"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What I Wish My Civilian Friends Would Ask Me ... and What I Wish They Wouldn't

I get questions now and then about "how do you handle when someone says this", or "how do you stay calm when someone asks that".

I hear a lot about military spouses not having much understanding from their civilian friends and family. Unfortunately, I think very often military spouses think they have to choose between the two.

I just don't think that's the case. I think how we share this life with those outside of it has everything to do with how much they understand it. We can't ask a civilian friend to understand what we are facing or do face or have faced. That isn't fair to the friend. But we can open up, and show patience, and invite them to learn about the path we walk.

I have had such good civilian friends who have taken the time to ask the right questions and have also taken the time to read here so that they know what to not ask. These are a few of those things put in one place.


Don't ask me if I'm scared my husband won't come home. 
I have sat beside my husband as he discussed his own funeral. I know who he wants as pallbearers. I know the songs. I know the scriptures. I know how he wants to be buried.

Every time our servicemen and women board those planes, we are terrified. What they do is beyond dangerous. Soldiers die in training exercises and in war. We don't need to be reminded.

Of course I'm scared my husband won't come home. We all are. Combat or not. Army or Marines or Air Force or Navy. We are all scared.

 Don't ask me about politics.
Don't ask me what myself or my husband thinks of our president, former president, policies, cuts, anything. And, please, don't ever ask him. One of the most shocking things I have learned in this life is that some of our service members choose not to vote. I'm not saying that I do or do not agree with that but the reasoning is that they vow to defend this nation under the order of whomever this nation's people choose to elect. Whomever. 
Please don't ask me. I hate when people ask me.

Don't tell me how much you hate war. 
I don't want to hear how much you hate the war or how awful it is for us. Don't tell me it was all about oil or any other insensitive comment like that. My husband chose this. And chose it again. And again. He believes in his duty, his job, his purpose. I don't have any desire to hear anyone belittle that.

Please don't compare.

I think this is a bit of a balancing act. I have learned that some friends don't think they can tell me whatever is going on in their lives because it can't possibly "be as hard". But every one of us has a battle we are facing. Every one of us has a great challenge at one point or another in our life. Please don't ever think you can't include me in working through a hardship, or venting, or asking for prayers. That isn't what I am talking about. 

What I mean is, please don't say that you can understand how a military spouse must be feeling with a husband with boots on the ground in a war zone because your significant other travels for business a lot.
That. isn't. (and will never be). the. same. thing. 

I promise you the conversation will stop. I may even turn around and walk away. Not because I am trying to be rude, but because I am trying with everything in me to not be.

Don't tell us the war is over.
Just Don't.  

Don't tell us they won't deploy because "they are all coming home". It's an insult for anyone to tell us they know better because they "watch the news". We live this life day in and day out. It isn't just a headline or a sub-line or a news-blurb or a talking-point. This is our life. And we know better than you.

Don't ask me if I am scared of my husband.
Don't dare ask me if I am scared to have him around our children. War didn't make him a monster. He fights for these kids. He does what he does for his family.
Do not ever imply otherwise.

Ask me what my favorite part is about this life. 
Ask me where we find joy. Ask me what I am most proud of.
Ask me how you can help.
Ask if you can send anything forward. Ask how we're doing and listen.

Don't think you can't talk to me because you suddenly think you don't know how to.
Don't talk to me about the military if you don't feel comfortable. Ask me if you can come for a visit. Check in. Ask me how the weather is but please keep talking.

Know that "planning" has a different meaning for us.
Our calendars are always fluid. We can't commit to a date six months down the road and sometimes not even six days. Hell! sometimes not six hours. It isn't that we don't want to be at/in your wedding, or that family vacation, or that high-school reunion. 
We want to be part of it all.
Don't think we aren't trying. Don't think we aren't wanting to give a definite yes or no. Don't think we don't value your time and commitment and coordination. We just can't promise anything - ever.
But, please, don't stop asking and inviting. Because someday we are going to be able to make it. Sometime we are going to be able to be there. Please don't cut us out just because we have such a hard time fitting in.

We want to be part of your lives. We want you to be part of ours. If you can, come visit. We'd love to show you our world. We'd love for you to come to a welcome home - for any soldier. They are incredible to see. We'd love to show our pride and our joy and our strength. We'd love to walk through the cemetery with you and sit in silence and pray and remember our fallen.

We'd love your support, your understanding, your prayers. 
We'd love to have a conversation about what this life is and even what it isn't.
We'd love to have you as a part of the journey. 

For more insight into this life read:
 Promises - A Soldier's Promise & An Army Wife's Promise

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strong Women

I just hung up the phone with a dear friend. Her husband just deployed so, of course, an appliance broke. The washer this time. It's Murphy's Law of Deployment but duct tape can't fix this one. 

The repair man is on his way. 

She's also pregnant, high-risk, and has a pre-school-aged kiddo (who is a sweetheart). No family near by. And she is the type of person who is always, always, helping e-v-e-r-y-one else. She's an incredible woman and her husband is an awesome soldier in this for all of the right reasons. 

This is her very first deployment and she is doing remarkably well. 

We talked about - and have often talked about - the importance of reaching out for assistance. About how we cannot be strong all the time and about how sometimes the greatest sign of strength is admitting that sometimes we need some helping hands. 

She promised me she knows and told me how hard it is to need help. I think we've all been there.

The moment my friend said anything to a fellow Army Spouse, this fellow spouse swooped in and did her laundry, cleaned her house, made her a meal with nothing - nothing - expected in return. Nothing about that is strange for this lifestyle. Nothing about that even seems "extraordinary". It is simply what we do.   

I cannot tell you how much I love our community. How incredible and beautiful and awe-inspiring the sense of service surrounding it. How we bond with one another is unlike any other. How we care for each other and support each other and demand to be allowed to help one another is indescribable. 

We live through the unthinkable and we push each other through it. We cry together, we laugh together, we sit in silence together.

We remind each other why we are here. We empower one another to pass it on. We love deeper, we respect greater, we hope fiercer. 

How great our journey can be if we reach out, if we give, if we seek to do more. How great the journey. How great the Grace. How incredible the strength given.