Military Gramma’s Joys and Woes

Being a Military Mom is one thing. It isn’t easy, but we learn to adapt. We sigh and move on. We accept that we won’t see our soldier who is stationed somewhere too far away for periods of time that drag on like eons.

Then we become grandmothers. My first grand-baby, a precious little girl, was born while they were stationed in Germany. I did fly over and spend a whole month, and that was extreme joy!

Another wave of happiness came when her daddy had to deploy. No, I was not at all happy about his deployment, but it did mean that my daughter and almost two year old granddaughter came to live with us for 15 months. Having them with me made his deployment a bit easier on my soul. I prayed for him every moment, while soaking up all the hugs and kisses I could get from my little princess!

Their next duty station was a seven hour drive away. I happily made that trip as often as possible. They gave me another granddaughter and I reveled in the joy of being able to smother them with “Gramma Slobber” and love. But, in a Military Family, good-byes are always looming.

All too soon, they packed all their belongings and headed off to the other side of the world. Completely on the other side of the world. For three years. We knew from the start that there would be no flights over for us and no flights home for them; the economy had tanked, and flights were just too expensive.

And their family of four was about to become a family of five.

I watch my soon to be one year old grandson grow through pictures and video chats. I cried on my granddaughter’s eighth birthday because I realized I had not hugged her since she was six. I groan in my soul every time one of them is sick, or my daughter is overwhelmed and I cannot go be of any kind of help. And I am still not convinced that a child can actually grow properly without a little Gramma Slobber!

I ache from missing them. I still have more than a year to go before I’ll be able to gather them into my arms. I wake up crying in the middle of the night sometimes. I check the computer every morning for new pictures, anecdotes of the cute things they have said or done, or the new havoc they have wreaked upon their mother.

Their family of five has just grown once again, with the addition of a three year old little guy who stole their hearts, and mine. Now I have TWO grandsons whom I have yet to get my hands on!

There are days when I don’t think I can hang on any longer, but I have adapted the habit crying on Christ’s shoulder. I actually picture myself climbing up into His lap like my grand-babies would climb into mine, and putting my arms around His neck, sticking out my bottom lip, and telling Jesus all about my boo-boos and woes. I know, it sounds a bit silly, but it works for me, because I swear I can feel His gentle kiss on the top of my head, His soft hands caress my back, His whispered words of concern, and His overwhelming love. When I say, “God, I can’t do this any more!” the whisper comes back, “I am here with you, you can do this with Me by your side. Just keep holding My hand, don’t let go.”

So, with my hand firmly in His, I continue to wait for the days, weeks, months; another year to pass. From the outside, I may look strong. I may seem fine. I may appear to not have a care in the world. I may come off as being quite happy and contented.

And I am all of those things! Truly I am, but ONLY because I won’t let go of His hand, and He continues to lead me on.

 

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Phillippians 4:13 KJV

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16-Month Deployment

“But I solemnly promise that you, your wife, your sons, and your daughters-in-law will be kept safe . . .” (Genesis 6:18 CEV).

 

This verse tells us the words spoken by the Lord to Noah as he prepared to take his family into the ark, on a very long “deployment.” We can take heart in them today as our own families prepare to face heavy seas ahead.

Sixteen months doesn’t seem like such a long time until you think in terms of your children growing up without their daddy or mommy for that length of time. My grand-daughter was not yet two years old when her daddy left for his first deployment to the war, and she had already turned three by the time he would return. When thought of in those terms, sixteen months seems like forever.

When my family got the news of our second soldier’s impending deployment, I suddenly had a whole new perspective open to me. I know what it feels like to be a mom of a deployed soldier; yet, to be the Gramma of a baby with a deployed daddy – well that was a completely different story! It made me ponder on what our military moms and dads who stay behind go through.

To be a single parent is not an easy task for anyone. But within the military community, it is more complicated because the left-behind spouse usually lives far away from his or her family, and these “at home warriors”  must depend others who live nearby and are likely to be in the same situation. Deep bonds of friendships form quickly between them, as a gift from God to help them cope.

I pray for all of our soldiers and their families all of the time, but I also have a specific request that God will lend His daily strength and aid to all of the parents’ left behind to raise the children, the children who are missing their soldier parent, and the parent soldier who is missing their family and wishing they could be home once again. Whenever I am missing my own soldier son, I now think of all those daddy’s missing baby’s first steps, school plays, soccer games, graduations, and so much more. By spending some time praying for them, I find that my own fears are dissuaded, my sense of self-pity disappears, and I can go about the rest of my day with a new inner peace that only God can give.

