Archive for the ‘Four Pinions’ Category

As a military spouse, it’s challenging to find purpose in our lives when our lives are constantly changing, right? Corie Weathers has shared a great article on this subject on our website. Check it out here!

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Ever have a bad day? Do you tire of the people who tell you to just get over it? Christine Kane shares some thoughtful insight on how to get yourself through it…read more in our blog http://wings4women.org/?p=342


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Surviving Military Wife Life

by Melissa Petrone

looking on a map

When I said, “I do” to my husband and joined the military too (as his spouse), I thought… “I can do this …it won’t be so hard…it will be an adventure!”  After all, I lived on my own for many years, had my career and knew that I was a strong person…This will be easy. Well, I was wrong. On so many levels. Military life and the life of a military spouse is many things but EASY…? No definitely not easy. It is probably one of the most challenging callings I have ever had. Yes…I feel God calls many women (and men) to be a military spouse. I although did not know this at the time when I married my husband. Heck, I was just so happy to finally find a husband…but that is another story.

Let me tell you a little about myself and my family. I am now 42 and living in Fountain, CO. Ft. Carson was our last duty station (and our last deployment) before my husband decided to retire from the US Army after 25 years of service (we have been together for 11 years). We decided to settle in Colorado with our family of 3 children ages 18, 7 and 4, and our dogs.

My journey as an Army wife started in Ft. Belvoir, VA. We were there for about 1 ½ before my very first PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to Baumholder, Germany.  I had no clue how a PCS went but I survived it, and as all military spouse are I became an expert. My first year in Baumholder…well…for a lack of better words…STUNK!! I was homesick, culture shocked, with no friends and my husband was never around. It seemed as soon as our plane landed he was fast at work and I was left to do the rest. I also had my step-son who was nine at the time..for more please visit our new website and blog at wings4women.org


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Be sure to check out our new website/blog for tips on letting go of the Holiday SHOULDs and embrace the joy of the season! Wings4Women.org/blog  Go Now

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My mom is here for a visit. I love it when she comes because we get to catch up, play cribbage, have tea and go for a massage. Oh, and there is all the shopping, too. Special things that I do just with her. I love it.

Her visit got me to thinking this morning. For me, the toughest part of being a military family is being away from my extended family. There is something about the presence of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. For me, even if it isn’t always good, my family is always there, always loves me (even when they “hate” me) and always makes sure I’m doing okay. That is a good, safe feeling.

The sense of family is important–it is grounding and safe. Family allows you to be you, to make mistakes and recover. Family loves unconditionally. These things are vital for a healthy, balanced life. Especially in the military.

How can we create that sense of family when our relatives are far away? This is something I’ve been talking to a lot of people about as we try to determine the best path for Wings to take. Here are some of the things I’ve come up with so far:

  • Make a point to have dinner as a family (at the table without the TV) most nights of the week to create strong immediate family bonds
  • Find someone in your community who can give you a “sister” kind of friendship–non-judgemental, encouraging, caring, unconditional love
  • Find a mentor who can give you that “motherly” advice because she has been there and knows
  • Be gentle, kind, non-judgemental and forgiving towards the military spouses around you a kind word and some forgiveness go a long way

I’d love to hear what kind of ideas you have for creating a sense of family with those who are around you. Please comment below.

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gardeningGod really does want us to bloom where we are planted. It was never more obvious to me as when we sat in our new church in our new town, yet again. I was tired of moving. Tired of spending almost 20 years as a military nomad. Tired of being the new girl and working so hard to make new friends. Tired of being nice and outgoing. Tired of being the one who always has to make the effort. I moved to our new town with a bad attitude and God wasted no time letting me know it was time to change.

The pastor spoke on some verses in Jeremiah 29 that were not familiar to me, and the passage moved me more than Uncle Sam ever has! I have gotten used to hearing Jeremiah 29:11 because it is used so often to remind us that we have a hope and a future of good things according to the Lord–which we do. But it has been a long time since I read the verses ahead of the famous Old Testament passage. These verses resonated with me deeply, and having just left the place we wanted to retire, and not being happy about where I was, they also convicted me. Forcefully.

Jeremiah 29:4-7

4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

I don’t remember what the pastor’s sermon was on because God was speaking to me as a military wife. He showed me how to really plug in–the way He intended me to–even if I was tired of doing it.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
If this verse is not made for the military family, I don’t know what is! Many of our moves have left me feeling like I have been sent into exile. I can hear all of you stationed at bases in the middle of nowhere–or in the middle of a foreign country–nodding in agreement. (Yes, I can hear the nodding because there are a lot of you!)

