Gimme! Gimme!

It’s back to school time and, in many areas, that means back to school school supply drives from Operation Homefront and other organizations that support military families. As military families, we’re so blessed to participate in back to school drives and holiday events. We’re fortunate to get free admission to museums during the summer and head to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, or Sesame Place for free during the summer. We get money off meals, discounted movie tickets, and 10% off at many major retailers who offer a military discount.

Unfortunately, instead of feeling thankful, many wives take advantage of this extension of goodwill. You know you’ve seen it at the Operation Homefront events where families try to sneak one of each of the good toys instead of following the “one per child” policy. Some even complain when a particular business doesn’t offer a military discount, as if not offering one fails to show proper respect for the military. After all, our spouses put their lives on the line to protect our country while we proudly hold down the fort at home. We deserve a military discount, right?

Wrong.

In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus talks about the ten lepers. After he cleansed them, only one of the ten came back to say thank you. The others went on their way, likely feeling as though Jesus was a man who performed miracles and, therefore, they were entitled to the miracle. No need to say thanks.

Often, rather than being thankful, we’re often like the nine lepers who went on their merry way. Thom Rainer, the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources says, “If I feel entitled, I complain about my job. If I am thankful, I am grateful to have a job. If I feel entitled, I complain about the meal, I’m eating. If I am thankful, I am grateful to have food on the table.”  His list continues, clearly defining the difference between entitlement and thankfulness.

What would a similar list look like for the military wife?

If I feel entitled, I complain about the lack of a military discount.
If I am thankful, I take time to thank the companies who generously offer one to me.

If I feel entitled, I hoard free items at annual back to school and Christmas events.
If I am thankful, I take what I need, being sure to leave plenty for others.

If I feel entitled, I cause a nuisance and make excessive demands on those providing a free service.
If I am thankful, I embrace the opportunity and tell those involved how grateful I am.

Do any of those describe you? Do you find yourself feeling more entitled than thankful when you’re given free things or discounts just for being a military wife?

There’s nothing wrong with these freebies and discounts. There’s not even anything wrong with looking forward to them. However, we must be sure to approach them with the right attitude – an attitude of thankfulness.

James 1:17 reminds us that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Colossians 3:15 gives us a simple command, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Be thankful. Say thank you to those offering freebies and discounts. Take time to write thank you notes or send pictures to organizations like Operation Homefront, the American Legion, and others who provide freebies and events for military families. We’re not entitled to it. They don’t have to do it, but we’re so thankful that they do.

Watching the News

It’s hard to turn on the news without hearing about something going on in the Middle East. As a military wife, that news takes on even more meaning. Whether it’s in the Middle East or some other part of the world, every international conflict has us wondering if our spouses could somehow be called into action. If they’re already deployed in that area, we wonder about their safety. Many of us even set up Google Alerts so we can keep up on the latest headlines involving our spouses’ ships, commands, air wings, and battalions, nevermind that many of the stories are simply full of speculation rather than actual news.

While we want to stay informed, does keeping up on the latest news really help us as military wives or does it hurt us in the long run? In many cases, what we call “staying informed” is really just hiding fodder for worry.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” – Matthew 6:34

We know our significant others are likely to head into dangerous areas at some point in their careers. And there’s always the possibility that they won’t make it back alive. However, that doesn’t mean we should sit around worrying about what could happen. We have enough trouble with keeping our marriages strong, taking care of our children, dealing with our finances, and just living our daily lives that to spend time watching the news and adding worry to our lives becomes counter-productive.

Proverbs 12:25 starts with, “an anxious word weighs a man down…” and the same can happen to our spouse’s when we approach them with anxiety or let ourselves be consumed with worry about what could happen to them.

So instead of sitting around watching the news waiting for the next bad thing to happen or setting up Google Alerts and starting to sweat every time you get a new alert in your e-mail box, focus on today. Chances are you’ll find you don’t have enough time to worry about anything else.

And should you catch a glimpse of a breaking story or hear some worrisome news, remember:

““Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6-7

CPO Selects

navy chief, cpo select, rank

CPO selections can bring about a lot of jealousy in the Navy community.

If you’re a Navy wife, it’s that time of year – the announcement of the latest CPO selects. Facebook message boards fill with proud wives celebrating. In fact, there’s so much excitement, it’s easy to forget that not everyone who hopes to become a CPO select makes the cut. It’s also easy to envy those wives and the excitement they feel, even if it’ll be years before your husband qualifies for Chief.

In James 3:16, James says “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

As a military wife, envying others will get you nowhere. It’s hard to avoid. You want your husband to be a higher rank. You want a higher paycheck. You want the better floor plan in military housing – or even to get off the waiting list and into the better housing. You want to be part of the in group of wives who are always going out, having fun, and seem to be inseparable during a deployment.

But if you look at why you want all of those things, you may realize that all of your reasons contain the word “I” somewhere within them. They’re generally selfish reasons and often show a lack of gratitude for what you do have.  That’s what helps bring about the disorder and every evil practice James mentions. You put off other friends in an attempt to hang out with the “cool” wives. You nag your spouse to perform better so he can move up in rank. You long for a better place to live rather than spending time sprucing up the place you have.

Wherever you’re living. Whatever friends you have. Whatever your husband’s current rank or other circumstances are, it’s up to you to make the best of it. Have you ever heard the quote “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon included it in his song “Beautiful Boy,” by the way)? When you’re envying what others have, it’s like you’re busy making other plans.

Stop making plans to get what others have and start enjoying the life God has given you.