Once you’ve had a chance to read these five Christian blog posts, let me know which one helped you the most. Also, take a moment to leave the author a comment to let them know that their words touched you.
Let’s build a community.
Until next time,
Check out this collection of “Mom Guilt” blog posts from across the web too.
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When Catching Zs Has Become Illusive
There have been several times throughout life when sleeping has been a challenge. These moments are often caused by stress, heartache, or babies.
Sometimes though, the reason for sleeplessness is because I can’t seem to turn my brain off. It doesn’t matter how tired the rest of my body is, my mind decides it is more important to run through all the things needing my attention–or that I feel need my attention, however erroneous that belief is.
With four kids in various stages of needing mothering, it is important that I shutdown as quickly as possible so I’m actual of some use come morning. That’s easier said than done, I know.
Below I share several of the tips and tricks I use regularly to ensure I get the rest I need to not only function, but to interact with people (my children included).
Sare’s Seven Tips For Sleeping Well
Nighty Night Valerian Tea from Traditional Medicinals. This tea is by far my favorite night time drink. It tastes perfect with local raw honey for a hint of sweetness. Even on the toughest nights this tea works wonders. They recommend drinking it 30-minutes before you plan to go to sleep. I often pair this tea with my next tip.
Read a novel. This isn’t the time to pick up a heavy tome that you want to concentrate on. Pick a frivolous read. Something fun that will take your mind off pretty much anything except what is happening to the characters. I’m reading a series of Christian thrillers (Titus Ray Thrillers) recently that are enjoyable. Of course if you’re doing this using an e-reader with you may want to do this earlier in the evening, because of the next tip.
Avoid backlit screens for at least one hour prior to going to bed. You can read more about why we should avoid electronics before bed, here.
Take a warm shower. I’ve heard different takes on this. Some people say to avoid warm showers before bed, but I find that it helps to relax a lot of the tension I carry in my shoulders and neck. When my body is relaxed, my mind is relaxed too.
Brain dump. This is exactly what it sounds like. Grab a pen and some paper (not an electronic!) and dump everything that is swirling around in that brain of yours. I often write out my ‘to-do’ list before I go to sleep. It helps me to not suddenly ‘remember’ in the middle of the night, something I need to do the next day.
Recite scripture and pray. I often find myself doing this along with my final tip for falling to sleep. God’s word is great any time of the day, but it is most helpful when my brain is hyper-worried. Being able to give those worries to God, and using His word to do it pretty much guarantees a great night’s sleep.
My final tip is my favorite. Snuggle a sleeping baby. Yep. Cuddle up with that little bundle of squish you’re nurturing and loving all day. Since my youngest still sleeps with me, this is a daily part of my day, and like I said, my favorite. There is something so relaxing about listening to their little hearts beat, their gentle breathing, and their happy sounds that help relax even the most stressed out momma.
These tips are just a few possibilities you can try. They may or may not work for you, and I recommend you consult your family doctor if you regularly have issues with getting restful sleep.
We’re all busy mommas here, so I’d love any tips and tricks you’ve used to help you get that much needed sleep. Share them in the comments below. You should also check out my post here, for tips on calming the chaos we all experience as mothers. There’s a free printable included too. 🙂
When “Everything” is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God
Then you will find your joy in the LORD…
Just a side note, this post became a bit longer than intended, and may end up becoming a series of posts in the future.
When Joy Is Hard to Find
2019 has been an intense year. There has been joy, but there has been a lot of “hard” too.
Though, if I’m honest my family has been in a rough season since 2017 when my husband left Active Duty. It appears we’re not quite ready to reap the harvest yet.
If this past weekend is any indicator, we’ve got quite a bit more sowing left in this season.
To those who know us personally, it isn’t a surprise to know we’ve been struggling. The move from Active Duty to civilian life has not been an easy experience. There have been more bumps in the road than either my husband or I ever expected.
Life without the security of the Marine Corps is a constant act of faith.
Never have we been what you would call financially “well-off”, but we’ve always been able to provide for ourselves and our children without too much struggle.
Until we no longer could.
When we moved from Washington State to Virginia, we left nearly everyone we knew.
My children left their friends and Sunday school teachers they loved. I left my sister, my cousin, and my childhood best friend.
We also drove away broke, because of a paperwork error that took months to straighten out before the Marine Corps would release my husband’s final paycheck.
