Overlapping Awareness

April is World Autism Month and it is also Month of the Military Child. This year is my first “official” year with direct ties to both of these. My oldest has, of course, always been autistic but we just received an official diagnosis for him about two months ago. I decided to write this post to highlight some key points that overlap these two movements. I have stressed on my IG that I want to push for autism acceptance over awareness and that is still true. However, I am realizing that there is still some awareness that needs to be advocated for when it comes to military children who are also autistic.

My son is 6-years-old and he has already had four pediatricians simply because of how often we move around. Military children suffer from a lack of continuity of care. Since my son has not had a consistent doctor, he has not had a medical professional that has been able to truly see his development history in real-time, rather they read about it on a paper. I have to wonder, had he been with one doctor from birth till now, if it would have taken six years for him to get his autism diagnosis. I had to fight and push and advocate like crazy to get him services and, ultimately, an evaluation. I would do it again in a heartbeat but I truly think that if one doctor had been observing and tracking his development and quirks this whole time it would have been different.

Our frequent moves interfere with his life in other ways too. We have created a great relationship with his current occupational and physical therapists. He is comfortable with them, they know how to push him, and he knows his routine with them. Yet, in just over one year, we will be moving again. This means that I will need to find him a new therapy facility with a new team, new routine, new everything for him. They will be starting at their own square-one with him which will most likely result in some lost progress and regressions for him. To top it all off, I cannot even begin a preliminary search for months since we will not know where we are moving until 6-months out at the earliest, usually it is closer to 3-months.

Right now, I am fighting against one of the biggest hardships that military families face—school zones. I will say that, in my opinion, the option of “school choice” should be extended to all military families; however, those with special needs children absolutely deserve this. When my husband is given new orders, the government moves us to another state and we are placed in base-housing. I am grateful for the option of military housing because my family could not afford to rent or buy with each move. But, because we are forced to move around and cannot choose a house based on school zones, I firmly believe that we should be granted the option to enroll our children into another district. I will say again, I think this should apply to all military children, but special needs children deserve to go to a school that has the best resources available to them. I realize that trying to get your child into the best school is not a desire that is unique to the military community. But, again, our choice of where we live is not our own. This fact alone should give us some leverage and pull when it comes to educating our children. These kids were born into the military lifestyle and had no choice or say in any of this. We need to fight harder for them, we need to do better, they are the pint-sized heroes of the military and we owe them more.

The next phase

I have spent the better part of the last two days in my new classroom, taking down old decor from the former teacher and slowly making it MY room. We as a staff will have an official “work week” for school prep in two weeks but since I have to do an entire room overhaul, I have been going up on my own to get stuff done.

While chatting with my sister yesterday she said something that stayed with me— You sound really happy. And truthfully, I did and I was. This is not to say that I have been profoundly unhappy until now, I have much to be happy about. But I didn’t realize how much of myself I had lost in the last five years. As a stay-at-home-mom, society seems to tell us that we shouldn’t complain about our lot. I felt this and took it quite seriously since the choice to stay home with my boys was primarily my own. There were some financial discussions, but ultimately, if I had told my husband I wanted to go back to work after my maternity leave, he would have supported that too.

Let me be clear, I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to stay home with my children. There were days that seemed to never end but, all-in-all, I would not trade the time with my boys for the world! But, staying home with your kids is all-consuming and, at times, isolating. Add the military life in the mix and that isolation hits tenfold. I would never say I was just a SAHM because that minimizes that role far too much. However, I will say that it became my only identity; at least it felt that way sometimes.

So when my sister and I talked yesterday, what she heard through the phone was that part of my life that has been buried for so long. I now have something in my life that distinguishes me as someone other than mom, mommy, momma, etc. I didn’t realize how much I had missed having something that is my own until I began prepping for this school year. And missing that does not mean I am “sick of my kids” or that I regret my choice to stay home with them. I was actually at a point of burn out at my last job before I had my first son. I honestly think this time with them was my reset. I am more mentally ready to start work than I can ever remember feeling before. Of course, there are the typical expected “new job jitters” but I know this next phase is happening at exactly the right time and I cannot wait!

What is really best?

