Category Archives: Military Life

Military Ceremony & FLAG ETIQUETTE

In my years as an Army wife, I have attended more military ceremonies than I can recall.

There’s a beauty to them, that I love.

Recently, I attended a ball for my husband’s unit.

I love standing beside him as he stands at attention, as he salutes, as he works his way through the ceremonial rituals.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand as our Nation’s color’s are presented”.

I stand and wait for the cue of my husband because I know that he knows which way the flag will be brought in.

He turns to face the back of the room, standing at attention.

I turn, AND PLACE MY HAND OVER MY HEART.

We watch the flag enter with the color guard as the drums are rolling.

It’s beautiful, as it gently flutters in the breeze from being carried.

As it passes, we turn with it until it makes it’s way on stage and I stand there with MY HAND STILL OVER MY HEART.

And I keep it there until the presenting of the colors ceremony is finished.

I look around and I only see a handful of wives doing the same as me.

I gasped as I saw some of them talking!

HOW DARE YOU TALK DURING THAT!!!

YOUR HUSBAND LAYS HIS LIFE ON THE LINE FOR THAT FLAG!

AND IT’LL BE THE LAST THING YOU’RE HANDED IF HIS LIFE IS TAKEN DEFENDING IT.

So, please…please, please, please show some respect for your Nation’s Flag.

If it passes you in a parade: PUT YOUR HAND OVER YOUR HEART AND FOLLOW IT BY TURNING YOUR BODY AS IT PASSES AND DO NOT TALK.

If it is being presented or retired by the color guard: DO THE SAME THING LISTED ABOVE.

If you are unsure: AGAIN, DO THE SAME THING LISTED ABOVE.

And for further information concerning our NATION’S FLAG: click here.

Thank you for your time.

 

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Civilian Friends, Listen Up!

Something you should understand, as a “civilian”, about your military spouse friends:

Time is our most precious asset with our spouse, so if it can be spent with them, instead of you, please understand and do not get offended. REMEMBER our husbands do NOT work a regular 9-5, so we don’t get to see them everyday. One day we can give you all of our attention and the next, we can’t. It’s not you. It’s nothing personal. It’s our life. Be excited for us when our husband returns. Don’t get your panties in a wad because we can’t meet for lunch or hang out on the weekends as much. Again, it’s nothing personal. It’s a priority thing. And we are not using you as a distraction while our husbands are gone, either, so get that out of your head. We want to be friends with you, but we want you to understand our lifestyle and respect it. And if we make it through all of this and we find ourself geographically separated from you, don’t forget us.

 

 

 

The Morning After

Naturally, we congregated and there we sat, the morning after, still in a daze.

Confused.

Shocked.

Remembering.

Grief etched on our faces and heard in every word spoken.

God?

It’s hard to see You through this pain, this grief, this wailing wall,

this interim.

This interim of time between grief and heaven.

Because we all feel it, right? At some point or another, we are in that time. That time of in-between.

Remember in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the day after Jesus dies on the cross?

In Matthew, it just says that the priests (the same priests that yelled “CRUCIFY”) went to Pilot to have the tomb where He lay, sealed and guarded.

That’s the only account of the in-between Jesus dying for you and the resurrected Jesus to give you life more abundantly.

What did the disciples do?

Well, we know they congregated, because on the third day, resurrected Jesus was among them.

I bet they were the same as us: dazed, confused, shocked, grief-stricken, wailing, hopeless.

Remembering.

Questioning.

Still following, but maybe struggling with the follow.

Waiting.

Waiting for the in-between to be over.

One of my most favorite verses in the Bible: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31.

Some versions use the word “trust” instead of “wait”.

They that trust.

They that trust in the in-between, shall renew their strength.

So, whatever you’re in-between…

Sickness.

Deployment.

Terrible twos.

Marriage woes.

Divorce.

Finances.

Grief.

Trust Him.

Wait for Him.

Hope in Him.

Sometimes it’ll be hard.

But, keep on keepin’ on.

Because you know what?

