Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

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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I have been offline for a while, and for that I apologize. I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to a conference (which was great but I had little time to work otherwise). When we came home our lives fell apart to the point that I almost fell apart! If nothing else, I am reminded how important prayer and exercise are in times of stress!

I know I’m not alone in experiencing stress; stress is a major part of a military spouse’s life. Whether we are saying goodbye to friends when we move, saying goodbye to our heroes when they deploy, setting up a new household in a new town, helping our children cope with a move–we have stressors in our lives to which others can’t always relate.

But then there are the every-day life occurrences on top of the military life that can sometimes throw us off balance. That’s what happened to me.

I’m not complaining, but putting this conference together is a full-time (plus) gig (volunteer at this point) and I knew that these last few weeks would be full of changes, corrections and the like. What I didn’t know is that I would be tested even in that!

When we came home from our trip last Saturday night, my mother in law, who was watching our son and house for us, fell quite ill. We took her to the ER on Sunday and discovered that her appendix ruptured and she needed surgery immediately. She was not faring well in the hospital earlier this week. Then on Wednesday my son and I woke up with fevers. Yuck.

Without going into all the details, life was quite interesting at my house this week. We are surviving, but only because of prayer (especially from friends and family) and because we are releasing our stress through exercise.

This got me to thinking; what are you doing to take care of yourself?  I think it is imperative for a military spouse to take the time for self care because if we aren’t healthy, our families won’t be healthy. Remember the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”? So what are you doing to make yourself happy?

  • Do you set aside time each day to pray/meditate or even just to organize your schedule?
  • Do you say “no” sometimes to protect family time?
  • Do you eat a meal together (without TV or the hubby’s blackberry) at least once a week?
  • Do you laugh enough?
  • Do you read the Bible and concentrate on God’s provision?
  • Are you exercising?
  • Do you get outside in the sun for a few minutes each day for much-needed vitamin D?
  • Do you spend time each week with friends?

If you can’t answer “Yes” to all of these, I encourage you to take some time in the coming week and re-evaluate your schedule. YOU are important. Important enough to spend time on. Important enough to take care of. When you take care of you, you will have the energy and ability to handle not only life, but to thrive in your military lifestyle!

I’d love to hear how you practice self care!

Be Blessed,


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Recently in San Antonio in a neighborhood near ours, a house fire was blamed for the death of a woman and her two children. Yesterday, my husband came home from work with the very sad news that the fire was set to cover up the murder/suicide of a woman and her two children. The husband/father is in the Army. He also suffers from PTSD. A colleague of my husband just had dinner at that house during Christmas–this was family. Allegedly, the woman killed her two children and then killed herself after setting the fire.

I know military life can be a challenge, but what makes it so hard that you feel you would need to kill your children and yourself? Did this woman feel like she didn’t have anyone to talk to? Did she think she was alone in her troubles? Did anyone ever reach out to help her? I just don’t understand it. It breaks my heart.

This is one of the basic reasons that I started Wings for Women Military Spouse Conferences–to help connect military spouses to each other and the tools and resources we need so we don’t have to feel that something like suicide is the only way to cope. We need each other for support and friendship. We need to reach out to one another to help and be helped. I am certain that our conferences will help open up conversations between spouses and with the community so tragedies like this murder/suicide don’t happen anymore.

What do you do when life gets too hard? Who do you tell? Where do you go?

I admit that sometimes I just stay in bed for a little bit longer–to put off facing another day of loneliness in a new city.

But the better thing to do is to reach out to friends and family–on the phone if there is no one near by or over coffee if we are in the same town. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes, that two are better than one; chapter 4 v. 10 reads, “If one falls down his friend can help him up, but pity the man who has no one to help him up.” Make sure you keep in touch with at least one person who knows what you are going through and who can help you up when you fall.

Proverbs 12:25 is a verse that helped me get through the loss of our son who died from a severe heart defect when he was two weeks old. (You can read more about that in my book, Notes from the Margins). One day, when I thought I would just shrivel up from the pain of losing the only thing I ever wanted in my life, my mom said, “The only way to really heal is to help others who are also hurting.” Proverbs 12:25 reinforces that idea: “The generous will prosper and he who refreshes others will be refreshed.” Can’t argue with God and Mom! It’s quite true. Sometimes the only way to get out of the darkness or the pain you feel in life is to reach out to the world and start making a difference for others. And by helping others, you are helped. What can you do to help other military spouses in your neighborhood, installation or city?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: Don’t go it alone–whether you feel healthy or overwhelmed–don’t go it alone! Get involved in your neighborhood, your church or your installation. And if that is too much for you, connect with someone. If you don’t have anyone to connect with, reach out to the chaplain, your commander’s wife, the first shirt or a doctor.

If you don’t want to go public, at least take advantage of online services like Give an Hour or Military OneSource. Sign up for daily encouragement from 411 God or join a group like Christian Military Wives or Wives of Faith. Read Jocelyn Green’s book, “Faith Deployed” or Sarah Horn’s “God Strong” or write to me. There are so many people and organizations who want to help you!

I close this praying for you! Be blessed today and reach out to help or be helped. It’s the only way to survive our crazy military lifestyle!

