Thursday, October 16, 2014

Navigating to a New Normal {Day 16-19: #write31days}

"You need to know there may be things I do not share with you while I am in Afghanistan."

That is what my husband said to me shortly before he left on his deployment. I expressed my dislike for his statement. I am your wife. We do not keep secrets from one another. How do I pray for you if you do not share both the ups and downs of your deployment?

His reason for not wanting to tell me the not so good happenings that came with having his feet on foreign soil in a war zone was to prevent unnecessary worry on my part. He would ask, “What purpose would it serve to tell you?” I realized it was time for me to trust my husband in the decisions he made to lead us through our time apart. God would let me know how to pray for him.

With my husband now home he's willing to share his experiences. He has pictures and videos to help him tell stories of what became his normal for nine months.

Some of his stories make me even prouder of him, some make me laugh, some he shared while away and some make me glad he waited until he was home to share.

His normal during that time included things like:

  • Sleeping in thirteen different beds (not much of a normal)

  • A weapon by his side 24/7

  • Instead of commercial planes flying over his head he had A-10 Warthogs, F-16’s and Apache, Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters.

  • Working with interpreters, bomb sniffing dogs and their handlers, and Afghan drivers

  • Announcements over a loud speaker that said, "Incoming, Incoming" which were followed by sprints to the nearest bunker because incoming meant there was a rocket attack

His normal included showing respect to those we could consider to be our enemy. When greeted by an Afghan they would say to him, "As-salamu alaykum." This translates to “peace be upon you.” My husband respectfully followed with the standard response to such greeting by saying, “Wa alaykumu s-alam.”

He also had a brotherhood with his fellow soldier most of us will never fully understand. Even he would have a hard time describing it other than to say you just know they've got your back.

There are moments when my husband misses Afghanistan. Of course he is happy to be home but his home for nine months was also there.

In this changing world we live in, finding a normal does not come with ease. What is normal anyways? We find gratitude in knowing our God is unchanging. He is our constant. As my husband's wife, he should also be able to rely on me being a constant source of comfort. My love for him should be unchanging; not wavering with the change of seasons.

I reflect back to Day 11 of The Love Dare book: Love cherishes [see my Love Dare journey]

"Marriage is a beautiful mystery created by God, joining two lives together as one" (The Love Dare, pg. 51). What one of us experiences also affects the other because our lives are now interwoven together. I am challenged by this after spending ten months apart from my husband. It can be difficult for me to understand how he could miss the life he lived in Afghanistan. It seems reasonable to want him to leave that season behind.

Reading Day 11 again reminds me of the need to bring warmth to my husband’s days. This comes with a willingness to embrace all the parts of his story as part of our story. I treasure every part of Him as a priceless gift. And I treat him with respect and tenderness as he navigates from one season to the next.

Which means when he returned home with a new normal behavior of going to bed with a hat on, I embrace it as part of our normal. For love does not allow the other to feel foolish or embarrassed. Love should always nourish and cherish.

That is why we do this navigating together. But the more I talk about navigating to a new normal I come to the realization again and again that the normal we seek is God being greater in our lives. Because what else in this life besides God can we count on to remain the same? If we allow God to take first place in our lives and hearts we can learn to love each other with an unchanging, unconditional, love. With His help we can have a love for one another that never changes.

So we turn our eyes and hearts to God. We ask Him to show us the way. As my friend Lori writes in her latest post, He will show us the most excellent way.

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This post is part of a 31 day series on navigating to a new normal. I am spending time away with my husband which is why Day 16-19 are included in one post. To read all of the posts in this series, click here.


  1. Beth, I can only imagine the joys and difficulties of navigating to that *new normal* in your marriage. As a person who doesn't like change (me), I admire you for releasing the things that you cannot change, and accepting the future with a loving attitude and open arms.

    In it all, and through it all, the common denominator is your faith, and the steady and unchanging character and Person of our God will sustain both of you.

    He knows the new and unfamiliar path. He will lead with wisdom. Just follow.

    Jesus Onward, Yes! (JOY!)


