by Kristen O'Neill Strong 40 Lives Impacted
Service always requires one kind of sacrifice or another, and no one understands this more than our military. We remember and honor the sacrifices ...
Service always requires one kind of sacrifice or another, and no one understands this more than our military. We remember and honor the sacrifices made by these bravest of the brave heroes who serve without complaining and sacrifice without expecting anything in return. They deserve our highest respect for who they are and what they do.
Their military spouses share in part of this sacrifice. One Air Force member says of military spouses, "[They] deserve recognition for being the backbone for military members that do what we do."
So what if a community of blog friends got together to show support to some of these behind-the-scenes heroes? What if we honored our service men and women by honoring those nearest and dearest to them, those who keep hope alive for their military husbands and wives as they serve all over the world?
One way we honor the memory of those who served and sacrificed is to make a difference in the lives of those who are serving now. And one way we can do that is to show military spouses they are seen and appreciated. Because when we build up military spouses, they are better able to build up their own service-member husbands and wives.
The day after Memorial Day, Kristen is turning 40. To celebrate her birthday this year, she is partnering with a chapter of the Armed Services YMCA and sending 40 care packages to 40 military spouses. She received many, many nominations from mothers, sisters, friends, and even the military members themselves who believed their loved one most deserving of encouragement in a box. Story after story told of wives and husbands battling seasons of loneliness, fear, and separations all while trying to figure out how to make friends, fit into new communities, adapt to constant change, and fill roles well beyond that of wife or husband. Some of the stories shared in the nominations include those of:
Andrea, a Navy wife who spent two, too-quick weeks with her brand new husband before he deployed and is figuring out how to be a wife long-distance.
Cristi, an Air Force wife who does her best to juggle household responsibilities, homeschool three kids, and maneuver complex medical issues while her husband serves in Afghanistan.
Teresa, an Army wife who teaches classes on base while caring for her husband who earned two purple hearts.
Mindy, an Air Force wife who homeschools all six of her children while serving the other families in her husband's unit.
Heather, an Army wife and mother of five who is undergoing chemo treatments in her fight against breast cancer.
Cheryl, an Air Force wife whose husband is on his fifth deployment in ten years and has single parented for years at a time, working at night to help make ends meet.
Michael, a stay-at-home Air Force dad who has the same challenges of managing homes and caring for his child as the military wife but handles them without the same support system.
Cary, an Army wife who battles morning sickness with child #4 while stationed in a remote area where communication must be done in "code language" due to security concerns.
Beth, an Army wife who spends much time on her knees praying for her husband in Afghanistan and her Navy son who deploys soon.
Amber, a Navy wife who said goodbye to her husband one week after their baby was born and is doing her best to be both mommy and daddy to this little one as well as to her three-year-old child with special needs.
Lisa, an Air Force wife who not long ago battled breast cancer. She continues to keep her busy high school and elementary school children on track while trying to sell her house at a time when her husband is away for training.
Jessica, who in her five years as a Navy wife has been through three deployments and has never spent a birthday, Valentine's Day, anniversary, and several other holidays with her husband.
Without a doubt, these military spouses sacrifice, too. They sacrifice familiarity and consistency. They sacrifice closeness to extended family. They sacrifice regular time with their husbands and wives. And sometimes, like nominee and Army wife Amy whose husband was killed in action in Iraq, they sacrifice all remaining time with their spouse on this earth.
Through other shops and businesses including Studio JRU, Be Small Studios, Mary Kay and others (some owned by former and current military spouses themselves), we have the opportunity to add extra blessings from artwork to makeup, cookies to coffee inside the care packages (as well as some dude-appropriate items for the guys). Not including shipping (which is already covered), the cost of each care package is a little over $75 with the grand total of all 40 packages coming to $3100. If you'd like to donate toward a care package, know you have Kristen's sincerest gratitude, the gratitude of these military spouses, and an extra big slice of virtual birthday cake.
It's true: a care package won’t fix longterm struggles for military spouses, but we do believe it shows them they are seen and valued.
They are thought about and respected.
They are esteemed and appreciated.
Not only by us, but most of all by the God of heaven who cherishes them wildly.
Thank you to the following military spouses for the above photos:Michelle Roselius, Davina Hickman, Pattie Reitz, Karin Madden, Sarah Lacour, Beth Stiff, Aimee Powell, Suzanna Stedman, and Lori Dunham.