I was determined to breastfeed my children. I wanted that bonding time, I wanted them to have all the health benefits, I wanted to do what was best. So I read the books, I took the classes, I worked hard on being mentally prepared for this new journey. I went in telling myself that I wanted to “at least try,” understanding that it is not always an easy road. Despite all this, I wanted so badly to be successful. It was natural, it was what my body was designed to do, it should happen if I wanted it to.

When my first son was born, I was told he latched beautifully. As a first time mom with no actual experience with BF, I believed them. When each feed began to hurt more and more, I just thought that was normal. I had heard about the cracked nipples and the pain that occurred in the first few days, I just figured we were right on track. No one told me otherwise. I continued to nurse him in the hospital and the nurses continued to reassure me that we were doing great. We were discharged with a clean bill of health, a smile, and nothing more. Now it was up to us to navigate this parenting thing.

I will never forget that first night home, culminating with my son and I sobbing together in the rocking chair in his nursery. I was in so much pain that thought of him even trying to latch caused me to emotionally collapse. The sounds of his wife and newborn son sobbing over the monitor woke my husband who suggested that we supplement with some formula that night. After much reassurance that it was ok, the baby would be ok, and that I was not failing, we made a couple ounces of formula and my son and I both got some much needed rest. Two days later, we had our first appointment with his pediatrician and all I can remember about that appointment was the nurse that took his vitals and did his preliminary check before the doctor came in. She asked some of the expected questions, including how feeding was going. I shared how challenging our first night home was and that we had given him some formula that night. Based on the look that this nurse, an older woman who clearly needed some tips on bedside manner, gave me, you would think I had told her that we gave my son some whiskey so he’d sleep. Apparently to her, formula was just as bad, maybe worse. She prodded a bit more and was “relieved” when she learned that we were still breastfeeding and had not given him any more formula. After that appointment, I was shaken. I had done something wrong and no one, not even my husband, could convince me otherwise. This was the start of my spiral.

Breastfeeding my son became the primary goal while I got to watch other people enjoy holding him. When I held him, it became about latching. I began to foster resentment toward my husband who was finding ways to bond with him that I wasn’t. Didn’t people say that breastfeeding created this incredible bond between mother and baby? Where was that? Why wasn’t it happening for me? It got to the point where I dreaded holding my own child. Every time I had to nurse him I would cry, tears streaming relentlessly down my cheeks. After almost 3 weeks of trying to nurse and eventually trying to pump, all the while sinking deeper and deeper, my husband stepped in and told me we needed to reevaluate things. Once I was given the space to finally say that I wanted to stop, I felt a weight lifting. Suddenly, I was able to be mommy to my baby and not just his food supply. I later learned that I had all the makings of postpartum depression and my drive to EBF was propelling me deeper into it.

Fast forward to 2016 and we were having our second. My husband wanted us to go straight to formula after our last experience. I told him no, I still wanted to try. So we made a plan. I would start nursing in the hospital and see how things went. I promised my husband that, if he noticed me starting to spiral again, he got to call it. Little did I know, my son would decide things for us this time. He struggled to latch and when he did it was excruciating, like toes curling excruciating. On our second night in the hospital, he was refusing to nurse. After 8 HOURS of trying to get him to latch, we called in the nurse on duty and asked for some formula. Instead of fulfilling our request, she proceeded to grab my breast and attempt to get it into my son’s mouth. When she failed, she said she would come back in about 15 minutes to try again and left the room. My husband chased her down the hall, and demanded that she get formula for our newborn. I still tried to nurse a bit more after that, but after an hour of being home, it was clear that our second born would be formula fed as well.

It took me years to get over the guilt. I felt like I had failed. My body couldn’t do what it was designed to do. I was flawed. Every year, National Breastfeeding Week felt like someone was tearing open those wounds all over again. Why could these women do this and I couldn’t? I have learned since then that there were some physical barriers I had which most likely hindered my success. The most frustrating part of that discovery is knowing that if my nurses and lactation consultants had really paid attention, they could have caught it and helped. Something as simple as nipple shields could have made all the difference.

