Monday, July 29, 2013

When a military wife becomes a mom

           Well, not many weeks after the good news that Calvin would be okay, I got up to walk him very early one Saturday morning in October.  Just before the walk, I had the suspicion I should take a pregnancy test.  So I let it sit while I walked Calvin and all the while pondered whether I could truly be pregnant.  It had only been 2 months since I went off the pill.

            I was so excited walking back to the house, hoping the test would be positive.  Matt was still asleep, but I knew if it was positive, it’d be a good way for him to wake up.  Sure enough, I had some happy news to share!  We were both in shock, but Matt held me tight and immediately prayed, thanking God for this baby and asking for protection over him/her.  I, of course, went online immediately to calculate my due date and cross reference my symptoms.

            It was such an exciting time!  We agreed to hold the secret for a little bit, not even telling our parents.  But we couldn’t wait longer than a week before telling both sets they were going to have a grandchild.  We Skyped with Matt’s family, as they live overseas, and I called my mom with my dad listening nearby.  It was pretty fun to see and hear the reactions!
Matt's FA 24 graduation...barely pregnant
            As my 1st trimester began, I was filled with worry.  (This seems to be a running theme in my writing, I know.)  I was so concerned I would miscarry or something else would go wrong.  It was such a weird feeling to know I had absolutely no control, even though it was my body.  I just had to wait and see (and as you know by now, I stink at waiting!)  I finally was able to get an appointment, and since my due date fell after we would move, they put me in the OB department instead of Family Practice like most people.  I saw a nurse practitioner who was able to do an ultrasound on the spot.  I was so surprised because I was only expecting a routine appointment.  Matt wasn’t even there!  But she printed pictures for me to take home, and I was able to hear the heartbeat.  It was so surreal!  At that point, I wasn’t having many symptoms so I didn’t feel that different.  Yet a lot was happening!

1st glimpse
            Those first several weeks were so hard emotionally and mentally.  Any symptom or lack of symptom sent me rushing to my computer to find out if this was normal.  Of course, as you probably already know, it’s all normal!  You can have any symptom under the sun or none at all, and the baby can still be perfectly healthy.  That drove me nuts!  Again, fear of the unknown, the lack of control…God was teaching me so much before my baby was even born!

             As the 1st trimester gave way to the 2nd I began feeling more and more excited and less worried.  Over Christmas, we traveled to Matt’s family in Washington where the sweet women in his family gave me a shower before we even knew the gender.  They gave such thoughtful gifts, including sewn blankets and bibs.  It was so special!  We finally began telling other people (besides family) in my fourth month, and I was overwhelmed with the reception.  As I stated previously, we were in a very temporary place at Ft. Gordon, but the amazing people at our church and PWOC gifted us beautifully with things for our baby.  And once we found out we were having a girl, my mom especially was over the moon and threw me the most elegant and special baby shower.  Friends I had known from high school and various Army posts, as well as family members from out-of-state all came to celebrate with us.  Those months were so special as people literally showered me with such amazing and generous gifts.

Shower that Mom threw me

Wonderful church shower
            Time dwindled, and I got bigger.  Before we knew it, it was time to move to Ft. Carson, Colorado.  Six weeks before my due date we were set to leave.  Once again, our families helped way beyond the call of duty.  Matt’s mom came and helped me clean the house and supervise the movers as Matt finished his remaining class days.  Then we met my parents in Nashville, where they took over driving my car out to Colorado so I could relax and ride with Matt.

            We had begun looking for houses while still in GA but really wanted to live on post.  I had done all the legwork, faxing in Matt’s orders, LES, and housing application to get us on the waiting list.  I checked weekly but didn’t see much progress.  A few weeks before we actually moved, I called the housing office in Colorado and was delighted when they told me we could have a house in one of the neighborhoods on post!  We set up an appointment for the Monday after we arrived, not knowing if we would actually take the house but very hopeful we would.

            My dad had already flown back after driving my car out west, but my mom stayed another week to help me because Matt had to go to Michigan for a few days to be the best man at his brother’s wedding.  I was desperate to get settled quickly so we would be fully prepared when our baby girl arrived.  Before our move, we had not even bought the nursery furniture, and my nesting instincts were in high gear.  It was time to get busy!

