In Her Shoes is a series normally written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – to find out what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Today I am sharing a special post with you. Part of it is written by me, but I also had the help of my wonderful military wife friends – Becky, Audrey, Katie, Jenna, Sadie, Kallie, and Kim. I hope that you’ll join us as we share what it is like to walk in our shoes. ~ Love, Ginger
I will check my phone about a million times today. Touching the home button, I will look at the photo that comes up on my phone. It’s one of our wedding pictures – he’s holding me in his arms while giving me a tender kiss.
No matter how many times I look at it, I will probably see the same thing. No missed calls. No missed texts or emails.
Sighing, I will slip the phone back into my pocket. This phone is my lifeline when he is gone, and almost never out of my reach.
And then at some point in the day, I will hear a chime letting me know that I have a text message from him! I live for those moments right now – those little sounds letting me know that he is thinking of me right at that instant. That tiny connection with him can make my whole day.
I miss my Beloved…
My lovely friend Crystal recently asked me over coffee how much longer until he comes home – and I just had to shrug my shoulders. It’s still so far out now that I can’t start the countdown just yet. I am grateful that we’ve finally made it to the halfway point of this deployment, but I can’t even wrap my head around having another several weeks of this. Worrying about his safety. Missing him.
One breath at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.
I have been blessed by family and friends who have been so helpful while Joe has been deployed, and Crystal encouraged me to share with you some simple ways that you could be a help to military families, should they ever cross your path!
Each family and situation is so different that I didn’t want this to be all about me or my family. I asked for the help of some of my amazing military wife friends who answered a quick question for me: What are some of the most helpful and memorable ways that others have helped you while your loved one was deployed?
I am so grateful for these women, and every bit of their service! They have kissed husbands and sons good-bye as they headed off to war, baked cookies for care packages, celebrated birthdays and holidays without their loved ones, and held down the fort until their beloveds came home. This is truly a collaborative effort, and I am honored to call these strong women my friends!
The “bestest” thing someone can do for a person whose spouse is deployed is be there for them. Not just the vague, “If there’s anything you need…” either, but make firm offers, like babysitting for a doctor’s appointment or seeing a need and addressing it, (“Hey, I see you’ve got some branches down from that storm. When would be a good time to come over and clear those out for you?).
And here’s a biggie – understand that even though technology has made it easier to communicate with a deployed spouse, they’re still gone from home and still missed. Skyping with someone isn’t the same as snuggling next to them in bed.
Some people make meals for us, which is my favorite because when hubby is gone, I tend to go super easy…eat out way too often, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, etc. so a home-cooked meal from someone else is awesome.
Giving me free time…watching my kids so I can grocery shop, go to appointments, or just get a coffee in peace is always much appreciated.
Keeping me and/or the kids busy…I have friends who take turns coming over in the evenings so that one evening a week I can have adult conversation and wine with a friend, since evenings and weekends are usually the loneliest.
Offer to mow their yard.
Offer to be the on call as a mechanic. I had a guy that would check out our car before I left town since we have an OLD car.
Laundry fairy ~ Two ladies each came once a week, picked up our dirty laundry and returned it sorted, clean, folded the next day.
Know the person’s favorite drink (Starbucks, Sonic, etc.), and surprise her by dropping off treats randomly.
Scripture ~ We had someone anonymously mail us postcards with a verse and nothing else. I got at least one each week and it was always just what I needed to hear.
Secretly pay for little things you know they would enjoy (Parents Night Out, movie passes in their mailbox). For some, deployments have an increase in pay. For many (reservists) it’s a decrease.
Bad weather ~ check on them if you’re getting out. Do they need milk? Do they need help shoveling their driveway?
PRAY. It’s hard. It’s real. Cover them, their loved one, and family.
I think the most helpful thing that my family & friends have done during deployment time is to spend time with me/call me. To me it’s not that people have to have great advice, or the perfect thing to say, or do that will make you feel better. I just like having the company. Not feeling alone has made all the difference in helping me get through this deployment.
As far as something I wish non-military people knew about deployment, I guess it would have to be that when the spouse leaves, that isn’t the hardest part. I think people remember to call/text/visit around the time the spouse leaves because they think that initial transition is the hardest. But in reality, I think the hardest part is hitting two or four months in, and knowing that you are only halfway through! I would want people to know that when you have a friend/family member who has a spouse or child deployed that calls/texts/visits are appreciated throughout the whole time the service member is away. We never “get used” to them being far away. It sucks every day until they are home.
There are a TON of groups that support the deployed soldiers – as it should be. But when someone would remember US (myself and our 3 kids) during a deployment, that spoke worlds to me! I know that being deployed is difficult – but the family is LEFT BEHIND and something is missing in our daily life.
I had one friend in California who would mail me and the kids gifts for Valentine’s Day, or “just because.” She was so sweet and it always made me tear up.
I had well meaning family members tell me they knew exactly how I felt with my hubby being gone, except that since they were never military with a deployed spouse, there is no way they knew “exactly how I felt.”
Holidays were HARD… spending Christmas with just me and the kids. Family lives 2600 miles away in AZ and we’re in KY, so visits are few and far between. Military life isn’t for the faint of heart.
I will start with what non-military people should know… Yes, I married my husband knowing he was in the military and there would be a chance of deployment, however that still does not make it any easier when we get the phone call saying that he will be deployed. And doesn’t it make it any easier when your spouse misses out in those first steps taken or the first time your child says, “Dadda.”
Simply ask. They will tell you what they need. It can be something as simple as watching the little one for an hour while they run to the store.
Ask what you can send to the spouse while they are deployed. Deployed members LOVE getting packages. Sending their favorite drinks or snacks are always welcomed by them.
Sitting down and having tea with a friend is so important. Having someone that we can vent to helps us to be not so overwhelmed anymore. We can feel so much better about life once we get it off our chest, and then we can keep going.
I am such a lucky girl. There have been wonderful people who have brought us a meal, mowed our lawn, texted, and offered their help while Joe has been away. I received the sweetest note in the mail from someone letting me know that she was praying for Joe while he is gone. My dad has helped watch the boys so I could go get my hair cut by myself. Other friends have spent time with me during evenings and weekends when I’m alone.
I can’t put into words what each of these things has meant to me!
The thing I’ve found to be so discouraging about deployments, is that I tend to feel so very alone. Each phone call, every question asking if there’s anything that we need, every coffee date with a girlfriend has been a gift… and helped to make this deployment a little easier.
What I love about these ideas is that it doesn’t have to be limited to military families! How many of you can think of a tired mom who needs an hour alone without her kiddos? Can you think of a friend who would enjoy a Sonic drink during Happy Hour? What about someone who you could send an encouraging text, or even a card in the mail?
I know that I am only one of thousands of others who will lay their head down tonight, and stare at the empty pillow beside them…but because of the encouragement and help from my family and friends, I won’t feel quite so alone.
One breath at a time, one hour at a time, and one day closer to being in his arms once more.
To read more encouraging stories, or if you are interested in sharing your own story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes.
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