Those of us not relegated to the remote places of our world can also identify with this. The verse is talking about when the Babylonians marched the Israelites from their home to an unknown land. Can’t you relate? Our last base had become our home. We were comfortable there. We knew places. We knew people. We had a routine. Then we move and everything is foreign. We don’t know how to get to the store, we can’t find a local coffee shop and sometimes, we can’t even understand the language! But here is what the verse says: God carried you here! It was in His plan from the beginning for you to leave where you were and come to this land. He has a purpose for you here. He has put you here to prosper and show others what He can do.

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.
When we get to our new towns, God wants us to settle in. Not in a temporary way, but in a pretty permanent way. Why else would He tell us to plant gardens and eat what they produce?  While it isn’t always practical to literally plant a garden (although I usually find it fun), there is a lesson for us in this. We are to live where we are, not looking backward but looking forward to what our garden will produce. We are to dig up the ground, plant and produce fruit. We can do this by sowing, nurturing and tending the plants of relationships so they bear fruit. And here is the kicker! The fruit of this effort is for our benefit! When we eat the fruit of this relationship garden, it nourishes us, giving us purpose and sustenance. It keeps us feeling full. I can tell you from many times of feeling empty in a new town, I’m eager to feel full of this fruit!

There are opportunities all around to dig in the dirt and plant new relationships. The best place to start is in a church because they will understand your need for family. You can also volunteer, get out to the park, or take advantage of kid’s sports activities or play dates. Something that works for me is getting out of my car at football practice or during drop off/pick up at school and making small talk with the other parents. Or, simply make a point to get out of the house. Sitting on the front porch reading, washing the car–or planting an actual garden–gives you an opportunity to meet your neighbors. It might be easier to stay inside, but this is not what God wants for us! He wants us to have a fruitful garden of relationships.

When we move into a new neighborhood I usually set a date for an open house five or six weeks from when we get our household goods (which has the added benefit of inspiring me to get moved in!). We invite our neighbors over for an ice cream social and get to know them. It’s cheap, easy and works wonders in creating relationships in the spot where God has placed us.

Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
I understand that most of this verse does not really apply to us as military families–we are not anywhere long enough to actually raise our kids somewhere–but while meditating on this whole concept, I believe there is still instruction for us. God wants us to create relationships in our Babylon that will endure. He speaks of generations here which means we need to make sure the relationship saplings we plant are nurtured so lovingly that they will be there long after we are gone. We are to increase in number which may simply mean that we need to find opportunities to share God’s love, grace and mercy. God will put into our paths people who need Him. And amazingly He asks us to participate in His kingdom by sharing His love and His message of forgiveness through Christ. Having sons and daughters may mean that there are opportunities in front of you to share your faith so that we may increase in number. This has an everlasting implication.

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
We are also to seek out and even work for the good of the city where God has placed us. Pray about where you are. Work for its benefit by volunteering to make a difference. Take care of the elderly. Adopt a pet. Clean up a park. Have a significant and positive effect on your city. Start a neighborhood watch. Help kids read. Leave it better than you found it. Pray for it. Then you will have prosperity. You will bloom right where God has planted you!

You have an amazing opportunity where you are right now to make an impact on your world. We even have a special benefit as military families because once we make an impact on one city, town or neighborhood, we know we’ll soon have the opportunity to do it again in a whole new Babylon!

When we apply the instruction in these verses to our nomadic military lives, think of the impact! Globally, we can make the world better by locally making our cities and neighborhoods better. Personally, our lives will be richer, more prosperous and more fulfilled–just by digging in, planting gardens and praying and acting on behalf of our Babylon. By doing these things, you are fulfilling God’s purpose for you in your unique life.

Ready? Set? Bloom!

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For most people in America, summer time means slower schedules, catching up with friends, lounging at the pool.  But for the military wife it may mean packing up the house, saying goodbye to new friends and heading out for yet another adventure with her military man. A new state, a new town, a new house and the daunting task of starting over. Again.

Summertime moves don’t have to be the end of the world. They may be challenging, even stressful, but there are many ways to find fun and joy to make this season more tolerable. Here are a few ideas to get you started–then I’d like to hear what you do to bring joy into the midst of your military move. I’ve categorized my ideas under the acronym PCS–just for fun!


Put furniture in a new place: for example–just because a certain dresser has always gone in your room doesn’t mean it won’t be happy in the living room at your new home re-purposed as a media cabinet. Be creative! Use the opportunity to decorate another house as an opportunity to express yourself in a new way!

Play! This last move wore me out physically and emotionally, so instead of trying to get everything unpacked and put away as soon as possible–which is what I usually do–I took my time (within reason). I made a game of it. Every time I finished my fourth box in a row, I’d give myself a reward. A snack, a chapter of a book, time on Facebook, you name it. It worked for me; and also very well for my ten year-old son who would rather play video games than unpack boxes!!

Pitch: We have a house rule; if we haven’t used something during a duty tour, we can’t move it.  This helps me not only use the things that are special to me, but also to clean things out without remorse when it is time to move. I also learned during my last move, after 17 trips to Goodwill, that the best time to pitch things is before you move–not after you’ve had to unload it all at the new house!