On the third day…

He rose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Return

It’s early, might as well get up.

You didn’t sleep anyway.

Maybe, somehow, you’ll be able to hide the bags under your eyes with makeup.

The coffee is percolating, you’re alone, and you glance around your home.

You spent all day yesterday and the day before making sure the house is spotless.

No random piles of clutter are to be seen and there’s not a dust bunny in sight.

A slow smile forms on your lips and there are butterflies in your belly.

It’s gonna be a good day!

Food has no taste, but you eat a little anyway to sustain you.

You get through your morning routine as time takes an eternity to pass.

You spend extra time getting everything just right with how you look.

Make-up is perfect.

Hair is perfect.

Not a hair on your legs.

Outfit is hot!

You check yourself one more time in the mirror…

and there’s that smile again.

The one you haven’t seen yourself make in a very long time.

And off you go for the longest ride ever.

Miniature flag in hand.

Welcome home poster in the other.

A smile so big, happiness is undeniable.

Excited chatter is everywhere, but you hear nothing.

You’re scanning the crowd waiting on a glimpse…

a glimpse of the one you haven’t seen in too long…

a glimpse of the one you gave your heart to and promised forever…

a glimpse.

Eyes. Meet.

You run.

Powerful embrace.

Tears stream.

The return kiss.

Two smiles, instead of one.

And you think…

“Finally, he’s home”…

No more restless nights.

Worry diminishes because he’s flesh and blood in your arms.

No more single parenting.

No more alone.

And no more waiting…

The exhilaration that you both feel is almost too much to bear.

He’s home.

Praise the Lord.

He’s home.

25 Life Hacks for the Military Wife

1. Buy a drill: Learn how to use it.

2. Familiarize yourself with resources: both military and civilian (MyCAA, Pell Grants, WIC, AER, counseling services, Child and Youth Services, etc). P.S. There should be NO SHAME in taking advantage of assistance if you need it—your husband works for the government, so if anyone deserves it—your family does!

3. Meal plan. Endless resources can be found for this on Pinterest. Ramen noodles are NOT a meal plan…like, EVER.

4. Date Night. Prioritize this with your man. Husband gone? Do yourself a favor and date night with some other wives whose husbands are also gone. It does your soul some good to get out of the house and have adult conversation.

5. Budget. Teach yourself how to make one and discipline yourself to stick to it.

6. Contingency plans…because you never know when you may have an emergency, so make some plans in the event that you do. These include (but are not limited to) babysitting, pet sitting, house sitting, what to do if your car breaks down, sink stopped up, etc.

7. Learn to change a tire.

8. Boundaries. Get some if you don’t have them already…and that goes for family too! You don’t need everyone up in ya b’ness.

9. The commissary/PX/where your husband works is never a good place to wear pajama pants. Actually NO WHERE in public is a good place to wear those. Get you some jeans—put them on!

10. GPS—will be your best friend! Familiarize yourself with your surroundings: go explore your town. Learn short-cuts. Recognize that everything looks the same on post, so work that GPS—work it real good;)

11. See someone with nice hair? Ask her who her stylist is. You NEED to know this. Ombre is pretty, black roots are not.

12. Tricare. Did you know you don’t HAVE TO BE SEEN ON POST (even if you live on post)? Did you also know that not all ailments (despite popular military physicians beliefs) can be cured with motrin and hydration and that feelings can be expressed without a diagnosis of depression? Learn it. Make it work for you and yours.

13. Yellow ribbons? Take them down. This isn’t 1940. People don’t need to know half your heart is in Iraq. People are crazy. (This goes for your cute bumper stickers, as well).

14. It probably wouldn’t hurt to learn some basic self-defense—just sayin’.

15. The weed whacker doesn’t work itself…neither does the lawn mower (or, budget pending, you could just pay for that service).

16. Hydrate! I know I just said that that wasn’t a cure for everything, but this military life will lend you a lot of sweat and tears…so, drink up! FYI, the sweat and tears are totally worth it:)

17. Unless otherwise decided upon, major purchases while your husband is deployed are rarely a good thing. Save. Save. Save. Wait. Wait. Wait.

