In this week’s Monday Minute Planting Roots Director Kori Yates talks about 5 ways to keep kids connected during deployment, so we can not only survive but truly flourish during these difficult times.
How to Flourish in Deployment with Children
by Kori Yates
Our oldest was less than a year old the first time we walked through a deployment with kids. After being gone for a year, our daughter had no idea who he was when she met him. The next few weeks brought strange looks as she wondered why this random person showed up in our house. EVERY DAY, tactile curiosity as she felt his hairy arms (a strange feeling when you’ve been around women your whole life) and adjusting to his deep voice brought crocodile tears…from them both. Reintegration was interesting but truly deployment with an infant was more about me than her.
As we added a child and they grew, future deployments were a bit different, to say the least. As they grew, they recognized the separation, missed their daddy, wrestled with the “what if’s,” and asked a million questions about what he was doing and when he’d be home. I was determined that all of us, my husband included, would thrive during this time…and thrive we did.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)
Working with our children to understand deployment can be challenging. Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand too, regardless of whether we are going or staying. In Acts, Paul is walking into something he knows will be challenging. In fact, Paul is certain he will never see those he is writing to again. His perspective, though, is one that we have focused on in our family, even through times of separation.
Knowing Our Purpose Keeps Us Connected During Deployment
Paul’s whole desire was to do what God had called him to and “testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Shouldn’t this be our desire, too? And shouldn’t we teach this same thing to our children? Our lives are woven intentionally by a loving God. He has a purpose and plan, even for this.
As we’ve walked with our children through these deployments, we continue to point them to Jesus. We seek out the things God has done and blessings he has given, remembering that our mission as a family remains the same, even if we’re geographically separated. Regardless of our location, we are still a family.
In these seasons, God has truly blessed us. It’s not all flowers and rainbows, though. We have challenging and hard days. Fear and anxiety knock at the door of our hearts and threaten to take over. We have moments when we are lonely and sad because, well, everybody is human.
But God, my friends.
Even though we wrestle with these things, we – and our children – can still thrive, even in deployment.
Our last deployment was not too long ago and our children are a bit older, I took the opportunity to ask them what things we’ve done during deployments that have helped us thrive. The list they shared with me is what I am sharing with you. What did I learn from them? Ask and then listen. Some of the things I thought we hugely important during a deployment, weren’t even blips on my children’s radar. Children are all different. Ask yours!
How to Keep Kids Connected During Deployment:
- Have Fun with Communication: My kids loved to Skype and message during deployment. Some of their favorite things? Sending emoji’s or gif’s. It’s super funny when you send the puking emoji (or so they think). And when they get something equally as silly back it becomes hysterical. They enjoyed sending goofy pictures of themselves or random shots of our activities, too. At the end of their day, though, that “snail mail” letter sure hits the spot.
- Send Some Love: My kids apparently LOVE to send care packages. We’ve done themed ones and random ones. It was even more fun when my husband opened it on the other end. When I asked, this was their #1 favorite thing to do to stay connected during deployment.
- Take Time to Dream: In my interview with our kids, they said they enjoyed dreaming about what we would do all together when the deployment was over. Those discussions didn’t even include huge vacations. They focused more on time together like eating our favorite meals, movie watching, playing catch, etc. We had lots of these chats both in our home and via Skype.
- Do Life: They liked that we still did life. We still had friends over, went to the pool, went on a road trip, hung out with the neighbors, and attended church. Life didn’t come to a screeching halt. Now we did curtail our activities since there was only one parent at home, but they remember still living.
- Take Time with Jesus: This one is my contribution. I found it super important for both parents and children to spend time reading God’s word, talking about it, and praying. It doesn’t have to be every day for a certain period of time, but putting our focus back on Christ and letting his word encourage and strengthen us is truly the key to thriving.
Verses to Ponder:
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Lord, teach our children to see you even in the midst of deployment. Through your grace and love, we pray that we will not simply survive this season, but truly thrive. Only through you, Lord. Amen.
Operation We Are Here – http://www.operationwearehere.com/Children.html