Posts Tagged ‘help for military’

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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Three more days until we celebrate being a military spouse in Colorado Springs with military spouses from across the country! We are stuffing bags full of gifts, sorting door prizes, ordering tons of food and putting together all of the details of the conference. We are all abuzz and loving it!

Not only are we putting all those last-minute details together, but we are also making plans for next year’s conferences! (Did you hear that? More than one!) We have even more fun and exciting plans for Colorado and Texas in 2011–and also for  churches and/or organizations across the country with military ministries! Keep checking in to see what we have planned!

See you in a few days!!

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This is such an awesome idea from Chelle McIntyre, the Military Spouse Magazine’s Spouse of the year; she originally shared this on the Army Spouse Network and I just had to share! I’ll be making one of these–Right after the conference in May (I’m a little busy getting door prizes, volunteers and menus laid out!)

The Book of Everything

I have been quite busy lately leading workshops and meeting with Family Readiness Groups (FRG) and command leadership about something I strongly feel every military family should have: the Book of Everything. I’m referring to a book that holds the key to an easier time in the military for any family or single service member, for that matter. This tool is incredibly important for those of us with children because when registration for school, extracurricular activities, and medical appointments arise, having information ready and available is crucial.

The Book of Everything is exactly what it sounds like: a book that contains all of the vital information you will need for most situations. Instead of having to dig around in filing cabinets, shoe boxes, or under the bed for information that really should be right at your fingertips, the Book of Everything has all that information in one place, ready to use. Once created, the Book of Everything should be placed in a fire-proof lockbox that is easy to access.

The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to make one of these books. In fact, if you can convince your FRG to hold a workshop that teaches its members how to put together the Book of Everything, the materials can be requested through command so it costs neither the individual nor the FRG any money. Every family benefits from having the Book of Everything, so it isn’t limited to age, rank, or gender. It’s a wonderful way to offer an activity with your FRG or other support group that is meaningful and well-received.

Essentially, the Book of Everything is a two inch binder filled with sheet protectors, a pack of Post-It notes and a writing utensil. The pages contain information that a family or service member might need at any moment. There are certain things that should always be in the Book of Everything, while other parts of the book will vary from family to family. If you decide to put the Book of Everything together in a group setting, it is best to use the Post-It notes as a guide for what items belong in each sheet protector so that people won’t feel like they need to bring important documents that may get lost.

All books should have the following documents, placed in separate sheet protectors and clearly marked:
– Emergency Contacts: Command and FRG contact information, police, Poison Control, American Red Cross, etc.
– Everyday Contacts: Friends, family members, and regularly used services such as pharmacies, medical appointment lines, etc.
– Social Security Information: Copies or originals of Social Security cards for each family member as well as an easy access, wallet sized document containing all social security numbers.
– Copy of Most Recent Orders: Make sure it is a legitimate copy of orders that can be used upon request.
– Copy of Officer Record Brief (ORB)/ Enlisted Record Brief (ERB)/ Soldier Record Brief (SRB)/ DD-214: This is intended to provide service information upon request.
– Leave and Earnings Statement: A recent copy which will be helpful if there are any pay issues.
– Copy of Military Identification Cards: This includes any card bearing member of the family.
– Copy of Insurance Policies: This includes all insurance policies (automobile, Service Member Group Life Insurance, health, etc)
– Health Information: For each member of the family, a documentation of chronic illness, allergies to medication, prescription information, doctors, specialists and insurance information should be included.
– List of Bills: This list includes any bills (electric, car payments, internet, cable, etc) with the following information: type of bill, name and address of company, account number, average or exact payment, frequency due).
– Proof of Homeownership/Rental Agreement: Whether living on or off post, this is an important document to have on hand. Also included with this document is a note indicating where to find Home Ownership Association or rental rules and guidelines.
– Wills: Any wills that the service member or dependants may have.
– Living Wills: This is probably one of the most important documents to have because it alleviates the emotional stress of having to decide whether a loved one should remain on life support or not.
– Bank/ Investment Accounts: A list of all checking and savings accounts, including college and retirement funds and investments.
– Birth Certificates: Copies of each family member’s birth certificate.
– Shot Records: This includes not only the service member and dependants, but any pets, as well.

The following information may not pertain to everyone, but should definitely be included if it does:
– Marriage/Wedding Certificate: This should include any and all marriages.
– Divorce/Separation Decree: Documentation of divorces or separations.
– Adoption Certificate/Guardianship: Documentation relating to the adoption of dependants, guardianship of children or the primary caretaker of an adult family member.
– Custody Agreements/Child Support/Alimony Documentation: This should include information for service member and dependant where applicable.
– Passports: This should contain at least photocopies of each dependant’s photo page of passport. Originals may also be stored here.
– General Power of Attorney: This document entitles the service member to allow a particular person to make decisions on his/her behalf. Make sure there is an original copy, signed and notarized, if applicable.
– Special Powers of Attorney: This document is an alternative to the General Power of Attorney that specifies what decisions can be made by the service member’s designee. Once again, an original document, signed and notarized is necessary.
– Medical Power of Attorney: This document is intended to allow the designee that ability to make decisions in emergency situations relating to medical care.
– Piece of Mind Document: Every branch of the military has a packet of information that allows the service member to designate personal choices in case of death, injury, or other serious incident. This document can be found at most military support centers and should be filled out by the service member.

