Prairie Wife of the Week September 26, 2014
Posted September 26, 2014 by Prairie Wife - 3 comments
I met Kathryn a few years ago through a past Prairie Wife of the week. Over the years I have had the pleasure of getting to know Kathryn better on both a social and spiritual level. She is currently the leader of a Bible Study I attend, and it was at one of our meetings that I first heard her mention that her husband had been deployed several times overseas. I had know that she was (and still is) an Army Wife and had moved several times but, I had never known that she had experienced such lengthy separations from her husband. My first thought was to feel ashamed of my inner complaints about a husband that is gone on week days, then I was filled with questions for her…and when the time was right I approached her about being a Prairie Wife of the Week. Her quiet strength and strong faith are two of her character traits that I have come to admire, and after reading her interview I now need to add wisdom, patience, and compassion. Please take the time to read this unique interview, and share it with others. It is memorable not only because it is a touching story of love and service to God and Country but, because there are so many other women and families that are serving America, whose stories haven’t been told. In an interview with Past Prairie Wife General Kathy Wright she said “Thank service members; it’s because of them that we have our freedom. When we have a family with a service member in our community we need to be compassionate, and acknowledge the sacrifice that they make as a whole family.” I ask you to please keep her words and Kathryn’s story in your mind, heart, and prayers.
Prairie Wife (PW): First tell us a little bit about your family.
Kathryn (K): The story of our family is a living testimony of God’s love and faithfulness to us. My husband Nick and I met waaaaaay back in high-school on a youth backpacking trip organized by our church. We were just teenagers, I was 15 and Nick 17, but we both came home from the trip and said, “I met the person I want to marry!” Our parents both laughed and sighed (and maybe flipped out a little), but they encouraged us to seek the Lord, build a friendship, and see what God had in store for us when we grew up. Haha. Nick and I dated all through high-school and college and then got married right before I graduated from college. We’ve been married for 10 years now, and have 4 beautiful little boys, ages 8,6,4,2.
PW: husband is in the military, can you tell us a little bit about his career?
K: When I met my husband back in high-school, he already had the dream of joining the military and serving our country. His senior year in high-school, he applied and was honored to be accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point. I had no idea what an honor it was (or how rigorous the application process was) to be accepted there, but was so proud of my soon to be soldier! He attended West Point for 4 years, and was commissioned as an Engineer Officer in the United States Army upon his graduation. It was the summer after he graduated that he proposed to me. Nick’s first assignment as a new 2nd Lieutenant was a one year tour in South Korea and our plan was to get married after he returned (and after I graduated college).
Its funny to think back to that time… we had such a tearful goodbye when he left for South Korea. It felt so very far away, and I remember having thoughts of maybe never seeing him again. But God had an even bigger challenge waiting for us– half way into his tour to South Korea, his unit received deployment orders to Iraq. South Korea was already considered an overseas tour, and it was (to us) unimaginable that troops would be deployed from this location– yet this was the call of duty! Right away, we were tested, were we in it for the long haul?!?! I was in my senior year of college, and we had already been engaged for nearly a year when we got this news. We cried, and prayed, and cried some more. We didn’t know how long the deployment would be, if he’d be able to come home one last time before he left, or if we’d ever get married. We had waited 6 years (through high-school and college) to get married to boot. It was such an emotional time. A few days after the original news, we got word that the soldiers would be given 2 weeks to go home and see their families before going back to Korea to train and deploy.
