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CMWF Blog

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Welcome to the CMWF Blog! We hope you'll find some encouragement and comfort here through stories of military life and truth from God's Word.


Marriage: The Pathway to Maturity
Marriage: The Pathway to Maturity


by Mary Parker



When Will and I decided to embark on our Air Force adventure, we barely knew what it would mean to be a military family. We felt confident our values matched with the service and looked forward, unsure what the future would hold.

Almost two years into our journey, we call Fairbanks, Alaska home; it’s a mere 4,000 miles from our starting point in South Carolina. Being so far away from everything familiar – family, friends, homes, college football games, and winding country roads – can be challenging, but we embrace the ride!

Whenever we begin to feel distant or miss our family, we reflect on the idea that we are never alone, and God is leading our family with and for a purpose.

We also believe God designed us, as two people, to come together and form a family, as foretold in the Biblical introduction to marriage through the story of Adam and Eve:

“A man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Faith in God’s plan helps fortify us as a team, when it seems difficult to be so far away, or when it stings a bit to be just a team of two on a military installation where it can feel like every couple should have two kids minimum. 


Although facing life together continues to become easier as we nestle into marriage and learn more about one another, there are times when being a military family can provide additional challenges: last minute TDYs, late nights on standby duty, missed dates and appointments.

Overall, we have it pretty lucky due to the nature of my husband’s job. Still, sometimes it can be extremely frustrating when it seems like the Air Force has total control of our circumstances. It can be downright discouraging!

But the truth is encouraging – God is in charge, and His word prepares us throughout the entire Bible, especially the New Testament, for circumstances that can rock our lives and families:  

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

 
As I strive to persevere and develop spiritual fruit to offset the challenges that come along with the joys of being a military family, I grow in patience and my marriage blossoms. Obviously, this is not a complete picture of marriage, but it is a component. Faith that God has control of the situation and is guiding us with and for a purpose carries us through and helps us as we walk, as straight as possible, the narrow road on the pathway to maturity.

 
My consummate mantra as a wife, and as we face challenges, is to possess these qualities of the infamous Proverbs 31 wife:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25).

I encourage you to laugh in faith today! 

 

Questions for Reflection:

*Am I trusting the military, or God, with my family’s future?
*What practical steps can I take to develop perseverance in my life? How can that impact my family as a whole?



 

 

 

Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects at her blog, Mary's Mischief.


He Isn't Mine To Give

By Molly Huggins

 


“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 118:1, NKJV).



I hate the word “well.”

As in, (August of 2010), “Well, I might have to go to Pakistan.” He did, two weeks later, while I was pregnant, after we had sold our house in preparation for moving to Germany. But that is another story for another day.

So he came home around the beginning of September (of 2012) and said, in THAT voice, “Well, I got an email today…” I almost threw up in the dishwater.
They needed one man. ONE MAN to go to Afghanistan--in two weeks--and he just might be that man.

I preach and preach about being content with God’s will for our lives. I say that my life means nothing without Christ, that so much of what I value is wheat and chaff, that I surrender my plans, confident in His loving kindness and mercy.
And then He tests me.

Husband came home and said, “Well … “ and I choked down sobs at the prospect of more goodbyes. And more tears pooled on my cheeks because my womb was empty, and now there would be more months of not being pregnant. But, I breathed in slowly and looked hard at my handsome man, and I knew, I know still, that the Master Planner will give us the grace we need in the moment we are desperate for it.

Oddly enough, I wasn’t angry that he had to leave. Debating the politics of the situation in the moment is a luxury we forgo when we choose this life. Logistically, I have leaving down to a science, and we are perpetually prepared. This is his job and he’s willing to do it.

Additionally, there was a not-small part of my heart that was grieving at the thought of another family living out this same abysmal waiting. If we didn’t go, there would be another pregnant “well …” being spilled out in someone’s kitchen. Is that weird? It’s who I am.

I felt completely divorced from the civilian world.

This one is hard to admit. I felt immense guilt over not being angry at the situation, of looking him in the eye and loving him more for the man that he was in that moment, of being proud of the choices he makes. I felt like I should put up a fight, I should rage and scream and cry because he’s leaving us again.

The world tells me that romantic love feels good and I should be happy and how could he do this to us? And I love him fierce and hard and true, and yet this, this did not feel good. Do I not love him enough because I was not mad at him? But oh, I do, I love this man.

Something about this reeked of sanctification.

This one is even harder to admit because in my fear, I lost sight of real, hard, truth.
This would have been deployment number four. And after the first year, I cannot shake the feeling that every time he walks away - after every goodbye - the odds markedly decrease that he returns whole, or at all. I cried hot tears at the thought of losing him. It wasn’t rational, but it was real.