    1. Thank you for the encouraging comments you ALWAYS leave, dear friend. Your honesty is always appreciated but your words of encouragement leave me feeling so blessed to know you. Jesus Onward, indeed! Oh what Joy!! Much love. xoxo

  2. mmm ... oh. this.

    to be safe and strong enough to share each other's stories. this is a beautiful thing. this is a relationship filled with the most tender care.

    And that God is the author, the weaver, the healer. just too wonderful, Beth.

    1. He is too wonderful! He continually leaves me in awe. Thank you, Linda, for all your love and encouragement. Much love. xoxo

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Beth! I've learned through our son, that the transition coming home from war is more difficult than the transition to the war. There are things that we may not ever fully understand about how our loved ones feel, but we can trust that our God has a purpose in all things. This transitioning time...or the feeling of missing the camaraderie our heroes had while over seas is extremely common. It was a necessary connection while they were in harms way and it was/is a true gift. My son just started working for a group of guys who are veterans and have started a business together. Through there posts on FB and on their web site, I can see their strong friendship and patriotism coming through. It helps me to better understand what our son is feeling.

    Thanks again for Scott's service...and for your service as the wife of a soldier!

    Blessings & love, Joan

    1. This said it so well, Joan >>> "There are things that we may not ever fully understand about how our loved ones feel, but we can trust that our God has a purpose in all things." Trusting God as we continue to navigate. Thank you for sharing more about Cole with me. I truly appreciate it. Thank you to him for his service. Love you much.

  4. Hi Beth! You know, I think dealing with a guy who wears a hat to bed is acceptable! Praise the Lord that he was not scarred or traumatized in his work.
    I would imagine that it's normal to miss where he was. Even if it was terrible, it was intense, and he made such good friends. I'm sure you feel so happy and ready to deal with the mystery of your 'new normal' starting to peek it's head into your lives. I pray you will always see each other as the magnificent gift, that you are from God, given to each other.

    1. Here I am finally responding to comments. :) Ya know, I have grown rather fond of that hat he wears to bed. He's rather adorable in it. And yes, I anticipated him missing where he was. It can just be hard when I will never fully understand what there was like for him. But I am grateful for the stories he is willing to share and I am oh so grateful he made it home safely. So much to be thankful for.
      Hugs to you friend. xoxo

  5. I'm so proud of you, friend! Thank you for sharing part of your Hero with us today. I'm sure there are other "tendencies" that are not so easy to see as a hat at bedtime. To this day my brother will not drive over anything in the road. He drives around it. Praying for you and your husband during this time of "navigation" Love you.

    1. I'm sure for each of them the "tendencies" differ depending on their circumstances. I know their experiences can be so very different and how they walk away from those experiences will be different too. Thanks for sharing, June. I appreciate you so much. Love you. xoxo

  6. I loved this and could totally relate. I said a similar line to my husband when I left for Afghanistan. I think we all worry for our loved ones but knowing the nity-gritty doesn't help.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Amanda. And THANK YOU for your service. God bless.

  7. Hi Beth,

    Thank you for your posts. As I may have already said, we have a slew of military relatives.
    Either they have been in and now out or are still serving. This goes back for generations.
    As you share your feelings I am better able to, at a glimpse, understand our military personal.
    ((Hugs))) xoxoxo

    I recently finished the book. Thanks for sharing it. It was so good. I have now shared it with others.

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the book, Michelle. And thank you for passing it along for another to enjoy. Blessings to you. xoxo

  8. I love your new normal focus-God is greater and we are less! I can't wait to hear about all He will continue to do through you and your marriage. Hope your weekend away is wonderful!

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Mary. I have been so blessed by your friendship. Much love. xoxo

  9. This is so amazing, Beth. I am so thankful that you are looking to God for His ever-present stationary stance with you at all times, making the navigation of what seems to be an ever-changing new normal far better looking from the outside-in. I praise Him for His love for you both as you adjust, love, and care about your future together in these times.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    1. Thank you so much, Linda. You have been such an encouragement to me through this entire journey. So thankful for you. Much love. xoxo

  10. Beth,
    I'm in awe of you and your husband's sacrifice, marriage and steadfast trust in God...I'm trying to imagine sleeping with a hat on...praying God continues to shine big in your marriage and in your new normal...Thank you :)


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