It didn’t take us long to decide what we were going to do! We were GETTING MARRIED! We had spent nearly 6 years waiting and preparing to become one flesh in marriage…and we were ready, so ready, to completely share ourselves– physically, mentally, emotionally. We were ready to be completely connected and united together. And after waiting for 6 years, no one could really say we were being impatient or impulsive! Haha! So, with 8 days notice, we planned the wedding we’d been waiting for (which also happened to be during finals week my senior year of nursing school). Boy! What a whirlwind! But again, what a testimony to God’s faithfulness to us! Friends and family dropped everything and flew in for the wedding with just a few days notice. Friends offered services of all kinds, and before we knew it we had a caterer, church building, soloist, pianist, flowers, photographer and even a wedding cake lined up. Oh, and did I mention that my seamstress of a mom had been slowing sewing my wedding dress throughout the engagement, but it was no where close to being finished? My mom and her close friend stayed up late sewing on beads and lace. It was amazing how people came together and supported us during this challenging time! By God’s mercy and grace we were married and joined together as one and enjoyed a week long honeymoon before Nick returned to Korea and deployed to Iraq.
The rest of my husband’s career in the Army has been much like this story above. Move after move, house after house, separation after separation, God continued his work in us and grew us in faith, love and commitment. Nick was stationed at 5 different military bases, and served two one year deployments to Iraq. He was trained in air assault and as paratrooper (yes! for several years my husband jumped out of airplanes for a living! Yikes!). He served in many different roles, all as an officer, leading and training soldiers. Nick served for 9 1/2 years in the active duty Army before we decided to make an exit. Nick transferred his commission to the National Guard and is now serving as the Battalion Executive Officer for a local unit in our home state.
PW: Your husband has been deployed overseas several times. I have experience with my husband being gone each week for days at a time, but not for a year straight. Can you share with us what impact it has on your life to have your husband gone for a year at a time?
K: It is hard to put into words what it is like to be separated for a year at a time. A year is a LONG time. Nick’s two deployments to Iraq took place at pivotal points in our lives– the first, just weeks after we got married, the second, just weeks after we’d had our second baby. The deployments were filled with some of life’s biggest challenges, yet also with biggest times of growth. Both in our love for each other and in our faith and trust in the Lord. So many people think of deployments as a time to just get through, a time when you put your life on pause until you are reunited. We tried to think of deployments as a time where we could grow and develop, not a pause button, but a growth button. What would the Lord have us learn through this trial? How could we deepen our love for each other, our commitment? How could our family mature and progress, even if we were separated? The answers to these questions didn’t come easy, and again, came with much struggle, tears, and prayers. We learned so much through deployments.
We learned how to communicate well. Nick’s first deployment was early on in the war in Iraq. Things were pretty hot over there and soldiers were losing their lives every day. We learned to never say anything we might regret. Never leave things unsaid. Never go to sleep angry. Never hang up in frustration. This is good advice for every family and every marriage, yet it was a matter of life and death for ours. We never knew if that phone call might be our last. So we talked about things that mattered. we shared the deepest parts of our souls. we prayed for and encouraged one another. We kissed the phone good night.
In addition to learning how to communicate, we learned how to trust God. One of the hardest things for a control freak like me was to learn that no amount of worrying, planning, thinking or rethinking, could change the outcome overseas. If Nick was called to die for our country, there was nothing I could do about it. I wasn’t there. I couldn’t protect him or save him. My hands were tied by the distance that separated us. It was hard letting go, but good letting go too. I learned to trust God in a much deeper way, knowing that while I couldn’t protect or save my husband, God could. And God would. My husband’s life (and death) were in His hands. My truest and deepest comfort was knowing that it didn’t rest in my hands, but that life rested in my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. This was a struggle for Nick as well, and he too learned to trust our merciful Savior for the protection and life of his wife and family.
We also learned how to trust each other. We never doubted each other’s marital faithfulness, but I know there were a few times when we doubted our abilities to care for different things. Nick had to trust me to care for our vehicles! Haha. And to pay the bills, mow the lawn, train the children, and often to make important decisions without him. Have you ever planned an out of state move without the help of your spouse?!?!? Man, that was a hard one. I had to trust him to do everything he could to make our family a priority while he focused on his military mission; to call, pray, write, and care for us from a distance.
Army families will often say that deployments make or break you. By God’s grace, deployments made us. Oh no, it was never easy… and if we could choose, we’d never be separated again, but we would both say that our deployments were always good. For our good. Because we knew, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
PW: What advice do you have for other military families who have members overseas?
