Mandy and I have known each other for a long time. In fact, I knew her and her husband when we were all just teenagers in high school in a small Missouri town.
Nearly fifteen years later, I married into the Army, my husband deployed, and Mandy became one of my biggest supporters and most reliable sounding boards (thank you, Facebook!).
I’m truly honored to share Mandy’s story here on Marrying the Army, and I hope that she and her family inspire you as much as they’ve inspired me.
Mandy and Kevin’s Love Story
Kevin and Mandy dated in high school, and in Mandy’s words, she was “naively supportive” of his plans to enlist in the Army after graduation. The two of them broke up, but continued to stay in touch as friends.
Just before 9/11, Kevin enlisted into the infantry, and spent the next four years away almost constantly for schools, trainings and two deployments. After his four-year active duty commitment ended, he returned to Missouri for college, spent three years with the Missouri National Guard at Fort Leonard Wood, and began dating Mandy again. In August 2006, Mandy and Kevin were married.
In 2009, Kevin began feeling pulled to rejoin the military.
I HATED the idea. HATED it and in fact just about flat out forbade him from doing it. All I could imagine was spending my life as a single parent and having no friends.”
Mandy had worked full-time as a Patient Advocate/Clinic Manager for a health center until Kevin commissioned. She loved her job, but was pulled away from her home and her family more than she felt was comfortable. She was on maternity leave with their second child when Kevin commissioned and she left full-time employment.
I reluctantly moved to Ft Campbell, KY in March 2009 with an 18 month old and a 3 month old so Kev could take a direct commission into the Nurse Corp as a 2nd LT. Very quickly I discovered that not only was I able to fulfill my desire to be a stay-at-home Mom, I had landed in the most amazing and supportive community as a military spouse that I had ever encountered.”
Mundane Days & Silver Linings
That was four years ago, and there have been some great moments. When I asked Mandy what the best part of her transition was, she answered,
Joy and fulfillment I had never known before. I truly love my life!
It was an exciting new beginning for sure. I loved developing a schedule for our girls, teaching and reading to them, spending time with other moms and their children, making meals for my family that weren’t frozen, and getting plugged into the awesome military community we were in.”
Mandy’s transition hasn’t been without its challenges, though. Like many women who leave full-time jobs to work as a full time mom, it was tough to stop hearing the external praise that came with her job outside the home.
There were days, though, that felt mundane. Days that felt insignificant or far from world-changing. There were (are) lots of days that I don’t speak a word to another adult.
I also found that I missed the constant praise, pats on the back, and accolades that came with my career. I hadn’t realized how much weight I placed on those things or how much I had based my self-esteem and worth on them. And that’s painful. It feels good to be told you’re doing a great job. It is encouraging to have a measurable tool like a review to see progress and define your success.
My husband has always been so appreciative of the things I do but some days “Those were yummy meatballs!” just doesn’t feel as warm and fuzzy as the other stuff. And I know that one day my children will be thankful for all I do for them but today I hear more whining, complaining, and arguing than I do praise or thanksgiving.
I struggled with this some. I missed the feel good. I missed the measurable success.”
Faith is a big part of Mandy and Kevin’s life and marriage, and Mandy’s faith has been an important piece of her life as a military spouse.
As I was growing into my role as a military spouse I was also growing leaps and bounds in my walk with God. He was showing and teaching me things in new ways and I began to see that my true joy, security and worth was rooted in who He says I am.
All other measurements might feel good but they are all fickle and will fail me one day. But the Lord is steadfast and never changing. He loves me despite all my flaws, all my bad days, all my foul moods, and my short-comings and all the ugly parts of my heart. He created me for good work and he delights in me.
The more I take this in and let it take root in my heart as truth the more grace I have for the day to day and the more clearly I see that the “mundane” tasks I complete each day are to God’s glory and will make a Kingdom difference.”
Prayer and Bible study have helped Mandy find peace in her heart with where she and Kevin are in their military marriage, their family, and their careers.
Through prayer and Bible study I know that home is where the Lord wants me…This can look differently for others but I believe for our family that the primary burden of home management and nurturing of our children is placed on me.”
One of Mandy’s favorite Bible passages is Titus 2:3-5:
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
The last sentence says it all for me, ‘so that no one will malign the word of God.’ He is the reason, the motivation, the purpose. My god is my priority.”
The Best Things Mandy & Kevin Have Done
One of the questions I asked Mandy was, “what are some of the best things you’ve done for yourself, your career, your relationships, or your family life when you decided to make big changes to achieve balance between family and career?”
Here’s are the things that Mandy listed:
- Developing strong, healthy relationships with other military families for support, encouragement, advice and friendship.
- Keeping priorities straight. God first, then our marriage, then our kids, then careers.
- Flexibility; if something isn’t working then change it. Keep trying things until we got it right.
- Honesty: Be honest with each other and keep communication going.
- Continue to grow in our walk with the Lord and look to Him as our ultimate authority.
Also, remember that everything is just a season. We won’t always be in the military. Kev won’t always been studying away in grad school. We won’t always have small kids at home that need all my attention. We won’t always live in that old house, small town, big city, etc.”
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Wedding-Picture-2006.jpg” title=”Wedding Photo” caption=”Best day Ever! Aug 10, 2006″ url=”url”]
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/RR-2011.jpg” title=”Home for R&R” caption=”March 2011, Meeting Kevin at the Airport for R&R” url=”url”]
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/End-of-RR-2011.jpg” title=”End of R&R” caption=”Emma, watching Daddy’s plane leave at the end of R&R, March 2011″ url=”url”]
Come back tomorrow for:
Mandy’s advice to you AND your spouse,
Lessons on Over-Commitment,
The Unique Hardships & Struggles of Military Life,
and Homecoming Pictures that Will Melt Your Heart!