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I have these two chairs and a footstool that were long lost twins. The first chair–an overstuffed Broyhill side chair–I purchased at a thrift store when we lived in Texas in 1998. It’s been with us for a long time and has been my favorite place to sit and read or do my daily study. When we moved to Virginia in 2000, I found this chair’s matching twin at a garage sale–and it came with an ottoman! I had nowhere to put the chair, but I wanted the ottoman so I bought them both for $8. What a steal! Since then, these two chairs have seen many rooms in our various homes; the living room, the basement, my office, our bedroom, the sitting room. They always seemed to find a nice place in our home. Until now.

We have recently moved back to Texas and lost our basement in the move. The two chairs and ottoman were too big for my office and no longer fit in our bedroom so they were relegated to the game room upstairs. And so was a futon and four other chairs. I lovingly called the game room “The Chair Room” because that is what it was filled with–the leftover chairs.

I seldom go upstairs because it’s become a man cave for my son and my husband–but the other day I was up there cleaning and I just didn’t like that chair room. It was too full of furniture and seemed crowded and uninviting. It was obvious that those two old chairs that I have always loved so much no longer fit in our house. (A common problem in the military lifestyle–I’ve seen creative military spouses who have used dressers and armoires as furniture in kitchens, living rooms and with the bedroom set from which they came. It’s what we do in the military; we make our furniture–even our very lives–work in new ways each time we move). After a tough internal debate, I knew that those chairs had to go.

It was an emotional experience for me admitting that those chairs I loved didn’t fit into my life anymore. Ironically–or maybe not–I did a bible study right after this emotional chair event that brought to light a spiritual lesson from this very experience. (Wouldn’t you know it; God had a lesson for me even in the act of getting rid of some chairs.) We were studying Ephesians.

Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:23-24 (The Message)

I have changed a lot in the 10 years that we have owned those chairs. I’ve grown from hardships, gained confidence in who I am; I have gotten new furniture. In a way, those chairs represented the old me–one who wasn’t as confident and a little weary from life. Those chairs were connected with my old way of life the way old habits are; hanging around the neck of the new you as a distraction. Those old ways and old habits can clutter up a room or your life and make it uninviting. I learned that those chairs don’t represent the future but the past; ways and ideas that weren’t God’s best for me. They were cluttering up a room (literally and figuratively) that was meant for fun.

So you know what? It’s okay to get rid of those chairs because I’m looking forward! I’m taking on something entirely new just like the verse from Ephesians. I’m taking on a life, a home, renewed from the inside and glorifying to God on the outside.

What are the old chairs in your life? What is keeping you from living fully as the woman God designed you to be?

Be blessed!


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I was asked this question last night by a woman who moved to town over a year ago and is still facing bouts of loneliness and fighting the urge to stay in her pajamas all day because really, who would care if she got dressed? Can you relate? I sure can. (I’m actually in my pajamas now, but I have Bible study later so eventually I will get dressed!)

The woman who posed this question is not a military spouse which got me to thinking–I think military spouses do “meeting new people” well in general. We know that we can’t take a year to make a friend because we might be gone the next. We also know that if we meet other mil spouses, we’ll form friendships and bonds more quickly because we are all sisters in our nomadic life. Still, there is always that loneliness that comes with being new in the community; the temptation to stay in the house and hide because we’re tired of always being the one to make the effort; the bad days, weeks, months that get the best of us because of our stress.

So what do I do to make friends in a new community?

  • I plan a housewarming party for three to five weeks after we move in. That gives me the incentive to get a least the main living areas unpacked and decorated. It also gives us the opportunity to meet our neighbors, learn their names and quickly get beyond the wave from the car as we leave our driveway. Besides, how can we follow God’s command to  love our neighbor if we don’t even know them?
  • I take a class. Craft stores like JoAnne’s or Michael’s offer a huge variety of classes from cake decorating to flower arranging or framing. So does MWR on base!
  • I’ve used my kids! Yes, the human kids and the furry ones are a great tool for meeting people. Find play dates at the park. Go to reading day at the library. Ask someone who is also waiting to pick up a child from a class to join you for a cup of coffee. I’m always surprised to learn that usually, the woman standing next to me who looks like she’s got it all together is usually screaming on the inside, “WOULD YOU BE MY FRIEND???” but she is just ask scared as you are to take the first step.

These are some of my friend-making strategies. What do you do? I’d love to hear!

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…but God…

It’s very hard to be positive when it seems like your world is falling apart. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve always believed that the bad is easy to find but it also quickly drags you into a muddy pit that is hard to escape. I believe that is why the Bible tells us to think on the good things (Philipians 4:8) because the good things give light to a dark situation and give you something to cling to.

I wish I could take credit for the following essay. A friend sent this to me via email and there is no reference to its author, but it is an interesting thought on turning around our perspective so I thought I’d share it. (If you know the author, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!)