But that is no longer here nor there at this point. When I reflect on my two experiences now, I think about how hospital policies and pressures of “breast is best” completely messed with my head. My desire to BF began clouding my own self-awareness. It became something I had to do and not something I wanted to do. Many people try to offer support to mom’s who cannot or chose not to breastfeed by saying “fed is best” but I want to offer a new phrase to use, one that truly encapsulates the whole picture, which includes the mom as well as the baby— HEALTH IS BEST. Never let how you feed your baby destroy your own physical OR mental health. At the end of the day, whether you breastfeed or formula feed your baby, the health of BOTH of you need to be the priority!

And by the way, mommy… You’re doing a great job!

I See You

Every year leading up to Mother’s Day, we are inundated with public service announcements about being mindful; mindful of women who had miscarriages, women with fertility issues, those who have lost their moms, etc. I think these are great reminders. I love that we are encouraged to be considerate. However, I have never seen one surrounding Father’s Day. Perhaps it is because men don’t physically carry a child so we don’t associate many of those situations with dads.

The one I will usually see, understandably, is consideration for and sadness expressed by those whose fathers have passed away. I do not mean to take away from their loss, AT ALL, but I wanted to write this to shed light on another group that struggles with lots of emotions on Father’s Day—the ones who lost dads that are still alive. I have mourned my dad already and, to my knowledge, he has not passed away.

When I used to look back on my childhood, I thought myself lucky. Despite my parents being divorced, my dad was always included in things and, for the most part, he showed up for them all. But, as I started to get older, he started showing up less and less until he completely shut himself out of my life once I was an adult, married, with a child of my own. Clearly, those times he showed up in my childhood were because he felt like he had too. If it had been because he wanted to, he would still be showing up now.

Father’s day is hard for me. I am grateful that as a mom, I get to celebrate my own husband today. He deserves all of it! But seeing posts from adult friends about their fathers and reading the heartfelt messages they share, stings. When I go to weddings and watch the bride dance with her dad, I, like so many, tear up. But, for me, it is more than just about the present moment. I tear up because I feel that void again. I realize that the bond they share is something I have never, and will never, truly understand. I did dance with my father at my wedding and it is the one thing about that day I would change if I could. It was forced, contrived, fake. I can’t even look at pictures of that moment without feeling resentment and a bit of anger.

I know I sound bitter, but truthfully, I am not. I will always carry the hurt that he caused, but it has not turned me cold. I was blessed with a grandfather who filled those shoes in my life better than my own dad ever could have. He was the one I wanted to dance with when I got married, but he did not live to see that day. Now, in my adult life, I have a husband who loves me deeper than I ever thought a man could. He is an incredible dad to our boys and he has helped me overcome so many trust issues that I harbored from my childhood.

But days like today are hard. I don’t really miss him, but I am saddened by the fact that I don’t even know where he is. I couldn’t reach out if I wanted to. My sister and I have to think about how we will explain his absence to our own children when they, inevitably, ask why they don’t have a grandpa. He chose to walk away and that is a hurt you can never understand unless you have lived it. So, if like me, you face hurts and demons on days like today, I see you and I understand what you are going through.

Contentment in the Unrest

It has been almost a year since my last blog post. When I last shared, we had just left California and we were prepping for our next move. I was optimistic and looking forward to the new opportunities we would have as we settled into our new duty station, our new home for the next three years.

Then, we got here. And while I had mentally prepped myself to not expect the easy transition that our move to California had provided, I was not expecting the windfall that this move would bring. It was hard. Not a “this grocery store is a completely different layout” kind of hard, but an “I cannot find my footing, I feel completely alone” hard. I was not in a good place and I thought I needed to wait until things got better before I started writing again.

But I began to think about why I wanted to start this blog. I wanted to share my life, as a mom and as a military wife, with people. I wanted to be real and transparent. So why was I so afraid to share the raw, ugly side of this lifestyle? If I truly want people to see what a military family looks like then I need to share it all, even the messy stuff.

I was spoiled with my first big military move. I know that God made that happen to help build my confidence. It gave me the assurance that I could hack this military spouse gig. I prayed hard and often as we prepared for our next home-away-from-home. I can remember praying for his peace and strength as I readied myself for each new obstacle this move could bring.

