Military Family

“There’s nothing like family.”

Thats the saying, and it’s true. There is nothing like family. For us, we are keenly aware of this because we have lived away from our dear family for so long.

You know,  as a military family, we have our own little sayings. I’m not sure if this is an official one, but “there is nothing like military family” rings true for us.

This family doesn’t have the same DNA running through our veins, but we are family none the less. We are the ones who get together on Easter, Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, and other holidays, because none of us have family nearby to celebrate with. We are the emergency contacts on each other’s school forms; the ones who bring dinner when the other is sick; the ones who mow the yard when the other is deployed. We are the babysitters and the pet-sitters; the extra-key holders and the come over for let-over eaters.

We can sit at a table with other veterans and automatically bond, even if we do not know each other or have anything in common except for the service of sacrifice. And if we are lucky…we adopt each other, becoming the family that gets each other through our assignments

There is nothing like military family. Listen…in  this family, we get it.  We get the sacrifice, the burden and of course, we get the lingo. We get it and that knowledge alone brings us into family. It’s a beautiful comfort in such a temporary world.

When I go to Belgium this summer, that is one thing I am excited to witness. I am excited for these kids to find a new family in their hearts. To bond together, to adopt each other, to become brothers and sisters and to sit at the table of fellowship, ingesting the goodness of family.

“There is nothing like military family….”

While that is true, I know something truer. We are all family, made one in Jesus Christ, with the same blood running through our veins. And in Him, we are called to extend and enlarge our family.

This is what I hope to do there and with my life. I want to live with intention and  invitation into my family. I am not sure who I will be when I’m there in Brussels, maybe a mentor,  a sister or even a mother,  BUT I do know that whatever role I fall in,  the love of God will be with me. And, through His love, my family will grow. And for that, I am blessed.

Eternally blessed,

A.

missions donation link: https://www.gofundme.com/getAliciatoBelgium

The Unshed Tears Of A Military Child

“I can see them. As we read books together before bedtime, I see them. I see the side of her mouth trembling a little, just like her dad’s does, keeping it all in because in this world,  STRONG is what we teach.

As we read, I go over the day in my mind:

  • The 3 times she broke out into weeping, the prayer we prayed in carpool, the goodbye, the dropping her off at school, the text to her wonderful teacher asking to keep a tender eye on her…..
  • The alarms I set on my phone to remind me to pray for her and myself, too…..
  • The more than 5 times she broke out into tears over small things, so small I don’t even recall what they were…
  • The arguing over her not doing her chores and the inevitable consequences…
  • The letter she wrote me, apologizing and explaining that she feared she would never be able to be a good girl because she isn’t strong when her daddy is gone…
  • The tugging of my heart and the sheer panic rising as I calmly try to determine the next step….
  • The walking of the tension between punishment and grace…..

And then, in a blink of an eye, I’m back to reality and I see them. Fluid waters of grief held at bay, they are.

Unshed tears, they are.

All of a sudden, my heart is squeezed with pain over what I cannot undo, over what I cannot fix. I see the unshed tears; I wonder what is keeping them in and than it hits me. She doesn’t want to disappoint me. She wants to be a strong little girl even though her emotions are wild and confusing and overwhelming.

Where did she get that? Why does she think that? How did this happen?

Even in this sudden realization, I know that there is nothing I could have done or not done to prevent her from exercising her will. After all, she is her own being, and this is her world. Dad is gone, mom is running the show, and even though she loves mom, her world is rocked every single time he has to leave.

And so, she weeps and she cries, but the time comes,  even for an almost 8 year old, where she chooses to leave her pain untended to so she can experience something – anything – else besides it.

As she reads to me, I wonder,

Why do we teach being STRONG with such fervor? If anything, maybe we should forget about being strong and just try to be TRUE. Maybe, we should  pay attention and tend to the unshed tears around us…in our families, in our communities, in our sons and daughters….our sweet military children in their untended grief.

We should! I should!

You know, I don’t know a lot about how to be a “great” mother. Who really does? But, I do know this. I will notice her tears…shed and unshed. And I will welcome them.  I will love her and I will be here, standing in the void, every time her dad leaves….wiping away all those shed and unshed tears. I will tend to her in her pain, and help her carry the burden of unspoken grief and separation from family. “

Guys…this is just a small little snapshot of my normal life.

However, it is not just my life. There are so many of us military families with struggles that are specific to our subculture. I can tell you through veteran eyes that it is difficult and that there is truly very little support. But the world has enough stories about people like me…..Not saying mine isn’t important. NO, not at all.

But, I challenge you to think about the child, the children, of military parents. As adults, we know how to function and we aim to protect our children. But there are realities we can’t always protect them from.

  • Mom or dad may be going to war or already there….
  • They may friends who have lost a parent in the line of duty…
  • Mom or dad may go TDY a lot …
  • Mom or dad may work insane hours because manning is low and the reality is that military members do not have the option to keep their family first…..AND
  • The kid starts to learn about war in school and the revelation hits them that mommy and/or daddy is in the military too and they could die…..

This,my friends,  it does more than affect our children. It helps form them, their dreams and their perspectives. Every story is different…but I am certain that the grief of missing mom or dad is the same….

This is the burden of the military child…

So that is one of many reason why I want to go to Brussels this summer. There in Brussels, on June 22nd, middle school children from every branch of the military all across Europe, will gather together at a camp sponsored by Jacob’s Generation. My team will be providing the music and stepping out as mentors during our time there.

I HOPe and I PRAY that I can be a light into their lives and that their stories will be heard. I pray that I can make a lasting impact, one where love really did pour out and fill up; fall down and lift up;  release and be received.

And I pray that each child will encounter the true, non-discriminating love of God, who promises to wipe every tear from our eyes, accepts us unconditionally, and knows what each tear drop carries- shed or unshed.

This is why I want to go; this is why I feel led to go…

Will you help me get there? Every donation is valuable; every prayer is cherished. Please partner with me as I prayerfully raise funds to minister to these very special, in need of love and tenderness, close to my heart, children.

https://www.gofundme.com/getAliciatoBelgium