Love on the Frontlines: Loving our Military Families

WMSS, final, high resLove on the frontlines. That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? We get the idea of love but it’s when we’re loving others underfire that the process falls apart.

In the months ahead, I’ll post, on occasion, ways to employ (or deploy) love in our daily lives. Today’s guest post from Edie Melson is a powerful and practical instruction on ways to love the military families in your community.

Tips for Loving and Praying for the Military Families in Your Community

Loving someone in the military is tough. It brings its own set of struggles, fears and challenges. Until our son enlisted in the Marine Corps, I had no idea just how tough, and I was just the mom of a soldier. The spouses and children of our service men and women have an even more difficult journey.

As a faith community, we do a pretty good job of supporting one another during difficult times. We bring food to the family who’s lost a loved one. We rally around those facing serious illness. We even know how to reach out when there’s a new baby.

Military families need the same kind of support and outreach. Unfortunately these heroes at home often fly below the radar, hiding in plain sight. A lot of us don’t even realize they’re among us. But with over 2.3 million active duty and reserve military personnel, they are in every community in the country.

As a group, they can sometimes be hard to reach out to. They all seem to have a stiff-upper-lip mentality that hides the struggles they face. So I’m going to share some things that anyone can do to help. These suggestions include things for the times when a loved one is away on deployment as well as when the family is all together. A lot of these tips work during both scenarios.

First and foremost, we need to pray for these families and the soldiers they love.

Here are five specific ways to pray for our soldiers:

  1. Pray for protection. I’m not talking about just physical protection, but also for their minds and hearts.
  1. Pray for wisdom. Ask God to give them the mind of Christ and the ability to anticipate and avoid dangerous situations.
  1. Pray for comfort. Being away from everything—and everyone—you love is difficult. It’s even harder when they’re in an unfamiliar situation.
  1. Pray for strength. The men and women serving in our military need a special kind of strength. They must have strong hearts and a firm foundation, in addition to physical stamina.
  1. Pray for peace. I’m not just talking about the global peace that can bring them home safely, but the type of peace that transcends any circumstances.

ReunitedHere are five specific ways to pray for their families:

  1. Pray for peace. Fear is one of the biggest things military families face. Pray for God to grant them the peace that passes all understanding.
  1. Pray for faith. These families fight uncertainty. Pray for their faith to grow as they find their foundation in a God who never changes.
  1. Pray for courage. Ask for God to give them what they need to meet each day victorious.
  1. Pray for joy. It’s so hard for someone in these circumstances to experience joy. But God can give them back the daily joy so many are missing.
  1. Pray for protection. One of the biggest fears a soldier faces is worry for those he’s left behind. Praying for the family’s safety benefits them all.

But beyond prayer, we can also offer practical help.

Tips for Spoiling Military Families

  1. Give them a gift card for a favorite restaurant. Living under the kind of stress that military families face is exhausting. Some days that means cooking is an overwhelming prospect. On those days, the gift of a meal out is priceless.
  1. Drop by a labeled and wrapped freezer meal. Along the same lines as #1, having a meal ready to pull out of the freezer is a huge gift.
  1. Give them a movie theater gift card. Military families—like a lot of families—struggle to make ends meet financially. That often means there’s nothing left for extras, like a night out at the movies.
  1. Offer a night—or even a weekend—away. If you have access to a cabin in the woods or a condo at the beach, offer them a much-needed break. If you don’t own something like that, come together with several others, and pick up the tab so they can get away.
  1. Help with transportation and events. Even if the serviceman or woman isn’t on deployment, they still may work odd hours or have weeks when they’re gone for training. This can leave the other parent coping with multiple kids, going multiple directions. It’s hard for a parent to have two kids scheduled for two events at the same time. Offer to step in for transportation and even a little surrogate parenting.
  1. Put together a family night basket. Depending on the age of the kids, this could include games, puzzles or a DVD. Don’t forget to include special snacks like candy or popcorn. Help them take advantage of time together by making it a special event.
  1. Hire a military spouse. There are a lot of programs that educate businesses about the advantages of hiring veterans. I’d like to suggest that the same advantages come with hiring the spouse of a service person. This is also a great way to show your support to the sacrifices these families are making to keep us safe.
  1. Offer your hotel points for a free stay. Especially for moms and dads of active duty personnel, this can be a huge expense. The leaving or returning from a deployment happens from a distant military base, and hotels are expensive. The cost can keep a family from saying hello or goodbye. If you have frequent stay points, offer a couple of nights at a hotel close to base.

These are just a ways we can come together as a community and support the military families in our midst. I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments section below.

As the mother of a frontline infantry Marine, Edie Melson lived this book before she wrote it. Edie understands what it is to face Edie Melsonadversity and come out triumphant on the other side. Her years as a wife, mother, and ministry leader have given her a unique perspective to reach out
to others facing the same struggles.
She’s the Military Family Blogger for Guideposts.org, social media director for several writing websites, and a popular ministry and conference speaker. Connect with her on her blog, The Write Conversation, Twitter, and Facebook.

If you care about military families, I encourage you to check out Edie’s new release: While My Soldier ServesThousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands.  In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

 


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3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Caryl McAdoo says:

    Loved these ideas. Two of my grandsugars served in the navy and in the Marines! Thank you for the post! Blessings!

  2. Edie Melson says:

    Caryl, thanks for stopping by. And especially thank your grandkids for their service! Blessings, E

  3. Judith Robl says:

    Edie, Lori, thank you both for this post. In a time when our culture is riddled by factions and respect for anything seems to be in short supply, those of us who remember WWII and the unification of our country in support of our military mourn the lack of unity and purpose in our land today.

    Our service men and women need out prayers. Their families need our prayers. And both need our more tangible evidences of appreciation. Thank you for the reminder and the list.