A Quiet Spirit

Homecoming starts to approach and you frantically start the search for the perfect homecoming outfit. After not seeing your spouse for six months… a year… maybe even longer, you want to look good. News Flash! The guy hasn’t seen you in months — whatever you’re wearing will look good!

Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to wear something nice to make the day a little more special or even just to get all dolled up every now and then, but when your outward beauty becomes your sole focus, you lose a bit of the beauty God intended for you.

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles or the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

What does that mean as a military wife? Well, it’s a lot more than not being afraid to step outside without makeup while wearing yoga pants. It’s all about how you present yourself in the community.

A gentle and quiet spirit is not bashing other spouses on military message boards. It’s not complaining about your husband’s command publicly. It’s not snapping at people because you’ve had a rough day or getting angry with your husband for something trivial while he’s away.

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit avoids getting angry when it’s not justified and, when angry, seeks to resolve matters in a cool, calm and collected manner.

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit holds in her opinions when she knows expressing them won’t help the situation and kindly inserts them when they will.

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t grumble at the end of the day when she has finally put the kids to bed and wants to crawl into bed herself, but still has to do a load of laundry, clean up from dinner, and take care of a million other things around the house while her husband is gone.

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t let her situation overwhelm her, but rather seeks God’s strength and support when she starts to feel like she’s becoming overwhelmed.

It’s not about trying to force an introvert into an extrovert’s body. In fact, it has little to do with personality at all and more to do with how you handle your personality and how you express yourself.

Do you stress out your husband by sending an e-mail vent at the end of every day? Do other people get stressed from being around you because you embody negativity? Do they ignore your complaints, your opinions, and your advice because you’ve got something to say about everything and you don’t always say it very nicely?

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit is kind to her husband and others around her.

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit speaks when she can offer something of value (and realizes every thread in a Facebook group doesn’t need a comment from her).

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit understands that she’s not the only one whose opinion matters.

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit knows that everyone has a rough day or says or does things they regret every now and then.

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit is generally positive and seeks God’s support when she’s feeling negative.

A wife with a gentle and quiet spirit knows that military life comes with enough general stress and drama so she seeks to keep additional stress and drama out of her marriage, her life, and the lives of her friends.

A wife of gentle and quiet spirit asks – Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Will it build someone up? before speaking and acting.

So go ahead and look for that perfect homecoming outfit, but let your beauty on the outside be trumped by your beauty on the inside.

You’re Not the Only One

As a military wife and mother of young kids, one of the things I hear the most is, “I don’t know how you do it.” It, of course, refers to holding down the fort while my husband is away. Some take it further and compare me to a single mother, although I’m quick to remind them that while I may not have my husband home, I have his support and income to help while he’s away. Regardless of how they word it, I never know quite how to respond. Is it as easy as I make it look? Of course not, but it’s a part of life, and it’s actually a part of life for more than just military wives.

Every day moms, and even dads, must run the show while their spouses are away. While people recognize the hard work I do, they don’t often stop and tell my friend whose husband works random hours at a grocery store that she’s doing a good job or encourage another friend whose husband spends a few months every year working on the pipeline in Alaska. They don’t notice the friend who never sees her husband because they both have to work conflicting schedules in order to make ends meet either.

Sometimes it’s so easy to become consumed by our reality that we don’t stop to look at the reality of those around us. We can go months without our spouses, but that mom whose husband goes back to work after she has just had a new baby may be struggling even more than us. The wife whose husband has left for his first business trip may really be struggling with loneliness. The woman who only gets to see her husband as she’s climbing into bed after a long night of work may be longing for a little quality time with him.

Does that make what we do any less amazing? Does it make what we do seem any easier? Of course not, but it does give us the opportunity to pull away from our reality and start supporting someone else in theirs. We’re often the ones getting encouragement, but we should also be the ones doling out the encouragement to others.

The Bible tells us to encourage others too…

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” – 1 Peter 4:8-10

Why does it matter?

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We can use our experience and the strength we’ve developed to build up other military wives and other wives and mothers who are struggling while their spouses are away, whether they’re away for 8 months or 8 hours. By doing so, we’ll take the focus off ourselves and our struggles.

Look around you. Who can you provide some support and encouragement to today?

 

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.