So I was chatting with a few friends at our Bible study about our church and its desire to support military families. We love that the congregation and the staff are willing to help with whatever needs arise. But what does that support look like? What should it look like? What do military families left to hold down the home front want it to look like? I am all for supporting the troops… in any way, shape or form. Sending toiletries in care packages is a definite need for many of our men and women out there. But for those who have families back home, would it not be an even a greater support knowing that servant-hearted people in the area are taking care of your family? I know K has told me more than once that he can rest easy and sleep at night on the ship, knowing that I have people to help me to remain sane.
Our church has an adopt-a-military family program. Love this idea. My adoptive family helped me tremendously when K was deployed earlier this year. I gave birth to our third, M, while K was on an aircraft carrier, and so I had lots of family here to help. However, I was alone for the last six weeks of the deployment, so I called my church for help. Enter: K & T, a mother and daughter team, who helped with bedtime almost every night of the week. I cannot tell you how grateful I was to have another adult to wrangle my pre-schooler and toddler into pajamas, while I nursed the baby and put her to bed. They would alternate nights and stay for about 90 minutes, helping with the bedtime routine, and while I was finishing putting the older two down, K was washing my pots and pans and loading the dishwasher. This was exactly what I needed. Once all three were down, I could actually sit down too. What an awesome blessing.
We’ve been talking about faith in action, also known as obedience, in our Bible study. If our church and its members want to support military families, then it’s this kind of action—stepping out of your comfortable routine to help another in need—that is greatly needed. I had friends offer to have us over for dinner while K was gone, and while it was a welcomed treat to let someone else cook, it was really more stressful for me to have to gather my three kids, ages 3 years old and under, and get them to someone’s house… and try to get them to sit and eat… and play referee… and nurse a baby… you get my drift. So, my point is to get us thinking about what would really be a help to military families when the spouse is deployed.
But before I continue, let me also interject that it is HARD for most military wives to ask for help. We have been sort of unconsciously indoctrinated into the mindset that we have to have it all together. That this is the life WE chose, so we have to suck it up, and deal with it. That we can’t ask for help, because we’re supposed to be strong and independent for our husbands and families. These are lies. LIES, I tell you. Come, on, ladies out there, you know that these thoughts have crossed your mind a time or two. Don’t believe it. We are allowed to ask for help. There are neighbors, family, friends, and church members out there just waiting to love on you. One of my friends reminded us during this conversation at Bible study that we steal some one else’s opportunity to serve with their gifts when we don’t ask for help. There are season in your life to serve and seasons when you need to be served. That’s just how life is, and it’s how the Christian church was designed by God to operate. And I want to confess, that when I found out that I was pregnant with M, I felt so guilty about asking for help. I felt like I was at fault for getting pregnant at that time… because I knew when K was deploying! (Clearly, the fault was not mine alone…) but I just heard the Accuser (that’s Satan) saying, “How could you let this happen now?” Well clearly, this was and is just about the greatest blessing a mom could have asked for. M is irreplaceable, of course, and she was just what God had in mind for our family… on so many many levels. So just don’t believe the lies, OK? OK.
So, back to some practical ideas on what churches or individuals or families can do to support military families while a service member is deployed. Here are some of my ideas. I want you to think of some yourself, especially military spouses… comment here or on Facebook. But I want you to think outside the box… if you could customize your support, what EXACTLY would you need? Be specific. Don’t feel bad about putting someone out… there actually are people out there who can and want to help you. And remember, if no one knows your needs, how can those needs be met? Even if you are not a military spouse, please contribute your ideas too! In what capacity is the Lord calling you to serve? We all need to be obedient to ask or to help...
Here are some of mine to get you started:
1. Bed time help from 6:00-7:30pm
2. 1-2x/week dinner delivered
3. Afternoon babysitting, so mom can have some “me” time.
4. Yard care: mowing/weeding/mulching
5. Car washed/vacuumed
6. House cleaning (maybe just the kitchen or a bathroom or the floors!)
7. Carpool to or from an activity or school
Every family has different circumstances, daily schedules, routines, kids ages, etc. so, let’s hear your ideas… Give me some feedback to take to the masses. I couldn’t have possibly exhausted them all. And just so you know, my plan is to get back with the ladies with whom I started this conversation to see how we can meet the needs of military families that go to our church and as a ministry to those that don’t. Thanks friends!