“But God……”

I thought maybe I would just leave things at that and let you fill in the blank this week.  Maybe that would be the best exercise we could have.  As a matter of fact, lets do that.  Sometime during this week, take a few minutes and finish that statement, “But God….”  You don’t have to share, of course, but if you would like to, I would love to hear. Let me first say that this is not something I came up with.  I first heard it at a weekly Bible study we go to.  Then this morning on the way to church, Al Tipton was on the radio preaching a whole sermon on the subject of “But God….”.  So I give those two people credit for this week’s letter.

“God, I know you are in control of my life, but things are really tough right now.”

That is an example of how we often get it wrong.  You see, when we put (a negative) “but” after a statement, all we are doing is negating everything that was just said.  Try this the another way,

“I know things are tough right now, but God is control of my life.”

See how that works?  We just put God first and stopped thinking negatively.

Twice this weekend I have had the choice of looking at a situation either way.  I will be the first to admit that I have been the type to say “God, but…”, and trust me, it doesn’t work.  Things are tough and there are a couple of things that I don’t know how to fix, but God does.  I don’t know the words to say or the priority to set, but God does.  I don’t know for sure what tomorrow is going to bring, but God does.

I think an acceptable paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 14:33 would be; “But God is the author of peace, not confusion…”  Peace shown outwardly in the life of a Christian.  God, as the author of our life, if we let Him, is going to be writing a story of peace and comfort, even in our trials.

Have a blessed week!

Let me know if this has helped you overcome a challenge as a military spouse today!

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I saw this quote on one of my Facebook pages the other day:

“There are two kinds of success. One is the very rare kind that comes to the man who has the power to do what no one else has the power to do. That is genius. But the average man who wins what we call success is not a genius. He is a man who has merely the ordinary qualities that he shares with his fellows, but who has developed those ordinary qualities to a more than ordinary degree.” ~THEODORE ROOSEVELT

If this doesn’t describe the military spouse, I don’t know what does! A military spouse has the same qualities as a civilian spouse(CS), but we’ve had the opportunity to develop those qualities to a more than ordinary degree~that makes us EXTRAordinary!

Let’s look at some of those ordinary qualities that make us stand out as mil spouses (MS):

CS uses organization to coordinate the household, car pool the kids, keep life in order.

MS does that PLUS coordinates household moves every few years, remembers where items are in this house (and coincidentally where everything was in the other house, too!), remembers who did what in every place we have lived, coordinates life when hubby is deployed, remembers to shop early and send Christmas gifts in October when living oversees. Extraordinary!

CS is friendly to her neighbors because they’ve lived in that house for years.  She socializes a lot because her besties since third grade live just down the street. She always has a smile on because she knows what is going on.

MS gets out and makes new friends the very first week in a new town. She meets her neighbors because she needs to rely on their friendship during deployments. She connects with people quickly because there is a limited amount of time to create friendships. MS can visit almost any town in the US and stay with someone she knows because her friends are all over the place! MS has hundreds of people on her Christmas card list, and even more on Facebook! Extraordinary!

Emotional Strength
CS is strong because she is a woman. She’s strong for her kids, for her spouse, and for her friends whom she has known all of her life. She thinks she can get along if her husband loses his job or if her kid doesn’t do well in school or sports. CS’s strength lies in what she knows and her friends and family.

MS is extraordinarily strong because she is a woman, and because she is a military spouse. She’s prepared each time she says goodbye to hubby, just in case it is the last goodbye (she saves his phone messages for the same reason). She takes on new challenges, new cities, new countries. She might cry for a day or two after a move, but then she bucks up and makes the best of life where God has put her. She plays the role of mom AND dad when she has to. She holds the family together by making memories and special moments out of every day events because her family is the best thing she can count on. MS can do anything she sets her mind to simply because she is a military spouse!

Yes, military spouse, YOU ARE EXTRAORDINARY!!!! Don’t you forget it!

2 Thessalonians 1:11
Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.

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My mother sent me this quote from Emily Dickenson:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers–
that perches in the soul–
And sings the tune without the words–
And never stops – at all

I think this has a perfect correlation with Wings for Women. Wings have feathers which can help us take flight and cover us for protection. These feathers also represent hope–the thing that military spouses need the most. Hope that our husbands are safe; hope as we wait to see him again. Hope that we will fit into a new community. Hope that we make good friends. Hope that we can make it through just one more day. Hope that tomorrow will be better.

Hope is different from a wish because hope assumes the best–that there is a reason to believe.  It is used to specify a desired outcome. The dictionary defines hope as, “to cherish a desire with anticipation or to desire with an expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence.” For future hopes, the possibilities remain open–but the possibility is there.

A wish on the other hand is merely a thought; hope without wings. It is used to express something imagined or hypothetical with no basis for that wish coming to fruition.

As we approach the holidays and  think about the many military families who are separated from our families–and all of us are in one way or another–I pray for you HOPE. The wish with wings that perches in the soul and sings a never-ending song. Make HOPE your theme song.

What is your heart’s desire? What can you hope for? A degree? Close friends? Purpose? A reunion with your loved one? Stop wishing for these things; instead have hope. You can make these things happen in your life. You can turn things around; Hope has the ability to make it happen.

Let’s start a conversation about this; what are your hopes for the new year and what will you do to make it happen?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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