 

Poem – Be Content With God

It’s hard to believe, re-reading this now, that I first penned this poem shortly after the Columbine HS shootings. It is still relevant today. (IMHO!)

 

Be Content With God

These seem to be the darkest days;

Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s ways,

Our health is failing, our journey long,

We do not know where we belong.

Drugs and alcohol abound,

Planes are crashing to the ground.

Kids aren’t safe within school walls;

Danger lurks throughout the halls

Ethnic cleansing, bombs and wars;

People dying by the scores

Flood and flame, earthquake, rain;

Tornado, famine, hurricane . . .

We cannot plan what we shall do,

Not knowing when, what, where or who-

We cannot know what plight we face,

But we can walk in love and grace

Dismay and fear will surely cease,

As we brave each day with hope and peace,

By trusting God, Who’s Word is True;

We can find contentment, too.

It is the only way to live,

When all the world is churning-

It is the only hope we have to satisfy our yearning.

Be content with God each day,

Trust Him to guide you ‘long the way

Read His Word, and you will see,

His promises are true-

You can live a happy life, within His Will for you!

While life is hurling, whirling past,

The Word will hold you grounded fast

To be content with God today,

Simply trust, love, and obey.

 

Remembering those First Fatalities

I was scrolling down the list of names. It had become my habit when my soldier deployed. Some moms don’t want to know anything, others want to know as much as possible. As I looked at the names of these brave young men listed on a casualty web site, my eyes landed on their unit identification, and recognized that it was the same as my own soldier’s. It felt as if I had been punched in the stomach. Our first fatalities. IED. I simply fell apart.

I had convinced myself that even though he was in Iraq, he was in a “relatively safe” zone, south of Baghdad, and this had allowed me to keep to my daily schedule rather routinely. I had been walking with blinders on, which had now been cruelly ripped off.

At first I sobbed until I was sick. A God-timed phone call from a friend helped to pull me back to reality. I got up, fixed a quick dinner, and went to my weekly Bible study group. I tried to hold myself together as much as possible, but my tears lingered just at the surface.

That night, I moaned, slept and prayed interchangeably. Other friends with soldiers deployed had warned me of these nights. I had spent the first two months of my soldier’s deployment in my little cocoon world. Now I was quickly realizing that this was only the beginning of the depth of fears and the amount of tears that can so fully capture the family of any deployed soldier.

God knows. I believe He cries with us. When the lump in your throat, the rock in your stomach, and the overflowing tears seem to make your prayers to God come out as nothing but a garbled moaning, He understands. He wants to hear from you. He wants to lend all the comfort you need to get through this moment. He longs to hold each of us gently to His chest and whisper words of calmness to us.

We can’t do anything physically to protect our beloved soldiers, but we can constantly call their names out to the Lord, and know that He never tires of hearing those names. Trusting in God’s love allows our minds to rest and our bodies to sleep.

Every night I pray for no more fatalities. No more suicides. No more horror. No more deployments! And I pray for God’s peace and comfort to encircle our service members, their families, our Blue and Gold Star families, and for His love to spread joyously among us all.

 

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4 NIV).

10 THINGS YOUR COMBAT VET WANTS YOU TO KNOW

10 THINGS YOUR COMBAT VET WANTS YOU TO KNOW

Written by a Military Mom who gave permission to share, and with thanks to Battle-Buddy.org . . .

1. He/she is addicted to war, although he loves you. War is horrible, but there is nothing like a life-and-death fight to make you feel truly alive. The adrenaline rush is tremendous, and can never be replaced. Succeeding in combat defines a warrior, places him in a brotherhood where he is always welcome and understood. The civilian world has its adrenaline junkies as well; just ask any retired firefighter, police officer, or emergency room staff if they miss it.

2. Living for you is harder. It would be easy for him to die for you because he loves you. Living for you, which is what you actually want, is harder for him. It is even harder for him if you are smart and do not need him to rescue you, since rescuing is something he does really well. If you are very competent at many things, he may at times question if you need him at all. He may not see that you stay with him as a conscious choice.