18. Participate in FRG, but if you CHOOSE TO NOT participate, don’t run your mouth about it.

19. “Daddy’s gone” is not an excuse for bad behavior from your child. You’re going to be a single parent—like, a lot—so learn to deal with issues together and separately. Will emotions run high? Yes. Are there going to be times where your child/children is off the chain? Yes. Learn and teach some coping skills and you’ll get through it—or sit in the middle of the floor and cry (whatever works). If your emotions are out of control, chances are your child’s will be too.

20. Basic sewing skills could save you a ton of money. Patches come loose, so does velcro.

21. Your husband’s rank is his—not yours. PERIOD.

22. Patience is a virtue and you might as well accept needing it because “hurry up and wait” will be your life’s motto until your husband retires. So, I will tell you like I tell my kids (and myself, sometimes): Find your patience. Is it in your pocket? Get it back out and put it on.

23. Network. Strike up a conversation. Make some friends. Don’t trudge through this alone.

24. Invest in yourself. Take a class, decorate a cake, run, paint, journal, do something.

25. Pray.

 

Ten Commandments of the Military Marriage

A few years ago, our Sunday School class watched a series by Ed and Lisa Young.

In the series, they discussed marriage and they made a list entitled “The Ten Commandments of Marriage”.

It was a pretty good list and can be found here.

But, it didn’t really cater to the military lifestyle, although they are still applicable to your marriage: nevertheless…

This inspired me to write the Ten Commandments for the Military Marriage.

1. Flee from temptation: Guard your hearts. 

(inappropriate friendships, flirting via text or facebook, pornography, chat rooms, any type of sexual material, and wives: if you can’t face the reality of your life not being  a romance novel or movie or equivalent in some manner, then please do not read or watch those types of things…it’ll distort your standard).

2. Do not go AWOL on your marriage.

Our divorce rates are higher than civilians. Don’t believe me? Google it. I’m not here to speak statistics to you, though. If you live it, you know it. You’ve had to fight to stay together before. Hell, you’ve probably had to fight to WANT to stay together. Fight for the want and DO NOT give up. Don’t leave.

3. Know your place in the chain-of-command. 

Wives, you are NOT the commander-in-chief. Husbands? Let God be your commander-in-chief and you be the VP. Husbands, YOU will be held accountable for your family. Wives, you nurture. Husbands, you lead. Realign yourself in those positions and do not get out of order.

4. Communicate! 

I remember when the war first kicked off, communication was pretty much nonexistent—that’s rarely the case anymore, so use what you have to communicate, whether e-mail, skype, yahoo messenger, snail mail, whatever….but, USE your words, people! Use morse code if you have to! And if you’re home together, don’t waste your precious time being sulled up over stupid, petty things that won’t matter in the big picture of life!

Lonely? Let your spouse know, so they can fill that void! Angry? Talk it out. Scared? Pray. Pray together. Have an expectation that isn’t being met? Does your spouse even know about the expectation? Not unless you tell them!

Keep your communication lines open. Be honest with one another.

5. Set a COA–uphold it! 

(Course of Action)

Set standards and family guidelines and uphold them when you’re together and when you’re geographically separated (i.e. finances, sex, quality time, etc).

6. Be disciplined!

I believe one of the most appealing things about the military is the discipline that comes with being involved within it—whether one wants to admit it or not—people crave discipline. Oh, how easy it would be to not be disciplined! An apathetic attitude isn’t that hard to achieve or maintain. But, listen, marriage is hard work! You know that. SO, to achieve the results you want (successful marriage), you have to be disciplined and you have to be willing to sacrifice the easy for the hard, sometimes. Quitting is easy—but keep your goals in sight! Be diligent, work hard, and don’t give up!

7. Pick your battles!

Lord, help us all to do this. Help us to realize that we are not in control!

The reality for us military wives is this: anytime you say “goodbye”, could literally be your last goodbye. You don’t want that goodbye littered with bickering that wasn’t necessary. By no means am I suggesting that one ignore major issues, but I am asking that you not nag your spouse to death over little things.