When we got here I had a plan, I would follow the same steps I took in California. After all, it worked so well the first time. But with each step I took, came another disappointment. I got more and more discouraged with each failed attempt to recreate what I had done before. But then I realized, that was my first mistake. This wasn’t “before.” This was a new place, a new set of circumstances. I needed to do what I did first and foremost the last time. I needed to step back so that God could step up. Once I let go, things started to feel like they were slowly starting to come together. Then life slammed on the brakes… 

Enter Covid-19. Just as quickly as my life started to bloom here, the world shut down.

The isolation of “staying home” reminded me even more, of just how little I had to race back to once things began to open again. It hit hard to realize that shutting down the world did very little to change mine. But then something happened. My husband was home more due to new safety measures on his ship. My kids got to play with their dad regularly. We spent more time together as a family. My outside life had been forced to stop. But my household began to thrive even more.

Just as firmly as I believe that God paved the way for everything I received in California, I now believe that the timing of this virus was meant for me to stop focusing on what I felt like I was missing or needed. I was forced to focus solely on what I already had. I had been so concerned with my lack of social connections that I stopped working on my family and marital connections. 

I am just as ready as the next person for life to start up again. But now when it does, I am not worried about making my “perfect” life here. God used this time to shift my perspective. I have my family here; we are closer to our extended family than we have been in years. That is what matters. The rest will fall into place in its own time… in His time.

Dear California,

When we started looking at orders about five years ago, picking your location was more out of dislike for the other options rather than a strong desire to move across the country. When we learned that the Navy accepted our pick and we were moving there, I felt so many emotions, but mostly anxiety and fears of the unknown. How was I, a self-proclaimed homebody, going to survive 3,000 miles away from home?

I was determined to stay positive, to find reasons to look forward to this new adventure. I could see Hollywood, maybe run into a star. I would see landscapes unlike any I have seen on the east coast. I moved there looking forward to the touristy charms. I got so much more…

I found a church that instantly felt like home.

I found a worship team that welcomed me and found ways for me to continue serving even when my husband was deployed and I had a preschooler and toddler in tow with no babysitter to call on.

I found some of the strongest friendships that I have had in my adult life—women who embraced me, supported me, and stretched me; women who have left a lasting impression on my life.

I found a new appreciation for my home and family, especially my mom and sister, realizing that I cannot take them for granted but also seeing, in action, just how far they are willing to go for me and my little family. I will never be able to repay them for all they have done for me.

But I think, most importantly, I found me. I discovered my own strength and came into my own. I grew as a mom, as a friend, and as a person. I found my voice, learned what I needed from friendships, learned how to be a better wife, learned how to better trust in God. I truly believe that this move was designed for my own self-discovery. I could not have grown as I did if I always remained close to home and safe in my own comfort zone. California was my leap of faith.

My first dip in the Pacific circa Aug. 2015, just days after we moved to CA

I cannot believe how quickly four years in California flew by. We have been back on the east coast for a week now and it still has not fully set in that we will not be returning to the home we worked so hard to create for ourselves in Port Hueneme. I do not know if it will fully hit until we are leaving my mom’s and making the long drive to our next adventure. 

California, you were a place I was scared to move to and you became a place that broke my heart to have to leave. Thank you for the lessons, the love, and the friendships. 

Until we meet again, xo

An unexpected answer

A month ago, I vaguely posted on my Instagram that we, as a family, were trying to figure some things out. The short version of that story is that we thought that, despite being on a BC pill at the time, I might have been pregnant. After being over a month late and countless negative home tests and labs at my doctor’s office, I finally got a referral to see an OB. An ultrasound confirmed that I am definitely NOT pregnant and everything looked completely normal and healthy. I am now on a medication that is supposed to restart my cycle (we still do not know exactly why it stopped).

Before all of this happened, I was still longing for one more baby and, as a mom of two boys, let’s be honest, I desperately longed for a little girl. But I felt so strongly that our family was not yet complete, boy or girl did not matter. My husband and I did not see eye to eye here. As far as he was concerned, we were complete with the two children that we already have.