The Book of Everything is intended to ease the pressures that are so prevalent in the military. The fact is that we cannot control the frequent moves, extended separations, and dramatic life events that occur unexpectedly, but we can prepare better for them. Everyone wins when there is organization. Even though it isn’t easy to think about the idea of needing to use a will or the other negative connotations of preparing before a deployment, it’s actually much bigger than that. The Book of Everything is an easy to use way to ensure that bills are being paid on time, important contacts don’t get lost, and families can run a little smoother with a little organization.

Just a little bit of effort now can save hours of headache in the future.

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Military life can be hard. Our military personnel make great sacrifices to protect our country and others around the world. They work long hours and spend extended periods of time away from their families to fight for the freedoms that allow us to enjoy an American lifestyle. What many don’t realize is the stress and strain that this puts on the military spouse.

Military spouses are strong, but they can’t bear the burden of military life alone. The pressures of deployment, single parenting while married, tight budgets, lack of continuity and other stresses bear down on this strong woman’s soul.

This is why I founded Wings for Women Military Spouse Conferences–to help military spouses deal with the stresses of military life. The Wings for Women Conferences–two-day events that will run in military cities across the nation (as soon as we have funding for them) feature general sessions, dynamic speakers and military lifestyle breakout workshops designed to inspire and encourage military spouses towards emotional healing.

In 1967, Thomas H. Holmes and Richard H. Rahe, from the University of Washington, did a study on the connection between significant life events and illness. As part of the study, they compiled a chart of 43 major causes of stress. In 2006, that chart was updated to include 55 major stressors. Here is a list of the top seven.

  • Finances (having enough to get by)
  • Work (overwork, a spouse working too much, or the inability to find work)
  • Family (health and family changes such as adoption, relocation, and job changes for just one family member can cause stress for all)
  • Personal Concerns (such as how the workload at home is shared)
  • Personal Health and Safety (affected by being alone and PTSD in a loved one)
  • Personal Relationships (friendship, marriage)
  • Death

In any given moment of any given day, the military family is dealing with not just one of these top stressors, but many. They:

  • Struggle with finances because of low pay
  • Get passed on much-needed employment because of a resume filled with time gaps from frequent moves
  • Feel the burden of managing the home and the children alone because of the military member’s long hours and/or deployments.

A deployed military member leaves behind a family who is stressed by being home alone and a spouse dealing with long distance marriage, a lack of close friendship bonds and the constant fear that her husband may not return from war. When the military member finally comes home, the spouse and family are greatly affected by the military member’s new personality traits because of war and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Imagine how you or your spouse might feel if put into one of these situations; yet the military spouse deals with these high stress triggers all the time. Every year. Every month. Every day.

These are the facts in the life of a military family.

A study published in January (2010) in the New England Journal of Medicine reinforces Holmes’ and Rahe’s theory of stress leading to illness by specifically looking at military families. The Journal study reviewed electronic medical data for almost 85 percent of the nearly 300,000 women whose active-duty husbands were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan from 2003-2006. They found that 36.6 percent of those women had at least one mental-health diagnosis such as depression, anxiety or a sleep disorder. And this only counts those who reported problems.

“My husband is in Iraq for the 4th time,” says one military spouse on Facebook. “You are right, it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, this deployment (my third) was the hardest for me so far…It’s nice to be among those who understand and can relate to what you’re going thru.”

Jacey Eckhart of Military Money Magazine shares about the life of a Navy spouse: “But spouses? Man, they rip the veil off your head, ship you off to a city where you may not know a soul and expect you to be able to handle a deployment, say, a week later. Spouse boot camp often is self-taught. We manage. More importantly, we adapt.”

Wings for Women Military Spouse Conferences is addressing this and more by providing an opportunity for military spouses to be with those who understand and can relate to military life. Even more, the conferences will provide tools and resources to help spouses deal with these issues to improve their lives and subsequently the lives of the military family. We know from experience that as long as women have a place to gather these things will happen.

Our conferences kick off this year in Colorado Springs, CO May 14–15th with nearly 300 participants–many of whom are coming to Colorado from across the country.

The conferences will help spouses improve their relationships with themselves, their husbands and their children and increase their self-worth. We will provide valuable military and community resources to ensure that the spouse becomes engaged and supported by those around her after the conference concludes. As a result the spouses will be more aware of her purpose and mission, more connected with others like her and also with those who want to help. She will be refreshed and energized about her military lifestyle.

We believe that supporting the military spouse allows her to support her husband and children in a way that only she can. When the military spouse has the tools and resources she needs to thrive in the military lifestyle, the warrior has less stress as he does his job in the field and the children are more confident in the absence of their fathers.

In short, helping the military spouse helps everyone.

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Wings for Women Military Spouse Conferences are coming together! We will have one in Colorado Springs this April (2010), and grow to Texas, Virginia, California, Florida, Hawaii and Oregon from there! Quite thrilling to see how God is leading and bringing such excellent people together for this ministry!

We will be focusing on helping military spouses in the areas of:

PTSD/TBI/Suicide symptoms/resources/tools
Family Matters; keeping the family strong
Children of the military; issues that children go through and ways/resources to help
Careers; finding a mobile career or valuable volunteering
Home Matters; budgeting, creating, cooking, ideas for when life is rough

Is there anything else you’d like to see? I’d love to hear! Post a comment!

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