He was never mine to give, but in my fear I clung desperately to the falsehood that he was mine to keep. This is how I felt … but what did I do? What did I do two weeks later when yes was an ugly, heavy word and we planned our goodbyes? {We had a reprieve, he wasn’t supposed to leave until mid-October}. How did I calm the storm, the wind and waves boisterous around my sinking feet?

The circumstances in which they chose my husband aren’t necessary to relate here. Suffice it to say I was proud of this husband of mine. He is an honorable man and I loved him even more, if possible, throughout these events.

So this is what I did. I wiped away the tears. I bought him some new underwear at Wal-Mart. I bought him some fancy headphones to keep the music piping in, the loneliness at bay. We updated the will. I winked at him a little more from across the room and I held his hand a little tighter in church.

And I surrendered him.

But, they fought for our family, his bosses, they fought for us. If he had gone, our home life would have been predominately daddy-free for 21 months … six months deployed, two months of training post-deployment, four months home, and nine more months gone. I am weary just writing it down. It wasn’t terribly unusual for us, these staccato bursts of time … together, apart, together, apart … but it. is. so. hard.

And so, there were more weeks of not knowing, of surrender and fear and worry, of uncertainty. And who could I tell? It’s unfair to get people worked up about maybe, even a maybe of this magnitude. I whispered it in asides to a few dear friends in the beginning. I was more careless as the time dragged on and on, fatigue loosening my tongue. I was consumed by this. I was a reluctant, recalcitrant child of God, shaking my fist at a Heavenly Father who, even still, works His plans for good.

And, well - after all that - he didn’t have to go.

I was eternally grateful for his command team. And for an Architect who designs us to live right where He would have us. Which sometimes is in uncertainty. But right then, was still in Tennessee. Together.

I won’t lie, it was hard to be grateful for this process. And I was weary on the other side, more weary in this Army life than I’ve ever been. Weary of the toll this life takes on our family, on our marriage, and on this husband o’ mine. But God is good and He promises us rest. And so, I kept winking at the husband from across the room and holding his hand a little tighter in church.

He isn’t mine to give … and so, I am grateful for every gift of a moment with this man I love so fierce and hard and true.

And, even in the midst of this exhausting Army life, I am flat on my face, grateful to the Lord for drawing us closer together, for strengthening our marriage in the face of uncertainty. He did the first year, and the third, and the fifth, and September 2012, and even now.
His mercy endures forever.

(And friends? The sad truth is that not every story has a happy ending. Please know that it is by God’s grace that our marriage survives--we are wholly unqualified to make it on our own! If that was not the case for you, it does not mean that His grace and mercy have abandoned you. My heart aches for you and your loved ones, and I pray you will know peace and comfort from our Heavenly Father.)




Molly Huggins (All The Grace Between) is an Army bride, one-time helicopter pilot, compulsive writer, friend seeker, and lover of color and all things textile. Her current occupation is ringmaster of the Huggins family circus (party of five). She has a B.A. in English from Covenant College and a passion for meeting other women right in the middle of their own messy stories. Pull up a chair at her virtual beat-up kitchen table, listen to her stories, and maybe even tell her yours.







When God Provides Family: On moving, loneliness, and trust
Editor’s Note: We are so excited to welcome another new contributor this month- Brandis Trionfo! Thank you for sharing your heart with us, Brandis. We can’t wait to hear more!

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There’s a framed sign in my living room that says, “Family. A gathering of folks you love, hand chosen by God above.”

I believe that’s true in so many more ways than one. In military families, it’s not just our real family; it’s other families, friends, co-workers, church families, people who are thrown together after a PCS to live life together.

When I first moved to Florida, I was alone with two kids- two and four years old- and I was about 6 months pregnant, by myself. My husband’s training was lasting longer than we’d originally planned and our house had sold, so rather than rent a place, I packed it up and left.

Man, was it lonely. There were days it was more than the unbearable heat that bothered me. I didn’t know a soul, had a hard time finding a church, and in general was too tired to try to go out and meet people. I kept thinking to myself that I just needed to wait until my husband got there, then I’d be able to meet people.

One day after (another) trial of a church that just didn’t feel right, I was done. Once we got home, I broke down crying in my living room, asking God what I should do. I was lonely, tired, scared, afraid of the choice I’d made to move alone--if I couldn’t handle a few months alone while my husband was safely in school, how would I handle a deployment to somewhere unknown?

Somewhere a voice whispered, “You’re not alone.” I thought I imagined it and I looked up from my spot on the couch to see my boys watching Disney Jr., and I heard it again, “You’re not alone.”

Of course! Silly me to think all this time that I was alone. See, in my fear of branching out I forgot to call on the one who is my refuge. I forgot to call on the one who gives me strength.



Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.” (NLT)


I’m safe in the arms of the Lord.

With that comfort, I was able to reach out to our pastor in Wyoming, who was able to recommend a church that was a perfect fit for us. In that church, I found a new family--a family that could help me, guide me, and show me that even with my husband gone, I wasn’t alone.

In the military life we’re alone a lot. We move away from our families and we’re forced to live out of our comfort zone. But take heart, friends. We may feel lonely and scared and wonder what we’re thinking--but our Father is always one step ahead of us. He reaches out to us, calls us by name, and gives us what we need WHEN we need it. It’s not on our time, it’s on His.

Don’t be scared of the lonely. Don’t be scared of leaving.

Once I was able to branch out and give it to God, I gained a new perspective. I was able to help other military wives, who were even newer at this than me, to see that they aren’t alone either.

He is with us.

 

Reflection
How can you allow God to meet you in your lonely times?
What would it look like for you to fully trust God with the season of life you’re in?

Prayer
Father, thank you for showing me that your ways are always right and that you are my fortress. Help me to not be scared. Help me to know that you are with me no matter where my fears take me. Help me to see where you would have me go and to know that you lead the way. I ask that you give me “family” to help comfort me along with your word. I pray in your name, God. Amen.




Brandis is a former Sailor turned Air Force wife, a stay at home mom to 3 kids, and a lover of rustic country decor. She misses the Navy almost daily but is so very thankful for the time she gets with her family, dogs, & friends living near the beach. She occasionally blogs but mostly forgets at Anchored in the Air Force Life.


When God Goes With You

by Chantal Graupmann

 

Editor's Note: This month we are welcoming two new members to our blogging team here at CMWF.  Today's post is Chantal's first one with us.  Welcome, Chantal! We're so glad to have you sharing your story with us!

 

 

 

As followers of Christ we all have defining moments in our faith where God asks us to follow Him.

 

Choosing to let Him guide our family as we joined the military was one of those moments for me.

 

When my husband and I got married, the military was not a thought in my mind. We planned to stay in our home state of Minnesota, where almost all our family resides, and raise our future children. We never discussed other options. But two years into our marriage the economy took a downhill turn, and what I thought would never affect us, did. My new husband lost his job, and we were faced with the same difficult situation of unemployment that many Americans were facing. Young and newly married, we were completely unprepared for the difficulties that lay ahead.

 

During the following year and a half, finding work was tough. I was earning my Bachelors degree and working part time, while my husband painstakingly searched for suitable work to keep us afloat. With little hope in sight, we turned our ears all the more to Jesus in desperation. Jesus, what do you have in store for us?

 

Never before had we been so open to listening to the Lord.

 

A little whisper spoke to my heart and practically out of nowhere I found myself asking my husband, “Have you ever thought about the military?” I was completely surprised that this was coming from my mouth. As we began a long discussion about joining the military, I feared how this would affect our marriage and our family. I wanted our children to know their family and I certainly did not want to leave the new family I had gained, or be torn from my own.I was fearful of our future and how this would shape our family, but I felt God reminding me of all the time He had spoken in my life. He was encouraging me to move forward through my fear.

 

God began to deal with my lingering fears as my husband left for basic training. He led me to the first chapter in Joshua, specifically verse 9:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Those words spoke so strongly to my heart during the time my husband was away. They were a source of great comfort. He was encouraging me to trust in His plan like never before and I knew He would form our family into what it should be.

 

A little over three years have passed since I was encouraged with that passage in Joshua. As I look back, I can see how God has used the military to shape our extended and immediate family. He has kept His promises to me, and no matter where we are, He has provided us with support in the form of family and great friends. Our family is stronger and healthier than it was before the military because distance has forced us to communicate better. God has placed others in our lives at each duty station to fill a specific role where family would traditionally serve, which has created lasting friendships.

 

This passage of scripture continues to encourage me on the days I feel like military life is an impossible feat. It reminds me that He has chosen our family for this task, and no matter where the military may take us or how it will separate our family, He will be there to provide for our needs and to strengthen us.




Reflection
What fears are lingering in your heart today?
Where are you struggling to trust in God’s provision?
Who is one person you can come alongside of today to encourage with the message of God’s faithfulness?

Prayer
Lord, thank you for your constant presence in my life. Thank you for your promise to be with me wherever I may go. Your plan for my family is perfect and as you continue to lead me, I hold onto your promises for the difficult and sometimes lonely days that military life holds. I pray that you continue to go with us all our days.

Chantal Graupmann is an Air Force wife and mother to two children. She is striving to serve women in the midst of motherhood and military life, and is passionate about building community. She loves finding time for DIY projects, experimental cooking, and travel.