I prayed constantly for God to change the mind of whoever’s plan was against his. In other words, if we were done, change my heart, if not, change my husband’s. After over a year of praying like this, my desire burned stronger than ever, but so did my husband’s feelings on the matter. I began to get frustrated. We were at a stand-still on this and I was so worried that eventually one of us would start getting resentful; neither of us showed any signs of wavering.

Then, I was a little late, it was odd, but we both just kind of shrugged it off at first. Then days and weeks started passing without any signs of my cycle starting. We started buying tests and wondering. Despite the negative results, with each day that passed, I began to think I could be pregnant and that this was how God was answering my prayer. We began talking semi-hypothetically about what having a third child would mean and where in our lives we would need to make adjustments.

In an unexpected twist of events, the more we had these conversations, the more I realized that a third baby was not what our family needed. I became increasingly content with my little family, just as we were. I began hoping and praying that my cycle would start and got worried when symptoms that I had dealt with in my last two pregnancies appeared. When I went for the ultrasound, I honestly did not know what I wanted to see. I didn’t want to be pregnant, but I also knew that if I wasn’t, that left more unanswered questions. As I said, earlier, the ultrasound confirmed that I was not pregnant.

The rest of the medical stuff is not important; my change of heart was the point I was trying to make. I was positive that God used this situation to show me that my desires did not line up with his. I had a peace about it now. I have since seen little babies and not felt that longing ache for one more of my own. It was such a sudden change; I knew it was definitely the answer to all of my prayers about this.

Fast forward to today at my MOPS meeting. Before our scheduled speaker, a representative from Compassion International was going to briefly speak to us. I hate to admit that I was not too phased by this. Our church has partnered with them for a while so we have heard the speech and seen the pamphlets before—sponsor a child out of poverty. Before you think I am heartless for being so quick to dismiss this woman and her cause, let me add, that I have sponsored a child before. I was a sponsor to a little girl that stole my heart during a missions trip in Kenya. But I was young, working a low-paying job, and did not fully understand the commitment at the time but rather got swept up in the emotions of the trip. After about a year I had to stop sponsoring and let someone else take over for her.

But today was different. I did not walk into the meeting today even knowing we would be hearing about Compassion let alone did I wake up today thinking I would sponsor a child. I saw the pamphlets on our table with the pictures, but I didn’t pay them much attention. Then the representative played a video, and we heard from some of the children, and my heart began to open. I looked in front of me on the table and there was this adorable little girl who was just over a year younger than my “baby” and it was like she was looking right at me. At that moment it was as if God was saying, “Here you go. This little girl is the one you have been praying so fervently for. This is the child you knew you were missing.”

I couldn’t put her packet down. I felt, without a doubt, that she had been placed there for me to see. I immediately took a picture of her info and texted my husband along with the words, “I want to sponsor a child.” I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, it was so random, and it was another expense. He asked what it would cost. I told him and added that I would delete my Starbucks app (I know, right?!!) to cut back on one of my biggest impulse spending traps. To my surprise, he answered right back telling me to go for it! I quickly filled out the form and turned it in before doubt could try and weasel its way into my head and heart.

In the end, I was half right—God WAS using the mystery of my missing cycles to answer my prayer, just not in the way I thought. I am a certain that if I still felt like I was meant to physically bring another child into this world, I would never have heard God’s plan for this little girl. I am one of the first people to say to someone who is waiting for an answer to prayer that God does not always answer us in the way we expect him to; but I am still blown away every time it happens in my own life!

Finding my tribe

When I first became pregnant, I was advised by many to avoid “mommy” groups, chat rooms, etc. I was told about how toxic they could be and how judgmental other moms could be to each other. I am sure, if you are a mom or you are pregnant, you have heard similar advice. As a first time mommy-to-be, I was grateful for the warning, but it was also a bit deflating—if I cannot turn to mom groups for advice and support, where could I turn? I was the first of my friends to have a baby so I did not have a circle of influence that I could relate to and with.