8. Embrace your time together and use it wisely.

Enjoy each other. Enjoy family time. Go on a picnic. Plan a vacation. Make memories. Take pictures and take a lot of them. Wives, make memories with your children while your husband is away so that when you’re old and gray, you can share them with him. Husbands, make an effort to spend quality time with your spouse and children—the war will still be there when you go back and if it’s not? Good.

9. Be willing to seek assistance if needed. 

Sometimes, you need a third party to be a deliberator. Sometimes, you may need a bit of counseling. Sometimes, you just need to fall on your faces before the Lord. Sometimes, they come home different. Sometimes, your feelings may change. Whatever the case may be, the military offers many resources to combat what’s going on. Pastors and Chaplains are wonderful resources. Find a resource and make an effort to get the help you need.

10. DO NOT TAKE EACH OTHER FOR GRANTED! 

You are a vapor.

Life is precious and we are not promised tomorrow.

The risks are high for our military service members. Hold them tight. Laugh together. Love together. Be passionate for one another. Do not become blasé towards each other. Time is all you have and there’s never enough of it.

 

On a Friday Afternoon…

“He’s a Christian”. Those words aren’t spoken very often from my husband when describing new members of his company. That uncommon phrase immediately piqued my interest about this new member, so I inquired further and found out that this man was married with kids, where they came from, and what job he had.

The military loves social functions, so it didn’t take long for me to meet this man and his family.

His wife and I hit it off immediately.

We found it easy to talk to one another. Her family and my family share the same morals, goals, and priorities.

And not very long into our relationship, we decided to become best friends. Yes, we literally discussed it. She was having issues with her best friend at the exact time I was having issues with mine and she said (jokingly, but seriously) “Let’s just be best friends” and I laughed and said “YES”! 🙂 And then we were—still makes me smile.

Our friendship is easy—as friendships should be. We don’t have to talk everyday. We don’t have to see each other all the time. There’s no pressure in our relationship, but when we do get together, we pick up where we left off. Conveniently, our husbands feel the same way about each other.

I attribute our friendship with helping my marriage. Why? Because their marriage is so solid and they face many of the same issues we face as a military family. They embrace their military lifestyle and meet issues head on with God at the center. I attribute our friendship with helping our family dynamics. Why? Because they have MANY children and we only have two and I find myself freaking out about the smallest thing—but they build their children up and allow them to be who they are without trying to conform them and it is beautiful to us and a wonderful example of how a family should work. We admire them.

She has inspired me in many ways: to start a Bible study, to write, to be confident, to treat my man with respect and to create a safe place in our home.

We love each other. For. Real.

Their last child is named after me and recently, we were standing in my front yard, all talking, and we made retirement plans to all stay together after this military gig is over for us.

But on a Friday afternoon, only a week after planning our future, my phone rang:

Me: Hello!

Her: Lila, I need you to come to my house, right now. He’s gone.

Me: I’m on my way, but what do you mean, he’s gone?

Her: They are here, in suits, telling me that he’s gone.

Her man, her soulmate, her husband, literally plucked from this earth in his prime.

Just like that.

Gone.

Jesus help me.

Even now, a few weeks later, there are still no words.

What do you say to your best friend, who has been your voice of reason and comfort so many times when her husband is gone?

Nothing. You say nothing.

It’s not okay.

There are no words for grief like that.

None.

There’s no comfort you can offer.

None.

You’re just there. You listen and you pray. You pray hard.

With eyes clinched tight and a voice that shook, I heard her say: “God, please take this cup from me”.

Jesus.

When there were no words, there were groans—grieving groans that wrench the soul.

Holy Spirit come.

Grief is a cruel, cruel thing.

But, God.

He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds.

He defends and sustains them.

He hears their cry.

He restores them, making them strong, firm, and steadfast.

God is good.

One day, my friend will share her testimony…giving praise to His name.

He has a plan.

Praise God!

Please, intercede.