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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.


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!

---

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.



Freedom to Choose

By Heather Tabers


 


“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

It is easy to begrudge the hand that life has dealt us.

Often times, our life’s circumstances were thrust upon us and we had little, if any, say in the matter. Our parents. Our physical features. Our talents. Our physical ability. Our socio-economic status. These things often define who we are despite our ability to control them. It seems unfair that we are called to live a life we did not choose to live. We didn’t choose the disability. We didn’t choose the illness. We didn’t choose the abusive mother, the diabetes, the bankruptcy, or the limp. We didn’t choose it.

It is easy to feel trapped by the lack of choices you may have in your life. The enemy wants nothing more than to rob your life of joy and any feelings of hope that you may have.

The problem, for him, is that you DO have a choice. And so do I.

We have the freedom to choose joy in the midst of our less-than-joyful circumstances. When we are hated, we have the freedom to choose love. When we are sick, we have the freedom to choose gratitude for life. When we are slow, we have the freedom to choose to keep going. When we are deprived, we have the freedom to choose to trust God’s provision.

We have the freedom to choose, because our infinite, mighty God holds it all in His hands.


 

Reflection
In what areas of my life am I not choosing joy and gratitude?
Am I taking the time to thank God daily?
How can I trust more deeply in God’s provision for me and my family?

Prayer
Father God, as we look at the circumstances surrounding us, may we choose to never take our eyes off of You. Give us the strength and the courage to choose life in an environment of death. Help us choose to be lights in a dark world. Help us choose to point others to you. Thank You for giving us this freedom to choose that NO ONE can take away. Amen


 

Heather Tabers is the wife of a wounded warrior and the mother of five children. She is also currently a full time student, a specialty cake baker, and a volunteer with the VA Public Relations office. She writes about her life and her faith to encourage other women on her blog, Wives of War.



Dear Military Spouse: Fighting Back Negativity


Dear Military Spouse,

I don’t know where you are or exactly what you’re going through, but I am sure that your life is FULL of challenges. From the sudden changes that can occur with moves, TDYs and the uncertainties of deployments, we always have to be on our toes and ready to adapt. Combine those potential hardships with the demands of everyday life and work, and being a military spouse becomes a difficult job description to fulfill.

As the new kid on the block at our first base, I had all sorts of anxieties about meeting people and getting plugged into the community. When things didn’t progress as quickly as I had hoped, I became discouraged. When I wasn’t able to put my hard earned Master’s degree to work immediately, I began to feel worthless and lost. Fear and doubt became my enemy and I felt my faith becoming strained and tested.

Whether the enemy takes shape in the form of negative thoughts, negative people in your surroundings, or excruciatingly difficult circumstances, God wants to redeem you.  In the Old Testament, God is described primarily as the Redeemer. As the Israelites struggled in Egypt, the wilderness, and under Babylonian rule, God rescued them from their enemies, offering salvation and forgiveness. In the New Testament, the blood of Jesus is provided as an ultimate promise of redemption for all who accept Him. God is the redeemer of our lives and circumstances. He has the authority to rescue us from all our enemies if we simply reach out and ask for His help.

As I worked hard to thwart negativity, I recalled this passage:

 “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).

Remembering how God pulled me out of a pit of despair in order to grant me new life helped me understand this truth: God saved me for a purpose! God gives us a new blessed life in free of fear and worry.  He brings us from deep darkness into marvelous light. Putting that sharp contrast into perspective
reminds me to be thankful, no matter the circumstances.

I am alive in God! I am whole in Christ! I am redeemed and set free! I am forgiven! I choose not to live in fear!

Dear Sister, as you walk through today- potentially a difficult path where you feel the pain of every step- I ask you to remember where you have been and how God’s love has saved you. Cling to the truth of His salvation: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23). Remember Jesus’ sacrifice and hold onto the hope of salvation. Know that as our circumstances change, our God stays the same, and He wants to redeem you today! 


Love,

Your Sister in Christ, Mary 




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.


God's Great Exchange Program

My family is blessed to be loved, nurtured, and taken under the wing of a wonderful woman of God named Sandy. She is the mother that my heart adopted. A few months ago she spent a week in our home, pouring out her heart, loving on us, and leaving a legacy of God’s love for my children. In all of the little things that we did as a family, God used Sandy to impart pearls of wisdom, to help us see Him more in our every day lives, to teach us life lessons, to show us His love.

 

One afternoon, Sandy saw my 9 year old son swatting frantically at a bee. He shared with her that he is very afraid of bees and the lesson she taught him was one I will never forget. Tenderly, she shared with him that she also had fear, but that she had learned how to be free from it- by giving it over to God. She told him that she made an exchange with God- He took her fears, and gave her His peace to fill the void.

