I hope that you are blessed by the words of these faithful women. Please show them support for sharing their hearts by commenting here or visiting their blog and connecting with them there.
First up is Marine Wife Unplugged, who gives God the glory for everything that has happened in her life. Her faith in God's plan is incredible.
"What an honor it is to be able to share with you, Semper Wifey, and your readers, a bit about how God has worked (and continues to) in my military family! My story is a bit crazy, and it might even sound like I'm being over-dramatic, but please believe me when I say that I have no intent to exaggerate. I know it sounds funny to start a guest post with a disclosure, but in this case, I deem it completely necessary. My story is a bit hard to believe due to its intensity. I hope that what I write, if you are a believer and follower of the Savior Jesus Christ, will encourage you, build your faith, and leave you wanting more of the Lord. If you are not a follower of the true Messiah, I hope that my story intrigues you and causes you to seek answers about God from the Bible. Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith and the faith of my family, and everything I'm about to say is as truthful as it can be!
A bit of background: I am close with my family (my mother's side), who all live in New York and Connecticut, all Italians, none of whom know the Lord Jesus. From the time I was about 3 years old until now, I have been through unemployment, homelessness, fatherlessness, abandonment, homosexuality, rejection, self-hatred, eating disorders, rebellion, fears, anxieties, hopelessness, sexual immorality, idolatry, fornication, abuse, molest, rape, some occult participation, some portrayals of fake faith in Christ, and a lot of other things. Before I was 17, no one had even told me in the churches I went to that salvation does not exist without Christ. I just heard Bible stories and the Beattitudes (Matthew 5). I sang in the church choirs and never even had a sense that the people who led the church knew the Lord. The minister tried to have an affair with my mother, and later, another pastor from the home church I was even saved in molested me. All of these things were part of my background before I married my Marine, except that none of them were counted against me because I was saved by God. We all have a past. Mine isn't pretty at all.
But.... Jesus restored me, taught me how to love Him, healed me, taught me how to love others, stopped counting my sins against me for future judgment, taught me how to both accept and release forgiveness, taught me how to teach others about Him, guided me through confusion, led me out of darkness into light, and did all of this according to the will of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. I was shown mercy and grace, lovingkindness, and value. I was adopted into the Body of Christ through His blood, and become whole.
While I am not elaborating on the specifics of my testimony here (it's not the reason I was invited to write), I need to say that I am fully convinced of the power of God in the lives of those who repent of their sins daily, and believe, trust in, and rely on the Lord Jesus who was sent to earth to save us from the wrath of God for the remission of our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead in bodily form to bear witness to those who were with Him before He died, so that all might have assurance that He really was who He said He was, and always will be. If I was not convinced of Christ, writing about how God has worked in my family would be of no use. Faith means nothing to me if it does not honor God. That means faith in people, faith in feelings, faith in philosophy, faith in science, faith in the military, or faith in even myself; none of those things honor God without Christ at the center. This truth is what shapes both myself and my military family. My family abides in the love of God, knowing that only because of what Jesus did on the cross, nothing can separate us from Him. Because of Jesus, we've been able to get through all obstacles we've been given, praising God for all of it. We have learned to be content in whatever circumstances we have, knowing that all of what we go through is garbage and meaningless vanity compared to knowing Christ.
My husband and I became pen pals in May of 2007, and just days after we began to write, the Lord showed us that marriage was His will for us. Two months after we began writing, we met, and 13 hours later, on his 22nd birthday, July 9th 2007, we married in the middle of the woods. Seven days later, he deployed to Iraq, and I moved across the country to live with his family while he served his second tour. My family was terrified of my decisions and did not support my marriage. Yet I know God was behind this and could not shake the peace He kept presenting to me as I prayed that His will would be done and that no matter WHAT the outcome, no matter what persecution I might face (and I faced a lot), He would prepare my heart. Knowing little of the military but growing in sincere devotion and respect toward everyone, I did as I was told by my husband, keeping my eyes and ears away from the media, growing in faith. As an infantryman who tasted death every day, he needed my prayer support. He deployed to Fallujah and the Al-Anbar Province with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Charlie Company, United States Marine Corps.
