Written By: Patti Miller

When my oldest daughter married a military man, I had no idea how having a new family member in the Navy full time would affect our whole family. Overall, the effect has been positive, but there have been hard times as well. Although I feel we have been very blessed in how often we have been able to see my daughter and her family, there have been many times due to distance it has just not been possible to have physical contact. I am thankful for the phone and video chatting because, without them, the relationship I have with my grandchildren would not be possible. For every negative aspect, there seem to be so many positives.

The closest they have ever lived to us was 1,200 miles away, and the farthest was when they were stationed in Italy. The distance apart has been the hardest for me. Not being able to be there for my daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren is hard, especially when times get really tough. My daughter had a miscarriage in Italy, and I couldn’t be there to help her through it. I missed sports games, performances, holidays, and promotion ceremonies. I haven’t been able to watch my grandchildren grow up and celebrate most holidays together. Every time I see them, they’ve changed so much. But like I said earlier, I have been blessed too.

In the times we have really wanted to be together, we have found a way to make it work. I have had the opportunity to visit Washington State, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Italy because of where they were stationed. I would not necessarily choose to travel to some of these locations, but I have loved visiting them.

I think the hardest part for me is watching how it has affected my daughter and her family’s life: moving, deployments, training, extended time apart, and visits to our home without my son-in-law. I’ve watched my daughter have to single-parent despite being married. I prayed many times for them when they were reunited after being apart that God would help them re-establish their relationship and co-parenting strategies.

I have often thought about how military families live their lives without Christ. Life isn’t easy, even with a foundation in Jesus. But it has always given me great peace knowing that Christ is there every moment of every day protecting them, surrounding them with His love. Knowing they have chosen a church family at each duty station that helps them through the rough times has also given me great comfort.

Their time in the military is coming to an end (I hope). I struggle with thinking about the possibility of my son-in-law extending his active duty beyond his retirement date. You see, their plan as of right now is to come back home at least for a while, which is what I want. I have worked hard to give my anxiety of wanting them home and feeling it is not coming soon enough to God, but I struggle. I miss them! But I remind myself that my anxiety and wants are not greater than how Christ sacrificed His life for me and when He said to His Father, “Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). So when I think of what Jesus gave up for me, then I must also say, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

Written By: Patti Miller