Taking in some sights before the big day
            The Lord was so gracious to give us that housing appointment.  We met with the leasing agent who was ready for us to sign the lease before we even saw the house.  But we did not feel confident enough to do that since we’d only seen it from the outside.  They agreed to give us the keys and let us see it on our own time.  I’ll admit the neighborhood looked very cramped with 4 townhouses in a row and only 1 car garages.  This was not the neighborhood we should have been assigned to according to rank, but it still fit under the qualifications.  The “right” neighborhood would not have a house opening until after my due date, and I was in no frame of mind to wait that long!

            When we got to the house, it was literally filled with dead moths.  Colorado was in the midst of a great Miller Moth migration, and it was evident everywhere you went.  Being a true Army brat and now spouse, this didn’t phase me…much.  When we got to our quarters at Ft. Stewart, it had dead cockroaches.  Moths were much better!

            The house was smaller than what we had in Augusta, but we couldn’t beat the location.  We could see the hospital from our backyard, and Matt wouldn’t have a long commute to work.  It was ideal from that respect.  Not only that, but the movers called the same afternoon and would be able to deliver our household goods the next day – a huge answer to prayer!  Had we not gotten our house, our things would have had to go into storage.  So we signed the papers, vacuumed up the moths, and waited for our furniture.  Matt had to leave 2 days later for the wedding.  My mom was a huge help!  Being 35 weeks pregnant and with the altitude, my ankles began to swell, and I was not able to do as much as I wanted.  My mom unpacked boxes and boxes, refusing to quit.  By the time Matt came back, we only had to hang curtains and pictures.  It was amazing! 

New house
            In every step of this pregnancy and move, God was smoothing the way.  I would not have believed it if I didn’t live it.  When He says that He will supply all of your needs, He is telling the truth.  I have pages worth of evidence to that fact!

            The truly fun part of this move, however, was setting up the nursery.  It took a few weeks because as I said, we didn’t even get the furniture for it until we arrived in Colorado.  But thanks to all our showers, we had plenty of stuff like the bedding, towels, toys, clothes, etc. to begin the process!  Another huge answer to prayer in this process was the graciousness of Matt’s new boss to allow him not only permissive TDY to set up the house but also time to spend with me before our baby girl arrived.  Matt had never worked for so gracious of a boss, and we were realizing this choice to become an FA 24 was no mistake!  While Matt was home on leave, he put together the crib, dresser, and nightstand and painted shelves “ballet slipper” pink.  It was a delight to my heart just to go in that room!  I was so excited! 
Girly and pink...perfect!
            The hospital here in Colorado was great to get me seen right away since I was so far along in the pregnancy.  I saw 3 different midwives in 3 weeks before I found one I liked and could request her for the remainder.  Since I was measuring small, they ordered an ultrasound to check my fluid levels and the measurements of our daughter.  All was fine, and it was so neat to see her so well developed and to hear she had hair!

            I was certain I would be late as my mother had been with both me and my brother.  So I began asking about the induction policy and preparing myself to go past my due date.  The midwife reassured me I wouldn’t go too many days past 41 weeks.  Seeing as how I felt no different – no contractions, no dropping, etc., I was prepared for the long haul.  But at my appointment 2 days before my due date, they checked me, and I was already 3 cm dilated.  They stripped my membranes, and from that point on, I began feeling cramps.  They sent me home with the guidelines on when to go to Labor and Delivery.  By that night, I couldn’t sleep I was so uncomfortable with the contractions.  They weren’t evenly spaced nor were the durations easy to measure.  But that combined with the excitement and worry over what was about to happen precluded me from sleeping.  Matt took me to the hospital that night, but I hadn’t progressed any so they sent me home with some Ambien.  The meds helped me fall asleep, but I couldn’t stay asleep.  The next day was more of the same with the cramps turning more into contractions.  I tried to sleep again that night but to no avail, despite the Ambien.  We went back to the hospital, where they checked me and told me I had progressed a centimeter.  Ugh!  I was very discouraged, but they told me to walk around the hospital for an hour and come back.  So we did, walking very slowly and stopping often. 

            When we went back, I still had not progressed enough to be admitted so they told me to walk for 2 hours and come back.  It was about 4 or 5 in the morning at this point, but we obeyed, even going home and walking Calvin, knowing it might be a long day.  When we came back, they checked me again and said my contractions were still too far apart but they would keep monitoring me.  They wanted me to walk more, but I told them going on almost 48 hours with no sleep, I just couldn’t do it.  So they kept me in a triage room and told me to keep moving around in the bed.  Finally a few hours later they said they would start my blood work and work on getting me a room.  This took several more hours as all of the L&D rooms were full.  I was desperate to get the epidural so I could rest. 
Gotta love Army hospitals!
            Eventually they got me in a room, and I had a great nurse who explained everything and worked so hard to get the anesthesiologist in so I could finally rest before show time.  I was beginning to shake with the pain and exhaustion and was nervous about moving during the epidural.  But I had a great anesthesiologist who did a wonderful job.  Once it took effect, my contractions began to speed up (not the normal effect, I know).  The nurse and midwife were very encouraged by that but allowed me to rest as my body did the work.  I was so glad.  Matt, too, was able to sleep some in the chair by my bed.  By 5 that night, they said it was time to start pushing.  Since the epidural was working so beautifully, I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t feel ready, but they reassured me they would walk me through it.