Pride was not a big enough word to cover my sentiments toward my new husband, but with my pride came crippling fear of the unknown. I had already been urged by God at this point to be my husband's main intercessor, and during his deployment while I searched for employment in the new state I was in, Idaho, intercede was exactly what I did. Day in, day out. I was told specific things to pray for. I was told specific things to write about and send him. I dreamt dreams of situations and circumstances that blew my mind. I'd wake up, write them down, and mail them to my husband, hoping that somehow, I could let him know that I was in a small way, connected to his battle. I was fighting in the Spirit. Sometimes after reading a letter, he'd call me via satellite phone and ask, “How could you possibly have known that that's what was going on at that certain time?” It was obvious every day that God was allowing me to understand my husband's battle in a way that without His aid, I could never have done. The tears I cried, the agony of feeling helpless, weary and exceptionally lonely would have ripped me apart if it hadn't been for Christ. But all of this was just preparation for the future. I got through that stuff. Now, looking back, it was incredibly difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as what followed. Faith in the Lord is not easy. Nothing about Christianity is easy. Nothing about having spiritual discernment or knowledge or wisdom is easy. With all of it, however, the Holy Spirit helps. And through all of it, God is glorified.
My husband was injured. At first, they didn't know what happened. They found someone praying in a canal in Arabic, and found out it was my husband through voice recognition. His memory was gone. None of his unit knew how he even got over there. Something very traumatic happened while he was on a patrol in a house and the next thing he knew, he was not there. He was sent to be evaluated through the Division Psychiatrist, and they immediately quarantined him in Headquarters, diagnosing him with Combat Stress. They weren't right, though. He snapped on them, causing them to believe he was harmful not only to everyone around him, but to himself, so he was drug-induced. Tying him to the stretcher, they shipped him off to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. They thought he had a brain tumor. There, he was found unfit for service, and tested and diagnosed with severe PTSD, a TBI, diagnosed with Psychosis, and the tumor was actually a blood clot in the left temporal lobe of his brain, too large to operate on. He stood a 20% chance of living. What?!?!? All he wanted to do was go back to his unit and fight with his battle brothers, but his dreams slipped through the IV bag with each drop. He was he going to tell his wife? What did he even remember about his wife?
I journeyed with his parents in his truck and a small moving truck from Idaho down to Camp Pendleton without any relief in the horizon, having to drug myself with Tylenol PM in order to fall asleep for just a couple hours in the back seat. I couldn't even pray. I had nothing left. On base, I set up an apartment on Mainside with the Special Power of Attorney I had and waited the extra day for the government to send home my injured and disoriented hero. I noticed that when I didn't feel strong, God's strength was with me. It didn't feel different. It actually felt hollow sometimes, reminding me that God's love doesn't even feel like I thought it maybe should have. I had depended feelings of familiarity before, whereas not only was this a new season of my life, but I was about to learn a lot more about marriage, a lot more about my husband, and a lot more about God. I realized that love had nothing to do with feelings. I was now in a real position to show love where I might not “feel” any at all. You'd think a deployment might have been enough to show me that, but I did feel my husband's love before he was injured. Once he was intoxicated with morphine and who knows what else, I could not expect anything to be the same. His brain wasn't the same, and from that point on, people in the Corps acted as if they believed he should be treated as an object of shame, rather than a Warrior worthy of admiration. To them, PTSD meant he was weak and worthless. He was “broken.” No one knew that God was going to prove everyone wrong.