Driving across the country nearly penniless, heading to a state where we still hadn’t found a place to live, could have been terrifying.
Instead, there was joy.
Okay, there was some fear too, but whenever the fear would claw at me I’d remember that everything comes from God. That He would provide in His way and His time.
So, I gladly accepted the joy He provided.
I shared adventures with my favorite people as we explored amazing sites, both created by God and made by man; the joy of giggles and drinking too much caffeine; staying in questionable hotels that would be safer if they were condemned; and cramming three kids, a cat, a dog, and two adults as well as everything we thought we might need, into a minivan.
With excitement like that, who had time for fear?
Joy in God is Accepting Help
After arriving in Virginia things became more complicated.
We needed to find a place to call home.
What should have taken only a couple of days turned into a two-month ordeal.
During this time, God once again provided for us, by opening the hearts and home of our dear friends.
Looking back, I believe God led us to explore Classical Conversations in Washington simply so we could connect with Rachal and her family, because once she moved to Virginia He led us away from CC and in another direction with our homeschool.
When Rachal and her husband offered us a place to stay while we looked for a house, neither our family or theirs expected it would be more than a weekend affair. So when place after place fell through and we were led to purchase a home instead of renting, my heart was filled with such gratitude and love when they welcomed us with open arms.
Let’s just say, there are times I think they deserved a medal (and possibly a parade) for that alone.
Having never needed to rely on others, accepting that my husband and I couldn’t do this on our own was difficult.
Especially since he was in a completely different state going through federal training.
Joy in God Comes When He Provides Family
Rachal and I weren’t close when we lived in Washington. We were friendly, and she was always willing to swing by and get my kids when I was dealing with rough moments during the pregnancy with my youngest daughter; we just didn’t spend time together outside of CC or our small-group Bible study.
God Knew What We Needed
Suddenly my kids and I were part of her family. We did pretty much everything together for those two months. My eldest daughter celebrated her 10th birthday sitting at their dining room table. She finally had older brothers, and she was thrilled to be there with them.
When I discovered I was pregnant with my youngest, Rachal and her husband were the first to know. In fact, they knew before I did, since they were convinced I was pregnant before I ever considered it. Later she was there holding my hand during the early morning hours as I gave birth to my youngest son.
Through every hoop we had to jump through while purchasing our house, to being hit with a stomach bug while pregnant, God filled me with joy.
There was joy in little things: having a second set of hands to snuggle my youngest daughter; someone to love on my “spirited” and struggling son, a church that had everything we were looking for. Things that would often be taken for granted just kept leading me right back to God, and the joy that comes from knowing He is taking care of each and every one of us.
God always provides, and my joy is always because of Him.
I Chose Joy in God Anew This Week
On Sunday as I prepared the kids and myself for church, I received a phone call from my husband. He’d been in an accident on I-95 and his car was totaled.
As the kids and I drove to pick him up, I sang praises to God. My husband’s car was totaled, and I thought I knew the hardship that would cause, but he had walked away from it without physical injury.
My children didn’t have to visit their father in the hospital, and I didn’t have to explain to them why their daddy wasn’t coming home.
Worries, Stress, and Choosing to Be Positive
Each day since the accident more and more obstacles have been placed before us. Some of them God immediately removed.
When He answers a prayer, the only thing I can do is praise Him and focus on the joy flooding through me.
Monday was especially rough, because my husband was trying to process what had happened, and I was as well.
The first wave of adrenaline and relief had past.
I woke up to a panic attack that only God could calm as I prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more, until finally the panic subsided and I was able to sleep again.
My husband was frustrated and bitter, and all I felt was an overwhelming sadness and heaviness of heart.
It didn’t take long before I was irritated with myself and decided to give it all to God.
I wrote out my prayers, my concerns, my frustrations, and my overwhelming belief in God. I wrote out my praises to Him.
Then I spent time in the study of Isaiah.
Isaiah 41 reminds us to stop lamenting and to return to rejoicing. That God provides for all our needs even during our struggles.
His testimony is that He will never forsake us.
We are to trust God as our shepherd and allow him to do it in the His way.
God Trumps Fear and Worry. Every Time.
While I immersed myself in God’s word, the fear and worry began to fade. Nothing had changed about our situation, but I gave that stress to God and accepted the peace and joy that replaced it.
Today things are still “bad” and there are no answers in sight. We don’t know where the next days and weeks will take us.
