was on fire when I returned and ready to serve.

My advice:
1. Stay connected with those you love in the military no matter what their relationship is to you. Take advantage of every opportunity to communicate God’s love. This is the time they will be most open to receive it. Send Gifts!!!

2. Do not share every problem with a deployed member unless it is absolutely necessary. They are usually helpless to assist and will feel the need to do something. Lean on neighbors and friends for help whenever possible. Do include them in important decisions.”

Thank you, Lisa!

What about you?  What has been your experience as a military wife, daughter, mom, sister, aunt, or close friend?  How has God helped you through the difficult times?  We would love to hear from you.  Thank you for stopping by WOGM today.  May God help us lavishly minister to these brave families. 

Helpful Links:
American Bible Society: Reaching out to Military Families
Ministering to Military Families 



Free images of military families thanks to Photobucket.

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