Cry: Yes! Cry! Moving causes stress and grief. If we don’t cry and let it out (especially as women) we can’t move through the grieving process. Now, as our pastor in Hawaii used to say, you can’t “pitch a tent and stay there!” Cry when you need to, empty your grieving bucket, and then keep moving forward. We didn’t become strong military spouses by pouting all the time. There is a balance. We need to acknowledge the grief for what it is, let it run its course and then keep marching forth!

Car Trips: an inevitable reality of the summertime move! We may dread them, but we can make them fun for our families. My brother-in-law tells wonderful stories of traipsing across the country with his brothers and sister and his mom and dad while they moved from station to station. If we play it right, we can make some wonderful memories during our car trip times. You can stop at the roadside fruit stands or check out the historical markers on the sides of the road. You can take a detour and see the Grand Canyon or drive Route 66 while you sing the song. And as tempting as it is to let the kids watch movies or play handhelds the whole way, I encourage you to be strong and have family time in the car. Talk about great memories you made at the last station and dream about what you want to do, see, explore at the new one. There are so many opportunities for family bonding–don’t pass it up!


Start over: a move gives us military families something that many other people don’t get–the chance to start over; to recreate who we are; to become a better person. My husband and I always like to asses what we did well and fix what we’d like to do better at the next station. We start new habits, let go of bad ones and look at the move as an opportunity to be better people. If we didn’t explore the city and our surroundings at the last station–we make a point to at the new one. If we didn’t do many dinner parties, we try to plan more. If we were too involved in a church, club or activity, we take the move as an opportunity to re-asses our involvement and commitments. There is no better opportunity than now to make your lives better than they were!

Scout: Scout out all of the stuff to do in your new city–and then do it! Most people will live in a city all their lives and never take advantage of all the fun things available to them! Visit the museums (most have military discounts) and the mom & pop stores and restaurants. Go to the parks, take hikes, explore your new town. Make it your mission to scout out the best local ice cream, Italian or Mexican. Find the best deals, the best stores, the best exhibits! You won’t be bored and the sky is your limit!

Scrapbook: even if you lack creative layout abilities (like me), you can still have fun with your family by creating a scrapbook of all that you do and learn on your move or after you settle in. Create magical time with your kids now and for years to come by creating the scrapbook together and then sending it to your deployed warrior or reviewing it together for years to come.

Basically, my philosophy of life is this:
Bad stuff happens. Hard stuff comes our way. But if we can find ways to enjoy something during those harder moments, then by and by, those moments don’t seem so horrible. We can endure and be better for it.

Now it’s your turn! What are some of your best moving tips you can share with your military sisters who are in the process of packing up and moving on?!

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On the outer edge of a bird’s wing are pinion feathers; these are the feathers that actually allow a bird to fly. Without the pinion feathers, a bird would not be able to take to the air. If even one of the pinion feathers are cut, the bird remains grounded; it cannot fly.

Without the support of their spouses, our military men and women would not be able to make the sacrifices that they make in order to keep us free and safe. Without the support of certain “pinions,” I believe the military spouse cannot soar above the hardships that a military lifestyle can impose.

There are four key pinions that allow the military spouse to fly–to freely soar above her circumstances so she can thrive and help her family flourish. These important pinions are:

  • Self Care
  • Passionate Purpose
  • Family Matters
  • Marvelous Marriages

Many military spouses struggle … we struggle with maintaining ourselves during the challenges that occur because of deployments, constant moves, and single parenting while being married. We struggle in understanding our purpose in our nomadic life. We struggle with keeping the family strong and intact when our partners are half a world away. And we struggle with keeping the foundation of that family–our marriages–together when faced with issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, depression and the many aftereffects of war.

If the military spouse is suffering from an imbalanced life–a clipped pinion–that beautiful bird will remain grounded; stuck in the muck of life, unable to rise above and soar to his or her fullest potential.

That is why we at Wings for Women Military Spouse Conferences are spending our time, effort and money to strengthen these pinions of the military spouse. We are military spouses who want to help and encourage military spouses to be fully balanced in these important areas of life. Our conferences and resources are designed to lift up, support and encourage military spouses in their military lifestyles; and with the Four Pinions of Self Care, Passionate Purpose, Family Matters and Marvelous Marriages, Wings for Women Conferences for Military Spouses will help women fly.

Keep watching as we launch website pages filled with articles, tools and resources for our Four Pinions of a balanced military life. We’ll be publishing articles and links on this blog and Facebook as well.

I’d like to hear from you; what is the one most challenging thing that is keeping you from soaring, and how can we help?

See you in flight!

Alane Pearce
Founder and Executive Director
Wings for Women Military Spouse Conferences

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