What I do know, is that I have joy.
Not because of any physical or material thing, but because I know joy in God.
The joy only experienced when you know God is in control, and that this isn’t our forever home.
Joy isn’t just a feeling.
It’s a knowledge that you’re never alone, and Our God is bigger than any problem we will ever face on Earth.
Filling Your Cup: Mom Approved Ideas for Daily Self-Care
Mothers Need to be Serious About Self-Care
As a momma of four, self-care is something I’m focusing on in my own life. It’s a habit I’m not always great at, but I keep trying.
I’m a work in progress.
Motherhood is a full time job; only unlike full-time jobs in the corporate world there aren’t vacation days, sick leave, or someone leaving donuts in the staff lounge.
The hours of motherhood are long–so very long– that finding time to go to the bathroom without a little one cheering,”Go Momma! You tinkled in the potty!”, is nearly impossible.
For these reasons, among others, mothers desperately need to make time for ourselves.
We need to carve out pockets of time to take care of ourselves, because we can’t take care of our little ones (or our husbands and homes) if we have nothing left.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Someone really smart
How to Make Time For Yourself
One of the hardest parts about taking time to recharge ourselves, is finding the time in our lives.
Between co-op, Awana, and Homeschool PE–not to mention planning and cooking healthy meals, cleaning the house, enriching the lives of my children through good books, and making sure those same children don’t suddenly decide they’re Superman and can fly from the roof of our house; there isn’t a lot of time left for me.
Especially when I still have a one year old who needs his nap-time snuggles, and to be perfectly honest, I need those snuggles too.
Things Were Getting Crazy, and By Things, I Mean Me.
For years the only self-care I was getting were from my daily home work out programs. I remember patting myself on the back thinking, I’m so smart taking this time for myself. This self-care stuff is simple.
There was a small problem with my thinking.
Self-care is more than just working out.
It’s more than a thirty minute sweat session. Especially if during that thirty minutes your mind isn’t focused on the moves, but on something else. It also doesn’t work if your children break your focus every few minutes.
I was getting into shape because I was working out daily, and I was paying attention to what I was fueling my body with, but I wasn’t feeling any more filled.
My mind and body felt depleted all the time, and I was not filling my children with loving attention.
Something Had to Give
When I finally realized I needed more in my life than a daily fitness routine, I started looking for other things to enrich my life. The problem with this was that I still didn’t have any extra time.
So, I started by cutting out extraneous things that didn’t bring me joy.
The first thing to go was Facebook. Suddenly I had a lot of extra time that I didn’t have before, but I wasn’t done cutting things out yet.
I’m quite a perfectionist, and that is a time consuming personality. In the last year I’ve focused on letting things go, of getting rid of this time eater. I’ve done this in small ways like: not worrying so much about the toys in the living room, or the unfolded blankets on the couch and chairs.
These little things led to other things that have made time-management easier. Like the printable in this post.
What Can You Cut Out of Your Schedule?
Before you go any further, take a moment to list the things you do throughout the day. This includes running errands, making meals, being a taxi, and scrolling through social media.
In case you were wondering, the time you spend binge watching Netflix also counts.
Once you’ve listed the things you do each day, decide what things you can cut out or at least down.
It’s important for us as mothers to make the time, not just wait for it to appear.
I know mindlessly scrolling through social media may help us check-out for a few minutes, but trust me, you’ll thank yourself if you cut it back so you have time for some real self-care.
Sare Approved Self-Care Ideas
Below is a list of just a handful of self-care ideas that are possible in short amounts of time. Things that have personally helped me to better focus on filling my tank, so that I can better fill my children and husband with love.:
Time in the Word.
Reading personal development books (Here are a few recommendations)
Reading a great novel
Enjoying a cup of tea or cocoa on the porch
Get moving (at home workouts bring a personal trainer straight to you, and for a time that works for you!)
Get a massage
Get your nails done (or do them yourself)
Take a long shower or bath
Stretch your body daily
Drink at least half you body weight in water daily
Try a new make-up technique
Wash your face
Crank up worship music and praise God
Enjoy a special treat. We have an amazing cupcake bakery near us, and I love going there and indulging in a gourmet cupcake.
Get enough sleep (this one is super important)
Eat a balanced diet. Remember fat is NOT bad for you. Stay away from things that claim they’re “low fat”.
