While They Serve
By Edie Melson

Runaway Emotions

I’d always taken pride in being strong, no matter what life threw my way. Then life tossed my son’s deployment at me.

 

My son’s two deployments were difficult times, for a lot of reasons. Of course I missed him and worried about him. I expected, even anticipated those issues. What I didn’t expect was the runaway state of my emotions.

I am not normally a crier. It’s not a judgment on those who are–it’s just not the way I’m wired. God knew what He was doing when He gifted us with three boys. In our home if the boys wanted sympathy, they were much more likely to find it from their father rather than me.

One Small Church Doing Something Huge

What if we planted a healthy, gospel-centered church near every major Marine Corps base around the world? A stable church family for military families whose lives are full of instability.

Today's guest blogger is Annie B. Garman, a pastor's wife, runner, gardener, and mother of four girls who writes about her life at www.anniebrogan.com.

God is using our small church to do something huge for military families.

Sharing the News: My Child has Enlisted

Those friends who rejoiced with us in Jimmy’s decision gave us a precious gift. In them, we had a safe place to share our struggles without fear of condemnation.

No young man or woman makes the decision to enlist in the military lightly. It’s a big step, and one that families sometimes have difficulty sharing with others. As much as we support our children, we also have some fears of what the future in the military can bring.

I remember so well when our son decided to join the Marine Corps straight out of high school, postponing college. His father and I were so proud, but we were also terrified of what his decision might cost him.

Sharing the news of his decision turned out to be a little bit terrifying as well.

Apple of My Daddy's Eye

I remembered how much I meant to my earthly daddy and how much I mean to my heavenly father. How does that relate to the time my son spent as a soldier in Iraq?

For thus says the Lord of hosts, “After glory He has sent Me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been told I was the apple of my daddy’s eye. When I was growing up, in addition to his office at the university, my dad had a desk at home.

It seemed huge to me, made of dark wood and covered with important things. I used to play under that desk, hiding for hours with my dolls and my imagination.

A Graduation onto God's Path

My son's 13 weeks of boot camp were a trial by fire for me as well. I was getting a crash course in what it means to be a military family.

The spring and summer of ‘06 had brought a whirlwind of change to what normal life looked like in our home. Our oldest son had graduated high school, enlisted in the Marine Corps and entered boot camp at Parris Island.

We were getting a crash course in what it meant to be a military family.

Those 13 weeks of Marine Corps boot camp were a boot camp for me as well. I was learning how to pray for our son in ways I’d never before considered. I was coming face-to-face with all the preconceived ideas I’d had about our kids entering adulthood.

A Marine Mom's Perspective on the Fourth of July

For me, the Fourth of July is no longer just a pleasant summer break. It's about the sacrifices made by so many.

When I was growing up, the Fourth of July holiday meant large family picnics in my grandmother's back yard. We feasted on grilled hamburgers and Mom's potato salad.

Afterward, we’d move to the park and watch the fireworks, set against a midnight black sky and accompanied by the strains of patriotic music.

It was the perfect mid-summer break, but nothing more.

As young parents of three growing boys, we continued to celebrate the Fourth in much the same way. Then the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 changed our perspective.

The Process of Welcoming Home a Soldier

For any family with a soldier, goodbyes are a part of life. As hard as it is to say goodbye, sometimes the hellos are just as difficult...

For any family with a soldier, goodbyes are a part of life. As hard as it is to say goodbye, sometimes the hellos are just as difficult, often due to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

I remember sending our son off on his first deployment. Almost immediately I began planning his welcome home.

I did this for two reasons. First, what he was doing was a big deal, and I wanted him to know how much we honored his sacrifice. Second, it was a way to keep me from dwelling on the what-ifs and fears that stalked me while he was away at war.

Support a Military Family, Without Adding Stress (Part 2)

If you'd like to let a military family know they're in your thoughts and prayers, here are some tips to keep in mind.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, phone calls, texts and emails can be a great way to let military families know they’re in your thoughts and prayers.

But sometimes a phone call isn’t enough. I’ve shared in previous posts that occasionally friends would just drop by to let me know they were thinking of me while Jimmy was deployed. These drop-ins worked because those stopping by were careful not to impose.

Support a Military Family, Without Adding Stress (Part 1)

Here are some helpful tips to let a military family know you're thinking about them and praying for them...

We all know that deployment is stressful for military families. But if you haven’t been in that situation, it’s hard to know how to help.

Navigating this unknown territory can cause some of us to back away, with only vague offers of help. The offers are sincere, but we don’t want to add to the burden we see.

Others err in the opposite direction, trying to insist on help that isn’t actually needed or wanted. Neither extreme is good, so today I’ll share some tips that will equip you to ease the burden of a military family, without adding stress.

Night Terrors

It was an experience that gave me the faith to believe that God was also with my son...

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

I still remember that night so well.

Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.

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