K: My best advice is to cling to Christ and cling to your spouse. Many people start looking for other people or other things for comfort and support…alcohol, money, sex, drugs… vacations, clothes, food. While “outside” support is crucial (oh the blessing of friends and family who will watch kids, run errands, pray with you, make meals, encourage you!!),” inside” support is even more necessary. Do not neglect each other and your marriage. Don’t stop working at your marriage. Don’t stop communicating. Don’t stop loving each other. Don’t look to other people to fill the void. Look to Christ and look to your spouse. Use the deployment as a time to build your relationship instead of putting it on hold. Cling to your spouse, let him know that he is your one and only. And cling to the means God has provided to grow and strengthen you. Be faithful in reading the Bible, prayer and attending church.
PW: When your husband came back from his tour what was the adjustment like for you and your family? What was the adjustment like for your husband?
K: The separations are always hard, but oh man, the home comings are so sweet. Its hard to express the overwhelming joy and emotion of seeing your soldier walk off the airplane and run to pick you up. Even though its been several years since our last deployment, just thinking of those sweet homecomings brings tears to my eyes. There is almost nothing better than being reunited with your spouse. Go watch a few YouTube videos of soldiers being reunited with loved ones. The reunions are even sweeter in real life.
But its funny that the welcoming home isn’t without its challenges. As you mentioned, there are ADJUSTMENTS when your family is put back together. For the past year, I had been the decision maker. The home had revolved around me and my schedule. I decided what we ate, where we went, who we spent time with etc. When your soldier comes home, the pendulum swings and now I had input on what we ate, where we went, and who we spent time with. It was again a lot of trust and letting go. Nick took back a lot of the responsibilities I had assumed in his absence, and while it was a relief, it was also a challenge. I really liked things MY way. All the time. Haha.
Nick’s personal transitions back into the US were generally smooth. I attribute this to his solid faith and strength in Christ, he trusted the Lord and could do “all things through Christ who gives me strength!” After the first deployment, we did not really know what it was like to live together as he had left so soon after we got married, but Nick sometimes struggled with the gray areas. He was used to taking orders and giving orders, and it frustrated him when things did not go as planned. He was a bit jumpy for a short time, but it quickly passed. Nick’s struggle after the second deployment was learning how to be a father to a three-year old and getting to know our 20-month old of whose life he had missed so much of.
PW: As you watch your boys grow, do you think that your husband’s military service has impacted them?
K: My boys admire and desire to be like Daddy in just about every way. They all want to be big and strong. They all want short hair. They all want to love the Lord. And they all want to be in the military when they grow up. I don’t mind the big muscles or Army haircuts, but it sure does pull at my heart strings to think of anyone joining the Army. Let’s just hope they stay little. 😉
PW: What can we do as friends to support our military families?
K: Pray! Pray for our troops, pray for their families, pray for our government and leaders. And “do not without good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it” (Prov 3:27). Bring meals, make care packages, offer to babysit, bare flags. Don’t just ask about the welfare of the soldier, but ask about the family at home. And ask how their relationship is. but above all, PRAY!
PW: Any last Prairie Wife words of wisdom?
K: I just wanted to share that I absolutely loved being an Army Wife. I loved moving around, meeting new people, serving different communities, attending Army Balls, watching my husband serve… I absolutely loved it. Looking back over our time with the Army, the Lord was always faithful to provide. We always found great churches where God’s word was faithfully preached, we developed strong friendships at each duty station, and the Lord provided numerous opportunities to serve. In fact, we believe that God was, in part, preparing us for the work we have now – planting a church in Casper, WY. Additionally, Nick and I are big planners. We love to plan and set goals. But in our time with the military, God taught us to never set our hopes and trust on our goals and plans because He frequently changes them! (Isa. 55:8)
Categories: Prairie Wife of the Week