Recently I stumbled across and interview Eva Mendes gave where she stated that the end of a marriage can be directly related to the wife wearing sweatpants.
If you want to read the original article that led to this posting click here.
Normally, I don’t pay a lot of attention to what celebrities talk about.
I especially don’t tend pay attention to celebrities who feel qualified to give marital advice when they’re not married.
However, reading many of the comments linked with these articles on social media made me reconsider.
In Society Today, Beauty is Only Skin Deep
There are a lot of women–too many women–who feel Eva Mendes is correct.
They believe in this day of Photoshop and plastic surgery what a wife wears is the true key to the longevity of their marriage.
I need to clear this up.
Or, at the very least, for the people who read my weekly ramblings.
What We Wear At Home Should Not Be a Deciding Factor in the Strength of Our Relationship With Our Spouse.
Marriages are a contract, yes, but they’re a contract that should be tied to a deep and abiding love and faithfulness– to not only our spouse, but to God.
When I got married, I distinctly remember the minister mispronouncing my short name, but getting my husband’s long, long, long name correct. the words, “for better or for worse” among the words my husband and I repeated.
I’m sure there are people who will smirk and say, “For better or for worse doesn’t have anything to do with bad style choices.” I disagree. Completely.
If my husband’s love for me were directly tied to the way I looked, our marriage would have ended years ago.
I may not wear sweatpants, but I also don’t wake up each morning before my husband so he doesn’t see me without my ‘face’ on.
For that matter, I rarely wear make-up, so there’s that.
He’s seen me with bedhead, fighting the stomach flu.
I’ve had chronic migraines, that have done nothing for the way I look; and long ago, he saw me when I drank too much.
None of these sights were pretty, and they’re all a heck of a lot worse than him seeing me in a pair of sweatpants.
Love Isn’t About the Way You Look, It’s About the Connection You Have With Someone’s Heart.
Love is the butterflies you get in your stomach when you know you’re going to see them; it’s the comfort their presence brings you, without them saying anything.
It’s knowing that you don’t have to doll yourself up all the time to impress them, because they’re impressed with the way God created you.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.Instead, 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.”
1 Peter 3:3-4
They don’t love you because of the adornments you use to be fashionable or beautiful for a materialistic world.
I understand what she ‘might’ have been trying to say.
Women Should Take Pride in Themselves.
The biggest problem with associating this with a type of pants, is that people miss the bigger picture.
Pride in yourself is fine–as long as you remember everything you have is God’s.
Be careful about having too much pride in your good looks, your perfect body, or the clothes you wear.
All of those things are fleeting.
The beauty God created inside you–your heart and soul–those are where the true strength of your marriage will come from.
So, ladies if you feel like your husband (or boyfriend) will leave you if you don’t look your best, walk away.
He’s not the one for you.
Don’t sell yourself short for someone only interested in the outer trappings.
Find that person who will love you even when you’re looking your worst, because he’ll see the beauty God created.
Besides, no one wants to be worried about their hair or make-up at two in the morning–when they’re in labor.
It had been a horrible, rotten, no good, very bad week in our home, and this particular day was working out to be the worst one. I was almost positive motherhood wasn’t supposed to be this hard.
The kids had been at each other since they woke up, I was hugely pregnant with our youngest son, and someone decided to pee on their bedroom carpet…again.
The carpet that was less than three months old.
In the house we’d just bought.
My husband was still out of state at FLETC, and I was trying to balance everything, including my children’s socialization (because obviously, homeschoolers have to worry about socialization–but that is a soap box for another time).
I was a Momma on the edge, and no amount of chocolate was helping.
Prayer is Always the Answer
If at first you don’t succeed, try turning to God.
When the chocolate didn’t work, I did what I should always do first.
It’s possible I might have begged, actually.
Which is totally okay, because God loves us regardless of how much whining we do.
He’s amazing like that.
So, if at first you don’t succeed, try turning to God.
Things didn’t magically change overnight.
In fact things got harder before they got better, (and some days are still down right hard)and when that happens people often decide God isn’t listening or doesn’t care.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, God is closest to us during our struggles.
Providing we allow Him to be.
God is always listening to our prayers, and He always knows what is going on in our lives. The problem comes when instead of turning to Him, we turn away from Him.
Often times people will quote the saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle”.
That is a falacy.
It mght sound good, but it isn’t how God works.