I stuck by him. I stayed home, woke up with him at 0530, made him breakfast, and had the house cleaning done by 0730. I spent time witnessing to other wives in the area, counseling as I was able to (many wives were much younger than I was, even though I was only 21 at the time), trying to be a comfort for them because I knew how much I wanted comfort when my husband was gone. Still, in a very real sense, he was gone. I needed comfort just as much as my neighbors. My husband and I were in the hospital every single day for hours through appointments, tests, brain-picking, brain-washing, and trials and errors of pills that did nothing, made him worse, or put him in a fog. He suffered random black-outs, incapacitating migraines, sever dizziness, outbursts of rage, bed-wetting, couldn't finish sentences he started, and even had two heart attacks. Every symptom of PTSD, and TBI in the books was acting in our lives, but then there was the blood clot and the psychosis to deal with, too. The doctors wanted him to be able to sleep, to regain focus, to be “content” with life even though he was sent away from his battle brothers. They tried to drug the audio hallucinations away. And by fogging his memory, perhaps he could deal with the past in small doses, they hoped. Healing takes time, after all. What he needed was good, solid Christian counseling, but this was not offered to him. The pills made him more aggressive, and the feelings of fear, worthlessness, and failure as a Marine nearly ruined him. I spent time studying symptoms of PTSD, TBI, and psychosis while through prayer and God's mercy, his blood clot drained.
His chances of living were now increased, though mentally, we had no idea where he'd end up. Although it was not his MOS, he used to do some work for Intelligence. Would his memory be that sharp and fast ever again? God reminded me during this time that my faith was only going to increase as it was tested, just like how everyone's faith was tested in Scripture (Hebrews 11), and that sacrificial and selfless love is the only kind, and it never fails. John 15 became my favorite chapter in the Bible, as I attempted to lay down my expectations and preconceived notions of what I thought my husband should have been like.
Even in the midst of the craziness, God used my husband. He began to pray in tongues, he prayed through my fear of people and my fear of cooking, prayed for healing while I dealt with migraines from the stress of it all, and though his memory was lost and his speech was slurred and his balance was that of an 18 month old when he walked, I grew to respect him in many ways, and I remained thankful for what I had. Even the guys who remained behind during that deployment were ministered to by him, even when he was at such a low point in his life. In March of 2008, four months after he returned from Iraq, I became pregnant, blessing us with another reason to visit the hospital every day.
As a Marine wife, strength was not just a suggestion given to me. It was part of the unwritten “military wife code” that sat right next to integrity, respect, and honor. I refused to become a marriage statistic even with how fast we were married, and knew the only way we'd get through anything together was through Christ. Both of us experienced shakiness of faith, both of us saw the demonic manifest itself, and with fear and trembling, both of us sought the Lord.
A year after my husband returned from his deployment, almost to the very day, my husband was forced into a temporary retirement with an honorable discharge. Our best option, better than sleeping in the truck, was to shack up in his parents' house, as we hunted for a job and our own home, eating the effects of having our dreams shattered in front of us. We had new challenges ahead of us, much harder than before. Family tension presented itself with the influx of PTSD and TBI symptoms and father-son friction, to the point that we were more comfortable being hermits in the bedroom than even walking to the kitchen. Depression hit us, and it hit us hard. Our son was born two weeks post-discharge. None of us wanted to talk to anyone, seek help, or even go out of the house. Two weeks after our son was born, I went to church with him, and I hated it. On top of that, watching my husband's countenance reflect his newly-unemployed, broken, living-in-the-parents'-house-with-a-wife-and-a-newborn status was horrible!!
I had postpartum hormonal trouble, and realized my new job was not only to be a mother and to support my husband, but also to teach all of his family about how to respond to him, how to show love to him in a way he could receive it, and especially how not to. I was fighting intense feelings of failure, but refused to take anti-depressants. We couldn't see how God would use this time, but of course He did. His words never return void. He never leaves nor forsakes His own.
People we thought were our military friends turned their backs on us, making up rumors and spreading them in ignorance. We became everyone's enemies. We battled again lies and confusion, we could not easily hear the voice of the Lord, and we were consumed by sorrow. Then the VA made a paperwork error and began to rob my husband of what disability income he was due. The VA Hospital was not treating him like a human. He couldn't find a job anywhere, especially not with the PTSD stigma. We couch-hopped for 7 months, and no one would help me at all with counsel that I desperately sought out because I was not the veteran. I did not want to go through a church because I knew that a normal church counselor could not speak to the specifics of military life. I could not leave my son home and work because my husband could not care for him.