            Sparing you the gory details, my little girl was finally born at 9:51 that night.  I had spiked a fever during delivery so they had to start us both on antibiotics right away, which meant she had to go to the nursery for several hours to receive the IV.  I only got a few minutes with her and didn’t know what to do while she was gone.  It felt so strange!  I just wanted my baby!

This is what no sleep looks like
            Soon after I was taken to the Mother Baby Unit though, they brought her in and we attempted breastfeeding for the 2nd time.  It didn’t go very well because my sweet girl just wanted to sleep, and apparently on my chest was just as good a place as any.  The nurse was somewhat brusque and attempted to help with various suggestions but nothing really took.  Since I didn’t really know what I was doing either, we tried what we could until the next time, 2 hours later.  This began a very long, arduous attempt to breastfeed (more on that later).  As the nurses changed shifts, I got new suggestions and tips but nothing worked.  I started to feel desperate and begged to see a lactation consultant.  She finally came and encouraged me to pump frequently so my milk would come in faster and hopefully would encourage my girl to drink.  By the time we were discharged from the hospital we had had only minor success, but we were so in love with our girl, we knew we’d figure it out. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

If you've ever loved a dog...

          During our time at Ft. Gordon, Matt and I were enjoying every minute of being together.  Still coming off 2 deployments, we were so relieved to have a normal life.  We didn’t even feel like he was in the Army because his schedule consisted of such great hours.  The whole assignment felt surreal because we lived off post and didn’t have much connection to Army life, aside from a few friends who were also in the military.  It was such a nice break from the harsh lifestyle of rapid deployments.

Waiting to see Wicked in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
            However, just as we were starting to make future plans, our dog, Calvin, got very sick.  It’s not unusual for him to throw up or have an upset stomach because he gets into the trash and eats all sorts of things he’s not supposed to.  It was one of those times when he’d somehow gotten into the bathroom trash.  He threw up in the morning then several times that afternoon and evening.  Matt became concerned when he saw Calvin was throwing up undigested food.  We searched online for an emergency vet clinic and found one that seemed reputable.  Of course, it was late at night so that was our only option.

Amazing vet
            When we got there, they X-rayed Calvin believing he had some sort of blockage based on our description of what was happening.  When the results came back, they could not discern exactly what was going on but believed emergency surgery would be the best option.  We agreed and were anxious for him to be ok.  Unfortunately they wanted us to go home but promised to call when the surgery was over.  I had such a hard time leaving him there.  Without children of my own yet, he was my baby. 

            Back at home, I couldn’t sleep.  I have found when I’m really stressed I have to keep my hands busy so I clean.  Eventually though, exhaustion won out, and I went to bed, making sure the phone was right beside me.

            Very early the next morning, the vet called to say Calvin did have a blockage which they were able to remove, but they also found a hematoma on his spleen.  They had to remove his entire spleen on the spot.  The doctor said they were sending it off to pathology, but that in many cases it is cancerous.  If that was the case, she said Calvin would only have a few months to live.  That’s all I heard.

So sad
            I couldn’t stop crying and begged God to spare Calvin’s life.  I had been so worried they were going to find something worse than the blockage, and now they probably had.  Not only that, but it was going to take a week to 10 days to find out, and Calvin would have to stay at the hospital for 2 days.

So hard to watch him suffer
            Thankfully, I was able to visit him.  He was such a sad sight, all hooked up to monitors and an IV.  He was very out of it.  I had never seen him like that.  I cried and just sat with him for several hours.  The vet on call that day encouraged me not to worry before I knew and that he himself was hopeful.  This helped me to just try to focus on the present and not worry about what might not be true.  If you know me at all, this is very hard for me!

            Finally Calvin was able to eat and drink on his own again, and we were able to take him home.  He had several staples so we had to monitor him closely.  He would still whimper in pain for a few days afterward, despite being on pain meds.  It broke my heart.  Not only was it hard to watch him suffer, but there was still the fear of the unknown.