He will most definitely give us more than we can handle, because He doesn’t want us to handle it. He wants us to turn to Him.
We need to turn to Him.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
The Motherhood Struggle: Dishes
Recently our dishwasher turned in its pink slip in the middle of a cycle, and since that time I’ve found myself standing at the kitchen sink a lot more than I’m used to.
This is just one more thing in the long line of, well, things that have become my new expectation of owning a home.
These moments are the times I miss renting, but only for a few minutes.
Anyway, back to the sink, and the dishes.
This is the Chore That Never Ends…
It seemed that when we had a dishwasher to rely on, there was often a sink full of dirty dishes waiting to be loaded.
Or a load waiting to be started, because there weren’t quite enough dishes in it to warrant turning it on.
One thing I’ve learned about motherhood, is that dishes are a quite necessary and often irritating part of raising children.
Kids want to eat, and when they eat they use dishes and glasses.
Often several at a time.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any time, or following me on IG, you likely know I suffer from anxiety.
A sink full of dishes adds exponentially to that.
The day the dishwasher died, I decided I wasn’t going to allow this new adventure to cripple me.
So, this time I turned to God and asked for peace about the situation.
Then I made a plan.
Sare Verses the Dishes
Several people I know, including my husband, are much more laid back than I am when it comes to chores and getting things finished.
To them, the longer they put it off the happier they are.
This doesn’t work for me.
If I put something off, like the dishes, that responsibility will follow me all day long.
My shoulders will become stiff with tension, my neck and jaw will ache, and my temperament will suffer.
To combat this, I don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.
I don’t wait to do the dishes.
When I drink my pre-workout drink in the morning, I clean the jar and place it on the rack to dry. If I have a snack, I clean the dish and put it away.
Yes, this does mean I spend time at the sink more often, but it prevents me from missing out on time with my family if I’m washing an entire day’s worth of dishes after dinner.
If You Can Carry a Dish, You Can Help
After a meal, those who are old enough clear their personal places at the table and then wash their own dishes, placing them in the rack to dry.
This allows every one to take responsibility for the use of their own items.
It also helps this Momma to not spend hours at the sink scrubbing caked on food.
We are a family, and as a family we eat together and we work together.
No one has ever died from cleaning up after themselves, and my children will leave this house knowing how to take care of themselves and a home–regardless of their gender.
The Motherhood Struggle: Raising Productive Children
Ever since my eldest daughter was old enough to help pick up her own toys and place her blanket on the side of her crib, I have given my children age appropriate chores.
This is a big deal, sisters.
The other day I was volunteering with a group of third and fourth grade girls and discovered more than half of them don’t have chores.
Motherhood isn’t just about keeping a little person alive until they’re eighteen.
It’s about raising them and teaching them.
It’s about guiding them and giving them boundaries, balance, and skills to not just survive, but thrive when they’re no longer living within the walls of our homes.
What Are Age Appropriate Chores?
If you do a quick search on Google or Pinterest you’ll find all kinds of colorful charts listing chores by age group.
My eldest daughter (11) has a wide variety of chores including
Cleaning the bathroom she shares with her brother
Taking the dog outside
Feeding and caring for the cat
Helping with the dishes
Taking the trash and recycle to the street for pick-up
wiping down the counters in the kitchen
setting the table
helping with meals
doing her laundry
keeping her room neat and picked up (this includes bed made and art supplies stored away)
helping weed the yard and gardens
My eldest son’s (6) chores include:
Feeding the dog
putting away his laundry
making his bed
putting his toys away when he is done playing with them
wiping off the table
cleaning the toilet (with supervision and help)
helping to set and clear the table
bringing his dirty laundry down on laundry day
My youngest daughter (3) helps where she can. She:
Picks up her toys with help
carries the vacuum cord while I vacuum the main floor of the house
brings her dishes to the sink
puts away the step-stool after shes’ used it
Not all of theses chores are done all the time, but all of them have been done. Some of the are done weekly or daily.
Family Chore List
To keep things running smoothly (since our family thrives on routines), we have a laminated list of daily chores on the fridge.
Each chore has a name beside it, and that person is responsible for getting their chore done right after breakfast.
This includes Momma.
Once the chore is finished we cross it off and go about our day.
Since we try to do more together on the weekend I keep the chores down to a minimum on Saturday/Sunday. This allows for relaxation and play.
