A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed two books in the Pocket Prayers series from Max Lucado and a variety of co-authors. At that time, I spotlighted Pocket Prayers for Moms as well as Pocket Prayers for Friends. Today I want to look at one more – Pocket Prayers for Military Life, co-written with Mark Mynheir.
Daily life for those in the military and their loved ones at home can be filled with rapid change, fear, and uncertainty. For those bravely sacrificing for our country, bestselling author, Max Lucado, offers words of hope, pointing them to the Source of faith and courage. Pocket Prayers for the Military contains forty scriptures and guided prayers that will help readers face the unique challenges of military life with courage and faith.
I can think of no person I would rather send this book to than my WONDERTWIN Mikal and her husband. I could go on and on about how great Mikal is, what an amazing writer she is, how she’s such an incredible encourager and friend, or how she makes me LAUGH and get TEARFUL – sometimes within seconds of each other. But instead (Um… i guess i kinda just did go on and on about all that, huh?), I invited Mikal to share her heart about what it’s been like for her as a military wife.
Take it away, dearest WT <3
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Life As I Never Knew It
by Mikal Dawn
The one thing I’ve heard over and over from others who are not affiliated with the military is that I knew what I was getting into when I married my husband.
Can I admit that I totally can’t stand hearing that? Usually I just grit my teeth, smile, and nod, like the polite Canadian-by-birth-now-naturalized-American that I should be. But oh, inside I am rolling my eyes like ten teenagers put together.
My husband and I met on a Christian web site when my son and I were living just outside of Vancouver, Canada. Donkey (my husband’s call sign) was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I saw his profile and thought Oh, I bet he’d make a fun pen pal! Little did I know. Hundreds of emails, hours upon hours (upon hours) on the phone, eight months, and three—yes, only three!—in-person visits later, we were married. I hadn’t grown up with any close family in the military. My sister had married a man in the US Navy, but she was living in the United States, so I didn’t get to see her day-to-day life. No friends were married to military service members. I had no experience whatsoever.
Did I know what I was getting into? Nope. Nada.
I’d spent eleven years as a single mother, relying on the help of my own mother, close family friend, my son’s paternal grandmother, my friends, and of course, Jesus. (If it weren’t for Jesus, I tremble to think of what I could have done to traumatize my child for the rest of his life!) Spending eleven years on my own, I didn’t think, despite my love for Donkey, that I could get so attached to someone not of my own blood.
Then deployment happened. Um, can I say shock?
Months of loneliness, going days without hearing from Donkey and then when I did hear from him, sometimes it would be a one-sentence email. Spending time with my son as I comforted him in his worry that his newfound dad could be injured—or worse—just as we had finally found him. Tears. The house breaking. The car breaking down (things always seem to come in threes!). Illnesses.
No. I didn’t know what I was getting into. All the emotions were unexpected.
Then he came home.
I was nervous the first homecoming we experienced. (Confession: I was nervous the fourth homecoming…and still get nervous!) I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if he’d changed his mind after months of being away from me. What if he realized he didn’t truly love me? What if he was no longer attracted to me? All the “what if’s!!”
I didn’t know what I was getting into. I didn’t know that jetlag and the time change would take days to get over. I didn’t know that all he’d want to do was sleep when he came home. I didn’t know it would take time for him to assimilate to being back home…and take time for me to get out of my “it’s only me to raise my child” mindset.
I also didn’t know the sweetness that could happen when he kissed me again. I didn’t know the joy that would happen when we went out on our first “date” after his deployment. I didn’t know there could be another honeymoon phase in our marriage.
I didn’t know military life would teach us to cherish each day that we do have together. I didn’t know that military life could teach us to further depend on God, both together and individually. I didn’t know that having someone else order our life with regards to deployments, trips, and moving to different states could deepen the family bond we had because we were all we had when we moved to a new home.
The military life can be hard, for sure. It can hurt. It can be frustrating. It can even be overwhelming at times. It can also be comforting. It teaches us. It bonds us together. It has given me the ability to develop friendships more quickly because I just don’t know how long we’ll be in one city or state. It has given me a much deeper appreciation for my husband and everything he does for us, both as a service member and as a man, husband, and father.
Each time he boards the plane he flies on, it’s at the forefront of my mind that I may not see him again. Knowing that possibility exists, I’ve learned (though don’t always practice) to let go of the small things that ultimately don’t matter. I’ve learned to never let him leave without a kiss and “I love you.” I’ve learned to not go to sleep angry (putting it into practice is sometimes hard, though).
I’ve also learned that when someone tells me I knew what I was getting into to gently shake my head and quietly say, “No, I didn’t. It’s far better than I ever could have imagined. God is good.”
family photo taken by J&L Studios, Hampton VA
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Mikal Dawn is an aspiring inspirational romantic-comedy author, wedding enthusiast and proud military wife. She also blogs for a local ministry and volunteers as a Key Spouse for her husband’s squadron. When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand, of course!) for wedding ideas for her characters.
Born and raised just outside of Vancouver, Canada, Mikal has lived throughout the southern United States, currently residing in Nebraska (and loving it!) with her husband, three kids, and one ferocious feline.
Ok – now it’s YOUR turn! What is something you learned from reading Mikal’s beautiful post?