3. “The training kicks in” means something very different to him. It is direct battle doctrine that when ambushed by a superior force, the correct response is “Apply maximum firepower and break contact.” A warrior has to be able to respond to threat with minimal time pondering choices. While this is life-saving in combat, it is not helpful in the much slower-paced civilian world. A better rule in the civilian world would be to give a reaction proportionate to the provocation. Small provocation, small response (but this could get you killed on the battlefield). When the training becomes second nature, a warrior might take any adrenaline rush as a cue to “apply maximum firepower.” This can become particularly unfortunate if someone starts to cry. Tears are unbearable to him; they create explosive emotions in him that can be difficult for him to control. Unfortunately, that can lead to a warrior responding to strong waves of guilt by applying more “maximum firepower” on friends, family, or unfortunate strangers.

4. He/she is afraid to get attached to anyone because he has learned that the people you love get killed, and he cannot face that pain again. He may make an exception for his children (because they cannot divorce him), but that will be instinctual and he will probably not be able to explain his actions.

5. He knows the military exists for a reason. The sad fact is that a military exists ultimately to kill people and break things. This was true of our beloved “Greatest Generation” warriors of WWII, and it remains true to this day. Technically, your warrior may well be a killer, as are his friends. He may have a hard time seeing that this does not make him a murderer. Although they may look similar at first glance, he is a sheepdog protecting the herd, not a wolf trying to destroy it. The emotional side of killing in combat is complex. He may not know how to feel about what he’s seen or done, and he may not expect his feelings to change over time. Warriors can experience moments of profound guilt, shame, and self-hatred. He may have experienced a momentary elation at “scoring one for the good guys,” then been horrified that he celebrated killing a human being. He may view himself as a monster for having those emotions, or for having gotten used to killing because it happened often. I can personally recommend ‘On Killing’ by Dave Grossman.

6. He’s had to cultivate explosive anger in order to survive in combat.

7. He may have been only nineteen when he first had to make a life and death decision for someone else. What kind of skills does a nineteen-year-old have to deal with that kind of responsibility? One of my veterans put it this way: “You want to know what frightening is? It’s a nineteen-year-old boy who’s had a sip of that power over life and death that war gives you. It’s a boy who, despite all the things he’s been taught, knows that he likes it. It’s a nineteen-year-old who’s just lost a friend, and is angry and scared, and determined that some *%#& is gonna pay. To this day, the thought of that boy can wake me from a sound sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling.”

8. He may believe that he’s the only one who feels this way; eventually he may realize that at least other combat vets understand. On some level, he doesn’t want you to understand, because that would mean you had shared his most horrible experience, and he wants someone to remain innocent.

9. He doesn’t understand that you have a mama bear inside of you, and that probably any of us could kill in defense of someone if we needed to. Imagine your reaction if someone pointed a weapon at your child. Would it change your reaction if a child pointed a weapon at your child?

10. When you don’t understand, he needs you to give him the benefit of the doubt. He needs you also to realize that his issues really aren’t about you, although you may step in them sometimes. Truly, the last thing he wants is for you to become a casualty of his war.
The Battle Buddy Foundation was Founded by Veterans to Serve Veterans, and exists to serve our veterans suffering the ‘invisible wounds’ of war, Post Traumatic Stress, and Traumatic Brain Injury by providing PTS Service Dogs, Education and Awareness programs and supporting our nation’s heroes when they need it most!!!

Get Up!

But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. (Psalm 22:19 NIV)

 

How do we get through another day missing our soldier? Sometimes I just want to stay in bed under my covers! I know this does no good; I realize there are still chores to do, errands to run, bills to pay, people to see – it is the simple daily routines that actually help the days to pass.

Whatever I am going through pales in comparison to what my soldier faces daily. I ponder on that for a moment and begin to chuckle. My soldier would kick me right out from under those covers!

Of course, when I consider the sufferings of my Savior Jesus Christ, I am put to shame. No pity-party for me today! Suddenly, I realize that I have miraculously gained the strength to get up and move. God gives us a beautiful new day, let us rejoice and be glad!

So, throw back those covers and get moving! Most likely, your soldier has been up and working hard for hours already! How dare you loll about, whining!

Get up, sing a song in the shower, have that first cup of coffee, and go have a wonderful day!

 

“Lord, on those days when I just want to bury my head and sleep the entire day away, speak words of encouragement to me. Urge my heart to leap with joy, command my feet to dance, and guide my hands to serve. Remind me of the long hours my soldier endures, the sufferings of others, the passion of Christ, and bring me to my knees.”