I wish I could take credit for coming up with this list, but for some reason I’d never thought of it until Stephanie over at A Simply Dunn Life shared how she took some of the struggle out of housework and motherhood.
Since my kiddos and I began using this daily chore list, there has been less stress, more team work, and an overall change in the attitude of our home.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t fix everything that causes stress and anxiety, but it definitely helps.
For that reason, I’m including a free download of the chart we use.
Just print it out, laminate it and you’re ready to go.
We’ve been having some seriously stormy weather here in Virginia, and it doesn’t appear to be clearing up much this week.
The thunderstorms mixed with high temperatures tend to have an adverse affect on my kiddos and me, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
When the weather is dreary and we’re confined to the house, everyone gets antsy.
This is compounded (for me) by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), so rainy days really get me down.
For more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, check out my post about it here.
Knowing this, I often repeat this one verse, Psalm 51:12, throughout the day.
Verse to Mediate On
Restore in me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Now, granted, this particular chapter in the Psalms actually deals with David’s repentance after he sinned against God with Bathsheba, but I find that meditating on it when I am depressed or anxious often helps to alleviate some of the struggle.
A Prayer For Moms
While we face the storms in our lives, we turn to you, Lord.
We ask You to restore the joy given to us through salvation, and that the Holy Spirit will sustain us when we can’t do it on our own.
You, Lord are our strength and protection through all of life’s storms. When the rain pours, and the thunder crashes, You alone are our safety.
Help us to remember this today, and every day as we raise our children for Your glory.
My entire life has been connected in one way or another to the military.
I grew up the daughter of a Master Chief in the United States Navy. I joined (albeit shortly) the Army National Guard, and in 2005 I married a Marine.
All these years later, I realize just how much that military life strengthened my faith in Our Heavenly Father.
Each situation, transition, and experience added another brick to the foundation of my belief in God’s almighty power, His endless love, and boundless wisdom.
God is Always There
When my husband and I first married, we were immediately stationed on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
This sounds like a dream destination, but for us it wasn’t.
We struggled, and there were times it didn’t seem possible for us to make it through together.
Looking back it’s easy to see, God had a plan for us; we just weren’t listening to Him or leaning on Him.
We experienced many different things during our eighteen months there.
Most of it separately.
My husband spent a good portion of the time we were stationed there deployed to Afghanistan–or preparing to deploy.
Because of this, we relied heavily on ourselves, and then expected each other to fill the empty spaces in our lives.
It was rough.
I’d never been away from my family or my friends, and living on an island–basically alone–showed me a weakness in myself I’d never known.
Even though I wasn’t intimate with God during this season of my life, He was there.
Taking the hard moments and using them to help build a strong foundation for my future faith.
The LORD Does it Again
When we left Hawaii we were stationed in Virginia.
We struggled to build our relationship, because neither of us understood the other. We didn’t communicate, and we hurt each other deeply time and time again.
Military Life Isn’t Easy.
Not even for people with strong marriages.
Being young made it harder.
The Marine Corps was a tough employer, and my husband worked long hours and was rarely home.
When he was home he would unwind by playing computer games.
A solitary activity that didn’t include me.
Between the stresses of his job, and our lack of connection I was emotionally exhausted.
After two years, I was ready to call it quits.
Then a Miracle Happened.
I’d been told after the loss of my son I’d likely never carry a child again.
God, however, works miracles all the time; in His time it happened.
With our marriage on rocky ground, we made it through the pregnancy and birth of our eldest.
It wasn’t easy, and we still didn’t turn to God or acknowledge Him in our lives.
We continued to go it on our own, and made each day harder than it needed to be.
Again, the LORD wasn’t deterred.
He used our experiences in this new place to add more bricks to the foundation of my faith.
Deployments, PTSD, and Selfishness
My Husband Deployed to Afghanistan Twice.
The second time he deployed, our eldest was a toddler, and that changed everything. His absence was no longer only affecting me, but was affecting a little girl who didn’t understand why her daddy wasn’t home to tuck her in.
This wasn’t the first time he’d been gone from our lives since her birth, but it was the first time the military had taken him to a war zone.
Those seven months were both a struggle and a blessing.
I just didn’t realize the ‘blessing’ part until years later.
While he was gone I experienced a number of things that would have been so much easier with God actively in my life.