            During that week or two, I stayed close to home, nursing Calvin back to health.  When the phone call finally came, I took a deep breath steeling myself for the worst.  But praise God!  Calvin did not have cancer and would be just fine.  I was so relieved!  I don’t think I’ve ever hugged that dog so hard in my life.  Soon the staples were removed, and he was back to his happy, hungry self.  I knew I couldn’t take him for granted again though.

            Calvin has been a tremendous blessing in my life.  We adopted him 2 months after we were married, and he has been a great source of comfort and company to me, especially during Ranger School and two deployments.  I truly believe the Lord uses Calvin in my life to show me unconditional love.

A few weeks post surgery...Halloween
            If you don’t have a dog or pet that you feel this strongly about, it probably seems strange that I would spend this long writing about my dog.  But as I said, he was my baby.  Much of my daily routines revolved around his walks and feeding times, especially when I wasn’t working.  That probably seems pathetic to some of you, but I believe the Lord gives us these animals to care for, knowing they will actually care for us.  There is no mistake to their presence in our lives.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

School Days...Sweet Relief

         Soon after Matt returned from his second deployment, we gladly PCSed to Ft. Gordon, Georgia – home of the signal corps.  This is where Matt would attend the FA 24 school and the Signal Career Course.  Yes, he is an Infantry officer, but just prior to his 2nd deployment he realized he would rather try another aspect of the Army instead of the command-staff rotation of an Infantry officer.  FA 24 is the Functional Area for Telecommunications Systems Engineers.  Before this, I had never heard of a Functional Area despite my 20+ years experience with the Army (as a Brat and Spouse).  In case you, too, don’t know what it is, it’s a technical field in which you can choose to apply, provided it fits within your educational background.  Matt was a computer science major at West Point (aka genius!) so this fit perfectly.  Going to school for a year also meant no deployment, no field time, no TDY.  I was one happy girl when Matt told me he was accepted to the program!

         The move was stressful, however, as he didn’t get orders until 2 weeks before we had to move, and I was teaching right up until the day the movers came.  As you probably know, without orders, you can’t get a packing date.  When we finally did get them, they could only give us 1 day when we, in fact, needed 2.  This resulted in stolen property and damage to some of our household goods.  But you learn to not get too attached to your stuff while in the Army…

            Once we got to Ft. Gordon, we were really hoping a house on post would be available.  Sadly, it was not and would not be for several months.  Since we were only there a year, we wanted to get settled quickly.  We began looking for houses to rent while staying in a hotel with our dog.  Not so fun…

            Thankfully, despite my agonizing and tortured hours of worrying, we found a beautiful home to rent in a neighborhood not far from post that was within our BAH and accepted dogs.  We found having a dog severely limited our choices, but we wouldn’t give up our sweet Calvin for anything.  And we ended up getting what we wanted, even if it took a week (I know, not as long as some of you have waited, but however long you have to spend without your stuff is not a picnic.)

The beautiful house we rented
            I find that I don’t do well being “homeless.”  I don’t enjoy living in a hotel for more than a few days.  I especially don’t enjoy the house hunting ordeal, which is why I so often live on post when I can.  But I digress…

            Once we moved into our house, we immediately began looking for a church.  We knew we only had a year in Augusta so we wanted to get plugged in right away.  We looked online and began visiting around.  We attended a large Baptist church for several weeks, and I joined a women’s Bible study that was to last just a few weeks.  It was there that I met a sweet woman who told me about her church and invited me to come check it out.  Matt and I decided to try out their Wednesday night service which actually consisted of several different Bible studies.  When we got to the church, this sweet woman I had met a few weeks prior arrived at just the same time, showed us all around, and made several introductions in the Young Married’s class.  The teacher was an older southern gentleman and his sweet wife assisted.  They embraced us wholeheartedly, and Matt and I instantly fell in love with the class.  We had not had anything quite like that before, and it was very refreshing.  The next Sunday was Easter so we decided to attend the service, and from that point on, we made it our home church.

Our fun-loving Young Married's Class at a Christmas party
            Since we knew we were only going to be in Augusta for a year, I had decided not to teach but was hungry to do some other ministry as I had been able to do at our church before.  I started going to PWOC but didn’t really feel a calling to serve there.  However, I began to notice that our church had several military families in attendance, and many lived far away from post and thus did not go to PWOC.  After praying and talking to Matt, I was inspired to start a very casual military wives Bible study for the women at our church.  You see, Ft. Gordon is a unique post because 1) the town does not exist solely because of the base, and 2) all of the branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) can be assigned there for various reasons.  Knowing this meant that this Bible study would most likely not look like anything we did at Ft. Stewart, but it didn’t mean there shouldn’t be a Bible study for these wives.