So I tried the chat rooms and a few local groups, mainly, at the time, for breast feeding support (that is another story for another time). Despite being in a room of women, I felt incredibly alone and isolated. I felt judged for the littlest things and some bigger things, none of which were really anyone else’s business. But when you are a new mom, the feelings of isolation and aloneness are real on their own, so to feel ostracized among other moms is one of the hardest and lowest feelings to endure. When we learned that we would be moving to a new duty station, I felt defeated. I was already struggling so much to feel a sense of belonging at home where I had my family, how was I going to survive when I had no one?

It is an interesting feeling, as an adult, to have to relearn how to make friends, but it is something military wives have to do frequently. I had to decide to go against my introverted nature and “put myself out there.” I remember posting on a spouse page on Facebook, admitting that I felt like I was seven again, but asking how I could go about making some friends here. I got a few responses encouraging me to connect with my “Family Readiness Group” (FRG), but my husband’s command doesn’t have one. Then one woman enthusiastically encouraged me to check out a group called MOPS, informing me the first meeting was in just two weeks. Great!

Then I looked into it… MOPS stands for Mother of Preschoolers. A mommy group? Oh no! I was told to stay away from these and my limited experience had affirmed those warnings. But, I needed to at least get out of my house. I did not go to the first meeting because we were still settling into our house, but I made it to the second one, with my 5 month old in tow. I was assigned to a table and the women seemed friendly enough. I cannot remember who the speaker was that day or what was discussed. But I will never forget the defining moment of that meeting for me—my son was hungry and needed to be fed. I had to take out a bottle and mix in *gasp* formula. “Here it comes,” I thought, “the judgmental looks, the know-it-all comments about how bad formula is for my son even though they don’t know the feeding struggles my son and I had dealt with.”

I took out the bottle with pre-measured water and, while holding my son, attempted to carefully add in the formula, all the while bracing myself for the backlash. Instead, I had one woman offer to hold my son while I mixed the bottle and another offer to mix the bottle while I held him. That was it, there were no comments about the contents of the bottle or my “choice” to bottle feed my son. Instead there were women who genuinely wanted to help. It may seem so small, but to a new mom who had already endured a lot of shaming, it was huge. I continued going to the meetings and, fast forward four years, I am still going and I am now in my second year on the leadership team. I meet some great women each year. Not all of them turn into amazing friendships, but they are what I need at that time.

This a photo of my table this year and, while it may not look like much, it represents a lot—it is conversation, connection, understanding, a safe place to be me unapologetically. While I have continued to go to MOPS and have some incredible friendships that have come from the group past and present, my California tribe is now comprised of women from a few different circles. Going to that first meeting opened a lot of other doors. That was how we found our church and through that I joined some small groups. I now have an amazing tribe of women surrounding me, a group that I am absolutely dreading having to say “good-bye” to in just a few months.

It is so important, especially as stay-at-home-moms, to find our circle. It may look different for you than it did for me, but you need to just put yourself out there and find what fits. I had to deal with some really sour grapes before I found what worked for me, but once I found it, motherhood seemed less daunting; I now had a sense of family while I was so far away from my own, and I had an incredible support system. Yours is out there too, you just have to go and look for it!

N/A—Not Applicable

There is a saying that goes: take it with a grain of salt. It basically means, “take this lightly”, usually when referring to advice. I have had to learn to take this expression to heart in my life. Often times, “tried and true” advice simply does not, and cannot, apply to the military way of life.

I remember, three years ago, we had a speaker at my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group come and talk to us about keeping the spark alive in our marriages. I went to the meeting full of anticipation and an excited heart, ready to listen and learn. At the time, we had a one-year-old and I was pregnant with baby boy #2. Our marriage had become about babies and pregnancies and I looked forward to getting some tips on how to bring it back to “us”. Some of the advice was great, but then he talked about “two of the most important things you can do for your marriage”—make date night a priority, scheduling one at least once a week, and intentionally talk to each other, face-to-face, for at least 20 minutes a day—and my heart just sank. I honestly don’t think many people understand how hard it is to have a “normal” life when you are a military family. 

Currently, we live on the opposite side of the country from our entire family (in-laws included). We will never have the luxury of grandma wanting to take the kids for a few hours, we don’t have “built-in babysitters” at our disposal. We are fortunate enough to get a date maybe twice a month, thanks to a wonderful program at our church out here. We love those, and we cherish the time, but to expect more than that is nearly impossible.