Learning Experience: God is Faithful
My daughter ended up rushed to a children’s hospital when her temperature elevated and the local hospital didn’t feel capable of caring for her. We rode in the ambulance for over an hour, to a hospital in the middle of the desert.
I’d left my car at the local hospital with no idea of how she and I would get home.
Without knowing it at the time, God was there.
Her fever broke and we made it back home.
A problem that seemed insurmountable was solved.
Back to Back Deployments Are Traumatic
When a service member returns from a deployment it takes time for reintegration.
Not only for the member, but for the family he left as well.
We’d spent seven months apart, and during that time both our daughter and I had grown and changed.
He’d changed too.
You can’t deploy somewhere, see death, destruction, and misery, and not be irrevocably changed.
It was really hard to connect.
He and I had never really been great at communicating in the first place, add in the stresses of his returning to a safe place, and the communication was practically non-existent.
God used these struggles too.
I couldn’t see it at the time, and if you’d asked me during those days I would have scoffed at the idea of any god, let alone the God.
Then He Deployed to Okinawa
Within weeks of his return, my husband was back scheduled to deploy again.
Granted, this time it wasn’t to a war-torn country where anyone could be planning to kill you; it still meant he would leave his family for another seven months.
Prior to any deployment, service men train for what might happen while they’re on mission.
This training takes months, and at times feels like a deployment itself.
We never saw him, and when we did he was angry.
I was angry.
Something was going on with him, I knew it and so did our daughter. He didn’t agree.
The week before he deployed to Okinawa, the dam broke. I was tired of seeing my baby girl hurt by her father’s indifference.
It was the first (and only time) my husband has ever sworn at me.
He was in pain, I could see it, but I couldn’t fix it.
I couldn’t help him, and he wasn’t willing to help himself.
My Decision: To Love
The night before he left, I made a choice.
It was time to stop being selfish. To stop placing blame, and just do what I should have done all along.
The same thing Jesus would have done.
I wrapped my arms around him, and loved him.
Regardless of my anger, my confusion, and my own hurt, I felt peace wash over me.
This was the right thing to do.
He wouldn’t leave our home with an angry, bitter wife. He would leave with a wife full of love for her husband.
It’s obvious now what that peace was.
That change wasn’t because I’m a naturally forgiving person.
God had wrapped His arms around me, and said, “trust me”.
Seven months later when my husband returned, he was a different person, and so was I.
This time however, I saw something better in him.
There was a light in him again. The pain wasn’t gone, but it was receding.
God had worked on him too, it seemed.
In the solitude of long runs around Okinawa, God had started to heal my husband.
Military Life: Relocating Time and Again
From the East to the West and Back Again
Our active duty military career continued until 2017.
During those years we moved from Washington State to Hawaii.
From Hawaii to Virginia
Then onto California.
Back to Washington State, just to do it once more– across the Continental United States to Virginia.
We grew our family from that first miracle to four miracles.
How This Helped My Faith
Soon after we had our second child, our eldest son, we were given orders to return to Washington State (where our relationship originally began).
Just like that, a light came on.
Like a program working in the background of your mobile device, God had been working on me.
I’d discovered what had been missing from my life.
For so long I’d been trying to fill the empty space, and nothing had worked.
With the knowledge I was heading back to the home I’d run away from, I surrendered.
God broke through my stubborn pride, and with open arms accepted me: scars, bad choices, confusion, and all.
Through it All, He Remains
Since that summer day in 2013, many things have changed in my life.
I’d be lying if I said my marriage suddenly became perfect, and all our problems magically disappeared once I accepted God back into my life.
That we never struggled.
I’d be lying if I said our lives have been perfect and there hasn’t been a day of worry.
It doesn’t work that way.
There has been pain and loss (My father passed away in January 2015), and there were times of deep fear within this Momma( when the doctor discovered on Mother’s Day 2018 that my youngest daughter has multiple VSDs in her heart)
Being a Christian is hard. Really hard for so many reasons.
Jesus never said it would be easy.
But, I can tell you without a shred of doubt it’s worth it.
He’s worth it.
We’re worth it.
Through all the ups and downs, God continues to strengthen my faith. Not in myself, but in Him.
My family grows, matures, and loves each day, because of His love and righteousness.
And through everything–including the change from active duty military life to reserves–God continues to love me.
When the Marine Corps payment doesn’t come in when its supposed to, and the bank account is too low to cover everything, I trust God.