            So Matt and I invited the pastor and his wife over to our house one evening for dessert.  We wanted to talk to them about serving opportunities in the church.  They were such dear people and were very eager to better serve the military families within the congregation.

            It took several months to finally get the Bible study going.  (And I must admit I was not very patient in the process because I knew I had such a short timeline before I moved again).  But as I am still learning, God’s timing is perfect and yet often looks nothing like mine.  It’s a very hard lesson for me…apparently.

Military Wives' Bible Study
            Nevertheless, we began a Monday mid-morning casual Bible study at Chick-Fil-A where children could play in the jungle gym and women could share prayer requests and read and discuss the book of Matthew.  The Lord brought amazing women to this group of all ages and backgrounds from retirees to newbies and all of us in between.  I would not have gotten to know these women had we done the study, and to this day, I am thankful for their friendship and what they taught me during that time.  Here I thought I was going to get so much out of “serving the Lord” when in reality, He brought me the bigger blessing as I learned from these women.  I am so thankful that in spite of my plans, God changes it up so that I am always surprised by the encouragement and enrichment He brings through others.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How to Thrive in a Deployment

         First, let me start off by apologizing for my long absence.  Since my last post, we have PCSed out west and have had a baby.  Life has been busy, and my time has not been my own, to say the least.  Regardless, I am going to try to catch you up as best I can, but please bear with me as it will take some time.  The following post picks up where the last one left off and details our 2nd deployment.  We are about to embark on our third deployment, and these words couldn't be more timely.
My family these days

How to Thrive in a Deployment…

            Don’t count the days.  Cherish every Skype date, phone call, and instant message.  Find a battle buddy and hang out regularly.  Strive to grow closer to the Lord during this time of separation.

            If you’re like me, nothing will bring you faster to your knees than your husband deploying.  Not just in prayer for his safety but as in, “Oh, God, how am I ever going to get through this?  I need You!”  It’s unfortunate that I don’t lean on Him more when my husband is home, but that is just the honest truth. 

            Many people will tell you that to survive a deployment you must stay busy.  While I agree that that is great advice, I think thriving during a deployment depends on what you stay busy doing.  There’s a great Christian song out there with the lyric, “worship while I’m waiting.”  I first heard it around the time of my husband’s second deployment, and it became my mantra.  Combine that with some very dear friends who were also going through a deployment, and we determined to serve the Lord throughout those 12 months in ways we might not have been able to when our husbands were home.

On my good days, I try to look at deployment as I look at every New Year – asking myself what I can do to grow closer to the Lord, to love my husband better, to make our marriage stronger. That way when I look back at the year and ask, “Am I closer to the Lord than I was at the beginning of the year? Is my marriage stronger?” I can answer yes! To answer those questions in the affirmative will probably look different for different people. But I will share what worked for me in this deployment. And in case you haven’t heard, every deployment is different so don’t expect things to work the same way in each one. And don’t think there still won’t be ups and downs. It’s 365 days – of course there will be some bad ones thrown in there. Like the kidney stone you get while visiting back home over Thanksgiving or the months it takes to get hired as a teacher or the knock on your door at 4 AM that makes you think the worst has happened but was just some random knock…

For me, this deployment started out in a hard place because I wasn’t very busy. I was just about to start subbing in the hopes that I would get hired as a full-time teacher, but there was no guarantee. So I decided I would use part of my time to work on my master’s degree in education. I chose to do it online as I had no idea where we would live after Matt returned and didn’t want to hassle with a transfer. Since I am a teacher, I love school (most of the time), and the idea of reading, writing, and studying excited me. Nerdy, I know, but it helped give some purpose and structure to my days. Routine is extremely important during deployment. Unfortunately, since it was an online program, it provided a lot of flexibility, and I found myself finishing a week’s worth of assignments in 3 days. I continued praying for more consistent sub jobs, and after a few months, I was hired as a full-time substitute in a 3rd grade classroom with the hope that I would become the permanent teacher. Working full-time and completing my master’s degree certainly helped me to stay busy. However, as I mentioned previously – it matters a great deal with what you are staying busy. Despite all the academia and things I loved, I still felt empty going home at night. Thankfully, Matt was able to Skype almost daily when I returned from work, but after we said goodbye, that inevitable ache would set in. (And before I go any further, let me just say that ache never left, but it did ease as I got busy worshipping.)
The school where I worked