Another mom in my group that day was a fellow Navy wife and her husband was currently deployed. She asked the speaker, during the Q & A time, what he suggested a couple do, regarding the suggestion of intentional, face-to-face conversing, when a spouse is gone a lot for work. Now, I knew what she meant by this, the other few military spouses in the room knew what she meant by this, but our speaker had no clue what she meant. His answer showed that, suggesting that when you can’t guarantee face-to-face interactions, plan to at least talk on the phone daily. I’ll be honest, at this point, I was defeated and getting a little bitter. I just remember thinking: not all of us have that privilege, when my husband is gone, he is not staying at the Hilton on a business trip… I am lucky if he has access to a computer for a weekly email.

So, does this mean that military couples are doomed? If you had asked me that day, I probably would have said yes. My heart was heavy. But, I realized that when it comes to our marriage, we just need to do what we have learned to do so well in every other aspect of our lives—adapt. My husband and I still can’t have a weekly date night, but you know what? We are OK. We survived 8-months of only communicating through texts while he was deployed to Afghanistan. The fact that I could text him almost daily made me very lucky, the fact that we got an occasional video chat made me the deployment-lottery winner.

My point is that, sometimes, we will hear advice that just cannot apply to us as a military family. It will be easy to get angry and cynical. But, we need to remember that our marriage and our lives have stood up to struggles much greater than finding time for weekly date nights and we have met those struggles head on, coming out stronger on the other side. My husband and I are still intentional about the date nights we’re lucky to have, we make time for each other in our day to day, and we continue to actively seek each other in ways that work for our current situation. Working on our marriage will not always “follow the rules” right now, but that does not mean that we don’t try, it just means that we read between the lines and take that advice with a grain of salt.


I am a planner. I like my lists. I like having all my ducks in a row and I like to have a sense of control in my life. There are times in life when this behavior is helpful, but as a whole, I know that this is actually one of my bigger character flaws, especially as a Christian woman. By desiring that sense of control, I am taking control away from God, relying more on myself than on Him. I think this is why he had me marry my husband!

Military life means that I have no say or control in some of the biggest aspects of our lives. Currently, where we will live is at the top of that list. We are in a state of limbo right now as we wait to hear where we will move next. My husband’s contract here in CA will be up this summer and we will be moved to a new location. This go-around for picking orders has been a whirlwind. We have had our selections denied twice now, and we are waiting to see if any of our round three selections will be accepted. If they are not, then we fall into a category where the Navy decides for us, we get no say, we are just told. To say my anxiety is through the roof is an understatement. Sitting and waiting with no ability to do anything to influence the outcome is debilitating.

image downloaded from Research Gate

It is amazing to me how God uses our defeated spirits to let his voice speak the loudest. While in the car the other day, I was listening to K-LOVE and singing along to the Casting Crowns song “Held” and a line stopped me in my tracks:

I knew, without a doubt, that God was using that line to remind me of how much he has taken care of us in our often-uncertain lives. I was blessed that, during our first year and a half of marriage, my husband’s station was “home.” This meant that all of the transitions of being a newlywed and new mom were ones that I was able to make in the comforts of the familiar, with our friends and families close by. So when it came time to move, I was unprepared for the throws of military life. I was terrified when we got orders to CA, clear across the country from everything I have ever known. I cannot remember a time where I needed to trust God as much as I did then.

When we moved, it was an incredible growing experience, especially in my faith. When we found the church we have now called “home” for the last 3+ years, the sense of peace and belonging was so strong. There was no doubt that it was where God wanted us. The friends and connections that I have made here happened so quickly, but they have been so strong. I have a village and they have showed up when I needed them the most!

When I heard that song lyric, I was reminded of how beautifully our lives here pieced together. I was reminded that we may not know where will be in six months, but God does, and he has been preparing our lives there already. So for now, I need to go against every instinct and impulse I have to worry, to obsess over the unknown, and just trust. Trust that God will continue to take care of us, continue to provide the people and support we will need during our time in a new place, and continue to grow and stretch us. My life as a military wife may be full of uncertainties, but God will always be my constant, and I can find peace and rest in that promise!