But even there, God was speaking. We got to witness the arms and legs of Christ coming to our aid. Our pride was crushed day after day as people always gave us just what we needed, whether it was food, gas money to apply for a job, or a hug (even from strangers). Most of the people who asked us how things were going turned their backs on us or walked away because they did not know what to say, so the people who showed the love of Christ during this time stuck out to us greatly.
People took us in, and despite the VA's discouraging words to my husband about his broken brain, he passed the ACT with above-average scores, and was accepted to a university as a Criminal Justice major. He couldn't find a job, but he could go to school. This went great because even though the VA was robbing us, the school had married-student housing, so we would not be homeless anymore and could live within the boundaries of necessity with a BAH monthly stipend. My husband learned to communicate with civilians again, and learned how to communicate with me better, too. To help his hand-eye coordination, he began building and painting mini-models for Warhammer 40,000 and met other veterans in the area who offered some solace. He felt like he could be understood just a bit.
This was a great and challenging uphill-climb as I began to grow in optimism, though I still prayed more than I spoke. But shortly after we began marriage counseling through the school, the counselor started talking down to my husband. And then he had to have a combat-related shoulder surgery. He had weaned himself off of all his medication (he had taken 12 pills multiple times a day for a long time), so the drugs the hospital gave him during sedation and recovery really messed with his system.
After his surgery, he snapped on me violently. Terrified, I fled, and took the baby with me. God had to take over. He did. With His guidance, I gave my husband the most painful ultimatum I'd ever given anyone in my life. “Either get counseling or lose your family.” I ran to the Vet Center here, demanding attention, since my husband hadn't gone before on his own (much to everyone's dismay). There, I found out that the VA never recorded his brain injury in the computer system , and so they prescribed him pain killers that caused his brain to rewire and snap. Even though my husband had registered with the VA when we got to Idaho, had brought his medical records and DD-214 which stated the specifics, they recorded that he only had PTSD.
My husband had some intervention from friends and family while we were separated, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit, I picked a certain time with certain words to prayerfully share my desires for a family and for his health and leadership and love. Through hours of tears, he agreed to seek counsel through the Vet Center in our area. The first person who talked to him was the worst person for him to talk to, but the second was the answer to years of prayers. Amazingly, progress happened relatively fast, which I count as a miracle. Relapses ceased and while he had his down days, he had a grip on himself that he didn't have in the past. God was healing his outlook on life and softening his hardened heart. God enabled my husband to be able to talk through his experiences with his counselor and eventually with me on deeper levels, too.
My husband continued going to counseling on his own, and as he did this, I prayed that God would help ME to be a better wife and woman. I knew that if I held resentment toward my husband and kept dogging on him for things that were sinful, I was the same as everyone else. It wasn't that I avoided bringing things up or that I did not ever hold him accountable, because I did, but I was finding new ways to speak with gentleness and humility, whereas before, my words always bounced off of him as if I had not said them. I had given him permission to persecute (mock, slander, reject, demean, etc) me and I responded with love while I was also trying to honor the Lord. With grace and understanding that only God could have given to me to give out, I submitted myself to my husband and chose to seek out every respectable thing I could find in him, even if it was something as simple as “thank you for coming home for dinner.”
In plain speech, I searched for praise-worthy attributes in my husband every time I wanted to press charges toward him for sinful behavior. Philippians 4 was hard Scripture for me, as was Colossians 3, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 5, and Hebrews 11. Psalm 69 was my heart cry. Proverbs 31 was too hard to read because I never thought my husband would recognize my devotion to him, knowing that my responses to his behavior were no better than what he was doing. The more I repented of my sinful thoughts, body language, and especially the contemptuous tone of my voice, the more I saw changes in my husband. I began to cherish him again. As I sought God's heart on the matter, submission to my husband no longer sounded like a curse or and unobtainable goal. God saved me. Therefore, I could be what I was called to be. In this, my husband loved me more, as Christ loves the church. We were fulfilling our Biblical roles, and neither of us were being walked on by one another or ridiculed for falling short. We saw good fruit in each other, finally.
