Last Thanksgiving I felt that a boulder sat on my chest as we gathered with friends to share what we were thankful for. We had recently learned that my husband would deploy very last minute, and I had little that I felt like being “thankful” for. After all, learning to do life alone would be hard. Solo-parenting while my other half is thousands of miles away would be exhausting. Feeling as if I’d have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and power through the coming days that seemed to have no light at the end of the tunnel took my breath away. Christmas came around, and the ache in my chest intensified. Instead of enjoying the moments we had and the festive chaos that the holidays bring, I trudged through the fleeting days and overwhelmed myself with anticipation of the future.

But despite the heartache that deployment brings, I slowly uncovered blessings and truths I could be thankful for in the midst of difficulty. I learned how to admit I needed help, and then actually accept it. I learned that vulnerability and choosing to not live in a state of offense is the key to real, lifelong friendships. It solidified the truth in my heart that I’d rather live in community than in isolation. And I remembered (again) that my dependence on the Lord is a daily need and the joy of my salvation.

Being a military spouse is challenging, and sometimes we need to give voice to that truth. Deployments are hard— but it is immeasurably harder when you have no community to stand beside you, behind you, in front of you, and all around you to support and lift you up. I am thankful for my community. I am thankful for the times they held me up when I felt I would fall. And I am thankful they told me they would pray for me — and then actually did. 

And when the deployment ended last month, it was the complete undoing of all the remnants of pain and loneliness that remained coiled up inside of me for months and months on end. Sitting on the floor in my shower at the end of days that seemed as if they would be endless — counting down months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds – was finally over. The moment of release and relief. He’s here, and he’s safe. 

A new holiday season is upon us, and another season of change for our family is as well — one of transition and making room again in our daily routines and schedules for our family to once again be whole. But this year as we share what we are thankful for, I can say I am genuinely thankful for this past year of chaos, messiness, true friendship, and spiritual growth. Last Thanksgiving we “prepared” ourselves for a last minute deployment by living in denial that we would be apart for the better part of the next year. This year I’m thankful that we made it.

Kelley 9-7-2022-209
Daddy home from deployment in time for the holidays!
Kelley 9-7-2022-221

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