 

This truth is for us, too. When we are fearful, we can exchange our fear for His peace. There is no fear too big or too small for us to bring to Him; He gives us peace from His Spirit freely.

 

As I reflect on those wise words from my friend, I cannot help but think of the many opportunities that exist in God’s “great exchange program”. We can exchange our sorrow, for His joy. We can trade in our pain or His healing. Psalm 30 reminds us of this promise, as the psalmist praises the Lord for a great exchange in his life:

 

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

What about you, sister? Do you have some old regret you want to get rid of? Just give it to Him and He’ll give you a new start in return. Are you buying into lies from the enemy about your value, your worth, your purpose? Trade those lies for God’s promises in scripture, and let His truth remind you of your magnificent worth to Him. Exchange your past for His future. God’s exchange program is BIG, and the possibilities are endless.



Reflection

Am I living a life filled with the peace and joy of Christ?


What fears, lies, or regrets am I holding in my heart today?


How can I encourage a fellow sister in Christ to be a part of God’s great exchange program?

Prayer
Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice. You gave your life for me on the cross, in order to pay for my sins. That is the greatest, most beautiful exchange in all of history. Don’t let me forget it, Lord. Bind my heart to Your gospel. Thank You for all the exchanges You provide in my life, God. Today, I choose to lay down my ________________ in exchange for Your ____________________. Do a great work in my heart, Lord, that I might know and glorify You more. Amen.



Heather Tabers is the wife of a wounded warrior and the mother of five children. She is also currently a full time student, a specialty cake baker, and a volunteer with the VA Public Relations office. She writes about her life and her faith to encourage other women on her blog, Wives of War.


When Fear Takes Over

I have a confession to make. Seven years and four deployments into this Army life, I still wrestle with fear. We all do. I tell my fellow Army wives that battling fear is a daily struggle. There is no magic pill, special prayer, specific activity, or pithy quote that instantly unfreezes you. That keeps you calm when he hasn’t called and he's on a mission and you are spiraling into crazy, imagining all that's gone wrong. You fight every day and towards the end, you sleep a little easier, you breathe more. You surrender every day to a loving, merciful Savior with a Master Plan and irresistible Grace.

 

But fear still lurks. 


Just months ago, on this most recent New Year’s Day - I found myself momentarily paralyzed. There was a hailstorm. Out of nowhere. I was so confused. As I was scrambling to pick up the chalk scattered over my garage parking space so I could get my car inside, I had an epiphany. I was contemplating how (or if) I wanted to write about the last year, to wrap it up in a neat little package, or maybe write about next year, what I want to do, hope to do, have fooled myself into thinking I will do . . . but I realized that the weather told the whole story.

It was beautiful. And then stormy. Out of nowhere. And in this life, I pick up the pieces and scramble for the shelter I know I have in the arms of the Almighty.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him’” (Lamentations 3:21-24, ESV).

In that moment I was struggling desperately with fear already, the vague harbinger of a specific storm. I felt it in my gut. A move. A new job. Another deployment? Another deployment. Fear.

My heart was sinking, hardening a little . . . moving, more goodbyes, another year apart, more loneliness. And then in the deep dark, I knew . . . I know . . . there is sunshine in between. There is sunshine after. There is joy in the morning. There is shelter in the storm. I am His.

And oh, in this life there is sunshine. Joy when “I’ll see you next week” really was next week, when I stood in a cavernous hangar that was echoing with brassy patriotic anthems and the barely contained excitement of a hundred other families, living out their own stories in the spaces around me. Joy when I caught a glimpse of my handsome, head-shaved man in lockstep, and he slid his eyes sideways and saw me and started to grin, my so serious, always composed, always professional soldier-Husband who couldn’t keep the smile from splitting his cheeks. Joy when he folded his arms tight around me, my head fitting tight under his chin, my gravity restored, albeit slightly off-kilter, because we were different, not better or worse, but different. Joy in this Army life we live together.

So, beloved, when the fear comes - when it creeps into shadowed corners and speaks dark into your heart - push back with relentless truth, with hope, and yes, joy. He loves you with a steadfast love, never ceasing. His mercy and grace are limitless. You belong to Him, a daughter of the King.


Reflection

What fears have taken root in my heart recently?

What steps do I need to take to surrender those fears to God?

What other things do I try to lean on- instead of God- when I am afraid?  How can I make an effort to trust Him above all else?

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for your unending love and grace.  I'm so thankful for the hope I have in knowing You- that You will never leave me, that You have control over all that goes on around me, and that You are for me.  Help me to trust You and believe truth about You, even when fear surrounds me.  Give me the strength to trust You in all things.  Amen.

 

Molly Huggins (www.allthegracebetween.com) 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.