As fall began to turn into winter, one of those precious friends of mine (my battle buddy, in fact) brainstormed to me one evening of how great it would be to have a Bible study for us military wives. I agreed that would be wonderful, but was skeptical we could have something that great at our church. Then this sweet friend of mine had the brilliant idea to hold a Valentine’s Dinner for wives of deployed soldiers in which they could be served a meal, listen to music, and hear an inspirational speaker who had walked in their shoes, all with free childcare. We became so excited about the idea, we mentioned it to our community group leader who instantly jumped on board. Before I knew it, we were in full-on planning mode. I began to think of seasoned Army wives I had met through my years as an Army brat, and we began to formulate a serious plan. All through the holidays we began sketching out ideas, contacting speakers, and watching as one inspired Army wife’s idea came to fruition. I would be remiss if I didn’t confess that Christmas was still very hard without my husband, but what a difference it made to feel I had some purpose. Not only that but we decided to launch a Bible study for military wives beginning the week after the dinner. The only hard part was finding someone to teach it.
Battle buddy and me during one of our brainstorming sessions...maybe

My sweet friend and I desperately wanted someone older and wiser who had walked this road several times before to be the one. We had a few people in mind, but when we asked, they turned us down for various reasons. After much prayer and deliberation, we discovered the dear woman who already taught a ladies’ Bible study at our church was the mother of a Marine. While it wasn’t quite the same as a wife, we could not resist this woman’s gentle nature and knew her nurturing spirit would be just what we all needed. We agreed that she and I would co-lead. That way, the women would still get a wife’s perspective (though I felt terribly inept only having been married a few years, a 6 month deployment in my history, and no children). Not only that, but the only Bible studies I had taught were to middle or high school girls. However, this precious friend of mine along with this kind-hearted seasoned Bible study teacher assured me it would be fine. So in the midst of planning the big event, we also began preparing to lead a Bible study by Sara Horn called Hope for the Homefront.
Bible study book

The Valentine’s Dinner was a huge success with over 200 women in attendance! Though it was not without loads of stress, traveling delays for our out-of-town speaker, and those pesky people problems, it was without a doubt, one of the biggest displays of God’s awesome handiwork that I had yet to see. We were overwhelmed and overjoyed! The people of our church did a magnificent job pulling it all together – from the cooking of the delicious meal, to the decorating of the beautiful tables, to the free childcare, to the men decked out in suits serving the women. The speaker was phenomenal with just the right mix of humor and heart-rending sincerity. Women were touched and signed up for the upcoming Bible study in droves. It was amazing! That night driving the 30 minutes back to my quarters, I knew I had been a part of something huge – something that would have been difficult to accomplish if Matt were home – something the Lord had prepared for me in advance to do (Eph. 2:10). I was worshipping while I waited.
The Valentine's Dinner at our church

And this pattern continued as the Bible study began. Thankfully, my sweet mentor agreed to take the first 2 weeks, and with such a large group we split into smaller discussion groups to encourage intimacy and openness. Women from all backgrounds came, and while they did not all stick with the entire study, many did. Some did not even attend our church or any church for that matter but were faithful to come to the study. Through those weeks of study, I was stretched way beyond my comfort zone, but I felt my life was so much fuller. I desperately missed my husband and wished more than anything that he could see all of this unfold, but I had a peace that we were both doing what God had called us to do for that moment in time.
Bible Study

Like I said, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. There were times (often) in the midst of doing what I felt called to do that I would fail and despair over my mistakes. It would take days, sometimes weeks, for me to rebound. I felt it was much harder to move on without my sweet, optimistic, encouraging husband at home to always pick me back up. Of course, the Lord used these times as well to remind me that I was putting too much on my husband when I needed to lean on Him instead. They were hard moments indeed, but moments when I again, had to learn to worship while I waited.

To sum up, thriving in a deployment does not mean that you are always happy or always busy. It means that you are worshipping the Lord through the ups and downs, the good and bad, the busy and the boring. It means that you continue working on your marriage – not just putting it on pause for a year. Yes, that means you have to be a little more creative, but it is, I believe, part of worshipping – to inject life into a very holy institution during what can be a very dry time.

So whatever the next separation or deployment looks like for you, I hope you will join me in seeking out ways to thrive – to worship.