His school pursuit did not continue beyond the first year due to complications with the GI Bill, but he learned things, and God grew his heart and helped him to deal with civilians again. God sent us some people who would end up being the very encouragement my husband needed spiritually. A certain man in particular was very instrumental in honing in all the knowledge my husband had acquired and giving it solid definitions. My husband dove headfirst into Christian Apologetics, desiring to know more and preach more. His memory began to increase I saw him recover some of the languages (Gaelic, German, Arabic, Russian, etc) he had lost in when he was injured. We found a new normal after everything fell apart, but a big part of me believed that our “new normal” was going to be even better than what our normal was before his was injured. God increased my faith and there was no stopping it. My Marine showed a desire to be a better husband, and by the grace of God, our son's unhealthy fear of him disappeared. As their relationship grew, I called them blessed and my countenance reflected my gratitude.
Then, my husband found employment!! It was as if God was saying “Now I release you because you have proven yourself worthy of being able to do more. I have been with you this whole time and I will not leave you.” He witnessed to others about salvation in Christ alone, leading other injured veterans with PTSD to the Lord. He started witnessing to Catholics, and to Mormons and to motorcycle gang members. His boss ended up hiring more veterans with PTSD because of my husband's work ethic. Both of us grew in our relationship with one another and learned how to be honest about our bottled up feelings. We could finally focus on helping other people, ministering to the needs of others as we were able to, and we could focus on parenting. Another chapter in our lives was opened.
Really, if I share much more with you than this, I might sound like I am bragging. I know how radical this all sounds and I know the statistics. I'm friends with other military wives, and never ever desire to stir up envy, jealousy, or dissension, which is why I am slow to proclaim my own story, but very quick to proclaim Christ Jesus. I am either made out to be a liar, a lunatic, or a true believer, but I know that God cannot be mocked. The last three appointments my husband had with his VA doctor left his doctors completely amazed. He's been titled as a “Medical Anomaly.” They see no need to prescribe him any medication, and no longer see a need to refer him to the Mental Health Department. He has been transformed by the renewing of his mind. (Romans 12:1-2) Our little family is blessed to be a blessing, and our son is the cultivation of many many prayers. He emanates the faith my husband and I both share, and confirms that God is indeed with us through his own spiritual growth.
Currently speaking, we've been waiting for a Periodic Physical Evaluation, which will determine whether or not my husband can serve in the military again. His goal is to go back into the military and preach the gospel in the Corps. Realistically however, serving is what matters, and so his back-up career goal is Law Enforcement, which he is currently in pursuit of. I am a domestic engineer, and on the side, I am a writer, an amateur photographer with “I see You photography” (on Facebook), and a singer. Our son will be three in December. The VA is still robbing us of money and won't own up to their error, refusing to document things or just avoiding the issue completely. Even after extensive research in the matter between the Wounded Warrior Regiment, the Vet Center, and other individuals, (I have even written the Senator), nothing has changed. We have what we need, praise God. We don't always get what we want.
So... with a story like this, why haven't we gone to the news? It's simple, really. The world hates Jesus, and He's the one accredited with my family's healing. People would not put this story on the news even if we went to them with it. We don't want to draw attention to ourselves anyway, but rather, to the cross. What we'd rather do is preach the gospel as Jesus commanded us to do, make disciples, teaching them to obey all that He taught, baptizing them in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While we still have struggles every day and still war against the world, the darkness, and our own sinful natures, we take joy in whatever God does through us, whether in famine or in plenty, in sickness or in health, in wealth or in poverty, laying up treasure for ourselves in Heaven. Our contentment is in the risen Lord. Our joy is in His salvation. We boldly witness because we know the boldness of the Lord. It is written in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”"